Uncle Ben's 10 minutes is different from my 10 minutes

I cook dinner sometimes. Sometimes it actually works out. I also like to pretend that I am a real chef where I can time things out perfectly so that when the mac and cheese is peaking, the hot dogs in the microwave are heated up and the waiters take it to the table and do the reveal simultaneously.

The other day, Miss Sally shared a recipe with me that would require some timing. As one component was wrapping up, rice was to be cooked and then everything brought together at once. So when the time came, I called on Uncle Ben.

Uncle Ben told be the rice would be "Perfect Every Time."

He also told me that the rice would cook in 10 minutes.

So I waited until the meat was 10 minuted from completion and gave everyone a 10 minute warning.

And then I flipped the box over and read the instructions:

Step 1 is to throw water and rice in a pot. That took about 10 seconds, but I won't count that. T-minus 10 minutes until dinner!

Step 2 is actually 2 steps Step 2a and step 2b:

Step 2a is to boil the components. That takes about 5 minutes. T-minus 5 minutes until dinner!

Step 2b is to simmer for 10 - 12 minutes. That takes about 10 - 12 minutes. I picked 10 because it is less than 12. T-plus 5 minutes.

Step 3 is to let is sit for 5 minutes or until the water is absorbed. That took 7 minutes in my case. T-plus 12.

So what was supposed to take 10 minutes took 22. The kids almost staved to death. At least that's what Greg reported twice.

And yes, I know. I should have fully read the instructions. But you've got to admit that the box freaking says, "Cooks in 10 minutes." I call bullshit.

It also took me about 10 minutes to write this article(if you don't count the extra 12 I took to make this Scumbag Ben version of Scumbag Steve.):

Laminated List Week 2011

It’s the third week of February and you know what that means! It’s UPDATE YOUR LAMINATED LIST week.

As you all know, a laminated list is the three famous people with whom your spouse will allow you to have sex with if ever the opportunity presents itself. If you happen to run into one of your three famous people and they are drunk enough to let you jump in the sack / couch / Charlie Sheen's basement with you, then you have permission to have guilt free sex with any one of the three people on that list.

Every year, during the third week of February, you are allowed to update the list.

So here is my list for 11’ – 12’…

1. Sarah Silverman
2. Christina Ricci
3. Zooey Deschanel

My previous list was : 1. Sarah Silverman 2. Christina Ricci and 3. Leelee Sobieski

Who’s on your list for this year?

Do It Yourself Funeral

Yo. This is a bummer article and if you are looking for the standard penis jokes then I apologize. This is for someone who's got a stiff they are looking to bury, burn or dump.

I just read the post below by sethra007 on reddit.com. Basically it says that you are going to get screwed over by funeral services if you don't do your homework ahead of time. It's worth a read.

My uncle is a mortician, and I can tell you from him that funeral homes are all about sales and mark-ups. Funeral homes deliberately try to have you make decisions where you're at your worst emotionally, because you're more likely to spend money that way.

When I buried my mother five years ago, it cost nearly $6,000.00, and that was for a basic funeral (which was all we could afford at the time). According to the Los Angeles Times, the average cost of a typical American funeral is now $7,755.00, and that only covers the basics.

Imagine my rage later when I discovered we didn't have to spend that much money. I could have gotten a casket (our biggest expense) for $2000 less via CostCo or the Trappist Monks. Online companies like Star Legacy Funeral Network offer caskets at up to 50 percent off retail, and many offer next day delivery or free shipping. Or I could have built one. If you're being cremated, you can do a rental casket. Heck, I didn't even have to have a casket--I could have used an alternate container.

In my state, I didn't have to have Mom embalmed (which not only would have saved money but would have been better for the environment) or have a burial container for the grave. I had online resources for getting grave markers.

I couldn't do too much to minimize other expenses because my mom had already purchased a grave site. But there were still quite a few things I could have saved money on had I known about funeral planning ahead of time.

The Funeral Consumer Alliance has a great article on how funeral homes manipulate their customers, and the Federal Trade Commission has valuable information on what your rights are when buying funeral goods and services. I highly recommend people read those sites, as well as explore the Funeral Consumer Alliance web site in general. And even though it's dated, I recommend reading Jessica Mitford's classic "The American Way of Death", which dissected the American funeral industry of the '50s and '60s.

I think funerals in general are good things for the surviving loved ones. I know my mother's funeral brought me a lot of closure after her long illness. But I also know that when Jessica Mitford died in 1996, her funeral arrangements cost around $400. I may not be able to get it down that low, but I am most definitely planning on minimizing the cost. I'm sparing my family the expense and either having a low-cost green burial or donating my body to science.

tl;dr version: Funerals cost way too much, but there's ways to cut significant costs. Know your rights, pre-plan your own funeral, and visit the [Funeral Consumer Alliance] (http://www.funerals.org/).

Valentine’s Day Surprise

I went to Taco Bell on Friday night early Saturday morning and ended up shooting chili cheese burrito down the front of my jacket. Sally had just washed that jacket for the first time in two years and now it was going to go in the wash again for the second time in a week.

I threw it in the washer after scraping the 35% beef off the front and spraying it down with something that I think I was supposed to yell “BAM!” while squeezing the trigger. I stuffed other clothes in the washer because my jacket would be lonely and the environment would weep if I didn’t.

Into the dryer.

Out and on to the coat rack.

Because it was a balmy 36 degrees the rest of the weekend, I didn’t see my jacket until Monday morning as Greg and I walked out the door to the garage. My assumption was that it was going to be warm enough to not have a jacket so I just threw it on the front seat.

We pulled into the preschool parking lot and when I jumped out, I realized that it was actually way freaking warmer in my garage than the outside, so I grabbed the jacket off the passenger seat and threw it on.

As Greg and I walked to the doors, I felt something folded up at the pocket flap by my sleeve. I thought my cuff was stuck, but there was something there. As we got up to the door I looked down and saw what it was.

It was Miss Sally’s underwear.

It was stuck to the Velcro that keeps the pocket closed. With several other parents coming and going, I deftly grabbed the undies and stuck them in my pocket. I snickered to myself as we entered and Greg kept asking why I was laughing.

Many women’s magazines suggest spicing up the love life by having the woman stick her underwear in the husband’s pocket so he’ll know there will be some loving later on. As this was Valentine’s Day, I asked Miss Sally if this was the case. Not so much.

Well, in lieu of a Valentine’s Day gift, I told her that I wouldn’t speak a word of this to anyone.

Happy Valentine’s Day Miss Sally!

PS Check your jacket pocket tomorrow, Sally. Hubba hubba!

Half Tie, Beer Leg... Two Tales of Friction

Here are two related tales that I like to call, "Half Tie" and "Beer Leg" which both hold hands with our good friend, friction. Enjoy.

Half Tie
Handsome Joe and I used to wear ties out on the town at Ohio University. It seemed like a good way to pick up classy chicks. I had an awesome flowered tie that was obnoxious and suave. I wore it out one snowy night in Athens.

The ties didn't work and Handsome Joe and I headed home alone together. On the way, we ran into a number of students who were sliding down Jeff Hill on stolen cafeteria trays and cardboard boxes. Half drunk kids would slide down the frozen, brick street, screaming the whole way. At the bottom, they would generously hand off their makeshift sleds, giving guys in ties a chance to sled down.

We ran up the stairs that paralleled the street with drunken stamina. At the top of the brick street I took a running dive and flew down the hill. It was exhilarating.

At the bottom, I handed off the tray to another student. Handsome Joe almost took me out as he flew by. He handed off his sled and noticed that my tie was sticking half out of my jacket. Actually it was all sticking out of my jacket, just that half of it was missing.

My tie got caught under the tray. The brick street, though nicely iced, caused a bit of friction. The tie was frayed. It was destroyed. I still wonder why I didn't choke to death. God bless the Double Windsor.

Beer Leg
One beautiful snowy Athens evening, Joe, Knitter and I were stealing beer out of a friend’s screened porch. It wasn’t really stealing because it was rightfully ours. Had we been inside the house at the party, we would have polished the entire case of beer. Since we didn’t like anyone at the party, we took our beer to go.

The porch was locked, but the window was not. I crawled through the narrow, screened window, flopped on the porch floor and passed the case of beer out to Knitter and Handsome Joe. Someone from the inside started to come outside so I dove out the window and we ran laughing through the back yards.

At Mill Street Hill, I took the case of beer from Knitter and did a running dive down the icy sidewalk on top the case of beer. It was just like a sled! I made it about half way down the hill before I ran out of ice. Knitter and Joe caught up and we continued home.

Once we got back to 19 Palmer Street, I made two observations and one conclusion: 1. My right pants leg was wet. 2. Eight beers had holes in the bottom of them. Conclusion: The cardboard was eaten through in half circles by the ice and sidewalk and the little smiling faces were drooling beer. The case somehow retained structural integrity so that the beer could leak out and on to my jeans. 16 beers is not as good as 24, but always better than zero.

Friction is a bitch.

Ask HolyJuan: How to Build a Mancave?

Dear Holy Juan,

In a few short months I will be getting married. This means my future wife and I will be moving into a new home soon. You've given advice on moving, keeping your wife happy, even parenting lessons (which I will undoubtedly need someday). One topic I have yet to see addressed? The home oasis of every American male. I'm talking about the Man-cave.

Holy Juan, I will need a Man-cave in my new home. Since I've never been married or a proud home-owner before I am at a loss. Does a finished basement automatically become the Man-cave, or will I have to flip a coin with my wife to see who gets dibs? If the basement is unfinished, but I use my considerable talent to change that, is it automatically mine? Will a shed in the backyard suffice as a Man-cave? Can I even hook up satellite TV to a shed?

My only solace in our current condo is the computer room/ office which I share with my fiancé and there's a goddamn poster sized picture of Marilyn Monroe on the wall. It's not even a sexy or seductive one either. This trend cannot carry over to the new house.

Help me, Holy Juan. You're my only hope.

Mr. Phip

Dear Mr. Phip,

Buying a home can be a very stressful… wait… you are getting married? Married? Have you thought about the repercussions of this? You realize that when you are married, you lose the right to say “man.” Everything after that is “us.” What you are asking me is how to build an “Us-Cave.”

How To Build An Us-Cave

Step One: Buy a house
Make sure your house has a basement or second bedroom. This way you can fill those large, unused spaces with the boxes of sports memorabilia and man crap that you will not be allowed to unpack.

Step Two: Watch Home Improvement Shows
By watching home improvement shows, you will start to begin to gain confidence in your abilities to think about how great it would be to have an Us-Cave. Please note, you will have to record the Home Improvement shows and sneak out of bed in the middle of the night to watch them.

Step Three: Reminisce
Soon the DVR will be filled with other shows like “The Biggest Loser” and “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” and “16 and Pregnant” and there will be no more room for DIY shows. This will give you plenty of time to sneak into the spare bedroom and sort through the boxes with your old Xbox, baseball cards and baseball gear. Weep quietly to yourself now. Do it in the baseball glove so that with every sob, you inhale the sweet , sweet smell of bachelorhood.

Step Four: Construction!
Surprise! Your wife sold all your man crap and now the spare bedroom is empty (actually she threw the shit out and the guy with the trash truck just made a cool $1,500 off your collectibles.) Time to think about filling this now empty room with stuff! You repaint. You re-carpet. You buy a bed and an end table and a set of drawers. What’s this? A recliner! And your wife allows you to buy a 44” LCD, wifi enabled flatscreen. Your Us-Cave is almost a reality.

Step Five: Mother-in-law moves into the Us-Cave
Now all that is left is to await death. I’d suggest eating two pounds of bacon a day to quicken your inevitable end, but now that your wife is vegan, so are you. You’ll live to be 100. Until then, mother-in-law needs her colostomy bag emptied. Get to work, Mr. Phip.

Congratulations on your pending nuptials!