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Alternative to crutches

Let's face it, crutches suck. They hurt, they're awkward, and you're basically helpless. They are also dangerous in wet or slippery conditions. When I was laid up last year, a friend suggested that I try using a walker instead. This didn't make much sense to me -- how was I supposed to get around on one foot with a walker? Well, it turns out it's one hell of a lot easier than using crutches. You basically lean onto the walker, then hop forward. Then repeat. The knack of it becomes easy, very quickly.

I'm a big guy, and this walker from Amazon worked great for me. I also discovered that it was possible hang a little pouch from the walker so that I could carry my iPad, etc with me. Something that is pretty much impossible with crutches.

For more hard-learned tips about recovering from surgery see When You Cant Shower After Surgery and A Lap Desk for When You're Stuck in Bed .

* Believe it or not, some people prefer crutches because you can use them to navigate stairs. You can't do that with a walker. But, honestly, unless you're a star athlete or a Cirque Du Soliel cast member, you ain't crutching your way up and down the stairs anyway.

When you can’t shower after surgery

A year ago I was laid up from surgery and couldn’t bathe. Prior to undergoing the knife I had discovered Dude Wipes, which are coincidentally from a company in the my neighborhood.

Although mostly marketed for post-workout cleanup, they work great for convalescing. Don’t even consider “baby wipes” instead of these. Dude Wipes aren’t sticky or smelly, and they are nicely thick. From now on, they have a permanent place in my suitcase, too. They are perfect for a quick refresh after a long trip or evening. (Just note the package instructions, use the wipe on your face before your ‘dude parts!’) I prefer the individually wrapped wipes for longevity, but you can also buy them in pop-up containers.

Another essential tool are Epic Wipes. These are much larger than Dude Wipes — they’re more like the size of a bath towel. They’re made from some sort of miracle disposable material that is very strong, meaning you can really scrub without fear of breaking through. Epic Wipes were invented by an Army physician and are, no kidding, like a full-body shower in a pouch.

I ended up using Dude Wipes daily, with an Epic Wipe for a full cleanse every other day. I could not have been happier with either, and they made my recovery a lot more comfortable.

For more tips about recovering, see A Lap Desk for When You're Stuck in Bed.

Book Review: Chicago’s Best Dive Bars

Chicago’s Best Dive Bars: Drinking and diving in the Windy City
Author: Jonathon Stockton


What a fun read! Although this book is almost 15 years outdated, I loved reading Stockton’s descriptions of the dive bars. He's a clever writer and it's easy to imagine that you’re right there with him for each of his visits. He perfectly balances his reviews with both remarkable and mundane details —all of it well-observed. And unlike many “best of” books, he does an admirable job of covering the entirety of the city. (Equally worthy of mention is that he eschews the ‘burbs, a pandering trap other books can fall into.)

“In the rickety men’s room, there’s no soap dispenser. One dips a finger into a lowball glass of pink liquid as if it were a font of holy water.”

I don't know how many of the places he chronicles are still around. I was surprised at how many I've visited, and of those about half still survive, if that's any measure. But in the end, it doesn't matter if they are still there because in this book bar aficionados and neighborhood historians can appreciate them forever.

I picked up my copy at Quimby's but you can get it from Amazon too. And Mr. Stockton, if you're out there, cheers to you! Well done.

Book Review: True Ogden Scandals

Author: Jamie Carter Park

This collection of stories emphasizes "Scandals from Ogden's Glory Days" and some of them certainly do make for great gossip. Having been raised in the Ogden area, this satisfied my itch to learn about some of the more lascivious tales from the city's past. (But don't expect much from the supposed "wicked" days during prohibition and so on, these are mostly adulterers and the like.)


The author has done a lot of the work of digging through the Ogden Standard-Examiner and finding interesting stories, but there didn't appear to be any supplemental research to add depth, or answer questions that even the author posed in the text. The book also could have been improved with some photos -- or even a screenshot of the story as it appeared.

That all said, I enjoyed this short book. It's written in a very informal style and reads more like a neighborhood newsletter, or perhaps, like stories told around a campfire. There are some threads here that could be developed into a narrative with more digging.

Would it be of interest to people without ties to Ogden, Utah? Probably not so much, but if you are an Ogden-ite in spirit or fact, it's enjoyable enough. And, bonus, it's part of Kindle Unlimited so it costs you nothing to check it out if you have a membership.

Three Ways To Improve Rental Cars

I often rent cars from either Hertz or Avis. Over the past decade of being their customer I have come the conclusion that Avis and Hertz employees rarely rent cars for themselves, or at the very least, lack ability to empathize with their customers. These are some obvious and easily implemented things they could do that would improve the rental experience.

 The three things are:

  1. Make it easier to load luggage. This should be so obvious that it needn’t be mentioned at all. Rental companies should position the vehicle so that the trunk is accessible. Nearly every customer needs to load luggage into the trunk, yet cars are often so tightly parked that it is difficult to do so. Hertz at SFO is the worst offender here, see the photo below. The car is backed in and nearly touching the wall behind it. There is at least three feet of free space in front of the car, so this is inexcusably inconsiderate.

  2. SFOcarpark
  3. Your customers should not have to keep track of extra keys. Avis is the worst offender in this customer-hostile practice. When you rent a car from Avis they give you two keys that are chained together with a steel cable. The giant fobs, stiff cable, and Avis ID tag make for an unwieldy tangle that I defy anyone to fit in their pocket. (Pro tip: The household goods aisle in the grocery store has wire snips or pliers that will free you from this burden. Just don’t forget to return both loose keys when you return the car.)

  4. Some of your customers are more than five feet tall. The worker who parks the car for customer pickup should put the driver’s seat all the way back. Every driver will need to adjust the seat anyway, but when it’s too far up, you’re making it difficult for a large percentage of customers, no pun intended. (Particularly if the car has to be started before the seat can be adjusted.) For bonus points, stop tossing the keys onto the furthest reaches of the dashboard, too.

See how simple those are? Just a little consideration of the experience the customer will have when first arriving at the car is all it takes.

While I have your attention, though, here’s a bonus improvement. Think about what your customer needs to know about the car they are about to drive off. For example:

  • Where is the trunk release?
  • Is there a fuel door release?
  • Where is the USB charging port?

These things aren’t easily discovered because they vary so much from vehicle to vehicle. Instead of cluttering the car with ads, give us a simple, printed orientation that answers these three questions. All of this info would fit on a business card and doesn’t even need illustrations.

C’mon Hertz and Avis, you can both try harder.