15 Cures for Constipation

Whether you’re going through hormonal hell like I am right now, or just made some really, really bad food choices, if you are reading this, my guess is that you are feeling more backed up than all four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stuck in a sewer.

I am not a doctor, and the following can not be construed as medical or professional advice. These are simply remedies for constipation I have personally tried and that have worked for me, and also some that I have not tried but have been recommended. Poop at your own risk!

lower gastro intestinal tract

Important tip: If you plan to try any of these “cures”, plan on staying home for the next six to eight hours.

Before you begin:

  • Make sure you have easy access to a bathroom that will not be occupied and will be free for your use over the next eight hours. If you share a bathroom with other people, let them know what is going on.  Try, “Hey, I’ve be having a hard time lately, and I’ve been miserable. I really need access to the can today. Will you help me out in making sure it is available in case I have an emergency?” If your bathroom is a long ways from where you will be waiting for your “cures” to work (your bedroom or your living room in front of the TV), try “setting up shop” on the same floor and as close as possible to the bathroom. Be sure there is nothing in the way between you and that porcelain throne: pick up the floor, open all doors, and put the toilet lid up and the seat down.
  • Make sure you have plenty of toilet paper in your bathroom. Magazines, a charged tablet, and/or lighthearted, humorous books are a bonus. Wet-Ones and a glass of water may be nice amenities too.
  • If you are trying more than one cure at once, make sure you have all the supplies. Go to the store or collect materials from around your house beforehand.
  • Have something relatively stationary to do to pass the time that will help you relax and take your mind off your situation when The End is Nigh. Some ideas: light reading, journal to write or doodle in, art supplies, a puzzle, a computer, movies, TV, knitting, paperwork, homework, organizing, high fiber foods, lots of water to drink in the meantime.

Cures and Quick Fixes:

1. Dulcolax. This is a commercial over-the-counter drug available at the pharmacy, grocery store, and maybe even gas station (haha…gas). Dulcolax is specifically for this purpose. As far as dosing, three is the magic number for me, and usually produces a fine gem within two hours.  This is a great one-time cure, and certainly a product to have on hand in your medicine cabinet for you or your loved ones before disaster strikes. However, it is not recommended for continuous or long-term use. So if there is no end in sight to your suffering, try this or one of these quick fix cures, and get busy on long-term solutions (below).

dulcolax box

2. Senna. It sounds like a beautiful girl’s name, but senna is actually a plant, that, when processed into capsules or tablets, creates a product should get your colon back on track. Senna is natural, and for me it works equally as well as Dulcolax, which really makes it an attractive option. Again however, it is great for the occasional bout of constipation, but not intended for long-term use.

box of senna tablets for constipation

3. Coffee (caffeine). If you are not a coffee drinker, you can buy caffeine pills at your pharmacy (NoDoz or similar), try your hand at brewing a cup, or go to a coffee house such as Coffee Bean, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, or where ever a cup of java is to be found. Make sure you make or purchase real, caffeinated coffee. Not powdery coffee-flavored mix, not mocha-chocolate-whip-whatever, not decaffeinated coffee. You need real, plain, actual, caffeinated coffee. Sure, you can add sugar and milk or whatever, but make sure you are drinking coffee and not some commercial, chemically-flavored drink. It is the caffeine that stimulates you to go to the bathroom, so obviously make sure you don’t order decaf. If you are a coffee drinker, time to bump up the dose! Try a shot or more of espresso. Make sure you drink plenty of water as well to stay hydrated. For maximum results, skip the whip, and substitute soy or rice milk for cream or cow’s milk, since dairy can contribute to constipation.

cup of coffee

4. Oil. This one can get messy, but it will work if done correctly. I tried it for a cleanse, and it worked in three hours. Really worked. I was totally cleansed out. Get some kind of quality, edible oil such as olive oil or walnut oil. Get some saltine crackers. Get your clock out. Every half hour, drink 1/4 cup of oil, or a little more if you can  bear it. Chase it with a few crackers. Ginger chews, which are candies made with real ginger or candied ginger, which is slabs of dried ginger coated in sugar, might also help make this remedy easier to stomach. These are available at most health food stores. Side note for tummy troubles: 99% of store-bought ginger ales don’t actually contain ginger, and if they do, it is such a tiny amount nowadays, this Old Wive’s remedy is sadly outdated. In total, drink 1 1/2 – 2 cups of oil. You can eat saltines and ginger in between your oil-drinking. Once you commit, follow through, because you don’t want your oil-drinking efforts to be in vain. Maybe it’s not as bad as I’m making it out to be, but it’s one of the more heavy-duty options.

bottle of california walnut oil

5. Salt Water. This remedy originates from The Master Cleanse. Get a pint glass, fill it with spring water or reverse osmosis water (basically just quality water, not city water or treated tap water). Heat it up until it is a little hotter than you take your tea. For me, this is barely boiling on the stove, or two and a half minutes in the microwave. Be careful not to burn yourself! Next, stir in two heaping Tablespoons of salt. Table salt works best, iodized or not. If you have sea salt, you are going to want the salt to dissolve in the hot water, so grind it perhaps, or just stir really well. When it reaches a temperature comfortable to drink, drink it as fast as possible. Now realize, that as fast as possible might mean within half an hour. Just do your best. If you have high blood pressure or other salt-related issues, obviously skip this remedy. For me, this worked within the hour.

pint glass with I  Pooped Today logo

6. Psyllium fiber or Metamucil. Both Psyllium and Metamucil work in the same way, the difference is that psyllium, a plant fiber, is more natural but may be trickier to find (Trader Joe’s has a great product for a low price), and Metamucil is a commercial product complete with “drug” facts and dye, but is easily attainable at the 24-hour Walmart or local corner store. Either follow the directions liberally, or try my ratios. Mix two tablespoons of psyllium fiber in half a pint glass of your favorite juice. Pick a juice you can drink fast, because this stuff is going to gel up and expand in a few minutes. That’s how the magic happens. Orange juice or apple juice are good choices. Prune juice would be wise. Grapefruit juice or cranberry juice (not that cocktail crap) might be a little harsh to chug,  but suit yourself. Once you drink that, take a  breather, and when you can, 10, 20, 30  minutes later, repeat. The reason I am recommending that you mix up small doses and drink that before mixing up more is because once it absorbs the juice and gels up, it gets pretty gnarly to drink. You want that action to happen in your stomach or intestines, not your mouth. Metamucil is usually flavored, so it is meant to be added to water. Again, use a quality water that will be easy on your stomach, nothing chemically treated. Metamucil takes longer to gel and expand, so you can add three heaping tablespoons to half a pint glass of water and drink it as fast as possible. You may want to repeat this two or three more times with the Metamucil. This might take 5 or more hours, but it will help.

  trader-joes-psyllium-fiber-husk-digestive-supplement                            metamucil bottle

7. Light exercise. Go for a 20 – 30 minute brisk walk, or do 25 – 75 crunches. Stretch. Don’t overdo it, because exercising too much elicits your fight or flight response and shuts down your digestive system temporarily.

pretty young woman power walking with maltese dog in a hip pouch carrier

8. Indulge in the slightest urge. Get to the bathroom at the slightest feeling that you might actually go. Constipation can result in habitually holding it, so you need to retrain your body, even if temporarily, that it will have it’s golden opportunity when nature comes a callin’.

stormtrooper on toilet

9. A stool for stool. Get a small step stool, or a similar little box you can put your feet on when you’re on the pot. For some reason, planting your feet on a box that is six to eight inches higher than the ground when you are on the toilet really puts your body in an optimal position to poop. It sounds silly, but it makes a world of difference! A child’s step stool, old printer, or stack of books, small Rubbermaid bin, or anything in similar size can mean the difference between success and disappointment.

rustic wooden step stool with a coffee mug placed on it

10. Glycerin Suppositories or an Enema. That goes where? This one I haven’t tried on myself, but we have used it on newborn horses to make sure their waste gets flowing out after the placenta is no longer doing that duty. Once poop goes through the intestines, when it approaches the rectum, it can kind of dry out and get hard if  it is not expelled. This can really plug you up and cause a traffic jam, especially if you have healthy bowel movements waiting behind it. I analogize this to the head of a python getting stuck in a hole where the skinnier body cannot follow. If this is permitted to happen, it will be very painful to push out. A glycerin suppository or enema can be inserted into the rectum to soften up this “head of the snake”, making it easier to get going and more comfortable to push out. Follow the instructions and always use clean hands or a sterile glove.

albino cream and red colored baby Burmese Python head and neck      glycerin-suppository

11. Anal sex. Nothing arouses peristasis quite like putting something up there that “shouldn’t” be up there. The thought of participating in this very intimate activity in order to achieve a very personal result might be too gross for you, but for those in need and who have previous experience, you know what I’m talking about. Relax, try it, have fun. Afterwards, get to thy throne.

sexy nurse from enema of the state album

12. Sauerkraut. There have been times when I’ve referred to sauerkraut as an explosive food. I love it so much, one time I bought a pint of Valley Gourmet Fresh Sauerkraut and ate the whole thing in one sitting. Let’s just say I was the opposite of constipated that night. My other favorite brand is Aunt Bubbie’s Sauerkraut. I buy sauerkraut from health food stores. I really disdain the stuff found at most regular super markets that comes in a bag or can. How gross! I would never touch that. If you don’t think you like sauerkraut and have never tried the good stuff, get ready for a world of difference. If you love sauerkraut, consider investing in a crock and making it yourself for the future.

alexander-valley-fresh-sauerkraut-healthy       aunt-Bubbies-sauerkraut

13. Smooth Move Tea. Traditional Medicinals makes this mild laxative tea. Brew it strong, because it is gentle, but sometimes works.

smooth-move-laxative-tea-constipation-cure

14. Colon Cleanse. I’m not talking about pills or products you can buy, actually go see a specialist who performs colon cleanses! This does require you to schedule your appointment ahead of time. Usually the person performing the colon cleanse is a very nice, earthy person. Think of her or him as a Doula for your bowels. It typically costs $80-$100, at least for the first session. I haven’t gotten one yet, but I really want to. I have a very macho friend who got on a health kick. He was the last person I could picture willingly allowing anything to come near his butt, but he went to a very nice, spiritual older lady for a colon cleanse, and came out with a glow on his face like he had been touched by an angel. Afterward, he wasn’t shy at all about recommending it to his biker friends, family, or anyone who would listen. Alternately, my mom did this while she was in her second trimester of pregnancy and said the pressure of the water was uncomfortable, especially coupled with already needing relief, compounded by the pressure of the baby. So I guess it depends. Before you go, your colon cleanse professional may tell you to drink lots of water and consume salads or be vegetarian the day before your appointment. You will go, get comfortable probably on a medical- or massage-style table, and have some humorous small talk with your colon cleanse professional in a welcoming, warm environment. Once you are mentally prepared, he or she will guide a small-diameter hose “up there” a little ways, and then the flush may commence! Water will flow into your body for a few minutes, and then your professional will allow the water and all the gunk it loosened up to flow out through the tube and into an enclosed container, I believe, so it’s not like it will be loose or you will smell it. Personally, I think this is fascinating and would like to see this! A few minutes after removing the tube, you will probably have to use the private bathroom. From what I’ve heard, bring your camera! What happens in there may need to be seen to be believed. This option might be too graphic for you, but I find it very interesting. Hey, you’re paying a nice chunk of change for this, so you might as well get the full experience and see the amazing result.

colon-cleanse-beautiful-feel-good

15. Triple Shot of Wheatgrass Juice. Especially if you don’t usually go for the wheatgrass juice after yoga class or slack lining or whatever you do, if you are a wheatgrass virgin or don’t habitually drink it, this might just be the cure for you. Anywhere there is food where you have seen little pallets of grass growing behind the counter is where you want to be. Fresh pressed wheatgrass can be found at Jamba juice, Robeks, or any local juice bar.  Also check out your local Whole Foods Market or other health food supermarket, as they often times have wheatgrass at their deli/cafe/bakery. You may have to travel to a nearby city or college town to get your dose. If you have a wheatgrass press or juicer that can process wheatgrass (not all properly can), you can grow it and do it yourself. Wheatgrass is actually strangely tasty, and take a few shots and this can be a very potent constipation remedy. Because most people obtain wheatgrass shots when they are out and about, make sure this is your last stop if you are out running errands and can get home quickly, or hang out at the local library for an hour or two so it can work.

two shots of wheat grass with orange slices

 

Long Term Relief:

1. Eat Fiber. Anything you can recognize as coming from a plant probably has fiber. Dried fruits are full of concentrated fiber, and not just prunes. Try dried apricots and dates too. Any kind of whole food – something that you can recognize as coming from the earth – will help get your intestines on track. Spinach, or any kinds of greens, carrots with the skin on, and apples are all high fiber choices. You can choose orange juice with pulp. Fresh squeezed is best, but Tropicana’s Most Pulp is readily available. Just make sure its not from concentrate. Also consider prune juice. Think of it as gourmet dried plum juice. Eating real oatmeal with fruit for breakfast is a great habit to start. Be sure to get rolled oats or steel cut oats, NOT that crap from a baggie that is mixed with sugar and flavoring. Coach’s Oats are a staple in my life, and can be purchased from the Coach’s Oats website or at some Costco stores.

bag of coach's oats oatmeal

2. Drink Water. Lots of it, all the time, for the rest of your life. You will be a better person.

3. Don’t eat meat. Meat is the best way to block you up and make you constipated all the time. For some people, this might include fish, as canned tuna is known to contribute to constipation.

4. Don’t eat dairy. Or at least limit it. Cheese is the worst culprit of constipation, and cultured yogurt in moderation might negate the effect of dairy or even help remedy your constipation. Try soy or vegan yogurt in order to avoid dairy. Sheep milk and goat milk yogurt may also be better options. Don’t fall for that Activa or any marketing crap about how great Greek yogurt is. It’s no better or worse than normal commercial yogurt.

5. Consume Probiotics. Foods with probiotics are cultured or fermented foods where beneficial bacteria has been allowed to grow. This includes yogurt, including soy and vegan yogurts, kefir (goat’s milk yogurt),  sauerkraut, kimchee,  miso soup with lots of miso, and kombucha (a slightly carbonated drink that tastes like apple cider vinegar). You can also buy probiotic pills, just make sure you are buying quality. Check the date, and usually if they must be refrigerated, they are of higher potency and quality than those that are not. One of my favorite probiotic products is Bio-K. It can be found in the refrigerated section of your health food store. Bio-K is dairy, but it is delicious and tangy and definitely helps settle stomachs and get the flow moving.

bio-k probiotic bottle

6. Exercise. Walk 30 minutes each morning, five to six days a week, for the rest of your life. Commit to taking care of yourself and honoring your body and its ancient tried and true systems.

7. Do not take pain killers. If you are on opioid-type painkillers such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, Percocet, Norco, Lorcet,  any of their generics, or morphine, you need to explore other options. These will cause severe constipation. If you truly need these drugs for pain management, constipation is probably the least of your worries. If you are taking them long term and don’t have a life-threatening disorder and aren’t on hospice, no offense, but find another doctor and get help. These pills are bad, bad news. If you are taking these drugs or heroin recreationally, again, constipation is now an issue you can put on the back burner. Please get help. You can die and it will hurt those that love you. I personally know young people who have died from this. It is such a preventable and unnecessary heartbreak. Enlist a friend or someone you trust to support you in seeking treatment. Here are some resources: Painkiller Addiction Helpline, Narcotics Anonymous, Nar-Anon.

 

More Advice:

  • If you are pregnant and/or your constipation is caused by hormonal fluctuations and increases, don’t wait for the pipes to start moving and think you are home free. There is no telling when this will end. First off, talk to a doctor. Don’t put your unborn kid’s life in my hands, but I’d say, try a one-hit-wonder to get immediate relief, then make it a priority to follow all the long-term remedies.
  • If you have some kind of disease or digestive disorder, please talk to your doctor, chiropractor or a naturopathic physician. This also applies if you are concerned about your ostomy, if you just had surgery and were given a shot of pain killers or are recovering from anesthesia.
  • If bouts of constipation result from poor food choices and bad eating habits, enlist the help of a nutritionist.
  • Do not stick anything up there that does not belong. This include a spoon, coat hanger, rebar or small gauge wire (yes my sister who is a nurse actually saw this), small animal, anything dirty, or anything that could pierce through your rectum. If you pierce from where poop is or should be, into your body cavity, you can become septic and die. So don’t risk it no matter how uncomfortable you are.
  • If you are reading this because you think these cures will help you lose weight, you are better off adjusting your diet and exercise to accomplish this. If you really want to get cleaned out, consider a colon cleanse. The large intestine can hold 2-25 pounds of fecal matter. Remember, fecal matter is not just digested food you ate, but it is also water that needs to stay in your body to make your skin nice and keep your energy up, but also liver cells and waste. A skinny, slim, or athletic person who eats healthfully daily probably carries 2-5 pounds of poop. If you are anorexic, bulimic, or have a condition where you can’t eat or hold down food, it might be less than half a pound to 4 pounds. Again, remember your body is going to expel old blood cells from your liver and try to keep your intestines alive by hydrating them with water. This website is not going to help you. Please seek help, or continue to seek the help of a professional if this might refer to you. Now, a word on laxative abuse. Constantly being obsessed with pooping because you ate food is totally counter intuitive. Your body still digests the food before it comes out the other end, taking with it calories form fats and carbs/sugar. Even if you speed it up by abusing laxatives, this is really ineffective and if you continue, you will get horrible, painful, ugly, icky hemorrhoids. Do you want to know what your cute little cheerleader butt will look like? Google it. Hemorroids are even too gross for Sicko Miko.
  • You can actually vomit poop if you are really backed up, especially if it is caused by a blockage you didn’t know  you had. My sister is an RN and has stories about people projectile-vomiting doo-doo. It’s not pretty. If you have been constipated and vomit, and it smells awful, call 911, get someone to drive you, or somehow get to a hospital. Some hospitals have a feature on their website where you can sign in before you come, see the wait time, and “schedule” when you will be seen in the ER. You are not a priority unless bodily fluids are spilled in the ER waiting room. Think about that one. I am in no way recommending you injure or embarrass yourself publicly, but just FYI.
  • Don’t be embarrassed. Everybody poops.
  • Play it safe. Get help, get professional advice, don’t wait.

Good luck. I hope you get moving soon.

6 Cheap and Easy Ways to Take Product Photos with your Smart Phone or a Simple Camera

1. First, prepare your product. Make sure your product is in shipshape condition well ahead of time. When you clean it, be sure to use the correct type of cleaner for its material, and use a lint-free cloth. Sham-wows, microfiber cloths, and car cleaning towels work great. Wipe it down so if there are sparkles, they sparkle, and if it has a matte surface, that surface has time to dry and not appear streaked. Most importantly, make sure there is no dust or residue marks on your product.

2. Choose and prepare a background for your product.

For smaller items, a white background looks professional. You can use a few pieces of regular printer paper all stacked together so it comes out really white and not gray and opaque. White poster board works great too since it is large and thick. Put your product on half the paper on a flat surface and bend the other half up behind it and prop it up. Don’t make a crease or fold.

If you care to invest a little money, buy a white project tri-fold. The advantage to this is it is large,  stands up on its own, and the two side flaps gently reflect light.

Fabric with flat texture can also work, as can a plain wall painted in a light or neutral color. Just prop up your object so not to include the baseboard or any scuffs on the wall. A wooden table makes a nice “floor”.

If your product is large or must stay outside, choose a natural location. Trees, hedges, a clean fence can make a nice background. You won’t want to photograph near anything distracting such as garbage, fallen sticks, passing cars, or utility poles. If you do choose to photograph outside, be sure to read tip 4. about lighting in order to plan when to take your shots.

3. Prepare your equipment. Make sure phone is fully charged. Photos, especially with flash can take up a significant amount of battery, and some phones may not die but they won’t let you take pictures if you battery is too low.

Be sure there is enough memory to take at least five to seven photos per product.

Carefully clean the lens with dry microfiber cloth that is specifically for cleaning lenses or sensitive glass equipment. If your lens is really grimy, use a product such as Invisible Glass or another appropriate lens cleaner.

Hopefully you have a working knowledge of how your phone or camera works. If not, the internet is your friend! Google the make and model of your phone along with photography tips or how to use the camera on [your phone].

4. Next, you will need to consider lighting.
Outdoors on overcast day is ideal, as is early in the morning or somewhere close to dusk but not right when the sun is on the horizon. For a small product, using a patio table, truck bed, or spa cover to set up your background and product on is great. Just make sure it’s level and not slanted. For example, a car hood or rock would not be ideal.
Typically you will want the sun behind you. Make sure your shadow doesn’t come near your product. This is another reason a slightly cloudy day works nicely.

If you shoot indoors, find a spot with substantial but not direct light. Perhaps use a table or piece of furniture that is not right under a light fixture. You may not want a light behind your product either.

The exception to this is if your product has a reflective surface such as glass, shiny plastic, or anything else with mirror-like surface. If so, consider back-lighting it. You can position a table against a window covered by a white sheer curtain, or in a location with a light source shining behind the product. Just don’t photograph the lamp too, unless you will be able to crop it out.

5. Now, it’s time to actually take the photos!

Shoot from different angles with the camera level with the horizontal middle of your product. This is why it is best to use a table if your product is small. If it is large, squat down.

Be sure to hold your camera steady! Tripods are great, but most people won’t have them for a smart phone or simple camera. If you can, lean your arm on a chair or table to help steady the camera.

Many items are best shot at right angles to the corner of the product, so you can see the front and one side.

Take some from “far” away, such as three to four feet for a small product (like a My Little Pony), or nine to twelve feet for a larger product (like a motorcycle). Also take some close-ups, both with zoom and without. Try using your  macro setting (the tulip setting on your camera) for very up-close detail shots.

If your product is reflective, try shooting head on. A tiny sparkle or shine might look nice, but you don’t want a glare to ruin your photo.

6. Finally, if you’re not sending photos directly from your phone, transfer your photo files to your computer.

You can easily use your Photo Gallery software to crop the photo. Don’t crop it too closely. Negative space (extra space in the photo that is not your actual product) is good, but make sure your product is centered.

Photoshop is only helpful if you have it and know how to use it, and probably isn’t necessary for this scale project. The only other editing you may want to do is to make the background blend in and not be distracting. You can use Paint, or download the free, open-source photo editing software GIMP to make your background all uniformly white, or to blur the background.

Don’t manipulate or change your actual product. Buyers will not be happy if you edit out a scratch that is really there, or make the product brilliant purple when it is actually brick red. Try to show your product as true to real life as possible, and help your product put its best foot forward.

Be sure to save the original and to save any edits as a separate copy. If you are uploading it to a site online, take into consideration the maximum file size or recommended optimum dimensions (perfectly square? option to zoom?). Paint is great for editing your photo to meet these requirements.

Save your edited copy in the correct file format for your needs. JPEG is usually the default and is fine if you need to balance a pretty decent quality with a smaller file size, although it is not good if text is included in your photo. A better option is saving it as a PNG file. It is still a workable, small file with no loss of quality. Use TIFF if you are printing out your product photo.

Best of luck with your product photos!

How Bad Business Reviews Affect Our Society and Our Conscience

A businesswoman shouting at the world through a megaphone

I’m late. It’s mid-December and tax “busy season” is dawning. To get my rear in gear, I started my day by doing a little research.

I was performing a competitor analysis and I noted that a nearby accounting firm had a poor review online. Now, I am naturally curious, and I am all for freedom of information (clearly!). However, I would like to take a moment to discuss a few of the ways reviews impact small businesses. This comes from me not just as a small business owner, but as a neighboring community member, and as an understanding, benefit-of-the-doubt-giving human being.

The Particulars

After reading this review, I concluded that it was not due to lousy service or negligence or an unfriendly reception, etc. The reviewer was clearly not an accountant, as most people aren’t, but the low review questioned a rumor the person had heard about particular price paid by a particular client. Specifically, it was a division of the town government that willingly chose to contract with this firm and pay a set price for payroll for only one person, and the reviewer did not like the price. Again, this was a rumor that got the only accounting firm in my area a review, and it was a low one from a non-client.  Now in my professional opinion, the actual client got quite a deal! I was shocked to read that someone else thought it was a poor deal, poor enough to take the time to look up the firm and write a review, especially as they seemed unaffiliated with either party.

In Defense of Payroll

Payroll is a very touchy subject. Not only is it is huge, throbbing pain in the ass, but the laws are always changing, and it is risky to start up an in-house payroll. You need someone, or a team or people who are very experienced and know what to look for and how to correct mistakes timely, people who are beyond dedicated and reliable and unfortunately, put their jobs first. Unfortunately in the sense that, if a check got cut for the wrong amount, they are willing to cease sleeping or nursing their baby or what have you to run to the office at 4am to re-cut that check and redo multiple journal entries and possibly have to be on the phone with the bank or banks for goodness knows how long to correct it. Otherwise, the company will suffer. Law suits can arise from employees whose withholdings were incorrect, company morale will be low if payroll can’t even figure out how much to pay them, reputation will be ruined, and this is before all the fines, audits, and scrutiny from the government agencies. Payroll can get very bad, quickly.

It is worlds cheaper and much, much less risky to outsource payroll to a competent accountant. Accountants have annual, required professional education. Not all accountants will offer payroll services. I definitely don’t. You would have to pay me a pretty penny to convince me to take on that kind of monster. I’ve done it before, so now: no thank you. Chances are, if the accountant does in fact perform payroll services, they have many payroll clients, enough to make the trouble worth it. If they still have clients, they must be successful, otherwise their clients would quickly go elsewhere in a matter of two weeks. Since payroll is chosen specialty in the accounting profession, these accountants are current on all the laws and related breaking news briefings, since accountants get this information in multiple ways: in industry newsletters, immediate email notifications, educational seminars, reference websites they review daily, and through networking with other accountants.

Most firms have  tiered payroll fees. Between 1-5 employees is $X, 6-25 is $XX, 25-100 is $XXX, and so on. Some firms have minimums (must have 100 employees on payroll or you still must pay $XXX), and maximums, too. A one-person firm probably won’t be doing payroll for a company of 2,500 people.

Lack of knowledge led this person to publicly draw conclusions that I feel, are quite unfounded. If this citizen had such a pounding question about fees willingly paid by one party to another rendering a typically torturous professional service, why couldn’t they just call the firm and ask what their prices were?

five Yellowish-orange stars in a line from small to large signifying rating optionsIn Defense of Competitors

If you haven’t read my article about competitors, in short, I believe that competitors should be thought of as your brothers and sisters. They are in many ways like you. Think of them as being on your team.

When thinking of competitors, I imagine running track and field in the Olympics, lined up with two or three other American women who are on my team. On one level, we all want to win first place, but on another level, we don’t care as long as we win together. Yes, we all work hard individually, but we also should work hard together, to cast an honorable light on our team and our profession, to garner sponsors, to attract new talent, and to increase interest in the Olympics and our chosen sport.

Other local people who share your line of work? These are community member and neighbors of yours.  They could help you someday. They can refer extra business to you. You will see them at the grocery store, at the traffic light, at a work seminar. You will hear good things and maybe not so good things about them. There is enough work to go around. If you work together and make it attractive for outsiders or first timers to try out dance lessons or chiropractic treatment or Zumba or an accountant or teeth whitening, believe me, there will be more than enough customers for all of you. It’s not about you and your business. It’s about attracting people to need you or want you as an industry professional.

People like choices, they like what is in vogue, what is popular. If you are the only clock and watch shop for miles, well great, I guess you’ll get all the local business as long as Walmart doesn’t undercut your prices (because that will never happen, right?!?). But if there are three or four or five clock and watch shops, all downtown, holy shit, your town becomes the mecca for time-telling fanciers. Clock lovers will vacation from overseas to your town to browse and buy from your store, from the grandfather and antique clock store next door, from the cuckoo clock store across the street, and from the wholesale clock parts store around the corner. Locals will get interested in clocks, your chamber of commerce and town counsel will advertise your area as the Clock Capital of wherever, and money will trickle in to your local economy. One business is good, but many are better.

So really, where is the camaraderie? Where is the brotherly and sisterly love we show to others who work hard in our community toward similar goals?

Sticks and Stones

Now, I will be the first to admit I am the queen of Class versus Sass. We can keep it classy, or things can get really, really sassy. Just like the United States: in my book, you are innocent until proven guilty. In my mind, every person I meet starts out as innocent as a newborn. And I will be patient with you and nurture you and listen to you and put myself in your shoes and try to understand your points of view. But when you are guilty, once you have done me wrong,  may your God try and help you.

I am a consumer. Just like the rest of us, I am a patron of businesses. Many times I have walked out fuming and furious. Many more times I have walked out thrilled with the product or service I received.

During my angry times, and boy those can get angry, I may stop around with smoke coming out of my ears for a few minutes. I will be the first to tell you I can be nothing short of a tyrant. Really! But in minutes, it subsides. I don’t think I have ever written a poor review of a business. I am pretty positive I never have. If I have years and years ago and don’t remember, strike me down, because I didn’t and don’t mean it! I don’t have enough hate in my heart to forcibly and viciously attack another person’s livelihood because I wasn’t happy with their business that day.

When I am annoyed, the first person I tell is the one who is making me annoyed. “You are taking too long.” “You need to keep my water-glass full.” “I can’t taste the vodka.” “You forgot my change.” If that persists, or more commonly, if I am getting patronized by an employee, I use the old “I need to speak with your manager.” This is usually where everything smooths out. Typically, the employees you deal with first, face to face, purposely don’t have certain authorities, like taking that fee off your account, or comp-ing the wrong sushi order.  The employees know this, the managers know this, and they know they got you stressed and under their thumb; this is how the game works and this is how the conversation is going to go. This is OK.

Now when I have a favorable experience, Oh, will I write a review! Even for people I don’t know, like what happened today, I will stick up for you, I will always ferret out something good to say. This makes me feel good about myself, and even more about the cool places I have been, businesses I have experienced, and good will I have bestowed.It makes me feel good that someone else will feel good about their business, and a person looking for that type of business will feel confident and helped in choosing one.

I have found only one problem with writing outstanding reviews for businesses, and this information is from 2009, so I am not sure if it is still pertinent. As of 2009 or so, some online business listing and review sites like Yelp! have a formula for how much weight each registered reviewer’s reviews carry. So if you are like me and watched Bambi as a kid and “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all,” and give only five star reviews, Yelp! and similar sites will discount you, and your ratings won’t factor in to that business’s score. I guess they want each registered reviewer to submit both good and bad reviews. But if you don’t have any bad reviews to give, should you write an exaggeratedly bad one on a business that was mediocre, so your good reviews can help your favorite businesses?  That seems a little cynical, don’t you think? What do you do to get your positive voice heard?

Take it or leave it, come on people: stress is a killer. If you go home holding a snooty attitude and write some nasty catty review because your waitress “Wendy” swore at your kids and charged you double for your drinks, can you just think before you type, for once?

“Wendy” dug her own grave. Screw her, karma is a bitch, and I’m sure her manager is already well aware of “Wendy’s” inappropriate behavior and she is on her way out as soon as the weekend rush subsides. But when you stamp home in your little tiff and write a bad review online, even if it specifically mentions “Wendy” and all the horrifying details, you are not giving “Wendy” a bad review and only one star, you are giving it to, let’s say, “Janice and Dave’s Restaurant”. The restaurant you loved for so many years (because you apparently go there, or at least it looked attractive enough for you to try it). The restaurant that they worked hard to build and the business they rely on to feed and house their family. “Janice and Dave” are real people who probably love each other, who have feelings including the feelings of hurt and worthlessness and sadness when they read your bitchy online review, and “Janice and Dave” are doing their best, because that is what you do when you own a business.

Just think, for a minute, about how you would go about opening a business. You. From scratch. Your new baby that consumes money you don’t have, energy you didn’t know you have, and nothing short of your heart and soul. It’s a huge, scary plunge to take. Can’t we all just stand up and slow-clap for our friends who grew the balls to actually give their dream a chance? Whether if succeeds or not? Can’t we acknowledge that there are people out there who are doing their  best, their best towards something productive and helpful and of value?

I remember working as an employee. Yeah, I did my best: my best to make sure my boss didn’t catch me on Facebook half the day (shamefully and blatantly via a proxy server, no less) and did my best to remember what department had a birthday that day so I could go bottom-feed off the leftover cupcakes. So yeah, if you don’t own a business, I know exactly what your best is. Granted, yes, am being playfully facetious to make a point, and anyone who has actually worked with me knows I’ve always done my work with quality, triple checked, finished early before deadlines, helped others who were still working til they were done, with no problems (which was the problem because my speed and accuracy left me all this time to dick around unproductively, but I’ll save that for another story).

Before you rant and rave publicly, especially if it wasn’t even you with the issue, especially if you didn’t bring up your grievance privately with no one short of the direct service provider/employee you dealt with, and their manager and the business owner, and issues still weren’t resolved, who the hell do you think you are to be such a troll and trash someone’s small business online? Really! Don’t even say you believe in God, and you better not be vegetarian or anything else high and mighty if you have done such a thing, because what a load of crap your righteous little “label” you’ve given yourself is: “Loving Vegetarian Christian mom of Four! ; D” writes evil things and destroys lives online )8-) har har har!

Are you with me on how absolutely silly this is? This is the legacy you want to leave behind? Because even if you write something anonymously, and tell no one, and go as far as to condemn such behavior publicly, you are going to die with that poison in your blood. You are going to die with that on your conscience. How shitty.

To quote the book and movie The Secret, “Thoughts Become Things.” If you want to live a happy, positive life, you have to stop the negative thoughts. All together. Does that seem ludicrous or impossible? It’s not. You think it will be too hard to control all your thoughts? Like working a muscle, yes, it takes a little practice most days, then more practice every day, and so on. What? If you never speak another bad word you won’t have anything to gossip and complain to your friends about, so you’ll grow apart or not be on the same level? Hmm…did you really just think that? Hmm…

Do I never have a cynical thought? Do I never say anything snarky? Of course I do. Rarely, but when I do, usually it’s about a general idea and not a person, place, animal, creation, or specific thing made, owned, desired or loved by anyone. I have worked on myself over the past few years, and it really does take effort, but I have put so much thought into thinking positive, that before I speak something less than, spinning red lights go off in my brain and that little voice in my head starts talking. For real.

The little voice goes, “Hey. Lady. Do you really want to make that comment to your girlfriends about the way that guy’s house smells like cat pee even though he doesn’t own a cat? What can be gained from this? A laugh? A feeling of mutual agreement? Increased camaraderie? A way to fill the silence? Is that really the type of condescending comment and judgmental-ness you want people to remember when they think of you? How many other questionable things have you said today in front of this audience? One? Well, you’re allowed one  every other time you see them, so keep your trap shut on the cat pee. Next time…next time you can be witty, but try to turn on the rainbows and unicorns for a while!”

six caucasians hands that are plain clean hands from the forearm up giving thumbs up

Blurting out words is bad. My mom calls it “Diarrhea of the Mouth”. The movie Mean Girls describes it as “Word Vomit”. Mental health professionals call it “Impulsive Speech” (yes, this is an actual symptom of poor mental health, aka mental illness, if you didn’t catch it the first time). But what is it when called when you brew and stew on it, and plot it out before eloquently writing your nasty review online? If it was murder, the cops would call it “Premeditated”. And this is the worst type of murder.

What would our world be like if just one in ten people participated in the positive philosophies I described above? Would we have a raised level of consciousness for each other? Would the economy turn around because more people are getting stellar reviews online and citizens are inspired and enthusiastic about trickling down their dollars to local business owners? Would business owners take greater pride in their service and strive even harder to give consumers a better value? Would we all live happier lives? Could we love each other more?

Could we all just love each other more.

Southeastern Connecticut Bulletin Boards

Natural coastline of a sandy beach, blue ocean, and blue sky in niantic, connecticut

Did you read Starting a Business on a Small Budget: Business Cards? If not, check out my article for tips before you start this process.

I have listed here places to post or place business cards in the southeastern Connecticut area:
EAST LYME:

  • Parcel Center
  • East Lyme Pizza
  • Tri Town Market
  • Health Nut
  • Smokey O’Grady’s
  • East Lyme Public Library
  • Parks & Rec.
  • Youth Center
  • Smith Acres
  • Niantic Healthfood Store
  • Burke’s Tavern
  • Ring’s Lumber
  • Town Hall
  • EL Middle School copy room

OLD LYME

  • Four Mile Farm
  • High Hopes
  • Paint Store
  • Coffee’s Market
  • Office Supply Express
  • Big Y Supermarket
  • Lyme Library
  • Lyme Town Hall
  • Hadlyme Country Store
  • Old Lyme Phoebe-Griffin Noyse Library
  • Old Lyme Town Hall
  • First Congregational Church
  • Old Lyme Catholic Church
  • Hallmark Ice Cream
  • Point O’Woods  Tennis Courts
  • Clark Veterinary
  • Lyme Shores

OLD SAYBROOK

  • Food Works II
  • Fenwick Tennis Courts

SALEM

  • Wings & Things
  • Salem Prime Cuts
  • Salem Four Corners Plaza
  • Two Brothers  Pizza
  • Salem Feed & Grain
  • Herbfarm
  • Fire and Hearth Bread

MONTVILLE

  • Nature’s Art Dino Center

WATERFORD

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Eastern Mountain Sports
  • Green Survival Landscaping
  • Waterford Public Library
  • Utopia Salon

NEW LONDON

  • Fiddlehead’s Food Co-op
  • Thames River Yacht Club
  • Connecticut College

GROTON

  • Groton Public Library
  • UCONN Avery Point
  • Mystic Valley Hunt Club

LEDYARD

  • The Paddock Tack Shop

EAST HADDAM

  • Ray of Light Farm

If you have any additions or changes I can make, please email me.

Remember to read my tips at Starting a Business on a Small Budget: Business Cards.

Best of luck!

 

Santa Barbara, California Bulletin Boards

The Riviera section of Santa Barbara, California backed by six tall palm trees

As a follow-up to my last post, Starting a Business on a Small Budget: Business Cards, I thought it might be helpful to list some places I’ve actually posted my own business cards in the past that worked for me.

I lived in Santa Barbara, California for about six years, and was self-employed for two of them. Now, of course I am missing some; I don’t live there anymore so some of these locations may have changed, but this will hopefully give you a place to start.

I wish someone had done this work when I was searching for places to post my cards when I started a business!

It takes a lot of time, gas, and brain-energy to think of where there might be a bulletin board or where you think you heard your neighbor’s daughter’s boss remembering seeing one, and actually remembering your cards, driving there, parking, getting out and posting them, but believe me, it was worth it!

I hope this list can make your experience faster and easier than mine was:

Tri-County Produce on Milpas

Outside of Naan Stop on Embarcadero Del Mar

Island Feed & Seed

La Cumbre Feed

SBCC

UCSB

Marina 1
Marina 2
Marina 3
Marina 4

Paul Mitchell School (in the back)

Trader Joes: De La Vina Street and Calle Real, Goleta

Goleta Public Library on Fairview

Goleta Valley Athletic Center

UPS at Five Points Plaza

Jedlicka’s Saddlery: De La Vina Street, Santa Barbara and in Los Olivos

Starbucks at:
1046-A Coast Village
539 State
800 State
1235 State
1990 Cliff Drive
3815 State
3957 State
175 North Fairview
888 Embarcadero Del Norte

Backyard Bowls: Downtown Santa Barbara and Calle Real, Goleta

Pacific Capital Bancorp Cafeteria at 1 South Los Carneros

Paesanos Pizza

Paradise Grill

Rosario Park Neighborhood

West Camino Cielo Neighborhood

Kinevan Neighborhood

Painted Cave Neighborhood

Trout Club Neighborhood

Winchester Gun Club

Remember, make sure to post about four cards at each board, remember to bring tacks, tape, and a staple gun if you have one, and choose a good spot where people will see them and they won’t be covered up or blend in. Consider printing this list and dating where you left cards so you have a record.

For more information, read Starting a Business on a Small Budget: Business Cards.

Good luck!

coast line of santa barbara, California showing the city and ocean from an airplane

Starting a Business on a Small Budget: Business Cards

cork bulletin board filled with colorful business cards and larger flyers

When bootstrapping a new business, a wise entrepreneur should weigh the value of every decision.

I found that for certain service businesses that thrive on local support, it can be helpful to advertise as locally and as cheaply as possible.

If you have virtually no budget, creating a website and business cards should be your first two “front-end” steps for starting a new business.

Having a website enables you to have some sort of “storefront” or business identity, and provides basic information to potential customers. It can also help put you on the map, literally. After deciding on and purchasing a domain name, I recommend Vista Print the most for creating attractive, decent quality business cards. They run pretty cheap, as long as you search for a coupon code.

Domain name registration runs about $10 per year, and site hosting could be $7 per month if you can only pay monthly, or $3-$4 per month if you can pay for a year or more up front. I am totally in love with JustHost for both buying domain names (websites; the words between the www. and the .com) and hosting them (keeping them online for the world to see). Business cards can range from free to hundreds of dollars, but for starting up your business, plan to just get 250 cards and spend $10-$25, which includes shipping. Make sure your business is even viable and set up the way you want before you start spending money, only to trash your cards or pick a new business name or domain name.

Once you have your business cards, sure, you can hand them out to your family, friends, people you meet, or anyone who will take one, but an easy way to get customers is to simply post your cards on local bulletin boards or other places cards are allowed.

Cheap or Free Places to Advertise or find bulletin boards:

  • Online: Craigslist
  • Online: similar local websites like Penny-Saver, local newspapers, local chamber of commerce website
  • Public libraries
  • Churches/places of worship
  • Colleges
  • Co-ops of any type
  • Health food stores
  • Doctor, dentist, chiropractor, and vet offices
  • Coffee shops
  • Chambers of commerce (even if you’re not a member)
  • Bars
  • Locally-owned grocery stores
  • Anywhere hippies, activists, homesteaders, locavores, or other new-age, progressive-type people congregate

More Tips for business cards:

  • Don’t scatter them all over town from a plane or otherwise. That is littering and no one wants to touch dirty pieces of paper.
  • If you hand them out to family or friends, give them two or three cards, and choose an ideal time when they are not in a rush and shoving your card into their pocket or oblivion. Perhaps go to their house, mention your new card, and stick a few on the fridge or whiteboard.
  • When you meet people out while socializing, instead of fumbling around trying to exchange names and numbers, simply hand them two cards to keep and tell them to text you. Now. That way they will have your cards, have your number saved, and be making contact.
  • Young Professionals, Rotary Club, Toastmasters, and places you volunteer at are all good places to hand out your card.
  • Don’t print your own cards – they look ripped or cut unevenly, and the printing is often not straight or even.
  • Sometimes flyers are effective ways of advertising a special or an event. These are usually simpler, so it may be OK to print these yourself, but if you cut them, make sure to use a paper-cutter! Go to a library, school you have access to, or office supply store that will allow you to use their paper-cutter.
  • Throw out stained or wrinkled cards, or cards that are in any way not perfect.
  • Carry thumb tacks, tape, and a staple gun if you have one for posting your business cards on bulletin boards
  • If a board is empty and doesn’t have cards on it, maybe it’s because there are no tacks! Leave 5-10 extra tacks for other people. That way, you might be the one who starts making that board a popular spot!
  • I always post four cards. That way, when I come back to visit the bulletin board, I know how many people took.
  • Make a chart of known local bulletin boards (or places to leave a small stack of cards). Pick a morning and start making the rounds. Mark the date and location of each place you left your cards. It’s great to have a record, and know where to go back and target a few months from now, and have a reference for how fast your cards got taken.
  • Bulletin board etiquette: It is OK to move other people’s giant floppy flyers or misaligned business cards as long as you move them to an equally beneficial spot. It’s not nice or ethical to move them to a crappier spot like really high or really low or where they are going to get rained on or covered up.
  • If someone uses six tacks to put up a 1/4 page flyer, it is OK to borrow one. It helps them not look ridiculous.
  • If you are in doubt about leaving a small stack of cards somewhere, or the board is covered by glass, or says “events only” just ask someone in the store if you can put your cards up, or if they can do it for you. Most local businesses are happy to help other business owners.
  • If you are still in doubt or there is no one to ask, just go for it! No one is going to hate you or reprimand you for trying to make an honest living by promoting your business.
  • Use your Feng-Shui skills and pick an eye-catching spot for your card. If you are really tall or really short, imagine eye-level for average people. Unless your business targets really tall or really short/wheelchair-using people.
  • If your business card is blue, don’t put it next to three other blue cards. Likewise, if it is minimalist and professional, or very ornate with a photo, put it near other cards that look different.
  • Consider buying a few business card holders for places where you can just leave your card. I have had good luck making sure I keep track of where I left them, ensuring that they stay full, and putting a return address label on the bottom and inside so they don’t get “borrowed”.
  • Skip the business card magnets unless you have a big budget. They rock, but getting nice ones that don’t look like hell is very expensive.
  • Always carry clean, nice cards! Put them in your home, in your wallet, in a business card case, in your bra when you go jogging (unless you sweat a lot), behind your cellphone case, hidden in your desk if you still work for The Man, in your mother’s purse, everywhere. The worst is when someone asks for your card and you don’t have one! Ahh, lost business opportunity. Don’t let it happen to you.

Now, I hope this is obvious, but there are many businesses that really lend themselves to posting business cards, such as trades like plumbing or electrical work, equipment rental businesses, horseback riding, golf, tennis, or dance lessons, natural health care businesses, artists, photographers, baby sitters, pet sitters, etc.

There are other businesses that really aren’t going to do as well. For example, most people aren’t going to hire a corporate attorney out of the Penny Saver. Divorce lawyer or child support lawyer, maybe. You may or may not want to find a reconstructive surgeon from the bulletin board at your local dive bar. Use discretion. ; )

Good luck!

A Guide to Saying Words Properly for the Overly-Educated and/or Upper-middle Class Populace

curly hair woman talking to bald man at college campus

For some, it’s religion.

For people like my mother, education is the road to salvation. She is forever pestering and propagandizing my sister and me to seek advanced degrees. With student loans still whipping our asses like jockeys riding Kentucky Derby losers, we don’t want no education, at least until til those are settled.

This endless educational journey for a “cleansed soul” is like the financial nightmare version of a pilgrimage up Mount Kailash.

I love reading. I love achieving. I love learning. That’s all cool and great by me. I just appreciate when people learn the right things. Like how to have a coherent conversation with another human being.

If you keep your nose shoved in your books for 25 years and graduate with all sorts of honors and double majors and masters and doctorates and score some fancy letters after your name, that in no way guarantees you from sounding like an idiot.

In theory, what should cause you to sound intelligent is from listening to intelligent people speak and imitating their diction. However, it has been my experience talking with many people with higher merit and IQ scores than I, and this is far from the case. Maybe I’m get caught up in semantics, but it is totally distracting when highly “educated”/cultural/people of stature or honor mispronounce words or use incorrect phrases. It’s like, ” Are you three? Who the hell taught you to speak?’

For this particular purpose, I am going to omit the common mispronunciations that make us all turn up our noses and scoff. Axe, libary, Walmarts, and so on, will not be included here.

Small Talk:

Let’s start off when you bump into one of your colleagues at Whole Foods. They will ask, “How are  you?” Now stop. Do not respond, “I’m good.” This is an inappropriate response. Good is an adjective, a describing word, like fancy, rich, or uptight. Your friend is not asking what kind or category person you are, they want to know how, or in what manner, you are at the moment. They are looking for an adverb. Adverbs describe how, where, when, how often and why something happens. This is why you need to respond, “I’m well, thank you.” Well is an adverb. Of course, if you are not well, you can be a Debbie downer about it and risk sounding like a complainer, or suck it up and lie and say you are well. Most people say “I’m good”. This doesn’t make is right, and it doesn’t make it OK. If you really bothered to go to school for X number of years and either earn scholarships by busting your tail or are still paying off student loans into your fifties, why the hell are you going to sound uneducated when you are first meeting someone? Wasn’t it the point of all your hard labor, to be educated and correct in all things? Don’t blow it right off the bat.

Now, maybe you get into talking about how cold it’s been this February (Feb-brew-ary. Not Feb-you-ary), and you are shopping for hot beverages to percolate (per-co-late, not per-cue-late) into a hot brew.

You might be looking for certified-organic fair-trade coffee beans. If you like Espresso, then make sure you pronounce it Ess-press-oh. Now that’s class in a glass. It is not Ex-press-oh. This is the Starbucks version of axing people questions. If Busta Rhymes figured out how to pronounce Courvoisier, I’m sure, with practice, you can become proficient at Espresso.

Perhaps you get into talking about whetting your appetite with a little dessert. Please don’t say “wet”. Did you ever see that Family Guy episode where Brian, (the talking dog) really enunciates Cool Whip? He and Stewie (the talking baby) get into a “wh” discussion. If not, watch this clip. And practice: whhhhhet.

Which leads me into saliva. Sa-live(as in live music)-ah. It is not “sa-lava”. Saliva comes from the Salivary glands. Lava comes from volcanoes.

If you have your heart set on something a little creamier than sorbet (which I know you know how to pronounce), be sure you are equally as learned in sherbet. Shur-bet, not sher-bert. There is only one “r’. Bert is a character on Sesame Street.

 

Maybe you’ll mention you can’t talk too long because you need to meet your realtor (real-tor, not re-la-tor) or pick up your Xanax prescription. Pre-scription, not Per-scription.

However, you continue talking for 45 minutes. You explain that you need your zannies because they offer you a respite (res-pit, not re-spite) from your teenage son, whom has caused you much perspiration (here we go again with the “pre-” prefices: Press-per-ation, not per-spur-ation) because he has  developed the recurring (not re-occuring, there is no such word) problem of sneaking out of the house at night.

In fact, just last Friday, he sneaked  (not snuck) out again. It’ shocking really, because he excels in academics and athletics, and is usually such a good kid. Naturally, he is the “spit and image” (not spittin’ image) of his father at that age, height (not heigth: no such word) and all.  In fact, he just won his age group in his last triathlon (try-ath-lon, not tri-atha-lon). And you should have read the paper he submitted on Aesop’s (Ee-sop, not Ay-sop) Fables! You’re really going to have to make a forte (fort, not for-tay) to get him back on track. The word is spelled “forte” but the “e” is pronounced only when speaking of music, as a “forte passage.” The words for a strong point and that mess of pillows and blankets covering your bonus room are pronounced the same: “fort”.

Perhaps this matter gets you so upset that you fall back against a display of herbs. All English speakers outside of the United States, as well as educated people within the US say, “Hhherbs”. The rest of America drops the “h”, which, in my opinion, is just as bad as saying “git ‘er dun”.

Now, if in this process, you scuff your Hermès bag, this is where you can drop that “h”. Pronounce it “air-mez”. If you consider repairing it with your L’Occitane  (Lox-ee-tan) lotion, maybe you should cut back on the zannies.

Your companion may turn back to lighter conversation such as giving you a compliment on your jewelry (jewel-ry, not jew-lerey. Jewel is the root word here, see to it that it makes it into your enunciation) or on your clothes (not close), or even on your perfectly umber (um-ber, not ohm-ber-ray or omm-bray; don’t try to class it up with a botched foreign language pronunciation) hair.

Now, a note here: umber is a natural brown clay pigment that contains iron and manganese oxides. The color becomes more intense when heated, and the resulting pigment is called burnt umber. So check it out: is your hair

or is it

?

Regardless, “umber” is the English translation derived from the Latin word for shadow, “umbra”. If you think it raises your social stature to say the French translation, “ombre” (om-bray), know that this more commonly refers to the card game Ombre. In “real” France, whether it’s used as a noun (the actual pigment) or an adjective (the color description), the phrasing is more specific: terre d’ombre. Even raw umber must be described as “ombre naturelle”. Ombre is not a stand-alone word unless referring to the game.

Heavier Conversation:

Now perhaps that person you ran into was an old college friend. Most likely, your alumnus pal is just one of many alumni (co-ed/including males) you knew.  However, if you graduated from Wellesley, she would be one of the many alumnae (alum-nee, not alum-nay, and female, plural).

If you’re into the sciences, you may discuss the publication of your journal article on wasp larvae (lar-vee, not lar-vay), or your recent trip to the Arctic (Ark-tick, not Ar-tick) where you worked on a research project involving the prions (pree-on, not pry- on) of fungi (although the dictionary considers both fun-guy and fun-jee acceptable pronunciations, remember the root word is fungus, so fun-jee is kind of an unnecessary stretch).

Let’s take a moment to consider the word prion.  In 1982, American neurologist and biochemist Stanley Prusiner, made up this portmanteau from the words “protein” and “infection”. Protein-infection. The word is so new, perhaps any pronunciation may be acceptable, but Prusiner invented it, he says pree-on, and he’s American. So if you are not American and say “pry-on”, realize that just because we are in our own country we don’t call ballet “bal-ett”; we respect the French language and use their pronunciation, “bal-lay”.

On a humorous note, when asked by a foreigner how to avoid bad meat while visiting America, Brian Wickham responded, “Prion is pronounced “May-oh-naze”. Always order your burgers without this. At least on the East Coast anyway.”

Or maybe politics is more your game. You might mention your opinions on parliament (par-lia-ment, not par-la-ment) or Angela Merkel’s (Un-goo-lah and I like to think: Medical’s, making a soft “r”) latest decision.

Additional subjects may arise, pertaining to government (gov-vern-ment, not gov-ver-mit nor gov-ver-ment) such as what candidate (can-did-dett, not can-a-date nor can-a-dit. R emember, you always want to have a good candidate for your “candy date”!) you’re giving your vote to. Or perhaps you’re concerned on the latest nuclear (nu-clear, not nuke-you-lar) policy, or what politician was indicted (in-dite-ted, not in-dick-ted) for what.

Regardless of who you need to impress to maintain your perceived educational and social stature, the only exception that you are allowed to make, is “Duck Tape” for Duct tape, because ducks are just that fucking cool.

         

10 Ways To Be a Better Person

beautiful woman silhouette dancing on beach sunset

Feeling good is all about enlightenment. Whether you seek perfection, or just a positive change to your life, the progression “upwards” is more of a life-long meditation than a journey to a final goal. There are many ways to feel good about yourself and the actions you take. Here are 10 of my favorites:

1. Remember your re-useable shopping bags when you go into a store. Grab more re-useable bags than you think you need. If you have two or less, make the investment and buy a few more. Some places even offer them for free as a promotion.  Alternately, if you are only buying a few items, just carry them out (make sure you get your receipt so it doesn’t look like you are walking out without paying!) Or put them in your pockets, purse, or backpack.

2. Be nice to a creature you don’t especially care for. Whether this means picking a worm off the sidewalk and putting him on the grass or smiling at OPC (Other People’s Children), it will make you feel like a better human being.

3. Use washable food and beverage containers. Invest in some glass or BPA- free plastic  Tupperware and water bottles. Don’t use paper plates, paper cups, or plastic utensils. For storing food, baggies are a no-no (unless you are really earthy and wash them, although I don’t know how sanitary that is in the long run), as is aluminum foil and plastic wrap. Likewise, don’t grab a fistful of napkins every time you go to Panera. Just take what you need, even if  you have messy kids, because you know 90% of those napkins are going to be stashed, crumpled, and unused until you deem them old and ratty enough to throw out so you can get cleaner, newer, nicely folded napkins.

man hand holding saved baby bird

4. Take the time to find out what items your waste management company recycles. This goes for home and work. Look it up online, see if it is printed on the recycling container, or make a quick call. Separate trash that is recyclable from that which is not. You’ll probably be surprised how much is recyclable!

If your area offers a refund on glass, plastic, and aluminum beverage containers, separate these out too. If you don’t care to cash them in yourself, give them to an avid recycler, a homeless person, or you could offer them to a local nonprofit.

5. Turn off lights/unnecessary appliances when you leave a room, and if you live with other people, encourage them to do the same. Nothing is worse than coming into a house with every light and TV on, when no one is even home.

Better yet, switch all your incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs. This can be an investment, and while it’s not as pricey as you may think, figure out how many bulbs and of what kind you need and make a budget and execute it, if you need to do this over time. Make a list. Include chandeliers, bulbs in the attic and basement, bulbs on appliances, and outdoor lighting. You will be astounded how much your electricity consumption goes down!

Earth Mother: Circular psychedelic image of a Woman breathing out sky, laying in the sea, with rainbow sun rays and land in the background

6. Support a local business owner. Whether it’s a quaint gift shop, a farmer’s market, or a sandwich stand that makes artisan breads, give your money to your local economy and keep it close.

7. Insist on a “TV turnoff week”. Don’t try it, do it. It’s not that hard, and if you feel like it’s hard, I pity you. What an empty life you have and you don’t even know it! Whether you live alone or with others, this is a great way to have a lot more fun connecting with other people. That may mean playing battleship one night, socializing with friends another, completing a project, or finally reading that book you’ve been thinking about.

8. Look a stranger in the eyes and smile. Say hello if the opportunity presents its self. Try this with a neighbor who is out walking, someone at a traffic light, or someone in line next to you at the market. You never know how someone’s day is going or how many unfriendly, blank stares they got. Just be nice! It’s free.

9. The next time you go to make a negative judgement on someone, whether to yourself or a friend, don’t. I don’t care if you see a 14 year-old with a baby or a lady that weighs 700 pounds and her butt crack is exposed or a guy with the most epic uni-brow you have ever seen. Think of something nice you notice about them. It doesn’t matter if you say it in your head, to your friend, or even to that person. Stop the negative, defensive, judgmental thinking. This habit will make you much more satisfied with your own life.

10. Go for a walk outside. Not a run, not a bike ride, not to the gym, and not a lap around the mall. Only about 20% of this one has to do with exercise. It’s more about observation, and awareness of your community and surroundings. Notice that your neighbors painted their shutters, or the new boat in the harbor, or all the cardinals that come out in December to look for berries. Get connected and make it a habit to actually live life in real-time, rather than through MSNBC or People Magazine or Facebook. Be that person doing things, seeing things, and experiencing life.

black and white photo of a man's hand holding out a daisy

If you try some of these, and I sincerely hope you do, think about getting in the habit of channel Benjamin Franklin, and every morning, ask yourself, “What good can I do today?”

 

How To Protect Yourself When The Police Come To Your Door

Seven police officers dressed in black SWAT gear with helmets and rifles at the front door of a house with a white picket fence

In support of the police: I have friends and friend’s family members who are police and who are very good people. I want to give them ultimate respect and appreciation for putting their lives on the line and performing such a necessary civic duty. I recognize that there is a lot of pressure put on the police to get quantifiable results, and that they are always in the spotlight.

However, just as there are unethical and possibly even malicious doctors, teachers, coaches, accountants, and so on, I think that because the police hold such high authority in our society and are so accessible and close to a community, repercussions of manipulation and misdoings by people in authoritative roles are magnified.

The Constitution of the United States greatly interests me, and I have taken up study of our Amendments/Bill of Rights. I have been aquaintanced with many people who have unnecessarily gotten themselves into hot water (embarrassed, fined, arrested, kicked out of their living situation, etc.) simply by not knowing or exercising their rights.

The Fourth Amendment states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

thereby giving citizens protection from unreasonable search and seizure. You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car, or your home.

Again, the Fourth Amendment protects you from an authority of the law searching your body, your possessions (rented, owned, borrowed, or otherwise) including your car or home, and confiscating any property related in any way to you.

This article focuses specifically on the unreasonable search of your premise, i.e. police attempting to search your house without a properly filled out, signed, and dated search warrant. Just because they have a piece of paper that has the word “warrant” at the top, does not make it valid, but more on that later.

While many of us don’t think the police will ever come to our home, a police officer knocking on a door is not an uncommon occurrence. Whether its due to questions about a crime that happened down the street, checking in on a loud party, or the dreaded notification that someone was in an accident, many people find themselves answering the door to a police officer at some point in their lives.

Unfortunately, innocent people get arrested all the time. Any time the police show up at your home, you are at risk for being arrested. When a cop enters your home, whether or not he or she is searching for contraband, if they see something questionable, they only need to prove they had a reasonable suspicion in order to do a search. You don’t know if your college-age son left his copy of High Times on the coffee table, or your wife dropped an empty tiny baggie that contained extra buttons, or you left a fish gutting knife out next to the sink that is reflecting something red or brown. Any of these items could lead to further questioning, which will undoubtedly make you nervous, and might make you say something jokingly, which could be interpreted as incriminating. It’s important to know and protect your rights and your family’s rights if the police come to your home. Whether you have kids, roommates, or guests, you just can’t know every single item that may have ended in your home. Deal with any issues internally; bringing the police into it is only going to cause heartache, lots of money, and could even incriminate you.

If police, detectives, FBI, etc. come to your door…

What you do depends on your comfort level of risk. whether or not they are positive you are home, you can either ignore them, or choose to attend to them.

If you choose to hang tight and pretend you aren’t home, have your cell phone video camera ready and hidden because if the door is unlocked and they think no one is looking, they will try to open it. If you have proof that they entered without a warrant, lucky you! Don’t let them know they are being recorded because they will destroy your device and not report it. They can also claim obstruction of justice if they catch you recording them. It might be best to make your presence known but not open the door.

Before you attend to them, grab a phone (even if it’s dead, even if it’s fake, even if it’s really a TV remote control), paper, and a pen as props. The game here is to be professional, prepared, and educated.

In many states, you do not have to identify yourself, provide ID, or say anything. Do your research on your state’s current law. However, in all states, giving a false name is a crime, so you are fully entitled to say nothing.

You should not need your ID or any paperwork, but it would be prudent to make copies of anything you think you might need and place it near each door leading to the outside. Under a chair by the front main door, tacked to a wall, hidden in a nearby Longaberger basket…whatever works with your decor. If a warrant is served, this may be especially useful and time saving for all parties involved.

Never open the door when police knock…never!

There is no law that says you have to open the door for a police officer.

Let me restate that: Never open the door when police knock…never! If you step outside the doorway, you can be put under arrest right then and there. If you keep the door open and they see something suspect inside, they may push you aside and lie that you let them in, since opening the door may be construed as an invitation to enter.

Do not open the door. Not even if you are totally innocent and have absolutely nothing to hide. Not if you get nervous. Not if you think you know why they are there. Not if it’s your best friend’s cousin’s neighbor if he’s on duty and shows up unexpectedly. Not even if they claim to have a warrant, or make threats, and definitely, definitely not if they actually do have a legitimate warrant. Let them break the door down if they want in so bad. The price of a new door will pale in comparison to the legal fees you’ll face if you did give the police a reason to obtain a warrant, so don’t worry about it.

Here is how it goes:
The police stay outside the door, and you stay inside the house with the door shut between you. It is completely legal to not open the door. Do not open the door, or cross the doorway, or allow them inside, under any circumstances.

Talk to them through the door only. When you get to the door, do not lock it while they are there or they can arrest you for obstructing and delaying. If it is unlocked, the fact that it is shut is enough to keep them out. If it is locked before they get there, that is OK too.

Do not talk to them through a window. If you have a glass or screen storm door, keep the main solid door habitually shut. If you have happen to not have your hands in plain sight they can claim to think you have a gun can legally kick the door down. If they move to the window to talk, you stay by the door and stay there until they are by the door.

You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud. Speak to the police as little as possible, give no personal information about who you are, what you are doing, if you are a resident or a guest, or what is inside. Just inform them that you know your Rights, and tell them which Right they might violate if it is appropriate to.

Good ways to be polite is to say:
“Hi there, I’m going to remain Silent.”
“Sorry, I’m not answering questions today.”
“Thanks, but I’m exercising my 5th Amendment Right.”
“I know my rights and I’m choosing not to speak with you.”
“No, I’m cool here thanks, I have nothing to say.”
“Sorry, I can’t/won’t talk to you.”

If you must speak, say ,“Hello”. If they ask you to open the door or to come in, always say no.
Clearly,  loudly, politely, firmly, say the exact word, “No”. Not “um, no, thanks”, not, “uhh I don’t think I can,” not anything that can be construed or warped or misinterpreted. Just “No.” It can and should be polite, but it must be strong.

Many people feel that silence is awkward and rude. Keeping your mouth shut may feel unnatural and disrespectful, but remember, the police know the law and you’re not going to offend anyone by keeping silent in a potentially legal situation.  Make sure you are not answering any unnecessary questions. The police are invested in keeping us all safe, but they also want to arrest people for crimes. Many police officers will ask people completely irrelevant questions for an extended period of time in the hopes of uncovering a crime. As long as you’re answering, they’re allowed to ask. Remember, refuse to answer any questions other than about your identity, If they are really pestering you, ask if you are under arrest, and if not, ask the officer to leave. Remain courteous to the officers at all times, even if they are not courteous to you.

When police ask you something, do not answer. On-duty police are not your friends; their jobs come first. They use drug arrests (the easy pickings) to gain fame and fortune (for some reason local press usually lauds these cops). Police are allowed to lie to you  to try and get you to talk. Even if you are thinking of saying something that you think is not incriminating, do not say it. Do not talk to them.

Again: There is no law that says you have to open the door for a police officer. Opening the door not only gives the police officer the opportunity to look around for clues to your lifestyle, friends, reading material, etc; but also tends to prolong the conversation. Don’t open your door with the chain-lock on either, the police can shove their way in. Police are known to kick in doors. Simply shout “I have nothing to say!”

Do not initiate conversation, and do not make any noise. Banging and rustling around gives police reason to suspect you are destroying some type of evidence, and they can search your house without a warrant for that.

A police officer cannot search your home without a search warrant or a belief that someone is in immediate danger. You cannot in any way benefit from a search of your home. It’s a violation of your privacy, and on principle alone, you should exercise this right!

If they say they have a warrant, ask them to slip it under the door and you read it thoroughly and completely and deem it to be real. They will come in on their own if it is real.

If they have no warrant, but claim they have probable cause to come in, absolutely do not let them in. If they truly do have probable cause, they will kick the door in. This will 99% probably never happen due to laws. If you are calm and there is no screaming or gunshots or blood spatters, they do not have probable cause.

They are legally allowed to bluff you and say there was an anonymous 911 call of someone screaming (or similar). As long as you talk through the door timely and present yourself calmly, they have no reason to believe any crime is committed and may not come in.

Just say, “Everything is great here, I have nothing to say, thank you”. If they persist, you ask the questions, but don’t give any information. Ask for the officers’ names and badge numbers.  Write all this information down, or pretend to. Not all departments have to give them by law, but ask anyways. Ask what department they are from, and confirm that they are in their jurisdiction, and write this down, too.

Women especially are encouraged to actually call the present officers’ department and confirm that they are supposed to be there, using their badge numbers. It could be a pervert or robber dressed up!

To end the conversation ask “Am I free to go?” Do not say anything more until you get a direct “Yes” or “No” from the police. Keep asking. Don’t answer any of their questions. Do not let them intimidate you. Keep asking until they say Yes and leave.

If they continue to say “no,” since you are still in your house, tell them to leave now, that you do not consent to their presence or search, and get on the phone you have with you and tell them that you are calling your lawyer. (The reason you say that you are calling a lawyer is two-fold: first, it puts the cops on notice that they should go harass someone else; and second, while they will tell you that you cannot use the phone, they know that one can always have counsel present while in custody, so you can surely have advice of counsel when you are not in custody). Of course, you do not have to call any real lawyer, just call your own voicemail and make a recording of the events in a loud voice saying stuff like: “The police are at my house/apartment without a warrant and no probable cause, they are not invited, I have asked them to leave, I do not consent to any search, etc.” If after all that, the police still do not leave, just sit there and be quiet.

Inform the police you are going to file a written complaint & call your local American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) if you feel your rights have been violated.

Believe it or not, you may have to brief them on the rulings and codes above to shut them up because they do not know what they are talking about in many cases

Personally, I’ve had extremely limited encounters with police. I’m never been arrested, and never had much trouble outside of traffic tickets. However, I’ve had four separate incidents proving that the Santa Barbara Police and the Forest Service do not know laws. Officers I dealt with on four separate occasions did not know:

  • The extremely important difference between assault and battery;
  • What dirtbikes are forest legal, street legal, or neither. They don’t know their colors: green sticker vs. red sticker vs. no sticker, and can’t identify a spark arrestor when they see one with SPARK ARRESTOR stamped on the side. How silly, not to mention embarrassing for them!
  • Forest Service also tried pitifully to “enforce” the “Adventure Pass” which is a scammy, voluntary national forest useage fee not covered by any law, by unlawfully ticketing people and collecting the revenue.

They may harass you and pretend to know, but you may have to straighten them out! Be confident, firm, quiet, polite, and unwavering. Do not give them any personal information, but if they try to bully their way in or bully information out of you, feel free to state the rulings and codes you are protected by. If you are inclined to do research, maybe print out this information and keep it by your doors.

Never agree to go to the police station for questioning. Stay in your house.

Third-Party Consent

If a person gives permission to the police to search another individual’s property, this is considered third-party consent.

There are three general rules for legal third-party consent to searches:

  1. Husbands and wives may grant consent to search for each other.
  2. Parents can consent to search their minor child’s room.
  3. Minor children are not allowed to consent to a search of their parents’ property because they are underage.

In addition to family members having third-party consenting privileges, there are two types of authority for third-party consent to searching one’s personal property. The two types of authority are common authority and apparent authority.

Common authority is when there is shared use of a property and only one of the parties is present. For example, when a home is shared by two friends and one of the roommates is not present at the time of the search. This also applies to adult children or family members living with the homeowner. Additionally this applies to renters, couch-surfers, or guests living in the same building, with a landlord/sublettee, or homeowner who lives there full time and qualifies in all ways as a legal resident. This type of search is only allowed in the common areas of the property being searched. Personal, specific spaces such as designated bedrooms or closets or common rooms may not be searched.

Whether a landlord lives at a different address or on the same property, if you rent your premise fully from them, they cannot allow the police in your home. Most states give permissible reasons for landlords to enter tenants’ homes in an emergency in the absence of the tenants’ permission, like if the house is on fire or there is a confirmed gas leak. For example if the emergency of a fire occurs, and the firemen show up, and the paramedics, and the police, and they all do their thing and some kind of criminal evidence is discovered, note that all those people had probable cause to legally enter. Conversely, if there is no emergency and your landlord give you 24 hours notice that they want to come in to make repairs, note that only the landlord may enter. If they want a repair person to enter to keep the house legally habitable, like a plumber to fix a leak, a locksmith to replace compromised locks, or an exterminator to handle a confirmed pest problem, they must again notify you, and you can require that person to sign in and sign out. If they want an unnecessary person to enter your leased premise, such as a plumber to put fancier faucets on when the current ones work, a real estate agent to give them an estimation on something, etc, in most jurisdictions, you can actually refuse, and even claim harassment charges. A landlord may not let police enter for any reason, with or without notice. A request by a police officer to enter a rented home, without more, is no justification for the landlord to turn over the keys. The same is true for hotel operators. Of course, if the police return with a warrant, that’s another matter.
Again: be prepared and have a clear, written lease. Yes: oral contracts are just as binding as written contracts, but it’s your word against theirs, so have written documentation to be safe.

Next, Apparent Authority refers to a situation where a reasonable person would understand that an agent had authority to act. In other words, apparent authority is when police enter property without a warrant by someone who does not own the property, but who the police believe has some form of authority over the property. This is best illustrated by a man who has a key to his ex-girlfriend’s apartment, thus displaying apparent authority over the property and allowing the police to search the premises. A warrantless search does not violate the Fourth Amendment if a person possessing, or reasonably believed to possess, authority over the premises voluntarily consents to the search. So be careful to whom you give keys, codes, garage door openers, or other information. If you choose to give a dating partner, friend, neighbor, house sitter, etc the ability to enter your house without you, inform them of your preferences on not letting police in, and how to lock up your pets in case a warrant is served.

Legal Searches Without a Warrant
The Plain View Doctrine allows an officer to search and seize evidence found in plain view during a lawful observation without a warrant.

For the plain view doctrine to apply for discoveries, the three-prong Horton test requires:

  1. the officer to be lawfully present at the place where the evidence can be plainly viewed,
  2. the officer to have a lawful right of access to the object, and
  3. the incriminating character of the object to be “immediately apparent.”

Police can get a good, legal look at you through your windows from the street, from public property, from a property they have permission to be at, and from an airplane or helicopter in the sky. Additionally, they may have a case if your neighbor’s land is a field, abandoned, or commonly used for hiking. Police can use binoculars.
However, in all states, police cannot scan a home with infrared technology (FLIR, heat detectors, etc) without a search warrant. Kyllo v. US 2010 deemed this violates unreasonable search 4th Amendment rights.

So, be prepared. Don’t leave anything questionable in view of a window.

In fact, it is a good idea to keep all vehicles (cars, RVs, trailers, dirt bikes) and anything else with a registration number or identifying information garaged or covered with a tarp or similar. Don’t let a parking ticket or expired registration give them a reason to bother you or think you’re a criminal. They cannot tow a vehicle from private property unless the owner requested it. If it is inconvenient or not possible to habitually cover your vehicles every time you come home, it would be prudent to strategically block VIN/registration stickers/plate areas so they cannot be seen with binoculars from another property or the air. Use a bush, a fence section, or park your car facing a certain way. Don’t let them bluff you and scare you about your vehicles.

Police can walk around your yard if you don’t have a fence up. Consider installing a perimeter fence with an electric gate requiring a code.

The plain sight doctrine is also regularly used by TSA Federal Government Officers while screening persons and property at U.S. airports. Remember, you have the legal right not to go through those creepy scanners, but you will be required to submit to a pat down. It is interesting to note, on May 17, 2012, a TSA executive admitted not one single terrorist-related arrest resulted from those whole-body scanners.

Depending on your state laws, Plain Earshot and Plain Smell may also be applicable. (Plain feel also exists but pertains more to a bodily search).

One of the most common reasons police are called to a home is a loud party. If the police knock on your door, turn off the music, quiet down the party, and regain control over your guests before attending to the door. Showing the officers you have control of the situation is an excellent way to improve your situation as quickly as possible.

Next, when you attend to the door (remember, through the closed door, without opening it) ask why they are there. Try “What are you here for?” or “What brings you here?”.

You may think you know the police are at your house because of your loud party or your delinquent sibling. However, you know what happens to people who assume! Don’t assume! They might instead be there because they think someone else lives at your house, because they have questions about a nearby crime, or something else altogether. When you assume you know why the police are there, you end up giving them incriminating information about yourself that can be used against you. Instead, always politely ask them why they’ve showed up at your house.

A big part of exercising your rights is actually knowing them. Do a little Googling on federal law, and do a little Googling on your state’s law.

For example, people in California have a lot of protection. If someone is inside, smoking something other than what seems to be tobacco, and this is visible through a window, the police do not have the right to enter due to People v. John Hua 2008.

Additionally in California, police cannot say they smell something (smoke, sweet smells, etc.) coming from your property and claim that entitles them to enter via probable cause. Stink up the world, because in some states, a smell does not give them the right to enter without a warrant.

However, in some states, if police smell drugs, alcohol, rotting dead bodies, etc. they typically may enter without a warrant. You can see how this relates to a legal, unwarranted search of a vehicle especially, if alcohol is smelled, since that driver is putting others in danger. Some jurisdictions offer more protection from this, so if this has been your situation, it may be worth fighting. It is helpful to research similar cases and see how they were ruled, as this will give you ideas for your defense and also may dictate how your trial will go.

The police may enter if there is obvious danger occurring. Blood splattering on the windows, screams, violent sounds, can all legally draw police into your home.

If the police witness someone who is wanted by the law running into your house, they can come in after them.

If the police have a reason to believe a crime is taking place and/or someone is in danger, they may legally enter immediately without a warrant.

Warrants
If the police come to your home, they may not enter unless they have a warrant. If they claim to have a warrant, ask the officer to slip the warrant under the door or hold it up to the window so you can inspect it.

There are two types of warrants: Search Warrants and Arrest Warrants.

A search warrant is used to collect evidence or physical property which may be associated with a crime. The items listed better be relevant! Note which areas and items they are looking for.

An arrest warrant allows police to enter the home of the person listed on the warrant if they believe the person is inside.

Again, a search warrant allows police to enter the exact address listed on the warrant, but officers can only search the specified areas and for the items listed. Make sure it is actually signed, has the correct date, the correct address, the correct apartment number, and the aforementioned details of what areas they can search and what they are looking for.

Sometimes, the warrant is not signed or is not correctly filled out! Especially in the case of apartments, or condos, often the address is not complete. If this is your case, say “Sorry, Wrong address.” Let them know why their warrant is invalid.

If officers have a legitimate warrant, remember, you still have the right to remain silent. If there ever was a time, this is the best time to use it! Not opening the door will probably not hurt your case, either. Let them crash the door down if they really, truly have a legitimate warrant.

Important!!! If you have pets, inform them of this. Tell them that there is a dog/iguana/bunny in the house and you are putting him in his crate. Again: protection is about preparation. Have a crate or cage ready to secure your animals at any time, for any reason. Lock your pet up in its crate ASAP. You wouldn’t want your dog/iguana/bunny to get shot and killed right in front of you because the police officer “felt endangered” or is just sadistic and wants to rattle you up and cause you to freak out or otherwise get violent.

A note on seizure. In order for an officer to seize an item, the officer must have probable cause to believe the item is evidence of a crime or is contraband. The police may not move objects to get a better view. For example, in 1987’s Arizona v. Hicks, an officer was investigating a shooting, and moved stereo equipment to record the serial numbers without probable cause, and was found to have acted unlawfully.

Even if the search warrant is legit, monitor the officer’s behavior to make sure they don’t violate the terms.

Final Thoughts
Be respectful. Remember your rights.

The most common type of search is a search with a person’s legal consent. Many times, these end in some kind of problem. Most of the time, there is no warrant issued. Don’t get caught up by being a pushover and not exercising your legal rights!

Searches based on consent obtained as an undercover officer or as an informer are usually legally admissible. Pay attention to who you let in your home, and what they ask of you.

If you mess up and somehow find yourself having accidentally given permission to be searched, know that consent can be revoked at almost any time during a consent-based search. If consent is revoked, the officers performing the search are required to immediately stop searching. The prosecution is required to prove that the consent was voluntary and not a result of coercion.

Note that there are a lot of tips included in this article on how to be prepared and protected before you are ever faced with that knock on your door. Take implementing these tips into consideration.

Remember, the police are here to do their jobs. That is OK, and is very desirable. But just like your best friend with whom you play chess, it can turn into a game of cat and mouse. For that moment when police are under pressure to prove that there is crime to fight, especially when so many public servants are being laid off, they must do their job to survive just like the rest of us. We should aim to play fairly, honestly, and competitively, without letting our friends win on purpose.

Good luck!

Funniest My Little Pony Names

Drawn collage of many My Little Ponies, unicorns, pegusi, sea horses, and animal friends surrounding a rainbow

A sense of nostalgia swept over me the other day, and carried me up into my attic. I found all my childhood horse models, toys, books, and memory boxes, so I brought them down to have a look. Everything was surprisingly well-organized. Now having an adult perspective, I wanted to check out exactly what I have. Having been born in 1984, my largest collection is, unsurprisingly, My Little Ponies. I probably have over 50.

I went online to do a little research and found, what in my opinion are, some very, very peculiar and humorous names. Some are just silly sounding, while others are questionable double-entendres for sex, drugs, and fecal matter. Normally, one would recall My Little Ponies with names like Sparkler, Magic Star, Tropical Breeze, and Hushabye. However, there are quite a few ponies with strange names.

The funniest My Little Pony names:

  • Snuzzle
  • Trickles
  • Tiny Bubbles
  • Skippity Doo
  • Scrumptious
  • Whizzer
  • Tumbleweed
  • Tangles
  • Sniffles
  • Tattles
  • Doodles
  • Noodles
  • Nibbles
  • Quackers
  • Cloud Puff
  • Salty
  • Slugger
  • Steamer
  • Munchy (I will add here that Munchy has a very detailed symbol on her hip. Munchy is decorated with hot dogs on a seeded bun with green relish; hamburgers, also on a seeded bun with green lettuce;  green pickle chips topped with seeds; and french fries with ketchup.)
  • Twisty Tail
  • Woosie
  • Tossles
  • Sqeezer
  • Circle Dancer
  • Pretty Beat
  • Halfnote
  • Little Honey Pie
  • LIttle Whiskers
  • Pretty Puff
  • Pillow Talk
  • Nightcap
  • Baby Ribbs
  • Sticky
  • Sniffles
  • Puddles
  • Bunkie
  • Jabber
  • Buzzer
  • High Flyer
  • Foamy
  • Baby Graffiti
  • Baby Snippy
  • Seawinkle
  • Sand Digger (I’m sure this pony was retired after 9/11.)
  • Beach Ball
  • Sweet Suds
  • Player
  • Swinger
  • DJ

 

  • Baby Waddles
  • Wiggles
  • Squirmy
  • Shaggy
  • Dangles
  • Cranberry Muffins
  • Boysenberry Pie
  • Napper (Most of the baby ponies are denoted by having “Baby” before their names. Notice that this one doesn’t…or it would be Baby Napper!)
  • Yo-yo
  • Tootie Tails
  • Pina Colada

Additionally, there are some questionable styles of My Little Pony. There are Baby Fancy Pants Ponies that are printed wearing white panties with colorful designs on them.

Happy Tails Ponies are ponies you can hug and they could show you that they love you back by twirling their tails. Non-horse people: as a stallion ejaculates, he performs what is known as “flagging”, where he whips his tail around in such a motion.

Drink ‘n Wet Ponies do exactly that. They drink water from their bottles through open-mouthed faces featuring a round mouth hole, and, as you’ve probably guessed, the “water” comes out a hole under their tail. Supposedly these ponies came with diapers, but I have one and I’m sure I lost the diaper immediately after opening the package, so mine just peed everywhere.

Thank you to http://www.kimsites.net/dreamvalley/ for all her great information about our favorite colorful ponies.