Letter to Tissue Box Designer

Dear Tissue Box Designer,

One of life’s little frustrations for me is dealing with your non-functional tissue container. Just pulling the first tissue through the little oval on top of the box tells me that something is lacking in the design of this product. The “first tissue” usually turns out to be a handful, all wrapped together as one. Further attempts to remove tissues from the box also produce disappointing results. Just last week, three tissues tore into thirds as I pulled them from the box and often, when I remove what appears to be the last of the tissues, I need to “go fish” for a remaining stack at the bottom of the box. This action brings me back to my first complaint as, once again, a handful is given up.

This world if full of products that are functional. Thus, I have to conclude that there are people in the world of manufacturing who actually understand design. For example:

  • My coffee pot will turn itself on and brew my coffee while I sleep, awakening me to the wonderful fresh-brewed aroma.
  • My toaster pops the bread up when it is perfectly browned according to my pre-selected setting.
  • Responding to a slight tug, my storage bags are delivered, one at a time, into my hand.
  • My shower cleaner works with the touch of a button and it gives me a fifteen second warning that, interpreted, says, “Get out of the shower, now!”
  • When I so desire, my garage door will open before it even comes into view.
  • With the touch of a few buttons, my oven will turn on and cook my roast while I listen to my minister’s sermon on Sunday morning. It also will clean itself while I go shopping.
  • The name and number of the person calling me by telephone displays on my TV screen. Thus, I do not need to pick up the phone to discover that the call is a political pitch.
  • My furnace switches on when the room temperature drops below the preset temperature on the thermostat.
  • Popcorn produces perfect white puffs in my microwave when I push the smart button that has been pre-programmed for popping corn.
  • My mixer will knead a batch of bread while I chop veggies for stew.
  • My clothes dryer can be set to dry all kinds of fabrics without damage to any of the fibers.
  • My washer senses the size of each load and adjusts the amount of water it uses accordingly.
  • Coolest of all, my sis has a vacuum that she programs to do her floors while she is away from home. Said vacuum knows it must avoid objects and skillfully skirts around each.

Are there ever glitches when using these products? Of course, but not on a daily basis! So my question is, Tissue Box Designer, why is it so difficult to conceive a tissue box that dispenses the tissues in a manner that provides customer satisfaction?

Frustrated Tissue User


Liquids and Health

Excessive daily drinking is now touted as the way to prevent disease and “fix” problems. So I’ve been considering that now may be the time for me to launch out on a new path to good mental and physical health, fluid though it may be.

Coffee will make me more mentally alert and increase my ability to concentrate, reduce my risk of heart attack, skin cancer, stroke, and depression, and increase my happiness level. I will drink a minimum of three cups of coffee each day so I can be protected and happy.

Green Tea will hydrate my cells, causing my skin to have a healthy glow. It will also provide my body with antioxidants to fight disease. One tea benefit researcher drinks ten cups per day, but the consensus is that three cups is sufficient in order for me to reap the needed benefits. An additional benefit here is that I can read the tea leaves and, hopefully, add to my happiness level with all of the good news that will provide.

Red Wine will protect my heart, lower my cholesterol, reduce Alzheimer’s risk, and protect my body against cancer. The recommended amount is one serving, which for wine is four ounces. This will remain uncharted territory for teetotaler me.

Milk will help me by preventing osteoporosis and colon cancer, lowering my blood pressure, and protecting me from Type 2 diabetes. Though recommendations are not firm, two to four servings seems to be most often recommended. Cheeses and yogurt can count for milk so, thankfully, “milk” doesn’t need to always be liquid.

Water also gets into the health act. I have always considered water a thirst quencher that I could drink when I felt the need. Not so! Apparently I need water in excessive amounts to hydrate my skin, fend off hunger, cushion and lubricate my joints, regulate  my body temperature, and help me burn fat and build muscle.

I took a water quiz. The results were quite interesting. Based on my weight (my business); living in a high altitude with a dry climate; the amount of exercise I do; the fact that I have no physical problems and take no medications; the fact that I’m not pregnant or breast feeding; and taking into consideration that I will need to add the four ounces of red wine to my daily drinking regimen; I need to swill 12+ cups of water each day.  Minus the four ounces of wine, that can be cut to 11+ cups.

I thought my mental alertness needed some more coffee when I saw the results of the water quiz so I took it a second time. Same results.

Aloe Vera juice, fruit juice, vegetable juice? I don’t even want to go there!

Are these the same researchers who gave mega doses of saccharin to white rats? That is the question.

Image from ratsauce.com



Reading comic strips in the newspaper is one of my daily intellectual pursuits now that I’m a retiree. Recently, Charlie Brown of Peanuts fame was trying to explain about his Africa report to his teacher, or more accurately his lack of a report. This was the report that would have been on Africa; the one he had intentions of completing; the one he never got around to doing. Finally, running out of excuses, Charlie said, “I throw myself upon the mercy of the court.” Charlie’s final statement was telling. Teacher as judge? Could be!

Teachers receive many excuses from students, K-12 through university. Not surprisingly, students seem to be at their creative best when an assignment has not been completed by deadline. “The dog ate my homework,” “Mom threw my homework away,” “I lost my assignment on the way to school,” and “I spilled my milk on my report during breakfast” were excuses when I first started teaching in elementary school. Years later these excuses, slightly tweaked but still much the same, were offered by students enrolled in my university classes. Here is a small sampling:

·        I was headed for the computer lab to print out my assignment when I had to slam on the brakes because a car pulled out in front of me. The coffee splashed out of my cup and drenched my floppy disk.
·        I spilled my coke on the CD.
·        Unlike the married students in class who seem to get all of the good grades, I have a lot going on in my life with dating, holding a student government office, and taking a full load of courses. I just did not have time in my schedule to get this assignment done.
·        I didn’t notice this assignment on the syllabus until I was looking at the grading scale last night and just happened to see it.

No, I did not make these up!

The excuse I classify as my favorite was provided to me during my first year of teaching. That excuse did not concern an assignment but was a written excuse handed to me by a first grader. The principal’s unbendable policy required students to have a written excuse from a parent when returning to school following an absence. Minus the aforementioned excuse, the child would have the privilege of meeting with the principal in her office to give an account for her mother’s failure to comply with the rule.

Following a one day absence, Cindy* arrived at my classroom door accompanied by her older sister. After I welcomed her back, she proudly handed me a sheet of notebook paper that had been folded in half. Both Cindy and older sis watched as I unfolded the paper and read the neatly penned note:

Dear mrs Powrs,
Cindy was sik. That why she miss school.
Sign her mom

No, I didn’t send her to the office. The “letter of the law” had been met. It was a note. It was signed, “her mom.” (That would be a parent, right?) Teacher as judge – that would be me.

*Fictitious name


Men Behind Podiums

Attending conferences and meetings was an essential part of my career. These gatherings included, but were not limited to, staff meetings, faculty meetings, board meetings, and conferences. For some yet to be explained reason, men controlled the schedule and agenda for the majority of these events. So, while the gentlemen in charge led discussions, detailed rules and procedures, defended research, and pontificated, I learned. What I learned was that men have twenty-eight gallon bladders. I’m relatively certain it’s genetic.

In an effort to be of service to women, I’m posting a list of hints for those who attend male dominated events where extensive “seat time” is involved. I trust these suggestions will be helpful.

  • Don’t even touch one of the soda cans nestled cozily into the bucket of crushed ice on the refreshment table.
  • Bypass the coffee urn without giving it a second glance.
  • View the water pitcher on your table as a science project.
Ø      What happens to the ice cubes during a protracted meeting?
Ø      What happens to the print on your agenda when you hold it behind the pitcher?
  • Never add to the duration of a meeting by asking a question or volunteering information.
Alternatives to using these hints include products labeled Tena® and Poise®, seeking permission to leave the room (if I recall correctly from grade school, that would be raising one finger in the air), or staging a walkout.

Just sayin’!