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February 9, 2013

"Old habits are like old friends — once you have them, they're awfully hard to get rid of."

Photo copy

The headline above is from Simon Gray's fantastic play "Butley," the movie version of which starring Alan Bates is a great work of art.

FunFact: Amazon Prime members can watch it right here.

Free, the way we like it.

But I digress.

This is about habits, not friends.

Although friends can become habits too, if you think about it.

But I'd rather you not do that right now but instead work with me here.

I've been trying to drop two habits of many, many years duration with little success and figured I'd put my failings out right here in plain view.


1. I've nothing better to fill this slot with

2. Maybe by focusing on my failures, I'll jumpstart some sort of change in behavior

3. Perhaps someone out there in joehead Nation will bitchslap me into shaping up

OK then.

Habit #1 is unscrewing the cap of my Ultra-Brite toothpaste tube (how's that for geezer city? Ultra-Brite? Are you kidding me? Do they still even make that? [Yes]) even though in recent months Ultra-Brite switched to a new, 21st-century flash whiz-bang flip-off cap [top].

The problem for me is that the new cap also unscrews.

See, if they'd bonded the cap to the body so that the only way you could get at the toothpaste was by flipping up the cap, I'd be money.

But every single day, once in the morning and once at night before bed, I unscrew the cap, say to myself "You idiot, just flip it up!," screw it back on, flip it open, and brush my teeth.


If Ultra-Brite raised the level of its game, it's past time for me to do the same — shape up, joe!

#2: "Pardon The Interruption" (PTI) on ESPN is the only TV show I go out of my way to watch live, preferably when it's first broadcast at 5:30 p.m. ET. 

I like it SO much I sent Kornheiser and Wilbon personally inscribed copies of my book and they made my 2012 by sending me back a photo suitable for framing (framed, trust me) inscribed personally to me by each of them, which picture occupies a place of honor right next to Gray Cat's Comcast cable box toasty hot spot.

But I digress yet again. 

Sure, it's rebroadcast on ESPN2 at 6:30 p.m. and I just accidentally discovered it's replayed again in the morning on one or more of ESPN's channels.

But that gets confusing.


Since I added the Watch ESPN app to my iPhone and iPads I've had the ability to watch ESPN and its offshoots from anywhere.

Works great, even over 4G in the middle of nowhere.

But I forget that I have this capability and still structure my day so as to arrive home in time to watch it on TV live at 5:30 p.m.

Yesterday, when I was out running by UVA's new track and perimeter trail, I finished up around 7:30 p.m., way too late for the day's PTI.

Then the penny dropped: Podcast!


Touch the Podcast icon on my iPhone and there's PTI, touch it again and there are the 10 most recent shows — without commercials! — ready for listening.

Now if only I'd remember that BEFORE I try to get home by 5:30 p.m., I'd be money.

February 9, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink


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If you really want to start using the flip-top, just superglue the cap to the tube.

Posted by: Nathan | Feb 9, 2013 12:23:37 PM


I've studied habits extensively. Habits are, by definition, unconscious. That means we can do things without paying any attention. Ask someone how they tie their shoes, and they will have to actually tie them to tell you how they tie them (do you do right over left or left over right?). Because habits are unconscious, they are often difficult to change. A key factor in changing is motivation. One has to believe that a change in the habit will make things BETTER. If you don't buy into this, you probably won't get the habit changed.

If you really want to break the habit, try brushing with your other hand (right). By consciously trying to brush with your other hand, you just might be conscious enough to flip the tube lid!

All the best,

Posted by: Tyler | Feb 9, 2013 11:38:19 AM


Posted by: Kay | Feb 9, 2013 10:06:16 AM

If you use the flip-top instead of the screw-off you will find the little hole gets clogged quickly and soon you have a knot of hard toothpaste keeping the flip-top from closing. Stick to the screw-off!

Posted by: Carol | Feb 9, 2013 8:35:12 AM

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