Would you please tell my wife the proper way to load toilet paper? She always does it backward, and she won't listen to me. This is one of the few things we don't agree on, but since we're only going to celebrate our 60th anniversary this spring, I thought there might be time to find someone even more compatible if she won't listen to you. -- B.K., of Belleville
Boy, you're just a regular Prince Charmin, aren't you?
I notice you didn't tell me your method of loading paper, perhaps because you didn't want to be the butt of my jokes in case you were wrong. Nevertheless, for those who might say it doesn't make any difference -- that it all works out in the end, as it were -- I'm here to wipe clean your misconceptions.
(Hey, don't stop me now -- I'm on a roll. Oops, sorry.)
It's questions like yours that make one almost yearn for the days of corncobs and Sears catalogs in ye olde outhouse. Because as soon as the first roll of toilet paper appeared about 1877, the peace in the reading room was forever shattered. Can't you just see that couple bringing home their first roll of Albany Perforated Toilet Paper and then arguing over whether the paper should feed from the front or, pardon me again, the rear?
Both methods do have their fans and, of course, neither is really "wrong." For example, I'm sure Felix Unger might say that having the roll feed from behind makes a bathroom look neater because you don't have that ugly, loose end dangling down in the front.
But if you've ever stayed in fine hotels, you'll probably always find the toilet tissue feeding from the front -- the so-called "over" position. The maids often emphasize this by folding the ends of the roll into a neat triangle. Trust them, they're onto something. Here's the poop:
For one thing, it's just more convenient. Once you've answered nature's call, you don't want to spend precious seconds battling the T.P. dispenser and dislocating your vertebrae as you search for the end of the roll. I'm sure even Amy Vanderbilt would approve of this small way of making life easier for someone already caught with his pants down.
And, although you may not want to think about it, it may be more sanitary. I think you'll find rear-feeding paper requires a bit more handling of the roll, which may mean more germs are potentially spread when you paw it for additional sheets. (If you're really good, front-loading might help you perfect the one-handed pull-and-rip dispensing method.)
The "over" position is also ideal for cost-conscious consumers. When the roll feeds from behind, you may find yourself ripping off an extra square or two needed just to get things started each time. The "over" position leads to a minimum use of paper.
So if you're trying to convince your wife to feed paper from the front, you should be flush with pride like a king on his throne. Unless, of course, you have a cat. Some frisky kitties (and, I suppose, dogs, too) love the feel of toilet tissue and making that roll go round and round, leaving you with a pile of paper on the floor. Turning the roll around may avoid that mess.
I hope this leads to a happy 60th, but for now that's it from here. Sorry, I'm all out of cracks.
Could you please tell me how much the government spends each day paying interest on the outstanding federal debt? -- Tom Murphy
That's a little difficult to answer because it depends on the amount of debt and the interest rate at any given point in time. Some estimates have the debt going up $40,000 a second (some $4 billion a day) so we're paying more interest all the time even if the interest rate stays the same.
That's why there's so much focus on the upcoming financial wrangling in Congress because, for example, anything that might lead to a downgrade of the country's credit rating could cause a spike in interest rates and even higher interest payments.
So for the purpose of your question, let me just give you a snapshot in time. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, our government spent nearly $360 billion in interest expense on the debt during fiscal year 2012. That's down from $454 billion in 2011, but every day, it was still $983,049,204.
And 70 cents.
Find out more at treasurydirect.gov or, to really boggle your mind, watch the debt clock at www.usdebtclock.org.
In 1935 advertisements, what advantage did Northern Paper Mills give to its Northern bathroom tissue?
Answer to Saturday's trivia: When Connecticut became the first state to pass a speed-limit law on May 21, 1901, it was definitely life in the slow lane. Drivers were permitted to go no faster than 15 mph on country roads and 12 in the city. But, then again, I don't suppose they had radar to clock it back then.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or firstname.lastname@example.org