Trent Hamm, Genius. Trent Hamm, Lunatic

Who's the most handsomest boy at the board game convention?

Who’s the most handsomest boy at the board game convention?

 

See? He’s not the only one who can change his mind by 180º in a single motion. And honestly, he is something of a genius in that someone this, what’s a good euphemism – single-minded can attract tens of thousands of devotees despite having only one personal finance tactic at his disposal (“spend less.”)

If you’re unfamiliar, Mr. Hamm is the “creative” force behind The Simple Dollar, an amateurishly written website in which he repeats himself 14 times weekly. He’s been a favorite of ours for a very long time. His advice is insipid, his syntax more stilted than Roy Maloy. From Mr. Hamm’s latest post, here’s an example of the excruciating detail he entices his readers with:

The first morning we were [at a relative’s house for Thanksgiving], I grabbed some clothes and headed for the bathroom to take a shower. Just like I do at home, I turned the hot water to full and turned on the cold water just a little bit, waited about fifteen seconds, and stepped in.

No mention on which body part he used to turn the water on with, whether he closed the shower curtain behind him, or if soap was involved, and if you think we’re being funny you haven’t seen the depraved depths of specificity to which he’ll go. The shower turned out to be too hot for his soft white underbelly, so…you won’t believe what he did to address the problem. Any guesses? Come on, you can do this.

I turned down the hot water and turned the cold water up quite a bit until I found a good balance

This is how you become a great blogger, kids. Write things your audience can identify with. Who among us hasn’t gotten in an unfamiliar shower and found it too hot? More importantly, who among us has found it noteworthy to mention such an occurrence?

Afterwards, I was talking to the person who was hosting us

Trent goes to disturbing lengths to camouflage the identities of the bit players in his inexorable stories. Earlier, he refers to this home as that of “some of our extended family members.” Because “my wife’s uncle” or whatever just conveys way too much information.

Anyhow, the person who was hosting the Hamm clan (or, if you prefer concision, the “host”)

told me that he, too, turns on a mix of hot and cold water for his shower, as does his wife.

This isn’t an atypical post for Trent Hamm. Every one of them is this dull, pointless, and dizzyingly simple in its progression. If you were visiting kin and discovered that they drank beer with breakfast, dried their clothes in the oven, or tossed their trash in the neighbor’s yard, that would be worth mentioning. But that they “tur[n] on a mix of hot and cold water for [their] shower[s]”? You know, like everyone else in the civilized world does? To you, our readers, this is as pleonastic as information gets. To us, it’s something to make fun of. But to Trent, it’s critical to the plot.

[Finding out that these people shower with a mix of hot and cold water] threw me for a loop.

I was…shocked.

We only wish that Trent’s shocked-by-the-shower story had involved someone throwing a toaster in standing water while Trent was scrubbing down his orcine body, but no such luck.

We’re not going to parse every line in Trent’s Typhoon Haiyan of a post, because if we did we’d be here for months. Fast-forwarding, the unidentified male family member explained that they keep their water heater temperature high to prevent disease.

Where do these people live, Calcutta?

The good part, at least for Trent, is that this conversation gave him another triviality to obsess over.

At about 50 degrees Celsius, which is what we keep our hot water heater set to, you have a drastically higher chance of Legionella living in your hot water tank. Instead, [The Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases] recommends keeping it set at 60 degrees

God forbid he’d multiply the Celsius values by 1.8 and add 32 to accommodate his American audience, but Trent has a knack for paying attention to meaningless details only. Although he’d probably never given Legionella a 2nd thought in his life, he was now confronted with a whole new series of economic tradeoffs to calculate cost-benefit analyses for:

The problem with that temperature is that you run into some danger of scalding. The solution there is to have anti-scald devices at the faucets and showers

[…]I raised our own tank temperature up to about 140 F. We already had these anti-scald devices installed

So, does Trent’s post have a point? Of course not, this is Trent Hamm we’re talking about. By the way, the cheapest anti-scald device we could find sells for $42. Trent Hamm, who regularly tells his readers to save money by making their own toothpaste instead of dropping $1 for a tube of AquaFresh, and who literally counts the number of times he shakes salt or pepper onto his food, threw away $42 on an additional shower valve instead of just playing with the hot and cold faucets like a normal person would. The net result of Trent raising his water tank’s temperature to unfamiliar heights? Again, by now you should be able to guess this easily.

The water in the shower…does come out warmer than I like, meaning I mix in some cold water with my showers.

Every 12 hours, this psychopath manages to hunker down and squeeze out another post. Which sounds like it’d be hard to do, at least in terms of time expended, until you remember that he can burn multiple paragraphs on the subject of his preferred method for finding a comfortable temperature each time he steps into the shower (which, judging by his appearance on those YouTube videos, isn’t all that frequently.)

There is a plot twist. About once every couple of hundred posts, Trent goes iconoclast and stops praying at the altar of the great goddess Parsimonia (boldfacing his):

Frugality isn’t worth the risk of a significant increase in the likelihood of Legionnaire’s disease or other bacteria-borne illnesses in our home.

Again, what 3rd-world backwater is he living in? Last we checked, Huxley, Iowa was nowhere near the Gaza Strip. Granted, he lives with kids and kids are filthy, but so filthy that even 120º isn’t enough to stop the microorganisms from claiming another victim? The only people Legionnaire’s disease has killed in this country in the last 30 years all lived in nursing homes. Trent isn’t yet so immobile that he needs a health-care worker to wash him down with a rag on a stick, but you can’t be too careful.

This advice wouldn’t be so bad (though it’d still be plenty bad) if it weren’t coming from the same tool who bars the door against Legionella but goes out of his way to recommend other fun ways for incurring disease:

If your recipe says “Preheat the oven to 400º” and then later says “Bake for 30 minutes,” don’t preheat the oven at all. Instead, put your food in the oven, then set the temperature to 400º. Then, add about half of the preheat time to the cooking time. Why? When you open a preheated oven to put in your dish, it’s no different than opening the oven to check the food near the end of the cooking time. You lose that 2¢. (Ed. note: 2¢ being the amount Trent figured out that it costs to open your oven to check on food. That’s not a joke. Nor is it a joke that he apparently had no clue than turning on an oven light could have saved him 1.994¢ or so of those precious pennies.) 

Keep your shower’s hot water relatively cool to save money. No wait, raise its temperature so you don’t get an extremely rare disease. But it’s okay to risk a more common (if less fatal) disease if it means saving 2¢, or .05% of the price of an unnecessary anti-scald device.

Trent Hamm is an abomination. If you read him for anything other than the (admittedly small) amusement value, you’re throwing your life away. If you’re contemplating buying his book, please buy ours instead before killing yourself.

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