Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"Disaster! I mean... Fail-iest pass of all time!"
January 14, 2014 10:16 AM   Subscribe

John Green of Mental Floss presents: 30 Life Hacks Debunked

(Actually, some of them are validated. "Bunked", as it were.)
posted by Atom Eyes (126 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
Lifehack: you can save a lot of time by consuming information in the form of text rather than video.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:18 AM on January 14 [181 favorites]


30 (more) Life Hacks Debunked, also from John Green of Mental Floss.
posted by brainmouse at 10:23 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


"Bunked." Exactly. Video title ultimate fail.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:24 AM on January 14 [4 favorites]


Lifehack: you can save a lot of time by consuming information in the form of text rather than video.

Not quite the full transcript, but here's the list of the first 30 (de)bunkings, and here's the list of (de)bunked topics in the second video.

And for your general enjoyment, the brief history of the word "debunk", going back to its roots in Buncombe County, NC.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:28 AM on January 14 [26 favorites]


Man, I like debunking life hacks but I hate video lists so much. SO MUCH.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 10:28 AM on January 14 [19 favorites]


Re fitted sheets, I don't know what the "lifehack" method is, but there absolutely is a trick to folding them. You fold in the corner seams so that you're left with a normal rectangle rather than a giant shower cap, and then fold like you'd fold any sheet or blanket. This is less easy to do if you don't have a partner or a large surface to lay the sheet out on, but even solo it produces much better results than the typical "Oh god I can't EVEN with this" fitted sheet folding attempt.
posted by Sara C. at 10:32 AM on January 14 [6 favorites]


No, this is how you fold those.
posted by mkb at 10:33 AM on January 14 [17 favorites]


I like John Green, he makes me laugh and I sometimes learn something.

cooking shows : cooking :: Mental Floss : Life Hacks Debunking?
posted by gwint at 10:34 AM on January 14 [4 favorites]


Then again, the beer thing was an obvious fail despite the fact that they "bunked" it. The beer immediately foamed up when he opened it, which is the real problem with putting beer in the freezer.

You can get the exact same result by just putting a beer in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, without the wet paper towel. I fail to see the "hack" there -- it's pretty logical that putting something in the freezer will cool it faster than putting it in the fridge.
posted by Sara C. at 10:35 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I like John Green a lot, but some of these only failed because he kiiinda sucked at doing them. Lookin' at you, cherry tomato slicing!
posted by jason_steakums at 10:36 AM on January 14 [5 favorites]


I liked that this was in a video instead of a list. Seeing him attempt the lifehacks gave a lot more credibility to his decisions.
posted by rebent at 10:37 AM on January 14 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the fitted sheet thing didn't work because... they just tried to fold a fitted sheet and don't know how to do it. Good job, guys.
posted by transient at 10:41 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


Re fitted sheets, I don't know what the "lifehack" method is, but there absolutely is a trick to folding them.

Yeah, this isn't terribly controlled. "I couldn't figure out how to fold a fitted sheet despite there being detailed instructions on the internet and also fitted sheets come from the store folded, which would indicate that it is in the realm of possibility" is neither proof of failure or a good exercise in building my confidence in your methodology.

See also the tomato thing. The method works fine if you're using a sharp chef's knife and can keep the blade level. Or, the wooden spoon thing, which works if you don't buy a spoon with a handle that is larger than the hole, duh.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:41 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


What? That wooden spoon keeping a pot from boiling over hack always works for me.
posted by maggiemaggie at 10:42 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


They filled the pot to almost the very top, which you'd never actually do.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:43 AM on January 14


Actually more of the "hacks" worked than I would have expected. The ones involving junk food seemed to have a very high success rate.

Perhaps they've just been tested more extensively than folding fitted sheets...
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:44 AM on January 14


Wow, if you add water to ice you get iced water!
posted by biffa at 10:45 AM on January 14 [13 favorites]


Some of these are just so ridiculous. "If you break this pants hanger into two clips, you can use them as clips! Pass!"
posted by jason_steakums at 10:47 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I debunked calculus in high school by writing a bunch of numbers on a paper and getting an F.
posted by mullacc at 10:49 AM on January 14 [14 favorites]


The major takeaway for me was that doritos can be used to kindle a fire. Wasn't expecting that one to work!
posted by voltairemodern at 10:57 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


filthy light thief: ... the brief history of the word "debunk", going back to its roots in Buncombe County, NC.

I lived in Asheville for 15 years, there's definitely plenty of bunkum there!
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:57 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


The fitted sheet thing always gets phrased as "it's so easy", though, and it is *not* that easy. I know theoretically how to do it, and I have never actually been able to get a sheet to do that properly without another person to hold part of the sheet. It clearly requires some kind of coordination, or something. I think it also might work better on some fitted sheets than others. It is not, at any rate, some kind of "what kind of mouth breather are you if you can't actually fold a fitted sheet" thing.
posted by Sequence at 11:00 AM on January 14 [9 favorites]


The Chinese food takeout container one bugs me. "If you do with this container what you are intended to do with it, it is more efficient! Life hacked!" Um, no.
posted by goatdog at 11:02 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Wait ... "spread food out evenly on a plate before microwaving" is a "Life Hack?" The fuck is wrong with people?
posted by uncleozzy at 11:05 AM on January 14 [26 favorites]


I discovered the "snacks as kindling" trick while camping many years ago with some Tato Skins (do they even make those anymore?). I threw some chips in the fire and they lit up like flares. Astonished, I looked at the list of ingredients and was surprised to see that the number one ingredient was oil. Haven't had a Tato Skin since.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:05 AM on January 14


uncleozzy: it's not spreading the food out evenly, but spreading it out in a ring so all the heat doesn't go to the center.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:07 AM on January 14 [5 favorites]


The fitted sheet thing is actually quite easy, if you make a habit of doing it. I've been doing my "fold in the elasticky part" method for years and can fold a fitted sheet as easily as a flat one. It's awkward the first time, though, yes. As are most things.

It doesn't really require any special coordination or skill, or special sheets. You just... do the thing.

Keep in mind that folding sheets is tedious and awkward at the best of times.
posted by Sara C. at 11:08 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Evidently I was totally not paying attention.

Although I still might file that under "common sense if you've used a microwave more than three times."
posted by uncleozzy at 11:09 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


The Chinese food takeout container one bugs me. "If you do with this container what you are intended to do with it, it is more efficient! Life hacked!" Um, no.

Are you really meant to do that with Chinese food containers? Turn them from serviceable bowls, ideal for eating from with chopsticks, into shitty, weirdly unbalanced plates? Seems more likely that the extra material in the packaging is to make the container effectively watertight, rather than to cater to some weird desire for transforming tableware.
posted by howfar at 11:09 AM on January 14 [27 favorites]


If you wear the same outfit every day, people will notice you more.

That's from the liner notes to "Stop Making Sense", along with other Byrne wisdom such as "Cats like houses better than people".
posted by thelonius at 11:10 AM on January 14 [9 favorites]


Why do you need to cut cherry tomatoes? Also, WHAT DOES GOD NEED WITH A STARSHIP???
posted by disconnect at 11:13 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I have been trying to "just do the thing" about once every couple months for like five years at this point and have never actually been able to make it happen any way that looks anywhere near how it looks in the videos, Sara C. Really. Honest. They still end up weird, ugly, misshapen masses of sheet sitting next to a nicely folded flat sheet that looks nothing like the same size.
posted by Sequence at 11:13 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


I'm now incredibly annoyed that I can't find an online tutorial for folding fitted sheets my way. Every video is for the stupid version debunked in the FPP.

Seriously, folding fitted sheets is stupid easy if you don't try to do it that weirdly complicated way everyone says "totally works".

Also, re the Chinese food container, sure, I guess. If you like eating your food off of ripped up cardboard.
posted by Sara C. at 11:13 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


Are you looking to "hack" your life? Too bad that doesn't make any sense!
posted by ckape at 11:14 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


Why must every thread with a video link start with people complaining about videos? If you don't like videos, don't watch them. There are many non-video threads on Metafilter.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:33 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


This totally works.
posted by borges at 11:36 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: tedious and awkward at the best of times.
posted by BrashTech at 11:36 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Why must every thread with a video link start with people complaining about videos? If you don't like videos, don't watch them. There are many non-video threads on Metafilter.

In a perfect world this would have a link to ocherdraco on YouTube delivering these very lines.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:37 AM on January 14 [5 favorites]


This totally works.

True story: When we started using fabric grocery bags, we needed somewhere to put them (over-the-doorknob was not cutting it for us - neither was in-the-trunk), so we got a bag hutch. It does hold about ten bags.
posted by muddgirl at 11:42 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


Why must every thread with a video link start with people complaining about videos?

Because those of us still in possession of our mental faculties enjoy the reassurances that we are not alone.
posted by exogenous at 11:43 AM on January 14 [17 favorites]


I mostly hate videos, but I make an exception for John Green because I find him so delightful.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:44 AM on January 14 [9 favorites]


Bulgaroktonos: me too.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:58 AM on January 14


Christ, now I want some pork lo mein. Thanks a lot, Mental Floss!
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 12:05 PM on January 14


Why do you need to cut cherry tomatoes?

Little salt, little pepper. Tomato improved. (Also you could be serving them to small children and worrying about choking hazards.)
posted by middleclasstool at 12:06 PM on January 14


From a TED talk on how to wash your hands: fold the paper towel in half before using it. Water is wicked to the space between the two layers. It works! I now use half as much paper towels as I used to yet end up with drier hands.

Yes, it was an absurd talk but it has improved my life. Aside from saving trees it makes me unreasonably happy every time I use a public washroom.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:12 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


Best comment ever about folding fitted sheets.
posted by asperity at 12:15 PM on January 14 [4 favorites]


Wait, is this the same John Green who wrote The Fault In Our Stars?

OK, now I get the gushing! I assumed it was just because he's social networking savvy and all the little Tumblr girls loved the book.
posted by Sara C. at 12:20 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Yeah. Same John Green, who I choose to be a fan of because my alternative is to be very jealous of his success essentially doing exactly what I'd like to be doing.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:22 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


I haven't actually read The Fault In Our Stars, but I'll gush over his Crash Course history videos any day.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:22 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


Also because, if you were at a party with John Green and C.G.P. Grey, you'd hang out near Green every time.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:23 PM on January 14


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: From a TED talk on how to wash your hands: fold the paper towel in half before using it. Water is wicked to the space between the two layers. It works! I now use half as much paper towels as I used to yet end up with drier hands.

You've forgotten the other important part - you have to shake your hands over the sink twelve times before drying.
posted by hanov3r at 12:24 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


My never-fail method for folding a fitted sheet.

1. Pull fitted sheet out of dryer.
2. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and, by god, the best of intentions.
3. Match opposing fitted ends of sheet to each other.
4. Sincerely try and miserably fail to get that fitted-part-folded-in-to-make-actual-corners thing happening.
5. Still grasping edges of the fitted ends, move hands in front of one another and "roll 'em up, roll 'em up, roll 'em up" as if finishing a rousing round of Pat-a-cake.
6. Squish sheet ball flat.
7. Shove in linen closet next to lovable, simple-folded top sheets and pillow cases.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 12:28 PM on January 14 [26 favorites]


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow - that is the only TED talk I have ever watched that truly changed my life.

I really do have much drier hands than I used to, and I can feel smug whenever I was my hands. Ooh, smug.
posted by nat at 12:29 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


My technique is a much simpler one:

1. Shove everything into one of the pillowcases.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:29 PM on January 14 [12 favorites]


You can get the exact same result by just putting a beer in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, without the wet paper towel. I fail to see the "hack" there -- it's pretty logical that putting something in the freezer will cool it faster than putting it in the fridge.

Wrapping it in a wet paper towel, or better yet a wet dish towel, will get it cold an order of magnitude faster than just putting the bottle in the freezer.
posted by Cosine at 12:42 PM on January 14


The bit about using spaghetti as a long match -- was there really any question about that? I've been doing it for 50 years at least, and I learned it from my mom, who learned it from her mom as a kid. Back then, it was for re-lighting the pilot light on a gas stove or gas heater (if that makes sense to anyone anymore) but it works for anytime you need a long match.
posted by pbrim at 12:42 PM on January 14


Why do you need to cut cherry tomatoes?

1. plateful of seed crackers
2. put cheese on crackers
3. put half a cherry tomato on each cheese cracker
4. best thing ever
posted by mightygodking at 12:45 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I never use any of these time-saving methods because they take too much time.
posted by kyrademon at 12:51 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


3.Match opposing fitted ends of sheet to each other.
4. Sincerely try and miserably fail to get that fitted-part-folded-in-to-make-actual-corners thing happening.


The trick is to hold each opposing end by the top of the corner-seam. Grasp at exactly that point, on each side with the elasticky part facing you and hanging down. Bring your two hands together so that the elasticky part is inside, facing down, and lying in a somewhat uniform manner.

You can perfect the fold, smooth, or adjust in any way you see fit at this point, if it's important that your sheet be folded perfectly.

Then do exactly the same with the other side. It helps to lie the completed end on a surface rather than letting it dangle.

You will not end up with something that is identical to a folded flat sheet or to how they stuffed the fitted sheet into the packaging at the factory. But you will get a result that is neatly folded for the purposes of your linen closet.
posted by Sara C. at 12:53 PM on January 14


LIFE HACKS!

1. Doorknob: turn then pull!
2. Water: not just for plants anymore?
3. When you feel pain, don't do that thing again that you just did that made you feel pain.
4. Chewing: go for the food bits, not the tongue bits.
5. Pants: using one pair for both legs saves pants, eliminates floppy extra pant legs, covers butt.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:55 PM on January 14 [45 favorites]


uncleozzy: it's not spreading the food out evenly, but spreading it out in a ring so all the heat doesn't go to the center.

That is not the reason. Dead center in your microwave is a problematic spot because your microwave fires microwaves semi-randomly about the interior because of a deflector. That is why your microwave has a spin plate- the combination of the fan-like deflector and the spinning plate randomly distributes the 'hits' on your food. Except for the dead center which receives fewer hits because it doesn't get moved about.

Instead of spreading your food in a doughnut you can just put your plate off center.
posted by srboisvert at 1:00 PM on January 14 [4 favorites]


Instead of spreading your food in a doughnut you can just put your plate off center.

but then I'll make my food dizzy and that probably makes it taste worse
posted by mightygodking at 1:04 PM on January 14 [15 favorites]


If your food is coming out of your microwave still alive, I don't think dizzy is your biggest concern.
posted by axiom at 1:12 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


OK sara c's "giant shower cap" came close to making me splurge chickpeas and pappardelle noodles all over my computer. Well played.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:16 PM on January 14


I know you didn't mean it this way, but that's a particularly vivid image of vomiting.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:21 PM on January 14


The major takeaway for me was that doritos can be used to kindle a fire.

Using the bags is a common trick among low-level arsonists.
posted by cribcage at 1:22 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


The bit about using spaghetti as a long match -- was there really any question about that? I've been doing it for 50 years at least, and I learned it from my mom, who learned it from her mom as a kid.

Amazingly, not everyone knows the same things you know! I didn't know this, because we always used long matches when we needed long matches (we had fancy long-match holder mounted near the fireplace that held... I dunno, 10" matches? And then we had long matches so we didn't need a long match hack).

I mean, as far as "doesn't everyone know this already?", I would actually say exactly the same thing about folding a fitted sheet into a rectangle neatly (basically how Sara C is attempting to describe it), as for me is it a common-sense thing that I learned from my mother who learned it from her mother, and I have been doing it as long as I can remember (can't claim 50 years, but, you know, 20 or so), and I was surprised as an adult when not everybody knew how to do this thing. But, you know, not everyone knows everything, and that's OK!

I'm always reminded of xkcd's "Ten Thousand" comic, about 10,000 people per day learning the things that "everyone knows". I don't really have a problem with people explaining even simple-seeming things on the internet even if it's just in case.
posted by brainmouse at 1:23 PM on January 14 [8 favorites]


Does the fitted sheet fit into the linen closet? That's good enough. The less time I spend on laundry, the better.
posted by emjaybee at 1:27 PM on January 14


1. Doorknob: turn then pull!

Oh sure. Then you encounter a push-to-open door, and all you're going to get is a sore face after slamming into it at full speed.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:29 PM on January 14


Then you refer to item 3!
posted by jason_steakums at 1:33 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


I fold fitted sheets twice a year, when I change from linen to flannel and vice-versa. I guess that's the joy of not having to use a laundromat or work in a hotel laundry.

Regarding microwaving food, maximum efficiency requires both off-center and doughnut, because they address different problems: off-center to counter standing-wave dead spots (assumes a carousel), and doughnut to minimize self-shielding.
posted by achrise at 1:37 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I finally got a chance to actually watch the video, and I think they didn't get further researching folding a fitted sheet than just hearing "You can fold a fitted sheet."
posted by ckape at 1:41 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


2. Water: not just for plants anymore?

You mean water, like out of the toilet?
posted by chimaera at 1:43 PM on January 14 [8 favorites]


You people with your ridiculous microwave tricks! I just heat my leftovers over an open bag of Doritos that I set on fire with a spaghetti match. The fire can then be used to burn dirty fitted sheets instead of trying to fold them. LIFE HACKED!
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:44 PM on January 14 [34 favorites]


All of you people with your different keys, when a heavy enough ball on a long enough chain can open virtually any door.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:46 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the fitted sheet thing didn't work because... they just tried to fold a fitted sheet and don't know how to do it

Well obviously. If you knew how to do it you wouldn't need to learn, would you?

6. Squish sheet ball flat.

I have actually hacked this one: you can skip right to this step from step one. Now it's a 3 step process!
posted by Hoopo at 1:46 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Apparently people who own more than one set of sheets have all kinds of problems. I just put my sheets back on the bed after I wash them. Also, my sheets have dinosaurs on them.*

*My wife actually woke up kind of upset with me this morning because she had a dream that I said we should get rid of the dinosaur sheets.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:54 PM on January 14 [23 favorites]


True story: When we started using fabric grocery bags, we needed somewhere to put them (over-the-doorknob was not cutting it for us - neither was in-the-trunk), so we got a bag hutch. It does hold about ten bags.

Everything I own is in bags that are nailed to the wall at shoulder height.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:02 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


One of my early jobs was at a B&B, and one of the main tasks was doing the laundry. I learned how to fold fitted sheets by folding fifteen of them every morning every day for a summer. I can still do it--they fold up nice and neat (if not quite as neat as a flat sheet). The key is matching the darts (not the elastic), folding in half widthwise, and pushing the corners of the inside half into the outside half, like nesting spoons. It's all regular folding after that.
posted by lovecrafty at 2:06 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Our old car had no iphone input so we often just put the phone in a jelly jar for amplification and it definitely worked. Not sure about the toilet paper roll, but maybe he was doing it wrong?
posted by destro at 2:13 PM on January 14


I absolutely do not believe that chewing gum eliminates the pain/tears from chopping onions. Nothing about chewing gum would prevent this chemical reaction, nor the resulting gas from reaching and irritating your eyes. I suspect his studio is simply well ventilated, or something. Is there some obscure mechanism I am missing, here?

I use a lot of onions in my cooking, you see.
posted by gilrain at 2:13 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


Yeah, there is s certain lack of scientific rigor here. I think he just had a particularly mild onion. (Also dude needs a bigger knife. Who chops onions with a tiny paring knife?)
posted by BrashTech at 2:15 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


Is there some obscure mechanism I am missing, here?

Could be the sharp knife thing
posted by dhruva at 2:16 PM on January 14


6. Squish sheet ball flat.

I have actually hacked this one: you can skip right to this step from step one. Now it's a 3 step process!


I beg your pardon, but anything worth doing is, uh... worth... starting out...

Forget it.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 2:17 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Well obviously. If you knew how to do it you wouldn't need to learn, would you?

I suppose. The putting a big red X on someone else's method after making zero attempt to learn was my point though.
posted by transient at 2:18 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


DID YOU KNOW: The easiest way to peel a banana is to eat grapes instead?
posted by Navelgazer at 2:19 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


Nothing about chewing gum would prevent this chemical reaction, nor the resulting gas from reaching and irritating your eyes

True. The real hack for onions not irritating your eyes is contact lenses. Or possibly scuba gear.
posted by Hoopo at 2:24 PM on January 14


I keep swimming goggles in my kitchen for this purpose.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:28 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


I lost all faith in these videos. The last one he did had the "slam a head of cabbage on the counter to easily remove the core" which he failed miserably to accomplish. Which made him look like one of the miserable failing idiots on late night TV commercials. Thwacking the head of cabbage/lettuce is like the first thing you learn when you work a food prep job.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:29 PM on January 14 [6 favorites]


Re the onion thing, I've heard that pressing your tongue to the roof of your mouth while you chop is supposed to accomplish the same thing, but it never works for me. I can see the gum working, though, because it also introduces a competing flavor/aroma into the mix.
posted by Sara C. at 2:30 PM on January 14


No, you anti-fitted-sheet-folding-people are missing the entire point.

Once you have the fitted bottom sheet and flat top sheet folded, you can fold all but one of the pillowcases, stack them all neatly, and put them inside the remaining pillowcase, making a nice, neat bundle of bedding.

That way, they stack neatly in the linen closet, and you can easily grab a coordinated set.
posted by mikelieman at 2:33 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


He's wrong about the lettuce hack. Totally works. Next time he should try it with fresh lettuce instead of whatever that was.
posted by dobbs at 2:36 PM on January 14


Re the onion thing, I've heard that pressing your tongue to the roof of your mouth while you chop is supposed to accomplish the same thing

I thought that was the "prevent brain freeze from ice cream" lifehack.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:41 PM on January 14


FACT: the roof of your mouth is the life-hackingest body part.
posted by Sara C. at 2:46 PM on January 14 [5 favorites]


That way, they stack neatly in the linen closet, and you can easily grab a coordinated set.

I am just never in that big a hurry pulling sheets out of my closet that taking an extra ten seconds to grab all four items is that big a deal. Whereas not taking 30 seconds to stuff everything into one pillowcase when I'm doing a hateful job like folding sheets is a big deal. Also, no one is looking in my linen closet to see how neatly I stack stuff, so what do I care, honestly?

Also sometimes I like to mix n' match my sheets, since they all kind of fall in the same color family. My only real criteria is "clean" and "fits bed".
posted by emjaybee at 2:52 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


*My wife actually woke up kind of upset with me this morning because she had a dream that I said we should get rid of the dinosaur sheets.

Assuming enough dinosaur-themed things to go around, your wife and my wife would get along famously.
posted by gauche at 2:53 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Good trick with cutting tomatoes neatly - pierce the skin first with the point of the knife.

And have a sharp knife, of course.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:03 PM on January 14


Where does one acquire queen-sized dinosaur sheets?
They are not available in this godforsaken excuse for a country.
posted by coriolisdave at 3:16 PM on January 14 [8 favorites]


The real hack for onions not irritating your eyes is contact lenses

Running water. Cut the onion by the sink with the water running and you're golden.

I'm thinking rubbing Vick's under your nose would also work, since it is the potency of the scent that really makes your eyes sting and water.
posted by misha at 3:26 PM on January 14


I guess I learned to fold fitted sheets from my Mom, dunno, but it always seemed obvious to me until a friend expressed amazement at a folded fitted sheet.

Many of these life hack circle the web and they get tedious. I need driving hacks, like how to stay awake while driving and not be too caffeinated to sleep. Or people hacks, like how to make friends and not be too shy and overstimulated in large groups. Or what to do with my stuff when wearing clothibng with no pockets. And why somebody thinks women don't need pockets.
posted by theora55 at 3:30 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


theora55, speaking of oocket hacks, my new pocket hack is wearing an apron with pockets when wearing pocketless (or poorly pocketed) skirts/pants/shorts. I think it's better than a fanny pack and less misleading than a tool belt.
posted by spamandkimchi at 3:33 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


The main youtube link starts the video halfway through. I watched the second video before I realized I missed half of the first. Maybe a mod can fix it?

Regarding cooling stuff in the freezer, wrapping a bottle in a wet cloth may or may not get your thing cold faster. The tests I've seen are inconclusive. There are a couple of theories on why it should work (evaporation of water in a dry freezer lowering the temperature); and a few about why it wouldn't: (the cloth acting as an insulator). A loosely wrapped paper towel seems even less likely to actually make a difference.

What's definitely proven is a water + ice (+ salt if you're really in a hurry). Ice is really good at cooling water, and water is a good thermal conductor. Cooling a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket takes 15 minutes, while just putting it in the freezer takes a few hours.
posted by danny the boy at 3:48 PM on January 14


uncleozzy: it's not spreading the food out evenly, but spreading it out in a ring so all the heat doesn't go to the center.
posted by Navelgazer


Other way around. Microwaves heat from the surface, and the torus has more surface area than a sphere would.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:56 PM on January 14


StickyCarpet: "Microwaves heat from the surface, and the torus has more surface area than a sphere would."

Isn't that exactly the opposite? Conventional ovens heat from the surface because they use radiant heat. Microwave ovens vibrate water molecules, so they heat from wherever the waves hit water, which is statistically the inside of your food...?
posted by danny the boy at 4:11 PM on January 14


and a few about why it wouldn't: (the cloth acting as an insulator)

This one's easy enough to test. Opening the freezer door and putting something into it that's room temperature will start the freezer compressor running, so the inside of your freezer is emulating a cold, windy winter day. On such a day, walk outside nude and see how long you last. After you've warmed up, walk outside wearing a wet towel and see if you can last longer. There's a good reason why they advise you to avoid working up a sweat in a winter survival situation, wool is pretty much the only material that still provides any insulation when wet but just barely.
posted by TungstenChef at 4:15 PM on January 14


Experientially, with microwaves the periphery heats faster. What is really happening, is the microwave heats points in space on a grid, leaving interstitial spots cooler (hence the turntable.) Due to convection, nodal saturation, etc, the end result is that the outer surfaces heat faster.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:17 PM on January 14


Isn't that exactly the opposite? Conventional ovens heat from the surface because they use radiant heat. Microwave ovens vibrate water molecules, so they heat from wherever the waves hit water, which is statistically the inside of your food...?

The problem is that microwaves hit the wet outside of your food first and dump their energy there before reaching the inside. I don't remember if it was Good Eats or Mythbusters who demonstrated this, but if you stick something round like a pork loin in your microwave, it most definitely cooks from the outside in.
posted by TungstenChef at 4:18 PM on January 14


Huh! TIL microwave ovens still cook from the outside in.

As for the wet towel thing, I would imagine that to be intuitively true, but I still don't understand why. Like, if wind was a factor, absolutely, because evaporating water will cool me. But if there was no wind, what you're saying is cold air is more effective at lowering an object's temperature when it is wet than when it is dry. Like is the evaporative effect just that strong, even without wind, or is there something else going on?
posted by danny the boy at 4:33 PM on January 14


I think they forgot the end of the chinese food container hack, which is that you can use the unfolded container to capture the splatter when you blow your brains out after you realize you just decided to eat dinner off a soggy piece of cardboard rather than get a goddam plate out of the cupboard to eat off of.
posted by the bricabrac man at 5:12 PM on January 14 [6 favorites]


I tend to hate video lists, but I very much enjoyed these.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:18 PM on January 14


The real hack for onions not irritating your eyes is contact lenses. Oh. My. Gawd. I wore contacts for 30 years and then gave them up and went back to glasses. This immediately started my eyes watering like crazy every time I chopped onions, which is to say almost every day. I blamed the glasses. They hold the onion smell in, against my eyes, I thought, so I tried to do it blind, which, although I still have all my fingers, I don't really recommend. Also, it doesn't work. Must be the kind of onion! I thought, and tried every kind of different onion. I could not figure out why I suddenly had so much trouble with them after years of blessed tearlessness and now I find it was the loss of the contacts all along. You have suddenly turned my onion life upside down.

Just to add to the sum of general onion lifehacking knowledge, my aunt said that chopping onions with a candle burning next to the cutting board would keep you from crying. It kind of works (cough not really cough) plus it makes you feel baroque and elegant, so if you weep, at least you feel more gothic and mournful than just irritated and oniony.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:03 PM on January 14 [6 favorites]


I keep my pots of salt water for noodles from boiling over by putting a penny in them. But everyone seems to think that's gross, so I generally have to hide this fact. The shiny penny on top of my colander of fresh pasta is like my own personal reward. Well, that and not having to clean up the stove top as often.

By the way, did you all know the entire top of most modern stoves lift up like the hood of a car? I have no idea how I managed to be an adult, obsessive, neat-freak without knowing this until recently. So thanks, people who make household tips using impact sans.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:09 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


You know, I've never cried while chopping onions. Of course, I hate onions so the only time I chopped them was when I took chef training in high school. The trick is (and I chopped kitches worth of onions) to use a very sharp chefs knife (French knife I think? It has been a while) (If you run your finger perpendicular to the blade it should catch on your finger print) and only cut away from yourself, do not saw, then it won't release much particulate into the air and you won't cry.
posted by Canageek at 8:40 PM on January 14


Personal life hack I just remembered:

When making pasta for one in a small pot, use a slotted spatula to drain the water instead of a colander. One less dish to wash.
posted by Sara C. at 8:40 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


lifehack if u press ur tongue to the roof of ur mouth u will have an organism..try it ; )
posted by threeants at 8:57 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


lifehack if u press ur tongue to the roof of ur mouth u will have an organism..try it ; )

Nuh uh, liar! Altho, I thinp I thprained my thung.

Thit.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:23 PM on January 14


Put your onions in the freezer for half an hour before you cut them.
posted by Wolof at 9:30 PM on January 14


also seriously this Chinese food plate silencing has the fingerprints of Big Dishware all over it, wake up sheeple
posted by threeants at 9:42 PM on January 14


This is how you open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew.
posted by ch3ch2oh at 12:33 AM on January 15 [5 favorites]


As for the wet towel thing, I would imagine that to be intuitively true, but I still don't understand why.

Freezers work (in part) by removing water vapor from their compartment.

Water evaporation is one of the best ways to cool something off (see also: sweating).

Think about your own self at an ice rink wrapped in a wet towel. You'd get cold pretty damn fast too, no?
posted by ShutterBun at 12:48 AM on January 15



You can get the exact same result by just putting a beer in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, without the wet paper towel. I fail to see the "hack" there -- it's pretty logical that putting something in the freezer will cool it faster than putting it in the fridge.


Sara C., there's actual science behind why this works. Part 1 is that AIR is a really shitty conductor for heat, where water itself is really good at it. This is why you can run around in 40 degree air for a half hour and just be cold, but trying that in a lake would be deadly. Part 2 is that evaporation is endothermic; it uses energy. This is why sweating works to cool your body in hot climates. This works much better in dry climates, and surprise; the inside of your freezer is a dessicated desert wasteland, because that's how the 'automatic defrost' thing works.

So, cold dry air + an efficient conductor to remove heat from the bottle + an efficient mechanism to disperse the heat away from the bottle = cold bottle quickly.

This would also work in the regular refrigerator compartment, albeit slower, due to the smaller overall temperature difference between the two objects. (your bottle is 60-70F, your fridge is 35-40F, your fridge is 0-10F, your optimal consumption temperature is 40-50F, and Newton's law of cooling is exponential with respect to the difference in temperatures of the two objects.)
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 6:23 AM on January 15


there's actual science behind why this works.

Except that practical experience of flash-cooling beers in the freezer tells me that, if it takes 10 minutes to chill the beer with the wet paper towel method, and also 10 minutes to chill the beer in the freezer alone, there is no real benefit to using the wet paper towel. Except for maybe the psychological benefit of feeling like you "hacked" your "life".

I would only be interested in the wet paper towel trick if it cut beer chilling times to 5 minutes, made the beer substantially colder in 10 minutes than otherwise, or prevented the flash-chilled beer from foaming up when you open it (one of the major hazards of flash-chilling in the freezer).

I am considering testing this a little more thoroughly next month, when it's not Drynuary anymore.
posted by Sara C. at 10:22 AM on January 15


The paper towel trick might also depend on the air movement in the freezer and whether it's an automatic-defrost type (which basically means that it dehumidifies the air in the freezer). Traditional freezers with "cold plates" and without fans or auto-defrost might not get much of a benefit.

Though honestly, the fastest way to chill a beer — short of dumb tricks with CO2 — is to just throw it in a container of ice water. (And by "ice water" I mean 3/4s crushed ice and just enough water to make it loose enough to fit a beer in there. You want a surplus of ice, not a surplus of water like this dude. Though even that method is faster than the freezer.) Of course, then you have wet beer.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:29 PM on January 15 [2 favorites]


IIRC "Ice Baths" maintain 32 degrees until the ice is gone. That might be a useless fact or it might be an entertaining fiction. Fact check me at your own peril.
posted by mikelieman at 12:38 PM on January 15


IIRC "Ice Baths" maintain 32 degrees until the ice is gone.

True, as long as you have enough ice to get it down to 32F/0C initially; it won't get any colder than that (unless you have salt or something else dissolved in the mixture). The slightly dumb thing that the guy in my previous link was doing was only putting a handful of ice cubes into a surplus of room-temperature water. The ice was completely expended before it got the temperature of the ice/water mixture down to anywhere near 32.

What I like to do, if I'm making an ice bath to chill something or preparing a cooler, is toss in a variety of types of ice. Lots of crushed ice first, to get the temperature down quickly, and then whole ice cubes or chunks of block ice to keep it cold longer. You can keep even a mediocre cooler at 32F almost all day that way, while if you just start it with block ice and water most of the block ice will be gone before it's even down to temperature (and even worse if it's just ice cubes, unless you keep reloading it).

Dunno if that counts as a "life hack" though.

Incidentally, the ice/water thing is a good way to sanity-test a thermometer.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:10 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


mikelieman: If by 32 you mean 0C then yes, it is a well known fact we use in Chemistry all the time. We also use dry ice/rubbing alcohol or dry ice/acetone to get -about 78 C, and some people use saturated salt water/ice to get.... -16 C I think? There are a bunch of recipes with solvent mixes.
posted by Canageek at 2:00 PM on January 23


« Older Jeff Atwood presents Music to (Not) Code By...  |  On January 25th, San Francisco... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments