Good Advices

Some pieces picked up along the way

  • In winter, layers of clothing should overlap.

    This is especially true for the areas in between most pieces of clothing: wrists, waist, neck and ankles. For example, if you wear gloves make sure that when you put them on, they cover the end of each sleeve. This helps hold in the heat our hands generate. The same applies for your waist, etc. When I walked to work in 0c weather, I bought a pair of ski gloves. They're great, although people assume that I ski.

  • To avoid cold feet in bed, exercise beforehand.

    This is the only way I've found to make sure that my feet are actually warm at night when I get into bed. Light weightlifting works well for me. YMMV.

  • Toothpaste dries out your mouth.

    It took me a long time to figure this out. I bet toothpaste is the leading cause of morning mouth. When I stopped brushing my teeth just before I went to bed, my mouth felt so much better in the morning. No stickiness, no furry feeling. Brush during the day, rinse your mouth very well, and drink a lot of water just afterward.

  • Alcohol dries you out too.

    Sneaky, isn't it? A beer is an awful thing on a hot day. But it's the truth.

  • When you have a big decision to make

    Ask yourself the following two questions:

    The hard part is remembering to ask the questions. It's especially important to ask them when you're angry or otherwise engulfed in emotion.

    If that doesn't help you, flip a coin.

  • An easy way to clean eyeglasses.

    The best thing for cleaning spectacles is soap, water, and toilet paper. Wet the lenses, rub your finger on a wet bar of soap, and then soap the lenses. Rinse under water, and then dry with a sheet or two of toilet paper. It works better than anything else and doesn't scratch glass or plastic.

  • Avoiding fainting.

    If you feel you're going to faint, do this:

    • Lie down, with feet elevated if possible. This works better than putting your head between your knees.
    • Cool down. Remove layers of clothing. A cold wet washcloth is good.
    • Eat sugar.

    To prevent getting light-headed in the first place, prepare yourself. If you're going to do something that makes you woozy, eat first. Take enough clothing off to be cool or even cold. Have a candy bar and cold washcloth handy. Tell the people around you that you are trying to avoid fainting; they'll do what they can to help.

    The other good thing to do is to distract yourself. When I have to get blood drawn, I bring a CD player and headphones. The music lets me concentrate on something besides what's happening.

  • Aphorisms

    • In vino veritas.
    • Caveat emptor.
    • Know your audience. (If you know the Latin for this phrase, please let me know.)
  • Testing blood sugar levels

    If you're diabetic, you probably have to test your blood sugar levels regularly. The recommended procedure is to get a drop of blood from your fingers. Don't believe it! Try using other parts of the body. I've found it's easiest to use the upper thighs. It doesn't hurt as much, there's a lot more area (so you don't hit the same place as often), and they aren't sore afterward. I only use my fingers as an absolute last resort, like when in public.


  • Preventing bicycle theft

    There are two rules to preventing bicycle theft:

    1. Park your bike in a public, visible location.
    2. Don't rely on rule 1.

    In other words, park your bike in the most visible place you can, and then lock it securely. Rule 2 came about from when my bike was stolen last year; it was visible, but not locked well.

    This leads of course to the first corollary:

    1. Things not locked will be stolen.

    It's an unfortunate fact of life, and must be considered a maintenance cost of the bike. Bike lights, et cetera, will disappear. Consider them your bike's gas bill for the year, and remember: bikes are still cheaper to own than cars. (Don't forget to buy detachable bike lights.)

    A friend had some very useful additions to these rules.


  • Avoiding junk mail

    There are three rules to avoiding junk mail.

    1. When you order from a catalog, include a note asking the company not to (a) send you catalogs, and (b) distribute your name and address.

    2. When ordering, use a unique name for each company. For example, if your name is Jane P. Smith and you're ordering from Widgets Etc., give the name Jane W. Smith. If you start receiving junk mail addressed to Jane W. Smith, you'll know that Widgets Etc. sold your name.

    3. Have courtesy for others. Follow rules #1 and #2 when you order a gift for someone else. It's not nice to stuff a friend's mailbox with junk.


  • Learning to juggle

    The most annoying part about learning to juggle is repeatedly bending down to the floor to pick up dropped balls. This can be made easier by standing in front of a bed. Just walk right up to it and start practicing. When you drop balls, you don't have to stoop all the way down to the floor anymore; a simple bend will do.

    Another advantage of using a bed (rather than a table) is that the softness of the bed absorbs the balls' impact, and they're less likely to roll away.


  • When not to use email

    Email is fine for most messages. Compared to speaking, though, it fails at communicating emotion. That lack of emotional nuance can ruin an attempt to convey an emotional message such as an apology. Never use email to apologize to someone, or to try to resolve a misunderstanding. Do it in person, on the phone, or some other way that conveys emotion.


  • Defrosting a freezer using a hot water siphon

    One method of defrosting a freezer involves placing pans of hot water in the freezer's chamber. This works, but is slow. It goes much faster when hot water is applied directly to the built-up ice.

    For this you'll need hot water, a glass dish at least an inch deep (e.g. a casserole dish), and some clean, narrow, flexible plastic tubing a few feet long. Tubing from a disposable nebulizer is ideal. Place the dish on top of the freezer/refrigerator. Coil one end of the tubing and put it in the dish, with the end of the tubing as close to the dish's bottom as possible. Heat some water and fill the dish. Create a siphon in the tube, either by sucking on the free end until the hot water starts flowing (watch the water's progress through the tubing; be careful to not scald your mouth), or by first filling the tube with tap water and holding fingers over both ends before submerging one end in the hot-water-filled dish. When the siphon is working, play the the hot water from the free end of the tubing over the ice. It will melt in minutes, literally. Keep extra hot water on hand to refill the casserole dish when it gets low.

    This method is very quick; I defrosted a freezer compartment of a refrigerator in half an hour, melting channels through 1.5 cm thick ice sheets in minutes. The only problem with the method is that it's messy; all that water will end up at the bottom of your refrigerator and on your floor. Be prepared to mop afterward.


  • For a good hair day

    After many years, I finally discovered how to have a good hair day. My hair is about 18 inches long, slightly wavy, and fine. This tip is for those with similar hair.

    The first step is to wash your hair. I actually do "lather, rinse, and repeat", but on the second lathering I use only a small amount of shampoo (that's all it takes to work up a good lather). I don't use conditioner. After the second rinse, I don't brush my (wet) hair immediately. Instead, I towel it vigorously until it's a partly dry mess, which I then let air dry for an hour or two. When all or mostly dry, it's time to brush it. For this I sit in a chair, lean forward over my knees, and brush from the back of my scalp straight to the front. When all the tangles are gone, I flip my head back, and my hair is nice and fluffy (although it's in my eyes). A few left-right shakes of my head reveals my hair's natural part, which I use as a guide for final brushing. Et voilà: a practically guaranteed good hair day.

    Since I discovered this method, I've gotten compliments.


  • Cleaning your toothbrush

    You know how, after you've brushed your teeth, sometimes your toothbrush still contains toothpaste and food particles, despite your having rinsed it? The solution is to pretend that your faucet is a garden hose. Remember how as a kid you'd put your finger over the end of the hose, changing a large, low-pressure flow into a small, high-pressure jet? Do the same thing. Block part of the flow from the faucet. The high-pressure jet is much better at cleaning your toothbrush.


  • Avoiding relapse

    So your cold is finally clearing up, you feel better, and you're sick of being cooped up inside. You want to get out and do things.

    Don't. Wait a few days. Right now, exerting yourself is setting yourself up for relapse. Wait a few days and increase your activity gradually. Yeah, it sucks to spend another day or three inside, but that's better than a trip to the hospital, no?

    The same holds true for other injuries. I especially need to remember this after I've overexerted myself lifting weights.


  • Dispelling garbage disposal odors

    If your garbage disposal smells bad, chop up a lemon and feed it into the disposal while it's on. Repeat if the odor persists. To keep it from returning, never cover the disposal for long (for example, with a dirty dish), and flush the disposal briefly once a day to dispel anything lingering in there.


A tip o' the hat to R.E.M. for the title

Last updated 15 March 2005
All contents ©1995-2002 Mark L. Irons