kitchen table math, the sequel: stupid pet tricks

Thursday, February 19, 2009

stupid pet tricks

Will we see a back-to-basics movement thanks to the 21st century global world meltdown?


Today’s shaky economy is likely to produce many more such tricks. “In postwar Japan, the economy wasn’t doing so great, so you couldn’t get everyday-use items like household cleaners,” says Lisa Katayama, author of “Urawaza,” a book named after the Japanese term for clever lifestyle tips and tricks. “So people looked for ways to do with what they had.”


Today, Americans are finding their own tips and tricks for fixing misbehaving gadgets with supplies as simple as paper and adhesive tape.... [M]any tech home remedies can be explained by a little science.


Remote Car Key

Suppose your remote car door opener does not have the range to reach your car across the parking lot. Hold the metal key part of your key fob against your chin, then push the unlock button. The trick turns your head into an antenna, says Tim Pozar, a Silicon Valley radio engineer.

Mr. Pozar explains, “You are capacitively coupling the fob to your head. With all the fluids in your head it ends up being a nice conductor. Not a great one, but it works.” Using your head can extend the key’s wireless range by a few car lengths.

Low-Tech Fixes for High-Tech Problems
by Paul Boutin
NYTIMES 2.18.2009


Catherine Johnson said...

Cellphone in the Toilet

It could happen to anyone: you dropped your cellphone in the toilet. Take the battery out immediately, to prevent electrical short circuits from frying your phone’s fragile internals. Then, wipe the phone gently with a towel, and shove it into a jar full of uncooked rice.

Barry Garelick said...

"Cellphone in the Toilet" sounds like the name of a hot band. You should trademark it.

Catherine Johnson said...

Maybe I should start a band to amuse myself during the 21st century global world meltdown.

CassyT said...

Didn't work with my cellphone, did work with my bluetooth earpiece.

I don't get booed off the stage on Rock Band, can I join "Cellphone in the Toilet?"

Barry Garelick said...

OK, so far we have Catherine, Cassy and me in "Cellphone in the Toilet". Now if I just learn an instrument and get us some gigs, we'll be in business.

CassyT said...

I can play a ringtone in one hand and a toilet flush in the other. I'll leave the guitar to those more coordinated.

GoogleMaster said...

It's clear from this morning's two random YouTube videos and the Stupid Pet Tricks article that *Catherine must be on deadline again*. :-)

Catherine Johnson said...



It's the opposite: I'm NOT under deadline!

(But I agree: those two conditions are hard to tell apart hereabouts.)

Anonymous said...

One night about 20 years ago, after way to much drinking, I went home and poured myself a coke. I put it on the top of an old hand me down television that barely worked.

Fortunately, my condition prevented me from figuring out how to turn the TV on. Unfortunately I knocked the coke over trying. At that point I went to bed.

The next day, while cleaning up after myself, I decided to open up the TV to see what had transpired inside. It was a real mess. Dried up sticky Coke was everywhere. I figured I had nothing to lose so I took out all the easily removed parts and threw them in a sink of cold water.

Years of dust melted away and the printed circuit boards came out nice and shiny. I let things dry for the next few days, put it all back together, and turned it on (with fire extinguisher in hand). To my delight, it came on with a better picture than I had seen in years. Go figure!

After that, I gave up Coke. I figured that anything that strong was not something I wanted inside my gut.

palisadesk said...

After that, I gave up Coke. I figured that anything that strong was not something I wanted inside my gut.

I vividly remember an experiment from ninth grade science. We suspended teeth (rejects from the tooth fairy) in beakers of Coke. I'm not sure how long we left them there -- I think it was over the weekend.

The teeth dissolved.

I switched to Seven-Up..

Dawn said...

"I decided to open up the TV..."

Isn't that a good way to get fried??

CassyT said...

My son did his science fair project last year on the corrosive effects of soda on different items. He used baby teeth, steak, bread and chicken. He soaked them for 3 weeks in water & various sodas. Nothing really corroded, but all items absorbed the soda's color. Here's a picture of the results.

In the second grade, we soaked a penny in coke & diet coke for 6 months. It didn't corrode, just got really, really clean.

palisadesk said...

I know the formula has changed somewhat over the years (my high school experiment was a good while back), but my mechanic did recommend Coke for cleaning battery terminals and grease and crud from the (external)car engine.

I've tried it and it works. Works on lawn mowers, too.

Also recommended for dog paws -- spash some Coke on the pads of the dog's feet and s/he won't slip on tile or hardwood floors. Old dog show trick. Or you can buy Sure-Foot (same idea in a spray bottle).

Tracy W said...

I figured that anything that strong was not something I wanted inside my gut.

Your stomach has hydrochloric acid in it, and, I am told, a pH content of about 1 to 2. Your stomach could take the Coke hungover and with one hand tied behind it's back.

I don't drink Coke, but that's because I don't like the taste.

Anonymous said...

True, but rational thought is not normally a byproduct of drinking.

Plus, my stomach doesn't have hands :>{