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Math: Like Watching Water Drip

Here’s a good example of why I never did well in math coursework! This is just one video submitted for the Math Awareness Project. At nearly nine minutes, it is the abbreviated version! As the tantalizing introduction states, the video will take us along on a Math adventure in which,

“I’m going to count water dripping from my kitchen tap. When I’m through counting 1,000 drops I’ll measure it to see what quantity 1,000 drops is.”

At mathawareness.org, we learn that the collaborative project intends to count to 1 Million and,

The purpose of this project is to bring ‘math awareness’ to the general public of the United States and to increase the number of our next generation of college students, grades K-12, majoring in the STEM sciences (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).

Good Job! This project should easily weed out any intellectual weaklings who lack unnatural focus or unreasonable perseverance!

Judge Us By Results, Not Method

There, I Fixed is a blog that features a range of repairs accomplished with on-the-fly amateur engineering. It’s amazing what can be achieved with duct tape, cable ties, wire and other found objects without a single trip to hardware store!  (Noted: the biggest word in the site’s tag cloud appears to be “unsafe!”)

We particularly love this ugly but effective solution for hot water delivery:

Upon further investigation, we learn via neatorama that this DIY water heater was made by Patryk Sielski from Warsaw, Poland. Patryk wrote:

I live in an academic hostel of Warsaw University of Technology. Unfortunately, we don’t have hot water in our rooms, it’s only in kitchen and toilet outside. This inconvenience caused me to think about hot water. Commercial heaters are to expensive to students, it’s also a problem to assemble without temporary cutting off the water. Beside of that, the fuses would be immediately blown.

The cheapest device that have an electric heater is a cordless kettle. Some glue, a bottle and a pipe… voila! The hot water flows.

Also, here’s a guerrilla plumbing solution that will stop that leak without a single cent spent at Home Depot:

And using the very versatile vice-grip pliers, this faucet is back in service in seconds:

Confession: my house is filled with on-the-fly fixes, and here’s one of them: this old outdoor faucet has an annoying drip-drip-drip when the water’s on, soaking directly into the foundation. I took care of it quick with this orange-juice-carton splash guard. This was much easier than disassembling the faucet and attempting to ID and replace the worn part/s. But I’m going to do that very soon. Really.

March 31st: The Annual Day of Readiness

Just a few minutes of preparation today and you’ll be tactically ready for a schadenfreude-filled April Fools Days tomorrow! It’s one of my favorite “holidays” especially if the prank involves water. Here are some classic gotchas that almost everyone in the civilized world has heard of, but continues to fall prey to year after year.

I can’t believe my own mother did this to me. More than once. The ice-laden cereal bowl: put some water in a bowl and freeze overnight. Serve up your victim the next morning with their just enough of their favorite cereal and milk to disguise the ice. Works especially well with anyone who’s “not a morning person.”

Leave it to Martha Stewart to file this prank under “good things” with the attendant beautiful photo:
Turn the kitchen sink into a blue lagoon with nontoxic dye pellets, designed to tint children’s bathwater. Unscrew the cap on the faucet, and set a couple of the colored tabs inside before replacing it. When the water is turned on, the burst of color will be short-lived yet shocking.

I’ve been humiliated by the sink-sprayer stunt at least a dozen times in my life. (It would surely be more were it not for modern pull-out faucets.) Just looking at this photo fills me with resentment towards both of my brothers, but not to the point that I can’t enjoy this video!

From ehow.com comes these instructions for gelatin-laden toilet water, which seems like way too much labor given the simplicity of the plastic wrap varation. (What about gelatinized bottled water… now that sounds promising!)

Select your victim and location wisely. This will make a mess and may irritate certain people. Be careful. Estimate the amount of water in your toilet bowl. Buy gelatin mix. If you estimate your toilet bowl hold 5 cups of water, then buy 5 packs of clear gelatin mix. Boil the appropriate amount of water. If your toilet has 5 cups of water, then boil 5 cups of water. Pour the gelatin mix into the boiling water. If you boiled 5 cups of water, then pour in 5 packets of gelatin mix. Pour the mix into the toilet. Wait a few hours for the mix to solidify. Since the bathroom is not as cold as your fridge, the mix will take longer to harden and will not get as hard as it would in the fridge. Wait for your victim. When attempting to use the toilet as usual, your victim will find the “water” inside has slightly solidified and will then splash back anything that goes in.

And to close, the classic favorite. I love this trick because it’s hard to pull on females but easy with men. That is, the ultimate girl-power April Fools Day tradition. It is practically guaranteed that I will inflict this on my son and that he will fall for it. Again. Just like last year, and the year before that. (Do you think he’ll grow up to resent this?)

Kitchen Culture: The Microbial Kind

WARNING: POST CONTAINS INFORMATION THAT MAY BE DISTURBING TO GERMAPHOBES.

Before you blame the public works establishment for your funny-tasting tap water, it might be a good idea to look in the mirror. Or in the kitchen faucet, actually. Maybe you’re at fault, by neglecting to disinfect your faucet aeration screen regularly like responsible folks do!

(What? Well, of course I…OK, I’m lying, I don’t.)

From this story on the kbs radio blog, think about what might be lurking right in your kitchen faucet:

That metal aeration screen at the end of your kitchen faucet reduces water flow, which is good for the environment, but not so much for your health: Running water keeps the screen moist, an ideal condition for bacteria growth. Because tap water is far from sterile, if you accidentally touch the screen with dirty fingers or food, bacteria can grow on the faucet, explains microbiologist Kelly Reynolds, PhD, an associate professor of community environment and policy at the University of Arizona College of Public Health. Over time, bacteria build up and form a wall of pathogens called biofilm that sticks to the screen. ”Eventually, that biofilm may even be big enough to break off and get onto your food or dishes,” she notes.

Now armed with this knowledge, here’s one more thing to add to your bottomless to-do list: (What? Yes, I definitely will. Just as soon as I finish this post, for sure!)

Once a week, remove the screen and soak it in a diluted bleach solution – follow the directions on the label. Replace the screen, and let the water run a few minutes before using.

About the disgusting photo: From the real-life case of ertiepie on flickr, who

“got a new Britta filter for the kitchen faucet. this is what i discovered when i took off the old aerator/filter. yes, all the water we’ve been drinking at the apartment was being filtered through that…no, i won’t be cleaning it any more cuz we got a fancy new Britta on-faucet filter. Our water doesn’t taste all mineral-y or icky anymore, hurray!”