Posts filed under ‘Be Efficient’

Desktop Snacking Without a Greasy Keyboard

With more work and less help, it’s no surprise that nearly 70% of Americans eat lunch at their desks. At 61% the majority of people also snack at their desk throughout the day.

All that food is one reason keyboards and mice are have more bacteria than most toilet seats. Also, office toilet seats are usually sanitized daily, when was the last time your keyboard or mouse were?

This tip is helpful because your hands never touch your food. This prevents your keyboard from getting dirtier and it keeps your hands from passing bacteria to your mouth.

1. Pour bite-size snacks into a cup or glass.

2. Angle cup into your mouth so bite-size snacks fall into your mouth.

3. Chew, swallow and repeat from step 2.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Home Food Safety Org, ABC News

July 5, 2010 at 5:00 am 9 comments

Run When It’s Raining to Stay Drier

Sooner or later, everybody gets caught outside when it starts raining.

I used to have a long walk to school. I mention this because walking to school has the same affect on rainfall as washing your car — it only rains at the worst possible time and it stops immediately after you stop caring.

When you’re stuck in the rain, you might think about whether it would be better to run or walk. When you run, you collide with more rain but you also reduce the amount of time you are exposed to the rain. When you walk, you collide with less rain but for a longer duration. So which is better?

It turns out that running is the better option, assuming you run fast enough to reduce the time you are exposed to rain. Myth Busters tested this in episode 38 if you want to check it out.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Myth Busters, Wise Geek

July 1, 2010 at 5:00 am 2 comments

Why Chocolate is Dangerous for Dogs and Not Humans

Whether it was your idea or not, your dog or cat may swallow chocolate at sometime in their life.

You want to avoid that since there are two toxins in chocolate that can have adverse affects on your pets: caffeine and theobromine.

Both of these drugs are very similar, but chocolate contains a lot more theobromine than caffeine. Theobromine does not affect the human nervous system as much as caffeine, nor is it as addictive as caffeine. But, theobromine is still addictive and believed to be the agent that causes Chocolate addiction. It is also believed to be responsible for chocolate’s notoriety as an aphrodisiac.

Although theobromine increases heart rate in humans, it also dilates blood vessels, which reduces blood pressure. In fact, it is superior to codeine at suppressing cough and can be helpful in relaxing muscles to alleviate symptoms of asthma.

Humans are able to consume chocolate in moderation because we can breakdown theobromine fairly quickly. In dogs, cats, rats and other species, they cannot digest it efficiently. This leads to a buildup of this toxin and is known as theogromine poisoning. Actually, this can also happen to elderly people who consume large quantities of chocolate.

For animals, a dangerous quantity of chocolate depends on the type of chocolate. Milk chocolate is not as dangerous as semisweet chocolate and it’s not as dangerous as cocoa powder.

Milk chocolate contains approx 44-64 milligrams of theobromine per ounce. Semi-sweet chocolate is about 150-160 mg/oz. Cocoa powder is 800 mg/oz.

A toxic dose for pets is 100-200 mg/kg of body weight (1 kg = 2.2 pounds). That said, problems can still be evident with smaller doses.

Signs of toxicity include:

  • Excitement, nervousness, trembling
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Excessive thirst
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death (usually a result of other problems caused by the toxin)

As much as people like to treat their pets like humans, they are not human and should not be treated like humans when it comes to diet. There are many other human foods that are not recommended and poisonous to pets:

  • Alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Coffee
  • Fatty Foods
  • Onions
  • Raisins and grapes
  • Salt
  • Yeast dough
  • Garlic
  • Artificial sweetener

Pet’s digestive systems are very different from humans. Checkout Vetinfo for more details on why some of the above foods should not be fed to your animals.

Thanks to Ryan W for suggesting this secret.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Wikipedia (Theobromine), About.com, Vetinfo

June 16, 2010 at 1:09 am 7 comments

Diesel Fuel Nozzles Don’t Fit in Standard Fuel Cars

Diesel cars are not popular in North America. But, diesel engines are fairly popular in pickup trucks and are becoming more popular in North American cars.

Although they have a limited history in America, foreign car manufacturers sell many diesel models in Europe.

Diesel engines are generally very efficient and that behind their new found demand. As diesel becomes more popular, you will likely see more diesel pumps.

This is good if you have a diesel car, potentially bad if you don’t. Diesel pumps present a slight risk to your standard gasoline vehicle — you do not want to put diesel fuel in a car that uses standard unleaded fuel.

Standard engines use spark plugs to burn the fuel, diesel engines use pressure and heat to cause a reaction in diesel fuel. That means standard engines will not burn diesel fuel. If you inadvertently put diesel in an unleaded car, the engine will stop very quickly. It’s not usually a total loss, the fuel system will have to be cleaned, filters will need to be changed and the whole process can cost as much as $600.

But, there is an easy way to avoid this costly mistake. First, diesel fuel dispensers are usually clearly marked with text and with a special color handle (the color varies by station).

Second, the nozzle on the end of a diesel fuel pump is slightly larger than a standard fuel nozzle. That means it won’t fit in your car’s gas hole, at least not that way you’re used to a pump nozzle fitting. If you notice that the nozzle isn’t going as far in as it usually does, check the pump, you might be holding a diesel trigger.

This same principle was used in the 80s when we transitioned from leaded to unleaded fuel. Leaded fuel nozzles wouldn’t not fit in unleaded gas holes.

Checkout some other gas related Broken Secrets:

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Answer Bag, WTSP, Dixon Nozzles (PDF)

Photo: teachernz (cc)

June 9, 2010 at 5:00 am 3 comments

How to Buy the Right Shoes for Your Feet

Considering how much time you spend wearing shoes, how much time have you spent understanding what’s unique about your feet?

Unless you’re an avid runner or maybe work at a shoe store, you probably don’t know how to buy shoes that compliment your feet and the way you use them. It can be hard enough to find a shoe that looks good, fits on your foot and feels comfortable, but it takes even more to find a pair that fits your arch and the angle of your ankles. But there is a way.

Even if you don’t run, you can still benefit from buying the right running (or walking) shoes — especially if you spend a lot of time on your feet at work or at play.

For example, the only “running” I do is running errands, but I often wear running shoes because they’re comfortable and lightweight. With the right shoes, there is less stress on your feet, ankles, knees and hips.

When you walk, the heel of your foot will touch the ground first and as you roll your foot forward, your weight will be transferred to the front of your foot. Depending on the angle of your foot, you may be putting more weight on the inside or outside of your foot. Doing that hundreds or thousands of times a day can lead to pain and discomfort in your feet and other parts of your body.

If your hips, knees or ankles produce external rotation, you will be more likely to angle your feet as you walk (known as pronation of the foot). Your shoes can compensate for natural irregularities or make them worse and that’s why it’s important to get the right shoes.

Good shoe stores will help determine your arch type and level of pronation. Once you know your arch type and pronation, there are different shoes that will suit you. A local running shop is a good place to start, they’re generally the most knowledgeable retailers of shoes. Some websites with good fitting advice are: Road Runner Sports, Zappos, Dick’s and New Balance.

One way to determine your arch type is by standing (to put weight on your feet), then sliding your index finger under your arch. If you get your finger up to 1/2 an inch under your foot then you’ve got a low arch. 1/2 inch to 1 inch is a medium arch. More than an inch is a high arch.

The other way to determine arch type is the paper bag test. You wet your feet and stand on a paper bag. Looking at your wet footprint and the size of the gap left by your arch, you can tell if you have a low, medium or high arch. This way is pretty common, but it’s a bit more subjective than the index finger method.

To determine your pronation (ankle roll), you’ll need the help of a friend. They will stand behind you to see how your ankles behave as you walk. If your ankles stay very straight, then you have neutral pronation. If they roll slightly inward or outward then you’re considered an under-pronator. If they roll inward excessively, then you’re an over-pronator.

Another way to determine pronation is to put a used pair of your running shoes on a flat surface and see if the shoes tilt inward towards each other, or tilt outward, away from each other.

Shoes are divided into three categories for different feet type: stability, motion control and neutral. Stability shoes are for under-pronators. Motion control shoes are for severe over-pronators and perhaps obviously, neutral shoes are for neutral pronation.

Most online retailers categorize shoes into these groups. A good shoe store will be able to tell you which shoes are your type as well.

The other approach to running footwear is: barefoot. There is a popular book on running called Born to Run which suggests that we are literally born to run in our bare feet and the best runners in the world come from tribes of barefoot runners who run well into old age without injury.

For now, I think I’ll stick with my runners.

Thanks to Kristen for suggesting this secret!

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Wikipedia (Foot type), New Balance (Running Gait), Zappos, Dick’s

Photo: Jason Alley (cc)

June 7, 2010 at 5:00 am 2 comments

Exhaust Fans Help Cool Your Home During Summer

The upper floor of your home is likely the warmest place in your home. It’s not usually a big deal in the winter, but it can be very uncomfortable in the summer. It happens because hot air rises.

The ceiling of your upper floor also has the most insulation of any place in your home. It’s there because hot air rises — in the winter, you don’t want to lose that heat. It’s the same reason you put a hat on your head in the winter.

In the summer, that thick insulation in your attic is doing the same thing it does in the winter, trapping that heat on your upper floor. If you have a central heating/cooling system, it should suck hot air from the upper floor and mix it with cooler air. But, it’s not always running and it can’t always keep up with the hot air that is produced inside your home, from people, electronics and appliances.

A good solution is to run the ceiling exhaust fan in a central bathroom on the upper floor during the hottest hours of the day. To help, you can get an automatic timer control light switch; these can be used to run the fan and have it automatically shutoff after a certain amount of time — this might also be useful after somebody uses the toilet.

In some regions, it is even part of the building code that an on/off switch for the upper floor hallway bathroom fan is placed next to the thermostat on the main floor. It’s there so you can turn on the exhaust fan when you turn on the air conditioner (there is also a switch in the bathroom to control it from there). This is not a widespread building code, but it’s worth having a look beside your thermostat. If you’ve got a light switch there that doesn’t do anything, try it again and listen for the hallway fan.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: MSU, About.com

June 2, 2010 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

You Can’t Grow Hemp in the US But You Can Import It

Hemp is a plant with a long and interesting history, especially in the United States.

Farmers cannot freely grow hemp in the US, but many companies import hemp products for resale, mostly from Canada and the UK.

The problem is that hemp is from the same plant family (genus) as marijuana. But hemp is not a drug, it is a raw material that is used much like cotton. We all know that cotton is great, we use it for making: t-shirts, socks, denim for blue-jeans, fishnets, coffee filters, paper and many other things. Considering everything we use it for, it’s a miracle plant.

But, cotton has some limitations. It can only be grown in areas that get a lot of sunshine, have consistent rainfall and long frost-free periods. Cotton also requires a lot of pesticides: 50% of the world’s pesticides are sprayed on cotton.

Imagine a plant with all the benefits of cotton, but it has even stronger fibers, could be grown anywhere in the country and doesn’t require pesticides or herbicides.

That plant is called hemp.

At the risk of sounding like a huge hippie, hemp is a perfect plant. Frankly, I am not a hippie — I only own one hemp product: hemp protein powder.

Hemp as a food source is one example of why it’s so perfect. The seeds contain all of the essential fatty acids and essential amino acids required for a human to be healthy. It also contains a lot of fiber, another essential part of the human diet.

When used as a textile, hemp is stronger and more mildew resistant than cotton. For that reason, hemp is an excellent material for making canvas boat sails, and it was used for that exact purpose by Christopher Columbus. (more…)

June 1, 2010 at 5:00 am 11 comments

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