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April 2012 (116 posts)
Determining if your toilet has a leak is quick and painless. “Put a few drops of food coloring in your toilet tank,” says Stephanie Thorton, a representative with the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program. “Check back after 15 minutes and if the color has seeped in, you have a leak.” (Make sure to flush afterward, to avoid staining the toilet bowl.)
Fixing a leak is almost as easy as spotting it: The usual culprit is the toilet’s rubber flapper, which can decay over time. A replacement part costs a couple of bucks at any hardware store, and takes only a few minutes to install. Your reward for putting the brakes on that one small, sneaky leak? Up to 1,000 gallons of water saved every month—and the back-pat that comes with doing your part for the planet.
Men! What are they thinking? We can't always answer that, but we'll be posting our favorite glimpses into their world in this space every Thursday.
* Say hello to Iceberg, the only ever-seen, all-white adult male Orca. (YouTube)
* Last weekend the police and fire departments in Arlington, TX found themselves under siege from the Joker, Riddler, and a few other notorious bad guys. They called in the help of Batman, who, when he's not saving his city, is also known as Kye, a 7-year-old with leukemia. (Nixle)
* And here is your daily smile: Alphonso Ribiero (you recognize him as Carlton Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air) leads a flashmob in doing—you guessed it—the Carlton. (Vulture)
These nuggets are from a compelling series of infographics from the makers of a food-tracking iPhone app called The Eatery (see them all here, and learn more about the app at www.massivehealth.com). There are lots of interesting facts about what, when, where and how we eat, compiled using crowd-sourced data that included 7.68 million food ratings by Eatery users from over 50 countries, but what we found most interesting had to do with perception. Not only do we think we eat better than others think we do, but we tend to have some interesting ideas about good and bad foods: half of the Eatery users considered coffee to be "unhealthy" (they must not have had a chance to read the latest pro-joe research) and 1 in 5 think diet soda is "healthy" (it has fewer calories that regular soda, but since when is artificial sweetener "healthy"?!).
Maybe because the weather is getting warmer and you're thinking about the pleasures (and, evidently, the vexations) of sleevelessness, I've recently received a slew of e-mails about underarm discoloration. This problem is very common among black and Hispanic women, says Brooke Jackson, MD, medical director of the Skin Wellness Center of Chicago. It can be caused by frequent shaving, friction (if, say, your workout clothes rub against your underarms), irritation from your deodorant, or, more rarely, a hormonal condition. To solve the problem, Jackson suggests considering laser hair removal and switching to a gentle deodorant. (Try Secret Clinical Strength Anti-Perspirant/Deodorant for Sensitive Skin, $10, drugstores.)
There is a portrait in my in-laws' house that I am completely obsessed with. My husband (then a blond cherub of 5 or 6) and his brother (at 9 or 10) pose, bedecked in matching polo shirts, in front of a stone-washed background. Big brother is scowling. Little brother grins sweetly even though he totally has a black eye given to him by big brother just moments before saying cheese. It's as if the anarchy of childhood has broken through the attempted restraints of the Civilized Sears Family Photo. Because isn't that the way? You try to take a nice family picture and get goofiness.
Here's one father who has cracked the code with equal parts creativity and craziness. Instead of fighting the wackiness of youth, Jason Lee channels it, getting ideas from his daughters for their unusual family pictures. Observe:
The photos are great fun to look at, but they also serve as a helpful reminder: there are so many things in our lives that we take too seriously, when we could be just embracing the craziness and having fun with them. Documenting the kids, working, being creative -- whatever it is, take a page from the Lee family's scrapbook and loosen up a little. And when all else fails: bubble beards for all. (via Bored Panda.)
(Check out all of Jason Lee's gorgeous photography at his site.)
What Makes Work Fun?
Why You Need More Fun In Your Life
Every time I talk to her I make some very awkward reference to it; yesterday we were chatting about weekend playdates, and I was saying, "Ugh, my husband is WORKING this weekend, so the kids need stuff to do, and I'm so TIRED," and then I immediately corrected myself, "But jeez, sorry, I shouldn't complain to you of all people!" and launched into a rousing round of I-don't-know-how-you-do-its. She smiled and said, very calmly, very magnanimously, "Oh, everyone has something." [something! A husband in Bahrain is "something!"] "And anyway I don't like when people don't complain -- it takes away my right to complain when I need to." I could have sworn the sunlight formed a halo around her hair.
I maintain that I don't know how these army wives do it, since I am pretty convinced the world has ended when the dishwasher stops working and my husband isn't around to make the call to fix it. But they do, and some of them, like Jessie Knadler, even find the time, energy, and humor to blog about it. Jessie Knadler's great blog, Rurally Screwed, shares stories of how she (a former New York City magazine editor) has been raising her baby daughter alone on a farm in Virginia, while her husband has been deployed in Afghanistan for the past year. This blog is seriously addictive reading -- as is, I'm guessing, her new memoir. Most recently, Knadler has been sharing the story of her husband's homecoming (yay!) and the unexpected new family member he brought with him: Solha, the dog he rescued from Afghanistan. I can't imagine what Knadler has gone through this past year, or how it is to reunite with a husband after a year, but this dog I can wrap my mind around. Because she is crazy. Crazy dogs I get.
DIY Movie Popcorn at Home
One way that fresh popcorn trumps the prepackaged version is the rich, buttery aroma--until now. This summer, Popcorn, Indiana is launching a new type of bag that allows you to tear a small hole to vent the bag and then warm up the popcorn in the microwave. (Traditional bags spark and may catch fire if you tried to zap them.) The popcorn is tasty eaten cold from the bag and phenomenal when warmed.
Super-Natural, Gourmet Popcorn (from the Microwave!)
When the US Environmental Protection Agency tested the steam that rises from conventional microwave popcorn bags, the agency identified nearly four dozen different chemicals. But Quinn Popcorn’s microwave bags are free of Teflon and plastic and are made from compostable paper. Even better? The flavors are awesome: Parmesan and rosemary, Vermont maple and sea salt, and lemon and sea salt. Little packets of seasoning let you customize the flavor with as much or as little intensity as you'd like.