Things I Figured Out

At the risk of sounding like an idiot, I've decided to post some little things I figured out over the years. These little discoveries stand out in my mind because I wasn't ever taught them, I just figured them out. 

Some I figured out as a child. Others took longer.

Menu of Stuff I Figured Out | Part 3


Don't over-mix dough, especially scones.

Just get the ingredients together. It isn't like dissolving sugar into iced coffee. Dough is almost never better when it has the bejezus mixed out of it.  Mixing dough is kind of fun, cathartic, so sometimes a baker will mix dough for an exceptionally long time.

Meat is Muscle.

Every animal has "meat" on them. It is the muscle on their bodies, either on the legs, the breast, the  back...anywhere. Strong, lean muscles are most appealing to the eye, but weak, fat muscles are more appealing to  the tooth. In fact, someone just pointed out to me on Friday that seedstock cattle are judged (and priced) by the percentage intramuscular fat (IMF) their offspring produce.


School districts get money for each kid in class per day.

School districts get twice as much money for a kid that attends school 180 days than for one that only attends 90 days. The figure varies widely, but in California public schools, the price is about $40 a day. If you are a student who is considering skipping a day of class, be sure to contact your school administrator and see what kind of incentive he can offer to guarantee your attendance.

When drawing a cartoon, write the words first, then draw a speech balloon around them.

Yeah. Don't draw the balloon first. 

Drawing the speech balloon first is like buying a hat without trying it on for size.

Police don't enjoy giving out traffic tickets.

Police officers don't enjoy going around, pulling people over, and ruining their days with $200 citations. Just like most everyone else, they want people to like them, and would much rather be chasing car thieves and rapists than hassling hardworking family-mobiles.

But, they have to give out some tickets, so most probably tend to cite the cars that get on their nerves or earn their attention.

Liquid condensing on a cold Coke is from the air.

A cold soda doesn't need a leak to to leave a ring of water on the coffee table. There is invisible gaseous moisture in the air. If you have an ice-cold Coke, the moisture in the air cools down, and turns to liquid water on the side of your can.

Movie theatres get little of the money from movie ticket sales.

People visit theaters to see movies, and a lot of price of the ticket goes directly back to the moviemakers. Less than 10% of the ticket price goes to the theater itself. If theatres weren't selling Coke for $5 a cup, they'd be in trouble.

Not that you should feel sorry for them.



Lungs aren't bags.

Lungs are where oxygen is introduced into your bloodstream. They hold air, but they aren't just empty pink sacks.

Lungs are packed full of a complex system of tunnels and pockets, so that every wisp of air is tantalizingly close to blood-engorged capillaries. This plaza of exchange isn't a big, open stadium, it is a tight system of itty bitty tunnels that lead to 600 million tiny rooms. If you cut open a lung, it isn't empty inside like a potato-chip sack, it is full of membranes, like a sponge.

Cut past the intersection with an xacto.

When cutting a square out of some heavy paper with an Xacto knife, I used to make cuts that met one another perfectly. Due to the thickness of the material, and the angle of the blade, the cuts would not meet one another on the underside. This resulted in a little tearing at the edges. I eventually figured out that it is better to cut a bit past the intersection. There will be little over-cuts on the material surface, but you'll get clean edges on the square.

The same goes for cutting sheets of plywood with a circular saw, and the thicker the material, the more over-cut that is necessary.

Candles burn the wax. 

Candles have two pieces; wax and a wick. Although the fire is on the wick, and the wick does burn, it is the burning wax that powers the candle.

Burning candles are a tidy little system. The wick burns, which melts a little pool of liquid wax. This wax climbs up the wick, a process called capillary action, where it vaporizes and  meets with enough oxygen to burn easily.

Comments? Little discoveries are particularly welcome.

Menu of Stuff I Figured Out | Part 3

Cockeyed How to Guides : Load the Dishwasher | Get Rid of a Cooler of Rotten Meat | Sew a New Shade Structure Canopy | How to Return $100 Cash to its Owner | Disneyland Shades | How to Fix a Fog Machine | Concrete Umbrella Base | Patio Umbrella | Restore Car Headlights | Make Slushie Magic | Facebook Gifts | Tell Time on a Watch | Change your Oil and Filter | Win Costume Contests | How a Toilet Works | How to Fix the Pullcord on a Weed Eater | How to Untwist a Seatbelt | How to Get a Ticket to a Sold-Out Show | How to Make a Sign | How to Memorize the Geography of Africa | How to Memorize the Geography of Canada | How to Remove Shoes from Telephone Lines | How Not to Build a Patio Cover | How to Remove Slats From Blinds | How to Remove a Toilet Ring | Things I Figured Out, Part 3 | Fence Ideas | Easy, Illustrated Instructions on How to Fix a Fence | How Fences Break | How to Fix a Gate | How to Keep your Video Card Cool | How to Patch a Hole in the Wall | How to Paint a Room | how to make a mold out of silicone caulk | how to have a halloween costume contest | How to Siphon Liquids | How to Unlock the Bathroom Door | How to Repair the Lens Mechanism | How to Reset a Circuit Breaker | Using the Hell out of your Digital Camera | How to Decorate your House with Christmas Lights | How to paper mache | What is the Learning Curve? | How to change a flat tire | how to make coffee | How to change your brake pads | How to Replace the Pull Cord on your Lawnmower or Leaf Blower Engine | How to Cut and Paste | How to make fire with two sticks | Refilling an Ink Cartridge | How to Fight a Speeding Ticket in court |
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June 12th, 2006 

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