Handy Hints, Life Lessons And Tips And Tricks

Not everyone is dying to see your baby's pictures.

Not everyone is dying to see your baby’s pictures.

Can’t find a nail file to smooth a rough fingernail? Use the strike pad on a matchbook.

Can’t find thread to match your outfit? Either match the button color or use dental floss, which, if fine and unwaxed, eventually blends in. Stocking up on clear nylon thread is also a good trick.

Good bartender tip: If someone sends back a drink complaining you shorted them on liquor and you know they are just trying to get more booze for free, add a drop or two of the liquor into the straw or on the rim of the glass. The first thing they taste is the alcohol, which will keep them from complaining.

Naughty bartender trick: If a customer asks you for a stiff drink but doesn’t want to pay the difference, place your finger over the hole on the back of the pour spout. By restricting the flow of air you are inhibiting the speed at which the liquor flows from the bottle, so you can make a big show of giving him a nice, long pour, all while serving him the same amount of alcohol.

Evil bartender tip: If you work somewhere with a marble top bar, try rubbing ice on the marble. This serves two purposes. First, you’ll look busy, like you’re dedicated to keeping the bar clean. But, even better, it makes the marble wet. Now, when you return change to patrons, put the coins on the bar top. Many people, after struggling to pick up their change from wet marble (a nearly impossible task), will leave the money as a tip rather than sliding a handful of wet coins to the edge and putting them in their pocket.

Very Evil bartender trick: If someone bitches that you didn’t put enough alcohol in their drink (and you know you did, because your place of business makes you put those serving spigots on the top of bottles which force you to pour exact amounts, no more and no less), they are probably drunk. Drunks almost always think their drinks aren’t strong enough. Placate them easily by dripping a little pure alcohol down their straw. Their first sip will be a doozy. They will go away and leave you alone.

When you’ve been working on a drawing for a while and feel there’s something “not quite right” about it, but you’re uncertain just what, view the drawing in reverse. If you’re working digitally, flip the image horizontally; if you’re working in traditional media, use a mirror. You’ll see the drawing freshly and be amazed at how different it looks. Don’t do it too often with the same drawing, though, or you’ll lose the ability to see it “fresh”.

When mixing a record, a band member will often insist that a track could be improved if you make their instrument or vocals louder relative to everyone else. To please this person while not screwing up the sound, twiddle some knobs and then turn up the overall volume. Since the person making the demand will be focusing on their own part, and their own part will now be louder (along with everything else), they will usually think you’ve fulfilled their request.

When someone omits something from their order, don’t ask them which option they want: “Would you like curly fries or homestyle fries?” or “What size drink would you like?”. Instead, pick one of the options and ask if they want that: “Would you like curly fries?” or “Would you like to make that a large?” If you do the former, they’ll agonize over the decision; if you do the latter, they’ll answer quickly without thinking about it. This works in fine restaurants too, you just have to adjust the questions to fit the menu items. If someone orders red wine, offer them the most popular mid-priced merlot (or whatever) your restaurant offers.

Here are some ways to make even the smallest condo seem spacious. Remove all interior doors — no one notices, and hallways and rooms immediately feel bigger and more open. Use custom-built furniture scaled down for the space. Glass and lucite tables ‘disappear,’ and large framed mirrors magnify space. Rounded edges are safer and more “homey”. Note that it bad feng shui (if you care about such things) to hang a mirror that reflects your bed (and tacky, too), and that good feng shui for bed placement is to put it where you can see the doorway(s) easily from a reclining position on the bed but people in the doorway do not immediately focus on your bed first. In your office, this applies to your desk. You will feel less psychological stress if people can’t easily walk up behind you.

How To Increase Your Tips (compiled by Michael Lynn):
1. Two studies show little relationship between quality of waiter service and size of tip.
2. Hotel bellboys can double the size of their tips, on average, by showing guests how the TV and air conditioning work.
3. Tipping is less prevalent in countries where unease about inequality is especially strong.
4. The more a culture values status and prestige, the more likely that culture will use tipping to reward service.
5. Tips are higher in sunny weather.
6. Servers can increase their tips by giving their names to customers, squatting next to tables, touching their customers, and giving their customers after-dinner mints.
7. Drawing a smiley face on the check increases a waitress’s tips by 18 percent but decreases a waiter’s tips by 9 percent.
8. In one study, waitresses increased their tips by 17 percent by wearing flowers in their hair. In general it pays to look distinctive but not freaky.
9. Whenever you’ve finished a task (serving drinks, taking their dinner order, etc.) tell them what the next step will be, e.g., “I’ll be back to take your order as soon as I get your drinks from the bar.” Then follow through. Guaranteed happy customers, great tips.

Color copies are expensive, but a single 11×17 print is usually less than two 8.5 x 11. So copy store attendants will often advise their customers to print two 8.5 x 11 color copies on a single 11×17 sheet and then use the paper cutter to separate them. On big jobs, this can save a lot of money.

Pouring a little vanilla into a can of latex paint will greatly reduce the smell.

For a “poor man’s copyright,” mail a copy of your work to yourself and then file it away unopened. If there is ever a copyright conflict, you have your manuscript sealed in an officially-dated envelope to support your case. There are caveats, however. The “poor man’s copyright” may work if you use the right method of delivery. Snopes.com (a fabulous urban legend webpage) refers to multiple ways to fake the poor man’s copyright, but all the examples presented are based on the idea of sending it through the mail unsealed…this will not protect your work. The version I always heard involved sending it via Certified Mail (or Registered Mail), because that both seals the envelope and creates a record within the USPS system of the mailing and of the change of hands for the delivery (as opposed to just the time-stamp of the postage meter).

Some real estate agents will bake cookies or brew coffee in a home an hour before they open it to the public for show. An even better technique is to bring a bread machine full of dough to the house and let it run while people tour the premises. The scent of cooking bread is the most recognizable and emotionally resonant way to create a “this smells like home” atmosphere for potential buyers. This top also works if you are looking for new roommates. What not to do: forget to change the cat box before the prospective tenant arrives.

There is a better way to remove a price tag from a gift than trying to peel it off with your fingernail. Place a piece of tape over the sticker and rub it with your finger, leaving an end to pull on. Then rip the tape off like you would a band-aid, and the price tag will go with it. If that fails, there’s a product called Goof Off that removes most adhesives…or you can use lighter fluid.

If you have to give a poor grade to a student you know is going to object, put a lesser grade beside it on the paper and then scribble it out (but not so much that the student can’t make it out). It will make them think that you originally gave them the lesser grade but then raised it after some thought. 99.9% percent of the time this will prevent them harassing you. This also works with employee evaluations.

If you’re singing in a mid-sized or large choir and you suddenly forget the lyrics, just mouth the word “watermelon” over and over, in time with the music, until you remember them again. The audience won’t be able to tell the difference.

If you live in a cold area you may sometimes walk out to your car to find the windshield completely frozen over. Rather than scraping away at it you could just start you car, urn the window defroster on, and — here’s the trick — put down the sun visors. The warm air will be forced back onto the inside of the windshield and it will defrost much faster. NEVER use hot water to defrost a cold windshield. You risk cracking the glass.

If you have a VHS tape that gets caught in your VCR (yes, some of us still have VCRs) or the tape gets crinkled to the point where it won’t play anymore, you can open the tape up with a screwdriver, cut out the wrinkled section of tape with scissors, and tape it back together with scotch tape. Afterward there will be a small gap in the playback, but, otherwise, it should work fine.

The easiest way to peel garlic is to rest the flat side of a large knife on the clove then quickly smack the blade with the heel of your palm. If executed properly, the skin will pop and easily fall away from the clove. If you push too slowly, the clove will end up smashed. To remove the smell of garlic from your fingers, rub them against something made of stainless steel, like a sink basin or the side of a knife.

Disposable flash 35mm cameras (if you can find any) usually contain two AA batteries which are used for the flash. When the camera’s film is used up, the batteries are still pretty new. Since the film winds in to the spool in these cameras, it’s safe to break open the camera (in a dark room), take just the film to the lab (it’s just a normal roll of film) and use the batteries for your something else.

To clean up the gunky ick that accumulates on a glass coffee pot, fill it with crushed ice and and a tiny bit of water. Swoosh it around in there and the ice will abrade the pot enough to make the stuff come off. You can add a couple of spoonfuls of salt for more abrasive power.

If food residue is stuck to a pan or baking dish, simply fill the pan/dish with water and place a dryer sheet in it to soak.

A very easy and practical way to remove wax spilled onto material is to first scrape the excess wax off of the material (a credit card works nicely), put butcher paper or newspaper over the spill, and place a warm iron on the paper. The wax should melt and transfer to the paper. This also works well for carpet and some upholstery. To remove wax from a candlestick, put it in your freezer and wait.

When you have access to a tuner, pick up a land line phone (yes, some of us still have those, too) and figure out what pitch your dial tone is. Then, the next time a tuner isn’t handy, just pick up the phone.

If you cover the bathroom mirror with regular shaving cream and then wipe it off, it will not fog up when people take showers. If you forgot and your bathroom mirror is steamed up after you get out of a hot shower, and you are in a rush to use the mirror (for hair styling or whatever), you can aim your hairdryer turned on warm/hot at the foggy mirror and instantly it will be clear again!

Shaking a little salt on a napkin or coaster will prevent it from sticking to the bottom of a glass.

If you forget your line while on-stage, try saying “What do you think?” to your fellow actors. 99% of the time one of them will know what to say, and, if you do it fast enough, the audience won’t even notice.

The only thing worse than having a table of eight people in your section demanding water is a table for eight demanding water with lemon slices in it, thinking they’re sophisticated just because they have a hunk of citrus in their glasses. So, the first person asks for water “with lemon,” say “sparkling, spring, or tap.” Now they either pony up for the bottled water or say “tap water” in front of all the friends they are trying to impress. This does not work if your table of eight are cheap bastards who are planning to make White Trash Lemonade out of lemons and water and sweetener packets all night in order to avoid paying for drinks.

You can extend the life of cut flowers by putting aspirin or 7-up in the water. The aspirin lowers the PH of the water, while the 7-Up provides nourishment in the form of sugar. Do not put your cut flowers directly into a can of Sprite.

If you are hammering tiny nails, then use a small-toothed comb to them in place when hammering. This will keep your thumb and other fingers out of harm’s way.

When dining in a restaurant, never order a steak “well-done,” as many cooks will select the worst cut for well-done steaks.

If you have to walk around on floors made of a slippery material, put medical tape (the kind that has a rough surface and isn’t too sticky) on the bottom of your shoes and you won’t slide.

When giving constructive criticism, open with some comments about something the criticized person has done well recently. Then address the bad stuff, but make it quick and to the point, like a shot. Close with another positive item. This is known as a “praise sandwich”.

If you are feeling emotionally distraught but need to be composed and calm, it is helpful to have a pre-prepared mental distraction for difficult moments. For example, when you feel your throat tighten or your eyes prickle, mentally recite Dr Seuss lines and visualize the illustrations that go with the words. Concentrating on something this surreal should override your emotional response and allow you to continue. If you find it hard to assert yourself at work, for instance, because you tear up or shake visibly when you are upset or angry, this will keep tears at bay long enough to get your point across.

If you’re faced with an irate customer on the telephone who absolutely won’t let you help him, leave them on hold for about three minutes, then pick back up and pose as the manager. Thinking they’ve “won” the battle, the customer is much more likely to work with you to resolve the problem or complaint satisfactorily. The lesson you should learn from this is that it is counter-productive to behave like an asshole on the phone.

Designated Drivers, take note: If someone has perhaps imbibed a bit too much and passed out, a quick way to wake them is to rub some glass-cleaner on your fingers and hold them under the passed-out nose. The ammonia should revive them nicely.

If you’re trying to put underpants on a wriggling three-year-old, try sticking your hands up through the leg holes and out the top of the underpants and then grabbing the child’s ankles. With his or her legs now effectively bound it’s much easier then to work the undies up over his or her feet, legs, and butt.

When potential employers and recruiters do a search for candidates using services like Monster and Hot Jobs, their search results are ordered based on when the resume was posted or last modified. So keep your resume “fresh” by making very minor changes to it about once a month — for instance, add a period or change a single word — and re-save. This ensures that your resume will always appear near the top of the results.

If you’re running out of money but still want a smooth vodka, buy the cheap stuff and run it through a Brita Water Filter four or five times. This essentially refines the alcohol by removing toxins.

When bartering, bargaining or negotiating, most folks forget the cardinal rule: after stating your initial offer, stop talking! Breathe normally, but wait for the other party to speak next. And after they make a counteroffer, continue to hold your peace for a bit — faced with silence, many will immediately start to sweeten the pot.

If you’re an artist designing something and it just isn’t working out, throw it out and start over. It’ll take you much more time to make a failing design work than to start over on a fresh design. Usually your second or third design will be the one that really takes off and is most rewarding.

When measuring a tile to cut it flush to a wall, you don’t need a tape measure or ruler. Just flip the tile face down (rough side up) and butt it up against the wall. Mark it where it meets the tile you have already laid. That is where you should cut. When you flip it over again face up, the cut edge will be against the wall and it should be a perfect fit.

When babysitting restless kids, it’s useful to know that “Mary Poppins” is over 2 hours — quite a bit longer than most other kids’ movies. Also, always give a pre-schooler two correct choices. They desperately want to be in control, so asking if they want to go to bed will always result in a “NO!” And simply telling them it’s time to go to bed doesn’t work either. Give them two choices, either one of which is a correct answer: “Do you want to go up to bed on piggy-back, or fly like Superman?” Works in any situation, and you’ll avoid many arguments!

When making blueberry muffins (or any muffin with fruit, chocolate chips, etc), place the blueberries in a bowl with a dash of flour, then shake the bowl to coat them evenly with the flour. This will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins when you bake them.

When giving a customer their change, first place the coins in their hand, then the bills and receipt over them. This way, the coins will not slide off the bills, fall on the floor, and annoy the customer.

When asked to give a phone interview to a reporter, say you prefer to do it over e-mail. It is more likely that longer excerpts, or more excerpts, will be used in the story, because (a) the reporter will have to think longer about the questions he will ask and the questions will have to be written down in a reasonably logical order; (b) it is easier to copy and paste whole intelligible sentences than listen to a tape and type the conversation. It is less likely that your words will be distorted intentionally or unintentionally by the reporter. And if they are intentionally distorted you have proof of what you said and of the context in which you said it. You will sound more intelligent (unless you are a really bad writer) because you will “speak” in intelligent sentences and will have more time to think about the answers. Also note that you should never write all your answers in all-caps.

If you listen to the radio while working but are distracted by ads or yammering DJs, tune into a foreign internet radio station where all interruptions will be in a language you don’t understand.

When looking at a loose diamond, always look at it on a piece of newspaper or printed material (in addition to looking at it on a white jewelers’ tray). If the diamond is real, you won’t be able to read the newsprint through the facets; if the diamond is fake, it’s just like looking through, well, glass.

Many automatic spamming programs are programmed to constantly search the Internet for email addresses and then send out whatever they’re hawking without discretion. So if you want to have your email address posted on your website but want to avoid receiving large amounts of spam, use an image of your email address (i.e., a .jpg or .gif image) instead of text. And do not make the image of the email address a “mailto” link either, as some programs can pick those out of the html code as well. Note: You can find a slick text-to-image email address converter here.

One way to bathe a reluctant cat by yourself (if you must) is to squirt the soap directly onto a hand towel or bath towel, burrito your cat so that the soap is in contact with their fur, submerge burrito-wrapped cat’s body in warm water, and then you can scrub the cat with the soap on the wet towel. It helps to wear gloves and to shut your bathroom door as well, just in case your angry, wet cat escapes. They won’t drip anywhere but on the bathroom tiles.

Oil based paint can be cleaned off of your hands by using olive oil as a solvent. Pour a little in your hands, rub them together vigorously, and the paint will come off in about a minute. This is far safer than using turpentine or paint thinner on your skin.

To chill a bottle of white wine quickly, put the bottle in a bucket with ice, water and a large handful of salt. The salt reduces the freezing point of water and will allow it to become superchilled, which will in turn chill the bottle of wine in six minutes flat.

To help prevent the tarnishing of silver jewelry, place a stick of white blackboard chalk in the drawer or jewelry box to absorb the sulfur compounds that cause silver to blacken.

When filling up a cup of fountain soda, hold the cup at an angle. This gives the carbonation more space to escape as the cup is filling, and you’ll find that by the time the cup is full, the suds are already gone. This also works for draft beer.

When setting up a wireless network at home, make sure that you change the default password on your router or access point. Evil people can easily hack your network if they know (or guess) the model or make of the device.

If you have a rowdy audience that is keeping you from playing by chanting something (like a song name you’re not ready to do) have the drummer start beating in synch with the chant. Do this for a few moments and then slowly start speeding up the beat. The crowd will inevitably follow the beat and try and keep up with it. In a short time the drummer will be drumming faster than the crowd can chant, and they will eventually collapse. Now launch into something with a good beat and a strong start — if you do it right, they’ll now be on your side and into the next song.

Shaping your eyebrows is easy if you have a mirror and an eyeliner pencil. To know where to stop tweezing between brows, place the pencil alongside your nose and tearduct. That’s where your brows should begin. To place the arch in the best place for your face, keep the end of the pencil alongside your nose, flush with the base of your nostrils, tilt the pencil so its shaft covers the pupil of your eye when you are looking straight ahead. The tip of the pencil tells you where the arch should be. To find out where your eyebrows should end, tilt the pencil again so that the pencil rests next to the outer corner of your eye. That’s where the brow should stop.

People often get into trouble singing “Happy Birthday” because they don’t know what key to sing it in, and often start too high. It helps to remember that the first note in “Happy Birthday” is the lowest note in the song.

If you are hosting a party, put out half as many seats as you have party guests. This forces guests to stand, walk, and mingle.

When washing windows, wash each side of a window in a different direction, e.g., left-right in the inside, up-down on the outside. Afterwards, if you see any streaks, you’ll immediately know what side of the glass they are on.

When you get a new credit card, place a piece of transparent tape over the magnetic strip. The strip will still be readable since it is magnetic, and the tape prevents the strip from getting scratched or rubbed off.

If the toner light appears on your printer, you need to finish printing the document but it won’t allow you to continue, and if you use powdered toner cartridges, take the cartridge out and shake it for 60 seconds. It should allow you to print at least 30 more pages. You can also put (liquid) ink cartridges in hot water if you know there’s plenty of ink in them but you haven’t printed anything for a while. Google it if this is scary, and to make sure your cartridge is one of the types this trick works for, but it does work.

When you also want to avoid getting into an endlessly long and boring conversation with someone at work who doesn’t know when to stop talking, but you must talk to them, do the following: Open up your cellphone, and approach their cubicle. Say into the phone, “hold on one second.” Then tell your talkative friend exactly what you need to tell them. They feel important because you interrupted your other conversation, but then you can motion to the phone to disengage them from any further small talk. Walk away and continue talking to dead air.

To avoid having to pack a damp toothbrush (or anything else) when travelling, use a hairdryer to dry your items. It’s also a good idea to have some large Baggies available.

If you drive an older car that doesn’t sound a warning buzzer if the headlights are left on when the engine is off, try keeping a clothespin on the headlight switch. When you turn the lights on, move the clothespin to your ignition key. Then, when you turn the engine off, you’ll be reminded by the clothespin that your lights are still on.

Just saying “we’re not interested” won’t stop a telemarketer from calling you again a month later. Instead, say “We don’t use [whatever] here”. Not only will this ensure that they remove you from their list, but the caller’s befuddled silence can be quite hilarious if they are are hawking something common and you reply with, say, “Sorry, but we have a strict policy against chairs.”

When you buy a new bottle of extract (vanilla, almond, rum, et cetera), measure the volume the cap will hold. Most likely it will be one teaspoon, making it simple to measure out the extract for recipes calling for that amount — and you won’t have to wash a spoon afterwards!

Sick of people borrowing your pen to fill out a form and never returning it? When they need a writing utensil, hand them the pen but keep the cap. They’ll finish the form and, ten times out of ten, look around for the cap; when they see it in your hand they’ll remember that the pen belongs to you.

To make an easy omelet while camping:
* Boil a pot of water on a fire;
* Put eggs in zip-lock bag with cheese, meat, peppers or whatever you would like on your omelet
* Boil bag for 10 minutes.
* Voila: omelet!

If you proofread or edit for pay, never use a red pen when you’re correcting someone else’s article on a hardcopy document, it looks like you’ve bloodied someone’s precious article. Authors are much, much more receptive to blue ink. If there are a lot of marks on a page, when you hand it back to the author, say, “This will look like a lot of corrections to you, but really it’s about average. This is in pretty good shape.” I find that one small comment makes authors much more receptive to changes. Also, it keeps them from crying.

When using a marked-up hard copy to correct a document on the computer, start with the last correction and work your way toward the beginning. You’ll spend less time hunting for your place in the document because, when working upward, making one correction won’t affect the position of the next.

For nosy people: To find out if your friend likes someone, first ask about someone you’re sure they don’t like. They will probably say no, they are not interested in them. Then ask about a few more people. Finally, ask them if they like the person you have in mind. If they suddenly stop saying “no” and instead reply with, “I’d rather not say,” you know you’ve hit paydirt. This works for other subjects as well.

When shipping items in cardboard boxes that are covered in print or writing, take the box apart and re-assemble it inside out. This will give you a blank slate on which to write the shipping and return addresses, and perhaps avoid confusion at the post office. Too much of a pain? Take a paper grocery bag and recover the box.

It’s an old trick to cover textbooks with paper grocery bags so the covers stay new and shiny for better resale value.

If you get up in the middle of the night to grab a glass of water, there’s a simple way to avoid stubbing toes on the way back to bed. Close one eye just before you you turn on the light or open the fridge door, and keep it closed the whole time the light is on. When you turn the lights off, open both eyes. The eye you kept closed will still be dilated, and allow you to see in the dark.

When going on a trip, bring along your oldest socks, underwear and sleepwear — the clothes you should have gotten rid of months ago. Then, after you wear them, just throw them out. Now you won’t have to carry dirty clothes around, nor wash them when you get home. Also, you’ll have more room in your luggage for any souvenirs you pick up.

Want to clean the gunked up grill on your bar-b-que pit? Put it on an ant bed for a day. Fire ants work best. Ants will get any container or utensil clean as a whistle.

The number one mistake of desktop publishers is not leaving enough whitespace around elements. Make sure that elements such as logos, photos and graphics aren’t butting up against each other. Give them space to breathe!

Don’t you hate getting caught in phone-tree hell? You know, those recordings of “Press 1 if you … press 2 if you … press 3 if…” ad infinitum. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just speak with a person? Well, you almost always can. If you don’t press anything the system will likely assume that you have a rotary phone (people still do!) and patch you through to an operator or support representative. This trick will save you countless hours of frustration and wasted time. Note: if you get a more advanced system that responds to voice input, this trick, alas, will not work. However, even if “0” isn’t a listed option, this sometimes DOES work!

When cutting brownies, always use a plastic knife. Your edges will be neat and the brownies never crumble.

When whipping egg whites, first wash the mixing bowl with white vinegar. You will turn a 5-minute task into a 30-second one, and your egg whites will stay fluffier longer.

If you want to know if someone is lying about his identity and using a fake name, ask him or her to spell it. People are much slower at spelling fake names than they are at spelling their own.

When testing out a paint color, many designers will paint a 2×2 square on the wall they intend to use it on to see how it looks. A better method is to simply paint onto a piece of posterboard or cardboard. That way you can move it around the room to see how it looks in different light, and you haven’t messed up a wall in the process.

There’s nothing worse than dead air on the radio, but sometimes, when you are patching in a network or satellite news broadcast right on the hour, you find yourself with a few seconds to kill . When this happens, play the news lead-in early, open your microphone, and shuffle papers until the news kicks in. Listeners will assume the noise is coming from the newscaster, and that he’s the one who missed his cue instead of you.

If you are a server and want to sell a guest a particular brand of liquor, make eye contact and nod your head slowly as you mention the brand. For extra effect, repeat the brand at the beginning and end of the list of brands you recite, e.g. “Well, we have Absolut (nod), Brands X, Y, Z, Q and R, and Absolut (nods again)”. This technique is called the Sullivan Nod and it works about 90% of the time – and no, nobody ever notices when you’re doing it.

E-mail yourself copies of your papers. That way, if your computer crashes or you need to make a correction on something quickly when you don’t have it with you, you can just access your e-mail from any computer with an Internet connection and have your paper within minutes. If your paper is a Word document, you can simply add it to an empty email as an attachment.

Want your eyelashes to stay curled all day? Blow dry your eyelash curler for approximately 20 seconds, then curl each eye’s eyelashes. Take care as the eyelash curler may be hot, depending on how strong your blowdryer is. The result is perfectly curled eyelashes that look as if you’re wearing mascara.

If you’re going to massage someone’s neck or traps and rhomboids (shoulders and upper back), have them lay on their back instead of sitting up or lying on their stomach. Slide your hands under them and massage. Their body weight will provide pressure so your hands and fingers don’t get tired as fast.

When hanging a picture upon the wall, cut a small V out of the wallpaper, dampen it, peel it back, and place nail here. When you remove the picture you can fold the paper V cut back into position and no one will ever be the wiser.

Before icing a cake, freeze it. It will taste the same when defrosted, and you won’t have a bunch of crumbs mixed in with the frosting when you are done.

When using multiple programs on your PC, use the Alt and Tab key to quickly switch between windows. This saves you from having to use your mouse and lets you keep all your windows in the full screen view.

Are your winter boots giving you blisters? Pick up some produce bags from the grocery store and put them over your socks before you lace up. They serve as a frictionless surface that will prevent your feet from getting blisters, and also make boots very easy to take off. As a plus, they repel water. As a minus, you will get swamp foot if you wear these all day.

If you’re typing a document which includes a long phrase (e.g.,”Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms”) several times, just type some unique set of characters that aren’t likely to show up as a legitimate part of some other word whenever you reach that phrase (e.g., “fgfg”). When you’re done with the document, do a search-and-replace and changing the short set of characters to the long phrase. Obviously, if you have to type the same phrase frequently, it’s easier to set up a macro, but this is handy for a one-off.

Sinatra used to turn up the air conditioning before he took the stage. It would wake up his audience and make him seem more vibrant.

To mingle like a pro, always enter a conversation with a drink you are about to finish. If things don’t go well, all you need to do is take one last gulp from your drink and excuse yourself to get another, never to return. If the conversation is going well, finish your drink and ask the other person if you can get them anything when you go to get another. They will appreciate the gesture even if they decline, and it implies that you’ll be returning for a longer conversation.

When photocopying journal articles or book chapters, copy from the last page to the first. When your copy job is done all the pages will be in the correct order, ready to be stapled.

If you have a business meeting with someone whose name you don’t know how to pronounce, call his or her phone number at a time when you don’t expect him or her to answer and listen to how he or she pronounces his or her name on the recorded voicemail message. If you are dealing with an international contact but don’t know if they are a man or a woman, try typing their first name into a image search engine like images.google.com (e.g., “Priti”). Watch out for unisex names, though.

When leaving a voicemail, it’s considerate to provide your number or other contact information at the beginning of the message, rather than at the end. That way, if the person wasn’t able to get the info written down or memorized on the first pass, they don’t have to re-listen to the entire message to hear it a second listen.

Rather than throwing out those silica packets you get in the boxes of purchased electronics, save a few for when you travel to humid climates. Toss them into camera bags, emergency supply packs, cell phone bags, etc., to keep them dry. Humidity damage to electronics (digital cameras, MP3 players, cell phones, et cetera) can be very expensive to repair.

If you lose a button on a blouse, don’t bother trying to find a new button to match the old. Instead, go to the ritziest department store and look at similiar blouses, taking note of the type and color of buttons found on the most expensive ones. Then go to a sewing notions / fabric store and buy the same kind of buttons and replace all of the buttons on your old blouse. You will have a more expensive-looking blouse for the price of buttons.

Keeping a pet’s water bowl filled is a chore — it’s almost impossible to pick it up, fill it, and return it to the floor without water spilling everywhere. Instead, just put a few ice cubes in it every few hours. This keeps the water filled, cold, and in the bowl.

When taking a photo of a portrait subject, count down “3-2-1-Cheese!”, take one shot, and then take another shot immediately after. The smile in the first picture will often look stilted and posed, but there is usually a moment a split-second later when the model will relax and his smile will look much more natural.

To minimize the smell of urine in a busy club/bar bathroom, fill the urinals with ice. Hot pee = smellier pee.

Figuring out what to call characters used to be a chore for writers; now we have a near inexhaustible supply of fictitious names at our disposal. Just look at the sender lines on the messages in your Spam folder.

The best skin exfoliant on the market is good old-fashioned baking soda. It is gentle enough to use on sensitive skin (weekly), and works wonders for those suffering from acne (twice a week). Most importantly, it rinses off beautifully, with no film or scent left behind. Just sprinkle some in your hand and add enough water to make a paste. Simple and inexpensive.

If you take your laptop with you everywhere and use it constantly, you’re liable to get a build-up of hairs, crumbs, and other detritus in the keyboard. To clean them out, take a Post-It note (the new ‘super sticky’ kind especially good for this) and run the adhesive edge through the cracks in the keys. Doing this is also a great way to stall when you can’t think of what to write next.

When speaking publicly, imagine that your audience is hearing impaired. It will force you to slow down, speak up, and enunciate clearly.

When drying yourself off with a towel after a shower, start at your head and work down. If you start at your feet and work up, the water from above will run down and get you wet again as you’re drying yourself off. The same goes for drying a car.

When unable to print something you need off the Internet (say a confirmation of a bill payment or a receipt with bar code for a ticket purchase), just hit print screen (or the equivalent in Mac (Apple + F4? I forget), open a graphics editor like MS Paint or Photoshop or even Wordpad, and paste. You’ll have it later when you can print.

It is easier to peel bananas from the opposite side that most people peel them from, i.e., peel them from the end that wasn’t attached to the bunch.

When rinsing your toothbrush, flick the bristles facing down towards the sink rather than facing up towards the mirror. You will never have to clean the toothpaste off the mirror again.

When mailing important documents, always use a delivery service where you can track the package.

Taking the stairs is often faster than waiting for the elevator.

It is best to buy the best shoes, the best car, and the best bed that you can afford. You will be spending about 100% of your life in one or the other of them, so you ought to be comfortable.

None of your laundry really needs to be tumble-dryed (although duvets will take forever if you don’t). Air drying is much better.

Iron the sleeves of a shirt first.

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

The secret to cooking perfect hamburgers is to make a larger, thinner patty than what you would like to eventually have on your bun. As the meat cooks, it shrinks, so if you form a raw patty that is the size and thickness of your perfect cooked hamburger, what you will end up with is a charred ball of meat that is raw inside! Also: add Worcestershire sauce.

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