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Four-month-old toothbrush

Four-month-old toothbrush

Recently, I discovered a way to make my toothbrush last several times longer than usual. I think the recommended retirement age for a toothbrush is 3 months, but my current brush is going on 4 months and looks almost new. Yes, the end is nowhere in sight for this toothbrush!
I’ve found two things that help achieve a longevous toothbrush:

1) Rinse your toothbrush thoroughly (for about ten seconds) after brushing.

2) Hold your toothbrush with only two fingers in a light grip.

I discovered these longevity techniques by accident about seven months ago. That’s when I decided I didn’t like the natural buildup of tooth-pasty residue on my toothbrush handles. To combat that, I started rinsing it much longer after brushing. This not only kept the residue away, but I noticed the bristles stayed together (meaning they didn’t splay outwards) for much, much longer! Then I discoverd the second important aspect of toothbrush longevity: light pressure. After my wife borrowed my toothbrush for a week and scrubbed the enamel off her teeth, my toothbrush looked completely worn out. I hadn’t realized pressure was important before, because I was already brushing lightly (after an oral hygenist chastised me for brushing too hard, resulting in my early onset receding gumlines). So brush lightly!


Last year I was introduced to “The Immortal Molded Gourds of Mr. Zhang Cairi” and was amazed. This man has single-handedly revived a centuries old art form that was outlawed for decades. My clumsy words do his artwork injustice. Seriously, check him out! He inspired me to think I could mold any relative of the gourd into any shape I wanted. I was already trying my hand at watermelons, but they would be so expensive that only a few people would buy them after coming to gawk. What I needed was a plant that was a smaller, cheaper alternative to watermelons that could be an impulse buy. After a bit of search I decided on Zucchini. They grow fast, take little maintenance, and what I learned with them could be applied to my more labor intensive watermelon efforts. For molds I decided on used plastic soda and water bottles from work. (now THAT’S recycling!) Zucchini in a bottle!
My first problem was finding a Zucchini small enough to stuff in the bottle. Either they were too small, with the flower still firmly attached, or they were far too big to fit down a 20 oz. neck. I tried squeezing in a zucchini that was a just little too large, but I damaged the tender skin, and it stopped growing. I had to check the Zucchini plants every day, or they would quickly get too large. For airflow, I poked holes in the bottle sides and bottoms with a thumbtack. Eventually, this became tiresome, so I tried using a few bottles without air holes. After baking in the sun for a week, all that was left of those doomed zukes was a smelly, liquid mush. So, the zucchini need airholes. When it rained, I had to check the plants morning and night to catch my window of opportunity. So I had several zucchini growing in bottles. All good. How long should I let them grow in the bottles? AND THE ANSWER IS . . . until the zucchini neck starts expanding wider than the bottleneck. If there is a little unfilled air space left near the bottom or the top of the bottle, that’s ok. Only the rare zucchini will completely fill the bottle. Pull them from the stalk to harvest, but fight the temptation to cut them flush with the bottle opening. They’ll keep longer if they stay intact; cut they’ll last at least week in the fridge. One thing that shocked me was how hard it was to peel the bottles off the zucchini. The next time I grow them, I plan to pre-cut the bottles to make removal easier. So my plan was to call these novelties ‘Cchini in a Bottle and hope that people would pay $2-$5 for each bottle. One last note, Zucchini will never grow to fill a 2-liter bottle. They’ll get as long as a club, but never thicken enough. My Amish neighbors down the road discovered that.

Square Watermelons

Square Watermelons

Japan is crazy, man!  I stumbled onto a video of Japanese grown square watermelons  a year or so ago; it was so cool, I gave it a try.  I thought if it worked, I would sell my square watermelons at the local fall festival.  From studying the videos,  and pictures of polycarbonate boxes sold online for this purpose, I figured I would need a transparent, sturdy box.  Sounded like plexiglass to me.  But it would take a sheet thicker than dragon skin to withstand the Xtreme pressure of growing melons.  Thicker means costlier.  I poured out my woes to my landlord, and he told me of a super cheap plastic supply warehouse that catered to farmers.  I was there the next day.  They cut enough dragon skin plexiglass scraps for three boxes. If I used expensive metal hinges and screws to fabricate the boxes, they would surely be sturdy, but I wouldn’t be able to sell the watermelons for a profit.  So instead I wrapped the boxes with packing tape and wire and hoped they would stay together.  Each box cost about $8 to make, and held about 3 gallons–plenty of room for growth.  I gently enclosed my baby watermelons in them and waited.  Week after week, the  watermelons grew, and I watched with excited eyes.  But as harvest time drew closer, their growth stunted.  I watered them.  They rolled over and laughed.  I cajoled them.  They turned a deaf leaf to me.  By the end of the summer, they didn’t come close to filling out the boxes. Only flat on two sides, they looked like a Surrealist painting.  What had gone wrong?  Looking back, I suppose that making a box big enough to park a car in was a mistake.  And possibly growing “Mighty Midget” Moon and Stars heirloom watermelons.  Next time, I’m growing those Supa-giant, crush-your-kid-if-you-drop-it-on-them striped watermelons you can buy at the grocery store.  And those boxes WILL be filled to the brim with watermelon.  I hope.

Moon and Stars Watermelons.  The inset is one of my Square Watermelons growing.

Moon and Stars Watermelons. The inset is one of my Square Watermelons growing.

Square Watermelon Box

Square Watermelon Box

BoxHoles

BoxHoles

Dripping water onto a diaper-icepack.

Dripping water onto a diaper-icepack.

I needed a gel pack a while back and was offended at the high price for them at the store.  I thought there had to be a cheaper way – it was just some plastic and a chemical, right?  But which chemical?  And how could I get it cheaply?  That had me stuck for a while.  Until we went swimming as a family.  At the time, we had a toddler still in diapers, and when she got out of the pool I noticed her hugely swollen diaper.  It’s easy to forget just how much water those things hold!  And it hit me.  After it absorbed water, the chemical in the diaper was like jelly.  Could it work for a gel pack?  Well, when I got home, I tried it out.  I wet a clean diaper, sealed it in a gallon zip lock, and stuck it in the freezer.  Several hours later it was cold yet malleable!  I posted my results as an instructable. But the next morning I found a problem.  After leaving the diaper gel pack in the freezer overnight, it was no longer squishy, squishy.  Yep, hard as a rock.  I was disappointed and embarrassed that I had not solved the problem after all.  And that’s when I was saved by kindred spirits.  The other intructablers commented that one part water to one part alcohol would make a nice gel pack.  Well, I modified that to only one cup alcohol and posted my newer, improved results.  So check it out, step by step, or take the summary below:

1.  Add one part rubbing alcohol to one part water and pour over a disposable diaper.

2.  Seal the diaper in a gallon zip-lock bag and place in the freezer.

3.  Use for your aching elbow and reuse on your knee.