Monday, May 20, 2013

"Self-Delusion Is One of the Greatest Inventions in Human History"

At some point you've been told to fake it 'til you make it, and that's because with a little effort you can delude yourself into believing—and then becoming—whatever you hope to be. As A.J. Jacobs, author of Drop Dead Healthy, points out in this quote, we're a lot more flexible and less stubborn than we may think. He explains:

Our behavior greatly affects our thoughts and attitudes. If you are feeling a lack of confidence or have an urge to change something within yourself, you must “act your way into a new way of thinking,” rather than trying to think your way into a new way of acting.

Not sure how to fake-act? A few body language changes can make a big difference.

Insights from A.J. Jacobs, Joe Gebbia, Charlie Todd, & More at the 2013 99U Conference | The 99U

Photo by VLADGRIN (Shutterstock).

Lifehacker This Chart Helps You Find the Right Career Based on Salary and Growth | Gawker We Are Rai

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Cut Lemons Lengthwise to Get More Juice

When you need lemon juice for a recipe, nothing beats fresh-squeezed, but it's always a struggle to coax a lot of juice out of the fruit. As it turns out, the secret is to cut the lemon lengthwise.

Ian Knauer at Gourmet demonstrated this surprising trick by cutting two lemons, one lengthwise, and one the "normal" way, across its equator. He then juiced the lemons, and found that the one cut lengthwise yielded him nearly three times as much juice. For added juice, he also recommends warming the lemon up in the microwave for a few seconds if it's coming from your fridge. Once it's warm, be sure to give it a firm roll on the counter too before you cut. Lemons cut the "wrong" way might work a little better with a handheld reamer, but if you're using a citrus juicer, or just squeezing by hand, there aren't any downsides to cutting lengthwise. Click through the source link to check out the video.

The Test Kitchen: How To Get the Most Juice from Lemons and Limes | Gourmet via The Kitchn

Photo by Topseller (Shutterstock).

Why the Shower Gets Hot or Cold When You Flush (and How To Prevent It)

A sudden burst of piping hot (or freezing cold) water is a showering human's worst nightmare. But what's the cause? And how can you prevent it? The DIY experts at Stack Exchange provide a few tips.

When the shower is running and someone flushes a toilet, why does the shower get cold (or sometimes hot) in some houses, but not others? More importantly, would fixing that require replacing the water heater, or re-doing the piping in the entire house? Or is there some cheap/easy way to fix it?

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One of the most common plumbing configurations is a trunk and branch system. This is where a larger diameter pipe runs from one end of the building to the other, and smaller diameter pipes branch off to supply rooms or individual fixtures. If any of the branches demand water (you flush the toilet), there is less water available to all the other branches. Since the toilet only uses cold water, there is less cold water available to your shower when the toilet is filling. This causes the water in the shower to be warmer, because there is less cold water mixing with the hot water. There are a few ways to reduce or eliminate this burning feeling. Probably the cheapest is to reduce the amount of water going to the toilet.

You can reduce how quickly the toilet uses water by simply closing the supply valve slightly. This means the toilet will take longer to fill, but will reduce the temperature fluctuation in the shower. Adjusting the supply valve can also have negative side effects, such as increased fill times and noise. You can also reduce the overall amount of water the toilet needs by either buying a low flow toilet, or placing a brick, jug of water, or other object in the tank. However, this method will reduce the amount of water available for each flush, so you may encounter difficulty clearing solids from the bowl.

Installing a new mixing valve in the shower can reduce or eliminate the temperature fluctuations. Thermostatic mixing valves automatically balance the amount of hot and cold water being mixed, which will prevent drastic fluctuations in shower temperature. If the cold water flow is reduced (due to a toilet flush), the valve automatically adjusts the amount of hot water being mixed. This keeps the shower temperature more consistent, even when other fixtures are using water.

Increasing the amount of water available in the system can alleviate the problem, but will likely require a major change to the plumbing. If you have a trunk and branch system, increasing the trunk pipe diameter and/or the branch pipe diameter (if the branch feeds the entire room) will increase the amount of water available to the fixtures.

A more drastic solution would be to install a manifold with home runs. This would likely require a major plumbing renovation, with almost all of the plumbing changed. In this type of system, there is a central load balancing manifold. Then for each fixture in the house, a dedicated pipe is run between the fixture and the manifold.

In the end, it's all about supply and demand. If the demand is greater than the supply, you end up with a burnt butt. The only way to avoid uncomfortable showers is to reduce demand or increase supply.

The shower temperature changes when you flush (or use water) because the pressure in that supply line has changed. This means less supply to the mixing valve in the same setting. Modern thermostatic mixing valves are designed to keep the total pressure constant. This means that a reduction in cold water pressure (from a flush) is detected and the mixing valve responds by reducing corresponding flow in the hot water. So, the solution to shifting shower temperatures is to install a thermostatic mixing valve.

The shower would get cold if somebody used hot water for something (almost certainly not a toilet flush), instead of cold. It could be caused by an over-enthusiastic thermostatic mixing valve, which reduced the hot water flow too much. Using up all the water in the hot water tank would also lead to a cold shower. And yes, you do have to install a thermostatic mixing valve at each shower/tub. They are used to replace the plain old standard mixing valve.

I believe Matthew is suggesting that upgrading your shower valves is the best solution. I agree. A different water heater will do nothing. Changing the piping so the pressure change is minimal will help but not eliminate the problem. A thermostatic mixing valve is the best solution, but note it still takes a brief time for it to adjust to a sudden change in pressure, so a brief cold period will still be noticed.

Find more answers or leave your own at the original post. See more questions like this at Home Improvement, the DIY site at Stack Exchange. And of course, feel free to ask a question yourself.

Image via Mark Sayer (Shutterstock).

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Use Caulk to Paint Straight Edges Like a Pro

Getting that precise, straight line on edges of a wall or where the wall meets ceiling is one of the hardest parts of painting. It's even worse if you have textured walls or ceilings. The Make It & Love It blog reveals this "pro painter's secret" to sharp lines perfection.

Actually, Ashley posts two methods. The first, her preferred method, is one we've mentioned before. It's the error-free method of painting a ceiling and wall or two walls different colors. Tape the edges where the two walls (or wall and ceiling connect), then paint the first wall right over the tape and into the other (still unpainted) wall and let it dry. The dried paint prevents the other paint from seeping under the tape.

The second method is useful if your ceiling or other wall is already painted and you just want to paint one wall. Tape the edges, but also apply a line of paintable caulk into the edge of the tape. Smooth the caulk out with your finger, paint over the caulk and tape, and pull off the tape before the caulk tries.

The results will look quite professional. Hit up the link below for full directions and photos.

Home Improvement: Painting a Straight Line on Textured Walls (a Pro Painter’s Secret) | Make It & Love It

Twipster Strips Twitter's Cluttered Interface Down to the Essentials

Safari/Chrome: If Twitter's web interface is a little too busy for your liking, Twipster converts it into a minimal and responsive list of Tweets, with none of the clutter.

The extension automatically redesigns Twitter's entire interface, removing sidebars, menus, and background images, leaving behind a simple, readable list of Tweets. I really love how responsive the design is; you can use the web interface as a makeshift Twitter client by making your browser window skinny, as Twipster will adjust the layout to fit. It's not a complicated download, but it's definitely worth checking out if you like to use Twitter on the web.

Twipster (Free) | jxblnk via One Thing Well

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