A collection of essays, outdoor adventure stories, ruminations, wordplay, parental angst, and blatant omphaloskepsis, generated in all seasons and for many reasons at 64.8 degrees north latitude

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Differently Hacked

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of cute little online lists purporting to offer “life hacks”: quick and easy low-cost tweaks that will save you time and energy. 
Sure, why not?  I’ll click on that.  I like quick.  I like easy.  I like low-stress.  Cheap is nice, too.  Last night, just before heading off to snow-bike 350 miles through the Alaska wilderness, Jay told me that "Everyone says you're the lowest-maintenance wife I could possibly have."  I'm not entirely sure how to interpret this comment, but I"m going to take it to mean that I’m just the sort of person who does lots of hacking. In, um, a totally complimentary sort of way, of course.
Somehow, though, the hacks on offer never seem to be precisely the hacks I am looking for.  For example, “When ironing a button-up shirt, flip it inside out to easily iron over the button side.”  I can see where this might come in handy, if I wore shirts with buttons.  Actually, I think I do own one of those -- but not an iron.  Wait, Jay has a ski-waxing iron.  Does that count? 
Speaking of irons, another hack tells me I can use my hair-straightener as a collar iron.  Also, I should organize my makeup with a magnetic board, and hang up a magazine rack in my bathroom to house my hairdryer. 
Nonetheless, I’m still pretty sure I’m just the sort of person who hacks her life, and always has. Thus, I’ve taken the liberty of putting together my own list of super-duper totally universally useful shortcuts.
1)      When you and your sister are fighting during your unsupervised after-school time and you snap the delicate foot off your mother's tiny mahogany end-table, just glue it back on with Elmer's glue, and strap it tightly with rubber bands.  Remove the rubber bands five minutes before she gets home.  Tell her about it thirty years later. 
Hi, Mom. See?  No one really looks at table legs.
2)      When you walk a couple of miles to your high school on a Saturday morning to take the SAT, and you're so incredibly prepared that you neglect to bring anything with you -- including three sharpened number two pencils, or in fact any pencil at all -- just quickly search the curbside gutter area.  Look, there’s one.  You’re, like, totally ivy league material.
3)      Whenever a pesky black fly or mosquito has snuck inside your head net, but your hands and arms are entirely covered with semi-liquid mud, catch the insect with your tongue, and swallow it.  Problem solved.
4)      When the engine dies on your friend's VW bus because the wiring has shorted out, re-insulate it by wrapping it in one of the condoms he conveniently seems to keep in the glove box.  Ask no questions.
5)      Toilet won't flush at the Greyhound rest stop?  Small horde of women upset?  Quickly lift off the lid of the tank, plunge your arm in shoulder-deep, and use a twisted paperclip to reconnect the handle arm to the chain that lifts the flapper.  Stare back at all the women who are now staring at you.  You’re welcome, ladies.
6)      Has your landlady’s mentally handicapped son just accidentally cut a hole in a plastic cistern pipe with a machete, causing hundreds of gallons of gravity-fed water to start fountaining into the house foundations?  Just tightly wrap the pipe in an old bicycle tube. 
7)      When you’re planning to travel from Fairbanks Alaska to suburban New York via two planes and three trains as a solo adult with twin toddlers, buy two umbrella strollers for $14.99 each at Walmart.  Make Velcro straps to attach the strollers side by side -- but with one several inches in front of the other, so the wheels don’t lock.  (Note: when you’re wheeling two exhausted children through Grand Central Station while wearing a massive purple backpack holding all of your collective luggage, be sure to apologize to everyone you inadvertently whack.)
8)      Need to shatter the vertical stack of frozen poop that forms in your outhouse after several months of Alaskan winter? Try using a four foot long 18-pound crowbar!
9)      Are you cross-country skiing for 30 or more hours straight?  Keep your mp3 player well stocked with audio books, and stuff the player in your bra so that the twenty-below-zero chill doesn’t sap the battery life.  [Note: you might possibly want to avoid listening to The Hunger Games while alone in a dark, remote forest at 3 a.m.]
10)   On any mornings when you happen to be walking half a mile to the school bus stop with your first graders at 56 degrees below zero, keep things lively and nutritious by putting a plastic spoon in each child’s double-mittened hand, giving them each a small bowl of piping-hot oatmeal, and challenging them to see who can eat it before it freezes solid.
11)   Are your feet cracking open and bleeding at multiple locations from the ceaselessly dry air?  Try duct tape. 
12)   Duct tape. 
13)   I’d add more, but from here on in, the answer is still going to be duct tape.

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