All my life, I’ve looked for ways to overcome obstacles, find a method to improve something I didn’t like, to save waste, or save money, or both. Today, we know these as hacks. I, like many, have been hacking for a long time. My recent hacks have mostly been driven by COVID-19. Here are a few of my self-quarantine hacks.
6 Self-Quarantine Hacks
Where’d I put my glasses this time!?
So, I have a place for my keys and my phone, because well, I misplace things. The problem with my glasses is I’m nearsighted. I don’t need my glasses to see things up close. My glasses get in my way when I’m reading, writing, or on my phone. So, I take them off, usually paying no attention to where I place them because I’m focused on reading, writing, or texting. Sigh. Here’s my “find my phone” hack, and it works. When I set my glasses down, I say “glasses” out loud as I look at them. I almost always remember where they are. Try it on whatever you tend to misplace.
Lighting the Charcoal Grill
If you’re self-quarantined, and even if you’re not, you’re staying home more and eating out less. I’ve been cooking a lot at home. However, I hadn’t grilled with charcoal yet this year. So, we ordered charcoal and charcoal lighter for the 4th of July. We received the charcoal but not the lighter. We searched online, but none was to be found. I did, however, have a ¼ full bottle leftover from last year.
I cook a lot over a wood fire. When I start a wood fire, I wad pieces of newspaper (Yes, I still take the local newspaper twice a week), then I stack my wood on top of the paper. I use a small amount of accelerant (Hey, I watch ridiculousness and know not to use too much), and voila! It lights. So, I tried the waded newspaper with charcoal. I used small wads about the size of the briquets and built a pyramid.
As I was ready to light the pyre, a sprinkle began, so I quickly covered it and moved the grill to the front porch, which is approximately 6 x 6, roofed, closed on three sides, and open in front.
I lit the charcoal, but as it blazed, it filled the porch with smoke. I acted fast, grabbed a fan, plugged it in, and pointed it at the grill. The smoke wafted outside, but another thing happened – the charcoal went ablaze.
The briskets were white-hot and ready in less than 15 minutes. It was a new record for me. I’ve repeated the fan and paper technique, and I can report with scientific accuracy that the experiment can be duplicated. It works.
Since then, I’ve used a fan on my small wood cooking fire as well. Not only does it fan the flames, but it blows the smoke away from me.
And with temps in the mid-70’s I’m still grilling the first week of November in Indianapolis! This is one of the self-quarantine hacks I’ll use for years to come.
Okay, so, yes, I use bar soap in the shower. My wife shudders at the thought and snickers at me, but I like a bar of soap in my hand. Here’s the thing – I don’t want to run out of soap, remember toilet paper? I know it probably won’t happen, but if it does, I’m prepared to use every sliver of my slathering bar of soap. So, what do you do with the soap slivers, the last bit of the bar that’s not big enough to hold in your hand and use? Until a few weeks ago, I threw them away. How wasteful!
I planned to gather a few slivers (three) and meld them into one. I took the three slivers placed them on top of each other on a cardboard piece, it was the box the soap was packaged in. Next, I microwaved them for 20 seconds. It worked! It’s not pretty, but I’ve been using it for more than a week, and it’s held together.
Hard to get on gloves
This hack is from my wife. She picks up our grocery’s curbside. BTW, she does a wonderful job shopping using four different stores. When she brings the groceries home, she backs up to the garage where I unload them. I have a shelf where I set them for disinfection. I use a 99% spray, paper towels, and I wear those light blue thin plastic gloves.
One day I was having trouble getting the gloves on. It was like they were velcroing’s to my skin. My wife went inside, grabbed some baking soda, and put it in the palm of my hand. After rubbing it a few times, I tried the gloves. It worked! The gloves slid right on. Right on! We might have used talcum powder in olden times, but not since it’s turned up with carcinogens. Anyway, thank you, my love, great idea!
No more clogged toothpaste tube
Okay, so I’m a broken record, but we could run out of toothpaste. It could be a thing. I have one of those plastic bottles of toothpaste that sit on its lid. They don’t clog. It’s like setting the ketchup bottle upside down before you squeeze it. It works. So, we ordered some toothpaste for me, and it came in the standard tube. The kind that clogs and wastes toothpaste besides, potentially making a mess.
So, what to do? I thought about it, and then when I took the tube out of the paper box, an idea formed. I tore one end of the box off and then sat it on my counter. Next, I put the tube in the box upside down with the opening at the bottom. It. Works. Perfectly. No mess, no waste.
The virtual beach
This is my favorite of all the self-quarantine hacks. I wrote a post about in this post. I Created a Virtual Beach Weekend and So Can You! Here’s how I did it.
- Ordered beach cuisine and printed a menu
- Found a video (YouTube) of our favorite resort and played it on the big screen
- Set my laptop to 8 hours of ocean waves (YouTube)at the beach
- Placed 8 concrete blocks in a 10-foot square
- Put 2 x 4’s on top of the blocks
- Folded a 12 x 12 heavy blue tarp under the blocks
- Filled it from the hose
- Put on a local Spanish music station on my old-time transistor radio
- Set up a beach umbrella, two chairs, and three tables (two-foot stools and an upside-down barrel).
It worked. It felt like we were at the beach. You may not have all this junk in your shed as I did, but I’ll bet you can find some way to create a virtual vacation.
As I come up with more COVID time hacks, I’ll update this post. What are your favorite self-quarantine hacks?
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