WASHINGTON — We could all use tips to simplify life. A new book is promising to do just that.
Yahoo Tech founder and CBS Sunday Morning correspondent David Pogue’s latest book is “Pogue’s Basics: Life: Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) for Simplifying Your Day.”
The book offers MacGyver-style solutions — such as using uncooked spaghetti noodles to light multiple candle wicks — for mundane problems that annoy us all. He even has advice for the optimal way to get the ketchup out of the bottle.
“I’m going to change your life right now. Don’t be one of these people,” said Pogue during a segment on CBS This Morning, derisively smacking the bottom of a plastic ketchup bottle to demonstrate.
But there are some other, more useful bits in the book, such as how parents can save money on data plans when they’re dealing with tweens who think they need cellphones, and a parking app that helps you find your car in crowded lots.
In a conversation with WTOP, Pogue offered more tips. For one, while it may sound crazy, the key fob that unlocks your car will work better if you hold it against your cheek before you click the button.
“You get between 60 and 90 more feet of range, like if you can’t find your car in a parking lot,” Pogue says.
“It’s turning the fluids of your head into a conductor. Your body is an antenna for the fob. It really works.”
The book has chapters about cars and travel, including help for nighttime drivers who get blinded by extra-bright headlights.
“Focus, as you drive, on the white line at the right side of your own lane. And that way, your eyes remain dilated for the darkness and don’t get blinded by the oncoming lights,” Pogue says.
The fastest way to clear fog from the inside your car’s windshield in winter, he says, is to turn on the air conditioning.
“The object is to make the interior of the car closer to the temperature of the glass of the windshield and that will make the condensation stop.”
If you like to travel by plane, Pogue says, many airline seats have a little-known feature.
“If you look behind you at the headrest, the outer edges of it are not attached to the back of the seat. They in fact are designed to hinge forward, around your ears, to become a built in pillow so that your head doesn’t loll to the side if you fall asleep.”
House and Home Tips
We all know how expensive razor cartridges are, and Pogue says an easy step will help you save money on them.
“That blade’s repeated exposure to water then air, then water then air, is rusting the sharp edge of the blade. If you could prevent it from oxidizing, then those blades would last so much longer. I mean, I’ve had cartridges last 5 months,” he says.
Pogue’s secret to extending the life of a razor is to simply dry it off after using it.
“You can either blow-dry it with a blowdryer, or I keep a little bottle of rubbing alcohol next to the sink. I just swish the razor in the rubbing alcohol, and that instantly evaporates when you’re done. So the blade never has a chance to rust.”
Speaking of water, Pogue says many people waste energy and money because their water heater is turned up too high.
“My suggestion is you go to the water heater in your basement and you turn it down to the hottest temperature you can stand, and no hotter. And think of the hundreds of dollars over the years that you’ll save that way.”
Another tip has to do with those boxes of plastic wrap, aluminum foil and wax paper you probably have at home.
“There are two tabs that you’re supposed to push in with your fingers, and they make an axle. They sort of anchor the tube — the roll — in place, so that as you pull it out it doesn’t move out of the box. Every box has these things and no one ever notices that they’re there,” says Pogue.
“Pogue’s Basics: Life” was released in November and is a New York Times Best Seller. It follows “Pogue’s Basics” which came out last year and focuses on technology. Pogue says he’s now planning a third book for next year.
“I’ve just decided what it’s going to be. I haven’t told anyone yet, but what the heck. It’s going to be ‘Pogue’s Basics: Money,’ because there are so many ways that we could be spending less and earning more in everyday life.”
When it comes to bananas, Pogue suggests we’ve been eating them all wrong.
Peel one the usual way and you often squish the first bite, and run into those long stringy things inside.
“It turns out that that part that you’re opening, that you think of is the top, is actually the bottom. Bananas grow from the bottom. They grow upwards. So my suggestion to you is open your banana from the other end,” Pogue says.
“The stem part acts as a little handle like an ice cream cone, so you can eat your way to the bottom,” he adds.
If you get impatient trying to get ketchup out of a bottle, Pogue has a solution.
“Put the top on securely, hold the bottle from the bottom, and swing it around your arm in a big arc like a centrifugal force experiment.”
The ketchup will be flung toward the top of the bottle, making it easier to get out.
“This works with children’s toothpaste, this works with relish and mustard and any gooey stuff. And it’s infinitely faster and more reliable than banging the bottle,” says Pogue.
The book includes a ridiculously easy way to peel garlic cloves. Put them in a hard, enclosed container, shake the container for about 15 seconds, and cloves will be skin-free.
And Pogue says when you need to spread jelly or cream cheese, put down the knife. It’s easier to spread the stuff with the back of a spoon.