18 life hacks to solve everyday problems

bananas.jpg
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. (AP) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
FILE - This Wednesday, March 2, 2011, file photo, shows containers of Heinz ketchup on the shelf of a market, in Barre, Vt. H.J. Heinz Co. is buying Kraft Foods Group Inc., creating what the companies say will be the third-largest food and beverage company in North America, the companies announced Wednesday, March 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)
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. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File) (AP)
garlic500.jpg
There’s an 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. (Getty Images)
Cream Cheese isolated
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. (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/rimglow)
OK; airline seats will never be very comfortable. But they can be a lot better, if you know the feature few people ever find. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/gyn9038)
OK; airline seats will never be very comfortable. But they can be a lot better, if you know the feature few people ever find. “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,” Pogue said. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/gyn9038) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/gyn9038)
If headlights coming at you at night blind you, there's a safe way to keep your vision.  (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
If headlights coming at you at night blind you, there’s a safe way to keep your vision: “Focus, as you drive, on the white line at the right side of your own lane,” Pogue says. “And that way, your eyes remain dilated for the darkness …” (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Feng Li)
There's a simple way to greatly increase the range  of your car key fob's unlocking signal. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Ferli Achirulli)
There’s a simple way to greatly increase the range of your car key fob’s unlocking signal. Hold it against your cheek before you click the button. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Ferli Achirulli) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Ferli Achirulli)
Do aluminum foil rolls keep falling out of their boxes? They've actually built a way to stop that into the boxes; you probably just never realized it. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/pioneer111)
Do your aluminum foil rolls keep falling out of their boxes? They’ve actually built a way to stop that. “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,” Pogue said. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/pioneer111) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/pioneer111)
A razor cartridge can last months, Pogue says -- just keep it dry, with either a hair dryer or some alcohol. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/LittleBee80)
A razor cartridge can last months, Pogue says — just keep it dry, with either a hair dryer or some alcohol. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/LittleBee80) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/LittleBee80)
The best way to keep your windshield free of fog? Run the air conditioner. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Montypeter)
The best way to keep your windshield free of fog? Run the air conditioner. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Montypeter) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Montypeter)
Turn your water heater down to the least-hot temperature you can deal with, Pogue says -- you won't even notice the difference, except the savings. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/danielsbfoto)
Turn your water heater down to the least-hot temperature you can deal with, Pogue says — you won’t even notice the difference, except the savings. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/danielsbfoto) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/danielsbfoto)
Valley Forge
The side of the big sign that the exit number appears on is the side of the highway that the exit will be on. (Getty Images) (Getty Images/RiverNorthPhotography)
Cropped hands of man cutting cucumber outdoors
Cover the cut end of a cucumber with a paper towel and “it will stay crisp and clean for a week,” says Pogue. (Getty Images) (Getty Images/Maskot/Katja Kircher)
Salad box in fridge (close-up)
Put a paper towel over leftover salad lettuce to keep it fresh for longer. (Getty Images) (Getty Images/Fotosearch RF/Fotosearch)
Molded butter in ceramic dish
It’s OK to store butter outside the fridge. “Even the USDA says it’s fine to leave your butter out,” Pogue says, as long as you cover it to protect it from light and exposure. (Getty Images) (Getty Images/Jupiterimages)
Directly Above Shot Of Suitcase And Shoes On Street
Take a picture of your luggage so you’ll have something to show people if it gets lost. This also works for parking spots and coat check tickets. (Getty Images) (Getty Images/EyeEm Premium/Anne Winkler / EyeEm)
Enthusiastic girls cheering with candy at amusement park
Take a picture of your kids when you get to a place or event with a large crowd. That way, if you get separated, you can show security what they’re wearing. (Getty Images) (Getty Images/Blend Images/KidStock)
Portrait of a young man pretending to wear glasses
This life hack is the one that inspired the whole book, Pogue says. What can you do if you’ve forgotten your reading glasses and need to look at a menu or newspaper? Make a very small hole with your thumb and forefinger. Hold your hand up to your eye and look through the space. You should be able to read the words quite clearly. The light goes through the hole and doesn’t have a chance to fan out and be blurred. (Getty Images) (Getty Images/Glowimages/Glow Images)
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bananas.jpg
FILE - This Wednesday, March 2, 2011, file photo, shows containers of Heinz ketchup on the shelf of a market, in Barre, Vt. H.J. Heinz Co. is buying Kraft Foods Group Inc., creating what the companies say will be the third-largest food and beverage company in North America, the companies announced Wednesday, March 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)
garlic500.jpg
Cream Cheese isolated
OK; airline seats will never be very comfortable. But they can be a lot better, if you know the feature few people ever find. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/gyn9038)
If headlights coming at you at night blind you, there's a safe way to keep your vision.  (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
There's a simple way to greatly increase the range  of your car key fob's unlocking signal. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Ferli Achirulli)
Do aluminum foil rolls keep falling out of their boxes? They've actually built a way to stop that into the boxes; you probably just never realized it. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/pioneer111)
A razor cartridge can last months, Pogue says -- just keep it dry, with either a hair dryer or some alcohol. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/LittleBee80)
The best way to keep your windshield free of fog? Run the air conditioner. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Montypeter)
Turn your water heater down to the least-hot temperature you can deal with, Pogue says -- you won't even notice the difference, except the savings. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/danielsbfoto)
Valley Forge
Cropped hands of man cutting cucumber outdoors
Salad box in fridge (close-up)
Molded butter in ceramic dish
Directly Above Shot Of Suitcase And Shoes On Street
Enthusiastic girls cheering with candy at amusement park
Portrait of a young man pretending to wear glasses

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.

David Pogue's latest book “Pogue's Basics: Life: Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) for Simplifying Your Day,” offers lifehacks for everyday living (Amazon)
David Pogue’s latest book “Pogue’s Basics: Life: Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) for Simplifying Your Day,” offers lifehacks for everyday living (Amazon)

“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.”

Food Tips

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.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

© 2015 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

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