Sideswipe: December 2: Happy Fishmas from Waiuku

Problem solvers

A reader writes: “At my last job in a truck suspension shop, we did the inventory in December and it was someone’s job to count all the washers and screws of every size. It was my first inventory and I casually mentioned that they should just weigh one screw or washer, then weigh them all and divide the weight to get the count. Everyone looked at me like I had given them the key to the universe. Counting washers and screws went from a day or two, to just a few hours.”

Chlorine cure-all

In the 1920s, chlorine gas (the same stuff used as a chemical weapon in World War I) briefly became popular as a cure for the common cold, before being debunked.Jennifer Ackerman explains what was going on in her book Ah-Choo! The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold: “The use of chlorine gas to cure the common cold was suggested by observations that men who worked in chlorine plants to manufacture the noxious gas during the war were remarkably free of colds and flu. The same was true of soldiers on the front lines exposed to the pungent, biting fumes of chlorine, compared with those in the rear. A hundred years earlier, physicians had noted that people who worked and lived in the vicinity of bleaching establishments had fewer respiratory infections than others. Chlorine was thought to act as a kind of thorn-in-the-flesh therapy. Vedder (dubbed “the chemical warrior” by Time magazine) proposed that “the irritant action of chlorine stimulates the flow of secretion and cleanses the mucous surfaces,” resulting in “productive coughing and blowing of the nose.” Through its oxidising action, the gas was also thought to rid the body of toxins and fuel the activity of white blood cells useful in the attack against offending microbes. Practically overnight, chlorine therapy became a popular treatment for victims of colds, bronchitis, and whooping cough… For the general public, there was chlorine respirine, 50 treatments for $0.50 in a handy collapsible tube, each dose purported to “knock a cold in three hours.” (Via Weird Universe)

Apple slice hack

Though they’re perfectly safe to eat, brown apple slices aren’t the most appealing-looking snack. This reader’s hack for keeping apple slices from browning comes really works. “Prepare a bowl of cold water. Stir in roughly half a teaspoon of salt for every cup of water and set the bowl aside until your apple slices are ready. Soak the slices for 10 minutes, drain them, and rinse them off to get rid of any excess salt. You can eat your apples right away or store them in a plastic bag or container for later. Either way, they should keep their appetising white colour for much longer than they would without the saltwater soak.”

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