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Learning

Have you heard the new toilet paper hack?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, people took toilet paper—especially its availability—for granted. Everyone who experienced those hectic days probably has a new appreciation when they roll down the aisle of their local supermarket and see fully stocked shelves of TP.

A new trend shows that people aren’t only appreciating their toilet paper but finding new ways to use it that go beyond its traditional use: keeping toilet paper in their refrigerators. The most common reason is that it is an effective and affordable way to keep them smelling fresh and clean. It seems that TP’s absorbent qualities go far beyond the bathroom.

The new practice has been popularized on TikTok, where most new life hack trends seem to be springing up these days.


In late September, TikTok user @Ezenwanyibackup shared a toilet-paper-in-the-fridge hack, and it received over 1400 views. The hack involves creating a paste out of baking soda and applying it to the top of the roll. "Now, just stick it in your fridge," the TikTokker said. "This simple hack is going to neutralize all the smell and moisture that messes up your fridge, keeping your food fresh and tasty for way longer."

@ezenwanyibackup

Just put a roll of toilet paper in your fridge, and you won't have that problem anymore! #ezenwanyibackup #foryoupage #homemaderemedies #healthy #homemaderecipes #foryou #diy #naturalrecipes #recipe #fypシ゚viral @ezenwanyibackup @ezenwanyibackup @ezenwanyibackup @This Recipe @Queen ezenwanyi1

Smartfoxlifehacks has also helped promote the new trend in kitchen cleanliness with his video, where he shares how he keeps toilet paper in his fridge. He recommends that people change their rolls every 3 to 4 weeks. He claims the "trick" comes from the hotel industry because the toilet paper “absorbs odors."

@smartfoxlifehacks

This is a secret Trick from Hotels… 😱🦊 #lifehack #tipsandtricks #cleaningtricks #cleaninghacks

Another TikTokker, @Drewfrom63rd1, has a unique use for the toilet paper in his fridge. He chills it and then uses it as an ice pack to keep his food cold. “You can use this as an ice pack,” he says, putting a roll out of his fridge. “It does really work. It lasts about 8 hours.”

@drewfrom63rd1

Replying to @wgez

House Digest explains why toilet paper is so effective at keeping your fridge smelling fresh.

“For obvious reasons, toilet paper is designed to be extremely absorbent,” Brooke Younger writes at House Digest. “However, it doesn't just absorb liquids on contact; it can also pull them from the surrounding air. If you've ever touched your bathroom's toilet paper roll after a steamy shower, you might notice that it feels a bit damp. Placing a clean toilet paper roll in your fridge will absorb some of the internal humidity and, with it, those stinky particles.”

The site adds that toilet paper can also help keep dark, damp parts of your house, such as a closet or basement, stay fresh, too.

The toilet paper hack is effective, and it’s also a great way to save money. The average roll of TP costs about $1, which is much cheaper than a refrigerator deodorizer that can set you back about $10.

Now, for the sake of all the people who love this hack, let’s hope that word spreads so that no one gets any side-eye for having stacks of TP in their fridge. But we should also hope it doesn’t become so popular that people start hoarding toilet paper again. That wasn’t fun the first time.


This article originally appeared on 11.20.23

Education

Watching kids do lightning fast mental math is both mesmerizing and mind-blowing

Their finger twitching looks random, but WOW is it impressive.

Digamarthi Sri Ramakanth/Wikimedia Commons

2003 UCMAS National Abacus & Mental Arithmetic Competition

In the age of calculators and smartphones, it's become less necessary to do math in your head than it used to be, but that doesn't mean mental math is useless. Knowing how to calculate in your head can be handy, and if you're lucky enough to learn mental abacus skills from a young age, it can be wicked fast as well.

Video of students demonstrating how quickly they can calculate numbers in their head are blowing people's minds, as the method is completely foreign for many of us. The use of a physical abacus isn't generally taught in the United States, other than perhaps a basic introduction to how it works. But precious few of us ever get to see how the ancient counter gets used for mental math.


The concept is simple and can be taught from a young age, but it takes a bit of time and practice to perfect. Watch what it looks like for basic addition and subtraction at lightning speed, though:

If you don't know what they're doing, it looks like students are just randomly flicking their fingers and wrists. But they are actually envisioning the abacus while they move their fingers, as if they were actually using one.

There are various methods of finger calculations that make use of abacus concepts. Watch another method that uses both hands in action:

Even very young children can calculate large sums very quickly using these abacus-based mental math methods. Watch these little superstars add two-digit to four-digit numbers like it's nothing.

How do they do it?

Much of the skill here requires a solid understanding of how an abacus is used to calculate and lots of practice with the physical movements of calculating with it. That's not exactly simple to explain, as it take a couple of years of practice using an abacus—for these mental calculations, specifically the Japanese soroban abacus—to gain the skills needed to be able to calculate quickly. BBC Global shares how such practices are taught in Japan, not only for mental math but for overall cognitive memory:

Abacus mental math programs online recommend learning it between the ages of 5 to 13. It is possible to learn at older ages, but it might take longer to master compared to younger students.

But if there's a finger method you want to try for addition and subtraction up to 99, one that's simple and quick to learn is called chisanbop, in which ones are counted on one hand and 10s are counted on the other. Here's an explainer video that shows how it works:

Chisanbop!

Most of us carry calculators around in our pockets with us at all time, so such practices may feel like a waste of time. But learning new skills that tax our brain is like a workout for our mind, so it's not a bad idea to give things like this a spin. Even if we don't learn to calculate large numbers in the blink of an eye, we can at least exercise our mental muscles to keep our brains healthier. And who knows, maybe we'll get a party trick or two out of it as well.

Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

The Sam Vimes "Boots" Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness explains one way the rich get richer.

Any time conversations about wealth and poverty come up, people inevitably start talking about boots.

The standard phrase that comes up is "pull yourself up by your bootstraps," which is usually shorthand for "work harder and don't ask for or expect help." (The fact that the phrase was originally used sarcastically because pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps is literally, physically impossible is rarely acknowledged, but c'est la vie.) The idea that people who build wealth do so because they individually work harder than poor people is baked into the American consciousness and wrapped up in the ideal of the American dream.

A different take on boots and building wealth, however, paints a more accurate picture of what it takes to get out of poverty.



Author Terry Pratchett is no longer with us, but his writing lives on and is occasionally shared on his official social media accounts. Recently, his Twitter page shared the "Sam Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness" from Pratchett's 1993 book "Men At Arms." This boots theory explains that one reason the rich are able to get richer is because they are able to spend less money.

If that sounds confusing, read on:

Pratchett wrote:

"The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet."

In other words, people who have the money to spend a little more upfront often end up spending less in the long run. A $50 pair of boots that last five years essentially cost you $10 a year. But if you can only afford $10 upfront for a pair of boots that last six months, that's what you buy—and you end up paying twice as much over a five-year period.

There are so many areas in which this principle applies when you're poor. Buying in bulk saves you money over the long run, but you have to be able to afford the bulk cost up front. A reliable car that doesn't require regular repairs will cost more than a beater, but if the beater is all you can afford, that's what you're stuck with. You'll likely spend the same or more over time than if you'd bought a newer/higher quality car, but without the capital (or the credit rating) to begin with, you don't have much choice.

People who can afford larger down payments pay lower interest rates, saving them money both immediately and in the long run. People who can afford to buy more can spend more with credit cards, pay off the balances, build up good credit and qualify for lower interest rate loans.

There are lots of good financial decisions and strategies one can utilize if one has the ability to build up some cash. But if you are living paycheck to paycheck, you can't.

Climbing the financial ladder requires getting to the bottom rung first. Those who started off anywhere on the ladder can make all kinds of pronouncements about how to climb it—good, sound advice that really does work if you're already on the ladder. But for people living in poverty, the bottom rung is just out of reach, and the walls you have to climb to get to it are slippery. It's expensive to be poor.

When people talk about how hard it is to climb out of poverty, this is a big part of what they mean. Ladder-climbing advice is useless if you can't actually get to the ladder. And yet, far too many people decry offering people assistance that might help them reach the ladder so they can start taking advantage of all that great financial advice. Why? Perhaps because they were born somewhere on the ladder—even if it was the bottom rung—and aren't aware that there are people for whom the ladder is out of reach. Or perhaps they're unaware of how expensive it is to be poor and how the costs of poverty keep people stuck in the pit. Hopefully, this theory will help more people understand and sympathize with the reality of being poor.

Money makes money, but having money also saves you money. The more money you have, the more wealth you're able to build not only because you have extra money to save, but also because you buy higher quality things that last, therefore spending less in the long run. (There's also the reality that the uber-wealthy will pay $5,000 for shoes they'll only wear a few times, but that's a whole other kind of boots story.)

Thanks, Terry Pratchett, for the simple explanation.


This story originally appeared on 01.28.22

Education

How much money do you need to retire? Experts answer the question and explain what went wrong.

"That also means there's quite a few people that haven't saved anything."

Photo Credit: Arthon Meekodong via Canva

Experts answer how much money you need to retire, we're behind

If you're like many middle class Millennials then you've likely resigned yourself to never being able to retire. It's a running joke amongst people entering middle-age that their retirement age is death. Meaning they've accepted that they'll likely work until they die of old age because there's no way they'll be able to put away enough money in the next 20 plus years to be able to retire.

This isn't even just a Millennial issue, it's simply more wide spread for this particular generation as wages stagnate while the cost of existing continues to skyrocket. But we've seen adolescents open up GoFundMe pages for elderly workers at their local Walmart or McDonald's who were well past the age of retirement trying to make ends meet.

Millennials have been told since they were in middle school that social security would likely not be around when they were old enough to retire. But how did it come to this and exactly how much do you need in order to retire?


Vox conducted an interview with a couple of financial experts and people who would be considered middle class. The video opens up with Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist, that gives some staggering figures if you're one of those Americans already feeling behind on retirement.

"If you want to maintain your living standards that you have now or you'll have throughout your life, in the American system by the time you're 30 you should have about one times your current salary. By the time you're 40 you should have about two and a half or three times your salary. In your 60s you should have eight to ten times your annual salary," Ghilarducci reveals to Vox.

Those numbers seem unrealistic, even to the expert interviewed when looking at today's economy. She later explains why retirement is becoming an unachievable dream for many working Americans.

"The reason why a coal miner and a lawyer could expect to retire is because of the design of our pension system, which we don't have anymore. Your employer would put money aside for your retirement and that money couldn't be accessed by you. So the dollar that the employer put in on your behalf was put into a big pool of money and it was professionally invested and at the end of your working life, that money would be translated into a lifetime benefit."

According to both of the financial experts interviewed, the laws changed about 40 years ago switching things over to more of the system we recognize today. The entire video is extremely eye opening. Check it out below.