Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What To Do With Old Mesh Fruit Bags

Pond filter intake cover

If you have a small garden pond with a filter and pump, a mesh bag over they intake will keep leaves, worms, and minnows out of the filter.

Wash rocks

If you have to clean decorative rocks or gravel, a mesh bag can allow you to spray a hose at the rocks without scattering them.

Big scouring pad

Fill a mesh bag with cotton rags and use as a scouring pad for a boat hull, RV, wood deck, or house exterior.

Recycling container, especially for
  • aluminum cans
  • glass
  • tin cans
Some vegetables come in a looser mesh with very soft strands. These can be used
  • As dust rags
  • In paint preparation, to remove steel wool fibers or wood dust

Eric Wolfram, whence I stole the images here, lists several uses, including:
  • Giving away at farmer's market
  • Holding batteries, cables, and other electronic gear
  • Carrying loose change to the bank
  • Beach bag
Not As A Bird Feeder

Apparently birds get their feet caught in the modern mesh bags. Make a cube out of hardware cloth (wide-mesh heavy gauge screen) instead.

Air Clamp

Some objects that need to be clamped together for gluing cannot stand the stress of a regular clamp. You can combine a mesh bag with something like a plastic bread bag, garbage bag, or folded over piece of plastic sheeting, depending on the size, shape and strength of the objects, to make a clamp to glue them together.
  1. Glue the objects together
  2. Put the objects inside a mesh bag
  3. Put the mesh bag inside your air-tight container bag
  4. Use an aquarium air pump (or preferably something stronger) to take the air out of the bag
  5. Depending on the pump you have, you may either seal the bag or let it continue to try evacuating the bag.
Since atmospheric air pressure is about 14 lb/in2, removing air from inside the bag puts a very strong force uniformly all around the items to be glued, while also helping extrude the glue in a uniform way (for the right kinds of glue). Professionals use specially designed pumps which can maintain a given vacuum pressure, but a DIY alternative is to use a food preservation vacuum sealer.

Monday, July 30, 2007

What To Do With Old Toothbrushes

A toothbrush should be changed every three months, we're told. But what should be done with the old ones? Throwing them away seems awfully wasteful to me, so I keep them around and inevitably find uses for them.

One nice feature of the humble toothbrush is that the plastic handle can be broken, either to remove the head to use just the handle, or to make the handle shorter. With gentle pressure and even low heat, the handle can also be bent into a more convenient shape. The bristles can be trimmed to form a stiffer brush or even removed entirely.

Break the handle to about 3" and use as a fingernail cleaner.

Hang in the shower for scrubbing nails and feet. Make sure to clean (and disinfect) it between uses, or various nastiness can grow on it.

If the bristles are cut off, a toothbrush can be filed down with concrete and sandpaper to a surprisingly sharp point or blade, to make an awl or a scraping tool. An old toothbrush can really come in handy in a variety of settings:

In the garage:
  • General cleaner
  • Clean grease, oil and tar from car parts
  • Clean dirt from garden tools and apply used motor oil as protectant
  • Clean rusty items
  • Car detailing: either inside or out
  • Bike chain and gear cleaner
  • Clean power tools such as jigsaws and Sawzalls™
  • Brush the dust and debris from shop vacuum cleaners
  • Use as applicator for pipe thread sealant
  • Spread wood glue
  • Glue sand to bristles, use as wire brush
In the kitchen
  • Break and bend the handle away from the bristles to better scrub permanent coffee filters or the coffee filter basket
  • Use with baking soda for general cleaning, and also the grooves in a George Foreman grill
  • Clean fruits and vegetables from the garden or grocery
Around the house
  • Painting and paint preparation
  • Ceiling fan duster
  • Laundry stain scrubber
  • Grout scrubber
  • Doggy toothbrush
  • Handle for steel wool, cotton ball, cloth
At ThriftyTips, some other uses came out:
Cleaning combs and brushes, bottles, jewelry, shoes, sliding door tracks, toys, window crevices, screens, toilets, faucets, etc. [using different brushes, obviously]. Use as an eyebrow brush.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

What To Do With Used Motor Oil

[Originally posted 20070722, updated 20070728 with orst.edu link]

Most places have laws about what you can do with used motor oil, such as mandating that it be recyeled* by a licensed facility. In fact, while writing this it was initially difficult to find any information on used motor oil other than pleas to recyele it. Used motor oil is a known carcinogen, so wear gloves and don't eat it.

A lot of the pages on the net that talk about used motor oil take the amount of oil bought and subtract the amount recycled, concluding that this amount is dumped down storm sewers or into lakes and streams. But the thing is, most people don't live near a lake or a stream, and very few people would actually dump used motor oil down the storm sewer, much less their own drain. At least, not twice.

So what do people do with used motor oil if they don't recyele it?
  • Paint the bottom of wooden posts, or anything else that will be in ground contact. If you're really serious, heat the oil to above the boiling point for water and immerse your object in it. The water in the object will boil away, to be replaced by oil and contaminants. Oiled wooden fence posts that are mostly or entirely encased in concrete will not harm the environment. Don't use such posts in standing water or marsh, because the oil will leech into the water.

    [Update: I found this research report from Donald J. Miller of Oregon State University, Service Life of Treated and Untreated Fence Posts: 1985 Post-Farm Report. "Post-Farm" refers to a farm full of posts, not a report after the farm.

    He recommends used motor oil or crankcase oil only as a carrier for creosote, presumably because the oil only increases the useful life of posts by a short amount of time compared to its toxicity (and tendency to soften untreated wood). Using oil to carry creosote proved among the most effective treatments. In a residential or non-farm application, applied to already treated wood, plain appears to help a lot. /Update 20070728]

  • Soak hard-to-burn things like damp wood before lighting (don't breathe the smoke)
  • Paint concrete (again, not for aquatic use).
  • Paint concrete forms so they can be removed more easily taken off and reused
  • Paint a brick foundation, especially the chalky mortar as a way to postpone tuck pointing. This iwill make your eventual tuck pointing job more difficult, since the new mortar will not stick as well with the oil present.
  • Before paving asphalt (or asphalt over concrete), apply a coat of motor oil and allow to soak in overnight (unless rain is expected).
  • Mix with staining colorants, or with old oil-based wood stain or paint. A lot of times there are things that need to be painted that will never show -- you're just painting them to protect them (why else use an oil-based paint?). So combine your leftover stain, paint, varnish, and used motor oil in a paint can and mix well. It probably won't stick to metal, but will last a long time on wood, concrete, or stone. For an effective finish, apply several coats until it is no longer absorbed.
  • Use as chain saw chain oil (a very good use, but watch the splatter)
  • Lubricate a bicycle chain (this is not optimal, because the thick oil tends to collect dirt)
  • Clean rusty metal (paired with an abrasive such as steel wool)
  • Coat outdoor tools such as axes, shovels, and clippers to keep them from rusting
  • Clean road tar off vehicles (take care not to mar finish)
  • Clean old engines such as on lawnmowers
  • Lubricate hinges, latches, and other rough exterior hardware
  • Coat nails to make them drive easier and stay rust-free
  • Mix in 1 part oil with 20 parts diesel fuel and drive around
  • Oil leather (makes a dull, unattractive finish, but functions well) (do not used next to skin)
  • There is a patented process for cooking used rubber tires with used motor oil, producing a variety of hydrocarbons and chemicals.
  • Another (patented) process purifies used oil with acetone and ketone
  • Use a centrifuge to separate impurities
  • Burn in an oil heater designed for used oil
  • Burn it in an oil lamp
What not to do with used oil:
  • Spread it on the ground to inhibit dust or weed growth, as this makes a nasty runoff when it eventually rains.
  • Ingest it or let it contact your eyes or other such areas.
  • Dump it down the drain, as this will clog your drain and mess up the sewer system
  • Put it in a landfill, as this is dangerous and harmful in about six ways.

* I have left the spelling as "recyeled" to allow searchers to find this post by excluding the correctly spelled word.
† ← I've never tried these, but they should be interesting

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How to Pull Cables with String

The knot to use is called a "stitch", and it is the same technique used in data centers to secure bunches of cables without all of that Velcro mess.
Either the "Right" or "Wrong" style will work, and I describe the "Wrong" method below. This works for Ethernet cable, Romex®, and similar cabling. It's a great technique to use with fish tape, the metallic band on a reel used to fish inside of walls.
  1. Make two loops in the string.
  2. Turn one around.
  3. Stick the cable through the loops.
  4. Pull on the string to tighten (it's OK for the loops to separate). If done properly, the harder you pull on the string, the tighter the knot gets. If done wrong ... just do it again.
  5. Wrap with as little electrical or duct tape as possible to secure the loose end of the string, protect your cable end, and to keep the end of the cable attached to the string so it doesn't wedge as you pull it. Too much tape will snag as you pull it through.

For fish tape, you typically fish the tape from where you want to go to where the cable is. Attach the string to the hole in the end of the tape. The other end of the string gets the procedure above.

Sometimes your intended run is such that you can't get yourself or the fish tape reel to the destination. If you have an open space between two holes, sometimes the fish tape flops around. In those cases, attach the string to the fish tape before fishing it through, so that you can control the tape a bit with tension on the string. You will then have string all the way through the run.

I've used this knot (doubled) for connecting two ropes, since other knots form a point of weakness and this one doesn't (when doubled). Knot the loose ends in a square knot rather than with tape.

What To Do With Old Wire and Cables

This is about copper cable, such as old 2-,4-,or even 50-pair telephone cable, cat-3 or cat-5 Ethernet cable, non-metallic electrical cables (Romex®), or anything similar. Whether you choose to reuse or recycle it, the stuff is getting too expensive just to throw away. This page describes how to use it for audio speaker wire, make rope from it, or even how to use it for some really environmentally awful fun.
  • Copper cable can be recycled, but finding a recycler nearby who deals with it may be difficult. Luckily, Earth911.org provides a recycler locater search box.
  • Use old RG58 Ethernet cables with BNC ends as speaker cables, with BNC jacks in wall plates as needed. This type of cable is designed to carry radio frequency signals, and works even better at lower audio frequencies where impedance is negligible. It's easy to use, way cheaper (if you've got it already) than doing what this guy recommends. The sound is the same.
  • Old twisted-pair (Cat-3 or Cat-5) Ethernet cable works great as a source for color-coded twist ties. Leave the vinyl jacket on until use, then strip off as much as you need. Or you can cut it all up and stand it in a jar.
  • Rope: braid a strand of copper cable with two strands of other cord, of either synthetic or natural fibers. This makes a rope that is stronger than the individual cords and that will never rust.
  • Rope 2: Braid twisted sets of copper wire with strands of cotton or synthetic string of similar thickness, again making a rope. Use as many individual strands as you want, up to a practical limit. You can make the twisted sets of copper wire by attaching one end of a set of wires to an electric drill and the other to something fixed in place. Twist one set of wires clockwise, the other counterclockwise. This can be done in stages without cutting the wires. Twist each section the same amount and as tightly as desired, but avoid knotting. Braid the three (or more) pieces of cable or cord together, taking care to balance the twisting directions (so the resulting cable will tend to kink less).
  • Romex makes a nice pipe hanger for plumbing work, since it's flexible but stays in shape. The individual strands (solid wire only) also make excellent heavy-duty twist ties.
  • PVC-coated copper makes a pretty, multicolored flame when it burns on a campfire. The smoke is toxic, of course, and so not really good for the air, but still, it's pretty.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What To Do With Old Wooden Pallets

If you ever take a bulk delivery on materials, you may find yourself with several wooden pallets, and not know what to do with them beside burning them or begging the garbage man to take them away. Wikipedia suggests they can be used for a number of really clever things. Here are some not-so-clever but very easily completed projects for anyone with a hammer and nails. All of these work very well because wooden pallets are made not to come apart.

Note: most inexpensive pallets are made from untreated pine or other softwood, which will ensure that the part of the pallet exposed to the ground will begin to rot soon. Rarely, you may find a pallet made from treated pine. (If you burn it, don't breathe the smoke.) It will take a few years before the compost bin falls apart, which gives you plenty of time to find more pallets. Hardwood pallets may last longer, but are often subject to a deposit.
  • Make a workbench
    I did it a few years ago. I had to cut one of the pallets in half for some reason, but I don't remember why. I ended up using a scrap 2x4 as a support on the back, and some masonite or fiberboard as the top.

  • Make a compost bin

    Just nail three pallets together in a 'C', with the deck boards facing in. They don't have to be vertical, but it makes the composting part work better. Nail in a couple of diagonal supports on top if it won't stay rigid. Just face the back toward the neighbors and fill. You'll never have to burn leaves or buy fertilizer again.

    (Image from the National Wood Pallet & Container Association, under fair use)

  • Build a dog house
    If you have a dog, even one that mostly lives inside, using three or four pallets you can make a nice, sturdy spot for your little wolf.
    1. Lay a pallet on the ground
    2. Lean two more pallets together on top of the first one, with the bottom edges of the top two resting between two deck boards.
    3. Nail the roof-walls together, optionally using a couple of boards to make cross-pieces at the open ends.
    4. Secure the roof-walls to the bottom, either by nailing them directly together or by some means left to your creativity to devise
    5. Cover it with plywood, shingles, or any other weatherproof material so that Fido has a spot out of the rain and sun and off the ground.
    6. Throw in a piece of old carpet or welcome mat for that homey touch.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Troublesome Filenames

smith: In my public_html directory there are subdirectories called "~backup" and "~smith". "Backup" is the name we use for file archival of old work. When I cd to them I'm taken to some home directory. What's going on?

me: That looked funny at first, but I think it's ok.

A ~ (tilde) character is shell-ese for a home directory, either your own by itself or that of a given user with "~username". So when you entered "cd ~smith", it actually took you to your home directory. The /public_html/~smith thing is a real directory with a tilde as the first character of the name. You can create a directory with that name by typing

        mkdir public_html/~smith
The tilde is only interpreted as a home directory when it's the first character of a directory name, and only by csh/tcsh/zsh/ksh. Shell scripts are typically interpreted by the Bourne shell (/bin/sh), which doesn't know what "~smith" means, so sometimes shell scripts will create files named like that.


        cd ~smith/public_html/~smith
took me to a directory that didn't look like your home directory. I renamed public_html/~backup to public_html/backup and public_html/~smith to public_html/smith.

There are other misbehaving filenames. Usually they come about the same way the "public_html/~smith did: UNIX file systems allows filenames to contain characters that are special to some command interpreters. For example, a mistaken cut-and-paste operation can generate several spurious commands, perhaps creating files with random names. Misbehaved filenames may make it hard to work with files, even in the newer shell programs.

For instance, files beginning with a hyphen ("-") will confound some commands. If you have a file named "-h" and try to do anything to it, the usual commands such as mv, cp, or rm will interpret the name as a command line switch and tell you you're typing the command incorrectly:

~/temp me@server 8:48> ls -l
total 0
-rw-r--r-- 1 me mygroup 0 Feb 20 08:46 --help
-rw-r--r-- 1 me mygroup 0 Feb 20 08:46 -h

~/temp me@server 8:48> rm -h
rm: illegal option -- h
usage: rm [-fiRr] file ...
zsh: exit 2 rm -h

~/temp me@server 8:48> mv -h goodname

mv: illegal option -- h
mv: Insufficient arguments (1)
Usage: mv [-f] [-i] f1 f2
mv [-f] [-i] f1 ... fn d1
mv [-f] [-i] d1 d2
zsh: exit 2 mv -h goodname
The solution is to specify a path name for the file, either an absolute path as in /usr/local/bin/--badfile, or a relative path such as "./" (dot forward-slash, meaning the current directory).
~/temp me@server 8:48> rm ./-h    
~/temp me@server 8:48> mv ./--help goodname
~/temp me@server 8:48> ls -l
total 0
-rw-r--r-- 1 me mygroup 0 Feb 20 08:46 goodname

Other inconvenient filenames can require a "\" (backslash) to quote characters that are special to the shell, such as "-" (hyphen), "~" (tilde), " " (space). The newer shells offering command-line completion will automatically quote the characters for you.

Advanced users may wish to apply the stream editor sed to the problem.

For a list of names of punctuation marks, I recommend the Wikipedia entry.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Six Flags St. Louis

We went to Six Flags St. Louis on a 90°F July Sunday.

We got there at 9:30am, though the park opens at 10:30. There were about 20 cars ahead of us at the gate, and by the time they opened the gate to let us in the parking lot, there were at least 100 cars waiting. We parked, showed our Internet tickets to the cashier, and then waited until 10:15 at the entrance turnstyles. We made our way toward the first ride of the day, only to be stopped by park security. They held everyone back from the attractions until 10:30.

My take: either open, or don't open. Don't do it halfway. I guess it's their business, though.

While waiting for security to stop their tyranny and allow us to ride the rides, we developed a plan. Security had deputized a couple of pre-teen kids, signified with adhesive label badges. We decided that unless word came soon that we could go into the rest of the park, we would point to the ground and say "Look! A toy!", dash past the distracted kids, and quickly take over the park, allowing us to be the first to ride the rides that day. While demponstrating that move, I didn't realize that an older boy was watching me. He looked for the toy. This could work!

But while we were still laughing at the older kid for actually falling for the trick, the guards relented from their oppression, and we dashed to the first ride.

Mr. Freeze: thrilling, but too short. On the other hand, I could sit and watch the takeoff and landing for hours. We rode it twice.

Batman: Good coaster, but even though you're upside down a lot, there's no weightlessness. The line is always too long.

Ninja: Great coaster. No line, so we went through about 6 times. We found it physically tiring, because this older coaster beats you up. Still, there's lots of air time.

Screamin' Eagle
: I was surprised at how much I liked this 30+ year old wooden relic. Once the biggest wooden coaster in the world, this thing is still great. The first time though, a dad was telling his 6- or 7-year-old that the boy was brave enough to ride the Screamin' Eagle. The boy wasn't sure, and whined about Mom not riding. Dad encouraged, saying "You've already been on Ninja and Batman, you can do this one!" I said if he'd been on those, this one would be a piece of cake. I turned to my own son and whispered that I was a big liar, that this was going to kill him. Buuaaa-haah-haah. Especially at the back, you get a lot of floating air time, and the 4000-foot ride is long enough to enjoy. Since it's old, it's not as popular as the newer ones, so we got to go through several times.

(The dad and kid behind us both loved it.)

The Boss: line too long, didn't ride it. Really long wooden coaster, people said it was pretty good.

Tidal Wave: This is a short little water-car ride, the entire object of which is to make a big splash. Yes, you get wet, no matter where you sit. To get really soaked, stand on the bridge overlooking the car as it splashes into the tidal pool. I wrapped my wallet in a little park map, and it stayed dry in my pocket. Wish I'd brought a Zip-lock baggie.

A word about prices: they suck. At Six Flags, everything costs way too much. $7.50 for a turkey thigh seemed like a bargain compared to the $3 bottled water, the $10 32oz sports bottle, and the other overpriced fare. And except for the turkey thigh, which I recommend, the rest of the food was crappy.

We took a bit of a tour of their water park area. Lines, crowds, and everything is $10. Rent an inner tube (required for some attractions) for $10, a locker for $10. At Holiday World / Splashin' Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana, the inner tubes are free.

At Holiday World, the rides are maintained better, the staff is friendlier, and there is free soda all day, every day. It makes for a nicer experience.

Overall, Six Flags has some nice roller coasters, but Holiday World does, too. Given the overall suckiness of Six Flags and their attitude about grabbing every last dime you have, I'll go to Holiday World next time.

(No one paid me to write this, and I'm not affiliated with any theme park or similar competitor)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Transformers

This is the first ever, and perhaps only ever, Modern Sourcery Movie Review. Spoiler-free.

I took my son to see The Transformers, a big-budget motion picture version of the television cartoon version of the Hasbro toy figures that changed from trucks and planes into alien robots.

Need I say more?

How about: this was the funniest movie I've seen since Men In Black. It was an amazing artististic success visually, perfectly cast, well-acted, well-directed (as far as I can tell) and hilarious in its overreach. The robot dialogue managed to combine the chill of Darth Vader with the intellectual depth of Mr. T. Buzz Lightyear meets Small Soldiers. We both laughed hysterically.

And I want to see it again.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Make a Japanese Beetle Trap

Japanese Beetles are a nuisance for anyone East of the Mississippi River trying to grow roses or other fragrant flowers. They can kill a small rose bush in an afternoon, and they seem to be immune to any season-long insectides you'd want around roses. While I suspect that the Japanese Beetle traps, like bug zappers, may draw as many bugs as they kill, I can't resist the temptation to rid the world of as many of these horrid little beasties as I can.

Several companies sell excellent traps for the pests, including Sterling, SpringStar, and others. And they charge $5 or so for refill bags. Of course, this drops down to 50¢ in the fall, on closeout, which you then have to store the bags all winter. But you already have an endless supply of Plastic Grocery Bags (PGBs), so why should you buy more bags?

By curling the handles and the opening of the PGB inward, you can hook the bag onto the Japanese Beetle trap made by one of the nice companies listed above. Make a loop of a 6-inch piece of wire or twist-tie, girtling the bag with it to give about a 2-inch opening. If you run out of attractant, put a drop of honey (or cut flowers if you have a lot of bees around) in the bottom of the bag. The first bugs will find the nice-smelling honey, and after that the others will be attracted by the smell of other bugs. When the bag gets full (or starts to smell bad), knot it closed and let it sit in the sun to kill all of the bugs.

A Q&A from Gardens Alive doesn't speak highly of traps, but it has some great suggestions for dealing with Japanese Beetles, including ways to attract birds (who apparently eat them) and using beetle juice to repel the bugs. I don't know. We have about a dozen active bird houses around our house, and still every year I get to slaughter Japanese Beetles by the thousands.

And that beetle juice sounds fun to make.
[Update 20070810
This year, I didn't put any traps out. The difference is that the finches who live in our bird houses have found the rose bushes, and patrol them regularly. Finches love to eat Japanese Beetles! Yay!

Whether it's the finches, the lack of traps attracting them, or some downswing in the beetle population, our roses have not been hit by the beetles this year.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Stupid Bugs No Match for Ceiling Fan

I just noticed something fun. There's a hole in my window screen, which tomorrow I will fix. But tonight there is a procession of beetles coming in, one every half hour or so, attracted by the ceiling fan light. But they aren't just attracted by the light, but by its reflection in the fan blades.

I suppose the reflection, which flashes about 10 times per second, looks to their pitiful little bug brains to be a really exciting flashy light. It must be near a source for some beetle food, or a sexy beetle. It's sort of a beetle disco ball.

Unfortunately, the reflection also looks like it's on the ceiling, what with depth perception and mirrors and all that. So the bugs ignore the real light bulb, a perfectly usable 60-watt incandescent little number, and go for the reflection ... but they don't get there, as a fan blade knocks them to the floor, where I swat them like bugs, or squash them like bugs under the crushing force of my foam rubber Birken-nots.

Taken a step further, by shielding the real light and only showing the reflection, a nice fan-powered bug killing system could be devised.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

What To Do With Plastic Grocery Bags

Of course we all know about using plastic grocery bags (PGBs) to line small trash cans around the house, so that emptying the bathroom trash becomes child's play -- or child's chore, if you've got a kid needing a chore (which is somewhat redundant). But there are many other uses:
  • Laundry bag - for smelly or damp articles such as gym clothes, as long as you don't leave them there long enough to mildew, which is about six hours, depending on dampness. If you have a watertight bag, consider rinsing your clothes in the shower, and storing them in the bag soapy and wet (for a few hours).
  • Camping in wet or snowy weather, spare socks will stay dry in the bag, and the wet pair can be stored in the same bag (use two bags if you have more than two pairs).
  • Boot liner - if you don't have good boots, put a pair of grocery bags (or bread bags) over your socks. You will be amazed at how much warmer your feet stay. A drawback is that they tend to sweat.
  • Dog raincoat - If you have a stupid little dog that doesn't like cold or wet weather, rip a corner of a bag and stick the dog's head through. Pull its front paws through one handle. It may be necessary to make a hole in the bag for the tail and hind legs, depending on the breed. Pull its back paws and tail through the other hole or handle, tying the handles under the belly. Be sure to leave room at the back for the place of business, should any deposits need to be made.
  • Japanese Beetle trap refill -- see instructions
  • Paint can cover - before opening a can of paint, poke or cut a hole bigger than the size of your brush, but smaller than the opening of your can, in a PGB. Open the can, put the bag over the top, and poke the edges of the hole you cut around inside and under the lip of the can. Used with a brush, you will keep the paint out of the rim. With practice and care, you can even pour the paint without getting any under the bag and into the rim of the can. When finished or taking a break, use up any excess around the rim and put the top back on the can, with the bag still in place. It will seal more easily and also open more easily. Take care not to rip the bag with your can opener, but drying paint will seal small tears.
  • Paint tray liner and brush cover - (at least for latex paint) turn a PGB inside out (to avoid smearing the label) and cover over a paint tray. Wrap the handles around the feet of the tray at the higher end. Pour the paint onto the bag, in the tray, and use with a brush, pad, or roller. It feels a little awkward and messy at first when used with a roller, but it works just fine. The best part: between coats, or if you need to take a break, use up the excess paint and put the wet roller or brush in the painty part. Take the bag off the tray, turning it right side out, and wrap the bag around the handle of your brush or roller. It will keep even overnight if wrapped reasonably. For longer storage, seal with a twist-tie and put it in the freezer, where it will last at least a week, and probably a lot longer. When you're done, discard the bag, or even use the bag for a trash can liner for that "new house" smell.
  • Icing bag - put some icing in a PGB and poke a hole in one corner. Squeeze out a bead of icing. It's not Cordon Bleu, or even Betty Crocker, but you can write "Happy Birthday" on a cake.
  • Mortar/grout bag - use the same technique as for an icing bag ... but be sure to use a different bag.
  • Furniture leg cover - I guess people still shampoo carpets. If you have furniture in the room, cover the legs with PGBs to keep the water and detergents from marring the finish.
  • Doggie Do recovery device - I guess city folk have to pick up after their dogs (out in the sticks we use a sand rake and tray to gather it up to put in the compost). When walking the dog, use a PGB as a glove, picking up Fido's deposit off the sidewalk. Twist the bag to seal in the freshness, and continue. You can several bags for the same walk, or if bags are scarce, our Supertwist technology will allow multiple deposits to be recovered into the same bag.