What Did I Get Myself Into?

Entertaining policy for riding the Conway Scenic Railroad

I’m a geeky technical writer, which means that I read the fine print. It was entertaining for me to learn that when I purchased a ticket to ride the Conway Scenic Railroad in New Hampshire, I agreed to the following policy:

“Bearer may be called upon to chase cows from track, stamp out grass fires, shovel coal, evict hobos, carry water, punch tickets, or otherwise make oneself useful in promoting the welfare of the company.”

Scenic Conway Railroad engine

In Which the Boy Scout Handbook Comes in Handy

Homemade hat rackThe Problem

I have quite the collection of hats and caps, which until now I’ve kept in a drawer. But since it was my desire to hang them somewhere I could see them, I bought some great laundry hook clips on Amazon and attempted to McGyver a place to hang them using items I already had at home. But—alas—I soon discovered that I didn’t have an extra clothes hanging rod on hand.

The Solution

While I looked at the existing clothes rod in my closet, the thought came to me: You could lash a perpendicular spar to the top of the clothes rod!

And in my memory arose an image of photocopied pages of knot-tying instructions from the Boy Scout Handbook that I had studied in my youth for my 4-H horsemanship projects, several of which dealt with various types of lashing.

So, thanks to this great online tutorial on making a square lashing, and using what I believe to be a former toilet plunger handle, I created a homemade hat and cap hanging rack in my closet.

I think I just leveled up in McGyver-style home project skills.

Square lashing of wooden dowel to clothes rod

Square lashing of wooden dowel to clothes rod

Square lashing of wooden dowel to clothes rod


Homemade hat rack

The Stuff in the Vehicle

Repurposed cosmetic bags purchased from thrift storesThe Problem

There is never enough storage space in one’s vehicle for all the items one finds it necessary to cart around.

The Solution

I buy zippered cosmetics/toiletries bags and containers from my local thrift stores, clean them up, and use them to store items in my vehicle. They work perfectly for holding all sorts of oddly-shaped things and for keeping dissimilar things neatly separated. They can also be stuffed into those sometimes awkwardly-shaped storage compartments in vehicle doors, floors, consoles, and dashboards.

  • Tools
  • Chains
  • Hitches
  • Bike rack pins
  • Tie-downs
  • Bungee cords
  • Audio cables
  • Car chargers
  • Parking garage tokens
  • Coupons—Yes, I keep coupons in my vehicle because a coupon left at home does no one any good
  • Maps
  • Tissues
  • Reusable produce bags

Repurposed cosmetic bags purchased from thrift stores

Literary Myth-busting: Green-eyed People See Better in the Dark

Recently, I was reading an older novel from the 1960s in which the heroine stated matter-of-factly that green-eyed people can see better in the dark. This is the only time I can recall coming across this claim in a novel.

There’s no scientific evidence that this is actually true.
A brief Internet search revealed to me that there are conflicting opinions as to whether people with light-colored eyes or people with dark-colored eyes have better night vision.

This article from The New York Times busts this myth: There is little evidence that your eye color affects the quality of your vision.

“The Claim: Eye Color Can Have an Effect on Vision”