Monday, January 27, 2014

Remove jar labels with a vinegar wrap

Here's a dinky little thing.  But if little things can make a person happy, then this is my own little happy (dinky) thing.

Sometimes you can remove the label from a jar by soaking the jar in water.  And sometime you can't.  Here's a jar that I use for anise; I think in a previous reincarnation it held olives.  For several years it's worn the ghost of a label.

Same thing for two jam jars my dad had given me.  I'm not sure what glue he used, but those labels he stuck on have survived multiple dishwashings, several boiling-water-canning-baths, and repeated scrubbings.  And you could still read the date he applied those labels:  2004!
So, on a whim, I decided to try vinegar.  I soaked a rag in vinegar, wrapped it around the bottles, and stuck it all in a random plastic bag we have lying around.  Then I just let the whole thing sit for a few hours.

The result?  The labels all came right off, with minimal scrubbing.  Whoop!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Walking on Water

The snowstorm blew into town right on schedule yesterday morning.  Even before the snowflakes started falling, those little email messages started floating into my in-box:
School canceled.
The campus offices are closed; classes held at discretion of the professor.
For the safety of those driving home, the gym will shut its doors early.
Due to inclement weather, the library is closed today.
And on and on.  It was a snow emergency.

Except a snow emergency is no emergency for a pedestrian.  The snow is a hazard to automobiles, but it's a playground for people with decent boots.

So (at this particular professor's discretion), I held class.  I bundled up the boys and we galumphed our way over to the campus, all of two blocks from my home.   My students gamely suited up and joined me.  Here are my students, learning something about geometry by making pictures of the outside snowy world on these large windows.

And after I released my students from the rigors of the college classroom, I changed into my running clothes and did my hill workout.  I really stink at running up hills, and I figure if I'm going to do the triathalon this August, I'd better get better at hills now.

So I jogged through white, downy neighborhoods to the Evil Valley Hill.  I ran up the hill, complained and gasped, and walk-trotted down the other side.  Turned around, ran up/complained/trotted down in the opposite direction.  I did that five times -- a total of about 3 miles, I think.  It was fantastic.  Or awful.  Well, the hill was awful, but the snow was fun.

[Update on my new expensive shoes:  As a few people pointed out, they are "rockers", which feel really funky if you're walking around, because they really do make you rock from heel to toe.  But when I'm running, I stay on my toes, so the rocking isn't an issue.  I've already worn them on two snowy, slippery 10-mile runs, plus today's hill workout, and they feel great when I'm running.  They have fantastic traction, and they keep my feet warm in crazy-cold weather.  If I have any problem with them, it's that they're subtly heavy --- 17 ounces each compared to 8 ounces for my normal running shoes.  On both of my really long runs, I felt slow compared to my running buddies, especially by mile 7.]

The last time we had a big snow storm, my son's drum teacher called me up to say, "Honey, it's not safe to drive.  Let's cancel lessons today."  The drum teacher was right that it wasn't safe to drive, but I got that call while my sons and I were on our hike back from the local market, a mere half-mile from the drum studio, and only two miles from our home.  The trip to the market had been an adventure, an expedition.  We brought home milk and yogurt, eggs and cinnamon, all packed on our backs.  We brought home a giant snowball that J-son named "Fred". We hiked all that way, and then we shoveled the driveway for the sake of the automobile we weren't using.

In fact, it's only because of the cars that can't go places that my meetings got cancelled yesterday, opening up the time to go for a snowy run, to teach the kids to play poker, to write up a few Craigs' List ads, and take care of other personal tasks that I've had on the back burner.

So yesterday's snow day was really mostly a fun day for us.  It gave us time to play, both indoors and outdoors.  There are real joys of living within walking distance of the places we want to go.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Commemorative Clutter

A simple shoebox can hold a surprising amount of stuff.
A row of shoe boxes and photo boxes, one for each child o' mine.
No really.  When I started saving my kids' "must save" memories, I figured I'd need several printer boxes, but one (or maybe two) shoeboxes seems to really be enough.  There's space for that first onesie, the school project, theater tickets, medals, and goodness knows how much more.

J-son's little shoebox holds a boatload of stuff, figuratively.
The memory box is just a shoe box I "wrapped" with fabric,
held in place by elmer's glue.

I keep control of the boxes, mostly so they don't get destroyed or lost.   Every few months, the kids (especially the boys) ask for permission to take these out and look through them again, which was a use I hadn't thought of originally -- I figured I'd save the treasures until the kids were Move-Out-Of-The-House age, and then magically surprise them with long-forgotten trinkets from the past.  But I'm glad that the boxes allow for active, frequent remembrance, too.

Here's another recent project I'm happy with: my husband's bike-racing medals.  These had been scattered across our wall, hung haphazardly on any nail he could find.  Pulling them all together looks a lot better.
 To make this display, I used a bunch of stuff I happened to have lying around the home.  I took the keyboard table from an old computer desk bound for the garbage.  I liked the shape and color of this piece of wood, and particle board is very easy to work with.  I laid all the medals out carefully . . .
 . . . then I used flat thumbtack to attach them along the top.
Below, I show what the back side looks like.  I folded the ribbons flat so that the display would sit nicely against the wall, and I thumbtacked them in place.   I think the medals (on the other side) look a lot better when they're on short rather than long ribbons -- a case of less is more.
 How did I hang this?  In my odds-and-ends drawer, I found a keyring on a canvas strap.   I screwed the strap into the board.   This works really well; the keyring is large so it's easy to "find" the nail when I'm hanging this on the wall.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Managing time, space, and money: five books

After a recent bragging fit of mine where I pretended I be an expert on all the best and most beautiful literature on time management,  a colleague shot me an email, asking in part,  "Also: which time management book would you pair me with?!"

For what it's worth, here was my response.  

I don't know if you were joking about pairing you up with a time management book, but I'll say that I don't think of this as a joking matter.  So I'm taking you seriously.  

Here are my five favorite books on organizing time and space.

First is Hyrum Smith and the "Franklin Planner system".  I heard these audio tapes when I was just starting out at [the college I teach at], and I've since converted them to MP3s:   [I don't know if I'm allowed to share these publicly.  If you leave your email in the comments below, I'll send you the link to these MP3's and then delete your comment so other people don't have access to your address.]

I was WAY skeptical before I started these tapes.  I did not believe that some business guy could tell a single mom, hippie-granola, math professor how to organize her life, but I've been a hard-core devotee ever since.  He encourages people to organize their time by their own values -- the "vital versus urgent" notion I mentioned in our conversation earlier today comes from these tapes.  But he also showed me how to have all of the information I'll ever need at my fingertips, and how to have it magically "pop up" just when I need it.  There is a book, too:  The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management.  

Another classic is Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  This has a cult following, I think partly because he loves cute buzz phrases ("Think Win-Win"; "Sharpen the Saw"; etc), and partly because this is a squishier book.  This won't help you manage paper, time, or your calendar (I think), but I appreciated his approach to working with other people.  In particular, the chapter on "Seek first to understand, then to be understood" was the very best explanation of how to do active listening that I've ever read.  And I re-read it once in a while because I'm so bad at working with, y'know, people.

Julie Morganstern's Organizing from the Inside Out is hands-down the best book I've read on how to organize spaces and belongings so that they stay naturally well organized.  I've used her methods in my kitchen (where I have lots of random people helping put things away), in my teenage daughter's bedroom (the transformation was almost instantaneous and miraculous) and even in my office.  She has very little to say about managing time (and what she does say is vacuous at best).   I have 3 copies of her book on my shelf just so I can hand it out to other people who ask for it.  

David Allen's Getting Things Done is one of the most recent big organizing books out there, and he's generated his own nerd-cult of "GTD" followers.  I twitch at a lot of his book because he spends a bunch of time bashing my hero, Hyrum Smith, and he says that values and priorities don't matter.  (Grrrr).  But he has some good stuff on the difference between reference information and active files.  I reorganized my email folders using tricks he mentions, in particular using symbols in the name to keep those email folders at the top of the stack:  I have an
  •  "@ to print" folder,  
  • "# waiting" folder for those emails that don't require action until someone responds,
  •  "& Meetings Committee" for my active committee work, 
  • etc

whereas "old" email goes in regularly named folders below.  Allen is also good at describing how to set up a tickler file.

Finally, if time is money, then everybody should read the classic Your Money or Your Life.  I've read this book out loud to my husband.  I re-read it every few years.  Countless people say it's changed their lives (they'd actually say "transformed"), and I have to say it makes me think about "spending" my money as a way of spending the time it takes to generate that money.  I wish I could get all my advisees to read it.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

K-daughter signs up for health insurance

On Christmas night, K-daughter tripped on some stairs and hurt herself badly.  It was bad enough that I called an ambulance; the EMT's checked her out and recommended we drive her to the hospital for an X-ray.  As we pulled into the hospital parking lot, she turned to me and said, "You remember I don't have insurance, right?"

Um, no, I hadn't realized that.

K-daughter is not legally my daughter, so I can't stick her on my insurance.  For most of her life, since her mom died when K-daughter was 8 years old, she's been on Medicaid and/or CHIP (I'm not sure which).  This summer, she aged out of that system when she turned 21.

So with the new year rolling around and a bit of hospital bill for her (fortunately sprained, not broken) ankle beginning to fill her in-box (sigh), we sat down in front of HealthCare.Gov to sign her up for a plan, just in case she decides to sprain her ankle again next Christmas.

In spite of all the publicity, signing up for insurance is not that bad.  I timed it; it took us 1 hour and 20 minutes from beginning to end.  And this time included two fairly large digressions.

One digression was explaining the words to K-daughter.  She wasn't sure about the difference between a premium, a copay, and a deductible.  So we walked through some hypothetical examples together:  "if you sprain your ankle and need an x-ray, then you pay that $400 for the x-ray.  But if you have a major bike accident (like my husband did) and the helicopter ride costs $11,000, then you only pay the amount of the deductible, and the insurance pays the rest."  She had a lot of questions about the deductible: for example, do you have to pay the deductible every year, even if you don't go to the hospital?  (no).  That  discussion probably took about 10 minutes.

Another big digression involved figuring out whether she's still eligible for Medicaid, since she was on it for so long, she's a full-time student, and she's making less than $9,000 per year.   This was a lot like filling out her financial aid forms, and the computer did glitch out on us toward the end.  We hit the chat button, and fairly quickly the person at the other end explained that, in terms of federal regulations, she's eligible for Medicaid.  But the governor in my particular state refused to expand Medicaid, and so she's not Medicaid-eligible in Pennsylvania.  Figuring that out took another 30 to 40 minutes.  And so we went back to the "Marketplace".

I was impressed at the organization of the web site, actually.  There were 55 different plans K-daughter could choose from.  But rather than list all of them and all their details in one confusing mash of data, the site groups them by category:  "Catastrophic"; "Bronze"; "Silver"; "Gold"; "Platinum".  And it explained what each category means.  We decided to search only the "Catastrophic" (available only to people 29-years-old and younger).

Within that grouping, the main page shows the big details (the aforementioned premium, deductible, and copay structure).  If you click on a particular plan, you get much more detailed information.  We searched through those and found one that seems to match her needs.

Then it was time to sign up for the plan.  She added a bit more information (non-smoker, no children, etc), and hit the "confirm" button.  And we were done.

Rather than go on rants or raves, which this topic could certainly inspire, I'll just say that K-daughter knew she wanted insurance, but is generally overwhelmed by paperwork of any kind.  Having a single website listing all her options was a huge help to both her and me.

As for the Medicaid issue . . . well, in her case, it's probably not a tragedy that she's been kicked off.  But that's because she lives with me: she gets housing and most of her food taken care of while she finishes her college degree.  If she gets into a financial bind because of health costs, she knows I've got her back.  Clearly I'm willing to help subsidize this one person that the federal government has declared Medicaid-eligible but who can't actually sign up for Medicaid.

And in fact, I wouldn't mind if my taxes went to help out others in her situation, too: those widows and orphans whom I believe we're supposed to care for.  I don't like to think about what what would have happened to K-daughter if I hadn't snagged her for myself.  I don't like to think about what's happening to other 21-year-olds who don't have the option of being on their parents' plans merely because they don't have parents.

But at least in our own corner of the world, we've got one more person who is happy to have the insurance decision behind her instead of hanging over her.

Friday, January 10, 2014

It's time to chill out!

This time of year is a great time to save on cooling costs.   Keeping the house warm; that's a challenge.  But getting things cold won't ever be easier!

In particular, this is the time of year our family is sticking food outdoors to chill it, instead of sticking it in the fridge to chill it.  And we're having great fun making and playing with ice.

Here's J son holding a block of ice he pulled from a pitcher of water we'd stuck outside.  (I keep the house at 67°F during the day, but apparently I could turn the thermostat down many degrees, because my boys run around practically naked.)

The ice we get from outdoor freezing has really cool shapes in them.  This particular block looked like it had a tornado inside.

This is a great time of year to stick every available bucket, pitcher, and water bottle outdoors.  Then we can bring the ice inside and keep it at the bottom of our slowly emptying chest freezer.  We also put jugs of ice (that slowly become jugs of water) at the back of the fridge, keeping the food pushed toward the front.  The ice acts as thermal mass, helping to keep the freezer and fridge cold even in the case of brief power outages.  Come spring and summer when the temperatures outside rise, we can have ice bottles that we froze for free in January.

How much money does freezing ice outdoors save?  Well, of course, that depends on a gazillion factors.  But here are two rough comparisons:

  • freezing a two-quart jug of water outdoors is about the same as turning off five 100 W lightbulbs for one hour.
  • freezing two gallons of water is about the same as hanging a load of laundry instead of running a dryer for 30 minutes.

For the math-curious, here's how I figured the above comparisons.   Cooling 1gram of water from room temperature (25°C) to 0°C takes 25 calories. Then freezing that gram of water at 0° C takes another 80 calories, for a total of 105 calories.

But refrigerators and freezers are usually around 30-40% efficient.  So a freezer would use about 250 calories to freeze that gram of water.  

Now we switch to gallons and watt-hours:  1 watt-hour is 859 calories; 1 gallon of water is 3784 grams. Therefore, freezing a gallon of water with your freezer takes about 946,000 calories or a little more than 1000 watt-hours. That's the same as ten (very inefficient) 100 W lightbulbs, or 15 minutes of running a dryer.
The moral of the mathematics is fairly simple:  when there's a cold snap going on, don't get stressed.  Chill.  Better yet, chill out.  


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Frugal active waiting

My new expensive shoes next to my beloved $1 shoes,
hanging out on the bookshelves.
I'm one of those people who likes to wait before I buy something.  I'm one of those people who likes to use things that I already have.  Don't buy stuff; don't trash stuff.  That's me.

I know the dangers of this approach.  Y' know, I had some sweet elderly relatives who covered their good sofas in plastic to preserve it for the day that the truly fancy event would happen . . . but no event ever was fancy enough to pull that plastic off the couches.  I've known more people than I can count who live amid piles of scraps and odds and ends, closets cluttered with buckets of miscellaneous tools, because they just might be able to use this some day . . . but they never do use those scraps and tools.  This past year, I had to grieve the death of a sweet guy who didn't bother going to the doctor until the coughing and weight loss were so bad that the cancer had grown to an 8-pound mass of evil within his belly.  We all have to wonder whether we'd still have him around if he'd just gone into his doctor's office right away.

So I'm well aware that procrastination can lead to a life where we always act as though now isn't enough, where we live amid the clutter of "maybe someday", or where we can jeopardize our own well-being in the name of patience and self-sufficiency.

And yet, I do believe we should wait for what we think we want.

Waiting doesn't have to be passive.  Waiting doesn't have to be avoidance.  Here are some ways I like to wait actively.

Have a deadline.  
I really want to have a matching set of silverware for my table, instead of the mis-matched, bent, and broken set I currently use.   But there's no way I'm going to buy a nice set while the boys are still living here:  not only are they hard on silverware, but when they get in a sneaky mood they'll take food (jars of peanut butter, cartons of ice cream) up to their bedroom at night, and then throw away all the evidence, including the spoons.  So I'm waiting until the day they move out to get the new stuff.  I'll even help them stock their new apartments with what tableware we have left.  Hah!

On a shorter time-table, I am often willing to nurse along a pair of shoes, or to do without a crock-pot, or to hold off on buying other household items until summer rolls around.  That's when the yard sale season opens, and I know I can often find what I'm looking for for nearly free then.  If I don't find, for example, shoes for the boys at a summer yard sale, then I'll splurge and go to a so-called thrift store where their shoes cost several dollars.

Use the waiting time to experiment.
I got frost bite on my toes when I was a kid, and ever since then, my feet have been really sensitive to cold.  This winter I started having a bunch of trouble with cold feet, mostly because of all the new/increased exercise I'm doing.  Biking 25 miles in 35°F weather makes my feet turn yellow.  I even had trouble after a 6-mile run on a cold day.  So I knew I was going to need to get different shoes, but the heck if that meant I was going to rush right out to the mall and buy some.

Instead, I paid attention to my feet in a variety of shoes.  Do plastic bags over my socks help?  (No).  There was a theory that having cold calves constricts blood flow to my toes -- did bundling up my legs help?  (No).  Extra socks?  (Not that, either).  Did the expensive neoprene bike-shoe covers that my non-miser husband splurged on solve the problem?  (Nopers).  Thick soles helped -- the hot pink running shoes I've done several long races in keep me warm, but they don't have good traction in the wet or snow.  Eventually I realized that my feet always managed to stay warm when I'm wearing a pair of boots with really thick soles, with leather uppers, and fuzzy lining.  Even when I biked around in 20°F weather, my feet stayed toasty in these babies.  This is different from my running shoes (which have a canvas mesh on top) and from my thin biking shoes.  So now I know what I'm looking for.

Practice gratitude for what is already there.
Most of our houses are already overfull, to the point that it's hard to clean or organize them.  So while I wait for that summer crock pot, I marvel at the odd assortment of pots and pans I already have.  I think of X-son down in Haiti, and I'm more humbled than ever at my shelves full with food from around the world.  I get ready to run, and I'm grateful for my health, for the clothes I managed to pick up for cheap at previous yard sales, for friends who run with me and encourage me.   So instead of thinking about my cold feet, I try to cultivate a warm heart.

Use the experiments to identify temporary alternatives.
I found I could do a lot of my bike errands while wearing my fuzzy boots.  While I was looking for a good new pair of running shoes, I could (temporarily) avoid the coldest days, do shorter runs.  While I'm waiting for summer yard sales, I can use the stove instead of a crock pot.  This is NOT a permanent solution; it's a matter of cost-benefit analysis.  If using an admittedly second-rate alternative 5 times allows me to buy the thing I want for $50 less, that's $10 per use.  Often that analysis makes the wait worth it to me.

By the same kind of analysis . . .

If waiting means extra damage or danger, don't wait.
The leaky roof that could lead to internal water damage: call a roofer.  The twitchy brakes: go to the mechanic.  The strange cough: get it checked out.  That termite: bring in a home inspector, and if needed, an exterminator.  Save those waiting muscles for those things where waiting saves, not costs, money or health.

When you can't save money by waiting, buy a bit at a time.
When I started riding my bike a lot last spring, there were a lot of things I knew I would need.  But that didn't mean I needed them all right away.  Instead, I gave myself the "reward" of one new thing per month.  Each of these gave me a bit more bicycle freedom:  first, the bike lock so I could actually do errands.  The lights, so my boys and I could travel together at dusk.  Eventually, the shoes and clips.  These were all fairly expensive (by my standards), but by spreading them out I got to extend the fun of the new purchases.

Know the market.
There is no way I would buy a coffee pot for more than $5; I know I can get one at a yard sale for that much or less.  Women's shoes size 7 and 8 are everywhere for cheap.  But it's harder to find larger shoes, or boys' shoes, and the kind of bike equipment I've been looking for is almost non-existent on the second-hand market.

So when I found a pair of size-9.5, thick-soled, fake-leather-upper running shoes at a so-called thrift store for $11 last week, I knew that was a decent price.  Even more importantly, these shoes were just what my experiments told me I was looking for, and my past yard-sale experience told me I was unlikely to find a pair like them again, even during the summer.

Stop waiting.
The point of active waiting isn't to wait for the perfect moment; the point is to help me make the best decisions I can with my limited amounts of time, money, and knowledge.   Spendthrifts blindly throw money at a problem; cheapskates blindly throw time at it.  But wise waiting involves opening up our eyes, and that will eventually mean opening up the wallet.

So yes, even though those $11 shoes cost five-to-ten times as much as I normally spend, I bought them anyway.  My buddies and I ran 10 miles the next day on slushy, icy roads in 15°F weather, our coldest, longest run of the year so far.  And my feet were still fine at the end.  Huzzah!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Trash, Training, and Triplets of Primes

In 2012, my family put 22 trash cans at the curb, getting us to an average of fewer than one-trash-can-per-fortnight.  [Our cans are the 33-gallon variety, so they're relatively small compared to most garbage cans.]  I had hoped that this year, we could reduce that to one-trash-can-per-three-weeks.  Did we?  

YES!  The trash total for this year was 17 cans!  
Cool Math Fact: 17 is the smallest number
that's a sum of 3 primes four different ways:
17 = 2+2+13.
17 = 3+7+7.
17 = 3+3+11.
17 = 5+5+7.
I'm not sure I can bring this number down any further without breaking my "don't drive them crazy" rule.  A bunch of the trash is from the four other people who live in this home -- fast food containers, packaging from toys etc, --  and I haven't figured out a way to compensate for this by trash-less acquisitions of my own.  As for areas where I do have some influence, the family has been bemused and mostly willing participants in the no-paper-towels, food-in-canning-jar aspects of this life.  (My step-daughter tells me that whenever she's in a group where the conversation flags, she starts telling people about me.  It's useful for her that I'm so odd).   So for 2014, I'm hoping to maintain this number. 


And triathalon training?  How's that going? 

It was a year and a half ago that I came to my husband and said, "I'm terrified of riding a bike, but I want to do an Iron Man-length triathalon," and he replied, "I can't swim, but I'll join you!"   We each started preparing in our own ways.  I bought a bike and found some friends to ride with.  He hired a coach to teach him to swim and got a gym membership.  

The training number of the year is 80:  80 is the number of miles I rode on my longest ride of the year, and 80 is the number of miles my husband swam in 2013.
Cool Math Fact: 80 is the smallest number  
that's a sum of 3 distinct primes seven different ways:
80 = 2+5+73
80= 2+7+71
80= 2+11+67
80= 2+17+61
80= 2+19+59
80= 2+31+47
80= 2+37+41
Now, we've both still got a ways to go.  In the triathalon, I'll actually have to bike 112 miles (and that's after the swim and before the marathon).  And my husband's longest daily swim so far was a bit under 2 miles in the local pool:  he'll need to get up to 2.4 miles in open water.  But considering that we both started at 0, I'm pretty confident we'll be able to rock this out*.

* Late breaking update:  today my husband swam the full 2.4 miles.  Go, guy, go!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Light in jars

I have become perhaps just a bit too obsessed with canning jars lately. They've become to me what legos and wooden train tracks are to my boys -- a giant collection of toys to arrange and rearrange creatively (and perhaps even a bit neurotically).

Here is one of my latest crazy projects: solar canning jars.

It's possible (I discovered a few months ago) to buy solar light lids for mason jars.  I love solar powered anything, and I love mason jars, but I'm not one for buying stuff, so I just filed this information away for future consideration.  Well, actually, I didn't just file it away: I told everyone I knew that I was just a little lustful for these babies.  And as it happened, the tell-everyone-you-know strategy paid off yet again.  Whoop!

My daughter, in cleaning out her dad's home, came across a stash of never-opened solar garden lights --not the kind for canning jars, but at least this got me halfway to the goal.  She handed them over to me, and I brought them home.  

And of course the internet is a rich source of DIY information for crazy projects.  Want to convert a garden solar light to a mason jar light?  Do a quick web search and come up with 37,700 results!  For example, this cool site shows how to deconstruct a damaged garden light and reconstruct it in your canning jar lid.  (As someone whose garden lights were all wrecked by soccer balls and frisbees several years ago, I wish I'd thought of this sooner).

I chose a simpler route: glue.   I glued a wide-mouth ring onto the underside of the light.

Screw the lid onto the mason jars and put 'em in the sun:

 And at night, I have lights I can carry around the house.  These are just fabulously fun!

Over the week that I've had these, I've figured out a few more things.  (1) The rechargeable batteries in this set are so old that they seem to have died; newer batteries definitely work way better.  Also, (2) the windows in my home are so danged energy efficient that the lights charge better if I charge them outside during the day instead of on my window sill.  (3) These still work at night if you turn them upside down, but then they look like candles.  Cool!