Helping You Help Yourself #17

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What’s a credit score? Do you have one? What makes it good or bad? What happened to that one guy who played those dumb songs about not having good credit in those commercials? Some, but not all, of those questions can be answered here.

This morning at 11 am I did not have any cooked chickpeas or even soaked chickpeas and now, at 2 pm, I do have cooked chickpeas. Related, here’s a bunch of ways to cook a pot of beans.

In one of the earliest installments of this column, we talked about how to clean your coffeemaker. Revisiting the theme of “things you didn’t even know you could clean,” here’s how to clean your dishwasher! It will make your dishes cleaner and help you avoid that weird cloudiness on supposedly clean glasses.

This is an infographic on how to pick locks. Why did Business Insider grace us with an infographic about this? Your guess is as good as mine.

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Stef has helpfully passed along this guide to keeping a water bear (or tardigrade) as a pet.

Sometimes, we all feel like shit, and can’t really figure out why or how to fix it. Here’s an interactive website that guides you through troubleshooting why you feel like shit and trying some things to make it better.

You have leftover scraps of food in your kitchen! Here’s what to do with them!

Maybe you also have items that have rusted! Here’s what to do with them!

I usually travel a lot for the holidays, and rationally or not, it usually makes me nervous about my laptop (I never leave my apartment, so really anything that involves being outside my home for extended stretches of time seems threatening). What if someone accidentally punts my carryon and it breaks or something? This Thanksgiving, my panic about this motivated me to renew my subscription to a cloud service that automatically backs up my whole computer, so that if the moron next to me on the plane spills their $12 glass of airplane wine on my keyboard I won’t lose the 1500 pictures of my cats I have on here. Anyways, here’s your official reminder that you should be backing up your computer, too! We’ve published this guide to cloud backups specifically, and there are at least two other parts of the series that you should be able to find linked there too.

Are you in the US and shipping things that you would like to have arrive somewhere by December 25th? The USPS has handy guide on when things should be in the mail by.

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Here’s a wikihow article on how to pretend to be a mermaid. I don’t know, seemed like you might be into it.

Did you know that (according to my high school best friend’s mom, who took some kind of class on tea) the caffeination of your tea occurs in the first 30 seconds of steeping? Logically, then, if you want semi-decaf tea, you could steep your tea for 30 seconds, dump the water, and then pour a second cup and have a decaf cuppa. Fact or fiction? Debunk me in the comments!

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. my freshman year roommate believed this about this first 30 seconds of tea steeping, tho she had no good answer for why she did not buy decaf tea to begin with, and she persisted in throwing the first tea out the window and leaving the window open 100% of the time in the wintertime, because FRESHMAN YEAR ROOMMATES.

    • i wasn’t that upset about these revelations until you got to the window part and then i gasped out loud. unforgivable!

  2. Cloud backups are great if you have consistent access to the internet, but please remember that “the cloud” is just “someone else’s computer.” Make regular backups to an external drive if you have stuff worth keeping.
    *Shoves nerd glasses back into place*
    Full disclosure: I do a backup from my cloud storage to hard storage ~2x/year, which some colleagues find scandalously lax. Depends on your needs.

  3. Caffeine hack: TRUE FACT. My body responds bizarrely to caffeine, and I can have all the delicious teas if I throw out the first 30s of water!

  4. pro-tip for holigay packages sent to canada, from experience: factor in an extra 1 to 2 weeks for what happens when the usps hands your box to the cps who then direct said box to narito, tokyo, only not really, it’s just lost in a warehouse, all our representatives are currently on the line, we will be with you as soon as possible.

  5. a $10 lock pick set is a hell of a lot easier than a paperclip. you can buy practice padlocks which are clear so you can see the pins while you pick and get a better feel for what you’re doing. and if you really want to go down the rabbit hole, google ‘bump keys’.

  6. I have no interest in tea, but somehow I find myself fascinated by whether that is fact or fiction

  7. I once picked my own lock with a paperclip and the metal part off of a pen in my purse. It was very butch, very satisfying, then very unsettling to realize how easily my lock can be picked. Got a deadbolt after that!

    I’ve heard the tea thing is true from the baby-making people forums because you’re supposed to have 200mg of less of caffeine/day when trying to conceive and/or preggers. They swear it is true! I dunno. I might try it because I miss my blackest black tea.

  8. I feel as though my questionable lock picking skills are becoming more and more common. Any ideas for a new questionable skill for me to master? Gotta stay ahead of the game on borderline criminal skills…

    • rie be honest are you watching me? are you behind me right now? i researched cat communication for like 20 minutes this week because i was planning to put it in this HYHY and then i ultimately decided not to. but lo, here you are!

  9. This answers most of the questions I have had so far this week, tbh. Ho to clean a dishwasher is very timely but like, what about the parts of vacuums that aren’t the canister? Because the wheels on mine are suddenly squeaky it takes away from the satisfaction I normally get from vacuuming.

  10. Now, what they need an infograph for is how to pick a filing cabinet lock because the blasted thing locked itself and no one has a key for it.

  11. “Take a nap. You can finish this self-care guide when you wake up.” – the yfls self care guide

    This makes me want to smash things. Also, it’s all that’s wrong with “self care”, in a nutshell.

    Sorry, thanks & still loving this series.

  12. True story y’all: After watching that disney movie the Thirteenth Year I started swimming like a mermaid and never looked back.

    Also have you ever heard of or seen the Weeki Wachee mermaids?

    • I’m interested and all fins! :3 (See what I did there? Did you see it? DID YOU? :D)

      *Trying to be silly because I’ve been stressing out over what’s been going on in L.A lately with the damn shootings x.x*

  13. I was just on Amazon last night and wondered how I can somehow get them by Christmas.

    Also! I really loved that mermaid article! :3

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