There are several techniques for drying a hydration pack’s bladder, though none of them are very quick — typically hours or days. If you want to store your hydration system or don’t want to risk mildew / bacterial growth, you’ll need to speed up the drying process.

I considered using a hairdryer for this, but anything more than mild heat is best avoided, and drying the drinking tube would be tricky. So I had a better idea.

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Lullaby Lyrics iOS app

I’ve bodged together a simple little app for iOS, and Apple has just released it to the App Store.

It’s called Lullaby Lyrics, and it’s freeHere’s a direct link to it.

I figured I’d create the app when I realized that I could remember few words to any lullabies, and there wasn’t a nice and quick way to access lyrics on my iPhone while attempting to calm my baby daughter.  Made-up lyrics are fun and all, but it’s nice to have some real verses at the ready.

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Clip-on fan

I recently bought a clip-on fan for our nursery, and I noticed a slight buzz when I turned it on.  Perfectly normal for a typical fan, but I thought I’d take a few minutes and see if I could make the noise go away.

Turns out that it was possible to eliminate the buzz pretty quickly, and all it took was a few drops of glue in the right spot.  A similar fix would probably work for most of the fans out there that have a slight rattle / vibration / buzz.  Read on for the details of my quick bodge.

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Master cylinder cap with air connector

I knew I bought that air compressor for more than just inflating exercise balls and blowing dust off of stuff in the basement.

I’d always been a little wary of bleeding brakes as it sounded like a tricky process (“have one person pump the brake pedal while the other person controls the bleeder valves, release the pedal slowly, make sure there are no bubbles…”). Moreover, the more thorough job of a brake flush (replace all the brake fluid in your car) sounds intimidating and something best left to the dealer or independent shop, which would like to charge a lot for the task given the “special equipment” required.

It turns out, though, that with an air compressor, some tubing, and a modified brake fluid reservoir cap, it’s actually surprisingly easy to flush the brake system on most cars, not to mention bleed an individual corner.

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Hatch with no anchor / tiedown points

On some cars, there’s no good way to secure the hatch or trunk lid when transporting large items that stick out the back.  On my Saab 9-2x / Subaru Impreza hatchback, for example, there’s no place anywhere on the hatch on which to attach a bungie cord, rope, or strap.  A few times, I’ve resorted to running a rope around the exterior of the hatch and risked damaging the paint.  It turns out that there’s no need to do that, though, as there’s a great solution.

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Self-fusing silicone tape

I was looking for something or other a few months ago on Amazon and came across this stuff called “self-fusing silicone tape,” which had a lot of positive reviews.  I bought a roll out of curiosity, and it’s turned out to be really useful — definitely something to have in the toolbox and possibly glove compartment and backcountry pack.

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Snow saw in hand saw mode

If you venture out into the backcountry in an area with avalanche risk, snow stability tests can help you gauge the risk level of a given slope.  Some of the tests require a snow saw, which can be surprisingly expensive.  Even more expensive is Black Diamond’s pole-mountable snow saw, which is the ideal type of saw for skiers as it gives you the ability to reach a long way and avoid disturbing the snowpack you’re about to test.

Rather than drop $100-$150 on FlickLock poles and the matching saw, I decided to build my own saw to custom fit my existing Leki Makalu ski poles.  With about $6 in parts from Home Depot and some careful Dremeling, I ended up with a nice, versatile saw.

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Medela parts and custom wrench

After being called in to twist off the the sharp-edged yellow valves from a Medela breastpump’s breastshield connector a few times, I realized a 5-minute bodge was in order.  I cut a length of 1/2″ scrap wood into three sections, screwed the sections together, sanded, and applied self-fusing silicone tape to achieve a good fit.  Removal of stuck valves is now a piece of cake, and day-to-day baby care is a tiny bit easier.

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Old, worn out ignitor

Our mid-1990s oven recently started giving off a gas odor when we’d turn it on. After some research, I found out that the most common cause for this is a worn out ignitor. This part, also known as a “glow bar” or “glow coil,” is a component a few inches long that heats up when electricity passes through it. Over time, the ignitor will wear out and no longer quickly reach the temperature required to ignite the gas.

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Tub caddy

This bodge was inspired by a tub tray found on Etsy, and it made a nice, simple gift.  I used a knotty laminated pine panel ($4 at Home Depot) rather than reclaimed oak of the $130 Etsy original.  Aside from the cost, another benefit of DIY here is that you can build the tray to precisely fit your tub.

Construction is very straightforward — just be sure to mount the two guide strips close enough together to fit the narrowest part of the tub.  For my build, I used the pine panel for the tray surface, scraps of that panel for the two guides, and four wood screws to mount the guides.  A router made beveling the edges easy, and I followed up with sanding and then a protective coat of paste wax.

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Thieves have brazenly stolen packages off of our porch here in Seattle a few times, and our DIY security system caught them in the act.  Read on for what happened and details of our setup.

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