99 Cents Only Store, Momentum Brands, 8 Device Universal Remote Control

I found one of these, model number 60-689199, at home, but had lost the manual. Some web searches didn’t turn up a copy of the manual, so, I decided to try and rectify that problem. Another unit was found at the 99 Cents Only Store, and I bought it (for $1.99).

Univeral remote control in plastic package.
Momentum Brands Universal Remote Control

I suspect there are thousands of these remotes out there. This page will help keep them functional.  I made some errors and am missing a page in the device list, and I’ll fix that asap, so please follow this blog to be alerted to changes.

Cleaning Sticky Residue and Rubbery Paint Off Plastic

Danger – this is a potentially dangerous cleaning hack, but it works. If  you have a sticky, greasy material that’s like the flypaper schmutz on your plastic products, and it doesn’t seem to come off with soap and water, try this crazy technique.  Be careful, because it can burn your hands.

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Dirty Pour Paintings, Andy Warhol Piss Paintings

The hottest “painting” trend today is the “dirty pour”, which produces these wavy-blobby, psychedelic, abstract pictures.  It’s difficult to look at them and not think of Andy Warhol’s Oxidation Paintings, which are also called his “piss paintings.”

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How to Sharpen Knives

There are a number of ways to learn, but I think videos on youtube are the best.

This tutorial won’t get into using one of those diamond edge tools where you slide the knife forward and back across the diamond surface, which is mounted in a slot.  Those things are pretty good, if you don’t want to learn the freehand method. I don’t own one, but I did like using one.


I would start out with a cheap $5 stone from the dollar store, and a sturdy, but low-end, stainless-steel knife with a flat, not serrated, edge.  These are the hardest to sharpen, but also the most plentiful, and cheapest.

If you have a good, high carbon steel knife, you’re lucky.  You can invest in a better stone of 1000 grit or finer, and keep that knife sharp. These stones are $35 and up. I like 1000 grit because it’s a medium coarseness, and takes off very little metal. I don’t have a finer stone, and I’ll explain why later.

I’d recommend getting the cheap stone.  We all have some annoying stainless knives, and you really need to be able to scrape the hard steel to develop an edge.

This dude here uses a cheap stone:

The 19 Degree Angle

You usually hold the knife against the stone at a 19 degree angle.  That’s around 1/3 of a 45-degree angle, or slightly less than 1/2 of a 45-degree angle.

If you have a well defined bevel, you can copy that angle. You’ll feel it.

Pushing or Pulling

There are two motions: pushing to grind down the metal severely, and pulling to more gently grind the metal and form an edge.

If you have an extremely dull knife, you will need to use the pushing motion, where the edge of the knife pushes into the stone.

For a very dull knife, you will need to spend a lot of time grinding. Follow the video, and note that he does five strokes on one side, and five on the other side.  You need to use and equal number of strokes to make sure you remove an equal amount of metal from each side.

Repeat that 10 or 20 times, and see the effect on the knife.  A dull knife will start to cut, roughly.

Once the knife is cutting roughly through paper, you can change your motion to a “pulling” motion, where you drag the edge over the stone. You might also start using the medium grit side as well.

Pulling is just more gentle than pushing. It removes less metal.

What’s Happening to the Blade

The edge of a knife isn’t smooth: there are tiny microscopic “teeth” on the edge, somewhat like a saw.  The coarse grit side of the stone leaves large teeth.  The medium grit side knocks down the high spots and turns them into many more, smaller teeth.

These smaller teeth feel “smoother”, and are also “stronger” because they’re shorter and less prone to bend and flop over under pressure.

This video shows some chipped and rolled edges under a microscope:

Here’s a video where they play with the “burr”.

When you sharpen the knife, it redefines the edge so it’s like a tiny saw. Sharpening also produces a “burr”, which is the metal that’s coming off the knife. You need to remove that burr by grinding the edge a little more, and then “stropping” the knife.

Stropping is usually done on leather strips embedded with a polishing compound, but you can fake it. Just use a piece of corrugated cardboard, which has clays embedded in the paper.

Pull the knife across the corrugated cardboard, like you did across the medium grit stone. You can also cut into the edge of the cardboard to remove the burr and polish the edge.

This guy is stropping on cardboard:

These videos show guys using diamond hones. I haven’t used diamond, except in those easy-to-use sharpeners, but I don’t really like diamond. It’s an extremely hard material, and will grind away a lot of the metal.

I prefer the regular aluminum oxide stones. That material is also hard, but not as hard.

Finding a Better Knife

The easiest knives to sharpen are made of “high carbon steel” or “carbon steel”.  They may be stainless and called “inox”, or they may stain.

Stainless steel is tougher, and also bends. Carbon steel is harder, and chips.

In a knife, you want that chipping quality, because it helps you create a better edge.

Carbon steel knives at a kitchen shop tend to be expensive, but you can find them for as little as $15 each online. They aren’t as fancy, and the metal isn’t as good, but it can be sharpened, and can perform well. It’s far better to have a knife that’s easy to sharpen than one which holds an edge for a long time.

Another way to find a good knife is to look online and buy a used knife.  Most people with nice knives just don’t use them too much. They may not bother to sharpen them.

I would just look for some common, popular brands, like Sabatier four star elephant (there are multiple, different Sabatier companies), Henckels, Wusthoff, Global, Mac, Victorinox, Dexter Russell, EKCO, Forschner,

You can also find them at a thrift shop, but that’s going to be difficult, because there are fifty crap knives there for every one good knife.

Pulping as a Recycling Alternative to Shredding: Burning the Pulp

I pulped paper, and then made these balls of pulp.

I was hoping that this would be more secure than shredding, but I’m not sure it is. There are still some large bits of text visible in the balls.

Early in the process, I figured that if I couldn’t get the balls safe enough, I could burn them.  So, I dried them off a few weeks, and then used several to start a charcoal fire.

It worked pretty well.  The main problem with pulp balls is that they take a while to light up. Once it’s going, though, it burns pretty hot, and the first ball can be used to ignite more. These, in turn, can be used to ignite charcoal, which burns slower.

Comparing Pulp Balls to other Methods of Starting a Charcoal Fire

My normal recipe is some sheets of paper, some twigs of wood, preferably greasy, and charcoal.  I light the paper to start the wood, which is eager to burn. Then the wood lights up the charcoal.

I found it easy to start a charcoal fire with pulp balls.  You just pinch out a wick, light it, get a couple balls going with a little fan, and leave it.  It’s almost as easy as Match Light charcoal, which is infused with oils and waxes to burn easily.

The only “trick” is to pile up the paper balls, and then pile the charcoal on top. Expose one part of the paper mound to the air, so it’ll burn.  This is all pretty basic.