Some Things I Didn’t Know

Baking sodaI didn’t know that if you mix baking soda with white vinegar you can save the $6.98 for a bottle of “Draino.”  It seems, if you pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain and follow it with about a ½ cup of vinegar, this will clear a moderate clog in your drain.  The two ingredients interact and cause a lot of foaming and fumes, so you might want to get away from there for a while, or put the stopper back in the sink loosely.  You have to let it set for about three hours.  I don’t think you have to let “Draino” set that long though.

What makes this chemical reaction?  Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and vinegar is a diluted solution of acetic acid.  The two mixed together generates carbon dioxide gas.  That would be the fumes and the foam.  You can use it to create a volcano for a school project by adding a little soap.  Since I never built a school project volcano, I didn’t know that.  It looks pretty ferocious while it attacks your clog, but you’ll probably end up using the drain cleaner.  Let’s see, baking soda…$5.47 for a 5 pound bag at Walmart, and the vinegar, $2.82 so that’s $8.29.  Hey this could get more expensive than “Draino.”   But, hey, it’s green, right?

When I was 17 and working at the “Drive-In 4U,” I didn’t know that Clorox and ammonia shouldn’t be mixed together.

Drive In 4UThe Drive-In 4U, in Sheridan, Wyoming, had the “Burger Family”.  Not the A&W Drive-In farther down Main Street where the Burger Family should have resided, but at the Drive-In 4U.  Somehow, the owner of the drive-in we worked at had wrestled the Burger Family from the local A&W and it was on our marquee.   I don’t know how he did it, but it was a small source of pride, that we were the drive-in that was “The Home of the Burger Family.”  

We had the “Papa Burger,” the “Mama Burger,” the “Teen Burger,” and the “Baby Burger”.  The Papa  Burger had two 1/8 pound all-beef patties,  two slices of American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion pickles, and A&W’s special sauce (yep, pretty much Thousand Island dressing) on a sesame seed bun.  A & W introduced the burger family in 1963.  Does that recipe sound familiar?  “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.”  And I always thought McDonald’s had invented the “Big Mac.”  The Mama Burger was the same as the Papa except only one all-beef patty and one slice of cheese, all on a plain bun.  The Teen Burger added bacon to a 1/4 pound patty, and the Baby Burger was one 1/8 pound burger with ketchup, mustard and pickles on a plain bun.

In the 1970s the Burger Family faded from A&W in favor of more traditional types of burgers, and could be why the Drive-In 4U was able to snag the burger franchise.  We used A&W Root Beer syrup too, but we didn’t call it A&W Root Beer.  We did serve it in a frosty mug though, just like they did.  If you miss the Burger Family, you can find them in Canada now with a few new family members:  “Grandpa Burger,” “Uncle Burger,” and the “Buddy Burger.”

So, Alan and I decided to really clean the floor at the end of our shift one night.  One of our duties in closing was to mop the floor.  We did it with a power washer nozzle at the end of a hose after swabbing the floor down with soapy water using a mop.  One guy would mop and the other would power wash the floor. This particular night, we got the mop bucket, added some water, and then poured in about a half a bottle of ammonia cleaner followed by a couple of generous dollops from a gallon jug of Clorox.  We should have paid more attention in chemistry class.  What we got was a kitchen full of a toxic gas.  And it happened pretty fast. 

A few years later, in “Chemistry 101,” at New Mexico Highlands University, I learned that we had created toxic chloramine fumes through the decomposition of bleach forming hydrochloric acid which reacted with the ammonia.

We never told anyone we did it either.  We just rolled the bucket outside and waited for about an hour for the drive-in restaurant kitchen to air out.  We got overtime pay for it too.  And here’s one of the first aid warnings for mixing bleach and ammonia.  “If you find someone who you think has mixed bleach and ammonia, chances are he or she will be unconscious….”  Anyway, needless to say, I never tried it again.  I can’t for sure whether Alan has or not.

There was a pretty funny episode on “The Carole Burnett Show” about mixing ammonia and bleach.  The episode is called “Mama’s Accident” and you can catch it on YouTube.  I warn you though, if you go searching YouTube for episodes of “The Carol Burnett Show,” you’ll be there for a while.  Funny stuff, that never gets old for me.  If you’ve never seen the dentist skit with Harvey Korman and Tim Conway, you need to search that. 

I didn’t know that Bruno Mars’ real name is Peter Gene Hernandez.  Now, that probably doesn’t really matter because I didn’t know who Bruno Mars was until he got the half-time show at Super Bowl XLVIII.  Seems his nickname was Bruno and he just picked Mars because he was “out of this world.”  That’s what he said in an interview I saw prior to the Super Bowl.  Who knows, maybe he is?  But the term “twerking” kept coming up.  (This, by the way, is a word that Spellcheck does not like.)  The final word on the half-time show was that it was great and he didn’t even have to twerk.  And neither did Flea, who apparently is the bassist for “The Red Hot Chili Peppers” which I also didn’t know.  He is Michael  Balzary.  I didn’t know that either.  And he has been around a while, like he is 51.

twerking-oSo I didn’t know what twerking was.  So I found out.  Now that I know what it is, not only do I know I could not even attempt it without throwing something seriously “out,” I’m quite unclear how a 50 plus year-old does it for any length of time playing a bass, without seriously hurting himself either.  Although I don’t see the need for ever trying it, I know I would be unable to stand erect again for quite some time.   Apparently Flea does, although I have no desire to see it.  Oh, and another thing…it turns out that the bass he was playing at the Super Bowl wasn’t even plugged in.  Not to be confused with Milli Vanilli, the early 90s band that lip-synced their concerts, and didn’t actually sing on their albums, Mars quickly explained that the instruments were recorded but the voices were live.  Yeah.  WTF.      



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4 responses to “Some Things I Didn’t Know

  1. Wow, there’s a lot you didn’t know! Every day is a school day right? I knew that baking soda and vinegar together create a reaction like that, but I’d never thought of using that reaction to clean drains, I might try that next time I have a blockage. I did know that vinegar is very good at removing limescale. It does make me wonder what it does to our insides.

    • Wow, there’s a lot more I don’t know, believe me. :o) I learn something everyday. As far as what the vinegar does to our insides, I don’t think I want to know. Anymore than I want to find out what happens if I tried to twerk. Ha.

  2. Danny Amira

    I have seen you twerk…Hey followers you might want to know that one time our author here tried filling his jet ski with gas while in the water and he was about waist deep in the water and had spilled gas into the water, speaking of a chemical reaction the gas that had spilled into the water was causing a burning sensation in the crotch area of our author.
    So Len starts running out of the water screaming IT BURNS, IT BURNS, so his wonderful wife grabs a jug of water which by the way was sitting on the back of the truck in 100 degree plus weather and pours it into his bathing suit and then that’s when he starts TWERKING and screaming IT BURNS, IT BURNS.
    I’m laughing so hard writing this I’m so glad I was there to see it !!!!

    • OMG, I was laughing so hard reading this. I never made the connection, but I can see how it might have looked a lot like twerking. I was also, just recently, reminded about getting the dually out of 4X4 low. I’m glad I’ve been so entertaining. Sure miss the lake trips though.

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