Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is updated on Fridays, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.
Question: One of the garbage cans at my apartment building—a big one that you put the trash out in, not one of those small inside garbage cans—is cracked and falling apart. I would like to replace it with a brand new garbage can but I’m not sure how to throw out the old garbage can once i have the new one. How do you throw out a garbage can? Just thinking about it plunges me into the depths of some sort of existential crisis. Help!—Anonymous
Answer: Though placing an obviously busted-up, grimy garbage can at the curb should be enough for your trash guys to collect it, more of a hint’s probably necessary to get them to actually haul it away. After all, garbage collectors are strange individuals, and they may come to their own conclusions:
Garbage-person A: “Ugly trashcan.”
Garbage-person B: “I wonder what times this old can has seen.”
Garbage-person C: “Expertly placed grime, quality denting… There’s gotta be a story in this… Call my agent!”
Try posting a sign can to avoid such miscommunication. Possible messages include:
For garbage-person A: “THIS CAN IS TRASH. TAKE IT AWAY!”
For garbage-person B: “MY OWNERS HATE ME. THESE DENTS ARE ALL FROM BEING KICKED BY THEM. (HELP!)”
For garbage-person C: “FINISHED MANUSCRIPTS.”
Will they take it? Except in the case of option C, no. Which takes us to Plan B.
First, throw your old trashcan in the back of your car and drive to Target. Once there, unload it and take it inside with you—tell them you need it to “find the right size” for your new can—and head to the garbage-can aisle. Look for a new can about the same size as your old one and pull it off the shelf. Slide your old can into the new one’s space and proceed to checkout.
Not only is this effective and simple, but it’s also why Target has never opened a store in Manhattan.
Question: A small kitchen, a love for bacon (by one partner—not shared by the other). How do I get rid of the smell? (Getting rid of partner not an option.) Thanks, Tom Ingram
Answer: We’ll assume you cook bacon by frying it in a pan, not some weird (read: European) way of preparing it, such as stewed in vinegar and radishes. Try some concessions in your bacon-making: dump the frying pan and use your microwave instead, with the bacon flattened between paper towels for a less-greasy, healthful alternative. With easy clean-up, and the smell safely trapped in the microwave, you score the added bonus of tasting bacon-y deliciousness in every bag of popcorn and plate of leftovers you heat up from here to eternity.
But, if you insist on needing that greasy crispness that comes only from pan-fried bacon, try investigating a simple outpatient procedure. You know how dog owners in the city sometimes have their over-barking pets’ vocal cords snipped? Same concept, but instead of a trip to the vet’s, you’ll be cruising the ear, nose, and throat clinics for a medical student who’s overworked and unethical, yet skilled with the blade. Removing your partner may not be an option, but maybe removing their olfactory glands will do the trick.
Too drastic? I suppose you could always try the toaster-oven option…if you dare.
Toaster ovens are these small oven-like devices that toast and burn things and then burst into flames somewhere in between. Kind of like a flammable, arcane microwave. They were apparently popular in the ‘60s, for whatever reason, though we’re guessing it was the false feeling of safety provided by the asbestos-stuffed kitchen walls.
We’ve heard they’re still in use for some reason, and were able to find a friend who would let us try it out to see if we could perfect a bacon recipe for you.
But first we had to get a few answers out of our friend.
“Why, exactly, do you own a toaster oven?”
“To toast things.”
“Um, why not just use a toaster? They don’t burn things all the time and catch on fire.”
“Easy. Sometimes I want to toast larger things than just bread.”
“Like, say, one of those frozen French bread pizzas.”
“Why would you want to eat those? On the way in they burn the roof of your mouth, on the way out they scratch it to shreds.”
“I’m just saying.”
“Well, lots of people like them, is that alright with you, your highness?”
“Let’s get to work.”
We preheated the toaster oven to 350 and put in the first piece of bacon. After, I don’t know, ten minutes or something, my friend switched off the oven and presented me with a perfectly crisp, flavorful piece of bacon. Admittedly, it was delicious, and somehow nothing in the kitchen caught on fire. (I stayed in the other room, entrenched in a self-made fort of fire extinguishers.)
Since I didn’t see the process, he explained to me that all he did was set it to “toast” or maybe it was “roast,” then—confirming my belief these toaster ovens are relics from the ‘60s—slid the lever over this little band of earthtones to around the middle-to-dark side of the spectrum. Somewhere between “mellow” and “deep.”
Presto: perfect bacon without the mess or smell. We celebrated with a couple of evenly toasted French bread pizzas that torched the roofs of our mouths.