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Foil: It’s not just for protecting geeks’ brains from aliens anymore.

November 2, 2010

by Ashley Akin

I recently had a dream in which my grandmother covered everything in her house with aluminum foil. I realize this is weird and makes me appear quite crazy. But lately I have also heard ghosts singing gospel tunes at 4:00 a.m., so “weird” is a relative term for me.

Anyway, this dream is bizarre three times over because 1) as far as I know, my grandmother has a pretty healthy relationship with foil and only uses it to take home extra dinner rolls from The Bobcat (“Nah look Roy, we paid for those too, dadgummit.”); 2) she doesn’t like to leave her recliner long enough to do anything as time-consuming as fully papering a room in foil; and 3) she is deceased. [You see what I did there with the verb tenses? Making you think she was alive and such until right there at the end. English majors are tricky.]

Despite all of this, the dream did get me to thinking… [And yes, I realize I just typed “get me to thinking.” Going down memory lane drudges up so many East Tennessee accents that I am sure I’ll spend the rest of the day talking about what I’m “fixin’ ta do.”] I think the elderly really like foil. Aside from the obvious uses such as getting your hair colored blue at the salon or fixing the TV antenna (because “Cable is Communist!”), those in the octogenarian set can make anything happen with the help of foil. Or Polident. Or, according to my grandfather, purple cow medicine. But that’s another story for another time, Smallest Users…

So what, you may ask, can foil do for you? As it turns out, plenty: One sheet can save you both money and energy by way of heat reflection. If your house has a radiator, placing one piece of foil between the radiator and the wall will allow heat to bounce back into a room rather than just heating up the wall from the outside, which my inner fireman tells me isn’t all that safe anyway. [And yes, my inner fireman wears suspenders, slides down poles and rescues kittens. He’s very busy, but he still makes time to answer heating questions in between trips to the gym.]

There are two things to remember: 1) make sure the shiny side of the foil is facing the radiator – the dull side won’t reflect heat as well; and 2) cut the piece of foil slightly smaller than radiator. That has nothing to do with science, but my inner interior decorator tells me that a shiny half-foiled wall might make your decor look a little like a Jerry Springer guest’s dining-room-trailer. [And yes, my inner interior decorator is the perfect blend of Julia Sugarbaker, with her sarcasm and take-charge attitude, and Suzanne Sugarbaker, with her big hair and sequins. Oh I feel so late-80’s Atlanta businesswoman just thinking about it! But it is making me want to wear shoulder pads, so perhaps we should leave it there.]

And it’s as simple (and cheap and easy) as that, Smallest Users. And that’s all she wrote. Which, coupled with our late-80’s TV references, makes me think of Murder, She Wrote which makes me think of detectives which makes me think of Colombo which makes me think of Peter Falk which makes me think of The Princess Bride. And boom. That’s how you get a Princess Bride reference in every post. It’s good to have goals.

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