Afternoon Inquisition

AI: The Minute Rice Exorcism

You guys! I’m in a horrible situation! I have no computer!

Yes, I have my phone. And my iPad. And a backup phone. And an iPod Touch, and access to other household computers should I desperately need one. BUT BESIDES THOSE I HAVE NO COMPUTER!

Last week, a series of events resulted in me accidentally leaving my laptop outside during a heavy rainstorm. Now it no longer works. Because water is made up of demons that suck technology out of things it comes into contact with.

And as someone who is perpetually haunted by water demons, I know what all the exorcists recommend. They say that I can drive the demons out of my equipment by using demon repelling rice. It’s like holy water… if holy water weren’t haunted. But it works the same way. You submerge the possessed into the rice until it becomes pure and stops vomiting rainbow screens at you.

But guys, I’m a skeptic. I don’t believe in holy rice or technological exorcisms, and I’m concerned that they’re not just harmless but could seriously injure the very computers we’re trying to save. What if rice ends up in my fan in my USB port? And does it even work? Why is it so hard for me to get rice to soak up boiling water in pots on my stove but suddenly it becomes a magnetized water trap when I place grains in a plastic bag next to my former Olympic-hopeful* PS3?

(*I never got a chance to tell it that there is no toilet swimming event. I couldn’t bear to. So much passion. RIP, old friend.)

Fortunately, I’ve learned that accidental damage coverage works just as well as throwing my Zune into a box of Uncle Ben’s and accidentally almost cooking it for dinner three months later after forgetting that Zunes even were a thing.

Anyway, blogging from my iPad is a pain in my ass, so let’s cut this short.

What things that most people believe do you just not quite buy into, even if you’re not sure why you don’t believe them? Is there stuff other skeptics doubt or trust that you can’t help but feel opposite about? Do you do the rice thing?


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. It really works on the water demons, but you have to use the proper technique.
    You have to keep proclaiming “The power of Rice compels you!” until the power light comes on.

  2. Well, my daughter spilled an entire glass of water in her laptop last year and what we did was put it on a towel on a table next to a De-humidifier for a week but we actually disassembled it first(did you take the battery out right away?). Dell had pretty good “how to replace computer parts yourself” instructions including diagrams. We put it back together following the instructions after it dried and it is still working. I have tried the Minute rice thing for a phone(what is it with phones and the bowl Olympics) but it didn’t work for me. Perhaps cuz I didn’t say “The power of Rice compels you!…Ramen!”

    1. Like I said. I know what you’re SUPPOSED TO do. I just don’t believe it necessarily helps. And based on a sample size of 2 phones, I’m still not convinced.

        1. Except that by opening your laptop and sticking it in rice you could, very realistically, be damaging shit with the rice. So what might have worked had you not caked it in rice now might not work at all.

          This is why I have accidental damage coverage. I don’t have to pray to my Rice-a-roni. It just gets fixed. And maybe some dude in support finds my MS Paint penis portfolio. But I’m not even ashamed of that.

  3. As for things I don’t believe that many people do, despite no firm evidence either way: device battery “memory” (in modern lithium ion devices). I don’t think a regular full discharge/recharge really helps extend battery life.

    Not swimming until an hour after eating.

    1. I think it’s exactly the opposite – the more often you discharge a li-ion battery, and the deeper you discharge it, the shorter its life. The details vary between different battery chemistries and a tiny amount with design, but they all have this problem. Thing is, so does every other chemical battery. Lithium batteries are actually better than most other batteries in this regard – a cheap Nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) battery will last less than 500 cycles but most lithium cells are good for 1000 ish cycles. A lot depends on the charger, especially for NiMH batteries.

    2. From my conversations with folks who work on battery cathode and anode materials, one of the main lifetime limiters for lithium ion batteries is the fact that as the lithium ions move from one side of the battery to the other (either discharging or recharging) those materials swell (as Li goes in) or shrink (as Li goes out) causing cracks to form in the materials. As the cracks get bigger over time, the cathode and anode begin to lose their ability to conduct. Eventually the battery cannot move enough ions to give you the voltage you need for your device. I suppose the lithium also may form compounds where it is no longer mobile, which will get worse over time. I think the latter reason is more of the main issue for the other types of rechargeables.

      1. Interesting things about that. One company is trying to replace the medium into which those are set with “wood fiber”. Why? Well, its fibrous structure can, within certain limits, expand, and contract, without “cracking” the material, so, in principle, the primary cause of failure is taken out of the equation – stuff stays where it is supposed to be, instead of everything cracking, and seeping, out of where it belongs, and turning into a useless sludge. For a lithium battery, discharging it entirely will “kill” the battery.

        The recommendation of a complete discharge actually only related to the old NiCad batteries, which are simply *not used* any more in, well, almost anything, other than like, well, stuff with easily replaced batteries, like small recorders, or tape players, or simple radios, etc. And, even those you can now buy lithium batteries for now:

        “The problem with NiCd is not the cyclic memory but the effects of crystalline formation. The active cadmium material is present in finely divided crystals. In a good cell, these crystals remain small, obtaining maximum surface area. When the memory phenomenon occurs, the crystals grow and drastically reduce the surface area. The result is a voltage depression, which leads to a loss of capacity. In advanced stages, the sharp edges of the crystals may grow through the separator, causing high self-discharge or an electrical short.

        Another form of memory that occurs on some NiCd cells is the formation of an inter-metallic compound of nickel and cadmium, which ties up some of the needed cadmium and creates extra resistance in the cell. Reconditioning by deep discharge helps to break up this compound and reverses the capacity loss.”

  4. The manufacturer’s advice for my laptop is that you -never- charge the battery fully. It has a special setting so that when it’s plugged in it chrages to 80% and then stops.

  5. Take out your hard drive and remove the cover. Polish off any oxide that has formed on the disc itself. Then remove the memory chips and rub them on a woollen jumper to remove the static RAM.

    When you get your laptop going again, search for a folder called “System32” and delete it in case there are any viruses lurking in there.

    This must be good advice, I read it on the Internet. Many times.

    1. I think those Bounce fabric softener drier sheets remove static cling, so they may be better than woolen jumpers for repairing your RAM.

      More helpful household hints from your friends in the comments section!

    1. The tumble dryer is best for larger devices or those with moving parts as it will help loosen them up and get them moving more freely. Especially hard disk drives.

      But small devices like phones and iPods, with flash memory, do better in a microwave. You really want one with a rotating tray. If you have an old microwave which doesn’t rotate, you can jam a pen into the door interlock and turn the phone by hand.


  6. * Repairs broken electronics (must be quantum mechanical)
    * Cures warts
    * Prevents embarrassing static cling
    * Strengthens your immune system
    * Restores balance to your solar matrix

    I think we’re on to something! Do dryer sheets prevent sunburn and repel mosquitoes. fleas and ticks? Prevent Lyme disease and bubonic plague? Want to help me corner the market? You can be the Australian distributor.

  7. Cool, I’ll be in that!
    Another good tip is to use the same treatment on all your favorite DVD’s at the same time to improve the visual display.
    P.S. It’s my hand that isn’t there anymore

  8. I tried the magic rice a couple of years ago when I neglected to close the flap on my water proof pocket, thereby turning it in to a baggie full of water and my iPhone. And sure it dried everything out, but here’s the thing I learned from the electronics guy I had to bring it to to fix it – the damage isn’t really from the water, it’s from corrosion. And the corrosion isn’t caused by the water, but the minerals and other stuff that are in the water. So yes, I had a dry phone, but the water demons continued to haunt it until I threw it down the stairs 2 years later.

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