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Hey, Matt:

I make tea nowadays by microwaving both the water and tea bag together. It works just fine. It's quick and easy. But I've been told to never put metal objects into a microwave because the metal will get hot. This worries me because the tea bag has two staples in it, one for string-to-bag connection and another for the tag at the other end of the string. Why don't the staples get red hot and burn the paper?

-- Rancho Bernardo Ross

Co-rekt, metal can get very hot in a micro. Nuke a big, smooth spoon in a cup of coffee, f'rinstance, and the magnetic and electrical waves start pushing the spoon's electrons back and forth, and the metal will heat up. (It will also get some conducted heat from the coffee.) Nuke a fork with tines exposed, and you'll probably get a shower of sparks, since the electrons gather at sharp metal points and eventually discharge into the air. The thinner and/or pointier the metal, the more problematical it is in a micro. The weapon of choice for microcide would be a sheet of lightly scrunched aluminum foil. So, you'd think staples would be sitting ducks. Skinny and sharp. The bag-to-string staple is no problem, since it's underwater. The string-to-label staple is exposed, but, according our sources, it would be too small to be a problem. It might be protected to some extent by the cup, since the path of microwaves can be knocked off course by other objects in the oven. (That's why, if you're heating two cups of water at the same time, one might get hotter than the other.) And the inside of a microwave oven that's heating water gets pretty humid, so it's not a promising environment for spontaneous fires. Enjoy your tea. Ignore the microphobes.

Dog Jugs, Part II

From Paul L.: "Everyone I spoke to said dogs wouldn't soil around the [glass or plastic bottles filled with water, on the lawn] because of a natural tendency to avoid running water sources." Okay, okay. I give. The science guys don't know nuthin' about nuthin', in this case. Obviously, the water jugs business goes back to our dark past. Ancient wisdom has it that water, particularly moving water, around a house will protect it from evil and disease. How we've jimmied that notion into the odd belief that water in a milk jug keeps dogs from pooping is beyond me.

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