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6 Unconventional Uses for the Tennis Ball

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Wimbledon is upon us! And the oldest tennis tournament on the planet has put a hot spotlight on the sport's best and brightest. And by best and brightest, we don't mean the athletes.

We're talking about those fabulously fluorescent felted orbs whose satisfying pops and whirrs keep audiences enthralled for the two weeks of tournament play. But what happens to those tennis balls after the champion is crowned and athletes and fans alike start looking toward Queens and the next Grand Slam?

Much like aging tennis champs, they too must retire when they lose their bounce—that is, when they are no longer able to rebound the regulation height of 53 to 58 inches when dropped from a vertical distance of 100 inches. (At Grand Slam matches like Wimbledon, tennis balls are usually replaced every seven to nine games.) According to the International Tennis Federation, an estimated 360 million tennis balls are produced every year—which, if lined up ball-to-ball, could cover the distance between Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows four times over. That's a lot of pressurized rubber and felt.

But the golden years of these numerous tennis balls can be filled with purpose. Here are six lesser-known, unconventional, off-court uses for a tennis ball.

1. Sleep Aid

Have a light snoring problem? Tape or otherwise affix a tennis ball to the back of your pajamas before you go to sleep at night. The idea is that it will keep you from rolling onto your back mid-slumber, lowering the chances of snoring and raising the chances of a better night's sleep. Sleep researchers have found that sleeping on one's side does reduce snoring, but a Journal of Clinical Sleep study in 2009 concluded that most people think this trick is uncomfortable and give up on it.

2. Mouse House

If you bore a small, mouse-sized hole in a tennis ball, it can make a great safe haven for species of rodents like Eurasian harvest mice. In 2001, the All England Lawn and Tennis club donated used Wimbledon balls to a wildlife trust in the UK to use as protective homes and breeding nests for the endangered mice population.

3. Housekeeper

Felt is a great material for dusting, because the thick woolen fibers cling well to dust and cobwebs. So why not get rid of those pesky, hard-to-reach dust and cobwebs by throwing a tennis ball at the problem? A tennis ball is also very effective at removing scuff marks from surfaces like hardwood and vinyl. A popular DIY scuff cleaning tool involves slicing an X into a tennis ball with a razor blade and affixing it to the end of a broomstick.

4. Laundry Mate

This is another popular DIY housecleaning trick. Throw a tennis ball into the dryer with your down comforters, pillows, towels and other fluffy and puffy linens. The tumbling balls keep your wet linens from clumping up and losing shape as they dry. It functions in the same way as a dryer ball, manufactured for that specific purpose.

5. Physical Therapist

Many physical therapists recommend using a tennis ball to work the kinks out of tight muscles or soothe muscle aches, as the pressure created by sandwiching a tennis ball between your muscle and a wall or floor is good for targeting the tension-sources or “trigger points” that cause muscle distress. The spine and legs are common spots for tennis ball “therapy.” Some physical therapists also recommend using them as substitutes for free weights (cutting one open and filling it with sand can add more weight), and as grip strengtheners.

6. Slug Trapper

Next time you have a backyard boozefest, pour one for your homies. A little beer in the garden may help keep your slug problem at bay. Apparently, the enemy No. 1 of gardeners the world over has a weakness for a good brewski (they're attracted to the fermented yeast), and many gardening resources recommend setting up beer-filled slug traps throughout the garden to catch them. Using a tennis ball cut in half is often suggested as a DIY option.

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5 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 2
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Stranger Things seemed to come out of nowhere to become one of television's standout new series in 2016. Netflix's sometimes scary, sometimes funny, and always exciting homage to '80s pop culture was a binge-worthy phenomenon when it debuted in July 2016. Of course, the streaming giant wasn't going to wait long to bring more Stranger Things to audiences, and a second season was announced a little over a month after its debut—and Netflix just announced that we'll be getting it a few days earlier than expected. Here are five key things we know about the show's sophomore season, which kicks off on October 27.

1. WE'LL BE GETTING EVEN MORE EPISODES.

The first season of Stranger Things consisted of eight hour-long episodes, which proved to be a solid length for the story Matt and Ross Duffer wanted to tell. While season two won't increase in length dramatically, we will be getting at least one extra hour when the show returns in 2017 with nine episodes. Not much is known about any of these episodes, but we do know the titles:

"Madmax"
"The Boy Who Came Back To Life"
"The Pumpkin Patch"
"The Palace"
"The Storm"
"The Pollywog"
"The Secret Cabin"
"The Brain"
"The Lost Brother"

There's a lot of speculation about what each title means and, as usual with Stranger Things, there's probably a reason for each one.

2. THE KIDS ARE RETURNING (INCLUDING ELEVEN).

Stranger Things fans should gear up for plenty of new developments in season two, but that doesn't mean your favorite characters aren't returning. A November 4 photo sent out by the show's Twitter account revealed most of the kids from the first season will be back in 2017, including the enigmatic Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown (the #elevenisback hashtag used by series regular Finn Wolfhard should really drive the point home):

3. THE SHOW'S 1984 SETTING WILL LEAD TO A DARKER TONE.

A year will have passed between the first and second seasons of the show, allowing the Duffer brothers to catch up with a familiar cast of characters that has matured since we last saw them. With the story taking place in 1984, the brothers are looking at the pop culture zeitgeist at the time for inspiration—most notably the darker tone of blockbusters like Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

"I actually really love Temple of Doom, I love that it gets a little darker and weirder from Raiders, I like that it feels very different than Raiders did," Matt Duffer told IGN. "Even though it was probably slammed at the time—obviously now people look back on it fondly, but it messed up a lot of kids, and I love that about that film—that it really traumatized some children. Not saying that we want to traumatize children, just that we want to get a little darker and weirder."

4. IT'S NOT SO MUCH A CONTINUATION AS IT IS A SEQUEL.

When you watch something like The Americans season two, it's almost impossible to catch on unless you've seen the previous episodes. Stranger Things season two will differ from the modern TV approach by being more of a sequel than a continuation of the first year. That means a more self-contained plot that doesn't leave viewers hanging at the end of nine episodes.

"There are lingering questions, but the idea with Season 2 is there's a new tension and the goal is can the characters resolve that tension by the end," Ross Duffer told IGN. "So it's going to be its own sort of complete little movie, very much in the way that Season 1 is."

Don't worry about the two seasons of Stranger Things being too similar or too different from the original, though, because when speaking with Entertainment Weekly about the influences on the show, Matt Duffer said, "I guess a lot of this is James Cameron. But he’s brilliant. And I think one of the reasons his sequels are as successful as they are is he makes them feel very different without losing what we loved about the original. So I think we kinda looked to him and what he does and tried to capture a little bit of the magic of his work.”

5. THE PREMIERE WILL TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF HAWKINS.

Everything about the new Stranger Things episodes will be kept secret until they finally debut later this year, but we do know one thing about the premiere: It won't take place entirely in the familiar town of Hawkins, Indiana. “We will venture a little bit outside of Hawkins,” Matt Duffer told Entertainment Weekly. “I will say the opening scene [of the premiere] does not take place in Hawkins.”

So, should we take "a little bit outside" as literally as it sounds? You certainly can, but in that same interview, the brothers also said they're both eager to explore the Upside Down, the alternate dimension from the first season. Whether the season kicks off just a few miles away, or a few worlds away, you'll get your answer when Stranger Things's second season debuts next month.

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Everything That’s Leaving Netflix in October
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NBC - © 2012 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Netflix subscribers are already counting down the days until the premiere of the new season of Stranger Things. But, as always, in order to make room for the near-90 new titles making their way to the streaming site, some of your favorite titles—including all of 30 Rock, The Wonder Years, and Malcolm in the Middle—must go. Here’s everything that’s leaving Netflix in October ... binge ‘em while you can!

October 1

30 Rock (Seasons 1-7)

A Love in Times of Selfies

Across the Universe

Barton Fink

Bella

Big Daddy

Carousel

Cradle 2 the Grave

Crafting a Nation

Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest

Daddy’s Little Girls

Dark Was the Night

David Attenborough’s Rise of the Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates (Season 1)

Day of the Kamikaze

Death Beach

Dowry Law

Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief

Friday Night Lights (Seasons 1-5)

Happy Feet

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison

Hellboy

Kagemusha

Laura

Love Actually

Malcolm in the Middle (Seasons 1-7)

Max Dugan Returns

Millennium 

Million Dollar Baby

Mortal Combat

Mr. 3000

Mulholland Dr.

My Father the Hero

My Name Is Earl (Seasons 1-4)

One Tree Hill (Seasons 1-9)

Patton

Picture This

Prison Break (Seasons 1-4)

The Bernie Mac Show (Seasons 1-5)

The Shining

The Wonder Years (Seasons 1-6)

Titanic

October 19

The Cleveland Show (Seasons 1-4)

October 21

Bones (Seasons 5-11)

October 27

Lie to Me (Seasons 2-3)

Louie (Seasons 1-5)

Hot Transylvania 2

October 29

Family Guy (Seasons 9-14)

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