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10 TV and Movie Clichés You Never See in Real Life

1. The Chloroform Nap

A common scene in many mystery movies is the old “knock out an unsuspecting victim by holding a rag full of chloroform over their face” trick. Would this tactic work in real life? Probably not. First of all, chloroform begins to lose its effectiveness as soon as it mixes with oxygen (and some of those villains spend a long time lurking in the shadows with their rags poised). Secondly, chloroform doesn’t instantly knock a person unconscious; depending upon the victim’s size and weight, the chemical could take up to 10 minutes to subdue a person.

2. Falling Through Glass

No action film is complete without at least one person falling through a plate glass window and then walking away without a scratch. Injury-free defenestration is some definite Hollywood trickery that requires a “don’t try this at home!” warning. Broken glass has razor-sharp edges that can cut right through clothing and human flesh like a hot knife through refrigerated margarine. Even if a person survived the fall, he’d typically sustain so many cuts that it would look like he’d just taken a ketchup bath.

3. Exploding Cars

Whether it’s on TV or the big screen, it seems like every high-speed car chase ends with at least one auto crashing and exploding into flames. Sometimes the vehicle drives over a cliff and spontaneously combusts into flames without any provocation. Gasoline actually has a very narrow flammable range, and the mixture of gas vapor to outside air must be very specific (between 1.4 and 7.6 percent) before anything close to an explosion will occur. Gas may cause a car to burn after a bad wreck, but it very rarely detonates.

4. Amnesia Cures

Older sitcoms and cartoons often featured a character suffering from amnesia, and, according to the plot, the only “cure” to restore their memory was to conk them on the head one more time. According to doctors, though, this is just about the worst thing you can do to an amnesia patient. The brain is already injured, which is what is causing their memory loss, and another bash to the skull will likely only cause further damage.

5. When the Bullet Hits the Bone

How many cinematic scenes have portrayed a person being knocked off his feet and killed by one shot from a gun? In real life, death by gunshot depends upon the type of weapon and the ammunition. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll use a handgun as an example: even if a person is shot at point-blank range by a handgun, he will not be lifted off the ground and sail through the air. If a handgun packed that much velocity, the shooter would be propelled backward in a similar fashion. The only wounds that are immediately incapacitating—that is, where the victim slumps to the ground and cannot move—are those to the brain or upper spinal cord. Even if the victim receives a direct wound to the heart, it will take several minutes for complete circulatory collapse, and in the meantime, the brain is still sending out “fight or flight” messages.

6. The Silencer

James Bond makes it look like you can shoot someone in a room full of people and then make a clean getaway as long as your handgun is fitted with a silencer. But a silencer only dampens that portion of the sound that is created by the exploding gases in a gun; the bullet is still traveling at supersonic speed, and its miniature sonic boom will still be quite audible. When a gun is fired, gunpowder in the bullet shell casing is ignited which produces gas at a high rate. The high pressure build-up of this gas propels the bullet forward, and as it exits the gun barrel, the release of kinetic energy makes a loud noise. It’s similar to the pop of a champagne cork, but much faster and louder. A silencer attached to the end of a gun barrel is basically a series of baffles along with an expansion chamber, which gives the gas more time to cool off and dissipate before the bullet finally exits. A silenced gun sounds about as loud as a car door being slammed. It’s much quieter than the usual “bang!” but it’s certainly not the subtle little “whoosh” heard in those espionage films.

7. Crime Scene Aftermath

The climactic scene of many TV cop shows is a big shoot-out, followed by the detectives standing over the dead perp, telling the uniformed cops to “take him to the morgue, and clean this up.” Moments later, the detectives are shown unwinding at the local tavern. Of course, it doesn’t happen that way in real life. Any officer who fires his weapon has to remain on-scene until someone from Internal Affairs comes to investigate. He also has to stand by until the evidence technicians have finished collecting everything they need. And the uniformed guys would laugh at the suggestion that they “clean up” anything. Whether it’s a homicide or suicide, once the cops have all their information and evidence it’s up to the owner of the property to mop up. Luckily, there are many companies that specialize in the very exacting work that is necessary when it comes to grisly biohazard cleaning.

8. Computer Hacking

Have you ever noticed that on TV, it takes detectives three minutes or more to trace a phone call, but in a pinch someone can write a code to hack into a computer in half that time when it comes to tracking down a criminal? Programming requires many complex steps, including making changes to the existing code, compiling it, testing it, and debugging it. Just waiting for a compiler to finish its job can take hours. Even the best hacker cannot click a few keys and access a perp’s password-protected files within a matter of minutes.

9. Drowning Dramatically

Drowning victims have plenty of time for a dramatic rescue on the big screen, since they flail and splash loudly while reaching their arms up and desperately calling for help. In reality, most drowning victims don’t get rescued in time simply because no one nearby realizes that the person is in trouble. A drowning person typically dies quietly, since he is unable to keep his mouth above the water long enough or draw enough breath to cry for assistance. They don't usually thrash about, either; instinctively they straighten their body as if they are climbing a ladder and spread their arms to the sides as if they are trying to push down on the surface of the water to lift themselves up. Because of this automatic response, a drowning person will rarely reach for a thrown life preserver or extended stick. Small children slip below the surface even quicker than adults, so it’s very important to take every precaution possible (life jackets, floaties, etc.) when youngsters are playing in the water.

10. Headstones in One Hour or Less

Showing a completed, personalized headstone at the gravesite during the burial certainly adds poignancy to any funeral scene (and often acts as shorthand to indicate “character didn’t survive”), but in real life it usually takes a minimum of four weeks after the order has been placed to have a grave marker put in place. And that’s for one from inventory stock; if you prefer custom artwork or other special touches, it could take 90 days or more.

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Flurry Road: 5 Tips for Safe Driving on Winter Roads
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For drivers in the Upper Midwest, traveling during the winter can range from slightly unsettling to deadly. Between 2011 and 2015, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Auto Insurance Center, an average of 800 fatalities occurred annually as a result of weather-related accidents. Icy roads, poor visibility, and other factors can make cold-weather commuting a dicey proposition.

While we can’t control the weather (yet), we can increase our odds of navigating slush-filled roadways successfully. Mental Floss spoke with American Automobile Association (AAA) driving education expert William Van Tassel, Ph.D., for some key tips on how to get your winter driving in gear.

1. GATHER SUPPLIES.

Before you even start your car up for a trip through inclement weather, Van Tassel recommends you pack a worst-case scenario trunk full of supplies. “In case of emergency, you want things on board like water, a blanket, a flashlight, gloves, and kitty litter,” he says. (That last one is for traction in case you get stuck in a snowbank.) You should also have road flares, a shovel, an ice scraper, and a fully-charged cell phone to call for assistance if needed.

2. SLOW DOWN.

Posted speed limit signs assume you’re driving on clear and clean roadways. If snow or ice has accumulated, you need to adjust your speed accordingly. “In slick conditions, tires lose a lot of traction,” Van Tassel says. “You should be cutting your speed down by half or more.” Unfortunately, a lot of people learn this the hard way. “After a snowstorm, we’ll see more crashes on day one than days two or three.”

Van Tassel also cautions to avoid becoming overconfident on snow tires. While they provide better traction in bad weather, it’s not license to speed up.

3. MAINTAIN A SAFE DISTANCE FROM OTHER CARS.

You should be doing this regardless, but bad weather makes it even more crucial. Keep your vehicle at a safe distance from cars behind, in front, and off to the sides, as well as away from pedestrians or cyclists. If you need to brake suddenly, you need time—and space—to avoid a collision. “You really want more space in front,” Van Tassel says. Try to stay between seven and 10 seconds behind the vehicle ahead. That means seeing a landmark and then counting down until you pass the same marker. If you’re only a few seconds behind, you’re too close.

4. DON’T STEER INTO SKIDS.

“That was an old rule of thumb,” Van Tassel says. “The problem is, by the time I remember to steer into a skid, I’m already in a ditch.” If you feel your vehicle sliding, it’s better to steer in the direction you want to go. “You’ll drive where you look, so don’t look at a telephone pole.”

To help maintain control of the car, you want to focus on doing one thing at a time. “If you’re going through a turn, brake, finish braking, then turn. Don’t brake and turn at the same time.”

5. KEEP YOUR HEADLIGHTS ON.

Yep, even in broad daylight. Bad weather limits visibility, and headlights allow both you and your fellow drivers to orient a vehicle. “You’re twice as visible to other drivers that way,” Van Tassel says. “When people can see you, they can avoid you.”

Van Tassel also recommends that drivers avoid relying on fancy car technology to keep them safe. While blind spot monitoring and lane changing sensors are useful, they’re not there so you can zone out. “The tech is there to back you up if you need it. Drive the car, but don’t rely on those things,” he says.

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25 Polite Compliments You Can Pay a Coworker
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January 24 is National Compliment Day, and a great way to celebrate is by making a concerted effort to praise the people you work with. Be sure to consider when an appropriate time and place for a compliment would be (for instance, shy people would rather be commended on their stellar presentation in private rather than in front of a crowd), but know that whether a coworker is a longtime friend or more of an acquaintance, lauding their work performance and letting them know you appreciate their skills could really make their day.

1. "YOU HAVE A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR."

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Every office has one person who knows how to ease tensions at work by cracking a quick joke or sharing a funny link. If this person's sense of humor makes your job a little more enjoyable, make sure to let them know.

2. "NICE JOB ON THAT PRESENTATION."

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Public speaking is intimidating, especially to someone who's new to their job and not used to giving presentations. Notice your coworker is nervous before a big meeting? Seek them out afterwards. Letting them know you enjoyed and learned from what they said will hopefully make them feel more confident next time.

3. "YOU ALWAYS KNOW WHEN TO LEND A HAND."

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You probably know someone who's always willing to help out with a project when you need it most, and odds are they rarely receive the recognition they deserve. Next time a coworker offers some relief when you're feeling overwhelmed, don't let it go unnoticed. Set aside time to tell them you see the great work they're doing and you appreciate it.

4. "YOU'RE A SAVVY PROBLEM-SOLVER."

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Being able to see problems differently is a valuable skill in the workplace. It can open up a team to new ideas and save precious time and resources. Sometimes you may be the person to spot the way out of a problem, and other times it's a coworker who points out the solution that was right in front of your face. If you're grateful for their point of view, they deserve to hear it.

5. "YOU'RE A GREAT COMMUNICATOR."

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Without communication, collaborating with the people in your workplace would be impossible. A great communicator knows how to understand other people's perspectives, explain their own, and make sure they're never keeping anyone in the dark. They're also not above receiving a compliment every now and then.

6. "I LOVE YOUR ENTHUSIASM."

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For some people, getting up and going to work each day is easy: They're personally invested in the company they work for and enjoy helping it succeed. Maybe you're not there yet, but you might see this level of passion and enthusiasm in at least one person you work with. Don't let that inspiring attitude go unrecognized.

7. "I APPRECIATE YOUR TRUST."

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Effective management is just as much about offering guidance and support as knowing when to back off. Sometimes leaving employees room to breathe is the best thing managers can do to encourage growth and creativity. It's also a thankless move that often goes unrewarded. Expressing your appreciation to your manager can make a big difference in their day.

8. "WHAT A FUN PARTY (LUNCH/HAPPY HOUR/ETC.)."

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People take certain work events for granted without stopping to consider the employees who make them possible. Birthday cakes don't magically appear and after-work happy hours don't plan themselves. Behind every fun break you get from your day-to-day duties, there's a coworker who took the initiative to make it happen, and they would like to hear that you enjoyed the fruits of their labor.

9. "YOU'VE GOT A KILLER WORK ETHIC."

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We all wish we could be the employee who blows through projects without breaking a sweat. If you're not that person, the least you can do is pay the tireless person in your workplace a compliment—especially after a big project that had them tackling most of the work.

10. "YOUR POSITIVE ATTITUDE IS INFECTIOUS."

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Just like one pessimistic employee can bring down the whole office, a positive person can have the opposite effect. It's hard to feel grumpy about starting a new week when the colleague sitting next to you does everything with a smile on their face.

11. "YOU ASK GREAT QUESTIONS."

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Asking about something you're not familiar with at work can be intimidating, whether it's about a new policy or procedure or perhaps about the ins and outs of a department you don't usually work with. But asking for help or clarification is also the only way to learn and grow. Complimenting a coworker who asks a lot of questions lets them know that not only is that OK, it's valued.

12. "I LOVE YOUR IDEAS."

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When someone introduces a great idea at work, people often respond in one of two ways: They get upset that they didn't think of it themselves, or they admire the person for their brilliance. If you want to strengthen work relationships and feel better in the long run, we suggest expressing the latter.

13. "YOU'RE GREAT AT TAKING INITIATIVE."

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Employees who take initiative help businesses run smoothly. Managers don't have to worry about babysitting them, and their coworkers never end up picking up their slack. Next time you go into work, find the person you know who always takes initiative and compliment them for their efforts.

14. "YOU'RE VERY CREATIVE."

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Even if your job isn't particularly inspiring, you may have coworkers who find everyday opportunities to be creative. Their creativity might shine through in the form of a sharply designed flyer, a well-written memo, or an innovative solution to the problem at hand. Sometimes people who don't work in a traditionally artistic field are rarely complimented for their creativity—you can change that.

15. "I APPRECIATE YOU TAKING RESPONSIBILITY."

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Do you know someone at work who's taken responsibility—whether for a botched performance, a failed pitch, or a missed deadline—even when they could have gotten away with keeping quiet? That's not easy to do. Recognize their actions, and they may be inclined to do it more often.

16. "YOU'RE SO FLEXIBLE."

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Sure, you can promise your coworker this is the absolute last time you'll ask them to push a meeting back a couple of days or move up a deadline by a week. Or, you can compliment them on being so flexible and thank them for working around the changes so efficiently.

17. "I LOVE YOUR CONFIDENCE."

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Confidence in the workplace is hard to ignore. It radiates from everything a person does, and when you're working on a project with such a person, it can make you feel more confident as well. Let this employee know that you appreciate their poise and self-assuredness.

18. "I APPRECIATE HOW TECH-SAVVY YOU ARE."

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Who do you turn to when your screen freezes, or when the long email you spent the last 15 minutes crafting suddenly disappears? Likely, instead of running to I.T. every time, you ask a nearby coworker who always seems to have the answers. Even if they don't share their know-how for the praise, they deserve a compliment and gratitude.

19. "YOU'RE A GREAT BAKER."

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People who bake for their coworkers are a special breed. By sharing what they made with the office, it means that they not only took the time to cook with you in mind, but also that they're sharing a bit of their personal likes or hobbies with you. What better time to compliment the chef than when they bring platter of fresh cookies to the morning meeting?

20. "I ADMIRE YOUR LEADERSHIP."

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A good leader is many things, including fair, compassionate, and hard-working. But whatever qualities your manager exhibits that make you appreciate working for him or her, find a chance to let them know you commend their leadership, and that you're a better employee because of it.

21. "YOU HAVE A MIND FOR DETAIL."

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Details make a big difference at work, whether you're writing a big report or a thank you email. Sometimes the details that make the biggest impact on a project are hard to notice on their own. See if you can spot the smart, subtle details the next time you're evaluating your coworker's work, and tell them if you're impressed by what you find.

22. "YOU'RE ON MY WAVELENGTH."

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It may not always top lists of most valuable skills to take into the workplace, but empathy can do wonders for office culture. When team members practice empathy and really make an effort to understand the people they work with, they make everyone's job easier. This is one skill that definitely deserves recognition.

23. "THANKS FOR BEING SO RELIABLE."

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No matter what you do for work, it's impossible to do your job entirely on your own. Reliable coworkers you can depend on for support, guidance, and inspiration are a priceless resource. If they make the effort to show up and work hard consistently, the least you can do is show them you appreciate it.

24. "YOU'RE A REAL TEAM PLAYER."

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In order to succeed as a team, your colleagues need to have the right attitude. Maybe there's one person on your team who sets a good example for the rest of you: They know exactly when to step back and listen to other people's ideas and when to come forward with their own. Sometimes being a good team player means swallowing your pride to do what's best for the group, and that's behavior worth celebrating.

25. "YOU GIVE GREAT ADVICE."

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At some point in your career, you've likely relied on a more experienced coworker for advice. Without mentors, many of the world's most successful people wouldn't be where they are today. Never be ashamed to ask for guidance, and once you receive it, make sure to show your gratitude.

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