Do these things happen to you?

I get annoyed at how things interact with each other in the home. Clothes hangers always seem to get tangled up with other clothes hangers or catch onto something else, and trailing electric cables across the floor somehow get coiled up around chair legs and I trip!

When I coil up a long electric garden cable, it appears to be neat and orderly in regular loops up on a hanger, but when I want to use it, knots appear from nowhere and need untangling.

I sometimes find keys on my key ring have somehow become impossibly interlocked with each other. How does that happen?

Just now, which prompted me into writing this, my cat Toerag was sitting on top of a waste paper bin, then jumped off, knocking the bin sideways, which fell onto the nearby vacuum cleaner setting it going at great guns! If I hadn’t been there…!

I feel that I am plagued by these things!


Its known as Newton’s 2nd law of thermodynamics, simplistically "everything tends to disorder "


Mathematicians have an interesting view of the tangling tendency: there is only one untangled state, but many, many tangled states - so being tangled is simply far more likely…


Wasn’t Velcro born of that?

I have a vague memory that velcro was copied, possibly by NASA, from a plant mechanism…

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Apparently, headphone cables suffer from this tangling or tendency to disorder…

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For once, NASA had no involvement: we can thank the Swiss electrical engineer George Mestral. who noticed how difficult it was to remove burrs from his socks after he went for a walk.


Thanks, but I won’t waste your time by asking how it became ‘Velcro’ rather than ‘Burmest’, ‘Mesburr’ or any of the other variations thereon - nor will I ask if it was pirated by M Crovel…

Some of these things can be mitigated with care/technique i.e. long cables wrapped across the forearm in a figure 8 shape don’t become twisted and lay flat & unravel without tangles - a method picked up from running PA with lots of cables. As for the cat problems, that’s self - inflicted. :smile:


Twisting the cable or hosepipe as it is coiled also works fine.

The interlocked keys problem happens to me as well. My cure is to throw the whole bunch onto a hard surface with some force a couple of times, which usually solves the problem somehow.

The one that really used to annoy me was the tangled and twisted, and thus very much shorter, telephone handset cable. Some folks had such twisted handset cables on their desk phones that to answer the thing one had to bend over or crouch down to within a foot of the phone. Hilarious sometimes, and damned annoying at others.

For the other things I think that sometimes it is just Sod’s Law that applies, namely that anything that can go wrong will go wrong.



Dead right!

Exactly what I do, learned from my great uncle. Its the tension imparted in the coiled cable caused by the longitudinal twist that happens when you coil the cable that causes all the knots. When you release the cable, all the twist is released and you get a load of knots. It’s like a coiled spring being released. Doing the figure 8 causes twist first in one direction and then the other, canceling the twist.

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I have several reels, for electric cables and hosepipes, but always found them awkward to use. So much easier to wind and coil manually, but will go hunting for proper reels that really work, probably expensive. But will no doubt lose the anger and infuriation of constantly undoing knots and kinks.

As far as cats are concerned, there’s nothing much I can do about them, except cuss!

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It might not work for cables, but I found early on in my use of a 33 metre flat line for safe conduct of my wandering dog, Jules, in the great outdoors, was to flake, rather than coil.

I don’t know how it works but even though it lands in the back of the car, or by the forest gate, with the ‘business’ end emerging from underneath, it almost never tangles as he races off at very high speed.

When I first got them I coiled them and they got into a terrible mess.


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I just knew there would be someone asking that. :rofl:

I’ll try to explain and maybe later when I have a moment, video myself doing it. But here goes.

I’m standing at the back of the car with the line stretched out in a straight line away from it.

I anchor the dogclip in the car, then grab the line with my right hand and throw it into the car, it lands about 2 feet away.

Then I reach along and grab the line with my left hand and draw it towards me, then next to that hand I grab it with my right and throw that section into the car.

And so on until the whole line is flaked out on the floor of the car over a space of about 1 metre.
Even though the dog clip is attached to the end of the line which is at the bottom, it still pays out easily from underneath, with no tangles.

Got it? :joy:


Thanks for the description, I was wondering how you managed to wrap 33m of cable round one of these :yum::laughing:



Thank you David for a lovely new word, I didn’t know flake as a verb with reference to anchor chains etc :slightly_smiling_face:

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Voila? Flaking the cord…