Saturday, September 25, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

Appliances 101

I saw this article in the New York Times this week.  To cut to the chase, you're probably using all your appliances all wrong.  You're wasting soap in your dishwasher and your washing machine and generally causing unnecessary wear and tear on all your household appliances.  So stop it.

My husband is a remarkably organized man.  He has all our appliance manuals in a single place.  He knows where to find any of them at any given time.  BUT . . . before putting them away, he also reads them.  Or he at least gives them a good skim.

When I buy something, I never put the manuals away because I'm always intending to read them.  But the truth is, my life is so exciting and so glamorous, I never actually get around to reading the manuals.  There's always something better to do or read (or write).  Eventually, I'll realize that I've been using the device for so long without reading any instructions that it's completely unnecessary.

I bought a new cell phone in July.  My old phone was practically an antique so there are a lot of features to catch up on.  I think I saw the manual under a stack of magazines (in a laundry basket) last week.  At this point, there is no point to reading it.  I make calls.  I answer calls.  I have no idea what to do with the few pictures I've taken with the phone.  Why do I even want to take pictures with my phone?  I carry a real camera around all the time anyway.  And no, I've never read the camera's manual either and I seem to be doing just fine if the pictures on this blog are any indication. 

As far as how much detergent to use in my dishwasher, I figure that line is there for a reason.  With the washing machine, I wing it.  More soap for a bigger load, less for a smaller one.  I don't need a master's degree to figure that out. However, I think I might try out this test in the article:
. . . to determine if you’re oversoaping. Take four to six clean bath towels, put them in your front-loading washing machine (one towel for a top loader). Don’t add any detergent or fabric softener. Switch to the hot water setting and medium wash and run it for about five minutes.
Check for soap suds. If you don’t see any suds right away, turn off the machine and see if there is any soapy residue. If you see suds or residue, it is soap coming out of your clothes from the last wash.

This bit from the article seemed pointless: Load large items at the sides and back of the dishwasher so that they don’t block water and detergent from reaching other dishes.

Raise your hand if you hadn't figure that one out.  

But this is a new idea (or new to me)
Also, remove baked on food and large chunks, but for the most part, everyone I spoke to said prerinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher was not only unnecessary, it wasted thousands of gallons of water and could actually result in dirtier dishes.

“The soap needs something to work against to get the dishes clean,” said Lou Manganiello, who owns Household Appliance Service in Hawthorne, N.Y.

The soap needs something to work against? Mmm. Sounds suspicious. Maybe

The part about the dryers seems odd. I mean, I can't imagine anyone throwing in a handful dryer sheets. I don't use dryer sheets at all.

And the self-cleaning oven thing? I should only use my oven enough that it needs cleaning.

Do you actually read instructions? Do you know where your manuals are? Could you, too, be guilty of oversoaping?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

and How Should Any of Us Move Forward?

I got sidetracked in yesterday’s post. Started on one path – diverted on a tangent.

What I really wanted to write about on the anniversary was something I’ve observed in two friends on their Facebook posts. One wrote yesterday “How can this country ever recover its soul?” Another recently wrote that he fears that economically, America is doomed.

The first friend is a liberal. The latter is a fiscal conservative. Their fears lead in the same direction. I notice the same impulses in myself – wondering what our future will bring. Bankrupted by two ill-considered wars and a populace that foams at the mouth at any mention of new taxes, not to mention failures to create a realistic energy policy and an honest policy regarding climate change (all advised by the string-pulling shadow plutocracy), we are certainly headed for economic collapse.

Manipulated by media personalities and religious zealots exploiting our inherent anti-intellectual tendencies, we have been led astray from our better nature. We have forgotten who we are. We have forgotten that we are all in this together. We have forgotten to lead by example. We have forgotten that if we want to live in a kinder more freedom-loving world we must individually and collectively be kinder more freedom-loving people.

The events of nine years ago should have made us more reflective, not less so. How is it not obvious that our excursions into other lands put us more at risk, not less so?

How could one nut case in Florida (a state well-known for its nut cases) have drawn so much attention to himself for his little hate-fueled stunt?

How could a media clown like Glenn Beck draw so many to a rally in Washington?

How is it not obvious that protesting the building of the Islamic cultural center can only reinforce the message of terrorists and that accepting the Muslim community is the best way to speak against the extremists and show their insanity for what it is?

With so much bridge building to be done, why do we waste time and resources bickering over whether or not certain adults have the right to marry? And why is it that those who oppose the rights of that group of adults are the ones who do most of the complaining about the government’s impositions of our freedoms?

We were told that we were attacked by those who opposed our freedoms. It was never made clear exactly which freedoms those were. What has been clear in the nine years since is that we have turned on each other, attacking ourselves from within, opposing ourselves for our own freedoms.

I, too, wonder if we can ever recover our soul or even the illusion of one. If we do not, we are certainly doomed.

It is ourselves we are now at war with, not the others and in falling for their trick we have handed the others their success.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What Should Any of Us Do?

One hears all the time about how we are a “Christian” nation founded on “Christian” principles. One hears all the time about the “pilgrims” who came to this country seeking freedom from religious persecution.

One seldom hears how those same pilgrims were, in their home country, not exactly tolerant of the views of others. They were, in essence, religious fundamentalists.

Still, if we were, in fact, a truly Christian nation, we would know how to conduct our affairs at all times, because Christ’s early followers left very clear instructions on what he would have wanted.

He would have wanted us to treat each other how we would want to be treated. One must assume that means no torture, including water-boarding. One must also assume that means no imprisonment without trial. One must also assume that means no black site prisons.

One must also assume that means no threats to burn or dishonor the documents held to be holy by those of other faiths.

He would have wanted us to provide for each other, no matter how little we have. That means if we have people who are hungry, we feed them, even if the opposing party throws up their hands and says “but we can’t feed all these people! We only have five loaves and two fishes!” We feed them anyway and trust that there will be enough.

And if someone strikes at us, he would not want us to strike back but instead he would have said, “do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.

If we were a Christian nation, that is how we would conduct ourselves.

We would not start wars in foreign lands, no matter what attacks we had suffered.

We would not insult other religions in our own land.

We would NOT, ever, ever question the patriotism of those who, in fact, do conduct themselves as Jesus advised.

So don’t tell me again how we’re a Christian nation. I don’t want to have to hurt you.

And if you don't believe all this, you can read it here in his dad's own words. And this does apply to you, no exceptions.

Monday, September 6, 2010

What is "Labor" Anymore?

I don’t really know what Labor Day is. I don’t have a tradition of “celebrating” it. Do any of us? What is it to celebrate labor in this age when actual labor is no longer valued? In the U.S. we love the notion that hard work brings success but we all know that real wealth comes from having wealth. Wealth is built through investment, therefore, the only ones who are considered successful are those who have more than they need so that they can invest it and create more wealth for themselves.

In this article on Common Dreams, we see that, for some, greater wealth is created by depriving jobs to as many workers as possible:

Decreed by President Grover Cleveland, Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894 following the deaths of several workers in a disastrous “incident” during a clash between striking railroad workers and federal troops.

The creation of a “Labor Day” may have been nothing more than a public relations bandage.

There was a time when unions were seen as supporting the rights of workers. Today, unions are vilified, even by those who could most benefit from an organized movement.

There was a time in which most Americans actually worked with their hands. That time is long gone and that kind of work is no longer honored. In the following, Ralph Nader considers the contributions of those who actually work with their hands, those who actually produce something:

But scarier than devaluing work, are these two stories that I read in the same week.

In this one from the LA Weekly, we learn that more and more women are turning to Nevada brothels to support their families:

And in this story about Montana Fishburne in The Hollywood Reporter, we learn that even well-connected children of privilege are using sex tapes to launch their careers in the entertainment industry:

Over a century since the rise of both organized labor and feminism and this is where we are? Both the poor and the privileged find the sex trade as their only options? In the case of the former, this is sad. In the case of the latter, it’s indicative of how little regard we have for actual work. Why be a sucker by actually working hard for success when one can just star in the equivalent of a porn movie to draw attention to oneself? Even the advantage of having a movie star dad isn’t going to fast-track this woman enough to suit her impatient ambitions.

Given all this, why wouldn’t certain young people sell drugs instead of studying hard and graduating from school?

Given all this, why wouldn’t unscrupulous mortgage brokers talk homebuyers into borrowing more than they really could afford?

Given all this, why wouldn’t certain personalities focus on spreading lies and misinformation if they knew that there was an angry audience ready to lap it all up and make them rich and famous instead of practicing real journalism by reporting facts and providing well-considered analysis?

Are we a lost cause?  Who am I to say?  My wealth accumulation plan/retirement plan amounts to playing SuperLotto.

Enjoy the third day of your three day weekend.