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washing blankets

No, it's not the name of a hip rock band.

There are a number of things that have to be done only every once in a while that always, always make me wonder Is there a better way to do this?

Washing blankets is one of those things.

Given the heat, today I decided I should wash one of my blankets (I have two). Now, some people might argue that blankets are not meant to be washed (actually, I don't know. This is not a common topic of conversation!). Even if it shouldn't be done, I do it anyway. I go through this process every once in a while, and I always end up thinking that I'm doing my own private Monty Python skit. This is the kind of knowledge that is best obtained by asking our elders (read: parents, or grandparents if possible) but that I prefer to discover on my own.

My process is: First I dust it, of course, I pound on it to get some of the dust out.

Obviously, the blanket does not fit in the washing machine (and even if it did, I probably wouldn't wash it in it--too heavy). So how to do it? What I do is: put some soap on the bathtub; fill the bathtub with warm water, put blanket in bathtub.

So far so good. I'm cruising. The water is getting dirty (interpreted as a good sign in this context). Mhhmm... ok, let's turn it around... damn this thing is heavy now that it's wet... ok... water is splashing... let's see... done.

Meanwhile, I'm remembering some dialogue from Fight Club:

Tyler: Do you know what a Duvet is?
Jack: Comfort...
Tyler: It's a blanket. It's just a blanket (Jack Nods.) So, why do guys like you and I know what a Duvet is? Is it essential to our survival, you know, in the hunter-gatherer sense of the word?
Jack: No...
Tyler: No. What are we then?
Jack: We're... consumers.
Tyler: Right. We're consumers. We're the by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty -- these things don't concern me. What concerns me is celebrity magazines. Television with five hundred channels. Some guy's name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra.
Jack: Martha Stewart.
Tyler: Fuck Martha Stewart. Martha's polishing the brass on the Titanic. It's all going down, man! So fuck off with your sofa units and your green stripe patterns. I say, never be complete. I say, stop being perfect. I say, let's evolve, and let the chips fall where they may.

But I digress. Back to the blanket.

I turn it around a couple of times. Then empty the tub. Then add more water. Repeat a couple of times until the water is basically clean.

Not bad! Okay. Now... to dry it...


Start a long, arduous process through which water slowly seeps out of the blanket. But for that I really have to lift the blanket, which is by now really heavy. Water pours down my arms. My chest. Then on to the floor. Then the floor gets slippery. Wooow.... I almost fall down. Regain balance. Regain traction. Ok. Ok. Situation under control. Finally I decide that the only way in which this thing is going to dry, is to take it out into the balcony. Get a couple of chairs out into the balcony.

Then, back to the tub, get the blanket I wrap it in a huge towel and take it out.

This is harder than it sounds. The blanket, soaking, is getting compressed as I grab it. More water beings to drip. In a series of movements that are difficult to describe I end up with the blanket against my face and covering half my body, dripping water all over me. I'm soaking. I suddenly realize how I must look, and I start to laugh. This does not improve things, since the laugh-induced movement (me, plus the blanket) only releases more water. I laugh harder.

So, I'm soaked. So what, it's a nice summer day. Okay. Move along... carry soaking blanket across the house. Miraculously, the floor doesn't get wet. Okay, no miracle is involved: it's my clothes who are absorbing all the water. By the time I hang the blanket between the two chairs, half the water is already on me.


The blanket is now happily drying outside. We'll see how long it takes. The sun gets to it, there's a nice wind, shouldn't be long.

I wonder, how is this done, really?

I mean, there has to be a better way to do this. Maybe this is what dry-cleaning is for. Maybe you should only dust them. Maybe there's some magical potion that you put on blankets and they clean themselves.

This system seems to work relatively well though. I'll just have to remember to wear a bathing suit the next time. :-)

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 7, 2003 at 2:53 PM

clevercactus beta 2 tip of the day

I mentioned this on the cc-devlist but didn't make a big fuss about it later--it's very useful though, so here it goes:

If you have installed the latest beta of clevercactus using any of the two Windows installers (from the download section) you can now go to Control Panel > Internet Options > Programs and select "clevercactus" from the list, to set cc as your default email client.

For other operating systems, you can set the default by using the options to load with a mailto: address, run the executable (or the JAR file) with the -mailto parameter, for example:

java -jar clevercactus.jar -mailto

If clevercactus is loaded, the running copy will launch a new mail window, otherwise it will load, then launch the window. Additionally, if cc is already running, and you run it again, the effect will be to bring the currently running copy to the front.

Nice eh? :-)

Categories: clevercactus
Posted by diego on August 7, 2003 at 11:05 AM

apple's direction

From BusinessWeek online:

Rather than accept being a niche PC maker, Steve Jobs is transforming his baby into a high-end consumer-electronics and services company
The "lifestyle" idea merges well with Apple's approach to product development, and it might be the right time (Not that Apple invented this--Sony did--but Apple has been much better at getting its message out, while Sony's message has actually gotten a bit muddled for whatever reason. Job's strong direction probably plays a big role here).

The idea of Apple as the "BMW" of computers goes back a long way (best described in Stephenson's great essay on the history of operating systems), but now, while retaining their "upscale" exposure, they are branching out a bit. What would be the comparison then? the Pottery Barn of tech? :-)

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 7, 2003 at 10:49 AM

the group, or the individual?

A Salon article on the politics of global warming. Truly a case in which it would be better to be safe than sorry--if I had to pick one drawback from Capitalism, is that since each player is only focused on their own survival, they ignore the "greater good" which in the end actually ends up harming them.

Probably the most dramatic example of this in recent times is the greed of the financers/corporations that played a big role in laying to waste Argentina's markets recently. In many cases, even when the problems were created by politicians, politicians were actually responding to special interests... so sometimes the same game was being played by the special interests both overtly and covertly. The end result? A collapse of the financial system, and a loss not just for the society, but also for the companies themselves. True, many of them made a killing and took the money out in time. But some didn't. Now they are trying to sue the government.

The seemingly never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict is another example of this.

With this topic I always end up thinking of Carl Sagan's concept of "technological adolescence", in which the capabilities of a species grow much faster than its ability to understand them or use them properly. While this creates visible threats (nuclear proliferation for example) it also creates less visible threats, such as manipulation in the global financial system. We better start getting our act together though. There are much darker possibilities in the future.

And, yes, I am just re-reading this, and this kind of self-destructive behavior that all of us, as a group, seem intent in engaging on, obviously applies to other things, that while less critical are also a symptom of the larger trend.

Categories: geopolitics
Posted by diego on August 7, 2003 at 10:37 AM

too late to raise a white flag

So I wake up and I discover that a mini-flamewar of sorts had broken out in the comments to my post on yesterday on formats. Too late to stop it, and unsure of how to deal with it (I really need a "comments policy"). Anyway. Everyone seems to have had a chance to reply. I've closed the comments now, to avoid further bit-throwing.

Peter's comment --the last comment added-- was interesting; re: the comparison with HTML, and the idea that multiple broken implementations of RSS might have been better than different standards well implemented--particularly since I just happened to find, while doing some random blog-surfing, an interesting interview that Mark gave a couple of months ago, with some comments on the XHTML2 standard process. Playing "what-if..." in my head might not be terribly useful, but maybe I'll learn something new.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 7, 2003 at 10:06 AM

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