Coffee heat rising

Fleas?????? Is there ever a break from the timesuck?

So I wake up this morning with a nice little pattern of bug bites on one arm. Now, there’s nothing unusual about the occasional solitary bug bite around this place. Arizona, as the local climate has warmed and the feckless humans have flooded in and tried to clone the upper Midwest wherever they come to light, has been overrun with mosquitoes.

You never used to see a mosquito here. Now they fill your house every spring and hang around until December, when the weather chills down a bit. One day a couple of years ago, I killed a dozen of the little monsters inside the house!

We haven’t had so many this year. I don’t know why. Haven’t had many flies, either.

WhatEVER. All that notwithstanding, I happen to know what a mosquito bite looks like. Having grown up in the Middle East, I also happen to know what flea bites look like.

Mosquitoes are not piggish eaters. They sit down to dinner once and then get up and fly away. Fleas, on the other hand, have never met a blood meal that they didn’t want more of. Right away, please.

So three or four really itchy bites clustered within a radius of an inch or two or three usually means a flea has come visiting.

And you know what that means?

Oh yes.


Time suck of the first water.

You need to get on the job of flea-whacking instantaneously if you’re to have any hope whatsoever that your DIY efforts will work.

So. First thing after the requisite doggy-walk (we do the doggy walk at 5 a.m. because i wish to live and because one corgi will boss a human around but two corgis will reduce the human to full obedience at all times), it was into the bathtub with the hounds.

Actually, before we left, I inspected both pooches for fleas and didn’t find any signs that I recognize. It’s pretty easy to tell if the animal is heavily infested. My mother once brought a badly infested cat home from a pet store…the vet taught us how to recognize flea eggs and flea debris. They don’t seem to have any eggs in their fur, nor did I see any flea sh!t. However, both dogs had a strange dark deposit around their hindmost titties. I think this was dirt — probably congealed urine, since a female dog can spray her belly by accident, especially when it assumes as deep a squat as a corgi does. So I smeared these areas with olive oil, figuring some oil would loosen whatever that was.

Olive oil will not harm your dog, BTW. Baby oil and bath oil may, since they consist mostly of mineral oil. That’s antithetical to an animal that can be guaranteed to lick the stuff off.

So by the time we got home from a mile’s stroll, the dogs had been marinating in olive oil for twenty or thirty minutes.

Into the bathtub.

You do not want to know what a circus it is to launder a corgi. When they say a corgi is “a big dog in a small dog’s body,” that’s not quite spot on. The fact is, under certain circumstances, a corgi IS a big dog.

Two wrestling matches later, the dogs were clean and the bathtub was filthy.

Scrub bathtub out.

Now it was time to gather ALL the bedding, including the bedpad, all the mats the dogs lay on, all the area rugs in the house, all the clothing I’ve worn lately all the towels I’ve used, all the…whatever. These all needed be washed in HOT hot water and then dried on the dryer’s hottest cycle.

Six loads of laundry got stacked in the garage next to the washer.


That thing takes about an hour for every load. So we’re looking at SIX HOURS OF LAUNDRY out there!!!!!!!!!

One of the damn thing’s many charms is that you can’t select “hot” water on most of the cycles. There’s actually only one cycle that lets you select very hot water: the one that’s intended to “sanitize” the inside of the thing, since as we know these so-called “high-efficiency” washers tend to grow mold and stink to high heaven.

“High efficiency.” SNORT!!!!!! How exactly is having to run the electric for SIX HOURS to do a three-hour (or less) job “efficient”?

Then it was time to drag out the vacuum. Vacuum every nook and every cranny in the bedroom. Vacuum every square inch of the mattress and bed springs. This is complicated by  the fact that it’s one of those “pillow top” monsters that were in style at the time I bought the thing. “Pillow tops” are held in place by stitched-down patterns, which collect…yes…dirt and debris. Had to get an orange stick and a stiff brush to dig that stuff out of the stupid stitch thingies and THEN vacuum all that up. Endless.

Then climb under the bed (which weighs too much for me to budge) and vacuum every square inch under there. And vacuum every square inch under the dressers. And in the closet. And up the hall. And in the other rooms. Ugh.

Thank god for tile floors.

It’s almost 10 a.m. Good thing the dogs rousted me out at 5, otherwise I’d still be doing all that. Well, I am still doing all that: the accursed goddamn Samsung washer is grinding away out there.

It’s 10:03 a.m. and I have done no work. I mean, real work on the writing empire. Well. I uploaded an image to the Camptown Races blog, which will be called “Camptown Ladies Talk.” The images I wanted to use turned out to be a) too large and b) too difficult to fit into the header image space without some serious Photoshopping. But I found some images in the public domain that simply defy belief.

If you’d like a preview, you can peek at her here. But IF YOU ARE WITH THE CHURCH, DO NOT GO THERE, DEAR FELLOW CHOIR MEMBERS, CLERGY, AND HANGERS-ON because that will pop your eye out. That site is strictly adults only. Racy adults.

Yesterday I finished what I hoped would be the last chapter of the current Bobbi and the Biker bookoid, but as it fell together, I found Bobbi and Billy demanded at least one more chapter. This is alarming, because we’re already over 7,000 words. Whatever wraps this episode up is gonna have to be succinct.

This weekend I also posted book III of Fire-Rider. The marauding war bands get back on the road, after having flattened a major enemy stronghold, and the journey begins…

And now, speaking of metaphorical journeys, I must away!

Tang Me! Tang Me! Yuh oughta take a rope an’…

…hang the dishwasher? 🙂 Remember the rage, a few years back, for cleaning out the dishwasher with Tang, the fake-food sugared orange drink mix? Ever wondered how that worked?

Welp, after much scrubbing and cleaning and vinegaring of the stinky freakingbrandnewDishwasher, I got the weird smell out. For awhile. But within a week or so, it was back.

The machine doesn’t seem to be dirty. In fact, I began to wonder if it was the water — the city adds some very strange chemicals to the water as the weather starts to warm. This is a new odor, but every now and again we do get a new odor. Sometimes even the dogs won’t drink the water. Then I have to fill their dish with filtered water for days on end. But after much sniffing around, I decided that probably wasn’t the issue.

In a moment of desperation, I decided to try this folk remedy. Looked it up on the Web; found a few handymen holding forth on YouTube, explaining how much to dump in. Took a drive to the Safeway, which carried the stuff, oddly enough, down at the end of the aisle full of fake drinks.

A small plastic bottle of ominous-looking orange powder costs about three bucks.

You empty the dishwasher, and then you sprinkle about a cup of the stuff — about half the small Tang container — around the floor of the washer. Turn the kitchen faucet to hot and run it till the water coming out is is hot as it’s going to get. Set the dishwasher on the sani-cycle. Then turn it on and let ’er rip!

After a couple of hours of this, the Bosch came to the end of its cycle and sat there in dignfied silence.

Opened the door, stuck my head in, and took a whiff.

It smelled very much like…well, orange Kool-Aid.

Better than how it smelled before, anyway.

After the first washing of dirty dishes, the machine still smelled a little of artificial orange flavoring. (Do astronauts really drink this stuff? REALLY???? And it takes a research grant to figure out why they’re ailing when they come out of orbit?) But that scent dissipated within a day, and we went along for several days absent the weird odor.

By  now — about three weeks later — the odor seems to be coming back slightly, but not bad.

You’d expect to clean out the filter thingie in the bottom of the washer about once a month, if not more often. It does collect a little grease, which may be the source of the smell, although…I’ve never had any other washer create a smell from its filter, and I’ve had a few dishwashers in my life, including an earlier model of the Bosch. Nothing like a little upgrade to make your life more pleasant, eh?

So if you dumped in a cup of Tang each time you washed the filter (I soak mine in hot detergent water laced with about 1/3 cup baking soda), you’d use one package of the stuff a month, adding an extra $3.00 to your monthly housekeeping bill.

No doubt you can get the stuff cheaper if you shop in venues other than Safeway. Plus it’s the sort of stuff that coupons are made for — I’ll bet you can get the small size for two bucks, if you look around.

How to Wash Clothes in a Samsung Washer

How to wash clothes in a fancy, expensive Samsung top-loading washer? Don’t.

P1030351The Samsung top-loader is not up to the job of laundering garments. If an item has a sleeve, a pants leg, or a strap, it will end up literally braided into anything else you put in the machine. Packing every stitch of clothing into mesh bags does not help and often ends with a tangle, too. These wads can take a good ten minutes to pull apart, and the extricated clothing will often be damaged and always be wadded into intractable wrinkles.

The machine does a decent job on sheets, comforters, and blankets, which do not seem to tangle inside the Samsung. But it simply is not designed to wash clothing.

Well, owning one of these pieces of junk and finding myself unable to afford to buy another washer that probably won’t work any better, I realized I had to find another way to wash my jeans, underwear, and shirts.

Luckily, my house came equipped with an indispensable tool that makes this project possible: a utility sink, conveniently  located next to the washer/dryer hookups.

Here’s what you’ll need to do your laundry-day chore:

Samsung top-loading washer
Good-sized household utility bucket, plastic
A utility sink, preferably adjacent to the washer, preferably with running hot as well as cold water
A functioning dryer or clothes line
Dirty clothes, separated into whites and coloreds
HE detergent, or a small amount of clear, unperfumed dish detergent
Oxygen bleach (optional)
Spot remover such as Spray ’n’ Wash (optional)

P1030350Place your bucket in the sink. Place a load of clothing into the bucket. If you have a lot of dirty clothes, you may have to divide the whites and the coloreds into several small loads each, by way of discouraging the Samsung from twisting them into braids.

Pretreat stains and extra dirt: spray or squirt on some spot remover; if desired, spot-treat stains with oxygen bleach. In some cases, such as stains from blood and other bodily excretions, O2 bleach will foam up and “eat” the offending substance — that’s because it contains hydrogen peroxide, the same stuff that foams up if you pour it on a cut, imagining H2O2 will disinfect. It won’t, but it looks impressive. And it does bleach blood and wine out of fabric, more or less.

For whites: Add a small amount of HE detergent —  no more than enough to fill the cap to the line, but really much less is needed; about half that amount will do, especially if you have a small load. Add a capful of oxygen bleach, if desired.

If you are using oxygen bleach, fill the bucket with enough HOT water to cover the clothes. Oxygen bleach is activated by hot water, so if you choose to include it, wash in water that is as warm as you can stand it without being hot enough to burn your hands. It also sometimes contains the equivalent of old-fashioned bluing (that’s why it’s blue…get it? heh heh heh!), which causes white fabric to come out looking DayGlo white. So if you like your whites extravagantly white, use plenty oxygen (not chlorine!!!) bleach.

Unless you like your clothing decorated with holes and white spots, do not use chlorine bleach with this method.

If you’re not using O2 bleach, don’t waste your money on heating the water. Fill the bucket with cold water.

Now go away for 20 minutes or more. Come back whenever you feel so inclined. Roll up your sleeves and slosh the clothing around in the bucket for a few minutes. Scrub any known spots, either by rubbing the fabric together vigorously or by scrubbing each spot with an old toothbrush, a nailbrush, or a scrub brush.

P1030352Pour out the water. Wring the clothes gently (no need to get rough with this) to squeeze out most of the soapy water. Place them in the utility sink. Put the plug in the drain and fill the tub with enough cold water to cover the wet clothes generously. Hot water is not needed for the rinse process.

Again slosh the clothes around, to rinse out as much of the soap as you can, easily. This does not have to be perfect, because you’re about to make the Samsung rinse them for you. In fact, if you haven’t overdone the soap and you have used HE detergent instead of dish soap, you can probably skip this step.

Wring the clothes gently again, squeezing out the (now soapy) rinse water. Toss each item into the washer tub after wringing it. Drain the utility sink tub and set the plug where it can’t accidentally float into position to stop the drain again.

Set the Samsung cycle on Rinse/Spin, with cold water. Close the lid and turn the thing on.


Twenty minutes later, come back and retrieve your clothes. Place them in the dryer or hang them to dry, as desired.

For colored clothing: Follow the same instructions, with these two exceptions:

Do not add oxygen (or any other) bleach.
Use cold, not hot, water for washing.

Here’s how a pair of jeans came out of the Samsung this morning:

P1030359Straight out of the wash, they’re hardly wrinkled at all. A couple of sharp shakes, and they don’t even have to go into the dryer!

Apparently the braiding process occurs during the Samsung’s wash cycle, not during the rinse cycle. This load of colored clothes had two pair of jeans, two long-sleeved shirts, several kitchen towels, three or four pairs of socks, and a cami with spaghetti straps. Not one item tangled. They all came out of the wash almost wrinkle free, with the exception of a knit shirt, which will shake out nicely in the dryer.

Notice the amazing number of advantages to this strategy:

In the first place, the accursed Samsung takes an hour and ten minutes to run an ordinary load that my old Kenmore agitator washer would do in twenty minutes. To wash one piddling load of laundry!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Presumably  it takes some time to work 15 pounds of wet clothing into braids, eh?

Even if you let a bucket of clothing soak for 20 minutes — it’s really not necessary unless the stuff is very dirty, indeed — it only takes about five or ten minutes to slosh the stuff around in the sink and transfer it into the washer tub. The Samsung’s Rinse/Spin cycle runs through in just 21 minutes. So let’s say 20 minutes to soak + 10 minutes to wash (very generous) + 21 minutes to rinse and spin out the water: that’s 51 minutes: twenty minutes less than it takes the Samsung to wash a load of clothes on the only cycle that uses enough water to actually get them clean. If you don’t presoak a load, you’re done with the job in 31 minutes.

Second: You control the amount of water that’s used. You can use as much or as little water as necessary to get your clothes clean. Most of the time, that’s not much.

But when you do need plenty of water to deal with a large load or with something that’s stained or unusually dirty, you don’t have to do battle with an infuriating machine to get it.

Third: You use a very minimal amount of energy: the washer runs less than 1/5 of the amount of time the damn thing would take to run through a functional wash cycle.

Fourth: You can use as much or as little detergent as you please.

Fifth: You’re not chained to using ultra-expensive HE detergent. If you’re willing to stand there and rinse thoroughly by hand, you can use dish detergent or clothes detergent that actually works (assuming any of that is still on the market).

Sixth: Your clothes are going to last much, much longer. Machine washing is hard on clothing. Even if a machine doesn’t wrap everything into wads and braids, the action inside any machine abrades, stretches, twists, and wads fabrics, adding hugely to wear and tear. Hand washing, being gentler, extends a garment’s lifetime, saving you on your wardrobe budget.

Seventh: You will never be worked into a high rage by your wash machine, thereby reducing the wear and tear on you and extending your own functional lifetime.

Whites in the 20-minute rinse/spin cycle. NO BRAIDS, NO WADS, NO WRINKLES! Isn't that clear lid cool? Especially when you don't expect the machine to actually wash clothes...
Whites in the 20-minute rinse/spin cycle. NO BRAIDS, NO WADS, NO WRINKLES! Isn’t that clear lid cool? Especially if you don’t expect the machine to actually wash clothes…


A Thousand Curses on “Energy-Efficient” Appliances

GOD DAMN IT!!!!!!!!!!! And yes, that is exactly the language elicited EVERY EFFING TIME I have to use the spectacularly expensive fancy energy-saving water-saving GOD DAMNED Samsung clothes washer I stupidly purchased.

Oh, how I wish I’d bought one of the last agitator washers on the floor at Sears that day. I hate this machine more than I’ve ever hated any piece of junk foisted on me by an American retailer. And those worthies have done more than their share of junk-foisting.

Runner-up: the infuriating, STINKING, ridiculously overpriced Bosch dishwasher that is still grinding away in the kitchen as I try to repair the damage done by the accursed Samsung.

As I’ve no doubt mentioned before, the Samsung top-loader (which I purchased because I can remember my mother’s Bendix and no, I do not CARE how much power and water the damn thing supposedly saves I AM NOT GOING TO BEND OVER AND PUT MY BACK OUT TO HAUL MOUNTAINS OF WET LAUNDRY IN AND OUT OF A WASHER) wads up my clothes into actual, real BRAIDS.

In an effort to prevent this, I purchased a passel of mesh bags. Every time I do the wash, I have to package EVERY STITCH of clothing in these stupid bags. This has the following results:

1) Clothing jammed into the bags comes out wrinkled and wadded up under the best of conditions.

2) This means I have to waste energy running them through the dryer, when in fact most of them could be hung dry (and always WERE  hung to dry before I got this effing washer), to much better effect, with exactly zero energy consumption, and with much less hassle.

3) The bags tear open in the wash cycle, or, more routinely, the zippers work their way open during the cycle. The clothing that slips its way partway out of the bag ends up braiding itself around other bags. This creates an ungodly mess to have to untangle, and it stretches, wads, and damages my clothing.

4) The bags themselves wrap themselves around each other. Once again, an ungodly mess that can take ten minutes to unwrap, with the result of damaged, wadded, stretched, WRECKED clothing.

This week I had the bright idea that I could stop at least some of the clothing escape by using safety pins to secure the effing mesh bags shut.

Bet you can guess what happened, cantcha? Yes, clean-up DID entail the use of a wire-cutter…

The damned safety pins wound their way into the mesh. To get the things apart and open bags, I had to cut apart two of the pins.

A third safety pin yanked the zipper pull loose. So I had to take a pair of scissors and hack apart the only bag I’ve found that will hold a pair of jeans.

To accomplish these miracles, the Samsung takes A HUNDRED AND TEN  MINUTES to run a load of laundry on the only cycle that disgorges enough water to get the clothing or sheets wet through!!! At five-thirty this morning the dog awoke me by barfing on the bed. So instead of two loads of laundry to do, I had three, one of them now dedicated to laundering the comforter.

Think of that: FIVE YOURS AND THIRTY MINUTES (110/60 = 1.83 hours; 1.83 hours x 3 loads = 5.5 hours!!!!!) to do what used to be and, goddamn it, still should be three twenty-minute loads!

I have GOT to get rid of this thing. Does anybody know of a washer brand that doesn’t do this?

Yes. Then we have the effing Bosch dishwasher in all its highly efficient glory. When I said it stinks, I’m not kidding.

Of late, I’ve noticed an odd, musky, rather unpleasant smell in the house.

I thought it was the dogs. The cleaning lady and I scrubbed the floors; I laundered everything in sight.

The odor persisted. I thought maybe it had something to do with the surgery and my being sick. Or something. Finally, I realized the aroma was strongest in the kitchen.

Yea, verily, it was emanating from the dishwasher. Come to think of it, all the “clean” dishes in the washer reeked faintly of the same stench.

Pulled out the racks and dismantled the lower arm, filter, and drain assembly.

Uh HUH! The filters were pretty dirty all right. That must be it.

Scrubbed out the filter, cleaned everything around there. Reassembled the dishwasher.

Made a run on the hardware store, where I bought a container of that high-powered dishwasher cleaner, the stuff that comes in the plastic bottle with the wax plug that you place upside-down in the utensil rack. That stuff is extremely good, and alarmingly powerful. Ran it through the washer.

It worked adequately. The washer no longer stank to high heaven.

A week or so later — that would be this very morning — I smelled the Smell again.

Once again discombobulated the washer. This time I found not a lot of gunk in the filter, but it was greasy. Very greasy.

I don’t put my dishes into the washer dirty, but neither do I wash them before dropping them in there. You shouldn’t have to. Remember the KitchenAid of yore? NO ONE PREWASHED DISHES before “washing” them in an electric dishwasher, not since about 1952! I normally will scrape the dishes and then take a paper towel and wipe off any grease or sauce before putting them in the washer. But really, you shouldn’t even have to do that.

So it looks like I’m going to have to go back to pouring vinegar into the dishwasher before running a cycle, something I did for two or three years to get the limping old Kenmore to keep getting the dishes clean despite hard water and mechanical senility.

This morning I scrubbed down the washer’s innards again, recombobulated the thing, poured in two cups of Target’s cheapest white vinegar, and ran the thing on the “sanitize” cycle.

This cycle a) sucks up electricity for well over two hours! and b) puts the lie to Bosch’s bragging about the quietness of its wondrous machines.

It seems to have worked, though. I can’t smell the stink.

Probably, like a wonderful new-fangled front-loading super-efficient clothes washer, this thing needs to be left open when not in use in order to keep it from stinking. Won’t that be attractive?

European dishwashers, unlike American products, do not have a “dry” cycle — that is, one way they save energy is by not blowing hot air over the dishes to get them dry. The result is that when the washer turns off, the dishes sitting in there are WET.

You have to remember to open and empty the bottom rack first; otherwise if you pull out the top rack to get something you need, you SPLASH ALL THE DISHES ON THE BOTTOM RACK WITH WATER.

This is a relatively minor annoyance — or at least, it was, when Bosch was a great dishwasher. That seems to have changed with the new annoying generation of electronically enhanced machinery.

I should’ve bought the Kenmore. Just because a bunch of former Sears customers complained that the damn things set fire to their kitchens, was that REALLY a good reason not to buy a Kenmore instead of a Bosch? What are your choices, anyway? You can be burned out of the kitchen or stunk out of the kitchen.

Okay. Enough. I am going off now to wash the rest of the laundry by hand (which will take me all of ten minutes) and hang it up to dry. Have a nice day. Goddamnit.

Dishwasher Purchase, Chapter 2 :-)

Dishwasher_open_for_loadingHey! Despite all the concern about whether my dinnerware will fit in the bottom rack of the budget-busting new dishwasher, lo! Those gigantic plates fit just FINE. That the tines are closer together means they stand up straighter, take up less space, and so the machine can hold MANY more dishes than the Late Lamented Unit did.

Not only that, but somehow Bosch has managed to redesign the top rack so that — mirabilis! — it holds the wine glasses!! Not only holds them, but holds them with plenty of room to spare!

The old one wouldn’t hold them upright (so they always gathered hard-water spots where water pooled near the rim and on the bottom of the foot), and the fit was so tight that when you closed the top rack they’d sometimes fall over. So there’s a pain in the tuchus that no longer applies.

What a freaking day. You’d think that waiting around for a repairman to show up would be fairly dull, wouldn’t you? Ah, but that’s in real life. The Funny Farm exists in a universe parallel to but slightly out of whack with the Real World.

To start with, certain food items were running low. So I had to make a run on the grocery store, an expedition from where I am.

Then, it’s been so long since I cleaned house that the entire shack lay beneath a layer of litter and debris. Bills were unpaid (most of them still are, as we scribble). The calendar was under a pile of loose papers, so if I was supposed to do anything I had no idea what it might be. Trash was strewn across the dining table, the desks, the floor in the TV room. It had been so long since I’d changed the sheets that Cassie and I were beginning to get nervous about climbing onto the bed. Cassie’s dog-hair-catching bed blanket was white with shed fur. Ugh.

So this morning I had to throw myself around to get through this stuff before InstallerMan showed up.

Meanwhile, I’d fobbed the Chinese Statistico-Psychological Study onto Tina, officially the Associate Editor here at The Copyeditor’s Desk. She had read through it, found a pile of stuff I’d missed and dreamed up some new issues that needed to be fixed, and sent it back. So I needed to finish reading 80 exceptionally opaque pages and do it now, since we are way, way, way, way late in returning this thing to the client.

Fortunately, Client is busying herself with applying for post-docs, a chore that, you can bet, is distracting her attention nicely from our shortcomings.

Hours pass. Hours filled with mind-numbing ditz. Hours filled with batsh!t CHAOS.

InstallerMan, scheduled to show up between 1 and 5, surfaces closer to 1 than to 5. When he phones to announce his advent, he asks me to empty all the junk out from under the sink.

Ducky. I’m in the middle of this complicated, damn near incomprehensible project and now I’ve got to drop everything, get down on hands and knees, and shovel out the freaking kitchen cabinetry!

Luckily, rather little is under there, so it’s not that big a deal. Except that the interruption is annoying.

Back to work. Twenty minutes later, the guy shows up and Cassie greets him with a yapfest. I let him in, move my car, and open the garage door so he can get the contraption into the house with the least possible hassle. Then it’s back to the laptop, trying to get through the Chinglish.

Cassie can’t stand it. She launches into a new yapping frenzy about every three to five minutes. I’m constantly having to quiet her down, and even if I try to ignore her ear-splitting barks, I can not concentrate on this stuff while she’s carrying on and the workman is tromping back and forth.

It takes him an hour or so to get the dishwasher in. During that time, unknown to me he tries to shut off the water to the house — the clothes washer is full of sheets and this will cause God only knows what to happen to THAT pricey contraption; if he’d said something I would’ve gotten up and shut off the washer. The main valve leaks, so, afraid he won’t be able to stop that, he shuts it off, comes into the house, and shuts off the water at the valve under the sink. That leaks, too.

He asks for a bowl so as not to flood the kitchen. I can see we’ll be calling the plumber soon, another gerzillion bucks down the drain.

He manages to get the machine installed. The leak stops. I wish him a happy Thanksgiving, wave good-bye, move the car back into the garage, and race back to the computer.

Finally, finally, finally I arrive at the end of this exercise. A moment of extraordinary good luck occurs: I hit “save” before doing the file conversions I wished to do, and I cleverly saved the project to DropBox.

Can you not see what’s coming?

But of course. When I tried to produce clean copy containing only notes & queries, Word instantly hung.

And it stayed hung. Permanently.


Trudge into the office, get onto the giant iMac. Save and close every open Wyrd file, of which there were a-plenty (multi-tasking is what I do instead of breathing). Surprisingly, find the saved file in DropBox — something has been saved, anyway.

Persuade file to open — another surprise. Search for the most recent changes…find them. Another surprise. Rename and save to a new directory. It works. Apparently the file has not corrupted. These miracles may never cease.

The big computer compliantly manipulated the damn file as desired and I shipped it off to the client.

Thank heaven for DropBox! If that file had resided on the laptop, I would’ve been SOL.

Anyway, the thing is now mailed to Shanghai; next, the bookkeeping. But first: dinner.

Putting the cleaning gear back under the sink, what should I find but that this connection box thing — very clearly an electrical connection for the machine’s power cord — is laying on the floor of the cabinet, right next to where the cut-off valve allegedly is leaking. It has little holes drilled in its frame — evidently it’s intended to be bolted to a vertical surface. Instead, it’s laying on a surface prone to flooding with leaking water.

Electric box…meet water. Water…meet electric box.

Helle’s Belles. Now I’ll have to call the plumber first thing Monday. Like I haven’t already bankrupted myself!

Image: Open Dishwasher Loaded with Dishes. Carlos Paes. Public domain.

Dishwasher Scored, Zillions of Bucks Fly out the Door

Ooohhhkayyy…. So I found the dishwasher, but had to pay full price for it — over $700 after pretend rebates. Unfreakingbelievable.

The Sears Outlet store didn’t have any Bosch washers. But Sears was having one of its three-day-weekend PUHLEEEEZE SOMEONE COME BACK TO OUR STORE sales, so I went over there because I’d found discount coupons on the Web and because I was also interested in the Kenmore.

There I encountered this highly entertaining saleslady, one Amy, a Lebanese woman with more personality than any three humans, an exotic accent, and a real gift for selling. I love to watch people who can sell when they really get on a roll. By golly, she was gonna send one of these contraptions out the door. She was good, she had a sense of humor, and she was very fun to deal with.

As you can imagine, she wanted to sell a Kenmore. She did not want to sell a GE — after the last year’s massive recall when the things were determined to be a fire hazard, she doesn’t trust them, plus she apparently knew someone whose GE in fact did start a fire. So as far as she was concerned, the choices were Kenmore or Bosch, and Bosch or Kenmore. 😀

In fact, the Kenmore is a very nice machine. I much prefer the layout of the racks. The top rack can be moved up and down a little more easily than the Bosch’s, and both racks are far more intelligently designed. You can get A LOT of dishes in there, and you don’t have to fiddle around to get a wine glass to stand up to be washed without breaking off its foot when you push the rack back in.

Problem is, it has this weird, complicated lower spray arm assembly adorning the sprayer on the bottom of the tub. On one end, the thing has a geared attachment that apparently spins around, rotating along a large plastic gear. It cries out to break off. All it would take is one wooden spoon to slip off the top shelf and protrude an inch beneath the bottom rack, and voilà! a whopping repair bill! And after all these years with a Bosch, I find I’m no longer nuts about having an oven-like metal heating element in the bottom, directly below my dishes.

It also has a lot of other moving parts and a bunch of dome-like sprayers on the back wall. IMHO, way, way too many moving parts and sprayers. Asked if the thing had more than one circulating pump with which to drive all that junk, our Amy didn’t even know what I was talking about.

All the low to mid-range Bosch models now have a plastic floor on the bottom of the tub. I said no, the interior has to be ALL stainless steel, not “sorta” stainless steel. Okay, said she; we went to see the lowest-priced model with a full stainless steel interior. Price: almost $700.

Holy sh!t.

So I waffled. Went back to the Kenmore, which was a mere $600. Inspected it again. Decided that yes, it is a repair bill waiting to happen.

The $150 gouge for delivery, installation, and the “installation kit” rip-off jacked the price up to $833. The discounts she had didn’t apply to that model, to her disgust, The annoying mail-in rebate nuisance will theoretically drop the price back down to $708, assuming they honor it and assuming I get around to using it — it comes in the form of an aggravating Visa debit card, which I really don’t want. Seems to me last time I had to screw around with one of those from Sears, I was able to get them to send me a check, which will help some. Assuming, as I say, it actually materializes.

So much for replacing Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner this winter.

Bosch has redesigned its interior. The filter assembly is closer to the front, making it more convenient to see and easier to get at. That’s good. You don’t have to clean the filter in these things often — theoretically it’s self-cleaning — but a service dude once showed me how to take it apart and recommended an occasional manual clean-up. Occasionally cleaning the parts you can get to indeed does help the machine to work better and last longer.

Instead of a small utensil basket toward the front or back, the Bosch now has a very long, very large basket that fits along the right-hand side of the unit. It takes up a lot of space, IMHO — it would be good for a large family, but I just don’t use that many knives, forks, and spoons.

The bottom rack has a lot more prong thingies to prop up plates. Placed very close together, they now align in two directions — left-to-right in the back half of the rack and front-to-back in the front half. If you have relatively small dishware, these will probably accommodate a lot more plates than the old one did. However…I don’t have relatively small dishes. My Heathware is a direct throwback to the 1960s, when people still ate off full-sized dinner plates. They’re stoneware, which makes them fairly thick and heavy. So they may not fit into this rack at all.

However, it dawned on me as I was looking at the thing that the actual shape and size of the tub itself is the same as mine. My racks are in excellent condition —  not a nick or a sign of rust anywhere. So I’m going to pull the racks out and stash them in the garage before the installer gets here today. Then if the plates won’t fit in the new one, all I’ll have to do is slide the old one in.

My utensil basket may fit in the basket space along the side — probably not, though — I think mine is wider than the long thing they’re using now. But if it will go in there and my plates will fit in the bottom rack, that will free up a lot of space in the bottom rack. A frying pan could easily fit in the space Bosch has dedicated to the silverware.

So, I’m not thrilled. There’s a lot to complain about here:

A machine that should last a good eighteen to twenty years engineered to crap out after eight or nine years
Nuisancey mail-in rebates instead of a single fair and reasonable price for the product (Gawd how I hate those!!)
• An uninvited and unwelcome debit card instead of a real discount
Extra “installation kits” that you have to buy, when they should be included as part of the unit
A redesign that may not fit my dishes
Cheeseying-up of models that fall into the “almost affordable” price range
Prices that are simply way, way too high to make sense at all

When this one gives out, seriously: I’ll probably just go back to washing dishes by hand. That’s a chore I profoundly dislike and don’t do very well…but it’s ridiculous to pay this much for a few clean plates and forks.