Housework for dummies.

God help me, I can’t believe I’m linking two days running to something Prospero dropped into comments, but here goes:

Rand Paul, senator of Kentucky, says he can’t find a toilet that works. Anywhere!

“You flush them 10 times and they don’t work,” he mourned — ranted, really — during an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing recently. None of the toilets in his house work. For years, he’s been waiting for the right platform to tell the world that you use the powder room at the Pauls’ old Kentucky home at your own risk of embarrassment.

We’ve discussed this before, haven’t we? As I recall, Alex has lousy low-flows, and Peter and I have good ones. Ours went in last year, and I have yet to see it defeated by anything I asked it to handle. If I had my druthers and lived in a dry climate, I’d replace the other two, as well. They’re quiet and refill quickly, without the endlessly singing pipes of the others.

But conservatives, to a (wo)man, can never get theirs to work. I think we need to draw some conclusions here.

1) Conservatives are so full of shit they can’t dispose of it quickly enough via the usual means; and
2) Conservatives can’t find competent plumbers. Well, we all met Joe the P., didn’t we? I’m not surprised.

Seriously, though. The Wall Street Journal last week was complaining about the newer energy-efficient washing machines, too. They don’t get clothes clean! They’re wussy and green and well, damn it all, anyway.

It so happens I’m in partial agreement with them on front-loading washers, although I wouldn’t give mine up. More on that in a minute.

And finally, we have Mona Charen — still rockin’ the 1982-era headshot, I see — bitching about her dishwasher not working. Oh, woe is her:

Bits of spaghetti, stiff and stubborn, stuck like stalactites to bowls. The walls and doors of the machine emerged waxy and coated from each wash, in contrast to the gleaming surfaces of the past. Between the tines of forks, ugly bits of hardened remains resembled something you’d see on “NCIS” — if not quite repellent, then certainly unwelcome from what should have been a disinfected, pristine dishwasher!

(I tell my students: Save your exclamation points for 900-foot-tall Jesus sightings. I also think it’s amusing that Mona watches “NCIS.”)

The problem, once again, is “environmentalists” who have stripped phosphates out of dishwasher soap, making them less efficient. I’ve noticed this, too, although not on my dishes — Mona, it’s called rinsing, try it — but on the insides of the washer itself. Let me tell you how I have harnessed that old conservative value — pulling up my socks and figuring it out for myself — to cope with these modern, liberal-imposed inconveniences.

The washer took some getting used to, once our old top-loader died. The new ones are all front-loaders and use less water than the old ones — I’d estimate at least two-thirds less, maybe more. You also use far less soap. Which means you can wash in as much hot water as you like, as you’re only using a couple gallons. This fixes the doesn’t-wash-well problem. My ninja skills in advanced laundry technologies — oxy cleaners, bleach pens and the like — take care of the rest.

(My complaint is that the 90-degree rotation of the tub means heavy items are a big pain in the ass. I’ve stopped trying to wash things like bathroom rugs or pillows. I just deal.)

The dishwasher? I discovered a product called Dishwasher Magic at Lowe’s. Once or twice a year, I run it through the ol’ Whirlpool. Strips away all residue and leaves everything sparkling, like the way it used to be when we poured heaps of fully-phosphated Cascade through the thing and let the chips fall where they may.

So, three modern convenience machines ruined by liberals, accommodated through incremental adjustment in habit and behavior. How. Easy. Meanwhile, consider that some conservatives believe all law-abiding citizens should be packing heat at all times, and buying a couple bottles of Dishwasher Magic seems like pretty easy stuff.

Anyway, back to Prospero’s link, the very first one, from That led me to this page, which explained everything:

The first low flow toilet designs simply changed the tank size, thereby reducing the amount of water used without making any other modifications. These early models had many problems and often became clogged or required two flushes to adequately remove waste. These issues frustrated homeowners, making them reluctant to purchase the new toilets. They repaired their old ones or purchased used models instead. These complications prompted manufacturers to make modifications and improve their low flow toilet models. Most currently available models work in a comparable fashion to older pre-1994 designs.

In other words, a government policy pushed innovation. I thought that never happened.

I can’t believe I’ve just spend 803 words talking about housework. Well, one of my many jobs is that of homemaker. I have room in my brain for laundry, too.

But now the hour is growing late, and I must get to work. Some bloggage? Sure:

You’ll never guess how one Washington D.C. miracle school achieved that sharp increase in test scores:

A USA TODAY investigation, based on documents and data secured under D.C.’s Freedom of Information Act, found that for the past three school years most of Noyes’ classrooms had extraordinarily high numbers of erasures on standardized tests. The consistent pattern was that wrong answers were erased and changed to right ones.

It’s still freezing here, just miserable, but the icebreakers are at work on our part of the Great Lakes. Skip the story, watch the video and photo galleries.

And another video from the other Detroit paper — the people who love the Packard Plant and why they go there. It’s pretty much what you expect, but some arresting images.

So, see ya, then. And let’s hope for a warmer week ahead, eh?

Posted at 10:00 am in Same ol' same ol' |

66 responses to “Housework for dummies.”

  1. MarkH said on March 28, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Starting off strictly OT this AM: one of the great writers, in or out of automotive journalism, is gone. From your neighborhood, too, Nancy:

    RIP, David E.

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  2. harrison said on March 28, 2011 at 10:18 am

    mona charen’s an idiot. after i read her complaints, i felt some schadenfreude.

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  3. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 28, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Re: poverty as the real problem in school achievement — . . . which is why you can’t get test scores to move just by threatening teachers with consequences. Your tool box is tightly constrained when you have kids move in halfway through their junior year reading at an 8th grade level, with 5 credits and a disciplinary record to make Cagney smile.

    And for those of you driving the Lincoln option for NYT (or does this kind of link go free?), this is not in my state, but for those who’ve wondered what my job is weekdays, there’s a juvenile court mediator at work in the back third of this lengthy yet very informative story —

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  4. Mark P. said on March 28, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I’ve heard all the toilet complaints before, but ours, installed around 2003 in the house we built, have worked perfectly ever since. Dishwashers? Clothes washers? What’s wrong with these people? Are they that filthy? Do they not knock the clumps of mud off their clothes (plates?) before they load them? Geez but it’s boring to hear the same old complaints that were obsolete a decade ago. I even hear similar complaints about how the federal government ruined American cars by requiring smog controls. No more smoking burnouts because of reduced horsepower! The cars don’t run right! And now those cleaner cars can run circles around GTOs and Mustangs of the past. You can get a Honda that will smoke a 1965 GTO. What a bunch of idiots.

    Georgia and South Carolina are trying to pass bills that would allow incandescent lightbulb manufacturers to produce and sell them within their respective states. Idiots. I’m not entirely sold on CFLs, but, again, gimme a break. Of well, maybe wasting time on things like that keeps them from causing real problems.

    Nah. They’ll find time.

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  5. del said on March 28, 2011 at 10:29 am

    I tried a case against Mona Charen’s husband, Bob Parker, a partner at New York heavy hitter law firm, Paul, Weiss et al. I find it hard to believe that she dirties her hands with much housework. Maybe she’s heard complaints from her domestic.

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  6. nancy said on March 28, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I read that story yesterday, Jeff, the one on sexting. Pretty chilling.

    David E. Davis Jr. was good friends with the director of my journalism fellowship, and was a frequent guest at our gatherings throughout the year. Nice guy, lots of good stories about the car bidness. My favorite was the one about how he was given an early test model of the Cadillac Escalade EXT, aka the Cadillac pickup truck, to drive for a couple of weeks. He stopped for eggs in a fairly dodgy neighborhood late one night and came out to find it surrounded by admiring hip-hoppers, who seemed convinced someone famous had to be driving the thing. Alas, it was only David E. and his handlebar moustache.

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  7. alex said on March 28, 2011 at 10:43 am

    No more complaints about my low-flow toilets, Nance. We punched pinholes in the flappers and now they function quite well. (Although they still don’t erase skid marks the way my old gravity-fed toilet did when I lived in the high-rise.)

    On edit: Regarding DED Jr., I seem to recall he wrote about regulation of the auto industry with much the same anti-liberal contempt shown by Mona Charen in writing about her dishwasher.

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  8. Connie said on March 28, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I am very happy with the low flow toilet in my rental house. The water softener however isn’t working and there’s a lot of mineral in the well water. The dishwasher is a mineral mess, as is my Oneida stainless.

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  9. Peter said on March 28, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I’ll update my opinion – the Japanese may not know how to run a nuclear plant, but they still make the best toilets on the planet.

    I had to replace my dishwasher recently, and geez Mona, even my Kitchenaid uses less water and makes the clean dishes like the old one. Seriously, woman, have you thought about scraping the shit off the plates before you put them in?

    And now I must put up props for my teenager, who picked VCU and Butler for the Final Four. His trade secret? Flipping quarters. I am not hearing the end of it.

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  10. MichaelG said on March 28, 2011 at 10:59 am

    A. I have low flow toilets. When one flushes after peeing, the refilled bowl has a definite yellow tinge. One must flush at least twice to have clear water in the bowl. Otherwise, everything goes down fine.

    B. When I bought a new washer and dryer a couple of years ago, I did the usual internet research and saw lots of complaints about leaky washer doors. So I bought a top loader. The front loaders were also lots more expensive. I haven’t priced them recently. My mid-range Kenmore works just fine even if it doesn’t have digital controls. I’ve always had gas driers and my house is plumbed and wired for your choice. Again I did my research and was surprised to find that electric driers have become much more efficient. According to what I read, gas is still more efficient but it would take an average family doing their eight loads per week (?) two years to make up the price differential between a gas drier and an electric drier. I don’t do eight loads a month. I bought electric.

    C. I rinse stuff before putting it in the dish washer. It sure seems to me that if you don’t rinse there’s going to be a great agglomeration of crap in your appliance after a while. I’ve always rinsed. It just makes sense.

    Was at Trader Joe’s the other day. Two Buck Chuck is still $1.99. I went for the $7.99 Bordeaux. and the $2.99 Pinot Grigio.

    Sad to hear about DED. I’ve read him and enjoyed him for too many years to count.

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  11. LAMary said on March 28, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Connie, run white vinegar through the dishwasher from time to time. I have a lot of minerals too and if they build up in the dishwasher it gets all over anything smooth like stainless and enameled pots.
    I have a new high efficiency washing machine and it’s a top loader. I love it. Reading reviews of front loaders I saw a lot of mentions of them developing an odor, probably because they have to seal tightly what with the door on the front. Top loader doesn’t have that problem. Yay.
    And my low flow toilets work just fine. They’re faily inexpensive ones we installed ourselves about three years ago and no problems. For a small fee and travel expenses I will go to Rand’s house and install new toilets for him. It’s not that difficult. The in house Brit will accompany me and of course the kids will be needed for the heavy lifting, big strapping boys they are.

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  12. Dave said on March 28, 2011 at 11:21 am

    We’ve always rinsed. My mother rinsed, even, from the time she got her first dishwasher, whenever that was, that was portable and hooked up to the faucet via a hose, loaded from the top, and was on casters.

    As for toilets, ours works most of the time, nothing that’s ever caused us a great deal of heartache, that’s for sure.

    These people who deep down think nothing should never, ever change, really irk me.

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  13. Deborah said on March 28, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Our toilets are circa 1957, originals specified by the Mies office. They are tankless, the water comes from a source behind the walls or somewhere else in the building, I have no idea where. My bathroom has coral pink appliances and my husband’s has grey. They flush with a mighty whooshing sound.
    Regarding dishwashers, I have always rinsed everything completely before loading, I sometimes wonder if it’s even necessary to run them through the dishwasher after I’m done rinsing. I’m probably wasting a lot of water too. I need to break that habit.
    Michael G, Two Buck Chuck costs $2.99 here, at least the last time I took notice it did.

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  14. Mark P. said on March 28, 2011 at 11:26 am

    I didn’t see the DED (“don’t call me ‘Dave'”) comment until just now. I was a C&D reader from long ago and watched as it was transformed into a literate publication that just happened to be about cars. Dead at 80. Time passes, dammit.

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  15. LAMary said on March 28, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Two buck Chuck is still 1.99 here. I don’t drink but the Pinot Grigio is good in Chicken Cacciatore.

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  16. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 28, 2011 at 11:40 am

    My wife and I improved our relationship greatly when I realized that it’s not a dishwasher, it’s more of a dish sterilizer. You largely clean them before you put them in, and the cycle is a final step, not the whole deal.

    Having run Hobart industrial dishwashers at camp and in college for years, I thought a dishwasher was something you put the dirty dishes into right off the table or stovetop, and took clean dishes out of. No household dishwasher that we’ve had does that, but it took me a while to figure out. Stuff between fork tines, stuck bits on plates – if dishwashers are supposed to get that off and out, I’ve not seen it.

    But it didn’t really click for me until I reframed what the dishwasher was as more of a culinary autoclave.

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  17. moe99 said on March 28, 2011 at 11:51 am

    The one thing I can’t give up about my front loading washer is that the dryer is stacked on top of it. I moved to a smaller house a few years ago and any little bit of space savings helps.

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  18. Rana said on March 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    I think I’ve reached my saturation point. I can’t think of anything to write that’s not a pages-long disquisition on technology and social change, a fire-breathing political rant, a practicum on using environmentally-friendly products, or a long, exasperated scream.

    Though I’m tempted to go with the scream.

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  19. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 28, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Have a Madeleine and see what happens.

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  20. Julie Robinson said on March 28, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    The weather report from West Palm Beach is misery at the other end of the thermometer. 90+, humidity a bajillion percent; why does anyone live here?

    The only thing I don’t like about the front loader is that I can’t soak things in it, but I can work around that. I was very hesitant to pay the big bucks for one until my hubby found a government site showing actual water usage. No manufacturer will give you that information and I’m not sure why since I think it would help sales.

    Dryer technology has not really changed so there’s no reason to pay extra for a matching unit and its expensive pedestal. My units are in separate alcoves so I saved the $$$ for sexier purchases.

    No energy here for political rants as I am saving it for working on a smoky and moldy house. It’s refreshing to think of such a simple chore as clean laundry.

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  21. Mark said on March 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    I think Consumers Reports says not to ‘prewash’ dishes. Current (good) dishwashers and detergents are supposed to clean without doing that. I think it’s supposed to have something to do with the way the detergent’s enzymes work with food waste.

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  22. Dorothy said on March 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    I did not have a dishwasher in a home we owned until 2002. We got married in 1979. Even then I knew you had to rinse plates off before putting them in. Otherwise the drain/strainer would be all clogged up!

    Our campus us happily buzzing with pride over Shaka Smart (Kenyon grad ’99) and his Virginia Commonwealth Rams making it to the final four! I know there are Butler fans here but I really hope VCU pulls off another upset and reaches the championship game!

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  23. Joe Kobiela said on March 28, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    We found the best way to get the crud off the dishes is to let the dog lick em clean before we put them in the dishwasher.
    Pilot Joe

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  24. prospero said on March 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    We actually looked into performance appraisals of toilets when we renovated our condo last summer and bought the Consumers Best Buy Kohler model. Fast and silent. I’m with the ‘so full of shit’ explanation for these light bulb freedom fighters. Given their political ‘ideas’, it’s surprising they don’t insist on the chamber pot and servant plumbing system.

    As for washers. We have a small laundry space, big enough for a stacked washer and drier, but the stack would block access to the main water valve for the condo, unacceptable. We have a more ingenious laundry solution: a combination washer/drier made by a (I assume) Deutsch company called Haier. It doesn’t require a vent for drying. It’s very compact. people complain that these machines have limited capacity, take too long too dry, and leave clothes wrinkled. Wah. Jeans, assorted underwear and T-shirts, two days worth, or a set of queen sheets with pillowcases. No problem. I love this machine, and have tracked energy consumption before and after, and there is virtually no apparent increase in the electric bill from our laundomat days until now. We also washed a down comforter in this machine and it turned out beautifully. Machine is inaudible with the TV or stero on (well, everything is inaudible with the stereo on). We love this machine. It’s good to live at the beach self-employed and never get dressed up, where wrinkles doan mean shit. Tees and jeans and cargo shorts, and sandals.

    Dishwasher: Ditched, there are two of us, after all, and the dishwasher was just a tool of procrastination, a repository for dirty dishes, a terrible energy waster and point pollution source. Who needs it. I assumed permanent dishwashing detail, in return for dishwasher-sized cabinet with interior bin-sixed drawers, a reasonable tradeoff, in my opinion.

    Haven’t seen a Mona Charen column in years. Does she still use that cutesy byline pic that looks like Baby’s obnoxious sister, and probably lagged her actual age by about 15 years?

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  25. prospero said on March 28, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    The idea that a new government regulation could drive technological, design, or manufacturing innovation in the private sector is horrifying to the plutocrats, but I’m not sure why. Because it might tend to legitimize regulation, or government in general? Or is it just that CAFE standards would drive Urban Assault Vehicles into extinction?

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  26. A.Riley said on March 28, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Ooo, icebreakers. My mom grew up in Escanaba (in the UP, on the northern shore of Lake Michigan, used to be a lumber harbor town) and she said that when the icebreaker came through, everyone would go down to the harbor to watch. It would run up on the ice and crash through, run up and crash through, run up and crash through until the harbor was clear enough.

    It must have been terrific to see and hear.

    She also told us that when the paper mills changed the white wool covers on the big dryer rollers, the moms would stand in line to get the fabric & make coats for their kids.

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  27. Mark P. said on March 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    prospero, I hate to tell you, but Haier is a Chinese company.

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  28. Kirk said on March 28, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    But what about the swimming team, Dorothy?

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  29. Bitter Scribe said on March 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    For people who are always reminding us how tough and hard-nosed they are, conservatives sure whine a lot about things like rinsing their dishes.

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  30. prospero said on March 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Damn. I left my bike unlocked for five minutes yesterday and returned to find it had been liberated. Looking at a new bikeon the net, I’ve seen a bunch of these internal hub, shaft-drive bikes that look great. Any of y’all have any experience with these. I wonder about rear tire changes. Every bottle thrown from every car here shatters on the bike paths, (locals blame it on the touristas, but I know it’s the locals) although I’ll probably just go with kevlar-belted tires anyway, so tire changes would be black swan rare. I’m a pretty good bike mechanic, and I trust chain drives and derailleurs.

    Third bike stolen in 9 years, first was a very expensive Motobecane road bike, chain cut while I was at a 7:30 am mass. Obviously a bike theft gang. Mostly people steal to get someplace once and then just ditch the bikes. Moved from Boston, the US car theft capital, to the bike theft capital of the world. Obviously, I don’t want to spend a lot. I’m looking at Trek and Schwinn hybrids that are beach-capable, under $300.

    I think it’s more an attack on free speech and academic freedom than McCarthyism, but I really think Professor Cronon should either claim he has no idea where the emails have gone in the ether, or that he’ll turn them over when the GOP produces several million from Kommissar Karl.

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  31. LAMary said on March 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I was going to mention that, Mark P. No way a German washer would be as affordable as Haiers are.

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  32. prospero said on March 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Mark P. Fine with me, but nobody makes a competitive machine for performance or price. Free markets, right. Good enough for the Walton Family and Sears, too. And that All-American Republican free-marketeer Arthur Blank.

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  33. Mark said on March 28, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    I’m not anti-Chinese, just anti-US companies that move jobs there.

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  34. Kath said on March 28, 2011 at 1:55 pm


    I have the Shimano Nexus 8 speed internal hub on my bike. It’s a Breezer Uptown. I really like it. It’s easy to shift and you don’t have to worry about getting sand in the gears this time of year.

    Also, we bought a $99 American Standard toilet at Home Depot about 10 years ago. It works fine. You occasionally have to flush twice, but that thing saves us about $5 per month in water, so it’s more than paid for itself in 10 years. We also have a great low-flow shower head with tons of pressure. Our two-person household uses about 75 gallons of water per day. Why wouldn’t we want to encourage this, especially in the west?

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  35. Kim said on March 28, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Very cool ice cutting operation! (equivalent to a 900-foot Jesus sighting) My neighbor commanded one of those ships and I have never been quite sure what the job entailed. The photog on the deck looked ready to meet his/her maker several times as the ice crashed over and onto the deck.

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  36. coozledad said on March 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Looks like I’ve got a backlog of reading to do:

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  37. Dorothy said on March 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Ahh Kirk – yes the swim team. Upset by Denison this year, interrupting the 31-year streak that the men’s swim team can lay claim to. It’s a little unbelievable to me that it doesn’t garner more attention – it’s the longest streak ever in the NCAA, any division, any sport, and I didn’t see a word about it in the C-bus Dispatch on Sunday. Ahem. Did they say anything about it in today’s edition?

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  38. Sherri said on March 28, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    The last time I bought a washing machine, the front loaders weren’t quite ready for prime-time, so I bought the most efficient top loader I could find, a Fisher Paykel. When my FP recently died, I thought I was going to buy a front loader, but the new FP top loaders were still competitive in efficiency with the front loaders, and cheaper, so I bought a new FP. Their new washers don’t have an agitator, and spray water over the clothes instead. So far, my clothes have come out just fine, though I don’t have small children and we don’t get out clothes that dirty.

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  39. Bob (not Greene) said on March 28, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    We swam against Kenyon every year while I was in college. Man, did they kick our ass. I think they even picked their events out of a hat to swim against us, that’s how good they were/are, and we weren’t terrible by any stretch.

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  40. del said on March 28, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Agreed that dishwashers are best regarded as dish sterilizers. And garbage disposals are best used sparingly for stuff not picked out of the sink by hand. So says the appliance man, and my wife.

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  41. LAMary said on March 28, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Just for the record, prospero, I have nothing against the Chinese, I was just pointing out Haier was Chinese, not German. I think Bosch makes washing machines if anyone is looking for a German one, but it’s probably not made in Germany.
    I think mine is a GE, which now I regret since I found out they don’t pay taxes. I really like it, though. My old washer was was dying a slow and miserable death, making my weekends suck badly. Now I can do six loads in no time. The spin cycle is wicked and even towels take no time to dry.

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  42. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 28, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Dorothy — I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Kenyon was upset by . . .

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  43. Dorothy said on March 28, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Ha ha, Jeff. Don’t make me say that name again! … but don’t get too comfortable with that lead!!!

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  44. John G. Wallace said on March 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    I don’t know how much in the wikipedia article is accurate but Haier has an interesting story regarding their transformation from a poorly run state owned company that put out junky appliances, to a brand name that is well known and well regarded U.S. market. Stayed at a oondo in Jamaica a few years ago and it had Haier a/c’s, a refrigerator, and a Haier stove.

    A few years ago a delegation of industry leaders from N.E. Indiana along with a local mayor toured the main haier plant, and were impressed by what they saw, but didn’t understand the role the party official played in the company, it was more akin to an HR department.

    Connie, I feel for you on the water softner issue. I am always perplexed by mine, and I use rust remover salt, another agent for helping keep white laundry white, and we’re resigned to just using the house water for non-cooking tasks. I recently switched to a new water conditioning company for a service call, and they made sure ours was working properly. They also have a $5 a month water club. I can stop in whenever they are open and fill as many jugs as I want anytime with R.O. water, which we use for cooking and for my aquariums.
    The development we live in extended city water lines to within a block of our house. The cost to tie in was pricey, and the rates seemed high, so I’ll live with my well for now.

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  45. moe99 said on March 28, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    My son, Seth, was an All American swimmer in high school and he went to Kenyon thinking he could join the swim team. He couldn’t. His times weren’t good enough, so he transferred to Macalester where he was captain of their swim team for two years. They didn’t win many meets but boy did they have fun. Their water polo team came in 2d in nationals for club sports one year which was also quite fun. I think that losing, while crappy, does teach you some life lessons.

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  46. Mark P. said on March 28, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Some of you might be old enough to remember how poorly regarded Japanese products were in the years after WW II. Does anyone remember cheap Japanese “transistor radios”? Cars like Honda and Toyota were not much to speak of. If the US car makers had been serious about it, they could have kicked Japanese butt back in the early ’70s. But the Japanese continually improved their products and now, Japanese technology is as well respected as German engineering used to be (I say that quite deliberately). Now the Koreans are well along that path with cars and electronics. I imagine the Chinese will follow.

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  47. Kirk said on March 28, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Denison’s dethroning of Kenyon was in the Sunday Dispatch, but not until the second edition. You folks out in the boonies get the first edition.

    It was truly a remarkable streak, and that’s one beautiful natatorium up there. But I was just wondering how much of an impact the loss had on campus.

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  48. prospero said on March 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Scrushy and Rick Scott.

    A divergent tale of two Health care crooks. If you defraud stockholders, you go to Club Fed. Defraud the government, you escape jail but bankrupt the company by getting the hell out of Dodge, leaving it to pay fines for your personal crimes.

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  49. Dorothy said on March 28, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Kirk I think Shaka Smart’s prominence is softening the blow of the swim team loss a good bit. And Moe you are right about losing – I only work there; I had no children enrolled there or had any friends whose children went there. Our swim coach is a pretty neat guy, though, and never ever assumed that they were going to win every year. He’s very unassuming, and doesn’t like a lot of attention on himself.

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  50. moe99 said on March 28, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Dorothy, my son has no hard feelings and neither do I.

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  51. MichaelG said on March 28, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    A buck ninety nine for a bottle of wine. How do they grow the grapes, crush them, process and store them, bottle and label them and provide all the assorted cartage necessary and make a profit?

    We don’t have water meters here in Sac Town so I have no idea how much water I use. I pay a single monthly bill of $111.72 to the City. It covers water, garbage, sewage, storm drain, street cleaning, garden waste pick up and recycling.

    I thought Cal won the NCAA Men’s swim title.

    Another big appliance brand that has popped up in recent years is LG out of Korea. Never heard of them until relatively recently.

    All my appliances are from Sears. Washer, dryer, stove, reefer, dish washer. Boy, did I make them happy that year. Also a lawn mower, a string trimmer and a shed for the back yard. We had a new Bosch dish washer in Auburn when I left. That was a really nice one. Totally silent, easy on water and fast.

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  52. LAMary said on March 28, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    My ATT issued free upgrade cell phone is LG and in the last four years we’ve bought a washer, a refrigerator and a dishwasher, and LG was all over the place. We ended up with a GE, a Whirlpool and a JennAir, but the LGs all looked good. The fridge is limited to whomever makes a side by side that fits the weird space I have between cabinets. It’s just slightly smaller than most fridges.

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  53. Deborah said on March 28, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Michael G, that’s a good question. I read somewhere awhile ago, that the real cost of a jug full of Tropicana orange juice is about 15 cents or something outrageously cheap. They said what you are paying for is all of the marketing that goes into it, commercials, ads etc. Maybe I’m misremembering the exact amount they said, but it was really low.

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  54. Suzanne said on March 28, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    We have low-flow toilets that were installed about 12 years ago, I think during the height of low-flow mania before there were adjustments to the system. Our plunger is our best friend. However, I don’t spend my days railing against the “liberals” who brought me to this sad, dire state. I rail against the overpaid Purdue engineers who designed those awful things.

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  55. Dexter said on March 28, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    prospero, I saw a Landrider Elite AutoShift last summer at my bike dealer’s shop…he said they are fine machines and his customers love them.
    I had assumed they were just junk because for years the commercials dominated late-night TV as you will recall.
    I like to browse sites regarding Dutch bikes…quite an array of cargo bikes and very sturdy all-business bikes for street riding.
    Or save a ton of dough and buy a used Trek online and re-hab it yourself.
    I remember a vacation in Charleston …a Walmart had about 100 beach cruiser cheap bikes for $99. I bought one for our one-week vacation and just left it on the beach over in Isle of Palms when we left…it was cheaper than renting one for a week.
    I got my Trek mountain bike from a bike shop in Atlantic Beach , NC in 1998. A hundred bucks, I had rented it and just bought it afterwards, took it to a mailing agent and mailed it home , assembled it…it is still in good shape…good bikes, Trek.
    Most fun I had was banging around Charleston one summer on a rented full-suspension Trek.

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  56. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 28, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    [sputter sputter] Purdue engineers? [sputter etc.]

    Hey, that’s an IU poli sci major who probably put those flow guidelines together. It’s a Purdue engineer who figured out how to make the most of that 1.6 gallons.

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  57. brian stouder said on March 28, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Given their political ‘ideas’, it’s surprising they don’t insist on the chamber pot and servant plumbing system.

    Although there’s lots of good stuff in this thread, that remark got me laughing. Prospero has it goin’ on, even despite Nance’s somewhat left-handed recent compliments!

    Qhat the Q3uking hell! Sonofa seabiscuit bastardi mufo fumo @&^% q1lt dammit!

    Aside from that, Rana enunciated my (inchoate) feelings precisely, when she wrote

    I can’t think of anything to write that’s not a pages-long disquisition on technology and social change, a fire-breathing political rant, a practicum on using environmentally-friendly products, or a long, exasperated scream.

    I don’t like the new war we’re in, despite the president’s thoughtful (and consistent) speech tonight. Have you noticed his habit of always speaking with his hands – almost as a band director would lead a band? He lifts his hands, motions around a rhetorical point, and then his hands land with an audible thud on his podium. I noticed this during his SOTU address, too; I think a person could make a lively drinking game out of the audible-thud thing.

    Anyway – one source of perspective for me, lately, has been the excellent Madison and Jefferson book I’ve been reading; it is cold comfort to see that our presidents – all the way back to our founding presidents – have always put us into wars such as this, and the ever ready domestic opposition party has ALWAYS done backflips to maintain their absolute opposition, regardless what they previously advocated. Cold comfort, but comfort nonetheless.

    (One particularly interesting barb, circa 1811, comes from a Pennsylvania-born New Yorker named John Armstrong, who fought alongside General Gates at Saratoga and who was minister to France from 1804-1810. In attacking people who were nominal Madison supporters, but who were nonetheless against the run-up to Madison’s War of 1812, might well apply to Obama-supporters like me:

    “We are a nation of Quakers, without either their morals or their motives”)

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  58. Crazycatlady said on March 28, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    I cried when I heard about people who had inefficient dishwashers. Until I realized that I didn’t have any automatic dishwasher at all. My dishwasher is Beb. And he has dishpan hands….

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  59. Jolene said on March 28, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    I’m uncertain, too, Brian, about whether this incursion in Libya was the right thing to do, but I’m inclined to support Obama, and I’m kind of impatient w/ all the people asking for an exit strategy. Of course, we don’t want a war w/ no end, and we have to have some sense of what we’re striving for. But I think that sense is there, and, beyond that, we must, as we do in most of life, both attempt to shape events and respond to them as they unfold.

    Sometimes, you just have to set a course and then follow your nose.

    I am, actually, feeling an odd combination of guilt and gratitude these days. As I learn more about the oppression in these Arab countries, I feel guilty for not having known or cared more about it earlier. Am not sure what knowing more might have accomplished, but it would, at least, have been consistent w/ my need to worry about all the problems in the world.

    This knowledge has also made me more grateful to live in the U.S., Republicans notwithstanding. I have, at this late stage in my life, a new appreciation of what a tremendous achievement any sort of halfway reasonable government is.

    As you point out, most of the tensions in our society have always been with us, and, until recently, I’ve always had the sense that, despite everything, we eventually take steps toward a better world. Lately, that faith has been shaken, but I’m clinging to it nonetheless.

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  60. basset said on March 29, 2011 at 1:12 am

    No Two Buck Chuck here in Tennessee, where grocery stores can’t sell wine. Every now and then the grocers rise up and try to get it through the state legislature, but the liquor business is way ahead of them there.

    Back in the late 70s I rode an ore boat from the Soo down to Gary in winter, with two Coast Guard icebreakers ranging in front of us. Some organization or other, maybe the EPA or the Corps of Engineers, I don’t remember, was testing the effect of winter lake traffic on shore erosion. Waves under the ice were an issue. I don’t think winter shipping ever did get going.

    We like our Frigidaire front-loading laundry set just fine, the Frigidaire dishwasher not so much. Works reasonably well, I guess, but the Bosch we lost in the flood was better.

    Back in the 60s and 70s my parents used to drive over to Illinois every once in awhile and load up on phosphated detergent, Indiana didn’t allow it even then. Good to see we were ahead of the curve somewhere.

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  61. Jakash said on March 29, 2011 at 1:24 am

    Brian S., good points as usual, as well as a hilarious tribute. But I feel compelled to make the observation that the founding presidents didn’t ALL put us into wars such as this. We recently finished watching the excellent HBO minseries “JOHN ADAMS” on DVD and I was struck by his steadfastness in keeping the young nation out of what evidently would have been quite a popular war. He is reputed to have said “I desire no other inscription over my gravestone than: ‘Here lies John Adams, who took upon himself the responsibility for peace with France in the year 1800.’”

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  62. Connie said on March 29, 2011 at 7:03 am

    Basset’s parents used to drive to Illinois to load up on phosphated detergent. Mine used to go to Illinois to stock up on liquor, as Michigan did not allow sales. And no, my parents weren’t serious drinkers, they were serious party givers. The suits and serious dresses kind of party.

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  63. Suzanne said on March 29, 2011 at 7:08 am

    OK,Jeff. I should have said MIT engineers. 🙂

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  64. alex said on March 29, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Brian, every time I despair about the state of things, you remind me that the more things change the more they stay the same. Last night saw a documentary on Dolly Madison and it emphasized that partisan rancor typically led to bloodshed between dueling pols. She was the first FLOTUS to bring people who hated each other together at the White House to party and let their hair down and it helped set a much better tone.

    I see South Carolina wants to set itself up as the filament lightbulb capital. Kind of a sin city like Vegas used to be. I don’t credit the state’s leaders with much in the way of intelligence otherwise, but they’ve got a winner of an idea that will boost both manufacturing and tourism. Frankly I can’t see those cold little coily lights in the canister fixtures in my house.

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  65. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 29, 2011 at 8:18 am


    Oil oil oil oil oil. OIL.

    There, that wasn’t so hard, was it? People keep asking (OK, Willie Geist keeps asking) “Why do we go into Libya for this set of reasons, but not Syria, or Yemen, or . . .?”

    Hey, I’ll double down on that — or North Katanga, Congo? Or Zimbabwe? Or any number of other, post-Rwanda (we’ll call that a freebie) spots in Africa where governments killed large numbers of civilians? If the metric is “we can’t stand by while governments indiscriminately slaughter their people,” then why do we apply it so inconsistently?

    OIL. Or, to be painfully precise, “Global Stability as defined by our National Economic Interests.” So danger to European energy supplies over the next decade constitutes a major potential shock to our economy that justifies military intervention, kinetic or otherwise.

    Africa, not so much. Syria, we’d love to, but they just don’t have the same direct potential for impacts. Pakistan, we’re scared to death of what we know, let alone the known unknowns that are so horrifically much bigger.

    But I don’t understand the political calculus for either Bush or Obama to not say, straight out, “our national economic stability is an interest that is part of any decision to deploy military assets.” Is it how that admission of realpolitik would get played against them in Congress and the next election cycle? Are we really so naive as to punish a president for that kind of simple candor?

    All of which is a long-winded way of saying: Brian, I LOVE the Quaker quote from John Armstrong, which I plan on using in a number of contexts as soon as possible.

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  66. Michael said on March 30, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Isn’t it Ironic?

    From time to time Facebook suggest friends I may know. Today’s suggestion was none other than Elmore Leonard. He has over 3,000 friends but I pushed the friend request button anyway.

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