annals of household chemistry

(Feel free to apply Bachelor Frog image macros as needed.)

1. Fish tank pump taken out of water for a couple weeks wouldn't run when put back in. Inspection revealed an impeller motor humming but not running: i.e., getting power but likely held in place by corrosion. Being out of rubbing alcohol, we doused it in the solvent-grade vodka from under the sink and tried again; this immediately resolved the problem.

2. We lately ran out of dishwasher detergent and laundry detergent. I am annoyed with schlepping around various mixtures of water with unidentified foaming agents in them, and so decided to Google for the differences between ordinary dish liquid and these other things. It turns out that baking soda + (a wee bit of) dish liquid serves quite well in both the dishwasher and laundry roles.

3. As a bonus, this search yielded a recommendation for white vinegar as a fabric softener. Having put it in the fabric softener tub in the laundry machine and gotten out exceptionally soft and nice-smelling towels, I will testify that this, too, works nicely.

Future steps:

4. replace the dubious blue no-ingredients-listed Dawn we're using for dish liquid with something more soothing to the soul

5. figure out the monetary impact of substituting food-grade chemicals for household cleaners.

(no subject)

The latest evidence from Wikileaks is sufficient to justify the following standing assumption:

Is someone in authority trying hard to keep you from finding out what they are doing? They're raping children.

If they're not, they'd damn well better release their shit and show you what they were doing instead.

(no subject)

Oh yeah! I vaguely approximated local math blogger Mark Chu-Carroll's cranberry chutney recipe for Thanksgiving, and it seems to have been a hit: I made a quart of it, and despite the availability of plenty normal cranberry sauce, a variety of food alternatives, and the traditional pie contest being saved room for, it was gone by the end of dinner. If you like that sort of thing, it's worth a try.

Things I did differently (mainly due to rushing around in the morning with the grocery stores closed):

- scaled up by a third to use 2x 8 oz of organic cranberries instead of 1x 12oz regular, which meant a lot of eyeballing ninths in measuring cups marked in quarters
- balsamic vinegar + a little white vinegar in place of red wine vinegar
- Fuji apple instead of Granny Smith
- splash of lemon juice instead of lemon peel
- dried NM green chile instead of Serrano

so it probably came out less tangy and maybe less hot than it was supposed to; certainly I would have enjoyed it hotter. Cardamom came across as the strongest note after cranberries and sweetness; I may ramp up the other spices next time so it's more balanced.

Cities and towns

Having lived in Boston for around 30 years, I've noticed now and then that many people there are confused about what a city is. Since every two-bit hamlet in New England that has outgrown the "town meeting" system of government sees fit to call itself a city, this is understandable.

city, n.: a more-or-less contiguous region served by a 24-hour public transit system and possessing at least one walkable district containing 24-hour restaurants, food markets, bars, and coffee shops

New York, London, Tokyo; Chicago, Seattle, even (as I'm discovering) New Orleans: these are cities; Boston, by contrast, is an agglomeration of college towns. Boston hasn't yet even managed to annex most of its major neighborhoods: if it were a city, Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville would all be part of it for sure, as probably would Malden, Revere, Arlington, Medford, Dedham, Chelsea, Waltham, and so on. As it is, not a single subway line stays within the "city".

Since Boston has abdicated its seemingly natural leadership role in the region, there is something of a power vacuum crying to be filled. Of the various neighborhoods served by subway lines and calling themselves "city", I continue to believe that Somerville has the strongest natural claim, not least because we are free of major ties to any of the local degree-granting institutions, allowing us to act as a neutral arbiter rather than a captive government like our neighbors to the north and south. Write to your mayor, councillor, or selectbeing today and tell them you want to merge with Somerville.

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.