29 February 2016

Laundry Solutions Unit: Smoke Gets in Your Clothes

Having purchased plenty of used clothing items over the years, from both thrift shops and eBay, I have occasionally had to deal with the problem of lingering smells. Not gross, sweaty smells, but most commonly tobacco. Sometimes all that's needed is to hang the garment outdoors (I installed a hook on my back porch for this purpose), but sometimes that isn't enough.

With many eBay sellers, they are not selling their own clothing but rather items that they have acquired to resell, so they may not know an item's history. Even if a seller states that they have a nonsmoking home, an item could arrive smelling of smoke. This happened to me a couple of months ago. I bought a flannel shirt, nothing special, for only a few dollars. In this instance I did not pay close attention to the listing regarding info about the household, so it was up to me to try to get rid of the smell.

My first step is always a normal run through the washing machine, but I avoid the dryer because it can "seal in" stains or smells, which is what I think happened to this shirt before I ever got it. Next I soaked the shirt in the washer with some Oxi-Clean, which also yielded no results. I had recently learned that Oxi-Clean now sells a more specialized odor-fighting product, Odor Blasters (I am unclear as to why it's pluralized), so I decided it was time to try it.

The product recommends using hot water, but depending on the garment that might not be a good idea. In this case I went with warm water, and since I soaked the shirt for six hours it didn't stay warm long anyway. The product itself has a fairly strong smell (I generally use unscented detergent and unscented regular Oxi-Clean), so after hanging it in my basement I needed to wait a few days for that smell to dissipate.

Once the Oxi smell had faded I could still detect a smoke smell, but it was much fainter than it had been. I decided to do one more round, and I left the shirt in the machine for longer this time, roughly a whole day. (You can opt for an overnight soak if that's more convenient.) When doing a soak with any Oxi-Clean product, I find that it tends to remain in the fabric, so I run a second rinse cycle to remove it more thoroughly. This time, when the shirt had dried and hung for several days, I couldn't detect any sort of smell except a very, very faint trace of the Oxi. A regular wash will probably get rid of that.

Occasionally I receive an item that has been washed in a very strong-smelling detergent. People do this to reinforce that a garment is clean, which is well-intentioned but unnecessary. I find most detergents have an annoying smell, which is why I prefer ones that are free of perfumes and dyes. I recently got another shirt from eBay that arrived smelling "aggressively clean." A run through the regular wash cycle did not remove the detergent smell, so I again turned to Odor Blasters. This time I soaked the shirt for only an hour, then ran the regular wash and a second rinse cycle. After drying it smelled clean, and nothing more.

Obviously the results will vary depending on the fabric and the nature of the smell, but Odor Blasters has earned its place among my laundry products.

23 February 2016

Car Stuff: Random Sighting #42

Since I am working at home I don't have to deal with a commute, which means I can get up a bit later. But I don't sleep in too long; I try to allow enough pre-work time to tidy up the kitchen, eat breakfast, and take care of any small tasks before I start my workday. I realized that with proper time management, I can probably squeeze in some early-morning blog posts.

I have definitely neglected the car category. Back in September when I was commuting to Harvard Square daily, I was looking out the window of the bus one morning as we passed the garage where I had spotted a couple of cars about a year earlier. I wasn't able to get my phone out in enough time to get any pictures, and then on at least one subsequent day I forgot to sit on the correct side of the bus, and then one day it was raining, and so on. It took a while for all the conditions to line up properly to get these shots.
The modern Dodge Challenger isn't that uncommon a sight, but examples of the original 1970-74 variety are not seen much outside of car shows. Initially I noticed the car because it was red, and tucked up against the building like this, it wasn't so easy to get good photos of it. I happened to pass this spot on weekends during this time, but the car was never around when the garage was closed, so I had to make do with these shots.
The Challenger was Dodge's version of the Plymouth Barracuda, which was Chrysler Corporation's attempt to offer a competitor to the Mustang and Camaro (and a car I have talked about before). But the Barracuda was never a strong seller, and by the time the Challenger arrived as a 1970 model, the muscle-car era was already in decline, and personal-luxury cars were the hot new category. Both Barracuda and Challenger were dropped after 1974. This appears to be a '70, and while I thought it might have been a higher-performance R/T model, it lacks the correct hood.

18 February 2016

Word Salad: So Close...

My current job involves proofreading for an e-commerce website. The product listings are prepared by the sellers, which occasionally results in some awkwardly formed constructions. Some of them are (unintentionally) amusing so I've decided to share periodically, starting with this one:

"Please note that the flat rate shipping cost is only for the 48 continuous states."

13 February 2016

Retro Video Unit (2/12/16)

It's well past time to restart this feature; I keep thinking about it, and then I either forget again, or my time gets consumed by other things, as it tends to these days. This song has been in my head for a couple of weeks, but it was only two or three days ago that I remembered that there was a video for it.

Back in 1980 I was not an ardent fan of The Who, but I certainly knew their music and liked it. I was absorbing a lot of music at the time, both older (1960s and '70s bands I was familiarizing myself with) and current (early new wave). When Pete Townshend released the solo album Empty Glass, it got a fair amount of airplay on WBCN (which was my main outlet for new music at the time), plus I had a high school friend who was an ardent Who fan, so naturally he jumped on Empty Glass.

In that pre-MTV era, some performers were making early music videos, sometimes at the urging of their record companies. Townshend's video for "Rough Boys" showed up on late-night TV. I was also quite enamored of the Fender Telecaster (the less-flashy sibling of the Stratocaster) at the time, so seeing him play one in the video got my attention.

04 February 2016

Long Hours and '80s TV Homages

Still very busy over here, working the regular job plus trying to find at least a few hours each week for the additional work (which pays much better hourly, but is a project that will only last a couple more months at most). My main job is quite mentally exhausting, so it's been difficult to give up my free time to do the other stuff, but having the first couple of checks come in from that has been nice.

I've been trying to come up with post ideas, but at 11:30 pm my brain is generally not offering much in the way of creativity these days. However, a trailer for the upcoming seventh season of Archer surfaced this week, and it's so brilliant that I decided I needed to share it.

And if you need any further convincing (unlikely if you spent any time watching Magnum, P.I.) as to just how precise this is, the internet has graciously cooperated with a side-by-side comparison: