Overheard at CVS

Dude walking through the aisles: "Jesus F. Christ! Where the fuck are
the toothpicks?"
Dude goes up to cashier: "Excuse me, where are the toothpicks?"
Cashier: "Sorry, we don't carry toothpicks, we do have the little dental..."
Dude: "No no, oh, I meant, uh...the shit you put in your ears!"
Cashier: "Q-tips? All the way down on aisle 15."
Dude: "Great, thanks!"

Delores Handy word of the day

"in Michelle Obama's box"

Bob Oakes word of the day


Geography FAIL

GLBT folks: Get a free sticker to attach to your census return to encourage them to count us

[Text from queerthecensus.org follows.]

The census is not necessarily the topic you've been waiting to hear about, I know, but bear with me for a moment.

It's coming up in March or April, and while it's supposed to be an accurate count of everyone in the country, there's no question that asks if someone is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

This is a huge problem. The data collected has a direct impact on issues that are critical to every American--issues like health care, economic stability, safety. And when LGBT people are not counted, individuals, families, and communities suffer.

The good news is that we can change this. Show your support of a census that counts everyone--say it right on your census envelope with your free Queer the Census sticker! And make sure to sign the petition telling the Census Bureau to make sure everyone is counted.

Dye! Dye! Dye!

Oh, how cool would it be if I didn't have to work and could dye stuff all day? (Except how I'd miss my jobs, because both are really pretty awesome, but this is a fantasy so that's not the point.)

yoga mat bag

iDye turquoise More dyeing

Duvet cover and longjohn pants

[click through for bigger photos and details on what got dyed and how]

As requested: tutorial for using iDye in the front loading washer

Different washers of course have different programs and settings. These instructions are based on my machine, which has a "heavy" setting that consists of 16 minutes of wash in hot water, then three cold rinses and three spins. When I hit "cancel" on my washer, it stops immediately and does not drain or spin.

1. Pre-wet fabric when going for even dyeing. (Do not pre-wet if wanting to tie dye or wanting mottled look). I do this by starting the program, then canceling after a couple of minutes.

2. Move fabric over to one side of the washer, pour salt and iDye packet(s) over on the other side. Begin a cycle that starts with a hot wash.

3. Set timer for 10 minutes (or less, if your washer is going to start draining before that). Add water, generally as hot as possible, to the machine through the detergent dispenser. I do this because front loaders use very little water, so the material wouldn't normally be in enough water to move much. I've added up to two gallons in a whole dye cycle.

4. When timer goes off, cancel wash cycle, then immediately restart it. Add a few cups of very hot water per dye packet to keep the bath hot. I keep a pot of water almost boiling on my stove, which is conveniently right next to the washer.

5. For very dark colors and/or heavy fabric, do four or five 10-minute wash-then-reset cycles, then let it run through a full cycle to rinse the dye out. If your cycle doesn't already include two or three rinses, add them, or run it through a few times to make sure it's sufficiently rinsed. For lighter colors, do less time. For instance, for a sheet and some small items with one packet of purple, I did two 10-minute baths, then on the third cycle let it run all the way through.

6. Dry fabric in dryer on the hottest setting, unless it's something where shrinkage is going to be a problem.

Note: This method is obviously less environmentally friendly than stove-top method or similar might be, because of all the water and energy use. The good part is that a lot of this can be more-or-less offset since dyeing is a good way to revive things like grungy-but-still-sturdy socks, thrift store finds, stained or damaged fabrics, etc.

Hand-dyed couch cushion covers are finished

Done dyeing the couch

Done dyeing the couch

[click through for larger images]

For all six covers (about 5.5 pounds of fabric total), I ended up using about four packets of chestnut iDye, two brown, two crimson, one olive. I did it as about six separate dye baths to achieve the mottled/textured look. I'm really liking how the hand-dyed fabrics are breaking up the modern lines and materials of the IKEA stuff. (I love IKEA, but not crazy about entire rooms of it, or for that matter, any room that's made of mostly or entirely brand-new coordinating items. I think that if your room looks like the whole thing was delivered from a showroom, ur doin it rong.)

Done dyeing the chair covers

Done dyeing the chair covers!

[click through for larger pic and additional images]

So, once it was all done, I think I ended up using 10 packets of chestnut, two of crimson, and four of brown (14 pounds of fabric in the two covers). The result was exactly what I wanted -- warm chocolatey brown, pretty dang overdyed, but still unsaturated enough to have those gradations in the color that give it the natural hand-dyed look.

(Also, the iPhone camera is particularly skilled at showing how I need to wash my floor. It's not that obviously dusty in real life, I swear!)

The couch cushion covers are still in need of several more dye baths. Getting to about the saturation I want, but I think they're too far toward rust. Once they dry, I'll see where they're at and what they need next.

Hmm, I can't seem to find an Amazon PayPhrase that's available

Delores Handy word of the day


My god, what have I done?

My blog now comes up as the first hit in a google search for "Delores Handy." Like, before her bio page on WBUR. Oops.

Well, in that case, I'd best keep up with any breaking Delores Handy news and post it right away. I'm setting up a google alert.

On Republican nutjob attack ads

(Note: I'm not referring to all Republicans as nutjobs; just the ones who are acting like nutjobs.)

As I said, I'm not super excited about Martha Coakley, but she is by far the best candidate we have.

I love that she's said that people who refuse to inform patients of safe and legal available treatments shouldn't work in emergency rooms. They shouldn't. I hate that right-wing nutjobs are saying that she's said that Catholics shouldn't work in hospitals. Not at all the same thing, and highly offensive to all the wonderful Catholic healthcare providers out there who provide appropriate and skilled medical care and don't view their job as somewhere where it's OK to violate ethical codes and abuse patients.

We need to look at the issue in terms of the person's proposed actions, not the religion they're claiming is the reason for it. Should a person, for any reason, be an emergency room doc if they're going to choose to neglect to tell patients about safe, legal treatment that's an option for their particular situation? Of course not. What if we take the hot-button issue out of the equation and substitute something more neutral? Try this one:

"I believe it's an abomination to place thread or adhesives on one's body, so even though I'm a surgeon who has been taught in medical school that such things are safe and appropriate, I'm going to say 'oh, too bad that you have a gaping wound that's going to heal badly and get infected' when people come in with injuries, rather than letting them know that we could suture and/or glue it."

Or, what about a physician who's a hard-core 12-step extremist? (I personally have no super strong opinions on 12-step programs, and I do think they save lives, but they also generate a good number of fundamentalists who believe that no person is able to use alcohol or drugs responsibly.) What if the physician refuses to prescribe any drug with addictive potential to any person, citing the (erroneous, based on research) moral belief that any drug leads right to addiction and harm to society?

It doesn't matter what reason someone gives for it; healthcare providers have the ethical responsibility to inform patients about all options for treatment of their particular situation. If they're not willing to do this, they shouldn't have signed on to a profession that requires providers to abide by such ethics. No one is saying "Catholics shouldn't work in emergency rooms." People are saying "providers who refuse to let patients know about the availability of safe and legal treatments are unethical healthcare providers, no matter what reason they give, and they need to quit working in a place where patients are delivered to them on a space-available basis without having consented to being treated based on someone's religious beliefs."

Also, the credentialing organizations need to grow a pair and be more active in defrocking providers who won't abide by established standards. And I say this as a very religious person and a healthcare provider. I've signed onto a code of ethics that requires me to respect THEIR religious beliefs, not one that says it's remotely acceptable for me to insist that patients make decisions based on MY religious beliefs.

I used to work as a clinician in a locked psychiatric hospital. The food there wasn't Kosher. When the kiddos told me they were hungry, I went and got them something to eat, or told them where they could get something, depending on their privileges to move freely around the building. What if I had instead decided to tell them, "oh, sorry, nothing I can do about it," based on my belief that eating Kosher is the right thing to do? That would be extremely wrong of me, right? And it would be abusive, right? If I believed that it was appropriate to deny the children appropriate care based on my religious beliefs, then the appropriate response of the hospital would be to fire me, right?

Is that the same thing as saying that no Jews should work in hospitals? Hardly. All it's saying is that, no matter what I believe personally, I have an ethical obligation to treat my clients appropriately, and it isn't appropriate for me to decide what other people may or may not do because of my beliefs. The first amendment allows me to hold and express my beliefs. It doesn't say I can abuse other people into following my religious practices when they don't believe in them. It also doesn't say that emergency room personnel can go against established practices and decide that someone needs to become impregnated with an egg fertilized by a rapist because it's the provider's religious belief that this is what should happen.

My AdSense account got disabled. What?

I got an e-mail that my AdSense account is disabled. Being Google and being proprietary and all that, they aren't saying why it happened. Has anyone had this happen? Anyone know what might cause it? The things I've heard that can disable it are using networks that share one IP among many users, which makes it look like you're viewing/clicking your own site a lot. I use library, coffee shops, and various open networks a lot. I also log into Google sites from work, where they share one IP address among all 2000-something employees. Anyone know more? It wouldn't have anything to do with Boston Blogs Network, would it?

What the Uganda stories are failing to mention

Sure, I guess I support a bunch of straight white male politicians and journalists vowing to boycott Uganda and whatnot if they pass their death penalty for being gay law. Yes, I get that this is a timely issue, and the most likely time to get a law struck down is when it hasn't yet passed and is still being considered.

But what I don't get is why none of these stories are even mentioning that there already exists a death penalty for being gay in Somalia, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iran and parts of Nigeria. And life sentences in another handful of countries. Also, freakin' labor camps where they send gays and lesbians in Angola.

Where's the outrage from the straight people about that?

My crappy blog with two readers endorses Martha Coakley

Her performance in tonight's debate was great, so I no longer hold the
mooninite thing against her. Um, at least not enough to not vote for
her. Scott Brown approves torture and allowing physicians to violate
ethical practice by not telling rape victims that emergency
contraception exists if they feel like it, so he's out. And Joe
Kennedy (no relation) is just a nutjob, though I appreciate anyone who
challenges the two-party system. So I guess Martha Coakley it is.

More fun with dye

These are the cushion covers from the IKEA LILLBERG sofa. They're cotton canvas and started out in a natural/off-white color.

This is also Jacquard iDye in Chestnut, like I used for the chair covers. I did a quick pre-wash before dyeing and used three packs of dye and three cups of salt for the six cushions (about six pounds of fabric). I did it in a front-loading washer on the hot setting, letting the wash cycle run for 14 minutes, then pausing it for 10 minutes (periodically restarting it for about 30 seconds to agitate it and then pausing it again), then shutting it off and restarting and letting it go all the way through the hot cycle with a 16-minute hot wash, four rinses and one spin (my machine doesn't automatically empty if the cycle is canceled; there's a "drain/spin" cycle and a "rinse/spin" cycle that one can run on a canceled load rather than going through a complete cycle).

After this process, the result was this:

iDye chestnut came out greeny olive with red crumple marks the first time
[click for larger]

Yeah, it's a greeny olivey color, with darker red/brown marks along where it crumpled while agitating. *sigh*

I put it through again, this time deciding to try having it agitate the whole time, and with more water volume and hotter water, thinking this would get more of the dye to take. I did the cushions in two batches, each with one dye pack and one cup of salt.

I set it on the hottest water, let the wash cycle run for 10 minutes, reset it and let the wash cycle run another 10 minutes, reset it and let the whole thing run through with the 16-minute wash cycle followed by rinses and spins. Each time I started the cycle, I dumped two cups of boiling water in through the detergent dispenser to add to the water volume and keep the temperature hot. Here are the covers after the second dye bath with the boiling water and detergent residue added three times during the process:

covers after a second dye process
[click for larger]

They're a uniform color, and a much better color, but still too freakin' green. I'm really not understanding why this chestnut color is coming out so green. I must be doing something with the temperature or the pH or something that's making the reds in the dye not bind to the fabric. I think my next step is to run them through a bath of something reddish to get more of a chocolate brown.

The brown truck cometh

The Target package just showed up. Hmm...

Delores Handy word of the day

"Ted Kennedy's weddow"

Delores Handy WTF of the day

She just gave the weather for "tomorrow, Thursdee."

Today is Tuesday.

When did UPS start offering 26-day shipping?

[Click image for larger]

How is this even possible? My item was shipped on December 30 and is scheduled to arrive on January 26?

In the interest of, uh, research, I looked on the UPS website and tried entering some hypothetical package data to see how long a shipment could possibly take.

I first entered the ZIP code for Barrow, Alaska, since that's about as far from Boston as one can get in the U.S. It only gave me one-day and two-day options, but that's not really fair since they don't offer ground service from Alaska.

So I tried a ZIP in southern California, because that's about as far as one can drive in the U.S. (and also because I know the ZIP for Beverly Hills off the top of my head) and the slowest service offered would take four days.

Is my package just driving around the country for a month in a brown truck for fun? I know UPS prefers to have the trucks take creative routes and all, but really.

iDye WTF?

So, the first chair cover is a beautiful rich brown color. Looks better than it looked on the package.

My dye method the first time was as follows:
1) put cover and one packet of dye into machine, set it on heavy cycle (57 minutes) with hot water
2) five minutes later, realize I forgot the cup of salt, added cup of salt and some warm water into detergent dispenser
3) hit "pause" when there was 43 min left on timer, leaving stuff to soak in wash water
4) waited five minutes
5) realized one packet of dye wasn't enough for the weight of fabric in there
6) dissolved another packet in water, poured it in through the dispenser along with a lot of water since there was dye everywhere, spilled a little bit on the floor
7) noted that the dye-adding process took five minutes
8) waited 10 minutes
9) hit "resume" so the washer rinsed and spun the stuff
10) took it out and it was perfect

The second time, I put two packets of dye and the salt into the machine, ran it through the heavy cycle. I took it out and it was way light, and was a weird greeny olivey color.

Which was weird, because the chestnut color I chose was on the redder side, and I chose it rather than the brown because the brown was too green. I thought if anything it was going to be too red, which was preferable with my other living room furniture.

So I ran it through again with a third packet of dye and another cup of salt. I figured if one was darker or whatever, I'd just wash all of it together and let it bleed to a compromise. Only it came out and now is a very dark awful olivey green. WTF? Now I'm washing it with detergent to see if I can lighten it to at least a decent color, and maybe just have non-matching (but both in decent colors) chairs. If not, I'll craigslist this cover or something and buy a new one (hey, they're only $30!) and try botching the dye job as badly as I did with the first one, since that came out so beautifully. If it still is messed up, then I'm going to e-mail the iDye people and ask them WTF was wrong with my dye.

EDIT: Now that it's dried, both colors are fine, but they're different:


I almost think I like the right one (the one that was previously too green) better. I put all of it in the washer together with hot water and lots of detergent to see if I can get them to bleed and even out into an in-between color. We'll see what happens. Otherwise, I'm going to get a new cover and dye it and use whichever two are closest. Then I'll dye the couch covers. I don't care if they're a bit different from the chairs, but I do want the identical chairs to be basically the same color.

YET ANOTHER EDIT: They didn't change color whatsoever when I washed them together. I'm out of dye (as is the place where I bought all of theirs) but have ordered more.

Options I'm considering:
1) Dye the redder one with one more packet of dye, since it has less dye in the fabric overall and seems to be the one that got into a batch of dye that's a bit off.
2) Dye all of it together with another few packets of dye, hoping I can get them both to their saturation point.
3) Dye one more cover and use it along with whichever original one is closest.
4) Dye two more covers in the washer together and give away these two to different people.
5) Put the covers on the chairs and see how it looks.

Somerville update, since people have asked

I called the Somerville mayor's office last week to ask if they'd received my e-mail, since I hadn't heard anything. The person told me the e-mail had been referred to the law department, and they were "working out a solution that maintained the integrity of the parking regulations while providing you with what you need." Cool, and probably more likely to result in something reasonable than the parking people or the health people were willing to provide, but they could have at least written back and let me know they'd read it and acted on it. I'm imagining that most government offices get plenty of correspondence where all they can provide is "sorry, nothing we can do about it," so I'd think they'd be happy to let people know when there's actually something they're trying to do that's helpful.

Weekend project number three: Magnetic chalk board

(This is so much more fun than being at work. Can we have a three-and-a-half-day weekend every week?)

Before we redid the kitchen, we had various coupons and notices and things magnetted to the side of the fridge and the side of the washer/dryer. We also had a combination bulletin board and dry-erase board. I wanted to put something up to serve this same function, but wanted something a bit classier. There isn't room for magnets on the dryer any longer, since the dryer-on-top-of-washer is now right next to the stove with a panel between them. I also don't really want to put magnets back on the fridge, because it looks kind of tacky there.

So after all of this, I decided I wanted a magnetic chalkboard. Most of them are expensive, like over $50, except for one at IKEA, but it was too wide for the space. I decided to make one:

Magnetic chalkboard I made

I got a piece of sheet metal, which I made sure was weldable steel so it was magnetic. I cut it using metal snips and painted it with chalkboard paint. I put it in a cheap frame (IKEA RAM frame, $3.99 for 15-3/4 x 19-3/4) and glued a piece of molding with a dip in it onto the bottom for a chalk sill. The whole thing is screwed directly into the wall in each corner to make sure it doesn't move.

Magnetic chalkboard I made

Total cost:
$18.48 for the sheet metal
$8.98 for the snips (reusable)
$12.98 for the chalkboard paint (most of the can is still left)
$3.99 for the frame
I had the scrap of molding, but it would be about $1-2 for 17 inches of it

Weekend project number two: Seder plate out of broken clock

This was an Italian glass clock Molly had. The clock mechanism broke, and it was pretty ugly as a clock anyway, but a cool-looking object in general. So I took all the clock stuff off and epoxyed little dishes from Pier 1 onto it to make this seder plate.

Now I need to find somewhere large enough to store this huge thing -- it's about 16 inches across. I think I might buy a plate hanger or stand. Which would then make me the sort of person who owns a plate hanger or plate stand. I'm not sure I can go through with this.

Weekend project number one: Dyeing IKEA chair slipcover and couch cushion covers

Right now I'm dyeing the covers to two IKEA chairs and one IKEA sofa. The chair cover is a Blekinge white EKTORP TULLSTA cover and the sofa is a LILLBERG sofa in birch with Gräsbo white cushion covers.

The dye I'm using is Jacquard iDye in Chestnut. Once I'm happy with them I'll post pics along with dyeing methods and times and stuff.