Sunday, April 19, 2009

How to Launder Clothes

A certain time ago I bought laundry powder. A straight forward enough task, one would be inclined to assume.

My having already used this new powder a couple of times, Enrique, my flatmate, approached me in the kitchen one evening as I was cooking. (In my world, cooking is anything that makes food taste better, and is therefore something more commonly understood as following the instructions on the back of the packet.)

"Um, is this your laundry powder?" He had the box in his hand.

"Yeah," I said. "You can use it if you want."

"No, no," he said. "It's um," he sounded apologetic. "The wrong sort of soap."

"I'm not with you." I mean, soap is soap, let's not be pedantic.

"Well," he said, pointing to a tiny, stylised illustration on the back of the box. "It isn't for washing-machines, it's only for washing clothes by hand."

"They make soap for hand-washing clothes?" This, to me, seemed equivalent to a revelation that my toothpaste was intended for molars only.

"Yeah. But I wouldn't worry about it. I mean, it still works, right?"

I sniffed my shirt. "Seems to." I said.

And so I went on using the wrong laundry powder, until it was time to replace it.

Upon my most recent visit to the supermarket, I was careful to purchase a box of soap powder that had a picture of a front-loading washing machine on it, looking the apotheosis of clean.

"Oliver, is that your laundry powder on top of the machine?"

". . . Yes?"

"Yeah. . . that's not actually soap."

"What do you mean 'it's not soap'?"

"Well, it is soap, but not for your clothes. It's for cleaning the inside of the machine. I don't know what you call it in English."

"I don't know what you call it in English. They actually make stuff to do that?"

"Yeah, they do. You're supposed to add a little bit in with your normal powder each time you use the machine."

I have much to learn about the subtleties of soap.

On the bright side: having used an entire box of The Wrong Type of Soap, it's probably for the best that I brought something with which to clean the inside of the machine.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

80 Proof Wasabi Juice

Wherever possible, I try to interpret things as follows:

There are no such things as mistakes, only new experiences, and things that we will know better about next time.


Horse raddish vodka.

It is what it says on the bottle.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fact of the Day

I doubt that this is news: I'm inconsistent in the frequency of my updates.

To remedy the problem, I'm going to pad out this gap, and possibly future gaps, between installments by writing about the most interesting thing I read about on Wikipedia today. I realise that summerising something that someone else has written lowers the tone of the blog (from whatever it tone was to begin with), but I do so as an attempt to strike a balance between the quantity and the quality of my writing (for a given interpretation of quality).

Fact of the Day:

There are 3 sub-species of Blue Whale , two of which have been named in order to broadly represent their usual habitat: the Northern Blue Whale and the Southern Blue Whale. I admire these common names -- they are informative yet brief.

The third sub-species, which lives in the Indian Ocean, has the oxymoronic common name Pygmy Blue Whale. While I appreciate that pygmy is employed here to give the meaning smaller than your regular, I am a little uncomfortable with the idea of describing a creature that can eat 1.8 tonnes of food a day as pygmy.

Bonus fact:

The species name for Blue Whale is musculus. In Latin it has an ambiguous meaning: it can mean muscular, or it can mean little mouse. I can imagine Carl Linnaeus, namer of the Blue Whale, and father of modern taxonomy, getting a round high-fives, or the 18th centuary equivalent, from all of his geeky, Latin-speaking drinking buddies, and laughing: "Ha! I got away with naming the largest creature to ever exist little mouse! I mean, a mouse is already little, but when one applies the diminutive suffix, it makes it even smaller! But this whale is really big, and people will just think that I meant it to mean muscular! Bhahaha!"

I have a new sense of indignation towards a naming system that allows the 24 metre Pygmy Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda) to unavoidably be referred to as "little".