Dirty Dishes and Other Water Related Issues

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Some time ago my dishwasher began to malfunction.  At least that’s what I thought.  It was relatively new, but no matter what I did, the dishes started coming out dirtier than when they went in.

White film forms on dishes in the dishwasher and has to be washed again by hand.My husband and I set about solving the mystery.  He checked to be sure the drain wasn’t clogged and the screen wasn’t covered in food particles.  We put various kinds of cleaners in the dishwasher to make sure no food particles were hanging around in there.

We used the citric acid dishwasher Unless your dishwasher is stainless steel inside, you can't see the white film build up caused by poorly performing dishwasher detergents.cleaners, twice.  We used vinegar too.  Still, everything was coming out with that horrible film and sometimes little specks on the dishes.  Since our dishes are bright red, you can pretty much see that stuff a mile off.  To be honest, I was glad they were such a bright color.  If the dishes were white, we might not have noticed that nasty film.

People said, “Oh, just rub it off!  It will be fine!” and “Don’t be so finicky”.  Eh, no.  Gross.  I’m not eating from those dishes.

These dishes were clean when they went into the dishwasher. It was an experiment to determine the cause of the film. Clearly it was the detergent failing to rinse away.We changed dishwasher detergents, three times.  No help.  The problem seemed to be getting worse!  Now I don’t even want to use the dishwasher because I’ll just have to wash most of them by hand again when I take them out.

Having such a mess all the time and so much extra work makes cooking a pain and chore instead of a pleasure.  Finally, I stopped using the dishwasher.  Everything was being washed by hand.

When there was no possibility that the dishwasher was an issue, I called the company that made the detergents and asked them why their product wasn’t working.  I won’t say any names but it started with a “C” and sounds like the names of some mountains I know.

Their response was that it was the fault of my dishwasher.  After all, it couldn’t be their product.  When I tried to assure them there was nothing wrong with my dishwasher, the next solution was that it probably needed to be cleaned.  Seriously?  What were they thinking?

My response was the same one I gave the computer companies.  Each product maker blames the others so that none have to take responsibility.  You know, Microsoft techs blames Dell, Dell techs blames Microsoft during any phone call to get help.  You can’t win with a system like that.  In the end, the customer takes it in the shorts and is left with no resolution to the situation.

About three weeks into the dishwasher woes, the local news commented that we might notice our dishes are not getting clean.  Why?  Because this was the year they removed phosphates from the dishwasher detergent.  Oh, great.  First our clothes got dirtier and now our dishes are dirtier.

With the cat out of the bag, the dishwasher detergent producers are in big trouble because people everywhere are now complaining about how horrible their products are.  People everywhere are switching to paper plates and Dawn dish detergent.

The companies all scramble to come up with better products.  I’m pretty sure the government told them years in advance to figure something else out.  But they didn’t.

Now you see the various brands advertising how their new “platinum” version will clean your dishes “over time” and will even make your dishwasher cleaner over a longer unspecified period of time.  You know, the one with the kitchen counselor?  She tells you how it’s done.

What did I hear?  I heard that the companies didn’t care enough about the major disruption of the everyday lives of the families who purchase their products to get off their duffs and make a product that would meet the federal guidelines and perform well.

I heard they wanted to sell every last one of the old product they produced before they were outlawed.

I heard they didn’t mind giving us inferior products they could sell for the same or higher prices.

Lastly, I heard they would not have begun to work on the problem if so many people would not have complained and they faced losing business to paper plates and plastic cups.

Now that they have come out with their “platinum” version, how long do they want me to purchase a product that does not clean the dishes before they will come out with another product that will?  Do they really think I’ll keep purchasing a product from companies that have proven they really don’t care about the distress of having to do the chores over when families are busy?

Just when I am resolved to doing dishes by hand, we hear yet another voice chiming into the conversation.  It’s like someone coming into the back of a large convention hall waving their hands and yelling, “Hey!  We have an answer!  Does anyone hear us?”

The latest argument on cause and effect and who is to blame?  It’s the detergent.  No, it’s the water.   It’s a combination of them both.  If you have hard water your dishes will never be clean again with the new federal guidelines for acceptable dishwasher products.

Hard water is water with minerals in it.  How to know if your water is hard?  Easy.  Use a brand new tray to make ice.  Use tap water.  Don’t filter it.  Did the cubes stick to it when they were ready?  Hard water.  Now, if you are able to get the cubes out, what do they look like?  Can you see through them or are they cloudy?  Again, not pure water.

Place the cubes in a crystal clear glass of water.  Don’t touch them or bump the glass.  Come back later to see what happened.  Is there a pile of sediment in the bottom of the glass?  The more sediment, the harder the water.

You can also buy a water test kit to tell you what you can find out by using the ice cube test.  It doesn’t mean the water is unfit to drink.  It just means you have stuff in the water.  Even city water has stuff in it.  Well, I wouldn’t drink it, but they claim it is safe.

So, back to the dirty dishes.  It is the premise of the water filtration companies that the dish detergent binds with food particles and the stuff in the water to create a film on your dishes and dishwasher.  Ewww.  Gross.

They say with a good whole house water filtration system you can have clean water for drinking, cooking, doing laundry, and bathing.  With their systems you can even have water clean enough to run a dishwasher.

Your clothes will be cleaner and your skin less irritated.  Not running the dishwasher so many times or doing dishes by hand would be a great benefit of a whole house water system.   I just talked myself into making an appointment for an estimate.  Ouch.  $$.



Book Review: Animal Spirits

Often when I read a book I look at the preface or introduction.  Notice I didn’t say “read” the preface.  I look at it to see if it is just a bunch of thank yous and self-praises hidden in there.  If I see any of that I don’t bother reading it.  Not so with Animal Spirits, by Akerlof and Shiller.  My copy is the paperback edition published in 2010, there are two prefaces, one for the paperback and one for the original hardback from the year before.  They were interesting and informative.  These prefaces tell you straight out that they believe in Keynesian economics, that most people don’t understand Keynes because it has been watered down and used inappropriately, and that they might not know sarcasm when they hear it.  For the latter I refer to the remark about Milton Friedman.  Read the book if you want to know.  The authors also explain what the book is about and what information you can expect from each of its parts.

The authors of Animal Spirits liken the government to The Cat in the Hat, and to the owners of an amusement park where economics are concerned.  In the first case, readers are to believe that since the cat in the hat tried plan a, b, c and so on, to get the job done, so should the government until the economy is repaired and running smoothly.   As for the amusement park owner, the government is the absent minded owner and, like in The Cat in the Hat, we are all powerless children who don’t know they are on a roller coaster ride with no brakes and no ambulance.  According to Akerlof and Shiller, we don’t know what is in our best interest and the government should be mindful to take steps to protect us from our own irrational thoughts.

The next part of the book, chapters 1 through 5, consists of history lessons and reviews of economic theory, theorists, and policies.  The next chapters discuss their own questions to which they provide their own answers.  The last chapter is the conclusion in which they restate some of their questions and statements from the book.  In particular, they wrote, “How can we understand this crisis when it seems to have come out of the blue with no cause?”  Their own response to this is, “Failing to incorporate animal spirits into the model can blind us to the real sources of trouble.”  In short, this book basically says that the economy is held hostage to the whims of a public who may or may not be angry at the government, who may or may not have confidence in the banking system or in corporations.  It assumes the people are innately childlike and don’t see trouble when it is headed down the pike.  It seems to forget that the mortgage loan crisis was not unforeseen.  Indeed, many people warned congress not to allow the changes in regulation that started the ball rolling.  Congress chose to do it anyway.  We all knew it was coming.   We were just those child like people Akerlof and Shiller talked about, and still we knew decades ago when the A.R.M.s were being made popular and income requirements were lowered, that people would lose their homes.  We were just surprised it took so long.  My final thought on this book is that it is yet another justification of Keynes economic theory.  It’s about how to use tax and spend economics to temporarily control the economic cycles that have been going on since the beginning of recorded economic history.   They did after all, in my interpretation, state it in the preface to the paperback edition.

Watercraft Safety, Not Just for People

I have never met anyone who said life jackets are a bad idea.  When you go to the marina or harbor you see them in all the boats.  When the kids were growing up, life jackets were just as important to our family as car seats.  If we were going to be any where near a body of water,  my children had to wear life jackets.  Each year we got out the life jackets and threw them in a bathtub full of water.  If they didn’t pass the float test they went in the trash.  The most recently outgrown life jacket was given away and a new one was put in its place in the water sports closet.   It wasn’t something to think about.  Keeping and using life jackets was a “given”.

Now, all these years later, our kids are grown and raising kids of their own.  They are just as vigilant about life jackets as we were.  Knowing that my grandchildren are protected gives us peace of mind.

Pets?  What does all that have to do with pets?  Our dogs are like kids to us.  We want to protect them as much as we did our children.  Only natural right?  I guess not.  A friend mentioned to me that according to a document she read people put life jackets on their pets but not on their children.    How does someone say their dog is worth more to them than their teen-aged offspring?

According to U. S. Coast Guard documents, excluding personal water crafts, only about 20% of boaters wear life jackets.  More disturbing is that figure broken down by age indicate that 10% or fewer adults wear life jackets and 70% of youth under age 17 wear life jackets.  We need to look at that data again.

Age Group% Usage
0 - 596.6
6 - 1290.7
13 - 1741.4
18 - 648.5

Almost everyone wants to be sure children under age five survive.  Indeed, children this age don’t have the power to refuse adult demands.  A 6% decrease suggests to me that a few adults can’t even require a six year old to wear a life jacket.  It’s simply unbelievable that a six year old can tell an adult what he will and won’t do.  Teenagers fare much worse.  Their use of life jackets drops a whopping 45% compared to children under 5 years of age.  The trend for adults is shocking.  Less than 10% of adults wear life jackets.  Is it the older you get the more you think you could never be in a boating accident?

Adults are free to do stupid stuff to themselves all they want as long as they are not endangering others, not forcing the rest of us to watch, and not costing tax payer dollars with their stupid antics.  However, children and teenagers should not be allowed to escape wearing life jackets. There simply are  no excuses to allow minors on the water without one.  Today’s life jackets are inexpensive, light weight and comfortable.   Adults who endanger the lives of children and teens simply because they are unable to be the adult in the situation deserve more than to be ticketed.