The Second Version

13/02/08

Thoughts About Crud - And More

I've been living on my own for nearly five years now, and it means that if I don't do the cleaning, no one else will do it for me. So in all the hours spent vaccuming, wiping and scrubbing kitchens, bathrooms and floors I gained some knowledge of what crud is and how it behaves.

The most significative lesson I learned is that the wors thing is not occasional lack of cleaning, but the quick swipe. See, if dirt and grime are left to accumulate for a while, it's no big deal: modern detergents can take care of severe dirt, and all it takes is a little more work.

But eh quick swipe is a different matter. We're all guilty of it from time to time: when we don't have the time or are not in the mood for cleaning (because face it, house cleaning is not tons of fun) and we just spray a bit of detergent, wipe it up and decide to be content with the result. However, this technique only appears to remove grime; in fact it only pushes a great part of it into pits and crevices - where it hardens and piles up time after time.

The end result of repeated quick swipes is tenacious deposits of aged crud just out of sight, and getting rid of those requires a thorough scrubbing, which is time-consuming and tends to produce horrible swearing as a by-product. I had to use a small screwdriver to scrape crud off my kitchen stove - not all my fault; the stove belonged to the previous owner of the apartment and they apparently weren't big on cleaning.

The kitchen is stove is, obviously, the dirtiest part of the house. Limescale and soap scum can be removed rather easily with proper detergents, but oil and fat spattering is altogether another matter. Fats, especially after heating, undergo oxidation and polymerization reactions which turn them into dark, gummy materials which are very hard to remove: pretty much impervious to common detergents, the only options are scraping or the use of ridiculously aggressive chemicals.

But solvents and industrial-grade detergents are expensive and must be used with great caution (in fact, just forget about solvents; it's a plain nuts idea) because those can damage not only your hands, but also the very materials you're trying to clean.

The best way to deal with fat spattering in the kitchen is to clean it up ASAP - just wiping it up with a paper towel - to avoid buildup and polymerization of the stuff. Then normal cleaning with detergent will suffice.

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LabRat has some interesting opinions about marriage:
I don’t believe in “soulmates” or great and effortless romances much. Marriage is damned hard work; it has all the problems of a close friendship, where you step on each other’s toes, sometimes have different goals and priorities, accidentally hurt each other’s feelings, fight over stupid shit because the person next to you is much more available to sink your teeth into than whatever’s really making you angry, sometimes feel rejected because the other person wants to spend their time on other things and people - AND all the problems of a roommate. Not only have you got to get your emotional lives more or less lined up as well as you can, you’ve got to work out some system for
running the household - and your finances - so that you don’t wind up with your hands wrapped around each other’s necks. That’s really not easy when you have radically different upbringings, priorities, and ideas about what should be done with money, what constitutes an acceptable standard of “clean” in the house to live in (this relates to the discussion above - ed.) and what’s acceptable for company, what should be done automatically and what you should ask for as a quick favor, and so on. There is no such thing as a partner with whom all of this will be easy or effortlessly empathic - and any man or woman who is holding out for one will be dooming themselves to a lifetime of loneliness, yes.
I don't have direct experience of marriage (yet) but from my experience of a few weeks of living together with my girlfriend (or can I say fiancèe now?), what LabRat says makes a lot of sense. There's a lot of occasions for friction in a couple (check this famous cartoon for a humorous rendition) and it takes some will beyond love to make it work.

But there's something I'd like to add. People (women mostly, but men as well) waiting for the perfect mate will often be condemned to loneliness. But the alternative is that they will end up coupling with massive jerks who superficially look like the perfect match - in the worst case, outright con artists who play the perfect mate - and possibly move from jerk to jerk in a lifetime of misery. The old engineering principle "The perfect is the enemy of the good" has a suprisingly large validity.

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Kim duToit does not like anime: hardly a surprise considering how conservative he is in more or less any regard. He particularly loathes yaoi, and no argument from me here: I loathe gay porn as well.

However, knowing that there is often a lot of confusion about genres from a very different culture, it is likely - as Anime News Network remarks - that a lot of what is labelled yaoi is in fact shonen-ai; which is homosexual romance. Now one may think I'm splitting hairs and homosexual romance is no better that all-out gay porn; I'll let my readers have their own opinion on the matter. I only say I'm not interested in knowing about the tribulations of gay lovers (not even when they are American cattle keepers stuck on a mountain).

And I think that children should not be exposed to pornography either. Adults? That's their own business instead.

On the other hand there are one or two of his readers who are not content with disliking anime, but want to save others from their evil path of fans of Japanese animation. So I'll go into fanboy mode and defend my pet cause.

One has to be wilfully blind to say that art has not improved since the early anime of 1960s and '70s. There has been a big refinement and introduction of digital techniques; also animation has improved a lot and "lazy animation" is not visible anymore.
Faces still have big eyes, small mouth and barely-visible noses, but even that is less pronounced nowadays.

Not all anime are chock-full of sexual perversion, effeminate gays and pointless violence. But many of them are adult stories, which means they deal with themes not suitable for children regardless of the medium.

Moving forward to another point: Do I know that the Japanese give a curious treatment to Christian symbols? I watched Neon Genesis Evangelion and Hellsing, so yes, I knew it. And because I'm no christian, I have no problem with that. Also, Christianity is pretty much an alien concept to most Japanese: the fact that they have some funny ideas about it should surprise no one.

Do I know that anime are full of stupid tropes? I've worn out my eyes reading the Tropes, so I can say I know about it. I like anime warts and all, not as some pure and superior form of art.

That said, what I enjoyed the most on TV in recent times was the 1990 Treasure Island movie - the one with Charlton Heston as Long John Silver. Some things just never go away.

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