Friday, August 15, 2014

Smelly Diapers

As I mentioned in my previous post, Cloth Diapers, we have gone the old fashioned route of not using disposable diapers whenever possible.  For the most part this has been an easy and rewarding switch.  Until a couple months ago that is.  Lately there has been a smell.  More than that, a stench from the diapers.  It seemed that once soiled and thrown in her wet bag they conspired to knock out anyone who entered the  room.  And since they are the room that VF sleeps in, generally with the door closed this was a bit of a problem.

First let me tell you more about the smell.  I'm not exaggerating when I say a stench.  It was a super concentrated ammonia burning smell that was very distinct.  Trust me, if this happens to your diapers you will know it.  Now after a few washes with an extra rinse thrown in and no improvement I decided a bit of research was needed.  I read a few cloth diapering websites and found that there are two issues that can lead to smells.  The first is detergent build-up.  While this was a possibility since I don't use a "diaper detergent" it seemed unlikely as I wasn't having absorbancy issues.  The second issue was ammonia build-up.  Given the smell I felt confident that I had found my problem.  Now for a solution. . . what?  It depends on your water type?  sigh.  Sure enough the solution to the ammonia issue was not as straight forward as I had hoped.  Depending on how soft or hard your water, there are different solutions. 

Now here in CR we have a pretty hard water supply.  It is listed as hard with 7.0 grains per gallon being pretty typical.  So if you are in a similar circumstance, this may be the solution for you.  If not you'll need to conduct a few experiments I am afraid.  At any rate, I read good things about the Rockin' Green Hard Rock Diaper detergent so I bought a sample size and gave it a try.  It was enough for 4 washers, and it certainly helped.  Helped, but not completely.  The stench wasn't quite as eye watering, but it was still there just lurking, and waiting for another chance to strike.  I already had some Borax and Washing Soda so I tried these next.  I did a load with a mix of both powders - super hot water and let me tell you, this did the trick.  It worked so well that I complete forgot about the smell until I was getting ready to do the next load of laundry! Only as I carried the wetbag to the washer did I think - wait a second.  Why can I think clearly and why aren't I wanting to hurl? 

Going forward I think maybe every 2 or 3 loads I'll do the Borax/Washing Soda mix just to ensure future happy breathing.  But for now I am calling this problem solved!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Animal Cracker

Animal CrackerAnimal Cracker by Andi Brown
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Animal Cracker is the fictional story of a woman who works at a nonprofit animal organization and her office woes. The plot itself isn't terrible, but the poor execution and worse editing makes 2 stars a gift.

Basically the staff all hate their boss. He is certainly a loser and deserves it. Diane makes it her goal to take him out, and has some adventures along the way. All set up for fun and laughs, right?

Unfortunately, I don't think any of the readers thanked by the author were actually professional editors. Oh yes, and did I mention this book was self-published? At any rate, there are plot holes too big to ignore, and whole scenes that have no point. Why did I need to read about Diane going to the theater alone? To show she is independent? To show that she liked movies even before dating the movie snob?

Why was it necessary for her to be hung up on a guy that she stopped seeing months before the book took place. Especially when that guy didn't make a single appearance in the entire book.

Why would any member on the board still want a president after it is known that he embezzled large amounts of money? Why is the guy who is so obviously a cad treated like a god by all but our heroine Diane? Just because he is good looking? He isn't shown to be clever enough to run a con, or even manipulate people. So how does he get away with this again?

I don't know how old our author is - but she is NOT 24. If she was she would know that 24 year olds don't know what an information operator is - let alone what sort of information they can give. She would know that a 24 year old wouldn't try and board a plane as a man with a womans ID card. She would know that they don't use a racial stereotype at every given opportunity!! Especially if they are well educated!

Can someone please explain to me how Dag can be a cross between rag and nag? (pg 56)

Finally, she needs to re-check the book because the number of random paragraph breaks are too many to list.


ShadowmanShadowman by Aaron Dennis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Shadowman if the fictional story of a man on vacation who suddenly falls into the world of Voodoo/Hoodoo. He takes this news in stride and tries to succeed in this new role without a backward look at whatever life he has left behind. Fortunately he has a friend who is able to liquidate all of the assets he once had and mail them on down so he can live this new life without too much strain.

This book reads like a video game. You know how the shopping area of the game just has booths filled with stuff and since your character can't click on it to see what it is it just remains unimportant stuff? Well this book is the same. The setting is New Orleans, but the author fails to capture any of the spirit of this city. Perhaps if it were any other city this would be easy to overlook. The main characters actions are very fated, he just bounces around trying to figure things out, just like in a video game. The characters receive only the slightest fleshing out, they are dreadfully two dimensional and very predictable.

I would consider recommending this to a younger reader who really loves the genre a whole awful lot. Otherwise there isn't a lot to draw in a reader.

War of the Whales

War of the Whales: A True StoryWar of the Whales: A True Story by Joshua Horwitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a non-fiction story about a mass beaching of whales, the man who found them, and the subsequent battle regarding the cause. It is well written without the authors personal feelings becoming the focal point which I very much appreciated.

The cover art is perfect. I loved it more after reading the book.

The story of what happened and the battle to make the offending party own up to it really is just the surface of what this book made me think about. It also opened the question of what exactly the responsibilities are of people entering the ocean to also care for the ocean. Because it is a largely unoccupied area it is easy to disregard the importance that each small part contributes. I also thought about the responsibility that we have to truly test the safety of new developments before opening them up to the environment because they do tend to have much more wide spread consequences then expected.

The book does jump around a bit, both regarding the people it is following and the time period being described, so it is for more serious readers. Otherwise it is something that I think most people would appreciate reading.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The First Bad Man

The First Bad ManThe First Bad Man by Miranda July
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The First Bad Man is a rather quick and easy read - as long as crazy doesn't slow you down. I received an advance reader's edition so I am not including the various errors in the book. (Such as the sentence "Suntan Lotion." tagged on the end of a paragraph on pg. 229.) I assume that they will be corrected in final copies.

As I mentioned this book is a bit on the crazy side. Much of it is the inner dialogue of the main character, Cheryl. Her grasp of reality at the beginning is tenuous at best. Her world seems to mostly be built on fantasy and as such her role in reality receives little attention. Through a series of events she is dragged into the real world which made me feel a bit like this was a coming of age story of a 40 year old.

The side characters while receiving minimal page time make their personalities well known. They are all people that readers will relate to as well. People who are mysterious, shallow, judgmental, fake, they are all faces we see daily. And while our protagonist grows throughout the book into a new person all of these side characters are not forgotten and they are true to the paths that they are on.

I think one of the main things that this book is trying to tell the reader is that to grow as a person you need to stay open to new options. Just because the current situations fills some of your needs doesn't mean you should stay there hoping for more. Move on. Let go of the things you can't have and find something new to persue. Better yet, find a way to rearrange the things you have in a way that will make you happy. If Cheryl's life wasn't invaded by a completely overbearing personality that shoved her out of her comfort zone, she would never have found her way to the good things she finds in her life.

I am undecided about how I feel about the Epilogue. Part of me feels it was written to show that all of Cheryls oddities are validated. Part of me wonders if it is just her dream (which I always think is a cop out and would be most disappointing.) But if it's real why is Clee there? But if it's a dream why is it not from Cheryls point of view? It is probably me making something simple complicated - but I can't help but wonder just what it is there for. Maybe that just means I need to read it again!

Final thoughts - I know just who I am passing this book to next, which means I do recommend it. However I would recommend for adult readers. Things are a bit . . . messed up for the teen reader.

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