Author Archives: jamesotis

About jamesotis

J is a normal person. Yes, the jury did return. He is a biker (both types, 4 fun & economy), amateur radio operator (fun & safety), lifeguard & soon EMT. Currently single, always hungry and very much bewildered. Why am I chasing this Kangaroo? JamesOtis is a Traumatic Brain Injury survivor who has returned to full time school, full time work and a semblance of life as usual and all within record time.

Moses, the Second Coming

I love Dilbert. Like the immortal Calvin & Hobbes, the cartoon carries a pithily accurate set of observations of our society.

In this episode one of the riffs is about people staying home when they’re sick. Or not.

Right now I’m tending to DG because she’s home with a cold and the remains of an allergy attack. I’ll ignore the allergies – suffice it to say that some people need to recognize that they live in a country with relatively plentiful and clean public water, and need to utilize this utility instead of gallons of cheap and noxious perfume or cologne.

She’s sick because it’s the latest round of what’s being boomeranged between her coworkers, who won’t/can’t stay home. Why not? Because management is more stupid than most and actually punishes contagious employees for at very least refusing to spread disease to themselves and the thousands of public they have close contact with every day.
Likewise, they’re all sick because people choose to go out in public each day while ill, spreading the crud as if they were tipping those who serve them.
Crud you, too.

Do we really need to realize the prophesied second coming of Moses? (Read the judeo-christian bible(s), they explain a lot about american culture, or at least Dilbert.) I mean the dude’s claim to fame was really that he revolutionized public health back in the day, regardless of perpetrating genocide and misogyny.

I may be on a soap box here, but I firmly believe that ignorance is the core problem here. Ignorance of basic public health (despite the commercials), ignorance of basic personal health, biology, business and history.

Which costs more, to excuse an employee from attendance or Smog Forbid actually dole out the sick day pay they were promised at orientation, or to work them until they can’t and have spread the health to everyone else? Not to mention the customers who either have the sense to stay home when they get sick (from employees) or to avoid the petri dish that is your workplace.

But it isn’t just contagion. One of DG’s coworkers was injured by a faulty elevator – sustained a serious concussion, as it happens. The woman couldn’t function, but no one would help her. They just shoved paperwork in her hands and gave attitude with it. Never mind that she couldn’t get herself home, figure out the paperwork and frankly needed an ambulance and worker’s comp (which she didn’t get, either).
People at large don’t know when it’s time to stop soldiering on or to stop demanding such of others.

Not that I have a problem with our armed defenders, but somehow everyone who doesn’t act like a Marine in a war zone is treated like a hypochondriac. As a result we have a decided public susceptibility to disease, a host of prevalent, chronic conditions and a rising cost of getting things treated when they get out of hand. I’d prefer that people have an affordable, easy access to certification that they’re sick or injured and don’t have to work and the basic education to care for themselves. And no, I don’t believe that Johnny Carry Gun should or needs to demand money from everyone to fund this convenience. This is a fairly easy matter for employers to create, and that I believe would save them money.

Right now the common situation is that one needs a doctor’s note in order for an absence to be excused. That means that said employee shells out, say 4 hours of pay for a copay, plus Rx costs, if they have insurance. Whereas a simple clinic that only certifies in writing that yes, Bob was contagious or too ill or injured to perform his duties, needs _______ modifications, etc. No treatment, no ongoing care, no Rx that isn’t necessary for a swift recovery, but maybe a sheet of paper or info link saying what to do for self care. Things like what over-the-counter medications actually cure, what simply alleviate symptoms and when a recovery can reasonably be expected.
Oh, and a compulsory education course for management and admin, whose duties include sending people who appear contagious and not antagonizing employees who aren’t skiving.

In short, have the sense the gods gave Girl Scouts in the 50s.


Leave a comment

Posted by on December 7, 2014 in Thoughts


Tags: , , , , ,

Wishy Washing

One of the ways I’ve reined in our spending is soap making.

Have you recorded how much you spend on what and how frequently? $4 per bar, $10-20 for laundry detergent, 88 cents for the cheapest hand wash dish soap and another $4 for the dishwasher detergent. I hate to bean count, but at some point I have to treat my family to wise business practices. When something that literally goes down the drain rings up $300 of the grocery budget every year I have to take notice. That’s a month’s worth of groceries!

I started out in January 2013 with Super Laundry Sauce (blender method). Then DG found Rural Spin’s Green Tea Blender Soap and we’re turning out bath bars. And we found recipes we want to try for dishwasher detergent, too.

But once I’ve been at something for a few rounds I invariably start tinkering. Really, it’s all a part of learning, and I hope that you’ll do some creative learning and tell us about it. That’s how complex evolution and higher thinking continue. Evolve or die.

I looked at making my own powdered laundry detergent but found that aside from weight, pre-packaging and spill clean up there aren’t many advantages. Quite the opposite, in fact.
But then again, Super Laundry Sauce isn’t perfect either. It can be messy, doesn’t dissolve and leaves smears on DG’s uniforms; the process is mildly inefficient and while sweltering through summer insomnia I discovered that the chemistry behind it is flawed (sorry, no links)- more on that once I’ve finished my trial runs.

And just so you’re aware, it looks like a meth lab or explosives if you don’t keep your storage cabinet, containers and loose chemicals well labeled and cleaned. Hit up google, it’s entertaining and educative. Various chemicals and some weird stuff in old peanut containers with a crust around the lid. Yeah. Too bad I can’t turn this into an amusing continuing ed opportunity for the local fire department any more.

But the goal is making it better, right?
First I threw a measure of SLS in an old jar with a cup of water and shaking. And hey, it was an improvement over plain paste. It’s just a little messy and time consuming, especially when BG only needs 2 seconds to sneak down stairs and set the water heater to self destruct.

Next up, diluting it via counter top blenders and stick blenders. OK, except for the time and noise – the Basement Troll works nights, and frankly I’m too lazy to spend half an hour every week on something so mindless.

Enter Home Depot. Or as I hate to call it, the Tim Taylor Method.
DG, in her infinite and varied wisdom, pointed out that Gnome Depot has 5 gallon buckets, lids and drywall mixers – paint stirrers on steroids.

A quickly drilled hole in the lid and a drill chuck adapter for the mixer and I was set. OK, I lied. I tried 2 gallon buckets – messy and not enough output. And I already had a 5 gallon with a hole from my failed hand washer project.
Oh, and use a siphon because pouring is messy and means dealing with a fourth of a jug of foam.

I tried my neighbours discarded laundry detergent dispenser/container for storage, but it was tough to clean out and I had to shake it every time. If you haven’t read elsewhere, home made liquid laundry soap separates. I’m working on a cure, but in the mean time I use a 1 qt peanut container, marked per load. For the bulk I just use a well rinsed gallon milk jug.

Now I can muck up a month’s worth of laundry soap in 5 minutes.
Stay tuned for the sciency stuff and hopefully a video to come.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 18, 2014 in A Penny Saved


Tags: , , , , , , ,