Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

I am pleased to report that I have achieved control over the weather. Within 24 hours of my announcement last Wednesday that I would be shunning winter until it stopped being so cold and dry, we had a nice overnight snowfall that left a couple inches of snow on the ground and covered up all that unsightly dead grass. And then it warmed up by like 10-15 degrees (F; this would be 6-8 degrees C) also, so we're now having high temperatures in the 20s (-2 to -7C) instead of single digits (-13 to -18C), which is considerably more comfortable.

Obviously my first project as the controller of the planet's weather will be to fix that whole global warming thing (you're welcome), but Eastern Iowans should be warned that I'm fond of watching tornadoes, and I won't know how good my aim is until I've practiced a bit. Consequently, early in the spring of 2011 might be a really excellent time to get those walls reinforced, fix the weak spots on the roof, and check the fine print of your homeowner's insurance.


How does Sheba feel about the snow? It's hard to tell. I know it makes it harder to play fetch-the-tennis-ball. She's not good at finding them when they're under snow, though I think that's partly an issue of not knowing they're there to be looked for unless she actually sees them fall in: I tried rolling one around in her dog food before we went out, to see if the smell would make them easier to find, and although she did eventually find the ball once when it went into a snowdrift, it took her a pretty long time, and was pretty obviously a case of her just plowing through the drift at random until it turned up. Plus she kept stopping and looking back at me, as if to say you really want me to keep looking? Is the ball worth that much to you?

Anyway, it's technically Nina's turn for a photo, but I'm doing a Sheba picture again because I really wanted a good snow/Sheba photo last week but had insufficient snow for what I was imagining. Behold and marvel:

And whatever it looks like, that's not, I repeat not a photo of Sheba getting hit in the face with a miniature soccer ball: it's a toy, and it has a loop of nylon or something that comes out of one side. She's carrying it by the loop.

We were going to enroll her in an after-school soccer program, but we don't have the money to buy a minivan right now, which I understand is required, so we're going to wait and see whether she wants to play, first.

Also, it's time for -- *sigh* -- the weekly update about Nina's new place. It was improving when I soaked the sides in vinegar the first two times, but I did it a third time -- for something like three hours, on the theory that if a little vinegar is good, then a lot must be awesome -- and I swear, if anything, it came out of that round looking worse.

There are two main kinds of crud present here, and because it's very hard to photograph something transparent with an auto-focusing camera, the pictures are not going to be great at revealing what's going on. But this is the best I could do after taking many photos.

First there's the fine-grained, cloudy stuff that looks like hard-water stains but doesn't come off with CLR, razor blades, vinegar, or anything else I've tried. It's most visible as a diagonal line in the lower right-hand corner of this picture:

And then there's the stuff that looks like it used to be some sort of horrible mucusy slime. It's coarser and clearer, and feels rough to the touch, but again, CLR, razor blades, etc., don't touch it.

The husband was supposed to pick up a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser last time he was in town, but he forgot (which is fine), so I'm still going to try that eventually (honestly, it was kind of nice to have a week wherein I didn't have to think about the stupid aquarium so much), but otherwise I'm out of ideas. I haven't tried muriatic (= hydrochloric) acid, per reader recommendation, because we don't already have any and I'm a little skeptical about it. (If vinegar, a mild acid, makes the situation worse, then what's a strong acid going to do? Also: would toilet bowl cleaner be essentially the same thing? 'Cause I'm pretty sure we have that already.) But I'm filing it away for consideration if the Magic Eraser thing doesn't work out.

I am quickly losing hope, though. The aquarium might still be a good thing to have around -- even if I can't use it for Nina, I could move the fish, or use it as a high-humidity plant hospital, or something like that -- but honestly, I fell into despair about moving Nina into it when the acetone failed. Granted, I fall into (and out of) despair pretty easily. But still. I didn't think there was anything acetone couldn't dissolve, or at least loosen. Seeing it fail was like finding out Snuffleupagus isn't real.


Ginny Burton said...

Is that a little Buddha statue next to the tree behind Sheba?

I've been wondering how much enjoyment the plants really give you. You work so hard taking care of all 904, researching and blogging about them, but do you ever have the time to sit back in your easy chair, have Sheba fetch your pipe and slippers, and just enjoy them? For more than two minutes?

Well, I think I may have a solution. Here in the Washington DC area, we have learned to rely on unpaid interns to get massive amounts of work done. That's what you need! Surely some eager beaver Ag students from the University of Iowa would be a huge help with the watering, repotting, and clean up chores, thereby leaving you more time to enjoy your tropical paradise.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

I am always entertained by your posts, Mr. Subjunctive! Thanks for blogging.

Have you tried the other end of the pH spectrum? We use baking soda, which is alkaline/basic, with a green scrubber (scratchy pads without the sponge part), to effectively remove most mineralized stains from glasses and our ceramic kitchen sink.

I think acids are overrated for general household cleaning. I found CLR to be totally useless. The only thing it managed to do was eat through its container and pulverize my under-sink bathroom cabinet.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Oops, I neglected to mention... use water with the baking soda and elbow grease, i.e. scrub.

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

A fun post to start the weekend with; very entertaining and interesting. Love the picture of Sheba in the snow. It looks like she's enjoying herself out there.

We had a nice snowfall overnight, as well. Did you send some snow our way now that you're able to control the weather? I don't mind a little, but please, not too much of it. This is Canada. We get plenty of it already.

mr_subjunctive said...

Ginny Burton:

It is a Buddha, yes. Long story; you'd have to ask the husband.

I'd be lying if I said that the plants were a continuous high-intensity source of joy. There are days when I wake up and realize that I have to water half the living room and just don't think I can do it, and then instead I wind up playing games on the computer all day or whatever.

On the other hand, without having to pick them all up and look at them on a regular basis, I wouldn't notice half the things they do, and sometimes noticing new growth or a flower bud or whatever is extremely enjoyable.

I don't think unpaid interns are the answer, because: 1) the number of plants expands to fill the amount of time and space I have available to deal with them. If I got help, then I'd just wind up getting more plants. 2) I'm probably too picky about when and how plants get watered to let someone else do it for me.

Kature ID (Katie):

It's another thing to keep in mind, along with the hydrochloric acid idea. (And in fact someone -- you? -- had already suggested it; I just forgot about it when writing the post.)

Plowing Through Life:

I'm not responsible for the snow you received. I only just found out I can do this. I will do what I can to keep your snowfall to a reasonable amount during the rest of the season.

Bom said...

Snow on this side of the world please, if you can manage it. You don't even have to create the snow from scratch. Just send some over from the places that feel they are getting too much.

Great pic with Sheba. You are right that she looks like she just got hit.

Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

Thanks for fixing all that weather stuff. Good luck on the aquarium. Odd.

Thomas said...

That's a great picture of Sheba. She looks like she's having a blast. Nina's probably glad you didn't think to make that a family outing.

I was thinking about you're dilemma and thought *benefit from others effort's, i.e., Google*. Anyway, this link has some interesting ideas:

Have you tried lemon juice? I'd forgotten about Bartender's Friend. Bon Ami (not listed) has oxalic acid in it, and it's not supposed to scratch. I'd be wary of green scrub pads, though, they can scratch glass. I know nothing about Calgon, but might be worth a shot. A last thought: if/when you decide 'enough', you could get creative and attach bark, tree fern, driftwood, etc. to the hopeless areas with silicon adhesive. Plants (and Nina) could climb on these. Good luck.

Ivynettle said...

Love that picture of Sheba. If she were my dog, that pic would definitely join my list of potential Christmas cards.

CelticRose said...

Nice pic of Sheba. :)

Shunning winter worked for me too. Since that post we've had cold, rain, and fog. :D Or do I have you to thank for that? If so, thanks! ;)

Anonymous said...

If a weak acid doesn't work, a strong acid _might_ work. Drain cleaner etc. are basic rather than acidic, so they might do something that the acid does not.

If you are going to try a strong acid or a strong base, it might be worth pooling a little on the glass at the bottom and leaving it there for a bit to see if it etches the glass before using it all over the visible part.

I actually think the high-humidity plant area would be pretty cool - that ludisia you were not very impressed with would probably bloom enthusiastically in there. I know they don't make large, showy blooms, but I enjoy the tall spikes with all the little white and yellow flowers.

Unknown said...

I once used fine steel wool to clean up an old aquarium. Worked very well
and didn't leave any scratches. Mabe
you can give it a try.
Best regards from Germany.

NotSoAngryRedHead said...

I suspect it looks worse because the salts re-settled in other imperfections in the glass - they basically got spread around. Something similar has happened to me when I wasn't diligent with rinsing or I forgot about the vinegar soak and everything spread and then dried.

Mark off a small portion to test with electrical tape or wax pencil because it's easy to forget what was done where. Apply a vinegar-soaked paper towel to the marked off area for 30 minutes or so as you did before. Rinse the whole thing thoroughly before allowing to dry.

Alternatively, you can try filling the aquarium with a mild vinegar solution and letting the aquarium soak for a day or so. Agitate the solution occasionally, and rinse thoroughly after you dump the solution. A bubbler and an aquarium heater might speed the process along, but I'm not sure.

If you feel like giving up, frost the exterior glass in an interesting pattern (carefully covering the worst affected areas), put a light hood on, and turn it into a terrarium. :-P