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Tag Archives: in/competence

Let’s talk about mildew.  In particular, let’s talk about mildew as related to household items and cleaning.

Mildew is a superficial fungal growth on organic matter and also the resulting smell from said growth.  In a house, mildew can refer to many types of mold growth, but usually the mold has a flat growth habit.  These molds thrive in damp conditions or in areas with poor moisture control, e.g. a poorly ventilated bathroom.

Exposure to mold and mildew can cause various symptoms, such as nasal and sinus irritation, eye irritation, respiratory problems, skin irritation, and headaches.  It can be a trigger for asthma attacks in those suffering from asthma.

There are only three things are needed for a mold colony to establish itself: a food source, moisture, and time.

Time: mold can start growing within 24 hours from when growing conditions are met.

Moisture: mold needs moisture to help the decaying process caused by the mold.

Food source: This can be any organic matter.  Cellulose is common for indoor molds.  Besides the decorative indoor plants and fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator, there are plenty of cellulose-based products in a home.  Lots of building materials are plant-based and thus contain cellulose, e.g. wood, paper, drywall, carpet, carpet padding.  Lots of textiles are made of plant-based materials and thus contain cellulose: e.g. curtains, couch upholstery.

But mold does not feed only on cellulose; a colony can from where there is any organic matter, e.g. dead skin cells, soap, cotton.  And here’s the whole reason for this post on mildew.  Think about the last three items I listed, dead skin cells, soap, and cotton.  Now think about how you often wonder why your bath towels start stinking it up after you use them a couple of times.  Think of all the dead skin cells you’re leaving behind on the towels along with the water.  Think about just how much laundry detergent you put in your washing machine to try and get rid of the smell.  Think about how disappointed and confused you were when your towels almost immediately started smelling like mildew again.

STOP USING SO MUCH LAUNDRY DETERGENT.  Yes, you’re washing away the dead skin cells on the towels, but you’re replacing it with a bunch of soap, which is also organic matter, which is a food source for mold.  Your washing machine has a set time and amount of water it will use to rinse the load.  If you use a metric crap ton of detergent on your towels, how do you expect to rinse all of that away with limited water and time?  When you accidentally use too much soap washing your hands, don’t you have to rinse longer?  SAME.  PRINCIPLE.

Follow the recommended guidelines for your preferred brand of laundry detergent and you won’t have nearly the same issues with mildewy towels.

This has been a public service announcement brought to you by my pet peeve of people using too much laundry detergent.

Sometimes having an air of competence about you is a bad thing.  Don’t get me wrong. I don’t advocate incompetency at all.  And really, that’s the core of the problem.  Sometimes when you have an air of competency around you, you suddenly render those around you as incompetent, or it seems that they feel that way.  So, in working to become competent so that you can legitimately surround yourself with an air of competence, you make most everyone else around you incompetent.  Why??

Example: When I was in various school settings and living away from home, my roommates, housemate, female neighbors, etc would come to view me as their personal tech support service.  Certain things I can understand.  If you just did something particularly foolish on your computer and you know you did something particularly foolish but you don’t exactly understand what,  you don’t really want some male tech support personnel (because tech support is still mainly dominated by males [and I’m female if you hadn’t figured it out already]) rubbing it in your face and solidifying the stereotype in his mind that all females are woefully inept at all types of technology.  That’s where I come in handy because I won’t rub your face in it and will probably try and explain to you how exactly to prevent doing such foolish things in the future.  That’s totally fine.

What isn’t fine is how suddenly many people couldn’t even attempt to do simple tasks like plug in their printer (for fear that it might explode), change consumables like ink, paper, and whatnot themselves (for fear that it might explode), or even turning on their own devices (for fear that it might explode).  Ok, so I may have exaggerated and/or made some stuff up.  But honestly, I really think you should make an attempt at some of these things before you go looking for help.  If you’re really skittish, have someone sit with you and talk you through it.  I’m almost certain that the vast majority of people can do these tasks if they’d just attempt it for themselves.  Consumer devices are not engineered to explode when you accidentally do something wrong.  That’s considered Bad Engineering.  And you know how afraid major corporations are of being sued.  I’m pretty sure they’d be sued to death if they (un)knowingly sold devices that exploded at the least bit of provocation.  (End of example.)

Now, having thought about it, I’ve decided some people do automatically seek out the person with an air of competence because they are lazy; they’re looking for a handout.  The basic thought ends up being, “if you are capable of solving something, why should I solve it?  Thus I can save my brain for other tasks.”  Well, it shouldn’t work that way, especially in the work environment.  I firmly believe that if you were born with a brain, you should use it.  If you don’t, your brain will dry up into powder and be shaken out of your ears like some forms of earwax and  also come up out of your scalp like dandruff.  Do you have dandruff?  It may be because you are not using your brain enough (I just made this up now).  But seriously, why do you think you should have someone else solve your problems?  If you have made an honest stab at it and can’t figure it out, then I believe it is acceptable to ask for help.  If you haven’t and you just want someone to do your work for you, then of what use are you?  None.  No handouts.  Otherwise, you will soon go the way of dandruff and float away on the wind.  And someone will have to clean up after you.  Inconsiderate, all around.  Use your brain and make an honest effort first.

But perhaps I’m being unduly harsh.  Maybe the other person isn’t looking for a handout.  Maybe they just have self-esteem issues.  Maybe they are self-defeatist.  “Look at her!  She’s can do everything already!  I can’t do any of that!  I’m just going to ask her for help because she can do it so much better than I can.”  Um…how do you know that?  You haven’t tried.  Try to solve it yourself first.  Really, that’s all I’m asking.  Make an honest attempt.  You probably aren’t incompetent.  Most people are smarter than they give themselves credit for.  I realize that some people take to certain things better than others and not everyone is equally good at everything.  That’s fine.  I don’t expect everyone to be experts at everything they do.  I also am not saying that you should never ask for help.  I’m saying that before you automatically seek out the person that you deem competent, try to solve the problem yourself first.  And make sure it’s an honest attempt.  None of this, “I poked some button half-heartedly and nothing happened.”  A real attempt at solving the problem.  And this isn’t just for your electronic devices.  This goes for math problems, science labs, changing your tire (seriously, everyone should learn how to do this), a particularly hard puzzle, where you put your keys, how to spell “saponification,” and especially, ESPECIALLY, the task assigned to you at work.  ESPECIALLY.

Honest attempt!  Do it!  Ear wax!  Dandruff!  You’ve been warned!

Um…I guess this was a PSA of some sort.  Yeah…