Saturday, September 6, 2014

What's In This Stuff, Anyway?

I've long been in the habit of wearing gloves to wash dishes. Naturally I wash my hands when needed but they do not suffer prolonged immersion in water. For obvious reasons I cannot wear a body glove while showering, so I do expose myself to water. I wondered why, at times my skin would break out into lesions. Not painful, discolored or otherwise bothersome. It just struck me as odd that these little bubbles of dry skin would manifest themselves while living here when I've never had this problem living anywhere else.

And then, I heard the same complaint from others: Daisy's sores actually bled. Evan needed an application of Neosporin (provided by his loving American mom: me) on his blisters. The hands of the women from the OTW community are permanently raw. Gary's are much like mine. 

I conducted a test. For one week I would do dishes without the benefit of gloves to see what condition my hands would be in. I didn't need to wait that long: within 2 days I had small blisters of dead skin on my fingers, especially my index fingers.

Made me wonder: what is in this water?

 To avoid replay of The Great Ant Smackdown (see eponymous entry posted August 2013), when ants started manifesting themselves again this year I quickly reached for what might repel them or, better yet, keep them out of my home altogether. By accident I found that a certain dish washing liquid, White Cat, sent  ants scurrying! One day I inadvertently let a droplet or two fall on the countertop. Immediately, crazed ants fled every which way. Since then, I've made a solution of this soap to spray my counters down at night.

NOTE: I have black granite countertops. Very hard to see ants on it.

It just so happened that I had left a meat cleaver in the sink one night. Not wanting to take the time to wash  that lone cutter, I left it where it was. I made sure to spray it down with  ant repelling White Cat solution, as well as the drain filters, where ants like to congregate whether I clean them out or not. The next morning I had rust spots both on the sink and the cleaver. It seems White Cat ate through the stainless steel coating to the metal, and then proceeded to further attack. I had to scrub the rust off and then oil the blade. My sink still gets rust spots, even though I scrub it every day.

Sure would like to know: what is in that soap?

As you may know, I am now the proud owner of a beautiful bike. I love it! It has opened whole new vistas for me and has gotten me the jump on being physically active again. I'll take any chance to ride  but one thing is for sure: I do not ride in the rain. Not just for safety reasons but because I don't want to subject my Bikey-bike to the rain.

The  first time I rode to Sam's house, I got caught in the rain on the way home. It was not an unpleasant experience overall. It was late enough at night that traffic was sparse. The problem is that that one exposure to rain caused the handlebar goose neck to rust. Not the visible, exposed parts; the part that is uncoated steel, that secures the goose neck to the bike. A quick blast of WD-40 and a scrub with a wire brush took care of it, but I am ever-vigilant against further incursions of rust.

Imagine my surprise when, finally able to go for a ride in this oppressive summer heat, I look my bike over and find light rust on the handlebars. Not on the uncoated steel but right there, next to the grips!

I promise I have not taken my bike out in the rain since that first time, months ago. If I'm not riding, she stays in my apartment – not on the balcony but inside, safe from the elements. How in the world could the coated steel be rusting?

Although it had been quite warm, I had resisted turning on my air conditioner until absolutely necessary. Keeping the drapes pulled and using a small fan was enough to maintain comfort unless I was doing something that would result in elevated body temperature, like strenuous exercise or cleaning house like a maniac – something I avoid at all costs. While my poor bike was exposed to all the humidity, I lounged in front of the fan, not suffering at all. I have no other explanation for why my handlebars would start rusting months after her only exposure to rain. 

Wouldn't you puzzle: What is in that rain and moisture?   

I never use my bathroom sink. Not because it only offers cold water but because the drain is an open hole in the floor that bugs crawl or fly out of. I've capped that drain and turned the water supply off to that sink, and it has been that way since I've lived here. So how come the bathroom tap is rusting?

For that matter, how did the shower water spigot spring a leak in the tap's body? I could understand at a joint, but the crack was on the face of the tap and the whole thing had to be replaced. 

What is in all this stuff???   

UPDATE: My good friend and fellow bike enthusiast George suggested applying a light coat of car wax to my handlebars after scrubbing the rust away. I had to strip my handlebars – take off all the components I have attached to them, but applying the wax was easy as pie. And a much better idea than my initial thought: a thin coat of silicone, or his first idea: handlebar tape. Thanks, George! Now, only time will tell if my lovely bike will be protected.


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