[conspire] Housekeeping, again

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Feb 29 17:20:15 PST 2008

Quoting K Sandoval (indigo.kai at gmail.com):

> A TIP from MS. Kai

Thanks, Kai.  Just FYI:

> Does your host have a compost bin?

Yes, we certainly do.  Compost (by preference, _all_ non-meat food
scraps) is staged from a covered pail just outside the kitchen
sliding-glass door.  Later, the pail gets merged into one of several
compost heaps in the back yard.  Composting improves our soil!

> Does your host recycle?

Yes!  Recyclables accumulate on the counter between the refrigerator and
the door to the garage, and eventually shlepped to the outside recycle
bins on the far side of the garage.

Please don't throw bottles, cans, recyclable plastics, etc. in the
garbage can.  I end up having to fish them out, which makes me cranky.

Oddly, Allied Waste of San Mateo County doesn't accept styrofoam as 
recycling, even if it has the recycling triangle with "6" (I think) 
on it.  Everything else, go by the recycling symbol.  (Bottles and cans
are also always recyclable, symbol or not.)

Important:  Clean them.  Just a rinse is fine.  Recycling bins and food
don't mix.

(Clean) paper and cardboard is also recyclable, though this rarely
concerns CABAL members.  See:

(Someone suggested paper plates / plastic utensils for CABAL people.  
We'd rather not.  We rather like this particular planet.)

> Does your host have a dishwasher, or is it ok to wash used
> dishes/silverware by hand?

House policy is to NOT USE the installed dishwashing machine.  (It
wastes electricity, doesn't get dishes as clean as does competent
hand-cleaning, and is very bad for dishes / knives / glasses.)  There is
a drying rack to the left of the sink.  Dishwashing liquid and dirty
dishes are on the right (so, dish travel is right-to-left).  

Air-drying is theoretically OK (and slightly better for sanitation)
unless/until the drying rack becomes over-full -- which is unfortunately
inevitable with this many people using dishs.  CABAListas' stupidity
on the latter point during an evening when someone else was running the
meeting in my absence -- i.e., overfilling the drying rack -- has
already cost me one of my nice blue glass bowls because "it fell".
(Scare quotes supplied, in that sentence, to mock the speaker's implicit
assumption that these things just happen, and could not possibly be

The oven door handle houses two (deliberately differing) cloth towels.
The presence of TWO towels is a sanitation feature:  The terrycloth
towel is for _hands_.  The other (soft cotton or linen) is for dishes /
glasses / flatware / cookware.  Please respect this distinction.  The
dysentary you avoid might be your own.

Two (rust-prone) kitchen items require special treatment:

1.  Cast-iron frying pan.  Like all cast iron, this gets cleaned using
scrubbing and hot water _only_.  No soap/detergent, which would strip
the pan-seasoning.  Also, it should be dried rather than just left to
air-dry, because wet iron rusts.

2.  My sharpest kitchen utility knife (a very long one, Sabatier
Diamant-made) is carbon steel rather than the more-familiar-to-Americans 
stainless steel.  Carbon-steel knives tend to hold edges much better
than do stainless steel ones (this one certainly does!)[1], _but_ have
the drawback that you mustn't leave them sitting around wet (e.g., to
air-dry), because -- again -- they'll rust.

You can distinguish carbon from stainless steel by its being much less
shiny.  (I try to keep an eye on the Sabatier Diamant.  The frying pan
is, by contrast, practically bullet proof.)

Cooking supplies from my household:

I've sometimes found CABAListas raiding my refrigerator, or opening
and pouring sealed specialty wine bottles on my counter.  Er, no.  Bad.

If I intend food from my refrigerator/freezer to be guest-available,
I'll serve it.  If it's in the refrigerator, it's _not_ served.  The two
obvious exceptions are milk (e.g., for coffee) and butter, which
obviously are best not left out.

(A couple of times, I served myself some ice cream, and a CABAL member
saw my bowl, assumed ice cream availability for all, and opened my
freezer.  Um, no.  Just because I'm eating something doesn't make it
automatically a public handout to others.  I'm different because I live
here:  Almost all groceries I buy are, in fact, for my family, not for

Also, of course, guests _put_ items (including beer bottles) in the
refrigerator, and of course need to be able to take them out.  This
creates an inherently ambiguous situation where observers might think
anything in the refrigerator/freezer is fair game:  I can't help that,
sorry -- and can only suggest asking before grabbing.

If a wine bottle's open and in an easily accessible spot near the front
of a counter, then it's impliedly served to guests.  I try to remember
to move bottles (open or not) that I am _especially_ interested in
keeping to myself to more-obscure spots.  However, again, the obvious
remedy for ambiguity is to ask if in doubt.

Salt, pepper, sugar, sugar-substitutes, spices/herbs/extracts, olive oil 
(e.g., for cooking), and jams in reasonable quantity are all gladly
available to guests for their cooking and eating needs.  Napkins and
paper towels, ditto.  Most of these are sitting out on counters and
such, as a broad hint about availability.  Fruit also reside on the
counter:  Yes, you may (in small quantities, i.e., don't eat me out of
apples and oranges; I'm happier about you using the lemons).

There are also other available consumables such as grain vinegar, soy
sauce, chili oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, and so on.  Again, just ask.

Coffee, tea, and household supplies of soft drinks (all being stored in
cupboards) are _not_ to be raided unless and until served.  Deirdre
_loves_ her Pepsi.  If you raid her Pepsi cans and deprive her of her
fix, she might just whang you upside the head with that cast iron frying
pan, so, don't do it.  Your skull will thank you.

I love my imported Jarritos soda (for its "no high fructose corn syrup,
senor" fruity goodness), which is why it stays in a cabinet unless and
until I want to share it.  Served = left out on the counter.  Not served
= left in the cabinet.

> p.s.  the term "GEEKS" was intended to be in an endearing manner, and
> no GREEKS were harmed in the writing of this email.


[1] Detail freaks might or might not care that the distinction between
"carbon" and "stainless" knives has somewhat blurred over time.  Neither
term was ever well defined.  However, steel alloys lacking (as does my
knife) chromium, molybdenum, and nickel in their mixtures _are_
relatively rust-prone and _tend_ to be more consistently sharpenable
than are most steel alloys that include those elements.

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