Monday, November 12, 2012

This Is One Louse-y Blog

OK . Some of you may have been thinking that for awhile!!! BUT..... I mean this blog is about the louse or if you have more than one lice. So even if you think this blog is lousy - it will also be louse-y . Why would I suddenly decide to discuss lice? No I do not have lice. But kids are back in school and bless their little heads - they share everything including head lice.
But before I tell you how to rid your home and head of lice .. I thought I'd share some fun historical and louse-y facts.

When your child comes home with dreaded head lice letter from school, the humans in the house are the only mammals in the home that need worry. So your dog, cat, rabbit ,or other furry friends will not be affected by those pesky lice.Yeah!!! It's hard enough treating your kids hair, your hair and all the clothes and bedding - so now you know you don't have to wrangle and bathe the cat!!! (if you have never bathed a cat ... well just think of yourself as scratching post as the little darling gets near the tub)

Lice were here first. Yep, long before the modern human the louse existed. ( I know I could insert a good Adam and Eve comment here about the louse coming first but Let's just move onward)

In the 17th century, the aristocrats of Europe leaned proper etiquette. So along with the dancing  and  appropriate dinner conversation topics - one learned the proper etiquette for disposing or one's lice. Icky!!

Lice for the most part cause few health problems.The main danger with lice ( body lice and not head lice) is epidemic typhus. Let me repeat this ... body lice not head lice - so do not freak out when your child comes home with the letter. The louse ,itself, is not immune to the infection. An infected louse turns red and dies within a few weeks of infection, but not before it bites and infects its human host. Now her is the really gross part , before dying the louse can poop out millions of typhus bacteria which hang on clothing and infecting other people who never had a body louse near them.

Typhus decimated the Grand Armee of Napoleon in 1812 from 500,000 to 35,000. This kept Napoleon from conquering Russia.

 During the Peloponnesian Wars, Pericles , Athen's leader decide to enclose the city in 431 BCE to withstand a Spartan siege.The dwelling of Athens were packed with not only it's citizens but those from the countryside. A plague exploded throughout Athens, Pericles died as did much of his army. Thus ended the golden age age of Greek culture

In 1526, The French army had to end it's siege of Naples because typhus had killed 28,000 of its army. The failure to take Naples left Italy and the papacy in Spain's power. The pope at the time,Clement VII< to avoid angering Charles V of Spain, declined to grant Henry VIII's divorce request from Catherine of Aragon  and thanks to a louse the Protestant Reformation was born.

In the Middle Ages in Hurdenburg, Sweden, candidates rested their bearded chins on table and a louse placed on the table chose the mayor for the next year. ( who needs elections ?)

Young Siberian woman threw lice at attractive men as offer of marriage. ( how guys went from having a louse tossed at them to buying honking big diamond rings - well that's evolution for ya!!!)

So now - You have received the dreaded "Lice Letter". Does that mean you're a louse-y parent? Nope!! Kids love to share - clothes, hats, brushes ,etc and alas head lice. Away from people ,lice will usually die within three to ten days. So want do you do ?

1. Wash all bed linens and washable clothing in HOT (140 degree) water for 20 minutes.
2. Heat dry clothing or other fabric items in clothes dryer.
3.Items that cannot be washed or dry cleaned should be stored for 30 days in sealed plastic bags. ( make sure they are tightly sealed - not lice in and no lice out)
4. Use only insecticides approved for use against lice. Read and follow the instructions.
5. If you bring in garments to be professionally cleaned or washed - please remember that lice jump from clothing and seal those garments in a plastic bag and let us know.
6. DO NOT be embarrassed. Lice does not equal bad hygiene. Lice is just one of those passages of childhood and heck lice are just part of the human experience.

So now you know all about lice and what to do if your kids come home with head lice. And one last thought to ponder, A person's DNA in a louse's belly can be identified. So think of the implications for forensic investigations?

And that my friends concludes this month's Louse-y blog!!! Should we all say "Ick" together?

And for those of you who wonder - how does she know so much about lice ? ( all kinds of louse-y life jokes can be inserted here) . I read a great article in " Scientific American" by Emily Willingham with a title I wanted to steal "Of Lice and Men :  An Itchy History." Also, you can go to the DLI link on our website and get more information on dealing with your clothing, bed linens and pillows infested with lice or other disgusting pests. Information on typhus ( remember most of us are vacinated for typhoid as children) go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Make Your Clothes Last Longer

I guess I should start with the obvious - watch your weight. Yep, sadly some of us have put on a few pounds and so the old pants don't zip. But since we all know eat more veggies and exercise ( walking to the frig during commercials isn't exercise), let's move on to more dare I say practical ideas.

The Drycleaning and Laundry Institute has a few simple things that you can do to extend the life of  your clothes.

1. Do not hang wet or moist clothes in your closet. Most closets do not have air circulation. So wet or damp clothes just hang there mildewing and possibly spreading that mold to adjacent clothes. Wet clothes can have the dye fade from them unto neighboring articles or vice versa. So hang those wet or damp clothes somewhere with good air circulation until they are dry.

2. Mend all rips or tears immediately.Why? Well, unless you were bending over in room full of people when that seat seam did a blow out - you will probably forget. So the button you put away to sew on later is where? Oops forgot - but hey it is somewhere safe. Or you wash or clean the garment and forgot that small hole or rip and then what was a minor repair is now major reconstructive surgery. Can't sew - neither can I ( well I a "D" in it in 8th grade). But put the button on safety pin on your garments tags, put a safety pin and note on those small rips. That way when you bring it in - it's there for all to see what needs to be done.

3.Do not store dirty clothing from one season to the next. On natural fibers ,i.e cotton, wool, rayon - the stains are invitation to bugs. Most garments ruined by moths etc were attracted first by a leftover. Plus there are some stains ( sugar) that as they oxidize get darker and eventually become dang near if not truly impossible to get out.

4. Treat and remove all stains as soon as possible after spillage. I say this with a word of warning - if it is an oil based stain - leave it alone and get your drycleaner to do it. And for heaven sakes - please don't experiment with the stain like hairspray on ink before you bring to the cleaners. But if it is a washable garment - get out what can with water first. Never Never Never - rub silk to get out a stain . Always Always test your fabric and dye with whatever you use. It is so much easier to bring me a stain than ask me fix a stain removal experiment gone awry.

5. Follow care instructions and DO NOT REMOVE CARE LABELS. You need to know exactly how the manufacturer wants that garment cleaned. You will not remember if that dress or shirt is the one that is supposed to dry cleaned or hand washed. I wasn't with you when you bought it - so trust me I don't know. Some designers make the same items but one is washable and one is not - so you really need to read and keep those care labels. If you follow the label and there is a problem - then you can and should return it where you bought it. But if you decide to wash a dry clean only garment and something goes wrong - sorry but you will be stuck with it. Buy the clothes you can afford to maintain properly.

6. Do not allow perfumes. hair spray, or lotions  to come in contact with any wearing apparel. The alcohol in these items can cause color loss. So you ask - how I do I put this stuff on - well folks that is what a robe or your birthday suit is for. And make sure if you use those self-tanning lotions - it is completely dry before putting anything on. They are dyes for your skin and thus they are dyes for your clothes.

7.Do not store or allow garments to be in prolonged or direct contact with artificial or direct light. Light fades clothes. You have all seen the the faded awnings etc from the sun. The same thing holds true with the lights in your house. If your closet has a window - get some heavy duty drapes or blinds. Closets should be dark - and you just turn on the light to find what you need and then off it goes and out you go. Think of clothes as vampires and you need to keep them away from the light so they don't turn to dust ( OK they won't turn to dust but they will fade)

So these simple things will help your clothes last longer. And if you do this - then do the diet and exercise think just how many things you can wear in your closet. Those jeans from high school? Naw, as I recall that was the bell bottom era . But, it might make a good Halloween costume . Hmmm.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mr. President - He Built This

Over fifty years ago, my Dad, Don Maisel, built this cleaners. He and my Mom took all their savings and started Cowboy Cleaners. Yes, President Obama, HE BUILT THAT!!!!

When they first decided to join the dry cleaning industry, Mom and Dad were young with three young children. I was in kindergarten. I spent many an afternoon doing my homework in the cleaners. Dad would be at work until 3am getting customers clothes cleaned so he could go back at 6:30 to start the day pressing them. My grandfather, Tom Maisel, was an accountant and once told Dad many years after the cleaners was established that those first years my Dad was too stupid to realize he was bankrupt. My Dad told him "no- I just figured I could do it". HE DID IT BY HIMSELF!!! Thank you very much Mr. President.

We never went on vacation. Dad could not leave the business. I am not complaining. Whenever my Dad had free time - he spent it with us. Heck, we spent so much time with him at work all of us knew the business by the time we were 12. Dad thought we needed to learn the value of a dollar - so all us kids worked here after school and summers. No cushy jobs for us - I was the shirt presser.

I know the happiest day was the day he hired his first employee, Richard Basaldua. Richard stayed working  with Dad until he died. Does that not tell you what kind of man my dad was - his first employee worked for him for over 35 years? HE HELPED OTHERS!!!Thank you very much Mr. President.

When my mom wanted to go back to school, it was Dad who encouraged her.Mom and Dad were married when Mom was 19. She finished her college degree, a masters and legal degree. All before I graduated from 8th grade. All the while Dad worked this cleaners and Mom after school would come and work the counter with the customers and bag the clothes Dad and Richard cleaned and pressed. My Dad would tell us, his daughters, to believe in ourselves and if WE worked hard enough there was nothing we could not achieve. He would point to my mother and say "see she did it". My Dad ( and this was the sixties) taught me how to play football. I mean really play - I could kick,pass and punt as good as any boy my age. Dad never believed a girl could not do anything she wanted. WHO HELPED WHO  Mr. President?

Fifty years later, Cowboy Cleaners is still here. Dad is not. He died in June. I take tremendous offense to the remarks the President made. My Dad worked late nights, weekends, holidays and gave up golf (unlike you Mr.President) for many decades.Dad wanted his family to be better off than he. He never complained. He was happy. He loved what he did. He loved his life and his family. HE BUILT THIS. He did it without any help- Thank you very much Mr.President. He believed you treat your employees fairly. He was a father figure to many of those employees over the years. Many of them sought his advice and he gladly took the time to help them.He gave generously to charity and organizations. HE HELPED OTHERS!! Thank you very much Mr.President.The government did not help him - but did he ever help the government. He paid social security taxes ( businesses match the part an employee pays), sales tax, income tax ( for both himself and the company), the state's margin tax, the dry cleaner remediation tax, medicaid and medicare tax,and unemployment tax for every employee. The company pays gas taxes (which pay for roads),water bills, and energy bills. We have bought hundreds of thousands in equipment which have in turn helped other small companies pay all those taxes ,too. So DO NOT TELL ME -HE DID NOT THIS ON HIS OWN!!! He did - and I have the honor and privilege to carry on his legacy. I have the honor to be his daughter - and I will be damned if I will let some man ( President or not) degrade all that he achieved. I will not sit here and let some man ( President or not) say "HE DID NOT DO THAT ON HIS OWN". Yes, he did. YES, MR PRESIDENT - HE BUILT THIS !!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

June 1 2012

I guess you may have been wondering - "what happened to Vicky?" It's a a long story. It isn't like I don't have a stack of things on my desk to write about - because I do. But I just could not face writing this until now.
On March 25th ,my Dad went into the hospital. On June 1st, Dad died. It has been hard to come here and not see him. Shannon and I have days that if you came by - all you would see is two crying women. But Dad was such a wonderful man. He ws always happy and he loved his life. his family and this cleaners. It was his baby. And now it is up to Shanoon and I to take care of his baby and maybe help it grow.
Last night, we received the honor of a lifetime. Cowboy Cleaners is the 2012 Volunteer of the Year - small business from the United Way. We have recieved many honors over the years. Some you have seen on the front page of this web site. But this is so amazing. Even though I accepted it- this is truly the culmination of my Dad's work and life.It was Dad who taught me to give to others.It was Dad who taught us patience and thoughtfulness. So thanks to Dad , Shannon and I learned it truly is better to give than to receive. We have learned the joy of helping others. we have learned the joy of trying to lend a helping hand. We have learned the joy of taking what we do best and find a way to give back to our community. As I accepted the award last night, I was smiling and crying at the same time. Because all could think was Dad would be so proud.
So thank you for waiting for me to get back to the computer and write this. Thank you to everyone who has called and hugged me. Thank you for the kind words.There have been so may lives and hearts that were touched by Dad. I will miss him everyday. I will love him until I breath my last breath. I will try to honor him in everthing I do, everyday. Don Maisel was my Dad. I was bleesed to have been born his daughter. I will continue to try to share that blessing with everyone I meet. My only hope, is when I die - that I will have made such a difference  and left so many loving me as Dad did. If I can be half the person he was - then I will have accomplished much.

Don Maisel March 26,1953 - June1,2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Great Garbage Patch

I think everyone has heard of the giant swirling patch of plastic garbage in the ocean. I had and was under the impression the "Great Pacific Trash Vortex" was the size of Texas. Wrong! Truth is no one really knows. Why?Most of the debris consists of small plastic particles suspended at or just below the surface, making it impossible to detect by aircraft or satellite. Although media and advocacy reports suggest its twice the size of the U.S. continent - its not. The National Science Foundation suggested the area may be twice the size of Hawaii, but the most recent study concluded it might be smaller. But don't think the Atlantic is spared. There is a similar patch floating in the Atlantic. What it isn't is a swirling mass of used water bottles - it's small bits of plastic naked to the eye.

We were told those nasty cruise ships and boaters were responsible for the "the Garbage Patch". Once again , not true - it is us land lovers. 80% of the garbage comes from land-based sources. So why is this a dry cleaning topic? Well ... the American Chemical Society's (ACS)Environmental Science and Technology published a report saying the major source of "microplastic" ( the naked to eye stuff ) comes from household washing machines.

Mark Browne from the ACS said that the accumulation of microplastic debris in marine environments has raised health and safety concerns. The bits of plastic contain potentially harmful ingredients which go into the bodies of animals and could be transferred to people who consume fish.

So why was your washer the culprit? More microplastics were found in densely populated areas.The source was identified as waste water from household washing machines. (commercial laundries are required to have lint filters and strainers to not discharge this stuff into our waste water). More than 1900 fibers can rinse off a single garment during a wash cycle.

So what can be done? Well ....have your clothes washed by a commercial laundry or laundromat. Buy clothing made from natural fibers -e.g. cotton ,wool, silk, linen and avoid plastics e.g. nylon,polyester and spandex. Consider grey water - instead of having your washer's waste water going down the drain - use it to water your lawn ( if your city or municipality allows it ). And designers of clothing and washing machines should consider the need to reduce the release of fibers into waste water.

Even though researchers are working on methods to remove microplastic from sewage, they cannot do it yet. So next time you wash your clothes - remember you may be eating those plastic fibers later.