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washing dishes by hand vs. dishwasher: water, expense and time  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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I just read a bunch of crazy on this topic and I am flabbergasted by the sheer ignorance .... hoards of people not even willing to think for more than a few seconds, as demonstrated by mythbusters letting us all down (that guy has the water running the whole time - the whole segment smacks of "paid for by this dishwasher company".).

Here are some critically important facts that I think are freakishly obvious to anybody once they see these words:


    It seems that people are hyper focused on the amount of water that is used. And for most people, the amount of water used is trivial and the overall expense is what really matters. Or time. But a huge majority is so irrationally locked onto only on water use that nobody is allowed to bring up any other aspect. Granted, for some, each quart of water is rather precious - so measuring the total water used is very important. So let's get through this so we can move on to the other aspects.

    Actually measuring just the water


      dishwasher water use

      • some dishwashers use more water than others.
      • some dishwashers have an "eco mode" that uses far less water
      • some dishwashers will get your dishes clean only if you do NOT use the "eco mode"
      • some (expensive) dishwashers will filter and reuse the water - using MUCH less water than other dishwashers
      • nearly all dishwashers used to require you to wash (rinse) the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher - more water
      • many dishwashers do such a poor job of washing the dishes, that many need to be washed by hand afterward - more water
      • consumer reports says do NOT pre-rinse; use a good dishwasher; their best dishwasher used 4 gallons per load
      • if your meal did not fill the dishwasher, you need to decide if you will wait before running it: do you ...
        • A) run it now and use more water per dish, or ...
        • B) run it later but find that some of the food was petrified onto the dishes and will need to be washed by hand
      • There are some things that should never be put into a dishwasher, so they will have to be done by hand
      • there are some people pointing out that their dishwasher will wash a load with just 2 gallons of water. I think this is possible, but if it really did a good job, I think it would have been mentioned in the consumer reports article. Since consumer reports actually measured the water use, I think it is possible that a dishwasher either was put into eco mode and did not meet the CR standards (thus requiring more water to pre-wash or post-wash), or the dishwasher used more water than is advertised.
      • depending on the dishwasher and how you use it, it could take 4 gallons to 50 gallons of water to wash one load of dishes with a dishwasher


      hand washing water use

      • some people just turn the water on to full blast and let it run the whole time they are doing dishes
      • letting your dishes sit generally leads to more scrubbing, not more water use
      • in my video, I washed enough dishes to fill a dishwasher about 2/3 full. And I used about a gallon and a half of water. So if I filled the dishwasher, I would have used about 2.25 gallons of water.

          • my video from six years ago on this topic

      • Jocelyn points out that she could use even less water than what I do in my video by
        • using a dishpan within the sink - the water gets deeper faster
        • keep the dishpan until the next meal (and then dump that water after that meal)
        • with these two things, she thinks she would be able to cut about 30% from what I did - so 2.25 gallons per "load" is reduced to about 1.5 gallons per load.
      • Jocelyn then tells me about people that wash dishes with the dishpan and a wet, soapy washrag and just a dribble of water for rinsing, using far less water than her best attempt. This would result in less than a quart of water compared to what I used in my video, so we might count it as a full quart for a "full dishwasher load".
      • Jocelyn points out that she likes to take the dishpan water outside and water a few ornamental plants that have terrible soil - so this technique would result in a ZERO GALLONS for the mythbusters test, but we won't count it here.
      • depending on how you do it, you might use a quart of water to 50 gallons of water to wash one load of dishes by hand.


      water use summary

      • depending on all sorts of variables, the amount of apathy on the part of the testers, or the amount of need to sell dishwashers on the part of the testers, you could rig either approach to come out ahead
      • if you are serious about saving water, washing by hand is the clear winner






    Actually measuring total cost of use


      I found that the average cost in the US to heat one gallon of water is about 1.5 cents per gallon. Further, the average cost of water is about 0.2 cents per gallon. Therefore a hot gallon is about 1.7 cents and a cold gallon is about 0.2 cents.

      we are leaving soaps out of both scenarios.


      total cost of a dishwasher

      • Google says "A couple of years ago the NAHB, along with Bank of America, put out some research entitled the Study of Life Expectancy of Home Components. According to the results, the average lifespan for a modern dishwasher is just nine years."
      • giving google more of a workout ...
        • the cost of a new dishwasher is about $440
        • according to consumer reports, the dishwashers that use very little water but get your dishes clean cost $700 to $1100
        • cost of delivery is free if you are close and spending a certain amount - otherwise it can be about $50
        • cost of installation averages about $300
        • cost of disposal of the old dishwasher costs about $150
        • dishwashers now offer "Steam" at different phases of the cycle - an additional energy expense?
      • dishwashers usually heat the water further than the hot water supplied
      • dishwashers are usually connected to just hot water
      • dishwashers typically will heat the dishes to dry them
      • I am going to declare a budget of $20 per year for dishracks and scrubby things for the stuff that cannot go into the dishwasher
      • focusing just on the once every nine years cost of replacing a dishwasher ... and assuming people will get one that uses little water but still gets dishes clean without extra water from a pre or post washing ... let's say a person spends $925 on the dishwasher with delivery ... installation of the new dishwasher and disposal of the old dishwasher add up to $450 ... $1375 every nine years ... for an average of about $150 per year for just the actual dishwasher unit - and that assumes that there are zero repairs during that time
      • It would seem that the average dishwasher that uses very little water and actually gets the dishes clean will use about 5 gallons of water. This article states that the average home runs 215 loads per year and it it costs 17 cents to run the average dishwasher for one load, without consideration for the expense of the water. That brings me to $54.82 per year.
      • so that brings dishwasher expense to a grand total of about $225 per year
      • this does not account for household damage caused by broken plumbing or using the wrong soap that fills the kitchen with bubbles and water
      • this also assumes that the number of dishes put into the dishwasher is always optimal


      total cost of washing dishes by hand

      • When I wash dishes, about 80% of the water is for the comfort of my hands and the rest is where I need it be hot to deal with some grease
      • water that is halfway between hot (1.7 cents per gallon) and cold (0.2 cents per gallon) would be 0.95 cents per gallon
      • 80% of the water is 0.95 per gallon and 20% is 1.7 cents per gallon, so that works out to 1.1 cents per gallon
      • I am going to declare a budget of $30 per year for dish racks and scrubby things
      • my way with 2.25 gallons per load is $5.32 per year for the water
      • using the washrag technique listed above would be $0.59 per year for the water
      • lets say the average person reading this is going to use the luxuriant amounts of water that I use, instead of the paltry amount used in the washrag technique - that brings us to the grand total of about $35.00 per year




    I think there is a lot of fancy dancing that can be done on either side to reduce costs. The dishwasher side could DIY the delivery, installation and disposal of the old dishwasher. If they cut costs on the washer itself, they will use more water one way or another. They could connect just the cold water - that would have significant savings. Either side could reduce the cost of scrubbies by growing their own lufa, and the cost of washcloths by recycling clothing rags. Hand washing could be done with more cold water. Water could be heated by other means - and maybe water could come from some free source. I had to draw some lines to get to these values.

    I suppose there could even be contests set up to see which team could get the costs lower - but it looks like there is really no contest: if you actually try to save money, washing by hand will always cost less.



How much time do you save? Isn't a person's time worth something?

You fucking fucker. Sunuffabitch you fuckitty, fucking, good-for-nothing poop-stain fuckwit fucker.

This all started many years ago when somebody brought up "which way is best" and then some fucker shouts over everybody else that a dishwasher uses less water. Every time the topic comes up there is some new nitwit that insists on being louder than everybody and says "dishwasher uses less water" and then refuses to let there be any further conversation. It is as if there is some sort of psychotic brainwashing going on to force people to stand behind the dishwasher and fight to the death on the grounds of "dishwasher uses less water."

So I think I have proven a lot of things here, but the bottom line is that if you are really concerned with saving water, then you can save far more water by doing it by hand.

When this topic came up on the r/frugal subreddit the question was put quite well, but the answer that got the most upvotes was "They tested this on myth busters once! The dishwasher used less water" showing the vast majority of the people that saw this at reddit and all the people that put on that bit at mythbusters are all wrong.

The key to all of this is that I have been in this conversation more than two dozen times with the universal "dishwasher uses less water" followed by some form of "this conversation is now over" that I really feel like the important thing here is I win, I win, I WIN! And NOW this conversation is over! Accept your defeat fuckers! If you made your stupid fucking stand on how much water is used, OWN YOUR SHIT AND BOW BEFORE THE MIGHTY PILLAR OF REASON!

... ... ... on the other hand ... this does bring up a rather excellent point - which I will share only with people that never tried to stop this conversation after spouting some drivel that was probably paid for by some dishwasher manufacturer.

There can be no doubt that a good dishwasher saves time. If nothing else, putting dishes in the dishwasher is basically the same step that is done when a hand washed dish is put in the drying rack. Hours later there is the exact same chore of putting the dishes from the drying rack into the cupboard, or from the dishwasher into the cupboard. Therefore, washing dishes by hand adds the steps of washing and rinsing.

How long it takes to wash a load of dishes by hand is going to vary by loads of variables. If we say that filling a standard dishwasher takes ten minutes, then I think it fair to say that washing all of those dishes by hand and putting the resulting dishes into a drying rack would take .... 30 minutes (just a wild guess). Since our previous calculations said that there 215 loads per year, this means an extra 72 hours per year.

Save $190 per year for 72 hours. So for that 72 hours of extra work, you get an ROI of about $2.60 per hour.

So I think the time thing is a valid point. 72 hours per year is a lot.

Years ago I read something in a book and I put it on a little note and stuck it on my monitor so I saw it every day. I lost the note and cannot find the book, so I will try to do this from memory:



      machines help us do more
      but experience less

          -- Shepherd Ogden




I suppose some people might choose to ride their bike to work rather than take their car. For a few people, the bike ride might actually be faster, but for most people, the bike ride is probably quite a bit longer. Maybe it adds 10 minutes each way. But they still go.

Washing dishes is a time where you can listen to podcasts or an audiobook. Or visit with folks. For some of us, if you aren't washing dishes, then you really should get back to work.

The hand washing route leads to less stuff ... less washing machines in the dump, less consumerism, less trips on the road of people delivering it, installing it and hauling away the old one.

When I have lived by myself, I liked having exactly one plate, one spoon, one fork, one knife, one bowl and one glass sitting in the dishrack. I suppose I saved some time over earlier calculations because I never had to move my dishes from the dish rack to the cupboard. When I was done with my meal, the whole kitchen and all of the dishes were clean again. There was nothing dirty sitting behind the door of a dishwasher. Nor did I need a whole lot of dishes to dirty up in order to run a full load. Do people with dishwashers need to buy more dishes?

With a dishwasher, there is the risk that somebody might put dirty dishes into a dishwasher full of clean dishes. Despite all of the tricks to try to prevent this, it still happens. Or when the time comes to put dirty dishes into the dishwasher and you realize that it is full of clean dishes .... when I have lived with others my mind goes to "damn you people! you didn't put the dishes away!" ... the pain comes from what was going to be a ten second task of putting one dirty cup into the dishwasher and it is now a ten minute task (grumble, grumble, grumble). When washing dishes by hand, this problem never comes up. The closest problem you have is that your now clean cup cannot find a parking space in the mountain of clean dishes on the drying rack. A quick rub with the towel and you can set your cup in the cupboard!

As I think of some of our permaculture heroes, several of them chose a life path that didn't have electricity of any kind: Dick Proenekke, Elzéard Bouffier, Sam Gribley - so I think it is safe to say that it is possible that a higher quality of life comes without a dishwasher.

I wrote to a few permaculture heroes and asked them which technique they use ....


Ben Law, the author of several books and videos, the man I think of every time when I choose to use the word "woodland" instead of "forest":

I don't have a dishwasher it would use too much power from my off grid systemn. I have always washed dishes by hand- quite therapeutic ....



Larry Korn was an intern with Masanobu Fukuoka for many years and did the translations to English for several of Fukuoka's books:

Fukuoka-sensei had a house in the village which had power. That was where his wife and kids lived while he was living in the orchard, which was most of the time. By the time I got there he was 62 years-years old and spent most of his time in the village.

On the mountain, as the orchard was called, there was no power or running water. He lived there for many years when he was younger. When I was there we lived in huts just as he did. We washed dishes using water we drew from a well. If there was grease, for example when we cooked tempura or something like that, we used hot water but that was only once in a while. It rained a lot there...about 65 inches a year so water was not a big issue. When I lived in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains the lack of water was a major issue. It's amazing how little water you need to do dishes if you are up against it.



geoff lawton, the crown prince of permaculture:

Ok nothing out of the ordinary just common sense in a real setting.

Our hot water is heated by the sun with emergency back up which we can set up to kick in at what ever temperature we choose with gas or wood fired wet back cooking stoves.

We wash by hand in our commercial kitchen with one first rinse, one natural soapy scrub, then three separate clean water rinses in succession then drip dry,

All containers are recycled and I can photograph this system if you like. We know it works well because it handles 30,000 meals a year.

We use rain water for all our cleaning and drinking water and have 102,000 gallons capacity in our storage tanks, we have first flush systems on all our roof down pipes and the only filters we have at the delivery end are ceramic in line filters.

So we have surplus rain water but we also have surplus solar electricity with a very large nickel iron battery bank and a large solar array and we are not connected to the outside world at all, so we can choose to use an energy efficient dish washer with minimal water use if we want to use it with natural biodegradable soap, we have one but very rarely use it, only if we have an unusually large series of large events to cater for in succession.

To complete the train of events all our waste water systems go through to government approved gravel reed bed grey water cleaning systems, so biologically cleaned water rehydrating our landscape.

We like to demonstrate that people have choices to meet their comfort zones as they transition towards a more sustainable world in a common sense and appropriate way.

We believe it is important to stay objective and appropriate to the period of history we are in and the massive numbers of people we need to help to start making a positive change.

We do our best avoid the fanatics who concentrate on subjective opinions.

We do not pretend to be perfect and do not expect ever to be, and definitely not a Crown Prince.



bits and bobs

The late Chuck Freeman wrote in this post:

We have two automatic dishwashers that I know for a fact they save energy (mine). Right after a meal they automatically clear the table and do the dishes. It gets better after that they automatically feed the animals, haul the water from the spring, and bring in the firewood. They can also be programed to Split firewood, weed gardens, you name it. It does take a few years to develop these automatic features, our took about 6 years but it was well worth the wait.


I would like to add to that that if kids complain of their suffering doing chores like dishes, remind them that all that suffering helps them write good poetry when they are older.


I have read some comments about sterilizing dishes. I think that is a terrible idea. George Carlin has some thoughts in this space:



And here an article titled "Fewer allergies among children in dishwasher-free homes". More and more.


My last thought comes with the whole "planned obsolescence" thing. The average lifespan of a dishwasher is currently 9 years. I wonder if it used to be 30 years. I wonder if in the future it might be 3 years. I just kinda hate to feed the planned obsolescence monster.


Summary

I lived with my grandad for a few years starting when I was eleven. I tend to romanticize everything about that time. He didn't have a dishwasher. Everything was washed by hand. He cooked three meals a day for us, and I did the dishes. There were so few dishes that everything went pretty quickly. When I set the table, I pulled the dishes out of the dishrack. It was a simple and quick system. I cannot justify it, but it felt good and right. Our work is done. The idea of a dishwasher is a violation of this romantic notion: put your dirty dishes into a box and it will be dealt with later. The food will both rot and petrify in there. Then you keep pulling more and more dishes out of the cupboards and use those, and keep feeding dirty dishes into the box. Your work is not done - you have put it off. It just feels wrong. There is a festering mess of shame poorly concealed behind a plastic door. The way that we manage cleaning dishes is not dictated by the meal, but by the machine.

Somehow ... washing dishes by hand is good. A kind of goodness that smells like honesty and integrity. When I have finished washing dishes by hand, I feel like I have given a gift to my future self ... I am an adult that has done the right thing. When I put dirty dishes into a dishwasher, I feel like I am hiding a gross thing (that will get grosser in time) and leaving my problems to my future self to deal with.

I'm washing dishes by hand, with a bunch of folks at a PDC where I am a guest instructor
paul wheaton washing dishes by hand

When a person tells me that a dishwasher is better because it saves water and then won't allow further discussion ... I feel like that person is not only wrong, but that person can never understand what I feel.

Thanks grandad. You're awesome.
 
John Weiland
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Never had a dishwashwer. #1 Run water just enough to saturate sponge/scrubby/dishcloth. #2 Add soap to sponge and rub down all dishes to be cleaned---if need be, leave in sink for a bit for soap/water to penetrate crusty stuff. #3 Rinse with mild stream of water and place in strainer.

Greasy/crusty pans?----> Dogs, then the 1,2,3.

Fun joke to play on the in-laws?---> Plates to dogs, then back into the cupboard....while in-laws look on in horror...
 
Zach Muller
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I have found a great way to get better at using less water for washing - undo your outgoing pipe under the sink and just have it drain into a bucket. With this setup you will be manually hauling the used water. As time goes by you will find a way to use less and less, since hauling the water sucks. It's like a teaching tool that shows you really how much water you are wasting.
Using this setup I have realized that I can maximize water saving if I use "one piece flow" mentality. Wash each dish asap and never have a bunch sitting around crusting.
Now the kitchens clean, water use is efficient, I would never dream of using the dishwasher unless I was cleaning for 25 people or something.
 
Steve Farmer
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Apart from water use, the diswashher fans in my family (everyone except me) say how much easier it is/would be with a dishwasher. Personally I find washing up by hand to be quicker and easier thhan loading/unloading the dishwasher.

The key to washing by hand is to deal with the plates immediately after use, before all the stuff goes crusty and dry. This doesn't mean washing the plate completely, just give it a rinse, cover it in water and leave it till you can be bothered to wash completely, then it's easy.

I worked in a pub/restaurant as a kid, I was the washer-upper. I had a professional catering dishwashing machine at my disposal. When things got really busy I would abandon the machine and go to the sink in order to keep up.

Final point, I cringe when I hear people complaining about "using" water. Unless it's going thru a nuclear reaction it doesn't get used. As an adult, I worked 2 years at the water company. I was working in IT rather than dealing with the water systems, but in the course of my work I visited every one of the 100+ sites and needed to understand all the business's processes. At the water treatment plant, they mix the sewer water with clean water to dilute before releasing it into the rivers, so the waste from running a tap is likely irrelevant. That was in the rainy UK, I guess sewage treatment in other parts of the world will vary.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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paul wheaton wrote:
  • Jocelyn points out that she could use even less water than what I do in my video by
    • using a dishpan within the sink - the water gets deeper faster
    • keep the dishpan until the next meal (and then dump that water after that meal)
    • with these two things, she thinks she would be able to cut about 30% from what I did - so 2.25 gallons per "load" is reduced to about 1.5 gallons per load.
    • <<skip - see next quote>>
  • Jocelyn points out that she likes to take the dishpan water outside and water a few ornamental plants that have terrible soil - so this technique would result in a ZERO GALLONS for the mythbusters test, but we won't count it here.


  • There are many other tactics related to this, including:

  • getting the water hot
    • start with hot water from kettle or pot
    • while running faucet to get to the hot water, collect it in a watering can (a bucket in the shower is brilliant for this, too)
    • use not-hot-enough-yet water to rinse, pre-soak, or wash non-greasy items
  • reusing dirty dishwater - besides or in addition to watering plants
    • use for pre-wash or pre-soaking of very dirty dishes or pots
    • use to rinse out a dirty sink
    • use to flush a toilet
    • pour on especially dusty paths, roads, or drives (even better if very greasy water!)
    • if not overly dirty, just too cold to cut grease well, re-heat the water on top of stove

    paul wheaton wrote:
  • Jocelyn then tells me about people that wash dishes with the dishpan and a wet, soapy washrag and just a dribble of water for rinsing, using far less water than her best attempt. This would result in less than a quart of water compared to what I used in my video, so we might count it as a full quart for a "full dishwasher load".


  • It was a permies member, Skip, who described this in his low water consumption technique for washing dishes by hand thread.

     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    John Weiland wrote:
    Fun joke to play on the in-laws?---> Plates to dogs, then back into the cupboard....while in-laws look on in horror...


    I have to admit, I love to tell this as a story of how a couple got the in-laws to quit stopping in for dinner! So funny! Don't recall where it first came from.

    I do think using dogs to do a pre-wash is a very valid, resource stacking, plus water- and energy-saving technique.


     
    Judith Browning
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    unless I was cleaning for 25 people or something.
    and then that's a chance for a kitchen social event...growing up and at potlucks more recently, folks always make it to the kitchen to wash and dry, along with some good kitchen conversation.....when I was young, it would be the women taking over the kitchen... fortunately, my generation didn't look at it as women's work so much....sometimes washing dishes is where it's all happening....people keep gravitating to the kitchen and grabbing a towel.
    I don't think the dishwasher could ever have such social appeal, but I don't really know, having never had one or used one...I have a dau. in law who has never washed by hand except the prewash for the dishwasher.
     
    Mick Fisch
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    I've got to admit, when doing dishes for a large crowd (i.e. when my kids are all home for the holidays with spouses and offspring) a dishwasher is great, just trying to stay ahead on three meals a day with 25 to 30 people and still having time to visit and play is a job. Once we start dividing it out (one couple has breakfast, one has lunch) things got better.

    For just a few people (up to about 5) , I find loading and unloading a dish washer actually takes more time than just washing and rinsing them. I need a sink of hot soapy water while I'm cooking. I find I can wash the freshly used items and put them up to dry in between the other steps in the 'get dinner on the table' dance with no loss of time, then the water is still there for after the meal. The plates, glasses, serving dishes, etc. from the table take a maximum of about 3-5 minutes. If I've got some free time, or if I can get another person involved, it's a pleasant experience.

    I've heard that Agatha Christy composed her mysteries while doing the dishes. You're hands know what to do, leaving your mind free to contemplate other things.
     
    Andy Moffatt
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    The time saving argument really annoys me, recently my partner was telling her friend how easy and Cheap sourdough is(around 30cents a loaf by my calculations) and her friend says "oh but if you work out the cost of your time its actually more expensive"
    What the hell else am I supposed to do at night to provide for us? Use my valuable time to watch rubbish on the tv and buy everything?
    Lazy people grrr
     
    Dale Hodgins
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    As the inventor and chief proponent of the fishwasher/dishwasher, I have you all beat. By the time the fish and other critters are done with them, there is very little washing required.

    http://www.permies.com/t/27219/toxin-ectomy/Invented-Cleaning-Dishwasher-soap-electricity#213714
    ....
    I have done it by hand and I have used a dishwasher. There is no question in my mind, that a good  dishwasher is faster. I think it's about three times faster.
    A shitty dishwasher requires you to pre wash. Even then, there is still some time savings, but not so much.

    Where I live currently, there is a good dishwasher and we use it. Large pots and bowls are washed by hand. I have developed methods of stacking the dishwasher , that allows far more dishes to be loaded, than I have seen others do.

    My only issue with this dishwasher and others, is the insistence on sterilizing and going through hot water , long after the dishes are clean. The one I use, runs for about an hour. I have opened it up after 10 minutes , to find that almost everything is basically clean.

    There seems to be no way to bypass any of the steps that the machine takes. I would like to have the option of stopping it before the long drying session that happens at the end of a cycle. Since it doesn't have this function, I manually stop it, and then leave the door open a few inches after giving the racks a shake. The dishes are already hot , so once dry outside air flows through, the dishes quickly dry , without the machine running through the last 15 minutes of the cycle.

    Quantity of water is not an issue for me. Only the electrical use matters. If it's costing me $0.10 a day, that's something I can easily live with. My time is better spent elsewhere.
     
    Dale Hodgins
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    The most efficient automatic dishwasher that I've used, was my own 4 gallon stainless steel pot , placed on top of my masonry stove and allowed to come to a rolling boil.

    This is not something that could work in the summer, but during the heating season, when the stove is used anyway, the big pot full of dishes becomes part of the thermal mass. After the water cools to 120 or so, the dishes can be safely extracted and rinsed.

     Even when packed in quite tightly, the dishes become really clean. Every bit of soap is used up in this process.

    I washed one load using wood ash. Those dishes came clean as well. They were a bit greasy , so either the ash absorbed the oil, or the lye and oil were converted to soap. I'm not sure if oil and lye we'll make soap under those conditions. More testing might be necessary.

    The rolling boil method moves the water around quite a bit. Another way to move water, is to inject air near the bottom of the pot. This can be done with a small fish tank pump that uses far less power than is used by a dishwasher. In this way, there would be no need to bring the water to a boil to get it circulating.
    ..............
    Edit --- Another Epiphany has struck me like a bolt of lightning.

     As atmospheric pressure drops, the boiling point of water is reduced. At about 1 pound pressure, water boils at near 100 Fahrenheit. Based on this, I give you "the vacuum chamber, rolling boil dishwasher." This would be a dishwasher that has some sort of pump to reduce the air pressure , but no other moving parts. A small amount of heat applied to the bottom , would set the water to boiling. This would not get hot enough to sterilize dishes. It is simply a method of moving the water around. It currently exists only in my head and has only been in there for 5 minutes. Still, as with many of my inventions , I'm very attached to this one and I assume that it would work without a hitch.☺
     
    Dan Boone
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    Jocelyn Campbell wrote:I have to admit, I love to tell this as a story of how a couple got the in-laws to quit stopping in for dinner! So funny! Don't recall where it first came from.
    A version of this joke got discussed in my family in the early 1970s, so it probably came into the house via Readers Digest magazine, which had several jokes columns in every issue. My folks said the joke was ancient then.

    One of my parents also knew a version that didn't involve in-laws. I don't recall the details (you can make up your own shaggy-dog trappings about travelers broke down on a country road, old neary-by farmhouse, et cetera) but it involved two strangers invited to dinner by an old bachelor farmer. When they sat down to dinner, they noticed that the plates were pie tins that had been nailed to the table. They wondered at this, but the plates were very clean, so they figured it was an eccentricity and ate their meal happily. Then when the meal was over, the old man said "just give me a minute to see about the dishes" whereupon he opened his front door and whistled for his dogs, who ran inside, jumped up on the table, and rapidly "cleaned" the plates.

    I just wasted about fifteen minutes trying to Google up any nailed-pie-pan version of the joke. No joy. Just your daily reminder that the fullest grainy richness of our culture isn't completely captured online.

    I spent too much of my childhood washing dishes for a family of six using two dishpans (actually big stainless steel mixing bowls), one wash cloth, and a dish drainer. Big dishpan full of soap and water and dirtiest non-plastic dishes would be heated on the wood stove until water was "hot", along with a two-quart kettle of supplemental hot water. Small dishpan would have clean cold water in it, sometimes warmed a bit on the stove so it wouldn't be miserable to dip hands in. Hot kettle was used to top up the big dishpan as water splashed out (we had a two sinks draining into a slop-bucket arrangement) and dippers of cold water from the drinking water bucket (2.5 gallon) could be used to supplement the rinse as necessary. Protocol was to empty the five-gallon slop bucket before and after, so I can confirm that total water use was generally in the 3-4 gallon range. The project (starting with putting the cold water on the stove, emptying the slop bucket, filling the water bucket) usually took about an hour at kid pace. Slop water got slung into the woods behind the outhouse. All of our water was hauled quite a distance so, in winter, we'd sometimes be told to start with dishpan packed full of snow to minimize water use. No extra charge for the spruce needles and snowshoe hare poop.

    I've seen several sentiments in this thread discounting the cost or the value of the time spent hand-washing dishes. There's the notion that dishwashing time can be quality social time, the notion that the person washing dishes doesn't have anything more valuable or interesting to do with the time, and the notion (expressed quite wittily) that time spent by children can be discounted because it's "automatic" from the perspective of some other person. It strikes me how contextual each of these notions must be, in order for it to be true. Dishwashing time in our cabin was never social, friendly, or familial; dishwashing was always a chore and frequently a punishment, carried out while other family members sat at leisure less than ten feet away ignoring the dishwashing process except to instruct/complain/bitch about perceived imperfections. Obviously it could have been different had my parents been other than they were, but in that context, house chores were never "quality time" and always an imposition into whatever activities we children felt had value (usually reading or getting the hell out of the cabin on whatever pretext). Forty years later I remain quite hostile to the notion that there's anything inherently pleasant or ennobling about routine repetitive chores; I would have to be very dull indeed if I could not imagine some better and more pleasant or productive use of my time. Being able to fill the sonic environment with entertainment or education is the best way to mitigate the opportunity cost of time lost to routine chores, and it's how I cope with them now. I can imagine (but have never experienced) filling the time with pleasant socializing. I cannot imagine thinking "I've got nothing better to do." Thinking "the kid has nothing better to do" would be hypocritical, and also suggests a parenting failure; the kid damned well should have something they are more excited about doing than washing dishes.

    But I still wash dishes by hand (for reasons mostly economic) and other people wash dishes by hand to save water or energy or the fossil fuel embodied in the dishwater. My point is that these motives don't generalize well. Whether you want to save water versus expense versus time is hugely contextual. What are your circumstances, what are your values, what is the opportunity cost to you of an hour spent with a dishrag in hand? Everybody's got a different answer.
     
    Andrew Morse
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    I grew up in the suburbs and we always had a dishwasher. To this day my mom scrubs everything before loading the washer and it comes out dirty. She hates every dishwasher she's had. My dad never had one growing up and I noticed at one point in my life that when he washed the dishes it would always be by hand. I also learned later that he was in a sort of state of meditation when he washed dishes. Since high school when I realized all of this I have not used one and can get meditative in the same way when I wash. It taught me about that style of meditation which lends itself well to many permaculture choices... Scythe instead of weed eater, chopping wood instead of using gas, etc.
     
    Dale Hodgins
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    I have done dishes while sitting in front of the TV, watching a movie. This simply requires two portable wash tubs. One for washing and another to place the washed dishes in. Rinsing takes very little time and is done at the sink. This only works if the TV is close by.

    Where I live right now, the kitchen sink faces a bare wall. At my grandma's farm it faceed a nice view.

    My other issue is standing. If I'm to be on my feet, I expect to get paid. I don't spend my leisure time standing. I'm on my feet when working. At the end of the day, I'd rather not stand. There are times when I've sat on a tall stool for dishwashing, but most kitchens aren't set up to accommodate this.

    For me, the number one thing that makes hand washing easier, is a giant soaking sink. Dirty dishes are placed in that sink which is full of water most of the time. Things like coffee cups and spoons that just need a rinse, are not placed in with greasy dishes. By the time they are withdrawn, they are pretty much clean already. I have used this sort of arrangement in a restaurant, and dishes were washed very quickly.

    Where I am now, I have to contend with a single sink that is too small. Almost every surface is covered with crap placed there by a roommate/hoarder. There is no way that the process could be time efficient.

    My greatest beef with other people who clear the table or otherwise try to help, is that they place everything in on top of something greasy. Many things rinse almost clean with just plain water, if there is not cross-contamination with greasy stuff. Perhaps we need a wooden spoon, placed by the sink, so that offenders could receive immediate corporal punishment for placing clean drinking glasses into water contaminated with bacon grease.
     
    Dan Boone
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    Dale Hodgins wrote:Many things rinse almost clean with just plain water, if there is not cross-contamination with greasy stuff.


    I almost mentioned this in my earlier post, but I couldn't find a way to say it that didn't sound like vegan triumphalism, of which there's too much in the world already. My vegan-ish (albeit for other reasons) no-animal-foods diet that also doesn't include any refined vegetable oils makes for super-easy dishes. Nine things in ten come out of the sinkful of soak water effectively clean, with just a fast rinse being the only remaining step needed. The only time I need to scrub a dish is if I let stuff (oatmeal, lentils) dry out to the point that they need more soak time than I gave them.

    (edited to add: "Or mold. That's another time I sometimes need to scrub. But that tells you more about my occasional housekeeping lapses than anybody wanted to know.")
     
    Laurel Robertson
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    One point that hasn't been brought up is the SPACE in the kitchen that an automatic dishwasher takes up. I live in a small house, and efficient use of space is critical. Since nothing permanently lives in a dishwasher (just passes through on its way to permanent storage in a cupboard or drawer), I consider that a waste of space - unless I REALLY hate handwashing dishes. When my kids were growing up here, I had a dishwasher. Now that they're grown and I live alone, I have opted to hand wash and have extra cabinet storage space.
     
    Mick Fisch
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    As atmospheric pressure drops, the boiling point of water is reduced. At about 1 pound pressure, water boils at near 100 Fahrenheit. Based on this, I give you "the vacuum chamber, rolling boil dishwasher." This would be a dishwasher that has some sort of pump to reduce the air pressure , but no other moving parts. A small amount of heat applied to the bottom , would set the water to boiling. This would not get hot enough to sterilize dishes. It is simply a method of moving the water around. It currently exists only in my head and has only been in there for 5 minutes. Still, as with many of my inventions , I'm very attached to this one and I assume that it would work without a hitch.☺


    I have had a similar idea about using a vacuum pump for low temp alcohol distillation. Since I don't drink, there would be no point for me to try it, but I hypothesize it might give some interesting flavoring effects because the 'cooking' wouldn't happen.

    I also think vacuum boiling could give you a very thick, but uncooked apple syrup (or some other fruit syrup)if you used it to boil off most of the water at a low temp. I find that the heating changes the flavors for me and I much prefer the raw flavors. (I love raw apple juice, am less thrilled with the cooked up commercialized stuff).
     
    Kim Goodwin
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    I love having a dishwasher - but not to wash dishes. That's where I put them to dry. It's my oversized, out-of-sight dish rack.

    Now we're moving to house with no dishwasher. There could be room for a portable one, but that's quite an expense for an oversized, out-of-sight dish rack.

    I'd love ideas about the best dishrack possible. in fact, I think I'll start a post for that... titled the Best-Ever Dishrack Ideas.

    Please find it and add your ideas! I'm going to really miss my dishrack with a door.
     
    Erica Daly
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    I used to like washing dishes in the morning because it warmed my hands, but now I get my dose of radio news while washing. I sometimes wash after dinner and listen to a podcast! Yes. Even online course lectures. I closed the hot water valve, and have washed with cool or room temp water. I do the wash with a slightly soapy cloth and use a bottle with a small opening to rinse. I resoap the cloth when needed. Too much soap leads to more rinsing. If I boil eggs, I save the water for the dishes. Dirty water goes outside, put in old pitcher at sink so no need to disconnect plumbing. Max a gallon/day cooking from scratch mostly. Rarely an illness even with kids. I fill bottles with water every day, so even if they start out cold they are room temp by dinner. If power is out, well pump dies, etc, there will be water to drink. Some keeps the frig full, even after buying a smaller frig when the old one died, there is still room to keep a few bottles cold.The water will be room temp at minimum to wash. Easy Peasy. If it is too cold/snowy in winter, the used water stays inside until next morning or daylight for safety concerns.
     
    Dillon Nichols
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    Really enjoyed this article. That mythbusters episode was total BS, and needed calling out.

    I think I'll be the evil dissenter here, though.

    For contrast on the economics side, when I lived in an apartment with the space for it, my dishwasher experience was this as follows. All in CDN $, should be cheaper in the states since everything is...

    Cost for dishwasher(roll-away connect to sink type): $100 off craigslist in perfect condition. Still working fine after 4-5 years when I moved it for my now-ex.
    Cost for delivery: $0
    Cost for installation: $0, clips on to the sink. You could also cut the hoses and easily McGyver something permanent if you wanted, with much easier access than a standard dishwasher. I may do this once I own a house, or I may use a tradition dishwasher installed sensibly: in front of an unfinished storage/utility room that will allow even a crappy novice plumber to easily access everything and install/uninstall themselves.
    Cost for disposal of old dishwasher: $0. For mostly metal units, people will happily take these things for scrap value/because they plan to fix it/for parts. If it's mostly plastic, rip off any obvious heavy metal parts and useful bits first; fees for disposal of the plastic shell should be a lot less than $150 in my experience...

    Even if a $100 craigslist dishwasher only lasts 2 years, it's much cheaper than $150 per year.

    Water is not metered in rental units here. Built into the rent, use all you want. Some apartments the water is heated centrally, in which case hot water is also free; others you're paying to heat it.

    We ran ours a lot less than 215 times per year; partly by virtue of being only a 2-person household, partly by hand-washing items which most convenient to do so, and when we had the time to do so. We bought the thing knowing full well that hand-washing was cheaper and more efficient of water, but the time-saving aspect was 100% worth it to us, and would have been even paying the high end of Paul's numbers.


    machines help us do more
    but experience less .


    Experience less my ass! We spent the 40 hours(or however many per year) that we freed up on building a garden, going for hikes, or in bed. I don't think any other hundred dollar bill has improved my life as much. If someone offers me the chance to buy extra hours of my life for a quarter of minimum wage, you bet your ass I'm going to take them up on it... and I'm confident my cost was much lower than that.

    Beyond that, hand-washing dishes isn't therapeutic for me, or even comfortable; since most sinks are the wrong height I end up with very unhappy shoulders after a while.


    There were so few dishes that everything went pretty quickly.

    Some more of my distaste for hand-washing dishes may come from spending several months somewhere that someone else always cooked dinner. Just dinner, and usually for a total of 3-4 people.

    Even when there were only 2 people, there were SO MANY DISHES. More than a dishwasher load. The person was a great cook, but she left chaos after cooking. Add in leftover dishes from earlier meals, and whoever was on dish-duty was looking at over an hour straight. I could have cooked dinner in less time than I spent on the cleanup, and I usually manage to wash about half my cooking dishes during the prep process...

    It was stiflingly hot in the kitchen, and there wasn't enough space to work efficiently; it was normal for the regular sized dish-drying rack to be piled up at least 30" high, plus overflow on all the counter around it.

    Not my fondest memories of that place.



    If you are using a dishwasher tied into a greywater system, the 'waste' water is not truly wasted, any more than Jocelyn's dirty dishwater is wasted. Waste would only be the portion disposed of that is in excess of the water you would have put on the plants anyhow...

    In conclusion, people who enjoy doing dishes by hand are wonderful, and I hope my next partner is one... because I'm sure as hell not!
     
    Daniel Morse
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    Ok kids, while everyone is yaking about the dishes. I am going to say my little bit. I covet three appliances in my home. I grew up without them, have lived without them and will not do without them. The washer, the dryer and the dishwasher.

    They give me great love. Not as much as my dogs but often more than my human relationships. They always perform and save me money.

    The dishwasher does two great things. It saves me massive amounts of time and it provides very clean and sterile dishes when asked. However, I am skewing all your rants. Why? I have a dish helper. Yes, they do a wonderful job. Lick, lick, and lick they go as they clean up the plates and pans wonderfully. Then I casually load them into the dishwasher, add my own home made dish washer soap and poof! Clean, sterile dishes in an hour. Lots less water being used and one very, very important commodity is saved.

    Time. Lots and lots of time.

    I do hand wash. However, to properly clean and sanitize my dishes (and yes the majority of you I would not eat in your kitchen as I would feel it is not clean enough kosher or not, sorry truth hurts) I would rinse, wash, rinse and scald. This using many many times the water the dishwasher uses. As the dishwasher runs I have mopped the floor, wiped and sanitized the counter and properly stored all food products and I am out the door. Of course I did the large pans by hand and seasoned my cast iron.

    My laundry has flopped and I will decide to hang my clothing out or use the hateful and energy gobbling dryer. I am off to other projects.
     
    John Weiland
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    @Daniel M. "They give me great love. Not as much as my dogs but often more than my human relationships."

    And there, in a nutshell, is the core driving force behind Western/Eastern/Global civ. It will be permies downfall as well if it's not taken into serious consideration. Love between humans does not create wage slaves who need to cuddle their free minutes and seconds before punching the time clock.

    "No European who has tasted savage life can afterwards bear to live in our societies." -- Benjamin Franklin
     
    Corrie Snell
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    Another dissenter here, but I like to call myself a contrarian. I guess I don't like being told what to do. The original post smacked of "should." So, I will think on this for
    more than a few seconds
    (have now spent way more time than I care to admit), and as a somewhat intelligent individual, come to a conclusion for my household. You have the right to do the same.

    Paul's reasoning focuses on three aspects:

    Water Used
    Overall Expense
    Time

    So, I will respond to those three.

    Water Used

    I watched Paul's video three times. What I (think I) saw was:
    5 plates
    1 drinking glass
    1 ladle
    2 large prep knives
    1 large cooking pot
    1 small cutting board
    1 French press
    1 small handful of silverware
    3 unknown small items (mugs?)

    Total: 16 items? Should the pot count as four or five, and the French press three? Let's say they do: 22 items. I'm going to calculate a different way, because I think it's simpler. He says these 22 items took 1.5 gallons of water to wash, which comes to .0682 gallons per item.


    My current dishwasher can hold:
    On the bottom rack:
    24 large plates
    12 medium plates or plate bowls (nest well in plate spots in dishwasher, unlike round, deep "cereal" bowls)
    8 small handfuls of silverware

    On the top rack:
    6 coffee or tea cups
    10 narrow glasses
    16 saucers

    Total: 76 items

    76 items in a full dishwasher, which uses 5 gallons (his figure) to wash, comes to .0658 gallons per item. Hand washing those 76 items Paul's way would use 5.1818 gallons.

    Now, I don't have 24 large plates. I have a set of 12 of each: large plates, medium plates, plate bowls, tea cups, saucers, silverware place settings (small handful = 1 item), tall glasses, short glasses. In my household, these are typically the only things that go into the dishwasher. The rest gets hand washed mainly because the items could/would be ruined in the dishwasher (my pots and pans, my prep knives, my cutting boards), or that they're too bulky and would drastically reduce the efficiency of the dishwasher (taking up the space of 10 plates with a big glass baking dish, for instance). 12 items x 8 sets = 96 items, it's pretty easy to get to the figure of 76 items to "fill" the dishwasher after a day or two of living. But, I'm willing to say that the water use between the two methods may average out to a tie, because I'll not always have the dishwasher filled to it's utmost. I'll sometimes fill in a gap with a mixing bowl or something that I would otherwise be washing by hand (but, that saves the .0682 gallons from having to hand wash it!), just to be able to get the machine going. Though, as Dale Hodgins notes, many of us who use dishwashers have come up with ways to stack in more dishes than just the 76 slots allow. Still, I'll allow a tie. Although, I would further argue that those items that I put in the dishwasher are the most tedious and time consuming of all dishes that need cleaning in the household, such that if I hand washed that same set of dishes, the "time spent" aspect of the debate would tip further in favor of the dishwasher.

    I would argue, that if you're serious about saving water, you've put your dishwasher on the grey water system, and so there can be no winner, or it's a tie, in this portion of the debate. The dishwasher "used" 5 gallons to begin with, hand washing "used" about the same, then, it went back into the system.


    if you are serious about saving water, washing by hand is the clear winner


    Not according to my calculations.


    Overall Expense
    Using Paul's figures, I spend an extra $190 per year using my dishwasher over hand washing. I currently have the income to support this expense, and am ok with spending the money (I whole-heartedly agree with Dan Boone,
    I would have to be very dull indeed if I could not imagine some better and more pleasant or productive use of my time.
    The key word there being "more." Sure, some people may truly enjoy washing dishes by hand. But how many of those rate it as their absolute favorite activity, and can't think of one single thing they'd rather/could be doing? More likely, there are other things/projects they would like to do, or should do (one is allowed to "should" oneself), but after doing all those fucking dishes, they're too tired!. The "cost of use" portion of the debate is very subjective, as other dissenters have pointed out. And, so in this portion of the debate, can there be a clear winner? One person doesn't have any extra $ per year to spend on the cost of running the dishwasher and so hand washes. Another person does, but doesn't want to spend it and so hand washes. A third person has the money, and is willing to spend it. A fourth, doesn't have the money, but sure as heck wishes he/she did because it would be the FIRST thing they'd spend it on. And so on. Are any of these people right? Wrong? Winners? Losers?

    No winner possible on this point.


    Time


    Why do "I" get called a
    fucking fucker. Sunuffabitch you fuckitty, fucking, good-for-nothing poop-stain fuckwit fucker.
    when "I" ask about the value of time, but then he
    think the time thing is a valid point.
    later in his post?

    Every time the topic comes up there is some new nitwit that insists on being louder than everybody and says...
    and then refuses to let there be any further conversation.

    Then,
    I really feel like the important thing here is I win, I win, I WIN! And NOW this conversation is over!

    Hmmmmmm...

    I don't see how anyone can refuse to let there be any further conversation. That individual can drop out of the conversation, sure. The rest of us can stay and continue discussing, and new people will always be joining, too. I suppose in this specific situation, Paul can refuse to let there be any further conversation by automatically deleting any posts that contain the word "dishwasher." Here, I would like to make a request for a new emoticon, one that has an eyebrow raised and a hand with an extended pinky finger up in front of the mouth, à la Austin Powers. world domination! Wahoo!

    But, I think dishwashers win the "time" point, and it almost seems Paul does too:
    There can be no doubt that a good dishwasher saves time.
    Also, please refer back to my arguments in "Water Used," where I argue that those plates, glasses and silverware take the most time of all.

    So, let's total it up.

    Water Used: Tie
    Overall Expense: No winner possible
    Time: Dishwasher wins

    And, so Dishwasher takes it! For me.

    Paul, you have the liberty to keep washing your dishes by hand, and to keep your
    romantic notion
    of it, but keep you hands off my dishwasher!

    Now, singles, couples, people who don't cook or eat much, and maybe even large groups where it's one or two people's job in the group to take care of the dishes, and people without the means to pay for a dishwasher, may find that hand washing wins, no question, and I can easily see that. And, so hand washing takes it! For you.

    But for me, someone who loves to cook meals from scratch almost exclusively, loves to entertain, and is often doing big kitchen projects (like making stock or tomato sauce...), I'm already doing tons of dishes by hand, and really appreciate the fact that I have the dishwasher to do the rest.
    On the "planned obsolescence" thing: it does suck, but everyone gets to pick and choose their indulgences (read: machines: dishwashers, computers, cars, excavators...). We're all trying to do and be better here, I think, but I agree with Geoff Lawton,
    We do not pretend to be perfect and do not expect ever to be.
     
    John Weiland
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    This thread reminded me of some Eastern wisdom: "With Zen’s focus on direct experience of the essence of the Dharma in everyday life over looking for it in sutras, mondos are both records of realisations and instructional guides. One such mondo is called ‘Joshu washes the bowl’, as recorded in ‘The Gateless Gate’ by Zen Master Mumon (Wumen)… A new monk asks Master Joshu (Zhaozhou), ‘I’ve just entered the monastery. Please teach me.’ Joshu enquires, ‘Have you eaten your porridge?’ The monk replies, ‘I have eaten.’ Joshu says, ‘Then you had better wash your bowl.’ Upon hearing this, the monk became enlightened. The mystery of this mondo, for musing over, or rather, contemplating, would be why he became enlightened and why we are not likewise so, despite having ‘heard’ the same words! Speculating or rationalising, instead of realising the mondo’s significance would not count, as this is the opposite of directly experiencing the mondo, like the monk did." -- http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2011/09/have-you-washed-your-bowl-yet/
     
    Judith Browning
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    John Weiland wrote:This thread reminded me of some Eastern wisdom: "With Zen’s focus on direct experience of the essence of the Dharma in everyday life over looking for it in sutras, mondos are both records of realisations and instructional guides. One such mondo is called ‘Joshu washes the bowl’, as recorded in ‘The Gateless Gate’ by Zen Master Mumon (Wumen)… A new monk asks Master Joshu (Zhaozhou), ‘I’ve just entered the monastery. Please teach me.’ Joshu enquires, ‘Have you eaten your porridge?’ The monk replies, ‘I have eaten.’ Joshu says, ‘Then you had better wash your bowl.’ Upon hearing this, the monk became enlightened. The mystery of this mondo, for musing over, or rather, contemplating, would be why he became enlightened and why we are not likewise so, despite having ‘heard’ the same words! Speculating or rationalising, instead of realising the mondo’s significance would not count, as this is the opposite of directly experiencing the mondo, like the monk did." -- http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2011/09/have-you-washed-your-bowl-yet/


    yes and this.... https://www.ramdass.org/washing-the-dishes/

     
    Dillon Nichols
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    Lori, I think that the cursing/anger was directed at all 'those people' that the article references, the ones citing a flawed/falsified mythbusters episode and declaring the conversation over.

    But then, I read it as intentionally over the top for comedic effect, and found it quite amusing, so we're probably coming from rather different perspectives.

    In any case, pleased rest assured that this really is a safe forum, and people will not direct such language at you; mods are very much on top of that. Just not when it's Paul thinking he's funny, since he's kinda... in charge... and all.
     
    paul wheaton
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    Corrie,

    An excellent and well reasoned response.

    I say 2/3 of a dishwasher load because there was a dishwasher right there. As I washed those dishes, I put them into an empty dishwasher with the intent of getting an idea of how many dishes I washed using a dishwasher for scale. Perhaps I should have taken a picture. I do recall looking into the dishwasher and attempting to guage how full it was. Definitely more than half full. My estimation was "2/3 full."

    Based on that, I contend that when it comes to water usage, hand washing still wins.

    And then when the amount of water used becomes critically important, then we take a look at "the washrag technique" which uses much less water. Would you care to address this?


    As for expense, your argument appears to be that when money is no object, then comparing the expense has no value. Fair enough. In that case, I am a bit confused at why you address this point. I bring the point up and explore expense in detail because for many people expense is the issue. The thread appears in the frugal forum. The thing that I am responding to appeared under the topic of frugality - and the original question was about expense.


    Why do "I" get called a
    fucking fucker. Sunuffabitch you fuckitty, fucking, good-for-nothing poop-stain fuckwit fucker.
    when "I" ask about the value of time


    First, it is not you. This position is firstly directed at a group of people long before I ever met you. Secondarily, it is directed at a group of people that make the following, errant, responses:

    Q: which is better?
    A: the dishwasher uses less water. (no further discussion is allowed)

    Q: which is more eco?
    A: the dishwasher uses less water. (no further discussion is allowed)

    Q: which costs less?
    A: the dishwasher uses less water. (no further discussion is allowed)

    Q: which uses less time?
    A: the dishwasher uses less water. (no further discussion is allowed)

    Q: which is cleaner?
    A: the dishwasher uses less water. (no further discussion is allowed)

    I do not recall talking to you about any topic where you told me an errant answer and then insisted that no further discussion was allowed. Am I mistaken? I open with "I just read a bunch of crazy on this topic and ..." - did you recently write something on this topic that I am not aware of?

    So, let's total it up.

    Water Used: Tie
    Overall Expense: No winner possible
    Time: Dishwasher wins


    So here is my interpretation of what this part should say:

    Water Used: Corrie really doesn't care - but is willing to talk about it
    Overall Expense: Corrie really doesn't care - but is willing to talk about it
    Time: Dishwasher wins - and Corrie is willing to talk about it

    In the meantime, I suppose I could modify your summary to fit what I am trying to say:

    For people that are concerned about water used: hand washing wins
    For people that are concerned about overall expense: hand washing wins
    For people that are concerned about saving time: dishwasher wins


     
    Corrie Snell
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    This photo is meant to be combined with my following post.
    Please note, I used a bowl in place of the cooking pot in Paul's video, and a mish mash of three items to represent the French press.
    image.jpeg
    [Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
     
    Corrie Snell
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    Lori,

    Since you are new to the forums, you may wish to click the linked f-word in Paul's first post, to see where many cussing posters stand on the issue. Speaking for myself, I am not angry, just like to use the f-word here and there for emphasis. The written word can be so very misinterpreted. It's often hard to get one's tone across, hence the heavy usage of emoticons these days.

    Paul,

    I'll address the response you directed towards me, working in the order from top to bottom.

    2/3 full versus my more precise calculation method

    I say 2/3 of a dishwasher load because there was a dishwasher right there. As I washed those dishes, I put them into an empty dishwasher with the intent of getting an idea of how many dishes I washed using a dishwasher for scale. Perhaps I should have taken a picture. I do recall looking into the dishwasher and attempting to guage how full it was. Definitely more than half full. My estimation was "2/3 full."

    Based on that, I contend that when it comes to water usage, hand washing still wins.


    You perceived that those 16 items filled the dishwasher 2/3 and went on to extrapolate a figure of 2.25 gallons per load, and used this figure going forward with the calculations in your OP. But as a seasoned dishwasher loader and runner (not someone who just uses the racks for drying), I went, "ppppppbbbbbtttt!" after watching your video, and then seeing your "2/3 full" estimate. And, to show why I made that sound, I've re-created what your dishwasher as drying rack may have looked like in the photo on the post just above this one. As you can see, I've placed all the items on only the bottom rack, and I perceive that this bottom rack is not even full, therefore the dishwasher is not even half full. Perception, however, is not reality, so I switched from "2/3 full" and "not even half full" to the "fraction of a gallon per item" calculation because I feel it's more precise. Once I switched to this calculation method I was able to easily show that a dishwasher filled to it's real capacity with plates, silverware, tea cups and drinking glasses (no space wasting pots, as I believe these are more efficiently washed by hand), used less water than the hand washing method in your video.

    Based on that, I still say the dishwasher wins the water usage point, but am still willing to allow a tie as described in my previous post.

    Next, as far as the "washrag technique" goes, in this thread Jocelyn went on to credit and link Skip's method, which in the OP you say would reduce water usage down to
    less than a quart
    Ok... Skip says,
    We do some rather extravagant meal preparation here being an odd sort of foody/bizarre foods family. I am able to do all the dishes, prep bowls, cutting boards, cooking pots and pans for a 3 course meal for 3 people in about 30-45 minutes this way using only 2-3 gallons of water. And they all come out squeaky clean.


    Being a foodie and extravagant meal preparer myself, I will take the liberty to estimate how many dishes he's doing after preparing and consuming this three course meal, so that I may then use this number in my precise gallons/item calculation method:

    1-2 cutting boards = 2-4 items
    1-2 prep knives = 1-2 items
    3 prep bowls = 3 items
    2 pots/pans = 10 items
    2 cooking utensils = 2 items
    3 plates = 3 items
    1 small handful of silverware = 1 item
    3 drinking glasses = 3 items

    TOTAL: 28 items

    To explain my "items" designation, I refer you back to my first post/response, where I gave the dishes in your sink, Paul, an "items" designation in order to go ahead with my gallons/item calculation. I have, in my mind, used a dinner plate as the standard for "one item," and tried to give each thing a value in "items" based on water used to wash it, compared to a dinner plate. I've been somewhat generous to your side here with the pots' and pans' values, I think, and this only brings your side's average down (down is good).

    Skip's 2-3 gallons of water ÷ 28 items = .0714-.1071, which is worse than your .0682 gallons per item. Let's say I've underestimated Skip's dishes. To tie with your average, he'd have about another item and a half, and would always have to use the low end of his 2-3 gallons. To tie with the dishwasher's .0658 gallons per item, he'd get another item on top of that, for 30.5 items. But, if Skip's main concern is "low water consumption," then I imagine he's reducing his dirty dishes by planning his prep, and re-using prep items...dealing with meat on the cutting board after veggies have been prepped, for example.

    Moving on...
    As for expense, your argument appears to be that when money is no object, then comparing the expense has no value. Fair enough. In that case, I am a bit confused at why you address this point. I bring the point up and explore expense in detail because for many people expense is the issue. The thread appears in the frugal forum. The thing that I am responding to appeared under the topic of frugality - and the original question was about expense.

    (By the way, I do remember this being filed under "frugality" before...but now it seems to be under "alternative energy.")

    Why do I bring it up? Why, false frugality, of course! I quoted Dan Boone in my first post, and will expand on why I agree with the "more productive" part. To do so, I will quote Dillon Nichols, who also posted in this thread,
    Experience less my ass! We spent the 40 hours(or however many per year) that we freed up on building a garden, going for hikes, or in bed. I don't think any other hundred dollar bill has improved my life as much. If someone offers me the chance to buy extra hours of my life for a quarter of minimum wage, you bet your ass I'm going to take them up on it... and I'm confident my cost was much lower than that.

    And then Skip, in the "washrag technique" (as you call it) thread,
    I am able to do all the dishes, prep bowls, cutting boards, cooking pots and pans for a 3 course meal for 3 people in about 30-45 minutes

    Then you,
    I think it fair to say that washing all of those dishes by hand and putting the resulting dishes into a drying rack would take .... 30 minutes (just a wild guess). Since our previous calculations said that there 215 loads per year, this means an extra 72 hours per year.
    And then you again,
    Save $190 per year for 72 hours. So for that 72 hours of extra work, you get an ROI of about $2.60 per hour.

    So I think the time thing is a valid point. 72 hours per year is a lot.

    As we can see, there's more to this "expense" point than just $$$. As someone with the income to support it, and the willingness to spend it, I am able to deem my time worth more than $2.60 per hour. Tell me I can save $190/year, and I say, "false frugality." This describes me. Everyone is different. However, I can easily see someone on a far tighter budget, where that $190 is a big chunk of their yearly disposable income, agreeing with me. If someone's bottom line is, must save money, fine...but they may like to know that it will be at the expense of their time and water resources (as I have shown). And, they may wish to look at what else they could be doing with that time, and if they think those things are more productive, and would therefore save them more $$$ in the end. And so again, I say, can there be a winner here? Everyone gets to look at their own situation, and make a decision. Neither hand washing nor dishwasher can win this point in all cases.

    NEXT,
    I know, and knew you weren't referring to me specifically. But, asking about the value of my time is something I would have brought up, if it were missing in your OP, and so that's why I put "I" in parentheses.

    NEXT,
    Water Used: Corrie really doesn't care - but is willing to talk about it
    Overall Expense: Corrie really doesn't care - but is willing to talk about it
    Time: Dishwasher wins - and Corrie is willing to talk about it

    I do care! Please believe me! I'm begging you! PLEASE! I have spent HOURS working on these two posts (I'm obsessive about editing). I'm trying to decide why. I'm so irritated at myself for doing so...after posting Friday, there were several times over the weekend that I wished I'd never gotten involved, and had spent my day more productively. So, why? I think it might be that I feel very inadequate sometimes here on this site. Like I don't fit in. Like I don't belong. Because I like mortgages. Because I use a dishwasher. Any number of things... I guess I'm just trying to prove to myself that I'm not a horrible money and water wasting Permie poser. I still wish I had my time back. I knew I was doing the right thing for me all along by using my dishwasher, without all the typing and calculating needed to prove it.

    To conclude, I would like to add one more point to the three being argued (water, money, time): how your actions make you feel. And, I would like to say that this point overshadows the other three points like a 100 year old oak. You and Dan Boone each told very powerful personal stories on the topic of hand washing. I gather that hand washing dishes makes you feel good, Paul, as it reminds you of your wonderful Grandad. Keep hand washing, Paul.
    You win.
     
    Abbey Battle
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    Why has no one mentioned the carbon footprint?
    A dishwasher has a much larger carbon footprint than half a sink of hot water, after all, both the dishwasher and the sink both use water. The sink is there regardless of whether or not you have a dishwasher. The taps are there whether or not you have a dishwasher. (For most people you use a sink for more operations than just washing dishes).

    I wash my dishes by hand. I'm happy with that. I wouldn't be happy with using a dishwasher. It's all very personal.
     
    Dillon Nichols
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    Corrie Snell wrote:I still wish I had my time back. I knew I was doing the right thing for me all along by using my dishwasher, without all the typing and calculating needed to prove it.


    I thought to myself, halfway through reading your last post, 'geez, I'm glad I just posted what I did, without investing in a factual rebuttal... this must have taken ages!'

    But I'm glad someone did put in the time. Thanks.


    Dish-washer-loading is an art. I'm not very good at it, it's amazing what my mother can fit in an already 'full' dishwasher.


    Abbey, I admit to wondering what portion of the carbon footprint is about the manufacture of the DW, and which is related to the operation/water-heating. But I rapidly decided I didn't care enough to try and find out. I don't ever expect to buy a new dishwasher, so I can salve my conscience a bit that way.


    PS: I was looking for stats related to this and instead found a really important tip. Guys, did you know you can be more energy efficient by only running the dishwasher when it is full of dirty dishes, instead of only partly full? Wow. Mind blown. Tempted to email the author to see if they would be willing to join the forum and share more of their breakthrough insights...
     
    Corrie Snell
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    Can't stop now. I'm in too deep.

    Abbey,

    I bet a lot of people are living in a house that already has a dishwasher, not necessarily on the brink of buying a new one. But then, that brings up the point that these are probably not the excellent, 5 gallons per load models from the Consumer Reports article Paul references. The fact that most households don't have these awesome dishwashers would mean that a whole new set of calculations needs to me made (I'm not doing it), and that the end result would almost certainly mean that hand washing would pull ahead in the water used point.

    On the carbon footprint point, I'll quote myself:

    everyone gets to pick and choose their indulgences (read: machines: dishwashers, computers, cars, excavators...). We're all trying to do and be better here, I think, but I agree with Geoff Lawton,
    We do not pretend to be perfect and do not expect ever to be.


    Dillon,

    You're welcome! And, thanks for passing along the excellent tip! Ha ha!

    I have huge respect for Paul and all the looooooong hours he puts into all this. He is incredible. He is a dynamo. He is a very powerful and persuasive speaker. He is extremely intelligent, and on top of that, his brain works in a very different and interesting way. But, I think that this is a great example of why we should all follow our instincts, and not blindly believe every word said by someone that we might otherwise follow right off the cliff!



    More on the water usage point:
    Paul, in his OP:
    Jocelyn points out that she likes to take the dishpan water outside and water a few ornamental plants that have terrible soil - so this technique would result in a ZERO GALLONS for the mythbusters test, but we won't count it here.


    As I pointed out in my first response, hooking up the dishwasher to the grey water system would also result in zero gallons "used." But, I suppose in circumstances where water is an extremely rare resource, one would still like to tap into that resource the least amount possible from the get go.
     
    Phoenix Blackdove
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    I feel like there's one important factor that's been missed in this (remarkably thorough) discussion - accessibility. There is a non-trivial number of disabled people in the world who, for whatever reason, are unable to wash dishes by hand.

    For several reasons, I hate washing dishes with the fiery burn of a thousand suns. It's one of those activities that tanks my executive function like nothing else. I feel compelled to wash not just one sink, but every. single. thing. I can lay my hands on that needs cleaning. It takes a significant chunk of my time and energy. And by the time I'm finally done, I'm so wiped out mentally that I'm all but useless for whatever remains of the day.

    For me, it would absolutely be worth the cost to buy a super-whiz-bang double drawer model that uses as much water as a gnat's piss. Doubly so if I can then pipe the thing to a grey-water outlet and let the garden use it up after. I will happily budget for an extra solar panel or two to cover the electricity, and cut my power usage to the bone in other areas to make it work.

    I'm not even the only one I know with these kinds of accessibility issues around doing the dishes.
    - One friend has a gigantic sensory aversion to dishwashing.
    - Another has chronic back pain that limits them severely in anything they do while upright, including dishes.
    - Another is multiply disabled, and finds basic self care almost impossible some days, let alone the prospect of keeping house.
    - In my younger days, I also suffered from agonising back pain (brought on by bad posture and worse working conditions) that left me immobilised on the floor for hours, any time I was forced to stand in one spot and move nothing but my arms - the very essence of dishwashing. To this day it still limits the kind of work I'm willing to take on, because I REALLY don't want to create the conditions for that issue to resurface.

    Now, I know that this is a somewhat different set of the dishwasher-vs-hand washing debate. But part of permaculture is systems thinking and making things work for everyone, no matter what their circumstances, so I feel it's something worth giving serious consideration to.
     
    K Putnam
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    I missed this thread the first time around.

    For several reasons, I hate washing dishes with the fiery burn of a thousand suns.


    This, this, a thousand times this.   I could clean horse stalls all day and have an ongoing meditative experience, but dishes, BLARGLEHARBLEFUCK.  <-------- my true feelings about hand washing dishes.

    Now, as luck has it, the people who built my house had their budget slashed to near-nothing when a suicide bomber blew up their rental house.  True story.  So, a lot of the house was clearly salvaged.  Once of the things that was salvaged was a Bosch dishwasher without a front panel.  So, the front of my dishwasher is just sheet metal.  But, it's going right now, super quiet, super efficient, lucky me.  Wine glasses, coffee cups, none of this really needs to be pre-washed, just loaded.

    THAT SAID, I do like the idea of one spoon, one fork, one knife.  I have a full high-quality china set from a past life.  I live alone.  There's no reason I go through as much silverware as I do other than laziness.  I could *easily* wash a spoon, fork, and knife, after every meal.    In fact, I'll make it my goal to do so. 



     
    Judith Browning
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      No dishwasher here, we always have handwashed and I have to admit that my husband does most of the dishes.
    When I do them though, I try for this.....

    https://www.ramdass.org/washing-the-dishes/
     
    Amit Enventres
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    So, since Paul wanted to be at the top of the thread, then I will continue posting from my experiment here. (Though it was tempting to create a new thread after this thread since by the time a person reads three threads worth of material, they will probably be mind-numbed). And, if Paul did it, it still must be "nice" right? *insert mischievous grin here*

    So, in the posts here: http://permies.com/forums/posts/list/80/4019 I started a little experiment on eliminating all the annoyances of hand washing and dishwashing, or as much as one mind occasionally spearing that subject can. I took a dry rack and stuck it in the big sink. I loaded it, and then using hot water on a hard spray I cleaned the dishes, total time dedicated per load of 8 minutes, often interspersed with other things because a little soaking can go along way. I also used a spray bottle with soap, so I didn't have to spend time lathering the dishes. I found this system okay and a great improvement on our previous system, but the fun wasn't over yet.

    What I found was that although hot water was good, the pressure was the most important part. The heat would thin the grease, but it was really the soap combo (will get into that below) that does the degreasing. The other problem with hot water was that it would burn and remove the oils from my tender skin, leading me to need a pair of rubber gloves. If I need to sanitize things, then this would be great, but...well, let's not get off topic. Also, I believe basil and thyme and a number of other herbs can also sterilize pretty well, if that's what your after you can probably figure out a way to add it to your soap combo.

    On really dirty stuff that no matter how many times I jetted and soaped it, it would stay dirty: I would have to lather and hand wash, just like when I used a dishwasher, but those were few and far between (unlike the dishwasher) because I can just not remove it from the item from the rack, allowing many to uncake with extended treatment. Unlike the dishwasher, which washes everything the same and therefore roasts dirt in place and coats it with finishing liquid if it didn't eject in the proper measured time.

    Dishwasher soap (we tried about every one on the shelf) all leave residue, even if that soap is used for hand washing. It's like they are just made up of baking soda or something! It's actually kind of disturbing. What I found best was a little of handwash dish soap mixed with a good portion of lemon juice or vinegar (lemon juice smells better, so we do that). Not only does this result in the removal of residue, but it also results in less soap vapors when spraying and overall less toxins in use. Not to mention, lemon juice and vinegar can be sourced locally. Also, you learn in chemistry it actually only takes a little bit of surfactant to break up the necessary bonds for cleaning. The lemon juice seems to dissolve dirt and make things shiny, and I think it might have some sanitation effects. Needless to say, our dishes are cleaner looking than with a dishwasher simply due to the soap change. Question: Why not just change soaps and keep using a dishwasher? My understanding is that acids are harmful to rubber gaskets, so continual use of this formula on a dishwasher can results in leaks.

    What I found was that the most limiting thing in doing dishes was actually dry rack space. So, I scavenged dry racks from our broken dishwasher and with my dad's help, installed them where the dishwashers went. We sealed the floor underneath and used moisture-tolerant paints, but other than the wooden supports for the rack, not much moisture ends up there. Most of it ends up on the floor they cover when pulled out. So, we use an old rag to catch that and then smear the water across the floor when done with the dishes so that cleans the floor (at least a radius around that part). I wanted to get pictures, but then I have issues with Permies working on my smart phone and my laptop has no working battery, so I have to combine technology...

    All and all, The total time I take to do dishes is much less than before. I can clear our place settings and have them drying in about 15 minutes. That means - yes - they are not cycling in a machine, but ready for re-use. So, if I had one set of dishes only (which, for every-day use we have almost that amount) I can lazily forget about cleaning them until I go to cook the next meal and still have them clean for the meal without going nuts. My hands don't suffer dryness from the chore, and having everything sit in dish racks most of the time reduces the amount of time I go and drop things. In fact, it's so simple I've begun to train my four year-old. See faucet nozzel? Aim at dirt. However, 4 year olds and water have a bond that surpasses instruction, so this is still "training".

    I bet most of you can do an install like this for basically free, maybe $50 for a new sink faucet.

    Another new and exciting improvement of this is that I get counter space again. 1: dishes are done faster - no waiting for a cycle to complete- so I can do more, if I choose. 2: The dish racks are not on the counter. I still use a towel to do big pots some time, but yeah- a lot more space than a dish rack stacked like a Leaning Tower of Pisa with dishes. I've vaguely fantasized of making all my cabinets dish rack cabinets and then I won't have to sort dry dishes, but I have not fully engineered that yet or likely will in the next 5 years.

    As for water use: Water saving is a misnomer. No matter how much water you use, there will still be the same amount of water in the world. If rain in your region is sparse, then cycling uses is a great idea and can be done with one of the many things suggested above or in other topics. Filter large debris, compost. Cycle the rest through the garden or toilets. Use shower water in toilets. Shower less and for less time (a daily 1/2 hour spa treatment per person is much worse than 15 minutes of dish treatment where the dishes get an army-style shower). I didn't calculate how much water I use. It's probably more than a bucket system but much less than traditional methods.

    In summary: load dish rack in sink. Spray with water. Spray with soap-lemon juice mixture. Set like 1 minute. Rinse clean. If clean (usually is), place in dry rack. If not, repeat or scrub.
    I think that's it for now....now to find a picture.
    IMG_20160819_090851518-1-.jpg
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    paul wheaton
    master steward
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    Corrie,

    I have now read your stuff three times.  Twice when you wrote it and once again just now. 

    Excellent responses.  Naturally, I have a LOT more to say!

    At the moment, I need to point to the part where you mention the many hours invested in what you wrote.  YES!  It's a bitch ain't it!   I am glad that you are taking the time to properly challenge my stuff!  

    When I have an argument with Helen Atthowe it is often like this.   We will argue and argue and argue ... citing all sorts of references ....  and when we do our extended research and personal experiments, in the end we will often find ....    that we were both right - and the world is just a far more sophisticated place than we originally thought. 

    I cannot take the time to write my response at this time.   I have a bunch of other stuff I have to do before going to unify-fest at the end of the week.  Maybe I can try again when I get back.
     
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