— real editing for real people

So, for the last couple of months I've been working as an editor at, and it's really just a fantastic job. It's very much in my wheelhouse, and I really enjoy it. The site offers proofreading services to, well, to anyone, but what I particularly like is that it caters to just normal people who probably wouldn't ever think of engaging an editor otherwise—bloggers who want to run their posts by someone, small business owners sending out newsletters or writing Facebook posts, workers who have to email their boss and don't want to make a bad impression. People even submit tweets, all the time. It's easy, and it's fast. You buy word packages and then submit whatever you like. The job is usually picked up in seconds, read and corrected by a real person, and returned very quickly. My point in mentioning this is just to spread the word about the service, because I want the company to succeed. If you know of anyone who might find the service valuable, please spread the word! Thanks. (

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Instagram picture, April 15, 2017 at 10:18AM

Here's a ferret.

via Instagram


What is the most embarrassing text message you have sent to the wrong person?

I wrote an answer to this question on Quora, and it's been seeing a lot of action. Check it out.


Media in the Mail: Shockheaded Peter

My friend Clare sent me a copy of her book 98 Reasons for Being, a historical novel set in a German asylum in 1852. The doctor who sees her is the historical Heinrich Hoffmann, psychiatrist and author of the children's book Der Struwwelpeter (Shockheaded Peter). Clare is a fantastic writer. Her book One Day the Ice Will Reveal All Its Dead is one of the most memorable I've ever read. (Here's my review.) I'm really looking forward to reading this one!


A new start

Feeling like I needed a change of focus and a change of venue, I've started a new blog over at It's a media consumption blog. There will be daily or close to daily posts with short descriptions of what I'm reading/watching/listening to/etc. I'm seven posts in already, and I've been enjoying it so far. With a fresh start somehow there comes a lighter air. The DEBlog isn't going anywhere, but it will probably continue to lie fallow for the most part. 

New on Instagram

On my desk. I'm using this guy to test my new autoblogging from Instagram IFTTT recipe. #blog
image from

Charmin Ultra: A Rumination

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More than 20 years ago I did some soul searching and realized I needed to find myself a better toilet paper. After some field tests I settled on a brand called White Cloud, which was produced by Proctor & Gamble. A very short time later, perhaps just a few months, P&G killed off its White Cloud brand, and the toilet paper I'd come to believe was the best available became Charmin Ultra. I watched over the course of maybe a year as the packaging on the White Cloud tissue morphed, its White Cloud branding becoming less noticeable as the Charmin Ultra name became more prominent. Finally the references to White Cloud just disappeared, the old name swallowed up like a ham sandwich within reach of a Charmin bear. This was back in 1993 or 1994.

P&G, so I read, allowed its White Cloud trademark to lapse, and starting in 1999, Wal-mart began marketing a White Cloud toilet paper, manufactured by Scott Paper (not to be confused with the short-lived Michael Scott Paper Company). I've never tried this new White Cloud, which has only its name in common with the old White Cloud. Reviews suggest it's worth a go, however.

But my point is that I've been a devotee of Charmin Ultra since I made that switch back in 1993. I don't recall purchasing another brand since. I buy the big packs of double rolls as cheap as I can find them at the grocery store. Double rolls, I say. I have NEVER had the nerve to buy the mega rolls because I was worried they wouldn't fit into my fixtures, and I'd have to buy one of those toilet paper extenders one hears about. Frankly it all just seemed too complicated.

Until now. I've made the plunge, people, and come out the other side, and I've learned a lot.

There are three sizes of Charmin toilet paper rolls: double (with 164 sheets per roll), mega (308 sheets [or 328! it seems to vary]), and mega plus (369). There is apparently no such thing as a single roll, although the existence of a double roll would suggest that there should be. I can't speak about the mega plus--I'm not sure I've ever SEEN a mega plus in real life--but I can tell you that the circumference of a mega roll is 2.5 inches more than the circumference of a double roll (16.25 vs. 13.75 inches). (Note that the double rolls are wound more loosely than the mega rolls.) So, the big question is, would a roll of toilet paper 2.5 inches larger than anything I've ever used fit in my bathroom fixtures?

I'm happy to say that the answer is YES. It is admittedly a tighter fit than before, but not so tight as to be a problem. Anything larger, however, would not fit: that means you, Charmin Ultra Mega Plus.

So does this mean that I'll now be switching to mega rolls? It looks like the answer is no. I've done some price comparisons and from what I've seen (though your results may vary), a 12-pack of mega rolls tends to sell for the same price as a 24-pack of double rolls. You might be fooled into thinking that this is a wash, but consider that there are 3936 sheets of toilet paper in 24 double rolls vs. 3696 sheets in 12 mega rolls: if you buy the mega roll, you're paying the same price for 240 fewer sheets.(The sheets are the same size in both.) [NOTE! I'm seeing some packages of Charmin Ultra Mega Rolls online with 308 sheets, and some with 328! Very confusing. If you find packages with 328 sheets per roll, then that's exactly twice the number of sheets as are in a double roll, and 12 mega rolls would equal 24 double rolls.]

In coming to a decision about roll sizes yourself you'll want to consider the following factors:

Price: Which size costs less per sheet or square foot in your area?

Storage Space: Do the rolls fit wherever you usually store them?

Bathroom Fixtures: Do the mega or mega plus rolls fit in your bathroom fixtures? If not, you may have to purchase the Charmin Extender. My research suggests that, at nearly $10 a pop, you're never going to save enough buying mega rolls to earn back that outlay.

Convenience: How irritated are you about the frequency with which you need to change your toilet paper rolls? Would ridding yourself of that irritation be worth the price of one or more toilet paper extenders?

All important questions.

While I can't tell you what size toilet paper you should purchase, I can wholeheartedly recommend Charmin Ultra. You work hard. You play hard. You deserve it.

Good luck with your decision, one and all, and Godspeed!

Instagram picture, October 18, 2015 at 02:53PM

Halloween shopping day. Pumpkins from @hindingers and costume shopping.

via Instagram


Review of the Scotch Advanced Thermal Laminator: Don't try this at home

Now that I've played with the Scotch Advanced Thermal Laminator for a while, I kind of want everyone who needs things laminated to come to my house and let me do it for them. It's fast. It's fun. It's easy. It does a good job. The sleeve you put your stuff in adheres not only at the edges but all over the item, so that you can cut off all edging and have, say, a perfectly laminated bookmark with no overhang. So, five stars, Scotch, on this great product.
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That said, make sure you use it as directed. A morality tale:

My daughter came home from college (yes, throwing her under the bus here), eyed our new lamination station, and got busy. First it was regular stuff. A test paper, a bookmark. Then it got more intense. She broke out her box of dried flowers and quickly put together a collage, cranked the thickness of the laminator up to 5mm, and ran it through. The result: not bad. And then I left the room.

In my absence she decided to experiment by putting a couple small dabs of paint in a sleeve and running it through. The result was a laminated sleeve with long streaks of paint running the length of it. And--you may have guessed it by now--paint got inside the machine.

She figured, reasonably enough, that she could get rid of the paint by feeding sleeveless paper through the machine. Perhaps after doing that a number of times, the paint would be pretty much gone and regular lamination could continue, but things went from bad to worse: the paper checked in, but it didn't check out. It was stuck inside, crammed into a very small space on the exit side of the rollers. We tried using various tools to get it out, but it soon became clear that we'd have to expose the innards of the machine if there was any hope of clearing the paper jam.

With some misgivings, we took off the cover and spent a fair amount of time trying to get the paper out. Knives were introduced, tweezers, paper clips. Nothing worked. And after quite a long time we decided that taking off the cover wasn't enough. At this point, I had pretty much given up on the idea that we'd ever get the laminator working again. Taking things apart is easy, but there's a lot that can go wrong when it comes to putting them back together. Nonetheless, I further disassembled the laminator. There was a lot of dried paint in it, more than we'd expected. We chipped it off where we could. But even at this point, it wasn't an easy thing to get to that jammed paper. I wound up having to pry a piece of metal back and then finally, finally, I was able to pull out the paper, which the machine had folded into a very tight fan, each of its accordion fins only a few millimeters wide.

I reassembled the laminator. To my astonishment, and with the sweet stench of burning acrylic heralding its success, it spat out a laminated test sheet--perfect but for needing to be wiped free of melted paint. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a working laminator.

The moral of this story is, be careful what you stick in the machine. Probably you won't try running paint through it, so you're in the clear there. But this woeful tale does point to what is arguably a flaw. Should someone accidentally insert a sleeveless piece of paper into the laminator--and I can see this happening--there is very little chance that that paper is going to come out again. There is no easy way of clearing a paper jam. Perhaps there should be.

Loom knit fingerless mittens in figure 8 stitch (pattern)

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The mittens are modeled here by my beautiful daughter, who is 13.

These fingerless mittens are made with a ribbed cuff and a body in figure 8 stitch. Fits adults/teens. The size can be adjusted by increasing or decreasing the number of stitches cast on. (Make sure that the total number of pegs cast on is divisible by four so the rib stitch will work.) You can also make the gloves longer by increasing the number of rows knit in figure 8 before and/or after the thumb hole (rows 17 and 18 below).



Loom: Knitting Board Sock Loom 2 or AllnOne Loom.

Knitting tool: Any will do, but I really love the orange Knitting Board's Knit Hook because it's so comfortable to hold.

Yarn: Sample was made with one strand of Patons Classic Wool in light grey marl, worsted weight (#4). One ball (3.5 oz.) is more than enough for a pair of mittens.

Tapestry needle



Cast on: CO 28 pegs using the double e-wrap cast on. (See the tutorial by GoodKnit Kisses:

Rows 1-10: P2, K2 (K = e-wrap throughout)

Ribbed cuff on Sock Loom 2. I've marked the pegs to be
purled using Avery Color Coding Labels.


Rows 11-16: Figure 8 (F8) stitch. (See the tutorial by GoodKnit Kisses:

Row 17: F8 pegs 1-9 (so that your working yarn finishes coming from peg 9; this means you will wrap and knit over peg 10); bind off pegs 10-14 (see below); your yarn is now coming from peg 15; F8 peg 15 (this differs from the usual F8 because you are only advancing one peg instead of two, thus wrapping pegs 15 and 16); F8 pegs 16-28.

Pegs 10-14:

K pegs 10 and 11, move loop on 11 to 10, knit over, move loop to 11
K peg 12, move loop on 12 to 11, knit over, move loop to 12
K peg 13, move loop on 13 to 12, knit over, move loop to 13
K peg 14, move loop on 14 to 13, knit over, move loop to 14
K peg 15, move loop on 15 to 14, knit over, move loop to 15



 When row 17 is finished, pegs 10-14 don't have any loops.

Row 18: F8 all pegs. (You won't knit over pegs 10-14 until they have two loops on them.)

Rows 19-24: F8.

Bind off: BO using super stretchy bind off. (See the tutorial by Hypnotic Hysteria: Weave in ends.


The finished pair.


Tags: loom knitting, knitting, knit, figure 8 stitch, fingerless mittens, fingerless gloves, pattern, tutorial

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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Reading Herodotus: A Guided Tour through the Wild Boars, Dancing Suitors, and Crazy Tyrants of The History. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

From a random review:

The Sunday