Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Vacuum Hints & Add-ons

Now that we've had the Eureka Boss SmartVac 4870 ($140) for half a year, we've got more feedback. And down below, I explain some hard-to-find hints that Eureka left out of their manual! What a find.

Parts, parts, parts... That's how many I've bought. All in all, about a $70 extra investment in these more-or-less essential add-ons that do not come with the unit:
  1. mini-blind attachment: although you could use the low-suction setting (secret explained below), you'd still have to align the blinds one way (eg, curved side towards window), vacuum, then align them the other way (curved side away from window) to clean that side. Instead, I got a 4-pronged attachment that slides between the blinds and cleans 3 blinds at once. It's not as easy to move that thing through the blinds as it would seem, but it does a better job than, say, the soft brush. This particular one is made of hard plastic and the fingers are covered in felt that stirs up the dust so the holes on the side of each finger can suck it in.

  2. Extender hose: the 5' hose simply cannot extend to the heavens (have you noticed how dusty they are up there?) and not even to the top of our 7' bookshelves. Seems like a couple more feet of hose would have fit into the standard hose, but nooooo, we need to save the petro products... screw the dinosaurs! They're extinct, already... Give me my hose length! Did you know that you can buy as many feet of hose as you want? I got mine in the Vacuum Cleaner Hospital, Elliot Road, Chapel Hill, NC -- a good high-end store that sells mostly shiny Euro-vac's with names I have trouble pronoucing. So what you do is buy a bare hose, by the foot, and a tip for each end: one that can attach to the end of the Eureka hose and the other upon which the normal Euraka attachments can be mounted.

    Here's some pix with the complete hose, and with the hose screwed off. The seal is not perfect, and I think they need a much better way to attach the hose so it doesn't fall off the Eureka hose, but I still like it.

    A bleed hole is included in the new handle, and that's missing from the standard Eureka hose. Here's pix with the hole closed and open, and it's variably adjustable to any size between the two settings.

  3. HEPA filter: those one-use filters are about $24. You can also get the washable filter for about $40-50, which pays for itself in only 1 changing. I've not quite figured out how to clean the filter, since it's probably best to vacuum it... I guess you need two: one to use when you're vacuuming the other. :) Or you could just wash them...

  4. Fridge coil: Next I'd like to get one of those long thin heads that fit between refridgerator coils. Currently I use a yardstick wrapped in a cloth to pull the dust out, then vacuum it off the cloth. Could be easier but luckily I only do the fridge every couple of years -- whether it needs it or not! :)

Why they left these out of the manual is only a guess, but I'd say it's a cost cutting measure. [See dinosaur rant]. Here's what I've figured out. Any other hints would be most welcome:

  1. the big yellow rotator switch that sets floor or hose suction can be in any position. If you put it anywhere inbetween the 2 extreme settings, it acts as a bleed hole, taking some of the suck out of the hose. The picture shows it set to a middle position. This is useful for delicate cloth (drapes) that would be totally sucked into the hose at full suction. Nice.

  2. You probably know that to tilt the main body, you press the little gray foot button. Press the button again to fold the unit almost flat. This lets it get under some furniture and most dinosaurs, should you run into any.

  3. If your extender hose falls off, thread the standard hose through the handle so that the full weight of the standard hose is not straining the hose-hose joint (which would pull it apart).

  4. There's a little loop of plastic on the back of the handle which you use to hold the electrical wire off the ground, so that you do not run over it as much. I usually coil the rest of the wire in my hand (that is, the part that's not still in the vacuum's cable holding circuit), and release/recoil it as I move away/towards the plug. What a pain.

  5. Click the carpet/floor switch to the floor setting before turning on the unit. That spinner brush, if accidentally left on, can deface some bare floors in not time flat.
Happy vacuuming!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

OK, I Lied...

I've taken a break from everything the past few weeks to get life in order. The weather Sprung great in late May (past tense of Spring) and I was bitten by the gardening bug. Two weeks later an old vegetable patch in the front yard was transformed into a nice 10x10' garden complete with birdbath and seating area. Now if only the Venison -- I mean deer -- would stay away!

Now that the outside was taken care of, the inside of the house needed serious attention as Marble Man's parents were coming to stay for a week. Can't have them seeing how we really live, now, can we? So we fired up that fancy new vacuum cleaner -- zoom zoom -- attacked mystery piles of who-knows-what in corners and on surfaces, and now it's so clean we don't recognize the place. Time to throw a party!

We had a lovely visit with the parents, saw movies, ate out a lot, had lots of visit time. The week sped by really fast. Now it was time to get back into the swing of a regular work schedule. (What's that?!?)

After my last post, my Batgirl ego was pretty excited to be back in the batcave, doing what I love to do. Then for a few weeks after that, my hand was screaming at me to "cut it out, already"! As a result, I have decided to do just enough fabric dyeing to keep our local quilt store stocked (and my pockets full of sorely needed beer money) and some custom work for individual clients (that's money for beads). The rest of the time, I'll concentrate on the jewelry-making, since it doesn't seem to bother my delicate parts as much (the thumb pain's connected to the wrist pain, the wrist pain's...). Disappointing, but a logical move to make I think since, being in pain is such a pain! (I can always add the fabrics in slowly, to keep stock up for my scarf collections and maybe the silk shawls.)

Meanwhile, I've had such a long break with all the house improving going on, that I can't remember what the heck I was working on when I stopped! I cleaned up my studio space, put everything away, and now I'm like, "HEY, what the...! Where was I?" So, I look at this as a creative kick in the pants, (so to speak) and I can do whatever floats my boat at this time. I'll figure out what was in the works at some point - like when I come across a half-finished pair of earrings and say "Oh, yeah! Now, how do I make the other one to match this one?" [I've discounted photocopying as a valid way to reproduce earrings -- too flat]

I have received a lot of positive yummy feedback from family and friends about the jewelry pieces I have already finished, which is great news and tells me I am making some killer jewelry, as they would be the first ones to point out any weaknesses. Now that I have a bit of inventory completed, I need to find the right outlet. I have a few options. 1) I could try to get invited to participate in a home show for the Christmas season. 2) I could suck back a glass of wine for courage and start cold-calling galleries and boutiques. 3) I could have the jury slides made and apply to the regional craft shows. 4) write a really nice letter to Warren Buffet, asking if he'd like some other charities to make donations to (that's ME!).

I am leaning toward options 1 & 2 for now. I have a few friends and family who are artistic and have had success at home shows. So, I'll put out some feelers to see if I would be welcome with my new line of work. I think that jewelry has a wider appeal than the fabric arts do, so I might have some success with the store buyers too. I would make the cold calls to introduce myself, then send out a packet of information including pictures. If I do it right, I should be able to get some appointments to bring work in for review. Cross your fingers!

Now it's back to the bead mine...