Nov 6, 2015

This Tumble Dried Life. 'The Martian' - by Andy Weir.

It's not something that would usually cross your mind on a Friday but, at present, I'd rate my relationship with science and technology as excellent.

The extreme weather that's been lashing Sydney and much of the eastern seaboard this week saw me use my Bosch heat pump tumble dryer for the very first time yesterday.  I've never owned a dryer before so it was a revelation.  I carefully followed the instructions and ....

Voila!!  Soft, fluffy and dry towels.  Just like new (or maybe even softer and fluffier).  It's going be like being pampered at a hotel when I reach for them in the bathroom this evening.  Performance wise, the Bosch was ever so quiet and because it's a heat pump model, there was no issue with moisture or condensation in the laundry (which is pretty small and not blessed with great ventilation).  Most cycles take around an hour or so with the option of adding extra time.  There are also a mind boggling array of dryer settings - my favourite is sports wear (or should that be #activewear ) which did indeed leave my gym gear looking ironed and crease free at the end of the cycle.

It's been rated as very energy efficient so I'll be interested to see what my next electricity bill looks given that it looks like I'll be using it more than is strictly technically necessary (my whole load of laundry feels so soft and looks so creaseless, it's very tempting to dry all my laundry this way from now on...).

For weeks now, I've been fighting a losing battle against food crumbs (and so crumb sized bits of food) on the kitchen and dining floors.  Sweeping them up only does half the job and the thought of lugging the vacuum cleaner out and about twice a day to do the job killed that idea before it even got past the 'I should really; phase.

So I got myself a hand held vacuum cleaner. Being a cheapskate on account of living with a very curious toddler, I decided to go with this $40 Aldi model.  It's got a very basic look to it but it's easy to, charge and empty.  It's also pretty light and comes with 3 different nozzles, including one for liquids.  

I've been using mine for a couple of weeks and it's just been do handy for getting to the very random spots that food seems to find itself these days.  I wouldn't recommend this at all, but I've taken to spraying the nozzle area with a bit of Mortein ant spray which so far seems to have protected it from chocolate cake crumb related ant infestations.
It's a big call when ranked against all of the above but perhaps my biggest science and technology moment this week has been via the novel which inspired Matt Damon's current film, 'The Martian' by Andy Weir.  Weir is a computer scientist who wrote the novel in 2009 and initially released it as a 99 cent Kindle ebook on Amazon.

Science fiction is a genre I struggle with.  There's often so many lands, tribes, species, conflicts and time periods covered in your average sci fi epic that I often give up in confusion by the third page or so.  'The Martian' was suggested by a friend and curious about the cover (Matt Damon does that to a girl), I downloaded it onto my Kindle last night.

I'm so glad that the tumble dryer and mini vacuum took care of the housework earlier on in the day because 'The Martian' and I were inseparable for most of the night.  'The Martian' tells the story of astronaut Mark Watney who is missing and presumed dead on Mars after a mission he was a member of had to abort and leave quite suddenly.  

Mark wakes up on Mars to find himself impaled on an antenna and as his confusion and panic resolve, he puts his rigorous training into practice to save himself.  But for what?  He can't communicate with anyone on earth or his fellow crew members and while he has vitamin supplements aplenty, he hasn't enough food to sustain him for more than a year or so.  

The next NASA mission to Mars is projected for four years time so Mark begins to devise ways of keeping himself alive until then.  He creates water using physics and chemistry and he begins to cultivate energy dense potatoes using his botany background.

A chance review of Mars images at NASA back on Earth confirms that Mark is in fact alive and this puts into motion a desperate attempt to rescue Mark.

I'm loving everything about 'The Martian'.  The narrative shifts between Mark's memoirs from Mars and the action on Earth as the rescue mission is formulated.  It is science and it is fiction but 'The Martian' is also a bit of suspense and a fascinating insight into NASA and US politics.  I never thought I'd ever find myself voluntarily reading a novel covering all of these themes but Andy Weir has combined them brilliantly in a novel I'll be reading compulsively all weekend.

I've read reviews of the film and the cast looks strong too.  Definitely a film I'll be watching sometime soon. By which I mean that it's going to be on my list for my next long haul flight.

How are you travelling with science and technology?

Do you love your tumble dryer?

Read 'The Martian'?  Seen the film?

Have a great weekend and stay dry and safe if you're in the midst of serious weather where you are.


  1. We loved both the book and the movie. I felt like the movie was one of the best space movies ever made. :)

  2. I miss having a tumble dryer - in our current rented house we have a washer/dryer combo, the dryer aspect of which is basically useless. So we dry everything on a clothes horse inside which, in the UK weather, is a total damp fest for most of the year as I'm sure you can imagine!

    I saw the film of The Martian and it was absolutely brilliant. I'd say it would make an excellent long haul film choice- just the right amount of suspense and humour and nothing you'd be embarrassed to find someone watching over your shoulder. It made this science gal very happy. Now I'm keen to read the book!

  3. I too dance the merry crumb dance most evenings, Toddlers are notorious crumb droppers aren't they? I must invest in one of those mini vacuum's as I'm forever dragging out the biggie to clear up. I miss my tumble dryer, thankfully there is not too much of a call for one in QLD, but I'm totally jealous of your soft towels! :-)


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