DVD-BLOGGING: The Insta-Daughter was watching Mulan II, which we picked up at Target today. I was busy cleaning — the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is great at getting scuffmarks off hardwood floors, so great that I wound up doing a lot more than I meant to when I started — and didn’t pay much attention to the plot. (Something about how it’s important to get to marry who you want, I think.) But the DVD autoplays — no menu to navigate unless you want to, just stick it in, and it goes.

I wish they were all like that. I’m frequently annoyed when whoever programmed the DVD menus was so anxious to show off all the features that I have to actually think about what to do to get it to simply play the damn movie. And fancy menus often confuse kids. Disney’s got that figured out, but I wish they all worked that way.

UPDATE: Forget DVD-blogging. The theme for this post is obviously cleaning. My former student Heather Hubbard emails:

I cannot believe you are blogging about the magic eraser. And, I especially cannot believe that I am writing to you about it! Ned’s mom gave me some magic erasers as stocking stuffers for Christmas in 2003, and they have changed my life. I have those experiences all the time when I end up doing way more cleaning than I intended. The magic eraser is excellent at getting up scuff marks off of Ned’s white linoleum kitchen floor. I start with one little spot, and end up cleaning the entire floor! (In fact, I think I’ll go clean right now!) And, since they are kind of expensive, Ned is under strict orders not to use them himself.

Another cleaning product that is great is Tilex soap scum remover. I discovered that one in college. But, one warning: do not combine Tilex soap scum remover with the power of a magic eraser. The Tilex will completely eat away the magic eraser.

Also, I have been meaning to email you about the cult of the ipod and my one problem with my ipod. I love my ipod, and I want everything to be perfect with it, but it is not perfect. I am training for the Country Music Marathon, and I thought that the ipod would make my Saturday long runs go by much faster. (I even have a Marathon training playlist with all of the high-energy songs.) However, I am disappointed everytime I run with it because it freezes up after 1-1.5 miles of running. Then, I have to stop, lay it flat, and press the “select” and “menu” buttons at the same time for six seconds, and it works again. But, it ticks me off so much that now I have switched back to my old armband radio. I am using the ipod in my car and at work (with some great little speakers Ned gave me for Christmas), and that is it. Any suggestion on how to get my ipod to stop freaking out on me?

I hope all is well at UT. I miss being at law school. It was a whole lot more fun than actually practicing law.

Quite a few people feel that way, alas. And if you have any iPod advice for Heather, send it my way and I’ll pass it on.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Everybody seems to agree that the problem is caused by the iPod’s inability to tolerate a lot of bouncing. Most people recommend an iPod Shuffle or some other flash-based player instead. Some say that carrying the iPod by hand will work. (I use this armband and haven’t had any problems, but my running may be less bouncy).

On cleaning, many people endorsed the Magic Eraser. And reader Julie Carlson weighs in on her favorite device:

My latest favorite is the Clorox Bleach pen. I needed to clean the grout in my kitchen floor tiles. We remodeled a few years ago and I noticed the peachy-colored grout was getting dingy. The bleach pen gets the bleach where I want it, and there is even a little scrubber thingy on one end. Grout looks like new!

Mmmm. New grout.