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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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While trying to rescue a Windows machine from a nasty virus infection this holiday, I returned to my conclusion that Windows is a pain in the ass. This is true not just because of the infectability, but also because of the crude nature of permissions and rights, and the ability to do things without registering that you’re doing them. I’ve been thinking for quite a while that my next desktop will be a mac of some sort, so there isn’t much concern, but I was pretty sure my next laptop would be a Windows machine. This is primarily because a) a lot of the digital photography work is still easier until you get it into Photoshop via a PC b) navigation and mapping software for the mac really sucks by comparison. However, I’m finding myself so frustrated by the architecture on Windows that I’m half-tempted to suck it up and just go with a second-class solution on those fronts. There are still a few months before any of this becomes relevant, but not having run Windows anywhere other than at work for the last few months certainly hasn’t caused any great pain in my life. At this point, if the citrix client I use for work was compatible with firefox and worked properly, I probably wouldn’t even need to run that through vmware on my workstation.

In the past few days, I have learned more about down comforters than I thought possible. Here are a few random nuggets:

  1. The Europeans prefer that the down can shift, but this means you need to fuss with your comforter regularly to keep it optimally distributed for you and your bedmates.
  2. The Americans prefer the down stays in place. This can be accomplished via sewn-through construction or baffle boxes. Sewn-threw construction is effective, but creates cold spots at the seams. Baffle-box construction does not suffer from this problem, but is more expensive.
  3. Higher threadcount is better for breathability, but all thread counts should be sufficient to be down-proof.
  4. A “goose down” comforter, depending on where it is sold and what regulations cover it, may only need to be 10-70% goose down, and need not be 100% goose down. Rumors are this will soon be legislated such that the actual amount of down used will be made available. When in doubt, check the tag attached to the comforter.
  5. Higher fill power down leads to a lighter but warmer comforter. If you are intending for a comfrter that will really weigh you down in bed, you may actually want to avoid the super-high-end comforters, as while they are more luxurious, they weigh significantly less than their counterparts.
  6. Scandia Down makes some really nice stuff, but the mid range and up are terribly expensive, and are sold at stores like Lynnens which probably require a dress code and a German SUV to park in the lot.
  7. You can try to clean your own comforter, but professionals are recommended. That said, dry cleaning will destroy your comforter, so you need to find professionals who specialize in down. Good luck.
  8. The comforter you try to order, if ordered around Christmas time, will be back-ordered until July. Better luck next year.
  9. Yes, you really can spend over $8000 for a comforter.
  10. Where the down comes from makes a big difference. Down from colder climates has better loft and texture, but is harder to get and more expensive. No real surprises there. Siberian down is the best (see that $8000 bit), but Northern European is still available for us mere mortals. Canadian seems to be the next best, and domestic down is quite another story.
  11. Down from more mature birds lofts and interlocks better than that from younger birds.

You can of course disregard all of that if you already own a down comforter, or if you never plan to own one. That said, if you have never tried a down comforter, you owe it to yourself to give it a go at least once. Just be warned that you may never have another good night’s sleep under polyfill again.

In the process of shopping for a down comforter, as well as in purchasing some Christmas gifts, I have been reminded of the excellent nature of the Internet. At whatever store I’m making a purchase, a quick search in google for a coupon almost always takes 20-30% off of my order, by just filling in a few characters in a “promotional code” box. If the first one doesn’t work, try the next six. The age of searching through print ads and saving up coupons can be pronounced officially dead. This is the sort of magic that the Internet both enables in online stores and facilitates through distributed bargain hunting. At the current rate, I imagine it will save us several hundred dollars in Christmas shopping this year, which will allow us to gift more within our budgets, which is pretty cool.