I'm blogging about trying out a product, because it makes me feel important when people send me things for my opinion, and every once and a while this is fun to do. No one pays me to blog about any of the things they send me, nor threatens to take them away if I say mean things about their product. I'm not telling you what today's product is right off, because it has a kind of embarrassing name, and I have to work my way up to it. Nor am I telling you what it is right off, because I'm not really sure if it has an exact product category. "Clothing Accessory" would be appropriate. But it's not socks. I love socks. But I don't suppose anyone ever needs those tested. I'll test the heck out of any socks anyone needs testing.
I didn't immediately like today's product that much, but someone sent it to me to try and I was going to put it through its paces. I wanted to be fair and open-minded. The one they sent me is straw-coloured, a yellowy beige with a black design on it reminiscent of deciduous trees in winter or maybe neurons ... they come in a lot of colours and patterns, so the colour scheme of mine is not that important. I took it out of the package and stretched it around, finding it to be a short fabric tube, unfinished, no hem or edge or seam or anything, but it doesn't need one, as that would just add bulk, and it doesn't unravel. The diameter is sufficient to fit around my head stretched, or unstretched it sits loosely around my neck. When I felt it against my skin I wrote, "feels similar to poly-cotton." That was before I read the washing instructions. I'd assumed it was some kind of space age fabric, but actually it is a polyester cotton blend. Score one for the calibration level of my face. So one can put it in the washing machine, and then put it in the drier too, or just hang it up to dry and it will be dry in the morning.
But before I got to the bit about needing to wash it, I put it on like a hat and tyed a knot in the top. It hid the fact that my hair was not cooperating in any way, and distracted me from hating my hair. I took it off and hated my hair some more, then went out shopping with a friend, even though I wasn't dressed warmly enough. You know those early spring days when it looks warm because the sun is shining, but it's actually cold. And that's when I discovered one of the great uses of the thing. It has almost no volume, so you can keep it in your purse or pocket in a way you absolutely cannot do with a toque, but it's still pretty warm. Around my neck it works a lot like a scarf, except there are no loose ends, and it goes on instantly without needing wrapping or tying. I pulled it up over my ears to cover from my forehead to the nape of my neck, like a babushka scarf or a really skimpy hijab. (That's probably not a common word combination there). My friend--I hang with geeks--observed, "You're wearing a thing on your head," and when prompted ranked it four out of ten, on a scale of 1 being newspaper and garbage bags and 10 being mink and ermine, if mink and ermine weren't produced in cruel conditions. Four seems pretty low, but it's probably close to my sartorial average. I would not be playing Penny on the Big Bang Theory, the fashion-conscious woman-next-door role in a geek-oriented sitcom. I think if you know how to do fashion, it would probably look good on you. There are pictures and a video at the company's website on how to wear it. And the point is, newspaper and garbage bags are pretty damned warm, and less convenient to carry around than this. It was starting to grow on me.
I wore it work, and explained what it was. One of my co-workers says he had two of them. If you put it on before putting on a full-face motorcycle/snowmobile helmet you don't get your ears bent around during the helmet donning and removal process. I hate the ear-bending ordeal, so this is a big plus. The no ends, no ties, no loops, one-piece construction is especially beneficial in a cockpit where I already have headset cords, a shoulder belt, a reflective vest and oxygen lines in the vicinity of my head. It kept the seatbelt from chafing.
I also wore it for running. If you run you know the bit about going out in the cold wishing you were wearing a parka an then after a couple of kilometres needing to take off some of your clothes and wanting to throw them away. The Hoo Rag (there, I said it) works well for this. I can start off with it wrapped around my neck and/or head, and then as I warm up I can move it around, and take it off, without it being a burden. For the last kilometre or so I wrap it around my right hand, so that my fingers are warm enough to turn the key in the lock when I get home, without having had to wear gloves for the whole run. I threw it in the wash after that. It's been through the laundry a few times now, and kept its elasticity and colours.
So I like it. It's useful and convenient. I imagine it will provide rudimentary bug protection in the months to come. The title of this blog entry could be interpreted as the Hoo Rag's undoubted usefulness as makeshift protection for the nose and mouth in a dust storm, but that's not the reason for the title. It's an allusion to the product's greatest drawback: it's only one Hoo short of what my great-grandmother undoubtedly used in lieu of instrument air filters. Poly-cotton isn't all that absorbent, but in a desperate situation it could probably play that role too.