Organizing


hard to believe I ever considered becoming a professional organizer…

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…really hard…

You might be anal… if you spray compressed air on your keyboard.

You might be anal…if you unseat specific keys (or know what the word ‘unseat’ means) to clean them with compressed air.

You might be anal…if you actually go get tweezers  to pull hair from the unseated key.

(Click on image for the full effect)

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Then again, you might not be that anal if you have this much hair under just one key…0415092125-large

(Click on image for the full effect)

Few things are more alarming than getting mail with the IRS logo and red writing .

All I managed to read — before I got heart palpitations — was “ENCLOSED IS AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE IRS…”

Since I’m having my refund direct deposited, the first thing I thought was “Oh sh**—an AUDIT?!”

Not that I have anything to hide from them, mind you. Far from it. I love the IRS — they perform a valuable service for the U.S. people.

It’s just that it in my never-ending battle ever-vigilant attempts to keep paper to a minimum, I don’t keep old bank statements, flexible spending info., stuff I don’t think they’d care about…

If mean, if I know I should keep it I scan or file it. But usually I end up thinking “Well, it’s stored at the bank / vendor / insurance co. I could just get them to dig it up if I need it. All I end up doing is shredding it eventually anyway … The odds of an audit are small.”

But let me tell you, if you ever see those capitalized red letters (and don’t read the rest of the text), you too might have a borderline heart attack.

And then I read the rest of it:

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Jeez — can’t they lighten up? Make it look like a winning Publishers’ Clearinghouse Sweepstakes entry or something?! Get people happy to see mail from the IRS, not heart-attacky.

But then I thought about it more (I know, hard to believe)…

Even if only 1 in 10 who gets this has a heart attack and dies, the government will save millions, maybe trillions on this “stimulus package.” Again, remember math isn’t my strong suit < pi day > so it could save them even more. The gov’t. might not want the “stimulus package” to work.

OTOH if people have heart attacks and live, they’d use their “stimulus” check on medical bills. That would certainly stimulate the economy.

Either way, I’m now convinced that heart attacks are part of the “economic stimulus package.”

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I really, truly thought I had largely overcome my lust for ‘lectronics, my salacity for software, my greed for gadgets. I decided that as fascinating and alluring as they are, I would own my objects and not let them own me.

This thinking was tested again when I recently tried out Verizon’s Navigator, a GPS-like service for your cell phone, and decided I wouldn’t “need” a GPS after all. Not only that but I’d be getting a new phone soon since my “new (phone) every 2 (years)” was due.

Getting the new cell phone with GPS would solve some practical problems (taking circuitous routes, getting another device to figure out and lug around, need for a cell phone), it wouldn’t cost a lot, and would be a new toy to play with. So I got it, committing myself to another 2 years with Verizon in the process.

Then…I saw my colleague’s i-Phone in action and a friend of the Man also showed me his (phone, you perv). Suddenly I “had to have” Verizon’s version of the i-Phone (since I’d just re-upped with them).

Suddenly my cool, new large screen, speakered, mp3-playable, QWERTY keyboarded, expandable memory card-able phone just didn’t seem sufficient.

Gadget envy set in in a big way and what I had just gotten wasn’t enough…ironic since my phone is the enV (pronounced “envy”) model.

So I tried finding another phone within my plan that was “better” and that I could justify and afford getting. But short of the i-Phone wannabe that cost way more than I could rationalize, this was the best phone I could get in my plan.

Acceptance…so I ordered a memory card for it as my consolation prize. The memory card stores music on your phone. Even though I don’t really even use my mp3 players.

But I figured I can also use the card for the phone’s 2 megapixel camera (with flash!) even if I don’t use it for music. I don’t use my real camera as much as I would like, either, but maybe if I had one with me all the time…It’s a lot easier to justify spending $17. than it is (at least) $400!

But if I had acted on this barely-contained lust and had no willpower I’d have

  • a great stereo that was hooked up to a high-end flat screen tv, which had cable and connected to my large-capacity Tivo
  • an iPhone (that didn’t take all year to figure out) onto which I had (easily) transferred my mp3s (that I actually played) and Verizon Navigator (which would negate the “need” for a GPS), a free data plan so I could afford to text , check email, surf at will, and had a normal ringer that I didn’t have to download and spend 4 hours configuring
  • a D-SLR camera that was so incredibly usable that I would remember aperture settings vs. speed settings and not get bogged down by the math, and it’d have a supermicro lens and a fisheye lens so I could try every conceivable type of photographic technique.
  • a wireless printer (or a wireless card for my current one—I like it just fine)
  • I’d suck it up and buy the damn ScanSnap S510 even though I already have a scanner on my printer, because the ScanSnap S510 has an automatic document feeder that can scan duplex and would make all those piles of paper and receipts into a paperless, organized, searchable-PDF wonderland of filed-yet-accessible documents, and would organize my life once and for all.
  • I’d have wireless speakers installed throughout the house so I can listen to NPR from ONE source, instead of turning on the radio in every room I go into.
  • My kitchen, despite having wireless speakers, would have an under-the-counter tv/radio/cd player that tucked away conveniently when not in use.
  • I’d have a flat panel tv in the bathroom too (hidden by a painting I could slide up when I needed the tv) over my fireplace in there. Near my wireless speakers in case I wanted to listen to the radio or music in the morning.

I don’t want to sound greedy so I’ll stop there.

You know, I really thought I was rockin’ when a former boyfriend installed a garage door opener and I didn’t have to get out of the car to put my car away. Then it was when I had a car that beeped when I left the lights on and electric windows and cruise control and a cd player.

I see now that this was just another part of my spiral into gadget whoredom, my never-ending craving for the new, the now, the wonder of “how do I conquer this device?,” the pleasure of the newness of it all.

It’s hard to be a geek in today’s world—so much to lust for, so knowing you’ll never have the fastest, the best, most ideal device, if this mythical device even exists…If I had all that stuff, I wouldn’t own my devices, though. They would own me.

It’s humbling to know that unless you want a huge credit card bill and a pile-o-devices you either don’t use, don’t have time to figure them all out or spend all your time troubleshooting that you have to know when enough is enough.

I think it’s also known as maturity or self-control or something.

 

It’s a constant battle, but I’m trying to manage my stuff instead of letting it manage me. Part of that ‘battle’ is trying not to give in to my inner gadget whore and accumulate too much stuff.

Example of failure are the 2 mp3 players. Example of success is every time I buy something, something else must be gonned, preferably to charity.

I recently spent an inordinate amount of time debating whether to replace the Dustbuster I’d bought from my friend Stacey for $10. at least 10 years ago and that finally died.

It’s so old they don’t even make batteries for it anymore. I’d already replaced the battery once, so it’s not like I hadn’t gotten my money’s worth out of it.

At first I decided not to replace it. After all, I have my GE Home Cleaning System, so I’d just use it to clean up the stuff I would’ve used the Dustbuster for, right? <related story: The right tool for the right job (today’s cheap thrill)>

Plus if I got one (I rationalized) it’d just be another thing to plug in somewhere, get clogged up, and have to maintain. Plus (I rationalized) I’m trying to reduce the purchase of potentially useful but used less toys.

For a week I noted every time I thought, “A Dustbuster would sure come in handy now” and here’s some of what I came up with:

-getting dead moth off front window sill
-getting dead mosquitoes (?!) off the windows in the DR, kitchen and BR (all of which, I might add, I had thoroughly vacuumed and dusted just last weekend, down to the insides of all my McCoy pottery and all the ceiling fans)
-getting spilled coffee grounds off floor, table
-hair tumbleweed that showed up on LR floor
-dusting something I put on Craigslist
-stray kitty litter granules in basement

Some would call these rationalizations, but most normal people wouldn’t even think about them. They’d just buy a new one. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I put the ‘anal’ back into ‘analyst.’ There’s a reason I do what I do, but it can bite me in the butt at times like this because I can’t find my way out of a paper bag because there are too many options.

Anyway, I ended up buying a new Dustbuster and I’m extremely satisfied with my purchase.

This bad boy is a whopping 14.4 volts of power and came with a crevice tool (!). It can even be wall-mounted. Like THAT will ever happen—after spending all this time justifying, writing about and comparing Dustbusters who the hell has time to actually mount the damn thing?!

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<tada>

It’s times like this I think “My world is getting a little too small.”

would be to sit here and re-categorize all my past posts (and create new categories as needed). Or read up on tags and do those instead.

I’m resisting the urge to do this mind you, but I’m just sayin’

Just thinking about the following got me all happy. Writing about it, on the other hand, makes me do a sanity check and ask if these are really the only thrills I can find. If so, that might indicate an apparently-otherwise-meaningless existence, and that would be alarming:

—Our new trash company will do recycling at the curb now! It’s going to revolutionize my household life. Go ahead and laugh, but recycling in a small house is no easy feat: it takes up space under my sink, a shelf in the dining room, and part of the basement!

Granted, the new red recycling container is nothing to write home about aesthetically and it won’t fit anywhere in my house, but (and this leads to my next cheap/lame thrill):

—I don’t have to separate all my recyclables any more! Paper, plastics, stainless steel—I can throw ’em all together in the same bin, no forethought or extra attention required!

—They’ll come weekly for it. No more hoarding it all in the basement until warm weather comes*. I just have to drag the container to the front and hope a big wind doesn’t blow it or the contents away.

—They recycle more types of plastic than my current recycler. Like, way more—not just your standard #1s and 2s, but also your #3s, 4s, 5s, and 7s. Think of how much less guilt I will have.

—For all this convenience (and no more side yard pickup-a big negative) I’ll be saving $10/month, gas to the recycling center (approx. $20 each time at current gas prices*, and will gain space in my house (while losing precious aesthetic sensibility on the exterior of house but oh well).

—Their literature confirmed my suspicions: If you do it properly, your trash should be 1/2 of your waste, and recyclables the other 1/2. Mine is. Now please excuse me while I go adjust my halo…

 *THAT IS EXAGERRATED!!!

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