I’ve had it up to here with junk!

Me and Neko
Until recently, this was organized for me.

Several times in my life, I’ve had to cut my belongings down to nearly nothing.  Although one might expect that it could turn me into a hoarder, it’s done the exact opposite. Though I like to be prepared for anything, I still also have a deep desire for a clean, well organized space.

But, I have a lot of hobbies and I really am good at acquiring things. So what is a natural pack rat to do?

This subject is fresh in my mind because I’m about to move into a new apartment that’s actually slightly smaller than the one I live in now. I grew up in a heavily cluttered home, and lived that way for a long time. It was partly because I never had enough shelves or cupboards, and partly because I’d use things and not put them back.

When I moved to my last apartment, I vowed not to do it again – and though I’ve done better, and my life still isn’t as cluttered, little bits of junk keep creeping in. I think the main problem is just not having the right kinds of storage space. So now I’ll start out with more shelves, bins to store things in, and also I’ll be doing some serious tossing of junk.

I want everything I own to have a home! I’m tired of stacking things. Someday I’d love to have some flat storage racks for my various papers and boards. I’ll start with a CD tower for my media. I want doors to close over my junk so I don’t have to look at it, too.

It’s been shown that a clean, uncluttered environment leads to mental peace and harmony. I can’t wait to try that out.

The First Church of the Fourth Wall

When someone asks me whether I go to church, this is what I should say.

 

“Sure.  I’m an Atheist, but I go to the First Church of the Fourth Wall.”

They might say “what in the world is that?”

And I’d say, “We all believe that life is some form of fiction for someone else’s entertainment, so we believe that we need to live lives that are as entertaining and dramatic as possible.  We have three different sects at the moment, but because there aren’t that many of us we all still go to the same church.

“One sect  of this church believes that we’re all in a movie or a TV show.  Another says that we’re part of a webcomic or other type of serial graphic story.  The third, the one I’m part of, believes we’re all player characters in some giant role playing campaign, and I really want to have a word with my GM!”

The GM is not a god, by the way.  The Game Master, or Mistress, is very fallible, very human, often loses notes, and can occasionally be bribed to fudge die rolls with pizza.

A Tale of Two Bumpers

IMG_0118

 

Once upon a time, I was driving home in my beloved Hyundai Elantra. I was sitting quietly in the turn lane, waiting for the green arrow, after dark.

WHAM!

I looked around, saw a large silver pickup behind me. I drove to the nearest parking lot, stopped, got out. The driver was a 16 year old girl in her dad’s pickup. “My foot slipped off the brake.” (Wouldn’t have happened if you were driving a standard, you ninny, because we were on flat ground!)

Fine. We exchanged insurance information. In the light of day I noticed a biiiig dent in the back bumper that I hadn’t seen at the parking lot. So I called their insurance for a claim. It was Geico. I have Progressive.

Geico says “fine, we’ll fix it or we’ll pay for it.” It sounded good. Now, a dent in a modern bumper involves replacing the shell that is over the real bumper. It’s about a thousand dollar repair, typically, if you use factory parts. Geico tried to tell me they could take the dent out by restretching the plastic. I talked to my mechanic, he said no, you need to replace the shell, because that area is going to be weak and you can’t just fix a dent in plastic. Not one like that, anyway.

More go-arounds between Geico and Progressive, and Progressive didn’t do squat to help me. I was being about $480 to pay for the repair. In the mean time, I was having to drive this modern Chevy rental while my car was in the shop, waiting to be fixed.

The Chevy was a whole other issue. The modern love of side impact air bags meant it had high doors, the car had a high stance, and the side posts were so thick it affected visibility. It had a million distractions and creature comforts inside but it drove and felt like a bubble.

The fight with Geico continued.  They kept wanting to only cover substandard repairs.  Eventually the claims adjuster became such a problem that my mechanic had to throw him off his lot – and Geico magnanimously offered a whole $90 extra… so I decided to give up the effort, turn the renal back in, and get my car back. I wanted to drive a real car again.

Now, I returned my carefully watched, pristine Chevy back to Enterprise. They did an inspection and found an almost invisible bit of spidering in the paint. The said I was liable for it – even though I hadn’t run into anything and had parked in protected areas. The said “oh, for damage like that, you have to replace the whole bumper cover, it’s a $1200 repair!”

Luckily, my partner kept at them till they agreed to look back at the last three renters of that car to see if any of them had reported damage. Eventually I got a letter back saying I was cleared of all liability.

I don’t want to deal with Geico again, they acted like crooks. Enterprise didn’t make me happy either. And I never, ever want to drive a modern Chevy again!

Give me my high performance, road hugging, good visibility, standard transmission, low distraction, 2006 Hyundai Elantra any day, dents or no. She’s tried and tested.

Better Posture for a Better Life

Has anyone heard this as a kid?  “Sit up straight!  Stand up straight!”

It looks like Mom, or Grandma, had the right idea.  Not only can good posture make you look taller and thinner, but it also improves your ability to breathe, makes you look more confident, reduces your stress level, improves your concentration, and even improves your mood!

Wait, what?

It’s true.

While good posture obviously isn’t a cure-all, it’s an often overlooked aspect to life.  Your body works better when important internal organs aren’t squished, your bones and muscles support you more evenly too.  As mentioned before, you breathe better.  And your brain releases neurotransmitters that make you feel more in control of things.

Slouching can actually sap your energy, while moving your arms can make you feel more lively.  It’s all here in this article from Medical Daily:

Change Your Posture To Improve Your Mood, Memory, And 5 Other Aspects Of Your Life

http://www.medicaldaily.com/change-your-posture-improve-your-mood-memory-and-5-other-aspects-your-life-289724

 

I’ve actually seen this work.  When I sit up straight and breathe deeply, or walk with my head up and shoulders back, I feel better, more confident.  In this case, mood is affected by behavior rather than the other way around.  When I’m feeling low, I can change my mood by changing my posture.

To me, that’s incredibly powerful.  For those of us who feel stuck in moods, this can be a great way out.

The Sneakernet of Things

monitor-1307227_640

 

You’ve probably heard of the Internet of Things.  Refrigerators that detect when you are out of groceries and order more.  Remotely operated home security systems, thermostats, nanny cams.  Home appliances that communicate with each other.

Amazon has a service called Amazon Dash.  You attach an electronic tag to your items that you buy frequently, like dish soap, zip-lock bags, moisturizer, etc.  You push the button when you run low, and it sends a signal to an app on your phone that orders the item.  This seems a little excessive to me.

Recently I developed a new, fresh, cutting edge way to handle my errands and household chores.  I call it “The Sneakernet of Things.”

It’s revolutionary.  Here’s how the system works for getting groceries, for example.  At the beginning of the week, I lay out a unit of this flattened, dried wood pulp product I have a large stock of.  I like to call it a “sheet of paper.”  As I use up each food item during the week, I enter the data using a tubular, refillable item called a PEN.  At the end of the week, when I go out of my house, I take along this very sheet of paper (foldable for easy storage) and I use it at the grocery store to make sure I get all my items.  It’s instant access, no shipping charges, no waiting time.  See?  Told you it was amazing.

I also do something called “airgapping my appliances.”  None of my household appliances talk to each other or have a data connection.  My house is completely proof against hacking, in fact.  The microwave won’t talk to the fridge, the thermostat doesn’t try to call my phone, my can opener has no cache files about what cans I’ve opened, and nobody on the internet knows exactly how bananas I eat.

The benefits of this Sneakernet of Things extends even to my vehicle.  It has no GPS, no hands free phone system, no ONSTAR, no tracking device, and no internet access of any kind.  It’s also a manual so I even shift my gears myself.  It won’t brake unless I press the pedal, it won’t accelerate unless I tell it to.  It won’t auto start either.  It won’t beep in my ear when I change lanes.  It can’t be hacked unless you plug something into the OBD port.  I use it to bring my groceries home.