Re: The importance of good citizenship, civic pride, and keeping our desks tidy.

1

I'm a total disaster case. If you really were a formerly disorganized person who has made the leap, please share your insight. Seriously.


Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 7:44 PM
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I just get so unjustifiably resentful at the neatos. It's like, fuck you, neato, why are you insisting on burdening my life! And then I notice that they are living more pleasant and productive lives than me.

Fortunately my kid seems to be obsessively neat, amd I've been trying to model neat behavior, which doesn't at all come naturally to say the least.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 7:50 PM
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I don't think you can move in with Jammies, Ile.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 7:50 PM
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I write very neatly, in the appropriate size, and with plenty of white space, and produce spreadsheets and the like with similar virtues, yet my workspace is and always has been a sea of unorganized paper and other detritus.

On preview, I too try to save what neatening energy I have for modeling behavior at home.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 7:52 PM
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If you're diligent some bits might prove useful to your kids after they get through doing the opposite just to spite you. In a similar vein, I was just thumbing through Miss Manners Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Manners and thinking it might have been a good idea to cover one topic at dinner each night.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 7:53 PM
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4: Nothing worse than sloppiness on the runway.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 7:54 PM
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The first thing was realizing that 90% of all organizational systems are too hard for me, so something has to be really easy in Heebie-specific ways in order for me to stick with it.

For example: I can't be bothered to open and shut drawers. So I'd perpetually have big piles of clothes on the floor. Eventually I started keeping my clothes on shelves so I could see everything without having to move anything, because if a stack topples over I'm not going to pick it up and refold stuff. So clothes still migrate to piles on the floor, but it takes much, much longer and they're nowhere near as big and overwhelming.

Or: Keeping a planner. It cannot have any sort of latch or band around it, or else I'll never bother to open it. It cannot be anything that you have to turn on. If it is the simplest book possible, then I can use it. I started with small blank books where I would just keep a running list of everything I needed to keep track of. Later I graduated to monthly calendars. But they must have lines to write on because otherwise I fill up the square too messily.

In conclusion: Identify what you find incredibly hard and don't bother to try to fix that. It just doesn't work. It can sound as lazy and idiosyncratic as you want; it doesn't matter. It just needs to avoid the things you can't ever bother doing. Invent some method that circumvents those tasks altogether.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 7:56 PM
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7 to 1.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 7:57 PM
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7: You should try to get people to quit smoking by pointing out how hard it is to light a smoke.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 7:58 PM
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4: This, or similar. Probably worse. Whatever work product or project I am paying attention to in particular at any given moment is very easy to organize in excruciating detail, far past the level of diminishing returns. All around me the mess I am not paying attention to is busily growing.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:01 PM
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||

Um, tangentially related to "good citizenship"? And really freaking scary:

http://snapscouts.org/

Is this for real? Is there a thread about it already?

|>


Posted by: wrenae | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:11 PM
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I'm very neat. When I was a little kid, I was the messiest person alive. (Seriously, there wouldn't be a single space of floor space available - I just memorized which piles were safe to step on.)

Around the end of high school and definitely in college, I became the OCD person I am - it was all about public pressure. People in college actually saw my room! What would they think if it was messy!?! (Probably that I was normal, but, well, you know.) The big thing that helped me was learning that if you just did a little bit every day, keeping things neat wasn't particularly hard. Just stuff like remembering to put shoes back in the closet, picking up the book I read and putting it back on the shelf, etc, etc. I neaten up every night for about 5 minutes before I go to bed and that's about that. (Well, I also clean the kitchen as I cook, etc.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:15 PM
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11: This would indicate not real:

SnapScout and SnapScout Reports are produced and developed by MiniTru, LLC. Created in 2008 by George Parsons and Winston O'Brien, MiniTru LLC leverages modern technology to address the timeless threats to democracy and freedom. Using a transparent, open source approach -- all applications will eventually be released under a GNU license, and all content is copyrighted via Creative Commons -- we empower real Americans to connect and share the mini-truths we can't always say out loud, but keep America the greatest country in the world.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:17 PM
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11: That must be satire, no?


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:18 PM
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Also: I'm much more likely to stick with my folders and binders system if I find it cute. So it's worth it to me to go to Target and get their cute little wallpaper-looking design-y gear, instead of rifling through an old three ring binder and repurposing it.

Also: Any sort of dispenser where I might have to refill it ever won't work with me. Well, I can handle a stapler. But I can't do Swiffers, for example, because you have to think about refills on a regular basis. Somehow I can handle boxes of tissues and groceries, sort of.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:26 PM
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Whew, I missed the 1984 reference. Thanks, I thought the apocalypse was nigh. Sorry.


Posted by: wrenae | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:30 PM
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Swiffers are boxes of tissues, sort of.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:30 PM
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16: That hardly proves it isn't nigh.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:32 PM
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17: Well, I'm also not very good at sweeping and dusting regularly anyway.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:34 PM
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The apocalypse is always already nigh.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:35 PM
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I dust with the vacuum cleaner, but not very often.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:36 PM
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The link in 11 is satire. The tipoff is the company name, MiniTru (takeoff of the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's 1984).

Unfortunately, this !#&($^!$^$ insanity is all too real. The Obama administration wants all software providers everywhere on earth to install a backdoor allowing them to eavesdrop on supposedly encrypted communications at will.

EFF's statement against it.

Donations strongly encouraged.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:37 PM
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i'm extremely messy when i'm not extremely neat. and that mostly has to do with if i took drugs that morning.

i don't get this 'thinking about' sort of neatness.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:38 PM
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22.last: Teh Government doesn't needy charity to bug the Internet.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:42 PM
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We heard that.


Posted by: The Government | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:43 PM
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Well, hopefully you'll hear the letter I'm about to send you, too.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:46 PM
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7: I find this very intriguing. I'm going to try just having a notebook that I write things in that I need to remember. Just one. It will be a kind of notebook that I like.

What do you do about piles of papers?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:52 PM
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26: Visualize in a font besides comic sans.


Posted by: CIA Psychic | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:53 PM
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What do you do about piles of papers?

Wait until they get a visible layer of dust and then recycle them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:58 PM
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What do you do about piles of papers?

Oh god, these are the bane of my existence. Especially at home. Especially mail and anything somewhat sentimental. Oh, and receipts.

No great solutions. I move as much billing and paperwork as possible to online, which has definitely helped.

At school, class-related paperwork is neatly organized but committee-related paperwork is a giant, confusing mess that I haven't figured out what I should be doing. I think it's because committee-related papers are supposed to go in my filing cabinet, which is too hard. I need to just keep folders out, probably.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 8:59 PM
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Night all. Off to have well-organized, tidy dreams.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 9:01 PM
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I dream of a cabinet that will automatically store and run OCR on any papers tossed into it. They would then be sorted and available via category or keyword search. If anyone wants to make this for me I will pay you one hundred dollars.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 9:13 PM
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(Well, I also clean the kitchen as I cook, etc.)

(), will you marry me? Or at least train my wife in good kitchen habits? She's developed an immunity to my encouragements.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 9:19 PM
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Oh man, that would be hard for me to deal with. I had a roommate who I otherwise adored who did most of the cooking, but she was incapable of cleaning as she went. It drove me crazy to do the clean up - though I suppose it had the side-effect of reinforcing the good habits my mother had already drilled into me.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 9:31 PM
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35

Oh, and it should be able to open my mail.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 9:34 PM
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7 and 15 seems like seeds of insight, thanks.

I have moved in with my own neater person, and I'm seriously worried about driving him crazy, but it's soo hard, especially in this smaller place with so much less storage.

32 would be so awesome. 35 too.


Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 09-27-10 11:06 PM
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In re 32, I've been eying the SnapScan scanner, which is said to pair nicely with Evernote for something that comes close to your (and my) desired solution. Can't do anything about 35 except note that I bought a butterfly knife at Wall Drug during my recent road trip and anticipate enjoying the dorky novelty of using it as a letter opener until said novelty wears out.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 12:08 AM
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I'm pretty bad with books and paper. I tend to accumulate giant stacks of paper, which are a mix of notes, work-in-progress, papers I want to read, papers I've already read, mail I haven't opened, mail I have opened.... Every so often I sort through it all and dump most of it in the recycling and try to file the important things in some kind of semi-logical way, but at times it gets pretty bad. I think the problem is that paper doesn't seem dirty; I would never let dishes or laundry pile up like that because they have to be cleaned. But paper is harmless, so the stacks just keep growing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 1:09 AM
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If you could combine 32 with a device that would compress the paper into a tiny cube and eventually pop out a full recycling bag, you'd have something I'd gladly pay a thousand pounds for.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 3:25 AM
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When I lived in a teeny studio apartment, I was very neat. Everything had to be put away after it was used, because there was no space for anything to be sitting out. My three apartments since then have been ever larger, and my clutter has grown ever greater. I'm generally a tidy person, so it's still not that bad. But from my desk here, for example, I can see the pile of maps and autoharp books that have been in that same spot on the floor since I moved here 15 months ago.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 5:00 AM
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41

I'm going to guess that living with Sifu Tweety doesn't help.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 5:03 AM
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Also, the scanning photocopier at my office has changed my life. Pile of papers I can't imagine how I'll ever use again, but somehow don't want to throw away? Run them through the scanning photocopier! A lot of the stuff really is quite useless, like notes from talks I went to or from undergrad classes I remember fondly.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 5:04 AM
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Home Economics too! Learning how to make pin cushions can be silly, but good, balanced cooking and learning how to sew a button seems important to me.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 5:06 AM
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His office is often messier than mine, but I think I'm probably worse about leaving stuff sitting around in our common areas. I also have more clothes on the floor, which I attribute to not being a smelly boy. If I wore something once and it was clearly dirty, then easy! Just throw it in the laundry! But I have clothes all over the floor in various states of not-quite-dirtiness.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 5:08 AM
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(Well, I also clean the kitchen as I cook, etc.)

That is not easy for me at all.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 5:11 AM
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What you need is a wardrobe that will automatically fold and store any clothing tossed into it. They would then be sorted by cleanliness, season, and degree of formality. State of the art fashion matching algorithms would be available, but only if help is desired.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 5:16 AM
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32: I dream of a google searchable index for my paper files which could answer things like, "Where did I put my proof of jury duty service?"

I also want an electric organizer which folds out to the size of a book and then folds back up again.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 5:16 AM
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47.1: My magic filing box would do that!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 5:20 AM
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Add sorting functions for things to be altered and things to take to the consignment store, and I'm sold on 46. I can go without the matching algorithms: now that fashion says black goes with navy and brown goes with gray, I'm pretty much mix and match across my entire wardrobe.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 5:21 AM
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Internet billing/paying, Evernote, and Remember The Milk do it for me. I can see all that stuff on the phone too, so I can take care of some annoyances while for the coffee to perk and like that.

Having lists of "Stuff to pack for trip to Miami", "At Costco", etc., and knowing that reminders of birthdays and appointments will pop up appropriately means I don't have to think much about any of it before its time.

For some reason or the other, I never could do this on paper. I'll have to think about that a bit more.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 5:27 AM
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The Obama administration wants all software providers everywhere on earth to install a backdoor allowing them to eavesdrop on supposedly encrypted communications at will.

Speaking as someone who is generally VERY disappointed with Obama's record on civil liberties (particularly the state secrets doctrine), this story is kind of a yawn. The government already has the authority to eavesdrop on communications pursuant to a judicial warrant. There's been some legal boundary-stretching about when it can do so without a warrant, but that's not what this is about. The only issue is how whether the communications service provider has to make the technical preparations to comply with a warrant as a condition of doing business, or whether they can continue to create such a capability when presented with a warrant, as they do today. Circuit-switched networks have always been subject to a "stand ready to wiretap" rule; the proposed policy would extend the rule to current and future IP-based communication services as well.

An acquaintance of mine is, uh, intimately familiar with the technology side of judicially authorized IP-wiretapping, and based on my conversations with him/her, it is already near ubiquitous, and not just in police states. The incremental change here is that new services will have to foresee the capability before they roll out service and not just when they are first served with a warrant. One can make a fair argument that this will hamper innovation (we may never have gotten Vonage or Skype if they had been required to support 911 service like circuit-switched networks), but the impact on civil liberties is pretty marginal.

The important issue at stake is that the requirement for a warrant remains solid, and the government can't get by with Bush-era reasoning like "the packets were routed through a non-U.S. server, therefore it's international traffic that we can eavesdrop on without a warrant." Not that I have any particular confidence in the Obama administration on that score. But that's what we should reserve our outrage for, IMHO.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 5:32 AM
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49: Blume, can you e-mail me the name of the place you take your stuff to be altered?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 5:34 AM
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(At home, I'm nowhere near the disaster case I was a decade ago. Moving accounts and papers online and living with Jammies have helped immensely. But it doesn't come naturally.)

Yes! I could have written this comment. (With BR instead of Jammies.)

My people are disorganized people. It just doesnt come naturally.

But, BR has really helped me by getting me organized and then keeping me in the habit of being organized.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 5:41 AM
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Further to 51: Having now read the EFF piece that Witt linked to, I'm a more disturbed by the crypto software side of the requirement. If the EFF characterization of the rule is correct, that really would be a material loss for privacy and civil liberties.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 5:42 AM
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I can go without the matching algorithms
I think you're underestimating the capabilities of this wardrobe. Need to go to a formal ball but can't settle on an outfit? Just grep /^hat/&&/tails$/ in its command line interface and let the power of pattern matching do the rest.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 5:44 AM
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The government already has the authority to eavesdrop on communications pursuant to a judicial warrant.

While this is true (and though the warrant has been somewhat optional in recent years), the government has been largely limited in this practice by strong encryption, which is available on every desktop computer. The Man can listen, but unless he puts in a ton of extra work, its going to be hard to figure out whats going on in an encrypted stream. Combining encryption with technologies such as onion routing can make the spy's job very difficult indeed. I prefer it that way.

Somehow there has become this presumption that governments have a right to know everything that everyone says online, because somebody, someplace may be saying something bad. This is the same shit that the United Arab Emirates pulled on Research in Motion by forcing a back door into Blackberry encryption. Looks like the UAE got away with it; this is a case of America trying to do the same damn thing.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 6:00 AM
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56 owned by 54


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 6:02 AM
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Internet billing/paying, Evernote, and Remember The Milk do it for me.

Internet billing's not so great when you're moving house and need to find a bill to give your broadband provider your old landline number but can't access it because you don't have broadband at your new flat.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 6:06 AM
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58: The phone gives me another way to the net so that's not a problem. That said, there are situations where nothing but paper will do. And that said, I never could keep paper organized very well.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 6:14 AM
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What amazes me the most is that some people have neat handwriting even when writing as fast as possible. As far as I'm concerned this is like running on a tightrope while being chased by bees.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 6:15 AM
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60 made me snort.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 6:23 AM
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My people make legible lists which they do not lose, and dust the tops of doors, yet I can no longer use my dining room table because it is covered in piles of paper on their way to the file or the shredder. I should give in to my true nature and simply throw everything away without opening it.

Maybe what my brother said was true and my parents found me on a street corner where my real family left me.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 6:58 AM
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This entire topic makes me so tense I can't really comment on it. A good half of my self-loathing is focused on untidiness (the other half mostly goes on procrastination and time-wasting).

The comment in the OP on not realizing that tidiness takes time is a big deal. I never notice neat people actually doing the organizing, so I have an irrational belief that they just do it all as they go and it doesn't take them any time or effort. If I organize anything (like, getting anything but the simplest case file in order) it takes me all day, and then I screw it up again as soon as I start using it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 7:19 AM
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I used to have really, horribly messy and unreadable handwriting (and still do on occasion), but then I stopped writing in block caps and both my legibility and writing speed were instantly greatly improved.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 7:29 AM
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I'm well aware it takes time, which is one of the main reasons I don't do it. I've got far better things to be doing, like pissing around on the internet.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 7:53 AM
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INTERNET FOREVER!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 8:03 AM
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Apparently there's this part of the brain (along that central cleft, if I remember correctly; have no clue what it's called) that is noticeably inactive in hoarders (which, let's be honest, that is some awful/amazing television). And hoarders tend to lack an ability to assign relative importance to things. Basically they suck at triage, so it becomes "I must keep every gum wrapper I ever encounter, just in case."

I identify with this very, very much. Especially the part where I stare at a room full of crap and wail in agony because everything is its own category and thus needs its own home and I don't know what to do.

Lately my solution has been to have less stuff.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 8:12 AM
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Basically they suck at triage, so it becomes "I must keep every gum wrapper I ever encounter, just in case."

Yep. Or, when I get around to getting rid of stuff, I just throw it all away. Actually making sensible decisions about what I need to save kills me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 8:14 AM
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68: I would very much buy something that made those decisions for me. Currently this is one of the most important qualities I look for in prospective mates.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 8:16 AM
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For trainwreck television I prefer Intervention. I'm still haunted by the vacant, shark-like eyes of a girl addicted to huffing computer cleaner.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 8:17 AM
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I have one of those, and it works great, mostly, except that he won't come to work with me and manage my files there. Stupid own-job-having husband.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 8:17 AM
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Sorry to hear that about Buck.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 8:19 AM
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Intervention is the thing to watch when you want to feel better about your own life choices, hands down.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 8:25 AM
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Lately my solution has been to have less stuff.

This is about the only way that works for me.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 8:29 AM
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My work desk is always a total mess, with papers and notes and random crap. Right now there's a camera lens, some fountain pen ink, a load of random cardboard boxes, some film, an elasticated bandage, some sugar free sweets, two coffee cups, an empty coke can, 3 x 1.5 or 2TB HDDs, a headphone amp, some dicfloenac gel, spork, a bit of folder up newspaper, some lens filters in a leather case, alcohol handwash, some passwords on little post it notes, a scarf, and a pile of random papers all scattered round my two computers.

However, I am actually quite organised at work, and usually prompt with emails, getting jobs done for deadlines, etc. I was, on the other hand, a completely chaotic mess for my doctorate.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 8:31 AM
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It helps that the addicts are usually being complete assholes to their families. The hoarders are often isolated and completely miserable, which makes it harder for me to watch.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 8:33 AM
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67: This study doesn't specifically talk about reduced activity anywhere, but does talk about neural mechanisms in hoarding and has one of the most hilariously mean experimental designs I've ever seen.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 8:35 AM
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77: That is amazing. Was it really necessary to actually destroy the items? Couldn't they have gotten the same results just by telling them they would destroy them?


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 8:41 AM
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In this morning's messiness news, I discovered that if you leave a little bit of Salami on a plate overnight (the rest of the kitchen is really clean I swear) during a heat wave, you can come down to your kitchen to discover THE ANTPOCALYPSE. Seriously, they are four rows across. I am thinking of just getting in the car and never coming home again.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 8:49 AM
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Seriously, they are four rows across

Halford's ants are worryingly well-disciplined. Militaristic, almost. Sounds like they've moved in from the Freak Brothers' apartment.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 8:53 AM
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Even the promos for Hoarders are too sad for me to endure, so I couldn't possibly watch it. Right now the promos that are killing me (but not with sadness) are those for Sister Wives, which, you know, if 5 folks wanted to live together and raise their kids together and consensually get their freak on (not with the kids!), go with Jesus, fine by me, but the whole "let us worship this dude, who is the boss of us" thing makes me gag. I don't see how they're breaking any law though. (The dude's word choices are really interesting. When he talks about the kids he says, "Oh Jezbah was born with Palmyra" or "Zion was born from Florene," and it's hard for knee-jerky me not to take that as an effacement of the womens' roles.)
I saw a very uplifting story on one of these shows once about a guy who lived in his parents' basement or something who had a balloon fetish, and discovered that lots of folks on the interwebs shared his predilections. At the end he got to go to a balloon fetish party in NYC. I was super happy for him.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 8:53 AM
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If 76 sounds overly harsh I should mention that I have no shortage of sympathy for many of the addicts, which may not come as a surprise to anyone here.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 8:54 AM
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I don't even want to talk about this. My partner and I are not compatible. Despite what she'd tell you, I'm not a hoarder or even messy by normal human standards. Still, because even talking about this kind of thing makes me unhappy yesterday I spent $350 on fucking turtle accessories because it bothers her that his tank has been sitting on top of a table for all these years. Now that the new (too-small) tank is on top of an official tank stand in the same black color as the bunk bed, she is soooooo happy and in love with the spare room now. And I am shopping for a new new turtle tank that will be deep enough this time. I don't even want to talk about this.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 8:56 AM
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yesterday I spent $350 on fucking turtle accessories

With a fetish that obscure, you have to expect to pay a lot.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 8:59 AM
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OK, help. Does anyone here know from murdering ants? Should I (a) get some old school exterminator who will neutralize them with extreme prejudice and bad ass chemicals (b) get some expensive hippie Eco exterminator who will help mother nature by using some weak shit on the ants; (c) clean up everything myself, kill the ants myself, and set out some traps (nb -- standard ant traps have not worked in the past), and hope the problem goes away?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:01 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:01 AM
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Brigham Young issued his wives scrip for in-home use at a little window that dispensed dry goods and fabric.

I loved Hoarders and also really liked this essay of Heather Havrilesky's. Hoarders are missing the present, more interested in objects that stand in for the past or the future. I definitely find it harder to triage stuff when I am unhappy.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:01 AM
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85: How close are you to Moby Hick?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:04 AM
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Boric acid kills ants. Sprinkle a strip around the exterior of your house, interior crawlspaces and undersink cabinet interiors. Pet safe. Takes a few weeks.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:04 AM
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84: He does seem to be a gay turtle, poor guy.

Seriously, it bothers her that she knows that some of my things in boxes in the basement are not ORGANIZED inside their boxes. I am not the weird one, am I? Yet I'm totally defensive about this now.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:05 AM
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re: 90

I feel your pain. My wife isn't quite that bad, but I suspect my line for how tidy and clean things have to be to be 'OK' is a lot more rational than hers is.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:08 AM
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Although expressing that belief makes me HGM.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:09 AM
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91: The underlying problem is that I moved into the house she already owned, so everything that is mine feels like some sort of invasion to her (though she's had years to deal with this) and thus really triggers her feelings of things being out of place. If we'd moved together somewhere new, I think it would have been a lot less upsetting for both of us. Someday!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:10 AM
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There's a children's book in this. The Very Tidy Turtle.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:11 AM
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now that fashion says black goes with navy and brown goes with gray, I'm pretty much mix and match across my entire wardrobe

When I was an undergrad, it was pretty typical to find me in some brown Dickies with a black t-shirt. One day a friend pulled me a side to say, "You know, black and brown don't go together." I protested that one doesn't mix black and brown when it comes to belt-shoe combinations, but that brown pants with a black t-shirt was fine.

I'll still wear brown with black, but now I do so self-consciously.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:15 AM
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My wife is like that. The fact that the drawers in my nightstand are messy seems to cause her actual physical pain even though she never has to open them and see the mess. On the other hand, left to my own devices I'm probably farther from a rationally "OK" level of tidiness on my side than she is on hers.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:16 AM
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Does anyone here know from murdering ants?

Get liquid bait from Terro . It is the only stuff that works reliably for me.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:17 AM
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"You know, black and brown don't go together."

SMILE WHEN YOU SAY THAT.


Posted by: OPINIONATED DOBERMAN | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:19 AM
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I am finally genuinely tidy for the first time in my life because I have more than enough space in my new apartment. In my previous place, it didn't seem to matter if I cleaned it up or not; there was always too much stuff, poking out of everywhere. It was difficult to sweep because there wasn't much floor, and so much of my stuff (shoes etc.) had to live on the floor. Moving to the new place has been fantastic for my tidiness regime; I enjoy mopping my (huge!) bedroom, and even like having all the dishes done (in a real dishwasher!) and put away, because it looks so different when it's clean. In a cramped space with too much stuff, nothing ever looks clean and spacious.

Also, I've had many years to work on my severe demand-resistance disorder. At 31, I'm a lot less FUCK-YOU.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:25 AM
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Does anyone here know from murdering ants?

What you need are some Dicrocoelium dendriticum lancet flukes, the ones that get their eggs eaten by slugs, then barfed up as slug goo, which is in turn eaten by ants, whose brains are taken over by the now-hatched flukes, who take control of the ants' brains and drive them up blades of grass to be eaten by cows.

Other materials you'll need for this project:

1. Slugs
2. Cows
3. A field of grass


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:26 AM
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100: I thought the ants were eaten by sheep?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:29 AM
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It was an accident. They walk on the fucking grass and we eat quickly.


Posted by: Sheep | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:34 AM
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When he talks about the kids he says, "Oh Jezbah was born with Palmyra" or "Zion was born from Florene," and it's hard for knee-jerky me not to take that as an effacement of the womens' roles.)

That sounds like how they talk about horses, but I think it would actually be "Zion was sired by me out of Florene".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:35 AM
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103: You've sired horses? Dude.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:36 AM
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I became a lot tidier after I started keeping lists on my iPhone. When I complete a task I can delete it from the list. This never worked for paper because I would put lines through some things and miss items between lines, start new lists and still keep the old list and then wind up with scraps of paper that I ignored. The best application of this is grocery shopping. Now I actually remember everything!


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:39 AM
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"He is a son of U. S. History who is out of History Maker and was the Champion Boar at the 2007 NBS, and out of a Kindergarten Cop sow who was the Champion Gilt at Ohio in 2007."

Looks like "out of" can refer to the sire or the dam.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:39 AM
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106: No, you're being confused by bad sentence structure. "[Subject] is a son of US History, who is out of History Maker (so History Maker is the grandmother of [Subject]) and [US History] was the Champion Boar at the 2007 NBS, and [Subject is] out of a Kindergarten Cop sow who was the Champion Gilt at Ohio in 2007."

"Out of" always refers to the mother.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:44 AM
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Also: Along the same lines of how I never realized that staying organized requires extra time on a regular basis, until I lived with Jammies I didn't realize that staying organized requires extra space, or at least more space than I had been willing to dedicate. I always want to pile papers precariously high and cram everything into a little box. Taking the time to take a sufficient number of storage units or files or whatever also occupies more space than I'd been mentally budgeting.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:45 AM
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They don't even pretend with misogyny right? It's just hanging out there? That's almost kind of comforting. Somehow I find that easier to deal with, because at least we can be all, "well, everyone's honest about what they are, and our horror is mutual. Now get thee the fuck away from me."

90: Yeah. You do not sound like the weird one. My feeling on that is, everyone's got their weirdness, that's cool, we can accommodate each other's quirks, but don't make me feel like there's something wrong with me for not being like you.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:46 AM
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Does anyone here know from murdering ants?

One of the many topics previously covered on the blog.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:54 AM
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"Out of" always refers to the mother.

And I'd thought my bio teacher was a liar.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:54 AM
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not realizing that tidiness takes time

But it saves you time! I try to convey this to my spouse: "But it saves you time, spouse!", I say, my fists clenched in frustration and my blood pressure skyrocketing as I see her eyes glaze over. LB ("This entire topic makes me so tense I can't really comment on it") and Thorn ("I don't even want to talk about this") get it right; it's absolutely crazy-making, especially when a) you work at home and can't think when there are dishes in the sink, and b) have two 7-year-old children chaos generators.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 10:04 AM
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Next we should talk about saving for retirement, or the market value of our homes. Or how we feel about our bodies.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 10:10 AM
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112: I'm very good about dishes and cleaning while I cook (not doing so is crazy making). But I am a big old mess with books and papers and clothes (strewn merrily about). And you can tell when I have been in a room because all the drawers and cabinet doors are left open. How quickly would you murder me?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 10:14 AM
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113: I get a match from my work, it appears to be about the same as when I bought, it's too slow and has more back hair that I might like.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 10:16 AM
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I am finally genuinely tidy for the first time in my life because I have more than enough space in my new apartment.

Funny how this contrasts with my 40. I might be more like this now that I have more stuff. Or maybe I have more stuff because I no longer live in a teeny studio. Probably both.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 10:19 AM
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I get a match from my work

When you're ready to retire, use the match to set your house on fire; collect fire insurance money; retire.


Posted by: Moby's Work | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 10:19 AM
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The best application of this is grocery shopping. Now I actually remember everything!

Written grocery lists are hard. I always write out the list, and then rewrite it in the order that you get to the things in the store. I'm pretty sure this makes me one of the organized people.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 10:28 AM
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118: As opposed to jotting things down on several post its and an envelope, post its then stuck haphazardly to said envelope, and then, when you are precisely halfway between your home and the grocery store, realizing you've left the whole sad frankenlist on the kitchen table? Yes. That makes you one of the organized ones.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 10:34 AM
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...That was not meant to sound so bitter. Crazy-making!


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 10:34 AM
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How quickly would you murder me?

You're dead, like, last week. I'm not totally neat and organized, I confess, because books and papers. But the open drawers and cabinet doors? Close them! You're right there!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 10:35 AM
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re: 118

I do this. Otherwise I forget stuff or end up spending too much money buying stuff I spot while wandering back and forth aimlessly.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 10:36 AM
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118: When I was little my mother made a sketch of the different aisles in the grocery store and listed the top items in the aisles on the sketch. To make a grocery list, she would then circle the different items on the list that she needed for the week. This way, when you go through the grocery store you never have to double back because you know exactly where to pick up each item.

This would never work for me because I shop at three different stores every week and buy lots of random things for my latest cooking project. So I wander around a lot because I have no idea where things are located. But I admire the organization required to create the sketch.


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 10:37 AM
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|| Wouldn't you love to be voir dired for this? Too bad it's a bench trial, but then I'm not sure I know anyone who wouldn't end up excluded for cause.|>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 10:40 AM
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I say, my fists clenched in frustration and my blood pressure skyrocketing as I see her eyes glaze over. LB ("This entire topic makes me so tense I can't really comment on it") and Thorn ("I don't even want to talk about this") get it right; it's absolutely crazy-making,

This is why it should be taught in schools!!! Three exclamation points! Using well-crafted pedagogy.

If it's crazy-making, then it should be addressed systematically at a young age. Clearly it's not something that is naturally acquired by all, and yet everyone would like at least the option of being tidy and organized.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 10:40 AM
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I'm pretty sure this makes me one of the organized people.
I'm pretty sure it doesn't, since that's a set that includes me.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 10:41 AM
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But it saves you time! I try to convey this to my spouse: "But it saves you time, spouse!", I say, my fists clenched in frustration and my blood pressure skyrocketing as I see her eyes glaze over.

But it doesn't save as much time as you'd think. I spend a fair amount of time rummaging around for stuff I've lost or mislaid, and more worrying about it. Maybe if I kept everything tidy, I'd save all that time, but I'd have to invest a similar amount of time in tidying. The tidy approach is esthetically preferable, and I agree that it makes you a better person, but I think it might actually slow me down.

(Also, I leave all drawers and cabinets open. I know this is wrong, and I apologize. I suck.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 10:44 AM
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127.last: My excuse for the cabinets at least is that I'm short and leaving them open puts me in no danger.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 10:49 AM
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Don't play the short card with me, young lady. I'm short too, and if I catch you leaving those goddamn doors open I'll drop you like a bad habit.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 10:56 AM
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I don't know about the McQueen household, but one of our other sore points is that she's obsessed with tidiness while I like things clean. Why bother what angle a book is placed at on the table if you're not going to dust off the cat hair? When things are working well we've got the perfect Jack Spratt setup, but sometimes we sort of hate each other on the way to getting there.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:00 AM
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Also, I leave all drawers and cabinets open.

Oh man, this is me and it drives my wife absolutely insane.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:01 AM
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Good point! Unfortunately, the level of chaos here generally moots the distinction between clean and tidy.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:02 AM
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132 to 130 or


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:03 AM
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whatever. How did that happen?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:03 AM
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...if you're not going to dust off the cat hair?

I thought cats cleaned themselves.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:04 AM
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125: My sense is the some percent of people are crazy-neat, and some percent are crazy-messy. I doubt a class in school can help those groups.

It might be able to help the people that tend to somewhat messy learn some good habits that will enable them to be somewhat less messy.

Actually, I don't agree. There is another group of people that are both crazy-messy and crazy-neat. People that might leave food out for days, but lose their mind if someone puts one of their tools in the wrong place. Those people probably wouldn't be helped by a class either.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:07 AM
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My sense is the some percent of people are crazy-neat, and some percent are crazy-messy. I doubt a class in school can help those groups.

Some people easily get math and some people really, really, really do not get math. Yet there are classes, and everyone can make progress.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:08 AM
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But, making people take math classes must produce a non-trivial positive impact on the number of people who drop out of school. Clean Class would probably do the same. I'm not saying I'm opposed, just that there is always a trade-off.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:12 AM
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The great stink bug search and destroy mission did bring our already high Spousal Tidiness Incompatibility Index to a boil (not for the first time, nor the last I'm sure). Turns out a big haphazard pile of books and magazines and maps next to the head of the bed and below a window with a poorly-fitting screen is potential over-wintering heaven for the critters. Who knew? My wife's problem in life (beyond the obvious one) is that she is neat but has hoarder instincts which leads to way too much work. For instance we have too many file folders and for me if I manage to get the papers into a folder, "Victory!", but for my wife the papers need to be neat and orderly within the folder.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:18 AM
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Yet there are classes, and everyone can make progress.

You know very well that the final clause is not true.



Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:19 AM
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Everyone is capable of learning, say, calculus. Not everyone is capable of doing so within a semester, within a class on a fixed schedule.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:21 AM
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My friend who grew up in the rural kinda south had to take clean classes, but they were about personal hygiene. They were shown how to shower. No lie.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:21 AM
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141: This is false.

But maybe as a math teacher you have to believe it.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:25 AM
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They were shown how to shower.

That would probably get the teacher arrested nowadays.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:26 AM
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It really is not false.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:26 AM
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But maybe as a math teacher you have to believe it.

Or perhaps as a math teacher I have a good feel of how to break calculus down into atomic-size bits and explain it to someone else.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:27 AM
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145, 146: I don't think you truly mean everybody.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:42 AM
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147: I'm not sure if I agree with it anyway, but does it get closer to believable if 'everybody' becomes 'everybody capable of getting a college degree in any subject, excluding people with some diagnosable math-related learning disability'? I figure Heebie's not meaning to literally include intellectually disabled people in 'everybody' there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:45 AM
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Anyone who can live independently? Anyone who is able to understand that symbols can represent concrete things?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:45 AM
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Heebs, you're so dumb. Don't you realize there are people who are actually IN COMAS? Not to mention the millions of Alzheimer-Americans. Get your head out of the clouds.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:46 AM
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Let's have a contest. Heebie-geebie teaches calculus to somebody and peep gets them to sniff the kind of model airplane glue that is illegal to sell to small children.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:47 AM
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Not everyone is capable of solving the problems in a calculus textbook which require multiple steps. That's what makes math classes hard: the length of the path required.

Anyone can be taught the concepts well enough that they can answer new one-step questions about the material.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:47 AM
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I dunno; I've seen people really, really struggle with reasoning about limits and infinity. I wonder if there might not be a cognitive threshold for grasping that stuff that some otherwise normally-functioning people can't reach.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:51 AM
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Maybe the disagreement is over "understand." Differentiation and integration of continuous functions is a lot simpler than proofs and limits.

Many intelligent and fully functional people will have a hard time with the Weierstrass function, or see integration by parts as more than a trick.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:52 AM
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Although now that I've said that it sounds kind of silly, especially if you buy (which I do) the Lakoff-Nuñez infinity-as-metaphor concept.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:52 AM
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I have to side with heebie-geebie in 149 to a limited extent... but "learn $subject" means more than 152, to me.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:52 AM
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By "understand calculus" I mean that they could take the limit definition of the derivative and explain why it's set up the way it is, and compute simple derivatives using the definition. Separately, they could understand the epsilon-delta meaning of a limit, but an intro cal class doesn't generally require someone to be able to do epsilon-delta proofs.

They could explain the statement and proof of the Fundamental Theorem of Cal, (the one that lets you integrate easily), and also be able to compute simple areas by taking the limit of Riemann sums.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 11:58 AM
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I guess I'm being silly.

It's just that I live with a person who would certainly not be able to learn calculus.

She fits in categories described by 148.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 12:06 PM
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I just believe very strongly that math concepts can be teased apart from what makes math classes hard. Probably I'd put the cut-off at whether or not a person basically understood how graphs work: that every point has two coordinates, and that if you take an equation and plot every point, you get a graph. Stuff like that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 12:11 PM
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So, hi. Recovering hoarder, here. A friend of mine came over to help me clean for a refi appraisal and asked some good questions. Why don't I put things away? Well, for a lot of things, I don't know where "away" would be. Which is closely related to "Why are you keeping this?". (Because what if I throw it away and then need it for something?)I don't feel comfortable amongst clutter, but it's less acutely anxious-making than throwing stuff out. Once the clutter hits a certain threshhold, it becomes so overwhelming that I have a very, very difficult time trying to clean it up.

But! A couple weeks ago, I cleaned the grage out thoroughly. Took all day, but I threw out a shitload of crap. And I keep cleaning stuff up in there because it's so neat! And manageable! bought shelves the following week to organize what's left.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 12:47 PM
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Oh, and Ile? Big plastic storage bins. Seriously.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 1:33 PM
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Big plastic storage bins.

Avoidance, denial, and obfuscation molded from petroleum by sweatshop labor in China.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 1:43 PM
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Okay, kinda. But they are also useful in clearing enough space to begin organizing. And, yeah, getting the clutter out of my visual field helps me get over the initial paralysis.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 2:08 PM
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I put shelves on the ceiling of the garage, but then I lost energy. They aren't filled yet.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 2:14 PM
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161 is correct. The best way to de-clutter is to make a first pass into big plastic bins and then you've got space to do some actual organizing and you can take stuff back out of the bins or shuffle it between them. If you get paralyzed partway through the process, at least everything is in plastic bins.

I buy kitty litter in giant tubs that make perfect crap receptacles (craptacles!) once they are empty. Even if you have repurposed kitty litter buckets the giant plastic tubs are worth having for the bulkier items.

The other critical item is a permanent marker to write on the tubs so you have some idea what's in them. If you do not do this you will start looking for something, grow increasingly frustrated, and dump the tubs onto the floor to search through the contents in a frenzy. Now you have stuff everywhere, compounded by empty giant plastic bins lying around. Defeated, you will turn to drugs and end up on the streets and then prison, where they will confiscate your personal effects and put them in a little plastic tub, the sight of which will cause your mind to snap. So don't forget the marker, is what I'm saying.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 2:32 PM
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Halford, I lived in Davis which is on an ant hill. We had to get an exterminator, because our traps weren't working. The complex hired them. There were multiple lines of ants 5 or 6 rows deep.

Boric acid is good to start, and then get those little hut things with pyrethrum in them (I think that's what it is.)


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 2:51 PM
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For grocery lists I recommend grocery gadgets, a web with client app for smart phones and the iPod. They made it more complicated, but it's still good. It will categorize your list for you.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 2:56 PM
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The other critical item is a permanent marker to write on the tubs

The next critical step is to use that marker to write "Goodwill", "Recycling", or "Trash" on at least four out of five tubs.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 2:57 PM
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Defeated, you will turn to drugs and end up on the streets and then prison, where they will confiscate your personal effects and put them in a little plastic tub, the sight of which will cause your mind to snap.

I think I saw this movie! Awesome!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 2:57 PM
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168: And then store them in your garage.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 3:17 PM
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I'm trying very hard to overcome my genetically-programmed hoarder instincts. It's a tough balance because I'm basically bone-lazy but willing to work my ass off for stuff that matters to me.

Having my own relatively-new-to-me house helps, because things have designated places. This may seem obvious to non-hoarders, but it's a huge hurdle to overcome... if something doesn't have a certain place, then anywhere is exactly where it ends up. Kitchen tidiness is easy: I cook a lot, but clean as I go, and things not used often are stored away. The basement is still a problem area for me. I'm willing to live with it.

The house is usually presentable, and I value clean over tidy, so a pile of papers doesn't make me insane, but dust is my mortal enemy.


Posted by: honigessig | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:11 PM
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171.last should be amended to: The house is usually presentable within 20 minutes of straightening up...


Posted by: honigessig | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 9:15 PM
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I had an aunt (married to be my father's identical twin brother) who was an absolutely over-the-top hoarder that approached those on the show (she had some other eccentricities as well). At the time of her death several years ago their house (with two-story addition my handy uncle had built just to hold more stuff), a trailer on some rural property, and my grandparent's old house (they bought out my father and sibs) and outbuildings were all chock full of things--almost all the rooms reduced to narrow passageways (but not "garbagy"). None of the places were that big, but it was still an incredible amount of crap. Saw my uncle at my grandparent's old place last year and he had it about half emptied--selling, donating or trashing a small portion of it every weekend (and I presume doing the same during the week at his place).

Thought of her recently while we were watching American Pickers visit some hoarderish places.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-28-10 10:11 PM
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Perhaps in theory everybody can learn calculus but in practice many people can't even learn algebra.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 9:26 PM
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Probably I'd put the cut-off at whether or not a person basically understood how graphs work: that every point has two coordinates, and that if you take an equation and plot every point, you get a graph.

Okay, but the mathematical concepts of calculus aren't really any more difficult than the concepts of the Cartesian plane, so this is damn near a tautology: everyone who is capable of understanding complex abstract mathematical concepts is capable of understanding calculus. Well, no shit. And look, there's no doubt a huge number of people who think they're incapable of learning calculus, and who really just need a great teacher to make the lights go on. With a great teacher willing to go back to something like fourth-grade math and patiently re-teach everything they never quite understood along the way, probably a great majority of people are capable* of learning calculus. But even then it's far from "everyone."

*"Capable" is a tricky word here, since a willingness to work to understand the things that were tough along the way would probably have to be considered part of "capability", and lots of people wouldn't be willing to do that. But I'm totally ignoring that aspect of it.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-30-10 11:24 PM
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On another sort of organization project semi-related to the original post.

Addressed to people who have written books or really long research papers like dissertations, how do you keep your research materials organized.

I have a terrible fear of committing plagiarism--not so much quoting someone else's words as my own, but by being influenced by someone and not being sure what's by new idea and what's someone else's.

When you take notes, how do you keep track of the stuff in end note?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10- 4-10 1:16 PM
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