Pigsty project progress


They are next, Light willing. It is them or me.

Another glass jar went to town today. It was the last in the kitchen, finally.  Next I’ll start on the two plastic shopping bags with glass jars. What? I was not lying about the packrat tendencies. Joking, yes; but not lying.

Each day after work, I have thrown away something I would not otherwise throw away, even if only a couple CDs. I have already come to the end of those CDs I can’t imagine why I bought, and those I can remember why I bought but just loathe now. Lately I have ripped CDs with one or two actual good songs, or at least not bad.  I even threw away the compilation which had Richi M’s “One Life to Live” on it. The song, not the soap opera obviously.  Albums with any good tracks on them are ripped to the hard disk where my actual music is, so I can still listen to them after I’ve thrown them away. I actually did that with “One Life to Live“.

Some days I forgot to throw something away when I came home, but at some time during the afternoon the Invisible Hand clicked on me or something, because I remembered it.  Despite this, my garbage can was not full today, which is garbage day.  We only have garbage day every two weeks even, but I naturally generate little garbage because of my small family size. It is not just that I squirrel things away.

Anyway, I threw away two shirts as well.  That was hard. It is not like I can rip them to the hard disk and throw away my cake and have it too, like the CDs.  One was an otherwise whole yellow shirt that lacked a lot of buttons and had a few paint specks on it.  I could have sewed on buttons. Had this been 40 years ago, that would have been the obvious choice. Then used it at home.  Many more times could I have used it.  It is not like I wasn’t thinking of that. But then I was honest to myself and knew:  Even if I were to live here for a decade more (Light send that it be so!), I would still not have worn that shirt.  In fact, I may not even have opened all my shirts. There are several lying in my cabinet now that have never been opened, that I bought years before I moved here. There are others that are opened but that I am not sure I have ever worn.

As my witness I call the other shirt I threw away today.  It was whole, clean and sturdy, of a comfortably soft fabric. Unfortunately it was also several sizes too small in several directions. (Not just over the stomach!!)  Either it has shrunk quite a bit during wash, or I have dragged it with me since I was a teenager.  That may sound outlandish, but I know this: When I moved here, I found this shirt and its twin in a crate in the backmost storage room, a crate from when I moved last time; they had never left it.  I had lived there for nearly two decades at the time.  Most of my adult life.  So it is not entirely impossible that I have carted it along for ten years before that again, which puts me near the end of my growing years. O_O  Words become small.

And despite my relief in having actually thrown out things, I did get something new as well. A book came in the mail from Amazon. It is rare indeed that I buy physical books anymore, so rare that it never occurred to me to put it on a wish list.  Sorry about that.  Besides, when I want something, I really want it, meaning I don’t want to wait around. Plus, basically, the idea that others should buy me stuff instead of the other way around is just inherently wrong and unnatural at this stage of my life.  Anyway, this is why I must fight the good fight against clutter every day, may the Light give me strength.

The Pigsty Project


New Scientist clutter creep.

I have been thinking back to how my old apartment looked the last years I lived there. It is not that bad here, but the lack of storage rooms (these are still used by the landlord) made it necessary to crowd a couple rooms (bedroom and home office) with ugly stuff like bags and boxes full of various objects. And then there is the clutter creep of popular science magazines, the occasional new CD from Japan, and a couple new computers each year. As the clutter creep advances, it will become harder to keep things reasonably clean, and eventually to find things.

Thinking about this on my way home from work, I came up with what I call the Pigsty Project. Despite the name, the purpose is to reduce the pigsty rating of my home. It is a very modest approach, because grand plans never even start, when I am involved.

Basically, each workday as I return from work, I will throw something away. (Unless I have already done so in the morning, but that is probably not likely, since I am barely conscious in the morning.) It need not be a big thing. It is the fact that there are 200 workdays a year I plan to capitalize on.

Today, I threw away a stack of New Scientist from last year. As I looked on them, each had at least one really interesting article that I just knew I wanted to read again someday. Unfortunately, I also knew that there are only 7 days in a week, and none of them is named Someday. Decades of observing and journaling my life has taught me that no matter how much I love a scientific article, I am not going to read it again – even over the course of a decade or more – until I have to throw it away.

This is consistent with the behavior I observed for many years in my workplace: When given new written information, filing it in a binder served as an alternative to reading it. When given information over e-mail, the procedure was expanded to printing out the mail and putting it in a binder instead of reading it. The binder was never opened again, except to put in more pages. Then when it was full, it was left to gather dust.

I am sorry, New Scientist. But that’s the way it goes. At least I stopped subscribing after one year, and will probably continue that way until they offer online-only subscriptions like The Economist does, where I can access the archives for an acceptable monthly sum without having trees killed and laid on my doorstep as by a vegetarian cat.

One other thing I did today, to prepare for the future, was make a new folder on my almost empty D: drive, named “My old CDs”. So yeah, one of the alternatives I can do when I come home from work is to rip one of the CDs from the plastic bags that have stood around since I moved, and before that stood around for years in the Chaos Node. Each day, unless I find something else worthy of killing, one of the oldest CDs will be ripped to MP3 or some such (FLAC would probably be overkill) and then the physical CD and cover destroyed.

Actually it would probably make more sense to drop it on a bench in the city (instead of destroying it), but that would be piracy, yes?

Now it just remains to remember it each day. Lacking any other enforcement, I can only trust the Invisible Hand to click on me each day as I return from work and select “Unclutter” from the menu. It seems like something the Invisible Hand would happily do. Perhaps even gleefully…