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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Stuff Blog Posts Are Made Of

The mind is always at work. Every single day, I am usually on automatic pilot with the repetitive tasks while my mind plots new ways to find solutions for my everyday woes. Unfortunately, my thoughts are as organized as my house. Everything is shoved into a place that was designed to be that objects container. A spare bedroom is a junk room, storage room, Santa’s Workshop, or closet for work clothes. Another closet serves as a document management repository. Two filing cabinets, tucked into the wings, serve to hold all of our bills, paychecks, savings info, and pretty much all of the user guides or instruction manuals to everything that I put together of an electronic or wooden nature. Of course, it also holds overflow from other areas. My garage was meant to hold a car, yet it is a labyrinthine of objects that have no connection to one another yet construct a path from the door to the a freezer and refrigerator that is also used for storage.

While trying to plan for my impending beach trip, I am forced to confront this state of disarray. I have to organize some stuff, buy some stuff, and pack all my stuff. I am going take a portion of my stuff to some other house for a week. I will then buy more stuff there and bring it all home to be added to this mess.

As I looked around at this mishmash of objects in different locations of my house. I immediately thought of three things, a dumpster, a match, and George Carlin. He had this whole piece on stuff that is truly a work of genius. Then man was a master of his medium. Now, while I will undoubtedly infringe on his work, I am expounding on some concepts that he introduced.

Carlin said it best. All I need a place for my stuff. A house is literally just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. My house is a huge pile of stuff with a tiny cover on it. Sometimes I’d love to throw some of my stuff out. My wife would really love to throw all of my stuff out. But she calls it shit. Just like Carlin indicated. I would love to get rid of all the unnecessary stuff like decorations that we haven’t used in years. But that is neither here nor there. Those are things that are not going to change. I am always going to have stuff and I need to find a place to put it. Sometimes, I think that I do not live in my house, my stuff does. But that’s what life is. Going from place to place with your stuff, you move around while your stuff stays at home and sits.

We are born with no stuff. We start to acquire an overwhelming amount but we are not responsible for it . Our parents, friends of parents, and other family members contribute to that pile of stuff early on leading to a diminishing organization and storage of all that stuff. The bigger we get, the smaller our toys are. We go from huge monstrosities of molded plastic held together by cheap screws that strip easily, running off of a handful of batteries to smaller, more complex devices that in essence can hold our electronic stuff. We trade the toy box for the blackberry. We go from physical representations of stuff to electronic applications and games that comprise our stuff. Where do you keep your addresses? Where do you play most of your games? It’s a pile of stuff with a cover on it.

We move from toy box to pencil box. Now our stuff is mobile. We can take it with us. Sure, it’s not exactly fun stuff, but it can create fun stuff. Soon we graduate from pencil box to locker. Now, we must be acquiring some good stuff, because now we have a lock on it. This stuff must be important. Then we break down that locked up stuff into a smaller container to go with us. It’s our homework or schedule or whatever else we carry throughout our day. I can’t believe that I managed to survive this long leaving a turkey sandwich, with mayonnaise and cheese no less, in my locker, unrefrigerated for four hours before eating it. How did I not end up with salmonella?

Once we reach a certain age, we move on from a small metal box of stuff to a large metal box of stuff…on wheels. Yes, once we are old enough to drive we obtain a rolling cover for some of our stuff. It holds tapes, CDs, books, clothes, maps, papers, and money. It goes with us and then we stop, take some stuff out and go somewhere else.

College? A larger place for your stuff. I stayed in the dorms for my entire collegiate career. Why? Because all I needed was a place for my stuff. Seriously. I had a TV, VCR, PC, Radio, books, magazines, refrigerator, hot pot, CDs, tapes, Food, clothes, bed, chair, bookcase, cabinet, and dresser all contained in a little pie shaped stuff holder. My stuff sat in one place and the rest of the campus was where I lived. There was no need for an apartment that was overpriced and probably in violation of several building codes. I want my stuff to be safe from the elements and intruders.

We graduate and sometimes move back into our original stuff holder, Mom and Dad’s! I get a call every now and then from my Mom telling me she’s going to get rid of the stuff from my childhood. There is a ton of stuff in our garage that is labeled, “Yard Sale.” That’s a name we give to stuff that we no longer want, but never get around to unloading. We always make plans to have a Yard Sale but that’s a euphemism for being a pack rat. It deflects the problem because it may go away some day.

Then we migrate some of our stuff into our car, again, to try and find a good job so we can buy more stuff or at least more expensive stuff. We get a computer that holds a lot of our stuff like resumes and contacts. We go online to social networks and we create email accounts. That all becomes containers for our stuff. Hell, this blog is just a place for all the inane and weird stuff that is in my head. I’m trying to get it out of there to make room for more important stuff. Maybe, one day, I can put it all together and have someone get a red pen out and fix it so I can write a book. Perhaps, you will have a copy of my stuff sitting on or next to your stuff in your home. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Then we buy that house or rent that apartment and try and fit all of our physical stuff from our various containers into one place. Eventually there is no room for us. So, we look into buying a bigger place, not get rid of stuff. We move and acquire more stuff that we need to complete the rooms in our new place for our stuff. We add those children I talked about and their stuff. We get pets and of course, they have to have stuff. Often, my cats tend to take my stuff and treat it as their own. My daughter hides my stuff when I’m not paying attention. Usually, it’s the phone of remote that goes missing.

One day, I may be able to get a bigger cover for my stuff. If I had my choice, I would build instead of buy. Why? Because I want to make sure there is room for my stuff. I want to allow for the acquisition of more stuff, and as I take a tractor trailer sized wide turn back around to my original point, I want better organization of all my stuff. After all, that is what I do for a living. I organize and hold other people’s stuff. That stuff is knowledge. It’s all electronic and it lives in one place. We managed to get rid of a lot of the paper stuff. It gets old and outdated and not everyone has access to it. We find the need to lock down those important items and we also make sure that our stuff is approved. With that in mind, I need to make sure that where I go next, I have a place for my stuff and it’s appropriately organized.

I would love to get rid of all of that paper that resides in those filing cabinets. I think that a Kindle type device would work well in a document management type setting. If I were smart enough to configure a system in my home to house all of my important documents, then I could probably use something like a Kindle to retrieve those documents when needed. Say I am working out in the garage and I have to find the instructions for some tool or project I’m working on. Instead of rifling through my cabinet or travelling back and forth from my desktop computer to the location I’m working at, I can just grab the Kindle and call up that document. Better yet, what if my wife is cooking and she needs a recipe? Instead of sifting through all of them, she can locate them by using this hand held device that can be propped up like a cookbook. On the phone with a utility or other service like insurance. Call up your last bill or medical records. Now, of course, you would need a backup of all this stuff. If there’s a power outage or something crashes, you would need to get to this stuff. But a backup copy still takes up less space. You could even box up all the other stuff and store it in a smaller container instead of a huge filing cabinet. You would always be able to get to your stuff. These are of course all pipe dreams because the initiative to do those things take time and money, which is stuff I don’t have.

If you stop and think about it, you literally have stuff everywhere. Your stuff is all over the planet. That online account I spoke of. It’s probably housing your stuff in a server overseas somewhere. You have little containers of stuff scattered about the Earth like a trail of Matryoshka Dolls. One set of stuff breaks down into smaller containers of the original. Our house becomes our car, which becomes our purses or back packs, which then becomes our wallets, and then our pockets.

When we die, most of our stuff finally leaves our possession. I inherited stuff, that is in my house, from relatives, who died. My poor kid(s) will eventually have to go through my stuff and decide to keep, sell, throw out, or God forbid, mark “Yard Sale.” Some people take some of their stuff with them. People put little trinkets and remembrances of our lives in a casket with us. If we decide to get cremated, someone will either scatter our ashes or keep us in an urn. Thus, we become stuff that gets put together with other people’s stuff.

I don’t know about you but that’s some scary stuff there.

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