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Cozy living roomWe rearranged the living room this weekend. Joy found an electric fireplace on Craigslist with an oak mantle and we are trying to mostly use that instead of the propane heat, since the propane seems to be disappearing a lot faster than we were told it would and because of my lung issues. I was happy to move the TV to a corner, where it is no longer the focal point of the living room and the fireplace really added a cheery element to the room.

De-Crapifying Our Lives

We have been very busy over the past few weeks, going through pretty much everything we own and asking “do we really need this?” We’ve moved ten times in less than ten years and I guess this last time this epiphany hit, ‘why the hell do we have so much stuff!?’

I am very proud to say that we have cleared out the storage unit that we rented when we moved here and have drastically cut down on the crap that we carry around. I think I had previously mentioned that when we moved, at the very last second we had to frantically go through the phone book to find a self-storage unit that was open Sundays because we realized all the crap we had wasn’t going to fit in the house. So now we were paying $50 a month to store boxes of junk that we didn’t even miss; if this stuff can live in a storage unit and our lives go on unaffected, why do we even need it?

There’s a bumper sticker “the best things in life are not things” that I think sums up what I am trying to say. I think part of the problem comes from growing up in a society where one is brainwashed from an early age to be very materialistic; and then with us both tending to be very sentimental over things on top of that, it makes it even worse. The end result is eventually being so overwhelmed with belongings that we feel smothered.

Over the past few weeks, we have been going through everything we own; if it’s not something we use all the time, or doesn’t bring us any happiness, it is going. We had all these boxes labeled “keepsakes — leave packed” and when we went through the boxes, we realized that the vast majority of the things in these boxes were packed away because they represent times in our lives we don’t want to be reminded of. Why were we hauling around all of this junk that we had to keep hidden away because it makes us miserable?

There are things we are keeping that we do cherish; things that we love and enjoy having around… But what about all those things we have been keeping that are broken, or we hate them but “we have to keep them because it’s the only thing left to remind us of so-and-so, or it was a gift from whats-their-name? No more of that!! A broken figurine or an ugly plate isn’t some sort of symbol the person who gave it to you, it’s memories you hold inside that count.

We have hauled off boxes and boxes of junk and still had an entire Jeep-load of stuff we had to bring to the house that we still have to dig through… we are making a concerted effort to stop collecting CRAP. And I will say this : for every box of stuff that goes out to Goodwill, Freecycle, or even the trash, we feel a bit lighter. It may sound crazy, but it feels good. We made a point of trying to get the things that were still usable into good hands (and out of the landfill) but there was so much stuff that had no material or sentimental value, other than to make us sad.

Clearing out the physical junk has been important, but we’ve also been working on trying to clear out the ‘crap’ in our heads… we’ve spent so much time dwelling on negativity while the important things in life just drift past unnoticed. I am probably the worst; I have divided my time between being angry or feeling guilty about things that happened years and years ago, and stressing over things that haven’t even happened yet — or might not even happen. While I am busy making myself miserable, the present — which is the only time you actually live in — gets shoved to the side. It’s not easy changing your whole way of thinking, but we’re working on it.

Site updates

I have been working on getting the Critters section of the web site back up and functional over the past week or so. The ‘Contact’ link at the top of the weblog has been replaced with a ‘Critters‘ link and that link goes to a page that in turn links (or will, eventually) to pages for all of the current and past critters.

Most of the pages only go to photo gallery links so far but I finished the story about Wednesday I had started shortly before her death, and have posted it on her page.

There have been no further blow fly plagues or other weird incidents at the house, and we re-cleansed it properly the weekend after we posted about that stuff. The cold weather got rid of the ants and I plan on caulking around all the little nooks and crannies they were getting in through, before spring comes. I am not going to temp fate by making any statements about things improving, but they’ve at least calmed down a wee bit. 😉

Scary fashions from the 70s

A JC Penney Catalog from 1977 

Our boss forwarded this to us in an email the other day. I could see that it had come from someone’s blog so I managed to find it on Google so that I could post the link to give the author credit rather than just passing along the email. Pretty good stuff. It does make me wonder, though, if some future generation is going to be having a really good laugh looking at pictures of teenage guys waddling around with their pants pulled halfway down to their knees, and girls wearing low tight pants and high tight tops with pasty flesh bubbling out between the two halves.

Of course, as someone who was wearing jeans, t-shirts and baggy flannel shirts way before ‘grunge’ and still pretty much dresses the same way (my wardrobe hasn’t changed much since I was 12)  maybe I shouldn’t be commenting on fashion trends?

I can also add to the above blog post’s list of “how to get your ass kicked…” that inheriting some of those 70s clothes as hand-me-downs and having to wear them to school in the 80s is another surefire path to asskickery.

Press “1” if you hate talking to machines

I stumbled across this link while on some site or another and thought I’d share:

gethuman 500 database 

It lists the phone numbers and bypass codes to quickly get to a real live human being when calling a variety of government agencies, banks, and other companies.

For someone who is a bit on the geeky side, and a bit of an introvert, you’d think I’d prefer to avoid talking to a live person when I call these places but oddly enough the opposite is true.  And I don’t really mind a well designed numeric menu tree (I used to program those for Cisco VoIP software when I worked for City of Dallas) though I will say that some of them seem to lead you in a circle on purpose, hoping you will give up and hang up. No, the ones that really make me nuts are those new systems where you are supposed to speak your responses.

All those science fiction movies make talking to a computer seem so cool. It’s not. It’s annoying. You aren’t interacting with ‘someone’ who understands you. Your responses are being run through a voice recognition system that simply looks for patterns. Personally I feel really stupid  talking to one of those things. Especially when they don’t understand me no matter how clearly I enunciate my response, or even more annoying, when they berate me for pressing zero to try and escape them… I can’t explain it, but there’s something particularly irritating to me about being ‘guilted’ by a machine.