EDC – December 2014

This is the pile…

  1. Wallet: Swiss Gear Aluminum (I got my first credit card with a chip. Not sure the probability of being ass-scanned but it can happen)
  2. Phone: Samsung Galaxy S4 in an Otterbox Defender case
  3. Knife: Kershaw Shuffle
  4. Flashlight: Generic-ish 150 Lumen 3-mode. Ultra Fire clone.
  5. Watch: Timex Ironman (I’ve had this for at least 5 years. Changed the battery once. I’ve worn Timex almost exclusively. Decided to change the band rather than buying a new watch.)
  6. Pen: Pentel Client Ballpoint
  7. Pencil: Pentel Forte .05
  8. Stylus: Bamboo
  9. Altoids Tin: Work in progress. I have a separate video and will be posting breakdown photos shortly.
  10. Keys: Grimloc Carabiner with a split ring.
  11. Comb
  12. Cash

Distracted by shiny

Distracted by ShinyHow many decorative tins do you have in your possession? They usually hold popcorn, cookies or candy. It can kinda make you dread the holidays or other special occasions because you or someone around you has a habit of holding onto these. Maybe you keep stuff in them…even stuff you use regularly. If that’s the case I can feel a little less judgmental. But for the collectors out there or people, like me, who think the 47 tins could be used for something someday, understand that if you have to move it even once trying to get to something you need at the moment, it needs to go.

The one in the photo came from Costco and had gingersnaps in it. The cookies were great. But now I have this stamped aluminum box with a copper-looking finish. No one  has put anything in it. It just collects dust.

Out.

This is not an antique. It’s not a handcrafted one-of a kind tool or work of art. It’s a mass-produced sort-of-artsy-looking container that has moved beyond its function.

So I threw it out with the recycling.

Unborn Clutter – Books

wpid-IMG_20130927_105154.jpg

It doesn’t take much to put us on the road to having a growing pile of new stuff collecting dust in our homes.  A person might think, “Oh its just a few…one small bag.” So the books go on the shelf. And I wonder if we ask ourselves how long it will take to read them.

When I was a kid in California, I had a friend, Dr. Bob Perry, who started teaching me about spirituality and whom I consider my spiritual father. Dr. Perry was one of my neighbors in the apartment complex we lived in. We’d have talks and one time there were a couple of books on the table across from him. I looked at them and he said, “I’ve bought several books in the past few days. They seemed like good selections for my library, but I haven’t had time to start reading them.” That statement put the seed in my thoughts about having a library and as the unconscious buying started and got worse, I started to have books shelved and then others lying on top in the space below the upper shelf. I’d look at them from time to time and think, I need to get to those.

There were four bookcases in my living room and two in my bedroom. I’ve recently removed two. I reorganized and reshelved maybe a third of the ones from those shelves to the two remaining and took six file boxes to Half Price Books along with some CDs, DVDs and really old vinyl. It is still going to take a long time to read everything that’s left.

While I was at Half Price, I saw new books that looked interesting. While I felt an urge to buy, I left them there because l have to finish reading a few others before I get anything new. And I was in the store selling books that I had never gotten around to reading. I’m going to apply a five-one rule. I’m not going to bring in a new book until I have read and recycled five. Since I have to keep the two remaining bookcases in the living room, I’m going to use those as overflow as I reduce the population further, to the two bookcases in my room.

There is no difference between an unread book or a Hummel as far as its dust collecting ability is concerned. If I’m not reading it, it serves no purpose. My friend Roy Blizzard said recently, “The time we spend dealing with stuff we’re not using is wasted money and life.”

Dust Collectors

Shelves in the living room with lots of things. Coming soon to a thrift store near you.
Shelves in the living room with lots of things. Coming soon to a thrift store near you.

Fifty to seventy years ago, perhaps farther back than that, people accumulated, gathered, collected stuff. Growing up in the late 60s through the 70s, I remember my grandparents’ house and the houses of other kids having many small items on shelves. You’ve probably heard the term “bric-a-brac shelf.” These were always well-made items handed down from one generation to another. Some of them were one-of-a-kind. Now they’re most likely mass-produced by underpaid workers in Asia. Dictionary.com defines bric-a-brac as miscellaneous small articles collected for their antiquarian, sentimental, decorative, or other interest. It also attributes the word’s origin to 1830-40 middle French. So the practice of acquiring stuff goes a long way back.

These miscellaneous small articles go by another name, “dust collectors.” Other than whatever emotional attachment we have to them, their only purposes are being looked at occasionally and collecting dust. The exception to this rule is the  small clock that still works.

I guess it doesn’t really matter if the stuff is cheap mold-press plastic from China or handmade porcelain in Hoboken. Too much of it piled up around you is going to cause problems in your life. Getting rid of it is the biggest of these problems. I’ve been told that my habit of buying “dust collectors” is something I inherited from my paternal grandmother. I didn’t know her very well. So I’ll take Mom’s word for it. I do remember there being a lot of stuff in that house, though.

I live in a 2/1 and my house has a lot of stuff in it. There’s a lot less now that I’ve been clearing it out. But I have a long way yet to go. There are three, maybe four items on those shelves I am going to keep. The rest goes in a bag or box to Goodwill. I’ll also be taking the shelves down and hanging a picture there. I’ll probably send the shelves to a friend. Will I be done? Will this project be complete? Hell no. At some point, possibly in 2014, I’ll have the clutter eliminated. Then there’ll be the matter of keeping it away. But that’s the subject of another post.

Cooking with Cottonseed Oil: Another Elevator in the Outhouse

I have to admit, I don’t always read labels like we all should. Sometimes I’m too busy or distracted. Doesn’t matter. I have to disconnect from whatever is occupying my attention and make the time. When I pick up some food packages I see in the list of

oils cottonseed, palm and palm kernel oils. I’ll deal with palm oil later. It’s the cottonseed oil that set off a “redder” alert for me. Over the years a voice has quietly tried to tell me that this oil shouldn’t be in my food. Again I haven’t been a good listener.

In talking with Mom I found out how we get from cotton boll to cotton seed to cottonseed cakes and cottonseed oil. Back in the day, workers picked the cotton; the cotton was taken to a gin; the seed was separated from the cotton; the cotton was baled and shipped; then the seed was sent to a cottonseed mill where the fun stuff happens. The process is not too much different now, except that many of those workers have been replaced with machines and magic cottonseed from Monsanto that is supposed to grow herbicide ready, pest-resistant plants. There is video of how that’s working out for farmers in India so we don’t need to get into that. People went to the cottonseed mill and bought oil and some of the mill stores gave cottonseed cakes to the kids. Well I’ve never been to a cottonseed mill and with what I’ve read on the stuff I won’t be going anytime soon.

We’ll skip stuff like pesticide residue in the oil and get to the really weird…Cottonseed oil contains Gossypol, which is under research as a male oral contraceptive.

Supposedly gossypol, which is a natural toxin in cottonseed oil, is removed from all commercially available oil. With all the food recalls for e-coli and other problems I have a hard time believing that the toxin is never present in the oil. This should raise more questions than I see being asked. How do we know the toxin, even if injested in trace amounts, doesn’t have a cumulative effect? How many men are being affected and don’t know it?

This oil is in more and more processed foods and is hard to get away from. The way to the solution is awareness. Read the labels. Try to find substitute products that you are willing to consume. Get the recipes and cook the stuff yourself. Consume more of the good oils to balance the amount of high-tech lard that you’re eating. One solution is for the bio-diesel companies and anyone wanting to make it themselves to switch from corn and/or sunflower oils to cottonseed oil. That way we can put the corn back in the cornbread.