Friday, November 27, 2015

Cupboards: Not Bare, but Neglected, or The Petrifying Pantry

As you may have heard lately, my wife and I are selling our house and moving to an apartment in order to save money. Some of my posts have sounded a bit maudlin about that, and I don't want them to, so today I wanted to tell you about something kind of gross and hilarious: our cupboards.

Now, I don't mean to say that having cupboards are gross or hilarious--they're just, y'know, cabinets. But in the process of trying to reduce the amount of crap we have to move, we've been going through all of our stuff and trying to get rid of as much stuff as possible. So, we started going through our cupboards and refrigerator looking at all the stuff that we could get rid of by donating or throwing out.

We're not generally in the business of wasting food, but we're also not in the business of donating spoiled food to folks in need, so the throwing out is somewhat necessary.

At one point, though, we began to realize that some of the stuff that we had hidden away on the very highest shelves, and the very furthest reaches, was...shall we say...past its prime?

It was when we found some food from this time last year that we decided to make it a competition to see who could find the oldest food.

My wife took an early lead with something from October 2014.

I quickly pulled ahead with something from May 2014.

We were in a dead heat after that, going back a few days at a time. And then


My wife finds something from 2013.

The very old food on the table grew into a pile, the food in the pantry dwindled, and my heart started to sink that my wife would win this one.

But then it happened:

I found a package of food from May of 2012.


We also found a vast majority of food that was still very much good and that we are going to be donating as it's stuff that we just don't really want but that seemed like a good idea at the time.

This makes me think, though, about how available food is in America vs other places, and how lucky we are to have such easy and ready access to so much food. And while we were having this silly game, I also felt guilty that we had so much wasted food. Part of it is the weird layout of the cabinets in this house, which results in some weird blind spots where things were put to get them out of the way and then forgotten, and part of it is because, as shameful as it is, we would buy things that sounded good at the time and then think, naw, I actually don't want that afterall.

One of the things I'm going to work on in the new place is making sure our cupboards stay well-stocked with essentials, but also that we cycle through and use our food so that we can avoid these embarrassing food purges.

One of the ways I want to keep my house cleaner, in fact, is by trying to do bi-annual clean ups where we go through and donate any clothes/stuff/food that we don't want anymore. This way we can give back to people without wasting stuff.

I think the most important thing to take away from this post is: I WON! WHOOOOO!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

I Have a Lot For Which to be Thankful

It's late Thanksgiving where I'm at, but still technically on the day, so I wanted to post some thoughts honoring the day.

I have a lot for which to be thankful this year. Even though I had to work on Thanksgiving, and even though we're having to sell our house, and even though money's tight this year as we head into the Christmas season, I can't help but feel extremely hopeful and positive about everything. It's been a hard couple of years, but I feel really good about the stuff that we're doing to try to turn things around.

So, here are some things I'm thankful for:

I'm thankful for my family. That includes my wife and my dog, who both love me and are there for me when I need them. But it also includes my brother, who I've really enjoyed getting to know all over again since he graduated college. It's been great to see the kind of person he grew into. I like that person. I'm thankful to my mom and grandparents for always being there when I need them, and for always managing to find a way to help when necessary, even by all logic they shouldn't be able to.

I'm thankful for my friends. I don't have a large number of friends, which is why I'm so grateful for the friends I have. They're all great people, and there's nothing like staying up too late talking with folks about whatever the fuck, whether that's politics, or the weird implications of the world of Pokemon. They're the type of friends that will offer to help you work on your car when you need to replace the stereo, or that will bring you a bunch of Thanksgiving leftovers because you had to work through the holiday.

I'm thankful for my job. I'm not sure that I've ever worked a job that I actually liked. I hated working in all the fast food places I worked at, but I assumed that was just because they were shitty jobs. But I hated teaching, and then I hated my next job. I worried that it was just me. But the place I'm working at now is wonderful. The people are all super supportive, and the work is fun and challenging. Plus, there's plenty of room to advance.

Lastly, I'm thankful for how things are working out, so far at least. It looks like things are lining up in an unexpectedly advantageous way. I'm not used to things going my way, so my guard is still up, and I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop. But still, things are going so well that I can't help but breathe a little easier.

And that's my list. That's what I'm thankful for. Our Thanksgiving celebration is delayed since I had to work today, but Saturday looks like it's going to be full of fun, and games, and other exciting things. I'm really looking forward to it.

I hope you had a very happy Thanksgiving, if you're in the US, and if you're not, I hope you had a great day anyway.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I Have a Lot of Crap

One of the things you start to notice when you're slowly gathering everything you own into a pile and deciding what to keep and what to throw out is how much stuff you inevitably accrue over time.

In some ways, I'm better off than some folks because my wife and I have never been the type of people that feel the need to buy a bunch of useless knickknacks, although that's not really because we're taking any sort of stand but more because we are incredibly lazy/forgetful people, and we almost always forget that we bought stuff. In two years of living in our house, we have yet to fully pull the trigger on either the "fat chef" motif of the kitchen, nor the "movies and cinema" motif of the living room, despite buying a few things to fit both of those themes.

A lot of the stuff that we've acquired were things that I was REALLY INTO for a brief period of time, only to have that interest wane or evaporate entirely. (My brain is sort of weird, and gets all obsessive and globby on one thing for a period of time and that's all I can think or talk about, and then POOF it's gone and I'm onto my next new obsession.)

In spite of all of that, we still have lots of weird decorations and thingamabobs that just sit on shelves and take up space. And part of me looks at all this stuff and thinks: do we really need all this?

Just as an example: I have, to be scientific about it, a metric fuckton of books. In fact, and this is completely true, when we hired movers to move into our house, one of the movers said that my giant tub o' books was actually the heaviest thing he had to move of our stuff--and he actually picked up and moved both our washer and our dryer inside without a dolly.

I mean, he moved them separately. He didn't, like, stack the washer and dryer on top of each other or carry one under each arm or anything. Bust still, the fact that he was able to carry my full-sized washing machine but found it difficult to carry my tub o' books says a lot about the number of books I have.

And that was only one of the books. I had at least one other, and possibly two--I can't remember exactly, tub o' books, admittedly smaller but no less full.

My personal library is an eclectic mix of genres, styles, and subjects--especially recently, as I've become much more interested in nonfiction. But still, sometimes I look at my shelves of books and think, "I'm probably never reading most of these books ever again. I should just get rid of them to make room for more books." But then I look through the stacks and find that--NO I JUST CAN'T WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME DO THIS YOU MONSTER???

And so the books stay. And grow. And overtake the house.

Featured: unpacked books part 1

Featured: unpacked books part 2
I managed to bite the bullet this time around, when faced with the harsh reality of a dramatically smaller living space, and gathered up two boxes of books to donate to Goodwill. And yet? The shelf is still full. In fact, at this point in packing, the big gray tub o' books is completely full, and my bookshelf is still full.

The tub goes above her knee. It's, like, mid-thigh on her.
This is true of movies as well. I have three boxes full of movies, and this was after the Great Movie Purge of '11, wherein I got rid of a bunch of movies, TV show seasons, and video games to get enough money for two tickets to see both Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Winnie the Pooh--two movies my wife reeeaaaally wanted to see.

All full of movies/tv shows.
And I still find myself going over to the movie shelf and going, "Wait...didn't I used to own that? GAH! STUPID! WHY DID I GET RID OF THAT??"

And none of this counts the extra furniture that we got over the several years of living in houses that we seem to have gotten mostly to...fill up the empty rooms we rarely used.

All of this packing and moving has me realizing how much wasted space we really had all this time. I mean, our house wasn't particularly big, and yet we still had an entire room that we only stepped into probably 10 times in the entire time we lived in this house. And we had a similar situation in the last 2 houses we lived in. And my friends--until they had a kid, at least--had the same situation.

What did we use that room for? To fill with crap that we didn't know what to do with. It was like that junk drawer that everyone has, only this wasn't a drawer, it was an entire room.

Anyway, those are just some of the weird places my mind went as I packed today.

Do you have a lot of useless crap? Do you decorate your house? If so, with what?

Also, do you have a room and/or drawer of useless crap that you don't know what to do with?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Rise and Fall of a Cookie Empire

I have a story to tell you.

It is a story of power. Of madness. Of reaching the dizzying heights of success and then watching those successes collapse asunder like a house of cards.

I saw someone on Twitter, I believe it was @davefaceless, tweet about a game. It was a simple, silly little game called "Cookie Clicker." The conceit of the game is simple--click the giant cookie, get a cookie.

I decided to see how I could get the number and started clicking ferociously until I got about 1000 cookies. I stopped after that because I was afraid of breaking my mouse button. But then I noticed that, in fact, the makers of the game had ways around that. You could buy clickers and Grandmas to make cookies for you.

Intrigued, I bought a couple. But it was still very slow. I realized I could click alongside those add-ons and generate even more cookies. So I did, although slowly, and I continued to purchase more clickers and Grandma's. I eventually realized there became other things as well. Farms you could purchase that grew cookie trees. Industrial plants to manufacture cookies.

I became obsessed. I had to purchase more add-ons to make more cookies. But all the add ons cost cookies. So to purchase more add-ons, I had to make more cookies faster. It was a vicious cycle. The more add-ons you purchased, the more expensive they became, and the more slowly you were able to gain enough cookies to buy the next add on.

Clicking cookies was the worst way to generate cookies, not only because it yielded the least cookies, but also because I didn't want to break my mouse clicker over a stupid internet game.

Much better to find additional hacks and add-ons that others had created to auto-click. And wouldn't you know it? People did.

I added one of the add-ons onto my Google Chrome and let the game auto click for me, setting the clicking function as high as I could. I started letting the computer run all night, waking up 7 or 8 hours later to a massive yield in cookies, which I would then nearly decimate buying more add-ons.

The add-ons became more ridiculous. Gathering cookies from space, from other places in time via time machine, and from other dimensions. I even began battling Santa Claus, revealing his true form as an Elder God of horror and despair.

I spent nearly two weeks coming home and obsessing over my numbers. One day, I realized that to get more add-ons, it would take entirely too many hours to get more cookies. So I just added a bunch of cookies to my pool with a hack that just dumped cookies--no generation required.

At this point, it wasn't even about the add-ons, or the cookie generation. It was about the awards. I needed to to get all the achievements. Once, I even wiped out my entire cookie empire and rebuilt it from scratch--which unlocked two achievements.

But one day, I came home from work and sat down at my computer, watching the buzzing, moving, flickering images of Grandmas and cookies and milk sloshing, and I realized that I had done everything I could do. There was no thrill in the cookie game anymore. I had reached the top.

I got rid of all traces of the cookies and their production methods, then deleted the game and its add-ons.

Part of me remains conflicted. Who knows what cookie empire power vacuum I created by simply walking away from the game. At one point, indeed, the game confirmed that all of existence was made of cookies. Every molecule. Every atom.

What had I done?

But I knew, for the sake of my family, for my future, I had to walk away.

God help those left wanting in the wake of my absence. I hope, someday, they will forgive me.