Thursday, September 24, 2015

Electronic Rat's Nest

Every house has a nest....a coiled conglomeration tucked in a drawer, hidden in a cabinet or stuffed in a box somewhere.   It looks as if we've discovered the den of some electronic rodent.  The only thing missing would be a few clicking and whirring offspring, their red little LED eyes staring up at us.   The nest always consists of the same type of material;  the little DC adapters that get separated from the devices that need them.

How does this happen?  And when it does, why can't we reunite the wall warts with their hosts?

Here's my take on the evolution of the "nest."

For some odd reason that I have yet to understand, most adapters do not have the name of the product they are used with stamped on them.  There are some notable exceptions, and those exceptions are the reasons that those particular adapters rarely end up in the nest.   We actually KNOW WHICH PRODUCT THEY ARE USED WITH.  For some reason, the Toshiba answering machine I bought years ago came with a 3.43 VDC adapter marked something like "China Adapterco," not Toshiba.   The answering machine is long gone, but for some reason, the adapter still resides in the nest.  Why?  Because despite there being 58 different sized little thingy ends that adapter companies use, this particular adapter looks exactly the same or similar to nearly all the other adapters for nearly every small product in my house.

I know I have an extra modem.  Could that be the adapter that works with it?  Or maybe it's the one from that clock radio in the closet.   Not sure how it got separated, but I wouldn't want to ACCIDENTALLY THROW AWAY THE ADAPTER I MIGHT NEED.  So it ends up where?  In the nest.   Somehow the nest has 34 adapters all hopelessly tangled together with the odd RCA cable or wired computer mouse.  Problem is, I only have 8 items in my house that's require an adapter, and all of them have the adapter with it.  So how....?    Well, you never know when you might NEED an adapter.  After all, you could possibly misplace one, right?  Never hurts to have an extra....  Oh, so naive am I.  What we never seem to realize is that those adapters all have a specific voltage.  Combine that with the 58 different possible little end thingys that insert into the host and you've got the potential for 43,667 different varieties of adapters, all of which look the same.   Sure, your video game adapter fries.... Where to do you go first?  The nest of course!  You pull out the knot of 34 adapters out of 43,667 different ones that are possible.  This gives you a statistical possibility of matching your dead adapter of about 1 in 1,200 or about .08%.   Invariably the 34 adapters go back in the drawer...a little more knotted than before because "you never know. "

This whole scenario is multiplied in size many orders of magnitude when you have a business.  There are so many electronic gadgets...printers, faxes, cordless phones, cell phones, monitors....  I recently found a nest that must have weighed 20 pounds in a box behind some packing materials on a shelf unit at my business.   I stared at it for a moment and then proceeded to do one the riskiest things I've ever undertaken in my life.  I threw the entire nest into the trash.   As I stood there perspiring from the stress, I thought about pulling it back out of the trash and shoving back into that box on the shelf... "What if you throw away one you need????  Then what?!"   It's been a year since I did that and the earth didn't stop turning.  I've never found an item in a drawer or anywhere else that required one of the adapters I tossed.   I say, go get that nest America, and toss that shit out.  It'll be cathartic.  I promise.   You'll never look back.

Despite that happening a year ago, a few days ago I found a new nest forming in a drawer with the stapler and the post-its....   How?  I have no earthly idea.  As you sit reading this, one is forming in your home...slowly and insidiously, seemingly by itself.   It's a fact of life.   ;-)

Sunday, July 26, 2015


It had been a pretty bad storm.  Lots of lightning.  One bolt close enough to startle a building full of people at work.  Then I got a text: "Are you coming home soon?"  Pretty normal words on most days, but that particular text, shrouded in it's unemotional font on my phone screen, failed to express the gravity of the situation.  I sent a text back, jokingly..."Is my house burning?"  No response.  I dismissed it and went on about my business as the rain outside subsided.

A few minutes later, my phone rang.  The voice on the other end was cracking with fright and confusion.  "When are you coming home?!!"  It was that unmistakable tone and sense of urgency that nobody ever wants to hear.  Its the moment you know that something very, very bad has happened.  My heart leapt and vision became narrowed as I inquired further. "Please...come home quickly!  The firemen are cutting a hole in the side of your house with axes and there's smoke!  I heard something during the storm.   I don't know what's happening..."  The voice trailed off...a mixture of hysteria and sadness.

The 15 minute ride home was a tough one.  There's the need to resist pressing the accelerator to the floor, which could endanger myself and others not to mention attracting the unwanted attention of state troopers.  All sorts of visions are going through my mind.  Charred remains.  Where do I sleep?  Insurance.  Rebuilding.  All my things.  I had 15 minutes to come to terms and accept that everything could be gone.  All of it.

All the grappling with the everyday clutter of others must have had an effect on me.  I felt relatively calm.  Relatively.  The idea of having nothing was oddly...intriguing.  I had always thought about what it might be like to live life with not much more than what was on my back.  But this wasn't the way I wanted to explore that intrigue.

As I got closer to home I scanned the horizon for a dark pall of smoke that would likely indicate a building consumed by flames in the distance.  There was none.  But as I turned the corner to my street, I felt anxiety wash over me.  Three fire trucks....not good.  The neighbors gathered outside in a ring...the indignity of it isn't something I want to experience again.  The last light of day was waning and thankfully I saw no tongues of orange leaping from the roof.  I rushed up to one of the firefighters who explained that there had been a fire in the wall caused by lightning.  The fire melted the water pipe joints and they had to shut off the water to keep the house from flooding.  He wanted to show me what had happened.

As I opened from door I remember the acrid smell of burnt insulation, plastic pipes and wood but the house seemed intact.  In the hazy flashlight beam I could see the ceiling in the bath pulled down to check for flame, lots of water from the burst pipe and some charred areas on the wall, but everything else was intact and undamaged.  With electric and water off, I decided to sleep elsewhere. As I left, I opened all the windows...and sighed.  Deeply.  Daylight revealed that a bolt of lightning punched through the house and grounded at the copper pipes, causing a fire in the wall that was probably extinguished when the pipe burst.  Damage was confined to the bathroom.  I never imagined I'd be thankful for a burst pipe and that I wasn't home for the event.

In the moments between the phone call and the aftermath, there was a lot to be reckoned with.  I don't recall that I freaked out.  There was a period of clarity.  Perspective, if you will.  As I steeled myself for the worst, I thought "It's just stuff.  I'll go on. I'm OK if it's all gone."  Events like this have the power to alter the direction of one's life.  It could be the impetus to relocate or perhaps change how life is lived.  I've written plenty about how the pursuit of things over experiences can dull life's shine.  I still believe that...even more so now.  In essence, I passed my own pop quiz.  If you were faced with the possibility of losing every material thing you owned, how do you think it would affect you?  The answers might say a lot about how material things figure in your life.  Hopefully, a frantic call won't be required to find those answers.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Get a Real Job!

A hustler.  That's a term used by my dad to describe me.  I'm sure he doesn't mean it in a bad way.  I don't know about you, but when I hear the term "hustler" I think of gritty characters on society's fringes selling watches from opened overcoats and shady pest control specialists bilking old ladies out of their social security checks by claiming they have "brick mites" eating their houses.  I don't think dad meant it that way.

Dad spent most of his adult life working in the financial sector.  He's held several important positions that provided him an office, a predictable paycheck and required him to wear pressed clothes, a tie, and work in heavily air conditioned facilities lit by fluorescent lighting.  He had a "real" job.

This morning, I watched an interesting video about a musician who, early on, chose to make a living by being a street mime dressed in white.  She made a few bucks doing it and found she was able to connect with people in her own particular way.  In short, she enjoyed what she was doing but often endured the screams from passers-by telling her to "get a real job."  She has a great story and while I don't listen to punk-cabaret, that's not the point...

What is a "real" job and who gets to decide what makes it "real?"

When I was growing up, a real job was something you did predictably, every day, for someone else in order to get money.  Predictable money.  Typically the hours were 9-5, Monday through Friday.  You got weekends off and sometimes a couple of weeks for vacation.  It was also assumed that the more education you received in the form of various graduate and post-graduate degrees, the more money you'd make and it'd be less likely that you'd have to work around heavy machinery..  If you didn't have a lot of paper certificates from schools, you'd generally be expected to work in construction or at a factory making left rear car fenders or something that required you to sweat a lot in July or freeze all day in December.  Funny how starting a business was rarely, if ever mentioned.

Enter the 21st Century where companies are no longer loyal to their workers and blue collar jobs are now located in Asia.  Factories are shuttered and large corporations continue to outsource jobs and cut workforce in an effort to increase profitability to appease fickle stockholders.  Today, a "real" job often comes in the form of something a barista at a Starbucks.  White collar jobs are increasingly difficult to land and our society finds itself awash in a sea of college graduates with few positions available for them.  About that "real" job thing....?

I had two "real" jobs in my life.  I hated them both.  Really. Hated. Them.

I distinctly remember not wanting to get out of bed in the morning...loathing what I did to earn money with every shred of my being.  The same thing.  Every single day. Again and again and again.

Within a few years I'd had enough of the "real" job torture and decided I'd go back to grad school while I figured the whole thing out.  I'd had a taste of doing things on my own early on.  In middle school I sold coins and baseball cards at the local flea market and in high school I started a little enterprise with a button making machine.  My schoolmates would order personalized buttons from me and I'd deliver them to school the next day and collect $2.  My materials cost was something like a quarter.  I went one step further in college and started conducting fundraisers for campus organizations.  Members would set up at the college union and hawk personalized buttons to their friends and passers-by.  They'd get half the revenue and I'd get the other half.  I found it afforded me the ability to hang out all day with cute college girls while doing something I enjoyed... and I got paid for it.  Now I had beer money without having to scrub floors at the local Pizza Hut...which I suppose was more of a "real" job.  Inside, I felt a little guilty... as if I was breaking some rule about what work was supposed to be like.  You weren't supposed to enjoy it.... were you?

Fast forward a quarter century.  I still don't have a "real" job.  Some might be appalled at the fact that I'm an auctioneer, I sell items online and I buy and sell coins as a "career"....but I wouldn't have it any other way.  The job market is terrible and only a few lucky people I know have any income stability.  There's a lot to be said for doing what you love, even if it makes you little.  Like the gal who collected 60-90 bucks a day being an 8 foot tall mime painted white....She got something out of it.  To me, that makes it just as "real" as a job can get.  Even better is that she used her imagination to come up with a creative way to feed and clothe herself.  I think our society needs to redefine how we look at what a job is.  A job doesn't necessary have to come with fixed hours, fixed pay or even result in something tangible created.  A job doesn't have to provide anything specific as long as the people on both ends of the transaction get SOMETHING out of it....even if that something is hard to quantify.

So what does this all have to do with minimalism?  A lot.  If you can be happy with less, you can do what makes you happy without worrying about whether it pays enough for you to afford all the things you think you need.  We only get so much time.  Wouldn't it be nice to do something interesting?  Something that pushes the envelope?  Something that creates self-satisfaction?  Wouldn't you like to create your own day, every day and be in charge of how its used?  You can.  My dad calls me a "hustler."  But he sees how happy I am...and he's told me that he wasn't brave enough to not have the steady paycheck that the corporate world provided him.  Luckily, it worked out in the end, but he traded a lot of life for that.  Hopefully, we'll all see that we don't always have to make that trade.  Screw a "real" job.  How about a "real" life?  If you can make enough to take care of yourself and be content with what you have without relying on anyone else (or the government) and you are happy with what you are doing for your income (as long as it doesn't take from anyone else's happiness), that's all that counts. That's all I believe you need to make your job "real."

Explain to me how this would not be a "real" job if it makes people happy, makes the performer happy and creates enough income for her to take care of herself?   Are we jealous that we didn't "think outside the box?  Don't know about you, I think it's awesome!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Minimalist extremism

We hear so much about extremists.  They exist across all religions, races, and beliefs, and today I read about a bunch of loosely scattered folks who would fit into the definition of "minimalist extremists."

As much as I savor the idea of simplifying my life and making it smaller, there are some who have taken the concept to a whole new level by living in 100 square foot homes.  I'm not actually sure if they're my heroes or if I think they're a bit insane.  Regardless of what I think, you've got to give someone credit for proving that it CAN be done.

It all started in California when a young man decided he wanted to live in a micro-home.  He later went on to start the Tumbleweed House Company which specializes in manufacturing tiny, portable homes.  I believe there's a sub-100 square foot model and the largest is around 175 square feet, about the size of the average walk-in closet in a suburban home.  To put that into perspective, the average American home contains somewhere around 2,000 square feet of space. That's about 15 times more space than you'd find in an average Tumbleweed home.

 As a minimalist, I have spent a good 7 years in homes with 800-850 square feet of space.  Most people think my home is VERY small, but I have a hard time wrapping my mind around living in 120 square feet.  In a home the size of a smallish bedroom, one must have a kitchen, bath, living space, bed and storage.  I don't care how creative you are, that's a mighty tight squeeze.  It would require paring belongings down to practically what you could carry on your back or in the boot of a Smart Car.  I know its very possible because I've traveled for chunks of time with only a small backpack, but in many ways traveling with practically nothing is different from LIVING with practically nothing.

The little homes are well built but far from inexpensive on a square footage basis.  A 120 square foot model will run you about 40 grand.  That's a higher price per foot than in all but some of the most expensive cities.  Granted the little dwellings make ingenious use of space.  Tables fold, benches swing out, the bed is up in a loft and the bathroom design enables you to shower, brush your teeth, and take care of nature's call pretty much all at the same time.  Additionally, the homes are on wheels, less because they are easy to move, but rather due to the fact that most municipalities won't permit a stick built home of such a size.  It's so small, it violates many ordinances regarding minimum space standards.  Most towns and cities won't let you live in a fancy garden shed.  It isn't ironic that in a society that preaches excess, you're breaking the law if you decide to live in a very small home.  The solution is to make it mobile since home ordinances don't apply homes that move.

There's no doubt that in some very expensive cities, people get very creative with small spaces.  Just peruse the "Small, Cool" contests on Apartment Therapy and you'll see some fantastic tiny places.  When a micro studio runs $2,000 a month in your city, you do whatever is necessary to live small because anything else is simply unaffordable.  But living that small in Anytown USA is a whole different animal.  It's not a choice out of necessity but rather a lifestyle choice.  There's a big difference.

I currently live in the downtown historic district of a coastal southern city.  Housing here isn't nearly as expensive as where I came from.  Not even close.  As a result, you don't often see many REALLY small spaces here, but they do exist.  I looked at one such space which was just over 300 SF.  It was gorgeous. There were high ceilings with crown mouldings, a top of the line kitchen in miniature, premium appliances, solid mahogany doors, marble floors and super modern fixtures...everything you'd expect in a luxury home.  It was well located....BUT, it was basically a really pretty closet-sized space.  I labored in my mind as to where my bike would go and what I would do with some of my beloved belongings.  My adolescent daughter, who occasionally spends time with me would have to sleep on the couch and have no space of her own.  The truth is, some of the very few things I'm attached to would have to go.  I'd have hard choices to make.  I'll admit, it was very tempting but even as a minimalist, I found myself feeling a bit anxious about having to cram my entire life into such a tiny box.  In the end, I settled on an 850 square foot flat available in a similar location that was less money and had some luxurious features of its own.  When it came down to it, I just couldn't comfortably make the jump into such extreme minimalism.  Minimalism shouldn't be about being uncomfortable.

I suppose minimalism, like religion, has it's degrees.  Some are content to simply call themselves Christians or Jews or Muslims and others take their faith and beliefs to a whole new level.  I'm not saying that minimalist extremism is bad.  No extremism has to be bad so long as it doesn't harm or infringe upon the rights of others.  It's a personal choice.  Sure, this whole blog thing is about promoting a simpler life.  It is very possible to be extremely happy with far less than most people in our society have, but personally, I don't think trying to cram myself into a tiny home the size of a closet would make me happy in the long term.  For me, that's excessive.  I like to cook, so I need just a bit of space to prep ingredients and more than one burner.  I have a daughter who likes to have a little bit of space of her own.  A tiny bath is fine, but I don't want to have a throne in the shower.  I'd also like to live in a home that's attached to the ground.  All those personal wants CAN be addressed in the context of a rather small space.  I can still live simply, and in some ways luxuriously in a fairly small home. I can't personally justify being an extreme minimalist...but I wouldn't mind renting one of those little tiny houses just to try it out.  Who knows....I might just like it.

Its intriguing, but I just don't know if I could do it....could you?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Our disappearing history

Nothing like a cool fall afternoon at the flea of my favorite pastimes is digging through piles of old cool stuff, taking a glimpse at what life was like 100 years ago.  Strangely enough, I can't help but think that 100 years from now there will be precious little evidence of our past to sift through other than what might be saved in digital form.  The truth is...nobody really knows how long anything saved in digital form might last.

Here's the problem (or problems) as I see it:

Photos:  Old pictures from the past, although fragile, are tangible and can be physically archived even if that archive happens to be a hot attic.  I know that most of the photos I have taken in the last 5 years are currently stored in digital form.  While its true that I took thousands of photos in those years, almost none are in tangible form.  As technology progresses, more and more photos are lost forever due to hardware failures, storage device failures and changes in storage format.  If I kept my photos on an unmarked SD card in a drawer, what are the chances my family would know to look for it if I left this earth suddenly?  Physical pictures can be found, SD cards get lost or tossed.  So....what are the odds any of my family photos will be around in 100 years?   Should I plan better?  Yes, but like most people, properly archiving digital photos isn't on the top of the To-do list.  Most will vanish...probably.  What this means is that after physical pictures gave way to digital, there may be huge gaps in family photgraphic history, and even history in a broader sense if we fail to back up the zeros and ones to something more physical.

Household items:  Nothing is made to last anymore.  That 100 year old apple corer that grandpa got from his dad is made of cast iron.  It isn't going anywhere.  Today everything is made to toss, and even if it isn't, the quality of yesteryear is long gone.  Today an apple corer might make it a couple of decades if there's no plastic in it and its stored carefully.  Sadly, our history is sent to the landfill on a daily basis.  The same goes for furniture.  How long can a particle board chest of drawers be expected to last?  In a moist spot it might last 6 months before it disintegrates into oatmeal.  Even real furniture, with few exceptions, won't last as long as the solid wood and pegged construction of years long gone.

Homes:  I love stepping into a 150 year old home.  Beams were beefy and foundations were stone.  Many were engineered to outlast even the longest living occupants.  Not today.  Profit margin rules when it comes to constructing new homes.  Most are slapped up in a few weeks using plastic pipe, OSB...which is just fancy particle board, and a quick covering of vinyl siding.  Weather and water, a home's mortal enemy make quick work of newer structures.  Cheap materials rot and decay quickly if exposed to the elements.  Older homes with their dense wood and stone structures resist weather longer (although when they fail, they fail big.)  The charm, quality and sturdiness of older homes often makes them candidates for restoration.  New tract housing often has zero charm and only provides basic shelter and structure.  Recent homes in poor condition are more often razed than renovated because it makes little economic sense to restore them.  Once again, the almighty dollar dictates the demise of our physical history.

So what will be out there to look at in 100 years?  Will the furniture below have the same value in the future as a walnut Victorian chest from around 1900 has today?  Will it even last a tiny fraction of a century?

So what do you think the life expectancy is for something made of pressed sawdust?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Its hard being minimalist in a money centered society.

Its been over a year since I posted.  I've had plenty of good material pop into my head, but I just seem to get sidetracked.  Poof...a year passes.

As we all know, our country is still in the economic doldrums.  Nobody seems to be getting anywhere fast, except for the super rich.  I was reading an article about how expensive it is to be poor.  Those who have little money or credit always pay higher interest rates, they get whacked for bounced check fees and rates on credit cards approach numbers you'd expect to pay if you borrowed money from a guy with only 3 fingers on his left hand.  The end result is that a lot of people can never dig themselves out of bad economic times.

I've been watching the news on current events and can see now, more than ever, we (meaning those who make the rules) base our legislation and values on what makes the most money...what benefits the economy. We don't seem to care much about what is good for our citizens or what creates a good life for most people. Another recent article discussed how Americans have been paring back their levels of credit card debt.  That's good, right?  Apparently not.  The article went on to explain that since consumer spending accounts for 70% of the economy, people have obviously lowered levels of spending and that's, well....not good for the economy.

I understand how the economy helps us all have a decent life as goods and services are exchanged....but here's what I'd like to say... a lot....FUCK the economy!  What about the PEOPLE who live in this country?  Does everything always need to be more, better, larger, newer....?  Do we always need to spend more?  Do companies always need to make more profit this year than they did last year?  If that's what everyone expects then companies must figure out new ways to extract more profits.  That means worker exploitation, poorer quality goods that need to be replaced and so on...OR coercing everyone into spending more money that they don't have.

I've always been a fan of the EU and Scandinavia where the focus is more on people rather than profits. Citizens in those regions receive:  Lots of mandatory paid vacation time, guaranteed medical care, cleaner surroundings, healthy foods and much more that comes with culture that is centered around people over profits.  Folks on the other side of the pond are among the happiest and most content in the world even though they have very high tax rates and the weather can be downright miserable for much of the year....AND they typically have far fewer possessions and smaller homes than we have.  Here we get less and less vacation time, longer work weeks, an emphasis on more and bigger, unhealthy food everywhere, ridiculously expensive medical care (often of lesser quality) that bankrupts a fairly large number of citizens ....but I'll stop there.  The majority of our problems stem from placing profits first over the well being of the citizenry.

Sadly, it doesn't appear that we will change our ways anytime soon since money controls everything here...even the legislative process.  Will we ever get to the point where we aren't led to the mall in an effort to cure what ails us?   When I tell people I'm a business owner who isn't trying to franchise or make enough to buy a boat or a huge house, I'm considered "unmotivated."  Why would anyone be content to live in an 850SF apartment when my parents had a 2,000SF home?  Yes....I know we're supposed to aspire to doing better than our parents did.  Who says I'm not doing better if I'm happy with what I have?  Is the size of my home and the quantity of shit it's filled with the only measure of what "doing better" is?  We need to think hard about what is REALLY important....Having crap or having experiences?  Would it be OK if we all said..."I'm good, I don't need anymore stuff."  Would the earth split open?  Probably not.

Would living small like this be so bad?  Are there days you wish life could be this simple?  Think about it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sometimes I make myself laugh...

Its amazing how a long needed day off fails to make my mind rest.  In fact, after today's exercise I  considered that I might be in need of a few glasses of wine.  A shot of something stronger perhaps....

Today I brought home a cool secondhand pair of tattered sneakers and a pair of speakers to add to my stereo system.  Stuff.  Coming in.  This is how it happens.  Did I need the speakers?  I already have two, but heck, four sounds much, much better.  After hooking them up I looked around at the spirals of wires now running across the floor where there had been neat hardwood mouldings.

Did I need the sneakers?  No.  I already have about 6 pairs of shoes.  Now compared with Imelda Marcos, I'm doing just peachy, but I've never had that many pairs of shoes.  I can't wear them all at once and granted, I need shoes for different occasions but I've never had three pairs of sneakers before.  I let out a slow sigh.

To make myself feel better, I took stock of my place.  First the bedroom.  Two laundry hampers.  Two hampers means I wait too long to do laundry.  One goes.  Armoire?  Surely I must be able to weed out a few shirts from the collection that I don't wear.  Four, in fact.  Only have a couple of jackets...good there.  I have, taking up a huge amount of space, two antique music boxes that would open up a lot of real estate if I got rid of them and their respective tables.  This is where I run into problems.  I have this appreciation for antique automata and I can't seem to get past telling myself  "Not now...we'll revisit this another time." This time is no exception.  Maybe I'll sell one.

Not much in the bathroom to get rid of unless I want to drip dry every time I get out of the shower and stop using deodorant.  Onward to the living room.  There's no question this room gets the most use and tends to accumulate things while I'm sleeping.  "Hmm...where'd that extra remote come from?  Wasn't there last night."  The underpants gnomes must be moonlighting in the electronics industry.

My desk is always a disaster.  I look at it and wonder how I've managed to keep a business afloat for 13 years without losing some critical piece of documentation under the mountain of scraps and notes.  Cleaning my desk and disposing of unused files and other paper detritis always makes me feel better.  I'll typically reward myself by going out for a meal, which isn't anything special since I'm a single guy living alone...I always go out for a meal. the kitchen.  I take stock of knives and utensils.  I have  china for four and utensils for eight and just enough kitchen gadgetry to keep me cooking without having to improvise too much.  Flipping omelets using a fork because you don't have a spatula isn't my idea of a worthwhile minimalist trade-off.  Plus it doesn't help with plate presentation.  "Sorry folks, you have to eat your steak with a spoon because I only have one knife and its currently in the dishwasher."  No.  Not doing that.  I did however, take note of the fact that the drawer that holds my storage containers hath overfloweth. I dove in.  Several bottoms with no lids.  Three lids with no bottoms.  How the heck does that happen?  Damn gnomes.  Don't need six Chinese food containers.  All the orphans and the extra containers go into the recycle.

Well....I feel a little better.  Where shall I eat?

I should be glad it isn't this bad.  I can at least see the bottom of mine.