Thursday, December 31, 2009

War on Junk - Day 20

Two hundred pieces of junk down! The holidays have been distracting - so many better things to do than look for junk, but I must remain vigilant because new pieces of junk creep in daily. It takes about a hundred items to fill the tote.

Today's list:

1. An American Eagle Sweater
2 and 3. A pair of Swazi candles made in Africa
4. A bundle of tubes
5. A defunct lighter
6. An Ikea attaching device
7. A fridge magnet
8. A Dustbuster attachment
9. A plastic vial
10. A paint brush

Sunday, December 27, 2009

War on Junk - Day 19

After a Christmas hiatus, during which a lot of future junk made its way into our house and the war on junk was temporarily suspended, I'm back in the trenches. There are entire stores full of garbage that people foolishly flock to. They're called Dollar Stores and they sell exclusively stuff which will be in the garbage within two weeks of purchase. The only attraction they seem to have is price. However it's not restricted to the dollar stores - my mother-in-law, who is not mechanically inclined, purchased a flashlight this week. She brought it over and handed it to me, because she couldn't get it to work. Thats' not unusual, however this time, there was good reason for her difficulties - it was an unalloyed piece of junk - poorly made, poorly designed, instant garbage, all manufactured in China, blister packed, shipped overseas, stocked in the hardware store, purchased and then discarded. A total waste of resources, energy, time and money.

Today's Junk.

1. A Macanudo Cigar box
2. A cigar cutter - cheap and nasty
3. An aluminum cigar tube
4. A Macadamia Royals chocolate-covered nut tin
5. A lighter
6. A Cortland Fly Line Cleaner - never used and not needed
7. A blade from a sword-shaped letter opener
8. A plastice vial containing iron pyrite flakes
9. A glass jar
10. My Abu-matic reel, given to me by my dad on my 10th birthday. A few years back I disassembled it, then couldn't figure out how to put it back together. Not junk but no longer useful.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

War on Junk - Day 18

One of the side benefits of declaring war on junk is that in the 5 minutes I spend selecting the days 10 pieces, I will occaisonally come across something useful. Like today I found my Nikon Coolpix 4500 Guide. I have been looking for it for a couple of years! That's one of the insidious things about junk - it obscures the useful.

Today's Junkorama

1. A Japanese fan box - empty
2. A box containing lacquered paper bows
3. A Kenwood Portable CD player
4. An empty film canister
5. A charging device for something
6. A booklet - Growing Children: A Parent's Guide
7. A bag containing coin tubes.
8. A set of Sony headphones
9. A cord for a computer or printer
10. A plastic round box top

Monday, December 21, 2009

War on Junk - Day 17

Will it never end! There is a lot of this stuff and it's everywhere - in drawers in cupboards, on shelves and in closets.

Todays junk:

1. A Halloween 'hockey mask' - scared the bejesus out of my wife with it yesterday.
2. A cheap flashlight - it would never work if you really needed it
3. A Sony Digicube radio
4. A Gillette Mach 3 Turbo razor handle
5. A pair of earbuds.
6. A pait of Halo Heel shoe inserts
7. A role of Kodak 24 exposures 200 ASA film - expiry date Oct 2004
8. A really cheap and tacky wristwatch
9. An electric razor cleaning brush
10. A plastic monocular

Sunday, December 20, 2009

War on Junk - Day 16

Today I emptied the turquoise tote, which was full to the brim. We are now 150 items lighter in the junk department. Another wave of junk is about to come ashore however so we will start to re-fill the tote.

Junk Menu for Today:

1. An unexposed role of Kodak 200 ASA film. Kodak couldn't dodge the digital bullet.
2. A car cell phone charger
3. An ex-mouse
4. A battery charger unsued for many years
5. A plastic electronic device
6. Nick Manoloff's Spanish Guitar Method instructional book- copyright 1935
7. A congratulation for for being Today's Sparkler given to our eldest son in elementary school
8. A drawing of a snowman by one of our kids
9. CD stomper Jewel case insert set
10. A charger for an unknown electronic device

Saturday, December 19, 2009

War on Junk - Day 15

One hundred and fifty pieces of junk are now captured and being held prisoner in the turquoise tote. There is no end in sight!

More Junk:

1. An obsolete charger for a cell phone
2, A broken plastice salad server
3. An old tooth brush
4. A lady's razor handle
5. A cork form a bottle of Graham's Port
6. A plastic bag with 4 pennies
7. Half a pen
8. A cord for some electronic device - unknown
9. A sachet of flower food
10. A pewter bob with a west coast native image (Bear?) and the word strength on the back

A Tribute to Paul McCartney

Buy Buy
Says the Sign in the Shop Window
Why Why
Says the Junk in the Yard

Paul McCartney

I have always found that there is a Beatle song for every topic and although "Junk" by Paul McCartney was not a Beatle song, it was written by a Beatle, so close enough. Anyway, to take break from junk to the sublime, I wanted to pay homage to Paul McCartney, a musical genius of incandescent brilliance who has performed a large part of the soundtrack to my life. I just watched "Good Evening New York City" - a DVD about a concert Sir Paul did in Citi Field in the summer of 2009. It included 33 songs, 31 by Paul, one by John Lennon and one by Geaorge Harrison. What is staggering to contemplate is that he could have performed an entirely different collection of 33 Lennon/McCartney or McCartney songs and it would have been just as amazing. I cannot think of another living soul who has such a vast, global reservoir of love and good will among people throughout the world.

Thank you Paul, for creating so much joy and pleasure In My Life. And thanks too to the other 3 Beatles, the dearly departed John Lennon, George Harrison and the indispensible Ringo. You'll Never Know How Much We Really Love You.

Friday, December 18, 2009

War on Junk - Day 14

The banality of this blog is starting to annoy me. Seeking out mundane and useless objects is not as much fun as say - looking for lost treasure. In fact this is pretty much the opposite. We'll see how long I can keep it up.

Junk du jour:

1. A flyer from the municipality
2. A hand-made birthday card
3. A tourist's map of Vancouver
4. The handle to a Schick razor
5. A plastic top for a round container
6. A set of unknown keys on a ring
7. A moustache comb
8. A cleaning brush for a non-existant electric razor
9. A plastic tweezer
10. A nail file

Thursday, December 17, 2009

War On Junk - Day 13

A large bolt of fabric showed up in the junk tote. By volume it takes up a lot of space. Then there is the usual culling from various drawers around the house'

Todays' Junk:

1. A bolt of fabric
2. Two obsolete keys on a ring
3. Another obsolete key
4. An eraser
5. An orange peeler (I think we can live without this)
6. A strawberry huller
7. A plastic gizmo
8. A Radio Shack Enercell AA battery
9. A chrome bolt with a washer for something very specific - don't know what!
10. A plastic bag with 2 pennies, a nickel and a US dime.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

War on Junk - Day 12

It still only takes about five minutes in my office here at home to identify 10 pieces of useless crap. I have filled the tote at this point, so I will now have to separate the contents into the 3 piles:


Here's today's assortment:

1. A black three-ring binder
2. A green scarf
3. An ink pad for a non-existent stamp
4. An obsolete Motorola car cellphone charger
5. An obsolete charging device
6. Another box of bookplates featuring the Ural Owl
7. A block of wood
8. A plastic bag with 2 pennies, two nickels and a dime
9. A useless green bolt
10. A club key

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

War on Junk - Day 11

A mundane collection of junk from various drawers in the house.

Today's list:

1. A wooden knife
2. A wooden fork
3. A plastic thing
4. A padlock, formerly on my trailer hitch, run over by my wife
5. A fancy string
6. A strawberry huller - who knew such a thing existed?
7. A bolt
8. An unknown key
9. An obsolete key
10. A useless key

Monday, December 14, 2009

War on Junk - Day 10 - A Christmas Special!

Day 10 - One hundred pieces of junk consigned to banishment! It hasn't even made a dent in the chaos, but it does feel good. It was Christmas tree time on the weekend and like every other year, a string of lights no longer works. When I was a child we had the screw in, flame-shaped, multi-coloured lights. If one of them went out, you could replace it. Today's miniature, cheap little twinkly lights are garbage as soon as one light goes out. On my website for Rare and, I have a gallery dedicated to the well-made object, items I have owned for decades that are still useful and functional.

Todays Christmas list.

1. Miniature artificial tree
2. A string of christmas lights
3. A wreath of twigs
4. A cluster of fake cherries
5. A blue glass globe ornament
6. A pink glass globe ornament
7. A red glass globe ornament
8. A white and gold christmas tree ornament
9. A round white plastic attachment for a massage tool
10. Two more of the above

Strictly speaking that's 11 items - we'll call it a Christmas bonus.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

War on Junk - Day 9

I have mentioned this project to a few people and it seems to have struck a nerve. Upon hearing that I am eliminating 10 pieces of junk a day some have said "I'm going to do that!" We could call ourselves the junkinistas. Any way, I got rid of some bulky junk today.

Here is the list:

1. A CD for a Samsung computer?
2. Cardboard box for my Blackberry World Edition
3. Cardboard box for the Nikon Macro Cool-Light SL-1
4. Nikon Guide de demarrage rapide for the Coolpix 4500
5. Nikon French Instruction manualfor the Coolpix 4500
6. Nikon multi lingual instruction manual for the Rechargeable Li-ion Battery
7. A plastic black felt tip pen
8. A broken zipper pull.
9. A Nikon Quick start guide for the Coolpix 4500
10. A cork stopper from a Martell Cognac

Ironically, the one thing I really need of all the Nikon stuff is the English instruction manual for my Coolpix 4500 and it is nowhere to be found. I did find some useful accessories for my Blackberry that I didn't know I had - like a car charger and some earphones. The war on junk is having some useful side effects. Who knows what else I will discover once the junk is out of the way?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The War on the War on Junk - Day 8

It turns out, the war in junk is not as popular as I expected. In fact, in some quarters it has been met with scorn and derision. I will however persevere, for I believe it to be a noble and worthy challenge.

Today's Junk:

1. A vintage address book (way before e-mail)
2. Michael Jackson's rehearsal glove
3. An impressive plastic device, precisley made for a very specific and unknown purpose
4. A plastic bag with 1 screw and 1 pencil tip
5. A Nikon Coolpix 4500 French manual
6. A Nikon Battery manual
7. A charging converter for an obsolete device
8. A highliter in a case
9. Telus maual Our Privacy Commitment to You
10. A JDRF folder

Friday, December 11, 2009

War on Junk - Day 7

So today there was one decision that took a little bit of thought. Do I get rid of the box of book plates featuring Hiroshige's Great Wave of Kanagawa? I've had it for more than a decade but I kind of like the idea having bookplates in my books. Bottom line is I like the idea, but not the doing so - 'they're outta here!'

Today's outstanding crop of junk:

1. An Audiologic Portable CD Player with Virtual Skip-Free Protection
2. A CD Stomper for labelling CD's
3. A Telus USB Hub
4. A King of Diamonds playing card
5. A Crayola Super Tips orange felt pen
6. An encore vinyl eraser (we have 3 - never used)
7. A plastic bag containing 2 Canadian dimes, 2 American dimes, 2 Mexican twenty centavos coins, a Maltese 2 cent coin, a Playland game token
8. A box of Hiroshige "Great Wave" bookplates
9. A Rio Grande Tools & Equipment catalogue from 2003
10. A set of 4 obsolete keys

Thursday, December 10, 2009

War on Junk - Day 6 The Resistance

Here's how it works. Every evening I cast a glance in various cupboards and drawers and find ten superfluos pieces of junk. Perhaps it's a pad of heart-shaped Post-it notes or a duplicate of some seldom used device. I pile the offending articles on my desk to take a quick photo. Last night, my wife objected to disposing the heart-shaped Post-it notes and three pencil sharpeners. After some negotiations we agreed to get rid of one pencil sharpener. There was no shortage of suitable candidates to replace the reprieved junk. I can see the junk war may morph into a guerilla campaign - the Resistance movement has been born.

Today's junk:

1. A phone cable
2. A staple remover (we have two)
3. A plastic pencil sharpener
4. A computer mouse
5. A Texas Instruments BA-35 financial calculator
6. A Quantum Micro-V FM Auto Scan Radio (genuine junk)
7. Some to/From labels
8. A pair of Steelworks keys from Desmoines Iowa
9. A floppy disc
10. A set of instructions for an obsolete computer

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

War on Junk - Day 5

No shortage of junk in sight. This is the easy part, getting rid of the obvious stuff, once that's all gone it will get harder as we contemplate things with emotional attachments. I discovered an unopened box of contact lenses in the medicine cabinet. I bought these for skiing last year using my old prescription but found out recently that it has changed,so they are now obsolete. Most junk started its life as a useful or potentially useful object and became obsolete over time.

Day 5 list.

1. A plastic spine for a report
2. Avery hole reinforcers
3. A Lego arch
4. A pull for a zipper
5. An empty staple box
6. A defunct marker pen
7. A floppy disc
8. A suction cup arrow for a toy gun
9. A pad of paper from Executive Hotels & Resorts
10. A plastic bag containing 2 plastic pencil lead holders

The tote is now half-full.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

War on Junk - Day 4

I've mentioned my war on junk to a couple of people. They seem to agree that the proliferation of stuff is a common problem. It's not like we are not constantly getting rid of garbage and recycling and giving things away. We are. It's just not enough and a large part of the problem is the manufacturing of junk disguised as useful items. For example electronic converters. We must have 10 obsolete converters because each one has a different plug and will only fit a specific device. Standardize the converters.

Today's haul:

1. A floppy disc
2. A key fob with two compasses
3. A triple-header hiliter from the Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company
4. A converter
5. A paper mache vase made by one of our children 10 years ago
6. A bicycle lock key
7. A magnifying top to a plastic box
8. A plastic bullet
9. A plastic plug for something
10. A cigar journal

I don't think I'll need to look outside my home office for quite a while. there is a lot of junk here!

Monday, December 7, 2009

War on Junk - Day 3

I see some other members of the family have tentatively joined in. There was some junk that I didn't recognize when I looked in the box today - Except my 10 lb barbell, formerly one of a pair. How does a 10lb barbell disappear?

Today's haul includes:

1. A telephone cable in a plastic bag
2. A 10 lb barbell
3. A music box/christmas decoration that looks like a miniature record player
4. A brand new cordless phone, still in the box
5. A very interesting and complicated plastic device that may have something to do with wine, or maybe not
6. A cork from a bottle of Aberlour 10 year old scotch whisky
7. A device for smoothing the goop from a vinyl repair kit
8. Some aluminum measuring spoons
9. A plastic vial containing fool's gold from a 'gold panning' exhibition at Old Tucson Arizona
10.A scarf

We have removed thirty items from their former hiding places so far. It hasn't even made a dent. Junk is legion but we are determined.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

War on Junk - Day 2

I told my mother-in-law about my war on junk. She was so happy and said "I,ve been waiting to hear that for thirty years!" She is very neat person. She will help us every week when we sort out the week's collection for recycling etc. My family is reluctantly going along with this idea, I'm sure they think it's just a phase. Maybe they are right, time will tell.

Here's today's list of junk.

1. A plastic divider box from the medicine cabinet
2. A small zip lock bag containing $0.22 (1 dime, 1 nickel and 7 pennies)
3. A black poker chip
4. A white poker chip
5. An obsolete computer back-up tape
6. An Allen Key
7. Another Allen Key
8. A Sony Walkman
9. Instruction manual for A Radio Shack Universal remote
10. A ball point pen with no ink

There is so much stuff, I feel like I could do this forever and not make a dent. Of course it is not a static process. Everyday, new junk worms it's way into our house from various sources, so we are not really netting out at -10 pieces per day. Junk is a clever foe, a master of disguises. It often shows up as part of something useful and then hides in the clutter for years after its usefulness has ended.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I Declare War on Junk!

The Lee Homer Household declares War on Junk!

Ok, so here's the deal. We have too much stuff. A lot of it is garbage masquerading as something you might use someday or hiding among useful items. Much of it has been there for years, malevolently cluttering up our lives in a sneaky manner. Hey, - I'm not doing anything, I'm just a piece of junk sitting in your closet that you are never going to use - what's the harm? Or Hey, we're just a bunch of useless items festering in your drawers and getting in the way of finding the few things we actually need and use.

Well it's no more Mr. and Mrs. Nice Guy. Our family is declaring war on junk. It's either us or the junk and at this point the junk is getting the upper hand!

Today is day one and our goal is to get rid of 10 pieces of junk per day. There is so much of it that at this point it takes less than 5 minutes to identify offending detritus.

Once identified they will be placed in a holding area (a superfluous tote) and once a week be sorted into 3 piles:

1. Garbage - unredeemable junk
2. Recyclable
3. Stuff to give away.

If we do this for a year, we will have eliminated 3,650 useless items from our lives and be all the better for it.

Today's haul:

1. Old baseball glove
2. Old 3 ring binder
3. metal pen box
4. Obsolete Name Tag
5. Plastic bag of Screws
6. Unidentified plastic thingamabob
7. Another unidentified plastic thingamabob
8. Another unidentified plastic thingamabob
9. 3 Christmas lights
10. Canuck's Rubik's cube
Labels: de-clutter, junk, recycling

Sunday, May 24, 2009

An Encounter with A Gila Monster

Over the years, I have hiked many times in the desert around Tucson. Until yesterday morning, I had never seen a Gila Moster. Yesterday, on my second hike up the Ventana Canyon Trail (I had been unable to rouse my wife for the early morning hike, we spotted a large, stubby lizard lumbering along the trail ahead of us. We were very excited to see this fat Gila (pronounced Hee la) monster. This is the only venomous lizard in the USA. This would account for its slow motion and fearless behaviour. Once we spotted it, the monster casually moved into the undercover for a couple of minutes and then decided to come right back to where we were. It plodded across a dusty trail and climbed over a rock within three feet of where we were standing. I was able to get an number of pretty close photos of this not-so-scary monster.

Tucson Arizona

It's springtime in the Sonoran desertand the cactus is blooming. This is a shot of a prickly pear in bloom. The weather here has been very strange for May according to the locals. When we arrived on the 15th of May the temperature was over 100 degrees F. It stayed that way for about four days and then heavy clouds set in. On Thursday it rained all day long. The desert flora was vibrant but since we were here to be warm and dry, we were only warm. However, the rain and clouds started to lighten and by Saturday it was beautiful and sunny once again.We stayed in Ventana Canyon where there are some great hiking trails that take you up the canyon and into the Santa Catalina mountains. The landscape is dominated by the Saguaro cactus which is an amazing creature. Impossibly huge and alien-looking, it grows in incredible abundance here. The Saguaro may visually dominate the landscape, but it is by no means alone. The desert here is teeming with flora and fauna.The Gila Woodpecker is a key player in Sonoran desert. By creating it's nest in the Saguaro, it also creates a home for many other desert creatures, once the woodpeckers have left the cavity.