The 100 Thing Challenge: Checking In

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I set out to tackle the 100 Thing Challenge, outlining my thoughts here.

Well my self-imposed deadline has past and I’ve dropped the ball. Probably one of the things I should have gotten rid of.

Truth is, once I set out to ‘declutter’, I found the biggest task was finding things to actually give up. Turns out maybe I don’t have as much stuff as I thought – at least not mine anyway. 9 times out of 10 when I come across something, it’s more ‘family’ or ‘household’ owned than just me, personally.

I never got around to actually counting what I had and intended to keep – something I should probably do. However, as I was wandering my house, trying desperately to find stuff to unload, I kept stumbling into road blocks. Can’t get rid of the Christmas tree stand. We need that. Is that considered mine anyway?

Oh, here’s that broken rocker/glider that Lyn wants fixed. Can’t get rid of that. Even though we’ve moved it 3 times and still haven’t ordered the replacement parts. Sigh. Not. My. Call.

The things I have the most of, it seems, pose the hardest question, and that is tools. I have a lot of tools. Over the years I’ve accumulated them performing various projects on all the houses we’ve had. I always justified the purchase and ownership of them with the fact that I was doing maintenance/projects – that it would cost me double to have someone else do – myself, but the fact of the matter is that I also enjoy having my tools and being able to do the work.

Could I get by and old school it with all hand tools? Maybe. Could I just rent tools as I needed them? Prolly. The sense of security having them on hand at all times ready to do whatever is needed (or wanted) at any time is worth something though.

I have, many times, enjoyed the acquisition of tools, from time to time indulging in ones that would ‘make things easier’, or ‘take less time’ than their hand operated or out-dated predecessors. Is that a bit too much ‘consumerism’? Maybe. I think my original tenet that the tools are used primarily for the good of the entire household still holds the most water in defense of their line-item exclusion from my 100 Things List.

Clothes and bike stuff, I think I still need to work on though. I shan’t get into that now.

In the end, even reading the book and thinking about the Challenge has made me reevaluate how and what I buy, and why. So that is a good thing. I definitely use it as a yardstick now when buying anything.

In closing, I have rid myself of some stuff, though I STILL have 3 baby gates that I’ve tried to GIVE away to no avail.

But I used to have 4, so even THAT is progress.

Taking The 100 Thing Challenge.

I recently finished the book The 100 Thing Challenge in which it’s author, Dave Bruno, attempts to live for a year with only 100 personal items. He did this in response his  fatigue with what he called ‘American Style Consumerisim‘ and in an effort to simplify his life and make more room for the important things. I highly recommend you read the book, whether you opt to take the challenge or not, as it has some great insights in it with regards to why and how we buy and collect ‘stuff’.

I’ve decided to take up this challenge myself, for better or worse and have set a tentative date of May 1st as the point of no return. As such I’ll be spending the winter ‘clearing the baffles’ so to speak and whittling down my possessions to my 100 (or dare I say sub-100?) list. I’ll be trying to document some of the process here and in future blog entires if you wanna read along. So a heads up: Don’t buy me anything.

Coming up with the list does pose some unique conundrums – some of which Dave provides his own solutions for in the book. One of the tenements of the Challenge is that it is and will be different for everyone, there are no steadfast rules. As such I’ve a few issues to work out myself.

Clothes

In his  book, Dave talks about limiting your clothes and counts each item of clothing as one item on the list. While I’d like to say I could do that, I don’t know if it’s as simple. For one, I live in an area of the world with a much different climate than him (San Diego vs, Fredericton, New Brunswick) and bottom line, I have seasonal requirements for more clothing items. Think LAYERS people, among other things. I’m not sure how I’m going to address this for the list yet. Currently I’m leaning towards counting categories or groups of clothes as one thing, i.e. ‘t-shirts’, ‘pants’, ‘hats and gloves’, etc. I do want to try and get rid of some of my clothes. I mean I have stuff in my closet that I never wear or I’m saving for one day, which I know will never come.

Bike Stuff

I have a lot of bike stuff. Both bikes and accessories. I’ve never had much guilt about it as I ride my bikes to work at least 50% of the time each year, even in lousy weather. My bikes aren’t super top of the line, but I have made some decent upgrades and especially when it comes to bike specific clothing/gear, I have in some cases bought quality stuff as it makes commuting in rain/sleet/snow that much more possible. I always have justified the expense of gear with the fact that it enables me to do more of something that is good for myself, the planet, and the pocketbook. That said I do plan to cull some stuff from the bike herd. I have a pretty good stockpile of ‘spare parts’ which I probably will never need and even if I do need replacements these are outdated. I hope to find some way to get rid of these without just trashing them.

This leaves me with my question of how this stuff relates to my 100 Things list. I feel that it’s important that I include it somehow and not exclude it offhand. For the clothes/gear, I’m leaning towards using the same method I mentioned above with regular clothes. That seems reasonable. With the bikes, well I’m thinking, realistically, I should count each bike as one ‘thing’. I mean, really I can only ride one at a time so any more than that are superfluous. If I’m going to keep more than one, I think I have to be willing to suck it up and count each one towards my 100 Thing list. I will probably include spare parts I do end up keeping for each bike as part of the bike, so essentially one ‘thing’ = bike and spare parts. We’ll see how it goes.

Books

Dave talks about this in his book and his final solution to the problem was to simply say he had one ‘library’ that encompassed his books. The ‘library’ counted as one ‘thing’. I’m ok with that. I don’t have a lot of books, but I have some that I’m fond of, and some I’ve even worked on or designed, so I’ll be keeping them. I still think there’s some that could go, and will, but I’ll be sticking with his idea of one ‘library’ counting as a thing.

CDs

I’ve got at least 900 CDs. Up until about a month ago, they’d been in boxes in the basement for the better part of 2 years. By example that would mean that really, according to the 100 Thing Challenge, I don’t really need ’em and they should go. Part of the reason they were in boxes is simply because I had no logical place to store them while I refinished my basement. But as time passed, I’d kinda forgotten about them. I would think about them sometimes, on several occasions even digging into boxes to pull out specific ones to burn to my iTunes library, but the simple fact is that the bulk of my music (all 140GB of it) now resides on my computer and I don’t see any going back. I’ve talked from time to time with Lyn about taking the CDs to the used CD joint and just making a few bucks (prolly far few than I think they’re emotionally worth, sniff, sniff) but then I’d be done with it.

As a designer, I’ve got a huge attachment to the album art, sleeves, liner notes, and packaging that these represent. The physical object is hard to let go of, even I really have no need of them anymore. Several times I’ve said to myself that I’d get rid of them once I’d burned them all to my computer but the reality is that not only would that take forever, it would eat up huge volumes of hard drive space I don’t have. I’d have to buy an external drive to hold it all and it seems I’d be just setting myself up for a huge heartbreak when that drive eventually takes a huge shit like they all eventually do. (One thing working on computers all my life has taught me is that no information stored anywhere is permanent, it can go away in the blink of an eye and we should all accept this fact, it makes things easier.)

Right now, my current frame of mind is to go through them, cull the really meaningful and/or out-of-print ones and either keep those or burn ’em to the Mac and sell/dump the rest. We’ll see what happens. I’ve thought about applying the ‘book library’ idea here, and calling this ‘one music library’, but the difference is, I can easily convert these physical CDs to digital files and save the space/clutter. To do that with books I’d have to actually re-buy the books. I’m not sure I’m down with the ‘audio library’ idea. Like I said, we’ll see.

One idea I am toying with is if I do ditch all the CDs, trying to do something with the artwork from inside them, some sort of mural or something. I dunno. Haven’t fully flushed it out yet. I have some that are autographed as well and thought those would be kinda cool if framed nice.

Tools/Lawn and Garden

Although Dave talks about ditching his fine woodworking tools and streamlining his toolkit down to a few essential tools, I’m not gonna go that route. I don’t harbor any fantasies of ever being a fine woodworker, but what I do have is an hyperactive DIY drive. Being that we live in a pretty rural area and in addition to getting extreme satisfaction from doing stuff on/around the property myself, it saves money, I try to do as much home maintenance/renovation as possible myself. (I’m currently in the midst of an – ahem – 2 year basement refinish that is about 50% done. Hey, I work on it when I can.) I’ve accrued a pretty good arsenal of tools, but I’m also adamant about maintaining them properly so hopefully they will last indefinitely. Self-sustainablity and resourcefulness, I think Dave would agree, are both 100 Thing Challenge compliant. And even if he doesn’t, as he says so many times in the book, this is my list, not his.

For the above reasons, as well as the fact that all of the stuff is used for the benefit of everyone who lives here not just me, I’ve decided to not count tools, hardware and lawn and garden stuff (snowblower, lawnmower, etc) in my 100 Things list. I consider that stuff ‘household’ goods.

So the whittling down will commence. I’ll post up my list and revisions of it leading up to my May 1st date once I have it going. Stay tuned.

Whole lotta #meh.

At three different points this weekend I’ve thought ‘I should blog about that.’ I think one of them might have even been on a moderately interesting topic. Alas, the ‘meh’ won. The to-do list or whatever else was going on. Fatigue. Forgot it. Dog ate my homework.

I finished Country Gentleman Mat’s bike. Had to consult my bike guru Nature on high in the Colorado Rockies for some sage tech advice.

I’ve taken on redesign/maintenance/social media personification for The Nashwaak Watershed Association. I wanted to get involved regarding what’s going on in my neck of the woods.Y’know. ‘Cause I don’t have enough to do. And I’ve sorta ‘meh’d’ that off lately as well.

Research for that did however lead me to some great work/folks/product/codery at Studiopress which has inspired me to want to host my own site again over at kentfackenthall.com – ‘meh’ central.

I’ve got some other freelance in the hopper that I’m ‘meh’ing on as well. Mayhaps because I’m a bit pissed off (and quite strapped coming into the holiday season) as I’m 4months out on some other invoices that a freelance client hasn’t paid. Hard to ‘meh’ that off, but have to try.

Still reading and working on the 100 Thing Challenge. I was going to sell my CDs and got them out of the boxes to catalogue them so I could send a list over to Backstreet and see what they wanted and then I became re-infatuated with them. Dammit.

So this weekend was supposed to be all, or at the very least some of the above. Instead it was baking chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies, watching the Habs shit the bed, yet again, even after the axe fell on Martin, and a 4H hike to see a waterfall that almost was only the trail was blocked by high water/ice.

Meh.

Forty and One Hundred Things.

It may have to do with my recent passing of 40 years on this rock – even though I tend to not give much credence to hoopla regarding inevitable milestones – but in an effort to get my literal and proverbial House in order, and on the recommendation of semi-retired country gentleman┬«, Mat Trevors, I’m now reading The 100 Thing Challenge and hope to impart some measure of wisdom and inspiration from within.

I’m pretty sure that I’m already really screwing things up. Although I did manage to unload a bunch of spare bike parts collecting dust to Mat for his winter project (+1 for purging, +1 for karma), I did it in return for copious fly fishing gear. (-1 for accumulation of material goods, -1 for I don’t know when the when the hell I was thinking I will have time to fish).

Back at evens.

Do stay tuned and read along as I hope to muse about the process here.

Mat would be happy to know that I bought the ebook version.