Monday, May 30, 2011

The Filter Bubble

book

The last time I read — or rather, heard — something about filters that really grabbed me, it was Clay Shirky's talk: It's Not Information Overload, It's Filter Failure. And certainly, with the huge amount of information at our fingertips, we need to make filtering decisions all the time: What will we pay attention to, and what will we ignore?

But what happens when filtering is going on, and it's invisible to us — and sometimes out of our control? That's what Eli Pariser addresses in The Filter Bubble.

Pariser agrees that we are "overwhelmed by a torrent of information" leading to "what blogger and media analyst Steve Rubel calls the attention crash." Pariser continues: "So when personalized filters offer a hand, we're inclined to take it."

And we've "always consumed media that appealed to our interests and avocations and ignored much of the rest," he says. The difference, according to Pariser, is that now we each have our individual one-person bubble, it's largely invisible, and it's not something we make a conscious choice about entering.

Did you realize that when you search on Google, your search results are being personalized — so what you see quite likely isn't what I see? You can disable at least much of this personalization, but I'll bet most people don't do this. (I actually did do this once upon a time, and then found I was annoyed when Google Maps didn't remember any of the locations I had searched for in the past. So exiting the bubble takes at least a small toll on efficiency.)

Did you know that your Facebook newsfeed may have been altered to only "show posts from friends and Pages you interact with the most"? Again, this is something you can control — but how many people know this is an option?

While personalization can help us manage our time, directing us to the things we care about the most, it also has some implications which are not so positive. As Pariser writes:
Democracy requires citizens to see things from one another's point of view, but instead we're more and more enclosed in our own bubbles. Democracy requires a reliance on shared facts; instead, we're being offered parallel but separate universes.
And with filtering, we're less likely to have the moments of serendipity, where we stumble upon things we never would have known to search out. Again, quoting Pariser:
In the filter bubble, there's less room for the chance encounters that bring insight and learning.
Pariser argues that the companies who control what we see have an "enormous curatorial power." Here's one of his questions related to Google:
If a 9/11 conspiracy theorist searches for "9/11," was it Google's job to show him the Popular Mechanics article that debunks his theory or the movie that supports it?
He also points out that some web services do indeed let us control our filters:
Twitter makes it pretty straightforward to manage your filter and understand what's showing up and why whereas Facebook makes it nearly impossible. All other things being equal, if you're concerned about having control over your filter bubble, better to use services like Twitter than services like Facebook.
Since reading this book, I've been thinking a bit more about who I follow on Twitter, trying to ensure I'm seeing diverse voices, while still avoiding an overwhelming number of voices.

If you want to learn a bit more about the filter bubble concept, without (or before) picking up the book, here are some web resources:
- The Filter Bubble TED Talk
- 10 Ways to Pop Your Filter Bubble

For some other reactions to the book, you can read:
- David Karpf's thoughts
- The discussion on MetaFilter

Finally, here's a little organizing-related quote I found buried in this book, where Pariser quotes Scott Heiferman, the founder of MeetUp.com:
"We don't need more things," he says. "People are more magical than iPads!"

1 Important Rule for Avoiding Clothes and Shoe Clutter

pair of shoes

I'm not really into fashion, but I spent quite some time yesterday reading through Closet Visit, where Jeanna Sohn "visits creative, inspiring and stylish ladies' closets."

What caught my attention was this refrain:

Joanna Williams: "Buy what you love. I know that sounds cliché and ridiculous, but don't buy those things that you're pondering over. You'll regret spending the money and wish you would have bought something else."

Jesse Kamm: "Buy what makes you feel great. If it is not a must, leave it on the rack for someone else."

Sunshine C. Fox: "Just because it's inexpensive doesn't always make it a good purchase; buy only the things that make your heart sing."

And, of course, the same "buy what you love" caution can apply to everything we purchase, not just our clothes and shoes.

Related Posts:
Karim Rashid On Shopping, Clutter, and More
The Uncluttered Closet: Keeping Only the Clothes You Love
Carefully Curating What We Own

Photo by SewPixie, licensed under Creative Commons. "I love them," she says.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Valet Stands: What They Are and Why You Might Want One

wood valet stand

One way to minimize the morning rush is to decide the night before what you'll be wearing the next day — and then you could assemble that next-day wardrobe on a valet stand. (A modified version of this approach is the valet rod that many closet companies offer.) Some valet stands also provide a place for your wallet, change, etc. — so everything you need can be assembled in one place. Those who dress formally — in suits, etc. — would get more benefit from a valet stand than those of us who dress fairly casually. But all of us can admire the nice products available to us — although some might be difficult to get outside of Europe.

The gentlemen's valet stand shown above comes from Stephen Morris Furniture - and you can also find it at Not on the High Street.


mahogany valet stand

And if you have a lot of money to spend, you could consider the mahogany valet stand from Hermès.


chrome valet stand

Of course, not all valet stands are wood. Here's the Flamingo 2 valet stand from D-Tec.


white valet stand or clothes rack

And then there are the valet stands that seem more suited for casual use, such as this one designed by Gabriella Gustafsson for Design House Stockholm. It's described as "an alternative to the 'clothes chair' (you know the one, the chair in the bedroom that you throw all your clothes over)." Luminaire is another U.S. distributor. This could work beautifully as a place to store those semi-dirty clothes we all grapple with.


white resin sculptural valet stand

But for pure fun, it would be hard to beat this valet de nuit, which comes to us from MADE 75 in Paris.

Related Posts:
Care for Your Clothes with a Valet Stand
Bedroom Elegance: The Clothes Valet Stand

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Purging the Book Collection: The Nonfiction Edition

stacks of gardening books

I had no issue getting rid of my fiction paperbacks and most old school books years ago. My cookbooks and sewing/needlework & gardening books are another story. It's interesting that most "declutter the books" posts seem geared toward fiction. — comment from JustGail on my last book decluttering post

JustGail, that's an interesting observation! So let's focus on the nonfiction in this post. There's the obvious set of questions to ask yourself when going through those books, such as: Am I still interested in this type of cooking, gardening or crafting? Can I find similar information on the web if I ever want it? But I'm guessing you already know that, so I went looking for other people's perspectives, to see if I could find anything useful for you.

Over on Chowhound, there was a long Q &A with Mark Bittman, which included this exchange:
Scottbowling: Hi, Mark! Could you offer any suggestions for a home cook who wants to take his or her cooking up to the next level or branch out to different cuisines? What do you do when you're feeling adventurous in the kitchen?

Mark Bittman: You just keep cooking; you get new cookbooks and try new things and you try different versions of the same thing. Eventually, you give the cookbooks away. But that takes a while.

The Dairy Queen: Dear Mr. Bittman, wait, you say above "eventually you give the cookbooks away?" Don't you need to continue to refer to them for reference? How do you decide which books to keep and which to give away?

OMGTehAwsome: I'm no Mark Bittman, but I can answer #1. You give them away when you longer need them and feel comfortable enough that you can improvise if you have to. I used to follow the same recipe for focaccia word for word. After a while I'd just verify my quantities now and then, "was it a cup or a cup and a quarter?" At this point I just know it by heart, though I might still add a little extra rosemary. But I just like rosemary.
And here's just a tiny part of a wonderful long post by Adam Roberts, called The Great Cookbook Purge of 2009. Go read the whole post; it's delightful.
I lifted the first book: the Larousse Gastronomique. An enormous red tome, this is the French encyclopedia of gastronomy, filled with French cooking techniques and dishes and even recipes. But did I ever use it? NEVER. A big, all-caps NEVER. The few times I'd lifted it off the shelf to study it, I found myself flipping through the pages dutifully, but unenthusiastically. I'd never found anything I wanted to cook in there. And when, in the course of my cooking life, I came across a French cooking term or technique I needed to learn, I didn't turn to Larousse: I turned to the internet. So why did I need it? I didn't. And did I love it? The answer was no.

So I put it in a pile. And then I continued. Oh, how I continued. ...

It all comes down to trust. Do you use it, do you love it, but—most importantly—do you trust it? The ones that I kept are books that I trust absolutely.
Moving on to gardening, here's something from Amy Stewart of Garden Rant, who did a garden book purge after an earthquake dumped the books on the floor, which sort of jump-started the process. OK, she owns a bookstore, so it's not quite the same as for those of us who don't, but her words might still be helpful. After all, we can still find books at our local libraries — or someone else's bookstore.
I'm motivated to do a garden book purge in part because I need the bookshelf space, but in part because I just want to lighten my load psychologically. Because we own a bookstore, it's much easier for me to let go of books. I know that I can always get more if I need them. There's something about owning 50,000 books that are all neatly shelved and arranged at the store. It makes me feel like I can let go of some of the ones I have here.

What do I find myself keeping? Books that my friends wrote. Books with beautiful pictures. A few indispensable reference books. But that's it. The rest of it can go.
And here's a post from Julia about purging a number of things, including a stack of knitting books. The whole post is interesting; this is just a short part of it.
Part of this was just being pragmatic: paring down books that basically repeated information I have in other, more frequently used books. Some had patterns I once thought I’d make but no longer fancied – and, in some cases, couldn’t imagine why on earth I thought that was a good look in the first place. Others had patterns I still thought I might one day make if I met someone who could perhaps kind of get away with wearing that sweater.

But if it hadn’t happened in five or ten years, I think I can accept that it probably wasn’t going to happen. So if you’ve been holding your breath, waiting for the color block cardigan with removable zippered sleeves, I’m sorry.

I also realized that I acquired a number of these books at a time when there weren’t so many knitting websites around. Now I can get a lot of these patterns – or similar ones – online. Or I can check the books out of the library. In other words, let the public library and the internet house the clutter. It’s outta here!
Finally, for more on the subject, you might look at these prior posts:
Decluttering the Cookbooks
Books: Weeding the Collection

[photo by ulle.b, licensed under Creative Commons]

Monday, May 23, 2011

Storing Shoes of All Shapes and Sizes

display / storage rack for high heels

You've gotten rid of the shoes you no longer need in your life — given them to Soles4Souls, perhaps. (I'll be participating in a shoe drive for this organization beginning on June 1 — more on this soon.) And now it's time to store the shoes you're keeping.

I've been seeing lots of creative options lately — such as the gymnasium wall bars from Rochesters, which work well for heels.


display / storage for trainers / running shoes

For storing a different kind of shoe, there's Hold My Trainer, sold by Bouf.


rack for baby shoes

And yet another type of specialized storage is Boon's Curl — a baby shoe rack.


stackable shoe boxes

Want something that will handle all types of shoes? There's ShoeTrap, a series of stackable shoe boxes of various sizes. [via The Shelving Store]


wall-mounted cabinet for shoes

And then there's the Shoe Box wall cabinet from Kristalia, sold by Unica Home. [via Apartment Therapy]


shoe basket

Just want to store a few pairs of shoes — by the door, perhaps? Here's a shoe basket, designed for boat use — but certainly usable in other situations.

Related Posts
The Definitive Guide: 15 Ways to Store the Shoes
Stashing the Shoes: Yet More Options
Fancy-Schmancy Shoe Storage for Your Closet

Friday, May 20, 2011

Large Storage Pieces: Blanket Chests

blanket chest

Looking for a lovely way to store spare blankets — or pillows, sweaters, etc.? A blanket chest could be the answer. The one above comes from Pompanoosuc Mills, which sells blanket chests in various styles and sizes. All the chests have cedar bottoms.


blanket chest

Here's a gorgeous blanket chest from Morgan Woodworks, featured on the wonderful CustomMade web site.


blanket chest

This blanket chest from Peter S. Turner is another one I found via CustomMade.


Zebrawood blanket chest

Pat Camara sells his beautiful blanket chests on his Etsy store.


blanket chest, painted

Moving beyond the "just gorgeous wood" look, there's this fanciful blanket chest created by Mark Ragonese.


blanket chest with marquetry flowers

Craig Thibodeau of CT Fine Furniture makes this blanket chest with its "marquetry imagery of white gladiola flower." You can find another of his blanket chests at Artful Home.


blue blanket chest

Somerset Bay provides blanket chests in 18 different finishes; one place to get them is Posh Tots.


antique blanket chest

HL Chalfant sells American Fine Art and Antiques — including a number of blanket chests. They aren't all as expensive as this one is.


blanket chest, partially painted green with snowflakes

And for a new approach to the blanket chest, see the pieces created by Andrew Pitts. His work is also featured at Artful Home.

Related Posts:
Big Beautiful Boxes: Blanket Chests
Big Beautiful Boxes: Hope Chests

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Defining Your Own "What I Need to Shred" Policy



What do I need to shred? The answer to that question isn't as simple as you might think. Some things are obvious: You'll want to shred anything with your social security number, for example. But when it comes to what else needs to get shredded, there are many gray areas. So let's look some recommendations that can help you set your own personal "what gets shredded" policy.

Your Credit Advisor has a useful way of looking at the issue; it breaks down different bits of information as having low, medium and high sensitivity.
Low: full name, address, phone number

Medium: date of birth, birthplace, mother's maiden name

High: social security number, bank account number, credit card number, PIN or password
How does this match up with the "expert" what-to-shred advice? Reasonably well, but far from perfectly — and, of course, the experts don't entirely agree.

The FTC says: "To thwart an identity thief who may pick through your trash or recycling bins to capture your personal information, always shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards that you're discarding, and credit offers you get in the mail."

The FTC also says: "To thwart a medical identity thief who may pick through your trash or recycling bins to capture your personal and medical information, shred your health insurance forms and prescription and physician statements. It’s also a good idea to destroy the labels on your prescription bottles and packages before you throw them out."

The Washington State Office of the Attorney General says: "Dumpster diving, or rifling through trash cans for personal information, is a tactic used by identity thieves. You are taking a terrible risk if you don’t shred sensitive material. ... Destroy all sensitive information including bank and credit card statements you no longer need, carbon-copy charge receipts with your account information, insurance forms, physician bills, etc. ... Destroy all sensitive information including junk mail and paperwork that includes account numbers, birth dates, passwords and PINs, signatures, Social Security numbers. To protect your privacy, you should also consider shredding items that include names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses."

Experian, in writing about identity theft, says: "If you decide not to accept a pre-approved credit offer, shred it before you throw it away. That goes for any other document imprinted with your Social Security number, date of birth, driver's license, phone number and any type of financial account or utility account number. Your trash can be a gold mine for thieves, so make sure this critical information is shredded before it leaves your house."

A writer for the Fraud Prevention Unit of the Regional Federal Credit Union says: "In general, you should shred documents that contain any of the following: account numbers, passwords, PINs, signatures, Social Security number, date of birth. Basically, this is all the information that could be used by an identity thief to impersonate you. I also like to shred anything that has my name, address, email address, phone number and other less-sensitive information. Yes, I know most of this information is available in the phone book. It’s just a privacy thing. Still, not everybody needs to know I subscribe to Mother Earth News and Writer’s Digest.

"Oh wait, I guess now everybody does know."

The New York Times addressed this issue by consulting with Paul Stephens of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. Not surprisingly, he recommends shredding "anything that has your Social Security number and any account information" as well as courtesy checks from banks, credit card offers and applications, and "anything related to taxes and receipts with your signature." But there are also some more unusual suggestions:
There are other papers he recommends shredding, including any kinds of mailings from your financial institution (like advertisements or changes of terms). While such papers don’t have your account information, they do “give the fraudster a little more information” that could be used to commit identity theft, Mr. Stephens said.
The Times also notes:
When it comes to a document that just has your name and address, you may feel comfortable throwing it away if that information is listed and publicly available elsewhere, he said, especially if it’s just a catalog or an advertisement that isn’t from a financial institution. Still, “our recommendation would be to shred it anyway,” Mr. Stephens said.

As for receipts that just show the last four digits of your card number, Mr. Stephens said it’s O.K. to just trash those if they don’t have your signature.
Let's also look at the advice from Fellowes. Since the company sells shredders it obviously has cause to encourage you to shred more rather than less — but its recommended Top 20 list generally makes a lot of sense.
It's not difficult to determine what you should shred. Essentially, any document containing information that you don't want others to have should be shredded. People who buy their first shredder are surprised as they often end up shredding twice as much as they expected. It's a simple step that goes a long way toward securing your information. Here's a brief list of documents that should be shredded:

1. Obsolete financial records, including loan applications
2. Pre-approved credit card applications
3. Personal medical records or physician statements
4. Correspondence and tax preparation worksheets
5. Receipts for purchases
6. Bank statements
7. ATM receipts
8. Credit card statements
9. Cancelled checks
10. Mail and old records
11. Utility bills
12. Credit card charges
13. Insurance forms
14. Investment transactions
15. Expired charge cards
16. Mailing labels from magazines
17. Pay stubs
18. Old driver's licenses or passports
19. Expired insurance and membership cards
20. Any documents that may contain Social Security numbers, birth dates, your mother's maiden name and any account numbers or online passwords
And then there are the contrarians. This comes from security expert Bruce Schneier: "Years ago, when giving advice on how to avoid identity theft, I would tell people to shred their trash. Today, that advice is completely obsolete. No one steals credit card numbers one by one out of the trash when they can be stolen by the millions from merchant databases."

So what shredding policies do you want to set for your own household? Well, what's your idea of an acceptable risk? And how concerned are you about privacy, since there's information you may not want to share, even if it's never used for attempted identity theft?

Do you need to shred everything with your name and address? Since that information is often already easily found, many people say no — but others say "It can't hurt, and it might help." Ultimately, it's your own risk management decision.

However, I would definitely consider shredding papers with anyone else's address, phone number and e-mail address — and especially any multi-person listings of such information in a school or church directory, for example. It just seems like the courteous thing to do, since you've been given access to someone else's sensitive information.

And please don't set your personal policy based on the fact that you don't have a good shredder, and shredding is therefore a pain in the butt. Invest in a good shredder, or take your shredding to one of the many places that provides shredding services, such as Office Depot.

Photo: Fellowes PS-79ci shredder — the one I own. I found it selling for much less than the list price.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Carefully Curating What We Own

ergonomic office chair

I often write about books I've found enlightening, but today I want to point to an essay: The Last Viridian Note, by Bruce Sterling, written in 2008. You don't need to know anything about the Viridian Design Movement to appreciate the points Sterling is making — and making very well, indeed. Here are some excerpts, which I hope will inspire you to go read more. (You may want to skip over the first 15 or so paragraphs, though.)
It's not bad to own fine things that you like. What you need are things that you GENUINELY like. Things that you cherish, that enhance your existence in the world. The rest is dross. ...

The things that you use every day should be the best-designed things you can get. For instance, you cannot possibly spend too much money on a bed. ... The same goes for a working chair. Notice it. Take action. Bad chairs can seriously injure you from repetitive stresses. Get a decent ergonomic chair. ...

You will need to divide your current possessions into four major categories.
1. Beautiful things.
2. Emotionally important things.
3. Tools, devices, and appliances that efficiently perform a useful function.
4. Everything else.

"Everything else" will be by far the largest category. ... You should document these things. Take their pictures, their identifying makers' marks, barcodes, whatever, so that you can get them off eBay or Amazon if, for some weird reason, you ever need them again. ... Then remove them from your time and space.

Beautiful things are important. If they're truly beautiful, they should be so beautiful that you are showing them to people. They should be on display: you should be sharing their beauty with others. ...

All of us have sentimental keepsakes that we can't bear to part with. ... Is this keepsake so very important that you would want to share its story with your friends, your children, your grandchildren? ...

You will be told that you should "make do" with broken or semi-broken tools, devices and appliances. Unless you are in prison or genuinely crushed by poverty, do not do this. ... There is nothing more "materialistic" than doing the same household job five times because your tools suck. Do not allow yourself to be trapped in time-sucking black holes of mechanical dysfunction.
Photo: The Think chair, from Steelcase — one of many ergonomic options

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Burlap Baskets

basket / coffee sack basket
basket from coffee sacks

Burlap baskets provide interesting storage at not-astronomical prices. Over at Brin and Nohl, Jody makes some nice coffee sack baskets. You can also find her baskets at Shop to Be Green - and at Hunt and Gather in Australia. In Canada, eNanoo has recycled coffee sack baskets from an unidentified source; they look similar to the Bring and Nohl products.


bucket made from recycled coffee bean sacks

ShaggyBaggy also buckets made from recycled coffee bean sacks.


storage baskets from recycled coffee sacks

Henry Road takes those recycled coffee sacks and lines them with striped fabric to make some distinctive storage. [via OrganizingLA and Apartment Therapy]


two burlap baskets - one says Mr., one Mrs.

But not all burlap buckets have the coffee sack look - as you can see from these Mr. and Mrs. burlap baskets from Jennifer Lyons.


Burlap baskets, says Sprout

Finally, Happy Girlz Design makes burlap baskets with your choice of a word.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

In Honor of My Mom: Organizing in Blue

blue wall-mounted wine rack

Tradition! On this fourth anniversary of my mom's death, I'm once again remembering her with a post featuring blue organizing products — blue being her favorite color. That wine rack above is the Vynebar, which comes in a number of colors. [via ShelterPop]


fabric magnet board, blue and white pattern, framed

This lovely framed magnet board comes from Elegance Farm Homestead. The boards are available in different sizes and fabrics.


blue felted magnets

FELTgood makes these magnets — available in a range of colors — good for a magnet board, a refrigerator, or whatever else works with magnets in your home or office. Update on May 9, 2013: FELTgood seems to have disappeared.


blue elk magnet

Or for something more whimsical, take a look at this elk magnet; it's available in six other colors, too. Update on May 9, 2013: The store that sold these seems to have disappeared. 


French ribbon memory board with hummingbirds on turquoise background

For another kind of memo board, here's a French ribbon memo board from Kayskrafts — one of many patterns available.


Pantone color tin box - blue

Over at The Holding Company you can get this Pantone colour tin box, in Pantone 286 — or one of nine other colors.


fabric basket with birds and eggs on a blue background; yellow interior

Moving on to baskets and bins, here's one of the fabric baskets from NeedleNook Creations.


blue basket

This basket comes from Georgia Mills — a carpet company! There are six color options. Update on May 9, 2013: Georgia Mills no longer sells these baskets.


bookcase with blue shelf

Finally, let's admire the SR Bookcase from Scout Regalia, with the pretty shelf that looks close to Tiffany-box blue. This is a product with lots of color options; "a range of 210 paint colors and sealed wood options are available." [via Better Living Through Design]

Related Posts
In Honor of My Mom (2008)
In Honor of My Mom (2009)
In Honor of My Mom (2010)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Organizing with Felt: Pails, Boxes and Baskets

felt pail / bucket

Organizing with pails? That's not so odd - but I've never seen felt pails before! These were designed by Monika Piatkowski of Hive, and you can get them at Theo Theo and at Bouf. The ones at Bouf say PAIL on them; it seems as though the ones at Theo Theo do not. [via Swiss Miss and Better Living Through Design. Update on Feb. 18, 2013: I'm no longer finding these at Theo Theo.


gray felt box with bamboo lid

Over at Branch you can get the "Friend" felt box with a bamboo top, from Shine Labs - allowing you to have the softness of felt while still being able to stack the containers. It comes in orange and charcoal. [via Four Walls, a Floor, and a Roof]


felt basket

And here's one more: the felt basket at Chic by Design, with four color options.

Related Posts:
Soft Storage: Felt Baskets or Boxes
An Homage to Etsy: Felted Bowls, Incredible Baskets, and More
Fabulous Felt Boxes and Baskets

Friday, May 6, 2011

Watches to Keep You On Time - In Style

white analog watch

Who wears a wristwatch anymore? — Matthew Battles, The Atlantic

I do! I love my laptop, iPad and iPhone — but I still wear a watch. If I'm working with a client, or taking a walk, or having coffee with someone, it's easier (and less disruptive) to look down at my wrist than to pull the iPhone out of my purse. So for those of you who are like me, here are some nice watches I've seen recently. All of these come in multiple colors, not just the ones shown here.

When it comes to clocks and watches, I like simple and elegant — and easy to read. And that's what you get from Uniform Wares watches, one of which is shown above. For those in the U.S., one place to find these watches is Horne. [via Better Living Through Design and Switched On Set]


brown analog watch with brown strap

When I last wrote about watches, someone mentioned the good old Timex watch, which has the Indiglo lighted-dial feature — very handy at night. Now you can get the Timex Originals — "classic Timex reissues spanning the 20th century" — with the same feature. [via Uncrate - the source for that quote, too]


analog watch, stainless steel, gray leather strap

Moving up in price, Plus Minus Zero has a lovely watch with a changeable band. You can purchase it through twentytwentyone or Japan Trend Shop.


very expensive watch

And finally, just for fun, let me alert you to the Girard-Perregaux Opera Three watch - which has a "miniature carillon" composed of a keyboard and a drum and plays your choice of Mozart or Tchaikovsky. List price? $560,000, although you can get it for a mere $420,000. [via The Atlantic]

Related Post
Watches - Because Some of Us Still Rely on Them to Keep Us on Track

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May 2011 Organizing Tips and More

Union Jack magnetic board

After a few months where I didn't publish a newsletter, my May 2011 newsletter is now available.

Tip of the Month: Organizing for the Unpredictable

Product of the Month: Cool Britannia Union Jack magnetic notice boards from Beyond the Fridge

Additional Reading: Feng Shui for Small Spaces, with my nine small-space organizing tips

Also: Organizing Quotes of the Month

If you'd like to get my newsletter by e-mail, you can subscribe.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Organizing the Memorabilia: Preserving Newspapers


Modesto Bee on May 2, 2011 - image from Newseum

If you want to keep certain newspapers — the paper from the day your child was born, papers that feature friends or family members, papers capturing historic events — then it's worth knowing how to save them properly.

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources on the web to help us out, including:
- How can I preserve an important edition of a newspaper? from the National Archives
- Preserving Newspaper Mementos, from Newseum
- Preserving Newspapers, by Kathy Ludwig with Bryan Johnson (a PDF version of the Minnesota History Interpreter)
- Preserving Newspapers, from the CUA Libraries
- Preserving Newspapers, from the Charlotte Museum of History (PDF)

You'll want to store them flat, not folded. Keep them away from the light, and store them somewhere that doesn't have large fluctuations in temperature and humidity. You're looking for somewhere cool and dry: 60-70 degrees F and 40-50% relative humidity are ideal. (Attics, basements and garages are generally not recommended.) And you'll want to save them in acid-free containers.


newspaper storage box

To get the supplies suggested by these articles, you can go to Gaylord, Light Impressions, or Hollinger Metal Edge. (The photo above shows some newspaper storage boxes from Hollinger Metal Edge.)

Update on Feb. 13, 2012: There are reports of numerous problems with Light Impressions, so you may want to buy elsewhere. Besides the companies mentioned above, another one I've heard recommended is Talas.