End artificial scarcities to increase productivity
December 27, 2011 10:55 AM   Subscribe

Artificial scarcities imprison the modern human. End artificial scarcities to increase productivity.
posted by jjray (87 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Surprisingly, there's an ad for Staples on that page.
posted by box at 10:58 AM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is pretty good. I'm a cheap bastard, so I really hate buying even the first, let alone duplicate, items. That said, I loled at this:
When the item arrives, my wife uses a label maker to note the appropriate home location of the item:

The labels ensure that items accidentally left out of their place are soon returned to their home location.
Oh if only. There are times in my house when pieces of furniture go missing, let alone chapsticks.
posted by DU at 11:01 AM on December 27, 2011 [18 favorites]


I'm glad I'm not the only person who likes to have a Sharpie, screwdriver, etc. on every floor of the house. I'm going to email this to Mrs. exogenous but she'll probably still think I'm a freak.
posted by exogenous at 11:09 AM on December 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


FTA: Try keeping a small pad of paper under each phone along with a few pens and pencils assigned to that pad.

There isn't much room under my phone, pockets don't really go that deep. Beside it maybe.
posted by idiopath at 11:10 AM on December 27, 2011


Starts with a really interesting title and then makes it incredibly boring by talking about individual consumption choices instead of institutionalized scarcity.
posted by fartron at 11:10 AM on December 27, 2011 [29 favorites]


Is this one of them there lifehacks I hear so much about?
posted by entropicamericana at 11:12 AM on December 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I got fed up with never having pens around. So did what he suggested and just bought $20 of cheap pens. It was awesome. There were always (and still are) some in my car, some in my room, I would leave pens at students homes, and then soon there would be a small cache of pens there for us to use. Haven't bought pens since then, about two years ago. I dunno if it's cost effective, and I must have lost a lot of pens, (though when I clean my room or car I find at least a dozen each time hiding in weird places), but I like not worrying about pens.
posted by Garm at 11:12 AM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some artificial scarcities not mentioned:

diamonds
recorded music
movies
software
beer and hot dogs at the ballpark
posted by idiopath at 11:15 AM on December 27, 2011 [21 favorites]


When the item arrives, my wife uses a label maker to note the appropriate home location of the item: The labels ensure that items accidentally left out of their place are soon returned to their home location.

I want to meet this guy's kids just to hear about the ad absurdum places this sort of behavior eventually takes their family. Like they're growing up with an Inside Dog, a Front Yard Dog and a Back Yard Dog because their father realized it would be more productive if a dog were played with every time the kids went somewhere there could potentially be a dog. Also the dogs are labelled.
posted by griphus at 11:17 AM on December 27, 2011 [57 favorites]


Also label makers. I like to leave one at every location where I might stop to think of things that need lables. You never know when you're going to have to label something to make sure the whole fucking inventory of the whole fucking world stays exactly the way I need it to be.
posted by pracowity at 11:19 AM on December 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


Some artificial scarcities not mentioned:

I can't tell you how blown my mind was when I finally got my head around the fact that artificial scarcity in Magic: The Gathering -- any CCG, really -- wasn't (entirely) a profit-mongering dick move on the part of WoTC, but actually one of the components that made the game fun for casual play.
posted by griphus at 11:21 AM on December 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


When I read that title, the first thing that comes to mind is SAVE KEYS TO OPEN DOORS.

But primarily, what idiopath said.
posted by JHarris at 11:21 AM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


institutionalized scarcity.

Yeah I was thinking about how "limited edition" and artificially low production numbers keep the "luxury brand" industry afloat and how some personal fabrication people want all of them to come with #D scanners cause otherwise it'll just be for hobbyists and not the industry-changing replicator/teleporter they want This article is more like the argument I have with my SO that we don't need to pack everything we own for a trip cause we're not going to Inner Mongolia, we're going to Boston. They have stores there.
posted by The Whelk at 11:21 AM on December 27, 2011


That's why I have a set of parents on each floor.

Also, one can realize further efficiencies by never changing location.
posted by zippy at 11:22 AM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


My colleagues and I realized this over beer: dry erase markers cost almost nothing, yet a lecture hall never contains functioning dry erase markers.

He lost me with his very first example. The reason lecture halls never contain functioning dry erase markers is because the markers dry out. Buying dry erase markers in bulk is really only a good way to ensure that you have a ridiculously large number of dried-out dry erase markers. You're still not going to end up trying to right on the board in the least-dried-out, barely-functional marker, it's just going to take you longer to figure out which one that is.

There are definitely interesting things to say about artificial scarcity but "just buy more of the stuff" doesn't really do it for me. Also, give it a couple of decades and his house is gonna be ready for an episode of Hoarders.
posted by mstokes650 at 11:23 AM on December 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


I used to forget my phone charger at the office over the weekend and be tense all weekend about my phone battery running out. The purchase of a second charger was worth many times over in peace of mind the small amount I paid for it.
posted by spacewaitress at 11:24 AM on December 27, 2011


You're still not going to => You're still going to
posted by mstokes650 at 11:24 AM on December 27, 2011


I'm glad I'm not the only person who likes to have a Sharpie, screwdriver, etc. on every floor of the house.
posted by exogenous


I have a large collection of very tiny salt shakers, and leave one every place anything is likely to be eaten.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:25 AM on December 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dry erase crayons do not dry out, though they're probably way more expensive than expo markers.
posted by modernserf at 11:29 AM on December 27, 2011


They're also tougher to clean off - you need a wet paper towel. On the other hand, they generally don't stain the whiteboard if you leave it on too long.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:32 AM on December 27, 2011


What I find with pens is that they will follow the concentration gradient. Pens migrate from areas of high pen concentration to low pen concentration. Once you view the problem in this manner, there are a number of corollaries and inferences you can make.

1. If your plan for keeping pens where they are needed involves fighting this concentration gradient, you will spend lots of (wasted )effort fighting this force.

2. If you want to distribute pens in all of the places you need them to be, create a concentration gradient by loading up pens in one spot.

3. You can figure out how many pens you need to stock by measuring the flow of pens. I find the flow rate of pens to be around 1/month so 12 pens can last me a year.

Note that the rate of pens diffusion is not tightly coupled to concentration but tends to be a constant which is unlike the situation for actual molecules.
posted by euphorb at 11:33 AM on December 27, 2011 [14 favorites]


Also don't forget the corollary to this law, which is that pens which no longer work never disappear or get thrown out, ever.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 11:37 AM on December 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


> Also label makers. I like to leave one at every location where I might stop to think of things that need lables.

To truly increase efficiency you'll also need to multiple wives to tend each label maker.
posted by Panjandrum at 11:37 AM on December 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


Except for the fact that a trip to the basement provides you exercise while you get a real screwdriver with a hardened steel tip, rather than using some mild steel piece of crap that's just going to ruin the screw head so you have to order a bag of 100 tiny screws threaded for plastic from McMaster Carr and pay $5.28 shipping for that $3.18 bag from which you will use three cents worth of screws from in your entire life, this makes perfect sense to me.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:37 AM on December 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have eliminated packaging rage by keeping a good pair of scissors and a box cutter everywhere in my house that I will ever need to open a package. I also have tons of pens, pencils, and Sharpies everywhere. It really does make life better.
posted by bondcliff at 11:39 AM on December 27, 2011


Heaven help this guy when he finds out it's possible to buy RFID tags in bulk.
posted by esoterica at 11:40 AM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have eliminated packaging rage by keeping a good pair of scissors and a box cutter everywhere in my house that I will ever need to open a package.

For some reason the key to my parents' house - not my house, not the car, nothing else - cuts packing tape just as well as cheap scissors. This has saved me an enormous amount of frustration over the years.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:43 AM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sweet! Another intellectual property thread into which I can place links to MafiAA idiocy, corruption, etc.   Wait, what?
posted by jeffburdges at 11:45 AM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the case of dry erase markers, leaving about three working dry erase markers labeled "DO NOT TAKE" in a lecture hall will eliminate the need to remember to bring your own for the duration of a semester.

This does not actually work.
posted by bardophile at 11:52 AM on December 27, 2011 [14 favorites]


Interesting article. I definitely find myself struggling to balance between having enough of what I need to actually have it near me when I need it instead of, say, in the car, at the office, or who knows where; and minimizing the amount that I support the production of redundant, disposable, cheap materials.
posted by rebent at 11:54 AM on December 27, 2011


Cargo pants for... Shut up. Cargo pants for the win.

Lower left: earplugs x6, scissor mini Leatherman, Cree LED 1xAA torch, Sharpie, fountain pen (clipped)
Upper left: hanky, wallet.
Lower right: iPhone, lens cloth in baggie, business cards aka notecards.
Upper right: coins

Such.a relief to have tools at all times. Esp the torch. So handy.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:55 AM on December 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Not two minutes before reading this, I told my wife that she shouldn't wash paint brushes used for small household projects, because it's just easier to get new, throwaway brushes. In fact, we already have lots of them in the garage, from the last time I bought them at .30 cents each.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:58 AM on December 27, 2011


Cargo pants for the win

I don't always put things in the wrong pockets...
posted by griphus at 12:00 PM on December 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Seconding cargo pants.

Lower left: measuring tape, leather man
Upper left: swiss army knife, laser/flashlights, usb drives, coins for impromptu magic tricks
Lower right: handkerchief, notebook for scratch paper
Upper right: keys and change

I used to keep fountain pens in my shirt pocket, but a couple of blowouts cured me of that. I would never dare put them in my pants, especially with children sitting on my lap all the time. I just keep them (the pens, not the pants or children) at work where I use them most.
posted by DU at 12:00 PM on December 27, 2011


Yes, that's a leather man, not a leatherman. Great for snacking, if you love cannibalism.
posted by DU at 12:01 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm more concerned that you keep him in the same pocket as your measuring tape. Just how picky are you about your leather men?

Also, both cargo-pantsers failed to indicate where they would keep the extra batteries for their lights/lasers. Though now I suspect DU enjoys trips down to his basement/dungeon.
posted by Panjandrum at 12:04 PM on December 27, 2011


"I used to keep fountain pens in my shirt pocket, but a couple of blowouts cured me of that."

On first glance, that did not say blowouts. I couldn't figure out what oral sex had to do with fountain pens.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:06 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


What I find with pens is that they will follow the concentration gradient.

Except for those mysterious areas of space-time known as "kitchen junk drawers", which seem to exert some black hole or quantum uncertainty like effect that contains any and all office supplies, except when they're most needed.
posted by formless at 12:06 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Save time (and agony) with your own laser printer

*cough* toner *cough*
posted by mhum at 12:09 PM on December 27, 2011


Our cat loses about a dozen ping pong balls every month.

We have no idea where they go, and we're getting worried. Please advise.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:13 PM on December 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Mine manifests a mousie every couple of months. It's always the same mousie, but when I want to find it, it does not actually exist.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:14 PM on December 27, 2011


Also label makers

Quis tituliet ipsos titules?
posted by zippy at 12:19 PM on December 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Extrapolating from the article, it seems to me like maximum efficiency would be achieved by making your wife go retrieve whatever you need at the moment.
posted by snofoam at 12:19 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some old dude told me years ago that you need three of anything to be able to find one of them at any time. Seems to work for me.
posted by Lone_Wolf at 12:20 PM on December 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, one exception, which maybe only applies to people who are social: if you have only one lighter, you may be able to hold onto it until it runs out of butane. If you have more than one, whether it is two or ten, you will lose them all within about a day.
posted by snofoam at 12:25 PM on December 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


ZenMasterThis, look under the refrigerator.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:26 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't always put things in the wrong pockets...

Where is that favorite 1000 times button again?
posted by doyouknowwhoIam? at 12:30 PM on December 27, 2011


if you have only one lighter, you may be able to hold onto it until it runs out of butane. If you have more than one, whether it is two or ten, you will lose them all within about a day.

I finally figured out where all the lighters go - into my ex's pockets. She'd leave without hers and come home with five.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:36 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I buy a single, $2 mechanical pencil, I lose it within the day.

If I buy a package of 5 single-use crappy mechanical pencils, they'll last months. They don't seem to run out of lead, even though they can't actually be refilled. I really don't know what black magic this is...
posted by BungaDunga at 12:36 PM on December 27, 2011


"On first glance, that did not say blowouts. I couldn't figure out what oral sex had to do with fountain pens."

You're clearly not a man used to using fountain penes.
posted by Eideteker at 12:36 PM on December 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


We have no idea where they go, and we're getting worried.

your cat is merely paying his dues to ceiling cat, who not only collects ping pong balls but has a time machine he uses to assist his friends in their merry pranks
posted by pyramid termite at 1:07 PM on December 27, 2011


I'm going to try and sell Husband on the Multiple Spouse (spouses? Spice?) For Efficiency Theory. Things would be so much easier if there were another set of us. Who has a cloning machine and a label maker I can borrow?
posted by dejah420 at 1:23 PM on December 27, 2011


My frustration levels have definitely gone down since I just started carrying a knife, like a smart person. If it needs to be poked at or cut, I'm your girl. Carry a knife and a pen and I find you've got most situations covered.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:43 PM on December 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


restless_nomad: "I finally figured out where all the lighters go - into my ex's pockets. She'd leave without hers and come home with five."

I had a jarful of lighters precisely because of this - a friend who couldn't not put a lighter in his hand into his pocket, but also never considered his pocket as the first place to look for one.

Karmic balance was restored by the surfeit of umbrellas, which every sharehouse in Melbourne seems to breed.
posted by vanar sena at 1:57 PM on December 27, 2011


My colleagues and I realized this over beer: dry erase markers cost almost nothing, yet a lecture hall never contains functioning dry erase markers.

When I went back to college a few years ago I saw this constantly. The markers would either dry out or get used up and no one would ever replace them. I can't tell you how much time we wasted in class trying to find a working marker.

I think that it was kind of a social product so no one really took responsibility for getting them replaced, the teachers didn't really know who they needed to tell to get new markers, the person in charge of putting new markers in the rooms didn't have to use them so it wasn't a high priority, or some combination of all three.

The solution seemed pretty obvious to me, give the markers to the teachers instead of putting them in the rooms. When they run out, they'll get more in a hurry since it affects them directly.

One teacher just bought his own markers out of his own pocket and, to no one's surprise, always had working markers. As frustrated as the faculty seemed to be with never having working markers, I never understood why more of them didn't do this.
posted by VTX at 1:59 PM on December 27, 2011


As a teacher, I buy my own packs of dry erase markers, and they therefore all go bad at ONCE. I have become excellent at chucking dead dry erase markers spang into the trash can on the other side of the classroom, to the awe of my students. Also dead pens. And pencils that break every time you try to use them. And those non-refillable mechanical pencils. WHANG-CLUNK they go when I chuck them. THROW EVERYTHING OUT.

I would like to plaintively ask why it is that when students never have pencils of their own, and have to ask for pencils, WHY is it, oh WHY is it that there are never any left-over pencils in my classroom when they go away? Where are they going when they disappear? Because they sure aren't going to the next class with them; they arrive without pencils there, too.

I stopped carrying a pen-knife because I would forget to take it out when I went to the airport.
posted by Peach at 2:08 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


pyramid termite: "your cat is merely paying his dues to ceiling cat"

griphus seems to have accidentally stumbled onto Ceiling Cat's origin:

griphus: "Inside Dog, a Front Yard Dog and a Back Yard Dog because their father realized it would be more productive if a dog were played with every time the kids went somewhere there could potentially be a dog."

Granted, ceiling cat is likely to see considerably less cumulative playtime than bathroom cat.
posted by vanar sena at 2:22 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I liked this article a lot. There are few things that I hate more than having to say the words "Where is the--?" Now I can sit everyone down for a talk about travel, transaction, and opportunity costs.

I don't even smoke (much) anymore, and I always carry two lighters.
It's surprising how often I legitimately need to set things on fire-- anything from burning the plastic hand-cuff off of a new pair of shoes to lighting a neglected candle at a restaurant.

The second lighter is just to lower my anxiety-- and the stakes-- when the straight-to-pocket types come borrowin'. It's so interesting to me that someone will respond to my "Uh-- (*extend upturned palm, nod toward the lighter that they are plunging into the void of their pocket) gimme that" by giving me a "touché-- you win this round" sort of look.

Unless I'm showering or sleeping, I have lighters, a knife, and two pens (two pens for the same reason as two lighters). Oh, I also have two full sets of keys as a fail-safe for ever being locked out of anything.

In the house: no such thing as too many pens, corkscrews, or pairs of GOOD scissors.
posted by herbplarfegan at 2:28 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the solution to the dry-erase marker problem is to steal or purchase a set of your own—or if you are gifted with that most magical of all academic perks, access to a competent administrative assistant, bum them off the department secretary.

Put a rubber band around each of your markers, and get a conveniently-sized bag to take to class. (I need a bag for my Mac-dapter anyway.)

The rubber bands serve three purposes: 1) You know which markers (i.e. your working markers) to pick up at the end of the class. 2) The friction in the rubber bands seems to magically keep them from rolling off the table onto the floor. 3) When the marker goes dry, take off the rubber band, pitch the marker, and put the rubber band around your wrist as a reminder to go immediately to the department secretary after class and bum another one.

I forget where I read about this scheme, but it has saved my sanity.

Generally, though, I totally agree with the principles in the article. I have a majillion cheap pairs of scissors stowed in strategic locations around the house, screw drivers in every room, and pens, big erasers, mechanical pencils (all 0.7 mm; if a 0.5 mm mechanical pencil appears in our house it gets pitched immediately) and 0.7mm leads everywhere.

A surprising key to making this strategy work has been to put furniture with drawers in every room. Bed-side tables with drawers in the bedrooms, end-tables with drawers in the living room, buffet with drawers in the dining room, etc.

Q: "Where is [commonly needed thing]?"
A: "In [thing with drawer.]"
posted by BrashTech at 2:30 PM on December 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Augh, I forgot: binder clips. Binder clips everywhere. Never be more than five feet from a binder clip.
posted by BrashTech at 2:32 PM on December 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


#1 artificial and increasingly institutionalized scarcity: Employment.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 2:36 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


This guy's an amateur. I have TWO pairs of scissors in every desk (so when my husband wanders off with one, I still have a pair) and FOUR baby changing stations. Every month or so I make a strategic reconnaissance of my husband's preferred locations and return 90% of the office supplies to the office supply location (a sorting unit in a closet). My husband can NEVER FIND OFFICE SUPPLIES and would CONSTANTLY BUY MORE. I created the office supply location, stocked it with what I rounded up from around the house, and donated literally an entire trunk's worth to a local school. The only thing I've had to buy in the ensuing five years has been printer paper and toner. I forbade my husband from buying office supplies. This is still what happens: There are SIXTEEN (I counted) pens in his end table right now. When he wants one tonight, he will not be able to find ANY. He will forget we have an office supply location. He will complain we never have any pens. He will go remove all the pens (well, one or two at a time, but they all end up gone) from my bill-paying desk.

I literally just picked up another cheap little screwdriver for children's toys (they have to be small to get in those teeny screw holes, my regular screwdriver doesn't cut it) to keep near where the toys are. My husband manages to disappear those, too, probably because he can never find ANY of his screwdrivers. (Yes, we have separate toolchests. THIS IS WHY.)

@seanmpuckett & DU, graduate to purses already!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:37 PM on December 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also: my father owns hundreds of (slowly expiring) batteries. If you need a AAA battery, you can only find AAs and a lonely D, if you need 4 C batteries you'll find a 6 volt, a lamp battery, and three sealed packages of AAAs.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:49 PM on December 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Scarcity of dry-erase markers: #securelyemployedonthetenuretrackproblems
posted by RogerB at 3:02 PM on December 27, 2011


Cargo pants eh?

Well, I am completely naked, have only one of everything and them in piles on the floor.
posted by Joe Chip at 3:13 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's because I live in an apartment, but having only one pair of scissors works totally fine for us. They're almost always in the same spot and that spot is seconds from where I am at any time. The idea of acquiring, then actively managing unnecessary duplicates of things seems like the opposite of productivity to me. But, if you have enough time on your hands to do that, then by all means, feel free to be super duper productive.
posted by snofoam at 3:26 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cargo pants are OK, but when you really want to be sure then you can do worse than a pair of Bear Grylls Survival trousers (8 pockets, some hidden) and one of these (also really handy for travelling Ryanair, or other airlines where hold luggage is more than the ticket).

I shan't be listing my pocket contents: as who knows what sorts of cut-purses and cony-catchers might just be lurking, waiting for that information.
posted by titus-g at 3:37 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hot tip for musicians: if you always practise in the same room, and you keep buying picks, then at some point, every space that can contain a guitar pick has a guitar pick in it. At this point, you stop losing picks, and start finding picks that appear like magic.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:41 PM on December 27, 2011


From a nonfiction book: A brilliant astrophysicist, in middle age, found his eyesight not what it used to be. Did he buy a nice pair of prescription eyeglasses and keep it in his pocket? No, he bought lots of cheap "drugstore" reading glasses and spread them around everywhere he might need a pair: different parts of the observatory, in the lab, his office, the car, and around home. Worked for him!
posted by exphysicist345 at 4:55 PM on December 27, 2011


Despite snark from ideopath and others, this is actually a sensible idea (within reasonable limits), and a good illustration of how overlooking or cheaping out on little things is often a false economy,

Some parts of my career, our home renovations, and most of my hobbies all depend on good tools, and I have 4 complete sets for different purposes (electronic service, basement workbench, mechanic set, boat tools), and common tools like screwdrivers, are duplicated in all sets. Botching one job for the lack of a $4 screwdriver is ample reason to have 3 of'em.

I tend to snap up good tools whenever they're on sale, and I will order two when I need one of something that's important but harder to get.

(I am NOT a tool fetishist. They're NOT toys!! Are you listening, Mrs C??)
posted by Artful Codger at 5:01 PM on December 27, 2011


get yourself a lumbar pack and put every device and tool you use on a daily basis in it and keep it by your feet at all times. Water bottle, Swiss Army knife, lighter, chapstick, nail clippers, wallet, phone, pen, sharpie, keys, flashlight, gloves, sun glasses, power chords, mp3 and headphones. Makes leaving the house a lot less stressful.
posted by any major dude at 5:14 PM on December 27, 2011


any major dude: ...power chords, ...

I find that an open 5th is just as effective but easier to pack.
posted by Artful Codger at 5:38 PM on December 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think there's a continuum and the right solution is different for different people with different needs. Sometimes having multiples of the same thing is handy. If someone wrote a lengthy article about how owning more than one ballpoint pen is inefficient, I would think they were almost as crazy as the guy who wrote this article.
posted by snofoam at 5:43 PM on December 27, 2011


Metafilter: Also, the dogs are labelled.
posted by Alterscape at 6:25 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been trying to do this for years. Every time I see good scissors cheap, I buy them. There are probably twenty pairs of scissors in my home, but I STILL can't find any when I need them. Then one day I'll be looking for something, I'll move a paper, and hey - five pairs of scissors in the same spot - wish I'd known about that.

I think my house must have a population of mischievous goblins.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:33 PM on December 27, 2011


Danny O'Brien wrote this piece a few years ago - seemed quite on point then as now.
posted by victors at 6:55 PM on December 27, 2011


Interesting article, but oh dear lord you haven't read the original article or the rest of this thread.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:44 PM on December 27, 2011


One of the nicest changes I made last year was to buy a tub of the all-purpose cleaner I use most (Gumption) and a sponge for EVERY SINK in the house. There is now one under the kitchen sink, under each bathroom sink, and in the laundry, and you NEVER have to go hunting. I clean my sinks (and the rest of the kitchen/bathroom) much more frequently now.

I also bought a bottle of toilet cleaner to sit beside each toilet.

The dry-erase marker thing totally does not work, though, as others have said. And the reason why I refuse to buy my own, even though it would make my life easier, is that the university is constantly pressuring academics, subtly and unsubtly, to spend more of their own money on work-related costs (reducing funding available for attending conferences, reducing photocopying and printing access, getting rid of staff carparking subsidies, asking people to bring food and/or drink to compulsory departmental events, running meetings during hours where parents will need to find extra childcare (evenings and weekends), making policies and paperwork requirements that make it much easier to just buy stuff yourself than to access your grant funds to do it, etc). The marker thing is just one tiny cut among thousands.
posted by lollusc at 8:00 PM on December 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is not what i expected from an article on artificial scarcity.

Can we talk about artificial overconsumption? Not every house needs a washer and dryer or a swimming pool. We spend a lot of time alone i cars that slow each other down traveling to the same locations.

That kind of thing?
posted by eustatic at 8:27 PM on December 27, 2011


Thanks for this article. I'll keep it in mind when it comes time to explain all the bottles of gin hidden in various places around the house.
posted by logopetria at 12:31 AM on December 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Not every house needs a washer and dryer

I'd see these as one of the more necessary appliances actually. There are plenty of appliances that should get tossed before the washer and dryer, especially if you don't have a lot of time. Carting laundry to another building, where you can either leave it there in the hopes that nothing goes missing (people steal clothes, wtf?!), else sit there and watch it like paint drying at complete waste of your time, it is a big and ongoing cost easily fixed with a cheap durable appliance in your home. A clothesline is nice though if you have both a yard and decent weather.

You can have my toaster oven, hell, you can have my oven before you can have my washer dryer. (I'll need to keep the cook-top though) :)
posted by -harlequin- at 3:48 AM on December 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


The hell you say? I challenge you to produce a household where a washer/dryer wouldn't be viewed as a benefit for those living there. How can the time, energy and money it would take to do laundry offsite be a savings or offset of the cost of running these appliances?

Possibly a single person who only does one load a month, where the laundromat is steps from the home; and never needs to to wash anything for emergency purposes or on-the-spot; and always has plenty of change for the machines.... that very small slice of humanity MAYBE I agree doesn't need a W/D. No one enjoys not having one. No one likes going there. No one who has to go there regularly would agree with this statement.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:12 AM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do not show this article to any hoarders.
posted by Artw at 9:47 AM on December 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder what the cost benefit analysis to owning a washer dryer vs. sending your clothes to a laundry service is - granted it helps when they're nearby, pick up your stuff and deliver it and everything comes back folded. Anything more than two people probably justifies a home Washer Dryer.
posted by The Whelk at 10:37 AM on December 28, 2011


ZenMasterThis, look under the refrigerator.

Can't; fridge disappeared shortly after the first dozen ping pong balls.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:27 PM on December 28, 2011


I used to buy one pen at a time and lose it. I switched methods and bought large numbers of pens and found that something very odd happened. I did not lose pens anymore. My theory is that the constant relocating of pens is what causes them to disappear, and if there are enough pens in one location, none of them ever get lost in transit.
posted by niccolo at 10:10 PM on December 28, 2011


My father had two opposing theories:

1) For some things - and "pens" was one of them - his theory was that if you had ONE GOOD pen, you would never lose it.

2) For other things, his theory was "The best tool in the world is the one you have with you when you need it".
Thus, he had his Good set of tools safe in his workshop, and the cheapest version he could buy, left in the trunk of each of the cars.

The trick, though, is figuring out which is the appropriate strategy for which sort of item.

The "One Good Pen" theory seems to work, for me, at least; but on the other hand, I try to be no more than ten feet from someplace I've stashed a Leatherman tool (or similar).
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 9:28 PM on December 29, 2011


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