Monday, December 21, 2009

Cable chaos controlled

Hooray for the Troll! He dug around under my desk and got all those cables sorted. As I suspected, putting them all together in a single bundle wasn't possible, but he got most of them contained in two bundles--bound together with twist ties, and then covered up with some pipe insulation we had left over. He also made handy labels for the cords so that I can tell what each one is, should I ever have to unplug them. Did I mention that he was wonderful?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cable chaos

In some ways, my computer makes my life a lot more organized. My work can be done almost entirely with electronic files sent back and forth between me and my client, so my desk doesn't get buried under stacks of paper. I can receive and pay most of my bills online, do my taxes electronically, and use the Internet to find articles on just about any subject. And storing it all in little folders on my hard drive takes up a lot less space than storing it all in real, paper folders, and makes it easier to search, as well.

However, in order to keep everything on my computer organized, I need to have it connected to a monitor, a printer, an external hard drive, a cable modem, a set of speakers, and probably some other things I don't even know about. As a result, the space under my computer is a mess, as you can see from the attached photo. I've done my best to coil up the excess lengths of cable and keep them out of the way, so now instead of a mass of tangled-up cables, I have a mass of coiled-up blobs of cable. But I can't help thinking there has to be a better way.

I have seen products for organizing cables, but none of them seems like quite the right thing for me. For example, IKEA sells a little basket that attaches to the underside of a desk, but that's only useful if all your cables are going from the same place to the same place. I have cables from point A to point B, from B to C, from C to D, from B to seems like I'd need one basket for each direction. This doohickey called the WireMate looks a little better, but can it really send all the wires in every direction I need them to go in? And can it handle the multitude of different cables, of all different thicknesses? And even if it can do all that, is it really worth 20 bucks? It seems like there ought to be a cheaper, more elegant way to accomplish the same thing--but I must confess, my creativity is failing me.

Monday, December 7, 2009

'Tis the season to buy plastic stuff

The Troll and I have finished most of our holiday shopping, but we still don't have any idea what to get for our two-year-old nephews. With adults or older kids, you can always ask, "What are their interests?", but in the case of these two little guys, their main interests are climbing on things and hitting things. Hard to translate those into something that will fit under the tree.

So, searching for inspiration, yesterday we wandered through the toy aisles at Target and BJs. We both had the same reaction to this experience, one that can best be summed up in a single word: ick.

It's hard to explain exactly what was so off-putting about it. Maybe it was the fact that there were just so many mass-produced plastic objects crammed into that one space, row on row, box on box, until they all kind of blurred together. Most of the gifts we're giving to our family members were accumulated over the course of the year, as we came across them at sales and stores and concerts and thought, "Oh, this would make a good gift for so-and-so." Picking a gift off those shelves would have felt like the exact opposite of that: "Oh, we need to get something for so-and-so. Here, this will do." It would be like hanging an empty pizza box above your sofa because it's about the right size for the space. It would so obviously show no creativity, no real thought for the recipient, that it felt like more of an insult than giving nothing at all. As we emerged from the toy section at BJ's into the grocery section, the Troll grabbed a butternut squash off a rack and declared, "I would rather give each of them a butternut squash than give them one of those toys." (Well, why not? They'd probably have just as much fun with it.)

Now, it is of course possible--even probable--that we're overthinking this. After all, these kids are two years old. It's unlikely that they would be offended at being given a gift that was obviously selected at random off a shelf in the toy aisle. As long as they have a box to unwrap, they probably won't even care what's inside it. But in that case, why not just wrap up an empty box for each of them? They could climb on them, sit in them, hit each other with them and not do too much damage--hmm, I think I might have something here.