Mar 14 2011

the new sharing economy [day 291]

Do you share your stuff?  If you need a drill, do you go out and buy one or do you try to borrow one?  I mean, you just need a hole, right?  I own a drill.  My dad gave me a new DeWalt drill about 10 years ago, but that one got lost on a mission trip.  I never found it, although another older drill with a chuck key showed up unclaimed.  I took it, so that’s why I have a drill now.  I don’t really need one though.

So why don’t I need one?  Doesn’t everyone have a drill in their garage?  Let’s look at the logic.  I need a few holes, so I use the drill for approximately 4-8 minutes in a years time.  Maybe a little bit more if I have some home projects.  I could borrow one from a friend.  I could rent one when I’m doing projects.  I could share a drill.  Yes, I said share.  I could co-own a drill with some friends or I could use a sharing service.  This is really a great and upward trending process.

First, there’s itizen.com.  You can print QR codes for all of your things in order to tell stories about them, to share them and to track the life of them.  Here’s a blurb from itizen’s site:

Why we do what we do.
We want to celebrate the cool things around us — period. We are inspired by the artists, makers, and retailers who provide us with these wonderful things, and we are fascinated by how storytelling can give these things meaning and purpose. Most important, we are passionate about supporting a culture of giving and sharing that allows others to benefit from these things and share in the joy.

If you don’t have a QR code reader, there’s lots of free apps out there that can be downloaded.  You can scan it and it will bring up the info right away.  The code to the left is a legitimate code for something I’m getting rid of.  Take a look and see if you want the item.  😉

I’m really liking this concept of sharing and swapping.  I’m still researching this whole thing, but I see so many benefits.

Cost savings: Not only does it save you money buying things, but also saves money on the maintenance and storage of these things.

Environmentally friendly: Reducing consumption means less production and fewer resources used.

Manufacturer behavior change: Manufacturers will start to make products based on consumer demand.  If we want to share quality products, but we’re buying less of them, manufacturers will start making more quality items and with the needed features we desire.

Less clutter: Less stuff is less stress and less to clean.  It’s also easier to find the things you do have.

Builds community: Sharing with friends, and even people you don’t know yet if you choose to do that, is a great way to build community, especially among neighbors.  In this day and age, at least where I live, knowing your neighbors is not the norm.  My neighbors let me borrow stuff all the time, and if they need something, they ask.

Helps eliminate poverty: This process can help eliminate poverty by lowering the cost of living.  If I don’t need to buy as much and I can share with others, I can live on less.

Job shifts: Jobs become more service oriented.  This is due to a shift from consuming stuff to being consumers of services.

We are on the front end of a wonderful trend that will change the way the world functions, utilizing technology to change our distribution systems, creating a community of sharing that will better our lives.  I’m still doing a lot of homework on this, but I will be posting more on it soon.  Sharing is an old concept, but it’s finding a new life through social media.

I just bought a used iPad from a friend of mine who’s upgrading.  I’ve decided to share my iPad.  I will be using a service such as snapgoods.com or I might do a co-ownership of it.  If this intrigues you in any way, let me know your thoughts.

Would you share something you paid a lot of money for, but something that sits unused for large periods of time?


Mar 8 2011

hoarders on craigslist [day 285]

My friend was garage sale-ing and ran across an estate sale from a hoarder house, listed on craigslist.  I had to work Saturday and Sunday, but decided to check it out after work on Sunday.  Unfortunately they had closed up shop but I snapped a few photos while making a few observations.

As we drove up, the obvious signs were the furniture pieces in the front yard.  The front door area was cluttered, and after several knocking attempts, I decided to peer into the window.  Yes, we were at the right house, as one of the windows was blocked with a large shelving unit and the other window being a small display of a very large mess.  I’m not sure how people walked around in there to shop for treasures, but I guess if you’re determined enough, you’ll find a way.

Thinking maybe they have something going on in the back of the house, we walked around to the alley of this corner lot home.  The house itself, probably circa 1950’s, was large and looked nice, yet unkempt.  As we got to the back, we realized they were probably done with the sale.  The driveway was completely clear of any junk or trash.

Disappointed, as we drove almost 20 miles to see this, I thought about how many people must go through this is there are indeed 3 million hoarders in the United States.  (statistic provided by the TV show Hoarders)  As we were leaving, the mailbox made me laugh.  Yes, I know, I have a weird, off-beat sense of humor.

Border – hoarder.  It rhymes.  I don’t know why that’s funny, but it just is.

I decided to look up the word “hoarder” on craigslist just to see how many different listings I could find.  I did this search in all 50 states from at least one city.  I found some interesting listings and I’ll share a few with you.  I’ve shortened these a bit, but tried to keep in all the good parts.  Some were really long.  I’ve also highlighted a few interesting things.

HOARDER SEEKS SWAP MEET AND THRIFT STORE OWNERS.

Having a garage sale in my backyard, by appointment only. I have a 32 year accumulation of personally handpicked items. The prices to the public are $1.00, $2.00 and $3.00; with other items ranging over $100.00. THERE ARE NO BURIED TREAUSURES HERE! No furniture, no gold or jewelry. The items are mostly “GUY STUFF”. I know the value of these items, same as you. However I am attempting to offer them to you, at a price where you can make a profit and come back as a repeat customer.
I am offering “YOU’S” an opportunity to cherry pick my estimated inventory of 2,000 pieces [which represents about 20% of all the items needed to be eliminated]. If you like something, you offer me a price, based upon what you think you can sell it for. This eliminates the potential of you having to buy any junk mixed in. FYI, there is no junk, just items you can or can not sell to your customers.

THIS IS NOT A FUND RAISER. I just simply do not understand the value in having such a ridiculous accumulation; causing me to store and periodically to reorganize it. Candidly, despite knowing that I have an item, I seldom can ever really find it in a timely manner.

Predictively the average swamp meeter will have no problem scooping up $500.00 worth of merchandise for their inventories.

Confessions of a potential hoarder..Big Back Yard Sale – $1

We have all seen the show, I opened my storage unit the other day and said I won’t go down that road :^)  Continue reading


Jan 2 2011

let's move in together [day 220]

I went to the movies on Christmas day and saw the movie How Do You Know.  I don’t do chick-flicks and the way I ended up at this movie was a text message gone wrong.  It wasn’t horrible, but it’s really just not my type of movie.

While waiting for the movie to start, after the 15 minutes of commercials, there must have been no less than 10 previews for upcoming movies.  I guess they figure if you’re at a chick-flick / relationship type movie, that you want to know all the similar movies coming out soon.  Not so much, but hey, I’m not their target audience.  And that “don’t make your own soundtrack” commercial?  My soundtrack might have been better.

I guess sex sells, as this movie, the previews and even some of the commercials were all about it.  I think the question asked in title of the movie is asking, “how do you know if you’re in love?”  I have no answer for this, and not sure I ever will, but the way they’re showing relationships is not going to answer any such question.  Maybe they were asking something else.

I talk a lot on this blog about the excess in our society, and relationships seem to be no exception.  People are entertained by all kinds of sexual situations.  I was highly disturbed to see in Toy Story 3 that Ken, who just met Barbie 10 minutes earlier, asks her to move into his dreamhouse.  She said, “yes,” after getting the okay from Mrs. Potatohead.  Does anyone else see a problem with this?  This is not what I’m teaching my kids, but it is what they’re learning in our society.   Way to go Pixar. Continue reading


Dec 15 2010

can't live with it, can't live without it… reversed [day 203]

I ran across two interesting things this week, one posted on my Facebook page and the other in a Yahoo! Groups post on Compact.

These sites, xmaswithoutchina.com and the Marie Claire Yahoo! Shopping post, when combined together, portray a picture of our consumeristic “can’t live with it, can’t live without it”, but not necessarily in that order.  First, we must have it.  How many times have you looked at the “made in” tag on something you purchased?  I don’t do it very often, if at all.  Well, not now anyway, because of the challenge.  But before, when I was shopping, I rarely looked at these tags.  It’s a law that the place of origin, or manufacturing place be listed on the item, or on the packaging.

I decided to pick up 50 random items in my house to see where they were made.  My findings were not surprising.  60% were made in China, 38% in other countries besides the USA and 2% in the USA.  The 2%, accounting for one item, is an art bowl, purchased at a local art show.  Just in case you’re wondering, the items were such things as clothing, electronic games, toys, computer equipment, home decor items, alarm system, cookware, bedding, light fixtures and small appliances.

The Christmas without China is a challenge to take everything made in China out of your house and to shop for Christmas gifts, making sure none are made there.  This is the start of a documentary on this subject, by a man from China.

The 19 unusual gifts nobody wants is crazy stuff, available for purchase just in time for Christmas.  Let’s look at a couple of these items.   Continue reading


Nov 22 2010

the person with the most toys, wins [day 179]

With my halfway point coming soon, and in efforts to do something fun and creative, I wanted to test out a couple of ideas I had.  As I was playing around, my dining room table completely covered with junk, a friend called me to see if I had a specific camera lens.  He was on vacation and just wanted to play around with a macro lens.  Turns out, I have a Sigma 70-300 lens with 200-300 macro capabilities.  I also have a set of three close up filters, a x1, x2 and x4.  These have been sitting in my camera bag doing absolutely nothing for about 10 years.    Continue reading


Nov 2 2010

a college degree in zombies and lady gaga? [day 159]

Zombies 101: Okay, this is for real.   The University of Baltimore is offering a new class, a class on zombies.  The class will study America’s fascination with zombie movies and pop culture.  The class will watch 16 classic zombie films, read zombie comics and their final project is to create their ideal zombie flick.

The University of Baltimore is not the first to have this type of class.  A college in Illinois and one in Iowa did something similar.  I’m all about studying pop culture, as I do it, I just don’t have a college credit for it.

Lady Gaga Intermediate: Yep, she’s now the focal point of a college course at the University of South Carolina.  The only point.  A class fully dedicated to the study of Lady Gaga.  The professor starting this wants to explore what makes a person famous and what superstardom means in today’s culture.  Here’s the course description: “The central objective is to unravel some of the sociologically relevant dimensions of the fame of Lady Gaga.”

Again, it’s good to study pop culture, and I’m not opposed to the study of specific people or groups, but I think we should expand our realm of analyzation.  Instead of one case study, why not look at 5 or 6 of them?  Make it more of a pop culture class versus studying one situation.  That would be like ditching psychology classes and having a class only on Pavlov or Phineas Gage.  There’s a lot to be learned from them, but a whole semester?

Cultural Issues Class: Now this is a class where all of this could fall under a logical heading and allow the study of culture.  Some say we are still in the post modern era but I think it’s time for a new era.  I have no idea what to call it or how to even identify all of the details of what that might look like.  The closest I can come is a word I made up.

Excessable: [ex-ses-uh-buhl]  The materialism excess in our current culture and how readily accessible it is. [see the art collection excessable]

Finding and Photographing Creepy Dolls: Yes, I’m starting my own class.  It is the study of our cultural obsession with plastic, lifeless beings that we love as children and abandon as grown ups.  We will concentrate on where these dolls live, how to find them, strange displays and how to photograph them in their own abandoned environments.  Here are some of the photographs we will look at and analyze.  Classes will begin in December and you must have your own camera and transportation.

Jody Wissing is a professor of doll and mannequin creepology in the Dallas area and has extensive experience locating and photographing these plastic inanimate creations.

Continue reading


Jun 19 2010

playing dress up [day 23]

Most people would argue that I’m an extravert, and although I do have those tendencies, I’m very much an introvert.  On the continuum of ‘E’ to ‘I’, my slider is much more toward the ‘I’, which is one major reason I’m not comfortable in large groups of people.  I feel exposed and awkward.

Last night I had a wedding to attend.  It’s not only the large group thing, but I also don’t like to wear fancy, dressy clothing.  I know this because I really don’t own anything besides casual clothing.  I also know this because of the bulging eyes and gasps from my friends last night, as they’re scrambling to find their cameras, in complete disbelief that I was wearing a dress.  That is, my $3 thrift store dress with sandals I dug out of the back of my closet, that were broken and stapled together to stay on my feet.  I guess I fit in well enough with the current trends in clothing, which was good, because a wedding is no place for me to make a statement about society’s pressure to conform to ‘socially acceptable’.  The photo on the ‘right’ shows how I feel about fashion.  This was part of a gallery showing I had a few years back called ‘excessable’.  It says more than I could ever put into words.

I’m quite sure my feelings on clothing stem from my childhood.  My mom had me in beauty pageants and I was never allowed to choose clothing I liked.  I was taught from an early age that you are judged by your appearance, which explains a lot about the way I dress myself today.  If I’m going to be judged, I do not want to be thought of as a conformist to our culture.

Don’t get me wrong here, I like style and a lot of my clothing is what would be considered ‘in style’ by our current fashion trends.  It’s the excessiveness, the name brand gods and the financial prostitution that bothers me.  Yes, I know those are harsh words, but allow me to explain.  I really wouldn’t mind having a new top, or for that matter, a whole new outfit.  The excess in this industry makes it difficult to choose an outfit, and if I can finally select one, it becomes my identity.  People don’t see me first, they see what I’m wearing.

The financial part?  I use the words financial prostitution because it means money and using your talents for an unworthy cause.  80% of my wardrobe is from thrift stores and the rest from discount stores.  Sometimes I wish I had a new outfit, but I’m not willing to make the financial commitment that is associated with it.  The retail establishments are making a killing off of clothing, many of them using cheap labor overseas to make it even more profitable.

Finally, the name brand god.  One of my favorite pairs of shoes are my Ed Hardy shoes, although I only wear one at a time, the other being a Converse or Sketcher.  My EH shoes were free, but they make the statement that I spend a lot on my clothing and that I support major retailers.  I like the artwork on them, but I think people see the name, not the art, then they judge.  Cynically, I do this too.  I see name brands and here’s the process I go through.  First I judge them, thinking they have spent a lot of money and have been sucked into the excess of our culture.  I get angry with them for being wasteful with their money.  Then I get angry with myself for judging, as it’s not right, I should treat others like I want to be treated.  I don’t like being judged so I shouldn’t do it.  After my conviction, I realize I don’t know their story.  Maybe their stuff was free, maybe they paid full price, not for me to worry about.  I need to worry about me and my actions, which brings me to my latest experiment.

My most comfortable pair of shoes is a beat up pair of Nike shoes.  I’ve had them for about 6 years?  I paid full price for them when they first came out.  I’m not sure it was money well spent, but I have gotten a lot of use out of them.  I was looking at these shoes one day and realized I’m a walking advertisement for Nike.  Each shoe has the name or the swoosh on it five times!  I got a razor blade and cut all of the logos off.  Sadly, they still look like brand name shoes, even with giant holes in them.  I’ve worn them at least five times, in different settings.  Not even one person noticed anything or said anything.  It really makes me want to go cut all the logos off ALL of my clothing.  Don’t be surprised…  Oh, here’s a pic of the shoes.

Society’s expectations of style and fast moving trends are a reality, and not something I want to eliminate.  What I would like to see?  Balance.  (you just thought of New Balance shoes, didn’t you?)  Money spent wisely on sensible clothing purchases, supporting companies that support fair labor practices and all of us, including myself, not to judge people by what they’re wearing.

I have to wonder if I would be as uncomfortable in large groups if I knew we all embraced each other’s outer and inner individuality, without judgement?  Probably not, but it might make it more tolerable.  Am I the only one that struggles with this?  I would love to hear your thoughts.