Friday, September 28, 2007

Computer Back Up

It was about a year ago now that my computer crashed on me. I was fortunate that I didn't need to buy a new computer and am still using the same one that suits me fine (at least for the time being), but I spent hours on the telephone with someone in India reinstalling everything. It was a real waste of time.

I was also fortunate that all of my important files with the exception of a few e-mails were backed up. Funny thing is that I have referred to very few of those important files in the time since, which gets me thinking about how we hang onto things thinking that they will be useful in the future.

Experts in the organizing industry say we really only use 20% of the stuff we own 80% of the time. So rather than buying another bin or putting up an elaborate system to store the 80% that we don't use, perhaps we should take a cold hard look at that 80% and see what we can share with others less fortunate.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

We Caved!

Two weeks ago today I posted a short essay titled "Free from TV" and promised to let you all know how it goes. I even received a great comment from fellow Professional Organizer, Jeri Dansky, who incidentally posted an interesting essay on her blog yesterday about the various organizing shows on television.

It is with a little embarrassment that I post this message. After I cancelled my cable service the cable company contacted me with a new "offer" for really bare bones cable service. Basically, my husband and I caved in taking the cable company up on the offer for $5/month cable service that includes the basic local channels, PBS and a smattering of other channels. Interestingly enough this bare bones service still includes about 20 channels, which seems like a lot to me.

My reasoning for keeping the cable is that I still like to be able to check the local channels for weather (and somehow protect my family from Mother Nature?). Earlier this summer I heard the tornado warning sirens screaming from town and was able to see on the local channel exactly where the storm was, while didn't give me that type of up to date information.

My husband's reasoning is that he likes to keep up on football and catch the tail end of the golf tournaments on Sunday. I suppose I couldn't step on such manly pursuits.

In a nutshell, we are less than perfect beings that do like a few minutes of television now and again. I guess $5/month is the value that I put on that bit of leisure. And without HGTV or TLC, I am certainly watching a lot less TV.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Lead Paint in Toys

As a parent the recent repeated news of lead paint contamination in children's products terrifies me. As a consumer I wish I had more options to purchase safe products made domestically for my child. However, economic and social factors (namely our thirst for lots of cheap "stuff") have made that nearly impossible. So what is a parent to do?

In my opinion, the first thing to do is to consume consciously. Buy less and seek out products that promote high standards. My family has been blessed to have been given a few Haba wooden toys manufactured in Germany, which I hope has higher safety standards as a fully developed nation. These types of toys can be more difficult to find and more expensive; however, I am a firm believer in buying fewer higher quality items (this can be applied to almost any consumer good).

Even if you are already a conscience consumer, your child (like mine) probably has also been given many plastic or metal toys manufactured in China and other developing nations. For these toys, you can check the US Consumer Product Safety Commission's website at for recent recalls. You can also purchase an at home lead testing kit at your local hardware store or on-line. I have decided to try LeadCheck Swabs for their ease of use.

As for the contaminated toys, I am at a real loss as to what to do and would love to know of recycling options (please share your comments). I hate to see the toys end up in a landfill and donating them clearly is unethical.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Free from TV

I finally did it. I just called to cancel our cable television service. Over the years as our local cable company kept raising their monthly rates, I kept downgrading our channel lineup. Not once did we regret this decision.

After reading an article in The Wall Street Journal about the potential links between television viewing and autism in children (which the organization Autism Speaks disagrees with) my husband encouraged me to get rid of the cable service completely. In theory, I agreed and dreamed of an even more simplified life without television. However, I must admit that I enjoy watching television and was quite happy with our basic service at $22 a month.

Then last week when the cable company messed with our channel line-up and I found my beloved Home and Garden Television replaced with the Sci-fi channel, that was it. So, today I did it. On Friday, September 7th our cable will be disconnected and I will find out if life free from TV brings our family more simplicity. I will keep you posted.