Monday, November 08, 2010

100 Items

The hip new thing in the world is minimalism, specifically paring your possessions to one hundred items. I'm going to do it now as a mental exercise. I'm doing this without Internet access, so I don't know the accepted "rules" for defining the hundred. I am, therefore, making up my own rules.

I'm going to assume that:

  • items that are normally assembled into a single item (e.g. camera, battery, SD card) get to be counted as one item,
  • items that are multiple in and of themselves (e.g. a pair of socks) count as one item,
  • I have someplace safe to live where I keep this stuff
  • plumbed appliances (toilet, sink, shower) are considered part of the home

If I were living out and had to carry everything with me on a bike, it would be a different list. Written in the order I thought of them, influenced by what I can see around me.

1 Camera
2 Charger for camera battery
3 Computer & cord
4 Aviation headset
5 Flashlight
6 Black socks
7 Colourful socks
8 Warm socks
9,10,11 Three pairs of underwear
12 Black pants
13 Jeans
14 Silly t-shirt
15 Pretty t-shirt
16 Plain t-shirt
17 Regular bra
18 Workout bra
19 bicycle
20 bike lock
21 bicycle helmet
22 bicycle repair kit
23 pair of shorts
24 running shoes
25 eyeglasses
26 pen
27 Swiss Army knife (includes scissors & tweezers)
28 toque
29 winter gloves
30 waterproof jacket with zip-out warm lining
31 wallet
32 nail clippers
33 non-electronic address book
34 nice dress
35 stockings
36 dress shoes
37 GPS
38 cooking pot
39 wooden stirring spoon
40 bowl
41 eating utensils
42 sweater
43 compass
44 first aid kit
45 watch
46 pretty earrings
47 knapsack
48 sunglasses
49 swimsuit
50 crayons
51 desk
52 comfortable chair
53 ergonomic chair
53 bed
54 sheets
55 blankets
56 refrigerator
57 stove
58 towel
59 moccasins
60 pepper grinder
61 water bottle
62 iPod
63 mug
64 frying pan
65 razor
66 toothbrush
67 pillow
68 a toaster oven
69 car
70 school textbook I'll never read again but that no one would buy and that I can't bear to throw away velveteen frog
71 sewing machine
72 leather coat
73 baseball cap
74 book I'm reading
75 book I've just read and haven't decided whom to give to yet
76 book I think I ought to read but haven't got around to yet
77 nice boots logbook
78 kayak
79 paddle
80 lifejacket
81 instrument air filters
82 toilet paper
83 moisturizing sunscreen
84 facial cleanser
85 regular person-washing soap
86 lip balm
87 toothpaste
88 shampoo
89 binder full of flight instructor notes pilot licence
90 high quality kitchen knife
91 windbreaker
92 eyeliner
93 vegetable peeler
94 notebook
95 skis
96 ski poles
97 ski boots
98 bike gloves
99 lipstick passport
100 big suitcase that can hold almost everything but the vehicles, furniture and cooking vessels

This exercise required surprisingly less paring and decision making than I expected. I do own a lot more than a hundred things, but most of them are duplicates of (e.g. I have a box at home full of new toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap bought on sale) or variations on (I own four aviation headsets) the items already on the list, or things like #70 and #89: from another phase of my life. I own more clothes than are on the list, mostly because I like to do laundry in a washing machine every ten days, not in the sink every night. I have a lot of books and DVDs and VHS cassettes that could mostly be replaced with electronic versions. I own way more dishes and cooking utensils that are on the list, and that abundance of kitchen supplies is probably what I'd miss the most if I were forced to live with my hundred-item list. I began my culinary independence with a big mug (for measuring, ladling & drinking), a big bowl (for baking, eating & mixing) a cast iron frying pan, and a knife fork and spoon. You can bake cookies in a cast iron frying pan, but they don't turn out as well as when you have a proper baking sheet.

Originally as I made the list, I decided that consumables (e.g. toilet paper and sunblock) did not count towards the total, but when I left them off I started to run out of things I actually own and was starting to put things on the list that I'd like to own. which kinda runs against the concepts of minimalism and anticonsumerism which I assume underlie the meme.

I'm sure I forgot lots of stuff that I want far more than the things on my list. I'm sure this is going to turn into an embarrassing example of how much I take things for granted, so go ahead and remind me, so I can switch it for something I don't need as much. I didn't forget a hairbrush, by the way. Green hair doesn't brush out.


Julien said...

Cell phone?

Aviatrix said...

I turn my cellphone off before boarding the plane to go home and often don't turn it on again until I get back to the job site. I think I won't include things on the list that I only have because I need them for work. I don't have my OFP sheets, my POH or my company manuals in that list, either.

david said...

Decent modern cell phones (Android phones, iPhones, etc.) are as good music players as iPods, so you could strike the iPod from your list.

Aviation headset ahead of flashlight? Really?

I wouldn't worry about books -- buy a few thousand in electronic format and stick them on your computer.

Aviatrix said...

I deliberately did not select any item I do not already own, and I don't own a smart phone nor a phone that can play MP3s. The list is not ordered. I just use the headset more than the flashlight and the headset was visible from where I made the list. I use books for reading when I don't have access to electrical power, am in an environment that would be hostile or awkward to use my computer (e.g. bathtub, bus stop), or I don't want to have to worry about them being stolen. I just bought a handful of dollar-each used paperbacks for the airplane to Cambodia, for example. I will give them away when I'm done with them.

That's the point: I DON'T worry about books. I worry about my computer.

Sandy said...

Glad to see the instrument air filters weren't forgotten.

Aviatrix said...

Sandy: They haven't made a cell phone yet that can do that job. (Or if they have, I don't want to hear about it).

Anonymous said...

Green Hair doesn't comb or brush out?!! Maybe I should look into some of that stuff! My hair, salt & pepper (I'm being kind to myself), seems to take vacations and not return if ya know what I'm sayin'. I could only think of one or two things that were not listed. Have a great week!


Anonymous said...

What, no photos of loved ones, no safety blanket when you were a kid, no compilation CD someone you care about burned for your birthday 7 years ago?

Critical Alpha said...

Logbook and Pilot's License?

Anonymous said...

hmm, 100 CDs or DVDs would count as 100 items, so their digital equivalents should too...

Same with 100 books, 100 eBooks and a reader would be 101 items, not 1.

Same with software for that computer.

Of course you're showing the hypocracy of those minimalists.
They're not really going to part with tons of things, they just don't count them towards the 100 (or whatever) items they're going to keep...
Were they really challenged to come up with only 100 things (including digital things) and do away with everything else, they couldn't do it.

david said...

Hmm - would an anthology of 10 short stories count as one book or 10 stories? Would I have to count every head on a multiheaded screwdriver? Would other software on a computer also count?

Yes, the challenge is not that useful. Perhaps it would be better limiting the weight.

Irina said...

Vegetables can be just as easily peeled with a knife, no need for a vegetable peeler. That's expendable, from my pov anyways. :)

coreydotcom said...

Yeah... I wonder about stuff like toilet paper, food, etc... do you really "own" that stuff? Like would you have to include "spices" in your list... also stuff like ziploc and tupperware... but what you can do to cut down on stuff like that is stop using throwable stuff. For example, I haven't used seran wrap or aluminum foil or ziploc bags in a couple of years. Completely replaced them with tupperware. Man it would be hard to make a list of this kind. My hockey bag only has:
- the bag
- jock strap
- shin pads
- socks
- hockey shorts
- chest protector
- neck guard
- elbow pads
- jersey
- gloves
- helmet
- clear tape
- stick tape
- can't forget the stick
- there must be a couple of pucks hiding in my bag
- underarmour


Aviatrix said...

Anonymoous #1: The photos are on my computer, as are the birthday music compilations--complete with the artifacts introduced from taping them off LPs.

I don't have a blankie, but you've persuaded me to throw away the textbook in favour of another sentimental item.

Critical Alpha: I knew I must have missed something important. I guess I counted licence and passport with my wallet.

Anonymous #2: No, I won't agree that one hundred digit al items are items, any more than twelve songs on a single CD are twelve items. What it does say is that the minimalists of this meme are replacing what was once hundreds of items with single luxury items. This is quite a different game than it would be before we could have our entertainment, out sentimental items, our records and our work on our computers.

David: According to the rules that I set, the book is a book, one item not ten stories, not a hundred pages and not a hundred thousand words. The screwdriver is also a single item. You could set different rules for yourself if you like, but those are the ones I assigned to the game.

Irina: It's true, a vegetable peeler is a luxury. But it's one I would use every day.

coreydotcom: I know. I wondered if they belonged there. I doubt the lists of the technominimalists would include those items. I think perhaps consumables like that don't belong on the list. I was just running out of things that I actually own and am keeping for reasons other than "it could be useful someday" or "I paid a lot for that once."

If you changed the rules to say "nothing electronic," it would represent a different life.

grant said...

FWIW - I find the newly crossed out and replaced items to be interesting from a couple of angle... as in "how did I forget that..." to "what was I thinking, including that!?" ....

Thanks for the entertainment.

Sarah said...

Just want to LOL over the instrument air filters. Good catch, Sandy.

Anonymous said...

Panties? tampons?

Aviatrix said...

Anonymous: See items 9, 10, 11 and 81. Also, "panties"? Are you from England or 1950?

david said...

It might be regional, but "panties" is still the standard term for the lower half of female underwear here in Ontario (I live in a house full of women, so I hear the term more often than I'd prefer).

The English say "knickers".

Aviatrix said...

It seems very gramdmother-y to me. I'd only use it if the garments in question were lacey or silk or something.

Sue said...

I'm late with a response again, but I was actually thinking about what "100 Things" could mean. In one sense, this could be just another parlor game, and one in which you make up the rules as you go along, but you could also choose to think about what it means to possess things. It's probably easy enough to pick what you would need for an extended period of time away from home (say that you would be backpacking through Europe for a year), or downsizing to an assisted living facility after thirty years in the home where your raised your family. But a couple of my friends were real refugees, one a Latvian who fled with her family from advancing Soviet forces who invaded her country after World War II. What if you were told you had two hours to pack and get out of your house and take 100 things with which to make a new life for yourself in another country thousands of miles away?

Anonymous said...

Very fascinating and insightful into one's priorities and the activities they enjoy (you have a kayak? cool!).

The definition of a single item and the latitude granted here is somewhat of a challenge. If one of my items were m y "airplane", would that include all the requisite accessories? What about my my little red box of tools/spares I fly around with.. it probably contains a hundred tools in it alone, and a hundred or more spare fasteners and things in a little ziplock bag.

The instrument air filter reference I found pretty funny, as a regular reader of your blog, even though I don't have a personal use for that item.

A squared said...

It seems very gramdmother-y to me. I'd only use it if the garments in question were lacey or silk or something.

OK, I'll bite, what is your preferred term for general usage?

As far as I can tell, in the US, panties is the usual term, unless a more specific sub-type is being indicated, such as thongs.

Aviatrix said...

A^2: The one I used in the list: underwear. If there were some confusion versus undershirts or bizarre foundation garments I might say underpants.

These are common terms. There are even juvenile jokes to go with them.

Joke#1: You ask someone who isn't under anything in particular, and probably isn't eating, either,

"What are you eating under there?"

The person generally replies "under where?" at which point everyone else can howl with laughter and say, "You're eating underwear? Ewww!"

The second one is just a rhyme, for when someone is having a wardrobe malfunction, "I see England! I see France! I see A Squared's underpants!"

Aviatrix said...

Oh and there's another term that parents don't use, but all kids seem to. It varies slightly from region to region but is something like gaunch, ginch, or gotch.

TgardnerH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TgardnerH said...

How about a cutting board to go with the knife—maybe I'm just picky, but it makes a huge difference to me what kind I have, so I'd want to avoid using just whatever surface was handy.

Also, I have a dog: should he count towards my 100 items, or does he get some allotment of items for himself? It's really kind of a philosophical question, because one way, he's a possession, and the other way, he's more akin to a family member. I think I'm leaning towards counting him as a possession, because he adds complexity, which really is the point of the list.

A Squared said...

It's not that I haven't ever heard the terms underwear or underpants, it's just that in my experience the use of the word panties is equally common. I'd venture to say that if you were flipping through a Sunday advertising supplement, you'd more likely see an ad for a "3- pack of Fruit of the Loom cotton panties (for example) than "underwear" or "underpants".

It's use seems common enough that I'm surprised to hear you characterize it as anachronistic.

Aviatrix said...

The cutting board is an excellent idea, not sure what I'll sacrifice for it. Probably earrings.

The dog is an interesting complication.

This has been fun, and if anyone does this on their on blog, please leave a trackback so we can see it.

Aviatrix said...

A Squared: I wouldn't be surprised to see it in advertising, either. But then the advertising supplement would also list "bathroom tissue" and "facial tissue," two more things I'd never say.

david said...

Aviatrix: it's too bad you can't risk your anonymity by telling us where/when you grew up in Canada.

I'm very interested in regional dialects (I used to teach History of the English Language when I was a university prof), and you're the first North American I've ever met who thought "panties" was anachronistic.

We all have different regional/social/family dialects, even in the age of TV and Internet. For example, I pronounce "which" and "witch" differently (ditto for "where" and "wear", "why" and "wye", etc.) -- it's a southern/eastern Ontario dialect characteristic that is slowly dying out, so I'm in a minority now even in my own province.

I also pronounce "boy" and "buoy" differently, though not as much as my grandfather from Prescott (who said "boo-ee" for the second one). In eastern Ontario, I grew up pronouncing "Detroit" with three syllables ("Dee-tro-yit"), while people in Toronto use only two ("Dee-troyt"), and so on and so on.

Aviatrix said...

E-mail me so I get straight which David you are, David, and we'll discuss Canadian regional dialects.

I pronounce witch and which differently in emphasized speech, but I think it's more of a jocular affectation with me than something I learned at mother's knee. I would have though "booey" a to be a hypercorrection by someone who learned to read before they learned to boat.

I think my mother says panties, but then she is a refugee from the 1950s. Maybe I just rejected everything my parents said that I hadn't explicitly heard my peers say, to avoid bullying.

Aside to parents: you may think that raising your kids to use family code words is cute and avoids your public embarrassment from toddler declarations, but don't do it. One, the kid can't make herself understood by someone else in an emergency, and two, the kid will be forever branded as a dork by other kids.