Ef You Treyarch...

Piles of Crap – Stuff – 2010

At first I wasn’t going to write a post about Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things but I found something I wanted to share 262 pages into the book.

As has been apparent to us from studying hoarding, we may own the things in our homes, but they own us as well. Objects carry the burden of responsibilities that include acquisition, use, care, storage, and disposal. The magnitude of these responsibilities for each of us has exploded the expanding number of items in our homes during the past fifty years. Having all these possessions has caused a shift in our behavior away from human interaction to interaction with inanimate objects. Kids now spend more time online, playing video games, or watching TV alone in their rooms than interacting with family or friends. Possessions originally sold on the promise that they would make life  easier and increase leisure time have done just the opposite. Often both parents  work longer hours to support an ever-increasing array of new conveniences that lead to spending less and less time together.

For as long as I can remember things have always interested me. People’s living quarters and their belongings have the ability to distract. After watching a few episodes of the show “Hoarders” it was facinating the see the way people can live their lives having so much crap.

Never was I the extent to the cases in the book but I think most have some of the traits of even extreme hoarders. Only up till recently I was able to part with many things I’ve held and moved with me since college that I haven’t used in years. It wasn’t difficult to part with  the items but part of me still wonders if it was the right thing to do. Though rougher parts of my life I’m sure still today at times find comfort being surrounded with things and things I truly value.

Regardless I wanted to write something to bring  attention to a book and topic I found extraordinarily interesting. Rather then even attempt to summarize something better the review from the New York Times does the job perfectly.

To those who need to understand hoarders, perhaps in their own family, “Stuff” offers perspective. For general readers, it is likely to provide useful stimulus for examining how we form and justify our own attachments to objects.

Saug Slicker – At Least In The City Someone Would Hear Me Scream – 2009

At Least In The City Someone Would Hear Me Scream by Wade Rouse: For the last year a good portion of my time has been spent south of Grand Rapids in the Saugatuck/Douglas area. I’ve known about this book for some time as a coffee house I frequent has had copies for sale for some time. The book was listed as part of the summer reading program at the GRPL so there were copies in abundance. Figured it was about time…
The book is formated like a cross between David Sedaris and a checklist. Clearly Wade Rouse is gay and is slightly candid with his relationship with his partner along and along with the Michigan aspect of the story do make for some funny moments. There are a lot of pop culture references and relatable moments being a “Michigander”. The book is a quick read and highly recommended for anybody who is a fan of the Sedaris style of storytelling.

For the last year a good portion of my time has been spent south of Grand Rapids in the Saugatuck/Douglas area. I’ve known about this book for some time as a coffee house (that is actually featured in a story in the book) I frequent has had copies for sale for some time. The book was listed as part of the summer reading program at the GRPL so there were copies in abundance. Figured it was about time…

At Least In The City Someone Would Hear Me Scream by Wade Rouse: The book reads like a cross between David Sedaris and a rural checklist. Clearly Wade Rouse is gay and is slightly candid with his relationship with his partner and along with the Michigan backdrop did bring some truly funny moments. There are a lot of pop culture references and relatable moments being a “Michigander” and a working stiff urbanite.

Many of Wade’s battles are some myself struggle with looking to the future. Currently I live in the slightly large town of Grand Rapids and finding desires to move to the slightly small town of Saugatuck. Wade’s starting lessons are larger then anything I would ever want but his ending goal I found similar.

The book is a quick read and highly recommended for anybody who is a fan of the Sedaris style of storytelling.

Working Sucks – Rework – 2010

Recently I’ve been spending a lot more time reading.  In my adult life I’ve found my free time interests seem to be cyclical. For awhile I’ll go though periods where I’ll read a lot. Then I’ll switch over to watching a lot of film or catch up on TV programs. Up till now for about a year I was really heavy into PS3/360 gaming. My lack of enthusiam with this years E3 conference and future industry offerings along with my 360 failing again, I’ve switched back over to reading for the short term. For my next series of posts I wanted to put together some thoughts on what I’ve been reading.

Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemejer Hansson: I’ve always been interested in books about process or life improvement in regards to work time or personal finance management. My discovery with these type of books are it’s impossible to take these books as 100% “I’m going to live my life exactly like the text says”.

Any book like this I take a look at what I’m already doing and take pieces and try to implement what I find could into my life. The 4-Hour Work Week is a great example. My lifestyle and interests didn’t lead me to a path of disconnected entrepreneurial bliss but I did learn about how my time is much more valuable then I ever understood it was. Your Money or Your Life resonated similarly with me. The first step in the book was to learn to jot down ALL of your purchases to keep track of where your money is going daily. That is something my brain couldn’t comprehend but parts of that book I was able  to implement in my personal money management.

Rework I approached the same way as bits from the book I was able to learn from but clearly this book was not  written for my career path in mind. Rework is structured like a condensed visual manifesto of a series of rules and lessons the authors used as a backbone to start their small software development company. Many of the rules are retread of ideals I believe in (meetings are crap/commitment to customer service) to thoughts for the future (the proper way to mean your sorry/ef ASAP).

The book is a very short read coming in under 300 pages and I would say over half the pages being illistrations. This book is availble though the GRPL and I would say would be worth a purchase in trade back form. For people in management roles or the self employeed this book might be of higher value. I enjoyed the hard hitting writing style but some might not find the book interesting or up their alley but ultimately it comes recommended.

Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You – (2008)

One mythical day when listening to NPR Talk of the Nation when author Sam Gosling was on the show I found his interview (audio/transcription)  interesting and kept his book in the back of my mind to read.

After a huge period of watching too many movies and playing too many video games I’m trying to bring reading back into my routine and got a series of books from the library that hopefully I’ll be able to discuss here.

The first book I started was Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You. As you can tell from the title it’s about the psychology of our belongings and what it says about us. Thought he book many other stories and studies come up but the bulk revolves around what we can learn about others using ones environments and what is contained in them.

Gosling refers the reader to take the IPIP NEO (International Personality Item Pool  Representation of the NEO PI-R). IPIP NEO is a personality test that is either an extended or short version of a series of questions to find where an individual ranks along the following personality profiles: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

Normally I find personality tests rather pointless but I ended up taking it because I found the book interesting so I took it during a slow period at work. Here were my findings and looking futher into them it brought nothing unexpected but was interesting never the less. I also posted my full final reports contents here.

Your score on Extraversion is low, indicating you are introverted, reserved, and quiet. You enjoy solitude and solitary activities. Your socializing tends to be restricted to a few close friends.

Your score on Agreeableness is low, indicating less concern with others’ needs Than with your own. People see you as tough, critical, and uncompromising.

Your score on Conscientiousness is low, indicating you like to live for the moment and do what feels good now. Your work tends to be careless and disorganized.

Your score on Neuroticism is average, indicating that your level of emotional reactivity is typical of the general population. Stressful and frustrating situations are somewhat upsetting to you, but you are generally able to get over these feelings and cope with these situations.

Your score on Openness to Experience is low, indicating you like to think in plain and simple terms. Others describe you as down-to-earth, practical, and conservative.

Reading the results I only found the Conscientiousness listing incorrect. There are times when I like to “live for the moment”  (skydiving, concerts, ect) but I still work hard when it comes down to it. Doing those activities I don’t believe effects what happens at work or in my tasks. The test took me around 20+ mins to complete.

The book is short read. There are diagrams in the main text and the final 30 pages of the book are acknowledgments, notes, and an index. Overall the book is about 220 pages long and shouldn’t take a moderate reader very long to finish. The book covers various methods of  “Snooping” but also discusses our online lives and direct social interactions so it’s not all just about surveying locations. In my travels I found copies of this book in the bargain books sections of Barnes and Noble so you might be able to pick up a cheap copy but the Grand Rapids Library System should have copies. Snoop is a light interesting read for us trying to learn more about people without having to directly ask them.