A Place for Everything
& Everything in its place

"I don't understand your obsession with always 'needing to find a place' for things," she said, balancing one more book on what can best be described as "an Eiffel tower made entirely of books."

She set the book down gingerly, then stood back to see if her feat of hardback engineering would hold. It swayed, but stood, at least until the next breeze, or I, wafted by.

"It's like your unnatural need to always find a parking space," she added, backing away carefully, so as not to create a draft. I admit it, whenever I drive somewhere I feel the need to find a parking space. But I fail to see how this is unnatural.

"I always find a place for everything," she added, despite the risk that her very words would create gust of air possibly capable of toppling her literary tower of Babel.

She's right, she does always find a place. Just today she found a place for a large assortment of clothes which had arrived from eBay in a box big enough to house a herd of sheep. "Seventeen dollars is a lot of postage," she declared while opening the box which burst forth like chenille champagne.

The box contained two jackets, two pairs of pants, two blouses, a pair of velvet overalls, and some items which I have thankfully already forgotten. "Where's she going to put these?" I wondered, silently, as wondering this kind of thing aloud has led to unpleasantness in the past.

Given the "New York City skyline of garments" already gracing the bedroom, I figured this batch was going to become her tribute to the Rockefeller Center.

But no, that would have required carrying the clothes upstairs, and why do that when there was a very good place for them in the dining room—piled on the back of MY chair.

Now, admittedly, that IS a place, and she HAS managed to balance them there, and they WILL stay there unless we have an earthquake or I make the mistake of trying to pull my chair up to the table.

But just because she can balance nearly anything on nearly anything else with Cirque De Soleil-like ease, doesn't mean it actually counts as "a place for everything."

Still, I'm the one accused with being obsessive because I say things such as "We don't have any place for that," when she considers a piece of furniture so large I doubt it could fit through the front door much less find a place among our high-rises of books and urban sprawl of magazines, which she drags home by the armload, to the point where the only place left to store them is in the trunk of the car.

When we lived in a small apartment in Los Angeles, we actually had an extra car just for storage. It was a big old Chevy, and after the brakes started to fail while I was driving in the Hollywood Hills I stopped driving it. It soon evolved, quite naturally, into a storeroom on wheels. After a while it wouldn't even start, but being large and waterproof, it did in fact make an excellent storeroom until one day the city decided it was abandoned and towed it away.

Now we have a garage, which has reached critical mass, and once the car trunks are full (at this rate I give it till next Tuesday), there will officially be, as my family says, "no room at the inn."

You can make only so much room moving things from one pile to another. The obvious places, like under furniture (including beds, desks, even chairs), under the sink, and in the freezer (good for wildlife in a state of suspended animation) have all long been filled to bursting.

I watch with fascination those TV shows where "organizing experts" help hapless collectors learn to throw things out, or at least pretend to while the cameras are rolling. I can see the desperation in all of their eyes. The anal organizer thinks, "Too much stuff makes me nervous. When I get home I'm going to throw out my second pair of shoes."

Meanwhile, the slightly sweaty collectors, finding it hard to catch their breath, wonder, "how can I live without all this stuff I forgot I had and haven't thought about much less used in six years?"

This is the very question I ask about the dozens of boxes in my garage, boxes we can no longer even get to, so who knows what treasures they might contain, so of course we can't get rid of them.

One year when we had so much rain our garage was in danger of flooding, I was torn between terror and the tantalizing possibility of everything in the garage simply being washed away by the flood. Everything was spared, to my delight and despair.

To be fair, last week my wife helped me rid the garage of dozens of empty cardboard boxes. Once we were rid of them I realized we could have heated the house with them for years, but it was too late, and besides, I think I once read burning them releases toxic fumes.

We also spent one nightmare of a Sunday cleaning out half the hallway and 3/8th of the laundry room. Which leaves only 9/10ths of the house to go. If we could only do a little a day, even five minutes, we could have it all done in no time, like by the year 2017.

But at this rate, working tirelessly for five hours, then being so tired for five days we can't imagine doing it again, by the time we started to clean up again what we previously cleaned has become re-cluttered and it's like the proverbial rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I seem to remember seeing some people doing that in the film, right before they went sliding into the sea.

But, as always, my wife is right. There's a place for everything. Even if that place is sometimes in the middle of the dining room.

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Drowsy Browser Wars

A few years ago, the war between Netscape and Internet Explorer was big news. Netscape was the leader, and IE the challenger. Then IE took over while Netscape died and was reincarnated as "Mozilla" at www.Mozilla.org

Mozilla has come of age, and is now a better browser than IE—faster, more stable, with more features, including better bookmarks (you can search them all in less than a second), and tabbed windows to let you bookmark groups of sites.

It runs better under Windows than IE. I never have to use Control-ALT-Delete on it. It doesn't slow down my system the way IE can. To be fair, there are two things IE does better: 1) fill in forms (the drop down things from each form field are useful and not available in Mozilla). The second is that in some sites the formatting seems designed for IE's flaws, so when Mozilla interprets them "correctly," they don't look completely correct. But giving that up is a very small price to pay for a much better browsing experience.


There are ways to design so that everything looks right in IE and Mozilla, but this requires more working around IE's flaws than anything. IE still doesn't interpret style sheets as accurately as Mozilla does.

One tip—I've found that using percentages for font sizing is the most consistent unit of measure between the two browsers. Plus, it allows IE users to make their fonts bigger or smaller (depending on their eyesight and preferences) while setting fonts in points or pixels makes them non-sizeable in IE (though you can still size them in Mozilla—score one more for Moz).

So if you're building web sites, I highly recommend you download the latest version of Mozilla and test your sites in it.

If you're using NetObjects Fusion 7 or later, turn on CSS (well-hidden at Tools/Options/Current Site in the "Text Formatting" box). You'll find Fusion does an excellent job making sites look correct in both browsers. Sometimes bulleted text will look different, but overall, formatting is consistent.

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One Final Word

No one's probably going to read down this far, but if they do, my wife has 2 things to add. 1.  She's the one who always puts things back in their place, and 2. the total cost of all the clothes in the box was less than $17. And she only paid $10 for the shipping. Somehow she thinks these things are significant. And she always smells good, so who am I to complain? 



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The SchoomozeLetter is ©1998-2005, Daniel Will-Harris, all rights reserved. If you'd like to use any article on the web or in print, please ask for permission. If you're an agent or publisher looking to publish these pieces, just drop me a note.