Advice on Decluttering Jan and I are in the process of our 20 th move since we married; to become Bridge of Allan Rotarians for 8 months while our house is extended and renovated. This is a time when one of us gets zealous about removing items deemed no longer needed. The trait is called decluttering and it is quite a fad with some people. There are books written about it like “67 Ways to Declutter a Messy Home¨ suggesting it brings well-being into one’s life. They even have rule books which have rules such as ‘declutter one item a day’, ‘create a de-clutter plan’. Wow, thus is close to some pagan religion. The alternate to the de-clutterer is the hoarder who saves lots of useful stuff that just might be useful one day. The troves of hoarders are often found in lofts or garages or both. In our household we have one of each type and it is me who prefers to hoard. I have to watch my stuff very carefully during a house move. There are no books for hoarders that I can find so someone needs to defend them. Familiar stuff can brighten your life. I collected a full set of Jennings’ books with my son and gave them to an Oxfam shop when we moved from Aberdeen to Bogotá. I now regret that mistake. So this week’s advice is ‘be kind to hoarders and wary of decluttering’. I bet there are several works by great masters such as Rembrandt discarded by de-clutterers which would be worth 10s of millions of pounds if a hoarder had prevailed and saved them from a declutterer’s bonfire.
Advice on understanding compounding Tonight I shall venture gently into the world of high school mathematics and offer some practical advice on the need to understand the power of compounding. Compounding is the process which occurs when, for example, the interest on a capital asset or debt itself accrues interest and this is added to the capital asset or debt. Year on year the sum increases as interest is accrued on the interest. Allegedly Einstein called this one of the most powerful forces in the universe and the eighth wonder of the world (the evidence is not overwhelming that he was the author although it is oft quoted). It is summed up as: He who understands it, earns it ... he who doesn't ... pays it.” ― Albert Einstein However a more extreme example is the story of the mathematician who taught a king to play chess. The king was so impressed he told the mathematician he would gift him anything he desired. The mathematician requested that the king put one grain of wheat on the first square of the chess board, two grains on the second and thereafter double the amount on each successive square. The king thought this request was trivial and readily agreed. The total number of grains is 2 to the power 64 -1 which is more grain than has been harvested on earth by humans since history began. One version of the legend suggests the king had him executed for making the monarch look stupid so there are two bits of advice tonight: never underestimate the power of compounding and be careful who you make fun of. Advice on Re-cycling I am a big fan of recycling. Anyone who drives down the M9 to Edinburgh will be horrified at the smell from the landfill site when the wind is poised to arrange a stinky attack on the car occupants. We need to reduce landfill and preserve our resources of raw materials. This advice concerns the bin recycling system. I have managed for years by putting my bins down the drive as late as possible and relying on nearby old people who have read the instructions carefully, perhaps visited the council website and know exactly which bins should be hauled down to the street. This has been an 80m journey for me so I do like to get it right. However the new multi coloured 5 bin system has caused disruption to my strategy. The programme is a complex multi week system and was delivered in a flier tucked into the grey bin, which was not waterproof got wet and fell apart. Incidentally the new bins arrived two weeks after they started collecting them on Glen Road so and they did not empty the redundant old ones. However the new problem is I can no longer rely on checking what everyone else puts out and doing the same. I cannot even fathom which way the new bins should face. The reason for this is that, in my area at least, no two houses do the same thing. Perhaps this will improve once people have committed to memory the multi week cycle and worked out how the new bins are lifted. So my advice this week is: If you live in an area where you cannot rely on your neighbors to copy their bin cycle, move to a smarter area. Jan and I have upped sticks to Bridge of Allan for a few months until Glen Road, Dunblane gets its act together.