October 11, 2007
Headlines from a nineteen-year-old newspaper found in the bottom of a drawer illustrate how problems hang around for decades (and longer).
I didn’t have to do it. It was my “nothing” day, which means I had written the word “Nothing” on my calendar. On those days I wake up to an empty schedule and can do anything I want, from eating popcorn and watching a movie to reading novels or driving to the mountains. I can do anything at all that I don’t HAVE to do. So the one thing I didn’t HAVE to do was clean out my desk drawer.
But it’s been accumulating junk (which didn’t seem like pieces of “junk” when I put it in the drawer) for more than 19 years. And lately I’ve gotten tired of digging through everything in order to find one small item I need quickly. Besides, since it wasn’t something I HAD to do, it piqued my curiosity to see just what was in there. Let me tell you, in 19 years you can get an awfully lot into a drawer measuring 7 inches high, 21 inches wide, and 23 inches deep.
Here’s a partial list of what I discovered in that mess.
50+ pencils you have to sharpen, which I don’t like to do
12 mechanical pencils I do use, which are in addition to all the pencils I keep in jars around the office
21 small holders for lead needed for those pencils
11 boxes of mechanical pencil erasers (some are probably so old they’re hard)
15 boxes of paper clips and clasps of various sizes, in addition to many loose clips
3 tubes of Vaseline to moisten my lips
5 tubes of Neutrogena for my hands
24 permanent markers
17 keys that fit a door or cupboard somewhere, but where?
2 three-hole punches
30 match boxes for candles I often like to use in the office
6 candles that don’t fit into a holder
3 votive candle holders without candles
8 holders for scotch tape
4 tubes of glue that work
5 tubes of dried-out glue
8 cloth wipes for glasses, though I use Kleenex instead, despite the ophthalmologist’s recommendation
1 bottle of lens cleaner
4 glass cases with extra prescription glasses in case I need them
3 empty glass cases
1 sponge holder for stamps
1 unopened box of rubber fingers so old they are completely unusable
7 boxes of staples
1 staple remover
5 gum erasers that might work
5 gum erasers that definitely don’t work
12 paper napkins waiting for the next time I eat lunch at my desk (but then, of course, I forget and bring in a fresh napkin)
PLUS a bunch of other stuff !!!
The newspaper lining the bottom of the drawer was the front page of The Los Angeles Times on April 12, 1988. I’m sure there are other, older newspapers lining other drawers somewhere in the house. But none of the drawers are used every day, as this one is.
In any case, I found the headlines interesting and discouraging. So little has changed. Wanting something for a blog topic today, I thought I’d share them with you.
- Pakistani Blasts Called Sabotage: Linked to Pro-Soviet Afghanistan Regime, U.S. Is Reportedly Told — According to U.S. sources, “the explosions wiped out a major source of CIA-supplied tactical assault weapons for moujahedeen resistance fighters battling the Soviet-backed government of President Najibullah in Afghanistan.” Hmmm. Let’s see, weren’t we told that if we got involved in the fight for freedom that the Middle East would become more peaceful?
- Second Hostage Is Slain Aboard Kuwait Airliner — Threatening terrorism to force one’s opponents to capitulate didn’t work any better then than it does now. It was only two years after this that we were asked to come to Kuwait’s rescue in the Gulf war.
- U.S. Bishops Condemn “the Sin of Sexism” — A pastoral letter that had taken five years to write said “the church has perpetuated sexism by historically interpreting Scriptures as teaching that women are inferior to men and through insensitive priests who even today are known to tell women to ‘offer up to God’ the abuse of their husbands.” The bishops said they therefore “regret and confess their individual and collective failures to respond to women as they deserve.” Then they called the people of God to join them in “personal and corporate contrition for the sins of sexism that violate the basic tenets of our faith.” Isn’t there another sin for which the Catholic church has had to apologize since then?
- ‘Last Emperor’ Reigns Over Oscar Ceremonies: Best Picture Winner Adds Eight Other Awards: Cher and Douglas Take Top Prizes for Acting — Hollywood always has something to take our minds off the mess in the rest of the world.
- U.S. Jews for Peace Talks on Mideast — What front page couldn’t be complete without mentioning the Arab-Israeli conflict? A poll conducted by The Times found that “American Jews overwhelmingly support the U.S. Proposal for an international peace conference on the Middle East, favor increased autonomy for Palestinians and believe that both Israeli and Arab attitudes must change for peace to occur,” etc. How many peace conferences will they be before we see genuine peace? I don’t suspect there will be enough in my lifetime.
- 8 Palestinians Deported in Act of Israeli Reprisal — The first paragraph said: “The Israeli government deported eight Palestinians from the occupied territories Monday and served a dozen more with expulsion orders as it continued a series of reprisals after the controversial killing of a Jewish teen-ager last week in a West Bank Arab village.” Killings and reprisals are nothing new, are they? Funny how people seem to think you can convince your enemy to change his mind when you point a gun at his head. At least in this case Israel only retaliated with deportation, and not a bomb.
- Oil Prices Rise as OPEC Turns to New Allies — This surprise initiative by “second-tier oil-producing nations to join forces with OPEC” … caused oil traders to quickly bid up crude oil prices to $17.89 a barrel. Today we’d all be glad to go back to those “high” prices.
- Speakes Relates How He Made Up Reagan Quotes — Larry Speakes, former White House spokesman, noted in his memoirs, published the week before, about a 1985 summit between Gorbachev and Reagan. Apparently the Russian leader had given several “quotable statements about Soviet desires for peace, whereas Reagan said little.” So Speakes instructed a press aide “to draft some quotes for the President,” such as: “There is much that divides us, but I believe the world breathes easier because we are talking here together.” How many of Bush’s quotes are his own? I know he said “Childrens do learn” the other day because I heard him. But maybe his voice was dubbed and someone who doesn’t like the No Child Left Behind Initiative was imitating his voice.
- Paton Dies: Alerted World to S. African Blacks’ Plights — Alan Patan, author of “Cry, the Beloved Country,” awakened the world to the plight of blacks in South Africa and won instant and lasting acclaim. Fortunately, even in the face of all the cruelty, injustice and conflict in the world, there will always be some who speak out on behalf o
f the oppressed and powerless. Unfortunately, Paton didn’t live to see apartheid end four years later, in 1992.
How neat is your desk drawer? What headlines lie on the bottom of your drawers and shelves?
Happy cleaning out your drawers.
NOTE: The pencils pictured above are sold by EMC Advertising Gifts in the United Kingdom. They are made from recycled vending cups. You can also get pencils without any wood that are made from recycled denim at Treehugger.