The Law of the Missing Remote

There must be a law that describes this, but I can’t find one. We have four air conditioners in our flat, and four remotes. Each remote used to sit snugly in one of those wall clasp things, and everything was hunky dory. No missing remotes, no mess. Until one of the remotes broke, so now we have three, to operate four units. So now, of course, the remotes have to be moved around to operate air conditioners in other rooms. So now we have no idea where the remotes are. We are now, one week into this crisis, down to one remote. I have no idea where the other ones went. What is this called, when the removal of one item triggers a collapse in the order of all the other untis?

I assume the same would happen if you have five remotes governing four units. Quickly you’d stop looking for the remote in the wall clasp, and start leaving the remotes around anywhere, thinking “Hey, we’ve got plenty of them, why bother to put them back?” So after a while you’d be down to fewer remotes than there are units.

I can think of 100 ways to solve this problem, but not one that isn’t hopelessly nerdy, involving string or rubber bands or something to keep the remotes in place. When you have to start stringing your remotes to the devices you’re trying to control remotely, they’re not remotes anymore. And you’re a nerd.

Inside the Pocket of a Productivity Porn Star

Merlin Mann does a great blog on personal productivity at 43 Folders. After foodies watching and reading about food without actually cooking anything (food porn) and travel shows about places you’d never actually go or activities you’d never actually do (travel porn) this is productivity porn: an obsession with the detritus, in this case the books, pens, notebooks and gadgets, of the action, in this case productivity, without actually becoming more productive.

Anyway, occasionally Merlin catches the zeitgeist, and when he posted something on this blog referring to a NYT/IHT piece about the Jimi, a minimalist plastic wallet with an ideological goal of reducing the amount of stuff you store and carry in your wallet, readers were excited. A request for readers to share how they carried their money and credit cards around drew a slew of responses – 130 at the current count – which manage to be informative and, perhaps unintentionally, hilarious at the same time. Always a risk, I guess, when you ask people what they have got in their pocket.

I personally prefer the Viz Top Tip-esque (“Don’t waste money on a lead. Simply walk your dog backwards holding its tail”) home-made money solutions, which may or may not be written with tongue in cheek (you never know with the productivity porn lot), like this one:

Five years ago, I bought a bag of rubber bands for $0.99 and they have been my wallet ever since. A few times a year, the band breaks and I grab another from the bag. Besides being economical, it adds practically zero bulk to my pocket, and it’s quick to access. Cash tends to get a tad crumpled, but it’s worth it.

WalletAnother guy said his favorite was a metal cigarette case. It held a few cards and some cash perfectly, and looked really cool. I used it for years, until one of the corners got kind of scraggly, and it started poking me in the ass. Another touts a red binder clip, another a bungie cord case, another a 3×5 index card wrapped around his stash, while someone called trevor uses his girlfriend’s “’Yasmin’ birth control pill sleeve. It holds 3 credit cards (MC, Discover, ATM) on one side, driver license, insurance cards (auto/medical) on the other. It’s super slim, pretty durable and I get a new “wallet” for free each time my girlfriend gets a new supply of the pills.”

Sadly none of these solutions work in a country where the highest denomination bill/note is less than $10 and you use a credit card at your peril. But that’s my fault for living in Indonesia.