The Rule of Two


Recently, my Best Friend In the Whole World (BFITWW) graciously helped me out of a tight situation by going into my closet to retrieve a specific pair of shoes. He then brought them to me.  (Thank you!) I wasn’t at home at the time, so we communicated by phone. Only then did it occur to me that my closet wasn’t the best organized place. I had violated  the spirit of the Rule of Two.

The Rule of Two states that you should always have at least two of certain necessary items on hand, but no more than two. For example, two packages of paper towels, two of toilet paper, maybe two of laundry detergent. For such necessities, the Rule of Two can help you avoid emergency trips to the store at 10:00 p.m.

The Rule of Two doesn’t apply so neatly to certain ares of the house – such as garages and clothes closets. I have heard that beautifully organized garages with a place for everything and everything in its place do exist. But it is hard to imagine even those garages having only two pairs of needle-nosed pliers and only two large flat-head screw drivers.

Clothes closets are even more complicated. The categories are not so easily defined, and the sub-categories are constantly expanding. There are dress shoes, dressy shoes, work shoes, grungy garden shoes, running shoes, and so on. Apply these sub-categories to other articles of clothing and you see why  a strict reading of the Rule of Two is not a good fit for clothes closets or garages.

I took a hard look at my closet and concluded it was over-crowded and non-functional. I decided to start by focusing on the shoes. An hour later, I had removed ten pairs of shoes that either no longer fit me, or were so outrageously out of style they should be in a shoe-history museum. They’re gone now. It was a bitter-sweet experience. Now I just have to resist replacing them with more shoes.

The unfortunate ten

Last week, I read an interview with Joan Baez. She has lived in the same house for fifty years. Recently she adjusted her home to fit her current interest, painting. As part of the de-cluttering of her living space, she mentioned she now has only three shirts hanging in her closet. I’ll never sing like Joan, and my closet will always be more crowded.







My brother-in-law passed away last month. He was a kind man. A retiree, he volunteered many hours with the Boy Scouts of America. The local Boy Scout District has honored his memory with a scholarship that will send two scouts to Boy Scout Camp.   He spent quality time with his step-children and grandchildren.  A good, kind man who believed in serving the community and taking care of his family, he did both with quiet dignity.

He worked for Pacific Gas and Electric before his retirement. He was the one they sent out late at night when there was a problem, traveling long distances and long hours.

He was a Vietnam Vet, serving as a machinist on a carrier. He died from Mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of cancer that affects the lungs and the lining of the chest. It is difficult to diagnose.  The first indication he had of the problem was a severe pain in his side. It took a while to arrive at a diagnosis. It is important to determine the type of cancer in order to plan an effect attack on the disease, and that requires several tests. He went through radiation therapy and chemotherapy in the hope that the disease could be slowed down. But it was not successful.

Mesothelioma is not curable. There hasn’t been any research on the disease for the past forty years. The on-set is quick. It often masquerades as other ailments making it hard to identify, but early detection does not stop the inevitable.  It is a painful disease. Pain medication helps, but it, too, takes a toll.

My brother-in-law had very high exposure to asbestos. On the carrier, the  mens’ quarters were directly under the asbestos-wrapped pipes. When the guns were fired, asbestos dust rained down on the men. The guns went off day and night, particularly in the Mekong Delta. The association between exposure to asbestos and Mesothelioma has been known by the companies that produced the product since 1935, and yet no action was taken to protect those who had to work with asbestos.

It is so sad that such a good man should have had such a terrible, unnecessary disease.

I’ve capitalized Mesothelioma, not out of respect, but out of fear.