"First Principles", or "6:15am to 6:30am every day"

The first principle is not to punish yourself if you re-enter a room once you’ve left it, or if you find yourself not trusting the system.

The second principle is never to re-enter a room once you’ve left it.

The third principle is to trust the system.

We leave the bathroom wearing the bathrobe, untied, held closed with our right arm so that the left hand can open the door. In the right hand we hold last night’s dirty underwear together with the pajamas. We are naked underneath the robe.

Entering the dressing room, we have two immediate tasks: put the underwear in the hamper, and hang the pajamas, if mostly still clean, on the hook in the closet. The hamper lid must be opened with a hand, and so it must be the left hand, still empty, that does this. We must remember to open the lid all the way, until it rests open against the wall, so that we have two hands to sort through the bundle of clothes to find the underwear. Do not rush this step. Do not attempt to hang the pajama pieces as we look for the underwear, because that would mean moving and turning back and forth between the closet and the hamper, even though they are adjacent.

We take the time to finish the hamper step, close the hamper lid, and then proceed to administer to the pajamas. Our robe will probably come open, exposing the penis to the cold morning. Tomorrow morning we will consider this an acceptable sacrifice to fastidiousness; why knot the robe for the sixteen foot journey to the dressing room closet. But today, in the moment we will swear next time to knot the twisted bathrobe belt, using the method found on that aikido website, while we are still in the bathroom.

The fresh underwear go on while we are still wearing the robe. The robe gets hung on a plastic hanger, properly; no slopping this step, or else the robe will fall, and become another strata in the bottom of the closet. If we are feeling responsible and on schedule, now is when we may take a brief break to walk into the hallway to weigh ourselves in only our underwear. However we may not record our weight on our cell phone until we are dressed.  We are surely capable of remembering four significant digits for sixty seconds.

The undershirt comes next, from the bottom wooden drawer. We choose a V-neck undershirt if any are present, since we have decided that chest hair is preferable to a messy white strip above the top button. We will be able to tell which of the dense logs of rolled t-shirts is the V-neck from their newer, softer fabric.

Next come the pants, either hanging on a hook if still clean from at least two days ago, or else hanging flat on a hanger. If we wore black yesterday, then khaki today, and vice-versa. Left leg first, to avoid the muscle cramp. Pull them up to the waist and tuck in the undershirt, but do not button or zip them. We can pincer them between our legs if we need to.

We should try to choose the dress shirt with the greatest color contrast to the pants. Collar stays must be in place prior to putting on the shirt. Right arm first, and when it comes time to do the left arm, droop the sleeve low and scoop the shirt upwards onto the back, as if putting on a sport coat. Do not sleeve the left arm by reaching up into the shirt and pulling down and forward, or else we will aggravate the rotator cuff condition. Button the shirt and tuck it into the pants. Button and zip the pants. Adjust the shirt folds around the waist band by smoothing from the front to the back.

The belt may be looped into yesterday’s pants, or it may be hung up on the tie rack. If it is on yesterday’s pants, remove it and lay the pants on top of the closet storage bin. After the belt is looped and fastened, pick up the old pants and check the pockets. Withdraw the items needed for today’s pants. These items include (but are not limited to): car key, house key, wallet, index cards, pen. Whatever items cannot be found in the old pants must be remembered to be searched for later at the desk.

To search yesterday's pants: first, hold the old pants up in the left hand with the fly facing away. Search the right side pockets for items and place them into the current right pockets. Then switch hands and do the same for the other side. There is no clever way to completely unload the old pants, hold all items plus the pants in the hands, lay the old pants down, and load the current pants; it must be done in this one-side-at-a-time method.

It is likely that the old pants contain a pocketknife. Each pair of pants has a specific pocketknife which is intended to accompany it, chosen for how unobtrusive the pocket clip is against the color of the fabric. There is essentially no normal circumstance when we will transfer a pocketknife from old pants to new. If the old pair of pants is in need of washing, the pocketknife may be temporarily placed in the current pocket, for transport to the desk for storage. The current pants’ correct knife will either already be in the back pocket, or else waiting on the top of the desk in the front section of the 19th century wooden stationery box.

Before leaving the closet corner of the room, we choose our pair of socks for the day, from the same low drawer where we keep the undershirts. The socks are the one true rule-less, artistic choice that we make. Any pair is pretty much appropriate for any outfit or occasion. Put the socks into the left front pocket. The cell phone is probably still in the left pocket of the hanging bathrobe. We should withdraw it, and during the three-step voyage across the room to the desk, we can record our daily weight via SMS tweet to YourFlowingData.

The cell phone fits into the left front pocket along with the socks. From the desk we gather what EDC items we were unable to obtain at the closet. If the book is on the desk, we can grab it at this time and place it under our left arm. Before leaving the desk, it is worthwhile to close all drawers and make sure the laptop is closed and plugged in.

Even though we pass the bathroom when leaving the dressing room, we should wait to urinate until after we have scooped the cat box in the sun room; that way we only need to wash our hands once. If we see the water bottle in any of the rooms we pass through during these steps, we should hook its loop onto our left thumb (allowing the other fingers to remain free).

At this point we are almost ready to leave. We sit on the south side of the kitchen table to put on the socks. This is when we have a moment to notice if there is mail to be taken to the mailbox. We can notice, but we should resist the urge to grab it immediately after finishing with the socks.

We now perform one of only two allowable violations of the second principle. If the cat is not in the kitchen, we retrace our steps through the other three rooms already visited, to find and say farewell to the cat. If his eyes are closed, we do not wake him; his cancer taxes his sleep. Be present with him for no less than three seconds (or else it will be meaningless) but no more than eight seconds (for by then he will have convinced us never to leave). We prefer standing or crouching over sitting, so as not to interfere with our momentum.

As we re-enter the kitchen, we make a counterclockwise journey. We place a protein bar from the cabinet into our left pocket. We fill the water bottle (still hooked on our thumb) from the tap. We extract and replace any full garbage bags from by the window; the bag should be held in the right hand. We grab the outgoing mail if any in our left hand, between the ring and middle fingers, so when we finally come to the door, we can unbolt it, turn the knob, open it, and reset the lock using the remaining available fingers on that hand. Then, still using the left hand, we open the screen door into the mud room.

Before closing the doors, all the items in our hands can be placed on top of the storage chest. We turn and close the front doors to the house. We turn again and step to the shoe rack. As with the shirt and pocketknife, the choice of shoe is determined by the pants. We decided last year that the black and green sneakers look asinine with the black pants, and so only wear them with the khakis. Otherwise, we choose the brown boots. We sit on the bench to put on our shoes.

We stand. If there is garbage to be taken out, we must once again violate our principle and make two separate trips out of the mud room. On the first trip, we only take out the garbage. Even if the garbage is light, we still do not attempt to add it into our final walk to the car. We have learned through hard experience that our ability to judge the quantity and mass of garbage, and our ability to maneuver such a load in with our other materiel, is not what we imagine it is. We must take shelter inside the third principle, and make a special, uni-purpose trip to the garbage cans. The screen door to the outside must be operated with the left hand. If two hands are needed for the garbage, we open the door first and leave it open as we turn and grasp the bags.

If we have two hands full of garbage bags, we do not attempt to flip open the lid of either of the garbage cans with a hand still holding a bag. We place the bag containing refuse which belongs to the other can on the ground; e.g. if the regular trash can is the first stop, we set down the recyclables and use that hand to open the trash can lid. The hand holding the bag intended for the first can need not drop its burden.

We do not waste the empty-handed walk back to the house; we make an effort to listen to the birds and to smell the trees and the grass. We inspect the deck for sagging and damage as we re-cross it.

Back in the mudroom, we put on the backpack from the hook, and we fasten the chest strap to prevent it slipping off while bending. We remove the lid of the birdseed container with the left hand, and with the right hand we reach in and fill the metal scoop. We replace the lid. With the left hand now free, we can pick up the mail (again between the middle and ring fingers) and the water bottle (again hooked on the thumb). We should have have sufficient digital movement remaining to re-open the screen door (if necessary) and close it behind us. The challenge throughout these next few steps is not to spill any of the birdseed from the scoop in the right hand.

One third of the birdseed in the scoop goes into the tray feeder to the left of the porch steps. The rest goes into the one on the right. The metal scoop, once emptied, is left turned upside-down on the left side of the third porch step, to be replaced into the birdseed can on our arrival home tonight. 

As we make our way to the car, our right hand is now free to extract the car key from the right pants pocket. We double-click the unlock button so that the passenger door is unlocked, because that is our first destination. With the key cupped in our right palm, we are able to open the passenger door with our right fingers.

We lean in with our left hand to drop the mail on the seat and to place the water bottle in the cupholder. We straighten and unfasten the backpack’s chest strap. We remove the left strap from the shoulder, and in one motion twist our torso to the left, so that the backpack slides off the other shoulder and flies into the passenger side footwell under centrifugal force. We retrieve the mail from the seat and close the door.

The mailbox is to the left of the driveway and opens onto the road. Therefore, to avoid having to stand in the road, we approach the mailbox from the right and open the front door with the right hand. We move the mail into our right hand and use that hand to place it in the mailbox and close the door. By reaching over the mailbox, again with the right hand, we raise the flag.

On the way back up the driveway to the car, we are mindful of our posture and the healthy walking motion of our quads. We inspect the front of the house from this angle and distance, looking for structural or cosmetic changes. We examine and note the progress of weeds across and up through the driveway.

As we approach the car on the driver’s side, the key should now be in the right hand. We withdraw the cell phone from the left pocket and hold it in such a way that we can still open the car door with that hand.

We slide in behind the wheel and close the door (with the left hand). We put the key in the ignition but we do not start the engine. We now have two hands free to maneuver the cell phone into the dashboard mount. We buckle the seatbelt, then we start the engine. As the engine warms, we prepare the podcast playlist for the commute to work.

We are sure that today will be a good day, because we have done everything correctly so far. All we need to do is keep it up.
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