December 14, 2001

Beginning of the Road

By Dane Sorensen


Okay, it is the bottom of the ninth, it is your last chance at Christmas shopping and you are desperate to find that one gift for your beloved. You have exhausted all the usual gifts. You gave them a set of Ginsu knives back in '97. Those Beanie Babies you gave in 1998 that were going to appreciate in value by 5000% ended up as dog chews. Christmas 1999 was an easy one thanks to Y2K; what better way to say I love you than with a Coleman 5000 watt generator? So what if it now sits in the basement collecting dust. Heaven only knows if all those five gallon gas tanks full of $1.89 a gallon unleaded are still good from 1999. Last year you barely got a smile when you gave them a new microwave oven that requires a Ph.D. to figure which buttons to push to make popcorn.

So what is it going to be this Christmas? If you are stumped at what to give I have a suggestion for you that is guaranteed to be the best gift you have given in years. I am talking home run here. This year give a paper shredder.

You don't have to be a member of the CIA or a former Nixon White House staffer to appreciate a good paper shredder. To be honest, I always thought they were a vanity item. For most of us mortals what papers do we have that are really so secret that we need to shred them? I just can't think of anyone in Ely who would really have "sensitive" data that would make or break their life if it fell into the wrong hands.

Before I got a paper shredder I just looked at them as another useless electric device. One of many you see around Christmas time such as those food packet makers or those table top chicken cookers that can't be washed in a dishwasher.

Now I own two paper shredders. I did not actually go out and buy them. Nor were they gifts. Let's say I inherited them from a tenant who moved to Stillwater Prison. Yes, they were some of the many items the Reverend Crane (the Zephyr credit card scam business owner) accidentally left as he was trying to avoid the sheriff. I only use one, as the other is in the basement with my collection of Crane memorabilia.

My first use for this paper shredder was to shred my junk mail at our import business. I find it takes less than two days to fill the container with just the odds and ends of misprinted computer documents and junk mail. Instead of taking it to recycling I started using it as packing material. It is great for that if you mix it up so it is all fluffy. As far as packing material goes, it certainly is not as irritating to receive as those dumb foam peanuts that other companies use. Whoever invented peanuts should be shot. They are horrible. They stick to everything. They get all over the place when you try and take something out of its box. You can't recycle them and they take up so much space. I have a feeling that if you checked out an average landfill, it if at least 20% packing peanuts.

Disposing of shredded paper is easy. You can recycle it in the newspaper bin at recycling. Even better, you can use it in your home. Shredded paper is great for packing away Christmas ornaments. Also, if you have a fire place you can use shredded paper to start a fire. Burning junk mail in a fire place or wood stove is difficult to do unless you shred it. Once it is shredded it burns as good as birch bark.

Another use for shredded paper is in home taxidermy. Just take that prize fish and stuff it full of paper shreds. My lovely wife wants to test out my shredder and see if it can make pasta as well. The more you use a paper shredder the more you realize what can be fed into it.

I find shredded paper is great for disguising what is inside a present. Another use is to add it to baked goods as fiber and then send the baked goods to Washington DC. Our politicians are so full of you know what they would never notice the added bulk.

I have found that since I started using a paper shredder I am happier. One gets a smug sense of satisfaction knowing that all those stupid advertisers have spent all this money on paper, printing and postage just so you can shred their stupid offers and start a nice cozy wood fire with it. I am already looking forward to shredding Ed McMahon and my ten million dollar lucky numbers in January. What better way to lower your heating bills than by burning junk mail? If only I could do that to all the bills that come as well. If we could get away with that then everyone would want a paper shredder for Christmas.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Ely.


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