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Subject: Re: [everydaysystems] Schwerpunkt und Cartago Delenda Est, Wo ist seine inventur ?
From: Reinhard Engels
Date: Wed, 6 Oct 2004 07:42:21 -0700 (PDT)

Hi Debbie,

> Ok...I'm back from work, still to ill to
> shovelglove, what else is a 
> worthwhile activity for a excitement challenged girl
> to do?
> Look through "terminated" everyday systems of
> course!

Wow, you really must have been fit for nothing! 

> So what's Schwerpunkt...Does this have to do with
> dropping 
> things?...No wait that "plunkt". I don't have a
> clue, but I'm sure 
> it's funny, and probably very German and
> functionally efficient lol :)

"Schwerpunkt" literally means "heavy point." It's
German WWII military term that means concentrating all
your forces on a single, narrow front to achieve
overwhelming superiority and break through the enemy
lines. I wanted to apply it to housecleaning,
naturally. The idea is: certain parts of the house get
much dirtier, faster than others (in our case:
kitchen, bathroom, dining room). Instead of diluting
your limited cleaning efforts over the whole house,
focus on these. Not only will you notice the results
of your efforts more, but (so the theory goes) you'll
nip the funk in the bud before it migrates to other
rooms. Using a manly military term for something for
mundane "women's work" is supposed to whip up
inspiration. It's not a terrible idea, as a general
principle, just insufficiently specific.

> And Cartago Delenda Est?

"Cartago delenda est" is kind of similar. It means
(roughly) "Carthage must be utterly destroyed." The
ancient roman statesman Cato the elder uttered this
hard-ass phrase at the end of every speech he gave in
the senate during the third (?) punic war, to remind
his fellow senators of the awful but necessary
business before them. Carthage (located in modern
Tunisia) was basically Rome's only serious competition
in the empire business until the barbarian implosion,
and the wars between them were close calls, fiercely
destructive, and "existential." The great Carthaginian
general Hannibal had scared the pants off them when he
brought an Elephant mounted army over the Alps and
rampaged through Italy. When the Romans finally did
win, they took Cato's advice literally: they burned
Carthage to the ground, sold everybody they didn't
kill outright into slavery, and plowed salt into the
fields so they couldn't ever grow anything again --
the low tech equivalent of an atom bomb. 

So what activity do I use this awful image to inspire?
Doing dishes. Except dishes are an even more fearsome
enemy than Carthage-- because no matter how many times
you do them, however "utterly," there will be more
tomorrow. But just because it's hopeless doesn't mean
you can't be a hard-ass about it. The smaller
(qualitatively speaking), more hopeless, and
repetitive the task, the more we are in need of
inspiration, because it just won't come with any. So I
don't think Cato the Elder is too much. Ajaxing the
sink makes a great salt substitute.

The big problem with this system? I got a dishwasher. 


 © 2002-2005 Reinhard Engels, All Rights Reserved.