Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Home Chaos Sensor

track the depth of the clutter
  (+10, -1)(+10, -1)
(+10, -1)
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I have struggled for years to keep my living place tidy. Often, I do this very well and I can be quite the “neat nick” but, every few months I become busy, or lazy, or I just stop remembering to clean up a little each day and, gradually, over the course of a week, so my apartment decays into a state of utter chaos.

Clothes are on the floor and not in the hamper, cooking things are all over the counter and not on their little hooks—books lie open on the floors and the remains of various projects (such as fixing my roller skates or painting postcards) spread over the floor, glue may spill and bind my notebooks to the rug- open pens first leak over my socks then dry out never to be used again . At last, I wake up one day and cry “Enough! Enough!” and then I must clean and it takes forever—then after a few months inevitably the chaos returns.

Since I’m big on the idea of “self improvement” I read about how people stay neat ‘**all the time** on the net for a bit and the prevailing wisdom seems to be that you must “clean a little each day” so that it is a habit. Well, that sounds boring and annoying…

So, to aid messy persons in this the Chaos Meter eneters the scene. The meter would keep track of the entropy level in a room. The meter would consist of a set of digital cameras that could be placed in several places where they would focus on trouble spots. When you get around to cleaning you would hit a button that would set the clean state as the “ideal” in the Chaos Meter’s memory. Then, as things shift from their correct places, the chaos meter would give you a reading of the degree of messiness of the room. The greater the difference between the ideal state and the present state the greater the percentage of chaos.

The main point of this is that it is often hard to start cleaning because it is hard to see how washing one dish, or picking up one piece of clothing could really make an impact—moreover, it is also hard to notice when you living space has drifted into the state of %50 chaos where, wile it may * seem * clean true total chaos is very likely to strike within the week (most often on Mondays after fun filled weekends) if you do not “fight” it for just a few moments now and then to prevent it from tipping over the brink.

Like an electronic thermometer the chaos meter would have a wall panel display showing how messy your dwelling as a whole was. This reading could also be sent via the internet to you mom—giving you an extra incentive to clean (needless to say the photos themselves would not be available, though “cam girls” …and cam boys… could set that up too if they wanted. I digress)

Lastly you could set a “goal” percentage of neatness—for example %80 neat then when you fall below that mark you would know right away it was time to clean until you got in to your “optimal” range again.

This product would also be great for kids! Kids love feedback! Chaos Meter makes cleaning an instant feedback loop!

ADDENDUM: It might be useful to upload the images of the room for feedback on the web.. www.isThisACleanRoomOrNot.com for those people who are expecting guests—and who are deeply insecure about such things—(poor dears)

futurebird, May 14 2002

The Principia Discordia http://www.ology.org/principia/
Hail Eris! [-alx, May 14 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Chaos Theory http://www.pithemovie.com/chaos.html
If a butterfly flaps its wings in China, it can affect weather patterns in New York. [stupop, May 15 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]


       I always notice the mess as I leave for work and then disregard it when I get home.
po, May 14 2002

       The problem with this idea is that if the Chaos Meter reading is high, you can't see/find the Chaos Meter.
phoenix, May 14 2002

       I'm a messy kind of neat. I can find most stuff, usually, but there's always too much stuff that I don't want to deal with right at that instant. Although at one point, I ignored the dishes so long there wasn't a clean one left in the house. I just did them a week ago, the last time I did 'em before that was sometime in March, I think. Somehow it just made sense to optimize the time. But it just wasn't a good thing. I hope the thing's scaled logarithmically, otherwise I'll risk pegging the meter.
RayfordSteele, May 14 2002

       From the introduction to the 5th edition of The Principia Discordia:   

       "Before I was a Discordian, when I entered my room only to be reminded by its disarry that it was a mess, I felt a sense of defeat. These days when that happens I just say, "Hail Eris!" - our customary salute to any embodiment of chaos - and then I cheerfully carry on, secure in the knowledge that the constellations look no better."
-alx, May 14 2002

       This would depress me so much, my goal would be 1%, anything above that would be wishful thinking.   

       Kids love feedback on how much mess they can make.   

       Don't have guests - unless they know how untidy you are. (that's my policy). Although I would love to be neat this would just add to the fear of being featured next on "ismyhouseatip?.com" site.
arora, May 14 2002

       Messiness is a sign of Genius.
thumbwax, May 15 2002

       We need to work on reversing that whole order->chaos thing, so messy rooms clean themselves up.
waugsqueke, May 15 2002

       [waugsqueke] well, you could have all items attached to the places where they should be put away. Attached by very very long, fine, almost infinitely elastic strings which you wouldn't notice at all, and wouldn't trip over because when you use something, you pull out a bit more string than you need. When the Chaos Meter gets 5% (or your choice) out of your comfort zone, little motors in the walls start slowly reeling in the strings, and all the items spookily start returning to their correct shelves. If you are using some of them at the time, this is annoying. You can stop the process by tidying some other stuff away yourself, to get the Chaos rating down.
sappho, May 15 2002

       Here's what you need to do:   

       Work out the optimal location for a butterfly to flap its wings so that a gust of wind will come in through your window with the perfect strength and direction to blow all your possessions back into their appropriate positions. Then all you need to do is employ a butterfly trainer to go there and release a butterfly any time your apartment is in a mess.
stupop, May 15 2002

       Well,...sounds like my home. I agree with thumbwax. There's everything on it's place. I am a chaotic and I like it!
halfmanhalfcookie, Jul 27 2002

       My room is messy, so I am an ideal candidate for a Chaos Meter.
smokeyjohnson, Aug 17 2002

       //Messiness is a sign of Genius.//

You shall all know me as Dr. Assault, M.D.
AfroAssault, Aug 18 2002

       what are your rates?
po, Aug 18 2002

       The fifth empty beer can on Snarfyguy's floor causes Chaos Meter to announce that it's time to tidy up. "beep! beep! beep!" it says, hopefully. Snarfyguy switches it off and turns his attention back to reading old rock magazines. Life goes on, much as before.
snarfyguy, Jan 15 2003

       Using military image analysis software, the Chaos Sensor could extract the fractal dimension of the room. As this approaches 2, it sounds a preset alarm.
BunsenHoneydew, Feb 07 2003

       Personally, when housekeeping has gone unattended to, I switch from electric light to candle light. Then, with further decay, I start putting them out, one at a time. When even one candle is unbearable, that becomes cleaning day. Well, the next day, anyway.
pluterday, Feb 07 2003

       bee: Are you really an autobot? Your annotations have this wonderful absence of context.
DrCurry, Feb 22 2003

       "Autobot?" Is that a real thing?
snarfyguy, Feb 22 2003

       waugsqueke doesn't. He'll be p***ed.
DrCurry, Feb 22 2003

       come back, big M. all is forgiven. at least there was a cerebral content.
po, Feb 22 2003

       (Cedar places sensor in home, needle pins at 100% chaos, then breaks)... "Damn!... where did I put that warranty card?" (shuffle, shuffle)...
Cedar Park, Feb 23 2003


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