Mr Parkinson and Entropy

Even though we are in the midst of autumn planting and plant feeding, we needed to do some long outstanding “housekeeping” too. Well, not keeping of the house – that’s obviously on-going – but some housekeeping of the shed and the coops (the latter described in another post). We found through the simple passage of time that there is a strong correlation between Parkinson’s Law and entropy.

I still remember my old science teacher’s informal explanation of entropy – the tendency of everything to evolve towards total chaos. It surely applies to my daughter’s room, while her brother’s room has a tendency to painstakingly evolve towards the ultimate state of neatness. As kids we always used to joke that “entropy sets in” alongside the phrase that “rigor mortis sets in”. I have no idea why those two things were related at the time…

In the IT world, you find an adaption of Parkinson’s Law that states that “data expands to fill the space available for storage”. Well, we have had Parkinson’s Law of tools, boxes and other stuff working so well in the shed that entropy had already “set in”.

With school holidays and family visiting, we’ve been running one project after the other, without taking the time to re-establish any order in between. The result is that the shed was in complete shambles. Even the old small wheelbarrow that I use to cart tools and equipment around to projects was in a mess – there were so many tools and wires and off-cuts and clips and nuts and bolts in there that it took me hours to find anything in there anyway.

In addition, the kids obliterated the shed window with a basketball. Not once, but twice. Well the second time the three wise men (Markus and two friends) broke the broken window even further, when they knew full well they shouldn’t have been shooting hoops at the net hanging right beside it, never mind from the top of the jungle gym! Kids… Anyway, there were shards of glass scattered all over the shed too – in the old boxes, in the tools wheelbarrow (imagine scratch around for the small pliers), even under my car right at the far end of the shed. (I should have taken a photo of the double-smashed window and the three wise men on the jungle gym…)

I can’t recall my science teacher ever talking about the highest degree of entropy, but in our case “total entropy had set in.” Big time. Like in the top photo.

What really tipped the scale was that the hooks that held up the post digger gave in, and it nearly fell on top of me and/or my car. I don’t know which would have been worse… but luckily no damage was done, but it needed a new place. Talking of wise men, hanging a heavy piece of heavily used machinery higher than shoulder height wasn’t the wisest thing either, not to mention the flimsy hooks it was hanging on, but in my defence, it was hanging conveniently near the shed door.

Besides, I needed a clean workbench for a new related hobby that I’m about to start pursuing. The equipment had just arrived in the mail! But more about that later; maybe much later…

So a good clean up was in order. So over two cold, windy, slightly rainy days (we had 6mm of rain spread out over the weekend, yay!), many hours, a few bins of dust and glass and a massive reshuffling later, the essence of what I needed done was done. As part of the process I moved all the tools to make space for a bookshelf that Richard, my good friend and surfing buddy, had still custom made for us in South Africa – this must be more than 10 years ago when we got Markus’ room ready.  So instead of holding children’s’ books and small toys, it now holds many, many different labelled boxes of screws, which previously had been scattered over the workbench, all over the floor and in the tools wheelbarrow. A great re-purposing and a place of honour for my good mate’s handiwork.

Entropy - overview

Now I finally have a clean bench to work on. OK let’s keep it like this now! But this is only one quarter of the shed… we need much more rain (genuinely) but also some rainy days to sort out the other three quarters of the shed.

Entropy - after

I can’t wait for the shed next door at Dreamland to become available. Then we can move all the chicken equipment (brooder, day cage, etc.) in there, together with some of the tools that we mostly use on that side of the fence. Ha ha, I can already see Mr Parkinson rubbing his grubby little hands in anticipation to start operating in that shed too!

About (207 Articles)
My name is Martin Rennhackkamp, I now live happily in Lara, Victoria, Australia with my wife, two children and two dogs. My interests, apart from the obvious Organic, Biodynamic and Permaculture Gardening and Farming, include sustainable living, surfing, horse-riding, a wide variety of music, dancing, nature, birds, reading, Christianity and a few other things which I never get to...

7 Comments on Mr Parkinson and Entropy

  1. 🙂 :)….The challenge is to keep it that way Martin…says he who’s garage looks like a cyclone has hit it…Sterkte met die pragtige voornemens..

  2. I’m glad you weren’t hurt by the post digger.

    Anyway, I don’t think it’s just data that will fill a space, our house as well as the shed never seem to get any emptier. Hopefully, your now organised shed will maintain its current order.

    • // April 4, 2019 at 2:40 pm // Reply

      Yes Helen, we all seem to gather like pack rats! I know who has to maintain the order… let’s hope he gets it right this time round 🙂

  3. Respect! I can’t even get into my shed at the moment – gathering cardboard for mulching again when the weather allows. Stuff definately expands to fill the space available and then some.

    • // April 4, 2019 at 2:39 pm // Reply

      It’s exactly those boxes for mulching that filled a LOT of the space. I’m now keeping them flattened outside – but I know it’s going to get messy once it starts raining.

      • Yes, not practical for me with almost constant rain! I suppose one could cover them with plastic sheet. The worms would love that!

      • // April 8, 2019 at 2:17 pm //

        Yes my previous outside heap of cardboard became a mouse-nest 🙁 I’m now re-doing our veg boxes, so quickly running through the cardboard this time round.

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