Hoarder or Collector?

According to the International OCD Foundation, about 1 in every 50 people has a serious problem with hoarding. One of the most common explanations a hoarder might have for their overwhelming amount of stuff is that they’re just a collector. That can be difficult to argue with, but there are some very clear differences between the two sets of behaviors.

Both involve buying stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. Hoarders can focus on a handful of particular items and collectors can amass collections of different things . . . so what’s the difference?

Much of it boils down to what’s going on inside a person. Most collectors are those who are proud of their collections, who collect certain things because of the love of the item, or theme, or object. They’re also proud to share their collection with others—they like talking about it, they like sharing stories, and they like showing it to others.

There is also usually a sense of organization to the collector. Things are of value, they’re neatly displayed or organized, and if there’s overflow, the items are boxed and stored carefully. There’s a sense that even though there’s a lot of something—too much, some people might say—it’s all cared for.

You might think someone’s crazy for having 500 different types of pickle jars, but if they’re proud of it, they’re a collector.

Hoarders, on the other hand, may often be ashamed of the state of their house and the items that they’ve amassed. Most hoarders go to great lengths to keep people out of their houses and away from their things; many know that they’re getting carried away, but they can’t help it. They may be embarrassed rather than proud, but they still don’t know how to stop.

There’s usually no organization to a hoarder’s home, no sense that everything has its place. There’s often a wider variety of things that get collected in the hoarder home, and many hoarders gravitate toward free things or stocking up on bargain items that they can’t possibly use.

A collector will find other collectors to share and swap items with, while a hoarder may suffer in isolation.

There’s also a difference in the reason a person accumulates things. Collectors get things because they take pleasure in having them, while hoarders may keep things because they’re afraid of not having them. While a collector might loathe to part with a few prized possessions, it’s because he’ll miss them, not because he thinks something horrible might happen because he gets rid of them.

Hoarding is an obsessive compulsive disorder, and it’s not something that a person comes by voluntarily. Collectors collect because they want to; hoarders hoard because they have no choice.

Hoarding also often has an element of danger involved as well. The behavior is associated with fire hazards in the home, health problems, sanitation problems, and, in the cases where a hoard spills outside the home, there can be issues with town and city regulatory agencies. And when animals are involved, that can escalate the situation to a whole other level.

Perhaps most importantly, collectors and hoarders don’t respond the same to interference from concerned loved ones. Hoarders often need intervention to help keep things from getting completely out of control, and require respect, understanding, help, and usually therapy to get over their hoarding tendencies.


One two-letter word in English has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that word is ‘UP.’  It is listed in the dictionary as an [adv], [prep], [adj], [n]  or [v].

It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake  UP?

At a meeting, why  does a topic come UP?  Why  do we speak  UP, and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a  report?  We call UP our friends, brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, warm UP the leftovers and clean  UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and fix UP the old car.

At other  times, this  little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.

And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.

We open UP a store in the morning  but we close it UP at night.  We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look UP the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.

If you are  UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is  used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more. 

When it threatens to  rain, we  say it is clouding UP.  When the sun comes out, we say  it is clearing UP.  When it rains, it soaks UP  the earth. When it  does not rain for awhile, things dry UP. One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP, for now . . . my time is UP so I’ll shut UP now.


Charles Dickens walks into a bar and says, “I’m bereft of inspiration. Prepare me a martini.”
The bartender replies, “Olive or twist?”

A local monastery was going bankrupt. The abbot didn’t know what to do. The brothers had a meeting, and decided to open a great Olde English Fish-N’-Chips stand. One day, a man knocked on the door. After one of the brothers answered the door, the man asked, “May I have just an order of fries?”
The brother said, “Hold on a moment. I’m the fish friar. You want the chip monk.”

Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. 
This made him what? A super callused fragile mystic plagued with halitosis

Evidence has been found that William Tell and his family were avid bowlers. However, all the league records were unfortunately destroyed in a fire. 
Thus we’ll never know for whom the Tells bowled.

A man rushed into the doctor’s office and shouted, “Doctor! I think I’m shrinking!” 
The doctor calmly responded, “Now, settle down. You’ll just have to be a little patient.”

A thief broke into the local police station and stole all the lavatory equipment. 
A spokesperson was quoted as saying, “We have absolutely nothing to go on.”

Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, but when they lit a fire  in the craft, it sank, proving once and for all that you can’t have your kayak and heat it too.

Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused his dentist’s novocaine during root canal work?  
He wanted to transcend dental medication.

A doctor made it his regular habit to stop off at a bar for a hazelnut daiquiri on his way home.  The bartender knew of his habit, and would always have the drink waiting at precisely 5:03 p.m.  One afternoon, as the end of the work day approached, the bartender was dismayed to find that he was out of hazelnut extract.  Thinking quickly, he threw together a daiquiri made with hickory nuts and set it on the bar. The doctor came in at his regular time, took one sip of the drink and exclaimed, “This isn’t a hazelnut daiquiri!” 
”No, I’m sorry, “replied the bartender, “it’s a hickory daiquiri, doc.”

Census taker: How many children do you have?
Woman: Four.
Census taker: May I have their names, please?
Woman: Eenie, Meenie, Minie and George.
Census taker: Okay, that’s fine. But may I ask why you named your fourth child George?
Woman: Because we didn’t want any Mo.



From about 700 to 1400 CE, Cahokia flourished as one of the greatest cities in the world. The complex society at Cahokia prospered in the fertile lands off of the Mississippi River, across the river from modern St. Louis, Missouri, and it was booming long before Europeans came to America.

By 1000 AD, the Native American community in and around Cahokia Mounds was exhibiting a host of characteristics, which later would become common among Indian societies along the major river drainages throughout the Midwest. This has been termed the Mississippian culture.

Cahokia is currently believed to be the largest archaeological ruins north of Mexico’s great pre-Columbian cities. The mound complex was named after the Cahokia sub-tribe of the Illiniwek, or Illinois tribe, a loose confederacy of related peoples who moved into the area in the 17th century and were living nearby when the French explorers arrived about 1699. Sometime in the mid-1800s, local historians suggested that the site should be called “Cahokia” to honor these later arrivals.

The ruins of this sophisticated native civilization are preserved at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville, Illinois. Within the 2,200-acre area, the remnants of ancient Cahokia are displayed, paying tribute to one of the largest and most influential urban settlements of Mississippian culture. The 3.5-square-mile park contains the ruins of approximately 80 mounds. However, at Cahokia’s height, the site included more than 120 earthen mounds spread out over approximately six square miles.

The largest of these 120 mounds is Monks Mound, also known as Mound 38, which is the largest man-made earthen mound on the North American continent. It received its name from the group of Trappist monks who lived on one of the nearby mounds. The monks never lived on the biggest mound but gardened its first terrace and nearby areas.

Archaeological investigations and scientific tests, mostly since the 1920s and especially since the 1960s, have provided what is known of the archaeologically significant community.

The early Native American cultural hub once boasted a wide variety of edifices, including everything from monumental structures to basic homes for practical living. At its peak between 1050 CE and 1200 CE, the city covered nearly six square miles and was inhabited by 10,000 to 20,000 people. Over 120 mounds were built over the years, and most of the mounds were enlarged several times. Houses were arranged in rows and around open plazas, and vast agricultural fields lay outside the city.

The fate of the Cahokian people and their once-impressive city is mysterious. The decline of this great civilization is believed to have been gradual. Most historians agree that the Cahokians began abandoning the city in the 13th century, and by 1400 CE the civilization was completely deserted. Exactly where the people went or what tribes they became hasn’t yet been determined.

Cahokia is considered a United States National Historic Landmark and is managed by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency as a State Historic Site. Also, in 1982, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Cahokia Mounds a World Heritage Site for its importance to our understanding of the prehistory of North America. Today, visitors can explore the mounds at the park, and learn about the site in the Cahokia Museum and Interpretive Center.

Paul Simon – Here Comes the Sun

One of George Harrison’s best and most enduring songs, performed here by Paul Simon on the Conan Show earlier this week. Simon and Harrison had performed this song together on Saturday Night Live back in 1976, and is still one of my favorite moments in television history.

Madame Restell

Whether fairly or unfairly, the woman born Ann Trow in May 1812 would become known as the “Wickedest Woman in New York”—in spite of her claims that she only wanted to help her fellow women.

Originally from England, she went to the United States with her first husband and their daughter. He died not long after, and she became Ann Lohman when she married again. It wasn’t long after this marriage that she decided to set out on a new career—a female physician, provider of birth control, and abortion doctor.

By all accounts, she didn’t have any actual medical training and her trip overseas—supposedly to return to Europe and train with physicians and midwives there—was a ruse. Once she returned from her supposed trip, she began placing ads in the New York papers, offering her services. She started out advertising her “Preventative Powders” and “Female Monthly Pills,” which offered her clientele affordable birth control methods. Most of her pills and powders contained the same ingredients as folk remedies that had been around for generations, and they weren’t always that reliable.

That was where her other service came in. By now, she was known throughout the city as Madame Restell, and she offered abortions out of her Greenwich Street building. For those who didn’t want to go through an abortion but didn’t want their baby, either, she opened a boarding house next to her office that expectant mothers would stay at—in privacy. After the babies were delivered, Restell would arrange for their adoption.

For all her business sense, Restell couldn’t stay away from the law.

According to New York State law at the time, an unborn baby wasn’t alive until it started to move; that made abortions pretty legal up until the pregnancy was about four months along. While most accounts say that Restell was pretty respectful of this law, the deathbed confession of a woman dying of tuberculosis suggested otherwise. Maria Purdy confessed to drinking one of Restell’s mysterious concoctions (later revealed to contain mostly turpentine), before re-thinking how she was going about killing her baby. She went to Restell for an abortion, and received one.

Restell’s arrest for giving a pregnant woman a dangerous tonic to drink was the first of several arrests. It was ultimately decided that a deathbed confession wasn’t admissible in court, and Restell was found innocent. She went back to her business, with a massive advertising campaign that tried to convince New York that she was only trying to help women—and families—crippled by the overwhelming burden of bearing child after child.

New York law changed in 1845, making abortion illegal. Her next arrest followed on the heels of that, when she says she was harassed into performing an abortion on a woman with a very, very insistent lover. Found guilty, she served time in jail.

By the time she got out, Anthony Comstock had begun his campaign against pornography and birth control. In the wake of the flames he was fanning, Restell became known to the papers as a “hag of misery” and the “wickedest woman in New York.” When she returned to her very, very successful business on her release from jail, the Comstock Law had already been passed—now, selling her birth control pills and powders was a crime.

Comstock himself visited her, begging for something to give his wife. She finally obliged and was arrested the next day. Having been in prison and not wanting to go back, Restell slit her own throat in her bathtub on April 1, 1878. Bizarrely, when news got out, the first reaction was that it was an April Fools’ Day joke.

The church condemned her, and the public passed legislation against her, but according to Madame Restell, everything she did was for the benefit of women who had no other way to help themselves. Throughout her career, she painted a picture of herself as the champion of women who were in too ill health to bear the children that society stated they should, and created an image of herself as a protector of female virtue. While undoubtedly, many of the good, upstanding women of the time would deny ever having anything to do with her, business was so good that by the time she died, she not only had offices in New York City, but also Boston and Philadelphia; newspaper articles of the time point to her furs and jewelry, her servants and her horse-drawn carriages, suggesting that it was a much more widespread practice than most would want to admit.