Digital Desk: Covering Severe Weather Online 101

The middle of the country got hit with its first tornado watch of the new severe weather season today, and thus our annual love affair with thunderstorms continues here in Oklahoma. So, too, does our collective anxiety over the destruction and tragedy caused by tornadoes. At once we’re in awe at the beauty of nature and respectful of the harm it can bring.

I covered this stuff for KOCO.com in Oklahoma City for eight years and learned the weather ropes from the best meteorologists in the nation. However, I also developed a reputation as highly aggressive in my online weather coverage, influenced both by the desire to be competitive and the truth of the data feedback we’d get. First and foremost: The demand for weather coverage cannot be understated.

That TV station is messing up your soap opera? Just know that you are in the extreme minority of people who care. The vast majority — and the numbers bear this out — would rather see the weather coverage if it’s potentially serious enough. That’s a fine line because the meteorological opinion on severity can differ greatly from that of the masses — and both are valid. They’re just not equally valid.

However, this post is for digital editors from Texas to Iowa, Tennessee to Florida, all of whom will be dealing with severe weather over the next three months. If you want to win weather, it’s as simple as this formula.

Side note: If you want to see this plan in action, watch KMBC.com. You won’t see better severe weather coverage in the entire United States this season. In fact, all the Hearst Television stations latch on to this formula to varying degrees, but their Kansas City station is consistent and aggressive. Newspaper sites don’t even try to compete with TV in the weather space, which is a shame given that part of their role is to inform the public in real time.

Step 1: Start informing your viewers of the possibility of severe weather up to a week in advance. That’s right. You’ve got to be talking to your meteorologists and get in the model game. Your job isn’t to hype the weather but to make the folks who come to your website aware of what the models are suggesting. Just the facts. We call it making people “weather aware.”

The problem is that most news websites wait until the day before the storm. That’s too late. At the very minimum, for a Thursday outbreak, your site should feature a story with updates starting Monday.

Step 2: Get as many people to download your app as possible within the week leading up to the outbreak, and then prepare to ping the heck out of ’em when the weather gets serious. During last May’s tornado outbreaks in Oklahoma, KMBC’s news director Sherrie Brown underscored to me fervently that — in a serious severe weather situation — you can’t send too many alerts.

You won’t lose subscribers. People will not remove the app from their phone. The contrary is true: People will look to your site and television station because of your willingness to be aggressive when it counts.

Turns out, she was right. As a general rule, I would use Urban Airship to manually send out phone alerts any time:

— There was a new tornado warning in our viewing area

— Any time there was a tornado confirmed

— The station had an extended cut-in or coverage coming up

— We got confirmed damage reports

Having done this for nearly a decade (2005-2013), I take very seriously the gravity of making sure information we propagate is legit. I’d keep an eye on AP’s alerts and I’d listen in to all our spotters, who have decades of experience. Given that Oklahoma City is in the east-central part of this market, alerting our app users to storms west of the metro served to alert them to oncoming weather.

So, while an alert about a tornado warning in Caddo County doesn’t mean anything to Oklahoma City residents at 2:45 p.m., it damned sure might by 4:30. And if your phone is blowing up with five tornado warnings over the course of 40 minutes, it should make you aware that today ain’t your average day and your vigilance should be high.

Anyway, believe me. Ping the hell out of your app users with legit info, and your mobile numbers will skyrocket. Your TV folks will thank you for teasing to legit coverage — and you don’t risk anything.

Step 3: Plan for live coverage. All the Hearst stations utilize a product called Scribble Live to put on something each station calls the ‘Live Wire.’ KMBC has one going right now.  This is basically a place where reporters and photojournalists and meteorologists can add real-time information about storms. This is also a place where you can feature live video whether it be on-air cut-ins, wall-to-wall coverage or live spotter video from the field.

My TV digital news comrades should always keep in mind: You work at a TV station. Without video, you’re just a newspaper. On a day like today in places where there is concern, if you don’t have some kind of live video up, I would strongly question your strategy.

Most stations are shy about using comments and information from the ‘public’ in a live tool such as this, but at KOCO, it made our Live Wire community stand out. Over the course of five years, the Live Wire developed a following of weather-aware smart users and weather-educated spotters who added to the coverage with information from parts of the state our folks couldn’t get to. Management (nationally) isn’t always crazy about this because it can lessen the quality of the posts.

However, it encourages participation, and when it comes to user-generated content, newsrooms way under-use regular folk from Elk City to Ponca City. My standard practice was to let public comments and questions flow in at a pace comfortable-to-the-eye and develop a community of super users — and curate or moderate when needed.

Step 4: Prepare stories with resource lists, places that take donations, etc., in advance. Have it ready, and once posted (when needed) — send alerts to those apps. Remember: I said you can’t do it enough.

Step 5: Dedicate somebody to building slideshows of puffy clouds, cool lightning, funnels, tornadoes, damage, rainbows, etc., from the outset. Don’t wait until that night to do it. Don’t wait until the next day. This is a job that pretty much uses up one person, but that person can also be your go-to person who looks for user-generated content on Twitter and Facebook.

Couple quick notes on Twitter and Facebook:

1. When you tweet or post to Facebook, timestamp it manually. Things get shared and retweeted, and this information not only could save lives, it could cause a panic. Be deliberate about adding timestamps. Be aggressive with social media, but be careful and deliberate.

2. Don’t report ANYTHING based on what you see on social media. Go through your traditional journalistic channels. Don’t report number of deaths based on a tweet. The desk should contact the local sheriff or medical examiner’s office. And your spotters, your photojournalists and your meteorologists are by a mile your best resources for funnel, tornado confirmation. If you use Twitter feeds in your live coverage online — just make sure people know the deal.

Take it with a grain of salt. Use that information to be more careful, but don’t accept it as gospel.

Addendum: A former colleague of mine noted correctly that many traditional sources for newsrooms *now* use Twitter and Facebook to communicate information. That’s different and very much a legit source of effective reporting from information gleaned from social media. What I had in mind were tweets and posts from regular Joes, people unknown or even other reporters. But this was a spot-on addendum, and — digital news folks — you simply MUST be following every legit police department, sheriff’s office and governmental agency in your coverage area. It’s really not optional.

3. Don’t use ANY content on social media (photos, videos) without making contact with the person who created it. They own the copyright every time. Oh sure, you can cite Fair Use all you’d like, but I assure you — the copyright belongs to the photographer or videographer. Besides, during severe weather outbreaks, there are inevitably lots of fake photos, old videos and content that will just end up as embarrassing to both the site proprietor and news station.

— Ask the person about the content. Get the who, what, where, why and when. Put your detective hat on and listen for irregularities or anything that makes you uncomfortable or suspicious about the veracity of the content.

— Ask explicit permission to use it both online and on-air.

— Follow-up and ask if they have some extra videos or pictures. Think about how you could turn their content into a story or feature that stands alone.

— And think about your TV brethren. They’re likely in wall-to-wall coverage at this point. Ask if he or she would be willing to talk on-air (do a phoner). Anything digital folk can do to let the TV side know you’re working for them is appreciated.

OK, I didn’t spent a whole lot of time on this, but I could have gone into a lot more detail about how digital folks can cover severe weather better. Very, very few stations and no newspaper sites actually do this to their level of potential. In this neck of the woods, it requires a level of dedication and borderline obsession / insanity to do it right and satisfy the informational needs of a market as big in area as the Oklahoma City DMA.

You do these things consistently, and your traffic and viewership will increase — guaranteed — not only in the short-term but in the long-term. And even if you annoy a handful of folks, you will help to save lives.

Ryan Welton is a writer and musician who has a passion for digital content, breaking news, severe weather and pop culture of all sorts. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Not Really Any Limit for 2014 Sooners Basketball Team

Chew on this for a minute: It’s been almost as long between 1988 and 2002 as 2002 to 2014.

Of course, I’m making reference to Oklahoma’s most recent Final Four trips. That 2002 team was second best only to Maryland, no matter what anybody said, and that 1988 team was one of college basketball’s all-time great teams. And when I look at Lon Kruger’s 2014 team, I see a team with a ton of potential.

Most years, there’s a cap. A limit. Not with this team: This is a team that could get hot, get on a run and win four straight.

It’s also a team that’s young and inexperienced enough to lose to North Dakota State.

What 1988 and 2002 had in common was great inside play. The former had Stacey King, and the latter was anchored by the sudden hot play of Aaron “Ace” McGhee. Sooners fans who remember that club remember that McGhee largely underachieved until the second half of his senior year, when he suddenly figured it out.

And he became the man.

This 2014 club is way small inside, and Ryan Spangler is more like Nick Collison than McGhee or King. He’s a banger. Cameron Clark doesn’t play a ton of traditional post — and Oklahoma is likely going to get abused by a decent big man. (North Dakota State has one in Taylor Braun.)

However, this 2014 OU team has terrific chemistry, and they’re so well coached. The upgrade Oklahoma got from Jeff Capel to Lon Kruger is substantial. Yet they’re still going to live and die with jumpers.

And the good news is: I’ve seen this team get hot. In a one-game scenario, they could beat anybody.

Hopes are not high for a tourney run, but I’m not convinced this Sooners team doesn’t have one in ’em.

Saturday update on snow, ice headed to Oklahoma

A couple of weeks ago, I alerted my Facebook friends to something I spotted on the MeteoStar GFS forecast site: This weekend was going to be crappy.

I’ve come to love this site for its model updates, organized in a nice, neat chart every few hours. Based on my own observations, I haven’t come to trust it for its precision. However, it generally captures weather trends pretty well. One thing I always like to note: I ain’t no meteorologist. I don’t have that level of edu-ma-cation.

On the other hand, I’ve covered weather for a decade and Oklahoma weather to boot. So, consider me a pretty good handicapper — and all this post is about is a collection of what all the big boys are saying about this storm. The first place I typically go is to Aaron Tuttle’s Facebook weather page. He updates his thoughts every few hours as warranted.

As of noon Saturday, he says freezing rain and ice should affect all of Oklahoma late Saturday into Sunday, and at least the northern half of the Sooner State will see snow. The variations in snowfall totals are pretty wild, too, from 1 to 10 inches in Tulsa, 1 to 6 in Oklahoma City and 2 to 5 in northern and northwest Oklahoma. Most folks believe that’s a sign that the “weatherman don’t know what he’s talkin’ ’bout.”

Instead, it’s indicative of fairly slight differences of opinion about how much actual liquid precipitation will fall and where. And what the temperature will be precisely when it falls.

Ugh. There’s a lot that goes into it. Just know that Aaron says the models are “bullish” on winter precipitation across Oklahoma. If you’ve followed Aaron for very long or worked with him, as I have, you’ll know he’s usually bullish on whatever storm is approaching. However, the guy backs it up with data.

What about the TV guys?

Danielle Dozier, meteorologist with KOCO-TV, posted this watch / warning / advisory map to the station’s weather page on Facebook. It shows an area in purple under an advisory, a small blue-gray area under a winter storm watch and then northeastern Oklahoma under a full-on warning.

March 2 winter storm in Oklahoma

Source: KOCO.com

In other words, watch out if you’re in Oklahoma City, Norman and Edmond. The folks in Creek, Okfuskee and Okmulgee are on the edge of winter-pocalypse, and all of northeastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas should prepare for a massive wintry pain in the arse. That could change as the storm becomes more imminent. I’ve already gotten one alert from my Weather Channel advisories app. I might have to turn that phone to silent before I go to bed tonight.

The KOCO.com site shows a high Sunday of 19 with winds out of the north at 25 mph. Blizzard conditions come when winds are sustained at 35 mph causing low visibility. Just a side note.

Another side note: Temperatures will dip to 9 degrees Sunday night into Monday morning. That’s cold enough to freeze your pipes, but if those winds stay at about 25 mph, it’s even more important that you leave both your hot and cold water streams running, particularly in areas where pipes are exposed to the north. Wind is absolutely a factor in pipes freezing.

Anyway, what about the good folks at KWTV-TV? What say they?

Meteorologist Matt Mahler writes, “Prepare now for roads to become a problem (Sunday) morning into the afternoon. Afternoon temperatures won’t make it out of the low to mid 20s, keeping everything that falls from melting away.”

Neither this story nor their Facebook page was very specific about totals, but in my eyes that’s just as well because the primary message you should be hearing is, “Go to the grocery store today and rent movies so that you can stay home and watch the Oscars or whatever on Sunday.” On the other hand, the digital team at KWTV popped this very helpful timeline to their Facebook page:

Oklahoma Winter Storm - March 2

March 2 winter storm timeline for Oklahoma. Source: News9.com

Down the street at KFOR-TV, there isn’t much on detail. I mean, seriously: Go look at Aaron Tuttle’s Facebook page (very detailed) and then check out any other media site in the Oklahoma City area — woefully short on detail. Here’s what I could glean from KFOR:

From KFOR’s forecast page:
Arctic air pours in and as moisture moves in from the west, winter precip will begin Saturday evening and spread across the state into Sunday. Freezing rain will be possible overnight and then transition to sleet by Sunday midday. Even some light snow will be possible by the afternoon/evening. Although accumulations will be light, slick spots are likely. Highs will only be in the teens and 20s with wind chills around zero Sunday. Temperatures will be testing record lows for Monday morning in the single digits!  Stay tuned for updates on our approaching winter storm.

I’m tuned in, and I’m also a consumer hungry for information. Given that I’ve done it for a decade, maybe I’ll post one day about how to cover weather online the right way. You think that would be a popular post?

Alas, we get it: Whether it be snow or sleet or freezing rain, Sunday is going to be a yucky day, and that Meteostar GFS site told me that two weeks ago. But what does it say now?

Check out the very same thing I look at, this map for the 73069 ZIP Code:

GFS model for Norman, Oklahoma

Source: Wxweb.meteostar.com

The blue arrow indicates temperatures falling below freezing sometime around 9 a.m., falling as low as 11 degrees by 9 a.m. Monday. To the right of this, check out the Total Precip column and the reddish arrow. That shows the amount of liquid precipitation expected during that time frame. Speaking of which, this says we should get about .08 of an inch of precipitation once the temperature falls below freezing and .16 of an inch over all between Saturday night and Monday.

Hmm. If an inch of liquid precip is equal to about a foot of snow at these temperatures, then this would be two inches absolute max of snow if the temperatures were cold enough for snow. The under-freezing figure of .08 is more like an inch or less of snow. Could be a bit more problematic if this were only freezing rain, but to be real, it’s been mighty warm the past couple of days, meaning ground temps are still, too.

If I had to make a guess what this all means for Norman, based just on this data, I’d say — plan to go to work on Monday. Compare this with what I found for Enid, Okla., about .33 inch of liquid precipitation, which would come out to about four inches of snow if it all fell that way.

The good news is that the temperatures warm back up quickly after this storm. So, I’m hoping that the beginning of meteorological spring soon turns into the real thing. Right, KWTV?

KWTV Oklahoma forecast

Source: KWTV.com

Ugh. Really? We get up to 67 on Friday and then back to 35 on Saturday?

To paraphrase a friend of mine from earlier this week: “Winter, you’re an asshole.”

Ryan Welton is a writer and musician who has a passion for digital content, breaking news, severe weather and pop culture of all sorts. He spent eight years covering news and weather online for Hearst Television on KOCO.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Restaurant review: Benvenuti’s in Norman, Okla.

It’s funny. Downtown Norman was such a ghost town only 25 years ago, and now it’s hip and cool; and the restaurant my girlfriend, Anngie, and I tried Friday night adds a bit of swank to the neighborhood.

Benvenuti’s

Image

Since it was Valentine’s Day, I was a smart cookie and made reservations on OpenTable.com weeks ago. Being the paranoid type, I called the restaurant earlier in the week to confirm — and it all worked like a charm. No mix-ups. The interwebs worked as it should have.

I’m not sure when Benvenuti’s took over this locale (editor’s note: 2005), which used to belong to Interurban. However, I had heard about it from one of my former bosses at KOCO-TV. He had asked if I had been, and he highly recommended the place. I knew it was a little ritzy, so I thought it a great Valentine’s choice.

My hope was that the restaurant was quaint and dark and romantic. It was nice, but it was well-lit and a bit loud although I attribute that to the acoustics of the room in which we were seated.

The service was quick and precise. Neither Anngie nor I are oenophiles and they didn’t have sweet tea, so it was soda for us. I know, I know. We go to a fancy Italian ristorante, and I’m drinking Diet Coke. That’s the way I roll, yo. However, to be clear: It was Valentine’s night, and one might have thought the wait staff would have been overwhelmed.

Nope. Terrific service.

We both ordered salads. Anngie had the Greco:

greco

The Greco consisted of Organic Mixed Greens, Sweet Tomatoes, Caper Berries, Cucumbers, Purple Onions, Greek Feta, Lemon and Red Wine Vinaigrette. I tasted it and thought it was wonderful, a nice blend of flavors and not too tart, sour or salty.

I went with the oddly named Rocket:

rocket

The Rocket consisted of Wild Arugula, Tomatoes, Onions, Kalamata Olives, Pine Nuts, Capers, Organic Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and All Natural Goat Cheese Crostini.

This salad was off-the-chain brilliant. Very rich. Loved the olives and the crostini and goat cheese was a perfect topping.

When it came time to pick main courses, I had bandied about the possibility of getting the Grilled Lamb Rack, a $39 dish that was tabbed by our waiter and another passerby waiter as being the best dish at Benvenuti’s. However, Anngie was picking the Chicken Marsala, and I thought — you know — for $19, I’ll see what they can do with breaded chicken before I venture to a dish I’ve never had before. That’s right: I’ve never had rack-of-lamb.

Some “reviewer” I am …

Here’s how the Marsala looked:

chicken_marsala

This Secondi Piatti plate consisted of All Natural Chicken Breaded & Stuffed w/ Organic Spinach, Prosciutto, Smoked Mozzarella, Local Mushroom Marsala Wine Sauce, Garlic Potatoes and Asparagus.

First off, the “local mushroom Marsala wine sauce” was hearty and extraordinarily tasty. The potatoes were good but not exceptional and the asparagus, well, was crisp. That’s all I’m going for in the asparagus department. However, the chicken was relatively dry, and that was a slight disappointment. Any dryness was offset by the spinach-prosciutto stuffing, however.

All in all, it was good — and, hey, I cleaned that bad boy up. It was gone in 20 minutes flat.

The conundrum for me was that the ambiance of Benvenuti’s wasn’t quite as quaint and dark as hoped, and while the salad was wonderful, the main dish was merely good. Plus, for a total tab of $75, it didn’t quite match up with meals we’ve had at some chain restaurants. That’s not really a jab: I’m specifically referring to Oliveto’s in Moore and, egad, The Cheesecake Factory in Oklahoma City — both of which were beyond terrific.

And I think THAT was merely a matter of expectations going into it.

Nevertheless, Benvenuti’s might not become a regular stop, but it’s a solid choice for a special occasion — and next time, I will adhere to the suggestion of my waiters and go with that rack o’ lamb.

Ryan Welton is a writer and musician who has a passion for digital content, breaking news, severe weather and pop culture of all sorts. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Oklahoma Weather Turns Awesome After 1 More Winter #%*&* Storm

All we have to do is get through Tuesday.

Truth is, all northern Oklahoma has to do is get through Tuesday. It doesn’t appear central Oklahoma and Cleveland County in particular will be getting much more than a possible dusting of snow.

KOCO Chief Meteorologist Damon Lane

Image

… and KWTV Chief Meteorologist David Payne agree.

Image

The skies start to clear, and temperatures start to rise. KOCO’s 7-day forecast as of 10 p.m. Monday is more optimistic about the weekend with Sunday in the 60s. However, the GFS model I check from time to time has us in the 70s on Sunday.

It really doesn’t matter. Mid-60s to lower 80s, my garage gets another round of Spring Cleanin’.

I’d love to tell you that this is it for winter, but my 32 years in Oklahoma tell me there’s no chance we’re done with it. March is notorious for heavy, wet snows — and several May Fair Arts Festivals over the years have been cold and damp.

However, we’re definitely on the downhill slope.

Ryan Welton is a writer and musician who has a passion for digital content, breaking news, severe weather and movies / music / pop culture of all sorts. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Time to Start Thinking About Severe Weather Season in Oklahoma

We are 35 days and counting until the de facto start of severe weather season in Oklahoma, and it shall be the first in a decade I’m not obligated to ‘stand by’ every time it lightning might crash to the ground. Truth be told, there’s nothing better than helping folks navigate their concerns during a severe storm that has real impact.

Instead of hosting Live Wires this season for KOCO.com, I plan on doing something a little different.

Enjoying spring.

And learning more about the science behind weather. I’ve always fancied myself a wannabe meteorology student.

To that end, the National Tornado Summit will be at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City on Monday. Among the speakers will be Rick Smith from the National Weather Service, who is among my absolute Oklahoma weather-related ‘must follows’ on Twitter.

I’m biased of course, but I’d also recommend following Damon Lane and Rick Mitchell. If you’re on Facebook, the best resource I’ve found for detailed forecasts is from a guy I also used to work with: Aaron Tuttle. His weather page is a terrific resource for the spring.

So what else should you do before severe weather season gets here?

If you’re fascinated by Oklahoma weather, attending a tornado summit or a storm spotter class is a must-do. However, you can also do this online with the NWS Norman Online Spotter Training course.

I’ve never fancied myself somebody who wants to get out and ‘storm chase’ although I kid about it from time to time. I’m plenty satisfied observing from the comforts of my home office. However, hail is not our friend, so it’s important to clean out that garage so that you can get in and out in a pinch.

A weather radio is a must for anybody who sleeps, and I suspect that includes you. There are plenty of opportunities to get help programming weather radios. If I spot some, I’ll post.

And be thinking about your severe weather plan. Have one for when you’re at work. Have one for overnight. Have one for when you’re on the road. Just start thinking about those scenarios. During the 2013 tornado outbreaks across central Oklahoma, meteorologists recommended on a pair of occasions — hours before the events themselves — that folks start making plans.

But if we’re not collectively aware and communicating all this to our digital Rolodex, then it doesn’t help.

As for today, it’s all wishful thinking to a weekend when the skies are clear and the temps are in the 70s and 80s. Because, today, it still looks like this:

snow_2814_resized

Blah. At least I got to sleep in!

Clean Your Office, Boy! Getting the Best of a Mess

I’m a Virgo, and while I can wallow in a mess for a long period of time — I can’t function in it. At some point, I just have to stop and clean.

There are so many things I’d like to get done in 2014. Write new songs and post new videos. Continue work on a book I started in 2013. Blog for NewsOK. This room is both my work cave and my man cave.

And it’s a mess.

Image

So, while the rest of Norman, Okla., enjoys a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I am cleaning. And by cleaning I don’t mean the effective removal of dust and dirt. I mean that I have declared war on clutter in this room — and anything and everything is fair game.

First, some rules.

1. Decide what cannot be removed from the cluttered space.

The armoire with the computer and the printer beside it and the two TVs to the right of it. Clearly those are staying as will the the musical equipment at the forefront of the photo. I don’t own a mansion, and I’m not tossing my Korg Triton or Yamaha S90. This is both my work cave and my music studio.

But once you decide what has to stay, realize that anything and everything else is up for removal. When cleaning a cluttered space, it’s vital to set free any semblance of attachment to “things.”

2. Start removing things from the room.

My process is to start with the closet and remove everything. Clean it out.

Image

Believe it or not, that closet was filled to the top just one hour ago with clothes I’d never wear and dozens of wire hangers. Yes, wire hangers — and, yes, that reminds me of THIS:

“No wire hangers!”

I long since had made the switch to wood hangers, but for some reason I didn’t throw out these hangers when I bought my house in 2011. Truth be told, while I had organized every other room of my house to my satisfaction, my office-studio had really been only a work in progress. One day, I’d clean it.

And today is that day.

3. Decided what gets tossed.

I use a couple of simple rules to decide what stays and what goes, and they’re rules I’ve gleaned from other organizational sites such as unclutterer.com. First, have I used whatever it is in the past year? Have I worn it? Is there any real chance that the “thing” — whatever it is — might come out of that closet in the next six months?

If not, then it goes. No. Matter. What.

There are a couple of exceptions.

  • Does it have extraordinary sentimental value?
  • Does it have extraordinary financial worth?

4. Clean, clean, clean.

Start with the desk’s top and the tables and the electronics and dust, dust, dust. Take a vacuum to the floor and then a mop. Swiffer those walls and the ceiling and Windex the windows. Clean until you could eat off the floor.

You have to consider a reality here. This is probably the last time this room gets this type of deep clean for probably the next year or two, so dig in and make it good.

5. And then start to move back in to your space.

You might think it’s a neurosis, but I really can’t be productive if I am unhappy with the space around me. I need to be organized, and I need it to be clean. Otherwise, I’ll wallow in it with bags of Doritos and Diet Dr. Pepper bottles and cords to gadgets I haven’t possessed this decade to who knows what.

The only dirty-little-secret to cleaning your dirtiest of dirty little spaces is that you must be willing to throw away things. It’s not only a practical ‘must,’ it is a cathartic process.