Hoarding isn’t something to joke about

Hoarding is a serious problem. Hoarding disorder is a mental health condition in which you have a strong need to save a large number of items and experience distress when attempting to get rid of them. Hoarding disorder is treatable with cognitive behavioral therapy.

Having too much stuff isn’t a mental illness. Hoarding goes way beyond too much stiff and alters the way people live. It destroys houses and ruins lives.

People who hoard can not easily stop or get rid of enough of their belongings so that they can safely live in their houses. A hoarding disorder is classified classified as an obsessive-compulsive disorder. (OCD)

Sometimes a hoarder will gather so many items that they are stacked up to the ceilings in every room. The weight of all of these items can cause structural damage. Stuff gets piled up against doors and windows until there is only one way in or out of the house.

If the pile of items gets wet as can easily happen with a small leak in the plumbing they become even heavier and provide an excellent place for mold to grow. As the house deteriorates it can rot from the inside out.  Mice and rats can easily get in.

Hoarding disorder is more likely to affect people over 60 years old and people with other mental health conditions, especially anxiety and depression.

We live in a society and in a world that is aging. I fear that we will see more houses destroyed by hoarding. The city of St. Paul has an approach that in some cases takes decades and by the time action is taken the house isn’t salvageable. Giving the owner fines for huge amounts of money isn’t helping at all. In fact, it is likely that our tax dollars in St. Paul are being used to pay city inspectors to supervise the slow disintegration of the houses of hoarders.



This photo was taken on private property with the property owner’s permission. The yard has been cleaned up since the photo was taken. Dead animals were found in the debris. Some of the storage bins were filled with water as they sat in the rain. The double doors were and probably still are blocked inside and outside.

Labor Day 2023

Happy Labor Day! It has been a long, hot, dry, smokey summer with plenty of natural disasters and it isn’t over yet but will be soon enough.

I have used most of these pictures before to commemorate Labor Day. You will notice that almost all of the workers are white. Last year I added a new picture of a hat factory that was partitioned off so that black women could work there.

Most of the jobs in the pictures don’t exist anymore. I suspect many of the workers were paid better than workers are paid today.

Working conditions for many have improved over the last 100 years but work is still work. It was once thought that technology would replace workers and it has but no one ever expected technology to be in charge of so many workers. I am thinking of those who work in warehouses, large discount chains, and call centers.

Some jobs are broken down into pieces so that each individual worker does part of a job, over and over.  There are many jobs that don’t pay well enough so that the worker can afford life’s necessities like housing, medical care, and healthy food.

Our brand of predatory capitalism is part of the reason why so many workers can’t have nice things but their bosses and the people who own the companies can.

On a happier note labor unions are experiencing a resurgence.

factory workers 1934
factory workers 1934


Construction 1912
Construction 1912
typing pool 1960's
typing pool 1950’s
Factory worker working at machine with draped stockings, 1936


hat factory 1922
Hat factory 1922

The photos came from Flickr commons where there is a treasure trove of old photographs.

Happy Labor Day!

Basic property rights in the US

Old deeds from properties my grandparents owned. 

There are times when things happen that look like a violation of individual property rights. Most people do not know what those rights are. In real estate school, they always referred to a bundle of property rights.

  • The right of possession
  • The right of control
  • The right of exclusion
  • The right of enjoyment
  • The right of disposition
There are limits to these rights. We have some control over our property but it isn’t total and we have the right to enjoy it, but if a neighborhood business can get a permit to make a lot of noise that noise could take away any enjoyment and there isn’t anything we can do about it. The owner of the business may also have property rights.
The right of exclusion means that we can decide who is allowed on our property and who is not.
The right of disposition is so important. It means that we can sell our property or give it away or leave it to our children.
There you have it, the basics of property rights.

Moving? Move hazardous chemicals to a collection site

Every few months take a box or bag full of what is considered hazardous household waste to the Ramsey County collection site.  Sometimes the chemicals come from homes that my clients just bought or are going to sell.

There are people who believe that the best way to get rid of almost anything liquid is to dump it out on the ground. Please, please, please don’t do that. Dispose of chemicals like motor oil, insect spray, weed killer, and household cleaning chemicals properly. Product labels often include information about how to dispose of unused portions.

If a container has the words cautionwarningdanger, or poison on the label and still has product inside, it is considered hazardous and does not belong in the trash. Bring these items to Ramsey County’s free household hazardous waste collection sites for safe disposal.

Alkaline batteries do not go in the trash. They go to the collection site along with fluorescent lightbulbs and strings of lights that no longer work.

If you are moving please dispose of household hazardous waste properly.

State fair and home improvement time

Nothing like the Minnesota State Fair and it starts this week (August 24th) and ends on Labor Day. I go to the fair every three to five years. Our state fair is the largest in the county by average daily attendance and the second largest in the country by total attendance. It is a big deal if you have never been you should go.

State Fair time is also a great time to check around for sales. I have purchased major appliances and gotten some great deals. Look for siding, window, and roofing sales. Visit the home improvement building at the State Fair.  

For me, the best days to go to the fair are the first couple of days when everything is still fresh. Going after dark or getting there when it opens is fun too. The State Fair changes a little every year but never really changes. I still remember going with my parents and grandparents when I was 5 years old.  My dad and Grandfather would head for machinery hill and the livestock barns.

My favorite exhibits are in the Creative Activities building which is why it is usually best if I attend the fair alone.

yarn horse
Horse outside the creative arts building