Monday, November 15, 2010

What's missing?

I've mentioned before the futility of relying on someone else's list without modifying it to suit your tastes and needs, but here's another example, this time from a list posted online for hygiene needs for five people:

item/number needed
Sacks of powdered lime for the outhouse/5
TP in quantity (Phone books)/10
hand soap/10
dish soap/10
laundry soap/20
cleansers/10
Bottled lye for soap making/5
Ladies’ supplies boxes/12
Toothpaste (or powder)/20
Floss/10
Fluoride rinse/mouth wash/12
Sunscreen/10

Obviously, a good start.  But, what's missing is informative (this list is for five people for one year).

First of all, you have toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash - but no toothbrushes.  Since they're supposed to be replaced every three months or so, that's four per person per year, or a total of 20.  Hmmm....

Then, there's something missing that isn't as obvious.  Cleansers are usually applied with...what?  Fingertips?  Um...how about sponges or scrubbers?

Soapmakers will notice the lack of...fat to make soap with

One last omission:  hand soap, dish soap, laundry soap, and no _________? The missing item is hair soap, aka shampoo.

The point here is twofold:  first, if you rely on someone else's list, you'll likely miss stocking up things you need.  Second, if you rely solely on the amounts on someone else's list, you will not be stocking up on how much you need and over- or under-stock items of consequence.  When I look at this list, I'd suspect at first that the maker lives in a very hot climate due to the amount of sunscreen s/he feels is needed for five people for one year, and is miscalculating the amount of floss needed due to the low number floss boxes being stocked.  If you look at a package of floss, figure about 18" or so max per person per use.  For one person for one year, that is almost 550 feet, or a little over 180 yards.  If you get packages with 100 yards in them, obviously only two will do the trick, but other amounts will require adjustment to the numbers of packages needed.  You need to know amounts YOU use and the units they come in and calculate what you store accordingly, not just rely on someone else's numbers on a spreadsheet!