I need a GPS system for my nail clippers

One man's solution for not losing household items: Buy multiple replacements and hide them everywhere.

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It happens to everyone. There's an item you need in order to complete some small chore. Right now. It might be a pen, ball of twine, or tape measure. And you can't find it.

It's supposed to be in a certain place but it's not. You open drawers and search through cabinets, and you might as well be trying to turn lead into gold because that thing you need is gone without a trace.

Somebody is responsible, but who? You could round up the usual suspects within the family and conduct interrogations. Or maybe you'd prefer to play the role of wandering sage and deliver an impassioned speech on the necessity for all members of society to follow established procedures so items are never misplaced.

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Sadly, none of these gambits is likely to bring you closer to the missing item. From my boots-on-the-ground perspective, there's only one viable option: Buy a replacement item immediately. Yes, it's inconvenient and unfair, and I'm advising you to pack all that emotional baggage into a teeny sack and toss it into a wastebasket. Then go shopping.

When you're back home and have finished the task, the real fun starts. Place your new purchase where the missing item used to be. If it vanishes again, repeat the procedure. It means the plan is working. Don't tell anyone else what you're doing, either. Let them think life is going along in its usual haphazard way and you're just an innocent bystander.

Over time, one of two outcomes will occur: (A) The replacements will be dispersed to various locations throughout the house, thus making it easier to find one in the future. This is good. Even better is B): When someone takes the item from its designated spot, they will hide it in their own special place. Over time, this person will eventually collect such a large stash that he or she will be unable to conceal the pile and thus be exposed as the culprit.

I call this procedure "Winning Through Accumulation." There is significant historical precedent. In his book, "An Army at Dawn," author Rick Atkinson describes an amazing request that a top commander sent to Washington in September 1942.

The Allies were preparing to invade North Africa, but Gen. Dwight Eisenhower had bad news for his superiors. As Atkinson explains, "Roughly 260,000 tons of supplies, ammunition, and weapons ... had been misplaced after arriving in the United Kingdom. Would the War Department consider sending a duplicate shipment?" There was no time to argue about blame or punishment. By mid-October, another 186,000 tons had been delivered – and the Allies were on their way to victory.

In my little theater of operation, through the effective use of covert acquisitions, I have satisfied the AQ (Accumulation Quotient) for such high-demand items as Scotch tape dispensers, nail clippers, and Sharpie markers.

I believe I'm encouraging domestic tranquility while stimulating the economy. It's a good feeling. Ike would understand.

Jeffrey Shaffer writes from Portland, Ore.

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