Alexander the Great had it easy!

The war of daily household maintenance makes world conquest seem like a cinch.

Someday I'm going to take over the entire planet – but it didn't happen today. I was all set to put the plan into motion, and then one little distraction followed another, and suddenly it was almost lunchtime and all my personal momentum was gone.

The plan is simple and it'll succeed quickly. I'm not bragging. Alexander the Great conquered the known world when he was just 19, you know. Because I'm older and wiser, the task will be much easier for me, and my superior people skills will ensure that my reign is a jolly and enjoyable era for everyone who submits to my supreme authority.

So how did my rendezvous with destiny go off the rails?

Well, as usual, things were looking great until I was about to go out the front door. It's always a battle just to break away from this venue, and as all military analysts know, plans are useless once the battle begins.

I decided it would be prudent to quench my thirst before embarking on the journey of conquest. We keep a pitcher of purified water near the kitchen sink, and as I poured myself a glass, I noticed the little electronic blinker on the pitcher was indicating that it was time to put in a new filter.

When I went to throw away the old filter, I saw the garbage pail under the sink was full, so I removed the plastic liner, tossed it into the big can in our garage, and put a new plastic bag into the pail. Somehow I managed to get a smear of dark liquid on my shirt during that procedure.

This necessitated a trip downstairs to the laundry room, where I removed my shirt and got a new one from the pile of clean laundry sitting on the counter beside the washing machine. Then I realized there was a load of clean clothes sitting in the washer, so I opened the lid and transferred the wet garments to the dryer. That's when I heard the phone ringing. I raced down the hallway and turned right into the large basement room that serves as an office. But nobody was on the phone when I picked up.

I went back upstairs to the kitchen and checked the answering machine, but the only messages on it were two junk calls from the day before offering discount plane tickets to Las Vegas and a free lawn analysis, both of which I promptly deleted.

Back to the water glass – I should have just rinsed it out and put it back in the cupboard, but I wanted to save time so I took it to the dishwasher. Then when I opened the machine, I saw that someone had loaded a bunch of other items completely wrong, with dishes on the top rack where cups should be and vice versa, so I had to rearrange the whole mess into its correct order.

As I closed the washer door and straightened up, the view from the kitchen window was alarming. My cat was across the street in a neighbor's driveway, heading straight for their open garage, which was packed with boxes and other flotsam that would allow a clever feline to hide for weeks without being discovered.

After rescuing the cat, I set him on the brick walkway that leads to our front porch and immediately saw that it was covered with a layer of the fresh pollen that falls from one of our trees. So I got a broom and swept the bricks clean. Then I heard birds chirping and looked over to the bird feeder, which was empty.

I grabbed the bag of birdseed from the garage and refilled the feeder. It hangs from a branch, so when the birds are feeding, they spill many of the seeds into the garden, and when I looked down, I saw a thick patch of fresh green spouts that had popped up. So then I had to dig out the little crop before it invaded other areas.

My hands were now dirty, so I went back to the kitchen sink and washed them, and there was an empty ice tray sitting by the sink, so I filled it with water from the pitcher and put it into the freezer.

I also noticed that my fingernails were getting long so I went into the bathroom to look for a nail trimmer. While I was searching through the drawers, I heard a noise from downstairs and recognized the sound as the ringer on our fax machine. So I trimmed my nails, wrapped the clippings in a tissue and disposed of them properly, went back downstairs to the office and discovered the fax was just a stock offering from some obscure brokerage firm.

In the fine print, I found this: "Call this number if you wish to be removed from our list." The line was busy when I called, but I got through on the third try and had my fax number expunged.

That's when I heard a buzzing noise from the laundry room. It was the sound of the dryer telling me the load of wet clothes was now warm and fluffy and ready to be removed for proper folding.

At that point, I realized global conquest would have to wait until tomorrow. Or perhaps the day after that. I saw a wet spot on the floor underneath the water heater last week, and if that turns out to be a problem, it could lead to a complicated plumbing scenario, and I may have to rethink my schedule for the next month or two.

OK, I admit it: There's a strong possibility I won't ever get my opportunity to surpass Alexander the Great when it comes to world domination. But think about this: If that cocky, overachieving teenager had to face my daily war of modern household maintenance, I'm pretty sure he'd be surrendering before noon.

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