Of Ramen, Fat Bastards and Professional Organizers

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Today’s posting is a compilation of news from the world of work.


Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen, has died. He was 96. “The company sold 46.3 billion packs and cups around the world last year,” according to the obit in the New York Times, “earning $131 million in profits.”

WHY THIS IS A WORKPLACE STORY: It begins with career failure. Again, from the NYT obit:

In 1958, Mr. Ando — virtually penniless after a credit association he served as chairman went bankrupt — began experimenting with ways to prepare flavored noodles by simply adding hot water.

WHY I CARE: I’m not into instant noodles. That’s because I grew up in Japan, where real ramen–its noodles hand-kneaded, its stock painstakingly stewed from pork bone or other dashi–is available near every train station. But I didn’t even taste real ramen until I was an adult, mainly because the noodle is considered low class and my ojosan mom would serve us dirt before she took us into one of those joints.

So, like many Americans, my introduction to instant ramen came at college. Then I read that some college kid in Japan nearly died from eating too much instant ramen; the stuff had built up a wax lining in his gut. That grossed me out, and now I never eat Cup Noodles except when Northwest Airlines serves it midflight from New York to Tokyo.

But inventing instant ramen is a career accomplishment not to sneer at. I’d love an epitaph of that caliber. It would rate me an obit in the NYT.


FAT bastard–the Seattle-based wine makers, not the flatulent and hirsute Mike Myers character in the Austin Powers movies–has come up with a list of the 10 most pretentious public figures of 2006. Only Bacchus knows why. I can only imagine that brainstorming session involved a lot of cheap red wine. Here’s their list:

1. Paris Hilton

2. Tom Cruise

3. Donald Trump

4. Bill O’Reilly

5. Madonna

6. Martha Stewart

7. Oprah

8. Barbra Streisand

9. Kevin Federline

10. Jessica Simpson


WHY I CARE: I don’t. The list would’ve been better if it included, like, Soledad O’brien. Don’t you just know she’s a wad of tightly wound self importance underneath that I’m-everybody’s-BFF exterior?


According to MarketWire,

The Los Angeles Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO-LA) will honor the best in their business Saturday, February 3, 2007, at the 2nd Annual Los Angeles Organizing Awards, at The Olympic Collection Conference Center in Los Angeles, CA.

Did you even know there were people who call themselves professional organizers, let alone a whole national association of them? Take a look at these awards:

The Container Store – Best Organizing Product Resource

CBS 2 / KCAL 9 – Most Supportive Media Outlet

Neat – Best National Organizing Show

1-800-GotJunk? – Most Eco-Friendly Organizing Resource

Garage Envy – Best Garage Design Company

Get It Together LA! – Best Closet Design Company

The Paper Tiger – Best Organizing Technology

Organize Your Garage…In No Time – by Barry Izsak, Best Organizing Book

National Council of Jewish Women Thrift Shops – Most Organizer-Friendly

Brother P-Touch Label Maker – Best Office Organizing Product

3M Command Products – Best Residential Organizing Product

Barry Izsak – Most Innovative Organizer

Donna McMillan – Best Organizing Coach or Mentor

National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization – Best Educational Resource

WHY THIS IS A WORKPLACE STORY: Oh, this item is rich in interest for the office worker and those who own us. First of all, office- and home-organizing is apparently a booming industry worthy of national congregation and red-carpet award events (complete with “Master of Ceremonies and Los Angeles area comedian, Dave Linden“). Second, if you’re considering this line of work, the award categories alone can tell you a lot about a burgeoning industry. Just from reading this list, I learned I could go into garage organizing, say, or organization coaching; I learned The Paper Tiger is some sort of software product that helps digitize filing. I learned there’s a national organizing show (are there timed organizing contests? container displays?). If I wanted to learn more about becoming an organizer, I’d start by checking out the NAPO web site, where I’d learn about its mentoring, education and training program.

WHY I CARE: I love it! Most Eco-Friendly Organizing Resource! Best Office-Organizing Product! And there’s a National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization–fantastic! …one time I wrote about an event-planning association that awarded things like Best Gift Bag. I think workplace awards are meant to confer importance or relevance to things that aren’t necessarily important or relevant. But who’s to make that judgment? And who does it hurt? As MarketWire says:

“We are part of an organizing craze,” said NAPO-LA member Kristine Oller. “We love a great container, but what we really love is the transformation of our client’s lives.”

Kristine sounds a little crazy. But any business that inspires insane joy in its workers has got to be worth awarding.