The hot new syndrome these days is hoarding -- people can't get enough reality TV shows about poor idiots who can't throw anything away, even if those people watching have to shove aside three boxes of 11-year-old Fuddruckers receipts just to see the screen.
But things have gotten real, hoarding-wise, in the Houston burbs.
There was the fire at 34th and Antoine Friday night. Not a big blaze, but it did present its unique challenges, according to KPRC: "Fire crews said the home was stacked high with clutter, making it difficult to get inside and fight the fire," the station reports. (We're sure the "clutter" was absolutely important stuff that couldn't be tossed out under any circumstances.)
And then there's the home on Slash Pines Road in The Woodlands.
Authorities have blocked access to the house after one of the dozens of people working on it may have contracted hantavirus, a nasty rodent-related piece of business everyone would just as soon avoid.
The worker developed a respiratory illness, and tests will be done to see if it was caused by a hantavirus, the Houston Chronicle reported.
(Also involved: Friends of the Houston Public Library, which received a big book donation from the home before the hantavirus thing emerged. They tell Hair Balls: "Friends accepted approximately 200 books from the collection. None of these books were for Houston Public Library or any library collections, only for resale, and were sent to the organization's warehouse for processing....None of the books from the recent Woodlands donation have been distributed; moreover, no other books from the warehouse's large collection have been distributed since the date that the Woodlands donation was brought to the warehouse.")
The Woodlands home is being featured in TLC's lovingly and subtly titled series Hoarding: Buried Alive.
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The show's Web site, by the way, features a "Hoarding Photo Game", a "Hoarder Or Just Messy?" quiz and a casting call in case you want to show the world your hoarding ways. ("For those willing to participate, we will offer assistance with finding licensed therapists as well as professional organizers who can offer support," the site says.)
We're sure the neighbors of the Slash Pines home are fully into the spirit of the hoarding show and are not concerned at all about rats and mice running around spreading sickness.
The home remains quarantined.