Clearing Out

Since I had to drag half the crap in my office closet out of the closet yesterday to give the plumber access to the pipes, I decided to drag all of it out today and reorganize. Here’s where it stands:

Books: I just dragged eight boxes of books, which is, I don’t know, a couple hundred books or so, over to the library so they can take the ones they want and put the rest into the next library sale. Before any publicists get horrified looks on their faces, these are not books from the last year, but books before then, so relax. These particular books were excellent books — lots of history and science and SF paperbacks — but it’d been so long since I’d even looked at them that it was time to let them go. The librarians were delighted; the books get turned into money at the next book sale. That makes me happy too. I like my local library.

CDs: six boxes of CDs, at least a hundred CDs in each box but probably more; I dragged them all down into the basement with all my other CDs and could help but think that all of them could fit handily on my Archos, and that as long as I had my Rhapsody subscription, I could just ditch all of them and never notice they were gone. 2008 does have its advantages. I may pay a local teenager minimum wage to burn all the CDs onto a hard drive (and then let him/her keep any CDs they want), or I may just say “screw it” and throw them all away. Haven’t decided.

Obsolete Game Systems: I have an Atari 2600, an Odyssey 2, and an Intellivision packed away, with several dozen game cartridges. The Atari and Intellivision games I can play online, legally through Gametap and illegally just about anywhere, and doing so is really much easier than trying to find a modern TV that works with any of these systems. I bought these all in 2001 or so, when I had more money than I knew what to do with and was feeling kooky nostalgia for 1979; I played them for a couple of months and then just shelved them. I might put these on eBay; just throwing them out seems wrong. Of course, if any of you want them, make me an offer, but be warned: they come as is.

Obsolete Windows boxen, monitors, keyboards, speakers, etc: These don’t even have nostalgia value, they’re just old crap. I have no idea why I keep this crap, but I do — while looking through stuff I found computer memory boards from, like, 1991. I need to find somewhere around here that recycles this crap, because there’s probably too much mercury in them to throw them away.

Scalzi’s Big Box O’ Nostalgia: a big box that has all my writings from high school and college, plus pictures and mementos, like, oh, my college diploma. I’ll be keeping this stuff.

A hunting bow, a battle axe, a sword: Really, don’t ask. Of these, the hunting bow is an actual weapon, and yes, as a matter of fact, I’m a pretty good shot.

Assorted junk: Some of the stuff I really can’t identify. Rule of thumb: If I can’t recognize what it is (or was) within five seconds, I don’t need it. It’s probably why it was in the closet in the first place. Out it goes.

What’s really amazing is just how much of this stuff there is. At the moment, it really and truly looks like there was an explosion in my office. Once it’s all thrown out and/or reorganized, I have no doubt the room will look almost spartan. At the moment, however, yeeeegh.

And now, off to tidy up just a little before Krissy gets home. I was testing her tolerance as it was. The mess right now will get me murdered.

52 Comments on “Clearing Out”

  1. I know the feeling. I’ve been putting off this painful process through the past two or three moves, and I think it’s time to borrow my parents’ shredder (do I really need bank statements from 1994?) and go to town.

    Goodwill’s about to get a massive donation of school supplies…

  2. A hunting bow, a battle axe, a sword: Really, don’t ask.

    Why would we need to ask? I’m betting something like half your readership has one or more of these lying around. My only question is why are they in the closet, rather than in the umbrella stand, where they belong.

  3. Spring cleaning: the time when you get rid of all your old useless crap so that you have room to store all your new useless crap.

    At least that’s how it works at my house.

  4. A thought on the CD’s: burn them and keep them. In the future, digital rights may become common and cheap. It is more likely, however, that they will become more regulated and more expensive. Once the format wars end and there is a clear “winner” then you can expect to see what happened with the Blu-Ray and DVD situation. Now that Blu-Ray has “won” the prices for regular DVDs have been jacked up to $22.00 and Blu-Ray looks relatively good by comparison at $25.00. The losers are the consumers.

    If you burn your disks into iTunes, your licenses will last as long as their system does, but you have to use MP3 format and cannot use FLAC. If you use Yahoo Jukebox or a different service, the issue is less clear, but you can use open source FLAC, which can be converted to any other format without loss. Bottom line: better to have the rights to play and enjoy your music that you have already paid for then to face the uncertainty of future costs. As a bonus, as technology progresses, your collection will fit onto smaller and smaller media until you can eventually burn the whole thing to a single disk, cube, marble, or whatever eventually gets developed.

    Present costs for burning a 400 + CD collection on my system? A few nights of running both drives while I surfed the web and about 200 gb on my 500 gb raid array.

  5. About the CD’s…you need a good used bbok store to trade them in!! In Phoenix/Tucson, Bookmans will give either cash or trade for used movies and CDs, usually $1-2 each. I’m hoping to do the same thing – all CDs onto the MP3 player and sell everything (though I may keep a few that I feel may be hard to replace).

  6. Ack, don’t just throw your CDs away! That’s such a waste of useful stuff to put in a landfill to just sit there and, being plastic, /not/ rot. If you don’t want them, Freecycle them.

    And you might be able to get some decent money for the game systems. I put my Colecovision up on eBay last night with a buy-it-now of $20 and it was snatched up in less than an hour by a game reseller, leading me to believe that I just ripped myself off. Ooops. Of course, my idea of decent money and your idea of it are two different things, but still, if you could get a few hundred bucks off the stuff, that’s something to play with.

  7. My keyboard to my ancient (1997?) computer just fritzed out last night. I’ll pay postage if you’ve got one.

  8. Oh, and if Krissy is like my husband, the knowledge that the trash can is full, even if the room is a mess, produces forgiveness.

  9. A hunting bow? Compound or recurve? What’s the pull? Does it have a sight? How often do you use it? For real or just target practice?
    Just curious – I used to belong to an archery club.

  10. I’d be too paranoid to depend on Rhapsody. Great now, but if the service shuts off and nothing replaces it, what then? I’ve used similar services to try before I buy, but once I like something, I’ve got to have the raw no-DRM bits on my devices or I don’t feel like I actually have it.

    I ripped all my CDs a few years ago; it was a massive pain. As a good employee of a company that creates them, I, of course, wouldn’t dream of giving them away without deleting the files. That’d be illegal!

  11. I have all my music burned onto my PC, but I still had the CDs laying around. So I just went through all my CDs and got rid of the plastic cases, keeping just the booklets and the CDs themselves (for the inevitable day when the hard drive does not want to work anymore). This saved a boatload of room. The CDs are now stacked on about five 100 CD spindles. The booklets are in shoeboxes, but I will probably throw them out, since I never look at them.

  12. Re: Recycling electronics

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Water Supply Water Resources Division
    26 W. Martin Luther King Drive
    Cincinnati, OH 45268-0001

    In celebration of Earth Day, we will once again this year make available to you the opportunity to recycle your personal electronics. So start cleaning out your closets and get ready to bring in those old VCR’s, phones, TV’s (no larger than 27″ please). You will be able to drop your
    items into a box that will be located on the loading dock from April 1-30. That’s right you have the entire month of April to bring them in.

    If you are bringing in your old PC or laptop please delete or remove the hard-drive to protect your private and sensitive information. There will not be any way for us to do this for you. Carts will be delivered to Norwood, Center Hill and T&E facilities for this program. Please
    look for them there.

    All collection boxes/carts will be marked
    “PERSONAL Electronics Collection Bin”.

    Not really in your neighborhood, but someone in your area might be taking part in the program

  13. Philip K. Dick referred to this sort of modern detritus as ‘kipple’, and it does build up at an astonishing rate.

    I recently went through this exact same process in my office. Eerily similiar in terms of the sort of stuff I found, in fact. Here’s what I learned:

    1. There is almost no piece of electronic equipment, no matter how obscure or obsolete, that is not desperately wanted by a collector/hoarder out there somewhere. Craigslist, FreeCycle and (for the less-old stuff) ebay will work wonders to clear this crap out. (Obviously YMMV; your semirural location makes it more difficult for people to just swing by and pick stuff up.)

    2. Few things are as satisfying as putting a metric ton of old documents through a crosscut shredder. There are vast vistas of free space in your file cabinets just waiting to be discovered!

    3. Three-ring CD binders are the salvation of the media geek. Cubic yards of music, movies and software can usually be condensed into a single binder.

    4. If you own a slide/negative scanner, you can shred your old photos and just keep the negatives. Yes, yes you can. It’s awesome.

    5. The Salvation Army will take anything. That which they can’t sell, they find the right people to dispose of.

    Of course, having said all that, it’s probably time to clean my office again. Sigh.

  14. If you miss electronics recycling in your area, Office Despot and Staples also recycle electronics. We recently got rid of 3 computers and as much space electronics as we could stuff into the box. I think it was $15 or $20, and since none of it worked, I considered it a deal to keep the stuff outta landfills.

  15. Can we arrange something perhaps about one of the game systems? I need to make sure it is the Odyssey he’s been looking on eBay for, but I am interested.

  16. How much would a Scalzi-autographed Intellivision go for on eBay?

    Or, if you’ve got the game, think of how much a customized “Old Man’s (Space) War” cartridge would fetch.

  17. We’ll be having a stoop sale (that’s what you call a yard sale or tag sale in Brooklyn), in the next couple of weeks. We have just tons of crap that keeps piling up in the cellar.

    Among other things, we have about 10 years worth of crappy gifts from GF’s mother that have never been out of the box and we were too lazy to regift.

    Ah well. Anyone want a serenity desk fountain? $2.00 and it’s yours!

  18. Ah, the Big Box O’ Nostalgia. I have one as well that got moved when I went to the new condo last month. My girlfriend doesn’t really understand why I keep all these memories (read: crap), but I like it. There’s also the subsidiary box of nostalgia T-shirts; she really doesn’t understand that one.

  19. Last summer a friend of mine helped clean out a farmhouse that had been in his family for 150 years. Think of all that stuff you’ve had to clean out, multiplied by 10. Apparently my friend’s forebears didn’t like throwing stuff out. One example: In the attic there was a big box of beat-up leather shoes with holes in them. Styles from the 1960s were on top, and every layer brought older and older stuff, until it was 1870s vintage junk shoes.

    Makes the detritus that collects on my computer desk look tame by comparison.

  20. Wow. I am so grateful for the Costco link. I reposted it myself to keep spreading it. I have paid and paid to recycle electronics in the past.

  21. I donate excess books to a local “seniors” apartment complex and take the tax deduction.

    That said, yesterday I shipped off a couple boxes to a group that sends books overseas to the troops. Those are options, certainly.

  22. I started the big spring excavation project at my home this weekend. My main problem is that the contents of my boxes arent really separated particularly well. So junk and nostalgia and unidentifiable whatzits and important documents are randomly thrown together (a few unexpected changes of residence played a large part in this haphazardness).

    On the positive side, a semblance of order is starting to emerge. On the negative side, the dust bunnies wreak havoc on my allergies.

  23. Don’t chuck the CDs! Egad! At the very least let me pay you plus a little extra for the effort, and you can ship the ones to me you don’t want!

  24. “A hunting bow, a battle axe, a sword: Really, don’t ask. ”

    “Why would we need to ask? I’m betting something like half your readership has one or more of these lying around. My only question is why are they in the closet, rather than in the umbrella stand, where they belong.”

    Exactly. YOUR people understand . . . of course, being a good shot with the bow will come in handy in the coming Ohio Zombocalypse, but really only a head shot will do . . . good thing you kept the melee weapons . . . .

  25. Would love to talk to you about the old game systems. I’m a bit of a collector! Whenever you have time, let me know what you’ve got, and we can haggle over pricing!

  26. Eight boxes of books? Aaargh.

    I truly envy you the discipline. I do purge my paperbacks at least once a year. Powell’s here in Portland (one of the great bookstores in this country) buys most of them for 50 cents apiece. I end up spending my gains from this transaction at – guess where – Powell’s. No dummies those guys, they recycle my money almost immediately. Leaving me lighter in cash, but heavier in books.

    I just cannot bring myself to turn in my hardcovers……yet. I’ve added two four foot book shelves in the last few years, and I need another one.

    Geezer that I am (63) one of my great regrets is the deterioration of old paperbacks and magazines. At one point I had Dune serialized in Analog, plus the original paperback (I believe it was originally published in paperback, but I’m not sure, it was 1965.). Most Science Fiction in the 50’s and 60’s was published in paperback only. I guess a lot of it still is.

    When I moved from New York State, the only things that came with me were my books, guitar and clothes. That’s how to tell what’s important. The ex could have everything else.

    Keep entertaining and stimulating me. And be careful what you throw out.

  27. The obsolete game systems would look awesome next to my Apple ][e and my boyfriend’s C64. Unfortunately, we already get mocked for having them. As recently as last Saturday, I had to explain to a friend (“Wtf are you going to do with an old Apple?”) that I might want to play Bard’s Tale or Coveted Mirror or Leather Goddesses of Phobos one night, and the Apple is Perfectly Good.

    We’re trying to cut down on things that are Perfectly Good. It’s hard.

  28. I now have an image in my head of you, Bear, and Deb Geisler at a con, all armed with bows, and gunning (as it were) for whomever is the target of the day.

    I think my head is broken.

  29. *sigh*

    My dad had an old Atari 2600 that I used to love when I was a kid; and a couple of years ago I asked him about it … and its obscene, copious collection of games (Montezuma’s Revenge and Defender FTW!). He said he couldn’t find it. He lost it last time they moved.

    And I was filled with woe.

  30. Of course you’re a good bowman. We never thought otherwise.

    The question is, are you a better shot than Krissy?

  31. What you need, Scalzi, is a smaller closet.

    Keep the bow, after McCain takes over you’ll need it to fight off the hordes of bible cannon toting velociraptors….

  32. I think that if you give the physical CD to someone else, but keep a copy of the music on a hard drive, you would be in violation of copyright law.

  33. Leather Goddesses of Phobos, I believe I had that on the Tandy 1000. (lousy stinking, noisy, ugly, frog)

  34. Re: computers, I’m often happy to adopt moderately outdated systems, but I recently drew a line at 1GHz PCs — less than that, it’s not worth running them these days.

    Amen to “somebody out there wants it” and “otherwise, get it recycled”.

  35. BJS, I will send you a bill for the hours of my life I’ll lose this week. ;) (I wonder if the scratch ‘n’ sniff in my original manual still smells like pizza? (I don’t remember if it ever properly did.))

  36. my mom & sister both passed away 3 years ago. They had lived together for 25 odd years, and were both elementary school teachers. I got to trek to the wilds of California and clean out the house. There is no way of describing the absolute loads of stuff these two women left behind. Let’s put it this way. The school supplies alone were two entire pickup truck loads.
    Then my cousin passed. He was single, and lived with his mom. I got to clean up that mess too. 1500+ lbs shipped to Ohio,(He was a MAJOR audiophile and technology geek. And made a bunch o’ money), a whole salvation army truck, AND a full size rolloff dumpster.

  37. Ah “spring cleaning” I have no ambition to clean out my numberous areas that could use some attention but franly too lazy to do so. No matter how much I try to “clean” the more it looks like I have gotten rid of a thing!!

    Atari… I have one in my basement with like 20 games…. and I have a really old tv that I can play it on. To bad when 2009 roles around that’s the only thing that tv will be good for.

  38. My (newly acquired) Atari STe is set up in the office, and I have a trunk full of Sinclair ZX gear. Oh, and my hunting bow is next to the bed.