Another Bit Of My Children’s Youth Retired

Gentle reader, this week I retired my children’s diaper bag.

It’s not as though the lads have actually used diapers for five or six years now. However, since then, I’ve kept a change of clothing for each of them along with some first aid stuff and some wet wipes in the bag and have kept the bag in the back of the truck for emergencies. In the last five years, we’ve used the contents of the bag just once: A nosebleed at the nature center required a bit of clean-up and a new shirt. But I’ve kept up with the bag, swapping out clothing every year or so to ensure the sizes were up-to-date.

But we carry a number of gym bags often now to hold the children’s gis, and they often have a change of dirty clothes within them. And when it’s time to go shopping, we take out the bags to make room for the grocery. A couple of months ago, I didn’t put the diaper bag back in the back of the truck after unloading the groceries. It stayed on the garage floor until recently, when I decommissioned it.

It still held a large plastic bag full of diaper wipes probably from the actual diaper era. It also held a couple changes of clothes, where the largest were “new” clothing for my youngest child, and the smallest were hand-me-overs for another family. I found an emery board bearing the name of a candidate who lost a primary in 2010 and some Bactine that went into the bathrooms. But no bottle in the insulated pouch. A little bit of change to throw into the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League box.

And the diaper bag itself is bundled with other donations. Hopefully, someone will find it in a thrift shop and get some utility from it.

Me, I’m releasing an artifact from the time when I would push the oldest in a stroller for hours in Old Trees, Missouri. Before his brother came along and decided he could not be confined in a stroller or car seat for more than twenty minutes without inconsolable wailing. Ai, they were so young once, and so was I.

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Cleaning Out The Garage, Sort Of

This weekend, I was treated to the unmistakable scent of rodent decay in my garage near my work bench. One night last week, when I’d flipped on the light to toss something in the recycle bin, I thought I’d seen a shadow moving across the floor toward my cabinets over there, and when I got the scent, I figured the little fellow had gotten trapped somewhere over there.

So I spent part of my Sunday afternoon moving the mess off of my cabinets and onto my workbench so I could look behind them and clean up as needed. I moved out the table saw that I asked for, and received, for Christmas two years ago that has remained in its box since then as my garage noodling has moved from woodworking to other things. I shuffled aside the collections of glass and wood that I’ve accumulated for just-in-case. I moved the cabinets, which are essentially inexpensive topless cabinets upon which I’ve laid a twenty-five-year-old piece of kitchen counter. I got behind them to find the pegboard hooks and miscellany that had fallen behind them. And ran a broom.

So the dead mouse was just an excuse, and as part of my clean up, I actually disposed of a couple of things. I’ll hang on while someone drags out the defibrillators and charges you back up.

I got rid of:

  • The tray from an old child booster seat. When we were freshly procreating, a friend who was done with his trio of children and was planning to move out of the St. Louis area gave us a little booster seat that you strap to a chair from which your tot can eat. It’s a step up from a high chair, one of which the fellow also gave us without a couple vital parts. However, when we moved the kids from the high chair to the booster seat, we shoved them to the table with the family instead of using the click-on tray. So the tray and the booster seat were separated, not to be rejoined when we donated the booster seat or gave it away. I held onto the tray, though, in case I had the urge to paint it as an objet-d’art or something. Bah. I have enough junk I’m never going to use for crafts. Out it went.
  • Yard signs from the 2010 elections and the 2010 primaries. Remember those heady days? I almost do. I kept them to decorate my garage or in case they became collectibles, but I’m not sure who would want a state auditor sign and my garage wall has better things to do as far as decorations go.Out they went.
  • A small plastic cylinder measuring about an inch and a half tall and an inch and a half in diameter. I don’t know if it was the part of a shroud for a desk chair cylinder or the part of an old vacuum cleaner (both of which I retained yesterday, don’t think I’m crazy in my divestment of hoarded good-for-nothing items). It’s the sort of thing I saved because I always think there might come a time when you want something exactly like that, but when you do, you won’t have one on hand. I won’t, now, too, and since the garbage men have emptied the can, it is too late for me.Out it went.
  • A perfectly good s-hook that had fallen on the floor. That was its only flaw: it was on the floor. I could have picked it up, but I have other new s-hooks that were not partially worn.Out it went.

It took me a half hour to move the stuff around and then sweep up around it. I stopped before I got to the shelves of old paint cans and adhesives, though, because that would have been a whole nother can of depackratification worms. Then I looked in the obvious place for the dead mouse and removed it.

So I’m continuing on my small, measured path to unhoarding.

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Out of My Cups

On Saturday, I looked through the one of the glass-fronted kitchen cabinet doors, and I saw a number of plastic coffee mugs within the cabinet, and I thought Man, I don’t drink out of those. I don’t like the taste of coffee in plastic. Why don’t I get rid of them?

They’ve been with me a long time. I’ve moved most of them at least four times, and most of them date from the middle 1990s. But that is my wont, to keep things if they’re functional things or have some sort of meaning to me. But, man, these are plastic coffee mugs, for crying out loud.

There were four in the cabinet, and I ultimately decided to divest myself of two:

The divested coffee cups

On the left, we have a coffee cup from a coffee shop that was briefly at the Third Street entrance to the Grand Avenue Mall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I picked that up at a GenCon I attended. As if I needed another memento of the things other than photos of me half naked and painted blue.

On the right, we have a mug that was part of a care package that my mother sent to me during a finals week in college. The package must have come with some candy and other trinkets; the mug itself says Official Mug of the Finals Week Survivor. Which makes it particularly estrange that I am actually parting with it: It is something I received from not only a departed family member, but my mom. I think I’ve drunk coffee from it once or twice, but, as I mentioned, I don’t really like plastic coffee mugs.

So out with these guys.

I’ll keep these guys:

The divested coffee cups

On the left, a large insulated mug with the Marquette Warriors logo on it. My mother bought one for herself and one for me my graduation weekend in 1994. This was my work coffee cup for many years at a number of jobs because its size meant I could take half a pot of coffee to my desk at a time. Maybe the repeated use killed the plastic taste, or maybe it was constructed of better quality plastic, but this one doesn’t bother me when I drink from it. The scent of those years of coffee and those tears of toil linger in it. Mostly the coffee. Not that I have recently, of course, since I work from home when I work. 1993-1994 was the last year that Marquette used the Warrior mascot, so this one is a collector’s item. And a personal relic.

On the right, an insulated Milwaukee Brewers mug from the 20th season in 1989. I don’t remember if I went to the game. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure if I have any memories of this mug at all. I’m not sure how I came to own it. I might have palmed it as I left my father’s house after living there during college. Well, no, that’s not my style. Maybe I went to the game and have repressed it. I did go to a couple of games in that era at Milwaukee County Stadium when the Brew Crew was at the bottom of the American League.

Because these two have sports teams logos on them, I took them from the cabinet and put them on display behind the bar in the basement, along side a couple of Packers cups and my single beer stein. They’re actual personal relics, not drinking vessels. And the preceding two will be donated either to a charity thrift shop or to a church garage sale where they can languish, unbought, on the table with the myriad other coffee cups that one finds, unsold, at these things. But at least it won’t be me who throws them out, ultimately.

But I do consider the scenario where, after civilization has collapsed, I find myself at the edge of a creek having to cup the dirty water with my hands because back in 2012 I was so short-sighted to have disposed of perfectly good drinking vessels. WHAT A FOOL I WAS!

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Old Horses for the Glue Factory

The depackratification continues. I’ve got a small testing lab here in my office, but the KVM only holds four machines at a time, so when I get a new box, often one gets shunted off to the storeroom or closet. Just last year, I took a stack of them to the local computer shop for recycling, but as I get around to cleaning things out, I’ve still got a couple of old PCs to go and one special guest star from the store room going to the garage sale.

Continue reading “Old Horses for the Glue Factory”

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Drivers Down

As a part of my recent depackratification of my office, I’ve decided to get rid of some old computer driver CDs.

True, they were not actually taking up that much space, as I’ve stored them within CD binders whenever I got a new piece of equipment. In the olden days, I even built my own machines, so I got a CD for each part.

But if I get rid of these, I can put into those CD binders other CDs, thus freeing a little more space where I stored those CDs in jewel cases.

But it’s not without some trepidation. Over drivers, of all things. Continue reading “Drivers Down”

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The Great Software Purge of 2012

Over the course of a decade and a half, I’ve acquired a number of pieces of software from a variety of sources. In a lot of cases, I’ve bought games because I wanted to like video games. When I was in college and had abundant free time amid working 50 hours a week, going to school for 18 hours a week (and 10 hours, roughly, in travel time to college per week), extracurricular activities, and a social life (note that sleep does not appear much on this list), I bought a number of games and played them through to completion, including the SSI Gold Box D&D games and Mean Streets, the first Tex Murphy game.

So I bought a number of games in my twenties and thirties because I wanted to recapture a little of that. I’ve played the Civilization series (up until IV; when V came out and challenged my then-PC, I shelved it and haven’t installed it in the year I’ve had a more powerful PC). I installed a number of them, watched the demos, maybe noodled in it for a couple hours, but none of them captured my attention long enough to finish them.

I also tried to recapture my youth a bit by buying a pile of flight simulators. In 1986 or thereabouts, I got a copy of Microprose’s Gunship and played that for hours. Again, with that expendable time of youth. So I bought a bunch of games, installed them and forgot about them.

It became unseemly, really, that I carried this on even after I had children. I did stop from buying them for $20 or $30 at computer stores or Best Buy, but I did occasionally drop $9.99 on them. Mostly, though, I got them from book fairs and garage sales, and in a whole lot of cases, I put them on the shelf for a time in which I had more free time.

All right, that’s not happening, and already some of them are incompatible with the machines I have running. So out they go. Below is a picture and some notes about the games in my fashion. If you’re interested in a title, let me know and we can work something out. Continue reading “The Great Software Purge of 2012”

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The Great Magazine Purge of 2012

I have mentioned recently that I’m doing a bit of depackratting.

One of the things I am getting rid of to free some (small) amount of space in my office (and other environs) is old magazines. I’ve held onto some magazines for a long time for various reasons, and to be honest some of the reasons are a bit unclear. So I’ve decided to bundle them off to donate to a local church garage sale. I’m deNogglesteading the following magazines: Continue reading “The Great Magazine Purge of 2012”

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A Moment of Strength, or Weakness

I was looking for an old car radio in the dimly lit basement storage room. Amid the archived esoteric computer peripherals and old gaming systems, I found a stack of magazines. It wasn’t a surprise, really, because I have binders filled with an assortment of old magazines, including: old computer magazines with programs you could type into your Commodore 64 to turn hours of hunting and pecking and troubleshooting typographic errors into minutes of fun with primitive games; decades’ old copies of Writers’ Digest that contain the endless loop of advice that magazine provides; several varieties of home handyman magazines to provide me with fantasy projects that I could handle but wouldn’t want and projects that I would want but couldn’t handle; and myriad single copies of magazines I picked up on newsstands while telling myself that they’re research for my writing career. No, instead of those semi-useful magazines, I found two years’ worth of Spin.

Sometime immediately after the turn of the century, I got an unsolicited invitation to subscribe to Spin for two years. As it was, I wasn’t hip to the latest music, and I’d just turned 30. So, with some lottery-ticket hope of recapturing some of my youth, I took the chance and sent the ten bucks, and the magazines started coming. Each issue showed some different group of unwashed kids revolutionizing everything about music. The White Strokes, the Activisions, Dashboard Light, and so on and so on and Scooby Dooby Dooby. Frankly, the magazine didn’t give me the urge to increase my budget for CDs based on the say-so of some music-industry spit-shiners, so I let my subscription lapse. Besides, my music-buying habits in my salad days centered upon buying two dollar cassettes from the racks at Walgreens or Camelot Music and sometimes finding something I really liked, albeit several years and a couple of albums beyond the group’s hits (a-ha and Cutting Crew, for example) and sometimes finding something I played once and then forgot (76% Uncertain et al). So Spin couldn’t help me recapture a youthful musical hipness I never had in the first place.

Still, I browsed the magazines and then threw them into a box. Did I intend to keep them in case I needed them for research in the future? Did I keep them in case they became collectibles some decades hence? I’m not even sure I needed that much excuse, as I’m somewhat of an accumulator of things (see also that list of electronic esoterica). However, when I rediscovered this particular stack of magazines, I decided that I would never actually use them for research. They probably wouldn’t be worth anything as a collectible as the next generations, to whom these would be collectibles, won’t actually collect things. And the bands covered within the magazine are probably just flashes in the pan whose names I obviously cannot get correct even now, three years removed from the musical revolution and whatever passes for hits in the iPod world.

So I stacked them in a box, but I didn’t throw them into the recycling bin. Perhaps I gave myself a cooling off period to ensure that I did not act rashly in my discarding the valuable-because-I-have-them clutterica. Perhaps my hands were too full (of nothing since I didn’t find the car radio). Whatever the reason, the magazines took up residence in the box on the floor instead of stacked atop binders of more valuable magazines.

A couple of days later, I returned to the storage room and found the box of magazines. Now, I could certainly carry the collection to the recycling bin. However, as I looked at the box, I thought perhaps I could list an eBay auction composed of the “collectibles,” but my eBay sense tingled danger, and I knew that I’d only lose my auction fees. Then, I thought about saving them for a yet-unplanned garage sale in the future or using them as a donation to a sale of some sort, but ultimately I’d mark them a dime each and no one would even paw through them. No one pawed through the collection of magazines at our last garage sale earlier this month. So that foolish dream or rationalization too died.

Anti-climactically, I carried them out to the recycling. Ultimately, it was that easy; simply lift with the legs and not the back, ascend the stairs, open the door, set down. Once I got the habitual mental hang-ups out of the way, I did it without fanfare. I got rid of something I had no use for but that was only taking up space in our store room. But, contrary to the hopes and dreams of my wife, that doesn’t mark the beginning of a trend in my behavior. These were just Spin magazines, after all, and not a sixth Commodore 64, a box of uncleaned and thoroughly played with G. I. Joes from the middle 1980s, or boxes of comic books that haven’t been out of their plastic bags for fifteen years. Those things have intrinsic and obvious because-I-have-them value.

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