Saturday, July 02, 2016

Just In Case

Like many who have an office, I have a cache of supplies. Tape, paper, staples, all the usual miscellany required to maintain a semi-ordered life. I try and buy in bulk when I can, enabling me to have some backup on hand so I don't run out. Hence the box of 100 file folders and tins of paper clips. But then there are those spindles of blank DVDs and CDs. I thought I was being a smart consumer stocking up on 500 at a good price. Unfortunately, I didn't get the memo that they would be obsolete almost overnight. Computers don't even come with CD drives anymore. And when was the last time you rented a DVD? I hate to throw them out, but can't figure out what to do with them if I keep them. Giant mirrored coasters, anyone?

That's just one example of the stuff that I've kept where perhaps I should part ways. It's not there's an emotional attachment to any of it. In fact I'm not generally the sentimental type, though I do still have my high school letter jacket, my 35mm SLR camera and my demo cassette for college radio. But those things have special meaning, reminding me of younger days and personal milestones. And so I indulge myself by hanging on to them, even though the chances of anyone wanting to hear an 18-year-old me say "More Music More Often" are pretty slim.

And it's not like I don't throw stuff out. It might take some time, but I do eventually make a meaningful dent in the pile. It was earlier this year that I finally bit the bullet and took the old TV's and computers stashed in the back of my office to the recycling depot.  Every PC or laptop worked, though some slowly. And those Sony Trinitron TV's made fantastic pictures and still powered up. But there is not much call for a machine tricked out to shine on Windows 3, or a TV that weighs 165 pounds and only shows you 2/3's of what current screens exhibit. (But damn fine pictures!)  

What I'm talking about is stuff that just doesn't have a place in today's world. Take my fax machine. You remember faxes: those point to point paper transmitters, where the paper was thermal stock that greyed and curled almost the minute it came out. We still have ours, taking up space and resetting loudly every time there is a power interruption. But the last time we got a fax was, oh, I don't know, maybe 10 years ago. Still, we keep ours; you never know when the Reagan years will need to send you something.

Then there's my turntable. For fun I set it up in my office and dug out a handful of classic records. Of course, then I had to dig out an old stereo amp that worked. And I had to dig out speakers that connected to the amp. And I had to dig out wire to connect the speakers to the amp. Once that anklebone-connected-to-the-shinbone process was complete I was ready to play one of the best double albums ever, Stevie Wonder's "Songs In The Key of Life." I dropped the needle on it, and then quickly remembered why I had downloaded a clean MP3 version that wasn't scratched. But I still might someday want to listen to The Doobie Brothers or Hall & Oates. Right?

As I look around my house I see a bunch of other goodies. In that corner is a boom box: never know when I might need some music outside while cooking on the grill. There's an old answering machine: not sure I trust this voicemail stuff. And yes, I still proudly have a box of maps. When all those GPS satellites come crashing down, you'll be coming to me to figure out the best route to take from Harrisburg to Albany.

I know, I know: I don't need any of that stuff. It might work, but there are better, smaller, faster replacements for almost every one. And so I should pile it all into the back of the car and make another trip to the dump. No reason to keep any of it. But I will tell you one thing: you will have to pry my cold, dead hands apart before I let you take my original Nerf gun.


Marc Wollin of Bedford tries to throw out stuff. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

1 comment:

Ray Franklin, Production Director said...

Here is my solution. Try moving every few years. That's it.

I have taken my old PC's (I think you can do this with Macs as well) and loaded Chrome OS. Turning them into useful Chromebooks. Then donating them. It is a good project.

Fun read as always.