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The Augean Stables revisited…

One of the things that is becoming quite clear…is that the accumulation of stuff we bought that we now know is not going to be useful, but it’s good stuff—is a problem.

The Methodists are having a garage sale. And looking at the small pile of stuff for that sale that is going to put roofs over the heads of nice people—y’know, that little pile was the nucleus of what had become a Rubik’s Cube problem of space in the office—you keep moving it, to get space, but it fills up another space, and it never gets better. Yank out that nucleus of utterly useless (but good!) ‘stuff’, and the entire office becomes manageable. I am going to apply this theory to the kitchen shelves and the basement. We agree we are NOT looking to move. We have moved 3 times in 7 years, and each time we acquired (and kept!) ‘stuff’ that was appropriate to our needs in the place we moved TO. And didn’t shed ‘stuff’ we didn’t need where we were going…that was the big mistake.

It’s time to shed some ‘stuff’ for a good cause and clear some storage shelves.

21 comments to The Augean Stables revisited…

  • philospher77

    The basic rule of thumb is “if you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it.” Do I follow that? Of course not! But it does help when looking at stuff to give away.

    • paul

      Some people are just tossers and some are keepers–in this way, I mean, not the usual way. I’ve a touch of ASD/Asperger’s. It’s really hard for me to make a decision I’ll never want this or that. I just now realized the two are related.

  • That is a wonderful cause. My uncle has helped with a similar project, and he and my aunt say it’s very rewarding. The conditions for poor campesinos are bad in many parts of Latin America. Another friend, whom I need to check with, helps out in a part of rural Kentucky or Tennessee (I forget which) that is in tremendous need. — http://www.joshuahousefund.org/ Note that’s Fund instead of Foundation. (The Foundation is a separate organization in Florida, I didn’t know about.)

    —–

    I have a “ton o’ stuff” still to go through, and I’ve resolved to be more stringent about it. Some of those decisions will be tough. “Do I really want this? Do I need it now or later?” And some will be, “Do I have space for these books?” That one’s going to be tough. Yet it’s got to get done.

  • mmberry

    If anyone needs inspiration, but finds the horders shows to be depressing, I suggest CLUTTER’S LAST STAND by Don Aslett. He describes the problem and gives advice on how to work past it. One thing he says that I follow is no more than two hours at a time. After that, you only shift stuff around. The book was written with a sense of humor. Are you really going to wear that 1980’s blazer with 2″ thick shoulder pads again?

  • CJ

    I have a criterion or 2.
    “Have I needed to open this box in the last 10 years?” Riffle through it to be sure there are no family photos, or jewelry—and toss.
    “Is this ever going to come back into fashion?” Maybe, but, dearie, you deserve a new one when it does.
    “What would grandma think about my keeping this [item] of hers?” If the answer is, dearie, you’re nuts! –pitch it.
    “Is it broken?” pitch it.
    “Is it good but unlikely to serve me here?” donate it.
    “Is it an object which holds or collects other clutter?” donate it.
    “Is it an object which I was given? Is Aunt Tutu ever going to visit?” Donate or toss, as appropriate.
    “Is it a GOOD memory?” followed by: “can it fit in a box with other such things?” Put it in and slam the lid. If the answer is: “Bittersweet” or “Ugh.” Toss it.
    “Is it falling apart?” toss it. This also goes for old bouquets or toolbelts: dearie, you deserve a new one…if you need it. If not, use the space.
    “Is it even mine?” if you can’t remember, ship it to a relative and say you believe it’s theirs.

  • chondrite

    Everyone has a weak spot or two when it comes to discarding stuff, especially if you are a career reuser. In our house, it’s books (I believe many others here can empathize!) and computer components. DH was on a Napoleonic War kick for over a decade, and we have the books to prove it; the obsession is done, but it’s still hard to even contemplate donating the collection of really nice reference books. We repair computers for a living, and have boxes of still usable components. Nevermind that some of them are fairly useless in the current state of computer repair (512M of RAM? Really?), the rule of thumb is that as soon as you discard a viable piece of equipment, a job will come up that requires it.

    • tulrose

      I’ve got a bunch of parallel printer cables still in their packaging.

    • WOL

      Have you thought of listing your Napoleonic reference books on Amazon? — check them out — it’s a pretty good deal. As huge as their customer base is, the odds are good somebody somewhere will want to buy them from you, and Amazon is a very likely place to look for such.

  • TabCat2

    You can’t throw out books. It just can’t be done. I think there must be a law. If not, there should be. Books aren’t just paper and ink (or electronic symbols). Within those covers there are entire worlds. You can’t throw out worlds.

    I’m going to leave my personal library, the good and the bad and the ugly, to my kids; let them figure how to cope with it!

  • WOL

    WOL’s corollary to Newton’s law of inertia states that a body on the couch tends to remain on the couch. . .especially when there’s a big job to tackle. That’s when you invoke the “Heloise Do Ten Things” rule. When faced with a big job that tires you out just looking at it, tell yourself you will just do 10 things, and then quit. So you start doing things, lose count, and the next thing you know, you’re halfway done.

  • mrgawe

    I subscribe to the peripatetic method of getting things done, when I have to do a lot of things in one day. Do the least objectionable thing first. Don’t finish it. Move on to the next least objectionable thing. Repeat. Halfway through the day, you’ve got everything only halfway finished, but it all has to be done, so you just keep working on whatver strikes your fancy at the moment. Usually the most objectionable thing winds up incomplete at the end of the day…but it’s halfway done for a quick start the next day. This method would drive some people mad, of course, but when you’re a serial procrastinator with a short attention span when it comes to things like housework or packing stuff for moving, it is a way to make yourself actually do it.

  • kokipy

    If you are ever taken with the urge to divest at a time when the church’s garage sale is not imminent, you could go here: http://groups.freecycle.org/FreecycleSpokane/description
    Freecycle is a place to recycle things you can’t use/don’t need that others can use. You just post on the group list the identity of the thing you are looking to shed, and people who are interested send you emails, and then come get it. There are freecycle chapters everywhere. I have found new, appreciative homes for things ranging from a child’s wading pool to a bag of embroidery thread to clothing to a bundle of fleece fabric that i never did transform into little girls’ bathrobes (it was taken by a lady who does animal rescue, to make the beds cozy) to an old woodburning stove, and everything in between. I’ve met some very nice people along the way, including the lady who wanted my entire VHS collection of movies, which included every movie Laurence Olivier was ever in as well as Star Trek and Star Wars movies. I figured she and I were likely soul mates.
    And I have had good luck lately doing as WOL suggests, listing books for sale on Amazon. (No CJC or JF books, of course :)) Books we were given or bought, some never read and some read only once.

  • CJ

    I like that idea. I’m not keen on getting a Yahoo account, but I’ll ask Jane if she has one. WE really should ‘make up’ a person for these things.

  • ryanrick

    I agree with TapCat — you can’t throw away books. But I’ve reached critical mass on more than one ocassion. So off the stack goes to the local library. Deciding factors are have I reread it within the last 5 years? Oddly enough the biggest struggle was culling the National Geographs. The very notion smacked of blasphemy. But just no room, so 5 years is the limit.
    Biggest problem is the law that says you will desperately need it within a month of getting rid of it. But I was brave and did a major elimination of craft stuff (critical mass and needed the room for a NEW craft). All the multiple boxes went to a local woman’s shelter for the kids. But I have a couple of closets that are getting scary and need to thinned. However I’m a master at avoidance behavior.

  • WOL

    My IP lets you have up to 10 email subaccounts. I set up one email account where all the info is bogus — wrong sex, wrong age, etc., and use that account specifically for when I have to sign up for things on line like Paypal, Amazon, etc. The other day I got an “order confirmation” addressed to an email addy I never use on Amazon, so I was suspicious right off that it was a phishing email — it was. Almost all the spam I get (like the “make it bigger” and Viagra adverts) goes to that account, too, which keeps it out of my personal correspondence. I also have a dedicated “blogging” email entity (this one) that I use exclusively in the blogsphere. Again, this also protects my personal correspondence. When I start listing books on Amazon, I’ll create yet another email entity just for that. Yeah, I have a cheat sheet of accounts and passwords stashed away, but I’m not worried as the kitties are not allowed to use the computer.

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