Posted by: justawriter | July 29, 2009

Far Afield – A place for my stuff

I have been in the process of moving a significant portion of my “stuff” from Grand Forks to Beulah. After being in one place for nearly eight years, I have been amazed at how much “stuff” I have managed to accumulate. It’s true what George Carlin said, “A house is just a pile of stuff with a lid on it.”
It’s interesting what I’ve kept over the years and what I still want to keep. As a reporter, I’ve tried to keep my clippings of course. When you are a writer, your clips are your resume. You are always looking for that one clip that shows your eloquence, grasp of facts and ability to tell an interesting story. It also helps your cause considerably if all the words are spelled correctly. I also have all the usual souvenirs of trips and family gatherings.
But what has really struck me are all the electronic gadgets I currently own and those I have retired from active service. I am what the people in marketing call an early adopter. Well, I am an early adopter when I can afford it, anyway. I am the guy on the block who keeps an eye on the Web sites and tech magazines for the latest and greatest new thing. I usually won’t be the first to buy something, but I might be the first to start saving up to buy something.
I trace this affliction back 25 years and I blame Apple Computer. I bought one of the first Macintoshes sold in Montana way back in 1984. It cost me about $3,000 with a printer. To put that in perspective, you could get a pretty nice low mileage used car for that in 1984. It also showed me, painfully, one of the prices of being an early adopter.
The first version of anything is not the one you want to buy. As much as I loved that first Mac, it had a painfully small memory, one disc drive and a tiny black and white screen. But I never regretted the purchase because I got a tremendous amount of use out of that machine. I knew all the different versions of computers available back then, and none of them could do what that Mac could do right out of the box.
I upgraded that computer for several years and over the years replaced it with more powerful versions and laptops for mobile computing. Then came the add-ons: external disc drives, cameras, music players, speakers – every one needing its own power supply and cables.
Last year I collected all the cables and power supplies I couldn’t match to one of my currently used devices and donated them to a charity rummage sale. It made for an impressively large box all in a spaghetti-like tangle of wire. I’m told someone bought the whole box. I hope that whoever got them is happily charging a small battalion of personal electronics.
The other day I noticed an initiative in the European Union that might mean an end to my cable and power brick collecting ways. The EU has directed cell phone makers to standardize on a single type of phone charger to eliminate some of the waste that occurs when people switch to a new phone. Nokia, Samsung, Apple and other major cell phone makers have signed on to the effort. Now this is an effort I can get behind.
As I was unpacking one of the boxes, I realized I had inadvertently packed the charger for my previous cell phone – a charger that won’t charge any other gadget in my home. Now, it didn’t take up much space and its weight was negligible. But somehow I am still peeved about the extra effort it took to move that useless piece of plastic wire across most of North Dakota. If it charged my current phone at least then I could say that it was good to have a spare or a charger I could leave in my office.
Moving is a good way to separate yourself from your excess gadgetry. I had a radio for every room. I traded in my film camera several years ago, but still have a number of digital cameras. Then there are the obsolete MP3 players, memory cards, hard drives and video games. It makes for an impressive pile of silicon chips. I hope the thrift store can find a buyer for them. It reminds me of the back of my dad’s barn when I was growing up. He had piles of tires, pipes, engine parts and stuff I couldn’t identify that was all too worn to use, but not quite bad enough to throw away.
I’m still getting settled in Beulah. I am meeting many of you and getting to know you and the community. I’m sure that soon I will be moved in and settled and once and for all, have “a place for my stuff.”

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