Sunday, October 31, 2010

Progress report: Stuff transformance

Monday, October 25:

I processed tax records as follows:
  • For tax years 2004 and earlier, I shredded all of the tax documents.
  • For tax years 2005 and 2006, I scanned and uploaded the tax returns only. Then I shredded the hard-copy returns and the supporting documentation.
  • For tax years 2007 through 2009, I scanned and uploaded the tax returns and the supporting documentation, then shredded all of the hard copies. 

Here's what the IRS says about keeping tax records. 

Tuesday, October 26:
  • Scanned the contents of a file box of documents, uploaded same, then shredded them.
  • Passed along an unopened packet of subject dividers for a binder. 
  • Reviewed old (as in 2003 and thereabouts) backup CDs for items of interest; found some, uploaded them; destroyed the CDs.

Wednesday, October 27:

    Thursday, October 28:

    • Donated a portable hanging-file folder box, complete with hanging file folders, to local charitable thrift store. 
    • Ditto for some clothing, a purse, and two clutches of CD/DVD jewel cases. 

    Friday, October 29:

    Tried valiantly to make a plastic, two-drawer file storage thingie work at my mother's house -- in two different closets, in the basement. No good. I salvaged the plastic drawers as containers for future Agape Thrift Store donations, and put the frame out to the trash.

    Saturday, October 30:

    • With a bit of a wrench, put a never-used collapsible cooler, in a handsome khaki color, with a great shoulder strap and outside pocket (for cutlery and salt), into the donation box. This item was the twin to one I have used; I bought both at the same time years ago because they were on sale and because they were so damn cool. I experienced a bit of a micro-ethical dilemma --> do I donate the one I've used and keep the never-used or do I donate the never-used and keep the used? I made my decision, but will let that remain in suspense for possible conjecture by others, which may reflect well or poorly on my perceived character. Or pragmatism.   
    • More clothes into the donation box.

    Sunday, October 31:

    My November 6 deadline for stuff divestment looms. Today: 
    • More clothes to donation box
    • Scanned and uploaded a labor-intensive travel journal; giving hard copy original to daughter
    • Scanned and uploaded my high school creative-writing papers. Even though some are excruciatingly embarrassing, I kept them for so long, I could not yet toss them out. Well, I did toss out the hard-copy originals, but only after spending hours creating virtual copies of same. 
    • "Processed" a ziploc bag of toiletries

    This is very dull reading, I imagine.

    It's at the point where the doing of it is very dull, too. It's drudgery. Before the adventure must come the drudgery of pulling out the final tenacious roots from the hard clay soil.

    Tomorrow: more of the same.

      Saturday, October 30, 2010

      Paying my way

      I've been hanging out at my mother's house for a couple of weeks, and I'm counting that as a visit.

      But in the near future, I'll be at her house for a month or so. 

      A conversation about money was necessary.

      This involved wrestling her to the floor on the subject of my paying rent while I stay at her house.

      She said she doesn't need the rent, which is true, but I explained that this was irrelevant. If I don't pay her rent, then I'm not living rootless, I'm just living rent-free. Not the same thing at all.

      Friday, October 29, 2010

      Being debt-free

      I couldn't go rootless if I were laden with debt.

      For me, putting money aside for the future and living below my means are easy. But that's because I like to do these things.

      For those who struggle with money, I'm a fan of Dave Ramsey's approach to getting debt free. I also like his motto: If you can live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.

      I really feel for college students burdened with gargantuan debt. Even for my modest student loans, it took me ten years to pay them off.  I think 20 years might be the norm today.

      Thursday, October 28, 2010

      Final "rooted" bills

      I've paid my final bills for:
      • Natural gas and electric; 
      • Water and sewer; and
      • Landline and dsl internet connection. 

      Earlier, I paid my final bill for trash services, and on the third working day of October, I made my final mortgage payment.

      Wednesday, October 27, 2010

      Health screenings

      I have health insurance now, but I may not have any in the future.

      To be boringly responsible, then, I'm making sure to have some basic screening tests before I completely pull up roots:

      Pap smear
      Skin survey

      Somewhere recently, I read a blogger's list of things to do to achieve completely stress-free travel. Some of the to-do's on his list were pretty anal-retentive, but the idea was to get stress-free, so it one must be anal-retentive to get there, then so be it.

      These basic screenings allow me to prevent some items from even getting onto a worry list. 

      Tuesday, October 26, 2010

      Chucking it all

      How - or how not - to do it:

      How to Be a Bum, by Tom Chartier (formerly of The Rotters) (and this is as good a time as any to note that just because I link to a site does not mean I endorse the views of that site or its host sites)

      On Chucking It All: How Downshifting To A Windswept Scottish Island Did Absolutely Nothing to Improve My Life, by Max Scratchman, in The Independent

      Monday, October 25, 2010

      Trans-Siberian Railway

      Friend Pam directed my attention to this travel blog, Flying Coach.

      Flip and Sarah are currently describing, in serial installment fashion, their Trans-Siberian Railway trip. Crisp, beautiful photos. Friendly color commentaries of experiences. 

      A seasoned traveler, Pam is feeling enticed by the possibilities of a Trans-Siberian Railway trek.

      Hoo-wee, The Man in Seat Sixty-One offers what appears to be an exhaustive study of a T-SR trip here for those ready to move from dream to reality.

      But if you get carsick easily, here you can take the virtual Moscow-Vladisvostok leg of the trip right this minute. En route you can listen to the rumble of the train's wheels or a Russian radio station, or have War and Peace read aloud to you in Russian.

      There's an accompanying interactive map that lets you "explore the surroundings." 

      Below is an abridged, silent version of the trip.

      Sunday, October 24, 2010

      Progress report: More stuff divestment

      Saturday, October 23:

      • Distributed double sheets + pillowcases + army blanket to Brother5
      • Distributed woven basket from Borneo to Brother3 (from whom I originally bought said item)

      Sunday, October 24:

      • Gave lovely small vase to Brother2 and sister-in-law
      • Distributed a piece of family-icon driftwood to Brother3, which I had saved from the trash some years ago
      • Distributed another piece of driftwood, of lesser family symbology, to a ritual fire pit

      I need to pick up the pace on this final stuff divestment. My deadline for all-but-camping-gear stuff is Saturday, November 6.

      Saturday, October 23, 2010

      Voluntary simplicity

      I began this post thinking to share an interesting archive article from O magazine, sent to me by friend Terry,  called  Back to Basics: Living With Voluntary Simplicity. There was fodder in there for a discussion about the "business" of simplicity. I imagine I'll get to that another day. 

      This is because, in thinking of voluntary simplicity, I remembered Jessica Terrell.

      When she served as the trails coordinator for the state of Missouri, Jessica and I worked together on a couple of projects. She modeled voluntary simplicity.

      You only meet a handful of people like Jessica in your lifetime. She had a positive impact on others simply by walking her talk of living lightly on the earth while embracing its beauty. Good sense of humor. Beautiful smile. Gentle air. Excellent writer. Adventurous. Hard worker. She liked to take at least one trip a year with her mother, who lives in Ohio. She farmed a plot in our town's community garden across the river.
      Jessica wanted to live small materially, but big in other ways. (She won a grueling multiple-week, motorcycling competition shortly after moving west.) It was Jessica who introduced me to the world of Tiny Houses. Living in a tiny house was one of her goals.

      Once, I met Jessica at another colleague's house for a meeting. Jessica was emptying some items out of her car to give to our colleague. I asked about it, and Jessica replied that she'd been in the process of giving away many of her things. To live smaller. She offered me her one-person tent, which I took (and only recently passed along to Brother4.)

      One of Jessica's professional goals was to move from Missouri to New Mexico or Arizona, and work in trails there. When she shared this with me, she calculated it would be five or more years before an opening and her professional "cred" would align to make this happen. It turns out that both occurred soon after, and Jessica moved from Missouri to Santa Fe in 2006.

      You'll have noticed that I refer to Jessica in the past tense. This is because she died in a collision with a tractor-trailer on a wintry day in 2008. She was only 30.

      Jessica was on her way to another town where she would give a workshop related to trails. Earlier that day, in her office, she talked enthusiastically with a co-worker about a book of essays she was reading, written by Barbara Kingsolver.

      Another person who knew Jessica told me she called herself a "vagabond for beauty."

      In 2002, Jessica participated in the Public Lands Journey. I'd read Jessica's fine journal entries before, but after she died, I revisited them, and this one stuck out for me. It embodies simplicity.

      My Favorite Day

      … I know that when I return home, friends, and family will be asking “So what was your absolute favorite place on the whole trek?”

      What will I tell them? I will start out by saying that every day inevitably seemed better than the last. “Seemed” is the key word, you must realize.

      If I were to mix up all the days of the trek and do it all over again, each new day would never cease to “seem” better than the one before it!

      So I have come to the conclusion that TODAY will always be my favorite.

      The dawn of each new day has and will continue to reveal to me things that have never before occurred, and never will occur again, whether it be a beautiful cloud formation over a particular mountain, the call of elk on a cool morning in a national forest, or even the way rocks glitter in the brightness of the afternoon sun.


      Photo from

      Friday, October 22, 2010

      Library loose ends

      Oh, separation from my local library. Time to cut the cord.

      I was reminded of this when I received an email the other day, informing me that Darrin Strauss' Half a Life had been pulled for me and awaited my pick-up. Since I've already moved from my hometown to my interim hometown, today I pulled the plug on that hold.

      Oh, and I see I owe $1.60 in late fees. I didn't see that coming. 

      I'm currently occupied with re-reading my sci-fi classics, so to keep a space for my future reading intentions, here was my pending library list:

      By Daniel Woodrell (author of Winter's Bone, recently made into excellent movie): 
      • The Ones You Do
      • The Death of Sweet Mister
      (I've already read Winter's Bone, Woe to Live On, and Tomato Red.)

      All of the works by Patrick O'Brian (author of Master and Commander)

      The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

      The Man Who Shocked the World: The Life and Legacy of Stanley Milgram, by Thomas Blass

      You Are Here: Why We Can Find Our Way to the Moon, But Get Lost in the Mall, by Colin Ellard

      Thursday, October 21, 2010

      My brain's visual map of Windows 7

      Hannibal Lecter introduced me to the concept of using a many-roomed palace in one's mind to store and retrieve memories.

      I didn't do anything with this information other than note that it was interesting. I didn't know at the time that this was not a construct of author Thomas Harris, but a method used as far back by ancient Greeks and Romans.

      Anyway: My laptop's operating system is Windows 7. My desktop's operating system was Windows XP. With XP, I had a visual map of how and where my folders - documents, photos, music - were stored. With Windows 7, it's kind of a jumble.

      This is because Windows wants to be helpful. In its attempt to be helpful, it assumes I like to share with others. So it's got the Home Group thing, the Public Folders thing, and on top of that, the Libraries thing.  

      I didn't take the time to read any tutorials or other helpful guides from the start, assuming incorrectly that 7 would be intuitive, and now I've got to slow down, pull out the virtual version of a state map, unfold it, and read. And think. And do some little practice drives.

      One thing I've already discovered is that it looks like I'm stuck with the Home Groups folder in my Windows Explorer (a term I've never liked and which, by the way, said title does NOT appear on its window, to my further consternation). I'm also stuck, evidently, with the Favorites folder in my Explorer.

      So there are nonpaying squatters in my Explorer house, cluttering up my visual space.

      And this Libraries business means I have mirrors of stuff stashed in two or more places. For example, I might have the same subfolder appear on Windows Explorer in its home folder, plus its mirrors in Favorites, in Home Groups, in a Library, and in a Public Folder

      For now, all this "help" makes my brain hurt, as I can't get a clean visual picture of the folder organization in my head. Yet. But I'm working on it.

      Tuesday, October 19, 2010


      Ah, overthinking.

      I do that a lot.

      Consider this business about backup applications. And encryption.

      Backup application:

      I received my Kingston DataTraveler 2 the other day (and still await my Lexar flash drive). I am now ready to research a nice little backup program, so I peruse them, find myself unexcited about any, then think:

      "Well, hey, doesn't my HP have its already-built-in backup deal? Am I, like Dorothy of Oz, looking for something that is already in my own backyard?"  

      I look, and sure enough, I've already got a serviceable backup program. It was there all the time, right in front of my face, like the proverbial Nice Guy the girls ignore. Is it as flashy and friendly as I'd like? No, but it'll fit my current needs.

      Thus, I conduct my first external-drive backup.


      Ah, but my precious data are not password-protected or encrypted.

      But I'd already come upon the app for that - TrueCrypt. I read the beginner's tutorial. I felt immediately attracted by references to one's adversary.  And the potential need for plausible deniability, which enabled the virtual equivalent of a false-bottomed attache. And the need to mount and dismount volumes. Who wouldn't want TrueCrypt?  It gives one shivers.

      Yet here again, my Nice Guy already had a perfectly serviceable encryption and password-protection application.  So I deployed it.

      All rather boring, but useful.

      Monday, October 18, 2010

      Virtual document and data storage, part 3

      External device backup (storage)

      Sometimes, knowledge is not power. Sometimes knowledge is just pots banging together until you get a headache.

      Decision point #1:  What kind of external device do I want for backing up my files?

      My decision: I decided to alternate two usb drives for my external-device backup.

      Why:  I want to be as portable as possible. Space in my rootlessness state is very limited.

      Thus, I ruled out DVDs (doh! not just for movies, I discovered) and external hard drives. Nothing wrong with these. I just don't want to carry around a stack of DVDs. And although there are small external hard drives, like Brother1's beloved Passport, I wanted the even-smaller portability of usb drives.

      But why go with alternating usb drives? Several reasons:

      • If one gets corrupted or stepped on by an elephant, I want the spare. 
      • Loss or theft.  
      • Avoid the Glad-I'm-Not-That-Guy-in-Alaska scenario.
      • Redundancy, redundancy.

      Decision point #2:  What capacity do I want on my usb drive?

      My decision: 16G in each flash drive.

      Why: Because I could, due to price and availability. I wish one of the 'whys' was that my technical know-how informed me it was the right capacity for my needs. But, frankly, I don't have a clear understanding of my needs, and this ignorance also led me to go big (at least as far as flash drives go).

      Decision point #3: Do I want my usb drive to be backup-ready or do I want to mess with that myself? 

      My decision: There's software out there that will make my flash drive backup-ready. I'll choose the one that I think is the best fit for me.

      Why:  I would have preferred to get something like the Sandisk Ultra Backup Drive, with its stupid-proof backup button.

      But I found that the more I pored over reviews (which are a mixed blessing, anyway), the more paralyzed I became.

      For whatever reasons (none particularly logical), I moved away from the Sandisk Ultra Backup Drive. Maybe I felt stifled; don't know.

      Well, maybe I do have an inkling. I've got a Sandisk 2G already. It feels flimsy to me; I don't like how it seats into the usb port; and just the other day, it went strangely kaput on me in the desktop PC. An important lesson: I was willing to suspend my own experience with a brand in favor of a bunch of strangers and their presumed superior technical know-how to mine. On the other hand, I find some Sony products shine (e.g. my Walkman mp3 player) while others completely suck (e.g. anything to do with a CD player). 

      It seemed I could choose from a much broader range of products if I took the backup-readiness out of the equation.

      From there, it was a little easier. I went with these two:

      Where's the aspirin?

      Sunday, October 17, 2010

      Progress report: Divesting stuff

      When I left my house, my remaining stuff filled:

      • My car;
      • The back of my daughter's van; and
      • Two loads in the back of my friend's van. 

      This was more than I'd hoped I would leave the house with, but I continue editing.

      The camping gear was in my daughter's van, and that is ensconced for now in my mother's garage.

      Taking up a lot of the space in my car was a CRT, a CPU, and a printer/scanner/copier, all which are destined for a new home.  Also in my car is a pile of oddments that I will distribute to various family members.

      There are some hard-copy documents I have yet to scan and then shred, plus office supplies I will hand off at some point. 

      I've got my box of science fiction paperbacks that I'm reading again before I release each into the wild.

      I don't have a set goal of what I want to boil my stuff down to, but I'm thinking it would be cool to fit everything (excluding the camping gear, of course) into two carry-on size suitcases plus a backpack.

      Read about other folks who have de-stuffed: 

      If you read the Cult of Less article, when you get to the part about uploading one's mind to live in virtual space ... think Frederick Pohl in the Heechee Saga (aka Gateway series).

      Saturday, October 16, 2010

      Virtual document and data storage, part 2

      Online (or remote) backup 

      What is online backup?  Here is a very easy-to-understand, thorough explanation.

      Some popular remote backup services: 

      I would add, as well, Google Documents, for down-and-dirty, convenient storage and piecemeal backup.  No automatic backups, and uploads do not occur in bulk, but otherwise, this is a fine place to keep copies of selected documents, spreadsheets, photos, etc. Users can make individual documents or folders completely private, or open to specific invitees (with permissions for view only or editing privileges), or public to any passerby.

      Here are various reviews of online backup services:

      Questions to ponder:

      1. Who owns these services? 
      2. Can I trust the company? Trust the employees? 
      3. Does the company have good training, processes, oversight practices? Will the company inform customers of security breaches or cover them up? 
      4. Is there an organization that establishes business standards for online backup and storage enterprises?
      5. Is there a regulatory authority that oversees these companies? 

      I can find out the answer to #1. As for the rest, I just don't know.

      I haven't spent too much time looking, but I did not see any place where I can find generally-accepted standards regarding the different dimensions of online backup, such as privacy, security (from hacking, natural disasters, power outages) and data recovery. If someone tracks that down, let me know.

      Ditto re: any regulations that oversee online backup.

      To some extent, one is buying a pig in a poke.

      User security stupidity:

      See discussion about protected sex in part 1 here.

      If I'm using an online backup service for storage and for privacy (in the event my laptop is stolen, for example), what good is the provider's state-of-the-art security if I don't require a password entry to see my laptop's dainties?

      Or if I pick a weak password?

      ... and then tape it onto the laptop keyboard?
      My desktop PC "remembered me" for just about every site that required a login. No need to enter passwords. It was like having an EZ Pass on a toll road.

      I want my laptop to remember nothing; I re-enter a password (or swipe my fingerprint) for almost everything. This is less convenient, but it's no more onerous than locking the doors to my house or car.

      So what'd I pick?

      I pored over the reviews for the online backup services. Each has its unique pros and cons related to features and price. Some of the technical terms and processes were over my head, so I felt unable to make a completely informed decision. To a certain degree, I could do just fine by choosing one at random.


      If I were a little more tech-savvy and if I knew I'd stay put in the U.S., I would have gone with Amazon S3 in an instant. I liked it for what appears to be an above-and-beyond security level, and that Amazon has a lot to lose if it were to compromise its customers' confidence in its service.

      Instead, I went with a different service - Dropbox . It seemed to have the highest overall reviews of both the so-called professionals and the regular-Joe customers like me. Interestingly, it uses Amazon S3 to store its customers' data.

      • Easy to use right out of the virtual box. 
      • Synchronizes all docs/data amongst any computers or smart phones one has. 
      • Super-easy to access all my stuff on the web. 
      • Automatic back-up.


      • While I'm good with the automatic back-ups occurring immediately when one adds a new or revised file, I would like the ability to suspend a back-up.
      • As a universal good practice, I wish Dropbox required users to create strong passwords.
      • I'd prefer a stronger encryption than Dropbox uses, but its level is acceptable.

      Friday, October 15, 2010

      The closing

      "The closing" occurred this afternoon.

      A good phrase, closing.

      In future, when I say, "Whew, it's good to be back home," it won't be in the 'home' I  lived in for 18 years. That 'home' has been closed.

      I don't know where the new home will be yet. That's kind of exciting.

      For the weekend, home is at a friend's house.

      For a few weeks after that, home will be at my mother's.

      For a month after that, it will be another place.

      I feel no regret about leaving my house of 18 years. Mostly, I just feel a luxurious tiredness that, over the weekend, I will fix with long nights' sleeps, a couple of naps, and what another friend calls "staring at the walls." 

      The closing does not include the loss of my family and friends, fortunately. Thanks to cars, trains, planes, webcams, email, and phones - there is a connection there no matter where any of us are physically.

      The protagonist of a book I once read theorized that when she flew from the U.S. to Europe, a luminous aural thread trailed behind her, stretching out and out as she moved farther away from her home base, but keeping her always connected. She imagined all of her fellow passengers spinning out their own ephemeral threads.

      Thursday, October 14, 2010

      Mazel tov!

      At my first marriage, we received three Waterford goblets. Lismore pattern. Back then, each glass cost something like $30; now each costs in the neighborhood of $70. I thought I'd add to the collection over the years, but never did.

      So for more than 30 years, I've held on to these goblets. Rarely used them. 

      When I knew I was going to sell the house, I listed them on craigslist for 1/2 the current going rate. Not even a nibble.

      At the estate sale, I put $20 on each. Not even a glance.

      Given my experience at Goodwill yesterday, I wasn't going to donate them there. And I didn't intend to burden any family or friends with them.

      (Burden: My mother noted one day that she intended to leave her Fostoria with one of my brothers. "Why?" I asked. "Because I'm irritated with him, and he'll be cursed with the stress of imminent breakage whenever he uses them.")

      So what to do?

      I don't know what you might do, but here's what I did:
      1. Get towel; lay it on floor.
      2. Place three Waterford goblets, Lismore pattern, on towel.
      3. Gently swaddle fine crystal with towel. 
      4. Get rubber mallet.
      5. Get safety glasses; put them on.
      6. Bang. Bang. Bang. 

      Mazel tov!

      Wednesday, October 13, 2010

      Just stuff

      It was inevitable that I'd have to shuttle things to Goodwill that I'd never have thought I would.

      Value. Like beauty, it's in the eye of the beholder. Subject to the vagaries of trends, who comes by at a given moment, who has just won the lottery (as was the case with one of my buyers).

      As I placed certain items into a box for Goodwill, I said my mantra, "It's just stuff."

      As I lugged them to the car, I said, "It's just stuff." I felt OK.

      Until I got to Goodwill and there was a truck, and the guy I handed my stuff to handed it to another guy, who was in the truck. And I shortly heard the sound of breaking pottery. Or china. Don't know, except it had been, just moments before, mine. 

      I walked around to the back of the truck to look inside. I saw that the guy was simply tossing stuff onto the top of a pile jumbled against the inside front wall. To the guy, it really was just stuff. 

      That's when my "just stuff" mantra was tested.

      I felt kind of distraught. I got back in my car, began to move out, then paused, rolled down my window. I said to the breaking-my-stuff guy, "Just because I'm giving the stuff away doesn't mean it has no value."

      I drove away, but found that I'd caught myself what Boston Rob called a "case of crybaby-itis." I drove around the block, thinking to call the store manager or the district headquarters. Then went back again to tell the guy, "I wanted to call the manager or your supervisor, but I changed my mind. I want to tell you. Be mindful."

      We had a little bit of an exchange, but nothing too onerous, and I drove away, leaving my stuff behind.

      Monday, October 11, 2010

      Sandpainting via science fiction paperbacks

      At the estate sale, someone offered me $10 for the box of 90+ science fiction paperbacks.

      Because, you know, they weren't in the best condition.

      As if that matters. It's vintage sci-fi. Heinlein. Asimov. Pohl.  Sheesh!

      He gave me his name and number in case I changed my mind from phhttt! to yes.

      So I thought about what I'd do with these books, and the right decision came to me. I'll read each of them one last time. As I finish a book, I'll release it to the universe, leaving it in a public spot for someone to pick it up ... or not.

      I'd rather read the book, then lose it, like a Tibetan sandpainting, as a reminder of how transitory everything is.

      $10, my ass. 

      First up: Podkayne of Mars.

      Sunday, October 10, 2010

      The big sale, part 2

      I'm happy with the sale results. A constant stream of lookers between 7:00 - 8:30 a.m., Saturday, then the rest of the day there was an ebb and flow rhythm.

      I chose to run the sale today, too, on the fly. Glad I did, as I moved several more large pieces out the door.

      One friend helped me set things up on Friday afternoon, and another friend ran her butt off helping me the day of the sale. The sale was in my house, and with two floors, it was essential to have someone on each. She also brought provisions for healthy eating. We had plenty of coffee.

      By the end of the day today, I had no beds (with mattresses, anyway). No chairs except for the office chair downstairs. No plates. Precious few glasses. I've made a pallet on the carpeted bedroom floor and expect to spend a very comfortable night.

      This all still feels very much the right thing to do.

      Thursday, October 7, 2010

      Virtual document and data storage, part 1

      All systems fail.

      Which is why we all back up our data.

      Yeah, OK, now that everyone has finished tittering --
      While rooted to a desktop PC, surrounded by the bricks and mortar of my house, I felt comfortable with one form of back-up for my data, such as a usb (flash) drive.  

      But now that I'm going rootless, I need two forms of back-up. This is because my laptop is more portable, thus subject to theft, being left on a bus, eaten by dingos, or falling into a lake. Or I might visit a place where a laptop will be more trouble than it's worth, and I won't even take it with me.

      When my system fails, I want it to fail smartly. (This link goes to a September 2002, edge-of-your-seat article by Charles C. Mann, in the Atlantic Monthly, on system failure, terrorism, and Homeland Security.)

      In addition to an external device (e.g. usb drive) that carries my little universe of data, I also need to have a web-based storage unit.

      Security versus convenient access:

      It's like sex. If I want to reduce the odds of getting an infection, there's a continuum of choice, including abstinence, having protected sex with a responsible partner, and just being stupid out there.

      I'm opting for choice #2.

      The protections I buy depend on the answers to these questions:
      • How much storage I need; 
      • How secure I need it to be; 
      • How accessible it needs to be; and 
      • How much I want to spend

      'course, like any protection, buying it does no good unless I actually use it.

      Wednesday, October 6, 2010

      Three Brothers Moving Co.

      Three of my brothers will meet at 8:00 Sunday morning, then come together to my house and pick up:

      Pier mirror

      A Sister1-to-Brother1 heirloom transfer.

      Antique three-quarter bed

      Eighteen years ago, my mother sold the bed to me. She has now re-bought it and will give it to Brother5's daughter. 

      Antique coffee table that we call the "bellows coffee table"

      Brother4 received this from my parents. Later, he gave it to me in exchange for a different heirloom. Now, my daughter would love to have it, but currently has no space in her house for it. The two agreed that it would go with Brother4 for up to 10 years. If my daughter doesn't claim it by October 10, 2020, then it is Brother4's to keep.

      Desktop PC

      A straight Sister1-to-Brother4 transfer.

      Tuesday, October 5, 2010

      Going paperless

      Scanners, shredders. Mmmm.

      I'm finishing up scanning important documents and then shredding them. A very satisfying process.

      Shredding is implicitly satisfying, like popping bubble wrap and looking at a freshly-vacuumed carpet or just-mowed lawn. Shredding is at once destruction and construction, making something entirely new and interesting out of the rending of something that takes up space and requires custodial care.

      Scanning and storing the document images in a safe virtual space makes them portable and easily accessible. It is freeing.

      Here's what some folks have to say about going paperless:

      43folders --> The best article I've read on the subject: Palimpsest: The Guide to a (Mostly) Paperless Life.

      WiseBread --> How to Go Entirely Paperless at Home

      Lifehacker --> Complete Guide to Going Paperless.

      Monday, October 4, 2010

      The big sale, Part 1

      I'm having an estate sale on Saturday.

      I wanted to call it an estate sale and not a moving sale or garage sale or yard sale, or God forbid, a rummage sale.

      "Rummage" sale may be a perfectly fine term of art, but all it brings to mind for me are wrinkled, old clothes smashed into a box that one must rummage through to find something worthwhile.

      Back to "estate" sale. My thinking was that it immediately attracts a wider market than a garage/moving/yard sale. And one can charge more for identical items than one would at a garage (etc.) sale.

      But could I rightly call what I'm having an "estate" sale? I wasn't sure, so I investigated.

      Here is one definition, and here is another.

      I was in the clear.

      Sunday, October 3, 2010

      Things that are hard to let go

      I am surprised at which stuff I am finding hard to let go of:

      • Camping gear
      • Compact sound system
      • Shredder
      • Scanner

      And I don't know if I'll need my car or not. Because I don't know quite where I'll be. Or for how long.

      Fortunately, I don't have to decide what I'm going to do with these things today. Soon. But not today.

      Saturday, October 2, 2010

      The handing off of family heirlooms

      What the heck is an heirloom, anyway? The dictionary says it's an item "that has been in a family for generations."

      Here is what the Word Detective has to say about it.

      Today, I passed down to my heiress some family items that included china, silver, dainty tea napkins, and a Raggedy Andy doll made for me by my mother. Said doll is naked, his clothes having literally fallen from his body, one-armed, bald, and with the remnants of glue stuck to the side of one eye.

      Friday, October 1, 2010

      A home for more of my books

      The Rotary Club is collecting books to re-stock a New Orleans library.

      Perfect! I think I'll have about three boxes for them.