Daily Archives: July 15, 2019

My relationship with my possessions

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[Saturday’s run: 3.4 miles]

The old saying that retirement is more strenuous than work has proven true in this household. My first week of semi-retirement was full of part time work and full time house moving activities.

Now it is Monday morning and I’m surrounded by boxes of stuff and pieces of furniture. Yesterday we packed the van and today we pack the rental truck. Tomorrow we leave. By the end of this day everything going should be on a truck or in the nearby storage unit.

If you’ve followed along with my blog you know that I enjoy buying surplus online. It is not unusual for me to drag something home, take it apart, and sell or use the parts. I enjoy seeing how things are made.

But I also seem to have an emotional loyalty to objects. It is not that I hold them as personal possessions for myself (not always anyway), but that I don’t like the waste of useful things. I’ll buy something and it will be a tacit understanding that this artifact is now my responsibility.

My wife and I have had an increase in low-level conflict as she is more inclined to throw things away, particularly things which she doesn’t understand or have an interest in. Her inclinations are more toward human relationship building which, I am happy to admit, is a more worthwhile endeavor. On the other hand, I would usually be happy with fewer human relationships except those transmitted by the design and craft of human engineering.

So we are going through a period of stress where she is inclined to shed objects, the default being to wrap them in plastic and send them to the landfill, while I am in conflict with that as an extravagant waste, and not having the time to sort out what could be sold as useful, scrapped into component parts, or even as base material.

It’s my own fault for letting things pile up which I do not actively use but also don’t actively move along through the process.

I think the other fault in my position is that it depends on my own limited knowledge. Some of the things I have reduced to component parts have been complex devices. Most have been inefficient and wasteful designs which have been supplanted by more efficient and effective solutions. I have little way of knowing if some item is being sought for its intended purpose except for the bidder interest or lack thereof.: maybe some destitute hospital needs that ancient mass spectrometer that I tore apart, I don’t know. Or maybe some particular component piece is made of exotic material which I can’t recognize.

As an example, I have a surplus spectrum analyzer (a piece of test equipment) which came to me much more cheaply than the newer models. But it is heavier and uses much more electricity than the newer models. It has larger components which are more accessible to me, easier to understand. Being cheaper and more accessible, I feel more affinity for the older.

I see patterns of this when I go to ham radio swap meets. Older people will often be “down sizing” which means the requirements of physical space cause them to seek efficiency in size and weight. And doing that involves the breaking of patterns of thought and habit.

I’m going through a space/cost squeeze point. Everything has to fit on that truck. My old cheap inefficient stuff doesn’t fit the requirements of the day and may not fit the requirements of the future.

Jul 15, 2019
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