Divestment: Week 13

Posted on November 20, 2008 by Steve

11/13: Sorted through some old photos and trashed a number of them.

11/14: Tossed two glass tea light holders that had been pressed into occasional service as shot glasses.

11/15: Gave The Omnivore's Dilemma to Gareth.

11/16: Junked three dusty flower-shaped float-in-water candles. Somehow, in the years since these were given to us, we haven't had a decorating need for burning, floating wax flowers.

11/17: Trashed some owner's manuals, including one for a DVD player and one for a wireless network card.

11/18: Trashed an old iPod battery.

11/19: Added In the Heart of the Sea to the bookshelf of La Madeleine in Reston.

Divestment: Week 12

Posted on November 12, 2008 by Steve

Last Saturday I got rid of a book: Unamuno: A Philosophy of Tragedy by Josť Ferrater Mora (translated by Philip Silver). I found the title page in my pants pocket, where I had stashed it, knowing I would forget about the divestment.

I have never read a word by Miguel de Unamuno, yet I admire him, largely on the strength of Martin Gardner's reverence. Wikipedia tells an interesting story about a confrontation near the end of his life.

11/6: Trashed some magazines.
Smithsonian, September 1998, with a short version of Simon Winchester's great story about the OED as told in The Professor and the Madman.
(Link requires an e-mail address, but it isn't verified.)

Smithsonian, February 1999, with a cover story on John Singer Sargent and a luscious three-page centerfold of Madame X.

Smithsonian, July 1999. Don't quite know why I saved it.

The Washington Post Magazine, September 2003, in which Gene Weingarten explains the problem with the French.

11/7: More basement cleanup. Old letters, a performance review and some pay stubs, my selective service card from 1990, wire, light fixture installation instructions, and several plastic bags and a box containing these articles.

11/8: Sold a 1969 Kennedy half dollar on eBay.

11/9: Returned 24 hinges that won't fit our cabinets. Trashed a nasty straw hot pad that had disappeared into the spider-eggy void below some kitchen drawers.

11/10: Found a big brown panel with some thumb holes which was probably part of some cabinet once. It didn't look familiar, so I trashed it.

11/11: Tossed some baby clothes into the donation dumpster.

11/12: An empty tin of Djarum smokes was gathering dust in the basement. Actually it contained a single, unintentionally funny, panel cut from one of the serious soap opera newspaper comic strips. I meant to get rid of it and left it on the dashboard, but don't know where it ended up.

Divestment: Week 11

Posted on November 05, 2008 by Steve

10/30: The November 2001 issue of Atlantic, saved on the strength of two excellent articles now available online: The Crash of EgyptAir 990 and The Curse of the Sevso Silver. That and a recent, forgettable, issue of Paste Magazine trashed.

10/31: Pitched a mismatched Schlage doorknob picked up at ReStore for fifty cents.

11/1: I can't remember what I did Saturday. I must have gotten rid of some candy.

11/2: Some square mirrors, about a foot on a side, that I found somewhere.

11/3: A length of leftover PVC pipe from a sink installation.

11/4: A spray can of "belt conditioner" that I bought hoping to quiet a squeaky alternator belt. The internet will tell you that the solution is to get proper tension in the belt and this stuff just gunks up the pulleys.

11/5: Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook, left on top of the card reader of the parking garage. The next motorist picked it up and put it back, but after a few hours it had disappeared.

Divestment: Intermission

Posted on October 29, 2008 by Steve

I took the week off. Incidental disposals during the time included the October issue of The Atlantic, which I finished before the September issue, and a pair of handles that I dug up from the basement and applied to bathroom cabinets.

Looking ahead, I suspect that 52 weeks will be a stretch. Thanks to my habit of occasional trips to McKay's, my book collection no longer has many easy candidates, though I could part with some college textbooks. The CD rack has some titles that haven't been played for years, which might get me through a week or two. After that, I'll be counting dust bunnies from under the fridge.

Divestment: Week 10

Posted on October 22, 2008 by Steve

10/16: Trashed some doily-like placemats. They reminded me of another Feynman anecdote.

10/17: There was an opened jar of peanut butter in my desk drawer. It was that natural stuff, with the oil separated on top, and seemed to be holding up pretty well after some months of neglect, so I moved it to the office refrigerator.

10/18: Aesop's Fables left in the men's room at Ikea.

10/19: A jar of Creatine powder and some dated spices were eliminated during a top-of-the-fridge cleaning.

10/20: An iClicker sold on eBay for $10.51. Completed listings showed prices in the $20 range, but I neglected to consider that we are now in mid-semester. I also moved that peanut butter to the trash.

10/21: Left a pair of outsized mugs with saucers in the office kitchen with a note reading "free to good home."

10/22: A medley of diverse liquids, solids, and gels found under the bathroom sink. The mugs are now serving as sugar packet containers.

Divestment: Week 9

Posted on October 15, 2008 by Steve

10/9: Got rid of the box a kitchen knife came in that we won't be returning after all, and some rubber hose.

10/10: Trashed four or five pairs of old underwear. The labels had come loose, revealing scratchy hardened glue. I bet that doesn't happen to Michael Jordan. (Back-dated from Saturday.)

10/11: Left Frankenstein at Panera in Reston Town Center.

10/12: A bucket of gravel had been sitting in the laundry room for some time. Yes, a bucket of gravel. You just never know. I dumped it into a void under the front porch and covered it over with cement left over from another project. I might have tossed in some gold ingots too, I can't remember.

10/13: Threw out some old socks, and returned a power supply to MicroCenter.

10/14: More basement scraps: plywood, drywall, and backerboard.

10/15: Rudyard Kipling's "Baa Baa Black Sheep and The Gardner" tossed into the bed of a pickup truck parked at George Mason University.

Divestment: Week 8

Posted on October 08, 2008 by Steve

10/2: I forgot to get rid of anything.

10/3: Left "51 Languages of the World" CD-ROM on top of an Exxon pump.

10/4: Trashed a worn-out pair of navy loafers that let puddles leak in through the soles.

10/5: Dumped a satchel. It was old and ragged, but not old and ragged in the good way that a satchel can be.

10/6: Dave told me that he subloaned the copy of Adrift that I loaned him, and I'm hoping the book will have a one-way voyage with a happy ending, like its author. I was going to chuck The Dead out the car window, maybe toward a bus stop, but now I can't find it.

10/7: Left The Dead in the envelope supply box at a drive-up ATM.

10/8: Dropped To Build a Fire and Other Stories in a neighbor's mailbox.

Divestment: Week 7

Posted on October 01, 2008 by Steve

9/25: The second Panasonic stereo speaker. Left out with trash.

9/26: Three panes of glass from the basement. I would have junked them earlier, but what do you do with a three-by-five sheet of glass? Conveniently, the HOA rented a trash container and parked it on the street for the weekend, so I carried them out one by one through the rainy night and chucked them in. The first two were pretty sturdy, but naturally I handled them gingerly on the five-minute walk to the dumpster. The third one gave me a lasting admiration for safety glass. It was thinner and somewhat flexible, but I noticed a "tempered glass" etching in the corner. I've seen this kind of glass withstand some pretty forceful impacts and thought it would be tough enough to make the trip easily. But as I hefted it up over the edge of the dumpster, it exploded into a shower of tiny bits. I leapt back and looked at my hands -- no obvious damage except to a neighbor's peace of mind; he hurled a vulgar imprecation into the night at a presumed vandal. Back home, I found many glittering slivers on my forearms, but they rinsed off in the sink and I got away with just two tiny pinpricks.

9/27: Ventured into the attic and filled a box with sundries: some rotting clothes, dusty books, and random junk for the trash.

9/28: The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, paperback, 1960. Left in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Reston.

9/29: Trashed a pile of old paperwork from the basement archives and a long piece of plastic trim from some abandoned project.

9/30: Some junk from the back of the car. There was an empty spray bottle of glass cleaner. More of a clean-up than a divestment.

10/1: An old GMU phone book. And I started to trash an old satchel, but I got bogged down with disposing of its contents, one item at a time. Several college-era planners, batteries, and some sugar packets were among the discards.

Divestment: Week 6

Posted on September 24, 2008 by Steve

9/18: Mailed Growing Up Hockey to Lee.

9/19: A stack of paperbacks from the Penguin 60s series was hidden behind some books on the shelf. (See what Suck had to say about them. Remember Suck?) I grabbed a pair while packing for Toronto, but started reading "Bartleby," got involved in the story, and didn't finish until after midnight.

9/20: Left Herman Melville's "Bartleby, the Scrivener" (which included "The Lightning-rod Man") in the lobby of the Sheraton Centre Toronto.

9/21: Four Essays by Michel de Montaigne was missing and presumed lost at the Cincinnati airport, but later appeared in a jacket pocket. From all my frustrating experiences searching for lost objects, I would think that unwanted items would be only too happy to disappear. Instead, they are unpleasantly clingy. Left it in a parking garage after a Five Guys lunch the next day.

9/22: Driving home Monday evening, I noticed a pile of junk on the curb in front of a neighbor's house. There were four chairs, some countertops, and a computer table, with a large sign saying "FREE." I confess that I drove by a second time to see if there was anything worth taking, and fortunately was not tempted. But I got an idea. A few hours later, under cover of darkness, I made a deposit.

  • Akai receiver, with backlit needle gauges for FM signal strength and tuning.
  • Akai amplifier. Surprisingly heavy. Volume pot very scratchy, otherwise sound.
  • Teac dual cassette deck.
A little hard to let the vintage Akai units go, but I am buoyed by hopes that they will get some use in someone else's home. No rain forecast until Thursday.

9/23: Left "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing 5" CD in a portable toilet.

9/24: Propane tank that had been sitting in our backyard for ages. None of the neighbors wanted it, but I finally got "Bob K." to pick it up after posting a message on Freecycle.

Divestment: Week 5

Posted on September 17, 2008 by Steve

9/11: Returned a fluorescent shop light to Home Depot for $9.21.

9/12: Wrapped up Irrational Man in plastic and set out to stash it in the center of a circular cloverleaf at the intersection of 495 and 123. There appeared to be an open area there which would be undisturbed for some time.

There was a light rain and going was slow due to thick undergrowth, but I eventually made it to the edge of the asphalt-ringed island. Climbing up from the edge, it seemed tranquil in the woods despite the constant growl of traffic. The noise provided some cover, and I flushed a group of deer (a "mob," to those who enjoy faunal collective nouns) by walking right into their nap area. I saw some getting up twenty feet to my left and heard others to my right. Trying to follow them led me to the edge of a clearing where I made an unexpected discovery which forced me to scrub the mission.

Standing in the drop zone, unmistakable in safety orange vests, was a survey crew. One of them was looking my way, so I gave an awkward wave and continued rooting around through the brush, as if I had lost a contact in this No Man's Land. It wouldn't do to dump my package just anywhere, or to deposit it in plain sight of witnesses, so I headed back. On the way I picked up an orange golf ball, a disheartening reversal to the divestment project.

9/13: Threw away the pieces of a battery-powered crib mobile which the kid used as monkey bars.

9/14: Two waffle cones, tough as cardboard, in the back of the pantry, delicately packaged in a box with a styrofoam liner. Ate them.

9/15: Two large cartons for some stroller accessories with associated packaging materials; trashed.

9/16: Another failed divestment day. A desktop computer at home is suffering from the dread boot hang after mup.sys syndrome. I spent more time Googling than testing and convinced myself that the power supply was going. So I picked up a $20 no-name 500W power supply at MicroCenter and swapped it out. No change, and no old power supply to junk.

9/17: Left Reality, Man, and Existence next to a bible at the dentist's office.