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Monday, 18 April 2011


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Mike, are you swamped at work because you are hoarding distractions?

I know I often am...

Macabre, good choice in words. I had to look it up. Just a fringe benefit of T.O.P.!


Interesting that we should intersect yet again. While you were cleaning up, so was I. As a result, I have a great collection of pristine photo books for sale. All hardcovers have dust jacket protectors. Many are way under going price. Most were recomended on this very website, Sorry, no Outside/Inside (I wish). Readers can view the list at http://www.amazon.com/gp/shops/storefront/index.html?ie=UTF8&marketplaceID=ATVPDKIKX0DER&sellerID=A3PKQZ9SBQMBJY.




Slightly off topic; the bookshelves here at the Swamp are full. After culling volumes that were no longer needed or wanted...they're still full.

So I "invested" in a Kindle. The plan is to buy hardcovers where hardcovers are justified (tech manuals, photo books, etc.) and e-books where there is no justification for a hardcover (mysteries, sci-fi, etc.).

Of course with the Amazon model there is a risk that the ebook "library" can be lost or hacked or mauled by Amazon staff - but the Swamp could burn down too, and the loss in hardcovers would be much more painful.

The hope is to build the ebook library and reduce the strain on the Swamp bookshelves - there simply isn't room to put in more shelving.

But that's not the point of this post...

Have you (can you) cut a deal with Amazon that gives TOP credit when I buy ebooks directly from the Kindle? It's more convenient than using my laptop to log in using the TOP shortcut, locate the book, "Buy With One Click" and send the purchase to my Kindle, then fire up the Kindle to complete the download.

If you're not able to get credit for direct off-of-the-Kindle purchases, your readers oughta know that. Also - is there a minimum amount that your readers must order in any given sale before it rings the TOP bell? A number of Kindle purchases I've made are at the 99 cent level...and there's no way to "bundle" book purchases in the Kindle store to ratchet up the total sale.

What's the scoop on Kindle vis-a-vis TOP?


Yeah, hoarding would be gathering all kinds of really useless stuff like the filled diapers. Burned-out lightbulbs. Irreparably broken toys. Whatever.

I don't think having a lot of cameras qualifies as hoarding. Concerning the guy with the beautifully organised camera collection, a friend of mine has a theory: you have only so much organisation in yourself, and when you're organised in one area, it means the other areas will be disorganised. :)

BTW, there was a recent episode of The Simpsons where they deal with hoarding - the cat lady is a hoarder, they help her and then Marge catches the bug.

I haven't seen that hoarders show, it sounds too depressing and I only watch the cable channels when I'm on Jet Blue. I'm much more into that other show "American Pickers" that seems to revolve around people who accumulate a lot of junk that gradually becomes valuable.

You had a post about that in 2009

I seem to come from a family of hoarders, one uncle accumulated over 50 wrecked 1959 Chevrolets, another uncle left a barn full of dead Porsches, the history of the adding machine from the 19th century, 2 issues of every Life magazine etc. Of course on a farm you can indulge in habits like never selling any old cars and never throwing out old magazines. For some reason my grandfather in an attempt to tidy up took all the depression era Fortune and Scientific American magazines to the dump and kept the Life and Nat Geos. When my family sold the farm I had to winnow the interesting stuff that my relatives didn't throw away ( someone dumped a box with 50 years of advertising pens and pencils, and almost threw out a first edition of Peter Pan) down to what would fit in a couple of shipping containers.

I really need to get rid of some cameras myself, I have somehow accumulated a dozen Bolexes and I don't even make films, and I remember having a bunch of weird French light meters around here somewhere.

At the other end of the scale are site like mnmlist.com, which is a little extreme by with an approach I could live with, unlike the clutter approach.
I showed my wife the hoarding images, and we agreed that we occasionally get to #1. She was horrified by #2, which is at the very extreme end of chaos in our home - maybe once or twice a year, and very briefly at that... Thank God we are coordinated in this.
As for cameras - the only reason I now own three is that I upgraded a week ago (Sony A55) and haven't had a chance to sell the old Sony A300. The third is a compact Canon.
My gear 'closet' is just two drawers.
Books are a bigger problem, but I'm getting rid of every book I read which I don't really like, and that helps a bit. I applaud your determination in getting rid of so many books (and such a large percentage of them!)

My parents are hoarders. It's not too bad, but it's going to be a hassle when we inherit the house - because between all the crap, some jewels lurk. Otherwise I'd just throw it all away.

I am actually trying to organize my life so that I could carry everything that is of real value to me. Computers have made this pretty easy; I have all personally important documents on my MacBook Pro (and keep a Backup, of course). I could literally carry all the things that are important to me in my backpack.

While I do get the beauty of beautiful things, in the end they're just, well, things to me, and I don't really have an emotional connection to them. If I lost my home to a fire tomorow, I'd be inconvenienced, but that's about it. Actually, owning stuff weighs me down. Owning only what's necessary (if possible in a quality that's a lot higher than necessary) is really liberating.

What I really value in life can't be bought: Friends, mostly. By definition, stuff that can be bought again has no emotional value to me, and goes out once I don't need it anymore.

This even extends to books, which some of you might consider a sacrilege: It's not about the medium; I really don't care about the paper. It's all about the content, and once I've read them, I give most books away. Only very few are so good that I can foresee to want to read them again.

Sometimes I wonder if I miss anything by throwing away letters, postcards etc. once I've read them. By not keeping stuff around for nostalgia. But every time I try to keep something "useless", I can't find a place to put it, and I can't picture a time when to look at it again. Maybe I'm just really bad at organizing, and that's why I try to minimize stuff that needs to be organized. But I'm really fine with that. Maybe I'll regret it when I'm 90.

Heh! In our empty nest, this goes under the heading, "What's yours is mine and what's mine's me own."

It's interesting--I distinctly remember seeing a show about cults, and the show claimed that some people join cults because they're so deficient in organization and life skills that they just have a terrible time running their own lives--the cult helps organize them and provides them with a leader who tells them what to do at all times, and they find this comforting because it relieves them of a sense of significant ongoing distress. Oddly enough, the show claimed that some people join the army for the same reason.

There's an organization for children of hoarders, COH--


--who sometimes have anger and/or personal issues stemming from their parent's or parents' behavior.


"Have you (can you) cut a deal with Amazon that gives TOP credit when I buy ebooks directly from the Kindle? It's more convenient than using my laptop to log in using the TOP shortcut, locate the book, "Buy With One Click" and send the purchase to my Kindle, then fire up the Kindle to complete the download. If you're not able to get credit for direct off-of-the-Kindle purchases, your readers oughta know that."

Jim Hart,
No, I don't think there's any way affiliates will ever get a spiff for direct downloaded Kindle ebooks, because there's no sense in which we created the sale. But thanks for asking.


I must say this talk of getting rid of books horrifies me. But then, the fantasy and SF collection in our house is simultaneously recreational, scholarly, and reference (my wife writes fantasy). I need to look up exactly what was actually said in some book I hate, rather than misquoting it from memory, when I'm explaining how much I hate that book sometimes ;-).

I did like most people who read your post and read up on hoarding: I thought about my clutter, worried about it, and tried to make some introspection about it.

Given that I'm about to embark on a Ph.D., I suddenly remembered how difficult it was during my M.A. to deal with the insane amount of information one tends to accumulate in academic learning. In a way, it's also very similar to hoarding, and sometimes you end up piling up article upon article near your desk, thinking "I'll never forget myself for not reading this" like a true hoarder.

But I also remembered that the academic world relies on a powerful anti-hoarding mechanism: bibliographies. Instead of keeping the actual information, you keep pointers to this information. Hoarders live with a 1:1 map of the world. You have to move to a reduced scale map if you want to function.

I know I've been guilty of having "one of everything" with various pursuits, but the turning point appears when I suddenly realise that I can live with knowledge rather than things.

And finally, one must remember the Jimi Hendrix Principle to cure the accumulation of loved possessions: "The time I burned my guitar it was like a sacrifice. You sacrifice the things you love. I love my guitar."

Sacrifice your beloved possessions every once in a while, feel the pain and the anguish, learn to love it, and admit that you feel a bit post-coital after the pain has abated.

Mike, thanks for responding - though I'm not sure what the connection is between my post and yours, and whether I should feel offended by the suggestion that I might have problems organizing my life. Maybe it's the language barrier. I'm actually quite OK with my life, I'm just not good at keeping lots of things around in an orderly fashion, so I don't. Maybe my post sounded more dramatic than I meant it?

What I was trying to say was just that I think most people - even non-hoarders - have way more stuff than they'll ever need (partly because they're emotionally attached to inanimate things, and partly because most of these things are not actually, generally useless - so they can't throw them away, even though they're useless to them).

Oddly enough, the show claimed that some people join the army for the same reason.

I've heard something similar about some habitual criminals. They can't function in society without somebody telling them what to do 24/7. When they get out of prison they do incredibly stupid things, either because they just can't control themselves or in a deliberate attempt to get back into what is, to them, a more comfortable environment.

No offense meant, and my response wasn't necessarily aimed at you personally, merely inspired by your point about your radically simplified possessions. As for COH, there might be no relationship between your own minimalism and your parents' hoarding, but others might be interested to know about the organization. (Curiously, I'm a bit the opposite of you--I've always been "messy" and a "collector," but my parents are both fastidious about housekeeping and very neat.)


"I must say this talk of getting rid of books horrifies me"

Again, the criterion is not the number of books you have, but whether they're organized and useful to you. Sounds like yours are.


"Ended up keeping seven - which, of course, is more cameras than anyone sensibly needs."

I'm very disappointed, Mike. All these years, I thought you were one of us...

The problem is simple Friedrich, we buy too much, and thus own too much stuff we really don't need. Personally I couldn't agree with you more. I owned to much until I had to sell (almost) everything in 2009. I thought that would be painful but instead it turned out to be very liberating. By owning things like computers, cars, paintings, guitars (6 of them! Hell I'm not that good a player), music equipment and the like, I had become a slave of my possessions and each purchase was the seed of a new purchase (new HDR spurred the acquisition of a new set of microphones and that spurred the buy of a new microphone pre-amp) until I had so much stuff I stopped making music altogether. Nowadays I take pictures and do that with a single GF1 and 2 lenses. My whole outfit fits into a single Vanguard hipbag. And that gets me what I want, results I can share and be pleased with. And when I get back to work, I will be free of any debt within minutes. Since that has been reduced considerably...and as you will agree (and Mike will soon discover), happiness is not to be found in owning, but in using (to its full potential at best) of your stuff.

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