Confessions of a hoarder

2009-12-30 01:53

So, it turns out, I’m a hoarder.

This is one of those revelations at a scale similar to that of a cat who suddenly realizes it’s covered with fur.

I’ve been cleaning my office, and I’ve been finding Stuff. Stuff that’s been sitting in boxes for about two years (since we moved here), and which I haven’t had any interest in or use for, but which I am eerily resistant to throwing away. I have, however, made progress towards understanding why I’m so resistant to throwing things away.

There are two criteria by which I am judging things. One is whether or not I have any use for them. The other is whether they are replaceable. I recently discovered a device called a “SoundMaster ™”, made by Aegis, a division of Oxxi, Inc. It’s a sound digitizer. For the Amiga. (Yes, I still have my Amigas.) It’s a parallel-port digitizer which, in conjunction with software I probably still have the original disks for, can, well. Digitize sound. It can digitize sound from line inputs, or microphones, and it has a volume control. As I recall, it could digitize at rates up to around 56KHz — a bit better than CD quality, in terms of sample rate. … In glorious 8-bit sound. Which is to say… I think nearly everything I own can do better out of the box. Maybe a few of them don’t actually have stereo line inputs, but I’d guess nearly all of them do. It’s easy to downgrade audio, so even if I really, really, wanted to use sound software on the Amiga (no reason for which I should want to do this suggests itself), I could just record audio on something else and downsample it. I think I have a 24-bit USB audio sampler and playback device sitting around my room somewhere, probably. I can’t find it because of all the stuff.

So why do I have this thing? Because I can’t replace it. Nevermind that I probably have things which are unequivocally better.

For instance, I still have all the parts for my video gizmo for the Amiga (not a Toaster, the GVP competitor) which, with an external box I got for it, can transcode from component to S-video to VGA and so on. Awesome. But… I also have a gizmo which can take any of those formats and convert them to FireWire, at which point I can store it digitally. (The old Amiga thing could, I believe, digitize a single frame every few seconds.) Again… It’s not that I can conceive of a use for a device which, given about fifteen seconds, can load a single 24-bit frame at TV quality. Not when I have several machines which can display video like that at full 30/60 frame per second rates without noticably loading up their processors.

But… I can’t replace it. If I throw it away or toss it out, it’s GONE. If I get rid of my 7-port serial card capable of a princely 19,200bps transfer rates, there is NO WAY I could ever get it back. I can’t buy one of those. And, uhm… Well, again, that’s the problem. There’s no reason I should want to. But since I wouldn’t be able to replace it, I’m very unwilling to toss it out.

I haven’t really gotten anywhere towards figuring out to what degree this behavior has any rational justification. It’s the same thing as overpacking. And yet, while people make fun of me for overpacking, the first convention I went to with Rah, she ended up having a bit of artwork which, for reasons unknowable, she had ONLY as a JPEG file on an actual floppy… And looky here, I brought the floppy disk adapter for my laptop even though I’d probably never once used it before that day. So every so often it pays off… Every so often.

I don’t know whether I want to change this hoarding behavior, but I think maybe I need to try to rein it in a bit. There really is a problem with being able to find things I really DO have a use or need for because there’s so much stuff I don’t have a use or need for in the way. I just, you know, worry. Because some of this stuff is irreplaceable.

Peter Seebach



  1. I believe I share your hoarding problem. More than anything I would say the problem is the lack of space not hoarding. Given sufficient storage like a garage or a couple of them all of the problems caused by hoarding would be avoided and only the benefits reaped!

    — DF · 2010-03-22 10:33 · #