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Saturday, November 6, 2010

JJ: My Name is Jim. I am a Hoarder.

Not quite like the extremists featured on prime time television, though, my madness is a little more specialized. I don't hoard EVERYTHING, and there might be a kinda-maybe-possibly rationale to what drives me.

My Mom was a hoarder, as were a lot of folks that went through the 1930's. She saved containers like margarine tubs and jelly glasses and reused them in her kitchen. She salvaged buttons and zippers from used-up old clothes and used them for minor repair on work shirts and pants that would otherwise have to be thrown away. She saved little but useful things like wire ties and bottle caps and rubber bands.

Grampa Handcock was a machinist for the Great Northern RR and had a small shop with a lathe setup of his own, loaded with books, tools and hoarded scrap metal he'd saved or salvaged.

The farmers I grew up around were hoarders. They all had workshops of some sort lined with boxes and cans of well-used parts scavenged from old machinery and most had a pile of rusty iron scrap out back. Repairing or replacing a part on a machine didn't involve a trip to the KM's hardware department or Sander's Implement until after the supply of used materials on hand had been dug through. Usually the excavation brought up something that could be made to work and the only expense was time, and time was usually more available than money.

By nature or nurture, Hoarding is in my blood: I accumulate things.

I am a sucker for the rusty cans of nuts, bolts, screws, and God-alone-knows-what-else that end up on thrift shop shelves. Sturdy old knives, same thing. Oddball tools, too, particularly the ones whose function I don't have a clue of. Weird hammers. Left-over parts from other people's projects. Lumber scraps. Whatever.

I snatch lost washers and nuts and bolts and tools out of the street the way some folks dive for dropped change at the McDonald's drive-through. I dismantle old adding machines and other appliances for the springs and bolts and levers and brackets and machine screws that hold them together. I save them. I hoard them.

I specialize in eclecticism & I like to fix things.

Everything I save is something I think might eventually be of use or value to me. I used to go through the junk drawers treasure troves and weed things out every year or so, and then get slammed by Murphy: Within a matter of days after I dumped stuff, I needed what I'd just pitched. Now, I just find new places to stash things and hope I can remember where.

Unfortunately some of the best examples of USING the parts I've saved are showcased on "ThereIFixedIt."

I accumulate books too, mostly semi-technical things on about every how-to subject from Programming in Basic to repairing radios and building emergency snow shelters.

A random sampling from my shelves: Spoken Vietnamese. Making and Using Stone Age Tools. Zen Archery. Pistolsmithing. Astronomy Made Easy. Ancient History. Basic Math. Canoeing. The History of Islam. The Marijuana Handbook. The Whole Earth Catalog. The Machinist's Handbook. Mexico On Five Dollars A Day. Motor Home Repair.

I have better luck weeding my books. I got through them very few months, first to weed out the duplicate titles (and triplicates, and quadruplicates. No, I don't keep track of the books I have, and yes, I have a very bad memory.) Once every couple of years I pull out different books with duplicate information, keeping the better of them, but this is a last-ditch resort when I am totally out of shelf -- and floor, and table -- space for them.

Once in a while I go through the library with a more practical eye to sort out the things I am sure I will never read or use. A few books I find while doing so always make we wonder what I'd been smoking the day I'd saved them. "An In-Depth Study of Confucianism?" "Using the Electron Microscope?" "The Complete Guide to Cadillacs?" WTF!!!!

Yes, my name is Jim, and I am a Hoarder. No, I don't want to change.

But I wish I could remember every item I have cached and where it is  . . .


"Memento mori"