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An observation ...

Few things get in the way of work like rebuilding your office space.

On the other hand, I'm installing bookcases for roughly a thousand books and increasing the available floor space, while making room for new bookcases to go in the dining room from whence these ones came.

My office space has a tendency to accumulate clutter, deteriorating over time until it resembles a dank hole with far too many trailing mains extension cables. Getting on top of it is probably going to be a net win in terms of productivity over the next year — it's just a pain while I'm doing it.

(More thoughts on something profound when I have something profound to think about, rather than how to wedge an extra filing cabinet between a bookcase and the window casement. You know how it goes ...)




I don't know - I think figuring out how to deal with clutter is deeply profound ... Good luck with it all.


Thinking the same thoughts. Aargh. It isn't all clutter - the youngest's kick drum, is that clutter? - but I like space. Preferably, I'd like a study the size of the assembly shed at Canaveral.

Well, maybe not THAT tall.


Think yourself lucky you've got enough space to fit them in - I've got over 1,000 books piled up in black bags in my bedroom. I keep meaning to catalogue them & flog them on e-bay or something but it's such a huge, messy job I keep putting it off.


You have my sympathies. I've got a certain amount of the way through the process of dealing with the clutter in my home office space (in that I now have a large chunk of the unsorted paperwork of the past ten to twenty years stuffed into a filing cabinet, and I've managed to put the products of a stationery addiction into a cupboard rather than all over the desk) but the next stage of it is one of those things which is on my list of things to be achieved once I acquire a tuit of appropriate circularity. Or in other words, never.


Moving house is a great way to force a declutter. At some point you realise that not only do you not want to carry/pack/shelve X again, you never want to make a decision about it again.

I'm working up a variation of the Quantum Suicide argument called alternately Quantum Library/Clutter where there exists a me in the multiverse who owns Borges' Library or every paperclip ever made.


Three years ago I realized that, in terms of collecting comics and books, I was going to run out of storage capacity even before I ran out of reading time or disposable income. Comics have revealed me as a self-hating materialist. Moving comics and books to a digital distribution model has become a spiritual quest.

Good luck with the move. Good luck with the purge.


Daniel, I moved house 11 months ago. All it did was leave me with a lot of boxes. (The long term project to get the stuff I want to keep out of boxes, and the stuff I don't want to keep out of the flat, continues.)


I'm free over the weekend, so do let me know if you need any box-shifting, shelf-stacking or other assorted labour.


Books look so innocuous on shelves, don't they? You don't realise how much volume they really take up till you box them up for a move.



I would agree, - some of the other few are

Rebuilding your office METAVERSE/cyberspace
(new OS, new tools etc)
Moving into a new home..


The worst part of when you do that is that you find stuff you want to read and sometimes you just stop moving stuff and sit and read what you found. Makes moving anything a lot harder.


Snort. I firmly believe that there is no such thing as too many books - hell, my family chose our current house because it had built-in floor to ceiling bookshelves...

...what's even more dangerous is living a block from a good used bookstore.


Ok, now I don't feel so bad. I was beginning to fear what would people think if I died unexpectantly. The police would walk into a house packed with books and paper. My sister would never forgive me. I think that I am going to rent storage space just so I can get through Thanksgiving and provide room for actual PEOPLE and not just books.


@13: That's a thought - rent storage space for your friends! It's the step before "self-storage"

TK: I CAN'T STAND IT ANY MORE!!! I can't stand it!!! (HE SOBS) TR (QUIETLY): You know what your answer is, sir?
TK: What?
TR (QUIETLY): I think you need to go into self-storage for a little while.
TK: I think you're right.
TR: Swanson's Self Storage has hundreds of locations nationwide. It's the easy inexpensive way to get some peace and quiet. (DOOR CREAK OPEN)
SS: Right in there, Mr. Stickney.
SS: Lie on the floor, Mr. Stickney.
TK (REVERB): Okay. Is there a radio or TV in here?
SS: You don't want that, Mr. Stickney.
TK (REVERB): Okay.
SS: Get yourself comfortable. Just relax.
TK: (REVERB) Okay.
SS: I'll be back to get you in two weeks, okay?
TK: (REVERB) Okay. See you then.
TR: Swanson's Self Storage.....when you need a time out.


I had missed hearing that! And I didn't know that PHC had some of their bits online.

No self storage for me. They are expecting turducken this year. Somebody has to cook the thing.


Off topic:

Mr. Stross, I just finished _The Merchants' War _, and I've come to the conclusion that this series is probably your best writing. I'm looking forward to the rest of them.


Marian: When I was a regular listener, PHC had the self-storage ads quite often, along with "jobs for English graduates".

Thanks for prompting me to look for it: now I know that the news from Lake Woebegone segment is a podcast.


There's no reason decluttering has to be a huge production. It's possible to make progress gradually. I find the one-box model works quite well.

Get a cardboard box -- you probably have one, else steal from work one of the boxes copier paper comes in -- and fill it with stuff you haven't used in at least a year, and don't expect to use in the forseeable future. Put the box on the curb. Repeat for every room in the house, when so inclined.


Re: books innocuous while sitting on shelves.....

If you ever decide to combine living arrangements with your main squeeze and offer to help your loved one move out of her flat, make sure that the apartment she is living in has an elevator. Four flights of stairs multiplied by 40 large boxes of books. Box mumber one wasn't heavy, but by god, number 40 damn near killed me.


Stuling: (a) I'm married, (b) we have disjoint reading habits, and (c) we live on the third (US: fourth) floor of a building with no lifts and that cannot be fitted with a lift. There is a simple solution: pay a removals firm.


#9: "Books look so innocuous on shelves, don't they? You don't realise how much volume they really take up till you box them up for a move."


That's true of absolutely *everything*, when you're moving.


This is my first comment on Charlies diary (I think you write great books and you are on my website as one of the MUST read writers). Books.. you can't have enough of them and you should never (NEVER!) throw them away. I have a lot of bookshelves in my home office and at least once a year the chaos needs to be sorted out as I buy many new books (and don't throw away). When I'm rearranging (well actually rebuilding) the office, it looks like somebody vomitted books throughout the house... But it is worthwhile when you're done. The only scary thought is, you have to re-start again a year later... Oh well....


I assume that you mean ANOTHER 1000 books?

Even I've got somewhere between 5 & 6000 - not counting maps and magazines - and I know I've lost count.

It's when you start to worry about the floor-loading that you know you've got problems .....


Mmmmm, books.

As for floor loading, my mother complained only half in jest about my books in the attic. Then I moved out and carried all the boxes of books myself. Fortunately my new flat, although it is up one flight of stairs, is a mid 70's breezeblock and concrete building with a concrete floor, so I don't have to worry about it. I still have bookcases in the lounge and two bedrooms. I don't have books in the kitchen or the bathroom because I keep books away from damp and unpleasant smells. (and the chemicals on my worksurface.)
I've found the major problem I have just now is simply not knowing where a book is.


Wilke Ebeling: there are some books I'll throw away. Nobody needs a crappy mid-1980s Sybex book on programming IBM PCs in assembler (for MS DOS 2.11). A lot of technical books are essentially disposable literature, and it's probably just misplaced nostalgia that makes me keep the three shelves of Nutshell books (including the shelf of Perl tomes) given that I haven't updated them in 5 years.

(Oh, and if I found anything by the likes of Ann Coulter in here I'd probably dispose of it one sheet at a time, in the littlest room. Not that it's likely ... but that's personal political spleen, and doesn't count.)


Charlie -

I last moved house twelve years ago and I *still* have half a dozen large boxes of books waiting for me to put up sufficient shelves to allow me to unpack them. And it's not just books I hang on to - I have the first three or four years of Omni magazine and a large number of copies of "Aircraft Illustrated" dating back to the early seventies on my shelves.

I've just moved my home workspace downstairs, and threw a lot of junk out in the process. The pain was definitely worth it, even if I have a long way to go.


About a year ago I cleaned the library. Several thousand books, most of which either given away or pitched into a dumpster. I felt liberated. All that old paper, all that out-dated information. All those stupid books I would never re-read. Satan, thank you for giving me the power to clear it out.

That said, I'm just going to be more selective in my book buying. Or so the theory goes.