Preparing For My Child, Geek-Style

With the arrival of our first child a little over two months away, my wife and I have been making preparations for their entrance into the world, albeit at a slower pace than either of us is really comfortable with. Prime among our concerns is the readying of the nursery.
The room we chose for the nursery has been employed as a general purpose dumping ground for all the crud we haven’t wanted to throw out but which didn’t really have an everyday use; our office has also served in this role, albeit in a reduced fashion, as there’s a desk, books, filing cabinets, and all sorts of other home office-y clutter taking up valuable real estate. So, in an effort to have some place to actually play host to a real, live, albeit small and largely incommunicative human being, we have begun a wholesale effort to get the nursery cleared of clutter and the office converted back into a third bedroom.
Chief among my wife’s concerns was the presence of what she deemed to be an unreasonably large population of computers in various states of function and/or disrepair. Try as I might, I could not get her to understand that there is no such thing as an unreasonably large population of computers. She demanded that I only keep the ones that I needed and take the remainder to a computer recycling event (it being illegal to simply throw computers into the trash in the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania).
Last Saturday happened to be one of those recycling days and so we awoke early and I began to prepare the batch of computers for transit to the recycling point (a high school, as it turned out, that apparently wasn’t actually in Pennsylvania, at least if the perceived distance driven is any indicator. I think I might have stumbeld upon some unfortunate Indiana residents who, in an effort not to insult a clearly deranged man, decided to take my offering of silicon, aluminum, lead and mercury). This is when the fight occurred, as it became quite evident that my definition of “need” and my wife’s were incompatible, to say the least. Her definition of “need” was: precisely one working machine. My definition lies somewhere considerably north of there. Part of the disparity in numbering the total number of computers resident in our household was apparently due to the fact that, in a total flight from logic into fancy, my wife considered the two laptops from work currently in my posession to be “computers”. While being literally true, any good geek could clearly point out the error in my wife’s conclusions, as laptops clearly are merely extremely convenient communications tools and therefore not fully qualified “computers” (read: they stink at playing games, primarily because of the dearth of decent mobile graphics accelerators). But I digress.
After a good bit of haggling, I set off for the recycling center with far more computers than I had initially intended on taking. I had eventually had a change of heart and consented to taking very nearly all (with one exception) of the “surplus” computers. This was a huge step for me. This may be admitting a bit too much, but I had a great amount of emotional investment in those computers.
I have interacted with computers from a very early age – my family’s first computer was a Macintosh 512k which was followed by a succession of PC laptops, the first of which was a behemoth with a tiny monochromatic orange-and-black screen which I seem to recall being a Compaq of some sort, but I could be wrong. I used all manner of computers throughout my schooling, from Apple ][‘s to various beige IBM clones. My parents eventually purchased a Compaq 486 DX desktop which served as “my” desktop through high school – there was many a Duke Nukem 3D and Descent game played on that thing.
Now we get to the tough part. Among the computers I recycled were:

  • The first computer I bought with my own money – a Compaq Pressario 120MHz Pentium “pizza box”
  • My first “computer show” computer – an AMD Athlon 500MHz with a case that I custom painted using spray-on texturizing paint. Pretty hokey.
  • My first post-college machine – an AMD Athlon 1.2GHz box bought off a “Dutch auction” on eBay and picked up from the dealer which was conveniently located just off Airport Road in Allentown.

When I arrived at the recycling center, I was surprised to find that it was a highly organized, quick-moving affair. I was directed to the “computers only” line and a swarm of roughly 6-10 guys descended upon my car as I ground it to a halt. I popped the tailgate on the Passat and the gents had my cargo bay clean in about 30 seconds. They slammed the gate shut and off I drove, slightly dazed from the sheer rapidity of the experience.
It’s probably stupid for me to have emotional attachments to computers, but I just can’t help it. There’s a lot of memories wrapped up in those boxes.
It’s all for a good cause, of course. Now I have room for my progeny. *grin*


I feel for ya brother. I am still trying to hide the one computer I have in shambles that is debilitated by a disabled PS2 port for the mouse. If I can get this fixed I will put as much crap as I can into it and do a HD transfer for one of my coworkers and sell it to them for cheap. But yes, parting from your projects sucks.