Purge 2012 starts in just over a day

I really need to think of a better name for this project.

So I’ve been thinking non-stop about my plans for 2012 and the starting line is fast approaching. Less than 2 days from now I’m committing to get rid of at least one item a day, and not acuire more than 12 items for the whole year. (official rules I’ve set for myself here) It’s a big commitment – but I think it’s an important one. I realize that I sometimes need to make hard rules for myself to actually put things into motion.

Before this all starts I want to clarify that this isn’t an anti-materialistic thing, it’s not anti-capitalist, it’s not about not spending money. It’s about paying extra close attention to what objects money is spent on, and why. If I’m only buying one thing a month, the chance of me buying the really cheap impulse buy version of whatever it is that will break and need to be replaced, is pretty slim. Likewise, the chance that I’ll really research the object and buy the probably a little more expensive, but exceptionally well made version that will hold up for years (or a lifetime) is much greater. I fetishize objects, so this is really about being more careful about which of those objects get my attention. Expect many of those objects to get written about as well, as I hone my attention.

And while this doesn’t officially start until Jan 1, I’ve already started getting things together. I’ve got a big box of clothes from my closet already that I’m going to start documenting, and another box full of things for ebay. I probably have the first 2-3 weeks nailed already and I’m hoping that momentum keeps going. While my goal is to get rid of *at least* one thing a day, if at the end of the year I’ve gotten rid of 500+ things I’m not going to complain.

I also want to come clean about panic padding. This week has not been good for me. I know this deadline is approaching and I’ve been doing the “oh shit, what else might I need?” thing. I’ve talked myself out of most of it, but not all of it. I ordered a bunch of new socks. I bought a book. And a shirt. And a bicycle jersey. And new gloves because mine are all ripped up. But had the self restraint to keep many other things in the shopping cart over night and then remove them before I hit buy the next day. I’m not proud of this of course, but it happened and I want to be up front about it. These items will arrive *after* Jan 1, though they were acquired prior to Jan 1, so it’s a loophole or something. Whatever, I suck, and in less than 36 hours this is on for real. I can’t wait.

Think Tank Thinking

I’ve been thinking about events a lot recently. More specifically about conferences style events that I’ve been to, I’ve gotten something out of, or felt like I was wasting my time being at. I’ve certainly been involved with my fair share of event organization and I know I’ve been involved with my fair share of events that wasted peoples time. I’d like to not do that in the future, and rather I’d very much like to work on creating events that actually mean something to people and they are better off for attending. In this thinking, I’ve been making some mental lists…

Things I’ve seen that make events suck:

  1. Sales pitches from sponsors/speakers
  2. Audience feeling like they are just spectators
  3. Huge audience with little interaction
  4. Boring venue
  5. More attractive location walking distance from the boring venue
  6. Single topic brought up again and again and again
  7. All attendees/speakers from one field

Things I’ve seen that have made events awesome:

  1. Hard to tell difference from speakers and audience
  2. Presentations that are open ended and spawn conversation
  3. Small audience with lots interaction. Under 100 total attendees is ideal.
  4. Inspiring venue
  5. Seclusion. No other location walking distance from the main venue.
  6. No clear connection from one topic to another, forcing the attendees/speakers to talk about the different ideas and how they relate
  7. Speakers and Attendees from diverse fields

I’ve been chewing on this for a while and need to think about it a bit more, but I think I’ll likely end up doing something soon that plays off these lists a lot.

2012 Purge Planning

As 2012 is fast approaching so is the year of getting rid of stuff that I’ve been talking about. I’m actually really excited about it and have been thinking pretty regularly about it and talking to friends to try and refine the idea even more. I want to start right now, but I’m being good and just aiming for Jan 1 to press go.

One thing that keeps coming up that I realized last time I went through a major purge is that any single item can be justified. Take a box you have in storage, one that has been there for years untouched. One that you’ve been paying $100+ a month to store. Do you need anything in that box? Without opening it I can tell you that, no, most likely you don’t need anything in that box. You could through it out and chances are for the rest of your life you’ll never miss anything in that box. But! Open it up, and suddenly the stuff in there is oh so important. Stuff that 5 minutes ago you didn’t even remember existed is now precious and worthy of saving.

That’s the stuff lying to you.

I’ll say it again – on a single item basis, you can justify keeping anything.

Yes that camera still works and it would be fun to take it out one day and shoot a roll of film through it. Remember when you used to wear that watch all the time? Who are the people in these photos, summer school class of 1980-something? Do these batteries still work? You still have that t-shirt too?


The truth is getting rid of stuff is hard, but it’s hard for a reason. Stuff is designed to make you want it. If you haven’t needed it in the last 12 months, you likely won’t need it again, ever. And if you do need it again at some random future date, borrowing it from a friend or buying it new is most often a better option anyway. You get what I’m getting at.

I have a lot of t-shirts. A lot. Many I’ve never worn. Some I designed. Some friends designed and gave to me. Most of them have been in a box I’ve had in storage for over 10 years. Some of them have been in my dresser. If I went through each and everyone one of them I could think of a reason I needed to keep them all. But if I’ve never worn a t-shirt I’ve had for over 10 years, the changes I’ll ever wear it are slim to none and the justification for keeping it “for the archives” is pretty weak. Today I bought 7 new blank t-shirts and come 2012 I’ll be taking all the rest of those shirts to the thrift store down the street, with the exception of a few I might put on ebay. It’ll hurt to say bye to them, but I know I’ll feel so much better when they are gone. I’ll write more about it when I start this whole thing officially, but yeah, I’m looking forward to this a lot.

How to make a skateboard bearing ring

I’ve talked before about how I have an affinity for using things for something else once their primary purpose has been fulfilled. For example, making rubber bands from old bike tires. We all have too much crap, and too much of it is wasted so any time something can get used twice is pretty cool. Sometimes a second use is functional, sometimes it’s just fun. Bearing rings are somewhere in the middle.

I’ve been making these since high school, usually any time I changed bearings on my board. I actually haven’t been skating much at all in the last many years so I haven’t done this in a while. I’ve been trying to teach Ripley to skate and realized the bearings I had were beat to shit and it was time for some new ones, and I thought maybe some folks didn’t know this trick. So here it is.

First step, get your new stuff. This will destroy your old bearings so you want to make sure your new ones are good to go.

Making a Bearing Ring

Now pull the old stuff off your board.

Making a Bearing Ring

Unowning Solidification

In continuing thoughts about my last two posts about a year of no new stuff and cutting ties to crap I’ve been trying to solidify what this actually looks like. If I’m actually going to do this for a year there needs to be a very clear distinction of what I’m doing and what I’m not doing. Saying “I’m not buying new stuff, except for this, and that, and..” leaves a lot of room for wavering which is good, but also not so good. I need to refine this to something that makes sense before the first of the year, and until then I’m going to be thinking out loud a lot hoping for feedback on some of the thoughts.

I think a good approach is think of it in positive – what *am* I going to do, rather than negative am I *not* going to do. I should also try to make it as short of a list as well, so it’s easy to remember. Maybe 3 rules?

Again, disclosure is that this doesn’t apply to food/consumables, nor is it an anti-capitalist thing, so spending money on experiences that don’t result in more possessions is fine, as are digital purchases (ebooks, mp3s, etc) – it’s about less stuff and clutter. Also it’s personal, so doesn’t apply to my young, growing child who needs new things a lot or my wife who is already better about not getting new stuff than I am. I’m also just not even considering work related things, again this is personal.

  1. Addition: Limit purchase of items to 12 new physical items. Only get one a month, so use it wisely. Do not accept physical items as gifts/schwag above this 12 item limit.
  2. Substitution: If something wears out or breaks, first option is repair it. If repair isn’t possible or reasonable, and replacement is needed (sometimes it won’t be) 2 similar items must be gotten rid of to bring in a new one that doesn’t count against the 12 new item limit. No upgrades just for the sake of upgrades.
  3. Subtraction: Actively go through stuff and get rid of things on a regular basis. Document this with blog posts at the very least once a week. Stuff can be given to friends, sold, donated or thrown out, but not traded for other things. Aim to get rid of one item a day (or 5 a week).

Is that too open ended? Too restrictive? I think it’s reasonable, but I might be forgetting something. I know I can travel with nothing but a carry on bag for weeks on end and never feel like I’m missing stuff, so there’s not really a reason I need a full closet and boxes of stuff in the garage and things under my bed and blah blah. I have excess things right now, so I’d like to consciously reduce that excess over the next 12 months.