The epic quest to borrow a VCR

I decided to make this amusing blog post and promise followups as the story unfolds. I have a simple problem:

I have a small box of VHS tapes that I want to digitize to my computer, in order to save the video content indefinitely (ish, lets be real about codecs and file types).  I don’t have a VCR.

Sounds simple right?  Just borrow a VCR from someone.

First angles of attack: ask my parents. I know for a fact my parents have a VCR. What I wasn’t expecting in return is that they still use it. I am a full time IT professional and basically build infrastructure. Every day I play and use stuff that is the internet. Hearing that my mom still uses her VCR every day to “record [her] soaps” is downright embarrassing. Furthermore unplugging her VCR would result in a catastrophe from “WHY IS IT BLINKING 12:00?!” phone calls followed by messed up timing schedules on precious Days of Our Lives.

One would argue, “Why don’t you just go to your parent’s house and hook up a laptop?”.  You see, as a tech guy, that invites endless tech support for everything else that is ailing them. When I stop over for dinner, I typically have to fix antiviruses, apply windows updates that somehow defy automation, and worst: show them how to use their iPhones. Its endless tech support. Is it worth a home cooked meal? Someday’s no. It is not. I love my parents, but wow are some of their tech issues endless and bizarre.

The in laws I think have a VCR but we see them less. Similar issue about using their VCR at their house. I end up doing Android support for my brother in law (who is a great guy) but can’t use his Android. I own and have always owned an iPhone. I feel horrible when I have to help him with his phone since I even have to google the answers.  They visit us very rarely so having them bring a VCR over is probably out of the question.

My two brothers are in similar states as I, having rid themselves of a functional VCR years and years ago.

My coworker, who is native to India mind you and here on visa, laughed when I told him I couldn’t find a VCR. He asked if America is that developed that it doesn’t have one I could buy. There in lies part of the issue too: I don’t want to pay money for a VCR.

I read an article once from some minimalist who says he “rents things from Craigslist”. IE: he buys the item outright like a chainsaw for example, then resells the item after he is done to someone else. This sounds practical in theory, basically shuffling stuff from person to person or perhaps to a hoarder who doesn’t need it. But after doing my 101 Things challenge I detest using Craigslist for anything other than me buying something I really want or need. The thought of having to resell a $1 VCR to strangers makes me almost suicidal. I’d rather smash it in the street for a laugh on YouTube than go through the process of reselling a VCR on craigslist. But even then I don’t want to buy something just to use it one weekend and throw it away. Such waste and then that Native American from the littering commercial shows up on my door step with his single heart-piercing tear.

No, I am committed to borrowing a VCR! Someone somewhere HAS to have one I can borrow with a reasonable amount of effort and travel.

I will post a followup blog post when I find one. Until then: adjust your tracking and be kind rewind!

Reasons to enjoy this Monday

Today so far has been a great day! Its the first day back from Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Everyone is mostly back to work this morning. I noticed that a lot of people wander in like zombies. Almost bitter to be back in the office. Instead I chose to take the high road and celebrate today. So many reasons I can think of just from a quick list:

  • I woke up perfectly happy, with a good sleep. My wake up light alarm clock slowly and peacefully started my day. I didn’t hit snooze once!
  • I ate a quick breakfast and still had plenty of time without rushing.
  • During breakfast my son who typically is a pain to wake up in the morning wandered down and ate some cereal too. We had a few laughs at my new automated Christmas tree.  (Don’t ask)
  • After breakfast I pounded out the last thousand words on my NaNoWriMo novel! Woot. Winner winner chicken dinner. Done with yet another novel. I will make a separate post about these in the future.
  • My commute to work, despite being drizzly, was easy. No issues at all.
  • At work my work computer for some reason wouldn’t let my type the letter “p”. Most people would lose it on a Monday morning but I had a good chuckle at crafting emails all day that didn’t have a P in them. A simple reboot and re-seating all the cables seemed to have cleared up that amusing ‘roblem.
  • I cleared a few tasks off my to do within the first hour of the day
  • I drank this killer cup of tangerine / assam black tea. It smelled so good, and was the perfect temp to sip during an hour long phone conference call.
  • So far, each hour of the day I have gotten up and taken a short 1-2 minute walk. My Apple watch seems happy with me right now, and that’s all that’s important.
  • Despite being the one sole guy working last week, everything kept running and there were no IT fires. Woot!

So, I am going to keep up the momentum into the afternoon too.  I looked up my company’s cafeteria menu for this week and decide which days I want to pack. I already picked out some healthy choices for lunches.  No last second decisions leading to terrible choices.

My watch is reminding me it’s time for my 11 am walk. Peace out.



Day 101: Victory and everything that remains


When I started this project I thought it would be easy. About a week into purging items it dawned on my that I had to deliberately stop myself from just tossing everything out the window. I learned so many lessons along the way by focusing on the whys. I made ground, lost ground, gained it back, and learned how to no do it again. I have donated, sold, and thrown away uncounted hundreds of pounds of stuff. I feel like my house is literally lighter now.

One reason I told myself to slow down however was that I wanted to make sure I made it to 101 days. 101 things, I removed from my life. There were some days where I swear I could have filled a dump truck. But then my nagging mind said “make sure you throw them away one day at a time”. Imagine waking up with a list of 15 things I want to get rid of, chose 1 item, then waited on the other 14.  Now that I hit 101 day in my 101 things challenge the gloves are off.

Some brief lessons learned that I might expand on in the future:

  • Yard sales suck the life out of you, but so does endless Craigslist postings. I had that epiphany where I decided to just not do yard sales anymore. The ironic part is I still have these nice yard sale signs in the garage, that I can now purge.  Always just donate items if possible. The hours of my life I got back were far more valuable than a few dollars.
  • Clean spaces promote clean minds. I was able to focus more, and even kick a few bad habits just because I had calming clean spaces. Not empty spaces mind you, but proper organized clean spaces where the remaining items had purpose and organization.
  • Ditching pop and coffee was a huge perk I didn’t think I would survive. I have had some light cups of unsweetened tea at work since. I am able to go to bed at reasonable hours and wake up with no snooze button.
  • Speaking of snooze button: Oh my god, what do I do with all this extra time in the morning? I now  casually take my time getting ready for work. Most days I even put the cruise control on in my van on my way to work. I set it at the speed limit and enjoy a good radio show or podcast. There is zero stress from being late anymore. I even don’t feel guilty at ducking out at the end of the day since most days I get to work an hour before everyone else. I have considered waking up even earlier to work on personal projects too, like writing or editing. More on that later.
  • I have saved stupid amounts of money by not eating out breakfast every day. My wife was always stressing about money and when I bought my new car (hybrid Pacifica – aka how have I gone this far in my life without a hybrid vehicle??) she was understandably concerned about payments and such. We had no car payments for years now, and was putting away healthy amounts of left over money each week toward savings etc. Now that I had a car payment again she was nervous that we couldn’t put away money anymore. Between cutting services like streaming, games, entertainment, and curbing eating out constantly I have made up plus some. We still put away money and I have a new car. Talk about lifestyle changes. Lets not even get started on the dietary benefits of not eating greasy breakfast foods!
  • My kids have noticed that I have gotten rid of useless items, and have joined in. That right there is a small win.

The plan:

First off, I am not going to blog every single day. I will post updates obviously but I am freeing myself from daily updates.

I am going to purge the remaining items in the garage and be done with that once and for all. This will allow me to get my hybrid car charger installed hopefully before Christmas and the snows.

I loved all the support along the way, and all the various favorites and likes. You all kept me inspired like I wasn’t completely screaming into the void.

I am keeping the blog up. I might even consider getting rid of the ads too in the future. For now it shall remain how it sits.

In closing: go pet a dog.



Day 100! Empty storage containers


First off, day 100! WOOHOO!  One day left.

So an amusing side effect of purging items for 100 days is that when you are getting into it, you have all these left over boxes and containers. Now in my garage I know of at least 4 giant tupperware/rubbermaid containers that used to hold something but now don’t. These items were filled to brim with various knick knacks, that have since been purged.

I can’t save these, you know… “just in case” I accidentally start filling them again.

The plan:

These can most likely be free-cycled on Craigslist and easily gotten rid of. Someone will 100% take a free container that isn’t busted up.

Day 99: Lawn mower parts


I bought a lawn mower when we bought the house. It was a push behind mower that did mulching by default. It came with a bagging system but since day one I always used the mulching blades. This giant perfectly new mower bag has been sitting on a shelf in the garage.

Since that time, easily 15 years has passed. I think I was saving it “just in case” I sell the mower. I can laugh about that phrase now.

The plan:

I doubt there is little value in selling a bagging system for a 15 year old lawnmower.  I expect that this may end up in the trash and not on a shelf in the garage.