VCR borrowed and returned!

This is a continuation to the previous blog post where I was trying to find a VCR.   Enjoy:

In an amazing plot twist, my father in law found out I was looking for a VCR through my wife and he showed up at my door with one. Not only did he bring a VCR over, but he also had a good old fashion VHS Tape Cleaner kit too!  I can’t make this up.

I dug out all my VHS tapes this weekend and waded into the project. At first I thought I was going to spend 10+ hours capturing video off tapes but after some gentle scrubbing though the footage it only ended up being about 1.5 hours of actual stuff I wanted to save.

I relived some of my high school days, watching some old marching band performances, English class projects where we recreated an entire episode of Cops, and even found footage of my garage band. Man did we suck, but we had fun and that’s all that counts.

I captured everything easily enough into my pc using this $8 device I bought off Amazon.  I am glad I read the reviews and saw that someone commented “When you get this device, first thing: throw the CD away that has software on it, then use any free screen capture software. I loaded up OBS, which is free software. After adding the device as a video capture card (literally no driver or configuration needed) it loaded perfectly and I was recording VHS inputs in less than a minute of effort. It honestly took me longer to plug the VCR in than it did to setup the software.

I only had about 8 tapes to copy.  I made it through the pile easily and even chopped the video into short segments. Now I need to archive them and make a backup before I get rid of the VHS tapes.   Part of me thought of keeping them just because they were on a Blockbuster tape, but nostalgia aside it is now a useless item.

Moving on in this project I also found a Mini DV tape which my brother brought over his old camera. Ironically after all the effort to find a Mini DV player, the entire tape was useless stuff so it was a bust. Oh well, can’t save them all Hasselhoff.

I am returning the VCR this week.  I will have to buy him a 6 pack of his favorite beer for bringing it over.  Pay it forward peeps.


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!

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.