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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Purge - Part III: The Restoration

We started moving things back into our office last night, but so far it has been a slow, careful process. I'm putting a lot of effort into organizing things so that it will be easier to keep them organized.

While HM was at her dance class, I was busy assembling a new media center shelf and a bookcase. Both new pieces have black finishes, which will match my computer desk better than the old wood-finish stuff and fit in with the zen dojo them better.

The new media shelf has more space than our old one (a short computer cart which, if I recall, was left behind in 2000 by the previous tenants in our duplex), so in addition to the TV and printer it will now house some video game systems. The TV looks more than a bit out of place now, perched high on a shelf. It kind of needs to be replaced anyway (it's good to have red colors in your screen), but that's not in the budget for this overhaul. The bookcase replaces two separate bookcases that had been stacked (somewhat precariously), so in addition to coherence, it also introduces some stability into the room, and it balances out the new media tower nicely.

By far the most time-consuming project was loading all the computer equipment back onto my desk. I consider desk organization and cable control essential to the cleanliness of the office.

Back in the dorm I had an absolutely monstrous computer desk name The Beast. Pretty much everyone I knew helped me move it...once. I think only my friend and occasional roommate Kevin ever subjected himself to it multiple times. During grad school, I finally sent The Beast into retirement at my parents' house (where it serves with distinction -- and weight -- to this day) and instead just used one of the desks that was included in my room. In both arrangements, though, I always spent a great deal of time either on my back under the desk or hanging upside down off the back to connect wires, so when I went shopping for a new computer desk after we got married, I picked out a desk on wheels for easy access to the back.

The main flaw in that plan is that, while my desk moved easily, the furniture around it didn't, so it had to move out at least three feet for me to get behind it. Unfortunately, most of the wires and cables behind it weren't that long, and even those that were would only get in the way of the wheels. That meant that wiring things and cleaning behind it was just about as hard as with a stationary desk. For example, when I untangled the rat's next of wires last week, I found 3 USB cables, 2 power supplies, 2 ethernet cables, and 15 feet of coiled coax that weren't attached to anything. I know that when I unplugged their associated devices at some point, I decided it was easier to just grab different wires than to untangle those, but it was still eye-opening.

In order to preserve my desk's mobility, as I moved equipment back onto it, I very carefully coiled each cable and strapped it to the back using Velcro loops. I mounted all of my power strips on the back, too, so that nothing at all is on the floor. There is still a limit to how far it can move away from the wall, but it's now pretty easy to move it out far enough for me to sit on the floor behind it...or to vacuum.

And let me tell you: the vacuuming is key. There were dust bunnies back there before. Ok, calling them "bunnies" is a little kind. Remember the Looney Tunes cartoon where Bugs drinks the Jekyll & Hyde potion? Yeah, that kind of bunny.

So as things stand now, Gecko IV, the current incarnation of my desktop computer, is once again connected, powered-up, and humming (if by "humming" you mean "buzzing quietly in a manner that suggests my CPU fan's days may be numbered in small integers"). My primary computer and math reference books are back in the room, at home on the new bookcase. The TV, printer, and DVD/VCR are setup again, and ready to entertain.

There's still quite a bit of work to do, but the end of the tunnel is brightly lit and looming large before us. By the end of the week we will have filtered out some more junk, shredded some more non-essentials, and packed away the stuff to keep. The rest will be moved back into the closet, the desks, and other places where space has been freed for it.

We're on the home stretch now.

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Anonymous Jeremy Sharp said...

Very nice... Reading this made me laugh! I very much need to start the same project at my house.... Hmmmm, maybe i'll just sit on the couch and think about it before I start.. :)

4/13/2008 9:39 AM  
Blogger Ryan said...

I'm actually still working on it, so sitting on the couch and thinking about it more might have smoothed the process. It certainly would've been easier to explain to my wife than why the non-furniture/computer stuff from the office is still being sorted in our other room. :-)

4/13/2008 1:26 PM  

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