Time wounds all things

My grand clear out continues. I’ve scanned most of the slides I took in the UK.  After scanning them I tossed them away.  This means those I copied backwards will remain reversed until someone invents software that flips backwards slides.  David says, “Do you really want me to take the slide projector to Goodwill?  Are you sure you’ll never use it again?  It cost a lot you know. Yes, I tell him, and you will be lucky if they take it.  The technology is so passe.

The last few talks I gave (in graduate school) involved a Powerpoint presentation on a flash drive, the professor’s laptop at the scene, and a room projection system. No more lugging a projector and a box with a reel of slides in these modern classrooms.


In the mid 1980s, as an executive with a large communications firm,  I gave a talk in Amsterdam using slides I carried in a small box. I had prepared the slides using equipment my company (which owned Bell Labs) had developed for our internal use.  At the hotel, I asked for the equipment I needed for projecting the slides on site.  NYC hotels had been providing A-V services for a couple of years by the time I made my first trip to Amsterdam, but the staff at the hotel where I stayed (a 4-star affair) was totally befuddled by my request.

Later that year on a personal trip to Paris, I stayed in small quaint places with huge rotary dial phones hardwired to their outlets.  These hotels almost never had the type of landline that allowed you to unplug the phone, plug-in your laptop, and dial out on a modem.  Furthermore, the lap top was so heavy it took 3 men and a boy or a strong woman with a roller cart to haul it.

By the time I took my next business trip a year later, folks were carrying laptops everywhere. Eventually, they became much smaller.  


For years, when I traveled I carried a very fine Pentax camera which I almost ruined in Spain. The dust blowing from North Africa is hard on cameras.  In Geneva, I saw tourists using cute little digital cameras and decided that the tripod, filters, different lenses, carrying case, and camera would have to go.  I gave them to my sturdy oldest granddaughter, an art major, and she used them in her photography classes until someone broke into her car and stole them.  

Some day, I will scan the photos saved in albums now stored in  upstairs closets and an armoire. Ditto the negatives stored in acid free photo boxes.  Meanwhile, I have everything tucked away rooms with little light.  Light destroys photos and slides.    


I can do a bit of clearing out at a time. Inch by inch its a cinch. After informing David that all the “computer junk” he has stored in his closet and workshop will have to go, I began moving my text books from the living room where I had left them stacked hither and thither to my upstairs study. I triage them, some to the study because I am going to read or re-read them someday, I tell myself; Early American History volumes to my daughter ; the rest to the library or recycle bin. 

Books, prints and other sun-sensitive items fade no matter what you do, but I have tried to slow the process.  Undoubtedly, I will some day bring the books down stairs again, or someone will.  This morning, David and I carried stacks of the In Britain magazines I collected for years to the recycle bin. We only got the loose volumes.  I have binders and plastic cases holding hundreds more.  Yesterday, while cleaning out a closet, I found a couple of plastic bins with covers stacked on the floor.  They held undergraduate anthropology and history books I thought I threw out long ago. Most are out of date which tells me how much education itself has shifted over the last 50 years.   

Scanning old photos reminds me once again how transitory life is, and that time’s winged chariot is waiting offstage.

I’ve been reading a chapter a day of Finlayson’s book on the Neanderthals and other contemporary human groups living in the Pleistocene and now extinct. Looking at all the human relics he and others have uncovered, Finlayson concludes we Homo sapiens are here by chance and not design.  Of course, he cannot know this. No one can. 

Given the propensity of everything to deteriorate over time, I wonder how paleoanthropologists find anything.  Only the hardest bones and human teeth really stand the test of time.

The photo above comes from Ely Cathedral where the container stands outside a side door.  When I first saw it, I thought it was a horse trough, then I thought it would make a great flower box. I photographed it and when I got home I saw it was neither. I would love to have it for a water-lily garden.  I doubt it leaks.  Or maybe it does.   


I first encountered the word sarcophagus reading What Mrs Macgillacuddy Saw, by Agatha Christie.  When the BBC filmed the story with Margaret Rutherford, Joan Hickson and others, they gave it various names having to do with the train from London’s Paddington Station.  Its my favorite Marple story, and I like the Hickson version best, although the new one with Geraldine McEwen is also quite good.   

As an archeologist (she worked with her husband Lord Mallowan the famous archeologist) Christie had first hand contact with the dead and knew all about sarcophagi.     


11 thoughts on “Time wounds all things

  1. Well, I’ve just caught up with all your slide activity, photos and downsizing since I was last here. You are to be lauded for all you’ve accomplished! Photos were fascinating and enjoyed reading your accounts. I attend a variety of CEU seminars periodically and the presenter comes mostly with just a laptop plus the handout we’re given. Frankly, most find it refreshing when someone presents with other than PowerPoint which has been excessive used, some of us agree, but I understand the convenience and attraction.

    I guess I need to just close my eyes and part with a number of items — books, other publications, divesting myself of a couple special typewriters and more and more — yes, the slide projector and screen. I tell myself I’ll do this when I retire — the kindest gift I could probably give my children. Find myself thinking some items must surely be collector’s items as someone told me my old hard Samsonite luggage had become.


    • I have given many kinds of presentations. I did it for 40 years and evan joined Toastmasters a few years back. Mostly I created slide presentations to please various bosses. Professional meetings required papers too.

      I gave most of my luggage to college-bound granddaughters. One large suitcase big enough for two weeks clothing left upstairs. I learned to travel light and wash things by hand.


  2. I always liked Miss Marple, but confess I like Hercule Poirot better. The last book I read, “The World Without Us” by Alan Weisman, describes what will happen to everything once man exits the stage. Pretty interesting. Pretty drastic. But it’s a long way off.


  3. David and I are not pack rats, so there is very little to get rid of right now. You are correct about technology constantly evolving and becoming more streamlined. In ten years, will we still be blogging on computers?


  4. I really enjoyed your stream of consciousness entry today. What fun. I’m down to just the boxes to scan now….seven of them. The office is so quiet, I wonder if he can move the old scanner and computer downstairs. Maybe I’d finish the job then. 🙂


  5. You have now joined Friko as one of my heroes of and inspiration in the decluttering war. You have even expanded the battle nomenclature with this installment of your “grand clear out.” I appreciate both your and Friko’s chronicles. Your inches are adding up impressively.


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