The MIT Flea

Mak­ing a major move also means that you will prob­a­bly not be mov­ing every­thing you own. Unless you are like Beethoven, who was known to load up all of his valu­ables in a horse-drawn cart and then drag them to his new abode on foot (and the cart got piled high­er and high­er with each move, until it tow­ered above the street), you usu­al­ly end up get­ting rid of a lot of your accu­mu­lat­ed items to avoid mov­ing them.

I’ve lived in Boston for near­ly 20 years, and togeth­er with Pam in this town­house for 15 years (in June). That’s a lot of time to col­lect lots of stuff. I know I sound like George Car­lin (who did a long riff/rant on stuff in Brain Drop­pings, I believe), but I know I have too much stuff. There’s this house full of stuff, and a stor­age room (our most recent one is in Lynn, MA), where we keep things like Pam’s bicy­cle, all of our lug­gage, and var­i­ous oth­er junk that would show up in our garage, if we had one. My office is one big pile of stuff. Com­put­er stuff, music stuff, book stuff, Walden School stuff, CD (both ROM and Audio) stuff, soft­ware stuff and worst of all, paper stuff. It’s get­ting bet­ter, but it still has a long way to go. I’ve got papers every­where. It was worst when I moved my office stuff from my cube at Fideli­ty (where I had already man­aged to amass a year’s worth of stuff) back home. Some of that stuff went to the afore­men­tioned stor­age unit in Lynn, and some of it just went into this office. I’m going to stop list­ing all of this, because I’m sound­ing not only like George Car­lin, but also like Andy Rooney, and we would­n’t want that.

So we are in jettison/divest mode. Get rid of it. I don’t care if you give it away, throw it away, or sell it, just get it out of our lives before the move. I’ve writ­ten about sell­ing the piano, which I think we’ve found a buy­er for. That’s a big first step. Now, this com­ing Sun­day, we’ll be going to the first 2005 MIT Flea mar­ket. If you haven’t been to the MIT Flea, you are miss­ing the chance to come face-to-face with the tech­nol­o­gy sub­cul­ture in it’s purest and most ven­er­a­ble venue. Start­ed by the MIT Radio Soci­ety in the dis­tant past (they start­ed the Radio Soci­ety in 1909, so in a few years it will cel­e­brate its cen­ten­ni­al!), the Flea is every 3rd Sun­day of the month from April to Octo­ber and takes place in a park­ing garage near Kendall Square bound­ed on all sides by BioTech behe­moths, much in the way that Willy Loman’s house was sur­round­ed by sky­scrap­ers in Death of a Sales­man. It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing holdover from the days of radio tubes (yes, even before transistors!).

These days you’ll find every­thing from flat screen mon­i­tors and tele­phone equip­ment to odd­i­ties like Col­or Mac Clas­sics, NeXT Machines, DEC-VAX’s and those are just the com­put­er junk. You’ll also find some of the most eccen­tric geeks on the plan­et. One fix­ture of the flea is a guy with an orig­i­nal (and still oper­a­tional) Enig­ma machine — that’s a code-break­ing mechan­i­cal device from WWII! I’ve got­ten CDs, phones, portable fans and flash­lights, speak­ers and head­phones, as well as all kinds of odds and ends like cabling, USB Hubs, pow­er strips and Lin­ux releas­es. We’ve sold there too, and this time we’ll be bring­ing in a cou­ple of mon­i­tors, a beige G3 Pow­er­Mac from the mid-90’s, a caller-ID dis­play, a cou­ple of old X‑10 com­put­er inter­faces, a Microsoft opti­cal mouse, a ton of old Mac soft­ware, a cou­ple of stacks of books, and a bunch of old music CDs and LPs.

See, I told you we had a lot of stuff. Hope­ful­ly this will light­en our load some­what, as well as bring in a lit­tle cash.