What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

oldie-but-still-goodie handheld

on February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine’s Day, fellow-shedders! And now, a story about an old Valentine.…

I loved my handheld (a.k.a. Palm device or PDA, which was short for “Personal Digital Assistant,” though no one ever said that more than once). I carried it and its cool folding keyboard almost everywhere I went. I gendered her. I named her “Selene.” She wore a leather jacket when she wasn’t out in use. Her keyboard had a snuggie.

Selene was elegant and fast. The desktop software that paralleled her functions was fast and elegant, too. Together they turned keeping a constantly-revised calendar and database of contact information from misery to a joy. Once I learned Selene’s alphabet, she recognized my handwriting. By an IR connection, Selene could talk to my mobile phone, and through a data protocol, my phone could talk to the internet! I was the first person I knew who could pull off that trick.

Selene was perfect. But perfection is contextual. Times change, and even eras end. Phones got smarter. That was good, but I kept loyal to Selene, who was smart enough for me. Not, however, for companies that shifted investment and resources as they chased the Next Big Thing. Support for Palm devices began to dry up. Still, I kept using her. I thought I might till her battery no longer accepted a charge.

Then Google gave us an online calendar. It wasn’t elegant, not at first. But Nimue could sit at a computer at home or her office and see my calendar, real-time, and from where I was working, I could see hers. We could share calendars—amazing! That didn’t dull Selene’s luster, because a third-party app let me hot-sync between the Palm Desktop and Google. But it broke often. By that point Linux had gotten really good. I found myself booting Windows solely to run the Palm Desktop. The weight of what I’d cobbled together to keep using Selene got pretty heavy. And finally a link broke—the mobile phone had to change.

The new phone could talk to Google, but not to Selene. There was a translator, but it wasn’t fluent. It couldn’t do the job day in, day out. The choice became: hang onto Selene at the cost of triplicating my data and systems, or accept the changes and get work done. I put her and all her gear in a box and shut a closet door on it.

That was three years ago. Now I’m shedding everything I can identify that I do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. Selene’s beauty was utilitarian. It’s time to really let go.

Sony CLIÉ PEG-SJ20 with the kitchen sink

Sony CLIÉ PEG-SJ20 with the kitchen sink

I thought I would leave the Sony CLIÉ and its gear at our county’s electronics recycling collection point. But it still works—after getting a charge, it lights up reliably as ever—and one of my values says, don’t just throw away what isn’t broken; find its use. I wondered, is there someone in the world for whom this would still be useful? Those who have something to shed and those who seek that very thing sometimes meet at eBay. Maybe I just want to “palm” off my guilt on someone else, but motives are seldom singular, and few choices are one-dimensionally “good” or “bad.” I’ll accept that ambiguity and list it at auction. I’ll stake “the good” that experiment.

shedding style: resell
destination: eBay

Comments welcome … what might you shed today?

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