So Fast…!

It all happened so fast, I did not even get to take a picture for you. Yesterday morning, I woke up with the thought that I should clear some space in the, er, batcave/lab/hideout in order to make room for a lot of stuff that is currently in my campus office that is taking up vital room. I’ve a tiny office, so from time to time I have a space crisis. (I need to bring myself to discard tons of the old preprints (pre-publication papers) from the 80s and 90s that I keep mostly out of sentimental value, and then I’d be on top of things more easily, I expect. Lots of them are tied up with old notes on various projects, and so I sort of want to make time to archive those notes, separate them out from the preprints, and then discard the latter.)

I found that I could generate a huge amount of space down there by getting rid of a ton of old electronic devices. (Let’s just say I dismantled one of my doomsday devices and had lots of spare parts left over.) I looked up the one recycling centre I knew about for sure (remember me filming there last year, illustrating supernovae? See here, and here, for example) and found that one could only deliver things there if one was a Burbank resident, which I am not. So I did a wider search and found that there are various electronics recycling collection events arranged periodically in the region, and one of them was happening that very morning over in Sierra Madre! Inspired, I spent the next half an hour loading up the car, and after a quick breakfast was on the road at about 9:00am, carving a nice slice of road up the 2 toward the spectacular view of the mountains one gets, especially that time of day (it is something about the morning sun, I think, along with the rush of zipping up the pleasant slope of the traffic-less 2).

I anticipated an interesting scene, with lots of stations of different sorts for various types of items (computers there, VCRs there, doomsday device components there, etc.), piled higgledy-piggledy in various places. I’d walk away from all my stuff, with perhaps a brief backward glance of goodbye. Then, I’d get to have a pleasant poke around looking at some interesting old junk, people watch a bit (there are always interesting characters around these kind of things), check out the fellow mad scientist constructors’ stuff (it is not far from Caltech), maybe even meet a cute fellow mad scientist constructor, etc. All in a morning’s work.

Nothing like that happened.

It was all super-well organized with public involvement kept to a minimum. They set up in a parking lot and have a huge team of people arranged along a chain of stations. You simply drive in at one end of the lot, and someone hands you a stubby yellow pencil and a form (a survey), and waves you along. There’s a sheet of plastic you drive onto, and you drive all the way up to the end and stop. A sign tells you to stay in the car. Then the crew simply descends onto your car like a flock of carrion birds and scoops out all the electronics from everywhere in seconds. (In my case, the boot/trunk and back seat). 1 minute later I was handing the hastily filled-in form to the woman at the end of the parking lot, and waved on my way. Everything was cleaned out so fast, I had no time to say good bye to the items, (and no time to notice that they’d not given me back my Barnes and Noble shopping bag that I’d used for some smaller items! drat!), and certainly no time to change my mind about any of the items.

It was both abruptly shocking and fulfillingly cleansing as well.

Hmmmm. Do they do this with old clothes? Hundreds of old copies of the New Yorker?

No, I’m serious here. This could be a fantastic service for those of us in the world who have the urge to hang on to stuff too long.


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3 Responses to So Fast…!

  1. Michelle says:

    what you wanted is this, I believe…

  2. Clifford says:


    But those events are presumably heavy with trainee mad scientists… I tend to stay away from those… They might pick up on my methodologies by analyzing my old equipment… 😉 (We professionals have a code, you see…)


  3. Blake Stacey says:

    When I find I have a stack of preprints I’m keeping around for reference use and/or sentimental value, I go to the local copy shop and have them bound into a book. Costs about $2, and makes them easier to handle.

    I did the same thing when it came time to clean out the shelf of pop-science magazines I’d been accumulating between the ages of zero and eighteen. I went through the whole pile, carefully extracted the Larry Gonick cartoons, codexified them and junked the rest.