I’m trying, but not always succeeding, to simplify my life. The whole family is looking through all the crap that has accumulated over many years in our house. My rallying cry has been “We don’t own our stuff, our stuff owns us” and I’ve tried to be discriminating about what is going to own me. Case in point – university notes. I’ve kept my notes from university classes going back almost 30 years. (Jeebus, I’m getting old). For most of the notes from my B.Sc. and B.Ed. I can count the number of times I’ve looked at it on zero hands. Zilch. So why was I still hanging on to them? (Most have now been recycled).
I’m fascinated by the reasons people hoard stuff. Sometimes there are practical reasons for hanging on to things. Quite often, though, I have kept things for no rational reason. I have analyzed my reasons for hoarding, and I’ve pretty much been able to find 3 reasons why I (and possibly other people) hoard:
- Something represents or reminds me of who I have been in the past. University notes partly fall into this category. My high school sweater is another in this category. It has long since ceased to fit, and one of the arms has unraveled to the point of resembling the wrappings on a mummy. And yet I kept it because I like to remember the person I was in high school. Maybe hanging on to it makes me think I’m still that person, and maybe I am but I don’t need a 30 year old sweater to make me that person.
- Something lets me think that I’m the sort of person that I would like to be. I can’t think of any specific examples from my purging of stuff, but I think this is the reason why people have long unused treadmills stuffed away in the room where stuff accumulates in the house (all houses have one of these, right?). There is often no rational reason to keep the treadmill around. Let’s be honest – in 99.9% of all cases, home treadmills get used for about 3 months after purchase then lay dormant. But it let’s us think that we are the sort of person who exercises regularly.
- Guilt. We have a Roomba that I purchased 2 years ago. It was never used that much owing to the large shifting mass of small toys (mostly lego recently) on the floor. Maybe at first I kept it because I wanted to think I was the sort of person who kept my house tidy, but I’ve since resigned myself to the fact that were it not for my wife providing me guidance and reminders to tidy up I would be featured on one of those hoarding reality TV shows. Yet the Roomba is still there, looming in that room where stuff accumulates. Why? Because it was a waste of money (although it was on sale and that helps me rationalize the purchase somewhat) and I feel guilty about that. So I keep the Roomba as a way of avoiding facing my own guilt and foolishness.
As part of the simplification, I’m cutting down on the number of domain names I own which peaked at about 12. Not all of the domains were actively used. And cutting down on the number of domain names and sites has allowed me to move to more modest web hosting with Hippie Hosting, which was lauded by D’Arcy Norman. D’arcy has never steered me wrong where web nerdiness is involved. So far the migration has gone well, with a fairly simple, in a geeky sense, way:
- Use the wordpress backup to dropbox plugin to back up my web sites (which were all running wordpress). I’ve found this to be an amazing plugin. It will let you set up regular backups of your wordpress site (including files and database) to a dropbox account. Automated backup to the cloud. I can restore my sites relatively easily from any computer.
- Create a new site at Hippie Hosting. This is pretty trivial through the admin interface (I think it’s Plesk Control Panel).
- Create a new database to hold the site data. As in the previous step, this is pretty trivial.
- Tweak the exported MySQL data file to use the new database, and adjust any entries that contain links to the old site. In a couple of places, the file path to certain files or directories was specific to the old host and didn’t work on the Hippie server.
- Import the tweaked data file.
- Tweak the wp-config.php file to use the new database, database user and password.
- Secure copy (SCP) the files onto the server. I’ve never used SCP before since FTP always worked for me before but I figured this was a good reason to learn.
- Ta-da – the site is restored. If you can read this, that means it worked.
There’s still a lot more simplifying I need to do but minimizing web sites is an easy step in the process. Exercising some of my long dormant web and Linux geek skills certainly makes it a thoroughly enjoyable task.