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Monday, October 10, 2005

You Can Take It with You

Back in August, just after Katrina, Michele Catalano asked the non-musical question:

You're evacuating your home town, knowing full well that the potential is there for your home to be gone by the time the storm is over. You can only take five things (I was going to say three, but I'll be generous) with you. What do you take?

Well, I had to make that decision, except that I didn't limit myself to five things. I had to limit myself to what I could carry on the plane.

Besides my clothes and so forth, what we took was:

  • Niles's two laptops. Usually he keeps one at work, but I had him bring it home so I could have something to work on, in the event that our apartment was destroyed.
  • Data. Data! Data! Data! I have two boxes about the size of shoe boxes, but narrower, in which I keep music CDs. I threw out the music and filled them with data CDs, packed with various scientific data I'm still (ostensibly) working on. I had half a box left over, so I put some rare music CDs in it. Niles took another box for me, filled with Zip disks and floppies. And of course there was the Holy Zip Disk of Current Stuff.
  • Negatives. There's no way I could take the thousands of photographs I've taken over the years. I could take the negatives, though, which are in a big cardboard envelope. Of course, that lets out a few old family photographs. Need to digitize these one day, I guess.
  • Notes. Several folders of notes for scientific projects I'm working on with other people.
  • Rare books. I took four "rare" books, Kipling's Departmental Ditties and Barrack-Room Ballads, not really a rare edition (1913), but I couldn't bear to leave it behind. I have much older books, but they're packed away. I also took Aristocracy in England, by Adam Badeau, which is a rare old book (1887, I think). Also two copies of The Mystery Science 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, both of which are signed.
  • Non-rare books. Marion Zimmer Bradley's Traitor's Sun, William Noble's Conflict, Action, and Suspense, Jack Bickham's Scene and Structure, and C.S. Forester's Death to the French. These all happened to be in the reading queue, and I grabbed them. Also, three science fiction magazines.
  • Diary. I've kept a diary since 1982, but only really started to get serious about it ten years later. I think it runs to a couple dozen volumes now. No way to take them all. I took my current one, and a blank extra. I suppose if I kept it electronically, I wouldn't have to worry about that.
  • Address book. So I could tell my relatives where I washed up.
  • Hawaiian shirts. I wear them all the time, and they're expensive, so in they went. There are few occasions in which a Hawaiian shirt is not appropriate. Last December I wore them to a job interview! Of course, that was in Hawaii...
  • The household gods. Don't ask.

I had another couple boxes of rare CDs to take, but they had to be left behind. Along with my postcard collection, Niles's stamp collection (he has every US stamp, he says), and a gazillion dollars in books.

Everything like that got dragged out of its place, was waterproofed as much as possible, and put in a safe place. My clothes were thrown out of their cheap plastic drawers to make room for the diaries and postcard collection. The heavy drugstore rack of paperback books was moved from its place by the living room window into the interior of the apartment. Less fortunate books were just covered over with plastic garbage bags in situ.

And then, of course, the hurricane was a big non-event and I had to spend days putting everything back. Stupid hurricanes.