Last week

Until this Monday morning I had, all told, nine days of relative peace and quiet, and as a result, I’m bleary-eyed, sniffling, and on the verge of another bout of RSI.

Why? Well, there were several contributing factors. First would have to be the kid, who is keeping us repeatedly up at night and gaining on weight like a boat anchor. That in itself would be fine, if it weren’t for his insistence in being placated by doing a few laps around the house cradled in my arms.

It’s supposed to be one of the joys of parenting, a bonding thing, forged in our shared experiences – his consisting of being grumpy with sleep, hunger or diaper saturation, and mine of sleep deprivation and arm aches.

But then came the books.

The new IKEA furniture arrived, and although we paid for most of it to be assembled last Friday (yeah, I know, it feels like cheating, but would you want to assemble and nail to the wall six floor-to-ceiling bookcases and closets?), that meant that my book collection could now be unpacked.

That would, if completed, have had the tremendous benefit of liberating a significant portion of the living room, which has been used as a kind of dumping ground for anything that isn’t unpacked yet. In comparison, the rest of the house is almost pristine, in the sense that there is very little elsewhere that hasn’t been unpacked, even if still not quite in its right place.

Me, I call the living room The War Zone. There are dozens of 42cm/16in boxes there with clothes, china, shoes, glassware and all kinds of bric-a-brac, but thanks to this last weekend only a couple remain with assorted books and magazines.

Mind you, unpacking books is always an interesting thing. I came across dozens of books I haven’t read in ages, and of which I have fond recollections.

But that’s not the interesting aspect – no, the interesting aspect is that it was a right pain to go through the dozen boxes or so and put away half a metric ton of dusty paper on pristine shelves in a way that made sense, for a number of reasons.

First, I have a lot of heavy books. As in A New Kind of Science and Cryptonomicon heavy. But before getting to them, there was the intermediate step of unstacking boxes of all kinds to get at the boxes with books, which then had to be dragged near the shelves for processing.

And let me tell you, a 16in box packed tight with paperbacks is pretty damn heavy. Add to that the repeated motions of picking up the books, dusting them off, carrying them to the bookcase and moving stuff around in groupings so that they would fit the available space, and you have the makings of a pretty nice morning after where your entire upper back is stiff and sore to the extent it hurts to get up.

Second, I have entirely too many books. I could tell you exactly how many if I had found the time to finish setting up my iMac and upgrade Delicious Library to version 2, but, alas, that hasn’t happened yet.

I have pretty much everything by Adams, Pratchett, Clarke, Banks, Gibson, Herbert, plus a bunch of Durrell (very highly recommended, by the way) and minor clumps of books by at least three dozen other authors. Most are in English, but there is a good deal of stuff in Portuguese and a handful in Spanish and other languages, plus college books (ancient tomes on electronics and compiler design), postgrad stuff on Marketing, management and economics, etc.

And, of course, there is no getting around a shelf load of O’Reilly technical books, a good deal of which are completely outdated by now1.

Sorting them all back into a semblance of order is, alas, an as yet unfinished task – I keep telling myself I’m three shelves or so away from adopting the Dewey system.

Oh, and did I mention the sneezing? Oh yes. My allergy, which has been mercifully been kept under check by unstable weather (a few bouts of occasional rain have so far prevented any significant buildups of pollen) was back with a vengeance, and it took me a while to keep my dripping nose from leaving sad little puddles wherever I stood for a few minutes.

Boy, am I ever going to get a Kindle when they bring it to Europe. Anyone out there looking for European beta testers?

Okay, I’ll cut the whining now. More on technology as soon as I can figure out which of the 500+ items in Google Reader are actually worth reading – and I have a new photo workflow to muse about, too…

1 Between obsolete and duplicated books (Amazon sent me quite a few dupes over the years) I am considering giving a bunch of them away to schools and such, which is not as easy as it sounds in Portugal, considering that 99% of them are in English. Pointers are welcome.

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