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Getting my move on ...

10 Dec 2010
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Boxes o' stuff in my office
Issues? Yeah, I've got some issues ...

I hate moving.

I've had to move my residence seven times in my adult life, but the last time was way back in 1990. I'm moving again next week, but I'm actually looking forward to it this time because the move is a short one: from upstairs in the NHRA Publications building to downstairs. No, it's not a demotion (other than in altitude, office size, and window acreage), but rather a long-overdue consolidation of all Publications departments – editorial, photo, production, advertising, and administrative – to the floor that previously only housed the latter three.

With the final issue of National DRAGSTER safely out the door yesterday and the majority (but not all) of the writing done for the annual Fan Guide, my office is now filled with boxes being crammed with the detritus of more than a dozen years in the same room. As the Publications and headquarters staff grew in the 1990s, the Publications Department moved out of the Financial Way HQ building in July 1993 to about a block down Route 66 to give everyone a little more elbow room.

So, for the last 17 years, I've been accumulating stuff, cramming it into drawers and onto bookshelves and countertops. Apparently, I did very little throwing away. I have my own personal collection of National DRAGSTERs from 2000 through present in a variety of magazine racks and stands. That's more than 500 issues, and I don’t know why I have them in my office when the full library of NDs is just about 25 steps away.

Seeing as how my new crib is going to be slightly smaller, it's a good time to off-load all of the issues to free up some space, but I've been enjoying going through some of the older ones as I stack them like cordwood in the library room to fill in any gaps in the archive before they are unceremoniously ejected from the building.

Back to my original point, the reason I'm really looking forward to the move – which begins today and carries over into next week (not counting Tuesday, which is the day of NHRA's annual holiday party at the NHRA Museum, where I and four fellow DRAGSTER staffers will be performing a karaoke version of a famous rock song as part of a talent contest; it's sure to be a YouTube sensation) – is because the Indiana Jones in me expects to unearth cool old stuff I've had buried away and forgotten about for almost two decades. All I need is a fedora and a bullwhip …

Hey, lookee here. It's an AOL 3.5 diskette, version 2.5. No idea why I still have this. Instructions: "Insert disk in your floppy disk drive (A or B); click on the File menu on your Windows Program Manager; select Run; then type A:\SETUP (or B:\SETUP) and press OK."

Ha! Remember floppy disks? Yeah, most computers don’t even come with floppy drives anymore. And you young'uns who were weaned on Windows 95 and up never had the joy of learning DOS prompts that required you to type in the letter of the drive, then the appropriate command to launch the setup program (which wasn't always "setup"). There were no auto-play CDs (or DVDs) that began the install process once you slipped them into the tray. Being a video gamer back then required even more DOS skills to install and configure your sound card and controllers. But I digress …

Oooh, and here are some 1995 issues of Net Guide magazine ("The Guide of the Internet and Online services") and Computer Life ("Internet Revealed!") that I began studying while trying to figure out this Internet thing back when we prepared to launch NHRA.com (then NHRA Online) in 1995. Oh, boy, this is rich. It's an article about how video is coming to the World Wide Web (back when everyone still called it that). "Longer clips can reach sizes of 11 or 12 megabytes and take several hours to download." Today I can download a 12MB clip faster than I can type this sentence. And how many of you remember when even getting hooked up to the Net required you to know about SLIP and PPP connections? Man, those were the days … not.

So, I know it's going take twice as long to pack as it would normally because I'll have to look everything over and reread those musty old back issues cover to cover before I pack them away again. I really have no idea what I'm going to find.

I did a series of columns here way back in 2007 that I called SIMO – Stuff In My Office -- that showed off the various cool racing keepsakes I've accumulated over the years, like a champagne flute from Don Prudhomme's retirement party at the Playboy Mansion, my old OCIR mug, a piece of concrete from the original Pomona timing tower, etc. --  but that was just the surface stuff that sits out on display. This time, I'm going in deeper, into the drawers and long-ago taped-closed cardboard boxes. I know I have 1970s vintage Drag Racing USA magazines and newspaper articles and collector cards and who-knows-what-else in there. Oooh, I'm getting all tingly just thinking about it.

I'll be back next week, somewhere between making a move and bustin' a move, to report on what I found.