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This started as a comment to yesterday’s talk of moving, but I was writing too much, and maybe we can get a few other tips that B can use when she moves next week. I believe that every structure comes with its special set of idiosyncracies, which others in other eras might have called household gods, which must be acknowledged/placated if the moving-in is to be at all successful. We’re still discovering the ones here, but one of them is the carpet. Here’s a trick I learned yesterday:

Until now our bookshelves have done well by themselves and have never had to sit on carpet. We’ve been blessed to have hardwood floors—not always level floors, mind, but hardwood nonetheless. But there’s carpet in the new place, and yesterday the shelves were burying themselves in it, and they were tipping more and more precariously into the room as more books got placed upon them. The shelves are also too heavy to attach to the wall—if they tip forward, they’ll pull the plaster out, too. Although the shelves stack and wouldn’t tip if they were side-by-side, we haven’t enough horizontal space not to stack them. What to do?

A. Go to your local hardware store and buy a 4 ft. by 1.5 in. strip of 1/8 in. steel.1 Place the strip beneath the front feet of the shelf. The shelf sits on the plate; its weight is distributed across the steel. Voila! No more tipping shelves!

How do you placate the gods of your house?

1 Aluminum might have worked, too, but I was worried that the shelves would be just heavy enough to cause the Al to bend rather than carry the weight. That’s why I went with steel. Were I worried about rust, I might have held out for stainless, but I decided not to worry about rust and to trust it will all be OK.



unfortunately, our bigger problem right now has to do with how to placate a neurotic cat who insists on driving you crazy from beneath the bed at 4 or 5 in the morning. next to that, precariously tipping bookshelves are nothing.

true, but I wouldn’t call the neurotic cat a house god. That I wouldn’t, of course, may be why he goes crazy…

when we had carpet, we would set the bookshelves a few inches, no more than two, from the wall, and tip them backwards. this was done with a sectional bookcase. we’ve never had, like some friends, floor to ceiling, custom-made bookshelves. they would use pennies.

Pennies? Stacked? Wow. I bet that’s cheaper than steel. (Which isn’t expensive... but it’s not pennies, either.)

we recently attached a bookcase to the wall in our daughter’s room. this process involved the use of a studfinder. i believe that the term “studfinder” is derived from an earlier word that denoted “piece of crap tool that does nothing except entice you to make absolutely useless holes in the wall.”

i thought that the preakness, the derby, and that other one were studfinders.

i wonder if carpenters have bumperstickers and t-shirts that read:

“real studs don’t need finders”

and other such phrases that make the hammer impaired (like myself) feel more than overly inadequate when it comes to power-tools and really the use of any kind of tool…

greg’s into tools. it’s inspiring. he’s reassembling the famed bed as i type.

I heard they make studfinders with “lasers” now—or is that just futuretalk?

In the future, studfinders will be installed directly in baby’s brains at birth. No wait, before birth. They’ll use lasers too.

We lived in an old frame house for about a year, some sort of old Abilenian’s folly.

We had severely sloping floors, and the one bookshelf I have that is not made of particle board also happens to stand about 6’ high, and threatened to kill me or our cat if it toppled.

The solution: I cut the back of a legal pad in half, and folded each half into wedges that I slid under both sides (in the front), which resulted in a nice backward-leaning orientation, which would not budge even when I stomped around the room during yet another Braves loss.

In the future, they will make cats with lasers, and we will make them cut legal pads in half.

that’s gross. i already make legal pads out of cats, and i do not want laser-cats that will then be forced to laser their ancestors. that would be like incest or something.

In the future, we will simply grow the relevant portions of the cow from their DNA.

That one wasn’t a joke. I think.

It would have been a joke if you had said, “In the future, we will simply grow the relevant portion of the cow from their DNA with lasers.”

I felt it would have been redundant to say that, since everything in the future will be done with lasers. Starting…...now!

Oh no! I have no lasers! Obsolescence looms!

Were Jim around, I would ask him about the studfinder t-shirt concept, but he left today for a six-week vacation, the bastard. (That it is an enforced vacation—the woman who owns the house he lives in, rent free, in exchange for doing a lot of work on it—has come to town for her annual vacation, and part of the free rent deal is that he clears out—does not make me feel any less envious. Not even the promise of goodies from the Patagonia outlet in Dillon, Montana makes me feel any less envious).

Anyway. . . my mother and I have always used shims to prop up our bookshelves. They’re little slats of wood with a very slightly triangular shape, and you sort of jam them under the shelves, half-legal pad fashion.

I have carpeting here, but bizarrely, the bookshelves seem to be standing up of their own accord.

I thought you were going to say they were slats of wood made with lasers… but that would’ve been way over the top.

Anyway, besides Chris, who nails his daughter’s bookshelves to the wall, am I the only one who doesn’t use a slanty object (I’m counting folded up legal pads as slanty) to hold his shelves up?

I’ve been living in furnished accomodation since I was eighteen. All of my bookshelves have been firmly attached to the wall.

As they should be. Although I would be worried about having enough shelf space. I suppose you might have made a conscious effort not to collect more than you have space for… When (if) you return to the States, what will you do with the books you do have?

The small size of my library has everything to do with my cash flow and not my shelf space. At HU my books filled up two of the three alotted shelves in my dormroom. Here, they take up not even one shelf, despite the fact that it’s grown a good bit since HU. When new students arrive here they often remark how they feel like imposters who shouldn’t have been accepted when they see how little of their shelf space their personal library consumes.

i use nothing to prop my bookshelves. though, in part that is because my study is on a slant and it leans towards the wall, so there is no need.

and part because the others are more furniture pieces, some even containing glass that were either bought cheaply at auction/estate sales or phd gifts

i imagine, though, that those in the dead langauges just need their tools (dics, thesauri, grammars, etc.) and they can travel

Yeah, that pretty much sums up my collection: tools and miscellaneous. It just seems ridiculous to buy books though when you live in a town with dozens of libraries.