I was tasked to simplify simplify the contents of my mentor's cellar, which meant going through boxes and boxes of papers and sorting them into bins. It was also an opportunity to reduce the amount of redundant and duplicate material. About 25 years ago we published a Catlogue of all the data in our research field up to that time. I thought we could shift 250 copies of this compendium without difficulty and ordered that many copies from the printer. As it turned out, I was able to offload about 25 copies; half of which were freebies for contributors. For the next 20 years, I schlepped a couple of xerox boxes of remaindered copies around with me. Then The Boy came home and convinced me that the global interest in this work from now until the end of time could not exceed ten copies and I sent the rest to recycling. In the cellar last week I discovered another 40 copies, and ditched all but five.
Before I came to America as a graduate student back in the early 80s - a while before the wildly over-optimistic Catalogue - I knew that my gaffer worked at the Carnivore Genetics Research Center. I also knew that he was editor of a periodical called Carnivore Genetics Newsletter. When I arrived I found that I was scheduled to sleep in the CGRC which was co-terminous with the cellar. Not only that but I was to help assembling the next many issues of CGN. There were a number of suscriptions to the Newsletter and so there was far less over-production than of the Catalogue. Nevertheless, I've reduced the back-issues to 3 copies for each number and sent the rest to be recycled. That's four hefty boxes of redundant material which have been de-cluttered and I feel rather virtuous about that.
Then a couple of days ago, I discovered the crimpers, which were the bane of my younger life. The Newsletter CGN was absolutely non-profit and run on very narrow margins. If it had been cheaper for us to make each copy by transcribing it with a quill pen, then that's what would have been done. That was clearly not a sensible option, but there was some debate about whether it was worth paying extra to get each issue collated. Then the print shop got a new machine which collated the pages automatically at no extra charge as they were printed. But assembling the front cover, the back cover and the contents then stapling them together was apparently too expensive because we did this sitting round the dining-room table. The industrial stapler was good for 50 pages but left the staples proud and prevented the the newsletters from stacking neatly. So I had to crimp the sticking out bits flat with a pair of pliers customized with two flat bars welded to the business end. I developed an occupational disease called crimpers-thumb where the action of thgis tool raised a blister and eventually a bloody welt. It only lasted a few days after each session. Each issue was then stuffed in an envelope, an address label and stamp applied to the outside and the shipment was ready to go. If I'd known then how many copies of crimped newsletters would never leave the cellar, I would have stopped crimping earlier. But we always got the newletter out on time.