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Member since May 2011 · 2472 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: Queensland Flood: NFG's Story
Our house was hit hard by the flood, and we lost most of everything we owned.  I don't want to talk that up too much, I'm not looking for sympathy.  We're probably doing very well, all things considered.  We have family close by, we have a place to stay, we got four Pajero-loads of stuff out, including the important stuff: us, computers, important documents.  There was a brief period where we prioritized the rest of it, but it very quickly became a matter of simply loading whatever's closest to the door.  Some stuff we saved we're glad we did, some stuff we wonder why we bothered when so much other better stuff was left behind.  But there wasn't time to sort it out. 

[Image: http://nfgphoto.com/grafx/Events/Flood/_NFG6878.jpg]
That's the water.  Our Pajero is on the right.

It all kicked off on Tuesday.  Our adventure started off very poorly indeed, as the first load was hindered by a malfunctioning gate at the delivery end, so that it took us nearly half an hour to get in after tearing apart the gate mechanism and failing to re-calibrate the thing.  Eventually I manged to get it open and stay open, but when you're in a damned hurry this sort of thing doesn't really help.

[Image: http://nfgphoto.com/grafx/Events/Flood/_NFG6901.jpg]
Our house with the red roof.  The water's just under the floor.

Then we found the place was infested by fleas.  This is not an uncommon problem in Queensland - the rain sometimes causes a boom in the flea population, and this was one such boom.  Unfortunately this increased our stress levels through the roof, as we lost our house and then had no safe place to go.  When you're constantly scratching and picking and dreaming and worrying about little black things on your ankles, you tend to go insane.  We poisoned the place with a dangerous amount of spray, but it takes days to have an effect, and we suffered.

[Image: http://nfgphoto.com/grafx/Events/Flood/_NFG6922.jpg]
The same view, more or less.  The red slab is our neighbor's carport, the water's halfway up our windows now.

And then the power went out at 2:30 Wednesday morning.  I know that's when it happened because the battery backup on a computer woke us up.  And the power remained off for two days, and it just kept piling on: the house was underwater, we had very little stuff, we kept remembering things we forgot, roads were closed, we had no power, shops were closed, food was sold out as everyone else was panic-buying. 

[Image: http://nfgphoto.com/grafx/Events/Flood/_NFG6986.jpg]
The view inside our front door.

On Tuesday we had started packing our stuff at around 4pm.  By 7pm we could see the water covering the road next door, and by 10:30 it was lapping at the wheels of our borrowed Pajero.  By Wednesday morning, it was a few inches below our floor, but had flooded the garage completely.  By that afternoon it was halfway up the walls, and we knew our stuff was gone.

[Image: http://nfgphoto.com/grafx/Events/Flood/_NFG6994.jpg]
Our living room.

And then, on Thursday morning, we heard the water was receding.  Sure enough, at 10am Thursday morning the water was under the floor again, and we could see our mailbox.  We couldn't get near the house yet, but on Wednesday afternoon, shortly before dark, we got inside.  It was tricky and slippery and a lot of stuff had floated up against the front door, so we had a hard time kicking the door to get in.  What a mess.

[Image: http://nfgphoto.com/grafx/Events/Flood/_NFG7000.jpg]
Our kitchen.

We've never been flooded out before, and we just assumed upon our return we'd find our stuff where we left it, but wetter.  Instead, it was like entering someone's junkyard.  Almost everything had floated and moved around the house.  Mattresses and the couch were not where we left 'em.  The fridge, upon which we had stacked valuable stuff, had floated and tipped over and dumped our stuff in the muddy water.

[Image: http://nfgphoto.com/grafx/Events/Flood/_NFG7005.jpg]
Our computer room.

Everything was covered in mud, it was incredible.  The floor had a centimetre of the stuff, and everything was stained and awful.  And the smell was an incredible assault.  It was as if we were entering a party house inhabited by a thousand wet dogs. 

[Image: http://nfgphoto.com/grafx/Events/Flood/_NFG7009.jpg]
My video game collection.

Odd stuff was saved.  The remote controls, for the TV and amp that were both flooded and ruined, were fine and still worked 'cause the couch floated and they were on the arm of the couch.  Some ceramic bowls in the kitchen floated freely and were not contaminated. 

[Image: http://nfgphoto.com/grafx/Events/Flood/_NFG7020.jpg]
Everything we didn't save.  Nearly everything we own.

Everything electronic was ruined.  Anything made with particle board absorbed water like a sponge and expanded and cracked.  The kitchen counter pulled away from the wall, the cupboards tore themselves apart as they swelled. 

[Image: http://nfgphoto.com/grafx/Events/Flood/_NFG7206.jpg]
The local supermarket.

It was too dark to do any work, so we came back Thursday morning with a powered sprayer and generator (there was no power of course) and thought to get to the hosin' down, but as we started setting up four large boys came by and offered to help shift the heavy things.  Oh, right, we had to remove the furniture before we could spray the house.  That took a couple of hours, and they left to help the next house.

[Image: http://nfgphoto.com/grafx/Events/Flood/_NFG7219.jpg]
The local liquor store.  Notice the packs of cigarettes and chips in the ceiling.

A very kind couple dropped by to help, and spent several hours helping us remove cardboard boxes that disintegrated when touched, package up two decades of video game collecting, and all of the detritus that any modern family owns.  It was something that we came to do ourselves and found was a daunting task for more than ten people.  Without the kindness of these strangers and the owner of the house (we were renting) who also showed up to help we would never have made it.

We worked until dark and used the generator to light the place and worked well into the night.

[Image: http://nfgphoto.com/grafx/Events/Flood/_NFG7203.jpg]
The local shops dumping their guts.

On Friday, we returned to sort the stuff out.  Our insurance company told us that we needed to keep our stuff in the back yard until the assessor arrived, and it needed to be sorted so he could work out what it all was.  So we did.  Appliances here, consoles there, computers in this pile, magazines in that, novels here, books there, clothing under this tree, kitchen stuff under that tree.  Everything was covered in mud, the yard was covered in mud, we worked in muddy shoes with muddy gloves.  It took all day.

And on Saturday, with the help of an amazing team of local kids and men and women, we hauled it all around to the front of the house for the council to come and clean up.  It was going to be a while before the insurance company could get out, so they told us to document and photograph everything as proof of our loss.  So we did.  Over a thousand photos later we had created a very thorough list of stuff lost.

[Image: http://nfgphoto.com/grafx/Events/Flood/_NFG6915.jpg]
Thousands of tiny snails survived by clinging to anything that floated.

And then we headed over to our office two blocks away and stood by, exhausted and mentally drained, as the neighborhood pitched in and pulled out carpet and sprayed the floors and walls and scrubbed and cleaned.

We then went back to our home, stood in front of the pile of stuff that had been our safe, stable and comfortable life for so long, and cried a little bit.

More flood pics

Muddy Video Games
BLEARGH
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a) one thing i've learned from total loss of stuff is that the next time around you know how to do it better.
b) that's a lot of mud.
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In reply to post #1
I know you're not looking for sympathy, but you got it anyway. A friend of mine had his house robbed not too long ago, and they got away with most of his unique home video collection. A lot of it was really rare and unusual stuff too, movies that have never been reissued and television series that have no following. That's one of the ways it's hard to be a collector of anything, because it's just one more burden after a tragedy that has no face and in which there's no villain to claim responsibility. You can't blame anyone for a flood.

Games are already harder to come by in Oz because of the expense and the dumb rating system. Retro collections and electronic downloads might ease the pain somewhat, but like with the videos there are some gaming items that simply can't or won't be replaced that way. And I know you'd never make a public entreatment because other things are more important, but I think there are several of us who post here who would jump to the head of the line to help you rebuild a collection if you saw fit to ask us privately. It might be too soon for that, but I wanted to get that sentiment out there while I can.

From across oceans we can't help pack boxes or clean away debris. But with the gods in witness, I will hunt down rare games for you, Lawrence.
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Quote by Kendrick on 2011-01-16, 07:43:
A friend of mine had his house robbed not too long ago, and they got away with most of his unique home video collection.

that's horrible.  why would you rob his house?  that's just mean!
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Member since May 2011 · 2472 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: The flood: Part 2
So we're living out of dad's place and as you can imagine it's a ton of stress fun.  The fleas are mostly under control, but we'll be itchy and scarred for weeks or months still.

We found a place to rent.  It was our first choice, it was somewhere we'd have broken our old lease to get to, it's gorgeous.  And it's way high above the flood water.  Real estate agent tells us we're in, we'll meet in two days to get the keys and sign the papers.  24 hours later she calls and says someone tracked down the owner directly and offered more money, are we prepared to match it?  Well fuck, I'm not going to be stuck at dad's forever, we've got lives to rebuild.  Yes, we'll match it.  She doesn't call back in 5 mins like she says, cue stress insanity.

I call her back after an hour and she cheerfully asks me how I'm doing.  "Well, except for a massive spike in stress levels an hour ago we're doing quite well thanks."  She calls the owner again, gets a solid answer: We're in.  Tomorrow.  <sigh>


A lot of people are asking why we didn't just clean all the flooded video game hardware.  Well, several reasons, but the biggest one is the insurance.

It's paid for, it's covered, and we're not expecting any hassle from our insurance company (who has a reputation for being expensive but trouble-free).  None of the stuff I lost will be particularly difficult to replace.  Sure, some of it is rare and a lot of it was either brand new or in very good condition, but...  Why would I spend an hour opening up every NeoGeo system to clean it up just so I can have a rusty NeoGeo system with intermittent problems for the rest of its (and/or my) life?

I saved the important bits: the HiSaturn Navi, the X68000 XVI with all the add-ons and books, the customized joysticks, etc.  A lot of really good shit was lost: the issues of NOM, 360 mag, CVG etc I wrote for, all but one copy of the pixel art book I wrote, five years of Next Generation, the first three years of Wired (when it didn't suck), all my copies of Edge and Retro Gamer...  Really, against the sort of stuff I did lose I just can't be bothered to scrub out my TT030 when I can just go get another one when I stop being depressed about it all.
BLEARGH
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You have paperwork for all the items lost, don't you? I'm not sure what the situation with Australian insurance is, but American companies always want multiple forms of documentation. Receipts, photographs, notarized sworn statements from subject-matter experts who will testify that it was indeed a real Picasso, that sort of thing. Commonwealth countries tend to have reasonably trusting agents who know how to spot a snow job, so I agree that replacement rather than repair is the right course of action.

I'm sure you've seen by now that your story has become a front-page item on Kotaku, and over on the Assembler forums you've inspired several lurkers to come out of the shadows just to mention that they've amended their own homeowner's or renter's insurance just in case. We all feel for you, man.
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Member since May 2011 · 2472 posts · Location: Brisbane
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When I told 'em how much coverage I wanted they just said "OK" and upped the premiums.  I said 'do you want serial numbers or anything?' and they said no.  I've got photos of the ten or twelve people carting endless crates and wheelbarrow loads of my shit from the backyard to the street for pickup, which should essentially prove ownership.  And I lowballed the replacement prices on most of it.  I can go to Japan and get 'em cheaper than most people might, so I didn't have to claim collector values.

And our claim's for a lot more than we were covered for, so even if they knock us down a half dozen pegs we should still be OK.

The problem now is that there is nothing in the state to buy.  So many people are replacing entire homes at the same time that appliances and furniture are sold out and facing 1-3 month waits.  Sure we found a house, but we've got no bed to sleep on, and no fridge for our food. 

But then, many others have no house, so...  I cannot complain.
BLEARGH
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Oi.

I was late finding out about the flood at all, and I finally got a chance to read your story and see some of the pics. It's bloody shocking, but I'm glad you guys got out all right and that you are already taking the first steps to getting back on track. I wish I could have been there to help. :/
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Member since May 2011 · 2472 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Thanks Tursi.  It was a bit of bother for us, but we're nearly back to normal.  A few more pieces of furniture, a few more trips to the shops to re-buy all the tiny things that make a life livable, and we'll be right again.

Our progress report basically sounds like we've gone on a materialist bender, with a steady stream of fancy appliance purchases, a big new plasma TV with a neighbor-flattening amp and speakers, and a very nice leather couch upon which we intend to enjoy it all. 

Our stress levels are steadily decreasing, but we're not quite back to normal yet.  Every day we go to bed exhausted after shopping  and cleaning and shuffling boxes around, and the phone still doesn't work and I'm not sure what kind of ADSL speeds we'll be getting now that we're 3km further from the exchange...  But all this sounds pathetic and trivial compared to the poor bastards with nothing, still living in shelters or scrambling to buy used mattresses so their kids have somewhere to sleep.

<sigh>

It was an enormous tragedy, but it isn't the first and it won't be the last and there are more and bigger tragedies happening around the world all the time.  This is just the first time it involves me and so it has a slightly larger presence on my radar. 

I spent an hour digging through the pile of shit on my front yard today, looking for treasures I should reclaim now that the insurance company has agreed to pay us out in full and it's not enough to cover all the shit we lost.  A few mud-covered HuCards, Neos, Saturns and whatnot is about all that was worth picking up.

As an odd aside, someone snipped the cables off most of the gear in the pile.  What kind of weirdo takes the scissors to all the shit there?  The insurance company?  I dunno.  Weird.
BLEARGH
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Quote by NFG:
As an odd aside, someone snipped the cables off most of the gear in the pile.  What kind of weirdo takes the scissors to all the shit there?  The insurance company?  I dunno.  Weird.

That seems pretty transparently to be copper harvesting. In a flood situation, exposed copper generally needs to be scraped down or otherwise processed to get rid of the corrosion, whereas the stuff wrapped in insulation can be melted down and reused right away.

Anyway, glad you're almost back to nominal. I have admiration for your perspective, because it could have been a lot worse. I wish I could help you feel better about the materialism thing, but all I can come up with is that the items you've described are really the tools needed for modern life.
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Copper harvesting on a six foot controller cable?  How bizarre, I can't imagine that's cost-effective.

Found this on facebook today, though it was posted last week sometime.  A rare instance of NFG fan art:

[Image: http://nfgworld.com/grafx/throwaway/unmovedT.jpg]

Damn, but I know some awesome people.  =D
BLEARGH
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Subject: Progress report
So things are moving along nicely, but for every two steps forward there's a step back, it seems.  Going shopping for your whole house sounds like a lot of fun when you think of all the shiny new gear you'll have, but the reality is somewhat less enjoyable.  You can't get your old stuff anymore, so you've got to choose from the newly available gear, and that means you've got to compare them, work out the price/performance sweet spots, read reviews...  We've spent days driving from shop to shop and checking online and finally buying stuff only to have it fall apart after the money's changed hands.

We bought a new couch from a chain of stores that had stuff we really liked at prices that were only a small premium over the same ol' shit everyone else had.  It was a clearance unit, slightly cheaper than normal, a colour we wouldn't normally have chosen, but it felt great and we loved it and we talked them into letting us pick it up rather than wait three weeks to get it home.

And then they called us the next day saying unless we paid another 50% to get the two additional chairs we didn't want, they couldn't sell it to us.

Fuck you, Nick Scali Furniture.  Your bait-and-switch tactics for which you made the news have not yet ceased at all.

And then there's the shiny new LG fridge we bought, our third LG fridge since Japan, and the first to be DOA.  Big, shiny, beautiful, everything we ever wanted, but it just doesn't get cold.  After three days the ice cubes are still not ice cubes, it's disappointing.

We bought a big new amp, but the speakers are backordered.  We picked up the TV, but all my connecting cables are lost to the flood, so we can't actually do anything with it yet (the menus look great thought).  We bought a mattress but it's a week away still, and we have no frame for it yet so it'll go on the floor.  The new washing machine doesn't work so well 'cause the taps leak when they're turned on, so we're waiting for a plumber.  The phone doesn't work, Telstra says their system has seized after putting our old house line into 'disconnect' mode, and since that won't finalize it won't allow the reconnect at the new place.  And no phone means no internet.

And so it goes.  Nearly there, yet so far from actually having a home.  Still, as always, perspective is (sometimes with difficulty) maintained when we remember a lot of people don't even have a place to live at all.  We're damned lucky to have found a house, never mind one we really like.

Tomorrow's a national holiday, the day after that our office will be down to me and two other people, and a day after that it'll be down to just me and Zumi.  The boss is off to oversee a big installation in Sydney, and our tech is off for a much needed holiday for five weeks or something.

On the bright side I'll be online a lot more.  I guess.
BLEARGH
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Member since May 2011 · 2472 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: Flood Aftermath
I toured the suburb two days ago and took photos of the flood's aftermath.  It's a disaster out there, it's frankly staggering that so much was ruined so completely in so little time.

These mango trees were decimated by the toxic water that covered them.  Of all the areas around here that were flooded, the only green was the cultivated grass.  That stuff is so hardy that, it seems, nothing can kill it.  These mangoes are ruined, and because of the abuse the soil has taken anyone who has a garden has to scrape off all the top soil or forget about eating anything from it for two years.  Two stagnant, toxic years.

[Image: http://nfgworld.com/grafx/photos/flood/Flood-7903.jpg]

Well, it's not all dead.  This tree was already valiantly sprouting some new leaves after the flood wiped out its old foliage.  Damned encouraging.  Nature will sort its own shit out, I'm happy to say.

[Image: http://nfgworld.com/grafx/photos/flood/Flood-7902.jpg]

Everything's coated with a thick layer of mud that reminds me a lot that time you got silly putty in your hair.  It's mixed with the grass, it's thick and goopy, and when the water's gone it's solid and it smells bad and it covers everything.

[Image: http://nfgworld.com/grafx/photos/flood/Flood-7908.jpg]

When you get close to the creeks that tried to drown us, it's as depressing as anything I can imagine.  It's a wasteland of dead and dying plants, and this horrid muddy water at the center of it all.  The rivers that rose to assault us were rivers in name only, no one suspected they had this potential.

[Image: http://nfgworld.com/grafx/photos/flood/Flood-7907.jpg]

It seems as if it were a contrived scene, but I think it's legitimate 'cause to hang this basket on this tree would require a very, very tall person.  Lots of things ended up in trees when the water receded.  We spotted no fewer than three chairs hung from power lines or trees, toys, garbage, benches, pieces of houses...  I half expected to find my own shit up some tree, 'cause the water took everyone's stuff and just moved it around without regard.

[Image: http://nfgworld.com/grafx/photos/flood/Flood-7919.jpg]

This is the same creek from the road that crosses it.  To the left is the caravan park that was utterly annihilated.

[Image: http://nfgworld.com/grafx/photos/flood/Flood-7914.jpg]

Look at that cracked crud left behind.  When it gets wet it becomes a disgusting, smelly, and slippery ooze.

This is a tributary from the main river near Goodna.  It looks harmless, but it rose up more than twenty meters, which was - if I'm not mistaken - high enough to nearly cover those buildings in the distance.

[Image: http://nfgworld.com/grafx/photos/flood/Flood-7933.jpg]

[Image: http://nfgworld.com/grafx/photos/flood/Flood-7923.jpg]

There's not much left of anything you didn't move to higher ground.  A local shopping mall has a car in similar condition.

[Image: http://nfgworld.com/grafx/photos/flood/Flood-7944.jpg]

So we've learned a lot from this, about ourselves and about our world.  A few lessons will come in handy, a few lessons I'm not really sure I needed to learn.  There's still no power here in the heart of the suburb.  Traffic lights don't work, none of the restaurants are open except for two that were higher up the hill.  The grocery store is completely empty now (which is better than it was!).

[Image: http://nfgworld.com/grafx/photos/flood/Flood-7945.jpg]
BLEARGH
This post was edited on 2011-02-01, 15:46 by NFG.
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Subject: On losing a bunch of stuff...
A recent post on GameRevolution discussed the nature of collecting after mentioning my flood losses.  I wanted to reply but babbled a little too much, so I'm putting it here instead:


An interesting post, with some interesting points made.  I thought I'd just add a little about this collection and how it got to be what it is. 

When I was a kid, my dad sold Atari computers.  When I was a teen, I overhauled our back yard in exchange for a PC Engine and a Megadrive dad bought through a Hong Kong-based wholesale importer in Vancouver he knew.  A few years later I was manager of a video game store, a few years after that I owned a game store, and then I moved to Japan and sold stuff on ebay.   During all this time I rarely parted with the stuff that was mine.  From time to time I'd sell a bunch of it off, but I'd usually miss it and buy it back, heh.

The collection I lost was about thirty years of very personal stuff, things I used to own, things I always wanted, things I loved.  Some of it was redundant - I had ten Neo Geos 'cause at one point they became so cheap the effort of selling them was more than just leaving them in a box.  Some of it I kept because it was really weird, or because it wasn't worth anything to sell, or because I bought it cheap and it would simply cost too much to replace if I wanted another.

 I had a bunch of different Saturns 'cause I just loved the system so much.  I had a NeXT Cube 'cause, well, it was awesome wasn't it?  The Atari TT030 had my wedding invitations on it.  Most of my consoles were modded, most of the controllers hacked and dissected and documented and repurposed.

 The first five years of Next Generation magazine, the first three years of Wired, all mind and preserved in plastic, bought every month at the news agents near me.

I had a lot of weird and rare shit, but all of it got played, and most of it was important to me. 

Losing it sucked, but it now means I can move my entire house with four Pajero loads instead of 3 2-ton truck loads.  I didn't want to lose all this stuff, but now that it's gone....  Well, it's just stuff.  It's history now, it's part of my life in memory only.

It's sad, but it's also a bit liberating.  I look forward.
BLEARGH
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A lot of people wonder about salvaging my old game hardware.  They're certain they could have saved all or most of it, but there are some things that most people need to know.

First, that mud is toxic, it's crusty when dry, sticky when moist and slippery like a river bottom (which is where it came from) when it's wet.  Cleaning it requires a massive amount of work, I did salvage a few pieces of gear, but it took ages and I had better things to do.

Like buy a mattress to sleep on, and a fridge to keep my food cold.  Oh, and finding another place to live.  ;)

But the other thing about that mud is...  It was caustic.  It etched metals.  The aluminum bases of joysticks had permanent markings etched into them where the mud settled.  Things rusted, and fast.  Nothing with a moving component (CD mechanisms) would ever work again, that mud got into everything, and have you seen the insides of a laser lens?  Forget it.

And what's the plan for saving it?  That mud was revolting, it stunk, no one wanted to come near the stuff, I didn't want it in my car, and it was pervasive.  The smell took days to get out of your head.  It was hard to pick it up, take it somewhere, open it all up, clean it all out, while also supporting the family and not coating dad's place with the same gooey shit that ruined mine...

And there was just no time.  Triage was the order of the day: Keep what's clean, preserve what's critical, and the rest goes.  No time, no time. 

If you guys were here, you could have looted the six foot by twenty foot man-high pile of video games like all the other scavengers, but it wasn't worth keeping, it wasn't worth shipping.  It was treasure that would never be the same again.

So ultimately I left most of it behind, and yeah, it caused me some heartache.  All my life I wanted to buy a house so I could finally get my awesome games out of boxes and put them on display, give them some proper respect instead of keeping them boxed up like some sort of hoarding miser.

And then the insurance money came, and now I have a house and no stuff to put in it.
BLEARGH
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