The AwkEng Shaves a Yak and Builds a Basement Inventory System

Hi all,

Today's post is what I'll call part one in a series documenting my efforts to build a basement pantry inventory system. The end goal is to build a database of what's downstairs, along with a record showing movement of goods, both in and out, as well as aging reports.

Is this overkill?


But it's a skill building activity, and I've always believed in learning by doing, and that's the motivation here.

Progress to date has been slow. One of my favorite terms is "yak shaving" and I think that applies here. "Yak shaving" refers to the phenomenon where one task leads to the discovery of another, which leads to the discovery of another, and then another, and so on, until you find yourself in Tibet, shaving the hair off a yak.

In this case, setting up an inventory system in the basement meant first clearing out the basement. COVID caused the hasty relocation of a number of items out of what become the home office, to the basement. Of course, moving them down there quickly and making a mess was relatively fast, while tidying it up and organizing it has been much slower. (Grumble grumble, something about entropy and the 2nd law of thermodynamics.)

So building the system was slowed by tidying up, which required jamming enough things to one side to make a working area to stage things and triage them while work was going on elsewhere.

This lead to the inescapable conclusion that another storage rack would be needed, which meant a trip to the store.

After purchasing the rack, setting up the rack was another small project, and then shifting all the items off the existing racks so they were light enough to move and rearrange to make space for the new rack became a thing.

Finally, the racks are set up, and after another shopping trip or two, the pantry is now stocked, if not tracked under inventory control.

Which counts for one yak shaved.

Making something good enough to use

Now, in the past, any attempts at food tracking or planning we've tried have been short lived, at best. The downfall is always the hassle of keeping up with it. So my vision for a solution will need to be driven by a bar code scanner, and be super fast and easy.

The next yak to shave might be finding a computer, a monitor, a scanner, (and don't forget finding an extension cord!), before moving on to setting up the system itself. But that'll be a post for next time.

Best regards,
Sam Feller

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