Throw it out

I think most of us realize we live in a society where you use it up and throw it away. I have a perfectly functional iPhone 3 sitting on my desk beside me that never quite gets its batteries charged. My new (1 year old) iPhone 4 probably doesn’t get the fullest of uses as it is. I probably should have sold the 3, or given it to someone who could use it, but I’m comfortably behind the curve. As my wife could get her a 3gs that would outperform my 3 for $50, and have an OS that could be kept up to date, I opted to leave it behind as a toy for jogging music or gaming. In reality it just sits looking forlorn from the corner of my desk. I might still be using it, but the calendaring functionality for work was going to leave me behind unless I upgraded.

I didn’t grow up during the depression, but my parents were raised in the aftermath and learned frugality. I guess they passed it on to me, although I don’t remember it being emphasized as a core value. I remember tuna fish being too expensive to have every day, it being a favorite meal of mine. I also remember playing a game I made up where I collected the trickle of water from a hose that ran to the floor drain in the basement from the humidifier when the furnace kicked on. I’d save it in old jars (that were too good to throw away) that smelled faintly of pickles and jam, despite the thorough washing. I never got too far, as my mom would eventually find the stash and dump it all out, but it didn’t keep me from running to the basement whenever I noticed the heat coming on.

Which brings me to Saturday night and my weekly laundry chore. Sometime in the final load the motor gave out so the spin cycle wouldn’t go. The washer isn’t too old, slightly pre-dating my marriage of 5 years. With thoughts of the heaping of troubles and technical breakdowns, I sadly proceeded to bed with the sodden load heaped in the machine. I returned to the problem this morning. I’ve fixed washers and dryers before, and it’s usually not something too difficult to troubleshoot. I took off the control panel exposing the electronics and scored the hidden technical sheet. It was only the spin cycle that was failing, so in my mind it had to be a belt or a motor. Pulling off the front of the machine I realized that with the belt intact, the technical advances in washing technology had rendered me impotent in the machine-fixing adventure for today. The spec sheet talked about the transmission and the motor. I broke down and called a couple appliance repair shops and finally found an acceptable deal of a free in-home estimate available in the same day.

The technician was a nice guy and managed to come a couple hours early. I had put everything back in order, so as to not alert him to my monkeying (although it did get that corner of the basement a much-needed cleaning). He quickly opened it up and diagnosed it as the motor. He called for a quote and said there was one available, but that it would be about $370 with the labor. I was somewhat sticker shocked and knew that it was somewhat over half of what I paid for it new. Now I know I’m partially to blame, as in my efforts to finish the laundry and get to bed I often push the load a little heavy, which must have contributed to it’s early demise. I don’t know what I would have been able to save if I had been able to comfortably diagnose the problem and get a motor, but I don’t suppose the labor was too unreasonable. The price was right at the point where I was almost ready to just get a new one, but the frugality kicked in enough that I just had the work done.

It does really kind of chap my hide, built-in planned obsolescence. It’s hard to fathom the number of things this year that, through mechanical breakdown or technological eclipsing, we have needed to buy anew. The printer we had for just a couple years had its power supply die, and since it cost less than a day’s wages to get a better one, we did. Three of the four ballasts in the lights in the garage with less than two hundred hours usage over the last couple years died in December. My current truck has needed far more in repairs in half the time of my last one, prompting me to wonder if I shouldn’t trade it in frequently. The new tv didn’t have enough older connections, so we bought a blu-ray player, because it was cheap and did a better job. I know this smacks a lot of First World Problems, and it’s true, but it about kills me every time I take something functional (or nearly so) and toss it aside. It’s especially painful because I see people who do it more than me without seeming to have a second thought. I’m in a border-line hoarder position, as I’m a tinkerer, and think things like: “The motor and gear system in the scanner on the printer could be really good for some art or automation project!” This has caused me to have a basement full of things that,”just might be good for something”.

Debbie has a couple tables that belonged to previous generations in her family. My own grandmother gave me a chair that used to belong to Mrs. Bliss, one of her friends, and I’m hoping to have it reupholstered sometime soon. But I can’t really see that I own anything (besides a few pieces of art) that would really be something to be left to a future generation that would be less than ephemeral. My desk is recovered cubicle equipment, my tools cheap Chinese steel and plastic, and now even the books are now largely going to ones and zeroes. Maybe I’m just nostalgic for a time that was never mine, or maybe my frugality has gotten the better of me and I don’t acquire heirloom things. I just find the whole concept a bit sad and empty.

easter resolutions?

I’ve really been putting off writing this (and any) post for quite awhile. Not that I don’t want to face the dismal result of last years resolutions as much as I just haven’t been able to find the gumption to write at all. Also, this was an entry that needed to be done, but has no fire.But here we are.

Last year I put down 5 resolutions, and evaluated the resolutions for the previous year, so that looks like how this is going to go from now on. So for last year:

  1. Climb Lone Peak. This again. It was on my 2010 list and was the only carry-over as it has been since I was about 16. I really meant to do it, but because I failed on #3 below I wasn’t physically up to it, but was scheduled to make the attempt anyway with Steve from work. The day before we were to leave Chuck called and said he had a day to come help me drywall the garage. Getting the garage done trumped the hike, so I bailed, although to Steve’s credit, he got Walter from work and they made it to the peak, putting me to shame. Grade F.
  2. Take the Kayak out 5 times. I had all sorts of good intentions with this. On my first attempt I drove up to Birch Creek Res. by myself and got the kayak out and realized I’d forgotten the paddle somehow. I was beside myself with frustration, but managed to catch one of the biggest tiger trouts I’ve ever landed from the shore. It was exciting, but not what I had hoped for. At the end of the summer I did manage to get out with Brian, his son Alex, and his brother-in-law, Jason Rino for an epic day of fishing. And this time I remembered my paddle. Grade should be a D, but due to the epic day and a botched attempt– C-
  3. Running. I had a goal of 300 miles, which seemed reasonable due to the success I had the previous summer, but I managed to get out twice for a total of about 4.5 miles. Grade F
  4. Replace the floors in the ol’ house. Financially, we never got in a position where this was going to happen as we spent more time and resources on the garage and having fun. Maybe this year, but another F.
  5. Writing… well, lets just jump to the F

So, not so good. Best laid plans of mice, etc. But overall it wasn’t a bad year. Debbie invested us in some Disney season passes and we went a couple times and again for our anniversary just after the start of the year. I also worked on finishing the garage, a 5 year project that I had on my 2010 resolutions to finish. I’m happy to say that project is almost behind me. I spent quite a bit of money and effort, but last Tuesday it passed its final inspection. I thought I’d be more relieved at that, but there’s still the taping, mudding and painting to do, as well as stain and finish the concrete and arrange the space. But the expensive and stressful part is behind.

I also put a lot of time into my art. I spent the first half of the Fall semester feverishly working to get enough ware together for the CAU Holiday Sale and did that again. Again, I didn’t sell much, but I got a lot of really good feedback from people. I also got a call from the Patrick Moore Gallery asking for me to bring in some stuff to show over the holidays, so I have a few pieces there now, too. But at the CAU sale I was next to Johnny Hughes, one of my friends from when I started at Stoker. He really encouraged me to apply to the St. George Arts Festival and told me I’d do much better there. Despite my disinclination to face the public I did manage to apply, and was accepted. I’ve been spending a crazy amount of time getting ready for that and have less than a month until it happens. So between those two and beefing up a pretty decent garden last year I brought 2010’s resolutions up by 50%. Maybe I’m just lagging a year.

As for this years resolutions, I’ve not put much thought into that, but I’ve had some ideas of what I’d like to accomplish, so lets see if we can’t lay something out.

  1. Exercise or physical fitness. This is a gimme, but I need to get out of my sedentary ways. I’m not going to lay it down with a total of 300 miles running, or climbing Lone Peak or anything, but I need to make a concerted effort to get out every week somehow and create a routine of activity that I can look back on and say I made a positive lifestyle change. This will be the hard one.
  2. Art. Ok, so I’ve gotten out there (or will have next month) more than before. I think I’ve honed my skills and eye to where I have some competency with process and some materials, but I think the artist side needs developing. Hopefully having the studio will give me a chance to explore better than I have with the limited time at Stoker. I still plan on spending time out there, but I want to be able to poke around in my studio and focus on developing my style.
  3. I need to decrease my cynicism. This seems a little odd, but I’ve noticed I’ve become more of a grumpy old dude than I want to be. I’m not sure how I’m going to quantify this one, but I need to lay off reading so much bad news and find a way to increase my positive outlook.
  4. Fix up the house. I’m going to carry this one over, and I think it’s really doable this year. The money is tight, but we really need to get the floors redone, and I think I’m going to feel a lot better with a more maintainable house. This is going to include de-junking, which I’ve already started. I’m getting rid of things I really don’t need or use and that takes up space. I’d also like to get on the way of redoing the kitchen and looking into expanding the basement (although I think the basement is going to be a year or more down the road).
  5. Read more books. I’ve spent too much time just killing time online when I could have been cutting down my reading list. I have several half-read books that I was really enjoying and never quite finished, as well as a lot sitting around I haven’t started yet. I think I used to be more mentally active when I was reading more and I think I had more creativity when I was feeding my brain more than just the top 10 things that something something.

So there’s what I’ve been thinking of the last couple months put down in black and white, or at least light and dark. Maybe doing this in the spring will make me think I’ve already spent a good part of the year and give me some drive to come from behind.