Tuesday, July 08, 2008

What constitutes a lifetime.

How long before you retire the things in your life and how do you retire them? That's the question I'm wondering about with the advent of the second coming, ehm, I mean the arrival of the 3G iPhone this Friday. Despite my desire to get one, I'll probably pass for a little while since I have a decent phone right now, despite it's horrid large antenna. And worse than that I still have phones that still work that I am slowly selling off and keep on hand for friends visiting who need a loaner phone.

So much of the things in our life work, and they work for a long time. Despite claims to planned obsolescence, most things in our lives stay functional for a long long time. They get replaced more out of fashion than function. The other day I noticed that the coffee cup that I keep in my car is 12, count that, 12 years old and it's still working. Considering that I got the cup for free for attending a computer training class, it's outlasted the knowledge that I acquired in the class. It may actually outlast the company at this rate.

That got me to thinking, what else do I have that's lasted the test of time. My cork bulletin board from college is still in use. Having traveled from coast to coast. The monitor stand I use is almost 10 years old, the plastic it's made of is going to last longer than I do. Another college relic are the plates I have for breakfast, still working after 20 years.

There are a lot of things that can give a lot of mileage, but we sell them short or just want a change. And someone's old is in most cases someone's old too.

What do you have that's lasted forever and do you think of replacing it? And why? For me, most of the time is it works, keep using it.


At 7:56 AM , Blogger Dianna said...

jeff has an alarm clock that dates back to college. that's more than twenty years, he still uses it. i think that's rare for electronic devices. my college television lasted until my mid-30s and was only replaced with the picture went wonky. for that matter, my college car lasted into my early 30s and then died a noble death by the side of highway 6.

another good "they don't make things like they used to" -- i have a blender that i got from my mother many years ago that SHE got from her own brother many years before that. i would estimate that this blender dates from the late 1960s at least. i still use it, it is, in fact my only blender. try keeping a blender from walmart for the next forty years and see how well it fares.

At 10:00 AM , Blogger arduous said...

Ohhh good questions. Let's see. I have a three year old iPod, and I'm eking every last dying breath out of it.

I have my mom's cookbooks from the 70s that are falling apart, but I refuse to buy new books.

I have mugs that I got from my friend's grandfather when he moved into a retirement home. Those mugs have probably been around 15-20 years at the least!

I have a futon that my friend owned when she was in New York. She bought it in 2002. Then she moved cross country and brought the futon with her. Then she left Los Angeles, and she sold me the futon.

Similarly, I have a bookshelf that is probably 20 years old. A friend of mine bought it used. Then she moved to England for a year, and gave it to me.

As much as new stuff is nice, I have to say that this old stuff, stuff that has been passed down from friend to friend has so much emotional resonance for me. It's nice to have an apartment littered with so many memories.

At 10:16 AM , Blogger arduous said...

P.S. Dude, what's your email? Can you shoot me one at arduousblog (at) gmail?

At 10:23 AM , Blogger jennconspiracy said...

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At 10:26 AM , Blogger jennconspiracy said...

Oh, man - that's a tough one. I had an ice chest that I had since the early 90s. It mostly worked ok - but it didn't have a catch on the lid, the spout cover leash broke, and it just didn't seem to be keeping stuff very cool.

There was no way I was going to throw it away -- I couldn't see sending it to the dump, and yet I have seen ice chests busted up on the side of the road (we have a lot of homeless and a lot of dumping in the Bay Area). I didn't want that either.

Then - it occurred to me as I was approached by a friend to help plan a party. He doesn't have a car, he doesn't go camping but he did need something to store ice and chill bottles of wine... this cooler still lives outside his kitchen door, protected from the elements by the deck above. It works great for his needs, and I got an ice chest with wheels, a handle and a latch...

Actually, if I decide I need to get something cool (I'm a sucker for flea markets and antiques bargains), I usually end up giving the stuff to that friend. Bought a stack of 15 cotton dish towels at Ikea -- gave him a stack of 15 year old dish towels (he still uses them).

Got a lineoleum top table, he borrowed my folding round card table.

Got a nice big wood table with two leaves and six chairs, gave him the linoleum top table and took back the card table (I plan to recover the surface and paint it - it's great for parties).

I think he's the smarter one of the two of us - he makes more money than I do and hasn't owned a car (ever, I think) and I only just recently sold mine...

And then we have the whole blogosphere of anti/non-consumerist writers... like Arduous let me think about this. I think I might have to do a blog entry on the topic, too!

I've got a chaise - the fabric is shot and I want to get it recovered -- but buying sustainably produced fabric will cost about $25 (for 10-12 yards) and the labor will be almost $300 - a new chaise, same model, still costs the $699 that I paid for it in 1997! The kicker -- I can't even ask for recommendations on local upholsterers on Freecycle -- but they are happy for me to *give away* the sofa but not to seek help in keeping it out of the landfill and in my house... how f*d up is that?

At 9:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still have the stereo I got for graduation in 1990. We finally got rid of the giant speakers (3 ft. tall) a couple of years ago, because even though sound still came out of them just fine, we didn't have room for them. The current speakers are still much larger than what we'd buy new today, but they work, so we haven't replaced them.

Actually, I've noticed that I have trouble replacing things that I don't like, as long as they're still working. I had a really ugly nightstand made of particle board and peeling veneer--but it held the lamp up, which is what I bought it for (paid $25 in 1993). We got rid of it and the equally ugly but non-matching nightstand only because my dad moved out of his house and wasn't keeping the ones he had.


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