August 18th, 2016


Strange ways you can tell you're getting old ...

Now, unlike some people (such as my wife), I have never been one to indulge in "retail therapy" (she has been called "an engine of the economy" as her absolute two favorite things to do is to buy stuff and throw other stuff out), and will buy something that is functional and have it perform its function for as long as it lasts, without even a whiff of thinking of replacing it "just because".

I suppose ONE of the clues that I'm "getting old" is that I have lived in at my current address for 35 years at this point ... which is a chunk of time. I have a number of things still around which I bought when getting ready to move in over here from my Mom's place (including, remarkably, some glass plates from France which have survived my 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's) ... and it's never struck me as particularly odd that these things were beginning to have an "antique" air to them - until some needed to be replaced.

While the blender I got back in my drinking days (primarily for making Velvet Hammers) still works fine when it's called into service, a year or so back one of the beaters from the hand mixer that was also from the early 80's broke, and I couldn't get a (reasonably priced) replacement for it. So, off to Amazon I went, and ordered a new one ... nominally the same model, but a whole world of difference in style (plus it had an extra speed setting that its predecessor didn't). Being that I'm rather "change averse", I wasn't 100% happy about the replacement, especially given that there was nothing wrong with the previous one, except for not being able to get a new beater.

What brought this topic to mind, however, was my having to buy yet another beard trimmer. I've had a beard almost constantly since high school (see the icon - my graduation shot), and so this device has been a regular necessity. I bought one in college (I think), which got replaced some time later (probably a couple of decades back), the replacement unit being perfectly functional until just recently, when the plastic started to degrade. Did the cutting mechanism go bad? No. Did the battery/electrical system go bad? No. The freak'n plastic (notably around the battery compartment) began to get brittle and fall apart! The last time I trimmed my beard, I had tape all over that to just keep the batteries in contact with the connections long enough to finish the job.

Thankfully, these are not vastly expensive items, with the new one (the replacement I got had all sorts of extra guides, and a separate ear/nose trimmer thing) costing about twelve bucks delivered. But, still ... the plastic was old enough that it was breaking up???

I was somehow reminded of when we were packing up my father-in-law's house in Columbus, OH, in preparation of his move south. There was all sorts of stuff in the garage which was from his dad (I got some of this to pass along to The Girls, after all, how cool would it be to have a rasp used by one's great-grandfather). This has a bearing on the above as well, as one of the things I've had to replace over the past year or so was the basic drill bit set that I'd had since the early 80's, or possibly before that. I'd occasionally thought of getting new bits because one of them was dead dull and pretty useless, but it wasn't until I was building a platform for a futon and had the drill slip off the edge and fall bit-first into the floor (breaking the bit) that I finally got a new set. When I was looking for "new", I was initially looking to get the same set as I'd been using for decades ("change averse", remember), but found that the company that made those was long out of business.

I will occasionally run across something in my now quite over-stuffed tool box which is a similar "trip down memory lane", such as finding solder with the old Archer brand from Radio Shack, and the like (frankly, I still have quite a lot of old Radio Shack stuff around here ... used to love that place when it was bins and bins of assorted make-it-yourself tech!). Which, of course, upon reflection is one of those clues about "getting old". Stuff that I bought in my early 20's is beginning to be collectable as Memento Mori now that I'm in my late 50's!

As long-time readers may recall, I've had to unwillingly divest myself of a LOT of old tech over the past couple of years ... because "if it ain't broke", I sure wasn't going to throw something out just because there was something else on hand brighter, better, and faster. You never know when you're gonna need a system with a 286 chip! However, I eventually bent to pressure and ousted well over a dozen old computers and related peripherals. Thank goodness the blender (and its classic ice-crusher accessory!) never had to be replaced.

Oh, speaking of kitchen equipment ... there IS one thing that I'd really like to get new, but have never been able to justify the expense vs. the use. I have an old first-generation Cuisinart with a full set of blades (one of my early pro clients was a gal who was an early Cuisinart "expert" who I booked on TV shows and developed a syndicated radio show for), whose inner workings are built like a tank and fully functional to this day, but whose plastic container parts are suffering from similar chemical break-down as my beard trimmer - to the extent that they have lost their handles (needed to effectively turn the container to start and stop the unit), and need to be given a two-handed squeeze and turn to operate. Like the hand-mixer, replacement parts, when available, are pointlessly expensive ... and since I typically only pull it out to shred Brussels Sprouts at Thanksgiving, I put up with the hassle.

Anyway, figured I'd share. I guess it's a sucker bet to expect permanence, in either appliances or people ...

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