Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Gripes: Cheap Stuff

Today’s gripe is about cheap stuff. In other words, consumer products made quickly and cheaply, not expected to have much of a life span.

When I was a kid (don’t groan, I won’t tell you a story I’ve told before), things were expected to last a long time, and if they stopped working, it was expected they’d be repaired.

Examples: a pair of shoes with a hole in the sole could be re-soled. A radio that stopped working could have a tube replaced and it would work again. Socks with a hole in them were darned.

My then-boyfriend (now husband) spent many hours working on cars that had problems, fixing vacuum cleaners or toasters or lamps. It was worth the effort put into repairing the items, because they were sturdy and would continue to give many years of excellent service.

But then came along the “disposable” society idea. Making things of cheap plastic and metals made the price low, so many people could afford the items. Along with the low price came the expectation that if the item stopped working, it was more economical to toss it out and buy a new one than to repair it. Soon, in fact, it became impossible to find someone to repair these items, even if you were willing to pay the price.

Thus, we can buy a printer so cheaply—sometimes cheaper than a refill of the ink it uses—that it makes no sense to have it repaired. Just pitch it and buy a new one. Cordless phone stop working? Throw it out and get a new one. Hole in your shoes? Into the garbage they go, and get a new pair.

For a generation like mine that worked for saving the environment, this seems like a terrible idea. Where do all those objects, many of them electronics, end up? Most of them go to a landfill. Just what we need, more garbage.

I’m not sure anything can be done to stop the flow of cheap, disposable items. But I reserve the right to bitch and moan about it! What about you?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Happies

Of course, the perennial thing to be happy about on Friday is, Thank Goodness It’s Friday. And today is no exception…I’m happy the week is ending, so we can all relax and let down our hair.

I’m also glad the rain stopped, at least for now. It’s been raining for two days straight, bringing us more rain in that short period than we usually get in a month. Oy.

I’m happy that my various medical concerns are all being fairly quiet and benign today. Yay!

I’m also happy that my family and friends are all fairly happy and healthy, with no crises on the horizon at the moment. That deserves a double cheer.

Just found out the Steelers game on Sunday will be televised here. If you’d asked me before their game last Monday night, I’d have said, “I don’t need to watch them play; I need more grief like I need a hole in the head.” But since they won on Monday, and impressively so, I’m cautiously optimistic they might just repeat the feat.

What else? I’m glad there are still some pretty leaves on the trees, although the past two days of rain has thinned them out.

Now it’s your turn. What are you happy about today?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Monday Gripes

I haven’t done an edition of Monday Gripes for a while, so I decided it was about time.

First gripe: it’s not even  Monday! I got so busy yesterday, I forgot. So technically, this is Tuesday Gripes.

One new gripe has to do with my English budgie, Jack. (Short for Captain Jack Sparrow, naturally!) It seems he’s made friends with a catbird he sees out the kitchen window. He has apparently taught the catbird some of the whistles Jack learned from hubby Dan, so they whistle and chirp back and forth to each other.

The problem with this: they do it at the crack of dawn (or “crackadon,” as my oldest daughter used to say), and they do it LOUDLY. It’s like having a bird alarm. Oy. Yelling “Shut up, Jack!” doesn’t work; nor does putting the pillow over my head (can’t breathe). So eventually, muttering dire threats about extinction of a species, I get out of bed and start my day. Naturally, Jack is delighted to see me up and moving, so he doesn’t understand my mood.

I’m thinking a good revenge is to wake Jack up when HE’s asleep. Only problem is, once you wake him up, he’s delighted to talk to you. Apparently, he needs less sleep than I do!

Also, I’ll share with you a classic gripe. This drives me nuts, so even though I’ve previously mentioned this, I will repeat.

One of my biggest pet peeves is people who, when driving, do not know how to merge. It sounds like a simple thing, right? Get your car from the on-ramp onto the main highway safely.  Let’s examine how most folks do it:

Drive slowly up the on-ramp. Look to see if there are any cars coming—not that it will make any difference to your merging method. Lumber into the main highway lane, going 20 miles below the speed limit and forcing the car next to you to hit the brakes sharply to avoid hitting you. Ignore the horns blowing and rude gestures sent your way.

Now, pay attention, please. This is the CORRECT way to merge:

Check out who is coming on the main highway lane. Find a space you can fit into without hitting anyone. Accelerate smoothly on the on-ramp to match your speed to the main lane traffic. Carefully steer your car into that open space, without forcing the car behind the space to swerve or brake.

Yes, YOU must find a space to fit into and do it without disrupting the pattern of traffic. That’s the definition of MERGE.

There! Got that off my chest (again). What are your pet peeves, on the highway or in life?