Wednesday, February 25, 2015

An Ode to the Incandescent Lightbulb

I have long been aware of the fact that I am Old School.

In nearly everything, really.

I was nearly the last person I know to buy a cell phone. We've never had cable, and I don't really want it. Number two pencils, handwriting tablets, reading books rather than dabbling with educational software, encyclopedias rather than Wikipedia --  ask my kids and they'll tell you I'm nothing but boring.

One of the facets that drew me into Montessori education was the stuff -- real, substantial, high quality stuff. Maria Montessori would not have been surprised that modern day toddlers throw dishes -- most of what they're accustomed to using is nearly indestructible plastic. Give them high quality items -- silver, glass, wood -- and through control of error, they'll learn to be careful (and they'll also learn to clean up when things break). What is control of error? In the atrium we pour red wine from glass cruets into a metal chalice sitting on a white table cloth. Children get immediate feedback on whether or not they're moving slowly and carefully. Control of error.

But I digress . . .

So we've moved for the second time in eighteen years.

And a whole lot changes in eighteen years.

The other day I was having a nice long chat with Doug, an appliance salesman. He was trying to wow me with the latest bells and whistles that come with washers and dryers. I decided to level with him. "Look, Doug," I said, "we bought our last washer and dryer eighteen years ago. I think we repaired the dryer once. If the people who bought our house hadn't really wanted the washer and dryer, we would've moved them into the new house. We don't plan to be back for another eighteen years. What do you recommend?"

I got the impression that Doug doesn't get a lot of customers like me.

And here's what I learned about new washers: They don't have agitators. No, they don't. You peer into this cavernous hole and voila! no agitator.

(As an aside: On the issue of cavernous holes, Consumer Report was singularly useful. Their advice? Open the lid and make sure you can touch the bottom. I couldn't reach the bottom of half the washers. Thank you, Consumer Report.)
One salesman thought he'd really impress me by telling me that the top of the line washers can communicate with my Smartphone. I didn't tell him that I don't own a Smartphone or that even if I did, I was wholly uninterested in having my electronics communicate.

So our new washer has no agitator. And it's okay, but I feel a little like I did when I first got wind of the ban on incandescent light bulbs. Am I the only person who likes incandescent light bulbs? I get the environmental issues. Waste of time, waste of money. And I have to say the newer bulbs have improved over time. I no longer switch on the a reading lamp and feel like I'm trying on bathing suits under fluorescent lights at Target. The soft, yellow glow is a step in the right direction.

The kids are forever lampooning our lame, lame, mega lame vehicles that, in their knowledgeable minds, hearken back to the Cretaceous Era. I try to gently remind them that our dinosaurs help free funds for little things like vacations and swim team.

They don't get it.

The van, in truth, is sounding more than a little creaky. Buying vehicles is much like buying  a new washer after eighteen years. The new features -- which are not new to anyone else -- simple amaze. Yes, when we bought the van thirteen years ago, we were all "Power locks! Who knew?" I understand that vans of today are wired for every type of communication imaginable. If that means my packing list drops by five or ten power cords, I will embrace progress with enthusiasm.

Now, I am not completely anti-technology, and, typically, when I make the great leap forward in some form or fashion, tardy and somewhat reluctant though I may be, I'm usually happy with the results.

Some things I leave behind and never look back. All of us of a certain age remember the painstaking efforts we put into footnotes and bibliographies using manual typewriters. Remembers Selectrics? High-tech circa 1980. I watch Tim using Easy Bib and plopping out a bibliography in about thirty seconds with a nary a drop of Whiteout in sight.

Kids these days.

They don't know from suffering.

But, really, was there any benefit to that madness? Perhaps we are a trifle more diligent; maybe we developed an extra degree of fortitude for our troubles. But I wouldn't turn back that clock for love or money.

In the next week or so, I am taking the great plunge into the world of Smartphones. While I have no interest in having my phone friend my washer or text my dryer, my Dumb Phone has failed me one time too many, and if I have to tangle with customer service and the vicious cycle of automated technical support one more time, well, I fear for my eternal soul. Lord, forgive me, these things seriously bring out the absolute worst in me.

And now it's time to turn off my non-incandescent light bulb and go to bed.


christinelaennec said...

I am very much the same, Kelly. Always one of the last to get the new things, and mostly that has worked out well for me. I will say that I enjoy my Smartphone, although it isn't nearly so Smart as a lot of other people's smartphones. I don't (normally) use it for the internet, it doesn't have a big memory so I weed out the photos on it, I use it to text, phone, play solitaire (oh yes!), look at maps, and check the Cal Mac ferry updates. And that's fine for me. Just about everything else gets done on our lumbering desktop that uses Windows 7. I don't know how long all these things will continue to function, but I'm very happy as long as they do. (I do regular backups, too.) Interestingly, our daughter - though not our son - has the same attitude of "older is better". Yesterday she was playing on her (non-3D) Nintendo DS!

Kelly Dolin said...

Waiting usually means a few bugs are worked out and prices have dropped. I'll love my newer phone, but I doubt I'll ever watch movies on a three inch screen. Maybe if I'm stuck in an airport for ten hours or something. Interesting about The Dafter. If it works, use it. My oldest is definitely of the mindset that newer is always better. This may change as he starts to buy things for himself.

claire said...

I tried to post a comment earlier; not sure what happened. But I am definitely on the same page with all of this, particularly the lightbulbs!

Kris said...

I can SO relate! I just got a smart phone (the two-year old model of the new one that's out!) and NOT an iphone. I drive a 10-year old Suburban with 232,000 miles on it and no plans to exchange Bessie for a newer model. My washer/dryer are both 11 years old and running strong (although I do have a giant front-loader). I'm not sure if it's techno-phobia or just frugality!

Jamie said...

Late adopter fist bump! Long live the incandescent bulb!