Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Of oak trees, cell phones, and waste culture

cell phones, Verizon, waste, lumber in your own front yard, fixing things, throwing things away

Some friends and I are experimenting with tossing ten items a day. It's a great way to start to bring more space -- and clarity -- into our lives. And sharing with each other our lists of tossed items is entertaining and provocative, sometimes touching.

I'm thinking you can learn more by what people toss than what they display.

Some days we find ourselves tossing from the refrigerator: freezer burned veggies, that jar of curry sauce you never finished, the lurking science experiments. One day I thawed mystery packets from the freezer and had an odd but pleasing dinner of soup and baba ganoush. Eaten is better than tossed, and heating the soup killed anything that might be waiting to kill me. As to the eggplant, I remembered when I stashed it, so it was a safe enough bet.

After a few weeks of tossing tens, you become much more aware of how much ridiculous stuff most of us hang onto, how much redundance there is in it. And you start to see it everywhere.

Speaking of ridiculous stuff and tossing it, this rant will now move to electronics. Been a bad week here for those. My daughter's cell phone glass shattered, and she found it was not insured. This is the scam the electronics industry uses to save itself the trouble of creating quality, reliable products. They don't stand behind them, they don't service them. Instead, you and I pay extra for insurance. It's a gamble on things going wrong, which you might as well count on.

And the 3-month-old cell phone goes into the landfill if you don't find someone on the Net who might replace a simple piece of glass for $89, no guarantees.

Santa sent me a  handset for my cell phone. Red, it looks like the handsets of yore. You plug it into the jack and you hold it in your hand. You can actually hear, talk, and do dishes with the thing pinched between head and shoulder, the way your mama did. And did I mention it looks really cool, in a funny retro sort of way?

However, the jack didn't fit my phone, so I went on a quest to find an adapter. The manufacturer offered one that cost twice what the handset cost. Google and son Geo found the fix for a mere $1.98. But when it arrived, I could hear the person I called; they couldn't hear me.

So off to the Verizon store. "How do you tell this thing to work with the handset?" I ask.

"You don't," says the clerk. "Something's wrong with your phone's port. Is it under warranty or do you have insurance?"

No. It isn't and I don't: "the port has never been used before."

"Probably you broke it somehow anyway," she says, with more assurance than knowledge.

The manager arrives. "These phones are very complicated. No one knows how they work."

"But the glass and the port, those are uncomplicated modular units, aren't they? You just take out the old part and plug in a new one."

His jaw tightens with discomfort and his eyes roll off to the heavens, from which no help cometh. It's clear he doesn't even have a concept like "things can be fixed," so I show him mercy.

And that is pretty much the end of it until March, when I can pay to upgrade. Though I would rather downgrade: my older, simpler phone holds a charge for three weeks, and this one. . . well, you know.

I despair. But on the way home, I see good neighbor Gary, who my kids call "Awesome Dude," cutting boards from the trunks of the giant oaks recently cut on his property. I stop to admire his work and smell the good sawdusty smell. I tell him about the neighbor's straight walnut tree trunks, reduced to firewood because he couldn't find anyone to take them for lumber. He goes pale, shakes his head, and we agree that if I ever have to cut down mine I will call him.

Now if the electronics industry had more Awesome Dude Fixer Guys instead of insurance salesmen. . .


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