Monday, October 01, 2012

Built-in obsolescence

Twenty-seven odd years ago, my farther-in-law retired. He had a choice of leaving presents and picked a Gents Commuter bicycle, complete with side-stand, pump, and saddle bag. Given it's current condition, I doubt he actually used it much and it has been sitting, accumulating a little dust and a few strands of cobweb in his garage ever since. This little retro gem is now mine. (It wasn't bequeathed to me – there's life in the old dog yet.) So over the weekend I stripped it down and applied a wire-brush to some wayward rust and fresh grease and oil to bearings and cables. (Sounds like a Fifty Shades weekend in Amsterdam.) After adjustment for our difference in height, by Sunday night I had a great 3-speed, sit-up-and-beg, classic bike. All I need now is a tie, pinstripe suit and umbrella and I'm good to trundle.   
And the point about all this? All I had to buy were a couple of new inner tubes.
And so to the bike computer I use on my daily runs. It cost quite a sum of money, yet the transponder attached to the front forks does not have an on/off switch. This means that the, relatively expensive, battery has a short shelf life because it is permanently transmitting, unless I take it out after use. The casing, and thus the cap tread, is plastic. After less than a summer's worth of screwing and un-screwing prior to, and after, each ride (sounds like Amsterdam, again), the thread has just about been worn out. Couple this with the fact that the magnet on the front wheel used to trigger information has just had to be super-glued back into place, and I'm looking to shell out another wad of notes to replace it.
Yet, what's that I hear?
Yes, that's right. A few years before I purchased the bike computer, I bought a pocket watch. You know, the sort of thing they used to give away as retirement presents. It was made over a hundred years ago and only needs a bit of TLC from a watchmaker (try finding one, though) every year or so. And that's the delicate sound which accompanies me most everywhere I go and, given it's condition, will most probably do the the same for the person who owns it after me. And the person after them. And so on.
The last I checked, we only have one planet available and yet to thrive we have to aim towards the goal of using something once, then disposing of it.
No wonder I have trouble understanding economics.
Today's blog will self-destruct after five seconds.
Tic, tic, tic.
Don't do stupid – it's not clever.    

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