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Home » » Whittling Away with Dick Brooks - Changes

Whittling Away with Dick Brooks - Changes

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 7/3/24 | 7/3/24

I lost an old friend the other day.  It wasn’t human but we’d been together for a long time.  It was a pencil sharpener that I had bought when I first started teaching some fifty years ago.  Staring back through the mental fog of years past, I think I purchased it at the Woolworths store in Catskill for a princely sum somewhere around three bucks.  I originally purchased it for what laughingly was called my home office, an old desk in the corner of my bachelor bedroom.  It soon migrated to my classroom and was screwed to a small piece of board making it mobile which made it a handy addition.  It whirred merrily sharpening generations of pencils.  It gradually became so dull that the pencils it worked on looked as though they had been attacked by a herd of angry beavers.  No problem, I disassembled it, stuck the circular blades in my electric drill and ran them backwards on a piece of sandpaper and they were good for another twenty years or so.  After I retired, the pencil sharpener went to live in my shop where pencils were still used.  I broke the lead in a pencil I was using to mark boards for the shed I’m building and went to the sharpener, turned the handle as usual and my old friend fell to pieces.  It was a fatal case of metal fatigue and there was no fixing it.  Realizing that I could no longer run to Woolworths for a replacement, I went on line, typed in the company name and added a dot com and up popped their  screen.  Modern technology at its best, there was a little search panel so I typed in the model number of my fateful old friend.  What to my wondering eyes should appear but a round plastic battery powered sharpener probably made in China out of recycled water bottles.  My worst fears were realized, my old friend was now “New and Improved”.  Why do they do that?  It seems to be happening to me more and more.  I find a product that I like and as soon as I get used to it, they change it or stop production of it.  I had a  sneaker brand that I really liked. I wore them for years so of course they stopped making them.  I sort of won on that one because I had ordered a pair that I put in the bottom of my closet just in case they pulled their stunt on me so I’m set for a few more years.  It seems that some companies start out with good intentions, they produce a good well made product and stick with it for awhile then some managerial type wants to sell more and impress the stock holders.  They can either use cheaper materials to make the thing or they can raise the price.  They usually do both which does make the stockholders happy but it’s not so good for those of us that use the thing.  I drove a Honda Element.  I loved it.  It was a family member.  I even gave it a name, Babe the Big Blue Box.  It could do everything I needed a vehicle to do.  Sure, it looked like a toaster but I could live with that.  Every Element owner I’ve met loves their car so what does Honda do to keep these satisfied owners coming back?  They stop making the Element.  They have a new and improved small SUV.  It’s pretty but they never got Babe away from me until it had traveled almost two hundred thousand miles. Some things just don’t need improving.

Thought for the week—If everything is coming your       way, You’re in the wrong lane.  –Steven Wright 

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.      

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