My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Longevity & Self-Reliance, a rant

I enjoy good things that last. Unfortunately, those things are becoming harder and harder to find. We are constantly pressed for time, pleased with things that do a single purpose for a short lifespan, and buying things we know are crap because we know that we can buy another when the first one wears out. This is not something that I do well.

For instance, I own several Old Navy shirts (both button-up long-sleeves shirts and t-shirts). These things are disposable and inexpensive enough not to really hurt the wallet. But they seem to sap my dignity and are just another thing that I am going to end up adding to the world’s landfills sooner than I would like. Moreover, what I find strange is that there are better options out there that last three times as long for just a little more money, and we completely ignore them because their price tag is a few dollars more. So I have decided that I will no longer buy clothes for myself from places like Old Navy.

Let’s look at t-shirts. Now you can buy a decent t-shirt at Target (sorry, I don’t shop at Wal-Mart) for around $7.50, but for an addition five bucks you can get a Land’s End Performance t-shirt at Sears. What’s the difference? Well, the Land’s End resists fading, pilling, wrinkling, and shrinkage while most stains are either repelled or wash out very easily. It also has covered neck seam, reinforced shoulders, sewn side seams, and is tapered down the sides to make you look thinner. So not only is it a better shirt, but it will last you many time more than the cheapy one that you saved a measly five buck on.

This is also true with groceries. I have no idea why someone would buy produce, canned products, frozen vegetables, or meats that are of substandard quality just so that they can pretend that they’re eating well. If your tomatoes have no flavor, your bargain brand soups taste like dishwater, and your frozen dinner is as appetizing as the box it came in, then why the hell are you buying it? I guess the argument here is that sooner or later you will just get accustom to crap and think that it’s normal. This is both sad and an insult to your life.

Before you scold me for telling you the obvious choice of buying good quality over cheap crap, please remember that I’m doing so for sheer lazy reasons. Because along with having clothes that stay looking new and clean easily, I also think that we should all invest in products that give us more time to enjoy life on a higher level. An example? Okay, take my Roomba. It is a robot vacuum cleaner that vacuums and sweeps the floors when I’m not home. The air cleaners keep the house relatively dust-free and the Tivo records the shows or movies so that I can watch them at my own leisure. Add these to things like my dress shirts that are stain-resistant and wrinkle-free, and the little things in my life take care of themselves.

All of this is more important when you look at the bigger picture. Sure my two current vehicles have a combined mileage of almost 600,000 miles (now I’m bragging), but it is the investment in things that leads to a tendency to spread to the rest of life. When you start to look at things from a longer term perspective, you habits change. You will start to see objects as investments meant to make your life easier and better. Friends will be something you cultivate so that you can keep them for decades. And your mind, your beautiful mind, will not be wasted on things as mundane as housework. Most importantly, you will view the earth as something to leave better off than you found it.

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