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days of  
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strung out 
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August 30, 1998  
  

Everything is broken:

Ode to an Appliance  

I should have known better.  

Everyone enjoys an opportunity to vent spleen and I was venting mine to the neighbor.  Over the course of 18 months we have had to replace every appliance in the entire house.  Every thing.  Aaaagggghhhhh!!!!  

Shortly thereafter I check the answering machine.  It's my sister-in-law.  The one who is driving my car.  Shit.  "There's a really loud noise coming from your engine..." and the rest was just kind of a blur.  

I had to speak of it.  I had to use the words "in the house".  
Oh my dear little econo-box that I have lovingly cared for and maintained.  My trusty steed of ten years and now I would have to put it out of it's misery.  

It all began with the washing machine.  We bought it and it's mate from a certain member of my wife's family (who will go unnamed).  Coin-op jobs from some apartment or something.  Washing machine dies.  Repair man laughs.  The only thing holding the insides of this together is the rust.  Whammo.  Ouch.  

And then the milk starts tasting not so good.  I get in the back of the bottom freezer section and find a giant sheet of ice towards the back of this no-defrost device.  One failed repair later and it's history.  Ka-ching.  (Whirlpool stock gains 2 1/4 and rising on the Dow.)  

Yeah, you got some kind of broken pipe inside dat hot water heater...usually this smooth, runny stuff comes off in the dishwasher, honey...what time yesterday did you start drying those clothes?...do you want us to take a look at your furnace while we're down here?...well, the outside of the oven is really hot, but the roast is kinda raw...this vacuum does not suck, which sucks.  

If this was a fight, the ref would have stepped in with the standing eight count long ago.  

I get attached to my stuff.  I see them as repositories of events and characters in my story.  I actually took videotape of the White-Westinghouse electric range before they took it away.  Do you know how many pots of Top Ramen and Far East chicken rice I must have cooked on that thing?  I didn't want it to "feel" that it had let us down; I wanted to say my goodbyes.  (Can you say "anthropomorphize"?  I think you can.)  And while I eagerly check out the features on the new one, I miss the little marks and stains that spoke of a history, a past.  

You can't really blame the hard working machines; in fact, they are one very real reason for optimism.  Think about it.  That refrigerator was working continuously for more than twenty years!  From the time a child was born until it was nearly graduated from college, this thing was keeping your provisions cool so you don't have to eat dried fish and canned vegetables all your life.  

It's common to romanticize the pre-Industrial society.  Self-reliance, communal tasks, blah-blah-blah.  But if you actually asked people who were doing that back-breaking, frequently isolating drudgery, I'm convinced they would embrace the modern appliance as a profound liberation.  

Those who like to refer to the government as "them" can learn a lesson here.  Energy efficiency wasn't on the radar until goals were set.  The manufacturers needed a kick in the pants.  While we still have a long way to go, we are consuming significantly less electricity per capita than in the Seventies.  That is a good thing.  

The new refrigerator has better insulation, a smarter design and a more efficient fan.  So much more that it will have paid for itself within seven years versus the energy consumption of the old one.  

So the next time you're pissed about the 400 mhz processor that just dropped another $100 or the hard drive that tanked in it's 3rd year, remember the big daddies of personal technology, the Kenmore that washed your tater tot plate for the 10,000th time and the Bryant that kicks on with the warm breezes in winter.  

It's not magic, it just feels like it.  And that helps a little when you're waxing nostalgic over the Electrolux and writing payment checks.  

 -Christopher  

p.s.  Step in a little closer to the fire and let me see you.  (I'm very good on the return e-mails all you shy people.  :-)  

p.p.s.  Seen "Something About Mary"?  The guy playing the guitar in the tree in the beginning is Jonathan Richman.  I made a completely ass of myself interviewing him a long time ago before he became a big movie star.

 
       
 

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previously on days of naze:  
clench  
interview with a madman   
an introduction ;  
 launch ; 

what have you done for me lately?  

Strung Out was added to the Classical Music Web Ring!  (still working on Karawynn...)

May you never be more active than   
when you are doing nothing.   

-Cato

in the feedbag:  


book:  Peter the Great by Robert Massie  Completely immersed in this one.  Tsar Alexis 
was Peter's father.  Any relation to Robert (or Peter), Alexis? 

web: Like my car, Rob's site rises phoenix-like from the ashes.  Yes!  
 

     

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