New Stuff!

To take a break from all the ranting about stuff that upsets me (I do like things, I do, really), here’s an idle slice-of-life with the main purpose of not messaging a bunch of the same pictures to a bunch of different friends. And because, when one is as frugal as I tend to be, finally getting around to spending some money on nice things is cause for (minor) celebration.

It’s not that I’m cheap — at least I don’t think I am. I’m more than willing to spend plenty of money, but only on things that make sense to me. I don’t cut corners on vacations, for instance. They’re rare enough to be worth going all out; stay in a nice hotel; eat in nice places. But I have no urge towards getting the latest, greatest, fastest whatever. “Works for me,” is kind of a personal ethic.

Anyway, I finally bought a new dining room table set. And got a new driveway.

When I transferred from Los Angeles to the Twin Cities (of Minneapolis and Saint Paul), I realized I needed some new furniture. I’m not sure why I didn’t just wait until I’d moved; maybe because I knew the stores in Los Angeles, maybe it just didn’t occur to me.

I bought a small, octagon-shaped “dining room” table — really it was more of a poker table. Particle board with a wood veneer, cheap metal legs, I only paid $149 for it back in 1984.

That darn thing lasted all this time. Lasted through all five locations here (apartment, townhouse, marriage house, divorce rental condo, current condo). As beat up as it is — many spills, many gouges, all four legs lost their feet — it’s still serviceable and has the advantage that further damage to it is in the “don’t really care” category.

But it is a beat up piece of crap. (Best $149 I ever spent, though.)

Back in September the Condo Association had all our old asphalt drives ripped out so we could get new ones. But weeks of bad weather delayed their return for about a month, and I was worried it would snow!

I’ve been thinking for years I oughta get a new table. I almost did when I bought a new couch quite a few years back, but only bought four chairs from the set. In retrospect, glad I did; the table was mostly iron with a tiled top. Not really my style. The chairs have been fine, and I did need them.

For a variety of reasons lately, I’ve been looking to make some changes in my life, both in terms of myself and in terms of my place. I really do lean towards anti-materialism, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a few nice things (so long as they’re functional and necessary).

But, once the weather did get nicer, they finally came back, and now we have new driveways. That we can’t drive on for a week or park on for two. But shoveling snow from a nice smooth driveway will be wonderful!

As one example, I’ve been using the same laptop (with Windows Vista!) since about 2003. Why? Because it met my needs. It works.

It’s only because Firefox stopped supporting Windows Vista that I decided it was time to upgrade. (Microsoft stopped supporting Vista a while back.) So I ordered a Dell laptop that’s on its way. Gonna jump all the way to Windows 10 in one big leap!

I was worried, because this is what I woke up to Sunday! Fortunately, it had all melted by that afternoon, and then it warmed up again, but when I woke up and looked outside Sunday morning… Yikes!

One thing I’ve been slow to get used to is the business of ordering new stuff online. I have belonged to book and CD clubs, so it’s not totally alien, but the idea of buying without first seeing and touching is still new to me.

So ordering furniture online seems downright weird!

Yet I find myself, more and more, withdrawing from a world that increasingly seems to have no place for me and mine anymore. (If it ever really did.) My values and perceptions seem very much not the values and perceptions of the world.

I’ve realized that if asked to, in one word, name my experience of the world (since about 2000), that word would have to be “disappointing.” Maybe that’s worth a future post, but for now I’ll leave it there.

Point is, I decided I could improve the quality of my material life a bit, and continue to avoid a world that I think deeply, truly sucks, by biting the bullet and ordering stuff online. (I’m even considering ordering my groceries that way. I’m sick of my local Cub not having the bread I want.)

My new table and (four) chairs. They just showed up like magic at my front door. (Of course, by “magic” I mean online credit card magic.)

The very obvious thing about ordering online is the selection.

One place people vary a lot is in how willing they are to search for either bargains or the “perfect” item.  Studies have shown that some people experience considerable stress worrying about not getting the lowest price or exactly the thing they wanted.

“Assembly Required!”

I’m on the opposite side of that spectrum. Typical guy shopper, I walk into a store and as soon as I find something that basically meets the need, I buy it, and I’m done. Cheaper across town? Screw that!

On the other hand, I’ve started ordering my stamps online (because I still pay my bills the old-fashioned way with cheques and envelopes and stamps), and I love being able to browse through and pick some really fun stamps (like stamps shaped like baseballs).

The packaging sure generates a lot of recycle stuff. Lots of cardboard and every part was enclosed in those weird plastic bags.

Ordering online seems to offer the best of all worlds for someone like me: The ability to (very effortlessly) shop around for what you want; not having to go out and deal with traffic and other pains; taking my time, no sales pressure, no sales person hovering around; having stuff delivered…

I suppose some readers are chuckling to themselves about how oblivious I’ve been all this time. Fair point, I do tend towards oblivion when it comes to many aspects of modern living and, especially, technology.

And now I have a much nicer, much bigger, dining room table! Time (in the near future) for a little dinner party now that I can seat six!

It’s definitely deliberate. I find much of modern technology, and modern society, alienating and stupid. I’m glad to see we’re slowly, oh, so slowly, beginning to wake up to its dark side.

Consider the new trend in software designed to limit, or at least record, how much you use your screens. The newest version of Apple’s operating system adds a Screentime app for this.

And there seems a return to the idea of cellphones that are, mostly, just cell phones, no apps, just SMS text messaging.

That would be the phone for me. I still have my analog flip phone, and while it still works, battery life is terrible after all these years. Definitely time for an upgrade, but I just want another flip phone, not a smart phone.

Guess I’ll have to go online and start “shopping around.”

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

2 responses to “New Stuff!

  • AthenaC


    Not sure when you moved here, but I’m a recent transplant to the Twin Cities myself and I couldn’t be happier.

    Hope you enjoy a good, solid winter experience!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Oh, I’ve lived here since 1984, so it’ll be 35 years this coming spring. Winter is an old friend. (Plus I lived here in the 1960s before moving to Los Angeles in 1967. That the company offered me a transfer back here was ironic! 🙂 )

      Glad you’re liking it here! It’s a pretty great place to live. The only thing I miss is the ocean and fresh seafood. We’re about as far away from an ocean as you can get in this country!

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