These days in our ‘throwaway’ society one doesn’t really think about longevity in products. Other than appliances like dishwashers or laundry equipment which are designed to last 10 years or so, typically your average appliance may last 5-6 years if you’re fortunate.

A month ago my Boom speaker stopped charging. It’s a Bluetooth-enabled speaker I’ve had since 2013 when I bought one because it did all the things I needed a BT speaker for and it was water-resistant so it could be used in the shower.  Seeing as this is 2021, it managed to live for 8 years of use.  Pretty good for nowadays, IMO.  Unfortunately, the business that made it is no longer IN business, for whatever reason they went bankrupt, and their products are now made by another company.  Not this particular speaker, however, since I can’t find any reference to it on the new company’s website.  The only references to it I can find are reviews that were published in 2012, and someone is selling backstock on eBay, for a ridiculously low price compared to the $150 price point it was originally.  Me being me, I bought two of them from the eBay seller, just in case the ‘newer’ ones aren’t as sturdy as my old workhorse.  Can’t be too careful, right?

Naturally, this incident has caused me to think about all the other appliances and doodads I’ve had over the years that have managed to overcome their anticipated demise date.

  • The Kitchen-Aid mixer that I inherited from my mother-in-law, that was probably made in the 1950s or 60s and is still going strong.
  • The box fan that my parents bought in the 1970s and still works just fine.
  • The Conair hair dryer I got for Christmas while I was still in high school that still runs fine, though more likely it still works because I use it so infrequently.
  • The metal power strip that my parents bought for me when I went away to college in 1983 and has outlived and outlasted dozens of plastic ones we’ve had since.
  • The wood and canvas director’s chairs that I inherited from my parents.  Canvas seats last nearly forever if you don’t allow them to get wet, or if you do, you make sure that you don’t leave them wet so the canvas rots.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.  The old adage “they don’t make things like they used to” is spot on anymore.  Certainly one will find solely American-made products seem to outlast their contemporaries, for the most part.  Yes, I know there are many American-made items that don’t last very long, but I challenge you, dear reader.  Go to an antique store and find something that was made in the USA during the period of 1920 to say 1975.  I’ll wager if you were to plug it in (or not if it wasn’t electrical) or use it, it would, by and large, outdistance its 21st-century replacement.

What’s your favorite?

I was on Facebook the other day, poking around when I happened to stumble upon a post from a co-worker asking her friends to reveal their favorite songs. This co-worker is presently laid up and off work due to multiple herniated discs and may not be returning to work until next year depending on whether or not they can be rectified by surgery or other methods.

A couple of her friends posted in response but one seemed not to be able to understand why she wished to know the information, or was hesitant to share. I took the opportunity to insert my .02, saying that it was a way to pass the time, when one is off work and sitting at home either healing or biding their time to get back to work, anything can be a diversion. So offer your favorite song, with a link, what’s the harm?

To bolster my point, I offered up my favorite from the 1970’s, at least one of them. Having lived this long, I just don’t have one favorite that is far and away above all others. I recently found a version of it from 2018 that was pretty amazing. One of the front men of the group collaborated with a youth orchestra and choir and managed to transform the music into something very different from its original tone and version.

So, for your perusal and enjoyment, I give you the upscale version of Styx’s ‘Fooling Yourself’ by Tommy Shaw and the Contemporary Youth Orchestra.

So, that’s mine. What’s yours?

My music preferences

A long time ago someone asked me to describe my music preferences.  The best word I could come up with was ‘eclectic’,  meaning; “deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.”    That pretty much sums up my preferences in a nutshell.

I mean, for someone who likes country & western, but not necessarily country music that’s come out in the last 10 years or so, more of the 20th century variety.  Other forms of music that appeal to me are ones like: folk, Irish, bagpipe music, Calliope music, contemporary, classical, and even yes, there are some operas I enjoy listening to.  Like many, I might not always understand the libretto given that they’re usually in a foreign language (like Italian), but it doesn’t make me like it any less.

Even though I consider myself an atheist (at one time I believed I was agnostic, but after taking a long hard look at what an agnostic was, and what an atheist really is, I changed my view to being a confirmed atheist) I grew up in a religious family.  I was baptized and confirmed into the Dutch Reformed Church where I grew up, and only started having serious questions about the whole religion thing when my parents began to suffer greatly from two separate issues (alcoholism and Alzheimer’s) which really brought the whole issue home to me.  I’m only relating this because I used to sing in church choir (tenor/baritone) and still very much enjoy religious music.  I don’t see a problem in liking the music, just because it comes from a religious bent.  It’s still good music, regardless of the message attached.

I’ve always been musically inclined.  I played trumpet and cornet in grade school and high school, sang in the choir both in middle and high school (as well as participated in a barbershop quartet in high school).  Come college, I sang both in the main choir as well as the ‘select’ choir that one had to audition for.  I’ve participated in concerts at West Point as well as Annapolis, traveled to West Germany, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand, Washington DC, toured Florida and even sang at Walt Disney World, having seen the subterranean tunnels underneath the park where performers come and go in order to get to their assigned places.  Certainly one instrument that I’d love to learn to play is the banjo, but unfortunately I have an issue with my hands, but my inability to be able to turn my hands palm up prevents me from being able to properly ‘fret’ chords on a banjo’s neck.  I’ve tried many times to make it work, but I just can’t turn my wrists enough to get my fingers in the right places comfortably.  At present I own two banjos that I can’t play, but I can’t bear to part with them either.  Though in the future I probably need to.  Give them good homes, where they can participate and be able to play good music.

Even though I might listen to the occasional heavy metal tome (while I was still in high school, a classmate of mine had an affinity for Guns & Roses and I actually for a while listened to a good deal of their music, but besides ‘Paradise City’ ‘Sweet Child of Mine’  I wasn’t overly enamored or sold on it) for the most part, I would say more modern music is sort of lost on me.  Yes, I listened to Vanilla Ice, and some rap music has a nice beat to it, but I definitely am not a fan of most of what’s out there.  Boy bands?  Eh, never really bothered.  Same goes for grunge.  I’m sure artists like Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse et al were amazing, but none of their stuff really got to me.  Billy Joel though…or Gordon Lightfoot.  Amazing.  And don’t get me started on the Bellamy Brothers.

And just to give you a chuckle, I even liked Hooked on Classics.  Go figure.