Living Frugally, with Purpose and Style: the New Conserver
From the book The New Conserver
After five years on one smart phone that was increasingly malfunctioning, I basically had no choice but to seek a replacement unit. I am old enough to remember using rotary phones – those retrospectively rather beautiful units that actually functioned, more or less, unless the lines were down – and worked for years at times without need of replacement.
My phone cord for my smart phone was in shreds. The unit turns on and off by itself quite a bit.
However, my new phone is clearly a piece of crap meant to go obsolete sometime next year. Because I am a bit of a klutz, bought the phone cover. I see the quality of the phone cover decreased quite a bit. The tacky feeling is gone – now it’s smooth and seems like it will fall from my hand a lot easier. The new cord is only four feet, so I basically cannot use a low wall outlet and a normal height table because the cord is too short. It feels more like tinfoil and I can see it’s not meant to last more than a year or two – given the quality is about 50% of the old one. Basically, it’s not meant to travel. You can’t coil it without damaging it, since the inner material bends on itself easily. The plastic casing is easily damaged.
Worst of all, the phone is getting super hot now as I charge it. That is what my old phone did on its bad days and what seemed to lead to it’s demise. It would get hot and go haywire.
Also, why would I be so stupid as to fry my brain by having what feels like an 80 degree unit at my ear for any length of time? (It is definitely hot to the touch.)
Given my network quality and phone quality were so poor, I had already diverted back to a land line. Thank goodness for that. But I need these devices for my work.
When I was there, I was pushed the $700 model, of course. Maybe the benefit is a real cord, functional case models, and avoiding cell phone brain fry as the unit would not overheat for at least another year or two since they give you another year or two’s worth of phone for the price? I mean the corporate planners would be deciding this – as they make products with a planned obsolesce timeline. That is why it does not matter much if I tell you which phone or company I am even talking about. This is just acceptable business practice and the we vote ‘yes’ it is ‘okay’ because we keep participating when we buy crappy products and expect to buy new crappy products and even possibly look forward to it.
Mostly I am appallingly amazed that we buy this crap and accept that it is disposable. The cost is rather incredible also. And we happily jump on board with paying some corporate $25-30 a month for some device and happily do it (and then more for the service fees). As wages fall, what we do make is committed to ridiculous month-to-month technology service contracts. And these Wetiko corporations will happily drain our pockets as we daze off into our tiny youtube screen and dream our lives away while we gorge on addictive crappy unnecessary junk foods and tell ourselves we ‘deserve’ it and that somehow we also enjoy it.
Is it just me, or are the requirements and marketing demands getting stranger by the minute? I love to complain about Social Media and here I go again…
Case in point. Have to call the Obama quest for office the ‘cult of personality’ – in that, that is what carried him through to office. Meanwhile, Clinton was perceived as some kinda old dinosaur cause her use of social media was not outstanding.
Well, hate to say I was right, cause I really, really hoped I was wrong. But clearly there was no correlation between efficacy at social media and efficacy at presidency. It’s been a painful eight years or so to watch this slow mo disaster in the making. I hope we can collectively learn from this major blunder in trusting that social media savvy meant policy savvy, cause I sure do not see it. Clinton, on the other hand, rocks at policy – that to me is top notch, in terms of what we need moving forward.
Another real life case in point, in my local neighborhood – there is this restaurant where the food is pretty bland and oddly prepared at times. Yet, read Yelp! and you’d think you were in for a gourmet experience (even though it’s a burger joint with super expensive drinks (which happens to have a somewhat captive customer base, based on location)). Examples – they actually nuked regular cheese on my fries and called it cheese fries. Barely edible – in fact I left most of it behind. The grilled cheese went from like 6 tablespoons of butter to zero. That’s right – the bread is 100% dry. But something like 500 people give them top ratings. Weird…. So knowing this, I’ll be sticking to the Zagat.
This rant originates from my need to add about 100 acquaintances to my professional network profile to ensure my numbers look competitive. More like 350 if I am really honest with myself. I’d rather be working on a website, designing, coding, working on marketing issues for my clients, etc. As a small business of my type, I will likely have about 5 -17 clients at most, but in order to obtain new clients, I have to look like a mover and shaker and schmoozer – like I have 350 clients, while if I actually did, my business would be very different – much more focused on quantity, not quality. Somehow that ensures I’ll be great at strategy, design, marketing and coding, which are largely more introverted – not extroverted – pursuits. Go figure…
A year or so back, I was the lucky recipient of a gift card. It’s not exactly easy to get to the particular physical location so I was keen to just use the value up.
Ended up with like eight of these small bread pans, thinking when I got home, hmmm, maybe that was silly.
It turns out that these little pans have been incredibly useful. I’ve taken to using them for storing single-serve frozen meals that I can easily stick in the freezer.
In this case, I do first take a layer of Saran Wrap to cover the food in order to help prevent freezer burn, followed by a top layer of tin foil. Not sure how long this keeps the food; generally I try not to leave these in the freezer too long, especially dishes with cheese, but so far I’ve been pretty pleased with the results all around. I used to store things in jars or tupperware, and then I’d end up throwing things out since I’d have to wait through a bit of defrosting time, then inevitably I seem to get distracted between taking the food out and actually heating it up. This just works a lot better for me – I think of it, I take it out, I put it in the oven – skipping the step of having to maneuver the frozen food from jar to pot.
I’ve definitely developed a pet peeve against mops over the years. I think I used to use one myself, but realize it just seems a lot more effective to run a towel or yes, paper towels (especially if I am in a hurry) over the floor on my hands and knees.
Once upon a time, I lived with a person who insisted on using a mop and tons of pinesol and inevitably, I would feel the need to reclean the floor, or at least the smelliest areas, by hand after he finished, on the sly.
So I thought it was excellent to learn via a news story one day on NPR that the mopping industry itself knows that mops don’t work – hence the birth of the Swiffer – or whatever that product is called where you put disposable sheets on a pole.
My recommendation is to find some old thin towels, and cut these into about one foot square pieces. Then use this collection of towel rags to clean your floor since they can be tossed in a machine for washing pretty easily afterward.
My 20 year is coming up! Not in terms of being in car, but at least owning one. I moved to a big city to live car free. I wouldn’t necessarily say its gotten any easier here to be without a car. Train fare has just about doubled since I moved here! I was on a couple of the popular train lines here lately, and boy are people still packed in!
My neighbors think I am crazy to live here without a car. And – to their point – the neighborhood walkability index is quite low for a major city. Additionally, the neighborhood is considered a food desert.
Now, to help that out, they are putting in a big box store — the opposite direction from train into downtown, on a car-infested area by the highway — as a ‘solution.’ Laughably – a car-and-driven driven solution and overall aethsthetic. The very genericism I sought to escape by moving to my beloved and (theoretically) good for car-free people city.
Alas, the suburbs encroachment looms…. So why bother living here at all (I ask myself) if it’s turning into some car-infested nightmare, where now my pleasant walk to the train turns into double-laned, congested, smelling, bad for our intelligence car hell where a bunch of delay-hostile drivers will run down the ped walks? Thanks oh ye brilliant, forward thinking city planners!! Let us all drive ourselves to our deaths, morally, physically, ecologically!
Okay, let’s hope I am wrong about this and my total and utter cynicism…we will see. But I vow that I will not be setting food in said hideous big box store, where all clothes seemed to be produced for some giant race of people who have grown due to driving too much – and the circle continues. I hope to continue to be able to walk to the small grocery nearby that has fresh food – a pleasant experience where my grocer literally knows my name. I pray that this big box ‘solution’ does not drive my one great local source of food out of business.
Here is a tip in terms of cutting down on use of plastic. Try using a plate to cover your food, especially if you are storing it in a bowl in the fridge. I am not going to comment on which is better, safer, etc., just saying it seems to work pretty well for me when I use a heavy ceramic plate.
This morning I came across a posted entitled, “Does it seem like you spend the majority of your time (or money!) on content creation?”
Reminded me again of a little pet peeve I have these days with the general state of marketing – suddenly, each of us is now responsible for keeping up on this site, the other site, tweets, Facebook, blog posts, etc., etc.
What kills me more is that rarely are my small business clients willing to pay me to do these things. In fact, the most successful professional I know of in SM does training, rather than agency type work. These services start to look cost prohibitive due to their ongoing nature.
And when it comes to intimate little posts about your business, can you really outsource this stuff? Maybe quality doesn’t matter anyway – if you are sitting around writing all day, do you think I’ll be nitting over your grammar on your old tweets? More likely I’ll be too busy looking for my 1000 new twitter friends to actually read 1000 sets of posts…
But back to my actual point, which I haven’t even brought up yet. Is this SM mentality doing anything for the economy? Does the gain from the stealth few offset the costs of having many creative productive people now spending some portion of their day digging around for anything to write, with much of the output simply being regurgitation of news stories?
Does this not create yet another barrier to the successful of ALL small businesses, if this is perceived as compulsory? Because if you are actually focusing on the full range of media, it is time consuming. Let’s say you spend two hours a day, week days only, on average futzing around on Facebook, about 480 hours per year, or 12 work weeks, or 3 productive months of your year. That is one big chunk of time!
So this leaves me inclined to believe we are all collectively wasting our time in a big way. Yes, there are exceptions, but overall – Facebook in and of itself is a huge drag on the economy. And more weirdly, we create all this content and who is going to benefit most? Big business. Facebook. Google. Because they are in control of this data once you put it in their hands. And they care about their business, not yours. And have you noticed how many businesses Google is in these days? Many, many folks. Google is now going into the phase of morphing itself into a giant ‘walled garden.’ They no longer even share key phrase search data with other entities. Surficially this is good for the individually user’s privacy. That is – if you had any to start with, which you don’t. What this is best for is Google and their new information monopoly which is carrying them across numerous online products.
Sort of like network TV. There is the megalomania notion of being everything to the user. So I think we are definitely now in the dark ages of Google. You might as well use Bing. Microsoft and Google are now probably about just equally good, equally evil. And a recent user test showed Bing’s results were preferred 2 to 1.
These days I’ve had to start doing the following:
search term -facebook -twitter -blog
when I actually want to get some quality, in-depth, useful search results on Google. So I’ve just stopped using it for Bing, which does seem much better – hurray!
What about getting back to real notions of value creation? Making and providing a service of value? And what does proficiency at such things have to do with proficiency at social media?
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