Friday, April 17, 2015

Old Technologies That Should Go

As Spring comes on full-force in VA, I find time between planting and pruning to get a lot of things fixed that I cannot mend myself. Just today, I picked up two pairs of boots from a cobbler (yes, I know where to find THREE such shops) and a rainproof jacket from the alterations section of my dry cleaners. The jacket, one I have used since 2006, had a ripped pocket-lining.

Other less frugal folks would just buy another jacket and new shoes. They might call me a spendthrift, noting "Joe! you paid $225 for getting two pairs of boots resoled!" Worth every penny, I'd reply. Both sets of boots, ones for the office, not farm, do feel great all day long, and they are in styles you will never find in shoe-stores nowadays. One pair is 20+ years old and drop-dead cool.

Of course, I might fairly be accused of hating change. The John Deere M I will use again this season to mow is 65 years old. The restoration and repaint are nearly done.

Fashion and my love of antique technologies aside, I do find that some older tech needs to perish from the earth. Here are a few examples, randomly.

Sweating Pipes: I never learned this art, one that threatens to engulf a home in flames if done poorly. I have to repair a run of copper in an outbuilding, and it's delightful to do that with push-to-seal copper fasteners that will also work with pex or pvc pipe. I predict that no American will have to melt solder into a pipe in a generation. I also predict the demise of copper pipe, generally. Pex is an amazing replacement, taking below freezing temperatures and offering flexibility that pvc never had.

Using AC fence chargers: I have no  desire to run underground lines to my electric fencing. I had the circuit board in my solar fence-charger fixed last year, after many years of good service. It's ready to go again.  I want things that are sustainable. I understand some systems use deep-cell Marine batteries to charge a fence. That's a better option than a buried line from the house, but I prefer to turn to the sun.

Pushing Around Gasoline-Powered Lawn Mowers: I have a talent for getting old gas mowers working well. I service my little fleet of four (!) annually. Two live here, trimming around walls and other spots I will not take a tractor; one lives at a home we rent; another lives at a country place that our friend Bunny mows for us so I can focus on thrice-annual bush-hogging of a large field.

That said, gasoline mowers are fussy, polluting machines. If one burns ethanol-addictive fuel, they need constant care to avoid trouble; I burn only eth-free gas in our small engines.

Home owners dispose of mowers at the first sign of trouble, unless they own a really fancy model.  With battery charges being what they are, why on earth won't we all use cordless electrics in a decade?

I'll predict autonomous mowers, too, outdoor versions of Roombas that will do work for suburbanites, much to the chagrin of neighborhood kids who mow lawns (do they still exist?), "mow-blow-and-go" services, male waistlines, and the occasional squirrel who fails to escape a lawn robot's blades.

So what other old technology needs to die, because we simply have better ways of doing things?

No comments:

Post a Comment