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Managing Projects Rather Than BEING Managed

Recently I have been helping somebody on projects with their house. It has made me appreciate how short-lived most consumer crap is, these days. That is not exactly news, but the extent of the problem is appalling. Especially electronics and plastics.

Neither of these two categories is very repairable to the average person. In contrast, wooden things are wonderfully repairable. 

When working with older houses you have a chance to notice another syndrome: 'mission  creep!' You start off to address a specific symptom and then one thing is connected to the next thing; and in no time, you have stepped into a quagmire. You have almost forgotten the original symptom!

The more experienced the handyman gets, the better he gets at seeing this syndrome almost in advance! That is what I find perversely fascinating: with hardly any solid evidence, the handyman is already "smelling" a quagmire coming on.

(What exactly is happening there? It is probably similar to the pattern recognition of someone working on a jigsaw puzzle.)

How far will the trend go towards disposable electronics and plastic consumer crap? As a consumer I am becoming more wary of certain maintenance issues, such as zippers, electrical connectors, rubber gaskets, and plastic stress points.

In fact, I can't even communicate pleasantly with the salesperson or most consumers because they are just 'eating their meal with their eyes.' Meanwhile my eyes are squinty and suspicious, as they scrutinize the weak spots in the product.

I shocked a young salesman at Walmart recently by pointing out how unreliable a certain style of power switch is, on laptops. You could read disbelief on his face. In fact, one should never turn on/off cheap electronic crap with its own power button: just let it 'sleep' or unplug it from a terminal strip. Plugs and terminal strips can be replaced inexpensively.


Actually it was funny. Here's this young dude who thinks he knows a little about gadgets, that is, he knows some jargon and the Latest & Greatest trends, and what coolest product is. And then there is this crotchety old buzzard standing in front of him complaining about how the 2-cent power switch needs to be upgraded to a 3-cent switch -- otherwise the product is useless!

The same paranoia is justified for the automatic lens cover or telescoping barrels of point-and-shoot cameras: imagine how fragile the plastic mechanisms are! That is why I won't even buy another camera.