Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

I have often extolled my old friend, Walt Wagener, as one who is expert at “blooming where he’s planted.” Once when I did so, Helen said, “I want to bloom BEFORE I’m planted.” So I started writing a book of meditations for old people, sort of like my book for cancer patients. I called it BLOOM BEFORE YOU’RE PLANTED. I was never able to get an agent or publisher to be interested in the idea, though, so I’m now using some of the “chapters” for that book in this blog.
I LIKE OLD STUFF              T, 3-7-1

I got two new halogen lamps for Christmas.

“I sort of like my old lamps,” I said.

“These are an improvement. They burn brighter, last longer, and take less energy, thus cutting down on the electricity bill and being better for the environment.”

That sounded nice.

The instructions said one must always wear gloves when touching a halogen bulb, since human contact would cause such bulbs to explode and put out your eyes. Oh, also wear eye protection whenever handling these bulbs. Also, never use any size but the one listed, or unspecified bad things, such as spinal meningitis and squirrel bites, may result.

The desk lamp version of my two new lamps did not have a bulb with it. I went to two discount stores, a department store, and a hardware store, prepared to handle bulbs, equipped with several pair of different types of gloves, just to be on the safe side. None had the right size bulb. I drove 60 miles to a specialty electric store. They didn’t have the right size, but they could order one and I could come back in a few days to pick it up. What kind did I need?

“I just told you.”

“No, not the watt/volt size. The kind. They have different lengths and ends.”

“You mean they don’t just all screw in, like old bulbs?”

“No, this is an improvement. You have to know what kind of end it has.”

The next trip I took the lamp with me. The man looked at it. He called a young woman to look at it.

“Yes, we can get you one of those.”

The trip after that, they had the bulb. It cost six times what a regular bulb of the same size costs.

Wearing gloves, we tried several angles to get it to stay in place. “Oh, by the way,” say the instructions, “don’t get this bulb more than four degrees off horizontal or killer bees may strike and you’ll never have grandchildren.” 

It finally stayed in place. It didn’t work. We called the mail order place from whence it came.

“We’ll send you a bulb,” they said.

It came. We wore glove and eye protection. We tipped the lamp no more than four degrees. Accidentally, the bulb got into the groove and stayed there. We flipped the switch. It didn’t work. We called that place again.

“It must be a defective lamp. We’ve had some problems with that batch. We’ll mail you a new one and you can send that one back in the same box.”

It’s now two months since that conversation. No new lamp has arrived. It’s six months since Christmas.

Remember that I said I received two lamps for Christmas? The floor model had a bulb, but it just burned out, having lasted about as long as the old incandescent type. I bought another one at the hardware store. They even had the right size and end-type. It cost only ten times what the old, unimproved bulb would have cost. I haven’t replaced it because I can’t find my gloves.

Now my computer has “extension problems,” and is in the shop, so I type this at my desk, on my old typewriter, in the dark.

I’m old. I know my time is limited. I could live another twenty years and never make up in saved electricity what it’s cost me in time, mileage, telephone calls, and frustration to use this “improved” technology.

I’ve come to dread Christmas and my birthday and Father’s Day, because I know someone will give me something that’s “improved” over what I’ve already got. They love me, I’m sure, but is this any way to treat a loved one?

The time I’ve got left is too valuable and too limited to spend it on trying to get improved stuff to work.

We’re not “old fogies” because we don’t like new stuff. We’re just practical about how to use our time. I like old, reliable stuff, stuff I know will work. Stuff like me, and you.

John Robert McFarland

I tweet as yooper1721.

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