So far outside the box you can't even see the box from here.
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Friday, September 19, 2014
Choosing your complexity level
There is something to be said for simplicity -live stripped down to the basics. It's easy for things to get out of hand. The worse is labor saving devices.
Right now I'd rather hand wash dishes than deal with maintaining a dishwasher. When mine failed it was hauled to the dump and never replaced. Currently it's less hassle for me to wash dishes than deal with getting a new machine. That's a huge change for me. Once I moved apartments because the new apartment had a dishwasher.
People wonder why I don't own a snowblower. I'm too lazy to own a snowblower. Figure in the expense, maintenance and noise and I'd rather shovel. It's easier in the long run. I abandon my lower driveways and only use the ones with parking right next to the road. Less to shovel. Works for me.
The simplicity of the kitchen woodstove pleases me. No need for electricity, special thermostats, or expensive service plans. The oil furnace it replaced was modern and automatic. A whole symphony of pumps, blowers, motors and control electronics had to function flawlessly. A simple failure in any component and the automatic heat is no more. When new it worked well. Time has not be kind to all those little complex gadgets that make it go.
Sailing has taught me the value of simple robust systems. My boat might not have all the gadgets, but it has enough to be comfortable. All too often in my travels I see people sitting at the marina fixing water makers, heads, fancy electronics, electronic winches, refrigeration units, AC systems, and what not. I've talked to highly intelligent mechanically minded people who still find themselves overwhelmed with their boat's systems.
Then there are some things I've decided to learn to live with. My van is more complex than I like, but that's the cost of having a vehicle big enough to tow my boat. If it was just me I'd solve that problem by living on a boat, but my lovely wife is not ready for that. Life is full of little compromises. (It's simpler to please the wife)
I could go a long time without computers and the Internet. After all, I'm old enough to remember life without those things. Right now the usefulness of computers and the 'net outweigh the hassles. Even so, there are ways to simplify life. I'm using cheap laptop computers and Ubuntu as an operating system as it's very stable. The computers are cheap enough that I don't mind taking them apart and repairing the darn thing myself. After all, if I do fail another cheap computer is less money than many computer service calls.
Rarely in modern times does something equal the simplicity and utility of a Native American's birch bark canoe. With a few simple tools and locally available materials a native could construct a beautiful and extremely useful craft. Often he could build one so quickly that he'd abandon an old canoe rather that portage it. He could just build a new one when the came to the next water system.
Modern life is almost never so simple. That doesn't mean we have to accept every new gizmo that comes along. Rarely do they provide promised lifestyle improvement. Benefits are hyped. Costs are ignored.
I live in an area of NH known as the Great North Woods. I'm in my dome-i-cile out in the county with my lovely wife and a varying number of family and friends
-part red neck, part hippie but all country. Experimenting and enjoying the adventure of life.