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Simple Solutions are Better

There are some people in my life I’d describe as ubergeeks. By comparison, I’m almost a Luddite. To me, using more technology to do something that was previously relatively straightforward is just more trouble than it’s worth (not to mention some other, less kind adjectives), and it usually requires more materials to be wasted and more energy to be consumed. They rave about the “convenience” and “safety” of radio frequency chips and how nice it is to have automatic deadbolts on their homes’ doors. All I can think is that I’m not really convinced I want to implant these chips in my skin (their first choice for “convenience”) or put them in my clothing, my wallet, my purse just so I can “easily” open the door, “No more fumbling with a key,” – though if you don’t go the implant route you still have to passing your chip in whatever it’s on or in over that reader like an idiot until it’s picked up, depending on the range and the setup. (When the power goes out there’s a backup battery, when you lock yourself out there’s a backup key hidden somewhere, when the door needs pulling to actually get the bolt to slide into place, well, rejigger the door. And it’s all safe, remember, never mind the increasing skittishness by scientists and health agencies on cell phones and wireless networks and other things that require waves to be passing through the air, through our bodies, to make our lives convenient – and maybe cancerous, the jury’s still out, and probably will be for decades.)

Anyhow, Luddite and anti-consumer that I am, I look for the simple solution as often as possible and won’t buy something if it’s not up to my specs. If I can’t find a product that does what I want, I learn to live without rather than waste my hard-earned money. I complain, to the great annoyance of my ubernerd, shop for fun and distraction friends and family, about how poorly designed things are. My latest annoyance is that the apartment we moved into has one of these stupid built in drain covers, the type that turns and falls into place. This is probably not such a big deal if you have short hair, but if you have long hair, like I do, it posed a problem when the drain got clogged after a couple of months. The drain cover also leads to slower drainage in the first place, because it physically blocks the flow, so a clog becomes annoying that much faster. I asked for advice from people with similar drains. What I got was, “Mine just twists off,” which was no help to me. But worse, “I just use Drano,” and “You know there’s not really a bunch of chemicals in there, it’s mostly just pieces of aluminum that cut through the clog.” And I thought, but didn’t say, “Great, sharp pieces of aluminum (which may or may not lead to dementia if you’re using it as a deodorant or drinking out of it) in the water supply, along with everything else.” I also had experience with Drano and knew it was a poor substitute for just getting out the rubber gloves and reaching into the drain and pulling out the hair. You have to use it more frequently, and it’s not much of a leap to think that the aluminum cutting the clog, hair especially, might mean the hair is getting trapped somewhere further down the line, creating, at some point in the future, a much harder to reach clog. I Googled, trying to figure out how to remove the particular type of drain cover I’ve got. I dismissed someone’s humorously phrased suggestion that you just use the plunger, thinking, for some reason, that a plunger wouldn’t work on a drain with this type of drain cover, though I knew plungers to be useful on bath tub drains in general. Well, eventually, I got annoyed. My eyesight’s not the best, and I don’t have tools to get to a screw underneath something in a tight space. I used the plunger. And it worked. Now I don’t have to buy Drano or put more foreign crap than I already do into our lakes and streams. Unfortunately, my reliance on land lines and plungers really isn’t making me popular with my tech-embracing friends, but that’s another problem altogether.

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