Tag Archives: usefulness

You Get What You Pay For

While I haven’t written here for a while, I feel an update is definitely due.  This is not that update. :-/

.

I’m writing to extol the virtues of the Local Hardware Store which will heretofore be referred to by the acronym LHS.

.
Big Box Stores (BBS) like Lowes, Home Depot, Friedmans, Amazon…They have everything a consumer could possibly need! It’s cheaper than going to that little store on the corner, right?  Plus, they present options beyond your wildest dreams, right? How could an LHS compete with the shear magnitude and inventory at one of these places? However, I’ve proven again and again that, in the long run, getting something at your LHS is a lot less expensive than the cheaper big-box store.
.
To wit.
.
We’ve been dealing with a tricky septic situation here on the ranch for the past month or so, and it finally looks like it might be resolved in the near future. I needed some pretty specialized items and went to Maselli’s, our beloved LHS.  Upon walking in, one of the owners (actually, I’m not sure if he is an owner, but he certainly takes ownership and knows everything) asked if I needed help.  It felt a little like if a major league ball player asked if I needed help with my curve ball.
.wpid-20140404_130524.jpg
YES! I DO! I told him exactly what I needed, and he showed me to the PVC fittings.  I picked out what I thought I needed, asked a few more questions about possible hacks for a flotation ball that popped off the septic pump (I’m currently using a tennis ball…which everyone approved of) and went to check out.  The guy at check out noticed that I had grabbed two different pipe fittings, though they were both three inches in diameter.  He explained that one is for drains, and the other for pressurized systems, and pointed out that the drainage one was noticeably smaller.  Then I held up my pipe, and he asked if I had all purpose glue.  “Regular PVC glue won’t work?”  No, apparently my pipe isn’t the regular type of PVC, so I ran back and got the “290” glue like he said and came back to finish checking out.  He further mentioned that my pipe plug was 6”, just in case, and I told him it was for a different project completely.  He nodded and wished me a good luck.
.
This visit to Maselli’sMead Clarke, or my childhood LHS, Smith and Strebels, would have been the same.  The professionals throughout the store offered their specialized help, and the checkout people knew what they were looking at and helped troubleshoot my problem before I had one!
.
Based on previous experiences in the BBS’s, I can imagine I would have wandered around without any help, left with different size fittings (even though they’re both three inches), inappropriate glue, and the wrong size pipe-plug.  I’d get home, try all my fittings, glue the ones that did work with the wrong glue, spend time figuring out where I went wrong,  ask Google perhaps, call dad, go back to the store and, after about eight hours, maybe get it right the second time.  Instead, I solved it all the same day with the friendly, non-judgmental help from some real pro’s who love helping other people DIY.
.
So yes, BBS’s are cheaper if you don’t count time and frustration.  The prices are lower and so is the quality.  We’ve decided, unequivocally that buying something at an LHS for a little more money, makes up for the time, gas, and soul-drainage spent frequenting BBS’s.
.wpid-20140404_130814.jpg
For the sake of length I’ve refrained from enumerating my BBS follies, and LHS triumphs, but would love to hear about yours! Go LHS!

 

Advertisements

And the Drums Play On. Part I

I sold my drum set today.  It now sits tuned and disassembled in the trunk of an Outback.wpid-20130826_081011.jpg

Selling this drum set was hard for me.  Not because nobody wanted it, but because I didn’t want to let it go!  Why IS that!?  I haven’t played it professionally since 2005, and it’s been sitting un-tuned and un-played since then.  I told myself it’s just an object when in reality it meant much more than that.

When I was 9, I started playing basic rock rhythms but as I matured I needed to figure out how to make new, complex sounds to reflect the world around me.  Not only are drums interactive instruments in how you tune and play them, but as you explore different tuning, pitch diversity and sound quality, you begin to think in unexpected ways, too. The world around me became an interactive sound playground (to the chagrin of many) that could be adjusted and tailored to what I was trying to express.

This tailoring also relied on a mechanical exploration of objects.  What does that log sound like if I hit it with my hiking stick and how can I cut/notch/sand it to make a different sound?  How about an old oil drum or some PVC pipe? My drum teacher kept sticks in his car at all times, and revealed to me that his dashboard had excellent rebound and was a very lively (and quiet) surface to practice on.  

This is the essence of improvisation.  Looking at something which has a clear purpose, and changing the perception of it to suit a different purpose.  Another example of this is my metal mixing bowl. At first glance it’s just that, but take a closer look and you can see tiny dents and a few holes drilled into it with a U-joint attached to use on my hi-hat stand.

wpid-20130825_203347.jpgWhat a sound!  a sharp THWONG followed by a melodious ringing. It has so many musical applications that it became a mainstay of the kit.  

This flexible perception of usefulness has carried over into many aspects of my life.  It has built a comfort-zone in the tricky landscape of money, work and love.  Knowing everything has other uses and isn’t always what I think has lead to a great deal of surprise, delight and oddly dented pots and pans. 😉  It has supported me in tailoring traditional uses of things like bicycles, Christmas trees and house-building to my own style in new contexts.

Reflecting on why they were so hard to part with, I came to understand the drums had been a medium with which to explore the world.  A journey wrapped in dogwood and synthetic skins that expanded my perception of what’s possible!  They taught me things that can only be taught quietly; secretly; in the moments just before you realize what you’ve stumbled upon.  Making something out of nothing, then turning it into something else is just the tip of the iceberg.  This kit lead me gently through my young life, and  whispered tales of patience, persistence and humility; all of which I’m still growing into;  but that is another story, and shall be told another time.