When we moved last year, we faced the daunting task of disposing of almost all of our stuff. To give you an idea, when we moved from Michigan to Colorado, we shipped 17,000 pounds of stuff . . . and that’s after we got rid of a lot of stuff in Michigan.
After eleven years in Colorado, we had, if anything added to the stuff we owned.
That photo has nothing to do with what I’m writing about . . . it’s there for the people who barely glance at the blog.
Anyway, readers might get the idea we are massive pack-rats . . . but that idea can be cast aside based on the fact we got rid of nearly everything we owned.
So, why did we have so much stuff?
. . . a couple of reasons; want to hear them?
Early on in life, we figured out there was an advantage to buying quality stuff. As a result of our buying habits, the accumulation of stuff was — in part — due to things lasting a long time. Not only lasting but still working and still in near-pristine condition.
In that regard, we were somewhat like packrats, but the basis for it was that we could not bear to throw away stuff that was perfectly serviceable.
Where am I going with this?
As usual, I’m lamenting a time gone by. A time when things were purchased and maintained for the long-haul.
Why do I bring this up? A little over three years ago — after the price of razor blades got just plain silly — I bought an electric razor. A Norelco A880 series that takes HQ8 shaving heads. The razor cost me $60 and came with a set of replacement heads. They heads are meant to be changed after 12 months, but for me, each set went closer to 18 months.
I’m due for replacing the heads and went online to find a set. The cheapest I found cost $29.95 . . . but they have been out of stock for the past two months. The next cheapest run $34.95. Wait, I lie . . . there are some Chinese knockoffs that run $13 . . . but let’s remember a moment what I said about cheap stuff.
Costco had a razor — a better model than the one I own — on sale for $64 and it came with a spare set of shaving heads (they do not fit my current razor).
So, for less than the price of two replacement heads for my razor, I could buy a new razor with two brand new shaving heads. I brought out my calculator . . . and I got sad . . .
The last digit on the LCD display was missing two segments. Actually, the middle segment is also not working. The calculator works, but I can’t read the last number. I can narrow it down, but can’t know for sure what it might be . . . unless it’s a zero.
Now, often, LCD displays malfunction because the contacts get dirty or loose. I open the calculator . . .
. . . and I don’t see any break or damage to the circuit. Perhaps if I had paid more attention in my electronic circuits class — way back in 1974 — I might know what to do, but as far as I can tell, this puppy has had it.
My electronic circuits class . . . at that time, I was still using a clunky calculator I had bought at Goldblatt’s Department Store. All it did was basic math (multiply, divide, add, subtract). For everything else, I used a slide ruler. That class required — required!— a calculator with more functions. I bought a Texas Instruments SR-50.
Most “serious” engineering students had HP calculators that used Reverse Polish notation. RPN was an affront to the way my mind worked. Proponents would argue it was more powerful and blah, blah, blah . . . I hated it, and still do. My brain does not work like that.
Plus, if you typed .07734 on the SR-50 and then rotated the calculator 180º, the display would read “heLL0.” Modern calculators put in a leading zero, so the best you can do is “heLL.0” . . . and, yes; you could leave out the zero. There were other things you could with upside-down numbers that looked like letters. LEDs are better at it than LCDs; LED numbers and letters were indistinguishable from each other.
The SR-50 lasted me through the 80s but by 1991 I needed something that did a bit more and I bought the Casio fx-115d, solar powered with a backup battery for when the light was too low to drive the calculator; the calculator whose guts I’m showing you in these photos.
At that time, most engineers I knew were buying big HP calculators that were programmable, had graphing functions, and I think some of them even made coffee. The Casio was fine for me.
When I bought it, I inscribed the back with the same mottos I had on the back of the TI SR-50. I did not do a great job, but those vertical lines made for a difficult writing surface.
They are nearly worn off so I will read them to you:
“Life is short but that’s good because it sucks.”
“Never let go of anything until you have a hold of something else.”
This calculator is now of little use to me. It will hang around my desk for a little while, and eventually, I will force myself to discard it.
I now use my phone. After an exhaustive search, I found an app I like, RealCalc. You know what? The display even looks a bit like the Casio’s face plate. For a few bucks, I bought the “pro” version.
The app even lets you switch to RPN . . . although why anyone would is still beyond me.
Anyway, I used RealCalc and confirmed my mental calculation about the cost of the replacements heads versus the cost of a new razor with one set of replacements heads . . .
. . . and I bought me a brand new razor.
It seems a waste, but I’ll donate the old one to a thrift shop and maybe someone will find a use for it. Really, I prefer shaving with shaving cream and a regular razor because it shaves closer. With most electric razors, no matter how smooth I think I got it, my beard is like sandpaper within a few hours of shaving. Kind of annoying when I put on sunblock, but such are the adversities of life when one is too cheap to buy regular razors.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.
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