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Diary
By ucblockhead (Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 08:32:05 AM EST) stuff, first girlfriend, garages, economics, fun loving cowwqas. (all tags)
Thank Gord the weekend is over and I can go to work and relax.

People have too much crap.



Stuff

Saturday morning I got up...well, not early, but I got up, went to the hardware store and spent a few hundred bucks on garage shelving. Mid Saturday afternoon I cursed myself for not purchasing a drill with a gorddamn cord. Late Saturday afternoon I finished and stood depressed at how little shelving $369 will actually purchase.

Sunday we discovered how little of our stuff we could actually get on it. Slight spousal strife was encountered when it became clear that what I had earmarked to go there was entirely different from what she earmarked to go there. Sadly, what I really should have purchased was a work bench. Next weekend.

But I guess we can declare victory. Two closets have been entirely emptied and are ready for floor refinishing.

It's taking ten times as long as it could because we're organizing everything rather than just shoving it in. It's needed, because it's been a disaster, with all the "home improvement" stuff shoved in a closet. Depressing because half the stuff I've run to the hardware store for in the last few weeks we apparently already had.

I have discovered that cables breed. It's the only possible explanation. I have, no shit, at least 20 LAN cables and 20 USB cables. They were fucking everywhere. Just after I'd thought I'd neatly packaged them all up nicely, another would pop up.

The local real estate agent (wife of the contractor who is doing our addition) is promoting some block garage sale thing. Word to the wise: come by UCB's house on the 30th...there will be all sorts of computer crap for sale.

Especially power cables. Apparently, while I can throw away power supplies with no compunction, I am completely unable to through away power cables. (Either that, or all the power supplies are in the attic...I don't want to think about what's there.)

More Stuff

It blows me away the pure amount of stuff we have, all the more so when I realize that essentially 99% of it was aquired in the last fifteen years. When did we buy all this crap? The shear mass of it is astounding.

In economics, they talk about inflation, but I think that for certain sorts of stuff, deflation is the norm. At least, it seems to me that when I look at the price of "stuff" at the hardware store, it seems lower than I'd expect. Certainly anything dealing with electronics and computing has dropped in price, not risen. When I was a teenager, your basic fully equipped PC (an Apple ][) would set you back $4000. Now it's more like $1000 for a mid-ranged PC. It's even worse than it sounds because according to the CPI, $1 then is $2 now.

Much of it has been masked because manufacturers cram more and more features in to keep the price point the same. I bought a jigsaw last weekend, and it cost about what I suspect a jigsaw did in 1980. But this one had a laser.

Even the CPI itself is a bit misleading as they continually change the set of products they use to determine it. In 1900, they used things like "9 lb bag of rice". Now they use things like "Large box of cheerios". Over the course of the century, much of the price increase has been the move from bulk staples to packaged, processed foods.

It seems to me when I really think about it that the only things that are truly getting more expensive are land and fuel.

The upshot is that it seems like we have more stuff than I remember having as a kid. Not more luxury items so much as just more physical stuff. I don't think it's just us, either. Whenever we visit other people's houses, it seems like they are also bursting at the seems with crap. (Kids these days seem to have 10x the toys that we did as kids.)

Old Girlfriend

I went through a pile of papers in a memento file last night. Lots of stuff I hadn't looked at in years. Cards from old girlfriends and such...not sure whether I should be keeping these.

One I found oddly depressing. There was this girl...call her L_. I went on one "date" with her...I doubt you could even call it that. It was a blind date...friend of friend. First generation American from Taiwan which I only mention because after the first date, which was a pretty chaste and dull affair, she invited me over to play backgammon or some such at which point, I met the parents. At the end of that, I got a chaste kiss.

At the time, I was so little in the "dating" space it wasn't funny. I was getting ready to go to the dorms at college, and I wasn't really into having a girlfriend. I'd been talked into the "date" in the first place and had been nothing but non-commital. I remember thinking not much about it all other then "why am I meeting her parents?"

After that, she went off to Europe before school started. I received a very odd card full of grammatical errors (sorry...I'm an elitist bastard) that seemed too...familiar. A letter in which she'd assigned me a pet name.

I pretty much ignored it...maybe I should have said something. Keep in mind my age...honestly it wasn't like I'd even *done* anything to give any sort of impressions other than show up at her house once.

Three weeks later, in the middle of my first weeks away from home, I received a card, which contained a long, rambling letter in which she "broke up" with me. I remember reading it thinking "she was my girlfriend!?" I read that letter again and found it intensely depressing. I hope she found someone and yet, I'm pretty sure I'm glad it wasn't me.

Anyway, that was my "first girlfriend", though I wasn't exactly aware of it at the time. (Half my relationship history could be ended with "though I wasn't exactly aware of it at the time".

I did find some other fun stuff. My first real paycheck (not counting the paper-route.) For forty hours labor I earned $117. I found a whole bunch of printouts of "funny" stuff found on BBSes. I tossed most of it when I realized that in this Internet enabled world, it's all out there for the taking.

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Weekends | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Our dual stall garage is full, with no cars in it by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #1 Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 09:26:13 AM EST
two motorcycles, about ten bikes of various sizes and genders, a big kiddie pool, bunk beds to refinish, lawn furniture and lots of garbage picking finds. We need to get rid of lots. I think we can finally get rid of the kiddy bikes and such.


garages by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #3 Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 09:31:20 AM EST
I'm deathly afraid that by the time we get a driveway to the garage, there will be no room for a car.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
In a similar vein by joh3n (2.00 / 0) #2 Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 09:28:03 AM EST
I was discussing with a certain internet celeb who asked not be named, for now, let's call him theantix some of the rediculous things I have saved on my computer.  For example, I have every IRC chat log going back to mid 2001, along with some rather embarrasing photos of theantix in Tiajuana.

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theantix in tiajuana, by skippy (2.00 / 0) #12 Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 12:58:34 PM EST
you say?  Well, those MUST be posted, post-haste!

[ Parent ]
LIES, all LIES by theantix (2.00 / 0) #13 Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 04:39:18 PM EST
it was south of Tijuana that these alleged pictures were taken.  Ensenada, I think?


[ Parent ]
South of Tijuana by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #17 Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 06:17:36 PM EST
oh sure by theantix (2.00 / 0) #18 Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 10:15:15 PM EST
Just because I revealed to you in a moment of weakness that I spent a month as a Columbian drug kingping, you have to imply that on the public internet?

/me weeps


[ Parent ]
Oh! by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #19 Tue Apr 04, 2006 at 07:07:06 AM EST
I thought you guys were talking about the donkey!
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
We're living much better by Bob Abooey (4.00 / 2) #4 Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 09:32:32 AM EST
My Dad made a crapload of money, well, before he went off to prison, but my lifestyle today is worlds better than when I was a kid. Back in the day you had to be rich to have a VCR or cell phone, heck, today you can buy a DVD player for less than 40 clams. Today even poor people have cable TV and Cal phones and SUV's.

But despite all that you see both parents working today just to make ends meet, so even though we have it better it seems like the consumer-ism bar keeps getting raised and we keep following.

Warmest regards,
--Your best pal Bob

expenses by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #5 Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 09:38:46 AM EST
I think it's because certain things are getting more and more expensive, and it's the very things that are hard to live without. (Medical care and housing being the to primary ones.)
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
My First GF Had Bad Breath. by CheeseburgerBrown (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 09:45:39 AM EST
But I "went out" with her anyway (which meant giving her piggyback rides at recess) since her mom had just died and all my friends said that if I didn't agree to "go out" with her she'd cry until she barfed.


I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da. We are a simple, grease-loving people who enjoy le weekend de ski.
funny thing by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #7 Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 09:54:05 AM EST
I never even had the opportunity to find out if this girl had bad breath.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
What makes you think economics doesn't handle ... by lm (2.00 / 0) #8 Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 09:56:27 AM EST
... deflation?

We just don't hear about it very much because the largest drivers of most prices (labor costs and energy costs) tend to keep going up. But where labor costs go down (either it takes less labor to make the product, such as Moore's Law predicts with regards to stamping circuits on silicon wafers, or if labor gets less expensive, such as when off-shoring production) then (all other things being held equal) prices go down. For Neoclassical economists, this is because a downward trend in inputs lowers shifts the supply curve to the left as producers are willing to sell at a lower price due to decrease in their costs. For Neoricardians and Marxians, prices also trend downward because prices are almost entirely a function of labor costs in their theories.

It just so happens that while downward trends may exist in some sectors, it is rare for it to apply to an imaginary basket of goods as a whole. This is how inflation is usually measured, by prices of a basket containing the things that most consumers need to buy to go about their daily lives. Hence, such headlines as the one I saw a couple months ago: inflation neglible if you don't eat anything and don't drive anywhere.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
Baskets of goods by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #9 Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 11:12:29 AM EST
But what is in that "basket of goods" is itself being changed. If you took the 1906 basket of goods containing the things most people needed to buy (ignoring fuel and housing), it'd be a fraction of what today's basket of goods is.

What I am saying is that in many, if not most cases, what's being compared is not equivalent. When they say that prices have gone up X% between 1906 and 2006, they are comparing a bag of rice and a box of Rice Krispies.

The second half of your quote I agree with...gas, being a limited resource, is a special case. The first half...it's not that prices have gone up, it's that we're eating more processed foods, that are thus more expensive.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

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You're right about rice and rice krispies by lm (2.00 / 0) #10 Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 11:24:37 AM EST
But you also have to keep in mind that harvesting rice was much more labor intensive in 1906 than in 1996. Many people do argue that the basket of goods over the year is not equivalent and that some other, more constant, metric should be used such as the price of gold.

Myself, I'm not so bothered by it. For the most part the basket of goods is close enough. My grocery buying habits, as one example, are relatively unchanged over the past ten years and how much I pay at the counter has increased very much over that period. While it could be that the incremental adjustments between 1906 and now make the baskets incomparable, yet the baskets remain comparable to contiguous years.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I'm not bothered... by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #11 Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 11:39:15 AM EST
I'm just thinking about it in the context of my house full of crap.

I'd be real curious to know what it'd cost to live at a 1906 standard of living, exactly.

Rice harvesting being more labor intensive in 1906 is precisely the point, I think. Technology has pushed the price of most things steadily downward and society has responded by increasing the amount and quality of what we think we need. The inflation rate measures not the increase in price of particular things but the increase in price of some sort of nebulous "normal" product. It's the increase in price of the "average" dinner or the "average" car or the "average" computer. It masks that the "average" is changing and getting more complex.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

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I suspect very cheaply, except by theantix (2.00 / 0) #14 Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 04:46:50 PM EST
as you suggest, except for land and fuel.  It's quite amazing to see just how cheap raw ingredients are compared to the "normal" processed kind that you "normally" buy from a supermarket.  An even better example is clothing: what would have formerly been made by the "unemployed" women in the family is now purchased in stores for comparatively ridiculous prices.  I'm fairly certain that if you are willing to put old-fashioned effort into it, you could live quite handsomely on a poverty wage.  The biggest downside would be that you'd be unable to afford health care costs, and this is not just a typical USian crack I include pharmacuetical costs as well even by subsidized standards... you'd have to live on 1900 terms for better and for worse.


[ Parent ]
I don't know that I disagree with that by lm (2.00 / 0) #15 Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 05:18:53 PM EST
But my point is mostly that just because now isn't really comparable to 1906 doesn't mean that now isn't comparable to ten years ago.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
yes and no by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #16 Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 05:42:06 PM EST
I think it's still happening. Look at the number of "organic" products are sold these days, at a price premium, of course. Remember that period when "dolphin safe" tuna sold at a premium. Also, packaging is still getting more complex. Did things like "lunchables" sell at the same rate ten years ago as now?

I'm not saying it is instant or inevitable. But I'm not convinced it's just something in the past.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
Weekends | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback