Monday, April 14, 2014

The downgrade

I finally did it. Realized the truth. Came, mostly, to terms with the inevitable. On the weekend I changed my registration from a marathon to a half marathon on June 1. Even that had me wondering, but then I realized there was no way I would be ready to try to run 10 K fast either. And what's the point of racing 10K just to finish? So (fingers crossed) with some consistent training (which I've really struggled with this year) I ought to be able to run the entire thing. I hope.

Another thing we're coming to terms with is clutter. There is an old plasma TV to be recycled. A VCR and some tapes to be tossed out. (If you want a functional VCR with tapes of Miss Marple, speak fast!) An assortment of other odds and ends to be tossed out. A water damaged phone (who knew plastic would degrade and crack by itself?), several old leaky irons, an old coffee maker, and I'm not sure what else all.

Even though all this stuff is essentially non-functional, I still have a pang throwing it out. The VCR, for example. There is a story there. Once upon a time, I was helping my dad's family clean out my Grandma's room at the lodge. Her funeral was the same day as the Oklahoma City bombing; we were watching the coverage as we were getting ready for the funeral. 19 years ago in a few days.

My uncle picks up a small TV, turns to me, and says, "Your dad got this for mom, so I guess it's yours now." (My dad had died a few years earlier.) I had turned to run, but there was no escape. It was reasonably well known in my family that I don't watch TV much. I carried it out to our car; Linda nearly left me behind when she saw what I was carrying.

So we took it home, and a few days later we went out to find the cheapest possible VCR player. I toyed with the salesman's hopes, then crushed him mercilessly. "The cheapest", I said, "that plays and rewinds VCR tapes." He started with the extended warranty spiel, but I gave him the look and he stopped part way through.

We mostly rented VCR's, but bought the Miss Marple ones because they are so good. (Joan Hickson was born to play Miss Marple.) We played a few DVD's on the computer, but lasted till Boxing day 2002 when we bought the plasma and a DVD player. So that VCR player is 19 years old in a few days. Hard to imagine. I'm not sure why we kept it. Mostly because it was sitting there inoffensively hooked up, I guess. Gathering dust. I'm not even sure if it can be hooked up to the Blu-Ray, and I don't propose to find out.

I can remember when VCR tapes and players were a novelty. An expensive one. Anyone remember the VCR and Betamax wars? Once could join a video club for a fairly steep membership fee, and it was $20 or so to rent a tape. Buying them could be 3 figures. Imagine!

Now DVD's and Blu-ray are nearly dead. More and more content will come from the internet. Maybe 20 years from now I'll be writing a blog about these shiny plastic discs and an impossibly coarse ancient technology called HDTV. (We used to have to put bolts into the wall for a mounting bracket! They were several inches thick! And if you looked close you could actually see the pixels!)

So even though the VCR was under $200, I think about how long I had to work, back then, to buy it. (Not that long, now that I think about it.) Still, my Granny went through the depression, and as a child I remember her being extremely careful with money. There was a strong element of "make do, or do without" there. Things were expensive, and you were expected to take care of them.

Now our things turn into clutter. It would probably cost me more effort than buying it, to find a home for the VCR player. Much easier to throw it out. And no, they say you can't even recycle them. The City website says to throw them (household quantities) into our black bin, which is garbage. Tuesday evening, unless someone speaks up, claiming it or the tapes. The countdown has begun.

Oh, and water ran this morning with Katie for a while, as she filled me in on her Maui trip, and adventures with her rental bike, dubbed Two Ton Tessie. Ran a bit more after she left, then slipped into the pool for a quick 600 m. For once the competition pool was warm.

The idea is to run tomorrow. It could well be snowing. I'm not kidding. I'm weeding a flower bed today in the warmth and sunshine as chicken cooks in the BBQ. Shoveling the driveway tomorrow. Spring, you are depressing. I hope for nice weather this weekend to clean out the garage and fix the BBQ.

What do you have in your house that you really should throw away?


  1. I downgraded last year too and felt good about my decision. I hope you do too. (I changed my mind back after the Boston tragedy and did the full anyway but that's another story). Hey, wait! Don't throw out the electronics... E-cycle them!

    1. Weird. So why does the City say put them in a black bin?

  2. I hate that we've become a disposable society! Everything gets tossed within a couple of months/years because it's obsolete - not because it's broken or doesn't work any more. Sad!

    Surprised Calgary is so backwards in its recycling - we have electronic drop-offs here for all equipment to be recycled! I hope E-cycle tip pans out.

    1. There are e-cycle depots, and not all that far from where we would have to go anyway for the TV. The area around me is a black hole of suburbia for a long way in each direction except west.

  3. Phew. Just catching up on your posts. Lots going on at your house these days. TV looks great. Wish I was close enough to take your VCR. Ours just died (after 24 years - I we paid something like $450 at the time) but we still have a few old movies we like to watch on it. And - yes - I remember beta. You got something to say about that?!

    Sounds like a good call switching down to the half. You won't enjoy the full if you can't get trained up for it and it's been a brutal winter and spring for running. There's no shame whatsoever in changing plans to take account of that fact. I'm struggling too. Desperately trying to get my speed up for CTR but my body's spent too many months slogging through ice and snow to remember what it feels like to pick up the pace.

    Your cats are TOO adorable! Curtis is a looker but I have to say I'm partial to the short-hairs and Celina's got a wonderful face. Hope to meet them one day.

    Must get back to the grind. Another big week but thankfully there's a four day weekend ahead! And we might even get a little sunshine.

    1. Hmmm. I will look tonight to see if I have a box I can put the VCR into. I'm pretty sure I don't have the original packing. I just found a Calgary Marathon October 19. Only $15. Can't go wrong there. If I can't be ready in 6 months of summer-ish weather, I might as well throw in the towel on that.


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