Paring down – attempting to build a new life

My partner Juliette’s computer is coming to the end of its life. It’s never had a very good fan but now it’s wheezing worse than an octogenarian walking the wrong way on an escalator. Which is fine, we got a solid 5 years of use out of it, about what I expect when I go in buying a new computer.

It makes me excited because I’ve been trying to get her on a Mac for ages now, so that we can finally transition to an all-Mac household. Yeah, I hear some of your ocular organs rolling wildly in their sockets out there. To you dear, sirs and ma’ams I say good day. I used PCs for years and even intentionally chose to have a mixed menu of different devices for a long time. Now, I like the convenience that having a one OS ecosystem provides. I’m not saying it will last forever but I do like the benefits right now.

All of this is to say that lately, my partner has been warming up to the idea of switching from her Dell Studio to a MacBook Pro. Specifically my MacBook Pro that I just got last year. What would I be using? Well, I’m toying with the idea of switching from the Pro to an Air. My day job requires me to do a lot of web design, coding and project managing. It’s fine work and hey, it pays my bills, bonus. However, when I get home, I’m writing. I’m rarely, if ever, using any of the processor heavy programs that I used to use for freelance work. If I do need to edit photos, I’m just as likely to use something basic (and free) like Pixlr. I’ve already made the switch to using TextWrangler for editing web pages, rather than the super-bloated Dreamweaver. My podcast sort of fizzled out a couple months ago, so no audio editing needed. Aside from a web browser, my most frequently used program is Scrivener. And if that’s all I’m really using, then I’ve got a severely overpowered laptop for the work I need it to do. Juliette would benefit from that power, though. She’s got a strong need in her line of work for a CAD program, which can be among the most processor intensive programs around (other than online gaming, which thankfully for our budget, neither of us are into).

So it’s time to pare down, let some of the excess processor power go to someone who can use it. I’m writing. And I’m doing it with an eye towards building a life where I am a writer.

Zen and the art of wash machine repair

This weekend I had a very nearly transformative life experience involving the repair of a wash machine. Last weekend our wash machine quit operating when it would reach the rinse, spin and drain cycles. The agitator still worked but the machine would quit entirely afterwards.

My first reaction was stress and anxiety. I thought about calling a repairman but then estimated repair costs would run me close to $200 (this was my own guess, I have no idea if this is really how much it would cost). Considering that the washer is seven years old, I figured the repair costs wouldn’t even be worth the investment. So I started looking at new wash machines and then the stress level really went up… on average I was looking at $500 and up! Delivery not included!

In spite of the price I was still on board. But then I had a hard time finding a recycling program for it. I just couldn’t justify in my mind taking this much valuable scrap metal to the dump. That’s when I started doing research on how to repair it. Eventually I felt like I had a good diagnosis and ordered the suspected faulty part for $8 online. The repair was a little involved considering I’d never taken apart a washer before, basically removing the electrical panel from the top and the body housing in order to gain access. But I did it. And now that I have, I realize that there’s very little on that machine that I couldn’t repair (timing of the wash cycles¬†may be another story).

The weird thing about this story is that I’ve been riding high on this achievement for days now. It wasn’t until a conversation with a coworker earlier today that I started to realize why. At my job, nearly everything has been centralized. I have to file a ticket to get the simplest things fixed by people who are hundreds of miles away. It’s extremely disempowering, especially when I feel that not even a small part of my skill is being utilized any longer. When I was presented with this wash machine issue, I changed my perspective from anxiety to empowerment. I had complete control over the situation. Environment is everything.