A Typical Event of a Typical Day in (post-) Modernity

My wife, Gigi, asked me in passing to replace the battery in our old Soehnle bathroom scale - kept in the laundry room - so we could weigh the cats (two much-loved 2 year-old Ragdolls, Theo [“the adored”] and Rudey [not so polite as a kitten]). I checked the scale and found it indeed didn’t work. This scale turns on by stepping lightly on a corner and I noted that the usual small “give” was absent. Nothing happened - i.e. the small LCD screen did not display a 0 as should happen. Thus, I had to make a diagnosis.

I then opened the battery compartment on the bottom. Easy. Took out the battery, which was, as suspected a CR2032, a type kept on hand with my large refrigerated supply of batteries of sizes I find useful (D, C, AA, AAA, CR2032, 1/2N lithium [laser sight], CR123A [SimpliSafe burglar alarm], and 9V).

I then tried to check whether the CR2032 was actually dead, to diagnose the problem with certainty: the battery or the turn-on mechanism of the scale. I get out my multi-size battery tester and find its battery is dead! I determined it was actually dead with my smaller, cheaper, unpowered tester and replaced the AAA in the better tester. Now, I checked the CR2032 and found it had some power - in the ‘ok’ range, but low therein. So I replaced it with a fresh one and again tried the scale. Stepping on each of the corners did not turn it on! I jiggled it in various ways and did get it to turn on and zero, but is was unreliable and obviously defective. Theo weighed in at 17.8 pounds.

I put the scale back in the laundry room and deposited the dead battery in my dead battery box - with many predecessors - awaiting my making a much-delayed-by-procrastination trip to a recycling location. Thus I now have two further requirements. First, I must buy a new scale, as this one is probably 20 years old & has seen better days. Likely Amazon will be the solution. Next, I must dispose of the box full of dead batteries. Not so easy.

Some of the various recycling sites have unwieldy requirements. Some want a limited number of batteries in zip lock bags, arranged according to size. Others want a certain number of batteries taped together. The permutations of such demands abound. I’m looking for a place without such absurd requirements. Failing to find one, I will resort to simply sprinkling them piecemeal in the regular garbage. This illustrates the eternal truth, known to all except bureaucrats, that any act made burdensome is unlikely to occur with regularity. But I inhabit an increasingly regulated society whose coterie of mini-tyrants in myriads of bureaucracies know no limits and care not for actual results - only increasing their budgets and powers. Thus endeth that lesson.

Frustratingly, such formerly simple events - now become 10-step processes to accomplish ‘simple’ things like changing a battery or a light bulb - are frequent. Only yesterday, I had to change the dawn to dusk light bulb in the post light in front of my house; such lights are required by deed covenant. (I had to adopt this type of bulb because the light sensor built into the post had failed previously; fortunately it failed in the “on” position, allowing me to use a bulb with its own sensor).

Suffice it to say that replacing the 4 screws I had to remove to access the bulb by removing the top of the fixture was extremely difficult. This was because the fixture was above my head and the screws were recessed in such a way that I had to look up to see them. The ground beneath my feet was sloped and uneven. Of course, the holes for the screws did not line up easily and the sky (it was overcast) was so bright, it was impossible to see the shaded overhang in which the screws had to be replaced. Of course, Murphy saw to it that this happened on a cold winter day, so my fingers were numb and stiff. Naturally, I dropped the screws several times and then had to struggle to find them in the dense ivy ground cover surrounding the post light! I eventually got three of the four back in, called it a day and restrained myself from a profanity-laced temper tantrum. Near-uncontrollable anger has developed along with the increasing stupidity and ineptitude of old age. If I told you how close my iPhone and laptop have come to destruction as ersatz projectiles, you might begin to wonder about me.I surely do.

Yet, at least several times each week, such formerly simple tasks - become 10-step processes - need to be done to maintain the integrity of our daily lives. Software which is, shall we say, ‘nonintuitive’ is also a big bugaboo, threatening to eliminate my few remaining wits. If it’s unclear what I mean by this, I invite you to read the first chapter of George Gilder’s Life After Google (faster please!). When I read it, my nodding in agreement and exclamations of Yes!, Yes! brought my wife in to ask if I as OK. That particular book reveals much truth of our declining times.


There is a giant opportunity hiding behind that statement. Today, we can still buy a new scale, imported from China, of course, since the US and the West have largely thrown away the capability to make such devices. Or maybe we can buy one “friend-shored” from our new ally Vietnam using parts the Vietnamese import from China. But the day is clearly coming when the residents of a bankrupt de-industrialized US will not be able to afford imported goods.

When the long-postponed financial day of reckoning finally arrives, there will be a great opportunity for high-end maintenance shops/scrapyards. Perhaps those will occupy the then-defunct shopping malls. An individual with a broken bathroom scale will take it in to one of those locations and trade it in for a repaired model. Well-compensated electricians, plumbers, welders, and machinists will do the magic in those places; poorly-paid former lawyers will handle the retail front of the shop.

All we need now is a catchy name for this pillar of the future economy. Any suggestions?


Too bad “Second Life” is taken. Oh, maybe since there will be no electricity to run the few functioning computers, maybe it can be borrowed.


“Why is everything so difficult is a cry I never heard when growing up. In my own life as a techno-nerd, I only began to utter it (often with glass-shattering intensity and spectrum) after user manuals for things I bought disappeared sometime in the 2010s, replaced by “check with Wiki” or “It’s all in the help file” (yeah, right).

I will not regale you with the lost several days trying to figure out why the SD card I moved from my Samsung Tab 8 tablet to the Samsung Tab 9 I bought to replace it after I dropped the former onto an unyielding tile surface could not receive files created by apps on the new tablet, notwithstanding both running the same version of Android and signed into the same Google and Samsung accounts.

Nor shall I mention how Android has replaced a perfectly comprehensible hierarchical file system with an opaque structure that tries to find images, videos, and other files wherever stored and collect them into its “Gallery”, whence other apps only accept images. But what if you add an image to the tablet with an app (for example, a file transfer utility like Syncthing) that doesn’t poke the system to update the gallery? Well, pilgrim, there’s nothing for it but to reboot your tablet to force it to find the new image.

They call this “progress”.

This is the future the “progressives” want for you.


At some point I got tired of Windows UX ‘innovation’ and installed Linux on my parents’ computer. They found it easier to use.