Friday, March 18, 2011

Sticky Tape

Today I put together a wooden fixture for the girl's room. It's really just a bunch of black wooden cubes. One of those cheap chipboard pieces of junk from Office Depot. I used to enjoy doing this kind of work. Back in the days, furniture that you assembled yourself came with reasonable instructions (Ikea's never even needed words) and sort of fit together. It was kind of like making a puzzle. This junk is made in China, need I say more.

I got to thinking about the state of our world. Things are now generally inexpensive, but these days it is almost impossible to find anything of quality. I have started calling this the "sticky tape phenomenon". When I was young, sticky tape was expensive. You did not waste it. It was even called Scotch Tape in our house, because the Scotch company were the people who made the good tape. It worked. You could stick things together. Most importantly you could find the end of the tape once you put it away and it was possible to pull out a length as long as you needed without it breaking or running and ending up with an ever decreasing strip. Today, sticky tape is cheap. It comes in packs of 10 and they cost next to nothing. But it just doesn't work. You cannot find the end and even if you do, you need razor sharp nails to extract it. When you do try use it, it is completely weak. It breaks and runs and is all over a frustrating experience.

The "sticky tape phenomenon" is everywhere these days. Everywhere we find cheap, cheap goods, that just don't work properly. Phone calls are another example. Sure calls today cost very little today. I can call the US for a fraction of what it cost 10 years back. It is even free if you skype. But the quality is terrible. I have had to be on many international calls this week and half the time no one can understand what the other side is saying. I'm not even talking about the call quality we've got used to with cell phones.

I understand that you can find quality if you are prepared to pay, but even finding it these days is not easy. Just try finding good quality sticky tape (or yellow writing pads) these days. You need to go to a specialty art store because none of the chains carry anything but the lowest quality, cheapest crap.

Now there are those who say it is China's fault. I don't buy it. Clearly we would rather pay less and deal with lousy quality. China is just scratching our itch. I am definitely one for less is more.

Back to the black cubes. I got most of it together by squinting at the hopelessly photocopied instructions. At the last stage, putting on the top, I noticed that they had not included the "green screwing postes" required to secure the last board. Now what? This has a long way to go before it even approached 80%.

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