Tag Archives: nuisance

An eternal stare

20110419 Kenwood Mixer Face 150x150 An eternal stare

I love interaction from readers, as it alleviates writer’s block and sets the random train of thought in motion.

Martin from London sent in another picture, this time of his trusty Kenwood 250 mixer.  He writes:

In a rare outing, the Kenwood 250 looks wistfully out to the other side of the kitchen. Thinking outside the box he contemplates his future whilst still enjoying the moment. He thinks of the comrades that have fallen before him after battle. The Breville that got squashed at Cheddar and the future not being so bright for the orange juicer. He remembers the other theatres of conflict away from where he is. The Rexel paper shredder will cut no more. RIP… And the cocky Flymos. “God’s speed boys”…. He will have one last night with the kettle. Let off some steam then take solace in Missy Toaster. He knows where his bread’s buttered.

Those of you who read my article yesterday would have seen a profound piece about a picnic basket followed by a less profound article about baskets in general.  The above seems to be about household items biting the dust.  It is obliquely and independently related to a sentiment that is a recurring theme in previous articles.  I once (probably twice) remarked that “they don’t make ‘em like they used to”.  But what happens to items of kitchen equipment when they go to appliance heaven?

A life story

I went on a 6.5 mile walk around the Harbourside in Bristol the other day – and why not?  It was a beautifully sunny day and I was able to wear just a T-shirt (and trousers and shoes) for the first time this year.  Somewhere towards the end of my journey I came across a handheld blender, tossed into the shrubbery like an unwanted toy.  Litter is a nuisance yet it is ubiquitous.  Look anywhere and I guarantee you’ll find an empty crisp packet or chocolate bar wrapper in the bushes, fluttering in the wind.  Sometimes you will find discarded household appliances and it amazes and bemuses me in equal measure.  I call it bemazement.  How did it get there and what is its story?  Who did it belong to and was it wilfully discarded or lost?  Did it accidentally fall out of one of the last unsealed boxes from the kitchen in a house move, carelessly thrown into a crammed hatchback?  Did it fall out of an open bin bag?  If it was lost, is the owner looking for it?  Personal artefacts have personal stories and whilst I detest waste and litter, I find the personal story one of intrigue.  We will never know the answers to these questions.

A second life

Some unwanted objects may find a second life, either in their present form, or they may be cannibalised for parts or alternatively used for an entirely different purpose.  My parents used to have a big glass bowl, which they used to use for noodles and salad.  This bowl was no ordinary bowl.  It was in fact the glass from a washing machine door.  I believe it was given to my parents by a friend of the family who used to work for Philips.  As I understand it, said window was a spare part and had never actually been used for its intended purpose.  But it made for a fantastic bowl.

When I moved into my current flat I bought a second hand table with four chairs.  A few days ago one of the steel cross bars fell off the back of on of the chairs.  On inspection it was a classic brittle failure of the weld and there was nothing I could do to fix it.  The chair functions perfectly well without it, so what to do with the steel bar?  It is about 12mm in diameter and it turns out it works well as a foot massager, albeit a little too thin.  I put it on the floor and roll my foot over it at a certain angle.  It’s a tad awkward but it does the job satisfactorily and so it has a second life – for now.  I shall probably get rid of it though, in favour of a golf ball I used to play golf (funnily enough) once – and once only.  It was probably the most boring thing I had ever done, including that time I watched paint dry…

An eternal stare 

All objects and people have a life span or life expectancy and whilst that of people seems to get longer with each subsequent generation, the life of household objects seems to get shorter as they are made less robust and out of inferior materials.  This seems to lead to an acceleration in consumption, which seems to be fuelling today’s economy.  In this climate the economy could do with a boost, but this is certainly not sustainable.  Kenwood 250 knows this but it is many way it is not his problem.  His wry plastic smile will never fade, his face will never decay.

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Posted in Appliances, I See Faces, Kitchen, Reader Submission | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

What a waste

20110313 Unhappy polystyrene face 150x150 What a waste

Look at the image and there is a scary screaming face with different sized eyes looking back at you.  But no, there isn’t.  Look again and you’ll see what I mean.  Where the supposed face is there is actually nothing, nada, le Jacques merde absolutement – to coin a phrase (again).  It is a block of expanded polystyrene with holes cut out and the illusion of an image of a face is in fact negative space.

Expanded polystyrene (or Styrofoam if you’re that way inclined) is an interesting material that has its uses in packaging, protecting building foundations against clay heave and reducing fill in building up embankments and so on, but because of its low cost it is ubiquitous and due to its low density it is bulky and a nuisance to get rid of.

I am not really a gadget freak and hate buying new electrical items if my existing item is still working.  In the last decade or so there has been a troubling development of mobile phone manufacturers (and so network operators) pushing their latest models and forcing unnecessary upgrades.  The upside of this churn in the mobile phones market is that it stimulates the economy and drives progress and technological innovation.  This has got to be a good thing in that it benefits society.  Improved digital electronics has shrunk mobile phones from the big black box under my dad’s car seat in the 1980s to something you can carry around in your pocket.  This kind of progress has been mirrored across the electronics spectrum over the decades and has resulted in cheaper, higher resolution digital “this” and digital “that”, which has had a positive impact in the fields of research and medical science.

The problem with an economy driven by consumption is that it generates waste.  Waste gets a bad rap in popular parlance, but it is in itself not necessarily bad or dangerous.  It is simply a product that is deemed surplus to requirements in a particular process.  Wood chippings from a saw mill can be turned into chipboard, MDF or biofuel, for example.  The challenge is to find new uses for waste materials, to use materials that generate less waste and to simply use less material.

Recycling was drilled into me from an early age.  In the Netherlands, where I was born and lived for a good 10 years of my life, it is a part of life and the Dutch are very good at it and the Germans seem to do it even better.  In Britain we are progressively getting better at recycling and I have seen new collection boxes for separated waste being introduced over the years, including a blue box for plastic bottles, a black box for glass, cans and paper and so on.  Recycle bins have popped up all over the centre of Bristol and replaced some of the general waste bins.  I was on College Green not too long ago and spotted a new one by the Council House.  At all the festivals and events and events over the past couple of years or so (including the Bristol Harbour Festival, Brisfest, International Balloon Fiesta and so on) there have been separate bins for paper, cans, bottles and so on.  It’s all in the name of saving the environment.

Looking at the greater picture, I can’t help but wonder whether the overall impact of recycling on the environment (taking into consideration CO2 emissions) is actually worse than or the same as not recycling.  I wonder if Eric from Recresco has anything to say about this.  I’d love to hear from you again!

Posted in Home, I See Faces, Object | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

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