Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It's getting better and better.

Over on Facebook I was having a bit of a conversation with someone (whom I shan't out) who posited the notion that I didn't care for change.

Which is true, sorta, in a complex way.

I'm not against change qua change. It's that almost all change is a running leap backwards. New Coke. Non-iron shirts. The new eBay interface. The new Google search algorithm. (I typed "terra cotta" not "Terrapin" you sniveling imbeciles...) Commercial air travel. And so on.

This is because people, in general, are not much to write home about, and when you put them in a committee format, invariably the stupidest idea carries the day. If you are, like me, saddled with an opinion on everything, well, life is pretty much a shoreless ocean of aggravation. It has been said -- correctly, might I add -- that if you are standing at the North Pole, wherever you go next will, invariably be south.

So it is with me and anything I happen to like exactly the way it is. I know it will be changed and I know I will be displeased with the change. I'm inured to it. Partly it is because I am at peace with the fact my tastes are decidedly not those of the majority (or even a significant plurality). This works out well when in the 1970s everyone is dressing like the road company from Leisure Suit Larry, but otherwise, as Number One Son says "it is a suck."

Change would be fine when I'm in charge of the changes. But until then, I gripe and moan to myself, mostly...with the odd kvetch on Facebook or here.

So, anyway, I promised a blog entry on things which are better AND, to make it extra-challenging, I decided to wall off "technology" as a category. That's a gimme (nobody will argue that the 1978 Fuzzbuster is comparable to even the lowest-ranked radar detector of 2012) and I don't do things the easy way. Here are my top 10.

1- Farmer's Markets are better. Some parts of the world didn't get them until very recently. To hear Californians tell it, they invented the notion of farmers selling their crops about 10 years ago. But down here, with an 11½ month growing season, we have had them since forever. But they're getting better by the day. The produce is more interesting, organic farming is becoming more efficient and more growers are hopping aboard.

2- Adult beverages. With some sad losses (Dortmunder Kronen, Killian's Irish Red Ale, and a few boutique wineries being among the sad exceptions.) the quality and variety of alcohol containing beverages is on the rise. Bartending and mixology (not the same thing, BTW) are seen as admirable professions. Distillers continually innovate and improve their products -- which isn't easy in a country with an irrational attitude about alcohol -- and their selections.

3- Fabrics are a LOT nicer. Manufacturing and tailoring are taking it in the shorts, though. They feel better, last longer and are more comfortable. Now, if we can just make USA workmanship cost-feasible we'd be all set. (As discussed previously, I have B² shirts that are approaching thirty years old and are indistinguishable from new.)

4- Finding cool human beings is easier than ever. In fact, it no longer sounds even mildly weird to say about a friend "Oh, we met on the Internet." The panorama of friends of your friends is now available to you constantly. And you often meet real gems.

5- Surfing is better, if you can find a spot...both in the lineup and in your schedule.

6- Stationery is better. Fountain pens are better and the handwriting experience is a grander and more momentuous occasion, now that everything is email and PDFs.

7- Fragrances are better. (Sorry if yours has been discontinued.)

8- Design is a lot better, especially at popular price points (cf. Michael Graves).

9- Coffee is a LOT better. Even so-so stuff like Starbucks is leagues better than what used to be available.

10- Animation is getting a lot better, even if traditional "drawn" animation is a bit wobbly these days.

There.

-J.

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