Monday, April 1, 2013

Repair, Never Replace

When the next generation of video game consoles come out I will be switching from XBox to Playstation.


Because I am now on my 5th (yes, that's right) FIFTH X Box 360.

The reason is simple.  I am heavily invested in games I like and thus, because I have so much invested in the software, I need the console that plays that format.  So when I got the Red Ring of Death for the 4th time, I started to prepare to shell out more money for the video game industry's biggest design flaw.

However, I caught myself this time.  And when I say, "I caught myself" I mean I STOPPED an automated thought process that has cost me plenty in terms of money and lost self-teaching.  Namely, I decided to REPAIR my XBox 360 and NOT pay somebody to do it for me nor buy a replacement XBox altogether.  And after catching myself I realized this is a VERY important lesson for all of us to learn.

Understand our brains are predisposed to be put on rote rehearsal or automatic pilot for efficiency's sake.  This is NOT a disadvantage, but rather an advantage for the MAJORITY of instances.  For example when the new dual joysticks came out it took every 20 something man about 10 hours of play to learn the "right stick controls vision, left stick controls movement" layout of all modern day FPS's. This is no different than when we first learned to walk when we had to develop the motor skills to do so.  And you can ask any beginning ballroom dance student the frustration of forcing his/her feet to do what the brain wants it to do.

But after a while you develop a muscle memory which (more specifically) is your brain stem developing a repetitive memorization of certain muscle movements that no longer require the input of the frontal lobes allowing you to (in the case of dancing) keep your footwork going while soothsaying your dance partner into bed.  But while we think of PHYSICAL movements as an example of this, repetitive MENTAL actions, AKA "habits" also fall under this category as well.  And these unconscious habits are hard to break, thus, why I want to point out this one.

YOu, me, and everybody else have been mentally conditioned to look for the easiest route out.  When this comes to the maintenance and repair of our physical goods, the answer is usually one of "dispose and replace."  The problem with this approach is two fold.  One, it costs more to replace an item that is repairable and two, we lose the opportunity to LEARN how to repair things that IF LEARNED AT A VERY EARLY AGE CAN SAVE YOU HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS over the course of a life time.  And thus if we can recondition our brains out of the consumerist mentality of "toss and replace" we can not only save ourselves some money, but improve ourselves in terms of skills.

Now you may say, "But I like the convenience of outsourcing repair" or you may say, "But I'm not good at fixing things."  But allow me a little bit of economics.

First, there is the obvious savings you will realize if you learn to repair things at an early age as opposed to constantly outsourcing it.

Second, with progressive taxation, regulation, and socialism, the "division of labor" is being undermined, meaning, as people specialize and trade their skills via money and labor, they are taxed more.  Therefore, if you can learn to be a "do it yourselfer" you not only save the money it would cost you to outsource the repair of your various items, but you don't have to pay the "sales tax" on it.  Heck, you may even be so bold to barter which would avoid taxation altogether.

Third, what?  Like there's jobs out there for you anyway?  Even if you did specialize in a particular field, get a degree, or get certified, in the end there are no jobs which makes learning to fix your own assets a very profitable investment of your time.  In short you have nothing better to do with your time so you might as well learn to repair things.

In the end, I roughly estimate with my SAEG (TM) you will save yourself over the course of a lifetime EASILY $250,000 in repairs, maintenance and outsourced expenses learning to fix, build and repair your own stuff than paying somebody to do it for you (and that quarter million is at least worth a house).

So, how do you do this?

How do you become so skilled and experienced in so many aspects of maintenance and repair life?

Well, I hate to say this, the answer is obvious.


I had a buddy who was an ornery computer guy.  I was interested in computers and how to network and repair them.  But when I asked him simple, elementary questions, he got pissed off at me and would lecture me.

"You stupid idiot!!!???  What's wrong with you!!???  Don't you know anything about DRAM!!!???"

In short, he was human and was thusly, flawed, and therefore an asshole.

Youtube, thankfully, is not.

"We didn't have Youtube in our day" but you do.  And there is practically every imaginable "do it yourself video" out there.

How to change oil.

How to network a computer.

How to cook souffle.

How to clean a carburetor.

How to roof a house.   

You name it, youtube has it.  It's practically replaced your dad.  And if you want to save yourself the pain and agony of a friend berating you for "not knowing the difference between RAM and DRAM" you just go to the Youtube. 

Now this may seem cute or quaint, but as the inevitabilities and realities of the US economy takes its toll, learning how to maintain, repair and fix your own stuff is going to prove to pay larger dividends than most college degrees.  Matter of fact, I would contend, self-teaching yourself how to repair cars, computers and other devices liberal arts majors love to use, but fear to understand will prove to be a MUCH better investment than the $75,000 most liberal arts students spend on their worthless degrees.  So while they charge you $7 for a "grande latte" with their Masters in English, you can charge them $750 to fix their Prius with your "self-taught Youtube video on how to repair a Prius." The only difference is you spent 30 hours of your life downloading youtube videos on "Prius repair" while they spent $75,000 and 6 years of their lives on "French, Gay, Lesbian, Latina, 15th Century Poetry."

In short, I believe people are VERY MUCH underestimating the value of Youtube and other "self help" and "DIY" sites.  Even if your dad was inept at mechanics and was absentee, that doesn't mean you can't find a surrogate father in Youtube and benefit to the tune of hundreds of thousands.

However, truth be told, most people are intimidated by cracking open a computer case or knocking out a wall of sheet rock.  So allow me to impart the self-taught wisdom I've gain to make (hopefully) millions of younger people's lives better.

1.  CRACK OPEN THAT COMPUTER CASE and DESTROY THE COMPUTER.  CHANGE YOUR OWN OIL (and in the process) DESTROY YOUR OWN CAR.  KNOCK OUT THAT SHEET ROCK and just make a mess of everything.  One of the biggest hurdles I ever had in self repair was that I would make things WORSE than when I started.

And yes you will.  BUT, it's better to learn that NOW at the age of 20 than at the age of 70.  YOu WILL get better and more proficient.  But you WON"T ever achieve a level of proficiency unless you make your mistakes and get dirty.

2.  Just accept you WILL destroy things as you go along and MOST IMPORTANTLY no matter how much you destroy TODAY, those costs will pay off more in the future.  So drop the money and make the mistakes.  They're worth it.  Have no fear.


   a.  a computer/electronics repair kit
   b.  a full tool set for cars and home repair

I wish I had somebody buy this for me as a 17th birthday gift, but most of my family was anti-repair and pro-replace.  Ideally, somebody will buy you this at the age of 10, ensuring you will be ready to repair anything as you enter the real world at 18.  But if anything dropping the money on those two items is a better investment than college itself, so buy those things yourself.

4.  There will be points in your life you will be unemployed and pinching every penny will become vital.  In times of economic recession where you DO NOT HAVE THE OPTION OF MAKING MORE MONEY having the ability to SAVE MONEY will become key to your survival, happiness, and standard of living.  A man who can fix anything can enjoy a higher standard of living earning $30,000 per year than a man who can't fix nothing and makes $70,000 per year.  I've seen it and it is true.  Being skilled in repair, maintenance and construction/building is a great insurance against poverty no matter what is going on in the economy.

So if you're an unemployed or underemployed 20 something, a bachelor or bachelorette looking for a new hobby or endeavor, or you got a lot of time on your hands and are looking for an intellectually stimulating project, go on the Youtube, buy yourself some tools and teach yourself to repair and never replace.

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