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Science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein was one of the people who, like Buckminster Fuller, invented Now. Heinlein and his colleague Arthur C. Clarke sat in the back row of Rocketdyne’s auditorium laughing like maniacs as the first vehicle set down on the surface of the moon in June, 1969. There's a scene in one of Heinlein's early books in which two guys work in a garage inventing an electronic robot to do housework, because housework is "tiresome and repetitious".
One of Heinlein’s last books dealt with the pace of change: the protagonist lived in a Swedish station wagon with wings and was constantly bugging out as unexpected challenges appeared. The bugging out resembled jumping to another level in the computer games I do not play. Heinlein was graduated from the US Naval Academy and presumably brought a rigorous set of survival skills to his life as a writer, that started after he retired on disability. Of that decision, Heinlein said, “I was just taking up space.”
I embraced the housekeeping practice and environment of my elders. It was a conscious choice that ran counter to my contemporaries’ preferences, and I’ve had some decades now to experiment with archaic and modern techniques. I nearly went mad when computers insinuated themselves into a facility already full of low-tech nineteenth century support systems topped with whatever the twentieth had added to the mix. A row of monitors crowding the stereo system and the television was entirely too much on top of a library and the ankle-deep wash of molded plastic toys that entertained the kids.
Actress Sally Field, who plays a mean housekeeping scene with Tommy Lee Jones in Steven Spielberg’s recent film about Abraham Lincoln, brought us an earlier virtuoso presentation of the classic house-er-housewife flip-out in “Norma Rae”. Fields’ character is stressed to her limit by the demands of home, employment, and union organizing. One night she storms into the kitchen to cook dinner, and as her stunned family watches, she slams a whole frozen chicken into a cold frying pan and goes on to assemble the rest of the meal with equal finesse. I doubt than any of us is unfamiliar with the feeling, at least.
It turns out that there’s a name to that strategy: Don Koberg and Jim Bagnall call it the “kick that block” method in their “Universal Traveler” manual of management techniques.Patience can assassinate a viable interior, patience and misplaced priorities. Technology and current interests and responsibilities change so quickly now that I find it makes sense to tolerate just the bones of comfort, tune storage for transport, and move dawdling inventory closer to the exit every time I handle it.
So far, what works is to keep a solid base of archaic, low-tech amenities and supplement it with the latest iterations of high-tech. Within reason, I have no patience with technology that is even slightly obsolete, since new gear is inexpensive and can be accounted as a labor cost.