Preaching from soap box eases frustrations

Preaching from soap box eases frustrations By Bob Karolevitz I was grumpily eating my cereal one morning recently when I complained to Phyllis that they don't make things like they used to.

"For instance, my Rice Krispies don't Snap, Crackle and Pop," I muttered. "It says right on the box that they always make that funny noise, and now they don't."

"They probably don't shoot the Puffed Rice out of guns either," I added. "You just can't trust anybody these days."

Then I launched into a long diatribe about today's light bulbs.

"We can go to the moon, send e-mails around the world in seconds, but our light bulbs burn out faster'n you can say 'incandescent obsolescence.' I'll bet Tom Edison never planned it that way," I bemoaned.

"And everything is made in China," I continued. "Even the china is made in China. I mean no offense to those inscrutable folks, but just once I'd like to pick up something at the store that didn't come from Hong Kong or Guangzhou."

Now they don't make stuff out of just plain metal any more. I suppose when some future historian refers to our era, he'll call it the Plastic Age. Frankly, I'm more of a Bronze Age guy myself. I like things to go clank-clank when you bang them together. It's not that way with plastic.

Not long ago my power saw quit working, so I took it to the fix-it man for repair. When he saw that the housing was made of plastic, he declared with finality: "Take that junk outta here!"

I immediately had new respect for him.

No doubt I look backward through rose-colored glasses, but it seems to me that shoddiness is a sign of our time. Make it fast and cheap is too often the manufacturer's motto.

But now I'm preaching from a soap box (which they don't make out of wood, by the way). I didn't mean to get so worked up just because my Rice Krispies didn't Snap, Crackle and Pop.

When I started writing this weekly column more than 18 years ago, I vowed to keep it light and sometimes humorous. I'd leave the heavy stuff to George Will and Pat Buchanan, I said. I almost slipped this time, though, when I got carried away because the Chinese don't just make firecrackers and Christmas decorations like they used to.

I also let my anti-plastic bias show.

From now on I'll try not to get so serious on you. I've avoided writing about Bill and Hillary Clinton, Dubya, Dow Jones, Saddam Hussein and Yasir Arafat, LSD and Ecstasy, Madonna and Rush Limbaugh, agricultural runoff, income tax and Congress � although the latter can be real funny at times.

These are subjects for the more scholarly pundits. I'll just stick with sheep, crystal sets, boxelder bugs, septic tanks, zucchini and dandelions.

And speaking of dandelions, those �&*%$#@ yellow flowers are back again. I could get back up on my soap box about them, but I'll refrain. I'll just type up this piece on my 90 percent plastic typewriter if the correctable ribbon in the plastic case holds out.

It's made in Mexico, incidentally.

© 2001 Robert F. Karolevitz

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