Jiwon's Alcove

On Old Things

Feb 17, 2023

Some time ago, I dropped my Macbook Pro into water, causing unrepairable damage. I am on a tight budget, so I bought a $200 refurbished Thinkpad off of Amazon which was all I could afford.

I installed a minimal Linux distro, and threw on the lightweight XFCE desktop environment. It does everything I need to do. I can watch videos, browse the web, write documents, and do some programming. I can even run demanding software by SSHing into a server that does the heavy lifting.

The laptop is objectively slow by modern standards. It stutters with GNOME or KDE. It can't handle 3D rendering or gaming. Yet I love this thing. It's a slow device, but it's my slow device. I have an intimate knowledge of its capabilities and its limitations. I tinkered to make it run well.

I feel the same way towards my bike. I bought it used on Craigslist for 150 bucks. For another 100, I got it all fixed up. It's old, and some gear shifts aren't the smoothest. It still gets me from point A to point B and for 250 dollars though. In total, I paid half of a Costco bike. Even better, I'm not producing more demand for cheaply produced goods like buying a Costco bike would.

Getting old things to work is really fulfilling, and it sucks when I can't. A bag with a lovely design that I used for half a decade fell apart and I couldn't fix it.

You really don't need the latest and the greatest. There are so many product categories that are mature by this point so upgrading frequently doesn't make much sense.

Using old things gives me a feeling of contentment, of true ownership and understanding how the object works. The sustainability and financial upsides are quite nice as well. For me, it is a big way that I live my life simply.