Month: June 2011

Maintaining The Good Life

I look at nearly everythng in my life by one measure: is it maintenance-free? And if it’s not totally free from maintenance, how much maintenance does it require?

While I admit to not being the most get-up-and-go type of dude, my aversion to maintenance is not due to laziness. Part of it is the result of a realistic understanding of what it’s like to get old. The maintenance requirements that surround us are simply evil serpents waiting to attack us when we’re old, weak and feeble. Or before if we’re distracted by an episode of CSI.

Now, some maintenance tasks are more wicked than others. For example, maintenance that carries relatively minor inconvenience and cost, isn’t too bad. But maintenance that comes with the risk getting splinters or costs enough to make you think about the laws you could have broken with the money, that’s pure evil.

Have you ever considered all of the maintenance tasks we are supposed to do in any given month? If we did everything we’re supposed to do, we’d do nothing but maintain crap so it continues to function – but we’d never use the crap for its intended purpose.

Let’s take a look at the oil change. It’s not too expensive (except for my Hemi-powered pickup which drinks oil not in quarts but in gallons). With places like Jiffy Lube and Uncle Ed’s, it’s not very inconvenient. I can easily understand the need and importance of this chore. So it’s a part of life that I accept. Besides, the magazines at Jiffy Lube are pretty good.

Now the exterior covering on my house is a different matter. Fortunately we have a wide variety of materials for this job that don’t require maintenance. Aluminum, vinyl, brick, stucco, concrete: lots of ways to slay the maintenance dragon. Painting and caulking a house, well, that’s a nasty kind of business.

On the one hand, it’s a lot of hard work and costs large amounts of money. And when I’m 107 there’s no way I’m doing it myself. Not to mention that I will probably be grasping my last nickel and prunes will be my preferred purchase, not a gallon of Glidden.

And even if you’re Mr. DIY, be honest. You’re not going to paint and caulk around the windows. You’ll always find something more fun and interesting to do, like clean the link trap on the clothes dryer. And before you know it, you’ve got rotting window sills and cracked siding.

For a few dozen years now, my dream home has been one that is made from poured concrete using insulating concrete forms ( The exterior of those forms should be clad with concrete logs ( Add vinyl windows and you’ve got a house that will last, is quite, efficient and requires no exterior maintenance. Yes, you’ll probably have to replace shingles once. But with a structure like this you’re eliminating the painting and caulking. Not to mention you don’t have to deal with rot and the creepy crawlies that like to gnaw on your pine.

Every little task that you can eliminate helps. Just consider this non-exhaustive, though exhausting, list of things that we “should” be doing that we probably aren’t doing:

・ rotate tires

・ check air pressure in tires at each fill-up

・ check wiper blades at each fill-up

・ check oil at each fill-up

・ check coolant at each fill-up

・ check windshield washer fluid at each fill-up

・ check security of shoe laces at lunchtime

・ lubricate all your hinges every six months

・ clean out the aerators on all your faucets every six months

・ lubricate the wheels on your lawnmower every year

・ lubricate the chain on your bicycle every year

・ lubricate those little wheels on your garage door every six months

・ lather, rinse and repeat

・ use compressed air to blow out the fans on your computers every month (more if you have creatures without opposable thumbs living in your house)

・ apply furniture oil to your wood furniture each quarter

・ check your credit report each year

・ change batteries in smoke and radon detectors each year

・ trim your wicks

・ sweep your chimney annually

・ clean the burner on your furnace annually

・ change the oil on your power equipment (yes, the lawn mower needs an oil and filter change each year, too)

・ review your will each year

・ update your resume each year

・ floss

So call me lazy, but all this stuff is just too bogus in my book. And when I’m old I want to be able to enjoy my rocker and a good read or some heavy metal on the headphones. I don’t want to be oiling the tranny on my wheelchair.