June 14, 2022
Continuing my rant on important things carelessly trashed by idiots… A favorite joke in the old car hobby is “My widow will probably sell my stuff for what I paid for it!” We recently cleaned out a storage space and found a camera bag full of Grandpa’s treasured Nikons. Tears were imminent when we looked at the receipt in the bottom of the bag showing what he paid for the items in 1995. The world’s best mother-in-law remembered how long he saved to buy the camera, lights, and optics; how many hours he spent researching them in those pre-Internet days. Sadly, a quick online check revealed the most valuable item today was the bag the camera was stored in. I have written before in this space about boxes of books and drafting instruments being disposed of at estate sales. I helped inventory the library of a gear industry legend after his family had no interest in keeping his collection of very specific books from around the world. People do not do things the “old way” anymore and the “tools” used to research, design, and draw the gears of yesterday are no more useful than a 35mm SLR in a smart phone camera world. We have become dependent on the Internet to establish the “value” of things and to provide instant answers to our questions. Recently my hometown newspaper was sold and its online archive — partially funded by public money — was removed from the web. The new owners did not want to “give information away” anymore and thousands of historians lost the links they had so carefully nurtured. It is somewhat like buying a home with a great view, i.e. — if you do not own the view, you cannot really be shocked when it gets developed into a condo complex. While Gear Technology prides itself on maintaining an easy-to-use online archive, this curmudgeon still likes to have his familiar reference books nearby when he designs something. I sure hope they do not end up in a dumpster five minutes after my ashes are tossed into Lake Michigan. That better be on my New Year’s resolution list, I guess. Anyone willing to provide a good home to a well-loved shelf of gear books once I no longer need them?