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July 05, 2010

The first rule of the Dempression is, you do not talk about the Dempression

The second rule of the Dempression is, you do NOT talk about the Dempression!

Since IT can't be talked about or mentioned, one must perform a little kabuki dance around IT when talking about IT.

So what were some of the past strategies people used for surviving IT? Both my parents were IT era children and had many stories to tell, some of which are still relevant today, or will have analogs that could be successfully applied today.


Ex. The "party line" phone. I doubt many of these systems exist anymore except maybe in the remotest areas still running ancient TelCo gear and 50 year old wire on the poles, but in the late 1970's they still existed in many not so terribly remote rural areas. The cost was considerably cheaper than having a private line.

The modern analog to a party line would be a group of neighbors banding together sharing a single internet link through a WiFi router. With say a half dozen people kicking in, one guy can sign up for the fastest link available and the net cost to everyone is considerably lower than it would be if each signed up for the cheapest/slowest service available.

Pawn shops: They've always been a great place to swap your stolen shit unwanted tools for quick cash, but have you considered using them as a source for buying cheap tools? These days with the construction industry in a coma, the pawn shops will be flush with loads of high quality stuff at steep discounts. Prices may not be quite as good as at the local crack house where a slightly hot Hilti chipping hammer or phat $600 DeWalt compound sliding miter saw might go for $10, but they'll still be a lot better than at a tool store. Probably over 30% of my tools have been obtained at pawn shops through the years. You'll need to shop around though. Some are insane, others quite reasonable.

Auto junk yards: Buying a new car during IT is usually a bad move unless you're independently wealthy, or an SEIU member. You'll usually get the best deals at the "U-Pull-It" type places. The neat tidy ones selling pre-pulled stuff aren't giving away that service for free. An adjunct to the junk yard is police impound auctions. I once bought a 74' Chrysler New Yorker with 40,000 original miles on it for $50. It had a fire under the hood and the owner who was in his 70's simply gave up and abandoned it on the street. A friend and I patched up the wiring harness, rebuilt the carb, tuned it up and drove that junker for another 3 years before it lost reverse, then I drove it up to a junkyard. Our total investment over 3 years in that car was only $250. The police gave us the previous owner's name and we called him. He gave us the keys, and was thrilled that someone was going to try and put it back into shape.

"Sallies": aka Salvation Army (GoodWill, or other thrift stores). If you're bucks down looking for some cheap furniture that's an upgrade over the 2x6's and concrete block motif, these places night do it for you. I frequent a place called Faith Farm in Boynton Beach. They occasionally get some high quality office furniture and price it the same as they do the crap. Over the years, I've scored three nice SteelCase desks, two SteelCase credenzas and a SteelCase book case, all for $15/each or less. When IBM was shutting down the Boca site, there was a slew of high-dollar SteelCase stuff flowing through there. With US businesses being slaughtered wholesale these days, there's got to be a ton of nice office furniture floating around out there for next to nothing. On my last trip, I scored three sweet office chairs that would have been in the $150 range at Office Depot for $10 total.

Gardens: During IT, everyone had a garden. The garden became a real contributing source of food for the family. There's been any number of books written on what to choose and methods for maximizing output for small spaces.

Clothing: See thrift stores. I've scored apparently new Jack Nicklaus, Perry Ellis, Izod, and Docker branded stuff there for $3 rather than $50. People buy shit, don't wear it for a while, put on a few pounds, realize it doesn't fit anymore, then donate it. Also a good place to find some of that 1970s style lime green and purple polyester pimp threads if you're ummm...so inclined. My orange tiger stripe felt fedora with the peacock feather was only $.50, such a deal eh?

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posted by Purp at 11:01 PM

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