Tolls for crossing the Panama Canal are assessed based on weight, and ships routinely pay over a hundred thousand dollars for a single crossing.
I wonder how many people are aware of that fact. Or have ever even considered it.
And, most of these bits of information have crept into my awareness serendipitously, entering my knowledge base while I was busily reading about other subjects.
I learned about the above Panama Canal's cost of crossing while reading from a poetry website, The Writer's Almanac.
I recently bought, via Amazon.com, a pair of low-cost powered PC speakers with a built-in headphone jack. When they arrived I hooked them up immediately and found, to my great annoyance, that the speakers had a disturbingly loud 60 Hz background hum. Being the curmudgeon that I am, returning the item (repacking, trip to P.O., paying postage, etc.) would be more trouble than the speakers are worth. So I sent an email to the seller by way of Amazon.
Here is the message:
The speakers I purchased via Amazon.com arrived in yesterday's mail. I was disappointed to discover that they produce an annoyingly loud 60 Hz hum. I am a retired Electronics Technician and I recognized this HUM for what it is, usually caused by defective filtering of the line voltage. I do not intend to return the item. I am 71 years old and I despise the annoyance of returning purchases of low cost such as this one. "It just ain't worth the trouble." I'd rather toss them in the waste can, absorb the loss, and buy a Name Brand set of speakers with headphone jack. As I should have done in the first place.
But I do intend to announce my displeasure with your product at every opportunity, beginning with my Amazon feedback, my blog, and word of (email) mouth complaints to friends and multiple forum members. If that makes me appear to be a curmudgeon, well then so be it.
I wonder what their response (if there is one) will be.
Actually, I am not terribly upset by the incident. I do not use my PC speakers all that often. And if in the future I decide to do so, I can always reconnect my original speakers.
I am aware of the circumstances involved in the manufacture and wholesaling of electronic equipment. I once worked for a transformer manufacturer as assistant engineer of quality control. Even though we worked diligently to test, discover, and remove all defective products, it was standard procedure for management to instruct the testing department foreman to secretly repack the defective units in the bottom tray of each case of transformers, believing that the customer would not return the shipment over a few defective parts. And, of course, management at the customer's location went ahead and installed these defective transformers in their products.
There is no doubt in my mind that this profit-raising process is still happening.
That's just the way things are.
And that's just the way I am.
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.