Every now and then in my life, I am happy with what I have.
It happened in 1995.
I was driving a 1979 Volvo station wagon, shooting pictures with a 1979-vintage Nikon F-2 film camera, and living in a spacious-for-me one-bedroom apartment in a town that I loved.
My shoes were comfortable and well-worn leather work boots from Sears that, by some odd quirk, were also purchased in 1979.
My camera and my car were rugged, mechanical, and dependable. I was impressed and comfortable with the look and feel of them.
As a reporter, I carried around a notebook, calendar and two pens, held together by the stout rubber band from that morning’s edition of the Sacramento Bee.
It was a simple world and I had things figured out.
I didn’t make a lot of money, but I made enough. My time off from work was spent at a downtown coffee house playing chess with a couple of close friends. I enjoyed my colleagues at the local newspaper and I loved my job as the city hall reporter for the local newspaper in Chico, Calif.
This perfect period, which I did not realize was perfect at the time, lasted about a year. But as is the habit of most people, I thought I could do better.
In the short term, the “upgrades” that I made (newer car, higher-paying job, etc.) turned out less pleasing than what I already had with my job that paid just enough and my 16-year-old car, camera, and shoes.
The other day I realized I was in another one of those pleasing, perfect periods.
My wife, Sarah, and I live in a spacious and comfortable 101-year-old house in a great neighborhood in a great town, New Bern, North Carolina. We drive a four-year-old GMC pickup, a seven-year-old Chrysler 300, and for weekends, a convertible in unusually good condition considering it is nearly 20 years old.
My cameras (I have two) are three generations old Sonys, our phones even older iPhones, and my Apple laptop computer even older than that.
The difference between now and 1995 is that I look out for those times in my life when things are good enough and realize it is not worth the effort — or risk — to upgrade.
Besides, the upgrades now aren’t all that much of an upgrade.
Take my car (figuratively, not literally). I have liked Chrysler 300s since the present body style came out in 2004, but I never thought I’d buy one until a couple of years ago, when I ran across a used one.
The body style had changed a bit from the original. 2013 was the first year that it had a computer display. There were some other refinements that worked out some deficiencies, not the least of which were its engine and transmission.
Chrysler continued to refine the 300, but not enough to make it worth replacing my present car with a newer version.
The same is true of our pickup. It’s a GMC Sierra 1500 with a crew cab and a full-size bed. We bought it in late 2017 and it was the perfect vehicle for our needs. Although it was a 2015 model, technically it was new when we bought it. GMC hasn’t come out with anything better since then.
Our convertible is new to us. We bought it from my nephew over the summer. Though it came off the assembly line in 1995, a lot of people who see it say that body style was the best it ever was or has been.
My camera is a Sony A6000, a mirrorless digital camera with interchangeable lenses. Sony has come out with two upgrades since then, but the only significant difference is that later models shoot 4K video; mine only shoots 1080p. Both shoot 24 megapixel still images and both shoot high definition video, but 1080p that mine shoots results in a smaller file size that works fine online and is good enough to project on big screen TVs.
My phone is an iPhone 6S Plus. At three years, it is long in the tooth by phone standards. But I don’t like Apple’s later versions and mine is the last version that has a physical headphone jack. Plus, Apple software updates still support my phone.
My computer is also an Apple product — a MacBook Pro that came out in 2013. It’s still chugging along well enough that I see no reason to replace it.
In fact, it has been quite awhile since anyone came out with a product that I just had to have. I’m not sure whether I have become harder to please or if manufacturers are in a rut.
I know one thing — I save a lot of money sticking with what I have.
Randy Foster is editor/publisher of New Bern Post. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org