Cable jam

February 19, 2009

Last evening my good friend Drops (Maich) came to my digs to borrow an old Nokia charger that I stopped using sometime last year. The perfectly good charger had been orphaned when I lost its parent, my phone at that time. Since then, it has been uselessly lying there together with a collection of other similarly abandoned electrical and electronic junk waiting for either rescue or disposal. There was no way I was going through the wire mishmash to get it for him so I made him seek himself out by going through the impossible labyrinth for the stuff he wanted. You see, the things are strewn carelessly in one drawer which I’ve designated for just that; junk. The dude must have been desperate enough because he patiently undid the tangles… ending up with the wrong tip several times and starting over again, until he pulled the cable with the correct end from the mess.

Inevitably, some of the wired jumble from the drawer has found its way to that spot below my TV stand where the power multi-plug socket is. Some have traveled a little further. I have cables snaking behind cupboards, beneath tables, underneath beds, carpets, all over. Even my walls have hanging, swinging tendrils of cables reaching for the windows like climbing money plant arms reaching for sunlight. My TV’s aerial strand is particularly notorious for getting in my way all the time especially as I have to keep shifting its position depending on the channel I want to watch. Others are my bed switch and power cables from my bedside lamps. Cables, cables, cables. Insulated wires everywhere. My house is full of them. Needless to say, this has caused me untold exasperation. Identifying the correct cable for the task at hand is like a layman trying to figure out buttons, switches, inlets and outlets when playing on DjDrop’s Vestax music mixer. Or like literally disentangling a single strand of cooked spaghetti without it dismantling it. No end is easily traceable from the other corresponding end.

I’m still unsuccessful in my bid to understand how I came into this predicament. You could say my situation was brought on by my unwillingness to do away with old, obsolete items. In my adult life, I have owned many electrical and electronic items. All these come with long tripping cables, both for power and for interconnectivity. They also come with an estimated lifespan of expected service.

Since everything electrical or electronic comes with wires, it got me thinking; why don’t these engineering geeks come up with one universal cable for all interconnectivity? Atleast in the power department there’s talk of a developing wireless electric conductivity in the pipeline.

It’s encouraging to note that the mobile world big boys and players are thinking of doing exactly that. On 17th February 2009 The World GSM Association gave an indication that they will be coming to my rescue. For our collective convenience (and sanity), operators and handset makers (excluding Apple, surprise, surprise!) agreed to a standard charger by 2012. It is said that chargers generate 51000 tons of waste a year. A mentioned French study says that every 20 months between 48 and 51 million cellphone chargers become obsolete. I have owned quite a number of phones since their introduction and general proliferation. When these have died or outlived their useful lives, the chargers which are surprisingly resilient have often remained intact. Because of my third-world frugal mindset, my first instinct is to preserve. So I keep the chargers in the hope that they will become useful someday in the future. But do they ever become useful again? Not much. That makes me wonder why I still hold on to them.

My drawer is still full of cables waiting to be rescued or disposed of. Since I can’t bring myself to throw them away (am green like that!), I’m inviting my friends over to help me dispose of them conscientiously. Come one, come all!

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