Sunday, October 17, 2010

Of Headphones and Healthcare: Musings on scarcity

Headphones When I was a child, I wanted to be a concert pianist when I grew up. Or a writer. Or, truth be told, Luke Skywalker. This goes to show that I wasn’t nearly as bright as my mother claimed, since no one in his right mind would rather be Luke than Han. Since then, my ability to play the piano has declined with each year, but my love for music has not, and a few years ago, I got a pair of high fidelity, professional Shure earbuds for my MP3 player (The MP3 player wasn’t a very good investment, and it broke pretty quickly; it was not an iPod). I got the Shure earphones because they were sounded great and blocked out external noise. Sound isolation provides a significant, palpable benefit once one has joined the ranks of the parenting class. Basically they were earplugs with wires that delivered music, and I had read wonderful things about them. In time, they broke, and I got another pair. In time, those broke too, and I went through a few pairs of off-brand earbuds before, finally, getting the deluxe Apple in-ear headphones. They are very nice and sound even better than the Shures, which were considerably more expensive. Now, one of the frustrating things about the Apple earphones is that finding replacement tips is pretty difficult (They’re these little silicone doohickies that fit perfectly into one’s ear, and I have not seen them at the Apple store). Getting replacement tips for the Shures was simple; I could order a whole box of them pretty cheaply from and always had some on hand. As a consequence, I didn’t pay too much attention to my old earphones. If I lost a tip, that was fine. I’d just get another. When I lose one to the Apples these days, however, I fret and search around to find it. This is pretty irritating, as they pop off with relative ease. One fell off at Caribou Coffee this morning, and I had to retrace my steps to find the missing piece. I found it before going on my merry way, because I needed it, or the earphone would be pretty useless. Quick aside: This old Sesame Street cartoon about getting lost and retracing one's steps warped me pretty badly as a child. Gratuitous 70s flashback: