Entropy Is Everywhere

By , February 14, 2015

“Entropy is everywhere!” I can’t remember where I saw that. It may have been a T-shirt, perhaps a bumper sticker, but it’s become a catchphrase in my family. Lately, it seems all too true.

In The Perfect World, nothing wears out. When we find the right thing, it lasts forever. Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world. Our tools and appliances age, wear down, and eventually stop working. Most often, this seems to happen at the most inconvenient moments.

Lately, entropy has affected our propane set up, the battery bank, and other key components of our “homestead.” But what really holds my attention is the breakdown of an absolutely non-essential aspect: our home theater set up.

Perhaps the chief irony of our homestead life is our love of movies (see How Sizing Our Battery Bank Led to Uncomfortable Truths About Our Lifestyle). We live fairly rustically, but we do like a good home theater experience when we can.

Everything in our system came from our previous life on the grid in Juneau. The newest components might have been added as recently as a year before we found our Haines property and decided to move to it. That would put the most recent additions at about 10 years old—ancient in our disposable, upgrade-to-the-latest-technology-at-every-opportunity society.

Some of the components are far older. A few of them, primarily speakers, I no longer remember how long we’ve owned them.

Now, those components are dropping offline, just as we make a new effort to lower our monthly expenditures.

It started with the amplifier/receiver. I describe that little “adventure” in Down the Upgrade. We ended up with better quality sound. Unfortunately, that led to speaker problems. Our subwoofer blew! When I looked inside, I found the foam cone surrounds as brittle as burnt paper. I can’t remember, but this component may be more than 30 years old. Entropy.

Which leads me to discovering a frugality conundrum. I could replace these surrounds myself, using mail order repair kits. Or, I could probably find replacement components at the local thrift stores for far less cost and effort.

I can defer that decision for now. I had already patched the breaks in the cone surrounds when I researched replacements on line. When I decided to replace them, I took off the patches, closed up the subwoofer, and reattached it to the stereo. I decided to test the subwoofer using the same movie I’d watched when I first heard the blown speakers. Without the bad sections of surround, it sounds just fine, for the time being.

I’ll use the extra time to shop for replacement components at a more leisurely, well considered pace. Even so, I’ll be cursing the inevitability of entropy the whole way.

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