Practicality Wins

There are many good arguments in favor of going the extra mile, or spending the extra dollar in the interest of aesthetics. I can appreciate when someone has done a good job designing a room, or paining something, or the craftsmanship of a piece of furniture or other wood work. I love older architecture, for example. Walking through Boston, you can tell which buildings are the older ones, cause the new ones look like giant glass blocks. The old ones though, they have character. I forget what it’s called, exactly, but I love those formed-concrete thingies they put over windows, and the mouldings along the top ledge. People just don’t bother anymore, and I find that to be a shame.

Beyond those things which you can (or HAVE to) see, I’m much more in favor or leaning toward practicality. While designs and details are nice, if nobody is ever going to see them, why bother? Who cares if it’s ugly, if it works well? Especially if while making it work better, it’s made even a little uglier still?

One example of practicality over aesthetics was the Christmas tree stand that we had while I was growing up. My father worked in a machine shop doing whatever the scientists at the M.I.T. Magnet lab needed him to do. Machining parts and pieces and such. He made a Christmas tree stand out of 1-1/2″ thick cast iron. It was ugly. Reddish-brown. The sleeve into which you’d slide the tree trunk had three lag bolts which you had to go find the adjustable wrench to tighten. The damned thing was so heavy, I couldn’t move it until I was about 15, and even then it was difficult. None of our Christmas trees ever fell though, and like I say, who cares? It was under the tree, wrapped in a tree skirt. Ugly and inconvenient, but it got the job done by no small margin, and nobody ever saw it.

That stand was so ridiculously practical, it’s my favorite example. But the reason I bring this up is because of a money clip I saw while I was on a shuttle to the air port in Philly this past weekend.

Now, I have always liked money clips. I always thought they were pretty cool, cause when you’re robbed, you’re told to hand over your wallet. Thus, I do not keep money in my wallet, I just stuff it into my pocket. I’ve had a few money clips over the years, but generally they’ve been pretty cheap,(as far as money clips go!) and they’ve always lost their springiness, and the money would fall out anyway. Then I would just be carrying around a useless piece of cheap metal in my pocket with my money.

This weekend, I saw a fellow reach into his pocket and withdraw a small stack of various cards, a little bit of money, and it was all bound together with a binder clip.

I was blown away by how practical this was!! I couldn’t believe I had never even considered this! My jaw kinda slackened and I pointed at it. When the guy looked at me like “Dude, what?” I said “That’s freaking brilliant! WHY have I never seen that before? Why didn’t I think of that?? That’s genius!”

The guy laughed, and said he typically got made fun of for it. Another guy on the bus said “I know I’m changing to one of those when I get home.” We traded stories of money clips from the past that stopped working, or even cracked (it was silver) and so on.

So bloody obvious, these clips, and I simply never even thought about doing that with my cards and money and such. And for the price of a real money clip, you could get probably get several boxes! And the spring on these things is pretty tough to wear out… and if you do, who cares, you got more!

How bout you, are you fan of function over beauty? Do you have anything you think is perfect for the job, yet nobody seems to agree?


8 thoughts on “Practicality Wins

  1. My teeth sort of come under that heading. When I had my implants done, some 10 or 11 years ago, I was fitted with what was supposed to be a temporary. It works tremendously well, shows no signs of becoming less so, and despite my dentist’s yearly plea for me to get a prettier appliance, I see no need to spend $25,000 or so to have whiter teeth when the ones I have now work so well at what they are supposed to do, which is chewing.

    • Yeah, man, funny you should mention that… I was going to post about tooth whitening… How white are teeth going to get before someone calls a stop to it?? Pretty soon they’ll be so bright you’ll be able to burn someone’s shadow into the wall behind them just by smiling!

  2. Definitely a fan of functional practical things. I can appreciate fancy sometimes, but overly expensive for something that is basically kind of dumb, no thanks. I’m the kind of guy who used to wrap presents in the comic pages. I hate filling up trash cans and land fills.

  3. are you fan of function over beauty?

    Both… but the combination of the two is SO very hard to find. As for money clips… I quit using them many years ago. But I still have a St.Christopher medallion money clip in my junk… err, treasures… box. That was a gift from my mother when I graduated from high school; the thing lasted a good 20 years.

    • That’s fantastic, that’s the kind of thing I’d never use, I think… for fear that I’d ruin or lose it. I LIKE money clips, don’t get me wrong… I just think the clip is far too perfect for the job, and you don’t care if it gets scuffed or broken.

  4. Money Clip? Married & 4 kids = no money. Hence, no need for a money clip. 🙂

    Hamlet said “methinks that there is nothing good nor evil in this world but that thinking makes it so” (I might have a word or two wrong, but that’s the basic quote); same thing goes for aesthetics. Give me functionality any day. Except for my trophy wife.

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