How to break old stuff!

Yesterday, Liam and I sat together in the living room while I worked and he read Living Bird (a magazine put out by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology). He started giggling. Then he chuckled. Next thing you know, his body shook while he laughed out loud. Now it’s nearly impossible to get any work done when someone is enjoying a good joke in a piece of writing that is only feet from where you sit! So I had to know the source of such good humor.

Pete Dunne: How to Destroy Your Binoculars

Nobody could have anticipated this problem. Only a few decades ago birders took pains to keep their binoculars in good working order so they would provide years of service.

No longer. Now, with new-and-improved, super-whiz-bang binoculars appearing every other week, birders who already own quality instruments that don’t have the latest technological innovations—coatings that deflect images of European Starlings and House Sparrows; squishy gel-packed bodies as squeezable as toilet paper—are crying for an excuse to ditch their built-to-last-a-lifetime glass so they have an excuse to buy the latest and greatest.

But they can’t. Their current binoculars work just fine. Replacing them will mean hours of negotiation with their conscience, their spouse, or both.

So here, for the benefit of birders suffering new binocular envy, are several proven ways to destroy the binoculars you are using now. I have personally tried every one and will attest to their success.

With that introduction, Dunne then reels off six detailed methods for deep-sixing your aging binoculars. And they are hilarious! Here are two:

1. The ol’ bioncular left on the roof of your car trick. Although this used to be the binocular abuser’s default setting (the equivalent of the dog eating your homework), unfortunately this is not the fail-safe technique it used to be. There are instruments out there now that can take a standard tumble onto tarmac and survive. In order to achieve maximum damage levels as defined by the new, enhanced, bino-destructo scale, you must place your instrument with barrels parallel to the car roof (i.e. not standing upright) so that you can achieve freeway speeds before the instrument goes airborne. If possible, when backing up to retrieve the wreckage, (for insurance purposes) run the instrument over with tires of your car…


5. While scanning for hawks, consume a New-York-deli-sized roast beef sandwich (making sure that half the mayo lands on the glass), then introduce the binoculars to a six-month old Labrador retriever with the counsel, “Now be a good dog, Armageddon, and leave those binoculars alone.” Leave the room. Make sure the instruments are within reach and remove all doggy toys from the vicinity.

And if all else fails:

6. Loan them to me. I guarantee you’ll need new instruments by the time you get them back.

We laughed so much reading about the destructive methods of cleaning the lenses using the equivalent of a brillo pad and packing the binocs in a backpack, on a hot day, with a loosened jar of honey to ooze and lubricate the working parts of the instrument.

It occurred to me that this format would make an ideal writing exercise. How many of us have kids who want the latest X Box or Wii or the best saddle for a horse or the newest bicycle or the most recent iPod (the iTouch!) even while the stuff they have works perfectly and used to entertain them for hours? I see that show of hands. Everyone!

So turn them loose. Let them write about how to destroy that old stuff in order to justify the expense of the new stuff.

Hmm. Am I’m unleashing criminal activity against otherwise still-in-good-condition stuff? For the record: I said write about it. Don’t actually do it. 🙂

2 Responses to “How to break old stuff!”

  1. Katie says:

    LOL! (Although, I wish I knew some birders who are attempting to lose their old binoculars. We would *love* to have someone’s castoff for our nature study!)

  2. Monica says:

    This is great! Being birders ourselves, I am deeply curious about the other 3 methods – is there a link to the entire article??