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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Regarding the paper trial

By Dick Hirsch

The announcement just didn’t get the attention it deserved. With all the headlines being focused on the stock market’s continuing uncertain trajectory, the so-called financial advisors cheating their trusting investors, the stimulus packages and the plight of the banks and domestic auto manufacturers, there was little room for some deserving stories.

There seems little doubt the news merited page one consideration as well as some video on the national newscasts, but, much to the chagrin of the developers, that didn’t happen.

I learned about the news quite by accident. I was waiting in line at the Post Office when I overheard a fragment of conversation. I want to assure you that I am not the kind of person who goes around eavesdropping on conversations in public places, such as the Post Office, the supermarket or the pizza parlor.

The truth is, however, that it is now sometimes very difficult not to eavesdrop. The development and virtually universal use of the wireless phone is the major factor promoting eavesdropping. We have a whole cluster of cell phone users who adopt their version of the stentorian or broadcast voice whenever chatting on their phone in public places. In such cases, it is impossible to shut out and ignore whatever trivia they are recounting. They apparently don’t place much emphasis on the so-called private conversation.

A phone played no role in my experience at the Post Office. I merely heard a couple discussing the advent of a 3-ply version. They were asking themselves whether they should consider buying some of the three ply.

Hmmm, I thought. That really is news. In an economy where meltdown has become the favorite newly coined word, the manufacturers are introducing 3-ply, which certainly would be positioned at a higher price level than the previous standards, the 1-ply or the 2-ply. Well, I thought, it could be considered to be a positive sign for the economy, introducing a model which may be more expensive but which provides new benefits.

Frankly, I never differentiated between the plys in the past. Or is it plies? Whatever. I knew that some people preached of the effectiveness and competitive pricing of the 1-ply version. Yet, 2-ply has a growing number of adherents, most of whom stressed the resilience and value of 2-ply. It was a matter of habit and experience, I gathered. Those who endorsed the single ply considered it to be the standard of excellence upon which an entire industry was built. Considering its many features as well as the fact that it was the clear favorite of the majority of domestic users, they felt there was no need for a more expensive version. In recent years they also began citing environmental factors that favored the 1-ply.

They immediately rejected the 2-ply version when it was introduced, deeming it to be an needless enhancement that succeeded only in increasing the annual cost to the users of the product. Meanwhile, my experience indicates the 2-ply supporters often resorted to ridiculing in a very nasty manner those who continued utilizing the 1-ply without even considering an upgrade to the 2-ply.

Those 1-ply devotees would probably never entertain a switch to the new 3-ply, but what about the 2-ply partisans?
I’ve always been flexible. In early adulthood I decided there was no reason to be dogmatic about modest issues, certainly not the differences between the two existing versions. I can testify that I’ve used both versions successfully, but after years of use in which I developed a clearer understanding of the differences, I decided there were benefits that accompanied use of the 2-ply. I became a regular 2-ply user, however I would use the 1-ply without incident or complaint when necessary. I did feel, however, that having become accustomed to the 2-ply, I had to make procedural adjustments when circumstances resulted in my using the 1-ply.

I feel it is important to stay abreast of product advancements, for my own interest as well as for the edification of readers. Thus, after hearing of the new product’s quiet introduction, I immediately decided I should conduct a comparison test. The first retailer had no 3-ply in stock but I found a supply at the second. I returned home and looked forward to testing it at an appropriate time, which I did. It worked quite well, as advertised, but as far as any clear superiority to the 1-ply and 2-ply versions, I must report that the test was inconclusive.



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