According to the old saying — new sayings haven't stood the test of time just yet, thank you very much — you should not put all your eggs in one basket. How old a saying it is, I don't know; I do know that Shakespeare wrought a variation on it in The Merchant of Venice. Says Antonio in the very first scene:

My ventures are not in one bottom trusted,
Or to one place; nor is my whole estate
Upon the fortune of this present year.

"Bottom," of course, refers to the bottom of a ship: Antonio, at least this early in the drama, is not so foolish as to put his entire year's inventory into a single vessel, what with the possibility of shipwreck and/or piracy always looming.

This past week, the local cable company, from whom I buy television service and Internet connectivity, sent me the umpteenth offer of a package deal, which would presumably cut my overall expense by a few bucks if I moved my landline telephone service over to them. As always, I threw it away: I am disinclined to put all my eggs in a single basket. The phone company (it's that big one you thought was put to death twentysomeodd years ago) has a package deal of its own: while their Net-based TV service isn't here yet, they'd love to see me move my wireless service to them and run a DSL line instead of cable. Not going to happen.

Nor do I bundle my insurance services together: I buy my auto insurance and a so-called "umbrella" policy from one firm, and my homeowners' insurance from another. The agent for the latter sends me a note every few months to remind me that I could see substantial discounts were I to buy all my insurance from him; I politely discard it. I also carry a couple of life-insurance policies, different issuers, even different types: one is a term policy, paid for through payroll deduction, and one is a whole-life policy, for which I send a check every six months. My health insurance is provided by, you guessed it, someone else.

This is by no means a new phenomenon: I have always done things this way. (Before I bought this house, I was a tenant, and I had renter's insurance, from yet another firm.) And while I'm not in the market for a second motor vehicle — for one thing, I have a single-car garage, which is full — it would probably not occur to me