So much so that I will probably get around to doing my “Shopping Matrix” this afternoon and laying in a few goodies.
The process begins with a cup of coffee (got i`t!) and a reflective moment such as the one we’re having now. It’s sort of like a guided meditation except it applies to the outer, rather than inner, world.
The first question to ask is…
1. What do I have?
Story time: I did this on Sunday in the palatial offices of UrbanSurvival and Peoplenomics,
My “super-computer” had stopped booting from the big SSD and – for a frustrating half-hour – I contemplated buying another Super Computer to replace the existing one.
If you look through your possessions in life, what you will often find is that a good portion of spending is due to the existing item you have not working as well as it should.
In my case, ripping the computer apart was all that was needed. I discovered that the SSD’s SATA cable to the motherboard had somehow worked loose (or I hadn’t seated it right the first time) but whatever the cause, the machine is back to smoking-fast speed.
I saved $2,300 on the spot.
This is the most important part of the Zen of Shopping – and it’s the one that many people fail at:
They have something.
It develops a perceived flaw.
Instead of repair, they REPLACE and there goes the money. Double-time.
2. Make a Repair List Before a Shopping List
The UrbanSurvival Office (which was written up at the Perfect Home Office) was a design project done on the Peoplenomics side several years back. (Subscriber note: See “Building the Perfect Home Office” Peoplenomics #258, Sept. 17, 2006 here)
There are several “workstations” in my perfect office. Writing position, two radio positions, electronics position, filing section, treadmill, tool cart….etc.
The computer system – which occupies one position – has been relatively economical because I have focused on repairing and upgrading rather than throw oodles of money at various problems.
On the computer system, for example, there are three 28-inch flat screens and a 37-inch screen.
A year, or so, back when the power supply on one of the 28-inch monitors failed, I bought power supply repair kits and installed them. At $200 each, the cost of replacement would have been well over $600. But three power supply repair kits cost me $45 plus the fun of replacing the old failing capacitors in the power supplies. (Wrote about this in mid 2014 here)
Same thing for the tower itself. It is fast, full of RAM, but when the main hard drive approached mean time between failure at the three-year mark, rather than buy a new computer ($2,300 for a screaming gaming machine with four video outs, I simply installed a 500 GB SSD and kept the old drive in a power-managed secondary position.
Moving on to the ham radio part of my office (yes, I do listen a lot on 40/80 meters to hear what people are talking about!) I look over my equipment with the same attitude.
When I look at my 2000 watt linear amplifier, I think to myself “Gosh, wouldn’t a new QRO HF-3KDX look better sitting there?”
Unfortunately, while the QRO amplifier would be a major upgrade, the fact is that there are only a few problems with the old amplifier that need to be fixed to put my old amplifier “perfect” again.
I already have the Harbach Electronics capacitor replacement kit awaiting installation.
And a fresh set of 3-500Z’s can be found from K5SVC for under $400 on eBay.
After looking at the existing amplifier, it dawned on Mr. Slow that while I am perfectly capable of writing a (rather large) check for the QRO amplifier, the only reason I am not happy with what I have is that there are minor repairs/updates that I know should be done.
Eventually, I worked up the nerve to ask myself “If the existing amplifier were updated, would you even think of buying the new one?” The answer, obviously, is NO.
The next piece of equipment on the ham radio portion of the 40-feet of desk space in the office, is the Kenwood TS-590S.
COULD I buy a slightly higher performance radio? Sure. But all I really need to do is get on the computer and download the current radio software update and presto! Current performance radio.
Lustfully around this time of year, I look for collectible Hallicrafters gear on eBay. But I have several pieces of gear in line waiting to go on the repair and update bench.
If I get another piece of gear, what am I buying besides another box to sit in line?
This process – of going around looking at everything I own (office, shop, airplane, studio, farm equipment, etc…) led me to a very important realization about myself. One of my few shortcomings.
I tend to buy things impulsively to replace items that really just need repairs.
This is a widespread disease in the planned obsolescence age.
This has cut my wasteful spending to zero. I have as much crap…it all works, now, too.
3. Throw Something Away Before Buying New
This I my new mantra for the office and the shop. Already, there has been a remarkable decline in UPS deliveries.
I don’t envy my wife, however. She has one of the most vexing problems of all: Clothing.
Elaine (I don’t know as I ever mentioned this before) wears exactly the same size clothing that she wore in high school. Considering the time-span from high school to this side of Social Security, that’s just damn-near miraculous.
She keeps in perfect shape by eating sensibly, working-out every day, using a combination of free weights, a walker or the treadmill, and walking up and down stairs and so forth.
HER problem is she has always purchased high quality clothing and she takes care of her clothing perfectly. As one example, when you wash a sweatshirt, or T-shirt with writing on it, do you know to turn it inside-out before washing?
“The item still gets clean,” she explains. “But the agitators in the tub of the washing machine don’t scrape off the design.” Who knew? Not me.
To prove it, she has a cut-off Hooters tee-shirt that she’s had for over 15-years. And it still looks very good!
And she has a pair of highly decorated stylish boots that cost $650 in 1990, or so. They’ve been wore once, I think. They would look good on Park Avenue. In the Wal-Mart in Palestine? Uh…er…no.
You see her problem, right? She came back from the trip out west saying “I wish I’d had more time to shop in Scottsdale…” But in truth, she doesn’t NEED anything and when I asked what she’d like to buy, I get the “Men don’t understand” look. (They don’t, lol…)
About once a month, she’ll wander into her closet (walk-in) and she’ll get out everything and go through it looking for something to throw away. Only once in the last six months has anything really ended up going anywhere. THESE episodes are followed by a lament about how “Women’s fashion today has just gone to crap…”
And she’s right…so have men’s “fashion.”
I’ve gone from YSL suits, white shirts, ties and braces (not to mention highly polished wingtips) to contemporary fashion. Which looks suspiciously like what people were too damn lazy to pick up, hang up, or clean up.
The only place left for men to wear a suit anymore is on a cruise ship for dinner or to funerals. And if you’re doing the “free-style dining” option shipboard,, now you’re down to just funerals. Maybe an occasional job interview or boardroom-level presentation, but who does those? Skype, right?
So there you have it…a totally different want to prepare for Black Friday. Then, and only then, ask…
4. What do I really NEED?
The only present I buy myself at this time of year?
That one I know I will use, it is a deductible expense, and oh, yeah…it’s all designed to wear out every year thanks to the dunderheads in Congress.
Other than that, Black Friday for us is yet-another over-hyped commercialized non-event. Kinda like CyberMonday. Until I learn to talk – or write – faster, a 1990 copy of Ashton-Tate MultiMate software could keep up with me just fine.
It is shocking how many letters I write that use the OBDC database connector in Visual Basic… NOT!
The Delusion of Progress
We seem to forget (as a species) that the automatic transmission was invented in 1904, power brakes in 1927, and electric windows in 1940. Automobile air conditioning was introduced in 1933. Disk brakes have been around since before 1902.
Cars compare themselves with airplanes: Instrument clusters and cockpits…You can buy a very good airplane for one-half the price of a decked out new Denali. Buddy of mine just got one and it was pushing 70-large. I can buy airplanes all day for half that. So can you…but then you’d see through a lot of marketing crap because most pilots aren’t stupid.
5. Spend to buy functionality. The speed limit is the same for a Yugo or a Lambo. Chevette or Corvette.
Fools and their gold are soon parted. (Foo and his goo soon poo…is how it is taught in the Ure family.)
6. Avoid the Madness of Crowds in All Things
It is again instructive to read the NY Daily News report “ EXCLUSIVE: Black Friday brings grief for family of Long Island Walmart worker trampled to death by wild shoppers in 2008.”
The question isn’t WHETHER people are crazy today.
It is HOW CRAZY ARE THEY?
Behold! Our Nation’s Capitol.
Behold! Our former borders!
Behold! Planeloads of people who hate us!
Whatzzat tell yah?
America has bear-spray thinking in a 50-caliber world.
Buying a bunch of “feel goods” doesn’t fix the problem.
Bates is Fine
Turns out the brother-in-law didn’t have the heart surgery, after all.
After a bunch of scans and such, what had looked like a problem wasn’t one, so this morning he will be marched on a treadmill what doctors take notes.
Reminds me of what I need to do today: turn on the treadmill here in the office and stand to the side of it making notes.
I’ll pretend I’m playing doctor.
Might even turn it up to 12 MPH and a 10-degree incline for a half-hour, or so. Not with me on it, you understand. I’ll just be watching it closely and urgently writing various prescriptions for myself.
C2H6O 10% in H2O over ice. PRN. Stat.
Times like these I regret business school over med school. Then I get over it.
I chose “market forces” over malpractice – and hold those who chose the latter in high regard. Gamblers of the highest order.
Thank you for your prayers on Bates’ behalf.
I’m still going to cook a turkey this fall. Eventually the docs will send Bates home to face my cooking.
Shop till you drop — write when you break-even — and many happy returns.