Lessons from commerce

I got a new computer yesterday. It's nice to have a machine that works as quickly as I expect it too. Here is what I learned from it.

  • Optimization of more than four or five variables can make your mind explode. Consider all the variables in buying a PC: touchscreen or not, Normal or solid state hard drive, processor speed, RAM, ease of uprade, portability and weight (as well as desktop vs laptop), build quality and finish, external ports, operating system version, new vs used, expected resale value, presence/quality of webcam/mic, and the fact that different resellers and manufacturers will have different prices and combinations of these aspects. Choice is a burden and it is often difficult to make a decision without to much regret. Though with a little patience, some planning, lots of research (youtube and reviews are super helpful), and self discipline you can make a pretty wise choice that balances all these. However, it's interesting how this process can be all consuming, and the necessary mental resources required to balance all of these factors can lead to something bordering on temporary obsession (what has been labeled hyperfocus by those who are blessed/cursed to have ADHD). It can become an all consuming quest to make the right decision, often taking me away from work and relationships. This happens all the time when I encounter really complex life situations (creating a course schedule in college, picking a career/job, deciding who I should marry, and really any purchase of over $250). They make my mind work in a way that everyday life does not. I think I secretly enjoy the whole process but I do need to think of ways to balance these fits of determination with the needs of everyday life so they don't distract me.  I found another word for this: Monomania
  • Important in all of this is that nagging feeling underneath your skin that says "No, don't do this." It often cannot be immediately articulated but it is a kind to some mild nausea or uneasiness about the decision even if it meets all the rational requirements laid out. It is a good guide that should not be ignored. It's a trusted second opinion to reason. It's all a very delicate interplay between this feeling and clear direct reasoning. I used to ignore it. I will still override it from time to time, but if it does appear I tend to make myself sleep on it for a day or two just to ensure my mental conviction as strong as I think it is.
  • I should never regret investing in things that save me time. (if the costs are within reason) The reason I wanted the computer in the first place was because I had all but given up on most of my photography because photo editing had become unbearably slow. Technology was becoming a bottleneck for something I really enjoyed doing (and something that also paid for itself.). It was harder than it should have been to convince myself to spend the money on equipment. The nice thing is that it also saves me time in other areas (something I didn't factor into my decision). Webpages load in about 20% of the time that it took, there is no lag loading programs and I also have access to all of the new technology that is part of Windows 8.  
  • Life is rarely all in. I spent $400 on this purchase, but an important aspect of this was that I knew I could in a worst case scenario still re-sell it for $200. This made the purchase a lot easier. It is also a good lesson to remember. Whether it is a job, a relationship, a hobby, an event or anything that requires an investment of emotion, time or resources it is unlikely that there won't be some residual value. There is also usually something to be gained along the way. In this case I also picked up the extra (and unplanned) benefit of saving time in a very regular daily task (surfing the web). If life we almost always meet new people, learn new things, and grow in unexpected ways. It's easy to discount things when we have very uni-purpose objectives in mind (think about people who only view relationships as a vehicle to marriage). If we only keep the singular goals in mind we will often face much more disappointment than if we more aware of and grateful for the unexpected. 

  • For the fact that smiles are contagious. A sour mood is unlikely to withstand in the face of a community of happy faces. This is one of the best reasons to go to church. It's rare we find communities of happy, welcoming people. 
  • For the imagination to face the worst case scenario. It makes everything else easy. Especially if it is pre-emptive. Utilitarian creativity/
  • For the quiet moments and the people who showed me the value in them. In some ways I have the winter to thank for this. It ushers us inside and makes us deal with ourselves.