Monday, May 09, 2005

The Voice of Reason

Zee, the voice of reason

There usually comes at time when one is faced with a major purchase. Not necessarily a purchase costing a great amount of money but one where people question your sanity, your character, based on your willingness to spend money on "stupid" things. In most cases the amount of money spent goes hand in hand and is proportional with the level of nut you're declared as.

For example, years ago I bought my third computer. Wow, did I get flack for having one. It was a Commodore Amiga 2000. It wasn't compatible with Apple or PC but was a close cousin to UNIX. At the time it was the only computer that could do preemptive multitasking, had stereo sound, a built in a dedicated sound chip, graphics chip and a whole array of other geeky features.

In my computer science course I think I was one of four that had an Amiga (the first year students totalled about eighty). Even though I loved that computer I was labelled as a non-conformist and automatically anti-PC (IBM PC that is). I suppose it could have been worse. I could have been Roger, the only guy with a Macintosh. At least his platform is still around and kicking.

It didn't help my image that my computer print outs had "IBMSUCKS" instead of my student number on them. It was just so easy to poke fun at a computer system that had DOS as an operating system. Being graphics oriented I felt the PC was for accountants and those conservative types that were government pencil pushers that gravitated to and loved databases and spreadsheets. Who knew databases and spreadsheets would rule the world of computers?

Time has a way of kicking the crap of out cocky people like myself and twelve years later guess who owns an intel based, windows system? I can hear all those computer profs saying "I told you so. See? Where your Amiga is now? In the dump." Most of my friends that were in comp sci are now programming PCs or at least doing tech support. I'm not even programming any more.

Purchasing the Amiga was a whole lot of fun. I've logged many hours on it. Which brings me to the whole purchase thing. If you buy something that goes against the common way of thinking you've got to be prepared for the "I told you so." line later on and the "What are you nuts?" line just after your purchase. In the end though, it is you that gets something out of it. Who cares if people think you were crazy for buying into a dying platform?

Which brings me to a lens I've been eyeing. It's a nikkor zoom lens. The 70-200mm with a 2.8 aperture and vibration reduction built in. The VR allows you to shoot up to three stops lower than you normally would. Translation: It's 2530.00 after tax in Canadian funds. That's a huge lump of money for a lens that I could be doing other things with. Buying new clothes, paying off the debt, eating out, paying rent, maybe even dating. The list practically never ends.

This is why I have a fall back. There's a voice of reason in my head that says "What are you nuts?". Unfortunately it's usually over shadowed by the "Wow! that's sooo cool!" voice. Because the cool voice usually wins every time I have a fall back for my fall back voice of reason that takes the form of friends.

Five main friends and some more on the side (the extra ones are used on larger more difficult purchases). John, Irmina, Zee, William and Sara are the main voices of reason (or V.O.R.s).

It's good to have guys with input because a girl will automatically say no. Females generally have good, solid input, maybe because they are more practical. When they say "no" to a purchase it makes leaving that item on the shelf more depressing. At least with the guy thought pattern, if they say "no" they've weighed the cool factor (only recognized by guys) and usually it makes sense without the practical financial reasons that women tend to use. When you get a "no" from guys you can identify with their reasoning and respond with "Oh yeah, what was I thinking? That is dumb."

An example of this would be buying speakers. "What? You're buying labtec speakers? What are you nuts? They sound like crap, Pioneer sound so much better and they're only 3 times the cost.". Your response would be "Oh my gosh you're right, how could I be so dumb!"

For the camera lens purchase I have called on Zee. Slightly practical, perhaps because he just got married, but also a long time friend who is used to my purchasing extravaganzas, impulse shopping urges, and maybe even my way of thinking. It surprised him that I went to the camera store, looked at the lens, put it on my camera, shot pictures with it, then placed it back in the box and walked away. Walked away without buying it, without going back ten minutes later and buying it. It was quite impressive.

Zee's answer to my purchase dilemma was to wait until I got a job so I'd have a stream of income coming in. Seemed logical to me. With computer equipment or video equipment I tend to buy things first so I can try it out and get familiar with it before taking on a job where I'll use it. That way I'll know the quirks of the equipment before hand. In my brain this is what was going on with the lens. If I were to pick it up I should at least have a gig that I'll need for it first. It all made a lot of sense and I went home without the shakes or the thought of going back tomorrow.

There are two things to watch out for when you pick your voice of reason. Some friends will tire of you blabbing about a product and will automatically blurt out "Buy it! Buy it, for crying out loud!". Marc and Colin are put in this category. They are great friends but terrible as V.O.R. role models. Automatically they're eliminated from the V.O.R. list.

The other type of person to be wary of is someone that has that particular hobby already. William, a photo bug, would be a bad choice because he can rationalize the purchase without much effort. "Wow, a 2.8 aperture. You can throw the background into blurriness with that. Your photos will be that much more great!". His wife would be a better choice as she can take a step back and say "Are you working? Maybe you should buy new clothes first for going out on dates.". A woman's V.O.R. might have those harsh interjections but they just ground you, very quickly I might add, into reality (and make you sad at the same time).

Why even have females on this purchase jury you ask? Well they might not be good for gadget buying (as they always tend to say "no") but they are great when it comes to dating purchases. "What! you're buying flowers already? How many times have you gone out with her? Desperate! Hello?"

In the end the decision is your own. For me, I will not buy the lens until I get more consistent work. Thanks Zee.


Zee said...

I do what I can.

Cupcake said...

I agree with Zee. I'd like to add that once you get a job, instead of buying the lens right away, put away, say, $25.00 per month until you have the purchase amount. Put 1% in savings and put as much as you can, towards your debt.

Anonymous said...

Definatly wait until you're working to make such a major purchase, I would like to point out though,that if you put away $25 per month as cupcake suggested, it will take you 102 months to buy this lens, that's.....let's see......just over 8 and a half years. Whoo, Hoo, something to look forward to.

Cupcake said...

I don't know how much the lens will really cost. I was merely suggesting a number, as an example for saving up for a major purchase. BagelHot can come up with a number he sees fit.

I know my husband has been saving up for an ipod in small increments. We're talking delayed gratification, in order to pay off debts first.

BagelHot said...

You'll be happy to know that all of it went to bills. {insert sobbing here}

uncaringbear said...

I would love to have any of the lenses that have been mentioned in this blog. Nikon lenses are actually not a bad investment, as they have very good resale value, as seen in the ridiculous winning bids in ebay. However, one should not be spending $$$ on luxury items if there are outstanding debts to be paid. Mind you, I would love to own the 70-200mm 2.8 VR. That would be one awesome lens to have in your bag. Because I'm not made of money, I've been trying to win a 50mm 1.8 or 1.4 on ebay, but even those lenses are bid way over their value.

Anonymous said...

three rules of purchase: want it. need it. afford it. If you can afford it and you want it / need it, get it. If you want it, but can't afford it, you don't get it. If you need it, you find a way to afford it. simple.