The reason for these posts
I’ve long been meaning to force myself to justify any purchase before I make it. I’m not a terribly impulsive person in the sense of buying things on a whim (far from it in fact; I probably actually have a tendency to over-research everything), so the reasoning behind this is less to minimize frivolous spending and more to leave me a record of the reasoning that went into purchase decisions so that if I need to make a similar purchase again in the future (or give advice to someone else concerning a similar purchase), I will have something to go on.
With this being said, there have been a few times that I did buy things with one idea, only to realize that I had been somewhat blinded by my desires and optimism. For example:
- I did a lot of research on good value-longboards (thinking I’d skate to my college classes), only to realize after I’d bought one that the hilly terrain on my college campus made this a very poor idea unless it were to be an electric longboard with brakes. Oops.
- I compared all the forms of low-impact cardio that I could think of, intending to replace running (which is high-impact) with a different form of exercise that is less hard on the body over time. I spent weeks weighing variables like fun value, safety, portability (particularly if the form of exercise can be traveled with via plane), and so on. I settled on inline skating and skipping rope. While I’ve stuck with the latter, after sinking a few weeks into inline skating, I realized that it wasn’t a good match for me after all, since the braking techniques that I thought would make inline skating more workable than longboarding (as above) were still too skill-based for my desired level of safety, particularly when I was pushing myself hard during exercise. Now, I had unfortunately dropped quite a bit of money on skates with specialty frames and carbon boots by this point.
- After much research, I modified some Gateron clear key switches by adding trimmed springs to create key switches with extremely low actuation force, intending to use these for a dual-use stenography and typing input device. I then sent these off to a guy who assembles (solders, flashes custom firmware, etc.) split keyboards from PCB kits. Very soon after I received the completed board, I realized that my idea of combining steno and typing was fundamentally flawed, and it wasn’t going to work. (One of the USB connectors for the microcontroller also came detached – QC issues from assembly it seems. I was unhappy about this too). More money down the drain.
- One summer in college, having been inspired by a couple friends, I decided I was going to pick up guitar. I did tons of research into good starting acoustic guitars and ancillary gear (like cases, stands, capos, tuners, etc.), and then picked up the model I settled on from a local Guitar Center. After a couple weeks making decent progress, I got stuck on the F barre chord, and realized that my dreams of somehow getting good while blowing off steam and goofing around were unrealistic given the amount of time I had: three majors doesn’t leave much extra. I’m honestly pretty terrible at staying mediocre at things (I either spend the time and effort to get good, or drop them entirely), so after weighing my time and priorities, I ended up returning the guitar in the return window (thanking the Guitar Center people profusely!), and resolved to not be so careless in the future.
At any rate, I don’t really consider any of the above cases impulse purchases. In each and every case I had done my homework: I was buying solid gear priced reasonably for valid reasons. Yet I still got burned because I had missed some important variable. With some hindsight, I think it would have been possible to catch the important factors that I ended up missing if I had been more systematic in my reasoning, and, importantly, wrote it up rigorously. I still have large collections of links concerning each of these purchases from my research sessions at the time, but the fact that I myself never sat down and wrote out what my goals were and how they would be met by the given purchase meant that I faced some nasty surprises when something that I had considered at some point but not rigorously factored into the decision ended up making things unworkable.
These blog posts, aside from the primary reason mentioned above (namely, to leave a log of my reasoning behind purchases so that I can refer back to it when making another similar purchase myself or pointing someone else in the right direction), will also thus hopefully help me avoid situations like the four above.
Posting these purchase logs on the blog is just so that anyone else who finds my thoughts helpful can benefit.
I buy most things on Amazon. I’ve talked about Amazon before. For this reason, most links will probably be to products on Amazon. At the present time, these are not affiliate links.
(For the record, I don’t average anywhere near this much in a given week. I try to cluster my purchases so that there is less waste in shipping).
Honestly, most of the stuff this week is kind of boring (nowhere near as large in magnitude as things discussed before), but hey, you’ve got to start somewhere.
- Amazon.com: DermaControl Oil Control Foam Wash: Beauty
- I had bad acne all throughout my teens, continuing into college. This stuff was recommended by my dermatologist, and I like it a lot. It’s gentle and doesn’t lead to excessive dryness.
- Amazon.com : Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar for Dry/Sensitive Skin 4.50 Ounce (Packs of 6) : Facial Soaps : Beauty
- From the same brand as the facial cleanser as above, but for cleaning less sensitive parts of the body. Proportionally much less expensive. I started buying this on my own after deciding that I didn’t like normal bar soap (the stuff that leaves a really tight feeling), but still wanted something to clean off with in the shower.
- Amazon.com: Softsoap Liquid Hand Soap, Fresh Breeze - 7.5 fluid ounce (Pack of 6): Beauty
- I explicitly wanted a handsoap that was not anti-bacterial, had a pretty minor scent, had light moisturizers (more important in the winter), and that was cheap. This checked all the boxes and I like it a lot.
- Amazon.com: Dawn Soap, Blue, 21.6 Fl Oz , 2 pk: Health & Personal Care
- Been using this stuff for a while. I don’t have much to compare it to, but it seems to work pretty well. I usually wash dishes with Latex gloves (highly recommended!) so I can’t speak to how harsh this soap is on bare skin. I was attracted to the soap initially since it is concentrated enough that you can use less of it, making dishes go faster, and also putting less chemicals down the drain overall.
- Amazon.com: Sensodyne Sensitivity Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth, Complete Protection, Extra Fresh, 3.4 ounce: Beauty
- I’ve also been using this toothpaste for a while. The sensitivity bit definitely works, and I’ve figured that as long the other stuff (whitening, plaque, etc.) isn’t completely marketing rubbish, then it’s probably worth having in a toothpaste.
- Amazon.com: Redragon K552 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Compact 87 Key Mechanical Computer Keyboard KUMARA USB Wired Cherry MX Blue Equivalent Switches for Windows PC Gamers (Black RED LED Backlit): Computers & Accessories
- I’m still in a weird in-between stage of hunting-and-pecking for some things, while using my own custom layout and keyboard software for most things (along with my Kinesis Advantage). This is mostly because there are some bugs in my codebase that I need to track down (it’s all still very alpha), but I just haven’t had the time. At any rate, I spilled stuff on my old tenkeyless and the scanning grids got messed up. (I’ve now hopefully learned my lesson: I’m being much more careful what I let around my computer now).
- I like mechanical keyboards since I find them more comfortable to hunt and peck on without jamming my fingers into mushy dome switches or harsh scissor-switches with low key travel. I wanted another tenkeyless (since it lets me use my trackball more centrally, which is more ergonomic), and also takes up less desk space. I also wanted a backlight to make sure contrast stays sharp even in dimmer light (like if I’m watching something).
- I decided to take a chance on this knock-off board since it was so cheap (I got it for something like $27) while still claiming to be mechanical. I’ve been absolutely blown away. I think I actually like it better than my old board, which used genuine Cherry switches and had the accompanying price tag. The key action on this cheapo board is crisp and the backlight works effectively. For what I payed for it, it feels like a positive steal. If you’ve never tried typing on a mechanical board before, as long as this one holds up over time, I see little reason to buy anything more expensive than this.
- The only thing I don’t like so much is the typeface used on the key legends. I’m sure I’ll get used to it over time, but it’s obviously designed to look cool rather than be functional. Some of the character shapes are enough different from most fonts that it makes hunting-and-pecking harder. If you touch type, this won’t be a concern for you.
- Amazon.com: OXO Good Grips No-Spill Silicone Ice Stick Tray for Water Bottles: Kitchen & Dining
- These ice cube trays are brilliant, since you can stack them effectively in the freezer and they don’t spill. They also create cubes with a lot of surface area, which means that they reduce beverage temperature faster than ice cubes that are thicker and less oblong. The narrow profile of the cubes mean that they also fit in all sorts of water bottles, no matter how narrow their mouths.
- Amazon.com: OXO SteeL Bottle Brush: Home & Kitchen
- I’ve got a couple indestructible Nalgene sport water bottles that I’ve had for years. The narrow mouths make it really easy to drink when walking around without spilling, there is nothing that can get detached and lost, and there are no fragile lids that can wear out over time. They are a pain to clean though, hence the bottle brush. I wanted a brush that stayed firm rather than flopping all over the place when scrubbing, and while this is probably a bit overkill, oh well.
- Amazon.com: Ziploc Sandwich Bags, 280 ct: Health & Personal Care
- Buying in bulk is cheaper. I use Ziploc bags all the time, and this size is probably the one I use the most.
- Amazon.com : AmazonBasics High-Density Round Exercise Therapy Foam Roller - 36 Inches, Black : Sports & Outdoors
- I’ve read a lot of the science and corresponding discussion about foam rolling (self-myofascial release), and decided I’d give it a shot. I like Wirecutter guides since they are objective, concise, and informative. They had one for foam rollers, and I followed their suggestion to buy the Amazon one, since I like the reasoning that amounts to diminishing returns make buying something more expensive unnecessary.
- Amazon.com: Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls for Myofascial Release, Trigger Point Therapy, Muscle Knots, and Yoga Therapy. Set of 2 Firm Balls (Blue and Red): Sports & Outdoors
- Lacrosse balls are also used a lot for SMR. These had the most ratings and the highest rating out of those that I found on Amazon.
- Amazon.com: Due North Foot Rubz Foot Hand & Back Massage Ball, Relief from Plantar Fasciitus, Green: Health & Personal Care
- I want to try using something with knobs for SMR to see if I perceive any great benefit. It is more logical to do this with a ball first and only move to buying a secondary foam roller if the benefits are actually useful (since the ball like this is much cheaper to test). This one had the most ratings and the highest rating out of knobby lacrosse-style balls on Amazon.
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