Thursday, November 12, 2009

CHANGE ISN’T EASY - OR CHEAP!

Ever notice how whenever you find a really great blouse on sale the slacks you thought they’d go with perfectly are just slightly the wrong shade, so you end up buying a new pair of slacks – and maybe shoes to coordinate – and what-the-hell, a purse and some great jewelry too? Or how about when you buy a new sofa, then suddenly the carpet looks like crap, then the new couch and the new carpet make the drapes look pretty shabby, then all of a sudden you’re thinking about a new wall color and not only spending money but also creating a whole lot of work for yourself – or your significant other, who didn’t think there was anything wrong with the old couch in the first place???

I know how these things work, so I really shouldn’t have been surprised when my recent decision to look for a new camera just sort of snowballed. Well, I guess it really started when we booked the cruise. I really, really didn’t want the extra weight or room my SLR camera would mean – we’ve got to pack not just for a 13 day transatlantic cruise, but also for winter in Louisville, AND we’re bringing back Christmas presents – lots of Christmas presents!

Anyway for some reason  I started thinking about maybe getting one of those Flip video cameras so I could make lots of videos on board the ship and in all the ports. Somewhere along the line I got sidetracked, and before I knew it I was buying a new digital point-and-shoot!  12 megapixels!!  Image Stabilization!  Tiny enough to fit in my pocket! 
If you know me, you know I’m not an impulsive person! Read my profile over there on the right: “a detail person and a planner….fiscally conservative….” Really! Before I buy anything I do research – I check online reviews and prices and ask questions on message boards – and then, after agonizing, especially if it’s anything over, say, $50, I make my decision, place my order, and spend the next week or so wondering if I made the right decision and if the price will go down the next day.

You might be thinking “hey, what about that transatlantic cruise you just booked?”, but really, this was something I had researched, back in the spring, and I guess the combination of the right timing, a great price, a lifelong dream and maybe some general frustration with the slow housing market all just came together. OH, and then there was Art in the background, saying, “Yes! We should do it! I could be dead in six months!” (That sort of thinking could get you into a LOT of financial trouble!)

So, not only had we booked this cruise, now I had bought a new camera too! What was going on!? Even more surprising is that I know, better than anyone, that this cruise will involve extras – even though we’ve both promised no drinks, no spa treatments, no frills! Okay, so here comes the buyer’s remorse – not a surprise, but just about the time I was starting – well, trying to start to get over it, I started to worry about how I was going to manage all those wonderful photos I was going to take with my new camera.

I had already planned to take my computer with me to the states – the CD drive needs to be replaced – but for this very reason I knew that I couldn’t download my photos onto my computer, crop/edit them, and then save them to a CD. Actually I think I CAN still burn a CD, but since I can’t play one, I can’t really be sure! So…..

I started thinking about buying some more memory for my computer. It’s 7 years old and other than the CD issue has served me well, but I really need some more memory. Of course I had planned to shop for more memory in the states, and was thinking along the lines of something large – not a small portable device like a flash drive.

I posed the question on the SLOW TRAVEL MESSAGE BOARD, and advice and ideas came quickly. Slowly – as always when computers are involved – I learned a few things that I didn’t know before. I learned that the smaller storage devices operate via a USB port, while the larger, bulkier, heavier devices have to be plugged into an outlet.

At first it seemed logical to buy one of the larger devices. They’re really not that heavy or bulky, and since I need the extra storage anyway, why not? But then as other questions were raised, I started to wonder if my computer would even be able to handle the larger photo files, even temporarily, OR if my older, 1.0 USB port would be adequate to power a smaller flash drive unit. The cost of the larger external hard drives was about $100 in the states, considerably more here in Italy (mostly due to the exchange rate). Because I was already imposing on friends to bring my recently ordered camera, I really didn’t want to ask them to bring something that would be a lot bulkier and heavier.

In the end I decided to get a small flash drive – it’s something I can use when traveling, and it was a heck of a lot cheaper than the larger external hard drive. Oh, and of course there were other costs associated with the new camera – a small camera bag, more (larger) memory cards, and a spare battery, just because it was only a few bucks – special sale! Wow!

And then somehow, I don’t even know how, I discovered that my card reader wouldn’t work with the new and improved memory cards I’d bought for the new camera….. Luckily I was able to find one here in Italy that was reasonably priced, even with the exchange rate, and even better, it works!

To top it all off, after the camera discussion I wasn’t sure it was worth replacing the CD drive in my old computer. I called my computer repair guy in the states, who told me I’d need to go onto ebay to find the part, but that it should ONLY cost about $30, plus labor of course. Since I plan to keep the computer to use for writing, and for Art to practice his Italian, I do think I’ll replace it, but now I’m also thinking that I need to start shopping for a new computer sooner rather than later….which of course means more money, more stuff, and then probably even MORE stuff that I don’t even know about yet!

Right now I’m still trying to come to terms with all this cash that I seem to be spending so easily – yet still stressing over! Hopefully the cruise will give me a chance to relax, and the gorgeous photos I’ll take with my new camera will make it all worth while!  I hope I've learned my lesson about impulse buying, and maybe you'll remember too that one thing always leads to another - and it's never easy - or cheap!

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