a focus on means
Thursday, October 25 2007
My parents are both products of the Great Depression and were not given to spoiling me. When I was a kid, if I wanted to have something I had to save up for it. I used to receive a very small allowance (less than a dollar a week) which I eventually started augmenting with the much more substantial cash flow of my lunch money. Because of this I often lacked the blood sugar necessary to benefit from my afternoon classes, but lunch money played an essential role in the equipment purchases that laid the groundwork for the programming knowledge that now provides an important fraction of my household's income. Extreme frugality bred a strong do-it-myself spirit, but in my mind the means was always just a necessary route to the ends. For this reason, I still carry a strong preference for activities that create lasting creations, as opposed to ephemera. For example, I do not enjoy cooking because the result of that activity is quickly devoured.
For the past week or so I've been watching a lot of MythBusters on the Tivo, and this has helped to partially reprogram my mindset from a focus on ends to a focus on means. This is because I can see the joy of the process as elaborate experiments are set up, often to be destroyed in an instant.
This change of mindset is showing immediate results with my latest solar panel installation project. In the past I would have found some brute force way to lift that panel from the laboratory deck up to the solar deck. I would have done it with the least amount of prep-work, substituting that with additional helpers. Gretchen, Penny, and David come to mind. But I've been watching so many MythBusters episodes that it now seems more interesting to fabricate a temporary lift system, one I can bolt in place and then dismantle afterwards. I'd remembered something I'd read when I was still a little kid about how using multiple pulleys can lessen the force necessary to lift an object, so I decided to build a pulley-based lift system.
On a wide-ranging errand today that mostly had as its goal the purchase of three pounds of Zanzibar Coffee from Catskill Mountain Coffee on Route 28, I found myself at Home Depot buying pulleys and casters and other things I needed to make an elaborate system that would allow me to lift the new panel straight up with a minimum of fuss or backbreaking effort.
For linking purposes this article's URL is:feedback
previous | next