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Straight Down the Middle

Straight Down the Middle

Straight Down the Middle

Some words of wisdom from Ray on the choices we need to make, and how best to sometimes make them.


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Trust me when I tell you that my friends would not describe me as a “middle-of-the-road” person. They just wouldn’t. I’m known for my strong (if very consistently correct and well-considered) opinions on everything from movies to grammar to manners. My dial is usually set to either zero or eleven.

And yet, I have discovered one area in life where the middle road is the smartest way to go. No, I don’t mean choosing an audition costume for Ru Paul’s Drag Race. I’m talking about Making Major Purchases.

Finding the Middle Path can be the key to happiness and best value whenever you are weighing your options on a big appliance, conveyance, or piece of electronic equipment.

I learned this during a painful three year period during which I was living in Los Angeles without one of life’s most basic necessities in this city: a car. I won’t bore you with the sordid tale of how I got into such a position, but just know that yes, indeed it sucked hard.

During this period, along with becoming very well acquainted with my fair city’s public transportation system as well as several Enterprise Rent-a-Car locations, I also became an obsessive online car shopper. I spent copious amounts of time on the website. I would pore over reviews and specs, trying to find the compact car that would be right for me.

I noticed that most cars came in three “trims,” or builds. The least expensive would have the smallest engine, a crappy radio, and maybe even manual windows. The nicest version would have seats made out of unicorn leather, a star roof with telescope and an espresso machine.

I quickly realized that, while I was way too good for the stripped down version, I found myself largely uninterested in the fanciest version: “I live in Los Angeles. What do I need with heated seats?”

I’d build my fantasy Mazda 2 or Fiat 500 or Hyundai Elantra and find myself consistently choosing the Middle Path:

Figure 1 wheel options1

During that same time period, it became obvious that it was time for me to update my home desktop computer. My favorite custom-built gaming rigs come from a wonderful outfit of maniacs in Oregon called Falcon Northwest.

Customizing a nice gaming laptop is very similar to customizing a car, and once again, the Middle Path offers you the best bang for your buck:

Figure 2 graphics1

Continuing in this vein, I ascertained that I could have a really good gaming rig for $1,500, a super-duper good one for $2,400, or a slightly-better than super-duper one for $3,500. This kind of math makes it easy for me to make my decisions.

Recently I had the chance to preach the Middle Gospel to my friend and legacy JustAdventure contributor Cindy Kyser. Her sparkling new gaming laptop is being built for her even as we speak.

So that’s pretty much all there is to it. The beauty of this system is that it works even if you are not the most technically savvy in the area of the product you are buying. Just knowing you’re usually good to go with the middle choices helps relieve a lot of the stress of “analysis paralysis” which can make mulling over a major purchase such a chore.

So let me know if the strategy has worked for you, dear reader!

PS I finally did solve my car situation:

Figure 3 Kia1

Ray Ivey

Ray Ivey

A gaming freakazoid, Ray enjoys games on all platforms. Also loves board games, mind games, and all puzzles. Co-wrote the Entertainment Tonight trivia game and designed puzzles for two Law & Order PC games. Also a movie freak, bookworm, and travel bug. Thinks games of all kinds are a highly underappreciated force for social good, not to mention mental and psychological health.   Ray's favorite adventures include the "Broken Sword" and "Journeyman Project" franchises, "The Dark Eye," "The Feeble Files," "Sanitarium," "Limbo," "Machinarium," "Riven," "The Neverhood," and "Azrael's Tear." His favorite non-adventures include the "Thief," "Uncharted," and "Ratchet & Clank" franchises, all of the Bioware RPGs, Skyrim, and Final Fantasy XII.   Ray writes about the movies for the Bryan/College Station Daily Eagle, which is the old-fashioned thing called a "newspaper." He's been on eight game shows. He's taught in seven countries and has visited twenty-one. His favorite classic movie star is Barbara Stanwyck and his favorite novel is "The Hotel New Hampshire" by John Irving.

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