I hate the cost of saving a few bucks!

In January of 1993 some idiot kicked in my door and stole all of my cameras and my VCR. I was a student of photography at Concordia U. at the time, so losing my cameras was a real blow, on top of the fact that the woman I was married to had walked out a week earlier.

Aside from the trauma of the violation, which included a boot print on one of my pillows and a couple of horrified cats, it turned out to be like winning the lottery, because I was insured.Basically, I traded in an armload of broken and shopworn early-80s-era Minoltas for a full and up-to-date Nikon kit that I had previously not even dared dream of.

In there somewhere I also got a new VCR. I decided to save $50 by buying the non-stereo version of the very expensive 4-head Sony VCR that I had selected. What was the point, considering my TV had only one speaker? (Historians will note that I did, however, toss an extra $200 for half an f-stop on the 50mm f1.4 lens that I chose over the more conventional f1.8 model.)

Two years later I was much better paid at work, had a much bigger TV, and was able to run a VCR through my stereo had it been a stereo VCR! In the meantime, I had taken maybe one or two photos with the 50mm 1.4 lens, prefering instead the more natural–for me–28mm wide-angle lens.

Alas, my VCR was not stereo. So I spent several years in mono (occasionally running a split mono feed through the stereo speakers). Then, a year or so ago my (then) girlfriend suddenly found herself without a VCR. She was still running a straight-to-(20-year-old)-television feed, so my mono machine was perfect for her, and it was still running like it was brand new.

So I jumped at the opportunity… I passed the Sony machine on to her (in exchange for many smooches) and upgraded my VCR. Not long after that I went insane and ended up with a 5-channel stereo receiver, 5.1 speaker system, DVD player, etc.

OK, OK, so I got over the woes of my $50 savings from 1993. What I didn’t tell you is this. Just before my recent sound-system upgrade rampage, I bought a 5-disk carrousel CD player for the insanely low price of about $120 (CDN). I got the cheap, but widely regarded, RCA RP8065. For a few dollars more I could have gotten the RP8070. The only difference is that the RP8070 has an optical output for pure digital delivery to the receiver. Big Freakin’ Deal sez I. I don’t even have a freakin’ digital receiver!

A month later I had a digital receiver.

OK, frankly, I doubt I can tell the difference aurally. But the difference smashed me over the head last night when I went to transfer a mix CD I had made on my PC to a MiniDisc. My MD recorder is a portable player/recorder that came with an optical cable for direct digital recording from a CD player to MD. But I can’t do that because my CD player doesn’t have an optical output! My only workaround is a bunch of analog patches. Can you spell D-E-G-R-A-D-E? REM never sounded so fuzzy.

Alternatively, I can buy an RCA-to-¼inch patch cord for not much less than I would have paid for the upgrade to the more expensive machine with the optical feed, and suffer only minor analog humiliation.

As much as I like to think of myself as something of an anti-materialist, this is a lesson learned and unlearned and relearned, over and over: Think ahead!