What is ultimately important in life are people -- messy, filthy, bacteria-and-disease-laden, imperfect, emotional, sweating shitting cursing crying screaming laughing farting people and the connections we build to them.
This celebration of spending insane amounts of time choosing the perfect flatware or the perfect wallet is sick. Steve Jobs spent eight years discussing furniture with his family before buying a sofa etc (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/11/14/111114fa_fact_...). I will never do that, and I will never have flatware as nice as Dustin Curtis', and I will never have sound as good as an obsessive audiophile, or the perfect car.
I won't even write a particularly convincing Hacker News comment on this very topic. I've got to go. Life is too short for this shit.
On the one hand I think it's worth specifically "buying for life" , eg buying high quality, durable things once and reusing them indefinitely. Reject our throw-away culture and planned obsolescence, be more effecient and less wasteful with natural resources, recognizing that unless you plan to be a full-on monk you will most likely need to buy some things in life.
On the other hand, statements like this strike me as narrow, lacking perspective. After hiking for months across Southeast Asia, I do hope you have more take away than:
>These might seem like stupid things to worry about, but when you have trust in everything you own, you don’t have to worry about anything. It’s liberating and an amazing feeling. My life was markedly better because of it.
No, what is amazing and liberating is transcending having to trust in things at all because you have such relentless resourcefulness, determination, and physical and mental health that it doesn't matter whether you have every thing you need, you can make do without it. You can, as the US Marines put it, improvise, adapt, and overcome . You're not dependent in any way on what you own, and as a result, are not owned by it .
So I think there's a bit of yin/yang here. Of the stuff you must buy, buy high quality for the long haul, but don't become so attached and emotionally invested that it ends up owning you.
>because you have such relentless resourcefulness, determination, and physical and mental health
And what if you don't? What if you're weak in one of those areas and, for whatever reason, can _never_ hope to become strong? Everyone does grow old eventually, if they don't get killed first.
So then, relying on "I will always be a strong person" is a kind of material thought. You'll lose it, sooner or later.
Perhaps a healthier way to think of yourself is as a sort of resource that can be cultivated for a while - and often considerably, when considering intellectual endeavors - but is ultimately consumed. And then, as in strategy games involving heavy resource constraints, your goal is to maneuver and manage resources carefully so that you can both accomplish key goals and remain in a relatively advantageous position afterwards, even though in an absolute sense, things are always being depleted.
At that point, strategy w/r to things you purchase is just a calculation, not something you feel you have to identify with.
I know Dustin sometimes alienates people, but it makes me sad to see such a mean comment in reply to a thoughtful essay. In fact I'll coin a term for it: strawmean (strawman + mean) because you've had to invent a position he didn't take in order to attack it.
What makes me even sadder is the huge mob who upvoted this comment. Because that is the decline of HN embodied right there.
Illegitimi non carborundum, Dustin.
I agree that the comment has a mean tone, but i think the gist of it is quite thoughtful.
> In fact I'll coin a term for it: strawmean (strawman + mean) because you've had to invent a position he didn't take in order to attack it.
Maybe i'm missing something, but it seems to me that he didn't invent any position. Dustin Curtis is quite literally advocating that you use a lot of your time to choose the best possible objects to use in your daily life.
OP is reacting to that, and the philosophical posture underneath (spend more time on people than you spend on objects) is quite an interesting one in my opinion, even if it probably didn't need to be phrased that way.
Ideally, both postures would go hand in hand, and balance each other.
> What makes me even sadder is the huge mob who upvoted this comment. Because that is the decline of HN embodied right there.
I think you are reacting to the tone of the comment more than to it's content. But i also think you are being overdramatic here. OP is not attacking Dustin directly. He is attacking the idea developed in his post. At least that's how i understood it.
To me, Dustin is advocating a very practical position of minimalism. It's about starting from scratch and thinking carefully about everything you own. There is a huge upfront investment involved but you will get that time back (and much more) because you trust your tools. They won't let you down, They won't break, They will work exactly as intended and you will understand why they work in that way. This frees you up to spend more time on the things that are important to you.
I spent a few months travelling this year and I spent an awful lot of time thinking about what I wanted to bring with me. I bought almost everything from scratch and each item that went into the backpack was meticulously researched. I ended up with only 7.5kg (including backpack) of stuff but I had everything I needed and everything I needed was important. I was suddenly less anxious about setting off on my adventure. When others found that their backpacks were coming apart at the seams, mine was as strong as the day I bought it. When spending a month motorbiking through Vietnam, it took my friends 15 minutes to strap their 20KG+ of luggage to the bike every morning, it took me one minute. I always had the perfect clothing for whatever activity in whatever weather (despite the fact that I had about a third as much clothes as everybody else). While others were wondering around rural areas looking for a launderette, I had everything I needed to wash my own clothes (The liquid I used for washing clothes could also be used to wash my hair and shave, and I only needed a few ml of it). I got better sleep in dodgy areas because my fellow travellers were sleeping with one eye open while my bag was securely locked and tethered to something grounded. I could go on.
The bottom line is that I spent less time worrying and more time enjoying the moments and being with the people I was lucky enough to spent those moments with.
Very many people would agree with this. They'd agree with it even if Dustin Curtis said it. This is not the bit that people have trouble with.
Dustin Curtis goes on to say:-
> Reasonable people would probably not spend the time to read a book about the history of flatware, buy twenty sets, and test the feeling of each metal utensil against their teeth. That sounds completely insane. But who cares about reasonable people?
The set he likes sells at MOMA for $50. $50 * 20 = $1000 just on evaluation sets of cutlery.
I can safely say that my cheap cutlery cost me significantly less that $1000, functions well, and will last me the rest of my life.
It's great that there are designers who like this kind of thing. It's great that there are publishers like Phaidon who sell books about door handles or flatware or whatnot. (It's a shame they have a viciously unpleasant website - (http://www.phaidon.com/designclassics/) )
But, really, "good enough" is for many people good enough.
At least Dustin Curtis is saying "buy things that are beautiful because they perform their function well" and not "who cares if it does what it should do, look at the nice twiddley bit on the handle". See, for example quite a lot of stuff at Yanko.
Some context though: Dustin's article expresses that he enjoys the process of researching products that are well-designed. Therefore, I think it's reasonable to elongate the curve just for him and others like him.
Some of the best tools I've owned cost less than the average tools you can find at Walmart.
And if I may expend the discussion to softwares (which are also tools to me), some of the best software tools I love are free -- vim for eg.
The original comment said that "What is ultimately important in life are people..." Dustin Curtis never said that people weren't important, just that choosing the best objects is. That's the straw man.
Of course he didn't, and i think even original commenter wouldn't think he would.
The way i understood it, OP position is that even spending that much time on objects is taking too much away.
I don't even agree with this position. I think the things we build are as interresting as ourselves, and an extension of our minds in some way. But it made me think for a second, it did put the post in another perspective. So even if it was indeed mean-phrased, it was a worthy comment for me.
"Reasonable people would probably not spend the time to read a book about the history of flatware, buy twenty sets, and test the feeling of each metal utensil against their teeth. That sounds completely insane. But who cares about reasonable people?"
If he would say 'reasonable programmers don't buy books on set theory', then I would just say it's ok, he has an interesting obsession (set theory).
If he would add "But who cares about reasonable people?" I would say it is getting a bit arrogant, but still ok, because he just values interesting hobbies...
But in dcurtis's case 'reasonable people' are people who have absoultely no money to buy twenty sets of designer flatware, because they literally would not be able to feed their children. In my country even the (lower?)-middle class have problem with buying very healthy food or buying new (non-second hand) clothes for their children. Designer flatware? (Designer anything?) 20 sets? Not even one set, not 20. From this prespective the article boils down to: I am a rich single young guy, I have lots of free time, I think I am a wise man, I teach you on things in life: trust me it feels good. The more upvotes it gets, the more arrogant is seems... Of course a mean counter comment will be upvoted, and of course you call those people 'mob', wich is just oil on the fire.
Take a look at http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html.
Your argument is at DH1. :)
Take flatware for example - I think that level of attention to detail for something like that is not called for. How much can you scale it? Minimalist or not, we buy a lot of things in life - how much time can we spend for each and every one of them?
The entire post seems to paint the idea that you have to be a connoisseur of everything in life. It is fine if you are an audiophile and spend a lot of time to find the best earphones out there. People have a couple of things in life they care deeply about. But I wouldn't extend that to everything in life as Dustin advocates. Not everybody has the time or means to do that. And even if there is, the cost IMO is just not worth it.
For one thing there's a political dimension here and you have effectively thrown your weight into the right-leaning region of the political space: people on the liberal/left side are much less likely to appreciate the post.
The post is about a rich foreigner who goes travelling in a poor part of the world and cares deeply about the high quality (and therefore mostly expensive) items he has brought with him. It completely fails to mention the people who live in those places. Why should we be interested in how a tourist's belongings are kept safe due to his high quality backpack, when the overwhelming majority of safety-of-belongings questions in that part of the world involve people who don't have access to his expensive first world backpack? Or even if we are interested in the rucksack quality from a technical point of view, surely we realize that it's insensitive to bluster about the quality of your possessions when travelling in poorer countries?
Finally, we learn that he cares so deeply about the quality of his items, that when he returns to his super-expensive first-world abode, he develops it into a faux philosophy of life, patting himself on the back for its minimalism and the effort expended in researching quality.
It really is consistent with the worst caricatures of rich first-world tourists in poorer parts of the world, and with the worst caricatures of materialism over humanism. And that view doesn't make me a bad HN citizen.
 Yes, quality correlates with cost here. We're talking silverware, not software.
Dustin's article is more about lifestyle (his lifestyle), not so much about design.
If it's about design, then I would think his analysis of flatware is fairly shallow.
Or is it about how elite designer's lifestyle should be? If so, then I think you're right to say it alienates people.
... is a mock-Latin aphorism meaning "Don't let the bastards grind you down", and the first line of an unofficial school song Ten Thousand Men of Harvard, the most frequently played Fight song of the Harvard Marching Band (where presumably PG picked it up).
Thank you. I've been trying to make the same point, but with far too many words!
It could be that readers feel offended that their choices are cast in a poor light, but there is also the deeper issue that Curtis is wrong. While there exists poorly designed or constructed things in this world, there is a diversity of application that leads to a variety of well designed things. Point me out the best car, the best socks, or the best apple, and I will tell you how it is not.
A tale of how one should spend a year finding the "best" knife is absurd, unless one wants to be a knife historian and write a history on the field. The best knife in the wrong context is worse than the worst knife in the right context. Obviously the flatware is a parable, but spending all your time evaluating "the best" is poor advice. Life is messy: JFDI
Sure to cause problems in a few areas that could have easily been avoided with some research and attention to the details of properly naming your company.
Not the best kettle.
Not the best pot.
... about your taste in cutlery.
My interest however, is in concepts. One of the most fundamental ones, when providing social commentary, is that people are different, but usually not unique, along a preference axis. The data therefore is clumpy. People fall into clusters of preference, driven by genetic and environmental predispositions.
So what is the point of arguing about which clump is better than another? I will keep beating this drum until, people realize the significance, to the point at which it becomes standard in social science studies and general discourse about society.
To some, (eg the GP), Dustin's level of optimization meaningless. That's perfectly fine. Furthermore for the GP (and many others), their ultimate meaning is derived from their relationships with other people. That's also ok. Mine doesn't, and there are many others in my cluster too. (albeit smaller numbers). Neither is better.
I started a path of minimalist and aesthetic obsessiveness as Dustin describes, since my earliest childhood memories. I was way more extreme in this regard than anyone I knew. I was a very weird kid, and my friends ridiculed my need for the best and my ridiculous research binges (weeks or even months at a time), to satisfy these goals. Even so, I still believe it played a part in making me successful.
While those traits still lurk within, I've come to realize over the years through self analysis and introspection, that trying to maximize all things, (especially physical objects), at some point is irrational. Why? Because it becomes more about the pleasure of maximization, than about seeking a bigger goal, if one looks deeply and honestly within. Maximizing for the sake of maximizing. It's very easy to post-rationalize and fall into that trap, if you are type of person with a natural predisposition.
So it doesn't matter which way you are approaching the subjective truth about a cluster of preference that works for you. Dustin is growing to appreciate it more, I'm growing to appreciate it less. Others will never appreciate it at all, since they don't find it useful or it's not matched to the way they operate. Others might have different cognitive skills altogether. For example, my best friend can multitask and add large numbers, I can't do either but am good at reading body language and my own internal states. We are both of similar IQ, but have very different intelligences.
In case you suspect I'm advocating anyone position is more enlightened, I'm not. I think that's a magic word, and don't want any part of it.
For a being that is capable of decision making, there are strategies and outcomes.
The most rational goal of any sentience (biological or not), is maximizing the utility function defined by self preservation.
Fortunately, it gives me pleasure to think about existence in these terms, and to act in accordance to this self-derived framework for about most of my day (about 2/3's by estimation). I don't advocate it for anyone else, or actually believe I could possibly know what anyone else should do.
I suspect this will not resonate with many, simply because my own cluster of preferences, and the combination presented here, may not be representative. That's fine too, I'm like the GP, just being myself.
Do you ever spend time reading about something you don't need to know? How many times have you ended up on wikipedia reading about something or watching a documentary on TV that isn't relevant to your primary interests? Many hackers want to know and understand as much about the world as they can. What's wrong with understanding flatware?
> What's wrong with understanding flatware?
This is exactly the thinking the supports rampant materialism. Materialism isn't just owning a bunch of stuff, it's being defined by it, by which I mean your thinking about yourself and life is deep set into the things you own. If you're spending hours reading about flatware and justifying it as educational or explorational, you're falling into the trap.
Spending hours researching anything can be seen as a form of "geeking out". People can geek out on all kinds of things, like politics or sports or musical instruments or computer components or saltwater aquarium livestock (my weakness).
Dcurtis may or may not be a rampant materialist, I don't know, and it's really none of my business. The guy just geeks out on flatware. Seems a little strange, but whatever. Live and let live.
And I think geeking out on politics, sports, instruments (when not in the pursuit of beauty), and computer (when not being constructive) is generally negative. Status symbols like flatware, though, are especially pernicious.
Jeez, I just use my flatware to eat with. I had no idea it was an "especially pernicious" status symbol. Silly me.
It's probably those kinds of things op is calling a status symbol.
It compares to buying
Are we geeking out on "geeking out"? Should we stop?
For example, I own a Solo wood burning stove and an Esbit brass alcohol burner. I spent a few days researching them before my purchase, and I take them with me whenever I go on a multi-day hike. I did the same for everything in my pack. So now, if I ever lose my pack (a distinct possibility), I can build up a replacement and order whatever I need in less than an hour because the hard part (research) has already been done. On top of that, I have the peace of mind in knowing that my tools are unlikely to fail me in my time of need.
Of course, I sometimes make bad purchases even after researching, at which point I decide whether to replace it with something else, or accept its deficiencies.
It's not about price or status. Some stuff was expensive. Some stuff was very cheap. Some stuff I bought at the Salvation Army store. Some stuff I built myself because the storebought stuff didn't suit my purposes well enough. The cheapest item I own is a deodorant salt crystal that I bought for 89 cents and will last me for years so long as I don't drop and shatter it.
It's about choosing where your comfort level is with various "things". Sometimes the "best" is actually disposable or will break after a few uses.
I don't buy things very often, but on the rare occasions that I do, I research carefully first. That's not a definition of me; it's just something I do so that I can know where I stand with respect to the tools and items I use. Everything has a purpose that I can cite instantly, and if I can't, I get rid of it.
For what it's worth, I agree with you except that I am very suspicious. People, myself included, can trick themselves.
I will make sure that I stick to appropriately cool objects and product design that doesn't include flatware.
I'm not trying to say that we don't all have our vices, or that it's terrible if we concentrate inwardly on ourselves from time to time. I just don't like to see that behavior justified or elevated.
I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes: "The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time" --Bertrand Russell
That plus I use my flatware a lot.
Whether you're defined by it is a deeper question that I don't think is answered simply by someone's care and attention to what they purchase. What if you define yourself by not owning anything at all? Is that better? Because you're still defining yourself by the same metric.
I think being defined by not owning anything at all is a serious risk, and one that I myself has fallen into. A sort of semi-hipster attitude about having the cheapest furniture. But I think it's probably more healthy to err on that side. And I agree, you need to have something more.
Is it not true that if you spend too much time obsessed about buying things, you'll have less time to care about people?
Narrator: There's always that. I don't know, it's just...when you buy furniture, you tell yourself: that's it, that's the last sofa I'm gonna need. Whatever else happens, I've got that sofa problem handled. I had it all. I had a stereo that was very decent, a wardrobe that was getting very respectable. I was close to being complete.
Tyler: Shit, man, now it's all gone.
Narrator: All gone.
The irony of this comment is that your strong discounting of Dustin's point of view is the exact same as your equally strong support of your own. In the same breath you deride him for "being" a materialist and define yourself as "being" the opposite(?) of one. There is no ultimate truth to what is or isn't important in life. What is important in life to you appears to be other people--and strong identification with that position. Maybe Dustin also values other people. Maybe he identifies more with the point of view he presented. Maybe he cares for neither and thought it would be a good story. Who knows. The real question is, why do you care so much?
Japanese people have found it, as their relation to material objects is ambivalent.
On one hand, they strive for perfection, such as found in this kitchenware example and their millennial craftsmanship experience.
The documentary Jiro dreams of Sushi is a perfect example of this philosophy.
But on the other hand, they have a term for describing the beauty of things imperfect, transient and impermanent, that's [Wabi-Sabi](http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabi-sabi).
Even In the aforementioned documentary, one can clearly see that the perfection Jiro seeks is achieved through numerous mundane objects, utterly imperfect in their nature. (The coal barbecue he uses jumps to mind for example)
I think that the quest for perfection has to be selective and targeted, not absolute, if you don't want to get lost in the way.
In this I don't agree with Dustin on this one.
What is madness to you may not be madness to dcutis, and messy human beings are not all there is worthwhile in the universe. Would you want to watch a reality tv show that records the uglyness and pettyness of human nature?
I honestly rather discuss and learn about things rather than about drama-queen contestant #3.
I don't know if Dustin Curtis is married, but if not he may be in for a bit of a surprise down the road, when it turns out that his view is not the only one that matters.
He's not claiming to be an 'arbiter of quality' at all, he's using the flatware as an example. He specifically says that it's up to each person to determine the best things for themselves:
> It requires that you find the best thing for yourself, which means you need to know what actually matters to you.
The problem is that "the best" is different for everyone. I can post some of the things that are the best to me, but it's also about the journey of finding out what really matters to you.
I love the fact that all Svbtle blogs look alike though. Makes it easy to spot and instantly close the tab as being just more privileged valley wankery.
And that's exactly what mapgrep did too with "what is ultimately important in life are people". Seriously? Glad for you if you've found that people and building connections is your calling in life but if you try to shove your subjective preference down others' throats you aren't any better in principle than Curtis. FWIW I don't particularly care for either materialism, people or connections (that's nihilistic tendencies for you) but I'm not trying to convince anyone.
When it comes to finding human beings to spend time with, you have to use the same intense sense of value, judgement, and love of a good product, that dcurtis applies to flatware selection.
We are our own greatest products.
For example I bought a cheap set of flatware from target 20 years ago and it has never once failed me. And what if a fork bent or lost a tine? Not a great risk. I don't really give a shit about flatware. Why on earth would I waste all of the time and money to have the "best" flatware?
My car on the other hand I felt merited some research. I spent a long time researching and comparing. Other items are important to me and I try to buy the best I can afford.
What specific items are important would be different for each person.
I think the point of his post was that to "unreasonable people" like him, it's not a waste. Or at least, that was his experience, and he wanted to share.
I don't think he's making the metaphysical argument on life happiness that other posters seem to think he's making. He's just sharing something that worked for him, and suggesting that people who are like him give it a try.
Problem being that most of us need various trivial things we may not really care that deeply about like flatware, brooms, garbage cans, toasters etc. I need a broom to keep my floor clean but I don't really care if it's "the best" $5,000 titanium broom on the planet.
Still, I'd like to play the devil's advocate.
4 years ago I bought a car. A 1996 Geo Metro with a 3 cylinder 1.0L engine. It served my needs. It was fuel efficient, got me from point A to point B and was generally cheap to maintain. This was good for me since I had little money and wanted to figure things out about my career goals. That went hand-in-hand with making little money.
I performed many repairs on the Metro. I rebuilt the engine. Twice. Remove the head, replace the valves.
Those made for some good life experiences. They also started to feel like they were getting in the way of doing more important things to me, like learning how to be a better developer.
So now, I'm looking for something that won't break down on me every 3 months. I'm looking for something better--in the direction of the "best". This is useful for me. I'm investing more time now to save me time later.
...but again, this mentality can be taken too far. I wouldn't buy a $50 set of silverware for one...but then again, I haven't created a Svbtle yet...
The good thing about being slightly obsessive about your purchases now is that you can take advantage of other people's time. I follow Kevin Kelley's Cool Tools mailing list so when I need something I can look there first and let somebody else recommend something good. There's plenty of options for buying good things and not spending lots of time.
That isn't what the blog post is about, though. Why should it contain irrelevant details for laypeople?
OK, but how often do you have to replace spoons or towels?
I did not set out to find the best possible flatware. I went to Bed Bath & Beyond and just sort of picked the set I liked the best.
I am continually surprised at what a difference it made; in particular, the new flatware has a different bowl shape for the spoons, similar to the shape Dustin's designer used, and it's so much nicer that I actually find myself wanting to eat more soup.
Next time I need to buy flatware, I might seriously consider investing more time in the decision.
Behind your comment (which is mostly about making yourself feel superior to Dustin Curtis) there is a lurking derisiveness about the craft of flatware design. But that design was someone's life's work. It was not "empty madness" to them when they invested presumably years of their lives perfecting a knife or a spoon. I am much more spooked by America's disposable-everything culture than I am about its materialism.
Of course I also think that this obsession with the difference between matter and people is a little silly, especially when some of those people are the things you're arguing with.
Regardless, I've been thinking about the subject lately thanks to this: http://lesswrong.com/lw/eyt/how_to_have_things_correctly. Linked for the interested.
I have, for example, the best luggage possible, because I spend a ton of time traveling long distances to spend time with people I care about.
I have the best camera I can afford because I use it to take pictures of time spent with those people.
I have the best mobile devices because I don't like to waste time dicking about with software when I am trying to get directions to meet with... (you guessed it) people.
They're tools. They're a means to an end. The best is important, because when you don't have it, oftentimes you find yourself not reaching that end in an efficient manner.
I guess we can appreciate the maker, but not the things they make?
Or perhaps we're oversimplifying this whole "materialism" thing and people are more complex than what they make, or buy, or why they did either.
I buy crappy luggage and once lost some time with a friend because my luggage fell apart. But that's less time than I would've lost becoming an expert on luggage before buying any.
I learned about luggage from rdl (who is on HN), who often ranted about his pelican cases while working in Iraq. I have a Pelican carry-on.
I was at a hotel once when there was a convention of flight attendants, and there was a gaggle of them checking in all at once, all carrying IDENTICAL hard-sided Delsey luggage. It took me under 30 seconds to ask them the make. Now the checked luggage side is done, too.
I guess the moral of the story is to pay attention and you don't have to spend a lot of time knowing what works the best.
I thought of consumerism because I don't see perfection as necessarily implying materialism. When I think about materialism, I think of someone who likes to show off their flashy car -- this is about having something expensive, a little bit opulent and excessive. Like how people buy expensive SUVs that are perfectly optimized for off-road driving, but they use it to drive to the mall and back. That's just stupid.
Something that's over-engineered is not perfect, even though it might be "the best" in the totally abstract sense, removed from any real-world implications, of having the best specifications. For most people, the perfect car is probably a Camry -- or something else ordinary and ubiquitous, not a status symbol at all, but perfect for solving their problem.
Really, all this post is is the author telling us he has disposable income. Price factors into what is "best" for people; for him, less so. For others, even less so. Kim Dotcom spends $100K on each bed mattress in his mansion. Kim Dotcom could write a blog post on the topic and it would sound exactly the same but with larger price tags.
There is no point at which you will be complete. You cannot perfect your existence with material things, no matter how much time and money you pour into selecting them. There is a hole, but it is not a hole you can fill up; it is a singularity, which grows as it is fed. You must learn to live with the hole.
(Note: I deleted my own post because it was downvoted once, despite getting a number of upvotes before that. It's my policy to delete any comment that gets a downvote, since that's a signal from the community that my contribution isn't wanted.)
It's a signal from one single person, not "the community".
It's not filling a black hole, but satisfying a concrete need.
The key point is not getting attached to those tools.
I agree with you only to the extent that people are important and so are the connections we build with them. What I don't get is your argument against appreciating a fine set of cutlery or a well-made wallet when these things were specifically designed to make the lives of people who use them a little better. Well-made things let people live their lives more fully. Dustin Curtis clearly enjoyed his time abroad because he didn't have to worry about his backpack exploding during his travels (a lesson I learned the hard way). Steve Jobs spent months picking a washing machine so he wouldn't have to worry about ruining clothes or wasting water. Clearly that freed up time for SJ to do plenty of other things.
The key word you've missed is "trust" - just like I buy things once, and expect them to last, so I can spend more time on real life, mostly on people.
Your argument is ... based on an utter misunderstanding. His goal is the same as yours. I'm sorry you can't understand this.
Life is too short to buy forks more than once.
Any half-decent cutlery lasts a very long time.
But even the cheap stuff I have used in a lot of places lasts a long time.
It should also stand to reason that the opportunity cost behind researching the best is absurd.
Product page: "Yanagi Flatware... the essence of Japanese design. Warm and organic, yet minimal and sophisticated, it is made of 18/8 stainless steel." (Product page)
It may look nice but will it last? The stainless steel is graded at 18/8 which means it's more likely to rust than flatware graded at 18/10, not to mention sterling silver.
You're basically looking at Type 304. There are multiple types of 304 (304A, 304L), and also variations between mills. There is essentially no difference between the same steel labeled as 18/8 from one vendor and 18/10 from another.
I'd also prefer 304 to 925 sterling silver. (or, take the sterling set and sell it and buy an ipad and some stainless)
The big lameness is a shift to 18/0 steel, which is cheap and not more durable than 3-5 years, or 14/0 which is essentially trash.
One of the huge quality differences in flatware sets is the knife -- whether it has a real blade attached to a handle, vs. formed from a single blank. The cutting quality is a lot higher with a separate blade, as even great 304 isn't an awesome cutting steel, and you want to heat treat the blade differently. There's also hollow handles, balance, and overall design.
http://www.sheffield-cutlery.com/store.html is a horrible site but I like their selection and quality.
I would only do this for items you actually value and use. The tools that get you through life and you enjoy. Put to heavy usage.
Items I consider such are my computer for work, a few of my electronics for entertainment and relaxation (away from work), good books (I enjoy comics, such as Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts, and Fox Trot), my work chair/desk and bed for proper comfort and rest, my bike, and certain pieces of clothing (my jeans and shirts). I picked out items that made me feel content and satisfied. Not necessarily the best. They are nice items, but far from the best.
The last thing I want is some brand, thing, material item cause me to be financially troubled in any such way.
That isn't cold or selfish. Surely we would all rather live in a world full of disconnected happy people than in a world full of (amicably) connected unhappy people?
As opposed to buying some disposable POS that will break and/or you will throw out in a year? I'm not a fan of Steve Jobs, but I admire his pursuit of "the good", even if I didn't agree with his definitions of "good". And maybe something to stop and think about is that his discussions with family about furniture were time spent building connections with them.
Also, it's always fascinated me how some people say that people are absolutely more important than ideas, when that is an idea itself. Sometimes spending too much time finding "the best" can be a waste of time, but absolutism in either direction is a bad thing. Maybe taking some time to pick a better car will save you time and money and stress in the long run because it won't break down on you as often.
I can understand your Tyler Durden reaction to the article ("the things you own end up owning you"), but sometimes being responsible and buying something that won't end up in a landfill is the right thing to do.
Materialism for me is impulse buying lots of cheap crap just because China happens to have many mouths to feed, destroying the environment in the process. That is short sightedness.
I look at the culture in the US vs. Japan. Probably because of differences in population densities more than anything else, US culture tends to encourage buying a lot of cheap (well, more accurately: cost efficient) stuff, whereas Japanese culture tends to encourage buying fewer things, but for those things to be as close to ideal as possible. [I am speaking in generalizations here, as per usual, the variance within cultures is greater than the difference across cultures, so please, let's not argue about THAT.]
While I've found pride of ownership in both cultures, the likelihood one will be defined by ownership seems to be much higher in US culture.
He's saying "You don't need most of the shit you buy, and the stuff you do need, you should get things you trust.".
Your idiotic post is surprising because, presumably, you do perform some amount of research on some purchases. Apparently you have struck the perfect balance between time spent researching and time spent making connections with people in this oh so short life.
Thus it would make more sense to try a variety of kinds of flatware, furniture, or cars (etc. etc.) and figure out not just what sounds like it would be perfect but what actually is.
To claim that some flatware or furniture is optimally designed is (in my opinion) somewhat absurd anyway, since both are largely a matter of taste as well as some degree of optimality for the particular use case.
Can you eat the best food? The best cheese? The best water? The best bread?
If you want to publicly haze someone: bring it on.
Right, because sane people would otherwise spend a lot of time sitting around worrying about their stuff.
It reminds me of a Louie CK routine:
"I need the best Blu-Ray! What are you, the King of Siam? You deserve the absolute best everything? These machines are all the same, made by the same Asian suffering."
> I trusted my wallet to hold cash, boarding passes, and IDs without deforming or falling apart, and it did.
Imagine the chaos if my wallet started deforming!
My wallet was some random wallet I bought at WalMart for $10, and I'm always worrying, "is the cash I put in my wallet going to stay there?" Sometimes, it just quantum tunnels right through the wallet into my pocket! It's anarchy!
I realise you are being funny, but your comment is analogous to an extrovert going "sheesh, imagine the chaos if you actually came out with your coworkers for one beer!" to an introvert who really really wants to go home. You are trying to assign a seriousness to somebody else's reaction to something. If you are happy with the first wallet you picked up (be it for $10 at Wal-Mart or a more expensive one from a leather goods store) that is great. Some people are just incredibly bothered by things that other people don't notice. For those people, the perfect spoon really does improve their life, the way a neat desk with carefully stacked papers improves the life of a person with OCD, and is totally irrelevant to somebody else.
It is entirely possible that the dude is happier purely because he feels he has the best fork he could have and that makes the fork "disappear". I feel happy because I have a keyboard that "disappears" when I use it (I never think about my keyboard). I am under no delusion that it makes me a discerning hacker while he is a shallow materialist. Everybody tries to maximise their happiness by smoothing out the bumps of life. If you have a psychology with better suspension, just be grateful and carry on.
I'll agrue that the photo of "the best" cutlery is, in my opinion, "perfect"-ly hideous. Therefore it's not "the best," it's merely his favorite.
So he has made the stunning conclusion that "people are happier when they own things they like."
The soup spoons are too wide.
The knife if ridiculously non-functional to anyone who's ever made a PB&J for their kid.
It's pure aesthetics. Pure pretension.
And to think reading a book or two would give you such an in-depth understanding of "The Best" for anything! Imagine someone saying the same about Software Development. Or Plumbing. Engineering. etc.
I have a family member that has to have "The Best" of everything too... he has a $700 blender he rarely uses and spent weeks agonizing over. The Best vacuum, that mostly just picks up packing peanuts from the rest of his Superior acquisitions. The Best corkscrew. The Best wine aerator. The Best camera. The Best mattress.
No one would claim he has The Best life because he's ruled by his compulsion to have The Best things. Having a family member like this, it's almost offensive to see such triviality glorified.
Our parents are mystified. Their parents much less so.
Now, I don't think dcurtis meant this post to hate on shoddy, mass-produced items, and I wouldn't even say it comes across this way. It's the fact that most people don't have the luxury to invest the time and money in picking out the very best of everything they own. Most people get a decent set of flatware, a decent towel, and a decent backpack because we have non-materialistic things we need to invest our time and money in.
They would do well to consider this philosophy. I have, since long before this was written, and it's an ongoing learning experience with endless rewards.
I bought jeans that cost way north of $100 and I also grab jeans on the Gap's clearance rack that cost me around $13 after tax. There is a definitely a huge difference. When I bought my first pair of Rock Republic, I told myself I could wear these for the next 10 years.$100 jeans are worth the money in the way they feel, and fit; $50 t shirts and $100 shirts, not so much.
In a nutshell, Dustin is a maximizer.
Regarding flatware, my views have changed as I've grown older (I'm 26). A few years ago, I didn't care. Now, for some reason, I always reach for a specific knife/fork combo: I like the weight (most are too light for me), the balance between the handle and the blade/tines and the industrial design. Eating with them just feels better.
Seek quality, sure--but decide what's "good enough," and stop looking when you find it.
If you're a foodie, you might maximize food, while economizing on other areas.
Steve Jobs lived in a fairly modest home, but maximized the beauty and utility of the everyday objects around him, while Bill Gates built a technology showcase.
I wholeheartedly admire people like Sori Yanagi who work hard to create "the best" of anything. I also wholeheartedly believe that trying to pin virtue on the process of being a consumer of "the best" of anything is little more than pretense
That being said, they are extraordinarily beautiful and functional. Their light weight, finish, and balance all combine to make pieces that beg to be held, meanwhile, the shape and understated aesthetic mean they do not dominate the table--they disappear. Although they weren't included in the collection, I can imagine them fitting into the Supernormal group (http://www.supernormal.co.uk/). Something as mundane as flatware can easily be dismissed by people that do not care about design, but I have found that on my path to owning fewer things it is much easier to justify owning exactly the right thing for me.
THAT SAID, it amazes and disgusts me when people treat being a snob as some sort of accomplishment. "Oh I'm really picky about coffee... I just know a lot about it and blah blah blah \smirk\." This is no accomplishment and not something to be proud of.
There is definitely something to it, even if it is largely psychological.
Take music as an analogy. I'm not an obsessive audiophile by any means, but I have all my music stored in lossless file formats. In practice it probably doesn't make a significant difference to my listening experience, but there is an undeniable satisfaction in knowing I have 'the best'.
I can tick that box off my metaphorical to-do list. I don't have to worry about the file encoding detracting from my listening experience. I'm not left wondering whether the grass is greener on the other side.
Now he gives us this. Cutlery.
He should take his own advice and get out of The Waiting Place, get back in The Fight and Do more than obsess over subjective things that even his own opinion will change about in time.
Dustin would probably argue that finding a well-designed product is a better means to the end (of forming relationships, living, loving, friends, experiences, adventures). It's a plausible point, but it's empirically wrong.
No one in the history of the world has ever gone, "the one thing I regret most is not spending 40 hours researching to find the perfect set of flatware."
Following this advice is difficult for me. I usually find it very difficult to not do the same: obsessing over the best bed sheets, the best cutting boards, the best computer, the best Linux distribution, the best jeans, the best bike, the best books, the best newspaper, the best way to cut onions, the best suit, the best $MATERIALGOOD.
Because of a recent housing disaster, I lost virtually everything. It has been very liberating. All those hours spent obsessing over stupid shit? Worthless. The friends, family, and relationship that helped me get through it? Worth everything.
A shopping list, Target, Ikea, and Amazon can get you everything you need to live a materially comfortable life in 10 minutes. Everything else is just a means to playing an unwinnable status game.
I think he's well aware of that. While some of the examples were kind of strange and materialistic, there's a lot of truth in the concept that some goods are made better than others. When I use cheap goods, I tend to have a poor experience with it and uncertainty about its ability to do its job. Higher-quality stuff ("the best"), for the most part, doesn't have this problem. I can trust that the stuff I'm using will let me get on with my life without getting in my way. It's like reaching into the toolbox and finding the exact tool you need for the job at hand - rather than fighting with something that's kinda-sorta what you need, you can just do what needs to get done. That time I was fixing the shower head and had the pipe tape I needed on-hand and where I expected it to be: it prevented a five-minute job from turning into a two-hour ordeal. I like that.
You raise a great point though - a lot of this stuff is not necessary at all. But various situations often beyond our control will always be changing our standards of living. I think the real take-away is that if you're going to have stuff to improve your life, make sure you're getting stuff good enough that it's actually an improvement.
 All the electronic crap in bathrooms, like paper towel dispensers and automatic flush toilets. When it works, great - but when it doesn't, you're fighting with inanimate objects that try to re-solve problems we solved centuries ago. #firstworldproblem I know, but I could do without the "am I going to have to wave my hand in front of the paper towel dispenser for thirty seconds again?" every time I wash my hands.
And what could be easier to market as this than the "magic" of modern technology? I helped a friend out with setting up a Mac, and to describe how time machine worked I found myself speaking about it in anthropomorphic terms "It knows. It works. It will do that for you." And the same thing is coming with so much machine learning coming into our lives "It learns. Don't give up, it will get better if you train it." And then there are the personal assistants "It hears you. It sees your eyes close. It knows when you've fallen into deep sleep."
Just because Dustin Curtis wrote it, doesn't mean you instantly gotta hit that tiny little triangle. I very much doubt this little article would have collected more than 10 upvotes if it were written by some 20-year old that happened to stumble upon r/minimalism.
I've seen a few of his articles now that are upvoted mindlessly and don't have the slightest relation to technology or startups. It makes me a little bit mad.
tl;dr when one asks a question involving people, and you want the most fitted data, then you need to consider grouping/segmentation of the population into clusters of preference.
What is the best spaghetti sauce?
It's a flawed question, as it contains an invalid assumption.
Thus what Curtis seems to be describing is a (great/awesome/very good) etc set of knives, but not 'the best'.
Very good = a maximization of universal requirements
Best = maximization of universal && local requirements (population segmentation preferences, spacial and temporal context etc)
Those forks may be best for Curtis at his dinner. They are certainly not best for me, on my camping trip. Or best for a tribe in Africa with different shaped mouths and habits etc. Or best for someone eating Chinese takeout. etc
Yeah, I think that's the point, since he's the author. Or are we still writing middle school essays where we have to explicitly put "I think" in front of every subjective sentence?
Well I could be wrong, but I assume he was trying to make a broader point than "Hey everybody, these Yanagi forks are best for me".
I'd also imagine discussing any individuals particular preference for some random product, is of little concern to HN.
Without getting into the materialism debate or Curtis's obvious aestheticism bias, I thought some might be interesting in a discussion about
"What does 'the best' actually mean?"
My bias, would that I'm thinking about the question mostly from the perspective of businesses wishing to supply products or services to consumers.
are you suggesting he's trying to imply that there is a canonical "the best" of everything?
I guess the original poster you're responding to wasn't talking about that since he didn't mention it in his followup to you, but I assumed that was what he was talking about when I first read his post and it didn't seem so weird to me.
I mean... lip plating seems weird to me, but the idea that some people in some tribes in Africa have different shaped mouths didn't seem weird.
You can't make "the best fork" unless you also want to enforce your way of eating upon people who are going to use your fork. You can, however, try to make the best fork for the largest group of people and get people to become loyal to your brand. After they become loyal to you, you will feel more and more power to enforce your ways of doing things and as a result your products will get "even better" in their eyes. This is what most companies are trying. But only Apple is exceptionally good at this. Hence, I think this whole article serves the purpose of subconsciously justifying the author's brand loyalty to Apple.
While it was just an example.. perhaps though, it's possible for there to be morphological oral differences.
Similar to that which exists in other parts of the body, such as facial structure, eyes, noses etc
Did you really read that article and understood it as Curtis saying the set of flatware he bought is the best in the world?
I first noticed it from this tweet (http://twitter.com/dcurtis/statuses/246843440179056640) where he asks about "the best ramen in Tokyo". Anybody with any cultural, historical, or indeed culinary understanding of ramen can see that this is totally missing the point.
My question is, why continuously talk about and seek "the best" as opposed to, say, "really good"? There's a kind of arrogance entrained in such a mode of thought.
And note that he's not asking for the restaurants, he's specifically asking about the product: the best ramen in tokyo. I think it fits this blog post very well.
If I go to Italy for the first time, I won't go for "the best pasta in Italy", I'd go and try authentic italian pasta. There is a huge difference.
The point though, is that there isn't a 'best' anything. Just as one can't eat pizza every day and keep enjoying it, the place you fancy right now as the best might not be the place you want to go tomorrow.
My younger self had a steak at Tom Colicchio's CraftSteak many years ago, and declared it the best steak ever. In later years, I learned enough to declare it "the best steak I'd ever eaten", and then to re-refine its category as the best steak I'd had at the time.
There are now four steak places that I love at least as well, and would consider to be at the top of the heap, but they each operate so differently and make different cuts / seasonings / sides, etc., that it's hard to compare directly, and I've given up trying. When I get to eat at any of them, I consider it a "good day".
On top of that, he isn't likely to have eaten at every single Ramen place in Tokyo, so the claim is specious at best.
The point is, almost everything we buy these days is of pretty high quality - even the cheap stuff. Far more often do we throw away of give away perfectly good objects because we want to upgrade or because we no longer have a use for them than we do because they have stopped working.
I can see the appeal of owning what you perceive to be "the best" of a particular item, but you're kidding yourself if you think it's somehow fulfilling. It's just stuff.
I'm wondering how much time will they devote to try to find the perfect coffin.
I mean, "some of the things that matter in coffin design are obvious, like the material and weight. Other things, which are arguably more important, are seemingly never even considered, like how the wood feels against your bones and skin, for example, or how the weight balances under the tombstone. The long term durability of each plywood is also important."
Oh well, people are different.
Finding and paying for the best of anything requires more time, patience and income than most have. To me, it sounds as though Dustin has way too much time and way too much money, and hasn't a clue how to productively spend either.
If you wear the Socks from Gammarelli and drink beer exclusively from the smallest and oldest abbey you can find, you may feel like you rule the world with every step and every sip, but you will certainly lose grasp on reality and find yourself alone.
>Last year, I met a Swiss dude with a taste for luxury. He smoked expensive European cigarettes. Drank the finest spirits. Attended opera by himself on evenings when he was enthralled by the program but could find no suitable companion.
"It's just, when you buy furniture, you tell yourself, that's it. That's the last sofa I'm gonna need. Whatever else happens, I've got that sofa problem handled."
For example, there many kind of hammers for so many different purpose. One doesn't just use a hammer for everything that a hammer could do. Some hammer you use for smashing, others for driving a nails in, some to shape objects, and some to bash the opponents' head in battle.
Likewise, there's no perfect single piece of flatware. The Victorians, for example, loves to buy tons of silverware just to make eating elegant and perfect for every single dishes. They could have solved the problem of eating by merely washing their faces and their hands afterward, but custom dictates. Instead, they spent thousand of dollars on the many variations of fork, spoon, knife designed to meet different challenges of each particular dish.
Quite simply, if you don't buy "The Best" of anything, it will break or fall apart very quickly.
Kia cars last at most 2 winters up here.
Cheap canoes and kayaks won't last one summer.
I bought $200 hiking boots that were destroyed in one month walking to work at -40C
Gore-tex? freezes solid, cracks and is destroyed after -35C
The motto is very simple. Buy it right the first time.
Would I find a product that better matched my sensibilities by carefully researching the market? Sure, but buying a product that's a 97% fit for twenty minutes of work is better than buying one that's a 99% fit for twenty hours of work. Or at least in my head that's how the cost-benifit analysis works out (this sort of thing is deeply personal, and I'm prepared to accept that other people's values are different).
The Wirecutter is great for this sort of thing (http://www.thewirecutter.com). Need a set of headphones? What's your price bracket? OK, get this pair.
As a website, I'd seriously consider using it, particularly for stuff (like flatware, or shoes, or dish soap, or whatever) that I don't care that much about.
We actually threw up a web test and it got way less interest than the mobile version, probably because it was less novel on the web (other sites existed, though they didn't work).
My bet is he dreamed up the title and then wrote an entire meaningless post just to sneak it in. Y'all just been trolled good.
http://www.dustincurtis.com/ - Dustin Curtis is a superhero
are you fvckin' kidding me?
My philosophy of ownership is simple. If I need something I'll almost always get the best I can afford. Why not understand what you own? Why not own quality? I don't mean spend hours researching every small purchase but certainly spend a little time looking into something you'll use over a period of time.
I don't need a cabinet full of plates or a closet full of clothes. Why not own higher quality, fewer items?
What makes you think I spend lots of time "thinking so much about this worthless rubbish"? I rarely purchase non-consumables. When I do I spend a reasonable amount of time based on the use and cost. I spent a lot of time researching laptops before buying mine since it's such an important item. I spent about 30 minutes reading about pens before buying some (in case you're not aware there are many sites dedicated to them). You could probably learn about flatware in the same amount of time.
You did when you said "I'll almost always get the best I can afford." You directly died quality to cost.
Also, many people would find the task of choosing "the best" items to be stuck with "forever" a difficult and stressful task.
But certainly for some people (Aspie's, especially), fewer/better quality is a great way to go. I just don't think it generalizes as a life strategy for everyone, even those who can afford it.
To me, it came off as just pure garbage, spewing from a wealthy and/or insane person who cares more about the things he owns than what he actually does with those things, with a means of not necessarily communicating with others, but a way to convince their own self that it's OK to spend many hundreds of dollars on a flatware set.
The type of thinking the author seems to be making an argument for can consume you. You will NEVER be happy if you filter the world like this. Sure, there's a time and place for it, but don't try to convince me that it was "liberating" when you spent $50 or whatever for a fork.
Tune in next week when we will be told what the best toilet paper is.
If one person gets a reputation for integrity and publishes the best of each category on a website, with links to buy, great. And I wouldn't mind them taking a cut. Isn't that part of what the web is for?
Anecdote: as a kid, I hated going over to some of my relatives' houses - the ones that owned a lot of expensive stuff. They always seemed so stressed out about me breaking something and got pretty angry when it happened. I don't want to become that kind of relative I guess.
In this I raise the point of "the best" being a meaningless measure as we're actively bombarded by lack of information and other factors that make us terrible in making calls on whether something is "the best".
I think it's rather hollow to claim that one wants 'the best' and yet doesn't discount in factors that makes one perceive something as 'the best'
I'd be happy to donate most of it, but I'd have to sort through everything, figuring out if each thing is worth selling, donating, or throwing away, then figuring out where to sell, donate, or throw it away, then actually doing it.
Anyone who has gone through the process, do you have any suggestions?
figuring out if each thing is worth selling, donating, or throwing away
You're already overthinking it. The objective here is to simplify your life, not to maximize your income from the shedding operation or find the most appropriate way to donate something. If that has a monetary cost in selling something too cheaply or donating something saleable, that's the cost of hoarding things you don't need.
First, look around you. If, for each thing you see, you can't immediately say why you have it, it goes on 'get rid of' list. This means you'll get rid of something you'll need later on, most likely. That's okay. Rebuying something will imprint in your mind why you need that thing.
Sell anything obviously saleable and big ticket. Couch, computer, bike.... anything that can go quickly on Craigslist for a chunk of cash to the first person who says "I'll take it". Price it to move, not to get rich. Remember the objective.
Donate the rest. Places like the Salvation Army will take a lot of different stuff, and you can just dump it on them. Googling your local recycling or donation centres will give you some more answers. Remember the objective.
Throw out the rest. Again, you'll likely find yourself throwing out a lot, and feeling bad about it. That's good, because the next time you're in a store trying to talk yourself into buying something, you'll think of that huge, wasteful purge, and wonder if this thing you're thinking of buying will be part of the next one. If it's not immediately obvious why you'll keep it around, don't buy it.
Go through a couple cycles like this, and you'll have a lot less stuff around, you'll know why you have the stuff you do, and you'll feel a lot less encumbered by possessions. Also, remember that this doesn't have to happen all at once. Every Saturday, find a bunch of things to donate or sell, and do it. Every Friday night, throw out several things you don't want. Eventually it becomes a continual, easy pruning process, which is ideal.
Go to your closet and turn all of your hangers around backwards, so that the tip of the hook is facing you. Go do it now. Also, add a reminder in your calendar for one year from now.
Now, each time you wear a piece of clothing, when it goes back into the closet, put the hanger in normally (tip of the hook away from you). When your reminder comes up in a year, donate to charity any piece of clothing that still has a backwards hanger.
If its something you think you should have used during the year (not long term keep sake or legal documents), then figure out what your going to do with it. Don't do everything at once. Just pick some stuff out of storage and determine what to do. Slowly.
If you need it, just grab it from storage. If nothing else, a storage garage makes a fine place to keep your encrypted, backups.
 put Rubbermaid shelves (or equiv) in the storage garage, do not pile boxes. That will defeat the purpose. The Rubbermaid shelves are easy to put up and sell / donate later.
I like the Rubbermaid shelves idea though.
They go up/down quick, hold a lot of weight, and last forever (easy to sell to the next person).
I was traveling and in the meantime let a friend stay at my apartment. For this, I moved all of my belongings to the basement. After I returned, I shared my apartment with another friend. It was small and quite full, so I only took back the bare necessities from the basement.
At some point I noticed that I had taken all that I needed from the basement, and that the rest was mostly unnecessary. So every once in a while I go to the basement to take out some things and throw them away.
The good thing about this approach was the following: Don't go through your stuff and think what you can throw away. Assume that you want to throw everything away and pick what you want to keep.
It's much easier to decide to keep something than to decide to throw something away.
Donate everything else to a good charity. Especially the valuable stuff. (Assuming you have good finances and don't really need the money)
Partly I agree, but I would simplify the statement: “You don't have to worry about anything. It's liberating and an amazing feeling.”
While not worrying, if you notice your wallet falls apart, you may momentarily feel uncomfortable and next time buy a better wallet to avoid losing money.
Should that be a reason to worry that you're using not the best wallet?
That might be true for certain things. Losing money can make you significantly uncomfortable, depending on various factors. There's probably a good enough wallet, but buying the best might just save some time.
Otherwise, IMO in the end it's up to you whether you worry or not. We can choose to alter the environment to be happier, or alter our outlook to achieve the same. I think it's mostly under our control, although may be limited by environment a person was raised in.
But yeah, that's pretty much it. People living paycheck-to-paycheck really just can't afford the best because they have needs that pop up and make it next to impossible to save a lot of money when you can just as easily buy flatware that will last for years for $10 from a thrift store.
I also put a lot of effort into getting great headphones, great keyboard, etc., and a chair that I like.
I didn't put weeks of research into buying bowls. I saw they were cheap on slickdeals, noticed I needed bowls, and bought some on sale. I don't really research who makes the best bottled water at Costco, I just get whatever is cheap at the time.
Pick your battles.
I would also rather let someone do that work for me, if they feel so inclined to do it, as I have neither the time nor the money to engage in such activities.
So please, post a list!
The research and details are what makes this pursuit interesting for me. Usual reviews tend not to cover these things (one of the reasons I enjoy the work of John Siracusa).
I would be extremely interested in a list of the things you have found to be best for you, and the reasons you came to that decision, or the process by which you arrived there.
But, how exactly do you decide what is the best for you? You say that you "developed a blind trust in the things you used".
Blind trust in what?
If that blind trust is towards the products themselves, then how will you know when something better for your purposes comes out?
If that blind trust is towards the company/person making the product, I'm afraid that is not an interesting or new concept. It is called brand loyalty or "fanboyism" in slang and I think this is actually the opposite of what you would want. Brand loyalty can prevent you from finding the best of everything.
We are not living in the Samurai age, where there is one excellent sword maker and you shouldn't consider swords made by others as long as you can find that guy and afford his swords. We live in a fundamentally different world, where almost all kinds of products (especially consumer electronics) have very short lifecycles.
Also, kevin's Tool Shopping Strategies:
• The Best
• The Highest Common
• The Cheapest Possible