“Over the next 100 pages, you’ll learn basic care for your Diaper Pail”

They don’t tell you when you’re having a baby just how much progeny-fatality-prevention-related stuff you will acquire. This stuff, purchased outside of the normal nerd procurement process, causes more stress and post-purchase regret than run-of-the-mill nerd-satisfaction stuff.

For the sake of any non-nerds reading this, the standardized nerd procurement process is as follows:

  • Does ShatnerNimoyTakeiWheaton, or Stewart use/endorse this product? Purchase immediately
  • Does an alternative exist which features questionably practical WiFiPurchase alternative
  • Can the product be built from scratch using an overly-complicated homebrew method involving a Raspberry PiPurchase Raspberry Pi and any relevant (and irrelevant) SparkFun material. Spend two weeks whiteboarding “enhancements” of questionable value to original intent. Build, rebuild, and modify iteratively over the next 10-520 weeks. Present to progeny on their 10th birthday, by which time they’ll have outgrown the need.
  • If product cannot feasibly be built from scratch in the next decade, no product variations contain WiFi, and no Star Trek stars have endorsed a similar product, compare Amazon reviews – check, then ignore outliers and compute standard deviation in star ratings. Scrape content using Beautiful Soup and a Python script to cross-reference keywords in all reviews for a DIY-troubleshooting manual later.

When a standard procurement occurs, a nerd feels confident that the actual manual can be safely discarded at any time because of the premise of assumed risk.

That is: most nerds accept the premise of acceptable losses in volunteers who knew the risks when they signed on for a dangerous assignment, such as buying things untested off of Amazon and throwing away the manual.

However, the concept of protecting an uninformed prototype person who cannot assume responsibility for their own actions is a foreign one to most nerds. They can no longer fall back on the uncannily useful “needs of the many” axiom.

Therefore a modified version of the standardized nerd procurement process is required. The  heavily modified steps are listed below:

  • Spend countless hours conducting a background check on each manufacturer, product line, production method, and ingredient list. The depth, thoughtfulness, and thoroughness of this background check is the gold standard the NSA, FBI, and CIA aim for.
  • Check, then panic over, any outliers who indicate that purchase of the product may end your family line after this generationdamage life as we know it, or outright kill your progeny.
  • Begin panicking after realizing you needed 5,000 attempts and a shameful number of checkpoints to beat The Impossible Game, and that was just the first level. How will you avoid certain doom with no save game, no checkpoints, and no extra lives when put in charge of a sentient creature whose intrinsic ability to harm themselves is unmatched by any other species on the planet?
  • Conclude that in order to protect your progeny, the most efficient course of action is to leave them in the care of your significant other for the next 18 years and drive off into the sunset until then.

Only when the panic subsides does it hit you that thousands of years of progenitors have safely come before you without the assistance of Amazon reviews, WiFi, and even Star Trek stars.

So you buy the thing you think works the best with the least chance of a catastrophic injury. And you RTFM from end to end, OCR scan it, and cross-reference it in a homebrew wiki.

As long as you show up and do your best, that’s what matters.

(Photo credit: abardwell)

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