My interdisciplinary cohort has been plagued this semester by trying to save money. First we tried to buy tweezers. Someone with considerable experience told us to buy reverse-action tweezers that were about $50 each. We decided to find cheaper alternative reverse-action tweezers and buy a few nicer (~$10) fine tweezers. Somehow the nice normal tweezers never got ordered (I think I was the only one who thought they were important to have) and we went through THREE DIFFERENT KINDS of CRAPPY reverse-action tweezers. Some of you who know me in real life may know that I'm a bit of a penny pincher, but in the case of the tweezers I advocated spending a little more to get some good ones because I know that working with crappy tweezers is, well, crappy. For as much as we spent on all of those crappy tweezers (not to mention the time we wasted returning them), we should've just bought a couple of $50 pairs and some of the $10 ones I wanted.
This week we had a similar ordeal. Way back at the beginning of our project several months ago, we ordered a piece of electronic equipment that will make our data entry go much more quickly. This week we finally sat down to figure out how to use it. Guess what? We bought the cheapest one* out there and isn't sophisticated enough to work with the system we're using. It isn't worth it to return the one we have (15% restocking fee), and the least expensive ones that do what we need are $150-200. Even worse, we can't get it this week so that delays part of our data entry until 2010.
This unfortunate mistake means that we won't completely finish our part of the raw data processing in 2009 like I hoped. However, we should be able to do everything except the part that requires the thing we don't have, which is quite a lot. I guess I can handle that.
These events have reminded me that for my own fieldwork it is worthwhile to get at least two of each of the best equipment I can afford so that it is less likely to fail me where I can't possibly replace it and in the event it does break or I lose it, I'll have a backup.
*I had absolutely nothing to do with the decision to buy the high-tech piece of crap because I was in Ukenzagapia when they ordered that.