On Deck

Samples of Trek deck. Four shades, mostly blue gray.

We went window shopping. Literally. I fussed at the wooden window in its wooden frame. I flipped the catch back and forth and then back and forth again–maybe as many as fifteen times. The people behind me were amused.

“Are you trying to break it?” said the members of my team.

I turned my head toward them after another back and forth of the catch, “Yes.”

We looked at other windows and, while terrifically energy efficient and quite nice, they weren’t the ones. I didn’t try to break them. Wasn’t worth the effort since a quick look verified that I wanted the other.

The Spouse turned to the doors. Our window store was also our door store. That’s convenient. Turned out that I had selected a door online. I know this because the architect who had accompanied us to the showroom and was among those who I had amused with my attempt to foil the window told me that I did.

“Nooooooooo!” said I. “I didn’t choosed anything. I thought I selected a type of door and that I would get some options later.” I want a bigger window, and, anyway, the panels didn’t speak to me. I was mollified when my misinterpretation was reinterpreted. A quote on a door with more charm and more glass is forthcoming. Crossing fingers that the option on the extra wide door isn’t a budget buster.

Then there are the things that we are choosing that I never thought that I’d select. Things that I have absolutely no real opinion on. That is, no opinion until I have to make a choice.

Like the front and back porch. I never selected these before. There was a porch and a back deck when we bought the house. When we painted the porch, we stuck to gray.  And the back ambiently weathered to the color of old rope–more brown than gray with a dusty hue.

But new decking can last forever. Without paint. Without splinters. And now I have to choose. Our window and door store turns out to also be our decking store.

Who knew there were like twenty different choices–all of them narrowly grouped into two colors? Brownish and grayish. The browns ranged from sandy brown to a reddish brown. The gray from booger-snot to blue gray. It was easy to disregard the snot. But I still had nineteen to choose from!

To make things simple, I thought I’d just go with what we had, since it was fine. I took some samples home and placed them on the back deck and found one that worked. Then we sat on the front porch, rocking on our old people rockers, sipping cocktails and looking at the non-snot gray choices. I liked the one that was the most finished, that looked like painted wood. My logic was that the front porch shouldn’t look like a tree house.

Wait, so should the back of the house look like a tree house? Or should it be finished, too. I had been thinking that I wanted it more natural in the backyard. More like the trees and the grass. But was that because that was what I knew?

Blast! I was caught in the familiarity heuristic.

When the familiar is favored over novel places, people, things. The familiarity heuristic can be applied to various situations that individuals experience in day to day life. When these situations appear similar to previous situations, especially if the individuals are experiencing a high cognitive load, they may regress back to the state of mind in which they have felt or behaved before.– NLP Notes

The plan was for white deck railings to match the trim on the house, so why did I want to have an unfinished deck? Because that’s what I had. So it must be right. Except rocking with a cocktail shook up that cognitive bias.

And, really, did I spend all this time thinking about the deck? I truly did not know that I cared. Having a choice makes all the difference.

Pebble gray it is.

Wisdom Doesn’t Help

Help us Athena, you're our only hope. More details The Athena Giustiniani, a Roman copy of a Greek statue of Pallas Athena (Vatican Museums)

You can have the milk that has just soured or the milk that’s curdled.

You can choose between the phone with the broken screen and a slow network or the new phone with a data plan you can’t afford.

You can walk in the torrential rain without an umbrella or wait under shelter and abandon your child at daycare.

You can live in a community that disallows any deviation from a very narrow set of norms or you can live where it is unsafe.

You can select either the partner who ignores you or the partner who beats you.

You can opt for an uncertain future in a zombie apocalypse or the certain and immediate death of an asteroid hitting the earth.

Being poisoned or shot in the head?

You can choose someone who thinks that the ends–like protecting the least among us–justifies the means–lying and hiding and evading–or you can chose a bullying, racist demagogue.

What good is the wisdom of Solomon? There isn’t a good choice. But someone is going to win.