Zen and the Art of Quantum Shopping

image I had the good fortune of having dinner with Cheryl McKinnon Monday evening as she was slumming it down here in Washington before heading to the glitz of Gilbane. As we were catching-up, our conversation invariably crossed paths with Lee Dallas’s inspired post on Quantum Shopping.

If you haven’t read that post, go read it NOW. Forget this post. While I haven’t finished writing it, I can already tell you that his post is dramatically better. That said, this post also makes a lot less sense if you haven’t read his post.

The Sock Dilemma

One of the major points that Lee discusses is the fact that the continuously vanishing socks fuel Quantum Shopping. Having observed Quantum Shopping for years, whereas you spend money to save money and the savings goes somewhere in the multi-verse, I have a few points of observation:

  • Socks are not directly related to Quantum Shopping
  • Any material item can be used to drive the Quantum Shopping engine

In Lee’s case, the driver appears to be socks, but this is purely incidental. He focuses upon the common phenomenon of the missing sock. He correctly observes that they tend to vanish into a wormhole and are doing so at an alarming rate.

The only problem is that far more socks go into the wormhole than money returns.

What he completely forgets is the Law of Conservation of Energy.

Conserving More Than Energy

When a sock vanishes, it never disappears. It can’t. The Law of the Conservation of Energy clearly states the total amount of energy in an isolated system remains constant over time. The thing is, if you define the isolated system as the entire multi-verse, energy is always conserved.

We just don’t always understand the why of it.

imageWhich is why Lee needs to be more Zen about the whole sock issue. This realization came to me while talking with Cheryl. During that conversation, I realized I hadn’t had a sock vanish in years.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I complete loads of laundry all the time where a sock invariably turns-up without its mate. When this happens, I put the sock in the front of the drawer. What is really interesting, half of the time, the other sock is already in the drawer.

When a sock vanishes into the wormhole, it is just relocated. Its displacement may be offset my money from Quantum Shopping, but I find that the best reaction is to wait. The sock is not destroyed. It will invariably be attracted by it’s opposite and be drawn back through the wormhole and into my wash.

Usually this just takes weeks, though it has taken months in the past.


Instead of delving into the messiness of Quantum Shopping and the crazy concept of spending money in order to save money, Lee should spend time in other activities, like writing blog entries at Chick-fil-a. He should be patient and simply await the return of the wayward sock. The return of the sock will negate the need for the Quantum Shopping experience.

Of course, I have observed Quantum Shopping driven by other needs, but by being more Zen and having faith in the more established, and easily understood, laws of the universe, Lee can avoid some Quantum Shopping.