Posts Tagged money

The interstellar educational chili pepper

This week, I set sail on the Pequod towards the South Seas with my trusted friends, Ishmael and Queequeg. After a week of recovery, I set back to work on Monday morning where my students asked incessantly, “What did you do?” As if I didn’t tell them the week prior to surgery that I was having my ankle worked on?!?! Better yet, one student, commenting on my knee scooter, asked, “Did you buy that?”

“No…I leased it. It was $1,899 down, $189 a month for 72 months”

“Wow! You’re going to need that scooter for 72 months?!?!?”

Hmmm. These are the same students who are complaining about Moby Dick having too many pages and using big words. Perhaps I should lower my expectations for eleventh grade to include Highlights magazine. We could do word searches and read short stories with life lessons in them.

Seriously, though. Son is learning faster than we can teach him. He spelled his name yesterday at school without help or those little guide-dashes on handwriting worksheets. He can recognizes every letter in the alphabet. A few weeks ago, I was driving toward the gym (natch’) and son and I passed a national chain food restaurant. Son exclaimed with excitement, “Daddy, I know what ‘S’ starts with…a pepper.” Thanks, Chili’s, for the educational signage.

Yesterday, I participated in market research regarding pizza. I sat in a bleak room with a two-way mirror along one wall as women dressed in laboratory coats brought me several slices of pizza to evaluate. But, they didn’t just bring them out. First, we were told to examine the appearance. Out of a blank wall, a door appeared and a young woman brought out a pizza with a specified number atop. After five or so seconds she moved on to other participants and I set out to answer several questions about how appealing the pizza was. Seriously, of the three pies, I couldn’t tell you which was which were I asked to go back and compare. Maybe they were turning the oven hotter or cooking it longer; they seemed the same to me.

After the general appeal questions, we were told to cleanse our palettes with saltine crackers and spring water, making sure to thoroughly rinse the entire cracker from our mouths prior to tasting the pizza. We took two bites from the front, two from the crust, and, heck, one from the middle just for kicks. More questions; more pizza. Finally, when we left, we received some dough for our troubles.

Much needed money, mind you. Today, the computer repairman explained to me that both the battery and the hard drive failed on my Macbook Pro (mid 2009). For Christmas 2012, I will receive a brand new (used) computer with no data on it. I am concerned because our backup drive is the only thing separating me from meeting an untimely death were it to fail as well. 60,000 photos from 2002 until last week reside on two backup drives, a cloud-based storage system, and were on the laptop itself. The computer will be ready on Tuesday when I can then begin the laborious task of rebuilding the computer with its backup. One note, because I had to replace the drive anyway, I doubled the size for only $30 more. I thought the battery drained fast.

Anyway, today I had the stitches removed from my ankle where three, 1 inch incisions barely stand out upon examination. I am not completely recovered, though, so my wife will still have to get my beers for me. Tomorrow during the Bulldogs game, maybe I’ll ask for wings as well. I better get something, though, because she and several friends are sharing a limousine to the Madonna concert  (Must. Count. Blessings. Not. Asked. To Go.) tomorrow night. She deserves a night out, but did she have to do it with such style?

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Is the iPhone 5 an iPhony

On September 14, 2012, along with millions of other crazed consumers, I pre-ordered an iPhone 5 so that I would not have to wait in line or tell wife. What?!?!? I always assumed it’s easier to ask forgiveness then permission. Wife, upon being notified by UPS a delivery from FoxConn was on it’s way from China, sent me a simple, yet clear email, “Did you buy an iPhone 5?” Nothing else in the email, no anger, happiness, or sadness, just 6 words. I replied in an ever-succinct manner, “Yes.”

After missing the first delivery attempt (you mean I have to wait another day?), I came home to find a small rectangular box, opened and surveyed the new purchase. It is thinner, yes; and it is lighter, yes; it has a bigger screen, yes; but, so what? I want it to accomplish tasks my previous phone could not achieve. It has Siri and a better resolution screen that I actually find beneficial. Wife turned off Siri because every time her fingers were texting, they brushed the microphone in the lower left corner. Wife doesn’t watch movies; so, for her, it added little to the iPhone experience.

Except Speed. The monumental increase in speed dwarfs the abilities of my previous phone. I imagine as new apps are created specifically for the bigger screen, it will add to the visual aesthetics. The one key improvement I find most beneficial are the earbuds. They sound fabulous and actually stay in my ears where the older generation fell out with the slightest head tilt.

Where I teach, students wear their headphones between classes, even having conversations with them on. Some teachers allow them to be worn in class. Today, I think I’ll put my earbuds on and tune out the 140  “special” students I teach every day. I may even ignore them when they speak to me as if my earbuds were too loud. Better yet, actually, I will put the earbuds in and leave the sound off to overhear any juicy comments made by the students. Not really, I probably DON’T want to know too much.

I love the iPhone 5 I purchased but I don’t see it as the greatest invention ever. After all, it’s hard to improve on an already successfully designed product. Don’t believe the hype, but I don’t think its an iPhony. I do find it funny that as soon as people find out I have the new iPhone, they want to share how much they like their phone; insecure anyone? Really, though, Apple has the world by the proverbial balls. Whatever they do, people want to have it, copy it, or wish they’d thought of it. Now, I’m counting the days until the iPhone 6.

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Planting the Seeds of the Knowledge Tree

Money does not grow on trees. A ubiquitous cliché that people with money often say to show how hard they worked to get some; we know money doesn’t grow on freaking trees or we all would have money trees in our front yard. But, what if only certain people could afford money trees? Forbes identifies 1154 people that have over $1B,( Read it here) I bet THEY could afford a money tree. Then again, why would they need one when they’ve already got money?

As an educator, I must realize that I’ll never be the wealthiest guy on my block; I’m okay with that since I know that my income is well above the United States poverty line for a family of four, $22,350. With one working parent, that adds up to $71/day for a six-day work week. Most of us complain about working five days. So, educators claim they’re not in it for the money, but I think most of them wouldn’t do it for free. I don’t.

Last night, I was on the phone with mom as she was explaining she needs to see a financial advisor to help her with her IRA disbursements and what to do with them. I offered her my bank account number; alas, she said, “Not yet.” Granted, I want my parents to enjoy the limelight of their lives; they earned it raising me, but free cash? I’d love it; but, nah, nothing is ever free.  As I was browsing yesterday, I saw a editorial cartoon where a financial advisor was informing an expectant mother and shocked father that according to the rising rates of tuition at colleges and universities, they would need to save $4B over the next eighteen years.

That is why I support Georgia’s lottery! It pays for two key programs that all citizens of Georgia who work hard can benefit from. The first one is the Pre-Kindergarten program offered to all students. Daughter loved her Pre-K teacher as did wife and I. Son will soon be in the program at his nursery school. The other program is the Hope Scholarship where students who meet rigorous academic requirements can go to a state college for free. I think I’ll tattoo “Property of the University of Georgia” on son and daughter with the expectation that both will earn the scholarship. If it stays around, that is.

In dystopian futures, the central focus revolves around the widening gap between the lower and upper classes, the dissolution of the middle class. In H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, the Morlocks were originally sent to work underground by ancestral Eloi. In Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Freder discovers a working class hidden below the city from the upper echelons of wealth and power, highlighting the upper class as wearing all white while being filmed with a diffused lens. The lower class marches in time to the ten hour clock wearing droll gray clothing. Freder is the messiah figure that saves humanity from itself.

Is money the root of all evil, or is it a necessary one? If society eventually does away with money (a la Star Trek), what then will be the new currency? I believe it will be knowledge as one can never have enough of it.


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When a leprechaun gives you a pot of gold…

Yesterday afternoon, I ventured outward to the vast regions of the Mall of Georgia where I felt like a mouse being led by his nose to find cheese but never knowing where it is. Wife asked me to buy some lottery tickets for the Mega Millions Jackpot of over $350 million. I looked for a bank, but they were all on the other side of the road, and since I was in stop and go traffic for an hour, I did not feel it would be wise to try to cross and then get back in line. So, I failed to purchase any tickets. Of course, we didn’t win- but no one else did either.

Since the inception of the Georgia Lottery system, wife and I have spent more millions than we could count. See, the problem is that we don’t buy any tickets. Without a ticket, I feel it would be very difficult to win. This Friday, the jackpot is estimated at $476 million. Maybe, our family will win and I can buy the New iPad. Not because I need it, but just because it is NEW.

Recently, daughter had an assignment in school to explain how she would spend her pot of gold were a leprechaun, or “little elfer” as she used to call it, to give her one. Surprisingly, no big toys came first. Rather, she decided to give her money to charity off the top. BEFORE anything else. When I shared this with mother-in-law, she suggested wife and I could take credit for demonstrating to her how to use money. Several years ago, we took three mason jars and labeled them “Spend”, “Give”, and “Save.” This corresponded to giving her a weekly allowance for chores around the house.

When deciding on her allowance, wife and I had trouble determining how much we should give daughter. Was three dollars too much? Every time, we go on a date, wife reminisces with rose-colored glasses how she was paid $2/hour to watch a house full of kids. We pay $10, but the eighteen-year-old who watches our children deserves it. Anyone who watches son, a three-year-old nutter who puts a Tupperware on his head and with “full ramming speed” barrels into us, deserves their fair dues.

When we had daughter, wife and I used to lay in bed and drowse as she ate cheerios and drank milk from her sippey-cup on Saturday mornings. We are blessed both son and daughter sleep in; but lately, son has been waking himself up sometime after 6AM. The only hopeful benefit to this resides in the idea that he might actually nap.

For the last two summers while watching the kids during the day, several people suggested that I can get a lot of work around the house completed while son sleeps. Have these people had children?!?! When he goes down, I am lucky if I can drag myself to the blue chair and summon up the energy to turn on the TV with the remote. Speaking of remotes, I remember when they made a remote that would beep if ever lost. When son hides it under his bed for two days, a beep would have been nice. Alas, no beep.

Twenty years ago, we watched Jean-Luc Picard read his great works of literature on an electronic pad.  Today, we turn on our handheld devices and have the world of information and consumer goods delivered to us. It seems we can buy a device to do anything we want. With money. I guess I will go buy a ticket, or maybe even two, in an attempt to win more money than anyone needs. I better follow daughter’s advice, though, and give to charity first. I hate the expression, “Do as I say, not as I do…”

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I really want a Rascal scooter

Last week, I missed several blog posts because I had MRSA. No, seriously, I had a raging sinus infection that caused my eyes to remain stuck shut. After a Z-pack, though, I am right as rain. Doctor advised me not to touch my face and wash hands regularly. I never noticed how much I touch my face and eyes, especially with then are itchy and scratchy. It’s like that movie, Contagion, where the CDC advisors are explaining how the disease is spread so quickly.

Yesterday, I ran a triathlon that yielded pretty decent results. I improved my swim time, bike time and run time and not surprisingly was very sore last night. I was expecting wife to give me a backrub but, alas. At 6pm, mom and dad insisted on a video chat. Despite having done this a few dozen times, I still had to give Dad a tutorial on how to click the “Accept” button. The key problem with a video chat is now that grandparents can see son and daughter ignoring them. Before, when only one person could talk it mad it easier.

Twenty years ago, Sigourney Weaver starred in Aliens with Paul Reiser and they had a video call where they show Paul Reiser’s character just waking up. I would not have a video phone by my bed. The next evolution, I guess, would be to install one in the bathroom. It’s bad enough when you hear a flush on the telephone, but I certainly don’t need to see a live feed. So, the proponents say you can turn the video part off when you need to. Then, what is the point? For once, I will NOT be an early-adapter.

Speaking of technology, everyone is abuzz right now with the New iPad. I was more interested in the update to the Apple TV. Apple TV has been sort of a side product that never really caught on. It acts as an iTunes media server that can stream movies, music, even baseball and other sports through a little black box. I have the first generation model and I think it’s dying a slow death. On one hand, I would love to upgrade, but don’t fix (replace) it if it ain’t broke.

I had to get the brakes repaired on my primary car this week and am always shocked at the cost of automotive repairs. The only saving grace is that the car is paid for in full and that means any repairs almost feel gratis. I bought a new bike rack from Amazon to go on the car, but daughter’s bike doesn’t fit. I guess I should have thought about that first, but I did finBiker Gangd a $40 Thule adapter that will enable me to ferry her bike to the greenway two or three times per year. Yeah, that’s right…two or three times. If even that. When I was a kid, I lived on my bike, now she just mopeds around the neighborhood with her gang of biker girls. I guess that’s my fault. Pretty soon, I am sure she’ll ask for a Rascal to get around the house. At least I’ll be able to borrow it.

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Money and the Art of War

This morning I received a check for $180 for doing some part-time work outside my profession. While it felt crisp in my hands, I began to drift off imagining how it could be spent and how happy I would be to possess something “new”. Before I finished texting wife, I was told how I’d be spending it. Normally that isn’t such a bad idea, since I make rash decisions and need reining in from time to time.

Social psychologists say that money is often at the heart of disagreements. The acquisition of wealth and how to use it has led from domination to abomination over the last 10,000 years. Needless to say, I don’t believe many people want less; however, I guess I feel like I should want less. Listening to a podcast about Lord of the Rings, I discovered that Tolkien fifty years ago was disenfranchised with the notion that people often are glamoured by the idea of getting a shiny bauble. As long as it’s new.

How times haven’t really changed. Everyone always complains about the kids today. It is as if the older we get, the greater the disdain for the younger generation becomes. Someone said in a meeting today that kids think cell phones are a God-given right. Perish the thought of silencing them during class! I remember being told that video games were going to ruin our minds; I still hear THAT rhetoric. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!

Getting back to money, though; it’s not like I overspend every month and get us in financial straits; I don’t feel like I buy a lot of “things”. It seems that I buy more and more services. For example, Netflix and SiriusXM costs us monthly; do I really need those? Luckily, I just shaved $50 per month off our internet and phone lines. Does that mean we can buy more stuff? No, sadly, I think it means that it dissolves into the greater stash of money we use every month. As our pastor asks when he’s trying to collect tithes, “Is there too much month at the end of your paycheck?”

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