55: Paper or computer?

My mom bought a Kindle. She is a constant reader, like I am. She loves this new gadget. Because she loves it, she determined that it would make a nice solution to the problem of what to give me, her daughter, for Christmas. There is only one small, teensy-eeensy-weensy problem. I don’t like reading gadgets. I don’t even like having to read things on my big desktop computer screen, much less that eensy-teensy-weensy little bitty Kindle screen. I love you, mom, but I would hate that thing.

She knows that I have a big fat stack of books in my “must read” stack, and that it gets bigger faster than I can read and remove selections from it. So many good books, so little time!!! So, for her, the solution is to read chunks of books whenever it is convenient: waiting in line, at the doctor’s office, riding as a passenger in cars or planes, etc., etc., etc. Well, I am so glad that works for her. She is not ADD. I most certainly AM adult Attention Deficit Disorder (which explains my son).

Being ADD means that I am highly distractable, but conversely, that I can hyper-focus, too. In order to read, I need a space of time and a quiet (relatively) place, preferably with a nice fireplace, a warm, purring lap kitty, a cup of hot chocolate and a snack. I cannot read while waiting for something else, unless it is an article that takes only a few minutes, or I get so absorbed I don’t hear the nurse call my name and I “wake up” from reading, after an hour or two, and go ask the receptionist what’s up, to be informed that they thought I went home, and gave my time to another patient – Would you like to reschedule for next week, dear? Not kidding. NOT happening again. NO books to the doctor’s office.

Reading in the car, boat, train or airplane is also problematic for me. I get motion sickness when I read in a moving vehicle. I have tried it, hoping that, maybe, please God, this time I won’t get sick, and I can actually finish the last three chapters of this book…..no dice. I spend the rest of the trip slightly green. NO books on a trip – the moving portion of it, anyway. I can read three to four books in a day sitting/lying in the pool-side lounge chair, though. As long as my patient husband can stand my inactivity. To him, reading a book is sort’ve like wasting time. You know, the way I consider watching a sporting event on TV. Wasting time.

The last reason why a Kindle does not work for me is I absolutely LOVE the feel of the book’s paper in my hands. The freedom to flip back a few pages and read the love scene again, or the part where the criminal cuts her head off and sautes her brains for dinner – you know, the interesting parts. I am also one of those people who wants the CHEAP phone that just makes phone calls, and does not even have a camera in it – because I HAVE a camera, thank you very much, I don’t want another one in my telephone! So, I have never become comfortable with those electronic, multi-purpose thingies, and I am not about to start with a Kindle. Reading is sacred – from a paper book!

54: social classes

I am currently living and working in Morocco, a country in north Africa. Social classes here are fairly easy to determine. They are, just like back home in the United States, determined by education and wealth, just the same as nearly every other country I have visited: Italy, Greece, France, England, Barbados, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Malaysia, you get the picture. Humans are humans, regardless of location on this mudball we all call home. My question for pondering today is why are education and wealth the determining factors in social status? Why not age, like I have heard is important in Asian cultures? Surely a wise old grandma or grandpa is deserving of honor and respect, at least more so that some teen idol who sang a song that sold a million copies, right? Sadly, not.

Here in Morocco, like in a number of the other places I have visited, I am marked as a wealthy non-native by the color of my skin and my conspicuous non-Muslim dress. Because of this, I am instantly perceived as a wealthy person of rank. This would be amusing if it were not so embarassing. Even when I do choose to conform and wear a djellabah, the long, concealing robe-like garment of the traditional Moroccan woman, I still manage to “look wrong,” and am pretty quickly singled out as an American, or an European.  That means when I ask, in Arabic, “B’ShHall?” meaning ‘How much?’ I will be usually quoted a price that is inflated enough to ensure a really good profit, but hopefully not too much to make me shake my head and walk away – which I do a LOT, because I am not a rich American, I am a relatively poor one. My local merchants have finally learned that I am a regular, and so I am beginning to hear the same prices that are quoted to everybody else. Just because my skin is white does not put more spendable dirhams into my pockets, despite the common perception here to the contrary.

Yes, I am educated, probably far beyond my common sense. That is because I had a wonderful government (back in the day) that actually wanted its citizens to be college educated, and was willing to subsidize that effort, so I was able to graduate without undue financial strain on my lower-middle class family. My own two children, unlike my experience, are struggling, as am I in helping them, to pay for tuition in order to finish college. This is so, of course, that my children will possess all of the advantages that I had due to my own collegiate education (not too sure what all of those were, but I am sure that there actually were a few, at least). And, I am aware that the education I got allowed me to take a job that was fairly advantageous, compared to jobs that did not require those collegiate hoop-jumps. I hoop-jumped my way into a career as a teacher, which is the highest paying regular job I know of that allows you nearly four months off a year- with pay. That makes it an OK job, since every job I know of does also come with drawbacks, too. Being a teacher certainly does not enhance my social status, however, regardless of my white skin or my education, because it does not pay enough to elevate me into the respected ranks of the wealthy. I am middling well-off, not wealthy. There are a lot of skilled tradespeople who earn far more annually than I do, as an educated career person.  Hired a plumber lately? Or an electrician? THERE is a good-paying job! What apparently keeps THEM out of the ranks of the higher social classes is the lack of collegiate diplomas, because they certainly earn more than I do.

Why is money and education the benchmark of a higher social class? Of respect? I know lots of educated people that are absolute idiots when it comes to common sense. Look at all of them who elected Barak Obama, for a prime example. I know the hallmark of a civilized society is how it cares for its least able citizens, but, come on, people! Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Neal Boortz, who is Not exactly my favorite person, published an editorial about becoming a well-to-do person. There are three rules. The first is get an education. The second is don’t get pregnant (father a child) before you get marrried. The third is find a job, any job, and keep it until you find another one that pays better.  You can read it for yourself at :

http://www.boortz.com/weblogs/nealz-nuze/2012/jan/17/poverty-matter-choice/ 

 

53: New Year, new beginnings

New beginnings happen every day for me. The New Year is just a convenient excuse for me to reassess my life goals and my progress towards achieving them – or not. I do this far more often than just once a year, and I think that everyone should do that – reassess frequently. It is easier to make minor changes on a daily basis than big changes once a year, right? That is what a periodic check on your goals will do for you: allow small changes that are more easily doable to keep you heading in the right direction for success.

What is success? That is a different thing for different people. There was a story I read once about a tourist who visited a small fishing village. He met a fisherman, and observed that the guy fished some each day, visited the pub for a drink with his friends, and relaxed with his family, and that the man was poor, with few luxuries. He told the man that he was a financial analyst in his country, and that if the man spent twice as much time fishing as he did now, he would catch more fish to sell, he could build another fishing boat, he could quadruple his fishing business and income, hire more fishermen, start a successful business, become wealthy, and after time retire. Then he could spend his time relaxing with his family, visiting the pub with his friends, and fishing a little. The man looked at the financial analyst like he was crazy, and said, “That’s what I do already!”

Just because I have different life goals than you do, that does not make me unsuccessful, now, does it? Because you have more money than me, that still does not make me less successful than you, now, does it? I suppose it does if your life goal is to have the most money; but there is only one human alive on the planet who can be the wealthiest – that makes all the rest of us losers (if that is your goal). I never cared overmuch about money as long as I had enough of it for my needs, and I do, so I have succeeded at that one! Success is a matter of reaching your goals. Some of us have goals that do not make much sense to others of us. That does not make us wrong, because our goals are not the same. That’s what makes the world different: our differences!