We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Friday, July 6. 2012
I've had to deal with a number of issues lately, some good, others not so much. Last August, I was introduced to a phrase, when Irene knocked out our electricity for 4 days. Dealing with no electricity, or the limited capacity provided by a small generator, was annoying. Eventually, though, things went back to normal. My son, during the blackout, kept repeating "First World Problems" every time one of us complained of inconvenience.
The phrase refers to things which are meaningless to most people and occur only in industrialized nations. The ennui of life leading to kids not bothering to change a channel even though they have the ability to click a button. The disappointment of a latte, after realizing you really wanted a cappuccino. It's a phrase usually used in a snarky fashion, but it can have meaning in a larger sense. After the Derecho that passed through Ohio and some Mid-Atlantic states, I once again uttered the line as we cleared my father's property of fallen trees and branches in stifling heat. First World Problems are things which never occur to a Papuan jungle tribe member or even a denizen of Rio's "City of God". In fact, trying to explain these things could yield quizzical looks and questions about what we view to be important in our lives.
Our world is vastly different from theirs, and it's no surprise our problems are different. Few of us worry about trying to hunt down a wild boar for dinner, or even worrying about a gang war in a ghetto. Dying or getting ill from a mosquito bite may show up as a scare on the news every other year, but isn't a daily threat. Most of the daily events people in less developed nations are directly related to survival, rather than progress.
Here, we have insurance and supermarkets. Our worries are related to meeting bills, getting into the 'right' schools, and making sure our experiences are of the type future employers want to see. For teens, we add whether or not you've got a girlfriend (or boyfriend), getting playing time on the team, or have a job for the summer. None are particularly life or death problems, but they are important because of how an 'advanced' culture operates.
Recently, I've had issues which revolved around my elder son, who is about to start college. High School graduation was approaching, his friends were going to be scattering, and prep work for college needed to get done. Add to this the fact he needs to make money and wants to have fun in the midst of all this activity. We all know he will survive and enjoy himself, but he wasn't acting like he knew this. At times I wondered if I could survive him. As Jason Robards' character in the movie Parenthood said about being a parent, "You never cross the goal line, spike the ball, and do your touchdown dance."
Among my First World Problems are one Maggie's writers have addressed, that of college education and affordability. I have investigated alternatives, such as community college or having him take a year off to work, make some money, and prepare for college. He was not interested. His friends were going to school, so he wanted to.
He was accepted to Miami of Ohio, a terrific school. "The Harvard of the Midwest", one of the "Public Ivies".
No, it's not Harvard. In fact, during Orientation they discussed Miami's role as a safety school for many students. Most of his classmates were not accepted at other 'better' schools. As I explain to him, 'better' is a loose term and it's up to him whether he chooses to let it intimidate or motivate. What you get from any college you attend is more or less what you put into it. The idea that any school is 'better' is subjective. I don't like to classify colleges in such an arbitrary fashion. I told him he's going to be attending with other very good, and equally qualified students. In fact, after visiting Miami and speaking with the professors there, I told him if he didn't attend, I would.
I remind him that college is about getting an education. College education, as I define it, is primarily one of a Liberal Arts nature, possibly with a very specific major outside the Liberal Arts. But that core Liberal Arts program is the key to any growth of knowledge and understanding.
He's also going to receive an education on life, work and social interaction in a relatively closed environment with people who are not his family. Call this "the college experience". Some say this is the main reason people go to college. I disagree. There are plenty of ways to get "the college experience" without spending 30,000+ per year for four years. If this experience was all he needed, I'd hand him $50,000 and tell him to travel the world for a year.
I'm willing to pay for an education, which is a First World Problem for many people including myself. As Maggie's has covered this extensively, the cost of a college degree has bubbled to the point that only the very poor (who receive plenty of taxpayer aid) and the very wealthy can afford it. People like me, somewhere in the middle, scrape to find ways of covering costs. I had money saved, but having been unemployed for 2 out of the last 6 years put a crimp in those savings. Financial Aid is limited since salaries are not adjusted to account for the cost of the region you live, and New York is very expensive. I'm not a fan of taxypayer assistance, my Libertarian sensibilities oppose it. But if it is available, it is illogical to reject what is available. For us, it's not much. I'm not going to complain about this, since I don't ask for money I don't deserve, nor do I consider it a great option.
So we've looked into a host of other payment methods. Among other solutions, my son will undoubtedly work while he is in school, and that's hardly a bad thing.
Worrying about getting my son ready and how to pay for all this has, at times, overwhelmed me. But these issues were recently summed up by a friend who asked "why do some people simply complain all day, without realizing all the good things they have in life?" Complaining about costs, about raising children, about all the things that go along with the current state of the economy is easy. I've done my fair share of complaining, and I probably will continue to do some. But when it comes to looking around at what I've got, I realized there is something else at stake.
As much as my First World Problems are a burden, they barely compare to those faced by 99% of the world. My two banged up cars are still more than most people have. I own a home, something many people lack. I'm healthy, I've got an income and a good job. My sons are intelligent and motivated enough to get into good colleges, even if there is a daily struggle to stay happy during teen years and paying for school is a chore. These are burdens, but they are good burdens. Nobody promised me a free ride in life (quick political statement - not even the government or politicians can promise or assure this) and I appreciate that my problems are different from those which people in many other parts of the world face.
After the recent Derecho knocked down the trees and my parents' lack of electricity forced them to stay at a relative's home temporarily, I contacted them each day to see how they were progressing. Yesterday, the tree surgeon came by to assess the most severe damage. He mentioned he had driven by on Saturday and was impressed to see so many people cleaning up the property. We were there because while we may have better things to do on a sweltering Saturday, the call for assistance was more than just a cry for help. It was a chance to spend time with family. After a day of raking, chain saws, and dumping leaves and branches, we sat around and had a beer. We realized that as tough as things get, in the end you're only as good as your willingness and desire to keep moving forward and finding solutions to the obstacles that life puts in your way. This theme seems to have presented itself to me several times in the last few months. The key is focusing on what is important and not falling victim to the kinds of behaviors that spawn this:
No, I'm not spending time in the jungle making sure there is food tonight, but the difference between survival and progress is the desire to look ahead and assure future survival and comfort. We won't always have it, but we can always plan for it. As Branch Rickey once said "Luck is the residue of design."
"First World Problems"
The phrase refers to things which are meaningless to most people and occur only in industrialized nations. The ennui of life leading to kids not bothering to change a channel even though they have the ability to click a...
Tracked: Jul 06, 14:08
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I wanted to blog about something real interesting, but then I'd have to do all that troublesome "typing" stuff.
Crap, I hate making dinner. Sometimes you have to open a can and everything!
I wanted to take my new Ferrari out for a spin, but then I'd have to walk all the way from here to the parking lot.
On the other hand, I'd sure as piss rather have a First world problem than the Third world problem.
My question is, whatever happened to the Second world?
The second world is the totalitarian world. It was USSR and the eastern Europe vassal states --the ones, you know, without the financial crisis.
Oh yes, and Koober.
"We have too much coal and natural gas to use for energy and someone once told me that he heard somebody say on TV that that is bad."
"Some guy on TV said that in Africa that soldiers from some country are shooting a lot of poor people that they don't like and its really bad because America isn't doing anything to stop it."
"I think its wrong that people who didn't have a lot of money and got a house now are losing their homes because they can't pay the high mortgages the banks want them to pay and the Government isn't helping them."
If I don't see any problems, does that mean I'm not coming from the first world?.
Here's one to add:
I don't want to vote for the old white guy, because then I'll have to get up at 7:00 am every day and go to work.
Ha, that's only good for 49% of the vote, tho, sucker!