Kids and Money

Can the love of a child be bought?

We have seen it in movies and some of us even in real life. Divorced parents try to win the affection of their kids by giving them gifts. I have seen parents try to outspend each other. Most kids are smart enough, or become smart to what is going on and take advantage of the situation. While some people do read gifts as love, that is not how every single child works.

My parent’s credentials are more of that of a substitute. I was a full time step parent for over 2 years, one of them without much visitation to the other household. I also grew up around a lot of kids and was always involved indirectly in some kind of parenting. I have learned a lot of things about kids and how hard the job of a parent is, also how the word full time does not even cover it.

Today’s topic is one that has troubled me for quite some time. How early do kids become aware of money? How important is it for them to become aware of it?

While it is very important for kids to know the value of money and how hard it is to earn it regardless of the economic status of the parents, I think how money is handled and how that is presented to the kids is crucial to their formation as responsible adults. Two key factors are very important in my eyes. Beyond teaching the kid the value of money without making them afraid or guilty about enjoying life, the most important is to never judge people in terms of money.

A long time ago I had to deal with a situation with kids and money. I had never been compared to someone else in terms of money or the gifts that were being presented to a child. The situation escalated when a child not much older than 6 said to me, “What did you get me? I know you make a lot of money.” I was pretty furious about the situation because those are not the words of a child. That was my assumption there and it was once again proven to be true not to long ago.

Parents need to be very careful about what they say to their children. Yes, I was probably one of the people earning the most in that circle of people at the time* so I don’t doubt that a conversation between adults could have included how much I was making. It has always bothered me that most people’s first question when meeting people; and I even fall pray to this, is what do you do for a living. Later I found out that there was a lot of comparison going on between who got what gifts and how much did they cost. I find that pretty disgusting but time has taught me that money is a big factor for some people when it comes to relationships.

I am not saying that money should not be a factor. I am very aware that most people do not want to live in a paycheck to paycheck anxiety and want to be with someone that has the same financial goals as them. I am with a woman that would be with me even if we lived in a cardboard box but we were together, but I also know that it is rare and not for everyone and it does not make the people that like comfort evil or gold diggers.

Children should not be included in money conversations when it comes to evaluating other people. People should have have a price tag attached to them. I certainly love giving the kids close to me gifts, but I think my niece will in the future remember and probably value a lot more the book that Bea and I got her for her birthday, rather than the Hanna Montana paraphernalia that we also got her. Daniel took some little gifts to their kids after his visit from Bea and I, his wife was so thankful for them and shared their joy of the simple gifts that had more sentimental value than price tag. I am sad that I have encountered the complete opposite in some other people. I am proud that both my sister and Daniel are raising her kids to be grateful little people and teaching them the importance of money without making other people “Santa Claus.”

* I was consulting and traveling which is a combination for earning more than your peers with similar skills, but at the same time its a sacrifice in other areas. I will probably never earn that much money again, but I am totally happy with that.

To Die Alone

Something has always pissed me off about this society, and I was reminded of it again when I heard the news of another friend from a company I used to work at not being with us anymore. Besides the sadness that he is not with us anymore, it makes me feel even sadder that he died alone to be found by a coworker when he did not show up to work on Monday. He had some dental work done and apparently it got infected bad.

Al was a great guy and we shared many beers together when I was back in Michigan. He was someone that really helped navigate the bureaucracy of the company when I first started and everything he shared held truth. He was a huge metal fan and even was part of a radio show. The shirt that I wear all the time with Chimps rule on the back was a gift from him. Sadly the sites that host that stuff are not working and he is not here with us to bring them back up.

What really ticks me off is that he died alone. I am not blaming anyone for not saving him, or even saying that he should have called someone, but just being pissed off about towards this culture. Sure, people might think that latinos are just too much on everyone’s business, but trust me in Colombia if someone is sick the whole freaking block knows it and chicken soup will parade. The first chapter of Outliers talks about how a town here that kept its culture from back in Italy made everyone that lived there healthier and happier. What was it? a culture of everyone being a true community.

I have seen this behavior over and over in this country. Call me a culture snob if you want, in this case I truly don’t care. When the going gets tough people close up, they don’t share their problems or even their grief. People don’t talk about things, don’t say they are sad, don’t talk about how they feel. People walk around saying “how are you?” and never meaning he question.

When I leave this earth I want to be either surrounded by friends and family or found by someone close to me. I never, EVER want to be found by someone that they sent from work to check up on why I did not show up on Monday.

Rest in Peace AL. You were well liked by everyone around you, even when you argued that Wrestling was real 😉 I miss you brother.

When Humans Attack

If it is your first time here please visit the read me page, the topic I am about to discuss is one that is very personal to some and I want to make sure that you read this as a discussion or dialogue and not a debate. Because of culture, belief system and just overall moral beliefs many people might disagree on this topic. So be polite, present your points, but don’t get personal or be offensive or I as a benevolent dictator will delete your comments.

Americans think of pets in a different light than most other cultures I have learned about, some people get as close to them as to call them their kids. I have certainly become very attached to my pets and still mourn that I did not get custody of my golden retriever after my divorce, heck I don’t even have visitation rights. I think the reason for this is because the infrastructure of this country makes it very hard to visit family in a regular basis, so little by little our pets fill in the void that we have from having family close by. I personally feel that pets do and should become part of your family. I wanted to clarify this before I started to talk about the following subject because I want to make sure people don’t think I am ignoring the “rights” of the animals involved. I will not go into what I believe as much as question why this subject is one that seems to be so complex for so many people.

The suspected Cat Killer has been freed on bond and it is said to be under house arrest. If you have not followed the story, the cliff notes is that an 18 year old is suspected of mutilating 19 cats in a very gruesome way. The then left them for their owners to find their family pets, some of them found by young kids that would be scarred for life. The suspected cat killer might have been found with the help of social media and his posting on a facebook group. The group has been since closed. If sentenced, the 19 year old could spend the rest of his life in jail. (human vs animal)

Michael Vic has been released after spending two years behind bars. Most sport news outlets are raising the question if he should be allowed to play again. The commentary I have heard is that he has paid his debt to society and should be allowed to play. He was convicted because he lied and was involved in the operation. I personally don’t know if he actually abused any dogs directly, or if it was done by his associates and he just watched the fights. (animal vs animal) – Just keep reading, most of the points here will involve humans, but I will only call it human vs animal if the human directly did the harming of the animal.

My father has been attacked by dogs twice in his life. One was as a young adult while visiting some family in Bogota, the dog did not recognize him as he came into the house he was visited and attacked him, leaving him with a big scar in the back of his leg that looks almost like a belly button on his calf. As a kid he was bitten by the family pet dog, not as severely but my grandfather immediately put the dog down. (human vs animal)

Donte’ Stallworth gets 1 month in jail, 2 years house arrest in DUI death. (human vs human)

Bull fighting still a very popular activity in Spain and some places in Latin America. The practice is a cultural heritage that even people within the country think is barbaric. The meat of the bull that was killed is consumed. The bull is most of the time bleed almost to death before the matador delivers the killing strike. (human vs animal)

Cock fighting is very popular in rural Latin America. The practice has even been featured in pop culture in America, I think not just the appearence on various movies, but the fact that was on a Seinfeld episode makes it so I can say that. The cocks are fit with enhanced spurs to cause maximum damage. I have seen some of these roosters up close and they are beautiful animals, imposing even. Some people might put chickens under the ugly animal allowed to eat category, but until you see one of this roosters up close don’t dismiss them as purely edible. (animal vs animal)

Bow hunting is still being practiced by many Americans even as a sport (I consider it sport if the meat of the animal is not consumed). I have seen some of the new high tech arrows that are used today and even though they are built to be very effective, they are not sure to kill the animal like shooting does most of the time. The animal will at times die slowly or be fatally wounded but not recovered. (human vs animal)

Sancocho is a popular soup or stew in Colombian. When your family goes out for a picnic, they will set up a fire and cook a sancocho, it is a very popular cook out type of meal. It tastes better when cooked outdoors in a huge pot and one of its best version is made out of chicken. I have personally killed a chicken to be consumed in a sancocho. (human vs animal)

All over the world animals are being raised for human consumption. They are processed in plants that have been turned into factories that produce all kinds of meats for all kinds of customers. Every day animals are killed to fill all of our plates with protein for our daily diets. (human vs animal)

This week Obama picked a side in the ongoing debate of Pirates vs Ninjas and demonstrated his above average reflexes by decimating a fly. (human vs insect) It is interesting that back in Colombia there is a saying that someone is so innocent that they don’t even kill a fly. Not sure if there is a similar one here or not.

Those are all the examples I could think of. Almost all of us are involved directly or indirectly on the killing of animals. Some religions give us domain over animals as things that are at our disposal. Some religions are the complete opposite and tell us that animals are sacred and to be revered. Some religions are kind of in the middle and believe that our soul can end up in an animal after we are reincarnated.

The cat killer if convicted could spend the rest of his days in jail. One NFL player gets two years for being involved with dog fighting, and lets go as far that he might have even directly abused the animals, while another NFL player that took a human life gets what I would consider a slap on the wrist. (I did consider the fact that he might be extremely remorseful and has worked with the family of the victim to compensate them for their loss.)

Every day people eat meat, some of it killed in very gruesome ways. I have heard accounts of people that have worked in meat plants that say they don’t eat meat anymore just by what they saw happening there. I have never been able to verify this, but during the Ethiopian famine* it is said that not all crops had failed and grain was being shipped to Europe to feed livestock, that grain could have fed people. Hearing this has been the best argument I have ever heard for becoming vegetarian.

Most cultures see domesticated animals as only pets. I personally have become very attached to my pets, but I understand that there is a price to their lives because other friends have gone through it. If one of my pets becomes ill and its care is beyond a certain dollar price, they will most likely be put down.

Now for the questions to start this discussion. Is the life of an animal valuable? Does eating animal meat make us killers? Does killing an animal makes someone bad? is there a difference between mutilating an animal and killing it “gracefully”? Is animal abuse an indicator of mental illness? What about when you are trained to do it by the history of your family being bull fighters?

*Ethiopia has suffered famine many times because they have never developed their agriculture to the point that they store grain and live from crop to crop. Crop failure leads to famine.

Hello, my name is not Juan

The blogsphere collective consciousness is connected somehow, I have been thinking about the topic of names and psychology and I read two posts related to it almost back to back. One about how Becky got a chuckle after a dog naming choice and Will talking about the pronunciation of Sotomayor.

One of my grandparents abhorred nicknames, he felt that you gave a child a name so it would be used. That side of the family really gave neither my sister or I any nicknames. The other side of my family had nicknames for pretty much everyone, and they are ever changing. Its kind of weird sometimes because even though most of my sense of humor comes from one side of the family, you can guess which one, I have always felt like I belonged more with the other.

During my school years back in Colombia I had one nickname, that was “Gato” which means cat and it was given to me because of my eyes. They are a very unusual color and are an interesting combination of my Mother’s color and one of my Aunt’s. During college and thanks to being the third John to go into “the apartment” I got the nick name “Paco” but I only like it when people from that time period use it. People from the online world know me a Logtar, well some anyway, most people start calling me John after they get to know me since my online moniker is really not part of my personality in any way. Logtar is the first nickname I have ever chosen, but it is purely an online handle that is both short and available as a user name in most sites. I was actually very excited when I found out that I was “Chicago John” in the DeGuia household.

I love my name, including my middle name which is actually my Dad’s first name. My family has a tradition that all the males in the family inherit the first name of their father’s as a middle name. While I don’t mind Johnny or Johnathan here and there, I really like it when people use my name. My friend Brit always cracks me up when she says my full name including the middle one.

I never had a problem with the name Juan. One of my cousin’s that lived with us for a period of times is name Juan Carlos and he is pretty much an older brother to me. When I moved to the U.S. people started to try to call me Juan because they assumed I “translated” my name when I arrived.

The first one to challenge on this was my Spanish teacher in High School. I have a lot of respect for good teachers, but have also had my encounters escalate with some of the bad ones. Dr. Perez was someone that insisted on calling me Juan. For a PhD he is very ignorant when it came to many things. I finally won my battle the day I had to proved him wrong when he was making up a word in Spanish and had to come back the next day after looking it up in the ultimate dictionary from Spain he had at home and apologize for calling me a liar.

Ever since I dislike people that try to translate my name to Spanish when my parents chose to call me John. I guess I will never understand the need for Spanish teachers to use “translating” someone’s name as a teaching tool.

So what about you? Do you like your name? Do you like your nickname? Did you chose your own nickname?

Outliers – Malcom Gladwell

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Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

“In statistics, an outlier is an observation that is numerically distant from the rest of the data.”
“…in men and women who, for one reason or another, are so accomplished and so extraordinary and so outside of ordinary experience that they are as puzzling to the rest of us as a cold day in August.”

I have been fascinated by the idea of success for most of my adult life. It was actually the people telling me that I was not successful enough that made me even think about it even more. Having the mental capacity to be a doctor or a lawyer has been somewhat of a sentence in some of my families eyes, because by me not becoming one I became a “what could have John accomplished…”

It is obvious for some people that money, status and career are their indicators of success. I personally think of success in other terms. I find success in the people that surround me, the people that I share my life and memories with. That was one of the most fascinating things about reading the book Outliers, that Gladwell opened up with the case study of a whole town that was an outlier, a place where people were actually dieing of simply old age. You can actually read this chapter in the New York times, if you enjoy it pick up the book, it is an excellent and easy read.

Like everything that I have read from Gladwell, you have to make your own observations and conclusions. He gives you the information that he has found about a subject and almost like a great teacher, encourages you take away from it what you want. Besides the strongest messages of equality and opportunity that will breed success in our next generation, the book made me look at my own success a little closer.

While he does not take merit away from the very successful people he takes a look in his book, he does point out that a lot of it has to do with being in the right place at the right time. Also perseverance being a very important component to success.

There was actually a chapter that mentions Colombians and culture quite a bit. It was interesting to learn how much your culture affects you in subconscious ways. It also made me see that I have a very mixed culture by growing up both in the U.S and Colombia. Every time I read one of Gladwell’s books I come out very interested in psychology.

The book really did not change my way of gauging success, but it did bring some insight into why some people obtain it and why some don’t. I like the fact that he is very clear about intelligence and its effect of people. Most people would assume that a super high IQ is a sure way to success; however, like I have always believed, almost everyone is capable of learning. It just takes wanting to use that intellect to really accomplish things in life that in the end will make you successful.