A kid’s dream

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I hail from a middle-class family but I was able to play in the houses and offices of our more well-off relatives. During those times I always associated the “table” as a symbol of power and success. My mother is a public school teacher and I attributed her position with her photo clippings and plastic covered wooden table. I dreamed that someday I would have a table of my own that would bear the title of supervisor, manager, or simply put a boss.

In the childish view of somebody who have observed how hard it is to do manual labor, the “table” espouses a position of power; a capacity to make other people follow my whim. I would sometimes pantomime signing papers and giving people tongue lashings. It seemed like an easy life wherein my job entails sitting on a chair and transforming pieces of paper to near priceless artifacts with the simple flick of the pen in my hand.

Fast forward 25 years or so later and I can only shake my head on the foolishness of that dream. I could say that I am a supervisor but my work has not gone lighter than when I started. I am writing this piece after taking a break on my 15th hour since I started working. Those who are higher than me work more hours than I do as they seemingly take on a lot of tasks and projects. If I could talk to my past self I would have said: your dream is good my so innocent friend, but you do not understand the gravity of the responsibility that comes with that luxurious job. Tasks do not come easier as you progress your career. On second thought, jobs worth keeping become more complex and more frustrating.

Salut to all who thinks moving up the ranks mean less work. Cherish your innocence while it lasts.

Btw, I heard CEO jobs are actually easier… 😉

My reasons why I use a credit card

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Hailing from a rural area, my family never had a credit card. In fact hearing all the horror stories with its abuse, our view of its use borders in calling it as the spawn of the devil. After I graduated in college and started working I pretty much stuck with the “cash only” principle. That principle could not go wrong as it forces one to live by one’s own means, dispensing only cash that is available to you. That in itself is a fallacy that I will touch on later.

The company I worked for issued me an American Express gold card when I was assigned to Finland. The card remained largely unused as charging something on a plastic is a very alien principle to me. I even made it a sport heckling those call center agents who hawked pre-approved cards. However a couple of years ago I gave in and got my own credit card (with an extension to my wife who also dislikes using credit cards because of her own personal reasons).

What happened? My reasons were actually simple when you think about it:

  • The argument of keeping within the “cash only” transactions will result to living within your means is definitely not true. It can help if you don’t have the necessary willpower to known when you can and cannot afford an item but its not enough. Even without credit cards one can easily fall into deep debts. I have seen that happen. Any vice and addiction can turn around one’s fortune as quick as a stock market crash.
  • Living within your means can extend to credit card use, with the bonus of having the convenience of plastic. I don’t charge anything to my card that I cannot pay the next day. The next day, not the next payday. This is where willpower comes into play.
  • Credit card allows me to pay the exact amount. Unlike in the US where every penny counts, the Philippine centavo has fallen away into obscurity. How many people today can say they still have seen what a centavo looks like (yes the one with Lapu-lapu). Groceries and department stores are rampant in specifying amounts to the lowly centavo but does not have any change to spare that they round off the amount to the nearest 25 centavos. My credit card is from my bank so I can pay the exact amount down to the centavo when I settle my bills online. Every centavo counts, right?
  • Every-centavos-count

  • Ease of accounting. My online statement allows me to keep track of my expenditures. I use Budget Pulse to keep track of my liquid finances and even if I miss entering my expenses daily I can always fall back on the bank statements to keep my accounting sane.
  • Freebies. My credit card has some nifty freebies every 3 months; may it be free pizza, frozen delights, pulvoron or fast food goodies. The amounts needed to avail these have gone up but if I total all the freebies my wife and I have availed then they would have already paid for the yearly membership fee of our credit card. Which brings us to…
  • Almost free membership. Well I still need to pay Php1500 per year but for the last 2 of the 3 years I have been using the points earned by my credit card to pay for that yearly membership fee. This year the rep waived the membership fee and reversed the charge on my credit card because of my good standing, and also because I called. 🙂

I only maintain 2 credit cards: the one from the company which I dont use and the one I have now. Overall its a good deal as long I keep on minding how I use our credit cards.

ciao!

Gloom

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That feeling of waking up after a short afternoon nap, alone and with the light of the room slowly being rescinded as day turns to night.

Gloomy room

Time passes by in technology

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I spent 5 minutes explaining a scripting issue with a junior member of my team when he asked what the CR and LF characters in the comments section was.

I briefly explained that it stands for Carriage Return and Line Feed but I saw the still puzzled look on his face,  the type that was trying to digest something very unfamiliar.  I decided to explain further, with matching actions, that those were based in the activities in the typewriter that you need to go to the starting of the line (carriage return)  and pushing a lever to add a new line (line feed).

I looked at my young grasshopper and saw the puzzled look became a perplexed one.  It was then that I realized the mistake that I made so I asked the next probable question which is “have you had the chance to use a manual typewriter before? ” The answer was a quick No.

I had to laugh since he is basically a fresh grad and in his early twenties. I am on my early thirties and am amazed at what a decade of difference would make in terms of technology.
Typewriter
I wonder how soon it would be before the future graduates are unable to grasp the concepts used as basis for ubiquitous things in technology such as using one or two characters to go to the next line on the document.  🙂

A world of free text books and the money-making academe

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Chin Wong has a blog post about a site offering and campaigning for free text books. The idea is really a novel one (pun intended ;P ) wherein it spouts a utopian scenario that teachers and knowledgeable scribes contribute in evolving the textbook contents. I am however skeptical if it would be applicable here in the Philippines.

Face it, all schools offering academic teaching below the collegiate level makes a killing out of book and supplies sales. What else can explain the sudden surge for workbooks wherein it requires the students to rip out pages for submission?

A decade or so ago ripping books is considered a sacrilegious activity. Anybody doing it is labeled as an ignorant vandal who doesn’t understand the value of the knowledge printed in the pages they are destroying. Books are something that is cared for and passed on to a younger sibling or to the child of the neighbor who would be using them again in their quest of enlightenment (or that elusive diploma). As a self-professed voracious reader and book lover, I almost cried when I opened my niece’s workbook from a previously concluded school year. It looked like a middle-aged person raped violently by a ward of death-row convicts.

Then there is the sudden upsurge in the practice of selling school supplies with official schools seals. The problem is that these cost double than what it would normally sell in the free market. School officials argue that the latter promotes equality among its students because nobody uses luxurious items like high-end ballpoint pens and notebooks with high-substance paper. If that is the case then why the high price point? If printing the official seal doubles the price then why not just pick a standard supplier for the materials and enforce that, or subsidize the materials themselves. Why can’t those materials be considered as the norm but still allow students to use the cost-effective Panda ballpen?

I think it is the older man in me talking but the academe circles has degraded to the point that we now have schools being ran as businesses first and learning institutions second.

ciao!

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