money

Wrong Thinking

Here’s a story about what I call “Wrong Thinking.”

Way back in high school when I was playing baseball, a pitcher named Catfish Hunter became the first baseball player to get paid over a million dollars a year. I thought that was crazy, in a bad way. One day I talked to my dad about it, and asked him why people like farmers and engineers who did more important work didn’t get paid like that.

He didn’t have a great answer at the time, and that thought kept on bothering me. These days I think a correct answer he could have given me goes like this: “Baseball is in the entertainment business, just like singers and actors. For whatever reason, some sort of supply and demand, society is willing to pay those people a lot of money. So if the money bothers you, what you can do is make that money just like Catfish Hunter, and then give it away however you see fit.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on turning memorabilia into dollars for charity

A terrific quote from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar about auctioning off his memorabilia and giving the $3M+ proceeds to his Skyhook Foundation charity that helps kids learn about science, technology, engineering and math:

“When it comes to choosing between storing a championship ring or trophy in a room or providing kids with an opportunity to change their lives, the choice is pretty simple: Sell it all. Looking back on what I have done with my life, instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold plating celebrating something I did a long time ago, I’d rather look into the delighted face of a child holding their first caterpillar and think about what I might be doing for their future. That’s a history that has no price.”

Happiness in the midst of the muck

One thing that’s changed for me in the last year is that I’ve become a little less interested in what spiritual leaders have to say, and more interested in what spiritual laymen have to say. Don’t get me wrong, leaders are great in many ways, but they don’t have bills to pay, and don’t have spouses or children. I’m far more interested in what a spiritual person has to say when they’re in the midst of struggling to pay their bills, and they have jobs, spouses, children, and neighbors.

I was reminded of this recently when I saw a headline about Charlie Munger giving advice on how to be happy. I’ve read a lot of Charlie Munger quotes and he seems like a very nice person, but he’s been a billionaire for decades, and that skews your thinking. Based on my own experience, when you have a lot of money and you don’t have to worry about your health, paying your bills, noisy neighbors, or family problems, life is easy, so your advice is tainted. These days I’ll take “advice on happiness” from someone who is truly happy while living in the midst of the muck. In retrospect, this feeling is one thing that drew me to Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning when I was still a teenager.

Created a vision board and it all came true

I created a vision board many years ago during a retreat, and I have to say, everything on the board came true. I was thinking recently that it would be even more true if I didn’t have health problems for several years, and more recently providing financial support for family members. If it weren’t for those things I’d probably be living in Talkeetna or Palmer, Alaska today, writing more books.

A tale of two stories alvin May 8, 2018 - 3:43pm

A couple of stories are bouncing around in my head, so I thought I’d write them down to get them out of there.

In story #1, I was meditating a few nights ago when “Boom!” I was standing in the house I grew up in. I always wanted to go back there to see what it was like with an older set of eyes, so I took my time in walking around, looking at and touching everything. Eventually I walked downstairs, and when I got there a young version of my mom came out of her bedroom and seem concerned about something. Then she looked at me and said, “Money is important, isn’t it?” I replied, “I suppose so,” and then she kept walking around with that concerned look, and then the scene ended just as fast as it began and I was back in the darkness of meditation.

In story #2, my family was at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, and I probably wasn’t a teenager yet, maybe thirteen years old at the most. I think I went to get a drink of water, and when I turned around an older hippie girl was standing there. She leaned down and pinned a little fake red flower on my shirt and said something spiritual, which I thought was cool. Then she asked if could give her some money. I didn’t have any money, and when I told her that, she ripped the flower off my shirt and stomped away much less peacefully. I remember thinking that her behavior wasn’t correct, and I suspect that incident made me mistrust religious people for quite some time.

(From a Facebook post from May, 2018.)

The battle for journalism in Colorado (and the Denver Post)

When I first moved to Colorado I used to read the Denver Post, but for at least the last year I’ve read constant stories about reporting staff being gutted down to a bare-bones skeleton crew. These days I don’t even bother looking at it, which is a shame, because honest journalism is important in a free society.

Today the battle for journalism in Colorado continues, as employees of the Denver Post signed a letter about one of their colleagues being censored in the midst of what appears to be significant profit-taking by the newspaper ownership. (I saw “appears” because there is no mention of profit margins; every for-profit business must have a profit margin to stay in business.)

Update: If you’re interested in this sage, I recommend reading, They’ve Killed a Great Newspaper on westword.com.

On asking a waitress a stupid question

I’m reminded of this story today:

Back in 2005 I used to walk over to a bar that was across the street from my apartment. One night I was talking to a waitress and wondered out loud whether I’d be happier working a job that I enjoyed that might only pay $30K to $40K per year — as opposed to my current job, which paid a lot more but wasn’t making me happy.

She said, “Don’t look at me honey, I don’t make that kind of money,” then turned and walked away.

Scala type aliases (syntax, examples)

In Scala you can declare a type alias. Typically you do this to create a simple alias for a more complex type.

Using a type alias to simplify a complex type

For example, on this page I note a good example where someone on StackOverflow first defined a type alias named Row, and then created a second type alias named Matrix as a list of rows: