I’ve always known that knowledge is important. My school teachers droned on about it; my parents repeatedly reminded me of it; and various public service advertisements would use famous people to persuade me to believe it.

Okay, I get it. It’s got power. Whatever.

Yet, it wasn’t until I entered my adult years and experienced the everyday trials of simply living that I really began to appreciate the wide-ranging benefits of having and using knowledge.

It is powerful.

Learning how to get a loan, understanding why not paying off credit cards immediately can wreak disastrous effects, investigating what’s under the hood of my automobile, finding out how warranties can be comforting security blankets.

And most recently for me, figuring out what to look for in a laptop.

When I first perused my online laptop options, most would agree with me when I say that the sheer volume of choices could keep a person’s head spinning for days. And mine sure did.

Processors, hard drives, gigabytes, RAM, optical drives. I just wanted one that was fast and pretty.

At least, I thought that’s all I wanted.

The nice thing about the Internet is, if you use trustworthy sites, it takes no time at all to learn everything you need to know about any given topic.

And people are pretty quick and eager to give their opinion, especially if it’s anonymous.

I found very quickly that Intel and AMD are the leading processors, with Intel coming in just a hair ahead, and AMD being more useful for “gamers.” After that, I read about the types of processors: single, dual core and on up. The bigger the number, the faster the speed—I determined.

Same thing goes for memory (RAM) and the hard drive. Of course, most of us know that, but what I didn’t know is how much is too much or too little.

With a little more online investigating and face-to-face salesperson discussions, though, I found my answers. I finally settled on a Toshiba with an Intel i3 processor, 4 GB RAM and 500GB hard drive.

But I tell you what—the feeling of walking into a store and having an educated conversation about products, without embarrassment of appearing stupid or ill-equipped, and knowing the right questions to ask so as to make the right purchase, that’s priceless.

And powerful.

relative entitlement

June 23, 2010

The woman said she didn’t “want to throw around numbers” before confiding in us that her car cost more than $90,000.

And all I could think about was how much it costs her to get her oil changed.

Now, if you’re willing to spend the same amount of money on your vehicle as you would on a small house, you can probably afford routine maintenance on your car. At least, let’s hope you can, because those bills could otherwise leave you with quite a tummy ache.

It’s not for me to say how much an individual should spend on anything. We all make money and can spend it how we please.

But could the flaunting, rich people please keep their upturned noses and heavily-perfumed, entitled bodies turned in the opposite direction of me?

Entitlement doesn’t have to be bad. We all have things that we feel we deserve. We all have things that we may grow up having. But there’s a very fine and definite line between having and deserving that the rich do not always comprehend. Need we discuss the countless monarchies, past and present, who would rather watch their people go hungry than give up their frivolous luxuries in order to feed them? Or the many Wall Street executives who continue to bank outrageous bonuses while their clients lose everything they have.

That’s not to say that the less-fortunate people don’t feel entitled as well. Using the system, loop-holing the Man, pumping out child after sad, unfortunate child just to have their fellow Americans support them.

Pride in a day’s work is long gone. It went out the window with trust, decency, humanity, compassion, to name a few.

I read an inspiring quote the other day that said to “look for the humanity in every person you meet.”

Well, I’m trying, but I gotta tell ya, I think I need a new assignment.

Humanity seems to have disappeared with the advent of the Internet. And what replaced it is violence, pornography, self-obsession and deceit. The key elements to a truly successful society. A glance at the world scene surely reveals how far our society has advanced and how much closer we are to world peace and harmony than ever before. At least, that’s what our warring nations would have us believe.

workout woes

May 27, 2010

I enjoy working out at a gym.

I need peer pressure to adequately work out. And I don’t mean the encouragement that comes from a friend. Because if I bring a friend, that means I have to talk to them. And frankly, I don’t know how people do it. I get enough out of breath just walking on a treadmill. And to have to talk too! And what do people talk about that they don’t mind broadcasting to the twenty other people working closely by? I know there isn’t much information I want to share with the entire room.

No, working out is a personal experience. It’s not a chat fest. Not for me, anyways.

However, it is an opportunity to improve my body’s strength and overall health. And for that, I find that I need the awareness of people. I need to feel as if they are watching me and judging me if I give out after ten minutes on the elliptical. Or if I go for the ten-pounder weights instead of the fifteen.

Working out should be a competition with oneself, but I’ve never been very competitive with myself. Just with others.

An even bigger impetus to getting myself to the gym, though, is money. I’ve already spent the moo-lah to gain access to the gym, so I better go. I may not have to pay to walk out my front door and enjoy the sunshine, but seriously, how often do I do that?!

But losing money–that’ll always get me to move my behind. Another hereditary trait I can thank my father for. (Er, not my behind, but the money thing.)

The Dollar Rules

March 12, 2010

Up-selling is a fact of life.

The world revolves around the dollar, and all retailers want more of it. They are always in search of a new way to increase sales.

Again, a fact of life. The sooner we all accept it, the happier we will be.

So I can’t say that I’m that surprised when Target, various department stores, Starbucks, and credit card companies are all trying to entice me to “add on” to my order. Be it through a new credit card, an extra shot of espresso or identity theft coverage, respectively.

But what does surprise me is when they act as if I did not just say no.

Now, I have a strict no rudeness policy when I interact with service industry workers. I get it. I know how difficult customers can be. I sympathize. Therefore, I try to never stop smiling at them. And I always wear an apologetic look if I feel as if I’m bothering them or if the people with me are being a little hard to deal with. But if I have to say no four times to the same question, that smile begins to become a little ingenuine.

In addition, what has surprised me even more is the amount of sales pitches I’ve received from my new bank–which will remain nameless.

They’re a very nice bank. Nothing out of the ordinary regarding perks and such, but the tellers are very friendly. And considering that I appreciate friendliness (and they were offering a nice incentive), I opened an account.

However, I failed to realize that what came along with the friendliness was basically an on-going sales pitch. Everytime I go there I’m hearing about a new credit card, the new incentive program for referring a friend, the benefits of signing up for online bill pay. Things I never even thought that banks cared about, I’m being asked to do.

And so, because of that, I have become a close companion with online banking. No perky tellers who initiate pleasant conversations only to turn them into guilt-laced sales pitches.

Isn’t that horrible that we are now seeking out ways to avoid human interaction? Because no longer is it about being concerned with the daily well-being of another human but instead, it is about how to squander that person out of an extra dollar or an extra minute of their day.