Not exactly something I ever expected to say considering I bank so heavily on my love of the written word over visuals, but apparently my blind insistence on using lots of images to liven up my Fire Emblem posts has apparently caught up with me. As I mentioned earlier this week, I’m essentially out of media space just over 300 posts in:
I don’t know if this is a good or a bad post-to-space-usage ratio necessarily, but it’s the reality I’m living with.
That is, outside of the Fire Emblem posts. Which, like I mentioned, are probably the biggest space fillers I’ve got in terms of images. With a Feh Channel video planned to drop tonight and new units coming out tomorrow, I’ll probably be doing a slightly more extended post for the morning on the latest stuff for the game.
But I’m also going to see if I can get away with doing that using a smaller number of pictures. Trim the fat, as it were.
Ironic, isn’t it? I started to use more pictures to make the words more interesting for a larger audience, but now I’m stuck back using more words due to lack of space for the images.
I suppose we’ll see how it works out. At some point I’ll find a proper balance I’m sure.
I’m going to keep searching for that balance even once I get this upgrade out-of-the-way, too. I think it’ll do me some good to shake things up where I can and make a more concise product, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to just indignantly work my way forward with no images forever.
If anything, after about two-to-three years of using this blog here, I think it’s probably worth going ahead and starting to invest some money into it. Even if it’s with the most basic upgrade package.
Hopefully you’ll all stick around as I try to mess with things more. Given my intent to keep doing this daily post thing, I’m sure having the extra space will open up plenty more opportunities to do cool things.
Mom took me down a rabbit hole I wasn’t expecting to go down today.
A Netflix documentary rabbit hole.
But not any sort of traditional documentaries. No, we’ve been watching the series of mini-documentaries produced by Vox for Netflix called “explained.”
Technically it’s more like “_____, explained,” as each episode takes a different subject and dives into that subjects history, impact on human history and potential future developments in neatly packaged 15-minute segments.
They do a pretty stellar job at that role and have become rather popular in just four years thanks to their well-developed infographics and other such visually-driven pursuits that thrive in the Internet age.
Thinking it over now, their Netflix series is essentially a series of documentaries that feel like some of the best YouTube explainers you’ve ever seen.
Actually, they go further than that. A lot of the editing and visual-driven style of each mini documentary feels very similar to other series birthed by people seeped in the Internet’s ways.
The one that comes to mind most immediately is Game Theory or Wisecrack, who take highly analytical approaches to popular culture, usually.
Yet that style is applied to a more traditional news format that you might expect out of televised enterprise stories or other similar organizations like Vice News.
Basically, to make that whole long story short. “Explained” feels like watching a 15-minute YouTube video developed by practitioners of classic newspaper storytelling styles.
Every episode of the series is engaging as a result of this finely-tuned combination.
However, each episode is also engaging in its own specific way. Because each chooses a different interesting topic and, well, explains them in their own way.
Some episodes, like the piece on eSports or the piece on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, use lots of animations to show concepts that are mostly ephemeral.
Others, like the piece on K-Pop or the piece on monogamy, bring in general people from all around the world for man-on-the-street portions that speak to a deeper human interest in each subject.
Then there are episodes about the racial wealth gap or the failure of diets that seem to rely heavily on historical documents, novels and other media to demonstrate what has happened over time.
Yet in spite of all these different styles of explaining information used, each piece keeps the same core. A similar fast-cut editing style interspersed with expert interviews and well-crafted infographics. They’re all recognizably ‘Vox,’ but carry different stand-out portions based on the topic.
My favorite bit is probably the child-led recreation of how the stock market works using a lemonade stand analogy.
As you can probably imagine just from how many different directions I’ve pulled that last segment of this post in, there’s a huge variety of stories that are being told in the documentary series.
Each, on top of being visually appealing, is also very well-researched and informative. I could recount at least one thing I learned from each story.
I suppose if I’m taking this in the direction of a ‘review’ of the series, it should be obvious that I’d highly recommend everyone with Netflix check this one out.
It’s a great example of a series that’s informative and engaging, something that takes the lessons of the Internet and applies it to teaching in a way more and more groups should take into account.
There’s also apparently more coming out every Wednesday, so it’s something we’ll keep coming back to I’m sure.
Favorite Episodes: “!” or “K-Pop” or “Designer DNA”
“!” — My mom is deeply rooted in the professions of the English language like I am, and this episode was the one that she was first notified of that led to our shared interest in the show in the first place.
“K-Pop” — Like me, she enjoyed this episode because of the way it took a topic we were vaguely familiar with and explained its backstory in depth that we never would have expected to exist there.
“Designer DNA” — Mostly because the topic delved into areas of research she has already looked into while doing copy editing and fact checking for scientific magazines like “Genome,” meaning she was knowledgable ahead of the curve coming in.
Overall Impression: “The fact that it has little 15-minute interstitials where you learn something that you didn’t know necessarily, you walk away with something interesting to talk to someone else about. I highly recommend this show to everybody.”
To make it out to a meeting I had in Fullerton this afternoon, I had to drive my car a substantial distance for probably the first time in a long time.
That’s one of the nice things about summer vacation for me. More hometown driving, less having to go to the gas station multiple times a week.
I’ve been a little hesitant about getting back behind the wheel for a long trip lately because of some issues I had with my car semi-recently. This isn’t something I chatted about when it happened, mostly because I was sort of embarrassed about it, but I figured now would be as good a time as any. Just to keep a log of what happens in my life, if nothing else.
In an effort to not bury the lede and make sure you all can imagine what I’m taking about, enjoy this image:
Yeah, what a mess.
Now before I get any concerned messages, I’m totally okay. This wasn’t the result of a collision or anything of the sort.
Pretty much exactly a week ago now, I got up extra early to drive my sister to summer school (she’s taking Spanish 3 to clear it out-of-the-way for next year). Because that class is fairly early in the morning, I came home and stayed in a sort of sleepy daze for a while after.
Naturally that led to the fact that it was street sweeping day completely slipping my mind. Up until I heard the sweeper start to make its way down the other side of the street.
Panicked, I rushed out to pull my car away from the street spot and onto the driveway so I could avoid getting a ticket. Unfortunately that rush led to my forgetting just how big of a turning radius my car has.
So long story short my front-left wheel dipped down into the small ditch surrounding my driveway where we have some plants growing, and as I pulled back the inside of the bumper got caught on a concrete corner and pulled out.
Like I said, nobody was hurt (if you don’t count my pride) and we were able to bring it down to an auto shop down the block from the house and get the bumper realigned and stuck back in for a quick 20 bucks.
Though that’s only a bandage in the grand scheme of things. Apparently we’re going to have to have the whole bumper replaced at some point.
When you add that damage onto the rear-left window’s broken motor, which has left the thing half-open for the last few months, I’ve finally begun to understand the struggles of car ownership. Particularly on a starving college student’s budget.
Luckily I’m glad I can report that the first big freeway drive I’ve taken it on since that damage was done has been a success. Nothing fell off again and all seems to be relatively okay if you don’t count the slight scraping sound of my wheel against the inward bump whenever I turn right.
It’s more disconcerting than it is dangerous, but still.
Honestly car troubles were about all I had in mind as a conversation topic today, but I think I’m just going to leave it at that. Nobody’s interested in the nitty-gritty because everyone has the same problems, I’m sure.
So in the meantime, I guess I can just say look forward to more exciting(?) posts coming out later this week.
I know at some point I’m going to have to upgrade my WordPress here to store more photos, I’ll probably write about that. Also more units are coming to Fire Emblem Heroes on the 20th, so I’ll definitely be on that. Plus I have a job interview on Friday that I’m sure I’ll talk about.
So yeah I could spend the next couple hundred words or so talking about the almost 9,000 word transcript I did for a Boom conversation with Merry Ovnick of Southern California Quarterly. But I’m not sure a second-hand account of the discussions on regional architecture in California and Los Angeles specifically would be super interesting for anyone but me.
That probably doesn’t sound fair. It’s not an inherently boring interview or anything. In fact, it went over some interesting points, particularly about the effects of history and culture on architecture and vice versa.
I just don’t think I can do it any justice without coming across about as blandly as possible. So I’m just going to leave that to the experts and encourage you all to go read the piece as soon as it’s officially published.
With that mindset in place, I figured this was going to be a short “don’t have much to talk about” kind of post.
But then I started to set it up. When I did I realized this is actually a milestone of sorts.
My blog post yesterday was the 299’s I’ve published here. That means you’re currently reading lucky number 300 — as my headline so aptly remarks.
So yeah. Happy tri-centennial… Erm… I’m not sure what the right term would be… Post-iversary… Thing.
I guess it’s not even so much an anniversary since it isn’t time-specific as much as it is content-specific. I’ll try to come up with something better if I do one of these for the next milestone. Probably 500, or whatever it may be.
While I wish I had something more substantial to say, I suppose it’ll have to do for me to just reflect on my summer project now that we’re at about the halfway point.
I’ve honestly been surprised to see that posting something every single day, rather than putting out a post every other week or so, actually has a substantial effect on how many eyes the words get to. At least twice this summer I’ve broken my record on blog post views and likes (though both are just barely into the double digits so I can’t proclaim it’s that much) and I’ve more than tripled my following.
Even if that’s, again, a less than substantive nine or so followers up to the low thirties, it’s still pretty awesome. I’m sure it sounds cliché when I say it, but I really do appreciate all of you out there that think I’m worth taking a look at for what mostly amounts to random bouts of rambling.
That also extends beyond my direct WordPress followers into the realm of social media. Though that also comes in spurts, I like to know whenever people take a look at the stuff I’m putting out here.
Just based on what I’ve seen come out of this so far, I think I’m probably going to continue writing a blog post a day even after the summer ends. That might be tougher once school starts, but if nothing else I’ll probably just be able to talk about what I learned in class on a given day or something along those lines. So who knows, I’m sure it’ll work out in one way or another.
That’s honestly all I’ve got to say on the matter, but I’m well over 500 words writing about nothing at this point, so I think that should be more than enough. Especially if I want to get something out before midnight.
Again, thanks for all the support, and here’s to many more posts from here on out! Perhaps if I actually keep up this daily business, soon it’ll be child’s play when I hit a number like 300.
After a relatively uneventful day, I got to spend the evening supporting the arts.
In what has become something of another annual tradition for the Rochlin family, we went down to El Segundo to support Aly’s friend Rhyan. She and her sister perform with the Haven Academy of the Arts, a Christian nonprofit that helps give kids and teens a chance to perform on stage.
This year’s musical was:
A classic by any other name just as sweet.
Because you know.
Romeo and Juliet. Just with more racism and dancing.
I’ve also seen the troupes performances of Seussical and Guys and Dolls. All and all I’d argue this was one of the weaker shows they’ve put on despite having some well-done choreography.
But I’m not here to review this show, because I feel like it would be in bad taste. Plus it’s not something that’s meant for critical acclaim so much as it is to support the kiddos.
Support the kiddos we did. Both with the buying of the tickets and with concessions.
If nothing else, these guys always have a solid spread of gifts to buy and snacks to eat. With all money apparently going to a scholarship fund that helps more kids afford the ability to take part.
That’s what the head lady said at least. I’m not getting paid to spread the word or anything, but what can I say. I like supporting the arts.
Don’t really have too much to add beyond that however. Just a nice, quiet night out at the theatre with my mom and sister. Figured it would make for a more interesting blog post than the adventures of me transcribing an interview again, which was what I did most of the rest of the day.
So hopefully you weren’t expecting anything super weighty and profound. Because the best I have to offer is a plead to do the same as us and go support local arts programs.
Welcome to the post talking about the other things I was referring to there.
Yeah I bet you weren’t expecting a conversation about Funko Pops, were you? They don’t exactly seem like the kind of thing in my area of interest.
I’ll admit that they aren’t for the most part. In fact, I don’t necessarily hate Funko Pops overall as my clickbait-y title might suggest.
If anything I’m willing to admit they’re rather cute for the most part. Plus I have been known to collect a somewhat useless series of plastic figurines in the past myself.
So really there’s no reason I should hate this fairly harmless Hot Topic-stuffing collectible mogul, right?
See I don’t necessarily hate Funko Pops as an inherit object that exists. What I absolutely abhor is the corporate design mentality surrounding Funko Pops.
As anyone who knows anything about Funko Pops must know, there are Funko Pops that exist for literally anything AND everything.
You like anime? Pick your favorite, there’s a series of Pops to go with them.
You like HBO television series like Westworld? God knows I do, and there’s a series of Pops to go with them.
You like the Marvel Cinematic Universe? You like video games? You like football? Actual real life football?
Because there are pops for all of those things and an infinite amount of other things I won’t bother to go into because look at this catalog. It’s nuts.
Especially the whole sports side of things. Side-rant I get being in love with sports and following, say, the Yankees or the Dodgers if you’re super into baseball. It’s just bizarre to have a series of collectible figurines representing actual real people that you can stick in your house.
But okay you get the point. If you’ve got an interest, Funko has a Pop to fit it.
Inherently I don’t have a problem with this business model. The fact that this company has invented a series of figurines so simple that literally any form of media can be molded into it is genius, and something the whole world probably wishes they figured out first.
As someone who has played many video games to 100 percent completion, and thrives on games like Monster Hunter where the whole idea is to collect exclusive bits and pieces of monsters to create new specialty armor, I can understand the itch many collectors have when it comes to Funko.
So yeah, if you want to go out and collect Funko Pops, more power to you. My family certainly does, and there are series I’d probably be more than willing to pay for a full collection of.
But that’s only considering the ‘first edition’ idea of these Pops. My problem comes with the alternate forms.
“Wow Jason, that’s ironic. You don’t like Funko Pops for producing alternate versions of characters when you talk endlessly about rare variants of characters in Fire Emblem Heroes like they’re the second coming. What a hypocrite.”
Yeah I hear you audience, I know.
It’s no secret that I appreciate ‘special editions’ as much as the next guy. But Fire Emblem Heroes and Funko Pops are a little different at their core.
In FEH, the special variant units are just as free-to-start as every other unit in the game. Sure there are practices under the surface that encourage players to eventually spend money, like releasing five valuable banners in a row with few orb giveaways in between, but still.
You could just as easily start the game when a holiday banner is running and be just as likely to receive that unit with free orbs as anyone else.
With Funko Pops, every single one costs money. Just as much, if not more money in fact.
Do you like Deadpool? Okay, here’s a Deadpool figurine. That’ll be a nice little thing to display to show off your interest in the character.
“Alright, alright we get it,” I hear you in the audience say.
I sure hope you do. With the simplicity of the Funko Pop formula, any single character can be given infinite minor modifications and be considered a special variant.
But unlike the model in FEH, where you could theoretically earn the special version for free, every single Funko costs real life money.
Now there are arguments to be made that these are physical objects rather than digital characters in a video, and thus there’s more value to collecting them over time in terms of things like eventual trading or simply selling collections much like with comic books and vinyl records.
There’s validity to that idea. But that isn’t really what I’m here to discuss.
What I’m here to discuss is the fact that a business model allowing for infinite cash cow-ing on the same property over and over and over again, rather than keeping to a finite cap of collectability, is inherently infuriating.
I would be more than happy to spend 60 bucks over the course of a few months to collect five Deadpool figurines based on characters from the movies if I enjoyed them that much. What I wouldn’t be happy doing is spending literally all of my money for forever to keep up with every ‘left hand raised 60 degrees’ variation that can be squeezed out.
That’s not even just for Deadpool too, as much as I keep harping on him. He just happens to be a good example of a character that lends himself to more ridiculous, outlandish variations and repeated re-releases. Any character can have a variant where they wear a different outfit or hold a new pose.
Funko Pops certainly aren’t the first to abuse this model, but they abuse it pretty hard. It’s probably rather petty to be bashing them so hard for it out of nowhere, but I’ve seen similar ideas ruin things I’ve loved in the past.
Shuffle was a spin-off game released first on the Nintendo 3DS and then on mobile devices in 2015. It was something of a continuation of the Trozei and Battle Trozei series that became a free-to-start microtransaction-laden title. And I adored it.
Seriously, for the longest time if you had asked me what game handles the microtransaction system most fairly, it would have been Pokémon Shuffle. I played this damn game on my 3DS for years, and I have distinct memories of doing so both on my high school and college campuses.
The game ran on an ‘energy’ system, where you could play five games at a time before needing to wait for everything to recharge. Unless you spent gems, the in-game currency you could buy with real life currency.
There are also a bunch of other details related to items you can either grind out or purchase, but the energy was the important thing to me. See those five hearts of energy recharged at a rate of a half hour per heart.
In other words, you could play a full set of games every two-and-a-half hours. Compared to a lot of other games with energy or stamina caps, this was insanely generous.
For a student like me, it essentially meant I could play out my games, go to whatever class I had, then get out to find a full set of energy hearts waiting to be used. Combine this with the semi-regular updates (though eventually the levels got kind of ridiculously difficult) and frequent special in-game events, and I was more than happy to play for years.
But then I stopped. You know why I stopped?
Just look at this insanity.
My screenshot here hasn’t even captured half of the special variants for Pikachu alone. There are Pikachu wearing every cap that Ash ever wore in the anime. Pikachu wearing costumes modeled after Legendary Pokémon. Hell there’s a Rayquaza costume Pikachu AND a shiny Rayquaza costume Pikachu.
Again, Pikachu isn’t the only problem, but he’s emblematic of it. Everything technically started with the ‘winking’ starter Pokémon line.
This ridiculous cash cow, the infinite special variant system, is what burned me out of Pokémon Shuffle in the end. I was more than happy to keep playing to collect all 700+ Pokémon as a mark of personal completion should they have gotten that far.
But because the game’s creators wanted a way to keep the game going forever and come up with more challenging ways of potentially forcing players to spend money on limited time only extra special dudes, I didn’t feel like it was worth keeping up anymore.
Funko Pops embody the same problem, in my opinion. If you’re going to release the same figures over and over and over again with slight variations just to squeeze out as much money as possible, then why should anyone bother trying to collect them all in the first place?
I’m sure other people will have their justifications for it, but that’s a path I can’t see myself going down. I’d much rather stick with collecting something finite in my real world collectibles. Something I can eventually look at and say ‘this is a complete set.’
That’s my rant for the day. What do you think? Is the idea of infinite variation healthy for a brand like Funko? Or is it detrimental in their long-term viability as a reasonable company, as I’m more inclined to believe.
Though obviously I’m probably in the wrong since, let’s be real, people will continue to buy those things no matter what I say. So the more they can print up the more money they’ll make.
If the heat yesterday wasn’t bad enough for you, how about this?
California heat wave. Open field war reenactments. Heavy wool historically accurate Civil War uniforms.
Fun, fun, fun.
Luckily I wasn’t one of the poor saps that had to stand around outside for hours in a heavy outfit. Instead I just got to go around and explore, migrating from shady spot to shady spot learning all about cool historical things.
That’s right, it’s Old Fort MacArthur Days time once again! If you missed out on the post I did last year showing off a slideshow of pictures I took, you can check it out here.
But for those of you who fit into the center of the Venn diagram between ‘not initiated’ and ‘too lazy to click the link,’ Old Fort MacArthur Days is a yearly event at the closed military base on the cliffs of San Pedro, California. People of all creeds gather in historical gear and bring a treasure trove of knowledge about whatever era of history they aim to represent.
It’s a really sweet two-day event that my family has been going to for probably five+ years now. Not only is it a good time wandering the grounds of the old base learning historical fun facts, but there are vendors and war reenactments that offer plenty of reasons to come back.
I’ve made it something of a tradition of mine to introduce new people to Old Fort MacArthur Days every year, as I think it definitely deserves the traffic and makes for a fun day of hanging out.
Even if these last two years have been face-meltingly hot. But that’s another story.
While I brought my friend Sam last year, this year Juan got to join in on the fun with me and Aly:
Shout out to that boy for always being down to go on random adventures.
Also shout out to this great picture we took as a means of making Sam regret her decision to not come along again because of the heat.
We actually listened to a couple of really interesting figures today.
There was a Union commander for the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment that told us all about the very first attempt at using a submarine during the Civil War which failed spectacularly because of the unforeseen consequences of concussing every member aboard the vessel when an explosive went off too early.
Then we spent a good amount of time listening to the Barber Surgeon in the English Civil War region that told us infinite details about various surgical devices and how English superstition led to the creation of myths like the Tooth Fairy.
But of course we also can’t forget the Saloon owner in what I will affectionately call West World who handed out both lemonade and detailed descriptions of tabletop games kids would play in the 1800s.
While the discussions were all wonderful as ever, just as wonderful were the reenactments.
This year we only got to two of them before the heat knocked us out of our desire to stick around. We saw a World War II battle in which the American soldiers used an actual for real tank (which was awesome) to take a bill from German soldiers, and we saw the West World gun show where a man swindled some other cowboys from their money before being killed by his wife for using their daughter in the scheme.
I’m sure it’s great for you all to hear me just talk about the stuff we saw, but I figure I should do you one better and show off this neat slideshow of pictures with mediocre bits of commentary where I can fit it.
Pretty cool stuff, right? It was totally worth probably getting a sunburn even through two coats of sunscreen to nab some of these.
Especially the cowboy gunshot I used as the attractive featured image. I love that sucker a whole bunch.
However, this year you should all be glad to know that I’ve stepped it up a notch.
Last year I took some videos that I considered putting in my blog post, but couldn’t quite figure out how to insert them here without blowing my storage out of control or having it take three days to upload.
Since then I have become a smarter man and now know how to use my gmail-associated YouTube account to my advantage.
So enjoy this video of the WW2-era tank in action:
And this video of a cowboy decimating a water bottle with a shotgun:
Plus, here’s a bonus video of another cowboy failing to fire his gun and getting ragged on by all the other cowboys:
I think my favorite part of that one is hearing Juan lose it next to me at the physician comment.
That’s about all I have to share from my trip to San Pedro this year. While I hope my pictures are a cool window into this little world that many of you probably haven’t seen, I really have to encourage everyone to check out this event at least once if they’re in the area at the right time!
It’s an awesome historical adventure that’s well worth the heat stroke. Something I’m sure I’ll say after I forget about how much I die in the heat and do it to myself again next year.
After spending most of the afternoon melting into a puddle of goo on the couch, struggling to come up with something to write about in the heat-laden haze post-Gladeo meeting, I think I’ve finally just decided to give up for the night.
I really have nothing to talk about right now, and my brain is too mushy from the 100+ degree temperatures here in California today to feel my obligatory post is worth stressing over tonight.
So how about this. I’ll just use this post as a ‘things to come’ set-up of sorts.
People like that right?
With my work meeting this morning came the confirmation that both of the Career Spotlights and the Career Profile I’ve been working on are going through the editing process, so they should be published online any day now. As they come around I’ll be sure to talk about them in more detail.
However, if it’s anytime in the near, near future (though that’s somewhat doubtful from where they are in the process), I might hold off talking about them for a day or two. I have a pretty succinct idea for what my posts will hold for a period of time.
Tomorrow I’m going to go to Old Fort MacArthur Days with Aly and a few of my friends. I’ll probably throw out a post with a slideshow of cool things we see like I did last year – but this time I’ll know how to include videos, too.
Sunday I’m going to see Ant Man and the Wasp with my family. I’ll do one of my mini reviews on that after I see it.
There’s also an update to Fire Emblem Heroes coming on the eighth, but I haven’t quite decided whether I want to post two things on a day or whether I should hold off the mobile game update for Monday to take up some extra space. Supposedly there might be another new banner on the 10th as well, but I don’t have personal confirmation for that.
Though speaking of extra space filler, I also have a couple posts in my drafts folder. One is a slightly more extended discussion on Funko Pops I’ve been cooking up, as I have a personal issue with something regarding their business practices.
There might also be a couple Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links deck profiles I can throw together on some decks I’ve been having fun with lately. Especially one featuring Shining Flare Wingman, who I discussed my love for a bit ago.
Beyond that I’m also interested in doing a couple of ‘nostalgic’ sort of posts examining things I haven’t looked at in a long time.
Also also, I’ve begun to put some work into my Honors Project proposal, and especially with the help of my friends I’ll likely have something to chat about in regards to that once I have more succinct views about what my novel-in-progress will include.
Otherwise… Yeah. That’s about all I have to discuss in terms of forward-thinking blog post ideas.
Right now I’m just kind of sitting here in the lukewarm heat of the nightfall, wallowing in a food coma following a nice meal with my parents at one of my favorite restaurants and catching up on some T.V. shows.
Oh, speaking of, I suppose I also might expect a post talking about Luke Cage season 2 at some point in the near future. Because if we finish that show anytime soon I’m definitely willing to talk about it.
Otherwise let me know if there’s anything you might be interested in seeing around here! I’m pretty open to ideas if there are any going around you might want to see me discuss.
Has anyone ever stopped to think about how strange the idea behind money is?
Probably a silly rhetorical question, as commerce is something that many people have thought long and hard about over the course of human history. But I don’t exactly mean the concept of different monetary systems or the merits of different economic theories like capitalism vs. communism.
I’m certainly nowhere near enough of an expert in any sort of financial realm to be able to begin to tackle those big ideas.
However, recently I’ve been contemplating a different bizarre aspect of money that relates more to a psychological sphere of thought. Namely the idea of ownership when it comes to money, particularly in the much more nebulous 21st century where the lines between the physical and the digital are blurred more and more.
I could point to a number of places as the genesis of my thinking on this subject, though two primarily come to mind off-hand.
First is my sister, who loves to tell the story of an old man who approached her as she worked the concession booth at a Redondo Union band event. Apparently his idea of small talk was telling a couple 16 year olds that they should be careful with the money they were handling because all U.S. bank notes supposedly have some trace of cocaine on them.
I probably have another post incoming sometime soon regarding stuff from this trip that’ll make it relevant again, but for now just know we went to the bank after all was said and done.
Both of these small, seemingly disconnected events kind of evoke the same cliché: You never know where your money has been. An unarguable idea, especially looking back at the lede to that CNN article I linked where the author talks about how frequently money is passed from person-to-person through anything from paying for goods at a store to dropping $5 on the ground by accident.
But I’m not here to examine the idea of your money having been touched by anyone and everyone at some point in the past, per say. Rather, I’m more interested in the much smaller idea of casually calling it ‘your money.’
At its core, money is the symbolic representation of a totally imaginary concept called worth.
What I’m looking at is the idea that we, as a species, have collectively decided that slips of paper have been assigned a value that essentially boils down to a more simplified form of bargaining. Instead of trading a sack of flour for two chickens, we’ve come up with a representation of how many paper slips each sack of flour or each chicken is worth, that way there’s a universally tradable object allowing someone to buy anything they want rather than being restricted to getting chickens.
Naturally there’s an infinite number of complications to that idea when it comes to things like the universality of currency if we all have different currencies worth different values. But like I said, I’m not an economist or a financial guru, so let’s just go with a more simplified world view here.
The creation of a universal representation of wealth has also crystalized an idea of what it is to be a wealthy individual. Sure back in the day you were the king if you had X number of chickens or acres of land, but there were people who could argue they didn’t need chickens or land if they had different goods.
In today’s society, money is literally the deciding factor because money can be used for almost anything.
That’s why people will go around talking about their net worth, how something like their stock options give them a billion dollar value. Because that symbolic value is worth something in that it’s usable for almost any kind of bartering one can imagine.
But in 2018, that’s where things get complicated and interesting to me. You can say you have $100 available right now, but do you really have the physical Benjamin in your pocket? Or do you have $100 in this nebulous digital concept called a bank account?
Now I know bank accounts aren’t technically completely nebulous, since there are physical places where one can deposit and take out physical bills. But here’s the thing: Even those physical bills aren’t technically completely your property, despite the fact that your inherent worth says you have that much available.
When you deposit a dollar in the bank, there’s no guarantee that when you take it back out you’ll be receiving the exact same dollar. It’s more likely that the bank just has a pile of dollars hidden away somewhere that they peel bills off of for anybody that needs it at a given time.
Also yes that probably isn’t how a physical bank works, but again. Not a banker. So any real life bankers out there please don’t get mad reading my description.
Just go with it for the sake of this hypothetical.
The idea extends beyond banks as well. Like I mentioned before, purchasing items creates an interesting dynamic. That dollar “you own,” once handed over to the cashier in exchange for whatever it may be, goes into a cash register. But if you go back to that store one day and get cash back for having too big a bill, you aren’t guaranteed to get the exact same dollar you handed over long ago.
That dollar probably disappeared as soon as the person behind you in line that day used a bill that was too big and got cash back. Now it’s suddenly a representation of that person’s wealth rather than your own.
As usual I don’t necessarily have a larger point to this discussion beyond it being an interesting train of thought into something most of us more than likely take for granted in this fly-by-night world we live in.
But next time you go to buy that new video game or receive a paycheck and toss those singles around like you’re the king of the world in a strip joint, maybe you’ll think about this post and give your psychological perceptions of money a reexamination.
Those bills you’re tossing around? They aren’t yours, as you might think. No matter how hard you worked to earn them in the first place.
They’re just a symbolic representation of the work you put in given a physical form that allows you to barter without trading away any actual goods. No matter how many times you kiss that wad of cash, happy to be worth something, just remember that the second you put it down it’ll be the property of whoever picks it up next.
But also maybe think about the fact that you’re likely kissing money that has cocaine on it. Because let’s not forget, that money could literally have been held by anybody before it was held by you.
There’s nothing like a parade on the Fourth of July.
Well… Actually I’m not so sure about that. It just seemed like the right cliché to start this post off with considering I’m talking about going to a parade on the Fourth of July.
To be completely honest, I think my most fond Fourth memories date back to these pool parties I used to go to at a family friend’s house. Not only was it a poolside BBQ every year, but we could all see fireworks from that yard as the night fell.
Also I have very fond recollections of playing Donkey Kong Jr. one year off of that kind of bizarre card reading attachment that existed for the GameBoy Advanced I think? That might just be a fever dream, but if nothing else it helps me associate the Fourth with DK jr.
Probably a different story for another day, though. I just wanted to punctuate my conversation about Alyson with a video game thing.
Because she loves that.
Spiteful recurring jokes aside, this 4th of July I went out past LAX to Westchester for a parade. Alyson and the RUHS band perform in this particular parade every year, and it’s my second time coming along for the ride.
Last time I went was a few years ago when I wasn’t focusing so much on the power of having a blog to spout nonsense into, though.
So I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to fill up one of my daily writing requirements.
However, I’m also spending the day with the family since it’s July 4th, so I’m going to keep it brief and just do a neat little slideshow of all the cool stuff that made its way through the parade route before RUHS performed.
Hopefully you enjoy this very non-politicized Fourth of July post. Because god knows the fervor is strong when I hear people yelling things like “take him down” at Maxine Waters, a U.S. Congresswoman, as she makes her way down the parade path.
God bless America.
Also, can’t forget the bonus recording of Aly and the band performing:
Happy birthday, America. May your founding principles continue to hopefully shine through to number 243 and beyond!