The Itinerant Tern

A blog about things


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4. How much is time worth?

I spoke, today, with a lady of great esteem who was very upset about being paid less than a man. Being a white male in the U.S. has given me the advantage of never having to worry about discrimination except once during soccer team tryouts in high school. I felt bad about her plight, but having no skin in this game allowed me an objective thought process. How much should anyone's time really be worth when monetized?

The concept of trading time, effort, talent, etc. for coins has always been pretty vague to me. I understand converting my skilled labor into abstract, universal currency, because the farmer growing my future calories doesn't have any need for my drawings. Fine. I can also get behind the idea that there is variation in people's skills and abilities, so some dude's fastball is clearly worth more apples than another's. My meager understanding of why communism didn't work out tells me that we need an incentive to work harder or better than the next guy, hence variation in pay is good.

What boggles my mind is the wildly unrealistic and inconsistent magnitude of this variation. How many more loaves of bread could a man's time be worth versus that of a woman. One, two at most per week? Never mind that they are not even partaking in manual labor where you could maybe make an argument for a difference in valuation. How much do two loaves cost? It silly; there is no way to hand waive economics past this disconnect from reality. Our notes are legal tender... sure. We all believe they are worth some random amount of brownies, but I fail to understand how an hour of my life costs ten times as many grapes as some kid making my shoes in Asia. That's a lot of grapes.

So I was thinking about this silliness while my colleague vented. There's not much I can do to rectify this injustice, let alone the whole world economy, so I am thinking about my personal economy. How much is my own time worth to me? All of a sudden, things become much more clear. Money is freedom for me. I am willing to trade some of my time in order to gain a quantum of freedom of choice, travel, food,and interesting experiences. Suddenly I don't care how much I make relative to the next guy. If I don't earn enough for my goals, it's time to change my situation. If I make too much at the cost of my goals, lets shake it up until things are aligned. Easy. I'm going to sleep well despite our failing human condition.

Everything Is Apocalyptic When You're A Teen

On The Panicky Hummingbird

Two things happened when I became a teenager: First, I became acutely aware of guys and second, my family started attending a new church. Let's start with this shift in religion. This church, like the previous one, was very small. However, from the first Sunday service, I realized that this church was a completely different atmosphere. The congregation was amazingly welcoming and friendly. The first Sunday we attended, a family invited us over for lunch, and we had a wonderful afternoon with them.

We became regular attendees of this congregation, and even though the church was small, a small group of teenagers my own age attended. We all became good friends which presented some new experiences. One of the girls, Emily, who attended, became a life-long friend. One of the toughest people I know, she was adventurous, loved to experience everything life had to offer, and was as tough as any guy out there. In contrast to my shy and timid ways, Emily was bold. Through spending time with her, I grew bolder, more confident in my opinions and myself. She knew what she wanted and didn't take no for an answer. While I still remain a quieter person than Emily, her vivacity for life changed my own.

And then there were the guys. As I turned 13, I began noticing guys and attraction. The guys at this church were interesting. They treated me like I was an equal. They would constantly do the silly and even bizarre things that young teen boys do to get a girl's attention. One guy in particular, Tim, caught my eye. He was in a band and had a bizarre sense of humor. We weren't evenly matched. I was still stuck in my straight-laced past and painfully shy. But, I loved his boldness and wanted to be near him, to know how he had come to be.


While I'd like to say that I began changing because of Emily and this new church environment, it would be a lie. What truly brought about my first change was this boy, Tim. It wasn't just that I was attracted to him. he also seemed fascinated in me. Even though we barely shared more than a few words and awkward pauses each Sunday, we continued to find ways to be together, as difficult as it was.

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