Month: January 2015
Being married to a Korean it’s hard not to be interested in Korean controversial issues. One of the more famous examples would be the Korean Dok-Do Island which Japan has given another name and tried to claim as their own. It’s a glorified rock, but, of course, it represents nationality and borders so it’s pretty serious.
A new one that my student Eun Chae (ps. thanks for the free content!) introduced me to today is really interesting. Without further adieu, here is her short essay on the topic which sums up well the ‘mystery’.
In Korea, if somebody asks who is the greatest painter in the country, most people would answer ‘Kim Hong Do’. Kim Hong Do was a painter working for royalty, many artists at that time wanted to be him and sometimes they drew the same landscapes. In Japan, one of the most famous painters is ‘Toshusai Sharaku’. However, scholars cannot be convinced that Toshusai Sharaku is Japanese because he suddenly appeared in 1794 and worked only for ten months and disappeared. Some scholars suggested that Kim Hong Do might be Toshusai Sharaku for several reasons and as a result, there is a hypothesis that Toshusai Sharaku, who is the one of the best three portrait painters, was actually Kim Hong Do, the greatest artist in Korea.
The strongest evidence in support of the suggestion that Kim Hong Do is Sharaku, is that both Sharaku’s productive period and Kim Hong Do’s latency period are the same. Toshusai Sharaku suddenly appeared in 1794 and painted about 140 creations for ten months. Conveniently, at that time in Korea, King Jung Jo sent Kim Hong Do to Japan as a secret agent. Therefore, many people theorize that Kim Hong Do changed his name to Sharaku and drew paintings for financing his mission. In addition, it is difficult to establish where Sharaku was born or how Sharaku died. Thus it is no wonder that scholars hypothesize that the most the most convincing suspect is Kim Hong Do.
As a secondary piece of evidence to prove that Sharaku and Hong Do are the same person, both shared a similar painting method. Kim Hong Do had his own personalized brush stroke which, at the end of the stoke, curved up. Comparing the two painters’ drawings, Sharaku’s brush stroke line looks very similar to Kim Hong Do’s. Moreover, Kim Hong Do often drew Buddha with six toes in his painting, which is unusual. Surprisingly, Sharaku also drew six toes on his Buddha, exactly the same way Kim Hong Do drew.
Some of Sharaku’s poems were translated into the Korean language of that era, which was unusual. Some of Sharaku’s Japanese poems made no sense when they were read by the Japanese reader. However, when Sharaku’s poem translated into the Korean language of that time, it was perfectly comprehensible. In addition, found within one of Sharaku’s poems, there are a word ‘danwon (단원)’ , which is a reference to his nick name. Furthermore, spanning across the breadth of his various works are other subtle references to the man Kim Hong Do.
In conclusion, Sharaku and Hong Do have several things in common, including their perfectly matching productive and latency periods, their painting methods. To cement the evidence, the blazingly obvious references of Hong Do in Sharaku’s poetry and the clearly Korean literary style leave little doubt that they are one and the same However, even with the existence of such strong proof, there have not been found any official documents in either countries conclusively proving that Sharaku was indeed Hong do. This topic has become an increasingly popular topic in both Korea and Japan after both respective countries aired mystery shows alluding to the possibility of the shared identity. Neither countries boldly took a position but instead simply left the strong inferences for the viewer to decide.
I just wanted to write a quick post about my experience with my Coast Capital Savings Visa Desjardins and the ‘visa bonus dollars’ program they have.
First, as an FYI, if you do not pay $30/year annual fee you get .05% of purchases converted into bonus dollars instead of the whopping 1%… For the longest time we couldn’t figure out why my card always got more points than my wife and finally one year we figured out they snuck in an annual fee. Of course, I’m sure it was legal and something I agreed to in haste at some point when I started the bad deal but the actual annual fee was really hard to see for me on the physical statement.
So, I cancelled that right away after discovering it and now I’m back to an even more useless visa dollar program. But that’s fine. Because the whole concept of ‘points’ on a visa card is useless on many fronts.
In short, the customer pays for their points out of their pocket and here is why:
- Visa charges the business (aka the ‘merchant’) that takes the card merchant fees.
- Visa gives the incentive to the customer, so the customer starts using their card more and more
- The more points the customer redeems, the more it costs Visa, and because Visa would never actually give anything for free because they are in the business of sucking your will to live, they simply raise the fees the merchant has to pay.
- The merchant says ‘oh crap. I’m losing money on this visa scam. I better raise my prices’ And so they do. and who pays for those service/product price increases?
- The customer pays for the service/product price increases. Yes, the very same customer who just got their shiny, new, overpriced toaster for ‘free’.
So it’s not free.
But it’s even better because I was doing some further thinking. In the case of my Visa Desjardins card, I got a little catalogue sent to me once per year showing me all the shiny new things I could get for free if I just bought more and used my visa more and made my life more trackable and less private and more susceptible to fraud and theft.
While I was flipping through the pages I finally found one thing I actually needed (kind of) – a bluetooth mini speaker that we could use as a flexible sound system. Cool device. Just before buying it I did a quick search online to find that on most websites it was selling at $199 but in this catalogue it was $225. So, I grab my calculator to figure it out since I suck at math and figure out that’s 12.5% more than any regular listed retail price from anywhere… what a great deal so far!
So I ‘buy’ it because what else would I do with these dollars? I can’t take them and buy a meal for my family after all….
Amazing service. That little gaffer showed up at my door about 5 seconds after I clicked submit. Slight exaggeration but it was fast.
Then I started thinking about how there must be this little ‘store’ sitting somewhere that fires out the orders and that’s when I started thinking about how they probably buy 10,000 of each product and get pricing SUPER low.
This is a full-blown racket.
And then, to finalize this bad deal, I was looking at my statement today and there was a transaction for $1.00 from something called ‘Rideau Inc’ in Montreal. Because it was only $1.00 I, like most people, considered strongly not even calling to figure out what the heck this transaction was for. I put on some tunes and got on hold for 25 minutes to find out that that $1.00 fee was actually a charge for buying something with my ‘bonus dollars’. Some company out of Montreal takes a shiny looney every time some fool redeems his worthless hello kitty dollars.
So I cancelled the deal and decided I’m going to make a concerted effort to use my visa even less in 2015.
And invest the $30 into an RESP or TFSA for my kids….
This is a SUPER video to demonstrate how you have to be very careful when you buy a home and talk about it as an ‘investment’. It may be one of the *worst* investments you could make.
Please note that even though this video is excellent, it doesn’t talk about other very important factors like the fact that you have tied up $300,000 which cannot be invested elsewhere.
Buying a home, in certain cases, can be justified. However, it should not be made soley as a ‘great investment’. It is rarely great when you factor it all together. Especially when compared side by side with other investment options.
Last Update to Dialogue: 15-01-14
It seems this is turning into a dialogue which I will update as they come in. I will put the date of the most recent response at the top of the blog post.
Below is my response to my Primerica sales rep when he asked why I was shutting down/transferring out my AGF DSC account. I thought it was interesting enough to share since not that many people do their due diligence, like me, and may be stuck in a similar deal or considering purchasing one:
Names removed for the privacy of rep:
Hey PRIMERICA REP,
Thanks for your reply and for your instructions on how to close down my DSC ‘investment’.
Since you asked for details… brace yourself….
I’m a straight shooter and I do wish you the best because I like you as a person and I still like the Primerica term life insurance so I will give you the straight goods. In fact, I might even blog about this at some point and remove your name from the article because it has been a most interesting experience for me.
On one side, you won my business and trust with the term life insurance story and showing me what a bad deal it was compared to whole life. I totally agreed and signed up for the deal. I still agree.
Then, once the trust was established, you sold me a DSC (Deferred Sales Charge) ‘investment’.
Note: I do not deny that you sold it to me legally and according to Canada’s industry guidelines. But you can sell tobacco legally, too.
Being in sales, I cannot blame you and I even understand more than most people might. You sold me the thing that gives you the most commission and I know the temptations to do this. In my sales position I’m often tempted to charge a ‘tad’ more if someone doesn’t know the market rates at all. Theoretically, that would be fully legal in a ‘buyer beware’ sense. They didn’t do their homework, after all.
Unfortunately, though, when you sold me the ‘investment’ I was in a peculiar position of vulnerability in the following ways:
- I was under personal psychological duress as a result of my painful business loss.
- I was in financial hardship and still am as a result of #1
- I didn’t know anything about investing in funds or the like. Even to this day I’m a baby/beginner (but much better than last year).
I have made the decision to take my personal investments into my own hands because I don’t believe my best interest has been taken into consideration.
I just finished my realtor licensing course and realtors have an actual *fiduciary duty* to their clients. It’s exactly the same as with lawyers and their clients. We must, by law, look out only for our client’s best interest. This fiduciary duty clearly doesn’t exist in this ‘investment’ world. The conflicts and temptations are insurmountable. If there was a fiduciary duty, there is no way you would be allowed to sell me a DSC.
It has been deemed by most people that DSCs are not just a bad deal, but actually unethical.
or this one:
I now agree fully with these views. It’s my money and I should be able to do with it as I please. In my life I only get a few hours and I used those hours to earn money with hopes of maximizing the leverage for my retirement and my children’s future.
In the future, if I use a financial advisor of any kind it will be a pay-per-visit / pay-per-hour advisor such as Asante (they were my customers at the shop when I owned it).
It was a hard lesson to learn but I’m very thankful I learned it with minimal collateral damage (imagine if I needed to suddenly access the money and it was a much larger amount!)
I hope this answers your question as to why I’m leaving the investment side of our relationship, but also my parents set up an account as well so I’m just going to clear this off my mind and to do list so I can free myself a bit.
To answer your question about what you could have done better? I think that’s pretty easy: you should not have sold me a DSC.
Simple as that.
Or, you could have *fully disclosed* that a DSC is frowned upon in most of the investment circles around the world and that the main purpose of selling it to me is to get a bigger up-front cheque.
Thanks for hearing me out and I wish you the best 2015 for the rest of your non-DSC product line.
Good morning Wayne,
Thank you for the extensive feedback.
Before you blog about your experience, here are some other things you may want to consider. You made quite a few assumptions on the transaction that we did. Let me clarify a few things regarding your investment. You purchased an RESP in the beginning of 2013 for [5yr old daughter’s name] who at the time was 3 years old. A DSC investment works on a deferred sliding scale so that after 7 years, there is no fee.
Why did I sell you this? Well, if [5yr old daughter’s name] is only 3 and we assume that she will go to school around the age of 18/19, the 7 year issue is a non-issue. In other words, for this long-term investment, you would have had to pay no fee out of your pocket. Now, if [5yr old daughter’s name] was 17 when we met, I would have not recommended a DSC investment because that would have meant you would have to pay fees when withdrawing the money. The same goes for an investment that a client would like to hold for a short-time such as an emergency fund.
I’m not sure how it makes sense then to work with a company that will charge you per visit/per hour as you say. If you’re under financial hardship, isn’t not paying a fee better than paying one? As for commissions, yes I got paid $30 for the transaction. I could have put in you in a front end load and made more.
I’m curious as to how much companies charge that work on a pay per visit/pay per hour basis? As for the management expense ratio as one of the articles mentioned being higher in a DSC fund: As I mentioned yesterday, your investment has generated just under 12% per year. That means that you’re up 24% since we began. I think that’s pretty good. The MER is deducted prior to what you get as a net return. This means that you made 12%/year after all fees already being deducted.
Yes we do have a fiduciary duty as well. I know that what I did was the best for you given the parameters of your investment need.
As for the articles, you may want to look at the feedback/comments that the first article generated. As a side note, there are a lot of “good” articles on why whole life insurance is the best and to stay away from term insurance. One can paint a picture in many ways. So one has to wonder–who should I trust/believe?
I think that it’s great that you have taken such an interest in learning about your money and the industry. I always say that an educated client is always better off than one who isn’t. This is one of the reasons that I’ve been somewhat persistent in trying to sit down with you over the last year to give you some more insight on fees…
Why not join us just to get your investment license…? Not only will you learn a lot about this subject but you could then control your own investment.
Just a thought. Thanks, Wayne.
So you have a Microsoft Windows computer. You finally realize that the reason you have no hair on your head is because you pulled it all out at your computer. It is full of viruses, malware, and a host of other programs attempting in vain to stop these from making their home on your machine. Also, you heard the news that Windows is fully compromised and that none of your data is safe so long as you are using a Windows machine.
You are ready for a change, but you don’t know what to do, or the person who suggested this to you is far away from you and unable to drop by your place to make it happen.
Don’t worry. That’s what this blog post is about.
Since you may need to be completely offline, or without a second computer to read this tutorial on, you may want to print this guide. The only part not available currently is the video in step 6.
>>PRINTABLE PDF VERSION OF THIS GUIDE-UPDATED-150117<<
1. Back up the files you don’t want to lose on an external drive
Before you begin, you will need to back up all your photos and other documents from the machine you are about to wipe. This process takes time so it is a good idea to start right away. It is strongly recommended that you purchase a USB drive of however many gigabytes you need to save all your documents. You will be surprised at how small your files are unless you have a lot of videos. For the average ‘simple user’ you can probably survive with an 8 gigabyte drive, but for people with a bunch of videos you will probably need to consider buying a huge external drive of a Terabyte or so. This is a great tool to have regardless because you will use it in the future to do back ups of your computer on. Also, the amount of money you are going to save on virus software when you switch to Ubuntu will pay for your drive many times over over the years! A quick checklist of files you might want to keep:
- emails (if you use an email client like Outlook or Thunderbird): if you have a scary webmail account like hotmail your emails will be sitting unsafely there so you won’t need to back them up
- word processing documents (resumes, letters, legal docs, etc)
- PDFs (ie. invoices, e-bills, etc)
- videos (ie. videos from your phone you dumped there, movies, etc)
2. Obtain a 2 gig+ usb drive
Great! All your files are saved safely on your external drive. Now you need a *second* and *dedicated* drive which will be used for the installation of Ubuntu. Yes, it’s possible also to use a DVD or CD rom but since you may need to adjust things after installing, we have found the USB drive to be the cheapest and most flexible tool over the long term. Plus, you end up with a second USB drive which you can use for transporting files around (one for you, one for the spouse, for example). So, stick with our suggestion ok? The great news is that as of today’s date, you can do this with a 2gig USB drive or less which is either free or *extremely* cheap. In fact, most people you know will have one lying around on their desk they will lend you. Advise them to wipe sensitive data off the drive before giving it to you, of course!
3. Download and install the program called Unetbootin
Go to this website (http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net) and download the appropriate (in the case of this tutorial Windows) version of the software. This software will be used to change your dedicated install drive into one that will boot when you turn your computer on (like a bootable CD rom). Here are two screenshots to make it more simple:
4. Install Unetbootin
Go find that file you just downloaded to your computer. Double click it. Follow all the instructions and give it all the power it needs to get installed. Windows may fight. You fight back!
5. Download the latest Ubuntu from the official Ubuntu.com website
Here is an illustrated step-by-step. Of course if you have money, I encourage you to give some money but it is not mandatory whatsoever. In this example I’m showing skipping straight to the download.
6. Create the Bootable USB Drive Using Unetbootin
So you have your 2gigabyte (or bigger) dedicated USB drive as described in step 2.
You’ve downloaded and installed Unetbootin in step 3 and 4
You’ve now got the ISO file on your harddrive from steps 5
Now you need to make your USB drive think that it is a bootable CD ROM (essentially). Instead of me sending you a bunch of screenshots, just watch this video that Lecture Snippets created because the flow is still exactly the same even though the numbers have changed. Just follow his instructions as he puts his own downloaded ISO image onto his USB drive.
NOTE! Make sure that ALL USB DRIVES EXCEPT YOUR DEDICATED UBUNTU 2GIG+ DRIVE ARE REMOVED FROM YOUR MACHINE. Just check. Trust us.
7. Reboot and make sure your computer BIOS is set to boot first from the USB drive
When Unetbootin is finished, it will give you the option of rebooting now. Likely you did it and didn’t know that you had to go in and change some BIOS settings. No problem. All you have to do is reboot your computer (again) and press the correct keyboard key for your particular computer. In many cases its F12 or F10, etc. Usually you can find this key displayed on the black screen right before your computer boots into your operating system. It only shows up for a few seconds so it may take you several reboots to read the keyboard key you need. What you are looking for is ‘Bios settings’ or ‘Change boot order’ or something like that. It might take you a few tries but you’ll get it. Online search engines will also likely have it if you know your computer mother board model number.
8. Choose the ‘Install Ubuntu’ option when you see the Unetbootin blue screen.
When you end up on the Unetbootin blue screen, this means ‘success’! This means you are so close to finished you can taste it. Great work so far! In this case we are going to wipe away that pesky Windows operating system forever so choose the ‘install Ubuntu’ option. It will start the installation process which is amazingly easy and clean. Just answer all the questions and make sure you have a hard-wired internet connection. If you don’t, you may have to find one. At some point you are going to need to update the operating system so you might as well do it at the same time as your install so you are starting on the right foot.
9. Watch this quick familiarization video
This is a nice quick familiarization tour of your new found joy. Give it a quick watch so you know some basic stuff to get around.
10. Get connected to a local Ubuntu Community!
In the Vancouver area here, there is a big Ubuntu Vancouver meetup group as well as an Ubuntu Delta group. This connection will help you greatly realize the full potential of the Ubuntu Project which is, please note, much more than just an operating system.
Retroshare is awesome. It’s secure. It’s simple (once you get rolling) and it’s highly useful. I found getting the initial few friends in was a ‘little’ tricky without a familiarization tour so here is a video I made to help folks out. I sent it to my mom so we’ll know how effective it is shortly, we hope…
This secret gem was hidden for a long time, but now, in it’s ‘slightly’ outdated form, please welcome:
Just to whet your whistle, here is the table of contents:
Introduction to Getting Started with Thunderbird 3.1……………………………………………. 1
Getting Started With Thunderbird 3.1…………………………………………………………………. 2
Introducing Mary, an Email User Under Siege………………………………………………………. 2
Why does Mary want to use Thunderbird…………………………………………………………………………2
Using this guide…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….3
Finding Your Way Around the Thunderbird Interface…………………………………………….. 5
Main Thunderbird window……………………………………………………………………………………………..5
Message List Pane…………………………………………………………………………………………………………5
Getting Up and Running…………………………………………………………………………………….. 7
Installing Thunderbird in Ubuntu 10.10……………………………………………………………………………7
Adding email accounts to Thunderbird…………………………………………………………………………….8
Importing email messages from existing email accounts…………………………………………………..13
Importing contacts from existing webmail accounts…………………………………………………………15
A final word………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..22
PGP encryption on your email is not only awesome but it’s now mandatory if you care even the slightest about your personal privacy. If you don’t care about your personal privacy, I invite you to strip naked and dance in front of your living room window towards the street with your blinds open at night…. unless you look like me naked in which case I strongly advise you against such behaviour.
But with all such course jesting aside, the intention of this post is to be the go-to, defacto post for setting up your PGP, and also updating your keys in the event of loss or expired key. I found that if enough time passes I forget everything so I wanted this post to be hanging out online for my own quick and easy reference.
This post is NOT a full blown tutorial about setting up both Thunderbird and Enigmail. I’m sure those are out there somewhere. But, here are a few quick points to make sure you know what’s needed to get set up:
- Get Thunderbird email client (it’s the best anyways) here Note: for mobile users, K9 email client works with PGP and we’ll update this when another option arrives.
- Install the Enigmail under ‘tools/add-on’s in your Thunderbird client
- Create a PGP pair by using the wizard.
This post IS intended for when you update your key (ie. starting again after losing it, expiring it, change encryption strength, etc) because you will need to make sure that you as the maker of the new key do the right steps and that the people you communicate also deal with your new and old keys accordingly.
And that’s what this post is about. It’s the post you come back to as an already-established PGP user. It’s the ‘transitioning from old key to new key’ post.
No, I couldn’t possibly preamble (is that even a verb?) longer if I tried…
Making/Updating the Key
1. Go to Key Managment
2. Go to ‘Generate’ at the top and then ‘New Key Pair’
3. Fill in the details on the first page that opens.
Note 1: It might be useful to make a comment in the common line?
Note 2: Make sure your password is secure. I use KeePassX to both generate and store my passwords.
Note 3: Before you click that generate button, make sure you consider step 4 coming soon!
4. Consider strongly using 4096 key size for today’s needs. Then press ‘generate'(but not before strongly considering the aforementioned 4096 thing)
Note 1: Anything less you are pretty much up the creek if someone wants you bad enough.
Note 2: The generation of the key takes pretty much forever (well for kids my age and younger) so brew a coffee and tinker with your mouse a lot since it helps speed it up.
Note 3: When it’s done I think it gives an option to save your actual public and private keys to a disk. Do this. Do it on a safe and preferably encrypted drive.
Note 4: It will also give you the chance to create a ‘revoke certificate’. You need this certificate to kill your key so save it also in a safe place. Consider, again, KeePassX. I think this can save attachments with each entry.
Making a Smooth Transition to Your New Key (Your Recipient’s Perspective)
1. Have Grandma go to ‘key management’ and make sure she disables your old key (right click on your key)
Note 1: Although all my stuff is blurred out below, the disabled key will be ‘greyed out’ when successfully disabled
2. Send Grandma a signed email with the new key (as .asc attachment) (not uploading using the keyserver pool yet)
Note 1: Make sure it’s signed. Sometimes the rules may hinder it from going out signed. Force it to be signed.
3. You have already told Grandma never to sign a key unless she confirms it in person so she calls you up, confirms you are real and that you sent a new key. Now you have her sign the new key you just sent her by right clicking on the key information in the email body as below.
4. Send Grandma a test email to make sure it’s working
Note 1: Put a message like ‘this email is encrypted’ in the subject heading because subject headings are not encrypted.
Note 2: Make sure it’s actually encrypted! Sometimes the rules are not set to do so (read up on rules as they are useful).
If your recipient gets your email, confirms it’s the new key (sometimes we goof and send the old key) and you are sure it was confirmed and he/she could read it, you are done and all is well.
5. Remove and replace any affected per-user rules
Grandma is the bomb so she already had a rule set up in her ‘per-recipient rules’ under the main Enigmail tab in Thunderbird. However, now that you went ahead and complicated her biscuits by changing your PGP key (thoughtless so-and-so!) key a few annoying things will happen when she goes and tries to invite you over to dinner. Never fear, Grammar! All you have to do is delete that ol’ stinkin’ rule and add a new one with the new key. Just go ahead and do that. If you really need the screenshots put a comment below and I’ll think about it…
Ryuken! Finish him!!
Now at least one trusted person has confirmed your encrypted email with the new key is working. Let’s get this done!
1. Upload your new key to the keyservers so the world will know you mean serious privacy business
Then you’ll see this:
Finally, I suggest this refresh option. It didn’t seem to ‘take’ until I performed this right after doing the upload.
2. Revoke that old, dirty key you used to use.
Just follow this tutorial. It shows you how easy enough.
Note 1: I recommend, like when you upload your normal keys to servers, that you do the refresh option right after you revoke as well.
Some extra notes
- there must be something to write here…?
Overcoming the ‘spirit of christmas’ with the Spirit of Christ: Part 6 in a Series: Dealing With Pressure to Buy Gifts
If you haven’t been following the series, it started a while back now and the goal here is to shoot some ‘sacred cows’ and see if the foundation we are building on is solid, or one of ‘shaky foundations’.
Here are some quick links to the series:
- Part 1: Roots
- Part 2: Tree vs Vine
- Part 3: Santa
- Part 4: Pull Your Child from School?
- Part 5: Practical Alternatives
Today in Part 6 we’re going to focus on perhaps one of the most challenging and dangerous parts of our big holidays – the pressure to buy gifts.
First, as a believer, I wanted to review what God said about giving. Thanks to the world wide webbers, I don’t have to do it myself! Someone already made this comprehensive overview page on the topic.
I like how this page started out by pointing out the greatest gift of history: God gave Jesus to die on a cross for us. Top that gift! The next best thing you can do in line after that is to lay down your life for someone else.
Have you laid down your life for someone else or have you been clinging to ‘what’s in it for me?’ Don’t be hard on yourself. It’s a work in progress. Selfishness is rooted deep in your blood thanks to that couple that goofed up in the garden way back when.
Before we even talk about ‘gifts’ it’s important to look straight at our hearts and decide if we are ‘giving people’ or ‘taking people’. I don’t suppose we can be both. However, we also must learn how to receive. Why? Well, if you don’t know how to receive then you are blocking the giver from receiving their blessing from performing the good act of giving. Simple as that. Now, if someone has evil motives for giving (ie. a brown bag of cash under the table to a politician) then you don’t need to be a receiver, nor will you block any blessings. But if someone feels in their heart they want to give you a gift, you have to learn how to receive it and be thankful deep in your heart.
And for some reason this is hard for me, but I am slowly getting better.
For me, as soon as I receive a gift, I feel that I owe the giver something. I feel that I have to ‘level the playing field’. This is especially true in Korea. Ask any Korean how gift giving works at a wedding for the bride and groom! But this is neither giving nor receiving. This is cold, cruel accounting. Our hearts, if we cannot receive a gift with thanksgiving, nor can give a gift with joy, are cold and of no value, in my not-so-humble-opinion.
Now that we’ve covered quickly the topic of making sure we are actually giving and receiving people, let’s look at gifts themselves.
For most people, they envision a gift as a box with wrapping paper. Ask a kid to ‘draw a gift’. I’m guessing they will not draw Jesus bleeding on the cross for you, but praise God if your kid does! They will likely draw this:
But the thing is… people forget that a ‘gift’ is different to each person. If you read the awesome and famous book ‘The Five Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman, you’ll quickly learn that for some people it is a gift in a box but for others, it’s a walk in the park.
Time is Money.
Time is a Gift That Cannot Be Replaced.
2008 until now has been a hard time for our family in the sense that we’ve had to rely on others due to some sad financial situation that has hit us that was largely out of our control. This has made the idea of lavish spending and long vacations a difficult task to say the least. Through it all, though, I cannot thank God enough for the experience because I can truly be content now. I drive a 1997 Dodge neon. I have no idea when it’s going to die but praise God it works today. My wife has the nice car (Ford) which I had to buy for a sales job… Anyway, who cares? I couldn’t be happier this year. I’ve got my health, my family, my friends, my brain. I’m learning, I’m growing and in due season ‘it too shall pass away’.
In the meantime, though, what matters?
I spent some time thinking back on my childhood about what I remember. I can remember a couple of gifts (two way radios, and Wayne Gretzky’s Rocket Hockey) but the rest is pretty much gone. However, what I do remember is a warm house with loving parents. I also remember my dad used to take me out and throw a baseball back and forth and play with me outside. I’ll never forget that. I have a great dad and mom. Mom made me food for lunch so I could walk home and eat it while the other kids ate cheese and salami sandwiches. I used to feel left out and now I realize I was a king’s kid compared to those processed meals!
That stuff matters.
That stuff lives on.
>>And none of it would be in my memory if they didn’t give their time to me!<<
The sweaters, smart phones, stereos, dancing reindeer, Obama bobble heads…. none of that matters. It, like your flesh, will one day go back to the earth.
Your time and expression thereof is really all you have to give if you dig down to the heart of it.
And I think that concludes this post. I got my revelation.
This does deserve a follow up with some practical gift ideas (box/wrap style gifts) for those who feel loved by getting them. There are great ‘alternative gifts’ out there and I’d like to focus a post on them. We don’t need to go into debt for this stuff. Easter is coming and someone told me there is gift giving pressure associated with this holiday now. Let’s start right now to prepare against that temptation and pressure.
Afterthought: I also realize that you have to work (spend your time) to get the money to buy the gift in a box so it also, to some extent, is an expression of your time and life.