Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Meaningless Followup Post

Well, THAT didn't work.

I was curious to see if the strange phenomenon of internet fame would strike got yet another silly reason. "People are sheep," on friend said to me, and I wondered how true it might be. I mean, we've seen some of the strangest things take off for no real reason whatsoever. Wouldn't it be amusing if a nearly meaningless post that suggested one relatively simple action take off?

"Boobquake" was my immediate inspiration for the post. A young, agnostic woman that happened to be paying attention to world events saw a ridiculous statement made by a leading cleric half-way around the world, and decided to attack his statement with science. "Immodest dress causes earthquakes," said the cleric. "Really? Let's put that to the test," replied to student scientist.

In a mad rush, hundreds of thousands of women leapt to answer her mostly localized call. She wasn't addressing the masses, just her small group of followers. Before she knew it, she was on television, explaining the concept of boobquake.

I went a little wild when it came to The Meaningful Post. Wilson Sporting Supplies sending me a check? Who was I kidding? And $5 from all who would get involved in "ballquake?" That would be too much of a dream come true. Besides, what would I say if the media really sat me down to ask about it? "People will jump on the bandwagon for anything that is strange, adorable, or potentially embarrassing for someone else. Tennis balls are inexpensive. And I just wanted to see if I could randomly cause the masses to bounce a tennis ball on my birthday." It was my own little social experiment that would have had no statistics whatsoever. Jennifer McCreight was infinitely more in tune with her followup of boobquake, posting statistics and all that good stuff to prove immodest dress did NOT, in fact, cause earthquakes. If anything, if I remember correctly, there was an actual reduction in tectonic activity. (Her next experiment should be to see if 100% nudity staved off all natural disasters, and it should be a year-long project. =P )

As for the whole $5 thing...? That was wishful thinking at its best. I spoke with Becky about it. In fact, Becky and I often discuss what we'd do with an absurd amount of money. To get 200,000 to send me $5 each...? That would officially make me a millionaire. And do you know what I could do with $1,000,000?

Well, I'll TELL you! The goal would be to invest it with a target return of 10%. That's an annual return of $100,000. For the sake of form, we will assume that at least 20% goes to Uncle Sam. That's an annual income of $80,000. Not only could my future family and I live comfortably on that for the rest of my life, but I would also have money left over to commit some of the deeds I've only DREAMED about.

Wanna know what I dream about financially? In no particular order, here's a little list:

1. Make an immediate call to Social Security and the Welfare office. "Hey, thanks for keeping me alive, but I no longer need your services." In fact, I'd be able to start paying back into Social Security, and await the day when I'm of an age that's more appropriate to retire...say around 70, if at all possible. And even then, there would be a part of me feeling a tad guilty at collecting money I don't need. With my money still bringing in a 10% return, I wouldn't need this "government handout."
2. Get private medical insurance. This will be a tad troublesome, and take almost as large of a bite out of my annual returns as taxes. This is because of preexisting conditions. Still, I wouldn't be sweating my every medical move. When I NEEDED a bunionectomy, (because said bunion was rubbing the inside of my shoes, blistering, and I was at constant risk of infection), my government-sponsored medical insurance didn't cover it. They would rather risk having to foot the bill (pun fully intended) on an amputated foot than pay the lesser amount to fix the problem. With private insurance, I could get things done without having to leap through a dozen hoops...and not hoping for another condition, as I did with the bunion, to get the REAL problem fixed.
3. Next comes the part where I'm a wee bit selfish. It'll happen when anyone is given a large sum of money, regardless of how giving they are by nature. I would buy myself things that I've wanted or needed for some time. New clothes. A new mouth. Pay off a few long-time, thoroughly outstanding debts. Maybe buy a console game or two. And, far from last or least, move closer to my sweet, beautiful Becky. No car. No fancy home. No traveling around the world. Anything and everything I want would likely cost under $3,000 per purchase.
4a. Make an effort to pay back that with which I've been blessed. For example, my housemates are interesting characters, to say the very least. I wouldn't hand them a stack of cash and wish them well. Instead, I'd ask what they want and get it for them. Oh, they may well want cars to replace what they own right now, but even with my income via investment, I wouldn't want to sink anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 on a vehicle for each. But to offer to get their current vehicles in complete working order...? Not a problem. What's more, I wouldn't suffer each time I got into Ray's car, as it would FINALLY have air conditioning!
4b. That's just ONE example. I had one friend who gave me more than what was fair to keep me alive each month while living in AZ. As I said, I was blessed. But the money he gave me went toward surviving, and nothing really luxurious. He never asked for anything back, but he would now start getting it. Why? Because it's RIGHT! (There's also this crazy lady in Ireland who could probably use some of what she gave when I was at my worst; it certainly hasn't been easy for her since she showed me such great kindness.)
5. I have had dreams of doing more things for the simple fact that they were right. Back in Sayville, NY, there was a soup kitchen that was in walking distance of the boarding house I lived in. I was well-fed three nights a week because the volunteers at this church put time and effort into helping those less fortunate. Well, now it would be my turn to give back. Since I'd likely head for NY to handle some personal affairs, I'd go there and get the precise information I needed to send an annual check. Then I would sit and calculate how many meals I could sponsor without doing myself financial harm. It would be nice if I could sponsor all of the meals they provide, but my quick calculation says that that figure is around $11,700 per year. That figure would be a bit beyond my means, especially when...
6. I'd buy many a gift for underprivileged kids during the holidays. I would argue that people shouldn't have kids if they can't afford to have them. That's simple logic. However, it's not the kids' fault their parents didn't think things through. Now those families are struggling, and the holidays are looking bleak for the entire family. They get in touch with various donation sources, and end up on a list, with further lists of what the kids need. Now imagine you're six or seven years old, and it's Christmas morning. You run down to the tree, see presents in your name, open them up...and find underwear and socks. Yeah, the kids need that stuff, but where are the FUN gifts? Well, that's where I'd be lending a hand. On those trees in the mall, where the needs of kids are listed, I would take those that listed only clothes and include:
a. Their needs, obviously.
b. A board game. (Because video games would require new games, or upkeep, or other things the parents might not be able to handle in the future.)
c. Two books.
d. A $25 gift certificate to...I dunno...Probably Wal-Mart. (They're EVERYWHERE!) In this way, anything missed could be bought, thereby completing the holiday season for them.
All told, that would be around $100 per kid, if that. Ultimately, I would like to set a budget of somewhere around $5,000 per years for that particular project. That's subject to change, depending on inflation and the needs of my own kids, should I have them. (And I want some, dangit!)
7. As with number four, pay particular attention to my Dad. G-d knows he wouldn't win the award for "World's Greatest Father," but he certainly gave it his best shot. He did infinitely better than my biological mother, that's for sure. So once a month, give him a call and ask if there's anything he needs that money can handle. Dad's health is slowly giving way, and I can't buy him a new body. But as his years start waning, I can add a little more luxury to it, and pray he enjoys himself a bit.
8. Give to a charity regularly. Because it's personal, I'd probably look for an organization that provides diabetes supplies to those who can't afford their needs. (If one doesn't exist, maybe I'll start one.) I, myself, have been taking the wrong insulin because my insurance seems to think one type of insulin is the same as all others. They're VERY wrong. I may not be able to save all of the financially poor diabetics, but I can try to save a few.

In my imagination, with my income of $80,000 a year from investment interest, I would be giving away around $30,000 annually. A wife, kids, and a home might alter the course of these plans, but I think $50,000 a year should make for a comfortable life...

Ah, but it was all a dream. A dream attached to an experiment. And it was an experiment borne on curiosity.

However, this doesn't mean that I'm done. I'm hoping that in the near future, I'll be able to conduct yet another experiment. Oh, I'm not USING my readers. But in order to further some of my agenda, which also includes me doing many good things for total strangers, I would certainly appreciate their help. And hopefully, you'll recognize the experiment when it comes.

Thinking back over this post, there are those who may be skeptical of the things I said I'd like to do if I had gobs of money. It's easy to sit back and think, Give me a break. No one would do as much as he claims he'd do with just $1,000,000. It's just not possible. People with more have done less, and lost their fortunes along the way. I would ask you to think again, this time taking into account that which I've been through. I've been through life's meat grinder more times than I'd ever want to count. It is by the grace of G-d and the timely kindness of people that barely knew me that I'm even ALIVE today. I've already told of some of my experiences out and about in the world...feeding strangers...getting lost kids where they should be...and other such things. My desire to do good deeds wouldn't be diminished by money, but reinforced by the ability to actually DO something.

I'm off to conquer imaginary worlds, to love a real woman, and make every attempt to be well. And for that last, you should all make a similar effort. =)

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