Saturday, July 25, 2015

Expenses, Relativity, and Elephants

Talk with any older person, and he or she will tell you how expensive everything is today.  The value of money has significantly lessened, but I won't argue that a lot of things are expensive.  What defines expensiveness?  

Today I was researching cell phone plans.  One was $30 a month for a 30-month contract.  I gawked, "Argh, that's expensive!  Imagine spending $900 for a phone/on phone bills."  But then, what is $30 worth?
Apparently this plate of mashed potatoes, salad, veggies, a roll, chicken, and a fish fillet is worth $30.   My parents took me out to my papa's high school reunion, where we dined at the Sunnyside Country Club in Waterloo.  I am still in shock--thirty dollars for a meal, served buffet style, with no dessert!  It was good, but my mom and grandma can fix meals just as delicious--and they don't charge.    

Alternately I could have gone to the International Buffet and eaten 3+ servings with plenty of choices for dessert for only $8.  The only problem there would be I would be surrounded by people in jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers (oh the terror!); at the country club ladies wore dresses and heels and the men wore dress shirts...and almost no one was so unrefined as to go back for seconds.
The golf courses and scenery were beautiful, whereas at the buffet, I'd only be looking out over a run-of-the-mill parking lot.  Speaking of run-of-the-mill, just yesterday (July 14th) another $30 went to something that definitely was not run-of-the-mill, a circus.
You see, in Thailand as a girl, my mom rode elephants.  When my youngest sister (who is a profound animal-lover) saw an ad in the paper that Carson and Barnes Circus was coming to town...and offering elephant rides, she was immediately interested.  I was a bit timid, but Papa encouraged me--and even bought me a ticket (thanks Papa!)--so my sister and I continued the family tradition of riding elephants!  My mom was persuaded to give it a try as well.  Tickets were $10 a ride.  The elephant care-takers seemed to really enjoy their job and care about the elephants.

So, if you were looking for another way to spend thirty dollars, you could buy one elephant ride, purchase a snow cone for $4, and then watch the circus show for another $16.
I had never been to a circus before, so it was shocking.  The music was very loud and hard on my ears.  Then there were the women who danced in extremely short skirts throughout the show; I personally found it disturbing for women to be displayed like that.  

But, some of the people seemed to love what they were doing, and there was some real talent.  The family shown juggling was my favorite group.  There were trapeze artists from Argentina with incredible skills, but they did seem a bit dangerous.

Speaking of danger, two motorbikes/dirtbikes drove around in this metal cage...with a girl in the center.  Then the girl walked out, and another bike came in, so that three bikes were going around at one time.  It seemed a bit like watching gladiators in the days of the Romans.  Maybe the organizers know more about the safety precautions taken, and the event was just made to appear dangerous to the audience, but I sure was glad they all survived.  It was interesting to see the circus, but I think I've had my fill for a lifetime.  
Basically, it seems if I want to spend $30, I have a choice of getting cell phone coverage, going for 3 elephant rides a month, eating 1 dinner every month at the country club, or choosing a grand combo of a snow cone, circus, and 1 elephant ride per month.   
But why should I hurry this decision?  For now, I've decided I love peace and quiet, the simple, unassuming beauty of nature, classical musical, down-home cooking, cornfields, and...I'm heading to my favorite thrift store on Friday to see if I can find any 50 cent tops or a pair of shoes for a dollar, because really, $10 for a top or $20 for a pair of shoes at Walmart would be way too expensive. 

Come to think of it, the most valuable things in the world, and the most wonderful joys cannot be bought.  Salvation is a gift.  Love and time spent with family are priceless.  The hummingbirds I watched and photographed last summer gave me more joy with their beautiful wings and humming than the whole country club or circus did.

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched— 
they must be felt with the heart." —Helen Keller

"Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng,
 but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat."  Longfellow 

58 comments:

  1. Wonderful post, Bethany! It does seem like the price of everything has gone up! The cell phone service is really expensive. I am like you and enjoy the free things in life, like the flowers and hummingbirds. Have a happy weekend!

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  2. Our cell service is expensive too. What is the value of money anymore? Sad times.

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  3. What a great post! Your photos are spectacular. I've never ridden on an elephant but I'd be game to try. I love them; they are magnificent animals. Simple pleasures are my favourite things, as well. And between you and me, people in jeans, t-shirts and sneakers are my type of people!

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  4. i pay $100 a month for my cell phone plan and service. so $30 sounds great. :) i'd rather spend $30 on something i can keep and not just a one-time meal, but sometimes it is nice to splurge on a good meal out.

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    1. Whew! $100 a month is really something! Reading your comment will help me feel better when/if I do decide on a plan.

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  5. It's all about perspective! I completely agree with you, Bethany, the most wonderful JOYs cannot be bought, or earned for that matter. The circus can be fun, if overwhelming. I went to one with my Nana when I was a child. I prefer my front porch over most of today's entertainment. I am glad you and your sister rode the elephants, though, and continued your mother's tradition. Have a blessed weekend!

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  6. I think money just adds so much stress in life with the "too expensive factor." My mom took me out shopping for theatre makeup and it cost her about $75 dollars just to pay for six different make up pieces that are only about the size of my hand-- which, is really small. I do agree, joys are just priceless. When I am in a theatre production or any sort of event that leads up to a big competition, I prefer working towards it than the actual thing, because so many memories were made behind the scenes more so than the big event itself, and I tresure that.

    xoxo Morning

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    1. Oooh, that is expensive! Yes, often the best memories are made in preparation for an event. I'm glad you can participate in something you love!

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  7. Intriguing post, Bethany! I loved reading your perspective on the subject. And the circus sounds like it was a lot of fun! (although I totally agree with you on the women in short skirts thing. . . that would make me rather uncomfortable. ;-)
    And how neat that you got to ride an elephant! When I think of riding elephants I think of people travelling in Africa or something. . . who knew it could be done in the US? Apparently not me. . . lol.

    Have a beautiful day, friend!

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  8. That is expensive...was it for just you? I have noticed all eating places have higher prices. and if not for the tiredness factor and sometimes just time issues, I much prefer my own cooking.

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  9. Bethany interesting post . I think in Europe cell phone service are not very expensive. What about food in the restaurant quite expensive.I think that women in short skits is typical custom here in circus. For us in Europe is common situation..I think personanlly that Europe is much more tolerant than US. But I appreciate your point of view..

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    1. Yes, I think women in short skirts is customary in the circus here too. But I didn't like the dancing in short skirts at all. It didn't seem appropriate in front of so many children. But I'm probably much more conservative in that respect than most Americans.

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  10. wowww Beth, what a lovely post, YOU ARE BRAVE HEHEHE!
    I am agree with @Gosia. In Europe cell phone is cheap, but eating in a worthy restaurant is very expensive.

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    1. I guess every place has pros and cons!

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  11. I like your thinking my dear. great post and I agree the hummers are beautiful to watch and give lots of pleasure.

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    1. I'm hoping they come back again to my garden this year. They'll have a ready stalker!

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  12. My views are very similar to yours, Bethany, except I have not looked at the world from riding on an elephant! Now you have me all curious to know how your mom came to ride her first elephant :)

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    1. I'm not sure how my mom came to ride her first elephant, but she was born in Thailand and spent the earliest part of her childhood there. Elephants are a symbol of the nation of Thailand, and an important part of its history.

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  13. Great post Bethany! I think of the three things you listed, that the circus experience was the best bang for the buck. However, I think your next idea of the thrift shop is a good one, and yes - the best things have no monetary value.

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    1. I did enjoy my time thrift-shopping, and came away with some pretty good finds! :)

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  14. Hi Bethany, This is just an excellent lesson in economics. Personally, I would enjoy the ambience at the country club, but in reality you would be more likely to find me at the International Buffet. :-) In your introduction you mentioned asking an older person ... I think that might include me. :-) Yes, things do seem more expensive. No doubt about it. I like that picture of you on the elephant. I also like your comments about the circus. Sounds kind of wild, but fun. Lastly, I really like those flower pictures. You are an excellent photographer and you have found the sweet spot for sizing your pictures for use on the web. Nice work! Now, by the way, I think you will find this interesting: I was looking at my "stats" on blogger and the most viewed post for the last year has been my Liebster Award post. How about that! Thanks for your blog and your comments ... take good care Bethany!

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    1. So glad to hear your Liebster Award post has gotten many hits! It was a fun read! Thank you also for your kind words!

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  15. Loved your title for this post and the conclusion you came to at the end!

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  16. That is SO neat that you got to ride an elephant! I would love to do that:) Ah, yes, everything seems to be more expensive these days. When I do my weekly grocery trips I just can't believe how much prices have gone up. I, like you prefer time spent in nature to expensive outings...
    Blessings,
    Aimee

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    1. Grocery shopping can be expensive, especially if meat is on the list. Blessings to you as well!

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  17. The value of something is the sum you are prepared to pay. Problem is, I don't get the choice of how much I pay!!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. Ha! Right--to some extent. ;) You could go without if you really disagreed with the prices, but in some cases that just isn't practical.

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  18. Bethany, you are truly a unique person! It sounds like a fun day. I remember when 10 cents got you a Coke; 25 cents got you into the Saturday morning movie, and $2.50 got you 5 gallons of gasoline. I guess that makes me old! :-{ Love your economocs!

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    1. Thank you! I like your word choice; you could have said I am a strange person, but unique is much more flattering. :) Either way, I won't disagree, and I will take it as a compliment.

      Oh wow, those prices sound fantastic! I'd love to see them.

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  19. Yes, things are more expensive now, but salaries are a lot higher, too. When I married many years ago my fiance had just graduated from college and landed the best-paying job of any of his friends. He was thrilled to make $500 a month! I think the difference is people confuse wants with needs. Look at any show about home buying. You'll see endless couples turning up their noses and saying "This kitchen would have to be completely gutted!" in a house that isn't brand new, but it's not true. They are inevitably talking about a kitchen that is fully functional but doesn't have the latest surfaces, counters and appliances. They demand the newest and shiniest, but it's a want, not a need. If you shop at resale shops and yard sales you can get furniture, clothes and accessories that cost a ton new, but a tiny fraction gently used.

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    1. True. A person can save a *lot* of money by shopping for secondhand clothing and other items. I have found some really great buys at thrift stores of quality items, and I have bought other items new only to find they are basically junk. It all just depends, I guess.

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  20. Bethany,

    I so enjoy your posts, and it's so refreshing to hear a young adult such as yourself have such a firm grasp on reality.

    Lovely flowers, and your circus images came out wonderful. How was the view from up top the elephant? :-D

    Lindy

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    1. I definitely was looking down on more than usual. Thanks Lindy!

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  21. You are sitting on an elephant - that's awesome!
    The photos of the flowers you have taken are gorgeous, Bethany.
    $30 was $10 more than my weekly grocery budget between 93-97, not the 1800, but the 1900 :)

    The quote by Keller is superb - thanks for sharing it with us all.
    Have a Great Week!
    Peace :)

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    1. A $20 weekly grocery budget?! Whew, a person might still be able to do that easily on a diet of cold cereal and ramen noodles...but you'd get about as far as 2 meals if you wanted to eat at a semi-decent (non-fast food) restaurant. It would be a tight budget.

      Have a great week as well! Thanks!

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  22. Oh, dear Bethany, the idea of sitting on elephants makes me sad. I cannot hide that fact. I hope you may find time to explore a site at www.elephants.com to learn why this is a cruel practice, no matter how much the trainers convinced you they care. Circuses that use animals are also cruel. At least the humans choose this profession of their own free will (although I wonder sometimes about the children of performers). I hope I haven't disappointed you by making this comment. I loved your post and the time you took to express these thoughts. I also agreed with many of your ideas about money and the things we choose to buy. In the end, your conclusions (except for the elephant :) were right in line with mine. Many thanks for a fascinating post!

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    1. Thank you, Carol, for expressing your concern. There were protestors in front of the circus with signs saying that circuses are cruel to animals, so we watched carefully to see if we could see any cruelty, but none was apparent to me during the show. Nevertheless, I do not plan to return. Circuses are not my cup of tea. I received an email from another concerned individual with links that do show how some people (including some of those involved in circuses) are cruel to elephants, and it is very sad. I hate to see cruelty to any animal or any person.

      I respectfully disagree that sitting on elephants in particular is a bad or cruel practice. In Asian/Thai culture, elephants have long been used for transportation, war, and labor, much like the horse in Western culture. In fact, it was an elephant who carried my great-grandfather at his funeral procession.

      There have been very terrible examples of elephants being abused. (Think also of the abuse suffered by the horse in Black Beauty...people have, unfortunately, treated horses badly too). I think of one elephant that was rescued after being in chains for 50 years. It makes me shudder. I hope people will learn to treat these majestic, intelligent, and good-hearted creatures with the respect and care they deserve.

      I will check out the website you mentioned. Thank you!

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    2. Thanks so much, Bethany, for taking the time to express your thoughts. That is so much appreciated. I know you are busy but it will be wonderful if you do find the time to check out that web site. Tina, an elephant that was kept at a Vancouver zoo, was sent to that sanctuary when she became ill. That was the first time I began to understand a little bit about elephants. I followed her journey to Tennessee and her progress once she arrived. Sadly she died a year after experiencing the only true happiness of her life. Elephants in the wild roam miles and miles each day on varied terrain. They need this for the health of their feet. Tina had spent so many hours feeling bored and lonely, all the while standing in a confined space, often on concrete, that the disease had already begun (in her feet) and the infection spread to her heart. The sanctuary allows no visitors (except by teleconference) and the elephants' barns have flaps that keep the heat in when they need it, but open whenever the elephants push outward, so that they can explore the acres and acres of land at will. Some of them remain out of doors for several months at a time. The lady who began that sanctuary, interestingly enough, bought a baby elephant that was being used to advertise a product (cars, I believe). She trained the elephant and worked with her for several years in traveling circuses. She came to believe the circus life was wrong and then realized her dream to open an elephant sanctuary. And, just to clarify, though I owned a horse and even jumped him in competitions, and though I thought I gave him a good life, when I had to put him down (he too had latent foot injuries from his previous life as a race horse), I decided owning a horse was not for me. I no longer feel that animals owe us any service at all. I guess you could say I'm a bit of a radical :)

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    3. I checked out the website (thank you), and it seems they have a very worthy mission to take care of retired elephants. Sorry to hear about Tina's illness and death. I'm sure you gave your horse a good life, and I'm tempted to say he probably enjoyed the activity of jumping in competitions, especially under your gentle guidance. All the best to you! :)

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  23. Hi Bethany, I think the $30 meal included the setting and possibly the exclusivity of having only the high school reunion attendees in that particular dining room for the weekend. It might have been priced correctly if enough people attended.

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    1. Hi Hank, That's possible. The setting probably added to the expense, but the club really seemed full. It was a very large room, and I don't think there was a table empty. If anything, I would think the reunion should have gotten a discount for bringing so many customers in.

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  24. Everything is so expensive now. Don't let me get started about cell phones.......I love my iphone 6, but of course there's a price to pay. I agree about eating out. I love to eat out, but sometimes the hubby and I will spend however much at lets say Texas Roadhouse. I could have made the same dinner for less than 1/2 the price. I'm with you Bethany, let me enjoy nature, being with family, crafting and reading. I want simple......Now for the elephant ride........you're brave, but I'm going to state my opinion and I don't want you to think I'm judging you, because I'm NOT, but personally elephants belong in the wild, not in zoos or a circus. They need to be with other elephants, not performing tricks and stunts for human beings. I've seen too many videos of elephants being abused by the same people that should be taking care of them. Now......that's all I'm going to say about that. :)

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    1. Sometimes it is nice to indulge in a nice meal without actually having to cook it. :)

      I would imagine many elephants would indeed be happiest in the wild (as perhaps would some horses). However, elephants have been domesticated since around 2000 BC, and have traditionally served many of the roles in Thai and Asian culture that have been filled by horses in the West.

      I do have mixed feelings about the tricks/stunt business. It seems very "worldly" if you know what I mean. I like to see and hear talent (like the juggling or, say, classical music--not at a circus), but seeing dogs jump through hoops, women dancing, even the elephants performing wasn't exactly what would be called "godly" or edifying. As I mentioned in my article, part of the (human) performance reminded me of the gladiators. Overall, it did seem slightly barbaric. But I was glad I went to find out for myself what it was like.

      It is very sad how some people actually do abuse elephants. It is hard for me to imagine how people can intentionally be cruel to any of God's creatures. Elephants are wonderful animals.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, and all the best!

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  25. As I get older, I'm more apt to be found doing something out in nature, rather than walking aimlessly in stores. You've figured this out at such a young age. Love the coneflower shot!

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  26. I enjoyed this post. - It's good to get a different perspective from time to time on what and what not money can buy a person. Personally I enjoy a good circus from time to time so I'd most like spend the $30 on that then the Country Club meal. - I think it all depends on what we as individuals value most and I agree some things like Faith and Family and Nature outway other things way more.

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    1. Everyone does have different tastes (and opinions), but there are a few things in particular that make life worth living--like faith in Jesus! :)

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  27. I like this post Bethany - it has humor, adventure, and truth...and food photography, of course! :)
    And you rode an elephant?! How cool.

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    1. Thanks Paige! I'm glad I was able to continue a family tradition...even if it was at a circus.

      Ehhhm... but then I do have another side of my family back a ways that actually were circus workers here in the U.S.! It's interesting to know all the aspects of family history that studying genealogy leads to! However, I am very glad that part of my family quit the circus...I do not think I would do very well as a trapeze artist...or anywhere in the circus for that matter!

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  28. This is really a nice post from you, and I agree with your last paragraphs. We tend to look for happiness in the things of the world, but it lies within us.

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    1. Amen! The world will never satisfy. Only God can satisfy the thirst within our hearts.

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