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Stories about the money mind

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  • Andrius Kulikauskas
    I ve started writing my paper The Wealth of Experience for the Open Content conference http://www.openculture.org for the talk that I gave in Como, Italy in
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 3, 2006
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      I've started writing my paper "The Wealth of Experience" for the Open
      Content conference http://www.openculture.org for the talk that I gave
      in Como, Italy in June. It was due today. I'll need to keep writing
      tomorrow and perhaps Tuesday. My draft is at
      http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/cyfranogi/message/1692 and my
      abstract is at http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/cyfranogi/message/1616

      Earlier this year I thought through with John Rogers an online learning
      environment for community currency design that was based on first hand
      knowledge of the money mind. In particular, we expected personal
      stories to play a key role. I had made for myself a list of my own
      personal experiences with money. Today I wrote up more than 60 of these
      vignettes and am sorting through them and analyzing them. I wanted to
      see how the data compared to the theory.

      These stories are little episodes in life that I recall and that I learn
      from. It seems to me that each of them focuses on one of three
      emotional dimensions:
      - Calm vs. Riled
      - Positive vs. Negative
      - Sensitive vs. Insensitive
      Each episode seems to help distinguish between the opposites in some
      way. Perhaps the more complicated episodes tune in to several opposites.

      Some episodes help me tease out my positive and negative feelings. A
      task may be hard to do, tiresome and even repulsive, like picking
      caterpillars off tomato vines, but a reward can help me look forward to
      it. Or something that I once enjoyed, looked forward to, like buying
      and reading Mad magazine, may grow old and disappointing.

      Other episodes help me go between riled and calm. I didn't know what to
      do after I got my Ph.D. I realized that the university was a sheltered
      environment that would not be helpful for my growth as a person and a
      thinker. Gradually, I thought through that it would make sense to work
      part-time and do what I wanted to do the rest of the time.

      Other episodes distinguish between my being sensitive or insensitive.
      Our parents would give us an allowance. But they made clear that it was
      not for anything we did. We were expected to do chores at home, but
      that had nothing to do with our allowance. We learned that, in their
      mind, the two were not connected, and we should be sensitive to each
      separately.

      These episodes aren't models for how to live, they may not be "right" in
      the big picture. But they are models for how I was able to find
      resolution to what vexed my emotions. I think it's helpful if we all
      collect them and can use them as a guide in thinking through "money
      mind" issues, and specifically, community currency design.

      I'm finding that in each of these episodes there is a troubling side to
      emotion: we're insensitive, negative or riled. This means that we're
      having trouble taking a stand (on principles), or following through (on
      solutions), or reflecting (on interpretations). So we resolve it by
      taking a step back and grounding ourselves, so that we're grounded again:
      - If we're insensitive to principles, then we reflect back on
      interpretations, until we can be sensitive to principles.
      - If we're negative because there are no good solutions, then we step
      back and get in touch with our principles, and through them ground
      ourselves in a solution that feels positive.
      - If we're riled because there are no attractive interpretations, then
      we step back and recall our solutions, and through them ground ourselves
      in an interpretation that makes sense, so that we are calm.

      I think each of these episodes heightens the opposites along one of
      these emotional dimensions. The troubled or "blocked" opposite
      (insensitive, negative or riled) is stepped back from, we reground
      ourselves and then we can bring in the untroubled "free" opposite
      (sensitive, positive or calm) and know the difference. That's the moral
      of the story.

      The regrounding, as predicted, does seem to take place at one of four
      levels:
      - why we are learning (thinking through our goals and purposes)
      - how we are learning (thinking through our thought experiments and
      design issues)
      - what we are learning (thinking through various roles, points of view,
      the experience of others)
      - whether we are learning (thinking through our own first hand experience)

      Which is to say, it makes a difference whether the episode is one that
      we intuited in terms of our values, that we thought through in terms of
      outcomes, that we considered through the experience of others, or that
      we lived through by our own direct experience. I will try to sort
      through all of the episodes in terms of these levels and see if I can
      match them to the twelve topologies and even the community currency
      design issues matrix as I had predicted.

      I hope to push through this investigation further and set it up so that
      we might all contribute our own stories of the money mind. (And
      ultimately apply this to other areas.) Already we have "experiences":
      http://www.ms.lt/?action=Experience
      as given by Jon Cousins, John Rogers, Terry Mace, Franz Nahrada, Kevin
      Parcell and some great interviews by Samwel Kongere. By the way, if
      you go to that page you'll see on the left the image that I've created
      of the steps in our workflow process, where I've been influenced by John
      Rogers to use the "visual language" approach pioneered by Robert E. Horn
      in his book by that name.

      I look forward to making more progress tomorrow!
      Thank you for feedback and ideas!

      Andrius

      Andrius Kulikauskas
      Minciu Sodas
      http://www.ms.lt
      ms@...
      +370 (699) 30003
      +370 (5) 264 5950
      Vilnius, Lithuania




      ----------------------------
      Calm Vs. Riled -- Interpretations Or Not - ground them in solutions
      ----------------------------

      When I was finishing my Ph.D., I wondered how I would make a living, if
      I was to devote myself to what I wanted to do. I thought that a
      university was a sheltered environment and so I would not learn about
      life. Also, if I made money from my philosophical pursuits, then I would
      corrupt myself and my thinking. I decided that I should work part-time
      and be free to spend the rest of my time on my own projects.

      When I completed my graduate courses, it was time to write a Ph.D.
      thesis. However, it wasn't my goal to be a mathematician, I had simply
      wanted to get an education. So I didn't know for what reason to
      continue, although it felt a bit awkward to stop. My mother supplied the
      reason, she said that I wanted to be a person who finishes things, and I
      wouldn't have to explain for the rest of my life why I hadn't finished.
      That was the reason I continued.

      When I was in high school, some of my classmates started getting part
      time jobs. I wondered whether I should get one, whether that would help
      me be a more balanced person. Or perhaps my brother wanted to get one.
      But my father said that he had worked in his youth because he had had
      to. And we would be working all our lives. So he did not want us to work
      until we had to. He wanted us to make the most of the opportunity that
      we had not having to work. I felt encouraged by his view because it was
      his first hand account, having had worked, and I accepted it, and I felt
      I did not need to relive it. It's interesting that in my life I have
      never had a full time job.

      When I was in college, I used to work in the summer, but would save my
      money so that I wouldn't have to work during the year. I wanted to study
      and learn as much as I possibly could, and I was glad that my parents
      were supportive.

      I was very much in love with a young lady from Lithuania, a wonderful
      person. She finally agreed to visit me in the United States after years
      of hesitation. I didn't have much savings but I decided that I would
      borrow everything that I might need from credit cards so that I could
      take care of her during her stay and she would have a good time.
      Ultimately, she married another man who she had loved for many years,
      but I was very glad that I did not think twice about doing all I could
      for her and to be with her and that money was not an issue.

      One year, after I and my brother and sister had all finished our
      schooling, our parents gave us each a substantial sum of money. I used
      part to clear my loans, and then I decided that I should not save the
      rest, but give it away, taking JesusChrist seriously. I told my parents
      I didn't need it and could give it back, but they said no. So I gave
      more than half to my cousin, who had worked for a year to help his step
      father at his body shop without hardly any renumeration. I thought it
      would make clear that I cared. My parents were shocked and hurt and
      angry. They said that if they wanted to give charity (which they do)
      then they would give it themselves. My cousin was delighted and decided
      to spend it on three things that he had always wanted: back taxes on his
      land which his father had left him, a BMW motorcycle, and the
      Encyclopedia Britannica. All of which seemed a bit vain, but it was his
      choice, except I was not happy that he had spent thousands of dollars on
      the encyclopedia and I argued that it didn't make any sense given how
      much he would read it and how technology was evolving and that he should
      ask for his money back while he still had the chance. I felt relieved
      that he did indeed back out of the encyclopedia. So I learned that it
      was all right to give it all away, but it was good to care what happened
      to it. I didn't grow super close with my cousin except that I think we
      feel good about each other and I imagine that the money did have a good
      impact on his spirits because his life course seemed to pick up around then.

      My parents have a principle never to give me a loan, even a short term
      loan that might be very helpful. However, they are very steadfast in
      giving me gifts if I need help, even if they are unhappy about it.

      My godson in Lithuania became quite interested in alternative music. I
      was very glad that he could educate me because I always felt doubtful
      about my own tastes and was glad to have somebody thoughtful to discuss
      music with. He would buy pirated music as it was the only way to get
      much of the music, and later, the only way to afford it. I would gladly
      listen to him play, but I could never make a copy for myself as that
      seemed a boundary I felt I shouldn't cross. Once in a while I would
      borrow his disks but I was repulsed by the idea of having pirated music.

      At the Atzalynas club I have had one or more computers which I have let
      the leaders use. But I have never allowed them to add pirated software.
      This would frustrate the leader of the computer club. The club got a few
      computers, too. I agreed that they have pirated programs on the club's
      computers, but not on mine.

      I never liked to haggle and I felt that it was the best policy to pay
      full price, partly because I believed that everybody should pay the same
      price, and that haggling was an inefficient system. And when I moved to
      Lithuania I felt that I was even so part of a different economic system
      and shouldn't pretend otherwise. But when I started traveling to attend
      conferences and how expensive they were, it was suggested that I ask for
      a discount because I am from Lithuania. And then I decided that I needed
      the help and if I could get it that way then I would take it.

      When we first got allowance, it was five cents a week. Then we realized
      that we couldn't buy anything for that! So we let our parents know and
      it went up to ten cents per week.

      I used to think that I should be generous to the government with my
      money and pay it willingly and err on the side of paying more taxes. I
      wouldn't take the standard meal deductions because they seemed
      unrealistically large. But after having such a hard time with my
      business and realizing that there is nobody to care for me, I started to
      take them. I figured that this was the system's way of supporting me.

      I was working to promote an import export standard through the Infrared
      Data Association. After a difficult start there was a meeting where we
      had a good chance of making it happen. However, as RobLockhart explained
      to me afterwards, I oversold, I tried too hard, I was too vocal and
      aggresive, and members backed away, and then afterwards the chance was
      gone for the whole endeavor. So that is where I learned what it means to
      oversell. Yet in my mind I felt that if that's what it all amounted to,
      then it was not a very important matter, and I would not fret that.

      I had a close friend who I stayed with in the United States when he
      invited me for his wedding. I was just starting my business and I stayed
      at his home with his parents when he left for his honeymoon. And they
      started to wonder what I was doing there. And then I realized that
      although I believed in giving and receiving and my friend had been quite
      supportive but that was not normal and it was possible to quickly run up
      against limits. I was anxious and I told God I was too anxious to work
      part-time on my philosophy and on the business too at that point in my
      life. I offered a deal with him to let me focus on the business and I
      would make the business model work for him, too. Then I felt more at ease.

      I traveled with my friend to his home in China. He arranged for me to
      stay there for an additional six weeks with his family. There was no way
      for me to directly pay his family for food or anything as that would be
      inappropriate. However, he took care of that for me. The one thing that
      he set straight was that I would do my own laundry by hand because
      otherwise his mother would have to do it. So we agreed on that and it
      seemed to work out well.

      In the town in China where I was staying I wanted to buy a bicycle.
      However, the family was very anxious for my safety and refused to let
      me. It was as if I was a small child. But as my Chinese improved I was
      able to ask in ways that gave them confidence in me. So they arranged
      that I could buy a bicycle.

      As a graduate student I arranged to spend a year at the University of
      Vilnius in Soviet-occupied Lithuania. However, I didn't hear back from
      them. The vicepresident of the Academy of Sciences was a friend of a
      family friend and he offered to take care of the matter. It didn't seem
      right to have to go through such a private channel. But it made all the
      difference. I received my invitation as planned. It was very strange to
      see the system in action and the amount of authority required to handle
      such a small matter.

      I let my brother borrow money on my credit cards. It was my suggestion,
      as he was out of school and trying to establish himself as a commerical
      artist and our parents weren't especially supportive. Overall, it worked
      out for him, and he found work. Although he suffered from the loans but
      he paid me back. I think that due to him I got quite a credit limit
      which I drew on later when I started my business.

      I won about thirty trophies in my chess playing days. And when I
      finished high school I made sure to give them all away to our high
      school chess club where they all ended up getting recycled. It was nice
      to clear that all away.

      It never seemed right to make a living in a way that was special
      regarding me, but rather to find a way that anybody could make a living.
      Because making a living is a big problem in life and what good is it if
      I find a solution that only works for me?

      -----------------------------------------
      Positive Vs. Negative -- Solutions Or Not -- ground them in principles
      -----------------------------------------

      When we were children, our father decided that he would supplement our
      allowance by giving us one penny for each page of Lithuanian books that
      we read for our own enjoyment. He wouldn't pay for English books, only
      Lithuanian. It was a really great support because the Lithuanian books
      were extra effort but I really wanted to get good at reading them. It
      made it extra rewarding.

      I remember as a child we had to weed our garden every so often. It
      wasn't especially fun. And we weren't rewarded for it. It was just
      something that we were supposed to do. But there was something nice
      about doing that work conscientiously and feeling like part of the team,
      our family.

      I remember as a child our mother would give us 5 cents for every
      caterpillar that we would remove from the tomato vines. The caterpillars
      were large, light green, gross to pick up, and scary because their alien
      body ended in what looked like a stinger. It didn't seem worth it. But
      then my mother said that it wasn't really about the money, she needed my
      help. So her need got me to do it, and the reward encouraged me to work
      efficiently.

      When I was six years old my parents opened a bank account for my
      birthday and deposited 10 dollars. And the next year they deposited 10
      dollars, too. When my father would go to the bank he would take my book
      with him and they would stamp the amount of money that I had which
      reflected the interest I had earned, a few cents and yet it excited me
      that my money could grow exponentially. However, as I grew older there
      was inflation, but even more significantly, I realized that the older I
      grew as a child, the greater amounts of money I dealt with, and so it
      was completely absurd to save money. Finally, my parents let me take out
      the money and spent it. I bought an electronics kit that I had wanted.
      But I realized that 10 dollars had much less significance to a 12 year
      old than to a 6 year old. That experience made me very skeptical about
      the value of saving. I felt negative and so I changed my principles.

      When I was in junior high school I used to spend my allowance on Mad
      magazine. It seemed at first like very intelligent, fresh, stimulating
      humor and I very much looked forward to it. But over time the formula
      became apparent. And after a few years I became disappointed and finally
      lost interested and stopped buying it. I went through the same cycle
      with Newsweek and other publications, where what originally seemed fresh
      turned out to be an editorial formula that grew stale with familiarity.

      After my freshman year my father arranged that I work the summer as an
      intern for his employer, Hughes Aircraft. There wasn't much for me to do
      there where I was assigned so I took the chance to teach myself
      programming, namely, Fortran. My supervisor wanted me to create a
      graphing program for him but I didn't have any real guidance and so I
      ended up focusing on what I thought was the coolest thing I could do,
      which was making a program for graphing derivatives of trigonometric
      functions, which was absolutely useless practically. So I made sure to
      gain from the experience, but it was a waste for my supervisor and they
      didn't have me back.

      My father taught me and my brother how to play chess. He would not play
      easy but rather he would handicap himself by removing several of his
      pieces from the board, enough to even out our chances. As we got better
      and would beat him, he would reduce the handicap. First it was a queen
      and two rooks, later a queen, then a rook, then a bishop, then a knight,
      until one day we could beat him. Because you can't learn from somebody
      who is not playing to win! I was always impressed by how smart and kind
      he was as a teacher.

      When I was at the end of my resources in 2000, I asked, who would be the
      best person for me to work for, for my personal growth. So I turned to
      CassMcNutt who was active at our lab, interested in tools for thinking,
      and experienced as an entrepreneur. I was especially impressed by his
      visceral love of God. Working for him was trickier than we both had
      thought. I'm glad I had the chance and that I was able to turn to him
      and he was able to take me.

      I used to collect postage stamps. I kept a very large and orderly
      collection with thousands stamps from my father and uncle and
      grandfather and quite a few that I had purchased at a shop. I used the
      catalogues to organize my collection and was aware of how much the
      various stamps were worth. It was worth hundreds of dollars, the albums
      alone! When I was leaving high school for college I was quite happy to
      give my collection away, and saddened to realize that there wasn't any
      person, any child to give it away to. I sent it to a nun who was
      collecting stamps and selling them in bulk for pennies to raise money,
      earning perhaps less than the shipping costs. It was sad, but even
      sadder that throughout my life I never met a child who collected stamps
      and would care about all the complicated world history and geography
      that they represented. This even though I worked as a tutor with dozens
      of disadvantaged children.

      I have a godson in Lithuania and I would give him coins I collected in
      my travels, but his father would take them away and say that he would
      keep them until he got older, so he wouldn't lose them. In time I caught
      on that he was to keen on the coins himself to ever give them to his son
      so I resigned myself, but I always bring him some from my travels. I
      always knew that the main aim of the collection was to educate myself,
      but it was a bit sad that this education was not relevant to anybody
      else, at least not directly.

      In graduate school I started collect record albums because I worked as a
      teaching assistant and grading math exams was numbingly mindless. I also
      wanted to expand my horizons. I ultimately collected about two hundred
      classics of rock music but it was getting difficult to buy albums and
      CDs were very pricey. So I gave away my collection, mostly to some rock
      musicians from Lithuania. It was nice that they appreciated the albums.

      I am due a rather large refund in Lithuania for value added tax which I
      have paid as a business, for my income comes from outside of the
      country, but I have accumulated expenses within the country. I had to
      request permission for a refund. Then they informed me that they would
      need to do a complete audit of all of the books for my business. Which
      is to say, not just the documents relevant to the value added tax, but
      absolutely everything. I told them that it would take me hundreds of
      hours to prepare. They said that they would give me plenty of time, six
      weeks. At their suggestion, I agreed to cancel my request, which I did,
      but then they said they would still have to audit me. I said that it
      would destroy me and that I would have to consider instead devoting that
      time to publicly make my case. My priorities are to make sure that the
      government has my money, to turn in my declarations, to keep a record of
      my receipts, and only then to go through the artifice of keeping formal
      books. I said also that my income comes primarily from the United States
      and since I had to abide by both systems I gave priority to the United
      States. We talked a long time about the difference between the two
      systems, that the IRS gives priority to the facts at hand rather than
      the documents, that they give people refunds based on what the people
      say they are due (they could not believe this), and that people are
      auditing typically once in their lifetime. I was running a social
      enterprise, I support a community center, I didn't owe the government
      any money, but it was going to destroy me through this paperwork.
      Finally, the inspector said, but what could she possibly do, she had to
      keep to the law. I said, simply do whatever you can within the bounds of
      your powers. So she spoke to her supervisor and he spoke to his and they
      made an exception for me and I finally escaped. I walked to the river
      and I stumbled across a statue of the Japanese consul who had written
      6,000 visas by hand to Jews so they could escape the country and the
      Nazi threat. I sat down and cried. I thought there should be a national
      exam that all the bureaucrats should be required to pass regarding their
      ability and responsibility to be creative and proactive to do the right
      thing to the extent that they can.

      When I was a child, I got just enough allowance each week to buy a
      chocolate bar. I liked chocolate very much and I would buy a Nestle's
      crunch bar because I had figured out that it was thin and so I could
      spend the longest time eating it. I think I timed myself once and I
      spent a whole half hour nibbling through one bar. That was like heaven,
      but a bit ridiculous.

      When I came to study in Lithuania the university administration placed
      me in the dormitory for foreigners. This was in the Soviet days and that
      dormitory was practically empty and isolated from the local students. I
      told the housing authority that they give me a place in the regular
      dormitory or I would find somebody to trade places with me. That shook
      them up and so grudgingly they found a room for me in the regular
      dormitory with a student of Soviet history.

      I once wanted a telescope for Christmas and my parents hesitated but I
      was surprised to find that they gave me one. I found it early in the
      morning and tried to put it together but apparently I broke it. And to
      my sadness that was the end of the telescope, my parents did not replace it.

      When I entered graduate school at UCSD I was able to live in student
      housing for two years as a primary tenant. The housing was quite
      affordable. But as the two years were ending, I forget the details, but
      I tried to get on the list for housing afterwards, and it was morally
      frustrating because I think I tried to get around the regulations somehow.

      At one point our leader Algis Razminas of the Folk Creativity Club
      Atzalynas won enough projects to make a living, but they were cancelled
      by the government when the minister changed and the budget was redone.

      We took in a lady I knew from the streets, helped her quit drinking, and
      took her in for two years and she worked as a cleaning lady. But then I
      drove her out because I thought that she should move on, as she was not
      active in the club's activity with the youth, but just wanted them to
      stay away so the club would stay clean, and didn't want to do anything
      more with her life.

      I have always hoped to attract programmers who could help for free on
      our projects, but that never worked that way. Instead I had to learn how
      to program. And I have helped self educate some programmers, but they
      have proved not quite reliable. And yet every so often I am positively
      surprised, they help in significant ways.

      When I was seven years old my parents gave me seventy five cents and I
      decided to spend it to go up the Space Needle. It was something I really
      wanted to do. But then I cried and they asked why, wasn't I happy. And I
      said, yes, it was good but it wasn't worth seventy five cents. I had
      thought that it would be a life time experience and then felt
      disappointed that it wasn't and it was over and I could have gotten some
      army soldiers instead.

      When I was fifteen I visited Lithuania for a summer and I would go to
      the dollar store and the lady there would exchange my US money for coins
      from all sorts of countries, I was very excited about that. I even
      brought her a flower. Later it seemed kind of ridiculous how I had cared
      so much about those coins.

      After the war in Soviet-occupied Lithuania our grandparents had very
      little money yet they still sent packages to their relatives back home
      including old suits and shoes and cloth. This made a big difference to
      the families' well being. Years later when my grandmother was sick in
      bed her nieces were very happy to take turns to come out and take care
      of her. So on the one hand they were illegal workers but on the other
      hand it was a beautiful reciprocity.

      --------------------------------------------
      Sensitive Vs. Insensitive -- Principles Or Not -- ground them in
      interpretations
      --------------------------------------------

      I remember as a child our grandmother came from Chicago to visit. She
      went outside to broom. I think that we said that we could broom. But she
      made a point that we didn't know how to broom. Then she taught us how to
      broom. By the way, in California we did not use brooms, we would clear
      the pavement by driving everything away with water from the hose.

      I remember as a child that our parents used to give us allowance. They
      made it very clear that the allowance was not for any work that we did.
      The purpose of the allowance was for us to learn how to spend
      thoughtfully and manage our money. We also had to help with some basic
      chores. And we were to do them because we had to, it was independent of
      our allowance. I took from them that our responsibility to do our work
      and our need to be thoughtful about money were two separate issues.

      In high school there was a student who worked long hours in the
      cafeteria. His work was often his explanation for what he was doing with
      his time. When he got paid he would ask for his wage to be given to him
      in rolls of quarters. Then he would throw his quarters down the sidewalk
      with the hope, it seemed, that people would run after them. I concluded
      that work could very well be a spiritual dead end.

      Working for CassMcNutt I learned about visibility. I had always been
      inclined to work from foundations. But I observed from him that it was
      the client relationship that was most important. Therefore it was key
      that the client continuously feel real progress and benefit, even if it
      was in simple things. And that these benefits were actually quite real
      and significant, whereas deeply pursued software initiatives might very
      often not bear any fruit at all and be completely counterproductive.

      I had believed that it was a bad idea to work for a friend or relative
      as it could destroy our relationship which is much more precious than
      any work. But then I had the chance to work for my friend JohnHarland.
      And indeed there were times of stress but it really deepened our
      friendship and I learned that much more what a wonderful person he is.

      In high school there was a student, quite bright, who worked after
      school. He said it was so that he could have a car and have insurance
      for it. And the reason that he needed a car was so that he could drive
      to work. That seemed to me the most absurd circle of logic that I was
      all the more careful to avoid any desires for which I would have to work.

      Our parents taught us to pick up money from the ground if we found it,
      even if it was just a penny. That it was a matter of respect for money.
      It didn't matter if it was worth picking up or not. It was important to
      treat money with respect.

      I went to school in Chicago in part to be closer to my relatives, all of
      whom lived in the area. Some of them would say how family was much more
      important than friends because in the end you always counted on family.
      But that never bore out. Partly, my mother didn't want me to ever have
      or discuss any money issues with anybody in our extended family. And
      simply in practice, whenever I discussed my business needs or for loans
      or leads or mentors, there was no help. Whereas I have good friends who
      backed me up with significant long term or short term loans. In general,
      different people helped or not in different ways, as they were able and
      felt comfortable.

      When I started up a business in Lithuania I was very careful to
      understand and fulfill all of the rules to the letter. But at a certain
      point it became clear that for me to do the kind of business that I
      wanted to do it would be practically impossible. In particular, in
      Lithuania I am expected, as a sole proprietor, to have a full set of
      books for my business, including a cash book. And there were many other
      laws, such as having to write letters to myself before each trip as to
      my business purpose, and so on. Whereas in the United States it would be
      enough to have a shoebox of receipts. Basically, the expectation in
      Lithuania is that I hire an accountant at least half-time, which I feel
      is counterproductive but also immoral as it is contrived work that
      simply justifies the system. And given that I need to pay taxes in both
      Lithuania and the United States I think that I should do all the
      paperwork myself because I need to be on top of it myself and there is
      nobody here who knows both systems anyways. So my thinking is that I do
      as much as I can of the paperwork and keep attentive to it even though
      it's not possible for me to do absolutely all of what is required, so
      that I at least am making a good faith effort. Also, it's my position
      that laws are in flux and they may well change in my favor as I get to them.

      I once had a summer job where I was supposed to prepare students for the
      SAT exam. The business owner was very happy to hire me because of my own
      excellent scores and put my picture in the ethnic newspaper. But after a
      few lessons he let me go. I felt that students should learn from first
      principles and also that they should do homework as projects that they
      themselves wanted to do. Parents were unhappy that students weren't
      getting any homework and that they weren't being forced to do it.
      Somehow it didn't even click in me that I could ever teach students in
      such a mindless way or that I had actually been fired.

      I would lend money to my friends and have they pay off my own loans,
      thus hurting my credit rating. I felt that I was helping by letting them
      make good use of my credit. And that I shouldn't have to be after them
      as they should be on top of things. But none of them were perfect as to
      that. I suppose it's important to keep on top of the use of credit if
      you're going to share it, you have to manage that.

      I sold my car. It was a practical car, well kept and I tried to get the
      blue book price. Somebody wanted to buy it but they were hoping I would
      go down and I refused to. I thought those prices were accurate. So
      instead I ultimately sold it for quite a bit lower than that, to a friend.

      I worked as a tutor onsite for a business person who was idealistic yet
      calculating and even crass as to his business practices. He would
      encourage us not to take lunch breaks saying that students often didn't
      show, but in reality a nine hour day of tutoring is completely draining
      and in the long run unhealthy and an hour break every day is essential.
      He would hire graduate students as independent contractors but not
      inform them that they needed to set aside on their own 15% of their
      income for social security. He would say nothing to parents when they
      missed a class or two but only after they had fallen behind four or five
      of them would he remind them that they needed to pay for the missed
      classes, thus often trapping them into maintaining the relationship. He
      would have the tutors close and leave with the collected money in a
      dangerous neighborhood and hold them accountable for it if it was lost
      or stolen. He would pay tutors less than one third of what he was
      charging and have them deliver to the parent's great expectations.

      During the independence movement, the dollar was worth a lot and I could
      hire an organizer. I paid him for one or two months but then he needed
      his labor book to be signed by somebody official. So I suggested that we
      go the reform movement's office, that they could do that formality, and
      I was surprised that they refused.

      Algis Razminas, the leader of the Atzalynas Club, tried to make a living
      from it by winning money from projects. But when we analyzed the
      projects, the money was tied to particular expenses, with lots of money
      for consumables, some for wages, but none for essentials like heating or
      electricity.

      When I started my business I wanted my colleagues in Lithuania to earn
      the same as me. But then I realized that I am the one investing,
      sticking my neck out, running the risk. And they themselves stated that
      first I need to make money, and then they can.

      In junior high school and high school I and my brother played actively
      in adult tournaments. The stronger tournaments were for money. The money
      seemed to suggest a very different way of playing that was foreign to me
      and so I put it out of my mind. It seemed to interfere with the idea of
      trying to go up against the best players rather than win a prize amongst
      the weaker players.

      When I was in Lithuania, during the independence movement, I saw that
      the newly forming youth organizations could work together and be
      stronger. I thought that they could share things like video equipment.
      But it turned out that nobody ever wanted to share, each deeply
      preferred to have their own.

      In high school we used to raise money for our swim team by having a
      swimathon. We would go door to door and ask for a penny or more per lap
      that we swam. We ended up swimming 200 laps. It was good practice asking
      peole for support and quite surprising how supportive people were.

      I worked a summer for a Lithuanian organization on a special project
      making cassettes for the blind. One weekend they wanted me to come in to
      help stuff envelopes. I refused because I said it wasn't part of my job
      description. They were unhappy. But I let them down.

      We had a fund raiser for our travel to the national chess championships.
      We went around to different businesses to ask for donations. I thought
      that the money should go to the kids who needed it the most. But our
      teacher said that the kids should all share it equally but especially
      because we had made such an extra effort to collect it.

      When I was a student I went to Soviet-occupied Lithuania and so my
      grandfather gave me some money to buy items for some old anti-communist
      guerilla fighters at the dollar store. And he said be sure to bring back
      the receipts. So I met the people and I bought what they wanted but they
      wanted to keep the receipts and not thinking I let them. I didn't
      understand why they were so important, so long as the money was spent.
      And my grandfather was very unhappy because he said that he will not
      have receipts to give to the emigre organization and they won't be
      giving any more money because they can't account for it.

      When I go traveling and staying with people it is good to have some kind
      of present to express my appreciation. So I try to think through and
      carry gifts that would be special but for people who I might not even
      know yet. So in Lithuania I sometimes buy small pieces of art or blank
      leather bound books.

      When my parents used to travel in Soviet-occupied Lithuania they would
      carry two suitcases full of presents, household items such as
      calculators and bottles of aspirin. We had hundreds of relatives because
      our grandparents were active in keeping in touch with their brothers and
      sisters and cousins. A lot of care went into thinking what people might
      need, and once there, deciding who to give what.

      After the war in Soviet-occupied Lithuania there was not much food and
      our relatives ate from one bowl and they say the children who ate slower
      ended up smaller.
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