Friday, October 3, 2014

first world problems

While I'm not sure the difficulty I had earlier in the week could be literally defined as a First World Problem*, having the tracker pad of my computer suddenly lose track of itself was both aggravating and unexpected. The little cursor was happy enough to move around the screen but couldn't be clicked to open anything. As you can imagine it didn't take long for me to realize just how reliant I've become on this machine that contains the records of everything of any importance I've done for the past decade or more (before being packed away four years ago, the old computer had a serious conversation with this one).

* First World Problems

It's understood that some problems are universal - death, disease, hunger, thirst, cold, poverty, physical pain, illness - are part of the human condition and could happen to anybody. The problems of the prosperous don't fit in this class:

"I have too much cash in my wallet and it hurts my butt when I sit."

"Can’t decide whether to stay oceanfront at an all-inclusive resort or 9 mins away with a group of friends while vacationing in Jamaica!"

"My friend doesn’t have an iPhone so I couldn’t text him from my macbook."

"I had to watch a 3D movie because I didn’t want to wait for the 2D showtime."

"My Poodle can’t get a haircut today because of the humidity outside…so annoyed with stupid global warming!"

"How can I sleep when the fountain outside my window is so loud!" 

You can probably see why I'm unsure about whether having my computer break was an FWP or not. I happen to live in a culture where personal computers are common and so, like everyone reading this, I do own one. On the other hand, it's not like I'm going to use its temporary loss as an excuse to indulge in in a hand of Misery Poker:

Someone who complains of a minor inconvenience while someone else in the background is being chased by a herd of enraged rhinos.

The Apple geniuses had the track pad replaced quickly and so I have returned with all my pictures intact. Yes, this is the most recent one of those - not quite as cool as the last, but okay.

Last winter I read Charles Dickens's 'Hard Times' again and was amazed I'd forgotten Mr. Bounderby - the original inspiration for The Four Yorkshiremen sketch. Here are John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Tim Brook-Taylor & Marty Feldman performing an early version of the one made famous by Monty Python:

Til next time. 


Should Fish More said...

I had a thought after I read this some hours ago.........let's make it 2000 years ago, China. Whatever dynasty it was then...coal is rationed. A family has to put blankets on at night to be warm. Poof, a guy from the Italian Alps is transported there, they tell him of the problem. "Holy shit, you have fire????" he says.
Yeah, third world problems have real health, life or death, consequences. Ours, like yours with the cursor thingy, are an inconvenience at worst. We deal with each as we can, in our strata we, some of us, try to help those with problems in the third world. But I can't look at my truck not starting at -40f and feel glad that I have first world problems. I want to fix it, not accept it. And bitching about it isn't a fault, long as I'm not doing it to a village infected with ebola.

susan said...

Things were definitely different 2000 years ago - or even 200 years ago.

There are a lot of people who live in areas of the world that were never modernized, it's true. Unfortunately for them, because of resource stripping engendered by the industrialized countries, the vast majority live in close proximity to a small number with outrageous wealth. Differences in the West aren't so extreme.

What's certainly not true is that any problem suffered by a 'First Worlder' is by definition trivial. Whether it's my computer that I couldn't easily afford to replace or your truck not starting on a frigid morning, these are inconveniences that must be dealt with as they are.

We can and do care about big and small problems simultaneously. We also understand how to prioritize our complaints.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan,
Nice to see your July drawing remerge as a lovely painting, which I put down to renewed creative energy from a change in your season. No doubt that warmth will help sooth concerns of one of your friendly dragons, who, with the happy child and dog occupy rare imaginative space free from the terror which complicated affluence can bring.
I thought 'Hard Times' was a hoot!!
Best wishes

marja-leena said...

Beautiful painting, Susan, with an interesting story I'm sure.

Sorry about the technology issues - it's great when it works, a disaster when it doesn't, eh. How did we ever become so dependent on it? Thankfully your problem was solved. No, sadly (or not, hmmm?) these problems aren't so common in the third world while just surviving may be.

Tom said...

Your paintings are an endless source of pleasure. Internet was down here for hours and hours yesterday. Even for a tending-to-reclusive like me that was a pain. But there was an upside. I couldn't mix my misery at being cut off from a world that clearly and desperately needs me, with my sobs at learning about all that the first-worlders have to suffer. :)

Tom said...

I should have added 'simultaneously' at the end. Might have made a little more sense. Then again, maybe not.

susan said...

Thanks, Lindsay.,
I'm very glad to know you like the new painting. While I'm not sure myself what these are all about, I do appreciate your portrayal.
Best wishes to you too.

susan said...

This was one of those cases where the scan didn't do justice to the actual painting, Marja-Leena. It really does look better in reality, but I'm glad you like it.

Yes, I was happy fixing the computer problem was a pretty straightforward task.

It's next to impossible for us to imagine what life is like for people who live in poverty.

susan said...

Thanks, Tom. Yes, it's weird when we realize going on line is much like opening the refrigerator door when we're not sure if we're hungry or not.

susan said...

It made sense enough as it was, Tom. :)

Should Fish More said...

Well said, Susan. My oldest girl reminds me that I more and more don't see all aspects of an issue. After years of trying to deal with issues direct (Kent State, VN, etc) and issues indirect (wars everywhere, disease, etc....) I've lost perspective.
Cheers to you, and carry on. I'm tired, and at 7 decades near the end. From one who carried the torch in past years, I hand it to you and your ilk.
Maurine Neuberger (you may have to look her up) once said to me "Don't mind them, the fact you are pissing them off is a sign you're doing things right.".....this when I was in high school.

Rob-bear said...

Meanwhile, we move merrily along without the scourge of ebola and IS (or other extremist groups). Those aren't first world problems so we don't have to worry about them. Do pass the tea, please, and one of those delicious scones.

Blessings and Bear hugs! (Please forgive me for writing when I'm depressed.)

susan said...

We're human, Mike, and as such we're allowed to express our frustration with the foibles of some of our fellow beings. They who should know better often don't and it's aggravating. Maureen Neuberger was right - and a very cool lady as well. Too bad there aren't more like her in positions of power and influence now.

As I'm just about the same age as you I'm also looking for torch bearers. There are some (maybe like your daughter?) and that's a good thing.

susan said...

Our own survival might not be under imminent threat, but I think we do suffer along with those we can't help. You're right too many are blithely unaware.

I always like to hear from you and I'm happy you wrote this time. May you feel stronger soon.

Sean Jeating said...

The error(s) begin(s) with trying to "cut the world in pieces".

Sean Jeating said...

I think Mike should keep the torch and fish more . . . if I may say so.

susan said...

You're right, of course - obviously :)

susan said...

You may :)

Sean Jeating said...

Ha ha ha . . .

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

Don't get me started on people who downplay complete and utter disasters by calling them First World problems. In my local pub this evening they had run out of salted peanuts so I had to make do with a packet of dry roasted ones to accompany my cider. I suffered.

susan said...

It's a hard life, Andrew.

ps: enjoyed Sample 717 very much. I was surprised at how different it seemed to be from what I'd read when you posted parts. Does Adm show up in the next? Anyway, Lady Lords is on the way so I'll soon know.

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

Thank you. Spread the word please! And Hmmm... you ladies do seem to like Adm. Actually there is... Ach, I'll not discuss my plans until they are delivered. Superstition.

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

I just had to check my own books. Yes, Adm is not too far away now.

I love your rather dopey looking dragons, by the way (if that's what they are).

susan said...

It is a wonderful story - something like Laurel and Hardy from space. When I first read your excerpts I was immediately put in mind of Lem's Trurl and Klapaucius from the Cyberiad. Of course, Adrig and Edrig are very different from his 'constructors', but the similarity is in the sheer delight and brashness of your characters and Lem's.

I thought Adm was pretty hilarious as a concept. My personal preference for someone to spend time with would have to be Edrig.

Yes, they are a pair of inept dragon-like creatures from outer space. Glad you noticed.

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

"It is a wonderful story - something like Laurel and Hardy from space"

Thankyou for the "review". I may get that put on the jacket of Book Three :)

susan said...

That would certainly be a first for me.

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

Do you draw requests?

Crow meets Adrig and Edrig in their seventies Sample 717 gear ? :)

Your dopey dragons rather remind me of my "superior beings"

susan said...

Crow has taken note of your request and is looking for his lounge suit now.

I'm quite fond of the pair of them - like Adrig and Edrig, they are bemused
by people.

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

Pole dancers not obligatory, but a possibility? :)

susan said...

Don't push your luck :)

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

Crow doing the pole dance?

Is that pushing it way too far? ha ha :)

Might be a future illustration contract for you (generously paid for with Adrig's fake money, of course)

susan said...

Far too far. Crow has his dignity to consider.

Adrig, Edrig, and ladies a strong possibility.

We shall see.

Be patient :)