After working for more than forty years, I finally retired on July 3, 2008. From this date forward, I have been receiving a monthly Social Security payment deposited directly at my savings account. I was so happy I was jumping out of my skin. No more getting up early in the morning to go to a boring call center to take incoming calls from XM Radio customers in the United States. The salary was modest and the responsibilities enormous, specially my imperfect English accent. Most of my callers thought I was an Indian employee and were reluctant in providing me their social security number and other personal information needed to complete a commercial transaction. They hated my Panamanian English accent. C’est la vie!
My first year being a retiree was very difficult, since I didn’t know what to do with all the extra time. The days were long and monotonous. Then I fell hook, line and sinker for blogging and everyday street photography in Panama City. Both hobbies were affordable and did not require coughing out a significant amount of financial resources I didn’t have. My old computer was just fine for blogging and I purchased a compact Point-and-Shoot Canon PowerShot A720 IS camera for only $249.00.
Then I started reading everything I could put my paws on, in order to create content for my blog which I named Lingua Franca; meaning a universal language (English) and a universal communication medium (the Internet). After abundant reading, approximately eighteen hours a day, my eyes got tired of seeing. After the day was over, my eyes were red, swollen, and my vision was somewhat impaired. I went to the eye doctor (ophthalmologist) and he recommended I buy a new pair of glasses. At 64, my vision is not exactly 20/20 when I was in my prime years.
Last Monday, April 4, 2011, I received my new pair of glasses, and lo and behold, I was reading like a teenager again. It was like buying a new pair of eyes. The letters were crystal clear and the colors were bright, just as they were intended to be. Since then I have engaged in another hobby—reading digital books. So far, I’ve read the following digital books which I purchased from Amazon.com. Using Amazon’s Kindle for the PC is a breeze and the books are relatively cheap. In less than a minute I can download an e-book and start reading it immediately. I can’t emphasize enough how easy the whole process of downloading and installing Kindle for the PC is. I can adjust the size of the font to suit my reading habits which is extremely convenient even with a new pair of reading glasses.
The Kindle e-books I’ve downloaded from Amazon.com and Smashwords are:
- The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It by Scott Patterson. Price—$10.88.
- The Murder of Lehman Brothers: An Insiders Look at Global Meltdown by Joseph Tibman. Price—$10.95.
- The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis. Price—$7.75.
- Despair! The Ill-Fated Fourth Voyage of the Admiral of the Ocean Sea by Richard Philbrick—$2.99.
- Sailing Alone to Isla Mujeres by Richard Philbrick—$0.99.
At this moment I’m enjoying The Quants which narrates the story of a secretive group of highly intelligent mathematicians and physicists which were contracted by Wall Street to come up with extremely complex mathematical equations to market financial instruments called Credit Default Swaps (CDS) and Collateral Debt Obligations (CDOs). The story’s stars are “an unusual breed of investors” called quants, who “used brain-twisting math and super-powered computers to pluck billions in fleeting dollars out of the market.”
Having been a college professor of Business Administration and Banking and Finance at ULACIT for more than five years, this is the category of literature that I enjoy the most, as well as historic and political novels. In my “To Do List”, I have plans of buying a Kindle e-book reader, but not just yet. My pensionado check is not big enough at the moment.
Below are several pictures of my brand new reading glasses which have enriched my reading experience. I paid $213.73 for them at Óptica López, but will get a refund check from the Social Security of $62.50 in about a month. That brings the price down to $151.23.
The new spectacles have progressive addition lenses (PAL) and a convenient photo gray feature to protect the eyes when the sun is bright. Photo gray lenses darken automatically upon exposure to sunlight or even bright indoor light, and lighten when you go into darker areas. Those two features enhanced the cost of the reading glasses.