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  August 6, 2010
Treasures and Trinkets

 
Last weekend I was in the Bay Area scouting colleges with Susan and the kids.
 
On our way home, we stopped by my grandparent’s house.  The house is now vacant as my grandfather passed several years ago and my grandmother passed just a few months ago. 
 
On the day we stopped by, my mom was having a garage sale to find new homes for the various knick-knacks, house wares, furniture and books that her parents had accumulated over the course of time. 
Many of the items were of great sentimental value but had very little intrinsic value to my mom. 
 
She told us, when we arrived, that I should take anything that I wanted as whatever was left was being donated to the Salvation Army after the weekend sale.

Susan, the kids, and I rummaged through boxes of old photos, National Geographic magazines and dishes.  We found an old music box filled with costume jewelry and a large box of marbles.  There weren’t any real known collectibles like old baseball cards or comic books (my grandparents were too practical for that nonsense).  There were several old typewriters, records, lamps, and a console stereo hi-fi system.

We spent a few hours picking out a few items to take with us (we were all familiar with the popular PBS program "Antiques Road Show" so we had thought that perhaps we had found a treasure or two).
 
On Monday, I had planned to have lunch with my friend Erik.  Erik is a professional antiques dealer specializing in "period jewelry" especially pre-WWII pieces.  I showed him my new collection of costume jewelry and ask to appraise what I had found. 

He meticulously examined through each piece and made several different piles. 
 
Finally he raised his head and said, "Here’s the bad news...it’s all worth about $25 and I’m being generous because you’re my friend". 
 
He went on, "now here’s the good news...that old wooden box that you haphazardly put the jewelry in...is indeed of value.  This particular box is called a Sorrento music box and is highly collectable and could be worth anywhere from $40 - $1000". 
 
That’s the difference between a sophisticated professional and the uneducated.  The educated professional can distinguish treasures from trinkets whereas for the rest of us, it’s just guesswork.

Education is the key.  Putting in the time and actually learning something that will help us differentiate between treasures and trinkets.

How many of us spend our evenings and weekends watching TV rather than reading a book or doing a puzzle to keep our minds sharp. 
 
Money doesn’t make you sophisticated, knowledge and a keen mind does. 
 
The pursuit of knowledge isn’t expensive either.  One doesn’t need to go to an Ivy League school to learn. 
Learning can be done at the local library, on Wikipedia, or attending adult education classes at the local college.
 
Acquiring knowledge and learning new skills might also help you to earn more money by making yourself more valuable to your employer.  Imagine your worth to your company if you could speak fluent Chinese, Spanish, or Punjabi.
 
Taking evening classes could also expand your social circles and help you to meet new friends (I am constantly suggesting this avenue to single friends who aren’t looking to meet other single people in bars.  A study session over dinner is far better to get to know someone than over martinis in a loud crowded "meet market" bar).

Knowledge and experience stays with you a lifetime so it’s the ultimate in value for the money spent whereas that trinket, such as a Starbuck’s latte, is soon gone and forgotten.
 
A true professional has knowledge...whether that knowledge is in the local real estate market, financial tools, electronic components, or antiques.  They have spent countless hours honing their knowledge and are experts in their respective fields.
 
What will you become an expert in?
 
There are so many trinkets in the world...but the sophisticated ones find and recognize the treasures. 

Thank you so much for supporting OptiFuse where our expertise is overcurrent protection.  We hope to one day share our knowledge with you.




Jim Kalb
President
OptiFuse
jimk@optifuse.com

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