They were an industrious people

This morning while reading in Alma it struck me how often the scripture mentions a main difference between the Nephites and the Lamanites was being industrious vs being indolent.  When Amalickiah becomes King of the Lamanites through subterfuge, Alma records how the people who left the Nephites with him became wicked “giving way to indolence.”  The footnote for indolence refers to 3 Nephi 4:5 where “there was no way that they could subsist save it were to plunder and rob and murder.” The Topical Guide brings up another reference in Alma 17 about how the people “might not labor for them with their own hands” but would murder and plunder for gold, silver and precious stones.  It also suggests I try laziness and there the list is long.  Proverbs has many scriptures which warn against the idleness and sloth.  I love Proverbs 20:13 – Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty. 

The early saints were told that the Lord wants his people to be industrious.  Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon give many examples of that. King Benjamin labored with his hands to support himself and his people. Thessalonians commands that “if any would not work, neither should he eat.” But wait, you say, what about compassion? What about helping the poor?  The best way to help the poor is to teach them to work – teach them to fish instead of giving them fish.  

I would like to point out also the difference in would vs could.  The scripture in Thessalonians has the assumption that the ability to work is there the desire is not.  I have met many with the desire to work who did not have the ability through injury or illness. Those are they whom the Saviour said to assist when he spoke of helping the poor and those who will always be with us.  Yet Mosiah 4 talks of giving alms without judgement and giving in your heart when you don’t have the wherewithal to give.  

The point I’m getting at is although the grace of the Atonement is how we are saved, we demonstrate our acceptance of that grace through our works. When we have the Saviour in our hearts, we show that through our industry and put aside indolence. 

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Love when the ‘verse sends reminders…reaching for more, finding abundance.

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Do Not limit the View of yourself. Do not despise the conditions of your birth.

As the message on my Change your Thoughts, Change your Life calendar by Dr. Wayne Dyer (based on the Tao te Ching), I knew today would be full of opportunities to expand my horizons.  Along with that came today’s Mountain Goat Software blog post by Mike Cohn on Shifting from Scarcity to Abundance Thinking.

I’ve been lucky in having marketing mentors who believe that the true job of sales is to expand the pie rather than poach other people’s customers.  As an industry we all grow if we can bring new people into the market rather than chasing the same handful of customers.  I had one mentor who banned pie charts in marketing meetings because he felt they were deceptive, they never accounted for enlarging the pie.  He preferred columns or line graphs since they can always move up.

In this age of big data, it’s easy to segment the market and make false assumptions. There are fans who like both Star Wars and Star Trek but will never watch Firefly.  There are new Whovians who will never watch the classic shows and therefore miss a lot of the Capaldi Doctor’s jokes.  However, there are opportunities within the markets to introduce them to new things.  Had I not met Dean O’Gorman, I would probably never have watched The Almighty Johnsons.  

Making assumptions on what people like can be based on false data too.  Right now, my son is suffering a rash of ads for paranormal fiction and urban fantasy because he ordered some school books using my Barnes and Noble account which is tied to the family’s discount card.

What’s worse is when we make false assumptions about ourselves and our abilities or about others.  I love the Henry Ford quote – If you believe you can’t, you’re right.  If you even doubt your ability to succeed, the entire heart and soul will not go into the effort.  Yesterday, there was an NPI article about a female poker player who learned to use other people’s stereotypes against them.  She admits part of her strategy to win the world poker tournament was to act as if she was surprised to be sitting at the table, to play it that she was grateful to be part of the boy’s club.  She had learned playing into the stereotype led the men around her to not take her seriously as a strategist.  Being underestimated can have it’s advantages.

Underestimating your own value can have adverse consequences though especially for women.  When we underestimate our ability, we don’t apply for promotions or better jobs.  We don’t take the classes we need to improve our skills. We work in survival mode instead of reaching out and thriving and growing.  We argue with people who compliment our skills and even worse, we will self sabotage in order to keep our worldview.

So today’s challenge – reach out of the rut and do something different.  Do something that scares you but will help you reach the next rung of your goals.

If Big Data steering occurred in a library

Several weeks ago I looked up a book on Amazon but I didn’t buy it there, I grabbed it at my local Barnes and Noble.  The other day I was on a website and saw that the ad on the side column was for the book I had and was reading.  I went to another website and there was the book advertisement again.  It followed me to three other websites and then I cleared my cache and cookies.
The more I thought about it, the more annoyed I got about how intrusive it was that advertising mines my search history. I brought it up to my husband and said he’s found it even worse.
Imagine going to a library and the first time you go in, you ask for 18th century literature.  The librarian takes you to the correct section.  Then you ask about Corvettes and she takes you to a section on ships. “No,” you say, “I’m looking up information on Corvettes.”
“Yes,” answers the librarian, “Corvettes in 18th century literature.”
“No,” you say, “I want information on Chevrolet Corvettes.”
The librarian smiles at you in a patronizing manner, “Silly person, cars did not exist in 18th century literature. No search results found.”
So you leave the library, frustrated.
As you’re in the parking lot you figure you will go back and find a different librarian but that doesn’t help; your record says you want 18th century literature.
So after leaving the library you send a letter asking for your records to be destroyed. Then the next time you go to the library you have no trouble getting the manual for the 67 Corvette.  However, once you get that manual, no one will let you into the section about Russian composers.  Once again, in order to get the information, you need to leave the library, erase your records and then go back.
Lately, this analogy has been my experience with many websites. I have diverse interests.  Data mining has trouble with that. My husband has run into a few retail sites that won’t show him the parts he needs for the current stereo he’s working on because his order history has him owning a different brand and model.  My husband’s hobby is refurbishing stereos and makes and models rarely stay around the house. So big data remembering what he owns is more a problem than a solution.
I wish there were a place that consolidated all my hobby purchases. I can’t remember if I bought Nora Corbett’s Holly but I’m seeing the ads still.
I can see how retailers think that repeating the information from searches will bring people back to buy, but the only one that ever worked for me was when Think Geek sent a coupon for the items I had put in my shopping cart and left the site without finalizing the sale. However, now I always close the site and buy my stuff the next day. Sometimes I get a coupon sometimes I don’t. I’m surprised the bot doing the data mining hasn’t figured out this shopping pattern.
What big data mining things do you notice?

Continuing on the subject of books …

Part of the joy of reading a book, at least for me, is watching the bookmark move through the novel. I don’t get the same feeling from a reading bar.
I have to admit holding the tablet instead of the physical copy of Name of the Wind has been nice.
Lately, I’ve been comparing ebooks to audiobooks to paperbacks to hardbacks.
I bought a hardback copy of a book for work and after reading and highlighting and making notes in the margins, a coworker gave the audio file and I finished it by listening. The experience set me thinking (dangerous I know) about how I read now compared to how I read in the past.
Some of my earliest reading memories are turning on a bedside light after the rest of the family went to bed. I also did the flashlight under the covers thing. Those early books were a mixture of hardback and paperback. The closest to audiobooks I had as a child were radio plays and the Disney albums where Tinker bell told you to turn the page. So I guess I was introduced to audiobooks at an early age.
I loved to read growing up. I devoured everything I could lay my hands on.  I have an uncle who remembers watching me read Leaves of Grass when I was 6 and being able to converse intelligently on it.
In college, I learned about volunteering to read books for the blind. I read a lot of texts and actually had a few people request that I be the reader for their texts. I even had one person who asked that I do an emergency reading in person – handouts from class.
During the 1990’s, I got my first computer and discovered online books. Then about 5 years ago I got my first ereader. I used it for travel and not around home. It seemed odd not to read on paper and I missed watching the bookmark move.
I think another problem with the ereader is that when I first got it I didn’t like the ebook prices and only picked up free books. There is a reason that free books are free. Most of them desperately need an editor.
The only free book I got that I remember and remember enjoying is the Trylle Trilogy by Amanda Hocking (and those are getting made into paperbacks).
I’ve now reached the point that the only time I add a free book to my library now is if it is a special offer on a either a best selling author or an author I know. But with Jim Butcher coming to SLComicCon it hit me hard, how do you have an author sign an ebook?

I am an active reader and a defiler of books…

I underline passages and jot down impressions in the margins. I put big stars by passages I want to find again.

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When I give books away, I write notes in the front cover. That said, I also have a Nook app, a Kindle app and Kobo for independent books. However, as I’m reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss on Nook, I’m wishing I could write in the margins.  And then I got thinking…Some of my most prized possessions are books I inherited from my grandparents.  My grandmother gave me a book, which she and her newlywed husband received from his grandfather.

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Grandpa included a letter and signed it before giving it to the couple.

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One of my favorite analogies in the book is marriage is like taking an ocean voyage and when you and your spouse start out on the voyage, you leave everyone else on the dock and rely on each other. No matter what the world thinks of your love, it’s up to the two of you to weather the storms together.

I started wondering “How will I pass on my notes and thoughts to my children when what I have is digital files keyed to my account?”  At least the new apps let me highlight and make comments but it’s just not the same as pen and paper.

I’ve tried to instill a love of books in my children and we have a large library. Today while at Barnes and Noble we ran into a woman who was buying 18 of the classic publications in the faux leather bindings.  She didn’t care what they were as long as the colors didn’t clash.  She told me that no one would read them they were just meant to look good on the shelves.  I asked if she were staging a house for sale, and she said no, they were for decorations on the bookshelves in her house.  I helped her pick some classics which would be interesting should someone deign to pick them up:  Aesop’s fables, H.P. Lovecraft, The complete works of Shakespeare and Poe, Arabian Nights and Grimms Fairytales, The Bible, The Constitution, the treatises of Nikola Tesla. I thanked her for supporting the publishing industry. I’m sure she thought I was a wench.

The other thing I love about books is meeting authors and having them sign things.  I met Anne McCaffrey when I was in college and the sad part was all my good books were in my bedroom at home, all I had was Restoree.

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Anne looked at it and said, “Oh, my gothic romance,” and we both giggled.  The event hadn’t been well publicized so I got to sit and talk with her for the hour she was in the store.   I wanted her to be my Great Aunt or Grandma.

I’m looking forward to the authors they have for Salt Lake ComicCon this fall. Jim Butcher has given me many hours of pleasure, R.A. Salvatore entertained my kids. Terry Brooks provided wonderful examples of improper grammar and great discussions on veiled plagiarism (he’s not one of my favorites).

My kids have been told they will need to open the front cover of each book before it goes out the door when I die, they shouldn’t just give away the signed ones, or the ones that I’ve written in.  After all, these are my very good friends and they shouldn’t end up on the trash heap without at least some consideration.

As for the digital files, delete all the free garbage, most of it needed a good editor and then maybe it could have been sold.  I’ve discovered life is too short for an unedited digital file because every writer no matter how good, can benefit from an effective editor. My blog is excellent proof of that.

A favorite work of art

I loved studying art and art history in college. Along with the more traditional genres like impressionism, I enjoyed some of the pieces that many of my fellow students didn’t
Mark Rothko Number 61

Rothko’s Number 61 for example is one of my favorites.  It’s just calming to me.  For more excitement and energy, I like Jackson Pollock, either White Light or Lavender Mist.

Yet when it came to what hung in my dorm room the emphasis was on Magritte. The Return hung across from my bed. 

Empire of Light was another favorite

My favorite Magritte though was Promenades of Euclid

The poster I had which my kids loved was Voice of Space 

Today though most of the artwork in my home is stitching that I’ve done, some of my husband’s photographs and my favorite piece is a painting by Csergo.  I’ll try to get a picture of it later for you.

Not quite Cosplay, but close…

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Today was the first day of the volunteer season at This is the Place Heritage Park. I started the season at Andrus Halfway House.  It’s a halfway house because it’s halfway between Traveler’s Rest and Orrin Porter Rockwell’s place near Point of the Mountain.  Supper, Breakfast and Lodging were $1 per day.

I enjoy volunteering at the park.  I get to meet amazing people and it’s a chance to unplug from the electronic world.  That basket is my purse for the day when I’m in character. It contains my lunch, my quilting project, my wallet, car keys, turned off cell phone and glasses. Think of  volunteering as a form of cosplay.  I get to play a woman in the 1850’s and have a venue to do it more than once a year.

Today to start the season, we found the quilt that the volunteers started last season and sorted it out so it’s ready to work on for this year.  I had time between guests to almost finish one star.  It’s fun to talk to the guests.  I love answering questions like “where is the bathroom?” from children and then showing them the washbasin and chamber pot.

I’ve had some great experiences working the park.  One day I had forgotten to turn off my cell phone.  My ringtone at the time was the Tardis landing.  My phone rang and one of the kids in the kitchen with me sparked up and started looking around.  He asked me “Where’s the doctor?” I leaned down and whispered, “Check the orchard, maybe you can still catch him.”  He bolted out the back door.

My favorite experience was being the only person in Brigham’s House on the 24th of July.  For those not familiar with Utah, we don’t celebrate the state founding day in January (also known as the day women lost the vote and a lot of rights).  We celebrate the day that the first Mormon Pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley.  This Is the Place Heritage park is on the site where Brigham Young declared “This is the Right Place, Drive on.”  The next day the pioneers were tilling the land and planting potatoes and beans near the rivers.  The pioneer’s turned a Mexican desert into territory of the United States and, after 48.5 years, into a state.  So I found myself alone in the Brigham Young Farmhouse on the 24th of July.  The employee had to leave so he didn’t go into overtime hours.  No guests came into visit.  It was a very different feeling from earlier when the house had been full of guests wanting the history of the building and the people who lived there.

I love how the park is now interactive instead of being a look but don’t touch experience.  Children are invited to participate in chores and any adult is welcome to sit on the front porch and piece the quilt with us.  On a personal note, I love the time to unwind, meet people and help them learn something new.   And somedays, I love having locations that are calm so I can work on my scrap quilt and just think.

 

 

The Widow’s mite and volunteering at the food bank.

Saturday we went to work at the Food Bank with my husband’s Masonic Lodge. We were in the warehouse sorting food into categories to be distributed to local distribution  points.  I saw some things which started me thinking (A dangerous pastime I know).  Most of the donations I saw were canned beans. But every once in a while there would be something nice like canned potatoes, carrots, waterchestnuts and even a can of palm hearts.  The palm hearts and a few of the Trader Joe’s cans reminded me of some blogs I’ve read lately about “would you feed your kids what you donate to the food bank.”
The cans I saw from the ethnic section of the grocery store made me wonder if these were things from people’s shelves or were assumptions about the recipients made during a shopping trip.  Although Utah has a high Hispanic population, it’s white males I see when serving at the soup kitchen. In addition, a demographic study done by the University of Utah in 2012 shows that 52% of Utah food bank recipients identify as White, 26% identify as Hispanic and 22% identifying as other.  So if people are purchasing food for the food bank from the Hispanic section, it’s based on a false assumption.  I am hoping though that those items may have been donated from homes where they were being used.

In addition, there were some cans in the donation bins which came from a local church food pantry. I know because the church pantry has their own label. I know the church pantry donates to the state pantry but these were not the bulk donations from the church but single cans which tells me someone who is getting church assistance still donated.  That reminded me of the parable of the widow’s mite.  The widow gave a donation of a mite which is the smallest available coin at that time.  It was all she had.  The Lord Jesus praised her since as a percentage of income, she was giving more than the others.  The others were giving of their excess, she was giving of her all.  I like to think that the cans from Deseret Cannery were some child participating in a school food drive who offered to give up a meal to donate to someone else.

The study I mentioned before from the University of Utah said that many of those at the food bank qualify for food stamps and housing assistance but do not know how to apply.  12% of those collecting food during the survey period were not in what would be considered food distress.  It’s not that they didn’t need the food from the food bank but they answered the survey questions in such a way that they indicated they were not hungry and had other sources of food.  Considering the numbers that the food bank serves, 12% isn’t bad.  And it’s possible that just because they had a food source the previous week, they didn’t have one for the upcoming week.

The final thought I had was the pet food section.  It hadn’t occurred to me that the food bank needs pet food as well as human food. In talking with my daughter who works for a vet, just because people fall on hard times, doesn’t mean they part with their fur or scale children.  A short period without a job shouldn’t mean having to be separated from a trusted 4 legged ally.  And like the other family members, that child needs food too.  If you haven’t volunteered at a soup kitchen, welfare storehouse or food bank, I would encourage you to do so.  It’s an incredible experience helping others.  And it might change your next donation.

Writing prompt 2: Think of a time you spoke up, how did it go?

When I first read this topic, the only thing I could think of was fighting to get my youngest son an education. I was fighting a system that wanted to medicate a child who just needed help reading. I was fighting a resource teacher who told me Dyslexia was a made up disorder.  I had a principal in my corner though.  Now that son is in college and doing well.

The other thing that comes to mind is just a few weeks ago when a man was trying to pull a woman into his car in the street in front of my house.  I jumped up and went to run outside to help and was only stopped by my husband saying, You should really put some clothes on first.  By the time I was dressed the couple was gone.

As a general rule, it’s easier for women to stand up for other people than it is to stand up for themselves.  It’s one of the reasons that women make less in the workforce.  From the first job offer, men will negotiate a higher salary than women will.  However, we will negotiate for each other which is why women make great realtors.  Women will also look for the win-win solution.  Not sure how this devolved from standing up for myself to a generalization on women not standing up for themselves in the workplace.  It may have something to do with the news story tonight on women in Utah making .64 on the dollar to men compared to the .77 on the dollar which is the national average.  As women, we need to know our value and not let others determine that for us.

What do you want to be known for?

When the universe wants to tell you something, it gives you the same message from multiple sources.  So when I have someone flat out ask me “What is your brand?”, followed by the epiphany that my daily journal talks about things at work that don’t even matter to me let alone my posterity, and then have a funeral where the main theme is “He always wanted to be remembered for his giving nature and lived so that is what people would remember.”  It gets me thinking there is a message for me here.

One of the first exercises I was taught in my coaching training is to visualize the perfect day.  This is followed by one where you are in your old age and are passing wisdom to your descendants – what do you want them to remember about you? What lessons do you want to teach them? What mistakes do you want them to avoid?

I think the universe is asking me to step out of my comfort zone and ask those questions again, look at the answers, and align myself with them.  In the words of another message from this last weekend – I’m dancing the steps I’ve memorized but I’m not sure what music is playing and if I’m in time with it.   It’s time to stop moving and listen for the music.