Email Blasts

Photo by Sean MacEntee

I’ve been getting a lot of email from companies these past few weeks.

All of these companies have my email address because of purchases I have made from them. But I’ve never received emails until the past few weeks.

And then all of a sudden, WHAM! Emails coming daily, sometimes more than once a day.

It’s like the companies discovered they had this huge list of emails they had never marketed to, and decided to make up for lost time.

Here’s the thing, though. All this email blasting is making me do is unsubscribe. And then think twice before buying anything further from the company.

Most things are available on Amazon. And I will go there, because I know Amazon won’t start flooding my inbox.

It’s a lesson most marketers need to learn. There is a fine line to walk between right-sized offers and email blasts.


Photo by Sean MacEntee

Benefitting From My Skills

Photo by Microsoft Sweden

I am a programmer. I’ve been a programmer since I was a teenager. I program for a living. And lately I have been programming for my self.

I know a lot of my fellow programmers turn their noses up at programming office applications…word processors, mail, spreadsheets, calendars…because it is not “real” programming. But I think that is short-sighted.

I do a lot of things inside those office applications, both at work and at home. And I would be foolish not to make those repetitive actions done for me by using my skills.

I set up the text files I use to write the blog via Excel and some programming. I generate custom cleaning lists via Excel. I produce dated customized weekly planners for myself every week via Word. I set up my Trello boards for blog tasks via Google Sheets and GMail. I give myself a 10-minute cool-down window on every email I send via Outlook at GMail. I automate the production of my for-sale planners using templates and programming in Word.

To me, not using my skills in a non-professional environment would be equivalent to a car mechanic not not refilling his own washer fluid. Yes, it’s not cutting edge, but I can do it, so why not?


Photo by Microsoft Sweden

The Easy Button

Photo by FireChickenTA99

My father used to impress upon me the value of hard work. Everything needed to be worked hard. Shortcuts were lazy.

I didn’t buy it then, and I don’t buy it now.

What value is working hard at something that you’ve already mastered, or that really has no value?

Let’s take weeding. There is no world championship in weeding. There is no technique that makes it less likely that weeds will reappear in the garden. So why should I spend precious hours pulling unwanted plants out of the ground if there is an easier way to accomplish this?

Our garden beds have been a mess of weeds and groundcover since day 1. I would spend hours every week pulling out the weeds, just to find they had been replaced two days later. Every summer I would start with high hopes, and then finally give up in the face of the weeds.

My husband decided to implement the easy button. He sprayed weed killer, put down gardening fabric, and overlaid it with rock. Now our garden beds look neat, and it takes very little time to pull the weeds. Yes, I have had to give up on the dream of a wildflower garden. But at the same time, I have gained back hours I would have put in to the garden, as well as freed myself from the guilt once I inevitably gave up.

The same holds true with cooking while camping. I know people who find great thrill in cooking over an open fire. Not me. At this point I have been responsible for cooking meals for 70% of my life, and I am tired of it. I don’t want to spend my time in the woods cooking for hours.

Our camper boasts a fridge, freezer, stovetop and microwave. I also have a coffee pot and toaster. I do the easy button. The first night we are camping, I nuke up a frozen casserole that has veggies. The rest of the time I get out my slow cooker. Throw the food in, plug it in, and come back after an afternoon of hiking and playing to a cooked meal.

There are camping purists who turn their noses up, but honestly, why wouldn’t I take advantage of the things I can so I can do something I enjoy? I’ve freed myself of hours of food prep every day.

There is value in hard work and challenge. When I want to master something, or something is truly important, I work hard and diligently. But I also take short cuts. And I’m not afraid to push the easy button when necessary.


Photo by FireChickenTA99

Tattling

Photo by anomalous4

I’m wondering when we became a nation of tattletales.

I have a lot of problems with what social media is doing to our society. I believe that it causes us to be mean, because we forget that there are humans on the other end. I believe that it causes us to be close-minded because we put our opinions out there and that is it – no discussion, no debate; rather, far too often, name-calling and entrenchment in positions. I believe that the addictive nature of social media, coupled with the Fear of Missing Out, is causing us to miss large chunks of experiences in our real lives.

But a disturbing offshoot I have started to see is the inability to handle our own conflicts…

As a parent, we went through a phase where my daughter would come running: “she did x” or “he did y”. And unless there was physical injury involved, I encouraged my daughter to handle the situation herself, talking her through her options. This is the sort of healthy skill that functional adults need to have: the ability to negotiate their own way through the inevitable conflicts of life. Even now as a teenager, I will remind her she has to work it out herself, but I will be available as a sounding board as to her options.

That’s not to say it’s easy. Conflict is hard for most of us, myself included. But at the same time, resolving conflict is necessary for a peaceful life.

Unfortunately, I’m seeing regression because of social media. It seems to happen more in a group or forum setting than in one-on-one, but I’ve seen it in individual posts as well.

Someone says something, and another person is offended. The offended person then goes to someone they believe to be in charge, and demand action/apologies/something else to fix the situation.

The end result? It’s like a three year old running to an adult and asking for intervention.

These rational, intelligent adults are tattling on people, and expecting others to fix the situation.

There are a few points to be made here:

  1. Name-calling and tattling are the refuge of toddlers.
  2. We are adults and need to start acting like it. That means that if someone is offensive, the people need to sit down, face to face and work through it, with a mediator if necessary.
  3. Participating in social media is an entirely optional activity. If you find yourself getting upset all the time, it is your choice to keep exposing yourself to it. You can stop. (This is the exact reason why I haven’t watched the news in about 5 years. It is also why I really limit my involvement in social media.)
  4. If you find yourself continually being offended across the board, that is a sign that maybe the problem isn’t with the world…the problem is with you. Just as those who complain that they are not loved need to stop and consider if they are lovable, those who are offended all the time need to consider if they are looking for a fight.

Hard points, but ones that I find I have to live by. Yes, there are times when I do find myself being offended by everyone and everything. And the problem is always with where I am on my journey.

Yes, it is easier to ask someone else to take care of an uncomfortable situation. But I have found that working it through myself always gives me a stronger relationship and understanding of the other person.

Yes, it is easy to engage in the vitriol on social media. But I remind myself that I am there for the recipes, cat videos, and the positive messages from people’s lives; I also remind myself that I have a choice from day to day whether or not I go into social media. More often than not I don’t.

P.S. You may be reading this post on Facebook, but it is not written on or for Facebook. I simply have notice of my blog posts forwarded to Facebook, but I rarely check Facebook itself. So don’t let yourself think that because you are seeing this on social media that I am participating in social media. I’m not. It’s just a relay.


Photo by anomalous4

RIP Barbara Mertz

I heard today that one my favorite authors has died.

She created the unforgettable Amelia Peabody, a Victorian woman with an independent spirit and strong mind…whose only response to a story of a young woman’s loss of virtue was to ask if sex was pleasant.

RIP Barbara Mertz aka Elizabeth Peters

How Do We Judge Our Public Officials?

I started wondering this a few weeks back. I realize that politicians are human, and as such are prone to make mistakes.

But we elect politicians based on their ability to use their judgment for the best of the people they represent.

So if a politician does something, not once, but for a number of years, that shows poor judgment, shouldn’t that play into their electability?

I’m thinking of a recently deceased politician, who had a wonderful career. He helped the people of his state, there is no doubt about that at all. He served his constituents tirelessly for many years.

Early in his career he was a member of a racist organization. I have had people tell me that it was “OK” because he saw the error of his ways and terminated connection with the group.

Here’s where the poor judgment comes in: he was a member of this group for 10 years. This wasn’t a one-time mistake. This was a long-running association with a group of hate-mongers.

So I’m left wondering why such a glaring error in judgment was allowed to pass. I could see if someone had a brief association, then repudiated all ties. But the fact is this man still held vestiges of the beliefs, as was shown by his voting record.

Does the end justify the means? I’ve never been convinced of that. And I’m all for second (and third and fourth and fifth) chances. But where do we draw the line for elected officials? Should we have drawn the line? Since I know it’s only the people who know me who read this blog, I’d be very interested in your comments.

Why I Support Kiva

Photo by liewcfI’m always surprised at home many people don’t know about Kiva. Kiva is a non-profit that partners with organization around the world to disperse and manage microloans.

Microloans are a way to help life people out of poverty by giving them a chance to be entrepreneurs. This money is not a handout: partner organization take the applications, vet the business ideas and monitor progress and repayment.

A microloan is a small (by US standards) amount of loan money. Usually under $1000, it can mean the ability to start or expand a business.

Kiva makes microlending possible for the average person. By lending $25, each person has a chance to be part of a bigger loan. Kiva assembles the money with other donors’ $25 to make the requested amount. An easy-to-use web interface, along with Paypal for payment of the $25, make it simple and safe.

In my time lending with Kiva, about 2 years, I have made 14 loans with my initial $50 investment. None of these borrowers have defaulted, and each of these were businesses I felt I could support. Most of the loans I help fund are to women, struggling to support families.

I urge you to check out Kiva and make a real difference to people working their way to better lives. For $25.00, you can make a real difference in the fight on poverty.


Photo by liewcf