Saturday, December 7, 2019

My limited understanding beats out your knowledge and expertise any time!

No, readers, this is not a political post!  (But don't get started in that area!)

This is not my real attitude, but experience with an employer's (yes, readers, I now I have an employer!) blog software made think of this experience. You've seen it in choir rehearsals--"My high school choir director taught me to do it this way in 1952, and you'll never convince me to do it any other way! I don't care about unity--all the audience will know that I alone am doing it right!" That, along with "What? You mean the English language hasn't always functioned the way we understand it today?!" both amaze me.

Back to the topic at hand. As a favor (because, believe me, David doesn't write copy for data entry wages!) I helped edit a couple of blog posts written by someone whose native language is not English. My understanding is that he had grabbed information from other sources and glommed it together. Well, after my best efforts, the software gave me red lights for both SEO recognition and readability. SEO-schmay-zee-oh! If someone searches for Persian rugs or Oriental rugs they'll find the blog posts and learn about the business. (Link. Yes, they need my help with their web site, too.) But the readability business really irritated me. You see, I knows something about writing.

I don't know which was more irritating--the fact that this software continually recommended bad style choices, or that the fellow I was helping out simply refused to move forward until both SEO and readability lights were green. I know something about the English language. I have been writing for publication for a little while now. I had very good training in English grammar while I was in school. (Something I'm sure the public schools in North Carolina are far too busy with accountability and running away from shooters to offer nowadays!) I can understand that the software likes simpler sentences that I often use. I can understand that it doesn't like passive voice. (I actually did edit out a lot of passive voice language in the original posts, and the ratings got better.) But using what they call "transitional words" in every other sentence? Let us establish now that I think "therefore" is overused and more often than not used incorrectly. (I also think "forever" is used far too often, and don't get me started on "zero" vs. "no" or "none"!) Someone who is searching for this topic is probably able to read my sentences. Someone who isn't able to read them will likely be paying someone else to do the online research for him.

Why do I have such an emotional response? As they say, if it's hysterical, it's historical. Tell me I'm not smart and I'll hurt you bad. I'm not kidding. I guess it's hard for me to remove myself from these suggestions that I am a bad writer. Surely it resonates with other things in my life, past and present. I'll work on that and I'll keep you posted. Unless the six or eight hours daily of data entry drive me to jump off a building or something.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The poor will be with you always

Autumn is almost upon us, and that brings with it all the predictable fall activities:  schools opening, football season starting, and church stewardship campaigns starting up.

Most of us know the source of the quote in my title.  (Interesting comparison of sources and interpretations here.)  When Mary Magdalene wanted to comfort Jesus with soothing oils, certain disciples railed at the expense.  Jesus said, "The poor will be with you always, but the Son of Man, not so much."  OK, maybe not in those words, but who knows what His actual words were?  It took me many years to understand that saying, and even now I don't think "understand" is the right word. I might have gained some insight, however, from all those years in the choir loft trying to ignore the sermons.

I am reminded of a law enforcement television show when the police officers were instructed in their priorities: First, themselves. They could help no one if they were dead or injured.  Second, their partners/teammates. Same reasoning. Third, the public they were there to serve.

Well, guess what?  The same is true of the rest of us.  If we can't take care of ourselves, we certainly can't take care of anyone else.  I don't care if that means a designer outfit or a Lexus or a nice meal out occasionally, if you can still spare a dime to help the needy.  However you take care of yourself spiritually and emotionally.  That is not as easily measured by price tag. Some might object to stained glass windows or professional church musicians, but we need these things.  St. Francis said, "God, you are beauty!"  To my extremely grammatical mind, that means beauty and God are one.  If those stained glass windows or beautiful anthems bring us closer to God, we are better prepared to serve the world, aren't we?

My point?  Yes, give what you can to the church, to social welfare organizations, to medical research and education and animal welfare charities.  Give 'til it hurts.  Bring coffee from home to skip that bought cup of coffee.  Buy a smaller SUV or television than you've been dreaming of.  The usual advice.  If you are reading this article, if you have food in the cabinet, if you have a roof over your head, you understand what I mean.

If you are shopping for charities at Walmart, you have missed the point completely.  Recognize that not all gifts are tangible. Those stained glass windows, that beautiful music, those television commercials that make you cry--those things are necessary.  They bring value that is not measured in dollars and cents.  To paraphrase a quote, the purpose of the church/charity/etc. is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.  I have my doubts about whether quarterly reports are an accurate means of measuring the success of that goal, but I have no doubt as to whether keeping in fit spiritual condition allows me to serve my fellow man.

Monday, July 1, 2019

A proposition for you

In a recent continuing education class for real estate agents, the instructor challenged each participant to share his/her own Unique Value Proposition—the answer when a potential client asks, “What makes you different from other realtors?”  

Most of the answers at first were along the lines of “I will listen to your needs and work like a dog to fulfill them!” or “I will market your property in a dozen new-fangled ways that will get you buyers!”

The instructor wasn’t impressed.  These are part of our basic job description—the OLD CAR acronym of Obedience (legal and ethical), Loyalty, Disclosure, Confidentiality, Accountability, and Reasonable care and diligence.  

Then the instructor asked about people’s interests and previous careers. He told the story of a new agent who had been for many years a paralegal in a real estate law firm, who had never realized how that experience could position him as an agent.  The instructor discovered one of the class participants had been a bookkeeper, and he discussed how that position shows diligence, attention to detail, and every part of the OLD CAR acronym.  

What about me?  Yes, I’m all about service and the OLD CAR model.  Yes, I’m a way better listener than a talker.  Yes, I ascribe to the Keller Williams ideal of “Win-Win or no deal”.  But what else?  What can we make of this?  How can I turn the following points into a very brief Unique Value Proposition?
  • I studied opera in college, and dreamed of an opera career.
  • I advanced from administrative assistant/word processing jobs to typesetting, to programming with typesetting languages, to being project manager/business analyst for projects using those languages.
  • As a former business analyst and a current opera blogger/reviewer, I have good analytical and writing skills.
  • If I had the resources I’d operate a rescue pet sanctuary.  
  • I crochet as a hobby, and have donated more scarves, hats, and blankets than you can shake a crochet hook at.  (My family and friends don’t want any more crocheted gifts!)
This is something I'm still working on.  Not having the definitive answer today does not stop me from trying to do the work.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Bah! Humbug!

I'm in a particularly cranky mood--I know, how is that different from every other day?--so I think I'll list a few things I've been wanting to talk about.

  • TV commercial jingles with really bad writing really annoy me. By this I mean in the marketing lyrics to familiar tunes the emPHASis is on the wrong sylLABle. As far as stupid content, I won't comment, but I refuse to celebrate the sea-SUN, and I don't think I ever want to shop at Food Li-UN.  
  • I shop at a craft store chain that has a corporate app. Last weekend, I was able to use two app coupons for two identical items. I got two $9.99 skeins of yarn for $9.09. (I buy cheap yarn, OK?) Today, lady at the cash register would not allow me to do that. Whither consistency?
  • I still watch too much HGTV, and I still want a home that makes me cry when I see it.
  • Perhaps I've spent too much time as a business analyst, and lots of time hanging out with Al-Anon people, but for @#$%#^&#$^@ sake, how hard is it to define your boundaries and clearly state definitions? JFC!!!!!!
  • If I knew how to post a poll on here, I'd ask how many people prefer Chip Gaines with beard and shaggy hair over Chip Gaines without beard and shaggy hair. 
  • Regardless, I think Clint Harp is the cutest thing since baby shoes!
  • What do you do when you've made a batch of soup for the freezer, but you're not thrilled with how it turned out?  Do you freeze it and hope you'll like it more in a few months?
  • I will now be experiencing opera and other music events online more often than in person. I am sort of sad about that, but at the same time, meh.
  • Is there a way to crochet all day and make the same income I made as an IT business analyst?
  • If you missed my Christmas tree, my Instagram is @taminophile.
  • I just saw a Christmas advert for a major retailer, and was actually pleased to see that one of the models was a plus-sized woman, who in the intended scenario was obviously loved and was given a gift she adored. This made me happy.
  • I usually post at this time of year the original "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" item from antiquity. I'm sorry. Not this year. There is no Santa Claus.
  • That Rocket Mortgage commercial annoys me to no end.  First, there is no situation in which it is appropriate for the selling agent to give details about the financing of other offers on a property.  Second, in the scene in which the (admittedly really cute) guy explains Shakespeare to the clueless girl in the audience,WHY ARE YOUNG PEOPLE NOT TAUGHT THAT THE WAY WE TALK NOW IS NOT THE WAY PEOPLE HAVE ALWAYS TALKED?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Further to the above point, the current vocational emphasis of any kind of education is producing a lot of poorly paid corporate slaves and not very many people willing to think for themselves.
  • I miss my NY friends. But in all honestly, I missed them when I was in NY. I'm not good at reaching out.  

I will very likely add to this list in the next few days, but this is enough for now.

Sunday, August 12, 2018