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

Monday, August 6, 2018

On the current state of affairs

Nearly every time I look at Facebook I regret it. In spite of the fact that Facebook is sometimes my primary means of learning about the lives of friends and family, and indeed sometimes my primary news source, I find it extremely unpleasant. What I most dislike is the amount of rage spewed about. Sometimes people call it hate, but it's rage. We've quite recently seen people spewing rage at CNN reporters and at community leaders who support the use of vaccines.

Let me state again I am not a psychologist or sociologist or any kind of scientist. I am merely an observer of human nature. Here are some of my observations.

Let's take a look at rage versus anger. Neither is a terribly rational emotion (an oxymoron if ever I heard one!), but anger is more immediate. You attack me verbally or physically, and I'm angry at you for the affront that is occurring now. It's a primal response.

People are angry and don't know how to deal with that anger. I've heard it said that feelings have only one logic--to flow. If anger in the moment is not dealt with, it remains with you. Rage is anger stored for later use. You attack me verbally or physically, and immediately my feelings associated with every time this has ever happened to me are unconsciously added to my feelings about the moment, and I react based on the accumulated feelings rather than the moment. This is why rageful reactions are out of proportion to the stimulus. This is why I wind up throwing things because of the way my partner stacks dirty dishes. If it's hysterical, it's historical.

Our current crisis of rage--OK, every crisis of rage--is about pain. People are in pain and don't have a single, black-and-white answer as to why.

Some think it's because the promise of The American Dream hasn't panned out. The life they were led to believe was due to them by virtue of hard work or an advantageous start or an education or even the unspoken privilege of race and sex has not materialized. Some think it is seeing the privilege they didn't even know they enjoyed because of race or class or sex challenged. Some have endured a string of misfortunes.

For whatever reasons, some have chosen to believe the tales they have been told by certain demagogues about where their rage should be directed. In a nutshell, those demagogues are convincing people that any or all of the following are responsible for their pain: immigrants, people of color, gays and lesbians, non-Christians, socialists, and especially liberals.

It's not about hate. People confuse rage with hate. As children, we often think we hate someone because we are angry at that person. I'd be willing to bet most of the members of the raging crowds we see in news reports would not act really hatefully in other situations, or state openly that they hate individuals they know personally.

Therein lies the answer. Not in meeting rage with rage, or meeting hate with hate. To the extent possible, we have to meet individual with individual. There is a lot of anger and rage on both sides. There are lots of platitudes bouncing about saying we should answer hate with love. Well, OK. A better way to say it is to offer understanding. We seek to understand people who differ from us, and we hope they will do the same. Our investment is in our own understanding, not in changing anyone else.

Some are asking why the raging people are not the ones being constantly asked to reach out in love and understanding. Here's your answer:  because it's not going to happen.  They can't do that in the current situation, and we can. People who are raging are not as rational as people who reach out in love are.  Are we more interested an outcome that shows love, mercy, and generosity to our fellow man or in winning the day? Are we more interested in showing rage and seeking revenge, or in seeking to help those in need, especially those affected by current policy?

Ask yourself this question, stolen (and paraphrased) from Inside the Actors Studio: Assuming there is a God, what do you want Him to say to you when you meet Him? Would it more likely be about your acts of vengeance or your acts of goodness?