Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Columbia Titanium Story

It's winter here in St. Louis and it's a cold one.  Temperatures have been dropping into the single digits and while I'm working, I see patients walk in all bundled up in their jackets.  I take an active interest in what my patients are wearing.  Why?  That's a whole different story but a couple of days ago, I noticed this dad wearing a really neat bright colored Columbia Titanium jacket.  I didn't make any comment about it but I wondered about the whole brand.  I'd heard of Columbia, but was this the new thing?  Columbia Titanium?  Don't get me wrong.  I see North Faces and Patagonias and I just hadn't seen the Columbia Titanium brand.  Well, with that dad, I didn't say anything.
The next mom that had a black Columbia Titanium had me curious.  "So, tell me what's with the Columbia Titanium.  I know the brand name Columbia, but what's with the titanium?"  I had to know.  I got a real story and a lesson in that simple curious question.  She started with, "Oh this thing!  I don't know about the titanium."  She unzips her jacket to reveal a shiny inner layer.  She proceeds to talk about how warm it was and she thought it used her body heat.  She told me that the jacket was so warm that she needed to cool down while skiing.  She raised her hands and there were zippers there to open up the armpits, to cool you down if you get too hot.  I said, "Wow!  That's pretty neat!" and she replied with, "Yes, and we got this free.  Columbia just mailed it to us!"
OK.  Now she had my attention.  A nice Columbia Titanium jacket (now that I figured out how warm it was) was mailed to her for free.  How does that happen?  There comes the story.  She laughed and said, "My husband and his friend were just messing around in our basement and making YouTube videos with camping gear. They were comparing all kinds of camping things and they had never been camping themselves, but we got tons of beef jerky mailed to us.  Once we got 3 kayaks sent to us!"  The Columbia jacket was one of their mailings!  I'm still not completely buying this story.  I'm buying it, but there's more.  There has to be.  I can't just have a YouTube channel and things coming through my door?  "How many viewers did they have?  How often did they do this?  There is no way they are getting all these goods just because."  She explained that they did a video every 2 weeks consistently and they would mention that they are comparing products and ask for companies to send them products to be included in the comparison and that's how they got the products sent to them.  She said, "People want their products talked about!"  Then she continued to talk about how the whole thing was a joke and they didn't do it anymore.  With that kind of innovative mentality, they took it to marketing and motivation and I can't recall, but they made a lot of contacts on LinkedIn and they apparently have a multi-million dollar business currently.  Very cool.  I think Tony Robbins was one of their contacts (a friend of a friend) but still I sit back and listen to the story and I told her that they were deserving of everything because they were consistent.  I told her about this blog I write and I talked about how I would write 4 blogs one day and then nothing for the next few months.  I said, "it's consistency that gets you places" and I believe that.
I remember watching a video where this person talks about the ONE factor that made high school kids succeed in their future.  It wasn't their grades or anything like that.  It was their "grit".  That was the word she had used.  Call it what you want.  Grit.  Consistency.  Sticktoitivity.  It doesn't matter.  A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  That's where success lies.  We know about it through a very famous childhood story of the Tortoise and the Hare.  Another great example of progress - small, dragged out, tedious, micro step at a time progress, non quitting progress.  The progress that gets you to the destination.  I bow down to the tortoise.  I'm a hare.  I move fast and can move 20 paces forward at lightning speed.  And then I can move 50 paces sideways and diagonally backwards at that same speed, while I watch my husband, the tortoise, make slow, steady deliberate steps forward and he has made it to destinations (published plays) while I zip back and forth in my confused state of a pseudo-progress.  Ah.  Wouldn't it be great if I could just use my own lessons?
I will say that my personal progress, micro steps, is coming along.  Last year, I had a goal of reading one book a month.  I know.  It's nothing for most of you, but for the hare here, it's focus and consistency.  The destination was 12 books.  I gave this hare, the choice to read 12 books in a month or spread it out in a year.  Some months I read 3, some months none, some months one but I finished the goal.  12 books done!  This year is destination 24 books.  We're in the first week of Feb and I'm at 3.  So far, so good.
Here's to a more consistent life to all of us!
Best to you all,

The Empathy Story

Hello all.  This is my first time actually trying to post from YouTube directly into Blogger.  I hope this works!  This was a story I did in the Fall of 2017.  Just hadn't published it yet.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The book vs the e-reader

I haven't even written a word yet and I can already hear the screams in the distance.  Book!  Book!  Book!  Book!  Book!  Funny thing.  A few years ago, I might have been one of those screams.  Now, in 2018, I have 3 e-readers (Kindle, iPad and Nook) and I have several books that I am reading.  I even purchased several books in 2017.  I've been going back and forth.  I'm an Amazon Prime member and with that I get a free e-book a month.  So, my e-book account is filled; Almost like a book shelf with unread books.

Here's my story.  I used to be a reader through my childhood and even to my late 30s.  Only books then.  I don't remember when e-readers came to be.  Somewhere there I had some significant life changes - a new job, a divorce, a marriage.  Ok fine!  Minor detail!   A couple of years ago, I realized that while my life changed, some of my behaviors did also.  I stopped reading.  I stopped writing.

Well, the writing part is true and not so true.  I did start this blog in 2014, I think.  Wow!  Really?  So long ago.  Back to the story, I haven't worked on my novel and it was a note to self.  I needed to write more.

Second part, I needed to read more.  I had seen/read something on Facebook (the time suck) about how the average person can read 400 books a year, easily.  I think this was a video because the guy in the video did the math.  It was basically about replacing Facebook time with reading time.  I thought about it and decided to give it a try.

Every night, I would do Facebook for an hour or more before going to bed.  I know.  Blue light.  Unhealthy.  That's not the point.  The point is that I replaced my Facebook time for book time.  And soon, I was done with a book.  I think in less than a week.  I was blown.  I couldn't believe it.  How?  I thought to myself that I would love to read my Kindle in bed, because it won't affect my eyes, but my bedroom is not very well lit.  That idea did not work.  At that time, I did not have an iPad.  I considered getting a Kindle White light (with the back light), but I just didn't want another Kindle.  Electronic waste of the old one.  I got an iPad instead.  There goes the eyes argument!  I made a pact to myself that I would read a book a month.  12 books.  I know, for you readers out there, it's little.  Piddly.  For me, going from 0 to 12.  That was something.

2017:  I finished my 12 book reading goal.  This year is 24 book goal (2 books a month).  In this process, I have been switching between iPad and iPhone using the Kindle app.  I have used the Kindle (need sunlight and outdoors for this one) when the weather was better.  The last book I read was long.  About 600 pages.  Palm trees in the Snow.  This was one of my free Prime books.  I guess, I decided to do it because I wanted to get the big ones out of the way.  Well, I read it and read it and read it.  It took me a couple of weeks, but I got it done.  I got my 2 books for January read and I was all good to go.

February books I have picked, I started early.  It's an actual book.  So, now, when I'm reading in bed, I'm constantly adjusting the reading light (that I purchased), but more importantly, as I'm reading, all I can see is the page number.  I can visually see how much more there is.  I guess if I really wanted to calculate, I could pull out a calculator and see what percent of the book is remaining, but I'm fascinated.  In the past, a page number would have been enough.  Now, I wanted to know, the time remaining to finish this chapter.  To finish this book.  And books don't come with that information on the bottom.  And I found myself missing the Kindle.  It would learn my reading speed and tell me how much longer I had.  I could very easily think to myself, "Oh!  15 more minutes to this chapter.  Let's finish now."  I know the argument can be made that you can actually see how many more pages there are to the chapter, but then you are flipping through (that has its advantages) looking for where the next chapter is.  Here, the information is all on the little tab where the page number would be.  One click and I can revert to page number.  Or time left in book.  While I'm reading my book, somehow, I don't have the "there's only so much more time to finish this" thought to propel me.

I do find change funny.  I remember when I first started reading on the e-reader and it had time remaining, but didn't have page numbers.  I had percent left.  That drove me nuts.  I guess the app must have updated to page numbers also, but change can be a glorious thing!

Of course, there is the space issue.  The other day, I tried to carry a book in my purse and that didn't work out so well.  I ended up buying a bigger purse, but if that book was on my e-reader, that would be a no brainer.  I wouldn't need to carry it.  I could just carry my cell or even my other larger readers.

I do think about the time I had the e-reader and I just wanted to flip through the pages and go back to page 1, really quick to verify something and I didn't know how to do that in my e-reader and I thought.  Ahhhh, the fast flipping back and forth of pages.  That does put a book in an advantage, but there are so many other advantages to the e-reader that you have to pick a side.

Also, as I have more books, I realize that I don't have much shelf space left.  I think I'm going to donate some of the books I don't "love" that I've already read.  That may clear space for what I have now.  I have read several books on my e-reader and I do not miss them on my shelves.  I just don't.

Disclosure:  I haven't opened my Nook yet.  But after I'm done with reading real books, holding them and actually turning the page and feeling the paper and all that medieval, classical, nostalgic feelings are done, I'm registering my Nook and buying more books on them.

Change is a process.  I'm getting there.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Syrian refugee Uber driver

His name was Akhram and he was my Uber driver.  I usually try to make conversation with my drivers so I asked him how long he had been in this country.  I don't know what the giveaway was.  It might have been his accent.  He said, "18 months."  I asked him where he was from and he responded, "Syria.  Do you know where that is?"  I said, "yes" trying to process his experience through the fog in my head of travel fatigue and through my continued sickness.  I asked him if he liked America and he talked about getting used to the new language and culture and customs.  No, he did not like it.  He told me that his son would cry everyday for 2 weeks before going to school.  His kids didn't know the language either.  He talked about bringing his 85 year old mother here.  He said that his move here was for his children.
He talked about the jets that flew over everyday, bombing Syria.  He said, "We were just waiting our turn to die.  Which bomb was going to kill us.  Was it the next?"  He talked about faith and how he didn't mind dying and that death was a reality.  He said that his children however did not understand that death was a reality.  They were constantly terrified with all the bombing and he had to get out of there.  The first step of his journey lead him to Jordan for 3 years.  He didn't have a work visa there.  They didn't issue those so his move to America was about survival and working.  He talked about working and making an honest living.  As an upper end electrical engineer/project manager from Syria, at the end of the day, he was just happy to have his family.  He said, "for people, America is cars, money, things.  For me, security.  I have my family and that's all I need"
He talked about how some people in Phoenix didn't know what was going on beyond their little circumference of the city.  He smiled wistfully, then he chuckled and said, "That's good too, you know."  He talked about passengers canceling rides when they see a Muslim name.  He talked about passengers asking him if he were ISIS.  He said he tries his best to educate his riders that ISIS is not Islam.
Part of me wished I would have just recorded the conversation.  Part of me was hoping he would someday make a Moth story.  Why not?
The ride did not take long, but I had to record as much as I could remember.  It might be my health but I was trying to wrap my head around a life of constant bombing and moving to Jordan and then to the US.  He talked about the region in general and how it's a mess because of the dictators.  He said that Assad only wanted power and oil and full control;  in the process only a million people were killed.  Yes, I'm being sarcastic here.
I'm typing this trying to focus despite my coughing and difficulty breathing.  I hope I have managed to capture some of the essence of my conversation with him.  Perhaps, my writing is not as effective, but today, once again, I'm reminded of the International humanitarian crisis that the world faces while we continue in our little cocoons sheltered from it all.
Best to you all,