Penance

This morning just as I was contemplating how to atone for my missed posts, my Dad emailed me about my blogging commitment and pointed out that perhaps I should blog once a month in 2015 to make up for my missed days.

My current plan is to just keep posting into December for however long it takes to get to my original 30 required posts. But perhaps throwing in a monthly post promise for 2015 is a good idea too.

So to catch up from my last post, what you mainly missed was my weekend. I really enjoyed the chance to spend some quality time with my friends, starting with a Friday night together time (which included a round of Tichu in which the women were victorious!) leading into babysitting on Saturday night and concluding with going to see Guardians of the Galaxy for the 3rd time on Sunday.

Other tidbits are mainly work related and include a raise, two early mornings – one for a chance for my org to be on TV and another because Alex helped one of our drivers.

So despite all the business of life, this started blooming this week.

Christmas cactus

Who knew listening was so exhausting?

After another enriching/exhausting 9 hour day spent learning about the power of storytelling, my brain is officially shot. So here are a couple of things I found amusing on the internet:

Artist Removes One Letter from Famous Movies and Illustrates the Results – My favorite is of course, #19

Minions, the movie

My Modern Met – One of my new favorite blogs on Tumblr

Giant Men Meet Tiny Kittens

Thoughts from a conference

On this blog, I try to write only the things that I am okay with the world knowing about the real me. I also generally keep my professional online presence separate from my personal blog. That said, I just spent the last 12 hours at work conference, so in terms of daily blogging, that is the only subject matter, other than a random picture of a cat, that will work for blogging today.

Today was all about storytelling, specifically storytelling designed to inspire donors to give money. I have really only been in the nonprofit world for 3 years, 1 of that was serving as a stipend-ed volunteer, and the past two have been in the world of communications & marketing. I also love stories, primarily as a reader, but also now as a writer. Telling good stories, stories that connect, stories that inspire, that is important to me and to my organization. I also believe in my organization, not only do I give it my focus, attention and hard work for 40 hours a week, but I am a donor as well. I truly believe we are doing good work.

That all said, I don’t always connect to the idea of being a fundraiser. I don’t necessarily want to make you cry with one of my stories, I don’t want to only ever tell you about the individual success story of a kid who overcame great diversity. And I don’t want to ONLY focus on the emotional centers of donors.

As one of our speakers said today, currently nonprofits compete primarily in terms of sales & marketing. The nonprofits who tells their story better, has the best website and gives you a great donor experience is the one who wins the donors. And yes, nonprofits should work hard at all of those things. However, shouldn’t we instead be competing in terms of impact? Shouldn’t it be that the nonprofits who really make the world a better place are the ones who win donors? Not just the ones who can pull at your heartstrings the most?

Another speaker earlier in the day talked about how (and he was coming primarily from the world of direct mail) sad photos move people to donate more than happy photos. He scoffed at the idea that poverty porn should be avoided and said in essence what matters is telling the stories that will generate the biggest checks, not necessarily the stories that are the average outcome from your organization.

That really bugged me. Perhaps it is my millennial generation showing, but my only interest in the world of marketing is the chance to do at organization which is making the world a better place. Life as a salesperson, advertising executive, or marketing guru sounds abhorrent to me. What I want is authentic transparency in the organizations I give to and I work for. I never want to rely on sad black and white photos of kids with empty bowls to inspire donors. I want to show them stories that help them understand how they play an important role in truly solving hunger. I want to write stories that don’t just tell the formulaic (no matter how tested) stories of individual people whose lives were changed, but I want to tell the story of how my organization is connecting the dots between where food is wasted and where it is needed.

One of the big adages of fundraising is that people give from a place of emotion. Supposedly no one gives when they are presented with stats or rational explanations. I can understand that, giving is an amazing act of humanity and it makes sense that it would be more right brain than left. However I don’t think that means we leave the left brain out of it. If the nonprofit sector truly wants to change the world (which is the claim we make in front of our donors every time we ask them for money) than we need to start finding ways to connect rationally as well as emotionally. This world has a lot of problems and it shouldn’t just be the program staff that are using the left sides of their brain to solve them. I like to tell stories and I like excel spreadsheets. I love a good novel and I love to read articles about psychology. I want to tell stories that connect emotionally, but also carry a strong rational core that help our work be understood on a broader level. In other words, I want my stories, but I want my stats too.

NaBloPoMo 2014: Off to disappointing start

For the first time since 2009, I won’t be successfully completing National Blog Posting Month. I wish I had a better excuse then just shear forgetfulness, but alas that is not so. However as the first rule of blogging dictates, writing about how/why you haven’t posted recently is about as interesting as posting photos of your lunch.

So instead let’s chat about some of what I am hoping to post for all the remaining 28 days of NaBloPoMo.

2014 was a pretty important year for me. Since I last posted here in Dec 2013, I got engaged, moved apartments, got married, traveled to Hawaii, went through an incredibly stressful few months of work, got my canning on again, turned 31, and generally had a really full year.

I figure those events alone, should be plenty of fodder for 28 blog posts. But let’s throw in a few posts about new music I started listening to this year, maybe a book review or two, some photos, links to interesting things on the internet and the usual randomness. In fact, let’s aim to keep this daily thing going through December 2nd, to make up for my slacker weekend.

Now that I have blown the dust off of this thing, let’s see how this rolls. As always your comments make my so very happy.

Last day of NaBloPoMo

There we go, another November of daily blogging is gone. I am hoping that I manage not to completely fall of the wagon with this when December rolls in tomorrow. Although I think publishing a post every day, definitely brought down the quality of my posts. Maybe if I were to say just try to write part of a post every day, I could come up with more substantive posts. Either way, it was a fun excuse to get the blog dusted off and going again.

In other news, my deliciously lazy weekend continued today with finishing a book – The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, hanging out with Alex, eating a delicious leftover redux meal of ham, and going to see Catching Fire, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Err, as much as one can enjoy watching a film in which the characters suffer greatly in a dystopian future where children (and adults) are forced to kill each other for live entertainment.

As for the book, it is apparently the first in an expected 7 long series, which seems a bit long to me. It is set in a future dystopian world where magic (clairvoyance, specifically), exists but is persecuted and repressed. The main character lives a shadow world with her criminal friends in London, until she is kidnapped and set to an even more brutal existence serving vampire-like aliens with her power. Overall, it was a decent read, but it didn’t really stand out from the many many other young adult books in this same vein. That all said, I still remember enough of the plot when the next book comes out, I may give it a read.

Hamsgiving 2: Electric Boogaloo

Yesterday was so much fun, that Alex and decided to replicate much of it. However this round, we were much more productive and actually cleaned most of the apartment and cooked a Hamsgiving meal of spiral-cut ham, scalloped potatoes, stuffing, peas and salad.

The feast

Katie and Bryan came over a little after noon bringing with them a happy cornish hen for Katie and scrumptious pumpkin pie for dessert.

Alex carves the ham of Hamsgiving

After stuffing our faces we had a relaxing afternoon playing a new drinking related game that Katie and Bryan brought with them. I don’t remember the name, but basically you played a character with a unique deck and compete to try to get your fellow players to pass out from drinking. Very fun, luck based game, with a smidgeon of strategy thrown in.

Then we pulled out an old favorite – Elder Sign and worked to defeat Ithaqua, an ice monster who toke away one stamina from an investigator bold enough to use a spell or special item. While we did have two characters die, we managed to hold the monsters at bay for another few decades.

Getting ready to make some stuffing

I was also realizing that this 4 day break is the longest time I have had off of work AND been at home in probably close to 2 years. It is truly lovely to have two back to back relaxing lazy days and still have a whole weekend ahead of me.

Foggy locks on the way to Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving

Today started off incredibly lazy with computer games, coffee, books and general laying about the apartment. But then we decided we should actually do something today before feasting, so we put our brand new vacuum to use and discovered exactly how disgusting our carpet (that hadn’t been vacuumed in over a month) truly is. The vacuum got a truly impressive amount of dirt and dust out, for which I think both Alex and I will breathe a little easier.

Then we walked over to Alex’s great-aunt Wendie’s condo, which is right across from the Ballard locks and got to spend the next 6 hours eating, talking, and laughing with Alex’s family. It was a lovely dinner, full of all the traditional favorites and including an amazing pumpkin pie to finish it off.

So now I am going to take my very full self to bed, so that I can get up at a decent hour tomorrow and help Alex get our ham version of a Thanksgiving feast ready.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

Yay! The three day week is over, let the relaxing, eating, cooking, baking, and sleeping in. Because I am lucky enough to get both Thursday AND Friday off, this will be the longest I have had off of work and been at home all year. So I plan on doing a lot of vegging out, going on walks, hopefully being at least a bit productive (we finally bought a new vacuum) and generally enjoying food and time with friends.

I hope you all get to do the same!

two nerdy nights in a row

Nerdy Thing 1

Last night I went to see the 10pm showing of the Day of the Doctor, the 50th anniversary “episode” of Doctor Who. While I had watched it already on Saturday night at Alex’s parents’ house (they have cable), I was excited to see it again on the big screen. Overall it was an enjoyable event, despite my dislike for one rather major plot point, which I will leave unsaid (spoilers, my dear!). But I think my enjoyment of this show is fairly fixed and perhaps with a slightly lower bar. In other words, I accept the fact that some episodes are far weaker than others. I also, don’t love the current Matt Smith doctor as much as David Tennant. I also don’t love that they went with a white British man for the 12th doctor, when they could have made more interesting choices such as you know Helen Mirren or Chiwetel Ejiofor*. Yet, in the end I keep watching because I find it to be a fun show, one that makes me laugh (can also freak me the heck out!) and every once in a while can take my breath away with its brilliance.

Nerdy Thing 2
You may not be able to tell at first glance, but this is an epic midnight battle pitting a cleric, a warrior and a half-ling against 5 gnolls and hyena.
We played Shadowrun again tonight. An RPG based in post apocalyptic Seattle where magic suddenly appeared in the world and has led to a fantasy/sci-fi mash-up society with an extensive underworld. Alex runs the game and the original three (Katie, Matt and Bryan) had been playing for over a year when I joined this past spring with my elfish character – Egg. Based strongly on River Tam, she kicks a lot of butt in conflict and can also easily talk her way out of most situations. However she also comes with the slight mental instability (so far Alex has skipped over my character’s flaw of flashbacks, but we’ll see what comes later down the line) and the baggage of being hunted by the secret spy/corporation school that she recently escaped from. Fun character on paper, but definitely one that I haven’t entirely figured out motivation for yet. In many ways her big conflict happened pre-game in the lead-up and successful attempt at escaping, now she is basically on the lam and getting quickly caught up in the nefarious dealings of the original gang. But as to what she really wants for her future, I have little idea.

However, in the end, my favorite part of playing an RPG game is the fun times spent with friends in a way that engages the imagination, usually involves much excitement and hilarity and all comes from a simple idea of rolling dice to decide your character’s fate.

*While I think both of these would have made interesting choices, I am mainly using them as examples to illustrate a point. I actually like the idea of using fairly unknown actors for Doctor Who, as opposed to actors who bring a large amount of work or presence into the role.

Katie and Bryan got married: the re-cap

This past summer my dear friends Katie and Bryan finally got hitched and it was wonderful. It was truly simple, elegant, a blend of traditional and modern, sincere and even a little bit nerdy (their processional music included Star Wars and Firefly nods!). And as added bonus Katie asked David and I to take the photos. Here are a few of my favorites:

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I like how the Sarah, the make-up artist frames Katie’s eyes in this shot. Sarah did an incredible job and Katie looked incredible.

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I love this moment of the bride and her sister enjoying some good old fashioned squeeing as they got ready.

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I really like it for two reasons. First, Katie looks lovely in this light and second, I managed to successfully edit out the TV in the upper right which you can see in the above photo.

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Another fun make-up application framing shot. I love Anna’s expression in this and way her face is perfectly in focus.

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Katie and her father squeezed in one last dance practice in the hotel room before the ceremony. While the lighting made it hard to get this shot completely in focus, I really liked how this turned out in black & white.

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Anna kind of steals the show a bit in this shot, making it another favorite of mine.

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This was taken not long before I literally filled up my camera card (even the extra one!) and discovered why you can never have too much memory when taking photos at a wedding.

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Bryan and Katie showed the flawless results of their dance lesson during the reception with a lovely waltz (Or at least I think it was a waltz? I don’t really know the names of dances…)

Want to see the rest? Check out these sets on Flickr.