Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Duck, Duck, Beach



My 4 short days at the "Spontaneous Annual Gathering of LDS Singles at Duck Beach" have come to an end. I am already halfway home, stopped at a fast food joint, taking a short break from the monotony of driving.

It was a great trip, and a lot of fun. For me personally, it was wonderful to be able to be around other like-minded singles and just enjoy their company again.

Was there romance and hormones in the air? Yes, for some. Did I meet anyone, fall madly in love, and come home with entertaining and exciting stories (like some of my friends hoped I would)? No. But I did meet several nice guys and girls that I hope to continue getting to know in the future.


For me it was excitement enough just to get to meet people and be reminded "normal" LDS singles still exist out there, and that I'm not all alone in this world. And maybe it was even better to be reminded that I am normal, and can still fit in with other normal LDS singles!

And after working so hard for the last 9 months trying to lose weight, it was really nice to get checked out a few times, and to not totally hate the way I look in a bathing suit. Thirty pounds down, 20 more to go!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Kiva loans and ways to help others more

At RiverKids in Cambodia (the program I worked with) women are taught a new skill so they can get jobs. And many women also get grants or loans from Riverkids to start their own businesses later. It has been very successful so far.

Today a Kiva loan I made several months ago was repaid in full to me. It always gives me a huge warm fuzzy when Kiva loans are repaid, and it has nothing to do with me getting my money back. (If you aren't familiar with Kiva or microenterprise loans click here.) I'm happy because something good has happened for other people.

In today's case, a man in Kenya repaid a loan given to him to start his own mechanic shop. Not only is he now a business owner (which is a great feeling and accomplishment for him), but his whole community benefits from it. His town was in need of a mechanic shop. They are in a remote area, and when vehicles break down, and there is no mechanic to fix it, town members are not able to go to their jobs in other towns. So this new mechanic shop is a good thing for the whole community. The total loan to the man was $600. I was just one of 10 lenders (I think I only contributed $50?).

And it got me to thinking-
Is there a micro-lending program for Americans? We have huge business loans, angels, venture capital, etc. But where is the micro-lending for people looking to start smaller, simpler businesses? I was thinking today that there are so many people who are held back from starting a business because they don't have $1,000 or $500 for the basic essentials. To people who have income security or bigger money they can't quite conceive of such a small number holding people back.

I'm thinking specifically of people like single mothers, stay at home moms, or recent immigrants, who would be able to start simple businesses such as janitorial services, seamstress, hair styling (from home), etc. if they just had access to a small amount of capital.

Many colleges or tech schools now include laptops for students in the tuition because they know that not owning a computer (or a good enough computer) holds many people back. Even micro-financing for a laptop could help several types of people start an internet based business.

Not all entrepreneurs need venture capital or thousands or millions of dollars. Some just need a few hundred to help them get going.

Is there already micro-enterprise loans or micro-funding for Americans? I know of plenty of grants, etc. But I've never heard of a Kiva-like program for Americans. And if that doesn't exist, why doesn't it? I'm not one to ever promote bigger government, but it even seems like a good money-making venture for the government (in the same way that student loans are). But I'd prefer to see it done through a non-profit group that has a mission to help, and not to make money.

Thoughts?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

When I Prefer Boredom Over Men

Other things that happen when I get bored- random pictures like this!

I very rarely talk about dating or men around here anymore, because I very rarely have an experience with either category. Which may just be why what happened tonight intrigued me so much.
I've had "wrong number" texts plenty of times recently, and I've ignored all of them. (Seriously- one dude in Utah cannot get what I hope is no longer his girlfriend's number straight. The strange drunk texts he sends her in the middle of the night, that come to me instead, are flat out disturbing!)

So here is what happened tonight.
I got a picture text from a number I didn't recognize. But it has a local Roanoke area code and prefix. So I figured it must be someone I know but never added to my phone book. The picture is of a local ballpark and team. I only know this because of the signage in the background. I've never been there, and in spite of liking baseball, have never attended a game either. No identifiable person in the picture. The text itself said, "Look familiar? I'm in Salem. Gotta love the beer and baseball combo! Good times!"
(Salem is where the stadium is located.)
For a minute I tried to figure out who sent it without having to ask. But I have no record of the number in my phone. I figured it must be a wrong number. But then I realized, I have a Utah number, not a VA number. What are the odds of someone right here in my town accidentally putting in a wrong number and getting me? Not very likely. So I Googled the number and got nothing.
I decided obviously someone I have met accidentally sent me the picture. But I've never been to that place, so no, it isn't familiar.
But then something else hits me- I only know Mormons locally. (A sad but true fact. I really don't know one non-Mormon in this small town.) So again, that is an even stranger message to send even if it isn't to me. What Mormon do I know that would make a joke about beer and baseball?
So I texted the random number back and chalked it up to a bizarre wrong number. I just said, "Who is this?" and figured the person would figure out they had texted the wrong person.
But then after a few minutes of boredom I decided to put the phone number into Facebook. This technique has never actually worked for me before, but lo and behold, it worked this time. A guy named Ed popped up. And he has not locked down one tiny thing on his profile. (Why do people do that?) 
We have no friends in common. He doesn't actually live in Roanoke or Salem, but in Blacksburg about an hour away. I only sort of know one person who lives in Blacksburg- a guy I met during my last foray into online "dating" nearly two years ago. Except that I have never met him. We exchanged a few emails, a call or two, and a few texts. 
I lost interest in him after he professed to be a born again Christian, and yet, in spite of the fact that he claims he goes to church weekly, and goes to a Bible study class weekly, was absolutely shocked when I had to explain to him that "no adultery" meant ALL sex outside of marriage, and not just cheating on a spouse. He claimed he had never heard of such a thing before, and really didn't see how pre-marital sex was a sin. (I didn't believe much he said after that.)
Other turn offs included his Cheetos addiction and martial arts obsession. But more than that, the lengthy emails he sent to me about martial arts. No thank you.
Last but not least, there was one other tiny turn off that could not be ignored- his name. I know, it is petty. But it is really hard to get past his name- Melvin. Melvin the Martial Arts Guy.
So you can only imagine my surprise when I glance through Ed's pictures, and he turns out to be Melvin.
Hmm...
A few minutes later he replied to my question text. First with "Edward!!" and then, unprovoked, a second text, "I'm with my dude though so unfortunately I gotta sober up. Dern it."
(Finding out he was a single dad who had never been married was what lead to the sex conversation.)
So this guy I have never met is texting me from inside of my town to let me know he's drunk at a baseball game with his son, and suddenly is using a different name, after 2 years possibly of no contact?
Normally something I would just delete and forget.
But I was just bored enough tonight that I wrote this post instead.
And no, I have no intention of replying to him or picking things back up with him. If I wasn't already not interested at all, finding out he lied about his name, and gets drunk around his son, pretty much sealed the deal on that one. 
There are some nights I don't mind that I was bored and not out meeting completely worthless men.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Finally Friday!

Bring on Summer! (taken in Angkor Wat, Cambodia)


I am in a pretty good mood this morning. All things considered, I just had a crazy productive week. And with my new work responsibilities (that I've had for 5 months now), Fridays are sort of my Saturdays. So I'm not working (much) today, and taking it easy.

Of course, when you are self-employed, there is no such thing as time off. You just keep working because there is always something to do. But at least on Fridays I feel justified in taking a nap or not turning on my laptop for a few hours.

I am very excited. I officially handed off the manuscript/book I have been working on to my editor-reviewer people. And I have set a goal to hand off the second book (it is a series) to them in 2-3 more weeks. I just might get something published after all this year! It is very scary to hand off a manuscript to someone else. It is your baby, your love, this little thing you have put tons of time and work into. And when it comes back to you, no matter how good you think it is, it will be covered in bloody red ink, and ripped apart. You know it will all be for the best, but at the same time, you know your baby will never be the same again. So sad.

This week I had this crazy idea to not clean the house or get distracted by day to day errands. Instead the plan was to focus completely on reaching my other (writing) goals, and then clean the house and catch up on stuff today. Ha. Now the house is a complete mess and I have no desire to clean it up.

I finally stopped taking the antibiotics from hell on Monday. I am by no means cured of the problem I was getting treated for. Several of the more painful symptoms are gone, but there are still a few problems left. After the total misery of the antibiotics (I lost 9 lbs in 10 days on them!), I am taking a little break from treatment. But on the bright side, after 5 days without the medications, I actually feel like a normal human being again. No more nausea, headaches, fevers, or other disgusting side effects. If I can ever convince myself to get out of bed, I'm going to even go to the gym today!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Doin' Things You Can't Do in a Car!



I believe the first time I ever started talking about Due West here on this blog was back in 2007! (Here's the post: Dilemma.) Back then I was excited to go see them perform at a small venue in Sandy, Utah where they were opening for a little known act- a teenage girl named Taylor Swift, that I was not impressed with.  I mentioned in that post how I was pretty sure I was one of their very few fans- nobody had ever heard of them. They didn't have an album or a single out either.
Now, just five years later, and at least 39 mentions of them on this blog later, they are on the front page for country music on iTunes today!!! Their latest single, "Things You Can't Do In A Car," hit radio yesterday, and is available to buy today.
Without any doubts or reservations, I can say that I know every single last one of their published songs inside and out. And like I said, I've been a fan since the very beginning. I even know some of their songs that never did get released. And I can also honestly say, this is probably my favorite song they have published and released yet. (In the unpublished category, I am a huge fan of Paparazzi and End of the Road (or as Matt puts it, a song about getting it on in the broad daylight).)
If you want to hear a fun, catchy, clever, country tune, go download "Things You Can't Do in a Car." I think you'll like it!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Birth of a Mother('s) Day

Happy (slightly belated by 15 minutes) Birthday and Happy Mother's Day to my mom!

First, I'm sorry I didn't get this up sooner, but I promise, I really tried! I hope you have a great day in Sand Land. And that Dad won't attempt to bake you anything.
Here's some pictures of the faces of people that love you and wish you a very happy day- today and yesterday!





Somehow it feels like I am cheating when I use pictures of other people's kids to wish you a happy birthday! So here are some of your own kids-





 Some pictures are too cute not to use like the one above and below. I can't help myself.

































I was going to attempt to post one picture for every year of your birth, but... the internet doesn't appreciate that idea. It says this post will never load if I try that. So stay tuned for more pics tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Beach Baby


16 days till the beach!
I am so ready for this little mini-break from reality! And more than that, I am very ready to be surrounded by other singles my own age. I'll say it for the millionth time, I really do like my life here. I have few complaints. But I really do suffer from a lack of a social life. I'm going to have to remind myself not to be TOO excited at the chance to talk to other LDS singles my age.
To give you an idea of the last time I was actually around other singles...  Um... Last July. Yes, it has been that long since I actually did something social with single people.
I even bought a new bathing suit for the first time in about 10 years. (And it is super cute.)
But before I get too excited, I've got a lot to do in the next 16 days. There's the usual YW calling activities, plus the daily work stuff. I can't remember if I have mentioned it here yet or not, but I'm also working on a couple of book projects. I'm so close to being done with the trilogy (which may be turning into a 4 book set?), and I'm starting a new project with a non-fiction book. I write non-fiction every day obviously when it comes to politics, stock market, and religion. In fact, I write a ton of non-fiction every day. But the thought of writing a very involved and complicated non-fiction, true event book, is pretty daunting. That's a lot of responsibility and work. (I don't expect that project to be finished for at least one year, if I am going to do it right.)
I have this crazy goal of finishing the trilogy before leaving for the beach. I don't know why. I just do. And I also have this crazy idea that I'm not going to take my laptop to the beach, and that I won't do any writing or work while I am there. I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen though.
Consider this a job opening of sorts. I'm looking for someone with strong editing and writing skills. (This is NOT to review or help me with my projects.) Preferably someone with a resume with a strong published writing or editing background. Know someone? Interested yourself? Let me know! This is for a paid position, real job.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Bookworms!


Question for the book lovers and bookworms out there-

First, if you have a Nook, Kindle, or e-book reading app, do you ever download or buy the self-pub books? The cheap ones that don't come in print at a book store? Do you even know what I am talking about?

And if you do ever read those kinds of books, how do you find them? And do you find them to be good quality?

I'm learning a lot about self-pub e-books, vanity imprints, etc., right now. I'm reading my first self-pub e-book right now (Patriots by David Frum). I think the story itself is really entertaining and very well-written. The author is definitely talented (he's a reporter for Newsweek, so he should be!). But I'm shocked at the number of mistakes in the book. I'm curious if others have experienced the same thing.

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