Apprenticeship Week 13

Alyssa shares what she’s been working on this past week, both at work and outside it.

I mentioned in my post last week that I was halfway through my apprenticeship. I learned as a result of that one sentence that my blogs have not gone unnoticed. Herb asked if I was planning on leaving at the end of my apprenticeship. It was a fair question.While, yes, I am halfway through my Praxis apprenticeship, and only 11 weeks from graduating the program, I am not planning on finding a new job at that time. I’m slowly working towards my freelancing and general writing goals, but I also don’t see myself coming to the end of my apprenticeship learning all I can from my role at Original One Parts.

Projects

Original One Parts

I had that conversation with Herb, which was unexpected, but obviously not bad. For that reason, this week I want to look at the work I’m doing and some of the other places I’ve seen that I can create value and learn a lot.

APS Reps/Action Alerts

I’m still very much drowning in this project.I’ve logged all the visits and shops for July. I’m starting to log August. I finished June and most of May for one rep, and I’m halfway through June for all the reps.

I still haven’t even started the action alerts.

When the project needs managed and I’m not spending all of my time around calls and orders on it, I will count it as finished.

Other Work

On Thursday, Parts Trader stopped working. This time it wasn’t our autoquote system or on our end, it was Parts Trader. At first it was busier than normal, but manageable. In the afternoon it started piling up. When I left, there were nearly 400 overdue quotes. When Herb came in the next morning, there were over 1300. It was a huge mess, but once Parts Trader came back on and started working properly we were able to knock out the remaining quotes and get it back to normal.

Everyone else in the office was doing follow up calls to accounts who haven’t ordered in at least a couple months. I took care of some of the call backs. Herb assigned me to one customer who wanted a specific sales rep to talk to for parts.

I learned how to take wheel orders, and now I have the email of the person we go through to process those. I have to get information from the customer about the vehicle and the wheels to send to the guy who gets us the information about the price and if we can supply a wheel. Once I get the information about pricing and availability I call the customer back to let them know if we can supply the wheel and what their cost will be. For both of the requests I took, our price was too high, but I couldn’t go low enough because of our cost to get the wheels.

Potential Future Work

I mentioned in some previous posts that I want to help with some marketing work for Original One Parts. Kyle is the whole marketing team, and he’s talked about having too much to do and getting random work put on his plate. If I get to a point with my own work where it is possible, I want to take on some of Kyle’s excess work.

In that same vein, Herb was talking about how we should have different content for LinkedIn that is better for the business-work nature of the platform. He specifically said that articles about the automotive industry that connect to our business but are also informative for people working in the industry would be a good choice. That most definitely caught my attention, and when I catch up with the APS rep and action alert project, I plan on talking to Josh about writing articles for the company LinkedIn.

Personal

From July 8 to July 26 I wrote every day, then I also wrote July 31. All in all, I wrote 21,055 words from July 8 to July 31. That’s 24 days, giving me an average of just over 877 words per day. I’m hoping to beat that this month. So far I have 3584 and it’s only August 4. So far that’s an average of 896 and I haven’t finished my writing for today.

Poetry

I wrote a few poems over the last couple weeks, but I have been neglecting my poetry collection. I still need to add all of the poems into the document so I can start organizing them.

I want to be writing poetry every day, but I’ve only written anything 5 times from July 8 to August 3.

Adventures in Meldrick

This is the card game I am developing.

I paused working on this for a very long time, in favor of other projects. Then a close friend of mine was over a couple weeks ago and we were talking about some card design. She’s volunteered to help with some of the design work and she’s helped me beta test the game some too.

After we hung out and had been talking about it, I wanted to start working on the game again. I played the game with my younger brothers a couple times, introduced some new cards, and experimented with the rules to make the game more playable.

The main problem with the game right now is that it takes too long to finish. None of the games I played were ended because someone won, it was always because we ran out of time, someone got bored, etc. Before I can even think of publishing the game, I need it be realistically playable. I know some of what I need to do for that to be the case, but then I have to rigorously test it.

Freelancing

I have not been hired. The Fiverr gig is active, and I have views and page visits, but I haven’t had any customer communication.

I haven’t shared the gig again yet, which I am planning to do. I didn’t want too much of the content on my social media to be advertisements for the same gig.

I talked about starting a couple other gigs but I haven’t done it yet. I have two ideas:
1. Social media graphics for blog post featured images. The base package would be for an image sized for Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. The upgrades would include versions for more than just one platform.
2. Poetry collection organization. I have experience organizing and formatting a poetry collection from when I self-published Inside a Writer’s Head. I could help someone else do that for their collection. I’m holding this one for now because I want to finish the organization of my second poetry collection before I do someone else’s.

Conclusion

Life is, as always, moving at breakneck speed. There’s a lot happening, but I’m setting my pace to reach my goals in my own time – but also not in a procrastinating, wasteful manner.

Apprenticeship Week 10

How has it been another week? Less than a week since my last post, even! And I turn 19 in two days!

Projects This Week

I got back into the swing of things and I’m getting motivated again! I had a rough couple weeks but I’m coming back with a vengeance – towards obstacles to getting work done.

APS Rep Project

This week I made some good progress on the project Josh assigned. I described some of the specifics of the project in the posts about the previous couple of weeks.
Each day I’ve been dealing with new incoming emails from the various reps. This allows me to keep the visit log up to date so it can be used for decision making as far as which reps to keep. As per Josh, that’s why we’re logging all the visits. Which makes sense. We get a monthly report from each rep for the market they manage, but if we can see at a glance how many visits they made as well as how much money they made us, we can make better decisions. I make sure to stay on top of the incoming emails so when I finish the old emails I can manage the project instead of being constantly behind.
I feel like I’m drowning in the project now, but I don’t want to stay drowning when I should learn to swim. Additionally, when it comes time for someone else to take over the project for any reason if there’s only upkeep, it will be far easier and more seamless.

I finished going through the emails for another rep. I still have a lot of markets to go through. I made a graph/checklist thing to help me stay motivated by having a visualization of my progress on the current phase of the project. It’s maybe silly, but filling in a little box for what month the emails were from when I finish going through them is satisfying. I plan to make more graph/checklists for the next phases of the project, too, since it’s helping with this one.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I have a notebook with three sections, lined, blank, and graph. I should take it to work. Once I use up the legal pad I currently have it could be useful to have the graph paper and the lined paper.

Writing Projects

I’ve been using Blurt to write. It’s a really awesome tool. It has word-processor features but it’s built to be a place that facilitates writing. You can blur the words so you can’t read what you’ve written until you’ve finished writing, which can help you keep your brain in create-mode and prevent you from switching to editing mode. This task switching can kill creativity and make writing so much harder than it needs to be. If you can’t keep it from happening yourself, using the blur feature could be a game changer. (There’s also a free website that just blurs your writing while you write so you can’t edit it.) Then when you’re done writing, you can turn on the editing help, which points out sentences that may be difficult, words that could be overly complicated, adverbs, and passive voice. (If you want this feature for free, try Hemingway Editor.) I like that you can set writing goals for various projects and have email reminders to write on every writing day.

I’ve made three projects in Blurt.
One of them is for blog posts, and right now the goal is every Friday. Every day I write 500 words in this project, I reach my writing goal and add to my writing streak. Any Friday I don’t write, my streak resets to zero.
The other projects are my personal journal and the novel I just started. Both of those are set to daily goals. I have to write every day for the streak count to go up, and any day I miss resets the count. Today will be day 5 for my journal and new novel, and day 2 for blog posts.
I’ve started tracking my daily writing, because Blurt tracks the days I met my goal but not how many words I wrote on previous days. So far I’ve written over 5000 words since Monday!

Conclusion

I had a rough couple weeks, but things are looking up. I’m starting to form good writing habits, and based on past experience that will pick up into an upswing of good habits in other areas too. I’m making progress on my work projects and tracking it to keep myself motivated. Motivation has been most of my trouble recently, and I have it again.

The Tea Explorations: Assam Black Tea

Alyssa Wright reviews Assam black tea from OLLT Co and discusses Sips by.

Like my Coffee Explorations series, this post is not sponsored.

Last month I signed up for a tea subscription service called Sips by. I realized too late I could write about the teas I received, so here we are with my March box. I’m also making a video of making and trying the teas, which I’ll embed once it’s complete.

I’m drinking the first of my four teas today. It’s a loose-leaf, organic Assam black tea by OLLT Co. I steeped it for five minutes and added 1 tsp stevia and a splash of milk. It’s grown in Assam, India, in a tropical region with heavy rainfall.

It is super delicious! I love black tea, especially chai, and this is no exception. It’s really smooth and takes to the sweetness of the stevia really well. It has an earthy flavor to it, almost like the essence of chocolate without the actual chocolate. Does that make sense? I can’t even tell.

All in all, it’s really amazing tea! I definitely recommend it. This is probably the best tea I’ve had in a long while. The next would be Bigelow vanilla chai.

I also recommend Sips by! It’s a really fun tea subscription and they send quality teas. You take a short quiz about your preferences, then you rate the teas you get so they can tailor your box. If you have dietary restrictions, you specify those. All the teas I get from Sips by are vegan. I can’t guarantee anything else about them. If you join with my referral link, by clicking any of the mentions of Sips by, you can get $5 off your first box!

An Atheist Bible Study: Genesis 5-10

Alyssa Wright shares her perspective as a deconverted Christian, now an atheist, on the story of Noah and the flood in the Bible.

When I was a Christian I set out to read the whole Bible. I have never actually done it. Now that I’m an atheist, I want to know what the Bible says. Not what people claim it says, but what it really, truly says.

I want to first make a disclaimer. I am not a theologian. I am a layperson. I went to church for 16 1/2 of my 18 years. I went to a Christian school for all but two years of my schooling. That included daily Bible study classes, and my two years of dual-enrollment included theology and evangelism classes. I was surrounded by the Bible, a biblical perspective, and Christian teachings my whole life. So I am approaching the text not so much as a scholar but as a normal, everyday sort of person. Please comment if my post contains any misinformation, with sources supporting your claim.
This post is based on my personal reading and informed by my experience in Christian circles as described above.

I’ve also written about Genesis 1-4.

Chapters 5 & 10: Genealogy

The genealogy in chapter 5 goes from Adam to Noah. All of the men listed are impossible ages. In 5:23, Enoch is said to have been taken by God. There could only have been so many people on earth at the time, given that he was only 6 generations after the first two humans. Even with the unnatural lifespans, it seems based on the story of Abraham that childbearing possibilities were about the same for women. In that story, Sarah was around 60 or 70 I think and “passed childbearing age.” If a girl was considered a woman around 15 and started menopause at 55, she could at most have 50 kids. That assumes 1 year and 3 months to be fertile. The time to conceive again could vary a lot. And she could also die during childbirth. For both of those, let’s assume that takes the average actual possible births to be 25/woman in a lifetime if she has as many kids as she can. Half of those children will likely be female too.
I am not done with this post. I’m doing the math to figure out what the likely population would be. I think it’s possible that Enoch could have wandered away and not come back, so people decided God took him. It’s impossible to know for sure, I’m just postulating.

As for the other genealogy, there’s no ages listed. It seems like Ham’s sons’ wives had a lot of children, though.

Chapter 6-8: Noah’s Flood

Okay, put on your seatbelts, strap yourselves in, and let’s get into this.
6:2 and 4 seem very odd and mythlike, as though angels are having children with humans. “[T]he sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose…. The Nephilim were on the earth in those days… They were the heroes of old, men of renown.”

6:6 God regrets making humans. This seems to contradict the Christian teaching of his omniscience — all-knowing-ness. He would/should have known that men would sin or rebel or disobey him. Then, because of his regret, he decides to destroy all of them. This does not sound like the actions of a loving God to me: Knows creation will disobey, creates it anyway, decides to destroy creation when it disobeys.

6:19-22 gives the dimensions and specifications for Noah to build the arc. God tells Noah to bring two of every kind of land animal and bird and his entire family. I’ve seen a lot of trying to define “kinds” as groups of animals with similar enough DNA that they could have descended from the same two (or seven, in the case of “clean” animals) original animals. Like I mentioned in my previous Bible study post, if that was the case, it could cause problems with inbreeding. Noah and his family being the only humans could also have problems with inbreeding. They could have had a bit more variety from the sons’ wives, but even so, they all had one set of grandparents in common. Inbreeding issues aside, the Bible never defines “kinds,” or how large or small a group that is. That could mean all domestic cats and dogs were one kind, but wolves, coyotes, and dingos were separate kinds. Horses and zebras don’t have the same number of chromosomes, so could they be separate kinds? We can’t know. So the number of animals in question in completely unknowable but it has to be huge. For all bugs, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and land mammals to fit, plus all the food they need, including more animals because a lot of those animals are carnivores, you need more space than the arc allows. I will concede that the rectangular shape of the arc and it’s tar coating would allow it to float for the sake of argument. That would likely be the case if this did occur. But even so, they were supposedly on the arc for 150 days. They would need a ridiculous amount of food for them and the animals. They would need to clean up after all the animals all the time and remove the waste from the arc. They would need light sources. They would need to keep the animals from stepping on/crushing/eating/infecting each other. Also, what about plants, bacteria, and fungi? How did fish and aquatic mammals survive something so tumultuous? Especially when the water receded and the whole world had been their ocean? I find it too crazy, honestly, to think that all of that somehow worked out.

7:19-20 states that the water covered the whole earth, even the mountains, by around 23 feet. Where did the water come from and where did it go?

8:6-7 states, “After 40 days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth.” But 8:3 says the water didn’t go down until 150 days had gone by. The raven would have died long before then.

8:20-21, “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures as I have done” (emphasis added). I do not believe that humans are evil from childhood. We are highly social creatures, have empathy, relate to each other, feel each other’s pain. Children can understand that just like they don’t want someone to snatch their toy, they shouldn’t snatch another kid’s toy. They don’t like when people make fun of them, so they shouldn’t make fun of someone else. People can become evil and do bad things in the world, but that doesn’t mean they were always evil. People can also be and stay good and do good in the world. And yet here God is saying everyone is evil and always desires evil.

Chapter 9: God’s Promise to Noah

In this chapter, God establishes a covenant, or promise, with Noah to never destroy the earth by water. That while it will still rain, it won’t flood the whole earth.

In 9:5, God says he will “demand an accounting from every animal” for killing humans. It seems odd that other animals would be punished by God for killing humans. People, of course, mourn people who are killed by animals, and sometimes have taken revenge. Sometimes people are stupid, other times they’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time.


I grouped these chapters together because they all relate to Noah. Next time I’ll discuss either 11-15 or 11-16.

If you enjoyed this, be sure to check out my post about Genesis 1-4.

“[A Whisper of Memory] Dreams have Secrets” (Poem)

A short poem Alyssa Wright wrote in February 2019.

A whisper
of memory,
deja vu perhaps,
or not?
Could it be
a fragment
of a dream
almost lost?

A whisper
of sameness,
something lived before,
or not?
Could it be
an inkling
of a thought
time had lost?

A memory
of whispers,
reliving our lives,
finding circles of time.
Could it be
a dream
filled with
what we once
Forgot?

Back to Daily Blogging

Alyssa Wright shares her commitment to daily blogging for the next 30 days.

It’s been a while since I blogged every day for a noteworthy amount of time. In January I hit over 100 days straight. That felt really fantastic. I was thrilled with my obvious progress and dedication to writing.

And then I fell off. I don’t know exactly why.

It could have been tied to my breakup. I could have been down or unmotivated for other reasons.

I kept trying and failing to restart my daily blogging. The first couple weeks are probably the hardest, and after that it starts to become a habit. After a couple weeks, keeping up the streak becomes really important.

So here I am, publicly committing to blog every day for at least the next month. By the end I should be set to keep it up.

I want to surpass my last 100 day streak. I want to get to 200.

But I understand that I need to start small, get my engine warmed up, before I can keep it moving that long.

So here’s to 30 days seeing you on my blog.

Recap: The War of Art

I went in expecting to love this book. At first I did love this book. I had my disagreements with Steven Pressfield, but they weren’t on the writing advice.

The War of Art is a collection of connected short essays about being an artist. Pressfield writes extensively on what he calls Resistance. Resistance is the personification of anything and everything that keeps you from doing your work.

This is my review of the book as a whole. I have some contention with various specific details that I might go into another time.


In the first part of the book, Resistance: Defining the Enemy, Pressfield sets forth the nature of Resistance. This section of the book was my favorite. It was relatable, though repetitive. I’ve encountered a lot of what he mentions in my own life and creative pursuits. I do think he goes a bit far in defining Resistance, in some cases, though. On page 55, for example, he discusses rationalization. He admits that the excuses may be valid, but still calls them Resistance. “Our wife may really be in her eighth month of pregnancy; she may in truth need us at home…. What Resistance leaves out, of course, is that all this means diddly.”

In the second part of the book, Combating Resistance: Turning Pro, Pressfield defines a “professional” and how to beat Resistance. This section boils down to “Just Do It.” The whole section is about sitting down and getting to work. Doing it despite Resistance. I’ve heard that before, so I did not find it particularly helpful or valuable. I’m implementing that in my own life. I have been for quite a while now. I’ve been blogging every day since October and have 167 other posts on this blog since July. Pressfield has a position about the distinction between pros and amateurs that I somewhat disagree with.

In my view, the amateur does not love the game enough. If he did, he would not pursue it as a sideline, distinct from his “real” vocation. The professional loves it so much he dedicates his life to it. He commits full-time.

p. 63

This ignores the monetary hurdles committing full-time can have. If I quit my job at Panera to blog and write full-time, I will starve. I will not be able to financially support myself if I don’t keep writing on the side for now. It’s my true passion, yes, and I want to do it full-time because I love it so much. I can certainly take steps to changing this. In fact, I have. My poetry collection Inside a Writer’s Head is available for sale. I’ve applied to freelance writing jobs. I write every day and share my blog on social media. I have Patreon set up. But right now, I make no money so I cannot quit my job. It is what it is. I’m resigned to it only because I know I can and will change this reality. I call myself a “pro” even though I’m doing it as a labor of love because I show up every day.

In the last part of the book, Beyond Resistance: The Higher Realm, Pressfield’s creative self-help book turns into a spiritual exploration. This part bothered me the most. Not because I’m an atheist. But because that’s not what I signed up for. I did not read this book to have Pressfield’s view of spirituality as it relates to art pushed on me. On the second to last page, he writes, “In the end, we arrive at a kind of model of the artist’s world, and that model is that there exist other, higher planes of reality, about which we can prove nothing” (p. 163, emphasis added). I have a problem with the lack of evidence in his assertions. I’m given zero reasons to believe his claims that inspiration comes from the Muses or angels or God or beings from invisible realms. He just says it must be that way, that it is that way, and I’m expected to accept it. This whole section of the book felt ridiculous and frankly unnecessary. I would have enjoyed The War of Art more without it.