Praxis Module 1, Week 1 Review

In the same vein of the Praxis Pre-Program Review, I thought I would share what I worked on over the last week for Praxis.

I officially started the Praxis bootcamp last Monday. It’s been a wild ride so far, but I’m loving it and can’t wait to keep going.

I got to work immediately on the work for week one, watching the videos and drafting my Top Three Skills post and my Five People Experiment post. In addition to these activities, I went above and beyond by writing Recap posts for Episodes 9, 29, and 36 of the Forward Tilt Podcast.

On Wednesday, my cohort (a fancy term for the group of participants who started the program in October with me) had Orientation. It was a three hour Zoom call consisting of three sessions, Kicking Ass 101, Bootcamp and Placement Overview, and then a discussion with two Praxis alumni about their experience and where they are now.

As other people in my cohort shared their work in Slack, I got to know them better and practiced constructive criticism. We share feedback on at least two other participants’ deliverables each week both to benefit them and to give us ideas to improve our own work. (This works in other areas as well, which is why I’m always eager to critique other people’s writing if I know I have time available to do so.)

It’s been a great first week and I will be working just as hard through the rest of the bootcamp as well.

Praxis Pre-Program Review

Tonight I submitted my pre-program deliverables for Praxis. In honor of this, I thought I would discuss the deliverables and the work I did to complete them.

1. Professional Headshot, a photo featuring me wearing nice clothes as for an interview. I enlisted my dad to help me, and we went into our backyard to take the photo.

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You can’t even tell that it’s weeds behind me!

2. Email 101, a professional email address and a lesson on email etiquette.

3. Professional Testimony, two reviews of working with me were required, I had three. I reached out to my youth pastor, Tim, the owner and editor of the Millstadt News, Abbie, and the co-owner of Over the Invisible Wall, Justine.

4. LinkedIn Profile, update it to tell a story and engage visitors. I added more detail to my work experience, including a link to my Panera Job Review post. I looked at some other participants’ LinkedIns for examples to help me.

5. Personal Website, post about how I’m “breaking the mold” and a site to build my brand. I had built my website before I started any of the work, back in June. My breaking the mold post is my birthday reflection post describing how I worked toward my goals over the last year.

6. Pitch Deck, a slide show that tells my story and showcases my skills and projects and makes a value proposition to business partners. This was the hardest of the deliverables for me. I labored over the design, presentation, wording, and big picture.

The Coffee Explorations: Papa Nicholas Hawaiian Roast

This is perhaps an unusual post for a mostly creative-content blog. I bought a French press a month or so ago and don’t know what kind of coffee I like best because we only had an espresso maker at my house before. It might be interesting later for me to look back and see what I thought about various coffees while I was drinking them for the first time. For those of you who also love coffee, you might enjoy this post as well. I also wrote about Starbucks Sumatra and the Papa Nicholas House Roast.

This addition to the series has been a long time coming, as it took a while to drink a whole bag of coffee.

When I opened the bag this morning, I liked the smell of the grounds. It was not quite as “Wow that smells amazing” as the House Roast, but it was good. After steeping the grounds in boiling water in my French press, the coffee smelled slightly bitter but with a noticeable tinge of another smell. I’m not sure what it was, exactly, I’m still trying to decipher it, but it was good.

My first taste, after raw cane sugar and heavy whipping cream, was that it is very smooth. It has a stereotypically coffee flavor to it, followed by a sweet and tangy after taste reminiscent of the second smell I noticed.

It’s good, but I would like it to be stronger. It’s a light roast, so perhaps I prefer medium or dark roasts.

Overall, I give this coffee a 7/10 for flavor.

I’ll try brewing it with additional scoops of coffee in the press to see if that makes any difference.

 

 

A Hodge Podge of my Knowledge of the MBTI

The inspiration for this post is from this article I encountered today.

The MBTI, or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, is a popular personality test. I’ve taken it and shared my results on my about page, INTX. I find the concept fascinating, even though it’s pseudoscience.

The test was designed by Isabel Briggs Myers building on work her mother Katherine Cook Briggs did. Neither had backgrounds in psychology. Myers was an author, so I would argue she had some understanding of people, but that is still not the same. They built loosely on the work of Carl Jung and his concept of cognitive functions, though Jung himself did not support the MBTI.

As far as using the MBTI as a tool for self-discovery goes, it may or may not have results that accurately reflect the test taker. I can think of a few different people I know who either test differently every time or don’t think they really fit any of the types. I found it fascinating, mostly because the details about my “type” seemed so accurate, to a superficial degree.

People change over time as they learn, grow, and have more experiences. Personality is not a concrete, unchangeable aspect of an individual. The MBTI seems to purport itself to be an unchanging assignment to one of sixteen boxes.

According to the article I read today, the MBTI was intended to be used by companies to place employees in roles they were better suited for. By placing people in a specific box according to their test answers, they could determine that Sally would be better in customer service and Joe would be better in programming. This could be wildly off base, however, depending on other factors and prior knowledge. For example, I’m very introverted and favor thinking over feeling, so a company using the test might think I’d be a bad fit for a customer service role. In actuality, I enjoy customer service and helping people; I’ve had Walmart customers tell me I’m the most helpful associate they’ve interacted with and my manager said I was excellent at it.

I’m fascinated by the MBTI and personality tests in general. I’m adding the books mentioned in the article to my reading list for further examination, so I will likely discuss this again in the future.

In the meantime, share your type and thoughts on the MBTI in the comments!

Recap: I Came Out as Atheist and This Happened

This is part of a series of posts called Recap. In it I will share my notes on the content I consumed followed by my response. The content could vary from a podcast, to an article, to a Youtube video, to a book I read. When applicable, I will link to the content.

My response was written 17 August 2018.

I watched Genetically Modified Skeptic‘s video I Came Out as Atheist and This Happened. It was fitting for me, time-wise, because I was planning my post Why I’m Not a Christian. In the video Drew tells his deconversion story along with telling his family and friends that he was an atheist.

Notes:

Drew grew up devout fundamentalist Christian. He was a leader in his church’s youth group and went to a Christian college. His last semester of college he started having doubts. He stopped believing creation and accepted evolution. He changed his mind and accepted that being gay was not a choice, harmful, or wrong. He also admitted to himself the Bible has errors. He spent a long time in which he questioned his beliefs intentionally, avoiding non-Christian sources.

In late 2016 he admitted to himself that he was not a Christian, he was an agnostic atheist. He hinted at his doubts to his wife and soon told her he was an atheist. He thought life was over until she didn’t freak out at the news. He thought he would lose his job at the Christian homeless shelter, get divorced from his wife, move in with his parents, lose his relationship with them and his friends, and end up broke and alone. All because he was no longer a Christian. He came out to his parents about a year later. It went better than he expected but was still difficult. He started his Youtube channel after telling his parents. He got really into making videos, gained small following, and started to see it as a part time job.

A few friends found channel once it got hard to hide. Hiding it was taxing; still had to participate in some Christian/religious activities. Didn’t want to become “pet project” or lose friends, so it was worth it for a while.

Went full time on YT in May. Told in-laws and all friends who didn’t know. Very few people were surprised. A few found channel and waited for GMS to tell them. A lot of close friends had loving responses. Best response that he had permission to share, “I love Drew as Drew, not as Christian or atheist.”

Just didn’t want this issue to come between him and friends/family. Moved shortly after coming out; most friends helped him move and set up his new, larger studio. No one yelled at him or shut him out after he came out. Best thing you can do is assure someone that you still love them and value them. Just wants healthy relationship with people. That’s why he didn’t come out for so long. Some people prioritize religion over relationship.

Specified didn’t want to debate; if they wanted to, he wanted to schedule it and have it be prepared and not sloppy so it wouldn’t come between them and ruin the relationship. Cares more about the truth than holding to current positions. Knows apologetics, especially Christian apologetics, very well. Studied it a lot. Hasn’t seen anything new on apologetics.

Considered sad response a negative; big deal, prevented his coming out for a long time. Can’t control it. Sees that it’s understandable, but it’s their burden not his.

For those in the closet, seek out community, even just online. Recommends the Secular Therapy Project and Recovering From Religion Foundation. Openly secular, normalize atheism, make things better for those still in the closet. Humanize atheists to others.

Response:

 

I just came out as atheist to two of my friends personally. I wrote a blog post that’s going to go up tomorrow explaining why I’m not a Christian and mentioning that I’m an atheist. Otherwise, my parents have some knowledge, and my boyfriend is an atheist too. My grandparents, who live with us, are less supportive than my two friends, but did not want any sort of debate. They simply said they would pray for me until I came back to God. I didn’t want to disappoint them so I haven’t told them I’m pretty sure I don’t believe in God. My parents asked questions, not the first time it came up, or even when I said I was leaning towards atheism. We were sitting at the kitchen table with my younger brothers and they asked for my thoughts on some things. Some of what they mentioned I don’t have a position on yet, because I haven’t done research on it.

I’m at a point where I see Christianity as equal to other religions to a basic degree. I see that, in general, it’s not that different. The only reason Christianity seemed more believable to me was because I was raised in it. I was surrounded by it for my entire life until just about eight months ago.

At that time, I was drifting out of religion and wanted to be honest about my disinterest in church. It happened to coincide with starting to date my boyfriend. I worried it would look like I left church because of him, and in fact, my parents told me once that they weren’t sure if that was the case. I assured them it wasn’t. It was a coincidence. My boyfriend has made clear that he is not concerned with my religion, I can believe as I will for my own reasons and he will still be there, it won’t change anything for him.

Knowing that Drew’s situation was similar to mine helps assure me that my friends and family could also react positively. I agree with him that a sad or disappointed reaction is a negative. That’s a large part of why I kept quiet about my disagreements, disinterest, and disbelief.

I plan to revisit this topic later to give an update on how people reacted, what they think, etc.

Panera Bread: Job Review

I started working at Panera Bread in May 2017 and will no longer work there after August 16th.

Based on my experience, Panera Bread is a good job for students who cannot work full time and are looking to make some money.

The training at corporate emphasizes that there is upward career movement possible within the cafe. Some of that is as simple as becoming a trainer. The line cook, bakery, or prep trainers make more per hour than the regular workers with minimal extra responsibility.

While at Panera, I learned more about teamwork and improved my ability to work with others.
I’m introverted and I was homeschooled. I never had group projects at school because I was the only student. I didn’t have experience working as a team before.
At Panera, it’s important to help coworkers, especially during a rush. If the person making salads is swamped and I don’t have sandwiches to make, I ask where they’re at and start making salads too, telling them what I’m making.
We communicate what we have done, how we’re helping, and shift back to our own job when necessary.

I learned to work under pressure.
During a rush, the time in which the order is supposed to be out remains the same. We have to work quickly and accurately to put the food together and consolidate it.
I make mistakes sometimes, and when that happens, I fix it. I’ve had times where a hot sandwich was finished, and I dropped it on the floor when I pulled it off the grill. Whatever else I was doing, I had to stop and remake that sandwich. It can be frustrating and stressful sometimes, but I ensure the food is correct and finished as quickly as possible.

Overall, Panera Bread was a good second job. It allowed me to learn skills that would help me in other jobs.

My Thoughts on Hemingway Editor

I adapted the majority of the text for this post from a journal I wrote. It was rather rant-like and angrier than it needed to be. I apologize if any of it still comes across that way.

A while back, a friend of mine gave me the link to a website called Hemingway Editor. I don’t really agree with the premise of the website, that simpler is always better. So what I write is supposedly too hard for sixth graders to read and has some sentences longer than ten or so words. Is that really so bad? Does that truly make it hard to read?

When it was initially shared with me, I put several of my college discussion board posts into it, and one of them was rated a “grade seventeen” reading level; the site gives the grade level required to read the writing, not the grade level the writing itself is at. The website said it was “poor” because it was a grade seventeen. I might have gotten a really bad grade if I simplified it to about tenth grade like the website suggests!

“Simpler” is not always better. Using adverbs doesn’t mean you don’t have a strong verb, or that a verb exists that will give the exact nuance of the verb already used with an adverb modifying it. Passive verbs, yes, they should not be used much, but there are cases where they are necessary.

Additionally, the website thinks simpler synonyms are better. I’m not trying to be verbose by using larger or more complicated words, I’m trying to use the best word, or avoid using the same word too many times. Occasionally I do use a word as a “Hey, look! I understand how to use this word properly in actual sentences!” Normally I choose “harder” or “more complex” words because they are necessary for the sentence to convey just what I intend. Using the right word is much more important than using a word everyone knows that has a similar though not identical meaning. If someone has to look up a word, fine. I do it all the time while reading! It’s not a hassle anymore now that we all have access to the internet.

Just for kicks, I put the body of this post into Hemingway Editor to see what it had to say. I have nine adverbs too many, three hard to read sentences, and two very hard to read sentences. Overall I was told this post is grade six.

What do you think? Is simpler better? Should writing be as easy to read as possible, avoiding adverbs, passive voice, and words that have simpler alternatives? Let me know in the comments!