Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Answer is wrong Bob

"The Customer is always right". A phrase I have heard a few times in my life, lately one customer used it and it got under my skin. Not really sure why it bothered me so, but maybe because mainly in my industry the customer is quite often WRONG. I get that the basic principal is to treat the customers with good customer service, but not take it literally. Take it literally and you're business would collapse in on itself as you give away the company trying to please everyone. As I started looking into the phrase I began with the origins:
Originally coined by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge’s department store in London in 1909. In the USA it is particularly associated with Marshall Field's department store, Chicago (established in the late 19th century). The store is an icon of the city, although it is set to lose its name in 2006 when, following a takeover, it becomes renamed as Macy's. In 1908 C├ęsar Ritz (1850-1918), the celebrated French hotelier is credited with saying 'Le client n'a jamais tort' - 'The customer is never wrong'. That's not the phrase that people now remember, but it can hardly be said to be any different in meaning to 'the customer is always right'. - Link
So, seeing where it came from kinda helped me to grasp the concept a bit more. But I wanted more and so I found another article that breaks down what is wrong with the phrase here:
He makes 5 arguments for why it fails as a proper maxim:
1: It makes employees unhappy
2: It gives abrasive customer an unfair advantage
3: Some customers are bad for business
4: It results in worse customer service
5: Some customers are just plain wrong
After reading the article it seemed more obvious to me the reality of the customer I was dealing with. He had mentioned to me the company he works for, he spoke with pride as he told me how the founder believed that the customer was always right. That may be true, though I can't seem to find it officially online anywhere. The reality of the mega retail chain he works for and the negative perception many people have of the store seems to line up with the previous articles explanation of the result of the phrase.

Thankfully my frustration with this phrase became a light hearted one upon finding http://notalwaysright.com/
This site has plenty of customer service stories where the customer is very much not right and usually quite funny. I encourage you to read a page or two. Enjoy!

After reading through a lot of the funny stories, a sense of how well some of those representatives handled the customer service experience emerged. That is the point of all of this. I often say that people are stupid, but individuals can be smart. There are a lot of crazies out there, and most of them have special needs when it comes to customer service. Proper handling of that is key, but not at the expense of employees or your business. Customer service is not a no brainer, it should be taught, some of it is common sense, but not everyone has a lot of good common sense. Treat your employees right and encourage them to treat good (though sometimes challenging) customers right as well.

"Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:31

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

To play or not to play


Star Wars Saga edition Roleplaying Game

Over the last few months, with debates going on between my friends about "Harry Potter" and "The Shack", I've been doing some soul searching about my involvement with Star Wars roleplaying. SW is fantasy based, and has an element that could be presented like witchcraft, so I sought some clarification. Though elements in Christianity are also shared by other religions, that doesn't make Christianity less Christian. Other religions and cults also may share moral values, redemptive sacrifice, a belief in one creator, miracles, healing, prayer and meditation.
Unlike Potter though Star Wars does have a more definitive good vs evil, good always wins, redemptive theme, and a closer alignment to a Christian Worldview. Roy M. Anker in his book "Catching Light: Looking for God in the Movies" equates Star Wars to a modern sci-fi version of "Lord of the Rings". Ref. LOtR is fantasy based in a place of Middle Earth that uses those elements to tell a story that aligns with a Christian Worldview. Other fantasy worlds such as Dungeons and Dragons borrow established fantasy creatures and elements, but then redefine the nature of God or create multiple deities and promote occultic themes (magic, witchcraft, evil , nature worship). I've done away with D&D a few years ago. Though I wasn't one to focus on the occultic aspect I realized that by playing there is no escaping it's influence.

As for matters of the heart, Onken and Miller offer this insightful analysis:

"[N]either fantasy nor fantasy role playing is wrong in and of itself. When carried out within the context of the Christian world view, it can serve as a useful and creative activity. We are creatures made in the image of an imaginative God, and we should consider it a privilege to possess and exercise this precious gift of imagination. But we must also realize our obligation before God to use this gift in a wholesome way, and to guard against any misuse.

"Discerning the difference between a wholesome use and misuse begins with the question, 'To what end or for what purpose (is the imagination) being exercised in a particular direction?' This certainly appears to be the question Jesus had in mind in His Sermon on the Mount when He stated, 'Every one who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart' (Matthew 5:28). "If Jesus taught that lust is tantamount to adultery (which God condemns see Deuteronomy 5:18, 22:13-27), would He approve of the deliberate cultivation and enjoyment of fantasy regarding other things that God condemns? Obviously not. To fantasize about those things that God has forbidden in His Word (immorality, the occult, the pursuit of other deities all elements of Dungeons and Dragons) is tantamount to doing them. This cannot be understood in any other way than a misuse of our God-given imagination.

"With the Bible as our guide, this is what we as Christians must guard against 'so that [we] may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects' (Colossians 1:10)."
Probe.org

Along the way I've been seeing this scripture show up, and it's guidance for Christian Thinking.
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things." Phil 4:8
Following these principles I have set some guidelines for my games. They have been in place for years, but now I am defining them, and now realizing why I've done it for years.

In my SWRPG:
1) We play good characters as defined by a Christian Worldview of God.
2) We play moral, and immoral is dark side. If their character pursues the dark side it can be lost (turned over the the GM).
3) The Force is a fantastical mechanism in the fantasy universe of Star Wars, call it a midichlorian if you want. A person has superhuman abilities because of something in the blood, a parasite like creature perhaps. Or maybe it's genetic as it seems to pass within a family line. It is not witchcraft, there is no summoning, demonic forces, or magics.
4) Good Jedi are the peace keepers, and bad sith are greedy power abusers.
5) Good will eventually win over Evil.
6) Jedi are not so powerful as to be immortal. They are still human, and can be killed. Though four Jedi Masters seem to have preserved themselves into the force, perhaps for eternity. A spirit like existence.

Outside of SWRPG:
1) I should read my Bible more than I read Star Wars
2) let my morals determine my game, not my game determine my morals.

Interesting thought.
"At its core is a complex and fetching portrait of what Lucas in his fantasy world labels the Force, by which he means, as he has said directly in interviews, God. With studied restraint, he does not go so far as to specify which God he is depicting; but his prime purpose, he says, is to show his audiences what it is like to believe in God (Time, April 26, 1999)."
Christianity Today: Star Wars Spirituality About 20pages from his book, a very interesting read. Broken into 4 parts.

So yes, within the bounds of Biblical instruction I will continue to play a game, that promotes positive creativity when played with positive moral values already in place, and does not detract from the glory of God.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Water Fluoridation

As of late I have had many questions come up about Fluoride, specifically water fluoridation. I have spent many hours looking over all sorts of documents from all kinds of sources and this is my journey.

Water Fluoridation is the practice of putting fluoride compounds (sodium fluoride, fluorosilicic acid, or sodium fluorosilicate) into the tap water system to bring the fluoride levels up to “preferred levels”. Preferred by who, you might ask? Well, the ADA, CDC, WHO, FDA, and EPA they all seem to have similar takes on what is best for you and me. What does that matter? I think to myself “Is it ethical to medicate an uninformed and perhaps unwilling populace?” Hopefully everyone would agree; No it is not ethical. Does that stop them though, no, “It’s for the greater good” they say. Does the evidence support that claim, and would that still over rule doing it unethically? We’ll look into that. The Government will let us smoke, drink, refuse vaccines, and eat ridiculously unhealthy, all for the sake of freedom. But for whatever reason we seem to not have any say in putting a potential deadly chemical into our water system and into our bodies.

Investigation of the decay preventing effects of naturally occurring fluoride in water led to the start of community water fluoridation back in 1945 (in Grand Rapids, Michigan). Though even before that time other observations were made in Colorado Springs, CO for excessive fluoride levels causing brittle and stained teeth. For more than 60 years scientists have made observations and conducted epidemiological and animal studies to determine the effectiveness and safety of fluoride in water. It’s still up for debate and in need of further research.

Nearly all water on earth contains “naturally occurring” fluoride at levels below, equal to, or above those used in community water fluoridation. So how much is too much…

How deadly is Fluoride? The currently accepted estimate for the minimum lethal dose of fluoride is 5 mg/kg (i.e. 5 milligrams of fluoride for each kilogram of bodyweight). I’m 106.5kg so 533mg(.5g) should do it(don’t get any ideas). 5g = 1tsp so 1tsp could kill 10 of me! Yes, ALL fluoride toothpastes have the potential to kill if you ate the whole thing. That’s why they have those warning labels on them. A couple hundred parents (on behalf of their kids) contact poison control per year for eating tooth paste. There have been a few deaths over the years. Hopefully you would throw it up, and call poison control. This is some serious stuff. Link

By comparison, arsenic, is about 1 mg/kg (milligrams of arsenic per kilogram of body weight) Fluoride is only 1/5 as deadly as arsenic; are you comfortable with that?

How does it work?
Topically (on your teeth) and systemic (ingested). Fluoride primarily works by interfering with the demineralization mechanism of tooth decay. Tooth decay is an infectious disease the key feature of which is an increase within dental plaque of bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus. These produce organic acids when carbohydrates, especially sugar, are eaten. When enough acid is produced the acid dissolves tooth enamel (process known as demineralization.) After the sugar is gone, some of the mineral loss can be recovered—or remineralized—from ions dissolved in the saliva. Cavities result when the rate of demineralization exceeds the rate of remineralization, typically in a process that requires many months or years.

When ingested it attaches to calcium deposits (bone and teeth) to build them up to resistance. The ingested claim is more disputed than the oral one and even the CDC admits there is no need to ingest it. Link

So if a lot at once can kill you, what does it do if a little bit is ingested over a long time?
Exposure to high levels of fluoride over a long time can cause dental fluorosis, a condition which leads to mottled tooth enamel, tooth discoloration, and in some cases erosion of affected teeth to the gum line. The levels of fluoride found in drinking water are considered very low. Watch out if you live in certain parts of the world that have naturally high levels. Like the well water of west Texas, parts of china, and lots of other spots globally.
ADA


Drinking water’s fluoride content is limited under federal law. The maximum level of fluoride deemed acceptable by the US Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) is 4 milligrams per liter (mg/L). The CDC has established the “optimal level” for fluoride content in drinking water to be in the range of 0.7 to 1.2 mg/L. WHO (world health organization) says it should be between 0.5 and 1.1 mg/L.
WHO


Is it a carcinogen? No

In 1987, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reviewed the available data concerning the carcinogenicity of fluoride and concluded that there was inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals (IARC, 1987). Two separate sets of long-term fluoride carcinogenicity studies in rats and mice have been published in the 1990s (NTP, 1990; Bucher et al., 1991; Maureret al., 1990, 1993). These studies have been extensively reviewed with the general conclusion that they do not provide adequate evidence to conclude that fluoride is carcinogenic (USNRC, 1993; WHO, 1996; IPCS, 2002).


Is it a nutrient? No.

Fluoride is not an essential nutrient (NRC 1993 and IOM 1997). No disease has ever been linked to a fluoride deficiency. http://www.fluoridealert.org/50-reasons.htm


What if I want to remove it? Removal of fluoride from water is difficult. Most home treatment systems are installed at single faucets and use activated carbon filtration, which does not remove fluoride. Fluoride is not released from water when it is boiled or frozen. You would need a specific filter type to remove fluoride (most of them are expensive).


Infants and Fluorosis

A recent study, however, has raised the possibility that fluoride exposure during the first year of life may play a more important role on fluorosis development than was previously understood. It now appears that the amount of the fluoride contained in the water used for mixing infant formula may influence a child’s risk for developing enamel fluorosis, particularly if the child’s sole source of nutrition is from reconstituted infant formula.

If tap water is fluoridated or has substantial natural fluoride (0.7 mg/L or higher)[WHO recommended levels are .5 to 1.0mg/L], a parent may consider using a low-fluoride alternative water source. [Rowlett, TX is .8mg/L]

Parents should follow the advice of the formula manufacturer and their child’s doctor for the type of water appropriate for the formula they are using. Parents and caregivers of infants fed primarily with formula from concentrate who are concerned about the effect that mixing their infant’s formula with fluoridated water may have in developing enamel fluorosis can lessen this exposure by mixing formula with low fluoride water most or all of the time. This may be tap water, if the public water system is not fluoridated (check with your local water utility). If tap water is fluoridated or has substantial natural fluoride (0.7 mg/L or higher), a parent may consider using a low-fluoride alternative water source. Bottled water known to be low in fluoride is labeled as purified, deionized, demineralized, distilled, or prepared by reverse osmosis. Most grocery stores sell these types of low-fluoride water. Ready to feed (no-mix) infant formula typically has little fluoride and may be preferred for use at least some of the time.

Using only water with low fluoride levels to mix formula will not eliminate the risk of enamel fluorosis. But following such a practice may reduce the chance of fluorosis occurring.

“Breastfeeding is ideal for infants. CDC is committed to increasing breastfeeding rates throughout the United States and to promoting optimal breastfeeding practices.”

http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/safety/infant_formula.htm


What’s your waters fluoride level? http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/MWF/Index.asp


Interesting observation from Australia:

“Until the 1980s the caries prevalence among the Aboriginal children were considered low, better than the non indigenous Australian children. Recent studies however suggest that the Indigenous children now have on average twice as much (or even five times as much in some communities) caries when compared with their counterparts.”

So… “Thanks for sharing your sugary drinks, beers, food and candies.” Now the government is experimenting with them and fluoridating the water system.

http://www.whocollab.od.mah.se/wpro/australia/data/australiawaterfl.html

Humans can have perfectly good teeth without fluoridation. Call it good genes or good hygiene.


Behavior, behavior, behavior…

Fluoridated toothpaste (introduced in the 1970s) has been one of the defining factors of reduced tooth decay, not fluoridation. Eating an excessive amount of sugar food or drink is going to increase the acidity of your saliva and eat away at your teeth. Reduce the amount of sugary foods and brush your teeth will help reduce the amount of cavities you have more than any fluoride intake you may get. PDF


Water Fluoridation

Pros – supposedly provides for better tooth resistance to decay.

Potential Cons – skeletal fluorosis, dental fluorosis, aches that mimic arthritis, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), and osteosarcoma (in young males.)

Many of these problems don’t show up until later in life, from a lifetime of consuming fluoride. Try and have nice teeth, then have issues because of the ‘treatment’ for it, that’s nuts. If there is 0% tooth decay in fluoridated areas I’d probably be more for it. As it stands, the best way is to take care of your teeth. Scrub plague or food buildup off (brushing with or without fluoride), floss your teeth, and get dental checkups, eat less sugar. Good hygiene doesn’t have to involve fluoridation. As a community that cares about our quality of life at all stages (young or old, poor or rich) we should emphasize and work to achieve the availability of good hygiene for all.


As for me and my house:

1) If given the opportunity I would encourage our local government to review the studies on water fluoridation and see if they would stop putting fluoride in the water. Given the opportunity, I would filter it out at the kitchen sink (drinking and cooking water).
2) I and my wife will continue to use fluoride toothpaste (also per my dental hygienists’ request).
3) My son(and daughter) will not use fluoride toothpaste until he is able to spit it out of his mouth properly, and then with proper supervision and instruction.

4) I am not against the use of dental sealants.


***

Slightly related odd thought/fact:

I was trying to find out if any other chemical is forced upon society at large with such fervor “for the greater good”, and then I found this gem:

Did you know that the FDA has encouraged salt manufactures to put iodine into their product because of iodine deficiency (leading cause of mental retardation)? I suppose you could argue that they are putting chemicals into our food without us being informed. At least you can choose not to eat iodized salt, but then that would be like encouraging you to be a retard. The FDA recommends consumption of 150 micrograms of iodine (that’s super tiny) per day, for both men and women.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iodized_salt

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Of God or Not of God

This week has been filled with deep discussions on a religious level. Other weeks often are in the circles I hang out with, however this week God impressed upon me a theme to think about:
"Of God" or "Not of God"
Through conversations over the web, chats with the in-laws, to Bible studies with friends. Some of the topics churned my stomach and made me think really hard, to a point of mental, emotional, and spiritual exaustion.

So now you are probably wondering what made my stomach churn? It all starts with this verse:
Matt 10:33 But whoever denies me before people, I will deny him also before my Father in heaven.
Here in America we have it pretty easy. The persecution Christians face might only be a rude comment, a snear, or politcal vice. Sure there have been some pretty serious offenses but in general we have it easy. Are you aware of the atrocities committed against Christians in other countries, all because of their religious affiliation. Voice of the Martyr News Room
With some of the news and scripture I've been reading this week I've been wondering if God is preparing me not for a specific situation but preparing my heart. This is the DUH moment. Of course He has been working on my heart.
I remember back in 1999 Columbine shootings; when asked if she believed in God Cassie Bernall was shot because she said "Yes". Whether that happened exactly like that has been contested, but that scenario plays out around the globe often enough to concern me. Now what if you we presented with that question. If you do believe in God would you have the conviction to say "yes", no matter the outcome. Now escalate that scenario a notch, your family is being held at gun point and asked the same question. Next step up in severity, you, your wife, friend or family is threatened with rape and death. Is there some magical 'grey area' that developes so you can say no and escape harm, you think God can forgive you later, he'll understand; or do you say yes and whatever happens happens. A potential tragedy for sure.
Matt 10:33 But whoever denies me before people, I will deny him also before my Father in heaven.
So what churned my stomach was what if this scenario was my life, and this was my wife... my hands shake at the thought, I get choked up, and find it hard to type just thinking about it. I believe God has impressed upon my heart the need to be prepared for the scenario, and hope it never occurs. My heart also mourns for those who face this as a reality daily. www. persecution.com Do I think this will ever happen to me? Does anyone? I pray it never does.

Matt 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.

Whew, take a breath and lets continue...

Second thought of the week is more in line with the title of the blog.
I've had a couple conversations that dealth with the analogy of Black and White viewpoints. Yes, some people wish to add in the 'grey area'. It's just used in conversation, used to represent that uncertain line of thought. Black and White is generally used to represent Good or Bad. With a Christian Theistic Worldview everything you can think of will fall into these two categories as well, but lets define it a step further. Everything in this world will either be 'of God' or 'not of God'. If it's not of God then it is of man or Satan. If something that comes up and you aren't sure which way it would go you might be tempted to try and put it into the 'grey' area, but really it just means you haven't explored and understand the nature of God enough. I've temporatily put a few things into the grey area this week, and have tried to take time and discover more about God. I have sought to deapen my relationship with God to know his will, by knowing his nature.

One aspect that I haven't had closure on yet is one that is close to my heart. Star Wars Roleplaying. I don't put it into the more obvious categories of idol worship, magic, or witchcraft. I've gotten rid of my Dungeons and Dragons collection(polytheistic, magic, cultic) and don't mess with the Harry Potter series (witchcraft, gateway to the occult). There is no such thing as a good witch. I have a saying "Don't let your games make you, you make the game." Let your morals guide a game, don't let a game develope your identity. I generally think that as long as I can read my Bible more than I read Star Wars, and don't hold it up as an idol, I'm doin OK. It's a source of entertainment, I can bring my Christian Theistic Worldview to the game. I can participate and have fun without taking part in something that is anti-Christ.

Which brings me to my next question up for discusion.
What would Jesus think about fantasy? Jesus often uses parables in the Bible, but those are still in the realm of possibility. The stories are drawn from reality. Does Jesus ever use fantasy? Would he have an issue using it for entertainment or story telling? I think that God blessed us with imagination and creativity and we can honor him when using it positively. I refer to "The Lord of the Rings" and "Chronicles of Narnia" Both written by men with Christian Worldviews. (side note: Both use the sacraficial character architype like Jesus, but aren't supposed to be a story of Jesus.) Would Jesus be dissapointed at these two works?

I'm exausted and await any thoughts...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fear mongering

Ok just a few quick thoughts (rants) here, not going to take all night....

Is it just me or is anyone else noticing a trend in politics? Link yes, that was a rhetorical question.

Ok, so the link is more about the perpetuation of flaws in DC, let's talk more about fear mongering in DC.

Yes it goes way back. I'll start with Bush #2 though.
So he starts with it back on 9-11. We get a war on terror, then a war in Iraq. All because we fear what might happen (WMD, terrorists, evil rulers, etc.) Yes the people did call for it, I partly blame the US citizens, and the media for allowing it to perpetuate.
Now we have President BHO. Let's see, what's on his agenda. Government Healthcare (not reform), Climate bills, abortion rights.. hmm.. anything else?

So within the last few weeks we see media and political releases getting into high gear and saying how terrible life will all be if these bills aren't approved. Hogwash!
So today I see this article, oh hey by the way it will only be an increase of $175avg per household! With unemployment on the rise why would you be promoting a bill that is planning on raising costs per household?!?! This also coming from the White House that said 'Pass our stimulus bill to avoid an 8% unemployment'. Of which we are over 9% now. Then 'Do our budget that will only be 1trillion in deficits'. Which was later shown to be more like 3T. These people couldn't give you a straight number to save their lives! Why listen to them, I'd rather listen to credited scientists and economicists. Sure the WH gets people like them to say what they want, they control their funding purse strings. BAH! read more!

So about that health care, here is an interesting op-ed piece about the myths the WH is promoting to win over American minds. Reading some of the replies can get you thinking too.
I'm all about getting reforms in to change the cost of doing business and being insured, but his plan is the last 'reform' I would want to see America do. Smaller government not bigger. That's not the 'reform' we need.

I truly hope American's can see past the fear mongering this time. Tell their representatives that enough is enough. Back off the stimulus packages, back off climate change(global warming) bills, and back off trillion dollar deficits for health care budgets.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Jesus was a Mason?

Ok not really, but kinda sorta. I'll explain. The title is a play on words so to speak. I've been, for whatever reason, hearing a lot of people talking about the Masonic (Freemasons) links to Washington DC lately. My grandpa was one, maybe I'm sensitive to the subject. Then I also ran across an article about the possibility Jesus wasn't a carpenter.
Seeing as how the Greek words used for Carpenter is Tektwn, and it's not always used to mean Carpenter. Mark 6:3 Matthew 13:55
It could mean he was a builder, or any craftsman, a stone mason perhaps.

The article here points out that the parables Jesus used are not exactly carpentry related, but they do have other relations to building. Refrences such as: The cornerstone, solid rock, foolish builder, and an unfinished tower.

I don't particularly think it matters what he may have been taught to do as a job prior to his ministry, though it does shed some possiblities and make the parables relate better to his early life. But really it doesn't matter because he didn't come to this world to build buildings or work on wood. He came to save it. Luke 19:10

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Torture, waterboarding, and Christianity?!

To torture or not to torture? That is the question.
If the end justifies the means is anything to harsh? And when does harsh become inhumane? Are you willing to traumatize someone by using their inner most fear against them? Is cutting off someones fingers, hoping they will tell you the information you want to know, going to far? What is torture? What is waterboarding; is it like a swirly or a wet willey, or a drowning feeling?
These are some of the questions I have been asking myself for the past few weeks. Then today I stumble upon this little nugget:
"When it comes to defending the lives of the unborn, most evangelicals utterly reject utilitarian ethics. Life is sacred, and all people—even the unborn—are created in the image of God. But this belief is put to the test when the life in question is that of a suspected terrorist. Do we really believe all human life is sacred or only innocent life? Are all people created in God's image or only those not labeled "enemy combatants"?" From Christianity Today go read it, it's short.
I had to reevaluate my position, or at least define it. I want my country to be safe, but not at the expense of dehumanizing suspected terrorists. Even if they are a known terrorist, removing human rights is wrong. There are still ways to interrogate suspects, get the information you need, and remain humane. Even the definition of torture says pain must be intentional and severe. Thus creating an objective what is 'severe'?

I don't see anything positive about torture, though I definitely see the benefits of obtaining information from a suspect. Please, let's be humane, and be better than those that wish us harm.

I've heard it said that "What if it was my family member that was held hostage, with the threat of life or rape; then I probably wouldn't mind the use of whatever means necessary". Hopefully that situation will never occur, but if it did I would pray first for the will of God to be served, then pray for the strength of character to do what is right in the face of great evil.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.



Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What's up with MLMs?

MLMs (Multi level Marketing; AKA Network marketing).
Examples: Amway(Quixtar), MaryKay, Avon, and many many more.

After my wife did a short run (about a year) with Mary Kay Cosmetics, we ended up short about $2grand and decided to call it quits. This apparently is a similar scenario with thousands of others.
"The largest MLM company, Amway/Quixtar, and hundreds of others, such as Nuskin, Herbalife, Melaleuca and Nikken, operate it in such a way that 99.9% of all people who invest will never earn a net profit."-FalseProfits
Unfortunately Sarah's recruiter started her off on the wrong foot. There is a good way and a bad way to get into any business venture, and going in with a poor understanding of how it operates is definitely a bad way. Had she gone in with the idea that she would just use these products herself, and if her friends wanted to use them as well, great. If we were able to stick to that it may have been a different result. Many factors including her recruiter, her personality type, stocked product, and the business model shortened the life span of her fledgling business.
I've been looking at home businesses myself, because, like most, I would enjoy having a little extra income. I'm not afraid to work for it, not afraid to sell. I am concerned with 'using' my friends and family as my test subjects. Which is the case for most, if not all, MLMs. I also see it as a poor business model. There are similar products for sale over the counter at traditional store fronts, and in most cases it's cheaper. It's cheaper because you don't have to pay your recruiters recruiters recruiter. MLMs are known as pyramid(or matrix) schemes because for the most part you make money not because of the product you sell, but by enlisting other sellers to work under you.
These companies have great products (sometimes superior to store bought) to sell (Avon, Amway, MaryKay) but at what cost? Sure the financial cost is obvious. But what about relationships. Can you afford to be sitting down across the table from your good friend and basically begging them to buy your product so you can pay rent?
Realize that most people who get into the business do it to get discounts on the product, and not to resell it. Which ends the pyramid and makes it harder for the person who wants to make it a full time job. The 'bonuses' you can receive from recruiting will offset your own purchases and therefor encourages you to recruit rather than sell the product. At some point there is a market saturation of recruiters (sellers) and product so that everyone is struggling to sell or recruit. Face it, no product is so good and at the right price that EVERYONE will get on board. There is a breaking point, and since these MLMs don't know and perhaps don't care what that breaking point is they just keep pushing more and more to sell/recruit. At some point they are telling everyone you can be a winner, but they are only hiring people who will lose.

I'd like to make more money and these 'get rich quick' schemes are just that schemes. If they sound to good to be true they probably are. Some people make money, but most people lose money on (or just purchase product) with these companies. I am realizing that to increase my income I need to focus on my current job and get a promotion, because seeking additional income from other sources requires more time. That would take away from what family time I currently enjoy.

Something in my gut says stay away from these as a form of income. Call it discernment, logic, or whatever. I pray for guidance to do the right thing for me and my family. I hope for the same for you and yours.

***

Summary of What's Wrong With Multi-Level Marketing

  1. MLMs are "doomed by design" to recruit too many salespeople, who in turn will then attempt to recruit even more salespeople, ad infinitum.

  2. For many, the real attraction of involvement in multi-level marketing is the thinly veiled pyramid con-scheme made quasi-legal by the presence of a product or service.

  3. The ethical concessions necessary to be "successful" in many MLM companies are stark and difficult to deal with for most people.

  4. Friends and family should be treated as such, and not as "marks" for exploitation.

Monday, May 4, 2009

2012 dun dun dunnnn...

It's the End of the world as we know it.
Or so plenty of people think.

So the Earth WILL end one day, it's inevitable, but WHEN will it end is the question. I think at this current point in time NO ONE can say anything definite. There have been speculations about the end since the beginning of the Earth(think 1st century, 2000, and just about every year in between). But we are still here!

So why now are people on the 2012 boat?
Maybe it has to do with:
  • The Mayan Calendar starts a new cycle in Dec. 2012
  • President Obama ends his 1st term in 2012
  • the Sun is on an 11yr cycle set to end in 2012
  • The current economic situation is speculated to go out to 2012
  • Earth Magnetic poles are estimated to switch any time now, possibly around 2012

So how COULD it happen, or perhaps, how to people THINK it could happen...
A selection from 2012 Bast Theory
  • Flu Pandemic - Swine Flu anyone?
  • Nuclear War / WW3 / Biological War- North Korea, Iran
  • Large Hadron Collider - Going on under Europe right now
  • Religious Apocalypse - Welcome back Jesus
  • Nuclear Accident - chernobyl
  • Rise of the Machines - Anyone seen Matrix or Terminator
  • Asteroid/Meteor/Comet - poof
  • Coronal Mass Ejection (CRE) from our Sun- Knock out Earth electronics, send us spiralling into a world wide crisis, massive deaths due to starvation, war, sickness.
  • Magnetic Pole Shift- Everyone would feel upside down? toilets everywhere would flush backwards.
  • Supervolcano - liquid hot magma
  • Ice Age (Global Cooling) - Canadians would need to move down to USA to avoid being buried under glaciers.
  • Global Warming- Thanks Al Gore.
Just some quick thoughts this morning, as this has been a topic of discussion between me and few people this week.

Friday, April 17, 2009

America is warming, Austrialia is cooling?!

Ok I totally get the opposite seasons based on what hemisphere we are in but I'm talking about the political realm.

America is just getting reved up again with the global warming crud. For the last couple of weeks I've seen the news about the EPA wanting to put CO2 on the list of greenhouse gasses that are dangerous to public health. Link So everyone should stop breathing, because all that CO2 you exhale is dangerous to public health. Please don't shut any doors in your house, you wouldn't want CO2 to build up! This same gas that plants use to produce oxygen and grow! Let's not forget the other gases including methane, better stop feeding all those cows. Makes me want to go eat beans just to spite them. Other gases might make sense to reduce the production of, just maybe. Here's the other 4 on the list: Nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Remember Chlorofluorobarbons (CFCs) from the 80s ozone is going away stuff. hmm....

I think Australia might be getting cold feet about their cap and trade program. However it's not because they think the globe is getting colder. They just want time to redo the program, promote green energies, and reduce greenhouse gasses.
Scientists in Australia are looking at Antartica, but unlike American news that focuses on the West side of Antarctica they are looking at the side they lay claim to. The east side is actually growing in size and cooling! So is it warming, melting, and falling into the ocean or freezing and growing?! Answer, Antarctic sea ice is up over 4.7% since 1980. That doesn't make for good news here in America.

So not so sure where you stand on global warming. Is it warming? Do humans cause it? What can be done about it?
Have you noticed the news lately.. record freezing temperatures and there also happens to be no sun spot activity for the last 95 out of 107 days (by my count). NASA SOHO Sun watcher.
Coincidence, I think not. No sunspots were observed on 266 of 2008’s 366 days (73%), says NASA. To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go back to 1913, which had 311 spotless days. It's cyclical people...



So I think it is obvious that our Sun has a huge impact on our Earth, and that there is little we can do about it. We should still promote green energies, but carbon cap trading is a political gimic to make the rich richer at the expense of the poor. I think our climate will get cooler in spite of what our government does. I just hope it gets cooler before they claim the credit, but not before it's too late to prepare for a harsher winter. Come on world governments get your acts together!

Monday, April 6, 2009

How old was Jesus?

I did a quick poll on facebook and got all sorts of answers. Thanks to those who participated. This seems to also be the same assortment of answers I saw from the academic realm.

I think people assume he was born on 0AD, started his ministry at 30(per luke 3:23), and it only lasted for 3 years. So lots of people are on board with the 33 year old Jesus. Not sure why.

I propose to you that he wasn't 33, but in his 40s when he died.

1. Jesus was born between 6BC and 4BC; 4BC is when Herod the Great died.
2. Jesus was alive after the death of John the Baptist Matt14:12 NET
3. Historian Josephus records a defeat of Herod Antipas by Aretas at 36AD, people at that time contributed it as divine punishment for his behavior towards John the Baptist. - Jewish Antiquities (book 18, chapter 5, 2)
4. Herod Antipas' brother Philip died in 34AD. It is supposed to be Johns critisism of Herod taking Philips wife that gets him beheaded Matt 14:3-4
5. That puts John the Baptists death around 35AD
6. Pontius Pilate was Roman governor of Judaea (AD 26 – 36)
7. That puts a crucifixion before 36AD

If Jesus was alive for Johns death around 35AD and the governors in power by 36AD
Then Jesus would have died (and resurrected) around 35/36AD!
6BC to 36AD is 42 years of age.
Jesus could be around 42 years of age, and had a ministry of about 12 years.

Other resources: Link Link

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hello there

So I'm giving this blog thing a test run. My wife, she's over at GenerationFour, has been blogging for a while now. I've been posting stuff up at my myspace account. However that location is more for friends and family and I'm looking to venture out into the masses. Give my thoughts room to roam. That and facebook doesn't give me the option there; I don't think. :)

For starters I'm a Christian who believes that God came to Earth in the flesh as Jesus Christ; who died for my sins, was buried, and rose again on the 3rd day. I'm a father of two awesome, plenty fussy, little ones. My political views are aligned mainly with that of the Constitution party. And I think man isn't making the Earth warmer, but we should do a better job of keeping it in better shape. That should get the ball rolling.

I'm interested in exploring some popular topics of the day. You may find me covering topics from all over the place like politics, global climate shifts, religion, parenthood, maybe even video games and such. You won't find me covering topics like sports, cars (unless it's a really cool futuristic one), or homemaking (My wife speaks volumes on that). So many topics, hence the name of my blog No Rock Left Unturned.

If you share similar interests hang around and see what develops. I'm willing to discuss topics, however I must give a disclaimer: These are my thoughts, they are pretty well developed. I don't plan on changing anytime soon so giving me your perspective is one thing (only fair, I'm giving you mine) but getting into a discussion that become an argument to try and sway my viewpoint won't be tolerated. I've come to terms that people with opposing worldviews see the other side as 'evil'. I'm willing to answer questions as to why I believe what I believe, but for the sake of time, don't get into an unending debate with me. At the end of the day this is MY blog, I hope you enjoy it.

-David