No Doubt

This is a post for you, the one struggling to know what you believe. 

This is a post for you, the one who has heard the phrase “make your faith your own” a million times, a million times attempting to make someone else’s faith your own. 

I’m here to tell you, if you successfully believed in what everyone’s been telling you to believe, that’s wonderful. 

I’m here to tell you, if you figured out on your own what you believe, that’s really great. 

I’m here to tell. you, if you have no clue what to believe, that’s a whole lot better than just okay. 

For most of my life, I clung to certainty like a giant spiritual teddy bear.  I looked at faith this way: if I wasn’t absolutely, 125% sure what I believed was true, it would all unravel. If there was the possibility that what I believed might be based on a lie, an error, a misconception, or even a really, really educated guess, that sliver of doubtfulness was enough to topple the entire construct of my belief system. I needed the truth to be absolute and absolutely hand-delivered to me on a silver* platter.

I would hear people make a similar argument all the time: “If we can’t trust the Bible to be 100% accurate and authoritative, the basis of our faith crumbles,” or “If the Genesis account of creation isn’t true, then how can we depend on any of the Bible to be true?” or comparable statements about every other faith known to man. If this one point is wrong, then the entire philosophy/religion/teaching is unreliable. 

But if faith has to be 100% certain and all doubt demands a rational answer to explain it away and any error or gap in crucial information causes a belief system to be completely unreliable, how is any of that still considered faith?

It took a long, painful, tumultuous time, but I finally got to the point where I was at peace with not knowing what in the universe was going on, and I discovered that it’s still possible to have a strong sense of morality and purpose. I learned that a lot of beliefs prove themselves to be wrong, and the hardest part is just letting go of them without losing faith altogether.

I’m trying not to speak so vaguely, but what can you do? This stuff gets tough to cover comprehensively.

I came to realize that there’s a big difference between absolute truth and absolute knowledge. 

But maybe the most important thing I’ve ever learned is that even after releasing my grip on a completely certain grasp of life, faith, and the anatomy of the universe, I still was able to maintain a hold on things I didn’t doubt at all.

I still believe love is the strongest, most enduring power we have.

I never doubted the value of people as individually significant and collectively magnificent.

I don’t doubt for a second that life is worth living and enjoying. 

I will never question the deliciousness of Reese’s peanut butter cups. 

There’s more. But that’s what I want you to remember if and when it seems like maybe your whole belief system is falling apart. If you’re not sure what you believe, it’s okay. You aren’t alone in not knowing. If you don’t feel comfortable admitting you don’t believe what everyone else around you believes, relax. You’re going to be fine. Keep it a secret, scream it from the rooftop, or just tell some random person online. 

It’s okay not to know what you believe. Just remember you can be sure of a few things, maybe even just one thing (whatever that one thing is may be for you) even if everything else is one giant confounding question mark. 
*or maybe leather-bound?

The eternal value of being wrong 

Science, my boy, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.
Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Science flourishes on the premise of systematic wrongness. It is, in its entirety, an endeavor to test all the hypotheses.  It’s a barrage of negative results and strategic failures until the minuscule minority of correct guesses emerges. 

Science is built on two fundamental truths: 

  1. The truth is out there.
  2. Our understanding of it is grossly inadequate.

Now, scientists include among their ranks some of the most arrogant people in the universe, but as a group they are grounded and driven by a commonly held awareness of their ignorance (and pride in the vast mountains of truth uncovered in their trek through that ignorance).

Faith, by contrast. . . . Wait. No. 

Faith, by comparison, operates in much the same way.
Look at the Bible. Adam and Eve lived with God and got it wrong. Cain killed Abel for getting it right. Then everybody except Noah got it wrong, and God killed them all. Then everybody but Abraham got it wrong, and God gave him a plan for getting it right. And then he got it wrong, and then mostly right. Then his kids got it wrong and his grandkids got it wrong, but one of his great grandkids seemed to get it right. Then the whole family got really huge and wound up in slavery. Then Moses freed them all, and they wandered around for 40 years because they got it so wrong. Then Joshua led them on an assault in which they wiped out multiple nations, but they didn’t do that right either. They were then ruled by a series of judges, every single one of whom got it wrong with various levels of wrongness. Then came the kings, who were like a who’s who in the all-time Hall of Wrong. 

Then came the prophets, and they were a little different.

See, the prophets were sent by God to tell everyone they were doing it absolutely wrong and to stop it. They had it right, basically, but no one ever fully listened. 

Then came a long period in which, only priests and religious teachers, apparently, claimed to speak for God, with the understanding that they had at their disposal the full and complete inspired word of God. They were, as a group, convinced they were right about everything.

Then Jesus came along, proved them all wrong, and everyone confident in their rightness killed him for getting it right. 

Plenty of people followed him, but while he was on earth, they never really got it right either. They were pretty much a mess, but they were aware enough of their wrongness and firm enough in their belief in his rightness, that they could at least plot a course to trek through the wrongness and compile mountains of truth along the way.

According to the Bible, they continued to get it wrong. A lot. Paul had it absolutely wrong and then saw the light and proceeded to continually remind Christians of how they were getting it wrong in their need to pursue the truth and to pursue the one they had put their faith in, the truth personified.

The refrain, You’re getting it wrong—do better—understand better, but it’s worth striving to keep getting closer to right, repeated over and over.

And then, people of the Christian faith resorted back to an extended period of priests and religious teachers believing that they had the full, sufficient, inspired word of God, most of them convinced they finally had it right, continually challenging other people, sects, denominations, and entire religions that they’re wrong. Completely different from scientists? Nah. Just people being people. But I can’t help but admire the ones who believe the truth is there for the taking and that our understanding of it is woefully inadequate. 

Faith, like its cousin science, is not believing that you are right. Faith is, I believe, trusting that God will show you the truth and being desperately committed to accepting what is revealed to you, knowing that what could be true far exceeds what you think you understand already.

Why must that lead to so much conflict?

Evangelically correct

It was just another day at the office. Salesmen sat around the table, exchanging stories of past negotiating conquests and embellishing the oddities of customers we’d encountered over the years. One seasoned salesman recalled riding along with a particularly strange colleague with a habit of asking uncomfortable questions. The worst of them?

“He turns to me in the car and says, ‘What would you say if I asked if I could suck your dick?’ I just stared at him. ‘What the fuck are you talking about?’ And he says, ‘I’m not going to do it, I’m just curious. What would you say?’ And I just told him, ‘Look, you can’t go around saying things like that. You’re making me uncomfortable. People are going to think you’re weird.’ Weirdest fucking guy. He’d just say stuff like that. He never would’ve done anything, but he’d say the strangest shit.”

I listen to this and wonder: how many men like this one would ever reflect on that experience and think, Is that how I make women feel? Is that how it feels to be hit on or leered at or asked wildly inappropriate sexual questions disguised as casual conversation? Probably not many, I guess. I actually started to pose the question out loud (amid the cacophony of reactions from around the table) when the whole scene was interrupted, as if on cue, by a woman in her early twenties walking down the hall off this conference room, prompting the same salesman to remark, “Oh yeah, I’d get with that for sure. Damn.”

Yeah. I’m sure he had spent considerable time musing over the impact of unwelcome sexual conversation. 

It’s hilariously sad. He never thought about the uncomfortable, threatening climate he creates for women, even when he experiences a watered down version of that treatment from another man. Why not? He doesn’t have to. He is part of the powerful controlling class. Men. Hetero men. Hetero white men. Hetero white evangelical men. 

Wait, no way. He’s not an evangelical. Oh come on. Of course he is. He’s at least more welcomed by that sect than an empathetic, considerate, kind homosexual man would be, and much more likely to share the same fears about homosexuality and tolerance for blatant sexism. 

I bring evangelicals into the mix not because sexism reflects their core beliefs or the majority of their flock (though both may very well be true). I do so because they’re in power and have been for a long, long time. As much as hardcore evangelicals claim to be persecuted, they have no clue what persecution is. What they perceive as marginalization and mistreatment is simply a loss of power in the overall fight for America. They have slowly lost their dominance, but with the election of Trump, whose true evil core is far more representative of evangelicalism than most would like to admit, they’ve wrestled quite a bit of that power back. 

The fight in America takes place on three battlefields: what we see on TV,  who controls the White House and Capitol Hill, and what we’re allowed to say at work. Forget foreign-policy, healthcare, education, and taxes. All that is along for the ride aboard the pop culture train. Most people, I contend, don’t care nearly as much about reality as we do about how reality is portrayed. Television, workplace conversation (fueled largely by TV), and the balance of power in Washington collectively make up our thermometer of cultural norms. 

If you are a white evangelical, you want no gay kissing or sex of any kind or swearing on the TV, a Republican president who does not get criticized by the lying media, and you want to be able to tell female coworkers, “You look cute in that skirt, sweetie,” without getting written up for sexual-harassment. Right? That is the gist of Donald Trump’s evangelical America. 

I don’t want to use the term other side, because there are a lot of different perspectives in this country, but there are a whole lot of people who can agree that all of those things are horseshit. 

And this is where evangelical correctness comes in: the rules of language and presentation. Chief among the fallout of America’s worst political mistake (the entire 2016 presidential campaign, start to finish) was the verdict that many Americans are sick of political correctness and the general attitude that we the (evangelical white male) people can be told by anyone what we’re allowed to say, do, or believe. This is, of course, a stance reserved for people who think homosexuality is a sin, transgenderism is a joke, Islam is a violent hoax of a religion, racism is dead, sexism is a nonissue, climate change is a myth meant to undermine the true promise of rainbows, evolution is one part theory and 99 parts assault on the Bible, abortion is murder when done by doctors but God’s will when doctors are unable to prevent its natural occurrence, and healthcare is a privilege not a right (and certainly not a responsibility). The cultural mandate that ensures the opposite of those views dominate television programming and acceptable work (and social media) conversation has marked a significant blow to the former power stranglehold on the culture, and evangelicals hate it. 

Political correctness demands showing consideration to women, minorities, all sexual and gender orientations, ethnicities, classes, scientific realities, and religious beliefs without preference to the prevailing cultural religion. 

But my religion says your lifestyle is sinful. Your religion also says you aren’t in control, you are not to long to be in power, you are to give away all your wealth, and you should mind your business and seek to be at peace with everyone. 

Evangelical correctness says, vote republican. It says no homosexuality in public. No talk of sex (the occasional lewd hetero reference is okay but frowned upon). No breastfeeding in public. Merry Christmas is essential. Happy Ramadan is blasphemy. Happy holidays is offensive. Don’t say fuck, goddamn, asshole, or cocksucker, and don’t even teach me what cunt means. Prayer in school is ok, as long as it’s to Jesus. You can always say the pledge. You also have to. Oh, and all races and faiths are okay as long as they’re dressed like rich white Christians. And we should be allowed to use the words Oriental and retarded. You know I don’t mean it offensively. 

All of those norms revolve around the perspective and experience of the evangelical while dismissing the feelings of everyone else, everyone not in control of the norms. Evangelicals have no qualms about telling everyone else what to do, what they can say, and what they must believe. They can because they know they’re right. Everyone else, though, should shut right up. 

Over the past few decades, the power has gradually shifted to be more female- homo- trans- science-friendly, and that’s scary for people whose sense of faith and country are so intertwined. 

It’s time for all people to accept that human rights, the basic sense of universal compassion and empathy that true political correctness attempts to uphold, takes precedence over the sensibilities of the ruling religious class. Evangelicals don’t have the right to oppress anyone and should stop fighting for it. 

Stop being that guy who says, “You can’t say those gay things. They make me uncomfortable,” and then proceeds to make other people feel uncomfortable. See the other perspectives and empathize. It’s the Christian thing to do. 

Twitter, Facebook provide outlets for mental garbage

Most thoughts are garbage. 

I’m not saying most people are stupid. I’m not saying most people’s ideas are stupid. I’m not even saying certain people’s thoughts are stupider than others. I am making a universal statement about thoughts in general. 

Just to be clear: most thoughts are garbage.

That mental predilection for producing false, inflammatory, irrational nonsense isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually a necessary part of being the creative, thoughtful, brilliant beings we are. Our brains can produce a seemingly infinite flood of thoughts, much of it brimming with potential to develop into truly remarkable ideas, but the vast majority of it unworthy for public consumption. 

Eliminating the good thoughts from the worthless takes a lot of work. With a lifetime of training, we can get better at producing good thoughts, but our brains’ abilities to produce terrible thoughts never really goes away. 

How often do overly self-critical thoughts creep into your thinking? How many vile, unfounded insults about other people or ourselves spring to mind? How frequently do you simply get facts wrong in your head before further review reveals that Kevin Bacon wasn’t actually in Top Gun? It happens to me all the time, but I have no way of knowing how often it happens to everyone else.

Except I have many ways of knowing, thanks to social media. The comments sections of pretty much everything overflows with manifest unscreened, unreviewed, unfiltered putrescence. Our ubiquitous smart (?) phones make it horrifically easy to publish our thoughts unabridged to all of our friends (?) and family faster than we can breathe. And Twitter? Something about the way Twitter just fosters an endless stream of consciousness makes it especially favorable soil for planting mental manure and allowing it to flourish. The more ridiculous the thought, the more likely it is to be retweeted and replied to, it seems.

I used to use Twitter a LOT, but when I revisit it now, I can’t stomach it. The proliferation of sheer nonsense and bile blossoming into lengthy discussions and troll parties cause a few kernels of unscreened brain farts to explode into hurricane-force diarrhea systems, and I don’t see too many twitterers who are immune to participating in the shitstorm. 

I won’t tell anyone (other than my kids) not to use twitter or Facebook. But I will prescribe something to everyone: think longer. Self edit. Breathe. And if someone responds without thinking very well, if the thoughts are just flowing out unfiltered . . . it’s okay not to respond. Expecting someone who clearly isn’t willing to put effort into their thought process to suddenly begin thinking critically simply because you respond to them? That isn’t thoughtful. 

So the next time someone posts something stupid on Facebook, the very smartest, most effective thing you can do is to disengage completely. Go think. 

Stupidity on display is the heat. Get out of the kitchen.

Adventures in Bitcoining

Awhile back I posted on my fascination with bitcoin. As it turned out, the post was inspired by the all-time high price of bitcoin . . . up to that point.

Like an idiot, I chose that point, the all-time peak of bitcoin’s value, to make my first foray into buying some. Just a little. A very small investment, so small you could hardly call it an investment.  I was just interested and wanted to stay interested enough to pay attention, but not so interested that it felt the least bit stressful.

My desire for stress-free bitcoining was good, because it lost value (surprising no one) pretty much immediately.

At that point, the value of bitcoin was nearing $1200, though it never quite reached that point in the winter of 2017. The surging commodity? currency? curroddity? failed to secure a stamp of legitimacy from the SEC, causing the digital market to suffer a bit. But after scuttling to the $1,000/BC mark, blockchain-generated bucks did an about face and have doubled in value in under two months.

Market insiders credit an increase in popularity and official acceptance (thank you, Japan) in Asia for the volume trading explosion worldwide. They also attribute the spike in urgency for a currency independent of government/bank oversight to the recent steep drop in confidence in western government (thank you, Donald).

Personally, I think the spike in value has on-the-fence investors afraid of missing an even bigger exponential gain. With the current rate of increasing accelerating seemingly daily, it’s difficult to sit back and watch other people making coin.

There’s no certainty in any of it, though. There have been mass thefts, drug busts, and black market rings aplenty.  The WannaCry ransomware attack of May 2017 demanded payments in bitcoin, making it yet one more instance of digital currency used for sordid trading. I get it. People who need to make their money disappear are bound to find uses for a cryptocurrency that protects anonymity. Yet the system itself is extremely traceable. Literally every transaction is recorded and archived, making it a not entirely safe haven. But still, no certainty. As long as it is the preferred currency of criminals and hackers and, well, nerds, there will still be doubt about its long term viability.

But. When it becomes legal tender at Starbucks, I’m going all in.

Stay tuned. I’ll be updating with posts about bitcoin from time to time. Subscribe if you’d like to stay up to date on such things.

Homeowner’s Contractor Companion—a behind-the-curtain, BS-proof guide to the home improvement estimate, selection, and negotiation process 

I’m a salesman for a home-improvement contractor, Kraz Construction. I’m not a project consultant. I’m not an estimator. I’m not an energy savings specialist. I could call myself any or all of those things, but that would just be the standard nonsense you’d expect from a salesman. I know this because, as I said, I’m a salesman. 

But I try not to be a salesman. You know? The stereotypical salesman is the guy who talks your ear off—slick talker, showman, charmer, blah-blah-blah enthusiast, amirite? 

Even worse than that is the salesman friend. I never want to be that guy. You know the one I’m talking about. The guy who takes the “always be closing” mantra with him to barbecues and high school band concerts, and church. You can’t so much as talk to him about the weather without him trying to sell you an umbrella. The thought of being that pushy, annoying salesman to a total stranger is painful enough; being known as such I’m on my family and friends is a fate worse than death.

But I am a salesman, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Yes, I can get you “a deal” on your next home improvement project, what a total stranger can do that for you as well. In many cases, maybe even most cases, some stranger’s company may be a better fit for your needs. My ability to get you “a deal” is not the benefit I want to bring to any relationship. What I do think I can provide is something I’ve learned by being what a real salesman has taught me. 

In my experience, a real salesman doesn’t show and tell nearly as much as he observes and listens.I do my best to listen more than I talk and observe more than I show. And in this proces of taking in more information then I dispense, I’ve learned that what customers want more than windows or siding or new roofs is trust and ease and guidance to a real solution. While I can’t ensure a painless process no matter who comes in to your home to give you a quote, I can help you prepare for the process to give you the best chance at finding a contractor you can trust at the best value for you.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been developing a guide for homeowners to use when searching for a contractor. In it, I’m including:

  • How to prioritize projects 
  • What projects add the most value to your home
  • When is the best time to get which projects done
  • What to look for when choosing which contractor to contact
  • What questions to ask during an estimate
  • Common contractor myths
  • How to negotiate a price

And more. But not much more, that’s just a technique salesmen use to make you think there’s too much great information to list. 

I expect to have the guide complete this weekend. If you’d like to be notified when it is ready, please let me know, and I’ll email it when it’s ready. 

I don’t imagine I will be able to answer every question you may have, but I’m trying to make it as thorough as possible. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them personally. Email, call, or ask any questions you may have in the comments. and happy to help however I can. 

Ecocapsule can make you live like Mork on a cruise ship

I’ve met a fair amount of happy people in my lifetime. There are some people who are just continually happy, but it’s more frequent to just happen to catch someone during a particularly happy moment, like when they’re holding a puppy or eating an ice cream sundae or watching the Cubs win the World Series . . . stuff like that. But maybe no brand of people are happier than the ones I’ve heard talking about their time on a really good cruise.

Now, I assume these people were happier when they were on their cruises than when they were simply reminiscing about said cruises whilst in my company some many months and/or years removed from the miracle of cruise-ship living. I wouldn’t know, as I’ve never been on a cruise to see in person how happy the cruisers really are in the moment. But I can say with some great certainty that the happiness level of a post-cruise person in full-on cruise storytelling mode is right up there with the happiest happiness I’ve ever observed. 

Naturally, I thought of this when I saw the promo video for the Ecocapsule living module. Yeah, I know, it shows people in the middle of an open field living in their little solar-/wind-powered versions of The Bean, not floating in the middle of the Caribbean drinking margaritas, but the ultra-compact living quarters reminds me of what I’ve heard the cabins on cruise ships are like. And it naturally got me thinking about happiness in a really cramped space.

Cruise people are happy, yet they live in tiny rooms with tiny beds and tiny bathrooms and tiny toilets and tiny showers. On a cruise, you have almost no stuff and very possibly no wifi or cell service. What they do have in bountiful supply, however, is experience. And food, sure, loads of food. And drinks. And fun. I find it so intriguing that some of the happiest times many people ever experience come in this environment that is so drastically different from the big-bedded, spacious-roomed, wifi-filled routine of their everyday homes. It’s not a complete mystery, quite the opposite, really. The mindset on a cruise is simple: you don’t go for the room, you go for the experience and luxury of everything on the ship and the various ports and points of interest. But it raises the question, Why don’t we live like that all the time? Why do we make home ownership the single-biggest expense most of us incur? Why make our own personal living quarters the place we spend most of our time? 

Well, some people are making it a point to live quite differently from that norm, and I have to say it triggers the dreaming part of my brain pretty intensely. On one of my daily podcasts, I heard a story about a couple who converted their normal home into a rental and built a small dwelling, not all that different from the Ecocapsule, on the property. They “live” in the tiny module, draw income from their house, and now teach other people to do the same. They spend most of their time traveling off of the income they pull from the training, building, and rental. It sounds pretty awesome.

I don’t know that I plan to put the money down to be one of the first 50 people to live in an Ecocapsule, but I do think it would be a phenomenal experiment and experience to live in a small shell and make the focus of life to soak in the environment, culture, people, and world that surrounds me rather than the comfort and endless streams of entertainment we find in the expanse of our homes.

I’m not a hippie, I swear.

Okay, here’s today’s easy question:

To whom did Mork from Ork report at the end of every episode of Mork & Mindy?

Oh, and the last answer? That dude bought two Papa John’s pizzas for 10,000 bitcoin, the going rate of which is now somewhere in the order of $120,000. Not too shabby.

Bit by Bitcoin

It’s essentially nerd money.

About four years ago I wrote copy for an infographic about bitcoin. I didn’t get paid in bitcoin, but now I wish I had. At the time, it was still relatively new . . . five years old or so. It started with a bunch of nerds, especially one nerd, the Kaiser Soze of nerds, Satoshi Nakamoto (not his/her/their real name, because of course). He/she/they created a digital currency governed by no one, backed by nothing but its code, and worth nothing but the digits it wasn’t even printed on. It was nothing but digital code, strings of it. The initial code block featured 50 bitcoin, worth roughly 50 bits of zilch. But hey, it was fun to have nerd Monopoly money to trade with each other whenever they needed to pay each other to keep track of their codes.

Only, it was genius. The idea was that counterfeiting would be impossible, ever generation of new bitcoin, every single transaction of any kind, would be tracked on everyone’s computer. It rolled out in the beginning of 2009 and, with a few hiccups along the way, has been consistently rising in value and in the extent that it is being taken seriously by international consumers, markets, investors, and retailers. It took a couple of years for the value to build substantially, but the value of the bitcoin reached the same worth as the US dollar by spring of 2011. When I first researched bitcoin in 2013, it spent the year fluctuating from $100 to $1200 and every point in between, normalizing around $600 or so. Its value has been on a bit of a roller coaster ride over the past several years, but still with a general climb. As of today, the value is over $1,200, making this quite possibly the worst time to buy.

Or, it’s just starting to reach the popular level, making it a better time than any. How should I know, I’m no economist.

If it’s still not making sense, here’s a link explaining bitcoin so a five year old could understand it. (Keep in mind, “so a five year old could understand it” is nerdspeak for “so a middle-aged college grad kind of gets it.” Be warned.) 

It’s all just very interesting to me, even if it makes my brain hurt.

So here’s a little bitcoin trivia: In 2010, how much did Laszlo Hanyecz pay in bitcoin for two pizzas from Papa John’s? (Price is Right rules apply; leave your answers in the comments, and I’ll keep them hidden until I reveal the answer.)

Microfossils Are We

Scientists discovered microfossils that appear to be the oldest evidence of life on this planet. Maybe that’s exciting for you, but on days when I wake up feeling like I’m 3.77 billion years old, it’s not as encouraging as one might think to know I’m not alone. I’m sure somewhere among the microfossils there’s someone saying, “Age is just a number,” or, “You don’t look a day over 3.76 billion,” or, “Hey, nerdface, keep staring at rocks in your windowless, loveless corner of the universe and see how old you look in 4 billion years,” but I bet most of them just sound like Steven Wright

Feeling old sucks. You get hurt when you almost fall. You forget which Target you’re in. Hair from the back of your head gets reincarnated on your shoulders. And, maybe worst of all the non-dying things, you realize in some areas of life, you’ve been doing it wrong this whole time. 

But. 

That’s the part that also makes me feel young again. Learning. Learning a better way of living, a better way of looking at the world. Learning to laugh when someone points out you’re being a stooge instead of slapping them like you’re Moe. 

It’s funny, nothing makes me feel younger than learning I don’t know something and that what I don’t know can be known. I realize it’s cryptic, and I realize I’m only 41, and I hope you realize that telling me this is just the beginning of getting old is not what I need right now. But now, I’m going to go learn. 
You could now learn that South America is the home to the most llamas, but I’m sure you knew that. So here’s today’s new trivia:

In what country were the 3.77-ish-year-old microfossils discovered? (Don’t look. Try to remember.)

This message is from a mailing list. 

I still have no idea what this email says. I’m laughing because I’m devoting an entire post to a message I’m too lazy to read, but that can happen when it displays in microfiche form. It’s somewhat hard to believe a company can employ email marketing that goes so horribly wrong when there are so many tools that even a monkey could use

But my insurance company doesn’t own a monkey, so they sent me this as incentive to work out more, maybe. I don’t know. I’ll never know, because I’m not an ant. When I first opened it, I figured it was only a matter of time before the message expanded, but no dice. There it sat in all its infinitesimal glory. Then I laughed as I snapped a screenshot of the embarrassing attempt at piquing my excitement. 

Not only did the format go horribly wrong, but it came paired with a warning that the message came from a mailing list (as opposed to  a tech-challenged relative). 

Here was a classic example of a mailing betrayed by its email marketing service. This kind of thing is inexcusable for anyone paying real money to do this. I know there are a few different services out there, but I recommend AWeber. I’ve found them to be the most reliable for ensuring the entire process goes smoothly, effectively, and in a way that’s easy to test, track, and analyze. You can see how your messages will look on any platform, including my rare, obscure phone with its antiquated . . . oh, who am I kidding, it’s an iPhone 7. (Seriously, how did this company not know their email would look like a postage stamp?)

Oh, and how do you get around the “This message is from a mailing list” warning with the convenient unsubscribe link? Just send valuable content, for starters. And making sure it’s legible isn’t a terrible idea. 

Ok, on to today’s question (sorry it’s late): What continent is home to the most llamas?

Congrats to Nicole (@asmanyasgiven on twitter) for knowing Saturday’s question.