Thursday, February 26, 2015

Rest in Peace, Shirley Collier

Early Tuesday morning, my dear mother-in-law, Shirely Collier, passed away in her sleep.  It's hard to convey personal thoughts and reflections in words right now, so I've turned mostly to photos instead.  (With only one or two possible exceptions, either my wife or I took all the photos used in my collage.)  You can also find a public Flickr Album dedicated to Shirley's memory.

Shirley will be greatly missed by her family, but we all know with the certainty of faith that she is in a much better place today.  I will particularly miss her laughter and the joyous way she played that piano of hers.  She also had a profoundly giving and hospitable personality--even towards this college kid who was dating her daughter more than twenty-five years ago.  Shirley loved life and savored every moment with her family.  Her life was anchored in Christ, and we all look forward to that heavenly reunion.   

Services will be held on Tuesday at Saint Rita's Catholic Church.  The obituary is available here.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Time to Boycott Goupon?

It's not my standard procedure to suggest company boycotts.  It often seems like a pointless venture.  In this case, though...  I was thoroughly disgusted the other day with a product I happened upon on Groupon's website.  I read the description twice--just to make sure--and my jaw dropped.  Gross doesn't even do it justice.  Now, I'm no prude, but this particular item for sale on their site was degrading--to both men and women.  I've shopped Groupon many times over the years, and I've only been happy with the product purchased once or twice.  Let's face it, most of the time it's junk--or a scam. 

More importantly, though, I've never noticed any warning that users must be at least eighteen.  When I raised concerns with Groupon, here's the little response I received.  

 Of course, the reason for Groupon's move to carry adult products is clear.  Just look at the number of sales next many of the items.  It's clearly a big moneymaker.  If you don't believe me as to the depth Groupon has sunk, do a search for "sex," then try not to lose your lunch.  There's enough depravity in society at large to work its way into every facet of our lives, if we're not vigilant.  Why take a stand against this particular player?  Maybe they've been selling this junk for years, and I never noticed.  In fact, maybe almost no one cares anymore.  We're all so inured to the daily spiritual gauntlet we run, does it matter that one more company is lowering the bar a little more?  

Well, I tend to think Groupon might be salvageable, if people of faith stand up and make their voices heard.  Let's let Groupon know what we think of their descent, and maybe they will return to being a more family-friendly online retailer.

What can I do?

Good question!  Groupon doesn't let you close your account per se, but they do let you unsubscribe from all e-mails as well as remove your saved credit card information.  I suggest you log-in, head to your account page, and make these changes.  Next, I suggest you write one, or more, of the people identified below.  Let them know how important this issue is to you and how upset it makes you feel.  Promise to not buy anything else through Groupon until these items are no longer sold on their site.  After all, if some pervert wants to buy this kind of garbage, there are plenty of places to go.  This kind of merchandise devalues human life, disrespects relationships, and turns people into objects.  It contributes to the societal decay we see all around us.  I say that it's time to put our collective foot down and boycott this company.  What say you?

Groupon Contacts

Eric Lefkofsky, Co-Founder and CEO, .

Kal Raman, COO, .
Jason Child, CFO, .
Dane Drobny, Executive, .
Rich Williams, SVP, .
Hugh Hysel, Executive, .
Sri Viswanath, VP Engineering, .
David Schellhase, Executive, .
Mihir Shaw, Public Relations, .

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Those Forgotten Edits

Once I've decided upon a particular course of action, I'm known to move swiftly  towards my goal.  Decisiveness, after all, is a good thing...right?  I also tend to not be the best editor of my own writing.  I've found that these two traits sometimes work against me in the self-publishing market.  You see, hitting the publish button is pretty simple these days, and the prospect of offering something new and fresh is as tantalizing as a British Literature course.  (Pretty darn tantalizing to me anyway.)  In a day and age of instant gratification, it's easy to ignore your inner editor.

Alcatraz Burning is probably a good example of what happens when the writer's excitement interferes with the editorial process.  I enthusiastically gathered a very diverse collection of stories together (short stories and story sketches), and I wasted no time in making the leap to Amazon.  I was particularly excited about my first work in the science fiction horror genre.  Unfortunately, the collection was probably not quite ready for prime time.  Some good writer friends pointed out some stylistic and editorial problems, and I sheepishly pulled the collection from Amazon.  I could blame my beta readers, or claim that readers just don't get it, but that would likely just be making excuses for rushing a project that really required a slow and meticulous approach; impatience is never good.  Since I don't have time for meticulous at present, I may just opt for putting my fiction on hold for a little while.  It's time for a breather, as they say.  If the readers don't get it, there's usually a reason, and that reason is that I'm getting a little sloppy in some of my short fiction.

I've been preaching the importance of editing and working tirelessly at revisions for years.  I even regularly decline to review poorly edited books...  Well, sometimes it's hard to practice what you preach.  I'll endeavor to do a more careful job of that in the future, and, in the meantime, don't be too concerned if I fade away just a little bit into the social media background for a while.  I think there's a sense in which social media has damaged the quality of my writing, and I need to give that some careful consideration in the months ahead.

Walking around my old alma mater, Seattle Pacific University, with my father this last Monday, I was struck with how things have changed around my old stomping grounds by the ship canal.  In twenty-five years, or so, impressive new buildings have gone up, and some old ones have disappeared--e.g. Tiffany Hall.  Even with all the changes, though, it still feels like a special place, a place of learning, as well as a home away from home of sorts.  It reminds me how excited I am to be returning to school this month; I've recently enrolled in Marylhurst University.  Lifelong learning is something in which I believe strongly, and, as a related commitment to this end, I'll strive to not let down my good 
audience again.     

Special thanks to the authors who took the time to share honest feedback concerning this ill-fated collection!