I was surprised to get a letter from Amazon today. Yes, that’s right. Amazon sent me snail mail. Naturally I was curious, although I suspected it to be some sort of marketing ploy. But I wasn’t entirely sure about that. Why wouldn’t they just send something like that with email? Wouldn’t that be more environmentally friendly not to mention more cost friendly? Then again, I thought that maybe they were going the snail mail route because the message would stand out more. How many emails does the average person get? Many of them are marketing emails from businesses looking ot generate sales, and people get so many of them (I know I do) that they all just become noise. Sending the message by another way increases the likelihood it will be seen as signal rather than noise.
What I didn’t expect to see was what now looks like an act of desperation. Apparently Amazon monitors the accounts of their customers to see what they are and are not using, and if there is something that bodes poorly in their estimation, they take action to nudge the customer back “in line” with their desire. Of course, all of this is automated. I’m sure they have some AI algorithm identifying the “out of line” customers and then sending out a form letter like the one I received. What I find really interesting is the role their streaming service appears to be playing in their revenue model. They wouldn’t be nudging me in this direction if it didn’t matter to the bottom line.
Of course, as the letter I received shows, I haven’t been using their streaming service, and I don’t plan on it. As I posted earlier, I’ve been reading more from my library. I’ve also ordered some new DVDs from a different site to have an occasional movie night. I wasn’t expecting them for another couple of days (learning the package would take about a week to get here didn’t bother me in the least), but the package actually arrived yesterday. So this letter I received from Amazon doesn’t change what I was going to do in the least. But I do find it interesting. And I wonder what would happen if millions or even just hundreds of thousands of other people would take the same action I took. What would Amazon’s response be? Would we see them in desperation?
And that brings to me the mixed feelings I have now knowing how things are. I’m nearing the end of my third year, which is when I should have everything together. And instead I got Butkus, and I’m not talking Rocky Balboa’s dog. Had I known at the start of my program what I know now, I could have approached my program differently and used my time better, especially during the summers. Now I just have lost opportunity and the sudden realization that Plan A isn’t going to work for me and, if I don’t have Plan B worked out soon, I could potentially be in a worse situation.
Yes, my advisor should have been my advisor, meaning he should have given me the advice I needed to make the best use of my time. But he didn’t. I don’t hold it against him, because the other big lesson I learned from reading this book is that most advisors don’t advise their students effectively. They are part of a system that encourages them to be the way they are or in the very least does not incentivize them to be what they should be. That’s water under the bridge for me. Successful people deal with the world the way that it is, not the way they wish it would be. I’m not going to look behind. I’m going to look forward.
And that brings me to the final big concept I learned from this book. The most competitive candidates have the mindset of a colleague or peer, not a grad student or an adjunct. Looking back at the last couple of years, I readily can see I’ve had the mindset of a grad student, not a colleague or peer. So, as they say in the Old West, it’s time to saddle up. Lock and load! And I’ve got plenty of ammunition in this book that gives very practical hands-on advice for making a 5-year plan and attending to the details of everything that should go into that plan. In fact, I may use it as a daily meditation. Before beginning my workday, I’ll read one chapter in this book. The chapters are small and many in this tome, and reading just one a day will help to keep the practical ideas and mindsets fresh in my mind as well as spur me on to the track my train should be on. Overall, this is a great book and a must read for anyone considering an academic career. 5 out of 5 stars.
Recently I had a hankering for no-bake cookies. I haven’t had any in I don’t know how long, but the craving was definitely there. Or maybe the craving was just for chocolate. At any rate, I decided to make no-bake cookies to scratch that itch.
I had never actually made no-bake cookies before, but it didn’t seem that hard, and in fact it wasn’t. Recipes vary, but they’re all pretty much the same. Still, I decided to modify my first ever batch. I just couldn’t help but experiment. I’m too curious. Plus I wanted to reduce my sugar intake. So half the sugar was gone. Boom. Just like that.
Then I decided to add in a couple of twists. First, I added in dried cherries, which I thought would complement the dark cocoa I was using. I always prefer dark chocolate to any other variety, so I always reach first for it over any other variety. It’s supposedly healthier for you, and even if it’s not, I just love the flavor. Adding dried cherries provided a very good complement to the dark chocolate flavor, although it added some sugar back into the batch. For a recipe calling for 2 cups sugar, I used 1 cup sugar and then added ½ cup dried cherries. I’m going to have to experiment with lowering the sugar content even more in future.
My second modification was to make cookie bars instead of individual cookies. I don’t have the space in my place t put out all the wax paper sheets I would need for even half a batch of individual cookies. Plus bars are always easier to deal with than individual cookies. What I didn’t expect (but should have, being a metallurgist) is the hardened slab that resulted once the batch had finally cooled in the pan. I needed a serious knife to cut off individual bars.
Still, my experiment was a huge success. The cookies taste wonderful. The dark chocolate and cherries go really good together. And best of all, my craving for no-bake cookies is totally gone!
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