Thursday, April 20, 2017

MCOM #15: weekend assignment.

Over the weekend we were assigned to serve someone that is more stressed than us. Sometimes I get stuck in my own little world and think "who could possibly be more stressed than I am?" What a joke. I'm a 21-year-old girl living in Utah going to a fantastic school. I really don't have that much stress in my life. Sure, school is extremely stressful, but honestly, how blessed am I to be able to stress about a college education? 

So this weekend I looked around. I realized that a lot of people around me are more stressed than me. I mean... my dad was ending tax season. My brother has finals just like me, but he's a masters student. I guarantee his are harder. My roommates are adorable and...stressed. So I decided to take more of a "small acts of service" approach. I always have a to-do list with things like "write kayla a note!" and "call grandpa" but I never get around to those things. So this weekend I tried to do those little acts of service. I texted my dad and made my roommate's bed and made my brother one of his favorite treats. It's kind of weird to blog about this but yeah. It was a good weekend. And I realized that this really isn't something that I can't do every day. Making my roommate's bed took a minute, tops. And it was good to do something, even if small, for someone else.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

MCOM #14: IS 201.

I already wrote about this, but guys, IS 201 is the greatest class EVER.  Right now we're learning VBA... which is basically the programming language of Microsoft Excel. When I took this class I thought I was going to hate it, but I am actually in love with it, I think. I had no idea that it was going to be so useful.

I can't even believe that I'm seriously writing a blog post about computers. My life has hit an all time low. But look at this video and see how awesome VBA is!

So yeah, that's what I'm thinking about right now. Aren't you so glad that you took the time to read a blog post about computer programming? But not even REAL computer programming. Like super beginning level programming. But still sooo cool.

Also. Finals start this week. Say a prayer for me, folks. Only four finals stand between me and...a five day break and more school {yay!} Alright, that's it. BYE.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

MCOM 13: ted talks round {??}.

Have we ever talked about how much I love Ted Talks. Several months ago we watched this ted talk in my career strategies class. I don't completely agree with every single thing that he says, but I think it's really important and he presents a good point. 

And as I've mentioned, right now I'm at the age that I have to decide what I'm doing with my life. I don't suggest being this age. It's no fun. But on the bride side, it's a time that a person gets to decide what they're passionate about. "Passion is your greatest love." So I'm over here trying to decide the answer to that question. "Does the word destiny scare you?"I think the other thing that we have a problem with is the idea of understanding what it means to be passionate about something. I think that sometimes we think that you can only be passionate about a cause or a belief. But let me tell you, I think that my accounting 310 professor is passionate about accounting. The way he talks about it. And I actually think that that is really cool. I think you should be passionate about what you study.

Anyways, I'm going to go figure out how to make my weird different passions into a career.

Friday, April 14, 2017

MCOM #12: history.

Here's fun fact number two {ok, probably not two, but lets go with that} about me. I love history. Like I said earlier, I'm currently going through a quarter-life crisis right now and for a brief second I seriously considered dropping everything and double majoring in history and Russian. If it weren't for the advice that my mission president gave us the night we left Russia, I might have done it. But he told us "what the shortest book ever written? Jobs available for history majors." So maybe not. But still.

Anyways. I like history. And I think that the traveling I've been able to do in the last couple of years has really helped along that love. I got to live in London and travel throughout the United Kingdom. In this blog post, I mentioned that the buildings are older than America. Seriously. Have you ever thought about how young American is?!

But that was nothing. I got to Russia and my first area was a "little" town {only half a million people} called Yaroslavl. Oh how I love Yaroslavl. I spent a preparation day walking through the sights of Yaroslavl as a girl told us all about its history. Yaroslavl is one of the eight cities considered to make up the "golden ring." These ancient cities were vital to the formation of the Russian Orthodox church. And let me tell you... there are churches EVERYWHERE. Like think of how many Mormon church you see in Utah County, then image walking the streets of a city well over a thousand year old and seeing that many churchs, except they all have the beautiful onion domes. History EVERYWHERE. I love it. I'm so excited to go back!

I love learning about history because everything else just makes sense. Last semester I took a Russian history class. We went from the baptism of Rus in 988 to 2017. Learning about the history of Russia brought clarity to the culture I experienced there.

History is cool.

And now let's appreciate my wonderful Yaroslavl:
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My 20th birthday! It was our preparation day {meaning we had a couple hours of free time} and we spent it touring Yaroslavl and buying matching Provoslavni pinky rings!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

MCOM #11: Ninety percent of everything.

A little while ago, I blogged about the Kimberely Process and why I don't want a diamond ring. Strange, right? Well, sometimes when I tell people that, their comeback is this: "you just have to be ok with ethical issues" or "you not buying one diamond ring won't make a difference." I would have to say that I actually somewhat agree. Do I really think that me not getting one ring is going to change the world or the diamond industry? No. Is there a chance that that diamond was mined in an ethical situation? Yes! If I get a morganite/amethyst/sapphire ring, do I think that that stone was mined in a perfectly ethical situation? Most likely no {sadly}.

This gets me to my blog title. Here's the thing. We live in a globalized world. And that makes life a whole lot better for us. That also means that we consume a lot of products that get to us unethically; this may be because of child labor or poor working conditions or a million other things. In my opinion, this means that we need to choose what we feel strongly about and do what we can for that one {or a couple} things. So, I feel strongly about the African diamond industry. Ok, so that's my thing. Unfortunately, there's a really good chance that 99% of the stuff in my closet was also produced in less-than-perfectly-ethical situations. Last summer I read a book by Rose George called Ninety percent of everything. It was a fascinating nonfiction book. The author boards a shipping container ship as it makes its rounds through the ocean. She tells of the day-to-day life of crew members and crew leaders. She speaks of poor conditions, bad food, and dangers from pirates {who, yes, still exist}. Her main point is that, despite what we think, ninety percent of everything gets to us via one of these giant shipping container ships. Shipping containers themselves have revolutionized and enabled globalization.

So my point is this: if I really wanted to make a moral stand and boycott anything and everything that comes to me unethically, I would be in trouble. I would say goodbye to my iphone, my clothes, my school supplies, and basically everything I own. George makes the comment, "Buy your fair-trade coffee beans, by all means, but don't assume fair-trade principles govern the conditions of the men who fetch it to you. You would be mistaken."

So when people tell me that I can't make a difference, that may actually be a little true. I don't hold a large share of market demand for anything {except maybe diet dr. pepper...} so me not purchasing one thing, won't really matter. But I think every person has the moral stipulation to make some sort of a stand. This doesn't mean in everything, but maybe in just one or two things. So I'll probably keep buying my internationally-produced clothes because I don't feel that passionate about it {I mean, I probably should. but not doing so would mean that I need to hand-weave fabric and sew my own clothes. sooo not happening}. But I probably will say no to a diamond ring.

I'm not sure if that even makes sense, but here's the takeaway: everyone should have something to which they are morally opposed to, and you should do what you can to right that. And everyone should read Rose George's book. Also, appreciate this giant ship and please note that every shipping container on it is 48 feet long. you do that math.

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

MCOM #10: ted talks & happiness.

Have you noticed how much I love Ted Talks? Because I love Ted Talks. It's sort of a problem. But anyways, the other day, I watched this Ted Talk and I LOVE IT.

"Our external world is not predictive of our happiness." Think about that for a second.

"We need to reverse the formula for happiness and success...if happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there."

GUYS I LOVE THIS. I like happiness. In fact, it's probably my favorite thing. But this talk is so true. I put happiness on the opposite side of success. That's why a couple weeks ago, {when success wasn't really a thing in my life} I felt miserable. But that's not the way to live. I'm at BYU! That by itself is incredible! This university is wonderful. And just because I wasn't seeing success, doesn't mean that I can't be happy.

I actually have lots of thoughts about happiness. But basically I'll just leave it at this. Happiness isn't something we get from our external world.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

MCOM #9: the Kimberely Process.

Fun fact: I don't want a diamond engagement ring. Weird, right? Most people think that's pretty weird, so I don't usually bring it up. I think that if you want a diamond ring, that's great, go for it. But I don't feel like I need one. My dad bought me a beautiful amethyst ring several years ago. I still am so in love with it and wear it every single day and I can't imagine loving it any more if it was a diamond. I have that same opinion about engagement rings. I don't think I would love a different stone any less and it would be way more unique than getting a diamond ring like over 75 percent of American brides. {that's a real statistic, guys}. This isn't me saying that other people shouldn't have a diamond ring. If you have one, chances are that I think it's beautiful and perfect for YOU, just not me.

Well... I was at a wedding a few weeks ago and I was talking to a girl who just got married. I noticed she had a morganite wedding ring and I asked her why. She told me she read a book called "Blood Diamonds" and after that, she decided she wouldn't ever own diamonds. I was intrigued, to say the least.

So when it came time to pick a topic for my MCOM research paper, I decided to study diamonds. That's when I learned about the Kimberely Process and blood diamonds.

Super simplified, here's what that means: A blood diamond is a diamond used to finance civil wars in poor, African countries. This title doesn't do justice to what that truly means. I bought the book that my friend referenced and I listened to it as I drove home a few weekends ago. The book was heart-breaking. It was the hardest, saddest thing I've ever listened to in my entire life. The Kimberely Process is the attempt to stop these blood diamonds. However, in my research paper, I discuss the downfall of this process. 

Even if the Kimberely Process is effectively stopping the spread of blood diamonds {which it's not, as an FYI}, it still does nothing to address the other human rights issues of child labor and horrible conditions. 

One thing to consider is that not every diamond comes from Africa. In fact, as of the last several years, Russia has become the biggest exporter of diamonds. 

BUT a large part of our diamonds come from Africa. So yeah.

So this was a depressing little blog post but I had to write about something! But this topic is FASCINATING, guys. I think I'll probably talk about this in my next blog post too... {I know, you're over there reading this like "yyaayyy I'm so happy" *to be said in a sarcastic voice*}

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

MCOM #8: quarter-life crisis.

Friends. I'm here to tell you that I've been going through a quarter-life crisis.

What is a quarter-life crisis, you ask?

It's kind of like a mid-life crisis but happens at the quarter point of your life. AKA right now, for me. If you know me, you know I'm a planner. I plan every move, all the time. I don't like surprises and I don't like last minute decisions. I like knowing where I'm going to be, with whom I'll be, what I'm be doing... at all times. My life was planned out perfectly like two years ago. I got home from a mission, I took accounting prereqs, I planned my every move.

And then I started questioning it. Then a couple weeks later I didn't do well on an accounting exam. {I know, that sounds so dramatic. "wow, Erica, you didn't do well on one test. you'll survive.} YEAH BUT THIS IS DIFFERENT. Talk about questioning life choices. It's a hard thing having your life plan feel like it's coming down crashing around you.

Then to make matters worse, I went to my Eternal Families class {that's not the part that made it worse, no worries. I love that class.} Our professor brought up this talk.

Read the whole talk, it's awesome. During part of it, Elder Eyring's father says this: "You ought to find something that you love so much that when you don't have to think about anything, that's what you think about."

I can honestly tell you that usually accounting is my favorite class. But I definitely don't have a passion for accounting. I don't ponder about accounting.

Long story short... I don't really know what I'm doing with my life. Obviously I'm applying to the accounting program, but my little quarter-life crisis is forcing me to think about other options. Not that I really have time to switch my life plan. Juniors in college probably shouldn't do that.

So, folks, stay tuned.

Things I DO sit around and think about ^^^ Russian sunsets. Everyday.

Monday, April 3, 2017

MCOM #7: loving a place.

Today I woke up and reached for my phone {like usual. it's a bad habit}. I opened the New York Times and jolted up in bed, gasping "no. no no no. no." Because this morning I saw the article that announced the bombing of the St. Petersburg subway. My heart broke. It's an interesting thing that we can love a place so much that news from the other side of the world can break our hearts. I love Russia. I love that place and those people. And even though I've never been been to St. Petersburg, my heart aches for the Russian people. And my prayers are with them.

A little while ago, I came across this quote on pinterest:

It sounds incredibly dramatic, but I can say that it is completely true. First I left a little piece of my heart in England after a semester in London, and then in Russia after a year and a half long mission for my church. It's one thing to travel places, to be a tourist for a couple days, and then to leave. But living somewhere shows you a different side of a culture. I came to love the Russian people more than I can even explain. And the thing about Russia is this: people don't understand it. It's one of those places that people just can't really fathom. It one of those places that people don't really know until they live there. At first, Russians come off as being really closed-off. They don't smile. They don't laugh. They don't love. That's all I heard before I went there. But let me tell you, Russians are the best people I know. They are the most genuine people I've ever met. Aside from my family, I've never felt so loved and so accepted as I did sitting in the homes of dozens of Russians that I came to love. In my little bout of reminiscing, I found my last email home. I listed the top eight things I learned during my time there, and this was one:

"My understanding of the words "trust," "love," "friend," and "promise" have changed. I've said it again and again but I love the Russian people. They have taught me what it means to truly trust someone. The word love has, well, honestly, freaked me out my whole life. Because I know I love my family. And my close friends. But man. Loving anyone else, let alone a whole country full of people that don't speak your language and come from a very different walk of life than me... I didn't think that would be possible. can't help but love these people. My favorite quote from last conference was "love is making room in your life for another person." They are the best example of this! Today I was a Tatiana's house for one last lunch, knitting, and lesson. And as we said goodbye, I realized how much I love that woman and how much she loves me! (once again with the corny-ness) But she's wonderful. Love and trust and all that stuff is great."

I love Russia, in case you didn't know.