Falling behind…

Whew. When I fall behind, I PLUMMET.

I’m back in the office after I hit a dead end back on Memorial Day — and it’s been 26 days. Now I’ve figured out how to get past that dead end, but I’m still piecing together which direction I was headed when I hit it. The joy of coding, that’s what that is.

The Learning Curve

I heard a discourse once about training and practice and the predicated ability that came with them. In short, all talents and abilities follow the same pattern — rapid learning (A), followed by much slower growth (B), followed by more rapid learning(C) to the mastery level.

Now, how sharp A and C are, as well as how long B is, all depend on the activity, the individual, etc. I think piano is the classic example — in the beginning you can learn quite rapidly to play increasingly complex songs, but eventually the speed with which new songs are being learned slows dramatically, and the subsequent thrill of practice might well fade as well — the reward is no longer commensurate with the sacrifice. If one continues, however, and gradually improves over time, there will come a time when the learning accelerates once more, and the thrill returns, and the ability increases sharply.

Learning a foreign language might be another example — it’s easy to learn a bunch of phrases to get you from the train station to the bathroom, or to order the fish instead of the steak, but eventually you slow down in the learning process. Later, after much slower progress, you finally SPEAK the language, and accelerating to mastery comes much more easily.

Meh, maybe you buy all that, maybe you don’t. The gist, however, is that most folks get bored or frustrated in the slow-growth phase, and give up before getting to the exciting third phase. I see that in myself — I’ve done the early-learning for lots of talents, like drums and piano and guitar, speaking Spanish, surfing, programming in Pascal, C, Java, and PHP, water-skiing, snow-skiing, stand-up comedy, improv comedy, drawing, 3D modelling… etc. Some of those I’m still in the earliest stages of learning, and can still enjoy rapid improvement if I return to spending time at them. Others I’m well out of the starting gate, and won’t see the same dramatic results.

So, that’s the background. What I was actually thinking of recently is the correlation between righteous living and happiness. I’ve come to feel that sanctification — not conversion or the initial remission of sins, but rather “being made perfect” — is where the real happiness is. That’s where you’re eating the fruit of the trees Lehi and Alma described. That’s where your joy is as exquisite as your pain ever was, where you have no more desire to do evil, but to do good continually.

The long period leading up to that joy (B) is where you’re nurturing your tree, or holding to the rod. It’s also the trial of your faith. If happiness was rewarded in exact proportion to our obedience, there would be no need for faith, because we’d receive a witness after every improvement in our lives. I contend that the joy that comes from, say, stopping swearing, is probably NOT going to be that earth-shattering, even if it’s a major milestone for you.

So I was thinking about this as I read Alma’s analogy of faith as a seed, and the subsequent tree bearing fruit of happiness. Then I remembered and reread where he says as the seed begins to grow, we know of a surety that it’s a good seed. And I thought about how the amount of growth in a seed over a period of a month or a year is obvious, but how the SUBSEQUENT year’s growth is much more relaxed. And I saw that I had my mental graph wrong, and that it was actually more like the learning curve.

There’s an initial growth period as we begin living the Gospel where we ARE rewarded greatly — I should’ve remembered that from my days as a missionary. That’s our initial testimony — that the happiness coming from Gospel living is real.

It gets rough, though.

The increase in happiness slows down. We feel like we’ve been playing the same tunes on the piano forever, without any real development. And it’s easy to STOP practicing righteous living, and even slip in happiness — which, as Alma says, is not because the seed is not good, but because we’re not willing to nurture it.

I think most folks who go inactive have experienced the joy of part A of the curve, and are near stagnancy or even regression along slope B when they feel like maybe they were duped. I don’t think they’re always steeped in sin when they leave — just that they’re not getting as much happiness from Gospel-living as they want.

The answer, of course, is to hold to the rod, press forward with a perfect brightness of hope, nurture their tree with patience, etc., until they get to sanctification somewhere in or around C.

And looking forward to C — HAVING that hope — should make B more pleasant. I think most members of the Church actually seem to think that C is a reward in the afterlife, or a reward reserved for prophets, but I firmly believe it can be ours in this life. I believe we won’t have a Zion society without people living and working at the C-level of happiness. I believe when we see one person in our daily lives that has reached it, we will be encouraged and strive harder to reach it. The first fruit-bearing tree will lead to a grove for those around it.

I think the prophets and plenty of the leaders of the Church as well as a minority of the members have attained the C-curve. I look forward to the day when a majority have attained it. And I really look forward to when I have attained it.

Working on Memorial Day

I came into the office to work on my home business. A bit of a misnomer there, I guess. But the office has brighter lighting, two 19 inch monitors (rather than a single 17-incher), and a keyboard that is easier to type on. A LOT easier.

I’ve populated by database with zip codes and city, county, and state names. By the end of today I hope to have created a few million pages on the site, each uniquely optimized for a key search engine phrase.

Heh, that sounds kinda daunting if you ignore the fact that the pages will be created dynamically in PHP. Maybe I won’t get THAT far — and truth be told, I foresee lots of stuff that needs to come first — but that’s definitely the goal for the day. By the end of the week I’d like to have the Create Account page (and all its ramifications, minus e-commerce) set up.

One problem I’m running into is the diversity of search methods used for different services. For example, if you want flowers, you probably search for “florist”. But if you want a massage, do you search for “masseuse”, or “massage”? Or “massage therapist”? (The answer: most folks search for “massage”, then “massage therapist”, THEN “masseuse”.) And say you’re looking for a home loan. Do you, the average user, look for “mortgage broker”? Or do you look up just “mortgage”? Or worse, maybe just “loan”?

The difficulty is that in creating these million+ pages, I’m counting on certain language constructs. “There are 0 _____ registered in the city of ______.” (So I can’t say “massages” there — I have to say “massage therapists”.) I’m going to build these pages using the name of the profession, but some folks might search for the service, rather than the profession. Or a different name for the profession. “CPA” rather than “accountant”, or else “certified public accountant”. And then, maybe not all accountantns ARE CPAs, in which case the pages could be misleading. That’s certainly the case with “real estate agents” and “realtors” — the latter is a trademarked term, but is also more often sought for than the former, and not all of the former are the latter.

Big ol’ can o’ beans being spilt here, eh? Okay, you guys, shhh! No telling anybody my genius idea.

I’ve found myself hungry for stuff to read lately, and a bit upset that my favorite word-sources aren’t updated with more frequency. I think I need to figure out how this whole subscription thing in LJ works so I can get new stuff sent to me.

It’s weird. I wonder if it’s just a desire for justifiable procrastination (“I wasn’t working on my business because I had some READING to do. READING.”) or if other media have disappointed me so much lately that I’ve given up on them.

My wee biz is coming along fine so far. I’ve got some plans for making Google rank my pages — I think it could be very very successful. Rebecca said we don’t need to do any more market research, she’s convinced of the idea. Now it’s just a matter of building the site and getting some salespeople started on it, or else letting the pages sell themselves.

I’ve never felt so confident in my future wealth. And that’s saying something, because I’ve been planning on being wealthy for a loooong time.

Business excitement

So, okay. I’m plugging away at this new business idea — it’s got me extremely excited, but it also has me ready to quit my job and just GO for it, rather than taking the time to research it out carefully.

Rebecca doesn’t care for that too much.

If we are going to make a go of this, I see us primarily being a call center, and there’s no reason to run a call center out of California — so I see us moving back to Utah.

If the research shows that the service is viable and sellable, then I don’t want to wait. We have enough credit to be able to finance a move and a couple months’ living expenses — but remember I wouldn’t dive into this if it wasn’t clear that I could sell it. (I’m very confident in its marketability, but until I have some numbers, I’m staying put in my tidy job.)

But now, add to that the fact that we’re getting some inheritance soon, and I’m even edgier.

Then, compound it with the fact that I now believe I could sell my other business, Singlesaints.com, for a great deal of money. (It has some sweet search engine rank, I tells ya.)

So I asked Rebecca today, “Do you have it in your head that we could be living in Utah in a month?”

She was kind of appalled. The answer was no — not because she dislikes Utah — she would like to go back, too, she says — but because she doesn’t want to take any risks.

Me, I’m so sure of this sure thing that it seems riskier to NOT jump on it right now. To NOT spend every hour recruiting sales people and building the site — whew, insanity.

In any case, I need to show that it’s marketable before anything else, so I started cold-calling today to do research. That’s HARD, dude. That’s SCARY. But I called 6 numbers before I wussed out and had lunch and went back to work. Of the 6, I spoke with 2, and one was too busy to answer questions, and the other said my questions would have to be directed to the corporate office.

I’m going to try to take a longer lunch tomorrow and get in a few dozen calls.

Cuz you Can Can Cancun

I’m going to Cancun with my wife and my co-workers this week. Wednesday through Sunday. We’re pretty stoked, though I don’t know what I’ll do to survive the plane trip — I’ve started to get claustranxious on planes, and it’s a five-hour flight.

That is all.

Depression has been kicking my arse this week. Well, for the past two days. I’m running at about 50% (if I’m generous) efficiency at work, and I’m giving up on my diet which helped me lose 7 pounds in 7 days. (Was the diet to blame for my mood swings, you ask? Nnnah, I don’t think so. I think it’s good ol’ bipolarity at work.)

It’s weird depression. I have a business idea that I came up with on Saturday that I am fully confident in still, whereas normally the depression would render any hope in an entrepreneurial vision dead.

Which makes me think maybe I’m NOT just depressed, but rather maybe life DOES suck.

That’s me being funny. It’s a bit darker than normal, methinks.

Burnout

I exercised this morning, and I feel burned-out now — like, with my job. Desperately want to go home. But what I REALLY want is to know why/how this happened. Is it a RESULT of exercising? Is it because I have shin splints that hurt? Is it because somebody turned the heat up earlier, and I had to get up and turn it down?

Is it just chemical/psychological? Is Prozac pooping-out on me?

I’m eating lots of whole grains these days, though I’m still generally deficient in vegetables. I get Vitamin C from fruit juice pretty regularly.

I feel violent and angry and just want to go home.

Work work work

So, we launched a major new addition to our site at work, and 20% of our members paid to upgrade and use it. I built most of the dang thing, so that’s pretty exciting — more than $30k in our first month, and no real overhead besides my paycheck and bandwidth. It’ll probably only keep growing, too.

Found out that my good friend Aaron Johnson is co-writing a novel with Orson Scott Card, and that Tor has already bought it. Pretty schweet.

Me, I’m struggling to type on this crappy keyboard. Work has me spoiled, I guess. These keys just feel like I have to PUSH to get stuff out. No way I could write on this for very long.

I coulda sworn I had something of interest to write. Oh well!