Archive for the ‘work’ Category

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White guilt and african american culture defining America

In art,business,church,culture,design,faith,Theology,work on November 10, 2011 by mstevensrev

It seemed unusual but I gave a presentation in Orlando, FL in 2003 to a classroom of pastors in training titled, “Why you should care about Eminem.”  In it my partner and I traced the thread of influence from the Negro Spiritual to Jazz to Blues to R&B and to Hip Hop as significant influencers of spiritual music, or as Jon Michael Spencer formerly Duke University refers to it Black Sacred Music.  While appropriate for that audience the scope was far too limited, since the practice of American slavery as a oppressed people group African Americans have had greater influence then most realize, the clearest moment I point to is what is known as the Harlem Renaissance .

So this week I watched two interviews that sparked my passions on this topic one again first from the Harvard Business Review titled, The Tanning of America, interview with Steve Stoute.  Perhaps it is my sensitivity but throughout the interview I feel the weight and appreciate Senior Editor Scott Berinato interviewing and awkwardness in using the term Tanning, it both highlights but also takes some of the power out of the white guilt associated with many similar conversations.  That is an aside to the meat of the interview is when Steve Stoute discusses the Madison Square Garden performance of RunDMC.  How they were not only changing music, fashion, but global culture.  The significance that an executive from Adidas had vision in that moment is beautifully redeeming.

For those who have not heard the story, one of our cultures most successful and popular actors Will Smith was deeply influencing by RunDMC. When asked why he got into rap as The Fresh Prince, Smith answered that he saw the video of Run DMC doing a stadium concert in Japan when during the concert they told everyone to hold up their Adidas.  Smith said seeing the influence these guys had over 20,000+ Japanese fans in that moment made him want to get into it.  For those who don’t know the picture in this post is of my current version of the shoes which I grew up with in Baltimore and there is a collectors addition commemorating  the 25th  anniversary of the song My Adidas, available.

The other interview that got me thinking this week was from Inc. with Russell Simmons.  Russell is one of the great culture leaders in our country and the world, this interview also gives him the opportunity to talk about his deep spiritual side to his life and ventures.  He does have one great story he tells about LL Cool J and a commercial for The Gap. Sometimes the most powerful culture changers are clearly in your face but so transcendent that you cannot even see them, and for America there is a great responsibility for it’s citizens to respond to such a beautiful and tragic influence that has so deeply shaped us.

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>A Primer on Machine Translation

In Theology,welocalize,work on November 4, 2010 by mstevensrev

>As many of you know my full time vocational work revolves around getting English content translated into other languages, most of my clients are in technology. Like everything these days everyone wants to know hoe to do it faster, and often times cheaper. That is where Machine Translation comes into the picture. When I started in the industry just a few years ago, my common line was that machine translation would not be a viable option for ten years, well that was sn overestimation and now I have many clients with it in full production.

Here are the most basics around machine translation, so if you are at a cocktail party and it comes up you can impress your friends (thank me later):

For Consumer products there are great free options out there from Google, Babelfish, and Microsoft. These are good for getting the gist of a translation, though if relied upon too much can lead to awkward situations. One friend who just bought a company in Korea typed into the translator, “We are excited to do business with you.” the translation engine spit out, “We are horny to do business with you.”. In our industry everyone has about four or five of those stories.

There are excellent commercial machine translation engines out there Moses (open-source), ProMT, and SysTRANS. Each of these have consumer options so if you just want to geek out go for it. There is also plenty of time to discuss the differences between rules based, statistical, and hybrid engines so we will cover that later.

At the end of the day we are still making it about the Post Editors (name for translators when they work on Machine Translation output). When you have the correct people enjoying their work on that end it will pay off on the client end. There is a long way to go on that front but as a company we are working very closely with our supply chain and clients to move this industry into the future.

What is the connection for me? It’s all about the “word”. God chose to communicate with us in written form, translation has been at the heart of that communication from the very beginning. Now I have the joy to work in an industry where that is the focus, correct and efficient translation. How does technology change us? As people, as spiritual being, in how we related to the “word”.

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>Proverbs 10:1-3

In Bible,devotional,faith,family,Proverbs,Translation Services,work on July 4, 2010 by mstevensrev

>1 The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.

Families are connected. Even when I was younger I could tell that my actions as a son had deep effects upon my parents. Now that I am a parent I see the hopes I have for my kids and how their good and bad decisions effect me.

Proverbs was written to young business men, used to help train them in how to be successful in the way God would want. Perhaps it is because I am in my thirties or even because I’m not earning my living through working at the church, regardless I am amazed at how many men live for the approval and acknowledgement of their father. This drive is at the core of most men. They either receive it and know they are okay or are continually driven frantic in the pursuit of it.

That is not the same for men and boys with their mom. Mom will say “he was a nice boy” even while he sits on death row, approval is not the issue. Deep sadness and sorrow is though. Men and fathers will mask or remove themselves from the heartache, mom’s will never escape it.

To me both these pictures are found in the Gospel. In Jesus we have the full acceptance of the Father. So whether your dad is dead or alive, whether you have his approval or not, you can still know that you are fully accepted by your heavenly Father. Second he finds joymor delight in you. There are no step children with God, he chose you and you a his. You can completely blow in and his heart does not lose joy for you. He is on your side and with you.

2 Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death.

When I started in my first sales job there were many lessons. On important one was that the ends justified the means. When it was at the end of the month you forced through everything you could in order to get that larger check and keep your numbers up. At the end of the day everyone was looking at profit. God’s accounting does not work that way. He wipes that line clean. Sadly it took years for me to see that my work and how I do it matters, not just what position I am in at the end of the quarter.

There is a death that comes along with seeking profit at all cost. We see this all the time in our economy with these business that go down this road. Most recently the real-estate collapse, where tons of folks who could affording mortagages we sold them, now many are jobless and have lost their home. There is allittle bit of death we all experience with these events. Can we create, support, and work within business models that deliver from death raher then create it. These can be profitable world changing business and ideas, I mean why wouldn’t God want to make these service thrive! This is what his kingdom is about, Jesus did it through preaching and healing, and yet he said that after him we will do much greater things, what does that mean? I don’t know but do not limit your I imagination when it comes to the kingdom of God.

3 The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

These three verses have a connection to me. How righteousness effects the family, how righteousness plays out in work, and how God cares for the righteous. Though we are encouraged to not solely focus on profit, we can have peace that God is focus on our bottom line! He will not let you go hungry, so go for it. Let your hope and imagination run wild.

One of my favorite quotes is from Bill Gates who was asked how much money is enough, his response “one more dollar”. You can judge for yourself whether Bill Gates is wicked, he’s done more to effect the world for probably both good and bad then most people who live so I’m uncertain how to even judge. His statement though express a desire and drive that i find in my own heart. That craving that regardless of what I have a little more will satisfy. God can thwart that craving, his plan undermines these folks.

Dreams, one of my favorite recent stories is about the dream Karin, my wife, and I shared at the end of my first year of my current job. I had just gone through a major transition from full time vocational ministry into selling localization services. It had been a great year and we decided to let it ride in this direction, before that there was always a thought in the back of our minds I’d try to get a church job again. So we prayed and we dreamed. I made a list of all the clients I wanted to have within technology to sell localization to, I talked about being the top salesperson in the entire industry. Within one year every company I had named I was working with. I’m in a position that people work their entire career to secure, and God deserves all praise. Even as I share that story I am left wondering when was the last time I dreamed that way? What is the next exciting only attainable through the work of God hope that I have? The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry!

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>Proverbs 8 :1-11

In Bible,Proverbs,work on June 8, 2010 by mstevensrev

>The Blessing of Wisdom

1 Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice?
2 On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand;
3 beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud:
4 “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man.
5 O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense.
6 Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right,
7 for my mouth will utter truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
8 All the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.
9 They are all straight to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge.
10 Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold,
11 for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.

Here is the second woman reaching out to men is the streets in the book of Proverbs, Wisdom or in verse one she is also called understanding. The substance of her message varies from the other woman of proverbs in that Wisdom raises herself up whereas the other woman talks about what you can get away with. Wisdom in this passage appears more self centered, though her benefits are also clearly listed.

Her words are straight – no confusion, she says what she means
Right – that means good all the time
Better than our desires – this is the biggest difference between the two ladies, the first only talked about how she can fulfill the desires of young men. Wisdom simply says she is better than those desires. Often those desires get fulfilled or change. God does not leave you hanging forever with things you desire, now that’s not to say that His timing is my timing so I might feel like it is taking forever. What are these better things:
Instruction-there is a way that life just works out better, we can fight it, try to be more enlighten, but at the end of all our striving God has created the world with a particular order and we thrive when we work within it
Knowledge-the right thing to do at the right moment, knowledge separate from action is mental masturbation. One professor in seminary I had said that you never know something until you live it and I agree.
Wisdom-knowledgeable insight into the way the world works that allows you to take and instruct others in right action. This will be looked at in depth throughout the rest of this chapter and as the theme of Proverbs looked at through the rest of the book.

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>Good Friday Meditation on work

In devotional,work on April 2, 2010 by mstevensrev

>If God has been relied upon for all of history intentionally or
unintentionally by farmers, fisherman and everyone else for his
provision in nature, why not for me now. This was the basis of their entire economy,
society, existence, and the personal calling to work. God's promise
is to provide, and he has over time. We can look at tragedies as the
exception to prove the rule, the potato famine, starvation in Africa,
etc.

Can God orchestrates the events in my daily life for my good and His
glory? Then why do I not rely on him with the same weight as the
farmer trusts in God providing rain? Why do I feel like it is about my
actions and not His work in time?

Over the years, I have been unfaithful in my work and very faithful, regardless
God was the one who sustained it. Often the times where I am diligent
and faithful to the work I take God put of the equation. My
faithfulness to being a good employee should be a response of
obedience to God's faithfulness not a tool to manipulate His promises.

Today we remember the cross which Christ suffered. Truly the most
significant act of work in the history of the world. Do I believe
that? Will my actions today demonstrate a servants heart based on that
truth, or will I go along nervious and broken as usual?

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>Thoughts on old fashion journaling

In journal,work,writing on April 20, 2009 by mstevensrev

>Not so in to it. I know that I have friends who live and die by it, and it really makes me feel like I’m missing out because I can find the deep connection there.

Currently though I am writing in a journal as I write down answers to career questions. This is helpful. First I think because it has a point. I’m able to sit back and write down answers rather than just float ideas out there. If I want to float ideas I’d rather do it on a blog. Second it has an end. There is never enough when it comes to a journal, therefore it is overwhelming to me. Having a clear purpose and hopefully time period devoted to such writing makes it bearable to me.

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>My Banking customer service story…

In banking,work on March 14, 2009 by mstevensrev

>I have been a member of a credit union back in MD since I was about twelve years old, maybe earlier. While living there had a great experience and therefore thought that credit unions were great. After I began moving around the country it was not as good of service, but I understood because 95% of their customers were local and that is what they needed to focus on. So over the years I’ve open accounts but never closed my credit union account.

Just the other week I started using new personal finance software, and I wanted to like this account to my overall profile. It had been ages since I used their online banking and of course I got locked out because I couldn’t remember my member number or password correctly.

So that got me to call them today. I had found an statement with my member number, after I finally got through they told me the account was closed because of inactivity and when that happens all the funds go directly to the state of Maryland. Nice, thankfully it was only $10. I asked about if they normally notified people they were doing this and they said yes, but I had not been notified and they had no excuse.

The really fun part came when I said. Look if you all don’t want me to have an account no problem, please just provide me the information I need to link the credit card associated with the account. This was the card we used for our trip to FL last month. I wanted an exact number so we could pay off that trip. That got them very interested. “Every credit card must be linked to an open account, how do you have a credit card?” I thought okay this is how they are going to settle this because of credit they are suddenly interested in me as a client.

It get better. Okay Mr. Stevens, even though we closed your account without notifying you, and we have allowed you to keep a credit card which is not standard practice of our bank, SEND US A CHECK SO THAT WE CAN REOPEN YOUR ACCOUNT. I laughed and asked them to say it three times, laughing more each time though she wasn’t getting the joke. I said you made a mistake, you don’t have any answers as to why the mistake was made, and now you solution is for me to send you more money, does that seem reasonable to you? Anyway, I said there is no way I am sending you money unless you reopen my account, they told me they will look into other solutions and contact me back on monday.

Banking doesn’t make sense the way we do it. The service sucks. This case is even worse because it is a small bank on the east coast therefore I can never remember to call them during working hours during the week, and then on Saturday they don’t have qualified people working and or I have to wake up early to call.

I wonder how my clients would respond to, “Yes, I made a mistake and I don’t know why. Can you send me a check so I can correct it.” Classic.

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>side jobs

In family,Technology,work on February 14, 2009 by mstevensrev

>I guess everyone is getting one with the way things are going these days.  the catch with mine is that I don’t get paid for it, that might not be the whole truth when you help out your spouse.  

so check out the website i’ve been working on for Karin.  Still has some work but is interesting to me.  taking technology and making collaboration and accessibility possible for artist is pretty cool.  The site isn’t very complex, intentional, but also the limits of the one working on it.
check it out and follow if you want…
karinstevensdance.com

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>The Full move into Geekdom

In Fun,work on May 2, 2008 by mstevensrev

>It’s bad when I still get excited out on the Microsoft Campus or at Amazon.com, but yesterday it went to an entirely new level. Yesterday I am working in the Bay Area. As I drove around Silicon Valley I had the normal excitement of all that is going on there. I realized I had moved to an entirely different level, when I turned in Palo Alto, and without seeing a sign recognized then proceeded to act like a teenage girl in the audience of American Idol when I saw…Xerox. Yes the main building for Xerox corporation. When I sold copiers I hated them, simply because they were the best. After reading about them recently and finding out that basically everything that has been invented (at least for computers) started there! Anyway even with my appointments yesterday and seeing old friends the thing I wake up this morning thinking about is the feeling I had when I saw that building…Geek.

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>Things that affect my blog

In blogging,work on April 24, 2008 by mstevensrev

>The number one factor that has been effecting my blogging is twitter. I used to feel that I had to write a few hundred words that would profoundly impact the world every day. Twitter has lead me to use my blog more for thoughts and in the moment comments. I’m not sure how helpful it is for me in my discipline of writing, which is supposed to prepare me to be the next great American writer, but it has influenced me.

Second is my iPhone. I now take an send pictures to my blog. This trend I really like. I never had the time to transfer images from my camera to my computer to my blog. Right from my phone works for me.

Third is change at work. Work has been pretty demanding. I don’t have the energy I had last year at this time. I wake up in the mornings and it is hard for me to get going. I’m less than two weeks away from a marathon and often that is just how my body reacts when I get close to race day. All the training has taken it toll. Also the weather in Seattle sucks. It has continued to be very cold and that has had an effect on me. I mention that under work because my office is very cold, I am still wearing Long John’s this week!