What is our relationship to the police today?

This article was very interesting.  It makes some broad generalizations that I’m sure would be offensive to some, and that are certainly not true of every single civil servant, but it also makes some very valid points.

As our country tip-toes toward becoming a police state, these are things that all of us should be pondering.  Then watch this and this, and check out these as well.  With all the heavy-handed police stories on the news today, we all need to know our rights.


More Palin Stuff

This is not generally a political blog, but there is so much fascinating Palin-related stuff out there, and I really want to help the public become as informed as possible.  I think it’s important that as many Americans as possible know as much as possible, so that we can make informed decisions in November.  And so, without further ado, here are a few little nuggets of Palin goodness:

Okay, that was more funny than informative, but I think that the huge LACK of information in this interview really says something about what kind of information the McCain administration actually has (or doesn’t have?  or doesn’t want to share?) about Sarah Palin.

Also, if you have a minute, you should check out this article by a woman who knows Mrs. Palin personally.  I found it very enlightening.

Obviously, while these things paint a certain picture of Palin, they don’t tell the whole story.  In fact, it’s hard to get “the whole story” about anyone, ever.  If you have more info that would further enlighten me or my lovely readers, regardless of which political party it looks good for, please feel free to post your links in the comments section.  I really do want to know as much as I possibly can about this woman.

Life in a Nutshell

Mom emailed me, and she asked, “What’s new with you this week?”

Out poured an actually decent explanation – a far cry from my usual writer’s block this month – so I thought I’d share it with y’all. I’ve also included pictures for your viewing pleasure. Here it is:

Not much. We went to Teresa’s bbq, of course, and at one point I lost track of Ariel and had one of those parent horror moments where you’re sure your child is dead (they had a large pool in the backyard, and the back door was open). My stream of consciousness was is she in there what if she’s in there how long has she been in there is she dead she must be unconscious cuz she’s not thrashing can she be revived how long has she been deprived of oxygen will she be brain damaged oh my god… And then Matty assured me that the pool was empty. But I was still kinda shaky for a good portion of the night. I have a newfound hatred of pools.

(Teresa, just so you all know, is a friend that we met on WoW. We’ve been friends for months, and she was living in Arizona, but she just moved to Vancouver last week. We were lucky enough to get to meet her this weekend. It’s weird hearing such a familiar voice come from the face of a stranger!)

They sent us home with a ton of leftover food (Teresa had bought and prepped enough food to feed all of Vancouver), so we’ve been working on polishing that off over the last few days.

I’ve been weeding out those little weeds that were between the bricks that I told you about. Remember how I said that they were kinda pretty and I wanted to just leave them there and maybe just take out a few of the bigger ones?

The yard in April

The yard in May

Well, they’re all 3 feet tall now. And wanna guess what they are? I’ll give you a hint – Dan starts sneezing when he heads toward the back. Give up? Ragweed! Woohoo! I’ve been cultivating a field of allergens, and they’re ripe for harvest!

Ragweed Leaf Close-Up

And guess what lovely creatures think that ragweed is absolutely delicious? Slugs! And snails! Which would explain why there are slug babies all. over. the. plants. I mean, I would weed for a little bit, and then I’d look down, and I’d have like 3 or four baby slugs on my gloves. It was… astounding.

So I’m almost half-way done clearing the back. Obviously, there’s no way Dan’s gonna do it – I wouldn’t even ask him to. The poor guy is enough of a sneezing wreck when he mows the lawn, for crying out loud. It feels good to get out there and pull up 3 foot plants by hand (girl power!), and it’s a decent workout for my arms and thighs (yeah, my thighs! sore all day! go figure!).

What’s new with you?

Tasty Tuesday: Calling All Cooks!

As some of you may know, I’m really trying to decrease the amount of meat in our diets over here at Makeshift Manor. The trouble is, it’s hard for me to find many hearty, filling meals that do not incorporate meat. Yeah, I do a lot of meatless burritos, chili, and vegetable soups, but beyond that, it’s easy to get stumped.

Mr. Makeshift wants dinners to be “real dinner” – that means, from scratch, delicious, filling, and decidedly dinner-esque (not something that a person might just as easily have for breakfast or lunch, at least not most of the time). So tossing some veggies and hummus on the table and telling him to “dig in” isn’t really an option.

(Please, no hate comments for Dan. He’s a great guy, and me cooking real dinners was an original part of the plan when we got married. I’m happy to have that job, even though I don’t always feel particularly energetic about it.)

SO, I want to ask you all today – what are your favorite vegetarian, vegan, or near-vegetarian dinners? Oh, and I should say that I am not allowed to cook with tofu, by order of the lord of the manor.

You can leave a comment here with your recipe or a link to it, or you can email me at makeshiftmeals at gmail dot com. I’ll try any recipes that sound edible to both of us, take pictures (assuming you haven’t already blogged the meal with pictures), and review it with a link back to your blog. Not that I get a ton of traffic over here, but hey, every little bit helps, right?

Hurry! Dan’s starting to get hungry! 😉

Thanks, all!

Sunday: A Day of Rest?

I’m thinking that on Sundays, maybe I will just show you something awesome that I’ve found online.

Maybe not every Sunday, because I might have something that I’m excited to say on Sunday, and I don’t want to wait.  But this Sunday, at least.

So, how awesome is this?

Almost makes me wish I had an interview coming up!

Now if only I had known about this site a couple years ago…

WFMW Themed Edition: Online Shopping


Welcome back to Makeshift Mama’s weekly WFMW contribution!  The theme for this week is Online Shopping – we are supposed to tell y’all about our favorite sites!

I don’t do a lot of online shopping, because that requires paying postage (although I do find eBay to be a good resource for some things).

HOWEVER, there is one site that I found while planning my wedding 3 1/2 years ago (can you believe it was 3 1/2 years ago?) that I LOVED, and still visit occasionally.

It’s called Save On Crafts, and it has great discount craft and wedding supplies.  Beautiful jars and vases, a TON of ribbon, craft books, stemware, dried flowers… the list goes on!

Most recently, I bought a pound of dried lavender there (which, by the way, is equivalent to 1 stuffed gallon-sized Ziploc).  I filled sachets (from favors at a friend’s wedding) with them and left them all throughout the house, and it looked like I hadn’t even used any up!  I am now left with a disturbingly large supply of lavender, for the same amount of money that I would have spent for a tenth of it at a retail store.

Maybe I’ll try making one of those aromatherapy hot packs…

Don’t Fall Flat on Your Face: 8 Tips for Becoming an Independent Sales Contactor or WAHM

I was just sitting here thinking about my experience with independent sales in 2004 and 2005, and a list of lessons learned started forming in my head. It occurred to me that I might have a reader who was considering signing up with something like Mary Kay, Avon, or another direct sales company. Before you sign on any dotted lines, please take a moment to learn from my mistakes.

Let’s start with your recruiter. The number one thing to keep in mind is that your recruiter has an incentive to sign you on. Even if they say they don’t, they do. It may be money now, it may be money down the road, it may just be recognition. But the more time they spend trying to pull you in, the more clear it is that they have something to gain.

Your recruiter may seem like the sweetest person in the whole world. They may tell you that they just want what’s best for you, or for you to realize your potential. And they may honestly mean it. But their incentive still colors their perspective.

Second, remember that just because your recruiter says something doesn’t mean it’s true. Again, this doesn’t mean your recruiter is dishonest, just wrongly informed. In my year in Mary Kay, I can’t tell you how many times we were given too-good-to-be-true statistics at our meetings. These statistics didn’t come from MK Corporate, they came from the director’s friend who is also a director who got them from a director in Michigan who got them from her director… Can you see the potential for breakdown here? Also, if it’s not on glossy paper (and maybe even if it is), someone probably just made it on their computer. Don’t trust anything just because it’s in writing – make sure it comes from Headquarters.

Third, remember that you only see success stories, never failures, at meetings. There are two reasons for this. The first is that most of the failures have already left the business or at least stopped attending meetings. The second is that the people in the room who are struggling are discouraged from speaking up about it. This is to keep the mood positive and motivating. Don’t say “I feel so discouraged,” they’re told. Say, “I need a new strategy! I’m gonna try this and this and do better next week!” This may be good for motivation, but it doesn’t give you a good idea of what the average salesperson in your company is actually experiencing.

If you want to know how the average person does in your company, ask around! If you are part of an online discussion group that encourages off-topic posts, post and ask people for their experiences with your company! Send an email to everyone on your email list, asking if they or anyone they know has ever tried selling your item. Run a few Google searches! It will be worth the trouble to get a truly unbiased perspective.

Fourth, don’t fall for the “greed tactic”. I once went to a presentation (not for Mary Kay), in which we watched a video about some of the highest people in the company. We were shown their house – the size of a luxury resort, with a huge, winding pool – and told how they had hosted the entire company there for parties. We were told all about their lavish lifestyle, as they showed the cameraman their collection of expensive vehicles and the woman’s 10 carat diamond ring, which she wore everywhere without fear, she said, “because it’s so big, no one believes it’s real!”

But there are two things to watch out for here. First, these people started years ago, when the company was smaller. If you are being told that your product or service is “one of the best-selling in the country, with a huge sales force!” then there probably isn’t nearly as much room for growth as these people had. Climbing the ladder of success requires assembling your own sales force, and that requires a large enough market in your area to support a brand new, thriving group of sales people.

You also need to realize that greed is not a good “why.” People talked a lot in Mary Kay about your “why.” Your “why” is your motivator – what is the real, underlying reason that you want to succeed? Generally, the most successful people in the company had “whys” like supporting their family during a crisis, proving their worth to themselves or others, or LOVING sales like nothing they’d ever done before. Very few of them say, “I saw a Mercedes and thought, I must have one of those before I die.” There ARE people who become successful with nothing but greed as a motivator, but you have to want all that STUFF more than relationships, pride, or free time in the here and now. If you aren’t willing to sacrifice most of your life in the hopes of getting rich, getting rich is a worthless reason to start a business.

Fifth, invest as little money upfront as you can practically. If you are in a company that encourages it’s contractors to hold inventory, don’t jump on the bandwagon too fast. Some companies provide “first order only” incentives to tempt you to sink a lot of money into your new business. I believe that this is bad form. When you first start, you cannot know for certain if the business is right for you. You might have fabulous visions of yourself easily conversing with your devoted clients and selling them on huge orders, but where will you get those clients, and how do you know that you’ll be so smooth in real life? Ask yourself, “what would happen if no one but my mom ever placed an order with me?” If you would be in financial hot water, re-think your plan.

Sixth, never use a credit card as a “business loan.” If you need a real business loan, go get one, but try to start your company in the black if you can. When you put inventory or other expenses on a credit card, you are placing a bet that you can sell your product faster than your interest will rack up. So what happens if you’re only managing to sell $50 a month, and you’re paying $25 a month in interest and $25 minimum payment on the principal? You make zero profit, that’s what happens. Take it from someone who’s been there.

Seventh, do not expect to sell as much as your recruiter says you will. Your recruiter doesn’t know your friends and family, which is where most sales start. And the better your recruiter has done in the company, the more likely she is to give you an overly-rosy perspective. Remember, if everyone did as well in the company as your director, they’d all be directors.

Finally, if you realize you’ve made a big mistake, GET OUT! When I started Mary Kay, I put $2,400 into inventory. I stuck around for a full year to try to make it work, then backed out at the last moment. But I knew that things weren’t working for me within only a few months. I was able to sell my inventory back to the company – I still had $1,000 in inventory left! – but I had $2,000 left on my credit card. I had sold over $1,000 in products – $2,000 retail, minus sales incentives – but it was only enough to knock $600 (there was an extra $200 spent on sales aids) off of my credit card, when interest and business expenses were included. I was left with over $1,000 outstanding debt.

Do I regret getting out? No way! At that rate, I would have sold the other thousand dollars worth and only knocked off another six hundred, for an outstanding debt of $1,400. Meanwhile, my friends were getting sick of hearing about my products, and I was becoming more convinced every day that I was a failure. Selling back took a huge weight off my shoulders.

But here’s the thing – if I hadn’t bought so much inventory, I would still be selling today part-time, and enjoying it. I liked selling Mary Kay, I just didn’t like being aggressive. I had about 10 clients, and I was happy being their consultant.

Unlike what my recruiter had told me, my clients did not expect me to have their products on-hand, and they did not decide whether to purchase based upon my inventory. If I had simply signed up and placed a small order for personal supplies and samples, I would still be selling today. If I could go back and do that, I would in a heartbeat.

So let’s review:

  • Remember that your recruiter has an incentive to sign you on
  • Just because your recruiter says something doesn’t mean it’s true – check your facts
  • Don’t rely only on success stories – seek an unbiased perspective
  • Don’t fall for the “greed tactic”
  • Invest as little money up-front as you can practically
  • Never use a credit card as a “business loan” – stay in the black, if at all possible
  • Do not expect to sell as much as your recruiter says you will
  • If you realize you’ve made a big mistake, GET OUT!

Keep these tips in mind as you consider your future in independent sales, and you will avoid a lot of regret.