Financial Times Competition

Hi all, I’m participating in a Financial Times competition to win a weekend away, care to add a quick vote? To vote, only a click in the Financial Times website is needed, no details of any kind required -> http://myftweekend.ft.com/entries/aOrMrI

The judges choose from the ten top entries. The price being a paid weekend doing something we could not afford to do otherwise. It can be an arts, family, life or adventure weekend.

My entry is currently 11th… not bad :). Want to know what I wished for? http://myftweekend.ft.com/entries/aOrMrI

The comp ends on Halloween.

Masonic Temple, Liverpool St., London

MTMain

Colossal columns and slabs of marble, each piece as complex and absorbing as nature itself. The dark mahogany furniture, doors and flooring are as imposing to the eye as they are reassuring to the touch. Every element in this time capsule appears to have been forthrightly built to outlast time. How, is not clear.

The Masonic Temple at the Andaz Liverpool Street Hotel in London is an impossible statement against the inevitable. Its chiselled wisdom betrays ambition, extravagance and opulence, despite an attempt to conceal them under austere colours and low lighting.

Order, truth, trust and wisdom are also conceptualised, however, the room fails to testify to the order’s belief that in passing, man has and is what he did, experienced and offered. Nothing else.

It clings onto material existence as if fearing to lose or let go of its richness and sensory pleasures.

MTStaircaseFrom the ground floor, an icy marble staircase leads to the antechamber of the Masonic Temple. The soft cushioning of the carpet and the vast white marble veranda impress, as a walk among clouds would, on a path to a castle in the sky.
Why ostentatiously decorate this room with heavy and persisting materials if it is housed inside a building structurally weaker in comparison?
MTDoorsI couldn’t help imagining the crumbling building, burying with it the heavily clad room. A castle in the sky.

The antechamber plays intriguingly with harmonic proportions and base materials. The heavy doors to the temple pivot, light as feathers, on an unseen, weighted mechanism. They are the only reference to fluidity I could find and the only aspect of the masonic expertise I could experience in the time we were given to visit the location.

I’m not clued up enough to say this post is anything other than personal experience. I can share however my impressions and a few more pics at: https://www.flickr.com/amavergara/ Including one of the second grand chair presiding the room.

If you know of reading that would help in finding out more about the location please do feel free to share in the comments.

Thanks for reading, subscribing and hopefully liking this post,

Alejandra

Online self-publishing and promotion

I am researching how best to promote my social hub & company-to-be web online and found an interesting fact about how Google indexes sites. The search engine is able to crawl and identify unique content and how often it is updated. It can identify self-promotion and business promotion content which of themselves are not considered high ranking content. This makes it that bit harder to promote a personal or product brand online while prioritising sites that bring new, valuable content to their readers.

Under this scenario, to successfully promote skills, creative work or a product, an owner would have to find a unique, interesting, related topic, and nurture it into a site that users will come back to regularly for exclusive content. Its success would depend on how dedicated the owner is to ploughing through the information and maintaining it online.

I’m almost referring here to the rare “makes a living out of his hobby” situation. Rewording and publishing relevant research discoveries that can be shared is a good example of what Google would rate “high ranking” content while being easy to maintain often. Other examples would be topic dedicated sites, like a site on bees, city spots, sports cars, cute & funny photos, emoticon collections… You get the idea.

The keys to online in-house promotion are then to: 1) first, find a personal and unique style; 2) then develop the product’s brand fully with as many varieties of media as possible; 3) then, simultaneously develop a linked ‘topic’, that most users would be interested in and come back to; 4) making content uploads a daily must-do. Not that long ago, meta-tags, keywords and site descriptions were the one and only concern…

So what’s our topic?

Time is not an issue for ‘Fine Bouche’

As personal blogs go this one isn’t toning down the egocentrism and as such, today’s post is all about me. Or at least all about something I like. I think I’ve already babbled about my first degree in Graphic Design and my appreciation for genius creative ideas. This post celebrates one of those happy miracles giving seasoned designers a reason to live.

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The hard-back book in the video and pictures is a second-hand marvel. The happy produce of design mating with time. The cover is made of fabric, a finely weaved tinted fabric. It was initially meant to be purple from head to toe, just like the pages, but something happened with time. A daily dose of Sun and Moon light weakened the fabric’s tincture around the edges and spine of the book, producing a perfectly graded shift from purple to light pink. Some of the purple held onto the fabric’s weave adding metallic sprinkles among the pink. The effect is so beautiful to look at the digital camera had trouble capturing it.

The gilded serif lettering complements the sprinkles and pink-to-purple transition.

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If a designer had wanted to achieve the same effect with bleach or other chemicals, the book would have looked as good with extreme difficulty and too much by way of investment.

A beautiful effect to appreciate.

The detail in the pages (colour, texture and the typeface effects) are also worth a close look.

Do you have any book covers you love? Care to share?

P.S: Sorry about the lame music in the video… does nothing for ‘Fine Bouche’s good taste.
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The Memory Gauge

I was told some time ago that memories where the cornerstones of progress and learning.

Now I know that memories can also be corroded, worn out and spent, crumbling and collapsing with them all development built over.

I learn better through analysing experiential memories than I do through reading or studying. For this reason, my memories are the base of most of what I know and do.

I use them to understand what happened in the past, learn today and plan for the future. However, there is such a thing as to over think and wear out memories to oblivion, formulating without tangible proof _other than ‘instinct’_ the reasons, motives and facts that made them possible.

Since I need my memories to guide me through my development plan, I invented and visualised a gauge that lits up when a memory or thought is being overworked.

We have all been told at some point or other ‘to stop going over the past’… yet, contrary to intentions, this only exacerbates the act. As a natural survival impulse, only actions that recognise this act’s validity will really help moderating it.

This is what drove the following solution to the problem: I got into the habit of visualising a car fuel gauge, needle and colours and all. I visualised it everytime I noticed myself getting tired or stressed. I saw the gauge pointing to red when a memory was overworked. It took no time at all for this to happen on its own because the method follows my learning and comprehension styles.

It went further onto developing itself: once I acknowledge the gauge I either automatically think of a self-defense move or remember the famous Scarlett O’hara quote: “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

I learnt first and foremost that the way to progress and breaking habits is to acknowledge their survivalistic origin and positive reason for being a part of how we understand and experience the world around us.

I also learnt that the widely advertised ‘habits of successful people’ work for them because they tailored the habits to their personalities and learning styles, not because they are fire proof tools for everyone.

Courage

Courage has always been a vital part of human life. Raw courage would have been a vital part of our ancertors’ lives as they survived illness, adverse weather and their environment on a steady diet of social ties, food and courage.

Modern life seems to want to obliterate courage by calling it risk. Nowadays, to have the courage to enjoy the basic freedom of speech is sometimes considered conflictive or mindless bravery.

Courage is not dwindling because humans are any more tyrannical and cruel than ever before. It is disappearing because of the self-complacency and laziness comfort bred in the first world. A fact that has happened before and will continue to occur.

From an individual’s perspective, to cleverly and tactfully enjoy courage is to fulfill a basic human life requirement. Particularly when an environment doesn’t fulfill us anymore.

This post ties in with my 31 July post on Tradition (such as education and beliefs) as a means to anchor us when undergoing a time of transition and change. That is, when invoking courage.

Tradition

In a moment of inspiration I saw tradition in a different light, not as a set of rules with origins in the past and a credibility vouched for by others, but as a means of anchoring oneself during times of insecurity, uncertainty and change.

Tradition is the choice that can never go wrong, the petite veste noire de Chanel that noone regrets wearing.

Tradition is the choice that keeps us sane while we figure out beliefs, unprecedented experiences or loss.

We are safe to innovate and evolve when tradition is nearby. Tradition is the trunk that supports the branches and the systematic element we simply could not exist without.

Online Promotions

ImageOf all posts about self-published work or goods and services for sale, only those with a fan base make the cut.

What about newbies to the online self-publishing trade? Does successful online promotion follow two principles: quantity and noise?
Quality seems to be individually judged with time, gradually, via recurrent posts to a growing audience that relates to the work and gains something from it.

‘Shock ‘n scandal’ or ‘Misleading’ methods are a dime a dozen… the sort of tool I’d sooner cut my ankles than use.

What other online promotion methods or tools (bar money) are there for self-published authors/artists?

I’m hearing good old word of mouth (inc reviews) is a good way forward and apparently the Amazon algorithms are a total must for Amazon Kindle publishers. Does anyone know where I could find the Amazon algorithm output for an eBook on Amazon?

P.P. (Post Postum): I’ve had a few queries about the images I use. They’re paintings in the public domain which can be found at wikipaintings.org. The Art Nouveau engraving in this post is entitled ‘Woman in a Bookshop’, by Aubrey Beardsley.

MarmVlade™ Inc

Gniamo!
I published the first version of this humour short story entitled ‘MarmVlade™ Inc.’via Amazon in December 2013 and as expected, the internet didn’t fail to surprise.

With a little more experience I am ready to dip more than my toe in the self-publishing world. Below is a description of what is now the final version of this story and further down are the links to the worldwide Amazon sites selling it.

A second eBook is in the making that will cruise these seas with greater resolve. Any feedback that you aged self-publishers have would be much appreciated.

‘MarmVlade’ is the flagship product of the obscurely named ‘MarmVlade™ Inc.’, a successful multinational whose business is sugar in all its forms (mostly refined). The company devises a marketing campaign to expand its customer base in competition with ‘Jams&Spreads™ Ltd.'; a rival company whose luck is proportional to the business acumen and savoir-faire of “MarmVlade’s” directorship and staff. Under a perpetual sugar rush, our protagonists deal with the side effects of customer loyalty and frenzied insulin to apparently not so great effect.

This humorous novelette (not even) was written in a screenplay format with no other moral objective than to entertain the author and her readers. Despite the humorous and surreal imagery, I do hope this début eBook will bring as much enjoyment to you, dear reader, as it did to me,

Yours digitally,
Alejandra M. A. Vergara

For Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.de
http://www.amazon.de/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.fr
http://www.amazon.fr/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.es
http://www.amazon.es/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.it
http://www.amazon.it/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.co.jp
http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.com.br
http://www.amazon.com.br/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.ca
http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.in
http://www.amazon.in/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.com.au
http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00F5BW7D2

Free Will or Predeterminism?

fancy-freeI’ve placed my bet, I’ve made my choice.

The question is itself a testimony of free will. It exemplifies our ability to ask questions, examine choices, make decisions and take action; thereby making us accountable for the cause and effect of the choices we make.

In the absence of absolute proof that there is an omnipotent being who predetermined everything; in the absence of absolute proof that we are but an atom in the tight weave of an Unity that expands and regroups itself cyclically; and/or, in the absence of substantial reading to over complicate the topic, we can only go by what we can be certain of.

That is, that we are fully responsible for our actions and that whatever happens onto us only alters the choices we are able to make moving forward.

Choosing freewill over fatalism was liberating.

Fatalism seems to me to be a detached and far too comfortable approach to life. It’s almost the diabolus* of the non-believing mind. The logic onto which blame (own or otherwise) can be diverted in order to attain happiness.

Our capacity to use tools and lay blame elsewhere defines us… If only we could do so wisely.

*The ‘thrown across’.

Gloriously Emotive

the-trappistine-1897         I’m sitting at The Ivy (all expenses paid by a soul I love more than my own) waiting (for the aforementioned soul to finish gracing Westminster’s sewers) and reflecting on human emotions and where they’re at their most observable. I’ve read somewhere, probably Grazia or Vogue or such other vapid advert runway, that human urges are truly at their most observable in restaurants. At this particular one, demonstrable appetites seem to have entered a ‘no-go’ zone. The plates are adorned with something that looks nowhere as nourishing as the price tag implied, almost barely the sapped essence of what we ordered. To observe an urge here would be to witness the paranormal, acknowledge ghosts exist and could be desired by size zero’s. What is observable in restaurants, workplaces (and everywhere else you’re thinking of) isn’t ‘urges’ at their purest, it’s constant ‘authored restraint’: That is: *Disguised emotions that imply urges without disturbing the immediate vicinity with emotional sound-waves that could incur attentions other than the calculated ones.* With enough practice the Pantone swatch of expressions we use to display ‘moderation’ and ‘self-possession’ becomes easier to browse through and identify. Consciously or otherwise. Good Emotional Intelligence and Body Language courses beyond what you’ll find in mainstream catalogues will push you to identify what informs the gestures or expressions we ourselves choose to use. Having attended those courses, and knowing the theory and consequences, I still opt for unrestrained everything. I am not doing the moment or my sweet company justice by authoring emotions. I want my life to reflect me at my raw-est. The dubious minds among you, dear readers, will equate this to ‘wearing one’s heart up one’s sleeve’; an ‘easy target’, ‘asking for it’. To those, all I can say is: ‘Get your face off my elbow so I can put it back in my sleeve.’ Transparent emotions don’t make victims, they make walking curses of those that try to bruise their bearers. More importantly, they make fulfilling lives for those that enjoy experiencing them.

Portfolio

I’m back, it’s been a while since I last blogged my musings instead of only sharing them on weekend evenings with good company and good generous helpings of grape elixirs.

This post (you’ll be grateful to know) is not one of my musings but a blog update. What do you think of my artwork? It can be seen and commented on here: http://alejandraarroyo.wordpress.com/portfolio/

Psychology & Behavioural Economics

Nugget post:
My interest is growing for Psychology and Behavioural Economics. I have always been interested in Demographics but my background being Finance a crucial aspect was missing.

I was surprised by the revelation that, despite the enormity of both these subjects, what informs them and the people that theorise them, is the day-to-day thoughts and interactions we rarely acknowledge out loud.

Whether you are relating to friends, colleagues at a meeting, a partner or a person you have a crush on, the – sometimes subtle – thoughts that run through your head will strongly determine the progress and outcome of those relationships.

From “I can feel something in my nostril, let me stop this conversation and do a mirror check.” to “He left because I was boring and my breath stinks.” every one of those thoughts and focus-deviating ideas are routed in bigger mind matters such as, a past event that made us insecure or society’s take on “dumb” blond people.

Add all those countless interactions together, for each individual in any location, and you have an economy that thrives proportionally to HOW OPEN IT IS TO PERSONAL UNDERSTANDING.

I was hoping the capitals would help emphasize what I mean but I can now see they only make the post look ugly. Anyway,… ampler observations on the topics above are on their way. Thanks for reading : ).

Psychology: The Currency of Affection

Thought of the day, Sunday 24/11/2013. Like a soup but with words.
Most accept that someone’s affection can be bought with any such currencies as time, money, dieting or even a life.

The fact is that affection has freewill and that, inevitably, chaos ensues once any attempt is made at giving affection a value. A heart-rending truth is that once someone’s attention becomes overvalued, he or she will naturally not choose to deter others from giving away their time and money in return for it.

More wretched still is that faking affection for a price has now long become a fully fledged business model, following strong public demand.

This poignant documentary debates just that: is faking affection an acceptable business model? By return: is the celebrity culture any different?

The documentary leaves the door open to much more complex and involved debate around the age old question: is a business’ T&Cs fine print acceptable if it doesn’t require acknowledgement of the devastating implications of inflated attachment?

In Investment Finance, declaring risks is a big party pooper but one that financial regulators finally recognised as being crucial to maintaining healthy economies. Should the same be done to business models revolving around crucial life goals such as affection and self-worth?

EDIT: thanks for the tip :)! There is indeed a form to fill in! See:

Atheism aimed too high

This short “Thought of the Day” post presents a personal opinion on atheism and proposes opening a debate on the same. It is informed by personal experience resulting from an exploration of different faiths this past decade.

A Roman Catholic since I was a foetus, I rebelled by exploring spiritism, wicca, agnosticism and atheism in what I now know to be a search for the meaning of Life in the wrong place: others.

As a re-re-re-converted Roman Catholic version 4.1, I oftentimes reflect on past choices. Here’s a reflection on atheism.

Atheism aimed (what I think is a poorly constructed ideology) mostly against God and the hierarchy of the Church, lead by a Messiah. Atheism doesn’t exist as a faith in its own right but as an antagonistic belief that automatically opposes all divine, supernatural figures and their related rites. It also forgot that all organised society, and most of us in it, need role models and life advice. These are the reasons why I think atheism will never be valid to anyone beyond those seeking attention, social dissociation and recognition from self-appointed “analytical, down-to-earth minds” that curiously assume the same status and burdens that Church leaders have.

The trait that gives atheism away as a “rebellion without cause” is its failure to consider the great mysteries that are human conflict and context. Internal and environmental. Atheism failed to address the critical and humane needs to assert identity and answer existential questions. A topic that C. G. Jung explored in depth.

To live without wondering where everything originates from is to lead a half-life in my opinion.

Admittedly, it could be argued against the above that atheism does attempt to fill the existential void by turning to a divine figure that jealously guards all the answers to existence: science. A figure that will be channelled in due course by a saviour figure in lab robes and thick glasses.

I considered this (in more serious and unbiased terms) but it didn’t do much to amend my view of atheism’s purpose. Science to me is a tool, a methodology, nothing more.

Maybe this personal bias makes it difficult for me to accept (again) that there is any validity in the anthropocentric belief that is atheism. I’d need some reading or ideas on that and any reader’s feedback might help too : ). Please rate, comment, share much appreciated.