Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Review -- Groundswell

Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies
Charlene Li

This is a fascinating book. Written in 2008, it holds up well, with only one small adjustment. (Read "Facebook" anywhere the book says "MySpace" and you get the idea.)

I'm having trouble finding the exact quote right now, but the thing that stuck with me that I used in a recent presentation at work and am paraphrasing here (and keep in mind this was written in 2008) - and it does assume a business audience - "The only way you don't care about this is is you are retiring in six months."

Yes, yes, but what is the "groundswell?" Groundswell is the notion that social technologies are changing the world. If you try to fight it, you will only hurt your brand, but if you embrace it, it can do wonders for you. Essentially your best customers will feel a sense of ownership, empowerment, and if you give them a way to act on it, they will market on your behalf, they will help with product research, they will keep you honest and accountable, and make you a better company. Unless that's not your intent, then they will bury you.

The book is twelve chapters in length, broken into three sections: Understanding the Groundswell, Tapping the Groundswell, The Groundswell Transforms. The hardbound copy I got from the library was 286 pages and a rather quick read.

Packed with many great examples, you will be able to imagine your own business adopting some of the tactics outlined in the book or avoiding some of the pitfalls experienced by some of the companies here. The examples are all over the board and in many cases, ones you probably will not have seen covered anywhere else. And despite their age, they will still carry well. (Ironically, the introduction starts with an article about Sony - it would be interesting to see a follow-up article now that Sony has alienated the hacking community and are forcing Sony to take its websites offline on an almost weekly basis. Groundswell does have an ongoing website that I've not checked out yet.)

If you have any sort of management/leadership role in a business of any size, I would highly recommend this book. You may want to see some new examples or your eyes may be opened up to potential within your organization you were not aware of.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Sift 136-140

The Sift 136: Infographics

  • NFL Lockout: Social Media Users Weigh In
  • Arab Spring: An Interactive Timeline of Middle East Protests - nice. An infographic in the key of Guitar Hero.
  • LinkedIn Surpasses 100 Million Users
  • Map-based interactive history of Conflicts
  • Stats of the Union: Explore U.S. Health Statistics on the iPad


The Sift 137: Art, Architecture, Design, Fashion and Style

  • Con Form Lab’s CNC Wood Expanding Dining Table Features Cool Sliding Joinery - think placemats seem like a requirement but that would cover up the cool look of this
  • Juliana Santacruz Herrera “Repairs” Paris Potholes With Cheery Renegade Knitting
  • Nelson Mandela Launches 46664 Clothing Line For Charity
  • HOW TO: Master Smartphone Photography
  • Google’s New Green Campus Will Be Designed by German Architectural Powerhouse Ingenhoven


The Sift 138: Social Media

  • The art of “implied” word of mouth
  • 5 Quick Ways to Liven Up Your Twitter Stream
  • MySpace For Sale: The Bidding Begins
  • If you bribe people to post reviews, you get them. Bad ones.
  • Tweeting About Election Results Could Get You in Trouble in Canada


The Sift 139: People

  • Unreasonable
  • Make Big Plans
  • Passion Provokes Action
  • The Flip Side - failure MUST be an option.
  • Three Phone Tips for Antisocial People Like Me Who Hate Phones


The Sift 140: Education, Brain and Thought Leadership

  • Compared to Perfect: The Price/Value Mismatch in Content
  • Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking by Activating Your ‘Go’ System
  • What Separates Good Advice from Bad Advice
  • Ideas and News May 2011
  • Cameron Herold: Let's Raise Kids to Be Entrepreneurs (TED.COM; 19:36)


Sunday, May 29, 2011

He Is I Am

Click on over to YouVersion for the Bible verses.

He Is I Am
Message #12 of "John: A Story to Believe" by Pastor Jeff MacLurg; Our Savior's Baptist Church, Federal Way, Wash.; Sunday, May 22 (My notes from 9 and 10:45 am services, I pray they will be helpful)

=== God: The I Am (Exodus 3:14, John 8:56) ===

The Ten Commandments - God says to Moses - "I AM WHO I AM" - no sense of time. Is, was, always will be. The most extreme, revered name of God.

--- Jesus said "I Am" ---

Jesus: "Before Abraham was, I am." Profound. They knew what Jesus was claiming: 'The one who spoke to Moses? Me.' No wonder they picked up stones to stone him. Blasphemy. He doesn't say it once - it wasn't a mistake.

»» The Bread of Life (John 6:35)

Jesus: "I am the bread of life." Bread was the most common of foods, used to refer to any type of food. Like down south when you say "I want a Coke" and you really just mean you want something to drink. "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."

Notice: Jesus always explains His "I Am" statements.

* Christ SUSTAINS YOU AND SATISFIES YOUR deepest spiritual needs.

»» The Light of the World (John 8:12)

Jesus: "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." He shines a light on your sin, but also shows you a new path to help to deal with/steer clear of sin.

* Christ points YOU TO GOD AND AWAY from sin.

»» The Gate for the Sheep (John 10:7, 9)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Good Day

Yesterday morning at work started with an emergency meeting. We were starting with a crisis - far more work requested than people able to make it happen. Well, as near as we could tell - both in terms of how quickly, and in terms of an unpredictable year. Past years had shown a decline in the summer, but not this year. Oh, there were some extraordinary factors at work this time around, but it still seemed like the work was rising. I went to the meeting with trepidation - was that really what this was about? Was it connected to some rumblings I'm sensing? Was there some question of what I was up to? I wasn't worried about that, but it's always weird when you're asked to bring all the work of your teams to an emergency meeting. Turns out the opposite was true - even though it was possible to see what was going on - we were all so busy that visibility had been lost. But now, eyes were opened. I had no idea what the meeting would cover, but we only talked about one of my teams and as a result of the conversation, I'm going to get some short-term help at the expense of my peers. I feel bad for them, but I think everyone will agree it was the right move. Some additional help presented itself today in ways I wasn't expecting and more may be on the way. This helps me out of jam, but doesn't help me personally. I wouldn't say I'm swimming now, but it's making it a little easier to breathe. And next week, further discussions about my other team. I felt like celebrating. Someone had offered to get me Starbucks on Thursday but the timing wasn't right. But Friday, Friday felt like a Starbucks day. It didn't happen, but maybe this weekend. Maybe also Menchies.

Friday, May 27, 2011


At the end of the month, they're closing the onramp right by my office building.  I would use it to briefly get on the freeway, drive a short distance, pass underneath another freeway and then the freeway I was on would drop off onto a surface street.  Follow that in a straight line and it would lead almost to my driveway.

But they're closing it at the end of the month.  They say in three months, it'll re-open, but I suspect it will only connect to the other freeway, it will no longer lead into town, to Starbucks, to Menchies, to my house.  The alternate routes are a real bummer, too.  

Another reason why @Starbucks needs to place a location east of the 5 in Federal Way.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Happy Endings

"Happy Endings" is a show on ABC that I suspect is underappreciated.  It seems like it should have been on NBC.  Six people, three men, three women, so I guess it probably reminds of Friends.  I can't believe they went on the air with the name and I wonder if they are hurting themselves with the name.

Even more odd, they seem to be playing the episodes out of order.  But even that seems right -- I think if they had played in order, I might not have liked some of the characters as much.

The characters:
Brad (Damon Wayans, Jr.) - married to Jane.  We've also already met his dad, played by Damon Wayans.
Jane (Eliza Coupe) - hilariously competitive.
Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) - left Dave at the altar as the origin/starting point of the show.
Dave (Zachary Knighton) - moves in with Max (sneaks back to the old apartment he shared with Alex because the shower is clean but Alex thinks it's because he still has feelings for her)
Penny (Casey Wilson) - "her own gay husband" - very neurotic
Max (Adam Pally) - a non-sterotypical gay guy, very messy apartment ("That's bird poop.  There's a bird in here.  Alive.") finds out that some guy is living in his attic.

The show is blisteringly funny.  Like funnier than 30 Rock (shut up, Kevin).  I hope ABC gives it a chance.  The show takes place in Chicago.  Or a generic studio lot city scene.

Some selected quotes...

“Meet my friends, Ione and Atticus. She has a blog about zines and he won the mustache contest three years in a row.” — Toby, introducing fake hipster Penny to his friends
“I don’t care.” — Atticus
“See that guy? [Gestures to guitar player] He’s right-handed; he refuses to play with his dominant hand. It’s too commercial.” — Toby
“He’s huge in the abandoned gas station circuit.” — Ione
“What do you think?” — Atticus, to Penny
“Oh, uh … over it.” — Penny
“Totally, super over it.” — the hipsters

“Hey everybody! Look over there! Sofia Coppola‘s playing badminton with Jason Schwartzman!” — Max, distracting the hipsters from the fact that Dave’s food truck has no food

“I’m sick of being your beard. I mean, for someone who behaves nothing like a gay guy, you have even less of an idea how to act like a straight guy.” — Penny, in response to playing Max’s girlfriend of three years in front of his parents

“Operation Beard was a huge success. I owe you big time. If you ever want to get into a country club and you’re looking for a fake white husband, I’m your guy.” — Max, to Jane after she pretends to be his girlfriend at dinner

The good news it's already been picked up for a second season.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Sift 131-135

The Sift 131: Dropbox

  • DropTunes Is a Web Jukebox for Your Dropbox Music Stash
  • Use Dropbox to Locate Your Lost or Stolen Computer
  • Dropbox Forms Is the Easiest Way to Let Anyone Send a File to Your Dropbox Account
  • How to Permanently Delete Old Files from Dropbox
  • Get Dropbox for yourself


The Sift 132: Google

  • Google Street View Adds Imagery of the Coliseum & Other Historic Landmarks
  • Google Offers Easier Way to Transfer Video From Google Video to YouTube - better late than never?
  • Coming Soon to YouTube: Major Hollywood Films?
  • Need more contacts in Gmail? Contacts limit now increased to 25,000
  • Google’s Plan To Win Location & Social


The Sift 133: Advertising, Marketing, News and Media

  • Katie Couric to Leave CBS Evening News
  • Wall Street Journal Launches WikiLeaks-Style Site for Whistle-Blowers
  • AOL Profit Falls 86% as Subscribers Keep Fleeing
  • Facebook Takes 31.2% of the U.S. Ad Display Market
  • Dan Cobley: What Physics Taught Me About Marketing (TED.COM; 7:39)


The Sift 134: Entertainment and Technology

  • DirecTV's $30 per rental premium video on-demand service launched April 21 - and hopefully no one noticed.
  • Nielsen estimates show first drop in TV ownership in 20 years
  • U.S. Carriers Begin Blocking Android Tethering Apps
  • Microsoft patent details a 3D desktop interface with a room for your windows
  • New Smithsonian American Art Museum Exhibit


The Sift 135: Energy, Environment and Science

  • Oklahoma, Where the Wind Comes Sweepin’ Down the Plain
  • Shepherding the Wind
  • Green Algae Could Help Clean up Radioactive Nuclear Waste
  • China Doubles 2020 Solar Power Target to 50 GW
  • Rob Harmon: How the Market Can Keep Streams Flowing (TED.COM; 8:47)


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review -- I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist

I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist
I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist
Norman L. Geisler, Frank Turek

I really appreciated this book.  And I'd really recommend it.  I plan to hang on to this book and regularly re-read it.  I've put it on my to do list to go back through a chapter each month in the next 15 months.

The book is 15 chapters, plus introduction, foreward, preface, acknowledgements, three apendices, notes, general index and scriptural index.  The paperback copy I have clocks in at around 400 pages after you exclude stuff you won't actually read through like the indices and notes.

The book follows this outline:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Holiday Out

By the numbers...

posts read in google reader

jumping jacks

photos uploaded to flickr

articles of clothing washed*

new emails waiting for me at work

tasks completed

emails deleted from my gmail.

ted talks watched (4 not completed)

bottles of water (24oz) consumed. did better earlier in week.

magazines read

miles walked/ran for exercise (+2 more at nw trek)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

God's Ultimate Diet

Jump over to YouVersion for the Bible verses.

God's Ultimate Diet (John 6:16-71)
Message #10 of 'John: A Story to Believe' by Pastor Jeff MacLurg (Our Savior's Baptist Church, Federal Way, Wash.). My notes from the May 8, 2011, 10:45 am service. I pray they are helpful to you.

--- Before the Bread Talk (v. 1-21) ---

"What does it matter whether Jesus is God or not when I've got rent to pay next week and don't have the money to pay it?"

* Sign #4: Feeding the 5,000+ (first three - Water, Healing of the noble Man's son from a distance, healing of the invalid)

* Sign #5: Walking on the water

Why does John lay out these signs?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Coming to an end

Vacation's coming to an end.  Today was the last Saturday of the vacation and tomorrow's Sunday and then back to work.  348 emails sitting in the inbox waiting for my return.  Of course, it's only a partial return as we have one more doctor's appointment with Rachel on Monday afternoon.  I'll do a 90 minute meeting by phone during the drive but I'll miss a couple of hours in the afternoon.  And if the calendar invite is to be believed, I've just been delegated into a 90 minute meeting first thing Monday morning.  (Despite hiding my email and diverting all work calls straight to voicemail, calendar invites still popped up.)

So the rapture didn't happen tonight.  I have lots of thoughts about all that.  Too many to commit to the blog, at least right now.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Just Eat It

One thing I haven't done this week is count my calories.  Also, not as much exercise as I'd wanted to do.  Next week, back to reality.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What Day is It?

Enjoying this vacation.  I'm not getting a lot of big stuff done, but lots of little stuff.  I think my body will be happy with me getting back into the office next week, though.  More exercise, more working outside.  Going to bed late, not sleeping in much later than usual.  Tomorrow, driving Rachel to and from school, a quick trip to Home Depot for some supplies, and hopefully some more reading.  And of course some work around the house since we've got small group tomorrow night.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lobster Theory

Welcome to tonight's installation of "James is on vacation, so here's another lazy last minute bit of randomness."

I was thinking that lobsters are only boiled because some lobster clamped on some chef and he got mad and threw it into a pot of boiling water and stood there smiling as it screamed. And then served it to someone influential.

I mean, if you think about it, how often do you choose boiled meat? It's not like you can get a live boiled cow or duck. (Lori wonders how you get a live cow into boiling water - easy, crane. Also, she takes issue with the duck. Again, easy - little concrete shoes.)

And, yes, yes, yes, fine. Laura says he's a lobster.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In Cave

I realized something today. I was looking at how much of my vacation has passed but I realized I ought to be looking at how much vacation I have left.

I got a lot done today. It's like after Sunday, I just dialed backwards to Saturday and pressed pause. And that... is... awesome.

Today I took my children to school, drove with my wife to South Tacoma to pick up our car, spent time in the yard talking to my neighbors (who are going to cut down a tree I hate!), mowed the four lawns, and then worked on my cave. I finished the excavation, put down weed block, built a desk surface out of leftover plywood, a 2x4 and some leftover linoelum (sits on saw horses), covered more of the underside of the deck so it'll be drier and less windy under the deck, did a better (temporary) wiring job for a light and hung an old trellis on the wall for some visual appeal. Then I played with my children, did a lot of chores, watched some TED Talks, watched the final three episodes of How I Met Your Mother (ironic as it too has a Ted that talks way too much) for the season and did some exercising.

I didn't count, but I think I did more exercising than eating, though there was cake involved. Good cake.

So, yeah, the cave is in pretty awesome shape. In a way, lots more to do, but in a way, starting to look good. Now I just need another rainstorm to see if I did a good job or not.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Guys... I Know Kung-Fu

The greatest thing about this show? There's been so many great places that if it had to end, that would have been perfectly fine.

But yay to a final, abbreviated season to give us a nice send-off. Thanks, NBC!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I forgot my coffee this morning on the way out the door to church. I made it through two services, then lunch, then home. The rain poured almost all day. I drank coffee, did some stuff around the house, watched some TED Talks, drank my reheated coffee. It was a very calm day. I really liked it. Usually I'm a bit stressed on Sunday because I'm looking at all the stuff I want to complete before bedtime, knowing I'm going back to a busy week. But staying home this whole next week meant that this afternoon I was able to be calm - there was no stress. I have the week to get everything done. I do feel like I'm off to a slightly slow start, but that's ok. I don't have to do anything in particular.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Good Day

Vacation Day 1

Birthday Party for Ben - went much better than his actual birthday earlier this week. Lots of family present. Party was at 11, so it was done pretty early in the day. Chocolate cake.

2.5 mile run/walk. Too much walk, not enough run.

Pushed Rachel on the swings for awhile. Looked in vain under the swings for a doll shoe.

Lots of excavation on my cave. Think I'm all but done. Most of the remaining dirt moving is beyond the cave's entrance. Next, laying down weed block. And then rocks. And then constructing retaining walls and adding more cover.

Sat in cave with Rachel and we read books and shared granola bars.

Then it rained a lot. Really loud.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Vacation Starts Now

So normally I have a post each morning.  But Blogger's been busted, and even when it came back, it was still broken.

I am on vacation.  I've dragged my email app on the iPhone to a page all by itself at the end.  I can still see it on the iPad, but the iPad also has my personal email, so changing that isn't worth the effort.  And if someone calls me from a phone number that I've marked as a work-related number -- well, those will all go straight to voicemail.

After work we had small group, but now that's done and we're doing some late night exercise and television before bed.  So I'm uploading a lot of photos to Flickr and starting to get stuff cleaned up.  It'll be a week of just getting stuff done.  Reading books and magazines, exercise, working in the yard.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Do You Want to Get Well?

Click over to YouVersion for the Bible verses.

Do You Want to Get Well? (John 5:1-15)
Message #7 of "John: A Story to Believe" by Pastor Jeff MacLurg; Our Savior's Baptist Church, Federal Way, Wash. (My notes from Sunday, April 17, 2011. I pray that my notes will useful to you.)

--- A Ring of Truth (v. 1-2) ---

In the middle ages, it was easy to counterfeit coins. it was hard to make them exactly the same, scarcity of materials, etc. But you could drop the coin on a stone slab and you could tell from the sound whether the coin was right or not. (The fakes had a dull thud, the real one rang true.)

Before the early 1900s, it was said that John 5 must be false because no such pool had been found. But by the mid 1900s, such a place had begun to be excavated. It had been deeply buried. In 1964, it was absolutely confirmed that the place described in the story did indeed exist.

Also, notice he says "There is" and not "There was" - this very story I am telling can be verified right now. (It makes it harder to pass off fiction as reality if there are still eyewitnesses who can disprove what you are suggesting.) Also shows that John was writing before the destruction of Jerusalem.


--- A Rotten World (v. 3-5) ---

Is this a rotten world? We are insulated from it here, but yes, there are plenty of examples. He briefly mentioned the slums of South America, the streets of India, the cities of Mississippi and Louisiana after Katrina. We never see that kind of hurt on a daily basis. God didn't intend for this world to be filled with misery, pain and sickness. But we live in a world impacted by sin. Sin devastates people. If each and every one of us have not been on a short-term missions trip, we must. (I have not. I am planning to go with my daughter when she goes which I expect will be within a few years.)

This would have been a scene (all the pain and suffering at the pool) that would have turned our stomachs. But without any alternative, the people waited. The pool would have been fed by an underground river and occasionally surged. So there was a rumor that the stirring of the water caused healing. Someone even went so far as to add to the Bible the idea that it was actually an angel's wings causing the stirring.

* Desperation drives people to TO DECEPTION.

--- A Revealing Question (v. 6-9) ---

"Do you want to get well?" Duh. Is this a crazy question? It's like your dad asking "Do you want a spanking?" Hold on - it's not such a crazy question at all - this man's been dependent on everyone for 38 years (possibly his entire life) - if he got well, he wouldn't be able to rely on anyone else anymore. If he were to be healed, he would now need to carry his own weight.

"Do we (really) want to change?" If so, the responsibility stops belonging to the circumstance and starts belonging to us. Change is difficult, so all too often we cling to what paralyzes us.

"Do you really want to be saved?" (Do you want to be changed? Do you want to let go of that sin? Do you really want to overcome this addiction?) The change might bring its own pain.

What do we notice about his answer? He DIDN'T answer, he made an excuse for his present situation. His first response isn't "Yes, I want to change." or "No, I want to stay miserable." His first response is "It's not my fault." Don't expect much of me because there's no one to help me.

--> Look up Max Lucado's story of Robert Reed ( http://www.maxlucado.com/articles/topical/peace_that_defies_pain ). Robert Reed didn't see fit to give God excuses.

We need to stop making excuses. In the past year, a woman was seeking financial assistance from the church. He asked her "Don't you want to get a job?" Her answer "My car broke.". Another he counseled "Why not just show your wife more love?" and the answer "My dad never showed us any affection growing up." (Not even a 'I don't know how but want to.')

Jesus just says "Get up, take your mat and walk." No more excuses. (Gospel according to Nike: Just Do It.) Not a self-help lecture, not a "God helps those who help themselves." message. The healing was 100% Jesus, but the man still had to say "Yes" and then actually do what Jesus told him to. Jesus said it was up to him.

* We need to decide IF WE REALLY WANT TO CHANGE.
* The man answered with AN EXCUSE.

--- A Religious Response (v. 10-15) ---

So Jesus healed the man. You'd think people would be happy about that. But the man was stopped for carrying his mat on Saturday (the Sabbath) - we'd rather you stay crippled than violate our rules.

Religious people use the rules to validate themselves. It's great that Jesus saved you, but don't bring that version of the Bible into our church. It's great that Jesus saved you, but don't go around hugging and being loud and excited. In the name of religion, you need to abide by this and this and this. Religious people need to keep themselves separate from the non-religious people. They care more about the rules than about people.

A few years ago, someone from our church was in another city on business. It was a warm day and he rolled into the church parking lot with his radio turned up. (Pastor didn't say what kind of music, but did mention the guy - a U.S. Marshal - knowing him, it was probably loud Christian rock music.) Anyhow, he turned off the car and started towards the church when someone came up to him and said "We don't approve of that kind of music here. If you listen to that kind of music, maybe you should go on to the next church."


They take the best parking places, the best seats in the church. They're inconvenienced by guests. They get frustrated when they don't like the songs picked for the service. Religious people make sure that guests on Easter Sunday know that they're in the regular attender's seat - that will guarantee the guests don't come back and take their seats again Etc.

--- Go Home With This ---

* GET UP AND WALK. (Not now! After the service is over. Haha)
But seriously, stop making excuses. Get up and do what God has called you to do, to the life He's calling you to. Do you want to change?

Prepare Ye The Way
All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name
When I Don't Know What to Do
Forever Reign
Lord I Run to You

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I can't even complete a sentence.  Well, there's one, but it took a lot.  I just don't have it in me. Monday was rough.  Tuesday was better.  But it's been a rough year.  And there's really no end in sight.  I feel compelled to post something, but I can't think of anything to write.

Bright spots?  A few.  Happy monthiversary, babe.  And tomorrow bugaboo turns 3.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

120: Interrupted

It was a hot afternoon and there was no breeze whatsoever. Glenn held the paper loosely in one hand, fanning himself. He knew Stephanie would have liked to have saved it for a scrapbook or something, but it was folded now and keeping him from melting. He was sure she could probably call Beth in a few weeks and get another copy. It wouldn't be the copy they got today, but she should have gotten her own copy instead of just telling saying she'd share his. Or Beth and Derek should have picked a place with air conditioning.

It felt like it must have been 100 degrees and Glenn felt himself drifting. He jerked himself awake to hear "...If any of you can show just cause why they may not lawfully be married, speak now; or else for ever hold your p---."

"Now hold on a minute, son," came a voice from the back of the church.

In an instant, everyone was roused and there was a lot of noise as the entire church turned to look towards the back of the church.

Now that, Glenn, surmised, was a man who was about to pass out. He raised his hand to his brow and wiped the sweat from his eyes with white handkerchief. Multiple rings adorned his pudgy fingers.

Murmurs began to arise and a few people laughed nervously.

Glenn swung around quickly to look at Beth and Derek. They were grinning, hardly able to contain themselves.

"Now, I hate to bring bad news to all you kind folks," Elvis drawled, "but these young'uns can't be married today."

The murmuring came to a halt and a few gasps were heard.

The jumpsuit must be straining at the seams and smell awful, Glenn thought. He wondered if it was a rental or if the fat man owned it.

Derek's father rose to his feet as Elvis strode towards the front of the church but Derek's mom grabbed his arm, practically yanking him back down. He looked troubled but she was smiling and patted his arm.

As Elvis reached the front, the pastor handed him a microphone. Glenn settled back in his seat. He had wondered how Derek and Beth were going to explain this. Elvis quickly explained that Derek and Beth had already been married, a few weeks prior, in Vegas. What was happening today was actually just a renewal of their vows, a way to make the commitment in front of their families that they had already made to each other. After three years of dating, why the Vegas wedding a few weeks earlier? Elvis said something kind and soothing, but Glenn knew. The families had been out of control, frantic. Beth and Derek had had enough and they had hopped a plane to Vegas, gotten married and turned around and flown back. It was the only way they had to maintain any sense of control on what was supposed to be their event. Glenn knew there was something different about them in the last few weeks leading up to it, a sense of calm as the madness swirled around them and wondered what they had up their sleeve.

But this, pure genius.

120 originally referred to creative writing that took 2 minutes (on a timer) but now refers to any creative writing I do on my blog.

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Sift 126-130

 The Sift 126: Playstation

  • Sony PlayStation Network User Information Stolen
  • Sony provides PSN update, confirms a 'compromise of personal information'
  • Sony update on PSN / Qriocity outage: 'some services up and running within a week'
  • Sony May Be Clueless in PSN Hack
  • PlayStation Network Still Down; Sony Says it Will Return By May 4


The Sift 127: Uncluttering, Organization and Productivity

  • The state of your desk likely influences perceptions of your professionalism
  • Scientists find physical clutter negatively affects your ability to focus, process information
  • Ready, Set, Work
  • Mail Sorting SolutionDeclutter to Learn How to Save Money


The Sift 128: Space

  • New Mars Rover to Land Using Rocket Crane (video)
  • NASA & Google Celebrate Milestones in Space Travel [INFOGRAPHIC]
  • Robotics merit badge gets official within Boy Scouts of America, Wall-E approves emphatically
  • 50 Years In Space: Was It Worth It? [INFOGRAPHIC]
  • NASA forced to abandon plans for 3D camera in next Mars rover, James Cameron not losing faith yet


The Sift 129: Apple

  • Apple May Beat Google to Market With Cloud Music Service
  • Make Safari Load Faster in iOS with a Custom Home Screen Shortcut
  • What LocationGate Says About How Users Perceive Information Privacy
  • Apple Officially Responds to Location Tracking Controversy
  • Apple confirms it's working on a traffic service, moving away from Google Maps?


The Sift 130: Food, Health, Exercise and Medicine

  • The Health Benefits of Coffee vs. Tea - the benefits of each
  • Pepsi Vending Machine Lets You Gift Drinks to Friends Via Social Media [VIDEO]
  • Keeping the Blind Running
  • All in a day’s work for caregiver volunteers - geez, what's up with Wyoming?
  • Starbucks' brand for people who hate Starbucks


Sunday, May 08, 2011

Breaking Bread to Belief

Click over to YouVersion for the version with the Bible verses.

Breaking Bread to Belief (John 6:1-15)
Message #9 of "John: A Story to Believe" by Pastor Jeff MacLurg; Our Savior's Baptist Church, Federal Way, Wash.; notes from the 9 and 10:45 am services, I pray that my notes are useful to you.

--- Sizing Up the Situation (v. 1-4) ---

Number 1 rule of Racing: Don't run into the wall. Everything else bends, except the wall.

What does God expect from us when we feel like we're running into the wall?


John had just been beheaded, Jesus was the most sought after speaker in the land at that point. He was too busy even to eat, teaching and healing all day. Finally Jesus said "Guys, we need to get away." But the crowds saw where he was headed, and by the time they got to the other shore, they were waiting for him even there. (About 7-8 miles along the coast, not a long journey.)

* Jesus is plainly MAKING IT KNOWN WHO HE IS.

He wasn't whispering or sneaking around. Jesus was performing signs.

4th of 7 "signs" in John proving Jesus
- Water to wine
- Healing of son
- Raising lame man
- Feeding of the 5,000 - only one of Jesus' miracles (save resurrection) to be captured in all four Gospels


Drew a lot of people /after/ Jesus, but not a lot of people /to/ him. A number of people left because He said something they didn't like.

A recent TV preacher said that the boy shared his meal with Jesus and people saw it and started sharing their meals and that was the miracle, Jesus turning a bunch of selfish people into a bunch of selfless people. Pffft.... the Bible doesn't say that.

Mark 6:51-52 - Jesus had intended to teach the disciples through the feeding of the 5,000 and prepare them for their ministry. But they didn't get it.

--- Loaf Lessons (v. 5-15) ---


Philip was from the area. "Where should we get some food, Philip?" If anyone knew where to buy bread in the area, it was Philip.

* He was the CALCULATOR.

He was super-practical. He can figure things out, but from a human perspective. He had a spreadsheet for a mind and a pocket-protector for a heart. He's not spiritually perceptive. He comes up with the right answer but the wrong conclusion. (Yikes! This sounds like me.)

* Jesus planned to FIX THAT.

This is far more than a miracle, this is a test and a teaching moment. He sets up situations that may seem like mountains to us to remind us of who He is and Who is climbing up the mountain right alongside us.

We do this... we come up to a situation, look at our finances and decide whether or not God can handle it.

** Never assess a difficulty in the light of your own resources. **

Notice that Philip even infects Andrew. Andrew was the Eeyore of the group. "Here's a little lunch,but what is it amongst so many? It'll never work. We're all going to starve."

Jesus couldn't build his church on a calculator, he needs men of faith.

You're not doing the best you can until you bring God into the equation.
"I'm giving her all she's got, Captain." - not good enough, Scotty.

The Crowd

In this verse, "men" in the original text translates to "men" - so it's safe to estimate that there were also women and children, so probably at least 15,000-20,000 people who were fed that day.

* They were FILLED.

John used a word that was often used to describe 'animals who had pigged out.'

* They were FICKLE.

After they saw the miracle, they wanted to make Him king. If this guy (who can feed us) is in charge, He can help us with the Caesar problem. They weren't looking at Worship, they were looking at Welfare.

What have you done for me lately, Jesus? Do we drift? Do we focus only on the here and now?

The Disciples

Sure, they weren't all calculators and Eeyores, but they all needed to learn.

Luke 9:12-13 - Jesus wasn't asking anyone if they had a good idea, or asking who wanted to be involved. Simply, "Give them something to eat." - it wasn't an option - "I've got a job for you."

* Jesus didn't ask for VOLUNTEERS; he gave ASSIGNMENTS.

If you claim to be a follower of Jesus, expect to be given assignments. Expect them to be *impossible*.

Can you imagine what were going through the disciples as Jesus prayed over this tiny meal? And then Jesus breaks the bread into 12 pieces and passes them to the disciples. Philip's thinking "How am I gonna cover for Jesus on this?" and Andrew's thinking "Why did I even mention this kid's meal?" And then Jesus finishes the prayer and says "Go feed them." So the disciples walk out and pass the baskets (probably little satchels that men often carried in those times, like a "man purse" - you would reach in and pull some out) with the meager contents. But then the people keep passing and passing and passing the basket and before you know it, the people are *STUFFED* and Jesus sends them back out to collect the baskets and the disciples have proof.

All the other miracles (save resurrection) rearrange things, here is continual creation in front of the largest number of people. Probably the second biggest miracle and all the people want from it is a king. This was like Moses and the manna, but much bigger.

The Lord


--- Life Lessons ---

This was a set-up. Jesus brought all these people to a remote place far from the restaurants and grocery stores and then put the disciples in charge of feeding them.

* In difficult times, THINK IN TERMS OF "GOD"

This was a test of the disciples. Would they look at what they had or would they look at what God can do?

My money, my network, my smarts, my scheming, my (whatever) will never be enough. If I don't look to God, I've failed. When impossibilities come, the first thought that needs to come to mind - God!

Not "What can I do?" but "Where's God in this/What can God do?"

I can't but God can.

When there's more month than money... The fist thought that should come to mind - GOD!
When my friends have failed me.... GOD|
When my friends are hurting and there's nothing I can do... GOD|
When I've lost the one I love... GOD|
When I'm afraid of what's next... GOD!
When I feel like I'm headed right into the wall... GOD|

In difficult times, your first thought should be of GOD|
Don't be a calculator, don't be an an Eeyore, be a believer.

A real miracle - that little boy left home early in the morning and still had food left by mid-afternoon. (haha)

But, seriously, that little boy had no idea when he left home that morning that he had something small to offer which was the basis for a miracle.


Barley loaves were considered food fit for animals and "poor people." The fish, only tiny dried-and-salted minnows.

Don't sell yourself short. Don't count yourself out. Don't discount the little things. Whatever you offer the Lord, He can multiply it into a mighty miracle. It may not be much, but the world may be denied a miracle if you decide it's not worth offering up to God.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Bonus points for style

Hey Yelp, you're all clever.  Though I'm not so sure about the word "rad" - that might be a tad out of date.

As for you, Accuweather - never!  I will never upgrade.  Your new version is the worst.  I mean, even your update text above - that's all about better interaction with your ads?  Seriously?  If weather.com could actually predict weather reliably in this area, I would try out their app.

Friday, May 06, 2011

The Sift 121-125

The Sift 121: Amazon

  • What We Can Learn from Amazon's Cloud Collapse
  • Amazon Announces E-Book Lending Library Service for All Kindle Users
  • Amazon Announces Cheaper, $114 Kindle With Ads
  • eReaderIQ Is a Complete Database of Free and Discounted eBooks on Amazon
  • Mount Your Amazon Cloud Drive Space Like a Network Folder in Windows


The Sift 122: Apple

  • iPhoneTracker Maps Everywhere You’ve Been with Your iPhone
  • Apple Patent Hints at Secondary Display for iPhone
  • Sorry, Wrong Number
  • Reuters: Apple set to launch cloud-based music service ahead of Google
  • Find Your iPhone’s IMEI (and Other Info) in iTunes


The Sift 123: Commerce, Customer Service and Shopping

  • A good experience that starts before you even arrive - wow... Marriott Renaissance could definitely learn from AVIA
  • Try These 5 Secret Weapons For Better Customer Service
  • Is It Worth Abandoning a Product You Love Due to Bad Customer Service?
  • Microsoft patents apps that let you buy things, Ballmer to go on licensing spree?
  • One Review Matters


The Sift 124: Space

  • NASA's wondrous views of Earth (photos)
  • Live from space: You talk to Commander Mark Kelly and the Endeavour Crew
  • Elon Musk says SpaceX will send a man to space in three years, Mars within the next two decades
  • NASA Releases Highlight Reel of Solar Flares
  • NASA awards $270 million to SpaceX and other commercial spaceflight ventures


The Sift 125: Email

  • Why Your Email Inbox Is Bringing Home the Bacon [INFOGRAPHIC]
  • Email Provider Epsilon Responsible For Gigantic Security Breach
  • In Defense of Epsilon
  • Disclaimers in Email Signatures are Not Just Annoying, But Legally Meaningless
  • New in Gmail Labs: Background Send


Thursday, May 05, 2011

Pink Slip for the Clock Radio

Some more downsizing occurred last night on my nightstand.  I had the let the clock radio go, its position eliminated as most of its job functions had been rendered unnecessary for the continued operations of Nightstand, Inc.

For some time now, the clock radio took up a large amount of real estate for very little purpose - waking me up in the mornings.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Courage! To Face Yourself

Click over to YouVersion for the Bible verses.

------- Mirror...mirror: Courage From the Outside In -------

Looking inside...
I'm good, happy,
everything is great.

                                             On the other hand.
                              I'm a mess, a dork, full of sin.
                                    I see bad habits, tragedy.
                                                  I see past hurts.
                                                       (most of us)

Common responses:
- "I'm OK with me.... I'm not CHANGING."

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Shoulders of Giants

Lori was reading last night to Rachel.  She was reading from 1 Chronicles 28 and 29 - David wants to build a temple for the Lord but God says no, it won't be David that builds it, but instead his son Solomon.

It was David's vision and he had a passion to do it.  He was ready to get going.  But God said no.  And not just no, but someone else.  David can get mad or pout or resignedly accept God's decision and move on.  He can led pride get the best of him, or he can even just move on and look for something else to do.  He was the king.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Good Morning / New Week

It's late Sunday night (I usually post these the night before) and I'm feeling really hopeful.  I think this will be a good week.  It was a busy weekend - Friday.... yeah.... don't want to talk about Friday.  Work was fine but small group was a challenge.  And then on Saturday we went up to Seattle to visit the zoo.  We didn't see a lot of animals and there was a lot of traffic, but it was a nice time with family and a time away from life.   It was also really great to be up in The City.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Sift: 116-120

 The Sift 116: Transit, Traffic, Travel and Development

  • Insane Mile High ‘Kingdom Tower’ Given Green Light by Saudi Arabia
  • Unearthing Neighborhood Assets - building a community garden
  • NASA Funds Cessna to Develop Self-Healing ‘Magic Skin’ for Airplanes
  • Foster & Partners Breaks Ground on Ten Acre CityCenter in Washington DC
  • Can a Parking Garage be Sexy? Miami’s 1111 Lincoln Road


The Sift 117: Rocking Apps

  • WAZE - Social navigation. Load it up, drive around. Report accidents, learn about traffic from other Wazers.
  • LOSE IT! - Helped me lose 40 pounds in four months by makingg it easy to count my calories.
  • RUN KEEPER PRO - Also helped with the weight loss. Does a great job of tracking activity and makes cool maps of it after the fact.
  • FEEDDLER - A better way to read Google Reader than Google Reader. Especially on the iPad.
  • EVERNOTE - A great way to stay organized. We use it on several computers, iPhones and the iPad.


The Sift 118: It's Friday (part 1)

  • Friday
  • Tuesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday, Analyzed
  • More Friday


The Sift 119: Web Development

  • How JavaScript & HTML5 Are Remaking the Web
  • This Is Why You Always Pay Your Web Designer
  • Why the Web is Useless in Developing Countries -- And How to Fix It?
  • HOW TO: Get Started with the Less Framework
  • Why Websites Are Slow & Why Speed Really Matters


The Sift 120: Energy, Environment and Science

  • India to Install Solar-Powered Cell Phone Towers this Year
  • Heinz to Use Plant-Based Bottles Made by Coca-Cola
  • Google Invests in Biomass Fuel Startup CoolPlanetBiofuels’ Negative Carbon Fuel
  • Clever Devices Turn Trees into Natural Wind Turbine Bases
  • Sale Prices for California Homes with Solar Arrays Soar to the Top of the Market