Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Guiliani & McCain Join Forces

They're all right here in Simi Valley! All the Republican candidates for President, right here in our own city!

This is NOT a political post or endorsement of ANY kind, just a quick thought. As Guiliani drops out of the race and endorses John McCain, these guys are sounding like they've been life-long best friends. Noit that there is anything wrong with that.

I'm just wondering .... anyone imagining a "McCain/Guiliani" ticket?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Little Rain Never Hurt Anyone ... ALOTTA Rain Is Another Story

I'm ready to call it a night, and looking forward to the restful sleep that comes with the sound of rain. Our deluge is happening right now. It has been raining HARD for almost three hours and is supposed to keep going all throughout tonight and tomorrow.

Some blogging friends in the Southeast had it hard for church last week because of snow. Well, this is Southern California, Valley-level snow! We'll see how church attendance is in the morning, but I'll be there, and our team will be there come the proverbial "h*** or high water!"

Friday, January 25, 2008

Beardology, Part 2

A week and a half ago, I finally took the goatee off. I have to admit that the goatee was my favorite version of my facial hair experiment. However, the funniest thing about my experiment was that the one change that people noticed THE LEAST was when I took the beard off all the way!! THAT'S FUNNY!!

I started with the goatee ...

.... then I went to the handlebar and classic look ....
.... then it was the handlebar alone .....
.... then it was what one of my sons called the "French" look ....
.... someone else called the next step the "Italian" look ....
.... then I had to have fun with my German side ....
.... to the final version of the all clean look!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

And You Thought "Starbucks Church" Was Just A Funny Skit!

Last October, during Pastor's Appreciation Month, the Church Council put together a skit. In case you missed it, it featured a parody of me and my love for Starbucks by depicting me going to the City for a building permit that would allow us to put a Starbucks in the church facility.

Well, here you go ... (bold and italics are mine for emphasis) ...

Gwinnett's 12Stone church features glitzy amenities, Starbucks

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 01/22/08

The new building for 12Stone Church on Buford Drive doesn't have a sanctuary. It has a worship experience center.

And what an experience it will be for the thousands of people expected to attend the Lawrenceville church, which will have its grand opening Sunday. A congregation of the Wesleyan church, 12Stone was formerly called Crossroads Community Church.

In addition to the 2,500-seat high-tech worship center, the 105,000-square-foot building features a full-service Starbucks cafe, facilities for children, from birth through college, and film and recording studios.

There's even a special room for prayer that looks out over the auditorium. The room will be open during this week.

"We wanted our building to have pace and peace," said Dave Ronne, 12Stone's director of redemptive arts, as the staff calls music and film. "We want to get people in and serve them well, and give them the peace of a slower pace, something they wouldn't find at the mall."

Ronne estimates that about 50 percent of those coming to 12Stone are likely "spiritually unresolved" people who never attended church as children or who stayed away for decades. The church building was designed to make attending enjoyable and memorable.

Besides the large auditorium, there are "living rooms" for small groups, the 12Stone Cafe and a 425-seat auditorium for latecomers or families with sick children — with a live feed from the worship service. The staff expects the cafe to provide a quiet place for people to connect in deeper conversation, Ronne said.

"We worked hard to make sure our different environments help make the Bible more relevant," said Norwood Davis, the church's chief financial officer. "And we want to lower the anxiety that comes from a new experience."

To that end, congregants are encouraged not to bring children into the worship experience center, where the message and the medium are specifically for adults. Instead, parents may drop off their children in a venue to receive an age-appropriate message and activity.

"A single mom can know her children will be cared for well," said Davis. "She can relax and connect meaningfully with God, without having to worry about her children. We don't want a 2-year-old to disrupt anyone's experience."

The semicircular auditorium has graduated staircases, said Ronne, so that no seat is too far from the stage or the primary communicator, as speakers are called.

It has a variable room acoustic system that allows the stage to accommodate an orchestra, a praise band or someone with a soft voice. The auditorium can go "dead" for dramas, can be "livened up" to sound like Spivey Hall or can amplify sound dramatically.

The system's price tag was about $250,000, Ronne said, "but we have to provide the best for the people who are here 52 weeks a year."

There are five huge high-definition screens around the room to show films. Ronne cites studies indicating that retention of a message increases when information is seen as well as heard.

Usually there's a short illustrative film to accompany whatever is being taught during worship on a particular Sunday. Made in house — film and music producers are on staff — sometimes in only seven days, film is an important part of 12Stone's ministry "since our membership is so video-oriented," Davis said.

Many of the church's films can be seen on YouTube. One, "Consumerism! The musical," has received 200,000 views, Ronne said.

Sunday services in the new facility will be filmed and sent to the church's Hamilton Mill campus, to be shown the next week. 12Stone plans to open a second satellite campus somewhere in north metro Atlanta, Davis said.

Instead of going to Sunday school, adults at 12Stone meet in small study groups in one another's homes during the week. But children receive a message on Sunday.

Parents also will encounter an electronic check-in system when they drop off their children on Sunday mornings. Both child and adult will receive a badge and a number, and no one will be allowed to leave without a match. It's a system used by hospitals and health clubs.

The staff included the best features from a number of venues in the $30 million facility.

The 12Stone name comes from a story in the Old Testament book of Joshua: the 12 tribes of Israel stack 12 stones into a monument along the River Jordan after crossing into the Promised Land.

"That was a bold crossing," said Davis. "God has given us the trust of a new building that will accommodate thousands. What we want to do is to inspire bold crossings."

Heath Ledger Found Dead

By now you've most likely heard the news that actor Heath Ledger was found dead yesterday in his New York apartment at the young age of 28. When I first heard the news, I couldn't put his name with a face. I didn't know his career that well.

Reading news reports today, his autopsy is apparently inconclusive right now pending toxicology reports. It is said that there were sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medications nearby, and it is thought to be an accidental overdose at this time.

This is not by any means a post against medications. Most who read this blog know that I use them personally. This is primarily a post about the pressure that people are under today to be someone they're not. That's a sad and dangerous thing.

Read what Heath had to say himself:

Ledger split last year with Michelle Williams, who played his wife in "Brokeback." The two had a daughter, the now 2-year-old Matilda, and had lived together in Brooklyn's Boerum Hill neighborhood.

Early Wednesday, Williams and Matilda left Trollhattan, Sweden, where the 27-year-old actress had been shooting scenes for the upcoming film "Mammoth," said Martin Stromberg, a spokesman for film production company Memfis Film.

"She received the news at her hotel late last night," Stromberg said, adding he had not spoken to the actress after she learned of Ledger's death. The actor's personal strife was accompanied by professional anxiety.

Ledger said in an interview in November that "Dark Knight" and last year's "I'm Not There," took a heavy toll. He said he "stressed out a little too much" during the Dylan film, and had trouble sleeping while portraying the Joker, whom he called a "psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy."

"Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night," Ledger told The New York Times. "I couldn't stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going." He said he took two Ambien pills, which only worked for an hour.

My mind wonders .... did he have any support around him? Who knew really what kind of pressure he was under?

What does this have to do with you? What is your support structure like? Who knows you really? Are you being realistic about the pressure you live with on a daily basis and responding to it in healthy ways?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Guide to Cutting Back When You Feel Overwhelmed

I am always on the lookout for ideas and help for staying focused and productive, especially when my job is one where interruptions and emergencies are par for the course. It's easy to feel like the walls are closing in and nothing is getting done.

Along those lines, here's a great article from a blog called Zen Habits. I don't agree with the spiritual stuff they advocate towards non-Christian guidance, but from time to time they have some good work-life balance stuff, and this is one of them:

There are days in everyone’s life when they feel overwhelmed by the stresses and tasks and projects and phone calls and emails that weigh upon them. Yes, even the minimalists like me get overwhelmed from time to time. Here's your guide to cutting through that.

read more | digg story

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Good Night's Sleep

It's been too long since I've blogged! Since you "saw" me last here, I no longer have the goatee. I'll put up some progress pictures tomorrow, but just wanted to say HI for now, before I head off for a good night's sleep.

I've been wanting to mention a GREAT tool I got for Christmas that is REALLY helping me get better sleep. Some of you are gonna LOL when I tell you what it is ....

It's an eye mask! But not just ANY eye mask, mind you!

I've been getting better sleep the last year or so by using an eye mask. The regular, flat, black, silky ones you see all over the place.

However, this Christmas, I got a TEMPURPEDIC Eye Mask! I've been "eye-ing" that baby for some time now at Brookstone. And I'll tell ya, it's worth the extra price. The tempurpedic part of it literally shuts out every ray of light around your eyes. It can be high noon, and you'd never know it!

If you need some sleeping help, I HIGHLY recommend this puppy!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Beardology, Part 1

After a couple months of facial hair growth (a beard) that's been a lot of fun, today I started the process of removal. I am calling it a "process" because I decided to remove it in sections.

The funnest part of the beard process has been watching and hearing the different reactions that people have!

So, for the integrity of Beardology (I think I made up that word .... really!), here are the first few pictures ....

This is just before the beard came off ...

This is the "mountain man" look(bushy) ...

This is what I went with for the day ...

Let me know your thoughts in the comments just for the fun of it!

Monday, January 07, 2008

I'm Not Going To Do Anything For Christ (1 of 2)

I read a powerful short blog article today that sums up alot of what I feel my last several years have been about. It's here courtesy of Anne Jackson, whose blog I follow regularly.

She writes:

this year i have only one resolution: to do less.

i’m not talking about simplifying, either. i mean that very literally.

i will do less.

this doesn’t mean i’m complacent. it doesn’t mean i’m lazy. it doesn’t mean i’m apathetic. it doesn’t mean i’m going to sit on my rump all day and google stuff. that’s not what i mean at all.

lately i’ve been studying a really great book that has caused me to re-evaluate my typical complicated way of thinking and doing things.

normally i think, “i want to do more for christ.”

may i be so bold to state: i don’t want to do anything for christ.

the more and more i walk along this road the more and more i realize how backwards i have it. i cannot do anything for christ. the things that are done through me for his kingdom are just that. they are done through me.

in the aforementioned book, watchman nee talks about the process of saving someone who’s drowning.

if they’re doing all they can, fighting to stay afloat, there’s no way somebody can rescue them. they’ll take both the rescuer and themselves down under.

they only way you can rescue a struggling swimmer is to either let them freak out until they’re too tired to do it anymore, or you have to knock them unconscious in order to bring them back.

i have been desperately treading water far too long.

and i really don’t want to be knocked unconscious.

i am going to go and walk in the fact that everything god has accomplished is done. and i just need to lose more of myself and let him guide my steps. i need to get out of the way.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2007's Banished Words List

Every year on New Year's Day for the last 33 years, Lake Superior State University in Saute St. Marie, Michigan, has published a "Banished Words List". Today was no different. You can go to the list here, or just read the article below.

I love this list. Maybe it's because I'm from Michigan. Maybe it's because I'm a communicator. Whatever .... it is what it is .... oops! Read on:

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. -- The wordsmiths at Lake Superior State University are giving back to English speakers everywhere with their 33rd annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.

On Dec. 31, 1975, former LSSU Public Relations Director Bill Rabe and his colleagues cooked up an idea to banish overused words and phrases and issue a list on New Year's Day. Much to the delight of language enthusiasts everywhere, the list has stayed the course into a fourth decade.

This year's list derives from thousands of nominations received through the university's website. Word-watchers target pet peeves from everyday speech, as well as from the news, education, technology, advertising, politics, sports and more. A committee makes a final cut in late December. The list is released on New Year's Day.

Over the years, some copycat lists have made an appearance, but LSSU's list was first.

This year, in a gesture of humanitarian relief, the committee restores "truthiness," banned on last year's list, to formal use. This comes after comedians and late-night hosts were thrown under the bus and rendered speechless by a nationwide professional writers' strike. The silence is deafening.

In this spirit, LSSU presents its 2008 list, a perfect storm of overused and abused words and phrases that pops organic, to a post-9/11 world decimated by webinars.

It is what it is.

PERFECT STORM -- "Overused by the pundits on evening TV shows to mean just about any coincidence." --Lynn Allen, Warren, Michigan.

"I read that 'Ontario is a perfect storm,' in reference to a report on pollution levels in the Great Lakes. Ontario is the name of one of the lakes and a Canadian province. This guy would have me believe it's a hurricane. It's time for 'perfect storm' to get rained out." -- Bob Smith, DeWitt, Michigan.

"Hands off book titles as cheap descriptors!" -- David Hollis, Hamilton, New York.

WEBINAR -- A seminar on the web about any number of topics. "Ouch! It hurts my brain. It should be crushed immediately before it spreads." -- Carol, Lams, Michigan.

"Yet another non-word trying to worm its way into the English language due to the Internet. It belongs in the same school of non-thought that brought us e-anything and i-anything." -- Scott Lassiter, Houston, Texas.

WATERBOARDING -- "Let's banish 'waterboarding' to the beach, where it belongs with boogie boards and surfboards." -- Patrick K. Egan, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

ORGANIC -- Overused and misused to describe not only food, but computer products or human behavior, and often used when describing something as "natural," says Crystal Giordano of Brooklyn, New York. Another advertising gimmick to make things sound better than they really are, according to Rick DeVan of Willoughby, Ohio, who said he has heard claims such as "My business is organic," and computers having "organic software."

"Things have gone too far when they begin marketing T-shirts as organic." -- Michelle Fitzpatrick, St. Petersburg, Florida.

"'Organic' is used to describe everything, from shampoo to meat. Banishment! Improperly used!" -- Susan Clark, Bristol, Maine.

"The possibility of a food item being inorganic, i.e., not being composed of carbon atoms, is nil." -- John Gomila, New Orleans, Louisiana.

"You see the word 'organic' written on everything from cereal to dog food." -- Michael, Sacramento, California.

"I'm tired of health food stores selling products that they say are organic. All the food we eat is organic!" -- Chad Jacobson, Park Falls, Wisconsin.

WORDSMITH/WORDSMITHING -- "I've never read anything created by a wordsmith - or via wordsmithing - that was pleasant to read." -- Emily Kissane, St. Paul, Minnesota.

AUTHORED -- "In one of former TV commentator Edwin Newman's books, he wonders if it would be correct to say that someone 'paintered' a picture?" -- Dorothy Betzweiser, Cincinnati, Ohio.

POST 9/11 -- "'Our post-9/11 world,' is used now, and probably used more, than AD, BC, or Y2K, time references. You'd think the United States didn't have jet fighters, nuclear bombs, and secret agents, let alone electricity, 'pre-9/11.'" -- Chazz Miner, Midland, Michigan.

SURGE -- "'Surge' has become a reference to a military build-up. Give me the old days, when it referenced storms and electrical power." -- Michael F. Raczko, Swanton, Ohio.

"Do I even have to say it? I can't be the first one to nominate it . . . put me in line. From Iraq to Wall Street to the weather forecast, 'surge' really ought to recede." -- Mike Lara, Colorado.

"This word came out in the context of increasing the number of troops in Iraq. Can be used to explain the expansion of many things (I have a surge in my waist) and it's use will grow out of control . . .. The new Chevy Surge, just experience the roominess!" -- Eric McMillan, Mentor, Ohio.

GIVE BACK -- "This oleaginous phrase is an emergency submission to the 2008 list. The notion has arisen that as one's life progresses, one accumulates a sort of deficit balance with society which must be neutralized by charitable works or financial outlays. Are one's daily transactions throughout life a form of theft?" -- Richard Ong, Carthage, Missouri.

"Various media have been featuring a large number of people who 'just want to give back.' Give back to whom? For what?" -- Curtis Cooper, Hazel Park, Michigan.

'BLANK' is the new 'BLANK' or 'X' is the new 'Y' -- In spite of statements to the contrary, 'Cold is (NOT) the new hot,' nor is '70 the new 50.' The idea behind such comparisons was originally good, but we've all watched them spiral out of reasonable uses into ludicrous ones and it's now time to banish them from use. Or, to phrase it another way, 'Originally clever advertising is now the new absurdity!'" -- Lawrence Mickel, Coventry, Connecticut.

"Believed to have come into use in the 1960s, but it is getting tired. The comparisons have become absurd." -- Geoff Steinhart, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

"'Orange is the new black.' '50 is the new 30.' 'Chocolate is the new sex.' 'Sex is the new chocolate.' 'Fallacy is the new truth.' -- Patrick Dillon, East Lansing, Michigan.

BLACK FRIDAY -- "The day after Thanksgiving that retailers use to keep themselves out of the 'red' for the year. (And then followed by "Cyber-Monday.") This is counter to the start of the Great Depression's use of the term 'Black Tuesday,' which signaled the crash of the stock market that sent the economy into a tailspin. -- Carl Marschner, Melvindale, Michigan.

BACK IN THE DAY -- "Back in the day, we used 'back-in-the-day' to mean something really historical. Now you hear ridiculous statements such as 'Back in the day, people used Blackberries without Blue Tooth.'" -- Liz Jameson, Tallahassee, Florida.

"This one might've already made the list back in the day, which was a Wednesday, I think." -- Tim Bradley, Los Angeles, California.

RANDOM -- Popular with teenagers in many places. "Over-used and usually out of context, e.g., 'You are so random!' Really? Random is supposed to mean 'by chance.' So what I said was by chance, and not by choice?" -- Gabriel Brandel, Farmington Hills, Michigan.

"Outrageous mis- and overuse, mostly by teenagers, e.g., 'This random guy, singing this random song . . .. It was so random.' Grrrrr." -- Leigh, Duncan, Galway, Ireland.

"Overuse on a massive scale by my fellow youth. Every event, activity and person can be 'sooo random' as of late. Banish it before I go vigilante." -- Ben Martin, Adelaide, South Australia.

"How can a person be random?" -- Emma Halpin, Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom.

SWEET -- "Too many sweets will make you sick. It became popular with the advent of the television show 'South Park' and by rights should have died of natural causes, but the term continues to cling to life. It is annoying when young children use it and have no idea why, but it really sounds stupid coming from the mouths of adults. Please kill this particular use of an otherwise fine word." -- Wayne Braver, Manistique, Michigan

"Youth lingo overuse, similar to 'awesome.' I became sick of this one immediately." -- Gordon Johnson, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

DECIMATE -- Word-watchers have been calling for the annihilation of this one for several years.

"Used today in reference to widespread destruction or devastation. If you will not banish this word, I ask that its use be 'decimated' (reduced by one-tenth)." -- Allan Dregseth, Fargo, North Dakota.

"I nominate 'decimate' as it applies to Man's and Nature's destructive fury and the outcome of sporting contests. Decimate simply means a 10% reduction -- no more, no less. It may have derived notoriety because the ancient Romans used decimation as a technique for prisoner of war population reduction or an incentive for under-performing battle units. A group of 10 would be assembled and lots drawn. The nine losers would win and the winner would die at the hands of the losers -- a variation on the instant lottery game. Perhaps 'creamed' or 'emulsified' should be substituted. -- Mark Dobias, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

"The word is so overused and misused, people use it when they should be saying 'annihilate.' It's so bad that now there are two definitions, the real one and the one that has taken over like a weed. -- Dane, Flowery Branch, Georgia.

"'Decimate' has been turned upside down. It means 'to destroy one tenth,' but people are using it to mean 'to destroy nine tenths.' -- David Welch, Venice, Florida.

EMOTIONAL -- "Reporters, short on vocabulary, often describe a scene as 'emotional.' Well sure, but which emotion? For a radio reporter to gravely announce, 'There was an emotional send off to Joe Blow' tells me nothing, other than the reporter perceived that the participants acted in an emotional way. For instance: I had an emotional day today. I started out feeling tired and a bit grumpy until I had my coffee. I was distraught over a cat killing a bird on the other side of the street. I was bemused by my reaction to the way nature works. I was intrigued this evening to add a word or two to your suggestions. I was happy to see the words that others had posted. Gosh, this has been an emotional day for me." -- Brendan Kennedy, Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada.

POP -- "On every single one of the 45,000 decorating shows on cable TV (of which I watch many) there is at LEAST one obligatory use of a phrase such as ... 'the addition of the red really makes it POP.' You know when it's coming ... you mouth it along with the decorator. There must be some other way of describing the addition of an interesting detail." -- Barbara, Arlington, Texas.

IT IS WHAT IT IS -- "This pointless phrase, uttered initially by athletes on the losing side of a contest, is making its way into general use. It accomplishes the dual feat of adding nothing to the conversation while also being phonetically and thematically redundant." -- Jeffrey Skrenes, St. Paul, Minnesota.

"It means absolutely nothing and is mostly a cop out or a way to avoid answering a question in a way that might require genuine thought or insight. Listen to an interview with some coach or athlete in big-time sports and you'll inevitably hear it." -- Doug Compo, Brimley, Michigan.

"It seems to be everywhere and pervade every section of any newspaper I read. It reminds me of 'Who is John Galt?' from 'Atlas Shrugged.' It implies an acceptance of the status quo regardless of the circumstances. But it is what it is." -- Erik Pauna, Mondovi, Wisconsin.

"Only Yogi Berra should be allowed to utter such a circumlocution." -- Jerry Holloway, Belcamp, Maryland.

"This is migrating from primetime 'reality television' and embedding itself into otherwise articulate persons' vocabularies. Of course it is what it is, otherwise it wouldn't be what it would have been!" -- Steve Olsen, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada.

UNDER THE BUS -- "For overuse. I frequently hear this in the cliche-filled sports world, where it's used to describe misplaced blame, e.g., After Sunday's loss, the fans threw T.O. under the bus." -- Mark R. Hinkston, Racine, Wisconsin.

"Please, just 'blame' them." -- Mike Lekan, Kettering, Ohio.

"Just wondering when someone saying something negative became the same as a mob hit. Since every sportscaster in the US uses it, is a call for the media to start issuing a thesaurus to everyone in front of a camera." -- Mark Bockhaus, Appleton, Wisconsin.

Now, how about you ... what's your favorite "banished" word from this year's list?