Why Vote?

Megan and I went and voted early today since we’ll be driving home from Wisconsin on Novmeber 4th. No matter what happens, this election is a big deal. But if you’re still looking for a reason to vote, GOOD Magazine published an article with 1,565 Reasons To Vote (read it as a series online).

Here are 10 of my favorites:

#1.  An “I Voted” sticker is the unequivocal best accessory of all time.

#16. Nader supporters will.

#21. “Whether we like politics or not, politicians are running our lives. They decide issues of war and peace, whether we’ll have jobs, whether we can afford a good education, the quality of our environment, and whether we and our loved ones will be able to afford quality health care. How can we possibly choose not to care? ” -Jerry Springer

#96. It’s so easy, even old people can do it. And they do. In 2004, only 47 percent of people age 18 to 29 voted; 73 percent of people age 65 to 74 did. Are they voting for the person you want to win?

#190. More than 1.1 million people will apply for legal U.S. citizenship this year—an all-time high. While those immigrants wait to enjoy the rights of that citizenship, we have all of its privileges now.

#202. As the “leaders of the free world” we seriously lag when it comes to voter turnout, and not just behind our friends in Western Europe, who have us by about 20 percent. Despite major suppression and violence, and an almost-total boycott by Sunnis, Iraq still turned out a higher percentage of voters than we did last time around. And Malta turned out 93 percent of voters in its last election—that was a down year.

#784. You voted for prom queen at your school. Ditto season two of American Idol.

#1521. The previously irrelevant town of Obama, Japan (population 32,000), wants to maintain it’s high Google ranking and booming tourist trade.

#1552.  You get to see the inside of some municipal facility you’d never otherwise visit.

#1554. The United States has scared the crap out of the world, and with a major change, we just might be able to rectify the damage done to our reputation and standing in world affairs.

Apple Pickin’ ’08

This weekend we made the annual trip to the apple orchard. This year it was to Christ Orchard in Elmwood. Megan was on the ball and we already have homemade applsauce! Anyway, here are a few pictures.

Quick Update

Moving went really well. We had lots of help from lots of friends. Thanks to everyone- we couldn’t have done it without you!

I’m learning the joys of owning a home. My to-do list is never ending. But we love the house. I’m just anxious for all the boxes to be gone. Or to at least have one room in the house where I can sit and not see something that needs unpacked.

We won’t have internet til next week and I plan on updating more then. Right now I’m at Panera Bread and Megan is ready to go so that’s it for now!

This Is It

The day has arrived. I’m in my last hour as a staff member at Christ The Rock. The journey here has been crazy. Megan and I have learned and grown so much over the past 3 years. People ask me how I’m feeling and the best answer I can come up with is surreal. It hasn’t fully sunk in yet that I’ll walk out of here on a Friday and on Monday I’ll be moving into my house in Peoria. It’s a crazy mix of emotions- one moment I don’t really want to leave and the next I can’t wait to get to Peoria.

The CTR community has been incredibly encouraging to us and it is so good to have their blessing as we go. We feel that in a way we’re being sent out from here. Words on the screen hardly do it justice.

But I’m incredibly excited about starting at Imago Dei and getting to work closely with good friends. I’m overwhelmed with the goodness that God is showing me…I don’t deserve to have a job that I love so much. 

Thanks to everyone in the Appleton area who has been a part of our lives for the past 3 years. Stay in touch.

Grace and peace.

Getting Organized

I have never been accused of being an organized person. My desk is usually cluttered, my calendar isn’t up to date and my to-do list (if I even have one) is on random scrap pieces of paper. With the big move coming up in a month there is a lot to keep track of at work and personally. It gets a bit overwhelming at times and feels like I have so much to do but don’t know what to do next.

So in light of being in a stage of major life transition plus knowing that working at a church plant means juggling many things at once I’ve been on the lookout for organization/productivity tips. I came across this video of Randy Pausch’s “Time Management” lecture. Now that doesn’t sound too exciting at first but this guy’s story is pretty inspiring. Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and the video of his “Last Lecture” gained a lot of buzz online last year. He gave that lecture after he had been diagnosed with cancer and only had a few months to live (he just died a few days ago). It’s well worth your time if you haven’t seen it. Just good philosophies for life.

This “Time Management” lecture was also given after his diagnoses. It’s just as good but much more practical in nature. If you ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day- take the time to watch this. I like his approach because it’s not ultimately about “getting more things done in less time” but rather- using your time wisely so you have time for things that really matter like family and friends. It’s a little over an hour long but it doesn’t feel like it. Skip ahead to about the 12 minute mark when he actually starts the lecture. And I would suggest watching it on Google Video so you can make it full screen.

The changes this inspired for me:

  • Started using Remember The Milk for to-do lists. It not only lets you put due dates on tasks but it lets you give each task a priority and then sort your list by priority. That’s something most to-do list apps miss. You can have multiple lists in your account (work, personal, etc.) Plus there’s tons of other features and it’s free.
  • Integrated RTM with my Google Calendar and GMail account. Now I can see and manage tasks right on my calendar or in my e-mail.
  • Cleaned my desk.
  • Cleaned out my e-mail inbox down to zero. (Check out Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero method for a more in-depth look at e-mail management.)
  • Started to pause a few times a day for task managment. This seems like it takes more time at first, but in the long run it’s a big time saver.

Now the real trick will be making habbits out of these things. I’ll report back in a few weeks on how it’s going. (a to-do item right there!)

Photoshop Express

As I’ve been training staff members on how to do various tasks in preparation for my departure I’ve run into a few situations where users need a simple photo editor to do simple tasks like cropping and resizing. Most of the PC’s in the office don’t have any sort of photo editing software on them and if they do they run really slow. So I remembered that Adobe launched a free online app called Photoshop Express a few months ago. I had looked at it but didn’t really have a use for it then.

But I gotta say, it’s a great solution for non-techie users who just need to do simple things with photos. The interface is really slick and user friendly and even kind of fun to play with. And it doesn’t require any software installation. You just sign up for a free account and 2GB of space is included. If you want to do more with it you can even import your photos from Flickr and Facebook to edit them. You can also create cool looking photo galleries and embed them on other websites. And it even has some tools for basic photo manipulation. I’ve just had users upload their photos, make their edits and then download them. It’s an extra step since it’s online, but it’s really not too much of a hassle.

This is really pushing the boundaries of what online apps can do vs desktop apps. I’m not opposed to a future where I can access my apps online from any computer connected to the internet. Next time you need to get some photos online check it out!

Coldplay | Viva La Vida

Unless you live in a cave, you’re probably aware that Coldplay’s new album dropped (as they say in the biz) a few weeks ago. Being a big Coldplay fan, I pre-ordered it on iTunes and have been listening to it since it came out. I have to say that on the first few listens I wasn’t sure that I liked it. In fact for a few days I was quite sure that I didn’t like it. But with music, especially from artists I’m familiar with, I have to listen for quite a while before I make up my mind. I really don’t understand how “music critics” can listen a few times and make a judgment based on that.

Viva La Vida is in many ways a very different Coldplay than before. Once of the reasons I wasn’t sure if I liked it was because of the amount of orchestral instrumentation used. Especially on the title track, Viva La Vida, it felt like all production instruments- not the real Coldplay. I missed my Johnny Buckland guitar! But I left it in my cd player and let it grow on me. Over time the songs began to stick in my head and I’ve really come to appreciate this record. In fact I think it might become one of my favorites. I just had to get over the fact that this shouldn’t be “A Rush of Blood to the Head” all over again.

I’ve found that the music that has grown on me slowly usually sticks with me the longest. There have been many albums (not just Coldplay) that I really liked at first but then get annoying after so many listens. Albums that grow on me tend to have lots of things to discover in them. So that’s where I’m at with Viva La Vida. I think it’s a record that I’ll be discovering new pieces of for a long time.