Walking the line between nerd and cool.

Random Musings

Post 555: Onward and Upward

This is my 555th post here. It’s also my last.

I’m moving on to my new digs at JasonTheDCE.com. Go check it out. If you’re reading this via email or an RSS reader, it means you need to go to the new site and update your subscription.

Fish or Fishing

One of the things I love about Dona Trautwein, our administrative assistant, is that she’s always insisting I teach her to fish. You’ve probably heard the phrase before:

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

One of my unwritten job duties is fixing computers. It’s one way I use the gifts God has given me for technology to help others. Dona will often have a question about something and rather than just getting it fixed (which, by the way, is way faster in the short-run than teaching, though much worse in the long-run), she insists I teach her what I’m doing.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes it just needs to be fixed and I do it, but if it’s anything she remotely has a chance of needing to know again in the next year or two, I try to accommodate her and teach instead of just giving. She’s actually learned quite a bit since she’s been here. It’s fun teaching her because she wants to learn.

One of the things that Dona and I both do regularly is put together the worship PowerPoint slides. Dona works on Traditional and I do the Contemporary. The other day, I was watching her work on the slides when she duplicated a slide without using the mouse. As it turns out, Control-D will duplicate a slide, and I never would have discovered it if Dona hadn’t taught me. You might know this quote too:

I’ve been waiting for you, Obi-Wan. We meet again, at last. The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner; now *I* am the master.

That was Darth Vader to Obi-Wan. Hrmm… I hope she’s not Darth Vader in disguise…

Chuck Norris and the Karate Kid: Mastering Spiritual Disciplines

When reflecting on my favorite part laptop cover from the Jesus Loves Nerds post I wrote yesterday, I decided that my runner-up for best tidbit on the laptop cover was a joke about Chuck Norris. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of Chuck Norris jokes or not. It’s a common internet meme and popular culture phenomenon. Here are a few to give you a taste:

  • Fear of spiders is arachnophobia, fear of tight spaces is claustrophobia, fear of Chuck Norris is called Logic.
  • When Alexander Bell invented the telephone, he had 3 missed calls from Chuck Norris.
  • Chuck Norris has already been to Mars. That’s why there’s no signs of life.
  • Chuck Norris can win a game of Connect Four in only three moves.
  • Some people wear Superman pajamas. Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas.

Some of the jokes are really funny. Nearly every Chuck Norris joke makes me chuckle. But there’s a problem with these jokes and Hollywood films like the Karate Kid (and so many others). We laugh about Chuck Norris’ super powers. We cheer for Daniel Russo when he wins the All Valley Karate Championship. But Chuck Norris doesn’t really have super powers (though he is super cool). And Daniel Russo never would have won that karate championship. You can’t train for a few weeks or even months and beat kids that have been training their whole life.

While writing that post, I came across a blog post about why Chuck Norris jokes are dangerous. The author writes:

Unfortunately, I think a lot of us believe that we should instantly be great at something when we first try it. Or if not instantly, we should, in a matter of weeks, begin mastering the skills. Instead, Malcolm Gladwell argues in his (excellent) book Outliers that true mastery takes about 10,000 hours. TEN. THOUSAND. HOURS.

10,000 hours. That’s a lot of time. It’s almost 14 months actually. Later in the article, she referenced an article by David Wong (How the Karate Kid Ruined the Modern World) that talks about “Effort Shock.” The relevant portion of the article:

We have a vague idea in our head of the “price” of certain accomplishments, how difficult it should be to get a degree, or succeed at a job, or stay in shape, or raise a kid, or build a house. And that vague idea is almost always catastrophically wrong.

Guess what? Mastering spiritual disciplines like Prayer, Giving, Serving and Reading the Bible are hard work. It’s going to take a while. And you’ll probably have “Effort Shock” once you get into it. In fact, you’ve probably already experienced it. Maybe you thought reading the Bible or praying would be easier than it is. But it’s not. It’s hard work. It’s a long, slow journey, not a quick fix.There are distractions, pitfalls, obstacles. The devil will do everything he can to stop us from mastering the spiritual disciplines.

Thankfully, we’re not working alone at it. God Himself is with us.

The Long Winter

We’ve managed to avoid winter for longer than usual here in Buffalo. While I love the people and area of Buffalo, I still don’t like winter. Despite growing up in similar condition in Cleveland and going to school in winter wind-happy Chicago, I just don’t like winter. I’m sure it has to do with doing my first years in ministry in the Houston, Texas area. I discovered this truth there: People don’t have to live like this! It’s true! There are places without this awful weather!

One of the joys of winter, however, is bringing out and using our favorite quilt. When we left Texas, one of my youth group kids (Sarah) took a bunch of our t-shirts and turned them into a quilt to keep us warm up north. I couldn’t get all of the shirts in the photo, but it includes shirts from several VBS’s, mission trips, our youth group shirts, staff shirts and some from Crosspoint, where Jaime worked.

Whenever we curl up under the quilt, we always think of our friends in Texas. It’s probably the best gift I’ve ever received in ministry because of all the time and love that went into making it. While I still can’t condone winter, the quilt at least makes it bearable.

Twitter and Blogging

For a while now, I’ve Tweeted (and by extension, Facebooked) my blog posts. They’ve taken the format:

Blog // Title of a Post // Address to find it

I’m uncertain if this is a good practice. Instead, I’m going to try asking a question in a Tweet that might get people to tune into the blog. I’m trying to help people find valuable content that’s relevant to them rather than just shamelessly promoting myself.

Hopefully, if people are interested in the question, they’ll click through. If not, that’s cool too.

I’m not sure you wanted to know this, but now you do.

Merry Christmas!

Hope you are having a wonderful Christmas season! I give you, a Lego Christmas:

40 Inspirational Speeches in Two Minutes

Saw this over on Lifehacker:

As a big movie-watcher, it was interesting to see how they were all cut together.  I’ve probably seen 2/3 of the movies in there and recognized a few others.

Random Thoughts Before Bed

You may be surprised that I’m posting at all, but sometimes I just need to wind down a bit before bed, even if today was exhausting as we continue learning about being parents.  Here are few random thoughts on my mind tonight:

  • Hard to believe we’re actually parents.  Fun, exciting, scary, all at the same time.
  • We’re so thankful for the support network we have. Our family, friends and church family have been so kind to us.  It’s overwhelming sometimes!
  • Love the new WordPress 2.7 interface.  I knew it was coming, but fun to see it up.  You probably don’t notice anything different unless you blog here.  I’m thinking of writing a tutorial on Open Church, but probably don’t have the time now.  :)
  • Having a baby is good for your blog.  I made it to #63 on the fasting growing blogs list on WordPress, thanks to Addison.  Score!  (And welcome to all the guests!)
  • I went through 70+ conversations in Gmail in about 40 minutes.  Only tagged about 5 for later followup.  I’m glad I learned how to type!
  • I fear my RSS Reader will take much longer to get through.  Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow at the hospital by taking Reader offline!

Ok, that’s all.  Good night.  Or good morning most likely.  :)

They Just Get It (or Free Coffee Until January 1)

Ever since I started reading Seth Godin’s blog, I’ve looked at companies differently, especially in how they market themselves.  I wrote about how Starbucks gave out free coffees if you voted.  Not a bad deal.  Of course, when I went in there to get it, they were offering the smallest size for free.  I asked if I could have a Venti (their largest) and the response was that they’d have to charge me for the smallest size and then give me the difference as my “free” coffee.  The extra coffee costs, what, a couple pennies maybe?

Today, I went to Panera Bread to get a new coffee mug because Dona told me that you can refill it for free until January 1.  It seemed too good to be true, but figured I’d stop in and ask.  It’s true.  A $6.99 mug gets you free refills until January 1.  I asked if I had to stop at the counter and she said no, just go refill it.  Do I have to buy something else?  Nope.  On top of that, $4 of the mug price goes to the Make-a-Wish foundation.  Seriously.  From free Wi-Fi to free coffee, Panera just gets it.

Misspeled Naems

Firefox has a built in spellchecker that provides suggestions for misspelled words.  I usually ignore it for names, but I clicked one today to see what suggestions came up.  It was actually quite amusing.  I won’t disclose who it was, but they frequently read this and other church staff/member blogs. 

So here’s my question: what suggested spellings occur for your name?  Mine has none.  We’ll use Spellify as our common resource.  Post your results in the comments.

Gas Prices

Heard on the radio this morning that Buffalo is among the worst in the nation for gas prices.  Turns out we’re only better than two locations: Honolulu ($3.073) and Anchorage ($3.116).  Buffalo weighs in at $2.811/gallon, more than 10 cents higher than New York City even.

For reference, if you drove 12,000 miles/year and got 20 MPGs, you’d $1,686.60 on gas each year.  If you lived in Kansas City ($1.872), you’d only be spending $1,123.20.  That’s a savings of $563.40.  Ridiculous.

Election Day

It’s finally here.  I went out and voted this morning.  If you’ve haven’t already done so, make sure you head out and vote.  Then stop in at Starbucks and tell them you voted and you’ll get a free coffee.  I got the Thanksgiving Blend.  Yum.

In the spirit of Election day, here’s a fun video that explains how our system works from the folks over at Common Craft:

The Right Glass

I have this issue at home where I need the right type of glass for what I want to drink.  I don’t like drinking milk from the glass mug, but water is fine.  Cider definitely belongs in the crystal looking glass.  I like my coffee mug to have a wider top than base.  Juice has to go in the short glasses.  Generally speaking, heavier glasses are better than light.  They just feel better in my hand.  Am I the only one who has trouble choosing what type of glass to use for drinks?

Make Your Name Into a Face

Ran across a funny web-based tool today.  It turns your name into a face.  Here’s mine.  Click through to see what you look like.  Thanks to Digital Inspiration for the find.

The Angels Sing

At Catalyst, we sang “We Shine” by Steve Fee.  Here’s a portion of the lyrics:

Yeah, yeah, we shine, we shine the light of God
And when we speak, we speak with words of love
And when we dance we may get a little wild
‘Cause we’re the people of God yeah, the people of God
And when we sing, we sing the angels’ songs
The ones they’re singing around the throne
Yeah, yeah, we worship the King with everything that we are
‘Cause we’re the people of God yeah, the people of God

It made me think.  Do the angels sing some of the same songs we’re singing here on earth?  I don’t have a Bible verse to back this up, but I believe they might.  God delights in His people, and I imagine He and the angels enjoy hearing our creative expressions of praise.  I wonder what songs we’ll be singing around the throne?  I imagine we’ll be singing some of my favorites.  What songs are you hoping we’ll sing?


I noticed I was at 9,995 hits on the blog just now.  This post should put it over 10,000.  A (somewhat) meaningless milestone, but fun nonetheless!  You can see the total hit count on the right side of the blog, the last entry in that column.

Shifting Gears

Now that I’m done with school, I’m having to adjust my schedule and thinking to accommodate the added time in my schedule.  Granted, it won’t be long until I have no time again, but it’s odd to me that I have a harder time getting stuff done now that I have more time.  I’ve spent the last week or so knocking out some smaller projects that just never got down while in school.  They weren’t critical to ministry, but they need doing.  I’ve also been working at re-decorating my new office.  I hope to have everything ready to show off this Sunday… We’ll see what happens… :)

I Do So Intend, With The Help of God

Our confirmands stood up yesterday and pledged to continue in the Christian faith with the help of God.  It’s been a fun two years with this group.  It was a joy to be up front and see them as they came up to be confirmed, and then again to be communed with their family for the first time.  What a joy it was to see the families come up together.  It adds some chaos and length to the service, but I like it.  It’s part of who we are as a church family: families growing in their faith together.

The End is Now

It was near, now its now.  My last final was the start of a busy day yesterday.  I did well enough on the final to get an A in the course (I think).  I’ll even settle for a B, I’m just excited that I am done with the semester.  I wish things had turned out differently, like my work experience counting for something, but it’s over and I can return to a more normal schedule again.

After my final, I arrived at church just in time for a meeting about renovating the youth area.  We’ve been talking about this happening for a while and we’re finally starting to see some awesome progress.  We can’t share much right now, but I’ll just say that the first rough plan for the basement just feels right.  We’ll continue to tweak it and make it better, but I’m so excited about it.  There is no “end date” for the project yet.

Next was a meeting about how we communicate at First Trinity.  We’re mostly just digesting the large document our consultant handed to us, but it’s exciting to see an outsider perspective of our family. 

I ended the evening at our annual Confirmation Banquet.  Sue took some pictures as part of her experiment.  It was a great time to celebrate our Confirmands and hear their faith stories.  It’s always a wonderful evening as families come together to enjoy great food (Thanks Mike and crew!) and bless their kids.

Audio From Parenting the Internet Generation

I had some trouble getting the file uploaded, but everything seems to be working now. Here’s the audio from my class this evening in case you missed it and want to listen. More tomorrow when I have more time to write.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

A Jackie Chan movie?  Nope.  It’s actually a documentary (you have to click through and read the tagline for this movie…).  About Donkey Kong (play online!), and one man’s pursuit of a world record against all odds.  Sound lame?  It’s actually quite good!  I gave it 4 stars out of 5 in my Netflix queue.  If you get a chance to see it, I’d definitely recommend it.  Funny on many levels and also nostalgic for those of us who grew up playing those games.

Best Day to Surf All Year

Today is one of my favorite days of the year to surf the web. Why? It seems like on this day every year, the best inventions, innovations and inspired ideas. Some of my favorite so far:


Any good announcements out there that you’ve seen?

Writing Habits

Seth Godin had an interesting post about some bad habits in his writing, specifically using the word “just” and “sort of” in his writing.  I’m curious if anyone here has noticed what my “bad habits” are while writing on the blog.  I’m trying to cut down on clutter in my posts and would love your help!  I’m hoping it will also help me more clearly communicate both here and in other media types for my ministry.


We went to the Falls today with my Father-in-Law and his wife Sue.  I took some pictures to change my “signature” photo from the Easter Lily one I use:

New Signature Photos

Sue posted a pic of the altar from Good Friday service.  Here are some of the ones I took, before I do anything creative with them:

Good Friday Altar Decoration


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.