Thursday, July 31, 2008

This is where I live...

Urban America: The New Solid South | "The shift began in the late 1960s, when urban regions, from financial centers such as New York and Chicago to old industrial cities such as Detroit and Cleveland, began to suffer a massive exodus of predominantly white, middle-class residents.

This left behind an increasingly impoverished, highly minority population with very little proclivity to support conservative or even moderate Republicans. Today in some cities — mostly old industrial centers in the East and Midwest — this population remains dominant and is likely to vote in huge numbers for Obama. Most of these cities suffer poverty rates at least 50 percent higher than the national average.

At the same time, some other cities — such as New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland — have done far better. They have done so by attracting a population of well-educated, white professionals. Pockets of this demographic, to be sure, also exist in some hard-hit industrial cities, but the new urban affluents tend to concentrate in cities with industries, such as financial services and media, that provide excitement and the prospect of high-wage employment in a glamorous setting.

Many new urbanites tend to be students or professionals enjoying city life during their first, highly experimental years of adulthood. At this point, they are most open to liberal ideas and causes; they have yet to worry much about taxes and crime, issues that drive people to the center. As they grow older, marry and raise families, many in this cohort — particularly those who do not ascend into the upper classes — leave the urban core for the suburbs or other more affordable regions."

Memo to Music Industry...

New In Rainbows Numbers Offer Lessons for Music Industry | Listening Post from "The hard lesson to the music business here is that it must license venues for music acquisition that fans prefer to file sharing networks or otherwise make the toleration of file sharing part of their business plans. If even Radiohead's freely available album was torrented 2.3 million times in the first three and a half weeks, how can more traditional offerings successfully clamp-down on file sharing? They can't, pure and simple."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Take That Colon Cancer

I eat these almost every morning:

The Slow Cook: Steel Cut Oats: "Steel-cut oats, on the other hand, start with the whole grain--meaning the unadulterated bran, germ and endosperm, where all the nutrition is--then are cut into small pieces with steel blades and left unrolled so they look like little nubs of brown rice.

A single serving, or 1/4 cup dry, of steel-cut oats contains 150 calories, no sodium, very little fat, and plenty of dietary fiber."

My recipe is easy and take about 3 minutes:

1/2 cup oats (bought in bulk)
1/2 cup water

Microwave one minute.
Microwave one more minute.

Add generous shot of honey.
Add blueberries.

I think with a diet of oats, honey and blueberries, you might live to be 300.

I'm eating them right now. :-)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Go Devils ASU has No. 1 sports program: "Arizona State is ranked as the nation's top athletic program for 2007-08 according to Sports"

That's nasty...

Forward Habit » Blog Archive » New Search Engine cuil is Not Cool At All: "I tried out the new search engine cuil today by trying a search for my name “Jason Mitchener.” While cuil did indeed show some of the web sites that are often associated with my name, it also did something that will have me never use their search engine again. cuil puts little pictures next to the search listings that supposedly are in context with the web pages listed. So what did cuil put next to the web pages associated with my name? The listing for my main site features a photo of a flesh wound. Yes, you read that correctly … a flesh wound. The listing for my site’s shop (where I sell my book and music CD) features a photo of a plastic doll. The listing for the Soundclick site with my music features a photo of a clunky wheelchair. Yes, I’m disabled, but give me a break."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Genetic Mysteries

Op-Ed Columnist - The Luxurious Growth - Op-Ed - "It wasn’t long ago that headlines were blaring about the discovery of an aggression gene, a happiness gene or a depression gene. The implication was obvious: We’re beginning to understand the wellsprings of human behavior, and it won’t be long before we can begin to intervene to enhance or transform human life.

Few talk that way now. There seems to be a general feeling, as a Hastings Center working group put it, that “behavioral genetics will never explain as much of human behavior as was once promised.”

Studies designed to link specific genes to behavior have failed to find anything larger than very small associations. It’s now clear that one gene almost never leads to one trait. Instead, a specific trait may be the result of the interplay of hundreds of different genes interacting with an infinitude of environmental factors."

Welcome to my world...

I read this in the bulletin at Citylife yesterday and it sounded very familiar, especially lately:
We all automatically gravitate toward the
assumption that we are justified by our level
of sanctification, and when this posture is
adopted, it inevitably focuses our attention
not on Christ but on the adequacy of our
own obedience. We start each day with our
personal security not resting on the accepting
love of God and the sacrifice of Christ but on
our present feelings or recent achievements
in the Christian’s life. Since these arguments
will not quiet the human conscience, we are
inevitably moved either to discouragement
and apathy or to a self-righteousness [some
form of idolatry] which falsifies the record to
achieve a sense of peace...

Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life
The sacrament of communion reminds me that it's not about me. In fact, the whole "organized religion" thing remind me that it's not about me. I'm thankful for Citylife and membership in a community that requires a declaration of failure and need as an entrance exam.

Non-Profit Meetings

Here's a nugget from Dan Allan in our conversation today.

Anytime we're having a meeting here's what we should shoot for:

50% Vision and Shepherding
Vision = organizational vision or even better vision for the kingdom of God
Shepherding = caring for those present.

50% details = critical path steps etc. Details will fill all available time if allowed to.

In a non-profit, volunteer context this is very important because it compresses the tasks into the minimum time necessary and makes time for people and passion.

How do I work on making decisions?

6 powerful "look into" verbs (+ 1 to avoid) | 43 Folders: "You’ll notice I left off the verb you were really casting about for here, which is almost certainly “decide.” This is not an oversight.

This one I can’t help you with, because — unless you own and utilize a jokey “Executive Decision Maker” purchased from the Sky Mall catalog — deciding is most definitely not a physical action."

This post seems helpful to pull stuff out of your brain and into action so you can put it back into your brain and make a decision. The Lovin Spoonful know how hard this is.

What are conferences for in a wired world?

Many have been wondering what the purpose of conferences are if many of the elements of a conference are available without showing up.

This discussion has a nice introduction in this post by Seth Godin.

I've been thinking some of these same things since last year when I helped lead the Campus Ministry Days of Campus Crusade for Christ. Today I'm going to be working with Dan Allan on what this might mean for:
  • Fall Getaway
  • Weekly meetings
  • Servant Teams
  • Staff meetings
  • National Summer Project meetings
  • Christmas Conferences and Winter Conferences
  • National Staff Conferences
Initially I think it means one thing: Do at conferences/events/meetings what you can only do or do best when everyone is physically gathered according to the purpose of the gathering.

For example:

  • Instead of having a speaker give a talk, require attendees to listen to the talk beforehand and spend the time at the conference in Q and A.
  • Crowd Activities: In 1984 I was a growing up in LA and I watched the Summer Olympics religiously since it was in my hometown. I will never forget what happened during the opening ceremonies: the capacity crowd held up individual square placards that created an enormous mural of all the flags of the world. I remember it like it was yesterday. I wish I could have been there. I'm sure everyone that was there was amazed by what they had participated in; they surely saved their placard to this day. This is the kind of once in a lifetime group activity that makes attending an event worthwhile.
  • Allowing attendees to help create the content and conversations of the conference (see podcamp). This makes each conference a unique creation and collaboration and increased the value for each attendee.
What do you think?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I'm becoming a fan of Ubuntu...

Shuttleworth: Make Desktop Linux Better than Apple: "Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, which makes Ubuntu Linux, called for desktop Linux to improve to the point that its presentation layer is more visually exciting than Apple's."

It's free!

I don't mind Vista but others apparently do...

60 percent skipping Vista, so Ballmer looks to Apple | The Open Road - The Business and Politics of Open Source by Matt Asay - CNET "A new survey by KACE, a systems management appliance company, suggests that 60 percent of those surveyed have no plans to deploy Microsoft Windows Vista, a 10 percent rise over a similar survey administered by KACE in November 2007. A full 42 percent of these are actively exploring Vista alternatives, with 11 percent having made the leap to alternative platforms like Mac OS X or Linux."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Write your own screenplay with Soularium

What 3 images describe your life right now?

Which 3 images represent what you WISH were a part of your life right now?

Imagine the first three images represent three scenes in the screenplay of your life, and the last three images represent 3 final scenes in the screenplay of your life. Imagine the movie between this beginning and end.

Would you pay to see the movie you just imagined? If not, it might help to begin to wish for something different.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)

I was invited to a sneak preview of Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D Wednesday night and it was fun from start to finish. I took my family and my kids loved it. My 9 year-old couldn't help but exclaim when it was over: "We gotta get that on DVD". Mind you, this isn't The Shawshank Redemption but you wouldn't want to take your kids to see that in the summer anyway. The film delivers on what it promises: kid-friendly adventure.

This is a great summer family movie with enough action and 3D effects to keep any kid interested. In fact 3D is very cool. It adds a new level of thrills to the action and even the adults were oohing and aahhing through the film.

As a parent the movie is helpful in creatively encouraging kids to read Jules Verne. Also, there is nothing inappropriate for children in this film except for a few 3D "gotcha" scare moments that might not go over too well with toddlers.

Perhaps my highest endorsement is this: My 12 year old son might actually read Jules Verne this summer. The fantasy world depicted in the film captured his imagination and he wants more.

My Rating: Big Screen

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Stories from the Hatch Shell

Well, we did it. We did the whole "camp out at the Hatch Shell for the 4th of July Boston Pops Concert and fireworks" thing.

It was awesome and much easier than I expected. I showed up at 7:30 am to get in line with my kids. We sat in chairs until the line started moving approaching 9am when the Oval (the grassy area in front of the shell) opened. We got in easily, set down tarps with a great view of the stage right in the middle of the oval and settled in for a relaxing morning.

When you enter the Oval you get a wristband that allows you to come back anytime. I heard they give out 10,000 wristbands so my kids probably didn't need to come so early with me. Wristbands were still available after 1pm.

Alex came down to pick up the kids and I sat under my umbrella in a cool drizzle catching up on Google Reader on my phone. I learned about this: SimplyNoise How cool is that? And I learned about this. I can't wait.

Then came the moment: a low rumble in the column of speakers upon sub-woofers. Pealing into Also Sprach Zarathustra. My sternum began to shudder and quake. It was epic. It was the start of the program for all of us in the Oval.

I left to get my kids and got back in easily at 6:15. The crowd had swelled and was festive. Tents had come down and lights had gone up. Flags were everywhere. Sound checks, tributes and introductions and then the TV show portion began.

The National Anthem and the F-15 Flyover was a highlight.

The Boston Pops were amazing. They did several pieces by Leonard Bernstein that were pulsating with rhythm and very difficult. Hearing live music of this quality is a rare pleasure. Of course the 1812 Overture was rousing.

Rascal Flatts was/were really good. They can flat play.

The lowlight of the evening was biting into a sandwich that I has set on the ground earlier. I noticed a spicy, sour taste as I was chewing the first big bite. I looked down and saw a platoon of ants deployed on the sandwich all around my bite mark. Apparently some of this merry band were missing in action in my mouth. I took evasive action. Luckily it was during the Fireworks so eyes were drawn elsewhere. My kids now refer to this anecdote as "The Ant Sandwich".

Happy Birthday America.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Waited on the World to Change

Everything was gray: Movement detected but recognition shallow, distinctions blurry. Activity was more important than meaning because meaning was hard to see. Life was boring, more often than not because life had little color, flavor or fragrance.

Then, one day in college, the story of God (which I had heard plenty before) actually touched the facts of my world and the details of my life. I already believed in God, in particular the story of God come to earth in a person: Jesus of Nazareth. But this was almost entirely balm for my tender conscience and grace and truth to my fickle, wicked heart.

Almost overnight, the world became alive, fascinating, and profound. God was in language, logic, melody and harmony. God was in design, ethics and mathematics. God was in sex, justice and intimacy. God was not just in Christ, not just in my heart, but in all things.

I wish I could be awake always, to keep learning about everything, learning about The Word by whom all things were made. I think that would be Heaven.

Interesting Stuff