Archive for June, 2009

Here Comes Everybody
Image via Wikipedia

A little book club of non-profit emerging leaders I’m involved with picked Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody as our latest book.  The subtitle is very intriguing – The Power of Organizing without Organizations.  With this intriguing title and Shirky’s well-respected background in social media, it was odd that most of us were disappointed (with one exception!)

I won’t try to summarize the other’s positions at all,  however, I think the exception to being disappointed with the book is this: A person who truly geeks out regarding social media, social theory, and information will probably enjoy this book.

In fact that summarizes the book.  Shirky takes well-known social theories such as the power distribution law and applies them to social media outlets like Flickr, Wikipedia, and Meetup.  If you are looking for concrete steps on how to create social change without creating a new organization – this is NOT the book for you.  If you want to think and be academic about the idea in vague terms this IS for you.

Much of what was discussed throughout the book was either common knowledge or intuitive.  Another large portion is highly unlikely to happen due to the special circumstances surrounding the event.

One problem with books about social media is that they quickly become outdated.  This book published in 2008, barely mentions Twitter (at the end he confesses that it just started becoming big while writing the book).  I’m sure he would have written about the power of Twitter in the Mumbai bombings and more recently the Iranian election.  In his defense on this section, Shirky created a blog to continue the discussion.

Finally, I found it a little dull overall.  I enjoyed the stories, but some of the social theory stuff was hard to get through.  I would not rush out and purchase this book, if you’d like my copy let me know!

Note: I didn’t realize until I was at the book club (only 2 people had read the book cover to cover) that my copy was an unedited manuscript.  It was clearly marked “not for distribution” but somebody dropped it off at Goodwill where someone found it for $3.99 and turned around and sold it to me for $8.99 plus shipping.  I felt a lot better after discovering that it was unedited because there were a lot of grammatical errors and random double words or words omitted!

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This week’s CSA box from Harmony Valley Farm included:

  • Red Leaf Lettuce,
  • Spinach,
  • Strawberries,
  • Scallions,
  • Garlic Scapes,
  • Sugar Snap Peas,
  • Arugula,
  • Napa or Sweetheart Cabbage, (not sure which)
  • Amaranth,
  • Summer Squash,  and
  • Chard

We definitely didn’t finish eating all of the greens from last week. Again I’ve never heard of some of these items – Chard? Amaranth?

We’ve been enjoying the strawberries that we got over the weekend.  I even made my first ever jam (and it looks like it might turn out!!) with CSA strawberries and rhubarb.  It is delicious.  I’ll write more about it later.  As our weeks ebb and flow with busyness so does the about of CSA food we are able to eat.

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The focal point of our trip to the farm and the main reason we attended was to pick strawberries.  Yes, there are other places to strawberry pick closer to home, but this was a unique opportunity to do so out our place.  Harmony Valley Farm is pretty clear to their CSA members that they want us to think of it as ours. It is a good marketing message, but in a sense it is also quite literally true – being a CSA member is like buying stock in a company.

So we picked lots of strawberries.  In the picture you can see my delightful wife with a purple bowl full, plus we got our 2 free pints.  We had to pay $2.50 a pound for the sweet organic delicacies.  We ended up with just over 2lbs plus the 2 pints!

Even with the occasional light shower we had a grand time picking strawberries! Thank you Harmony Valley.
The cute kids belong to our friends the Deckers.

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We had a great weekend at “our farm” – Harmony Valley Farms. We road tripped down the Mississippi River to find our farm nestled in a valley in southwest Wisconsin. Here is a quick synopsis:

– Camping with other members in the meadow
– Chatting with Richard, the owner, around the campfire
– Watching the fog lift off the valley in the morning
– Potlucking with even more members, meeting bloggers Heather and Lee
– Picking strawberries in the rain and eating lots of them!
– Getting a wagon tour of the fields
– Eating Sugar Snap Peas we picked from the fields
– Talking with one of the “professional” growers and hearing his passion for organic produce and this farm

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Week 7 of our CSA from Harmony Valley Farm (blog).

  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Kohlrabi
  • Spinach
  • Strawberry
  • Red radish
  • White  scallion
  • Garlic scapes
  • Salad mix
  • Napa cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Red Komatsuna

Lots of delicious vegetables again and some sweet strawberries!! Pretty exciting to taste the strawberries as we’ll be picking a lot for ourselves this weekend at the Strawberry Picking Day!!!

We ate a lot of today’s and last week’s veggies on a huge salad and then ate more on top of a pizza. Salad is an obvious way to include some of the “unknown” items into our diet.  Below is a picture of the salad.

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Lamentation of the solitude
Image by ` TheDreamSky 꿈꾸는 하늘 via Flickr

It has been awhile since I’ve written about one of the messages from Seward Church.  This week’s message was about the tough book of Lamentations.  Tough because it deals with the topic of suffering, but we know how the story ends – with the grace of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Lamentations is generally thought of as a book of laments or sorrowful writings.  It tells a story of great pain and suffering.  We don’t like that because we really don’t want to suffer in our lives and if the Bible talks about it, then there is probably a good chance of it happening in our life – especially if there is a whole book devoted to it.  This should actually be reassuring to us as well though, because the Bible is willing to take on the hard issues of life that face us each and every day.

Tim offered some intriguing literary notes to about the book’s structure.  In the original Hebrew the book is written as an acrostic poem that repeats itself in each chapter.  The precision and structure took a lot of work and adds to the overall power of the book.  Wikipedia describes its structure:

The first four poems (chapters) are acrostics, like some of the Psalms (25, 34, 37, 119), i.e., each verse begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet taken in order. The first, second, and fourth have each twenty-two verses, the number of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet. The third has sixty-six verses, in which each three successive verses begin with the same letter. The fifth is not acrostic, but also has twenty-two verses.

One of the most important points to  remember about suffering is that ultimately it is not eternal.  It is only for a finite time.  Yes the time might be your entire life, but it will end.  We may suffer alone, but we don’t have to (1:12).  Suffering can be processed through the community.  We should be willing to walk through each part of the suffering process together.  We ALL suffer and we can encourage each other.  As a community we can make sure that we don’t short-circuit the process but that we genuinely take each step towards peace and wholeness together.

Lamentations 3:22-33 (The Message) is a great passage:

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
to stick it out through the hard times.

When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The “worst” is never the worst.

Why? Because the Master won’t ever
walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
in throwing roadblocks in the way:

Until you get to the last 2 verses which seemingly contradict each other.  Suffering sometimes is a result of sin. We are often rebelling against God and His “rules” or desires for our life. We often tell God that we don’t need His help in this or that area of our life.  We need to stop putting ourselves in the way (ie stop sinning) but since that isn’t ever possible we will have suffering (punishment).  Have you stopped and thought about the suffering in your life?

We often try to hide the pain in our life – saying “everything is fine” or something similar without truly embracing or accepting that things aren’t fine.  Our lives are a mess.  It is ok.  My life is a mess – just like yours.  Did you know that Jesus, when He died, experienced the worst pain/suffering imaginable?  For those 3 days he was dead, God actually turned His back on His beloved son.  Jesus accepted that responsibility so we wouldn’t have to.

At the time Lamentations was written, everything that the Israelites thought was important to God was destroyed. God never expected the Temple to last forever, from the beginning He knew about Jesus.  But think how that might mess with the minds of the Israelites.  Yet, at the end of the day “I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.” (Lamentations 3:24)

None of us (as Christians) have been infinitely abandoned by God.  Jesus alone stood abandoned, infinitely, bearing God’s wrath for us.  We are broken A-Z as deep and wide as the sea.  However, God loves us too much to be indifferent to our desire to be our own God.  He wants us to be blessed immensely, but like any good father provides discipline to help us understand the correct path.

We must rest in the promise that through Jesus’ suffering we won’t suffer forever, but will one day rejoice in the faithfulness of God and His great mercy.

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gallery-pre-10I’ve been trying to use as much of the Palm Pre as I can to see how things react and work.  I am still very pleased with the phone (it would probably take quite a bit for me to be upset with it since I dropped some cash on it!).

One of the most exciting things, at least for me was that I helped Christy setup a Twitter account using the Pre.  I also got my Facebook vanity URL via the browser on my Pre.  It was fairly easy to do all of this.  I am still a HUGE fan of the slideout keyboard, however, to get the best view in the browser you need to flip it sideways, so you are going back and forth (horizontal  and vertical) to use the keyboard.  We setup her Tweed account and she was off a twittering. I like Tweed – it allows me to track both my personal account @crossn81 and @sewardchurch which has helped make the latter more interactive.  One problem I have with Tweed is that it will post a notification that @crossn81 has been mentioned, but when you tap the alert nothing happens.  A simple update should fix this.

I was able to easily livetweet this week’s message at the @sewardchurch account.  The Pre/Tweed interface made it slightly easier  to do so.

We used our laptops to finish getting her Facebook and Twitpic accounts fully mobile and she’s off and running! We discovered a small problem at this point.  Twitpic uses an e-mail based system to post pictures via your Twitter account.  Evidently Facebook only uses an MMS system but has an e-mail looking address (mobile@facebook.com). On my Centro I was able to send a picture to both Facebook and Twitpic from the same screen.  It now appears this isn’t possible.  Christy tried and got an error message. The Pre offers three sharing options for pictures – e-mail, MMS, and upload (to Facebook or Photobucket) currently.  So if you wanted to add the same picture to Twitter and Facebook you have to send it twice.  Hopefully they can work this out, because that is fairly annoying.

Keyboard

The keyboard is one of the bigger selling points of the Pre.  It is nice to have a slide-out keyboard instead of the touchscreen on the iPhone.  For me the keyboard adjustment has been pretty easy.  It is basically the same keyboard that was on my Centro – only a little bigger and with one significant change.  On the Centro the “0” key is the primary button on the bottom – so whenever you hit it you get the 0 but if you use the shift key then you get the “@” symbol.  On the Pre it is reversed.  So I’m still getting used to that change.  It is a standard QWERTY and I can type fairly well on it.  I do occasionally hit the “enter” key on accident and send a text or chat message a little early!  Sometime the top row of keys feels a little too close to the bottom of the phone, but I think it just takes some getting used to.

iPhone vs Pre

I’m sure this debate will continue to rage on and I’m not the best person to do a comparison, but a friend and I went back and forth through all the features we thought made our phone better.  They seem almost exactly alike except for screen size and keyboard.  The iPhone has a slightly larger screen until you try and use the keyboard.  With the iPhone’s keyboard up, the screen is basically half the size of my Pre screen.   We discovered that the Pre makes viewing a YouTube video clearer, although the iPhone may have slightly better sound quality.

This is getting fairly long, so  I will stop for now and keep updating randomly about the Pre. But one quick comment on the battery.  I’ve had to charge mine every night and sometimes in the evening when I get back from work.  Christy’s holds the charge slightly better, but I think that is because her sits in her purse most of the day while I’m using mine off and on throughout the day.  I also have AIM and GTalk  running in the background constantly which would slowly drain the battery of any phone.   Oddly enough Christy’s old phone a Sanyo 2300 is still showing a full charge after sitting in standby since Tuesday!   I forgot to mention in the initial post that they transferred all of Christy’s contact information to the Pre for her – mine was all in cyberspace already so it was a piece of cake.

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