30 April 2010

Wellington = Wind, Art & Books.

In windy Wellington for the weekend. Went to 2 galleries, 3 bookstores (then the P.O.), a cafe, an Irish pub & a French Restaurant! Not a bad day!

Do you know that posting books back to Auckland for $3.50 is far better than hurting my shoulder trying to carry them?

Thanks to Pegasus books for the brown paper bags and Arty Bees Books for stickers.

Also, using my phone in the bookstores to search for book prices online saved me $55 today!

One of them is available in my public library! I love using technology to enhance my life rather than complicate it further.

Love Languages

I live in a multicultural city and work in multicultural contexts. Intercultural or cross-cultural communication can be challenging, and very rewarding when we get it right. There can be much laughter and significant bonds built between people of different cultures.

I'm thinking relationships between any two people can be cross-cultural. Different families do things differently and no two mommas agree on everything. So when two adults are in a relationship, expectations can vary and things can get confusing. It sure helps when we share or understand each other's language.

Do you speak the same language as those who are listening, or trying to listen, to you?

Aids in communication.
Reduces frustration.

The same is true with love languages.
Do you know your spouse's and children's love languages, or that of your friend or co-workers? Pay attention to the nuances of their response when you make an effort in the following areas. Gauge the response and then follow through in speaking their language, not just your own.
Go to Gary Chapman's site for more info, assessment tools and interesting conversations about Love Languages.

Chapman's Five Love Languages:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch
Determining Your Own Love Language
Since you may be speaking what you need, you can discover your own love language by asking yourself these questions:
  • How do I express love to others?
  • What do I complain about the most?
  • What do I request most often?
Speaking in someone else’s love language probably won't be natural for you. Dr. Chapman says, "We're not talking comfort. We're talking love. Love is something we do for someone else. So often couples love one another but they aren't connecting. They are sincere, but sincerity isn't enough."

Emotional Experiences
The number one emotional experience reported by folks is feeling the presence of God in their lives.
The emotional high of being in love (which generally lasts around 2 years) is the second highest emotional experience that people reportedly have.
That is why it can be so difficult to try and talk some sense into someone who is in the midst of falling in love.
Chapman stated that obsessive love can render people mentally incompetent. "There's not much difference between being in love and being insane."
Your comments?

Suffering Qualifies Us to Serve

I show her my scar.
I've earned my stripes.
As a child, a friend and a patient.
How is it that suffering most qualifies us for service?

"Oh! I didn't know. You too?"
"You're okay?"

Groundless hope.
We're all better off, but in different ways.
One needs another op.
The other needs follow up treatment.
There is no Plan B, so hope Plan A works.
First things first.

"What's the point?"
"You'll have to choose the point for yourself."
"Do it for the grandkids you don't have yet!"

Each story is different.
Write your own.
It's an exercise in ad lib, but that keeps things interesting.

29 April 2010

Knowing. Understanding.

"How do you know so much? You seem to understand."

"I've lived."

"Yes, I suppose that's it."

Funny conversation to have at a time when I'm doing a paper/course in Epistemology; Ways of Knowing. How do we know things? Could I begin to explain what I know so you could know it too? No. You'd have to know by experience, as I do.

I'm not talking only about facts, observable truth acceptable to diehard rationalists. I'm talking about a deeper level of knowing than factual, empirical and explainable.

The above conversation took place while one of us was in a hospital bed and one was seated on a chair.

Does the context change how you read that conversation?
Does it change your understanding of the knowing I'm talking about?

What to do with Single Socks?

I've got three orphan socks sitting on my dresser looking sad. Where are their mates?

How long do I wait for the other to surface? Then, if the worst is to be acknowledged, what do I do with these sad things?

Well, one solution is to buy multiple pairs of the same style and colour so that they can be used with others of their clan. Sounds a bit incestuous, but the morality of socks doesn't really come in to it. In reality, they are usually knitted pieces of clothing to use on clean feet that often become stinky. That's all.

But instead of buying things to do what solo socks can do, how can we give them a second career?

So what to do with the solo socks?

What burglar would think to look in your socks for jewelry or your coin collection?

Socks are excellent for storing delicate Christmas ornaments; tuck ornament into the toe, then give the top a twist and fold the rest back over for safe storage. Children's socks would be especially good for this.

Heavy cotton socks are ideal for slipping over your hand to do some quick dusting or for washing the car.

Make a soft ball indoor games. Stuff one sock into the toe of another, tie it close next to the lump, then fold the top back over the toe. Repeat this tying off and folding until there is no sock left. You can stitch the top of the sock closed for a more secure ball.

I've seen people carry cameras, cell phones, camera lenses, glasses, etc in socks especially when packing things away in suitcases or boxes.

How about making sock puppets! Add eyes, mouth and brows with markers, ornaments or lace and you've got dandy sock people!

Another suggestion is to throw in the odd bits of soap and tie the sock up, Then you are using a solo sock to get the most out of your soap ends. For the bath or workroom/garage sink.

A kitchen use: cut off the cuff section plus 3 inches or so and slip it cuff end up over the top of dish detergent bottles. Keeps wet hands from dropping the bottle and catches drips. Just throw it in the wash now and then. Do be careful of growing bacteria!

For working outside on cold days or to protect your wrist when working at a computer or table: cut the cuff plus the heel off, then cut a hole for your thumb out of the heel, slipped it over your thumb cuff first and wrist and viola no more cold or sore wrist.

For the electronic geeks, the cuff of a sock can serve as a band to hold cables and cords. How about chucking mics and delicate components into a sock when the vinyl ready-made bags get lost or torn?

You can make toys for cats to chase, stuff socks in pillows or make your own wheat bag for those sore muscles. How about putting essential oils or fresh lavender in a sock and hanging it in a closet or bathroom cupboard?

When traveling, socks could buffer breakables and absorb spills if toiletries were tucked inside them.

At last, look for a centipede rescue centre.

In the interest of simplifying and recycling, get creative and give suggestions as to what to do with old socks except, of course, by telling me to put a sock in it. Comments?

28 April 2010

Feedback is Vital to Improvement

"Any system with feedback tends to improve."

Steve Glenn from livinghomes.net

Dinner out, alone. Nice.

The kangaroo loin was tender.
The tomatoes a tangy lump of contrast.
The potato rosti a savory counterpoint to both.
I ate at Iguacu, not the Brazilian one, but in Parnell.

Thanks for correction.

The Language of Disability

Diary of a Goldfish's Brief Guide to The Language of Disability is designed to very briefly explain some of the words used to describe people who experience disability. My friend Rachael tuned me in to this blog and I am challenged by the perspectives and the issues discussed. Challenges are good, if they make you stronger, or more considerate.

See original post here
on Diary of a Goldfish. Add your comment to the end.

Disabled People

In the UK, we are usually referred to as disabled people. Many people feel this makes most sense within the context of The Social Model of Disability, which differentiates between impairment (our physical, intellectual, cognitive or psychological limitations) and disability, which we understand to be the practical, political and social barriers which stop us doing what we would otherwise be able to do.

We believe that disability is a societal experience that we are subject to, therefore we are disabled people.

People with Disabilities

In the US and Canada, it seems we are usually referred to as people with disabilities. The idea behind this is to put the people first and the disability second. In this context,
disability and impairment are essentially synonymous; disability is understood as a fundamentally medical or physical phenomenon.

So it makes sense to described say people with disabilities as opposed to disabled people in the same way a person with depression is far more dignifying than a depressive person. A medical condition ought not to define a person.

Handicapped People/ People with Handicaps

This word has been demonised among the disabled community in the UK, but some individuals prefer it because of its etymology; the idea that their limitations are necessary in order to make it fair for everybody else. People may also prefer it to disabled because of the way that disabled is used in other contexts. For example, in computer programming disabled means “off”, not currently functioning. Others prefer it because they wish to defy what they perceive as over-sensitivity on the part of some disabled activists.


I struggle to argue for this. I guess it is an attempt to neutralise difference or disadvantage; we are after all, all differently-abled in some way. Which poses the question, what is normally-abled? as it were.

Anything with the word “Challenged” or “Special” in it

I have never heard any disabled people refer to themselves as Challenged or Special. Fully prepared to be corrected, I would think that most disabled people find this sort of language patronising. Special, for example, was voted the 5th worst word in Ouch’s Worst Words survey.

What do you reckon?
How do you refer to people who have inconveniences that make everyday activities more difficult or time consuming than for those who take it for granted that every muscle will do as it's told and every nerve will send the right signal and every exterior stimuli will have the appropriate response made to it?

What is your gut reaction when you sense that someone is different from you?
There are so many "isms" that divide or differentiate between people.

Your response?

27 April 2010


What do we fear?
Eating alone.
Never eating alone.
Choosing the holiday destination.
Having no say in the matter.

Being swallowed up in the identity of another.
Having no "other" to hide in.

What do we fear?

Grow Your Own! Can you?

What would happen if the dire predictions of food shortages were to come true? Could you supply a portion of your food needs from the land available to you? Would you know how?

In some places in the world it is time to plant veggie gardens. Not here in NZ, but I'd love to get my hands in the soil right now. It's good for the soul.

Mort Mather writes of his vegetable self-sufficiency in Mother Earth News. Click on the link for all the necessary info on how to grow your own!

Maybe there's something for you to learn in his experience.

Born in 1938, I was a product of the Great Depression. Ben Franklin's words from another era, "waste not, want not;" are burned into my psyche. How could people have gotten into the dreadful positions in which they found themselves during the thirties? More important, how could I avoid the same kind of pain and struggle if history repeated itself in my lifetime?

. . .

Nothing has fascinated me for as long as gardening. There are so many variables and so many things yet to be learned the mystery of the soil, the beauty of growth, the timing, the search for the best variety of a vegetable, the fresh air, my bare feet connected to the earth, working with nature, learning, observing, and every year tasting and being nourished by the product of this collaboration.

Mort is now on his 26th self-sufficient garden and immodestly reports that the last time he went to the grocery store was for batteries.

26 April 2010

Wisdom of Whores: It makes sense explained this way.

Wisdom of Whores: Of sex and science
Elizabeth Pisani’s blog about HIV and other sundry things.

Armed with bracing logic, wit and her "public-health nerd" glasses, Elizabeth Pisani reveals the myriad of inconsistencies in today's political systems that prevent our dollars from effectively fighting the spread of HIV. Her research with at-risk populations -- from junkies in prison to sex workers on the street in Cambodia -- demonstrates the sometimes counter-intuitive measures that could stall the spread of this devastating disease.

About Elizabeth Pisani: Elizabeth Pisani uses unconventional field research to understand how real-world behaviors influence AIDS transmission -- and to overhaul antiquated, ineffective prevention strategies. Full bio and more links

Your comments would be very interesting.

Able or Disabled? Special! Challenged? I am.

Blogging Against Disablism Day will be on 1st May, 2010 via Diary of a Goldfish

This is the day where all around the world, disabled and non-disabled people will blog about their experiences, observations and thoughts about disability discrimination. In this way, we hope to raise awareness of inequality, promote equality and celebrate the progress we've made.

How to take part.Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2010

1. Post a comment on Diary of a Goldfish to say you intend to join in. You will then be added to the list of participants on the sidebar of Diary of a Goldfish. Everyone is welcome.

2. Spread the word by linking to the site, displaying the banner and/ or telling everyone about it. The entire success of Blogging Against Disablism Day depends entirely on bloggers telling other bloggers and readers in advance.

3. Write a post on the subject of disability discrimination, disablism or ableism and publish it on May 1st - or as close as you are able. Podcasts, videocasts and on-line art are also welcome. You can cover any subject, specific or general, personal, social or political. In the previous three BADD, folks have written about all manner of subjects, from discrimination in education and employment, through health care, parenting, family life and relationships, as well as the interaction of disablism with racism and sexism. The discrimination experienced by people with mental ill health is disablism, so naturally such posts are welcome too.

You can see the archives for previous years here: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.

For Mike, Mark, Jeff, Amy, Jenny, Carol, Scott, Liz, Marilyn and the others . . . .

25 April 2010

Universal Values: International Intervention?

John-Paul, of Man of Errors blog and a teacher in Wellington, wrote this in March of a discussion in his high school class.

Today we looked at a newspaper article about the New Zealand SAS in Kabul, and at the end I asked them if they thought we should be fighting in Afghanistan. It was an interesting discussion. Most believed we should be in Afghanistan, and some of those supporters thought we should be there because of what the Taliban had done, and wanted to carry on doing.

I wanted to know if they believed there were such things as universal values and that other countries should intervene if they saw those values being broken. On this they were less sure and moved on to the idea that we should only be involved if a group does something to us first. One kid mentioned 9-11, but the rest of the class felt that this was done to America, and not to New Zealand. What about the idea that if we help America, then one day America might help us? We ran out of time for that question.
I like it when teachers teach kids to think rather than what to think.

US-NZ Military History in 1940's.

24 April 2010

Can you live on less thn $2 p/day?

According to the World Bank, 1.8 billion people have to survive on less than $2 dollars a day. Many families in developing societies are forced to borrow money just to survive. It leads to the dissolution of family bonds and creates a cycle of poverty where new businesses can never take root. Opportunity International’s philosophy is to give people the means to break that cycle.

He’s been accused of imposing capitalism on the poor,
but David Bussau says entrepreneurs are the key to
overcoming poverty. And he has the record to prove it.
By Paul D. Ryan in Anthill Magazine

“By enabling entrepreneurs, you create more jobs. If you want to transform communities, you have to economically empower them. There’s just no other way. You can be there for years giving out free food, housing and education, but if people are not economically empowered, they don’t take responsibility for themselves.”

This is the view of David Bussau, the founding force behind Opportunity International (OI), an organisation that offers small loans to budding entrepreneurs in developing countries. The organisation has created or sustained more than 2.5 million jobs since 2000. In 2003 alone, OI distributed over $200 million to 700,000 loan recipients, creating or sustaining over 922,000 jobs.

“The entrepreneur is the key,” says Bussau. “If you want to economically empower the poor, then you need to provide capital and training to entrepreneurs so they can grow a business, increase their market share and create jobs for the community.”

“Basically, the trust comes up with a market-based solution for a social problem,” says Bussau. “I don’t believe in the redistribution theory. I think that assumes that the resources are limited. You need to create more resources so there is more to share around. The only way to do that is to move to the capitalistic approach of enabling people to be more productive.”

The ¡¥grass roots’ economic model championed by Bussau is called ¡¥micro enterprise development’ (MED) and is being reproduced by other not-for-profit organisations across the world.

“MED has become a mega global industry. The World Bank and most governments are now funding some form of enterprise development. 2005 is the United Nations Year of Microcredit. MED is recognised as giving integrity to people. It allows them to take that journey out of poverty themselves,” says Bussau

Despite OI’s successes, Bussau says the organisation still faces obstacles. Traditional not-for-profits generally lack entrepreneurial flair, but they exploit emotive marketing that OI simply cannot replicate.

Opportunity International: small-scale entrepreneurs can be big change agents in overcoming global poverty. http://is.gd/byF1I

“We appeal more to the corporate arena, the more discerning foundations and philanthropists who have created wealth themselves,” he says.

“We’re probably the only product on the market that is self-financing. The revenue generated from the interest on loans covers operational costs. Once we put equity into one of our partners, they can then leverage that equity in an open marketplace,” explains Bussau. “They can go to formal financial institutions and borrow four or five times more than their own level of equity, which means they can help four to five times more people. Many of our programs are quite heavily leveraged. It’s not a concept that most not-for-profits like. They operate out of a real safety zone.”

For Bussau, the rewards are palpable. A Manchester University study has shown that for each job created, on average six people are permanently taken out of poverty and 13 people in the community benefit. Based on these figures, over five million people were potentially helped by OI in 2003 alone.

While all altruism is equal, it seems that some methods are more effective than others.

23 April 2010

"Make aid history" by making poverty history.

Bono recently wrote in a New York Times Op/Ed piece,

"Aid, it’s clear, is still part of the picture. It’s crucial, if you have H.I.V. and are fighting for your life, or if you are a mother wondering why you can’t protect your child against killers with unpronounceable names or if you are a farmer who knows that new seed varietals will mean you have produce that you can take to market in drought or flood. But not the old, dumb, only-game-in-town aid — smart aid that aims to put itself out of business in a generation or two. “Make aid history” is the objective. It always was. Because when we end aid, it’ll mean that extreme poverty is history. But until that glorious day, smart aid can be a reforming tool, demanding accountability and transparency, rewarding measurable results, reinforcing the rule of law, but never imagining for a second that it’s a substitute for trade, investment or self-determination."

I've seen dumb aid at work.
A dam created a lake that covered the only dependable well in the region, rendering the well inaccessible and the water from it tainted by the surface water. If the dam had been declined, the other aid money on offer would have been jeopardised. The decisionmakers took the dodgy dam so they could get what they really wanted elsewhere. That's dumb aid. The only-game-in-town, take it or leave it. Zimbabwe 1997

What of aid that is decided upon by the community,
aid that is greed upon, applied, and accounted for
by those who are most directly affected?

22 April 2010

A Priest Today in this Cultural Landscape

While I borrow this from Prodigal Kiwi(s), read Jemma's blog at exilicchaplain.

Ten Years a Priest and Much Has Changed – Jemma Allen on Priesthood

Paul writes – Friend and Anglican Priest /University Chaplain Jemma Allen reflects a little on having been ordained a priest for 10-years. I observe the following themes in her reflecting:

  1. The changing face of priesthood (while she reflects on her journey, and it’s changes; the bigger picture is that the role of the priest has changed).
  2. What distinguishes a priest when you take away the clerical clothing?
  3. The importance of “time for you”; of time for the other.
  4. The priority of listening, and of being with others (especially outside of a congregational contexts – Jemma is a University Chaplain).
  5. What happens to priesthood when you take away what is regarded as a central function of priesthood – officiating at the Eucharistic table…? The role of priest as “gatherer” is often used to describe this function – they gather a congregation around the central act of worship. What happens to ones identity as "priest" when your context and activity is beyond the edges of a more traditional parish context? What function and role does priestly identity and gifting serve outside of the congregational context?
  6. The importance of subverting cultural measures of effectiveness: “busyness” and “productivity”. The importance of offering an alternative way of being in the world.
  7. The recognition (albeit, implicitly) that the cultural landscape has changed markedly. As Alan Roxburgh is fond of saying, we live in an “unthinkable world” and there is a need to see “with different eyes”. For me, this includes how we see the contemporary role of the priest, a role that is at once ancient and future, although in contemporary contexts too often the emphasis is on the “ancient” rather than on the “future” and the missional formation of priests.

Paul,"In a week that I celebrated a birthday, Jemma wrote (and I quote her post in full)"

“Ten years ago today (28/11/09), I was ordained a priest.

Jemma Allen Currently there is not much in my day-to-day life that looks especially “priestly”. I may not have worn my alb and stole at all so far this year. I don’t think I’ve presided at the Eucharist. I may have worn a “clerical shirt”/dog collar once or twice.

It isn’t what I would have imagined being a priest would be like. For the first few years of being a priest I would have worn vestments and presided at the Eucharist most every week. Even when I began at the university four and a half years ago, I thought that there would be weekly Eucharist and other places where my “priestly ministry” would be expressed more formally. (And for a time there was).

My bishop probably gives the same talk to all ordinands. A priest, he tells you, is someone who has “time for you”. He talks about the importance of having time, of not being busy; of being on the side of the poor and marginalised, the broken-hearted, the widow and orphan (for); and of seeing people in their particularity, of seeing them as beloved of God (you). At least that’s how I remember the talk.

It’s easy to be sucked into busy-ness. To feel the need to be productive. Anyone who’s seen me in the last couple of weeks wouldn’t have got the sense that I was a person with “time for you”. Nor time for anything but crossing off lists and getting things done. I’ve all but forgotten my vocation.

For me, being a priest is about resisting the urge to be “useful” and “productive”. It is attempting to live as if I know that humans are of value by virtue of their being rather than their doing. And offering that recognition to everyone I come into contact with. Beloved of God. Human being…”

New Neighbours: Take Cupcakes?

After hearing Danielle Strickland speak this past week of an old lady who took cupcakes round to her neighbourhood brothel to build relationships with the women working there, I hear of these bits of news.

An Oakland, California man has been convicted of kidnapping two teenage prostitutes and making them work for him. Vincent Turner faces the possibility of life in prison after being convicted of kidnapping, human trafficking and rape.

The Victory Outreach Church of Oakland regularly goes out to meet more than a dozen teens and young women working as prostitutes.

"Basically they're all victims." said Sylvia Vigil.

Across the Pacific, an Auckland property in Glenfield might be considered a "motel" and approved by the North Shore City Council.

TV3 reports that the North Shore City Council has approved a land use consent for the proposed 11-room Desire Motel, in a light industrial area of the suburb of Glenfield, and is processing an application for a brothel licence for the site.

A council dispensation hearing will be held on April 23, where residents can voice their concerns about the proximity of the motel to the nearby residential area. After that a decision would be made on the licence application.

Nearby businesses had earlier decided not to hire out carpark spaces to the motel. They are needed for resource consent. Business owners decided against helping the new enterprise - after they realised the motel was for short stays, with hourly rates. Resource consent was approved for the motel on February 2, where only the issues of traffic and parking were considered.

Desire Motel director Frederico Ronnau said he was aware some neighbours were not happy with the motel's arrival. He said the "Brazilian Motel", or what Japanese call "love hotel" was not a brothel, although sex workers might use the premises. The rooms catered for couples who had no privacy at home or singles requiring a rendezvous.

North Shore City Council environmental protection team leader Warwick Robertson said the commercial area zoning meant the operation was allowed, whether it was a motel or a brothel. NZPA

So, shall I start baking?

21 April 2010

Lonely Planet City Guides

Free until 22 April via iTunes or the iPhone app store.

Because of the earthquake in Iceland and the resultant interruption in travel for many people, Lonely Planet has made more than a dozen of their European City Guides available for free.

If you have an iPhone, and travel to Europe much, act now!

It's not about Me!

If I live my life for me alone,
then my story is as dull as my self absorption.

~ Dan B. Allender's To Be Told

"I forget.": To-do Lists Plus

How do you remember important details, priorities, events and tasks? I often don't . . . remember, that is. I forget. I have too many things going on in my head at any one time. Someone tells me something and I try to rehearse it to remember it. Later, when I try to perform a search on the grey matter hard drive which is my brain, the directory is corrupted or busy or full . . . and the information I seek in unattainable. I forgot!

Now if we are just talking about a bag of potatoes or dropping off the dry cleaning, it's probably not the end of the world. If, on the other hand, it was an awards presentation, a wedding or something with a deadline, well, I'm in the soup then!

How hard is it to write things down? I usually have a working pen with me; don't feel quite dressed without one. I usually can find bit of paper to scribble a note, though I've considered investing in that waterproof ink and paper that goes through the wash and comes out readable.

Anyway let me share a link with you that encourages intentional list making and the keeping of a notebook or online receptacle for To-do's and other important list worthy items. Add to the list or make helpful comments at the end.

What do you do to stay organised and remember the important things?

Dustin Wax writes on Step Case Life Hack about 12 Lists that Help you get Things Done.

DW: Lists in general are powerful tools – open-ended, constantly growing, and effective at extending our memories past the 7 or so things we can keep on our mind at any given time.

Some of the lists that can make you more productive or otherwise make life easier include:

  1. Task lists: Naturally, the most obvious is the task list, a simple list of things you have to do. A running list of the tasks you have to get done can make your life significantly easier, provided you use it religiously. For more information about task lists, check out my “Back to Basics” post from last year.
  2. Project planning: Creating a list of tasks associated with a projects can be a great way to wrap your head around the project, as well as a prompt for what to do next when you finish a task. And a list of projects will help you make sure you’re keeping up with all your commitments.
  3. Wish lists: A wishlist is a list of things you want to buy but don’t need right away. For example, I want a new electric guitar, but I’m not going to run out and buy one. When you have the money, or the time, you can take out your list and see what you want most of all.
  4. Grocery/shopping lists: One of my most effective lists is a simple one-page list I made of all the groceries I regularly bought, arranged in the order I’d find them at my local store, with a few blank spaces every so often for one-off additions. Every week, I’d print it off, cross off anything I didn’t need, and add anything that wasn’t on the list, and go shopping.
  5. Gift ideas: Nothing’s worse than the approach of Christmas with no idea of what to get someone close to you. Keep a list of odd, attractive, or just-right-for-you-know-who items throughout the year to help make Christmas, birthday, and anniversary shopping less stressful.
  6. Checklists: Any recurrent multi-step tasks – like packing for a business trip, arranging a presentation, or winterizing your home – can be done more easily and with fewer errors if you write up a simple checklist of all the steps involved and equipment needed.
  7. Reading journal: A while back I suggested that students (and other readers) keep a reading journal. Basically, this is a list of books you’ve read with notes and adequate information to recall the text later.
  8. Links and logins: In these days of proliferating web applications, almost everyone has dozens, if not hundreds, of websites they need to log into on a regular basis. Keeping a list of all these sites and your login info can be a lifesaver! Also, if you keep a list online, you can have active links to each application, making a pretty useful start page.
  9. Life lists: A list of your short- and long-term goals can be a great motivator, as well as a trigger list to help generate new projects. I also like to have a list of areas of focus, the different roles that I play, each of which comes with a different set of tasks and goals.
  10. Reference: Any information you find yourself referring to often can make a useful list – metric conversions, file types, software registration keys, birthdays, the names of your children, whatever.
  11. Logs: Broadly speaking, a log is a list of events tied to specific dates/times. Keeping a list of your exercise achievements, food consumption, words written, or other set of data appropriate for your projects will help you measure your progress as well as identify problems (like if your output drops on certain days of the week or month, or you seem to crave certain foods on certain days).
  12. Daily summaries: A one- or two-line summary of the day’s events can help to remind you of problems that arose as well as how you dealt with them, as well as track behavioral patterns that might point to illness, conflict with certain people, or other issues.

20 April 2010

Restoration Movement or Monument?

A commenter on Scot McKnight's Jesus Creed blog made a contrast between the Restoration Movement being a "movement" not a "monument".

I like that. I probably heard that years ago when studying such things, both in undergrad and graduate level, but it's when we are out here working amongst people of varying traditions, backgrounds and denominations that things start making sense.

Check out Scot's post and then the 47, and counting, comments that follow. Interesting reading.

Scot says,

"I contend that the Restoration Movement, or the Stone-Campbell movement, made up of the Christian Church and the Churches of Christ, is American evangelicalism's best-kept secret and, sadly, the most overlooked resource of thinking and praxis. These are Bible people; these are pious people; and there are lots and lots of them; and they are doing excellent work in Bible and theology and church ministry. And neglecting this movement has weakened the robustness of the evangelical voice in the USA."
Let's keep it restoring and not restraining, keep it open and generous, eager to engage in conversation with other groups, not just protecting our gates and suppressing healthy conversation.

Malaria, by Lethal Injection

Malaria is an ugly way to die.
What for many of us is a backyard pest, is a lethal injection for millions of children.

I've had Malaria. I got better. Most children don't.

You still have time to throw a party. 25 April is World Malaria Day. Have a party and celebrate each $10 raised to save lives. Follow the links here for tips and suggestions. Get your muso friends together. Arrange a bit of food, maybe some games, whatever will draw a crowd. Pass the plate or bowl or bucket. Maybe you're not in a position to send a huge check, but together, with your friends, you can do something.

"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little."
- Edmund Burke

Why bed nets?

Bed nets are effective. The latest insecticide-treated bed nets are a very effective way to prevent mosquito bites. In sub-Saharan Africa, the use of insecticide-treated bed nets could potentially prevent 1 million child deaths. (4) Studies show that when villagers sleep under a treated net, malaria incidence is reduced up to 50-60 percent. (5)

Bed nets are inexpensive. They cost less than $10 and can last up to four years.

"Nothing liberates our greatness like the desire to help, the desire to serve."
-Marianne Williamson

If you don't wanna throw a party but want to donate in multiples of $10 US, go to IDES.org. Every $10 buys a net that will save more than one life as the kids tend to crowd together when they sleep.

All the money goes to what you designate it for.

No admin costs will come out.

International Disaster Emergency Services:

Offering help and hope to our hurting world.

"Believe in something bigger than yourself. Your life is worth a noble motive."
-Walter Anderson

19 April 2010

Add This Tool Bar for printing & forwarding the good stuff.

What do you think of the new tool bar beneath the posts?

It'll add functionality to those who read posts via the actual blog,
but won't be any good to those who read via RSS, Facebook or in their In-box.

Anyway, you can send to your Google bookmarks, to Facebook or Twitter.
You can also print or email directly from that little gadget, or widget.

It's fun seeing how to make everything easier and more accessible.
Anything else I can do keep things fresh? Any topics you'd like to have featured?

Appreciating my readers.


Cake Wrecks

Have you checked in at CakeWrecks.com lately?

Here are examples of how NOT to break news to someone and that you should be selective in what you celebrate.
Notice the frowning face on the No Parole 4 Trish cake.

I can imagine Agatha Christie or Ngaio Marsh using Patrice's cake as a clue to the murderer.

Check in regularly at Cake Wrecks.com for jaw dropping examples of badly inscribed or decorated professional cakes.

Awareness Opens Door to Grace

"The proof of spiritual maturity is not how pure you are but awareness of your impurity.

That very awareness opens the door to grace." Phillip Yancey

18 April 2010

Write, Edit Your Story

Donald Miller states in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years,
“We don’t want to be characters in a story because characters have to move and breathe and face conflict with courage. And if life isn’t remarkable, then we don’t have to do any of that; we can be unwilling victims rather than grateful participants.”

“Before I learned about story, I was becoming a fatalist. I was starting to believe you couldn’t feel meaning in life because there wasn’t any meaning to be found. But I don’t believe that anymore.”

"The point of a story is never about the ending, remember. It’s about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle."

"I’ve never walked out of a meaningless movie thinking all movies are meaningless. I only thought the movie I walked out on was meaningless. I wonder, then, if when people say life is meaningless, what they really mean is their lives are meaningless. I wonder if they’ve chosen to believe their whole existence is unremarkable, and are projecting their dreary life on the rest of us."

Buy the Book

Books: Worth the Effort & Space?

While you cannot judge a book by its cover, or a home by it's front door, I do find that my first impression of a home usually has a book -meter involved somehow. I am very aware, when I walk in to a home for the first time, if there are any books on display. Sometimes that's all it is and it's all too obvious, that they are ON DISPLAY. And then, of course, I peruse the titles, authors and subjects as a matter of interest in what people read. That can be more fascinating than their bank statement or browser history!

Some of my best loved books ought not to be on display, not because of the racy contents but because of their ratty covers. They no longer look so good on the outside!

I really notice an absence of books when I walk in to a home that has stacks of DVDs and cables to video game peripherals snaking across the floor of the most-lived-in-room.

CURIOUS SIDE BAR: How is a child's worldview influenced by growing up in a home with books and reading adults -vs- in a tech only environment? Some would argue that the tech world is unlimited. Others might counter that the aesthetic absence of the tactile feel and smell of pre-loved books is sadly lost.

Get Russell Smith's take on how the times are a changing.

Russell Smith: On Cultures for The Globe & Mail

A lament for the bookshelf

In the future, our books will be invisible, like our music, but we’ll be the poorer for it. Here’s why

In the age of the e-book, what will happen to bookshelves? How will we decorate our apartments? How will we judge our prospective partners?

I am living in the aftermath of a move, where as usual the books have been the most obstructive and expensive and dustiest element. They have been moved from student room to disastrous relationship to shared house to storage locker for 20 years now, and they have not suffered, indeed they have proliferated as they migrated, like a great nomadic herd. Many of them have traversed this vast country more than once; some have crossed an ocean. My books thrive on upheaval: It causes them to spawn.

Before every move, I perform a heartbreaking yet necessary cull. And still on every move there are 10 more boxes than there were before. When I am grown up, I will have a carpenter build me bookcases of actual wood, but by then there will be no more books.

I paid movers this time, and they were dismayed but half amazed too. “Have you read all these?” asked one, and I said yes, although the truth is complicated. I’m not even the obsessive bibliophile type: I have very few first editions, most are paperbacks, and there are very few I would not use as a coaster or doorstop. I know guys who keep their books behind smoked glass and won’t let you rest your spectacles on top of one.

Book-walls are just aesthetic now, just an unusually dense wallpaper: We don’t really need them for consultation. I can probably find the complete text of most of them online within an hour. It’s the same for CDs: If you have the time to copy them all, you can throw them all away and buy music online for the rest of your life. In the future, we will live in ever-smaller houses with ever-larger TV screens, so you need all the wall-space you have. And all our books will be invisible, like our music: The sum total of our literary experience will be a list of file names on a grey plastic machine in a briefcase. [Or an iPad for Mac users.]

This will make for much more overburdened computers and much less cluttered apartments. Bric-a-brac is generally unfashionable now. Designers see apartments full of amusing memorabilia – the matchboxes from Berlin, the Soweto tin car, all the stuff that children love – as dust-gathering and space-consuming. We no longer respect the Cabinet of Wonders as a guiding principle of decoration.

So we lose forever the pleasure known to humanity for 500 years of taking a stroll up and down the aisles of someone else’s brain by perusing their bookshelves. Gone will be the guilty joy of spending a rainy afternoon at a cottage with the remnants of someone else’s childhood: their Nancy Drews, their 1970s National Geographics." RS
So while I know it makes far more sense to take a Kindle or iPad on holiday with me, especially if I'm flying, there's still something to be said about being surrounded by old friends in the form of books you've spent some enjoyable hours with. They don't ask for much more than shelf space.

Qur'an translated into Te Reo Maori

The Muslim holy book the Qur'an has been translated into Te Reo Maori, an Eastern Polynesian language spoken almost exclusively within New Zealand.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has been working on the translation project for more than 20 years and has translated just over half of the book. The 16 parts have been published into a book comprising of both the original Arabic text with Maori translation and was launched earlier today, the Pacific Media Watch website reported.

Dr Mohammad Shorab, local president of the Ahmadiyya Community, said he believed the translation of the Holy Qur'an was a great way to honour the community's motto: Love for all, hatred for none.

"Islam is a universal religion," said Dr Shorab.

"For that reason it is important to invest in other languages and traditions to gain a better understanding of the people around us."

Dr Shorab said the Qur'an was the most precious thing to Muslims and its translation into Te Reo not only shows Muslims' respect and regard for the Maori community, but was also a way to share with New Zealand something that was very special and meaningful to them.

Te Reo Maori
Seven distinct dialects are identified for the North Island alone — Rarawa, Ngapuhi, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, East Cape, Port Nicholson–Wanganui, and Wanganui–Mokau — with some variations within some of those.

By 2004, many of the minor dialects have probably declined almost to extinction, and most new students and speakers can be expected to use the official and/or Māori Television standards. However, regional variants are still apparent.

Dialects of Māori are nothing like the barrier to comprehension that many non-speakers believe. There are some regional variants of pronunciation and accent, and a small number of lexical differences, but it is basically a single language across New Zealand.

Intentional or Drift in Spirituality?

"People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated."

D.A. Carson

17 April 2010

An Adolescent Conversation on the Beach

I over heard a conversation on the beach yesterday.
Two young girls were walking past me.

"What I don't understand is how you can hate me so much one day but not on other days." the less fashionable girl asked plaintively.

The other girl glanced uncomfortably aside and said she didn't understand what the girl meant.

By this time, they had gone past, so I'm not sure how the older, slimmer girl answered or evaded.

Was the question the degree of hate?
Was the question one of fickleness?
Was the question a true search for understanding or of juvenile manipulation?

Look at the question again. What was being asked?
Was it, "What will make me more acceptable to you?"

How hard that road is.

Milky Current of Smoke and Tea

The tea leaves seem to flow of their own accord rather than be suspended in a milky current.

Not so hot as to scald.
Hot enough to keep the infusion going.

Adjust the logs.
Increase the flicker of flame.
Smoke and steam comingle above the long handled black pot.
What colour was it when new?

And another question, how do I get the flavour of smoke from a packet?

16 April 2010

Have another cupcake, Sugar.

"I'm fond of saying that "God's love is not a pampering love; God's love is a perfecting love,"
God doesn't say, "Here, have some more cupcakes. Take the one with the extra icing."
That's not our God. Your grandma, maybe, but not God."

excerpt from When Life is Hard by James MacDonald
as found on In The Life of a Busy Woman, my friend Cheryl's blog.

Religion or culture; Inspired, required or desired?

Paid staff.
Plastic cups.
Sunday School.
Mixing boards.
Systematic theology class.

I don't find these things mentioned in the Bible.

Doesn't make 'em wrong, I just mention it.
Thinking about what is necessary and what is cultural.
Over time, too much significance can be assigned to the material cultural of any organisation.
Inappropriate meaning can be given to things rather than the purpose for which those items were introduced or intended.

  • I wouldn't wanna do away with the trinity; they were the original small group.
  • I still remember #62 in our old hymnals.
  • Signage helped me find a gathering this past week.
  • Little plastic cups help limit the flu bugs that go around.
I just think we need to hold loosely to things,
so if God asks us to let them go for the sake of something better,
we're prepared to do so.

Tell me if I'm wrong.
Continue this conversation if I'm thinking in the right direction.

15 April 2010

Enabling, via Chocolate

Ready, willing and abled, Mark Grantham is not confined to a wheelchair. On the contrary, his wheelchair assists him in a life of independence, purpose and service. Almost every Saturday for the past 18 years Mark Grantham has set up 'shop' from his wheelchair, outside Hallensteins in Newmarket, Auckland.

He sells chocolate bars to to raise money for World Vision and for his five sponsored children. "I'm going to do it until my dying days," he says.

Mark was born with cerebral palsy and is living with tetraplegia, which means he is paralysed from the neck down. But being in a wheelchair hasn't stopped the 33-year-old from living a very full and busy life.

Mark lives in a self-contained unit in Onehunga, and is an advocate for the inclusion into society of people living with a disability in New Zealand. He speaks at national and international events about how he lives his life independently, including at a Parliamentary breakfast where several MPs rated him the highlight speaker.

"I inspire people to do what they want. I can do this, so they can too," Mark says.

Newmarket Business Association chief executive Cameron Brewer says Mark is famous on Broadway. "Everyone knows him, and respects him. We only ever get positive comments about him," Mr Brewer says.

Mark's father, Chris, has recently written a biography of Mark called The Chocolate Seller on Broadway and His Kids: The Story of Mark Grantham.

Chris started the book, which tells the story of Mark's remarkable life, in 2007. "It's his story for the first 33 years. It starts with a chocolate seller, and ends with a chocolate seller."

"‘From my window up there,’ began the woman in an accusatory tone, ‘I’ve been watching this poor guy sitting out here Saturday in, Saturday out, often in the cold, just dumped there. It’s shameful, I tell you, shameful.’

‘Mark actually likes being here, doing this,’ I explained to the irate woman. ‘He’s doing what he can to help others.’ Others far less fortunate than himself, it should have been blindingly obvious.

The one and a half square metres of footpath space on Broadway, Newmarket, Auckland from which Mark Grantham sells his chocolate bars for charity has to be one of the smallest retail sites in New Zealand. One regular customer jokingly refers to it as Mark’s ‘office’, because it is where Mark – severely disabled with cerebral palsy since birth – has plied his trade for the last seventeen years.

For 20 years now, I’ve been Mark Grantham’s chocolate admin man. For 33 years I’ve also doubled as his father, so I’ve got to know him rather well. His is quite a story – and there’s much, much more to it than chocolate – taste, and you’ll see what I mean."

Mark says he will continue to raise money for World Vision because it is "helping lots of kids around the world". Currently, Mark sponsors three World Vision children in Mumbai, India and two in the Magugu community in Tanzania, eastern Africa. Mark visited India in 2005 and Tanzania in 2009 to meet his sponsored children in person.

Buy the book via Cocoa Bean Press.

14 April 2010

Online Note-Taking Tools

Online note taking online is becoming more and more common. More and more of us are online, connected by this huge web, even when we are not at home or at our desk. Now you can make notes from your phone or laptop and access them on your home or office computer, or via someone else's! Check out your options here, though this is only part of a list of 40 such apps that Marc and Angel Hack Life put together to give Google Notebook users an option after Google chose to focus on Google Docs and not develop their Notebook app further.
  • Gmail Yourself a Note – I used to do this several times a day. If you have a smartphone with email access, this is one of the quickest and most basic ways to create an online note on the fly. I setup a special “to-do list” Gmail label (folder) for storing and processing all of my notes.
  • Delicious-Tag a Note – Quite frequently we find articles online that remind us to do something, or inspire us to try something. Tagging these articles with a “personal note” tag and entering an insightful comment in each bookmark’s “notes” area turns Delicious into a productive note-taking (and collaboration) tool.

What you are reading is an amazing list, but only a partial list, of online note taking apps.
Such tools can help with research, remembering inspiring or helpful info you've read online,
collaborating on projects, or backing up some of your data so it will always be available to you.
Think of them as online 3x5 cards or post-it notes.
I use these kinds of apps when I'm traveling so I can log in from any computer
and access my travel plans, addresses, lists of stuff or notes for speaking.
Go to the Marc and Angel Hack Life website for more fascinating articles and tips on productivity!
  • Tweet a Note via Twitter – Create yourself a separate, private twitter account with protected updates strictly for note-taking purposes. Direct-message notes to this private note-taking account from any Twitter client (via web, iPhone, etc.).
  • Luminotes – This is one of my favorites. It’s a simple and efficient personal wiki notebook. The key feature of Luminotes is its ability to easily link one note or notebook to the next. You can also attach small files to notes and share them with your friends.
  • Notefish – If you’re doing a lot of online research, Notefish is for you. It’s a web application that allows you to take notes from portions of web pages by copying and pasting content into one handy online note page. You can then organize the notes by moving them around, changing their colors and breaking them down into categories and titled subsections.
  • Zoho Notebook – A solid Google Notebook alternative, Zoho Notebook works similar to Google Notebook but adds an extended capacity to collaborate and share your notebook with other users. Also, you’ll have access to all the other tools in the Zoho suite like chat, voice recording and a browser extension that works much like Google’s offerings.
  • Yahoo! Notepad – If you already have a Yahoo! account, you can give Yahoo! Notepad a try with your current login credentials. It’s a very basic, straightforward online note-taking application. Yahoo! also provides a widget front-end for Yahoo! Notepad. This widget allows you to add, edit, organize and delete contacts from your Yahoo! Notepad directly from the widget.
  • Mojonote – A simple online interface for storing and managing your ideas, goals, recipes, contacts, memos, notes, schedules, wishlists, playlists, etc. Mojonote has a pretty decent calendar and ‘to-do list’ reminder system. It can send you reminders via text message or email.
  • MyStickies – Great for online research, it allows you to place little yellow digital notes anywhere on any website. MyStickies also offers a powerful interface to browse, search, sort, and edit your notes from any computer that has internet access.
  • Diigo – Also great for online research, it’s basically a combination of MyStickies and Delicious. Diigo combines online sticky notes, website highlighting, and social bookmarking in one convenient package.
  • UberNote – A little more sophisticated then the average casual note-taking web application, but not quite as feature-rich as some of the other full featured online notebooks. A key feature is its ability to store to-do list tasks in various notes and then view all the open to-do list tasks in the “Open Tasks” list on the sidebar. I also like the way UberNote allows you to create notes via email, Firefox bookmarklets, AIM, and the iPhone.
  • Notely – Geared specifically for students, Notely is designed from a student’s perspective to help students get organized, with all the features a student would need: note taking, calendar, to-do list, task list, a file upload area, etc.
  • Springnote – A note-taking application for serious note-takers. Akin to an online office suite, Springnote is geared for long, detailed note-keeping. The Springnote note editor is feature-rich and you can choose from a variety of custom templates and add-ons. The interface supports photo, video, and audio attachments to enhance your notes. You can share your notes with other users, or post them on your blog.
  • Backpack – Backpack is a web-based application that makes organizing your information incredibly easy. Backpack lets you make pages which can contain any combination of notes, to-do lists, images, files, etc. You can keep these pages private or share them with co-workers, friends, or family. It also includes a calendar and a convenient email and text message reminder system.