Archive for the ‘Interesting’ Category

speaking to the soul

Indescribably beautiful-just wanted to share a little inspiration


Verbal Petri dish

Thanks to marko for finding this amazing little web gadget-visuwords.

Ok, yeah, it’s only worth playing with if you happen to like words (a lot). Type in a word. I tried “great” which wasn’t the best first choice, so try something else. Then it springs into action with all these scientific looking nodes with branches off of each one. That was fun but then, if you double click on some of the nodes, the whole thing expands in this cool little petri dish way and it’s like word association without the mental gymnasics that are usually involved. it’s a good distraction and, potentially, a handy little tool.

things that make you go “hmmm”

“Of note in Barna’s research is that a church’s size and theology seems to be related to its use of technology. Simply put, smaller churches tend to use less tech than larger churches, and theologically liberal churches tend to use less tech than the more theologically conservative. Interesting.” from Ed

yeah, interesting.

Have you ever noticed….

…that, when you are interested in something but not searching for it, you’ll see it everywhere? But the minute you start searching for it, it disappears?

I have read and heard so much about stories and storytelling in the past few months, but the second I’ve looked for something specific, it’s all gone! On the other hand, I read a book yesterday (yes, the whole book), just for fun. It was a story about a storyteller, who is telling a story to another storyteller who in turn is telling the reader her own story….ugh.

This happens to everyone, right?

R U Redy 4 Ths?

I like linguistics. I realize that it will never make a Top Ten List of Things People Like. It’s not even something one thinks about until there’s some change like an added word or grammatical slippage that becomes the norm. Then, Watch Out! Someone will have something to say and most often it will be in defense of the old way of doing things. That way will be touted as “the right way” or more telling, “the way it’s always been done/said”. (hmm…that sounds eerily familiar, doesn’t it?)

I read this the other day. (If you don’t feel like jumping pages, it’s a blog by Margaret Feinberg about text messaging shorthand finding it’s way into our language and communication.)

My first reaction was to jump right on the  bandwagon. I mourned the loss of grammatical correctness and the disintegration of the written word as a common value in American academics.

Then, I thought about it a little longer and got off at the next bandwagon busstop. Language is a technology. We don’t necessarily think of it that way, but it is. You’ve probably come to expect updates in your tech gadgets. When’s the last time you popped an 8-track into the car stereo? People perceive a need or simplification and develop a solution. Language updates are a kind of technological update, too. It’s why most people can’t read Old English anymore. There was a percieved need to combine or alter the language and we did it-again and again. There was a time when spoken language was a new technology. But we couldn’t remember enough or get it to people who came later, so we deveolped written language. That was too slow until there was the printing press and BAM! we have all kinds of texts that are user friendly and cost effective and NEW in the fifteenth century.

If we can think about language as a dynamic technology, we shouldn’t be quite so surprised or disappointed when it updates. Do I want to read a book full of text acronyms? No, I don’t. But I’m prepared to say that while all updates aren’t necessarily good (thank you Microsoft Vista) it doesn’t mean we should reject them outright. If we do that, we may as well have stayed back in the dark ages where scribes copied texts by candlelight.  Some of those lousy experimental updates can lead to decent improvements later. We need them, even if it only shows us the direction that we don’t want to go. 

In the meantime, I’ll keep editing my students’ papers, blasting them on grammatical missteps, random caps, and all manner of awkward phrases or missing details. Occasionally, tho, I may let a little more text shorthand slip in here and there. 😉


Forward motion is overrated

This weekend I was supposed to be retreating-going off to listen to God tell me which way to take the story project. It would be a nice time of reflection, meditation and receiving. I was going to go to the shore, spend a few days away and have God tell me what to do and move merrily on afterward.

What’s that saying? “God laughs at plans”?

I built a porch. It’s a very serviceable, screened-in porch. Really, it’s quite nice.

OK, I did not build a porch in the strictest sense. I built a porch with other people-I was the helper, not the contractor or even the site supervisor (my preferred position). I was the person who is made to stand there for extended periods of time until someone drops a screw or needs the drill or could use an extra hand to “hold this thing there while I attach this piece to it”(usually followed by “Don’t move it!”) or any of the other myraid of little jobs that have to be done while the knowlegeable people do the real work. 

Building a porch is not traditionally considered meditation, as far as I’ve heard. There was a lot of hard work, it was hot, and it mostly felt like someone was hitting my pause button way too much. I’m not good at waiting around until needed; I have no patience for it. Don’t me wrong, I’m not bad at waiting in general. I can hang around waiting for things all day as long as they’re things I want to do.

Sometime, late in the morning on Saturday, the single thing I had to be present for happened. It was the moment. We had to lift a very large, heavy beam onto a series of eight foot posts. There was no way to get the beam up there without all of us lifting it together. So we lined up a bunch of ladders, got the beam on our shoulders and climbed the ladders one step at a time. It was one of those things where we had to rest between each step up the ladder and then count to three before each step so we all went up at the same time.

Remarkably, because of one person’s preplanning and two children holding wayward posts in line, the beam went right into place when we finally made it up the ladders. After that, the rest of the work went quickly and the atmosphere had a sense of celebration at our accomplishment. By mid afternoon we finished what we had planned to do and had a great time that night just relaxing on the almost-complete porch.

And in the middle of it, during all of that enforced waiting, God showed up. I was irritable and impatient and bored to the point of comatose. I wasn’t thinking or meditating or purposefully praying. I was existing in an entirely selfish state, wishing I could get to my plans for God for the weekend. And God laughed then showed me how building a porch with family and friends was more about Him than anything I’ve been doing lately. He showed me that I’ve gotten a little lost along the way-that the reasons I chose to follow Jesus aren’t nearly as evident in my life now as they were five years ago. I am amazed how dull I’ve let myself  become in the last few years. There have been good changes, too, but there were things that I’ve let go that God needs me to keep. He reminded me of the simplicity of being together, working together and that it’s not my place to make things happen. He reminded me that I have the spiritual gift of frustration and that I’m responsible for using it say the things that are honest but hard.

And that there is no Story until someone tells it.

mind mapping

There’s this guy- an older English gentleman. Wears a bow tie, and navy blue blazer. The epitome of an English professor at a pub near Cambridge or Oxford. Well, he’s the epitome of what we Americans who have never been to a pub near Cambridge or Oxford think of when we think of an older Enlgish professor at the pub following a lecture. And he’s selling the crap out of this idea he has and probably making millions on it. I’m not entirely sure it’s a good idea but it’s definitely a fun idea and it sounds like it might work.

Here’s the gist of it- human minds are not linear so trying to force your mind to work in a linear way is counterproductive. If you’re working to remember something or to generate ideas, then you need to work in an organic way, more Tree-like (think Ent), so you’re not sabotaging yourself. Or, even closer to the mark might be a root system. There’s a tangled ball of roots in the center. More roots radiate out from there nad grow branches off each other. In Mind Mapping, the mapper starts in the center of a paper with an idea and the associations flow outward from that central point, branching off into sections of ideas. Then new association branches come from each prior set of associations.

The best part: it’s all done in color. You get to use Sharpies to draw this thing! Or there’s software, of course. (Yes, I have tried it- iMindMap.) A small group of my students have tried it on BIG sheets of paper and seemed to have some success with it. More of them will be experimenting with it next week.

I’m thinking seriously about using this mind map idea to help me make some progress on the Story project. I’m practicing on another, smaller project for work before I get consumed by fumes from the Sharpies.

And here’s Tony Buzan-the English guy- talking about his MInd Mapping technique:

thanks to Dave