A couple of you asked what type of camera I'm using - it is a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-P72 (3.2 megapixels, 3X optical zoom). It's been a great camera but it does have a few limitations.
I use a 128MB memory stick which typically holds around 100 images. When I purchased the camera I was actually replacing one just like it that I had dropped and broke. (@#*$&*(@#&$*). Overall, it's a great camera and I've gotten some great shots with it. I do carry it around w/ me everywhere I go because you never know when you'll see something crazy.
Friday, April 30
Thursday, April 29
Chicago is really an amazing city - for a lot of reasons. But one thing that is interesting about Chicago is how one minute you can be in one part of town enjoying beautiful scenery, cool coffee houses or clubs and then walk one block and be in the ghetto. The neighborhoods are like that too. One minute you are in an Italian neighborhood, the next minute Polish and the next minute you are in a Spanish section of the city. The diversity is great. And so is the food. Have I ever mentioned that? :)
Here are a few pics I took today:
(Clockwise: Art @ the University of Chicago campus; fire engine in China Town; some factory/building on the westside; Sal's Junkyard somewhere on the westside of Chicago.)
CHINA TOWN & GIANT FISH TANK
Met up w/ a friend in China Town today for lunch and ate at Joy Yee's Noodle Shop. We shared the Shrimp tempera (pic #1) and I ordered (which I can't believe I did while in China Town) the Kung Pao Chicken (pic #2). The KP chicken was nice and spicy! The seared jalapenos were great...
On the way out of China Town I saw something that I've never seen before. We were in front of a Chinese grocery store and a big semi truck pulled up that had the words "LIVE FISH" written on the side of it. Then these guys jumped up on top of the trailer and began netting fish out the top and into a large red garbage can on the ground. The owner of the store, a short Chinese man, came out and frustratingly began pulling a few dead fish out of the garbage can and throwing them on the ground. Interesting observation. The truck came from Arkansas, so I'm assuming that the fish were caught in Arkansas and hauled up to Chicago in this giant aquarium on wheels.
Wednesday, April 28
Someone asked me the other day how people find out about my blog. That's a good question... Tonight, I looked at what search terms brought people to my site. They included these:
- Starbucks vs Caribou Coffee
Pastor Scott Hodge
I want to be the apprentice.com
bible study on being judgemental
how to hack a website
kwame jackson glasses
Tuesday, April 27
RHINO ON VIAGRA
Watch out for this guy!!
Monday, April 26
I'm not sure if anyone is going to really care to hear about all of this, but I thought I would respond via a post to a question that Betsy asked regarding why, we as speakers/teachers/pastors often times wait until the last minute to tweak or work on our messages.
First of all, everyone is different. I know teaching pastors who have the luxury of spending the majority of their week studying, preparing and working on their weekly message and they more than likely do not carry administrative or staffing leadership responsibilities. If I had that luxury (don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy what I do most of the time...) I'm sure that I would probably not have to spend Saturday nights doing last minute touch up's on my messages. Although, I may be wrong about that.
In the context of my role as "executive pastor" here at this church, my main responsibilities include (but are not limited to) teaching several times per month (either in a worship gathering or in some sort of class or leadership training) and managing and leading the day to day operations of our church (administrative, staff team leadership, etc...). Aside from all of this, I also lead our music team that leads worship in 2 services every weekend and rehearses once per week.
So, with this said, sometimes Saturday nights are my time to tweak or "fine tune" my messages. The weeks that I speak at our worhip gatherings, I probably spend somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-10 hours minimum in preparation for a 30-35 minute message. And this number can quickly increase if a lot of outside research is necessary.
The other side of all of this is the way creativity and ideas come and go. There are times that I sit down to write and I just don't have it. Sometimes it depends on the mood I'm in or the atmosphere of which I'm working.
I usually run about 3-4 drafts of my message. My first draft is a sheet with a bunch of ideas and concepts scribbled all over it. The second draft is usually where I begin writing the message - either from the top down or sometimes in no particular order at all. My third draft is the full message - with illustrations, creative elements, etc... thrown in. My fourth and final draft (sometimes this is my fifth or sixth draft) is the final product which I always rehearse, time and review over and over again. And these "drafts" are not the "rule" - it changes almost all the time.
For me (and most teaching pastors I know), preparing a message is not a one time sit down effort. It is a week long (or longer) collaboration of ideas and thoughts that we all hope will fall together and flow well by the end of the week. And the greatest hope that we have is that someone will walk away with a change of thought or heart.
Mix all this with someone who has ADD and you've got me! But seriously, it's not easy - almost never easy to just throw something together that I'm proud of. It takes a lot of work and sometimes a lot of late nights and last minute changes. I know it can make things complicated and frustrating for the support staff at times, but that is when the motto that I love and sometimes hate needs to come into play: IT'S NOT ABOUT ME.
Oh, and by the way - I usually have my powerpoints, video clips, etc... done by Friday morning. The fine tuning usually doesn't effect the creative elements that other people are involved with. However, I have before - at the last minute - thrown out a drama or video that had a lot of hard work put into it. I don't ever like doing that, but at the same time if it doesn't fit or flow well with everything else, the call has to be made. If your team culture understands that, then it's not something that is taken personally - because again, it's the big picture that counts.
Saturday, April 24
A BUNCH OF USELESS RAMBLINGS...
It's 10:07pm. I'm sitting in my office trying to muster up some energy to focus on my message for tomorrow and a class that I'm teaching at. I'm eating Little Debbie oatmeal creme pies and drinking Coke. Isn't that sick?
Juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust (woops, the sugar just kicked in) got back from officiating a wedding ceremony for a good friend of mine. It was a nice, intimate wedding. They are headed to a warm island early in the morning and I begged and begged them to take me with them, but it just didn't fly. Can you believe that?
Had a Chicago hot dog today - here's a picture:
See what all you far away people are missing out on?
Ok, gotta go. I need to take advantage of the sugar high while I have it.
Friday, April 23
CHICAGO FOOD IN NEW YORK TIMES
The New York Times took a stab on Thursday to rate Chicago food. It's actually a very interesting article and it even mentions my favorite Italian Beef stop - Al's #1 Beef. My location of preference is on Taylor Street in Little Italy. There's nothing like this sandwich in the world.
In case you aren't familiar with the italian beef sandwich, it is thin sliced beef on a soggy french roll with either hot or sweet peppers. If you are the daring type, you'll have them dip the entire sandwich into the gravy (juice). Although you will need a shower after eating it, your mouth will be filled with gratitude for hours on end.
The article has some nice descriptions and reviews of the ever famous Chicago hot dog. I found it a bit odd that the writer didn't stop for Chicago pizza while in town or even comment much on it. Chicago pizza is a major deal to all of us Chicagoans.
Check out the article here. and learn a bit about Chicago food! THE BEST IN THE WORLD!
AND YOU THOUGHT YOUR JOB SUCKS....
(Thanks New Yorkish.)
Thursday, April 22
It's not what you think it is. Look here.
Apparently some Canadian tourists decided to take a swim in the Central Park Reservoir in NYC. They had to scale a 4 foot fence to get into it and ended up spending the night in jail.
Can you imagine what might be in that water?
This is kind of weird, but creative.
It's amazing what people come up with...but you've got to give them credit!
I feel special. As a "blogger", I was invited by Google (probably along with a few million other people) to testdrive the new "Gmail" - Google's new email program.
So far, it seems ok. Not a lot of frills, except for the 1GB (yes - gigabyte!!) storage capacity. That is amazing to me... It's also a great option for storing documents, images, etc... if need be.
They must have HUGE servers to be able to hold 1GB for every person who uses Gmail.
Anyway - just for fun, shoot me an email at: happyweeble(AT)gmail.com.
Monday, April 19
My friend, Melissa, showed me a link today that I thought was pretty clever. It's the latest in Burger King marketing and when you click on the link it loads up a webcam and shows a person dressed up in a chicken costume who will do whatever you ask him to (within reason - trust me...don't let the garter belts fool you.).
For example, if you type: "go the bathroom" he will walk over to the couch and pretend he is taking a leak. If you say, "breakdance" he will do the moonwalk.
I kid you not, if you didn't know any better, you would think that there is really some kid in an apartment somewhere being paid $10 an hour to do this. So I tried something. I opened up two browsers and typed in two different commands to the same chicken. Mysteriously enough the chicken performed both acts at the same time.
But nonetheless, it's a clever idea and it kept my attention long enough to wonder if this thing was for real or not. And now that I think about it, I'm kinda in the mood for a chicken sandwich. We'll see what Mr. Chicken thinks about that!
Oh yeah, here's the link.
PS - Chicken update: You can see how this all works by clicking here. (Thanks to BoingBoing)
CREATIVITY & INNOVATION DAY
Thank you to Fast Company Now for the informative head's up that this coming Wednesday is not only Administrative Professional's Day but also Creativity and Innovation Day.
According to the founder's website, Creativity and Innovation Day was "founded on June 1, 2001 to encourage people all over the world to use their creative capacities to make the world a better place and to make their place in the world better too. It's vision rests on the belief that every person is endowed with the ability to use knowledge, imagination and evaluation to create new and meaningful solutions to meet the challenges we face."
So, here's my proposal: Let's all be holiday-ish on Wednesday and recognize the administrative professionals in our lives. But let's also go out of our way to celebrate innovation and creativity (two words that excite the daylights out of me!).
So now, let me hear your ideas on celebrating innovation & creativity in your organization! Comment away!
A LEARNED TO LEARNER LITANY OF TRANSFORMATION
Great, challenging thoughts here from Leonard Sweet.
Saturday, April 17
THE HONESTY OF TALLSKINNIKIWI...
Emerging church missionary and fellow blogger, Andrew Jones, shares an insightful and honest post at his blog.
I'm not sure when the last time was that I've read something as honest and transparent in regards to faith and trusting God. So fresh...
Andrew - thanks for your transparency and honesty. I really think that God honors that more than we know.
RANDALL TERRY & SON, JAMIEL
Jamiel Terry, son of Evangelical Christian anti-gay and anti-abortion leader, Randall Terry recently came "out of the closet" in a written editorial in Out Magazine.
Randall responded via an op-ed saying that, "He is no longer welcome in my home."
Interesting exchange of feelings and convictions...
Friday, April 16
CONGRATS TO BILL
Congratulations to my fellow Chicagoian, Bill Rancic, who was chosen by Donald Trump as "THE" Apprentice last night. A few weeks ago it became obvious to me that his chances were high to take the show.
Kwame Jackson is a good guy (and smart), but just not aggresive and gutsy enough to fit into the Trump empire.
I'm still convinced that Omarosa was a set up on the show. I have a hard time believing that someone could so consistently lie KNOWING that the world was watching. There's just something not right about that. If she's not a set up, then she better start filling out her unemployment paperwork. Actually, she could probably be a pretty good politician.
I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why Kwame didn't aggresively confront Omarosa when she began dropping the ball and shifting blame. A leader can't be afraid to make some tough calls and confront. I'm almost certain that this must have contributed to his downfall.
Well it was a great show and I'm looking forward to another season... And I have this strange feeling that we haven't seen the last of Omarosa. (God forbid...)
PS - Chicago vs. LA - Did Bill make the right choice?
Thursday, April 15
The newest and latest in a lame attempt of some "Christian" to convince people that they are going to hell. (Click here to see the site.)
If anyone knows how to hack a website, let me know.
Wednesday, April 14
Ted and I just got back from Jewel (grocery store) to stock up on some Red Bull. As we were walking back to Ted's truck we noticed something a little odd. Sitting on the hood of a car, was a guy playing an electric synthesizer/keyboard. He had Harry Carry style glasses on and lots of bling bling.
I'm not sure if that's something new that Jewel is offering it's customers, but it was nice - in fact, very innovative.
GROW A BRAIN
This morning I began reading Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life by Henri J.M. Nouwen. The book is comprised of three short essays. I want to share some thoughts from the first essay.
"When we start being too impressed by the results of our work, we slowly come to the erroneous conviction that life is one large scoreboard where someone is listing the points to measure our worth. And before we are fully aware of it, we have sold our soul to the many grade-givers."
The last quote by Nouwen blows me away. This speaks of the importance of motives. Am I aggresively pushing and pursuing because of the passion that burns inside of me or am I doing what I'm doing to try and please someone else or "look good" to others? If it is the latter, than I am a prisoner. I am bound by the chains of human judgements and have sadly and effectively become "of" the world - not just "in" it.
"When we have sold our identity to the judges of this world, we are bound to become restless, because of a growing need for affirmation and praise. Indeed, we are tempted to become low-hearted because of constant self-rejection. And we are in serious danger of becoming isolated, since friendship and love are impossible without a mutual vulnerability."
"...when our actions have become more an expression of fear than of inner freedom, we easily become the prisoners of our self-created illusions."
THE PAIN OF LOSS
The mother of a very close friend of mine died in her sleep the other night. She was in her 50's and it was very, very sudden. In about 4 1/2 hours, I will wake up and take him to the airport to catch an early flight out of state to be with his family and to bury his mom.
I am so sad for him right now. I can't even begin to imagine what he is going through and I would give almost anything to be able to snap my fingers and make things better.
But I can't.
He doesn't need me to be a pastor. He doesn't need for me to be a "fellow Christian brother". All he really needs right now is someone who can be somewhat confused with him while he sorts his thoughts and realizes his loss. I guess he just needs me to be his friend.
Pray for my friend Kevin. And pray for me - that I can be a true friend to him right now.
Tuesday, April 13
ZELDA, THE BATTERY PARK TURKEY
Ok, this is weird. When I was in NYC a few months ago, my friend and I were walking through Battery Park (lower Manhattan, near WTC site) and low and behold out of the middle of nowhere was a wild turkey. It was weird and definiately not something you expect to see in New York City. A cab? Yes. A hot dog stand? yes. A wild turkey? No.
So anyway - I snapped a picture of the turkey on my camera (that's it above...) and then tonight, I see this article.
Isn't that crazy???
Monday, April 12
I was going to blog right now, but I can't concentrate with "Jo-Jo's Circus" on in the background. I'll have to try again later...
Sunday, April 11
"The resurrection is God's way of revealing to us that nothing that belongs to God will ever go to waste. What belongs to God will never get lost - not even our mortal bodies."
Henri J.M. Nouwen, Our Greatest Gift
Amanda & I wish you a Happy Easter!
Thursday, April 8
HOW'S YOUR ENGLISH?
You are a MASTER of the English language!
While your English is not exactly perfect,
you are still more grammatically correct than
just about every American. Still, there is
always room for improvement...
How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
Yes, it's been confirmed. I am a "master" of the english language. (I would say that is good considering that it is the only language I speak and have been speaking for many years now...)
And I even took the test while listening to Rush Limbaugh! Beat that!
How about you?
Wednesday, April 7
AMATEUR GOURMET'S SEDER
The Amateur Gourmet writes about his seder experience. Pretty humorous account...
I'm sitting in Starbucks writing my message for Sunday and listening to a few studio tracks from my friend and favorite Starbucks barista, Noah Gabriel. This stuff is so, so good. A nice mix of blues/rock with a raw edge.
Check out his site here.
Tuesday, April 6
HOUSE OF MERCY
House of Mercy is a church located in St. Paul, Minnesota. The church was founded in 1996 and seems to be doing a pretty impressive job of reaching the unchurched of their community. I don't know anything about the church, but browsing on the site it seems that they are heavy on social action, rich in tradition and involved deeply in the arts.
In regards to their beginning, their website says:
Debbie, Mark, and Russell—frustrated by contemporary Christian popular culture and saddened that so many of their old friends apparently wanted nothing to do with the Jesus story—asked each other: "What if we started our own church, what would it look like?"
Then came the now famous "St. Paul Blessing" of '96. After consuming some extremely hot Thai food and spending some time in their respective isolation tanks, the three young ministers simultaneously presented each other with three identical sketches of Theresa of Avila on a cocktail napkin. In each of the sketches there appeared five glyphs, which, when deciphered, yielded five identical principles that each of the pastors wanted to follow in inventing their own church.
The three of them agreed that their new church would have to be:
Check out House of Mercy here.
WHAT CITY ARE YOU?
Take the quiz: "Which American City Are You?"
You're competative, you like to take it straight to the fight. You gotta have it all or die trying.
Take this quiz and find out what American city you are! It turns out I'm New York (surprised?).
What city are you?
(Thanks PoMoMuSiNgS for the link.)
Monday, April 5
Amanda and I were invited to attend a community Seder at a local synagogue tonight. A Seder is a Jewish ceremonial dinner recognizing the bondage and freedom of the Jews from Egypt.
Not only was the service and dinner educational and informative, but it was also very eye opening for me.
The Jewish culture is very beautiful - full of rich, meaningful traditions. Everything we did tonight during the dinner had significance - from the way we broke our matzos to the way we dripped our wine onto our plates ten times to represent the ten plagues of Egypt.
My experience tonight made me want to dig into the rich traditions of my own faith - many of which are rooted in the Jewish traditions of old.
For a lot of years, I almost "shunned" traditions of faith, being taught that tradition was wrong because it "replaces a genuine relationship with God."
I don't believe that anymore.
Sure, tradition CAN become a substitute for a real life relationship with our Creator. But how rich can tradition be when mixed together with true, genuine relationship?
It's not the tradition itself that causes us problems. In fact, it's just the opposite - tradition, when put into its proper perspective, can strengthen our faith. It can give us an experience and perspective of faith that will allow us to engage into an even deeper relationship with God.
I think the problem occurs when the tradition becomes more valued than the relationship itself. But that's pretty much up to us if that is going to happen.
I felt honored to be able to paritipate in such a rich tradition tonight. I connected with God while worshipping alongside a room full of beautiful Jewish people. It makes sense I guess... We're all worshipping the same God.
Sunday, April 4
SATURDAY DIM SUM
This weekend we made another trip into Chinatown for Dim Sum and some Chinese BBQ. We stocked up and brought it home to share. Yes, I know - it's not easy.
Here's a few samples...
Clockwise: BBQ Duck, Pork & Chicken from the infamous BBQ King, Sticky Rice wrapped in Lotus leaves (stuffed w/ chicken & shrimp), ginger fish on stir fried Chinese greens, shrimp dumplings with Hoisen sauce from The Phoenix.
Saturday, April 3
This is me as an adult at a political speech. (Watch the slideshow...)
Thursday, April 1
I gave Brad the 4 hour Chicago tour today. In fact, as I blog, we are sitting in Starbucks in the Andersonville neighborhood on the north side of Chicago.
Today we spent a couple of hours in China Town (see pic w/ Brad above). While there, I stopped to snap a picture of a bunch of fish in a fish tank and as I leaned up against the glass to take the picture one of the fish jumped out of the tank. It scared the *** out of me.
Gotta run - more later.