Sunday, September 11, 2011

"...and now they're gone"

"Planes flew into the World Trade Center and now they're gone."

These were the first words Sam said to me when I answered the phone the morning of September 11th, ten years ago. She had gotten to work early that day and quickly heard the news from the East Coast. I remember being skeptical. "What do you mean they're gone? That doesn't make sense." Through sobs, she insisted it was true. 

I ran to turn on the TV and spent the next several hours trying to comprehend what had happened (how many lives were lost? I remember calculating there were probably 10,000 dead - miraculously it was much less), what was happening (are there going to be more? how many more hijacked planes are up there?), and what would happen (this kind of thing doesn't go unanswered).

I didn't know anyone that died that day. Personally I was fairly removed from the event, though I had some connections to people that were near (a grade school friend's brother narrowly escaped from the south tower). NYC & DC, 3000 miles away, suddenly felt like they were next door.

Tonight there was a religious channel re-running the memorial service that took place three days later in the National Cathedral. I remember watching it at the time and being very emotional, the rawness of the event having hardly diminished, fighting back tears as the Battle Hymn of the Republic played on the organ to conclude the service.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free
While God is marching on

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

We are all made of stars

I'm in our regional office right now prepping for the talks I'm giving next weekend at the WSU/UI Fall Retreat. The first talk I'm giving is from John 1:1-5, with the focus on verse 5:

"The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it."

One of the illustrations I'll be using involves talking about the size of the universe. I was doing a little bit of research (finding out that scientists recently tripled the number of stars they think are in the universe) when I came upon this skin-chilling quote:

"It's fun because it gets you thinking about these large numbers," Conroy said. Conroy looked up how many cells are in the average human body – 50 trillion or so – and multiplied that by the 6 billion people on Earth. And he came up with about 300 sextillion.
So the number of stars in the universe "is equal to all the cells in the humans on Earth – a kind of funny coincidence," Conroy said.

Read the whole article here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Home screen

This blogger app has home screen potential. In other words, it makes the top 20 apps I use. Or at least that is the aspiration.

What got the boot? iPod app. I blame stage of life.

Is there an app out there that tells you your most frequently accessed apps? Probably, but for now I'm sticking with guessing. I don't need/want to know how often Tower Defender gets opened.


Being on staff means raising financial support. And with this comes asking for referrals.

Today I had a support appointment and got a very encouraging response to my request for referrals. Here is the email my friend sent to two of his friends after our meeting:

A and D,

You guys came to mind today when I met with Darren Holland for lunch. He serves with Campus Crusade as the Director of Operations for the Greater Northwest region. Darren served at Wazzu before moving here last year and shared stories of lives being changed while he was there. I guess that is why you came to mind. His current role allows him to touch lives of students and staff across 7 states through training opportunities and conferences.

As you know, I served with Crusade for 10 years and my parting wasn't easy. Talking with Darren off and on for the past year has been the first experience where I felt compelled to re-engage with this organization.

He will be contacting you directly to see if you would like to hear about his ministry and see if there is any connection to your heart or anyone else you may know. I hope you don't mind that I am passing your email address for him to use in contacting you. And, I hope you feel no obligation to meet with him by this introduction.


If I ever want to help others know how to write a good referral, I'll send them the outline of this email.

Phone blogging

I'm writing this from the new blogger app for iOS. Not sure if I'll be doing much serious blogging from my phone, but it's certainly nice to have the option. Or at least an easier option.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Connect Deck

"Do you really have something to do the whole time you are at the Tweetdeck?" - a staff friend.

As others may have similar questions, here is what is happening at the staff conference Connect Deck during a typical meeting:

- All six people on the deck have a shared Google Doc open. This is where we paste tweets or texts that come in during the meeting we find noteworthy. Joe, the velvet-voiced mouthpiece for the Connect Deck, draws from these to share with the emcee's during the meeting, highlighting those he might read for the audience.

- For one meeting, we had a group Skype chat going so we could message each other easily. When we didn't (the second session I worked) it made communication more difficult. We could have used the sidebar feature in Docs, but Skype gets your attention a little better. At least it does for me.

- One or two of the people at the desk are logged in to a Google Voice account. This account receives texts during the conference, usually from people that have questions/thoughts and aren't on Twitter. This number sees a lot of texts coming in, especially when the number is posted on the big screen with a response question.

- Just about everyone at the deck has a power user Twitter client open. Tweetdeck seemed to be the favorite (it's what I use), but there are others like Seesmic and Hootsuite that do similar things. My columns during the last session I worked: All Friends (darrenaholland), Mentions (darrenaholland), Search: "Campus Crusade", Search "#csu2011", Search "#cru", Mentions (csu2011), and Direct Messages (csu2011).

- Which reminds me: When I arrived at the Connect Deck the first day, I was given the csu2011 twitter account login (wouldn't you like to know!). This allows us to not just post from this account, but easily monitor mentions/replies/direct messages. (Note: There weren't many DM's.) We try to let the #csu2011 community do most of the posting (they usually beat us to things anyway), but we'll jump in and send out a (re)tweet from the csu2011 account if we want to draw special attention to information or thoughts from other users.

- The person sitting immediately to the left (audience right) of Joe, wears a headset and communicates with the program director. Most of the time this was Brian Barela; I did it on Saturday. When a Connect Desk segment in the program is coming up, or as was the case when I was working, we're trying to figure out what we want people to text in, this channel can be very busy.

- If, given all the above, there was lag time, I found myself doing any number of things: replying to people on twitter that had used "Campus Crusade" in their tweet and had clear misinformation about the name change (directing them to our FAQ's), sitting and listening to the speaker, posting thoughts of my own related to the session on twitter, reading the incoming tweets (they are nearly constant during an especially compelling speaker) and commenting/retweeting.

So there is the science of the Connect Desk. I'll do a follow-up post about my impression of the overall impact social media made at our conference, both for good and for ill.

Any questions? Anything I missed, fellow tweeters? Are you going to have a "Connect Deck" at your next conference? Should we have been paying attention to other communication channels (like Facebook), too?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hanging out

I "hung out" last night for about half an hour. Yes, hanging out now has sharp edges to it, thanks to Google+.

It was very lonely for that half hour. Not even my wife and a friend sitting in the same room could help with the despair and isolation as I waited for one of my 26 Google+ contacts to "hang out" with me online. Yes, Chris, it was kind of sad.

I'll "hang out" again. Someday.