Monday, July 31, 2006

Hey SF Cool Kids

So, if you're into thoughtful, moody rock-n-roll, please join us this Saturday night at Boca to welcome one of my favorite bands... Deccatree. The keyboard player is a great friend of ours...and plays a mean rhodes/mellotron/DL4/whatever.

It's a mere $5 and the map is here...but if you're planning on making it, let us know. Several of us are already planning on going. Join the cool kids of SF...come on, do it.

Friday, July 28, 2006

We're Home

We arrived into San Francisco today with a Uhaul full of stuff...perhaps more stuff than I care to eloborate on. Thanks so much to Holly's parents, Travers, James, Adam, and Nate for helping us. Wow. What Godsends.

We are dead tired. I think we have been working off a combined maybe 10 hours of sleep from the last 3 nights. But tonight we sleep in our own we haven't slept on in nearly 10 months! Good Lord, let us sleep tonight.

Sorry if we've missed emails, phone calls, whatever. We'll be back in touch next week.


Oh, our address if you're interested...

4038 Folsom
SF, CA 94110

Monday, July 24, 2006

The 814 in Retrospect

Ray put together a video of the 814 going off on the 4th of July. We lived here through 2 of the July 4ths. Yes, it was often as crazy as it is in the video. Ha. It makes me laugh to think of it. For those of you subscribing and not seeing the YouTube screen below, click here.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

An Open Letter To Our Design Clients

Our friend just directed us to this post that Seth Godin wrote. As Holly read it out loud to me, we kept saying things like Seriously! or He's totally right on!

So, without further adieu...

How to live happily with a great designer by Seth Godin

Why do some organizations look great... and get great results from their design efforts and ads... while others languish in mediocrity? I think it has little to do with who they hire and a lot to do with how they work with their agencies and designers.

Here are the things your design team wishes you would know:

1. If you want average (mediocre) work, ask for it. Be really clear up front that you want something beyond reproach, that's in the middle of the road, that will cause no controversy and will echo your competition. It'll save everyone a lot of time.

2. On the other hand, if you want great work, you'll need to embrace some simple facts:

3. It's going to offend someone. If it doesn't offend them, then it will make them nervous. The Vietnam Vets memorial offended a lot of people. The design of Google made plenty of people nervous. Great work from a design team means new work, refreshing and remarkable and bit scary.

4. It's not going to be easy to sell to your boss. That's your job, by the way, not mine. If you want me to do something great, you've got to be prepared to protect it and defend it. Come back too many times for one little compromise, and you'll make it clear that #1 was what you wanted all along.

5. You can't tell me you'll know it when you see it. First, you won't. Second, it wastes too much time. Instead, you'll need to have the patience to invest twenty minutes in accurately describing the strategy. That means you need to be abstract (what is this work trying to accomplish) resistant to pleasing everyone (it needs to do this, this and that) and willing, if the work meets your strategic goal, to embrace it even if it's not to your taste.

6. Help me out by pointing out the work you'd like this to be on a peer with. If you want a website to be like three others (in tone, not in execution) then point it out. In advance.

7. Be clear about dates and costs. Not what you hope for, but what you can live with!

8. You don't know a lot about accounting so you don't backseat drive your accountant. You hired a great designer, please don't backseat drive here, either.

9. If you want to be part of the process, please go to school. Read design magazines or take a course from Milton Glaser or get a subscription to Before & After. By the way, that one link is the single best part of this post.

10. This one may surprise you: don't change your existing design so often. Not when your kids or your colleagues tell you it's time. Do it when your accountant says so.

11. Don't get stressed about your logo.

12. Get very stressed about user interface and product design. And your packaging.

13. Say thank you.

"Hot as Hades" = "The Bay Area is the Devil's Playground"?

Can you believe it reached 117' yesterday up here?!? We were driving from San Francisco (where it was 102' in the afternoon) to Santa Cruz (where it was 109' when we got there in the early evening). Along the way, the temperatures spanned from 81' (near Millbrae) to 117' (on Highway 17 in the mountains) with an average of 115' (from Menlo Park to Cupertino almost consistently). Wow.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I thought I posted this earlier, but apparently I hadn't. We have a site for Paxton (our not-yet-here son) that we've put up to track progress, let him speak his mind, post photos etc. If you're interested, it's here.

Oh, and Paxton says to have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Oh San Francisco

Some pics from our visit to our new home today. We get the keys on July 28th...just after we head down to San Diego to get our stuff out of storage and drive it back up.

We couldn't get inside because we hath no key, but here are some attempted photos from the outside.


What the stalkers will see when they peer through our bedroom window...

The bathroom (again, through the window)...

The family room...

Our garbage, recycle, and compost bins in the garden...that has a producing plum tree and plenty of space for us to creat a vegetable garden.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

We Got A House! (Or OMG!)

Wow. Frickin' wow. We are renting a full-on house!

What a good night's sleep, a few prayers, some mourning and bitching can do. We found a house...not an apartment, a full-on house. Now it's a mere one-bedroom, but it is a large one-bedroom. And it's in the neighborhood (Bernal Heights) that we really, really wanted.

Wow. I can hardly catch my breath. It's quite unbelievable really.

And in the last 24 hours, we have had much support given to us from friends and family that would make the move-in possible. Thank you all for your kind words, deeds, prayers and thoughts.

My God, yesterday I said that I could do no more. Thank you for acting on our behalf.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Voluntary Displacement (or "Woe Is Me")

These last 9 months for us have been amazing...sharing story and life and love and music with so many friends across our world. We have been graciously hosted, fed, loved on, listened to, shown around town, etc.

But we are beginning to (no, not beginning...we have been for quite a while) draw from our reserve tank. The constant up and down and in and out and here and there is beginning to create large knots in our backs and a strain on our life.

I jokingly referred to it as Voluntary Displacement earlier this year...and that has been the best description I can come up with. It has been a discipline in attachment...or dis-attachment rather. Everytime we begin to get comfortable, we intentionally move ourselves elsewhere.

So what's a couple (with child on the way) to do when it feels like it's time to practice Voluntary Placement...into a particular context and time and space? It's been a difficult transition.

We have been in San Francisco for the last few days and nights looking for places to live. It has been a bit disheartening. And the City itself causes me to feel a bit disoriented. The idea of the City energizes me...but the reality causes further feelings of displacement...and like I said, we are running on fumes.

Top that with the fact that we have zilcho cash. We have multiple clients who are either late on payment or who have so extended project deadlines that we literally are out of money...until they pay. So in some ways, finding an apartment wouldn't make a whole hell of a lot of difference...because we couldn't pay for a place yet anyway.

Then compound that with the fact that Holly has been sleeping awfully...which means I've been sleeping awfully...and that means we both frustrate each other in small things.

In some ways, I think the hardest thing is that we have let ourselves think that we're nearing the end of this whole our expectations have changed, you know? No longer is excitement drawn from sleeping in different cities/places/ it's dread that it causes.

And then there's the fact that I won't be able to make it to Troy's ordination next weekend...and that Mike and Stacy are constantly on our hearts and that it's been hot as hades (not really) in the Bay these last several days...let's see, is there anything else I can say?

Okay, that's enough bitching for one Monday morning. Just a day in the life I guess.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sorrowful Hypocrisy

I cannot believe that I just heard Israel issue a statement that they will not deal diplomatically with terrorists...and then they hit back. (More here and here.)

Terrorists? I don't mean to oversimplify or underestimate your pain here, but do you not know your history Israel? Terrorists? That's just a word that people can self-righteously use to distance themselves from that kind of violence, while not paying close attention to their own.

And then to hear the President of the United States talk about the awfulness of the killing of innocent people. I am with you, Mr. Bush. But what about the tens of thousands (if not more) of innocent Iraqi civilians?

Where is the consistency here? Where is it?

This is a sorrowful day.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I Heart Ben

Mr. Folds, you've changed Holly's and my life and given us some new things to think about. We gotta thank you for that. You have made us laugh and think and laugh again. Thanks.

Jasen Ashdown shared some EPs of Ben's with us, and they have become anthems for our pilgrimage in many a place. Songs like Jesusland, Give Judy My Notice, Cooler Than You, and the below song, All You Can Eat, are just simply wonderful songs.

You really should buy his music and become a snarky, punk-ass kid like me.

All You Can Eat by Ben Folds

Son look at all the people in this restaurant
What d'you think they weigh?
And out the window to the parking lot
At their SUVs taking all of the space

They give no fuck
They talk as loud as they want
They give no fuck
Just as long as there's enough for them

Gotta get on the microphone down at Wal-Mart
Talk about some shit that's been on my mind
Talk about the state of this great of this nation of ours
Poeple look to your left, yeah look to your right

They give no fuck
They buy as much as they want
They give no fuck
Just as long as there's enough for them

Son look at the people lining up for plastic
Wouldn't you like to see them in the National Geographic?
Squatting bare-assed in the dirt eating rice from a bowl
With a towel on their head and maybe a bone in their nose

See that asshole with a peace-sign on his licence plate
Giving me the finger and running me out of his lane
God made us number one because he loves us the best
Well maybe He should go bless someone else for a while, give us a rest

[They give no...]
Yeah and everyone can see
[They give no...]
We've eaten all that we can eat

Sorry if it seems a bit crude, but it reminds me of James' (you know, Jesus' brother) words...You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

"Perfection Can Become The Enemy of Good"

Tonight, Holly and I headed into the City for some dinner and a film screening of a new documentary entitled Buyer, Be Fair! It dealt with fair trade (and unfair trade) in the coffee and logging industries. Very informative film.

I have been a fan of FAIR TRADE CERTIFIED coffees for some time and most love Café Mam. But I have had people question the whole FAIR TRADE label...and I've wondered along with them about the 'dues' that small farmers have to pay and also about the systemic issues that sometimes do not get addressed. Still, I have found it to be a hopeful system (FAIR TRADE CERTIFIED, that is), and so I continue to support it. (BTW, here is a list of San Francisco FAIR TRADE stores if you want to support what they're doing.

The filmmaker was there tonight for Q & A afterwards, and so I asked him about this. He responded that certainly there were problems with certifying things and not being legalistic about it. Still, he felt that FAIR TRADE was doing a great job at being an independent certifier. A farmer from Peru was there as well. He said that it has tremendously helped his 2000+ farmer co-op. It has helped them rise above poverty, get clean water, and have a more hopeful future.

The filmmaker went on to say that often our perception of what is perfect becomes the enemy of something good. Well said. Man, as an idealist, I get so caught up in the best and look past things that could be good. Perhaps I even use some self-righteous, elite word like settling when referring to something like this.

I am constantly reminded that the Kingdom of God goes where there is goodness, not perfection. So let's champion the good (but often broken) things in our world. Or am I totally contradicting myself here?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Hill$ong. Ha.

Wow. Too funny. It had me rolling. I actuall spent a few seconds wondering if it was legit.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

What Swords? What Plowshares?

I wonder about the ethics of "tools" of the system (whatever system that might be).

I remember watching the film The Corporation and hearing a person say that a corporation is neither moral or immoral, it is simply amoral, for it is simply a tool. I found that a slight bit jarring because a publically-traded company that has a listing on the New York Stock Exchange is required to continually increase profit, which for some reason just screams Greed! to me. But I am naive about this stuff and I know that.

Still, I have heard several things referred to as "tools" in these last several months...the free market, money, government, institutions, etc...and while I can go with that idea for a period of time, I begin to wonder if that word is not some sort of cop-out. You see, if something is merely a tool, then it's all in how you use it. The tool itself has no inherent good or bad or ethical or unethical or moral or immoral's all about who's using the tool. Kinda like how guns don't kill people, people kill people (hence my picture of Charlton Heston).

So I wonder what Jesus or the Prophets have to say about the use of tools...and I find this passage (that many are familiar with) about beating swords into plowshares (Isaiah 2:4, Joel 3:10, Micah 4:3). And I think long and hard about did someone else.

A sword was merely a tool, right?...and it was created with a purpose in mind...and some might say it's a good purpose and some might say it's bad and some might say it's about who wielded this sword. You see, the sword could be used to protect the innocent or it could be used to kill the innocent.

But the Prophets had an idea about taking a current tool and forging it into a tool that is fitting for the Day of the Lord (or the Kingdom of God or the World that God dreams of). The prophets didn't just say, "Well, it's a just focus on the heart of the person wielding it" They went beyond that.

So I wonder what are our swords? Is it the free market? Global capitalism? Money? Communication? Government? Corporations? Institutions?

And what would the plowshares look like?

Is anyone vibing with me here? I think this is something we really ought consider.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Home, Bay, Home

We made it into Oakland, CA last night around 10.30pm, welcomed by our friends Craig and Lora Burnett. Good to be back. We were met with nice, cool weather (in the 50s!) by time we got to their house. That was a nice relief from the 113+ temperatures we were driving through in the desert.

The trip is kinda over. For the most part anyway. There is relief and grief in each sigh I let out. But it is time for a new season of life.

On this trip (by that, I mean this last month's trip from Oakland-Minneapolis-DC-Tennessee-Dallas-Oakland), we listened to some great books on our iPod. (Thanks Darin.) Some reflections...

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

This was a great book. Wow. Scholosser details the socio-historical story of the rise of fast food in America. He gives context that helps to understand the country's shift in diet over the last 50-60 years. He then goes on to tell about where the food and flavors come from. If you really enjoy fast food, perhaps best not to read this book. But if you have a gut-level hunch that something just doesn't seem right and that there is some work needing to be done around the fast food industry (from regulation to boycotting to advocating other options to holding corporations accountable as consumers), this will be a good read.

I'll tell you...a lot of it deals with Colorado Springs, and that just so happens to be where we began listening to the book. Interesting how migration patterns have such huge impact on our world.

Plan B by Anne Lamott

Anne is always enjoyable for her ramblings, rants, and subtle wisdom. This book was fun and thoughtful. I have heard many a person dismiss the book as a rant on the current Administration. It does have a good deal of that, but she attempts to make sense of it amidst her spiritual journey of forgiveness and loving one's enemy.

Some parts of it were a bit too 'religious-y' for me, but that's just my taste.

I liked the first one of these better, but this one was a nice read (er, listen).

Living History by Hilary Rodham Clinton

Not having been very politically awake during the Clinton Administration, I found this book very informative. It's very well-written (big suprise) and articulate. I really appreciated the approach that was made The First Family seem very normal and real...which was perhaps the books aim.

I grew up in a family that was deeply suspicious of the Clintons, so I couldn't help but listen with guarded ears. Still, Hilary's storytelling was very disarming. And while I don't think she'd necessarily get my vote for President (as she is very pro-war for a Democrat), it definitely caused me to like them more.

I am glad we listened to this book. For all the crap of that Administration, the Bush Administration makes the previous one seem altruistic and nearly perfect...well, maybe not exactly, but wow.

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

I wasn't sure what to expect with this book. I have had a growing interest in economics, so I thought I would like this book for that reason. But the authors just explain economics as tools, not a disciple, and then sought to use those tools to measure other sociological phenomena.

The questions they raised were both entertaining and enlightening...and the answers they came up with (by reading the data) were equally enthralling (at times).

We're in Oakland this week, looking for places, finishing projects, meeting with the midwife, looking to the future.