Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Playing In The Snow

The snow that fell last night was of the large-flake variety. Soft and fluffy and falling gently. It's so much when there is no wind.

Before the sun this morning I was pushing the snow off the driveway. Watching it build up in front of my show shovel as I went, very much like the snow that I experienced countless times growing up in Canada. It was nostalgic and strangely comforting.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

They Are Watching You

A number of years ago some of our kids purchased a black box that sat atop their game system. It was connected to the internet and had a camera built in. And it did magical things. Like watching for your movements and translating them into commands. You could actually wave at it and when you placed your hand on a menu item, it would be activated. And you could play tennis by standing there and swinging your arm to hit the ball on the screen. Or walk somewhere. Or run on the screen by running in place right where you were. All pretty amazing actually.

At that point I began to tell my family that somebody was watching them. I said that there was somebody in a different country that could watch what was happening right there in our TV room whenever they wanted to. And they could listen to our conversations if they chose to. When they eventually got rid of that black box, I said that there was a camera hidden somewhere in our television and all the same stuff was possible. And they all laughed at me and said I was nuts.

Well maybe not.

Several recent articles have revealed some pretty interesting things. Here are a few excerpts from the links below.

From Samsung: "Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition."

Or this. "...there shouldn't be too much cause for concern when it comes to voice recognition services right now."

Did you see that? So I shouldn't be concerned right now. Perhaps later, then? Well, how much later??

"Google fans can use Google Now's voice recognition to get information on nearby restaurants, movie times, flight arrivals and a ton more. But the company stores voice requests as a part of an effort to make the platform better."

And there is now even a thermostat that listens to you: It "..appears to take "listening" a step further by offering up details about your habits to brands that might want to later target you with ads."

In the second link below, there is this one: "I understand and agree that Voice Information may be transferred to, and used by, third party service providers on LGE's behalf in various countries around the world, some of which might not offer the same level of data protection, for the purposes set out in the Privacy Policy."

While I have to assume that these companies are actually not eavesdropping or invading my privacy, it is just a little disconcerting that the capability is really there that would enable them to do so if they chose.

Here are the links I referred to above.



Monday, February 09, 2015

The Christmas Program

It was something over thirty years ago. I'm still not sure how I ended up sitting there that particular snowy evening. I didn't know anybody. It was about a half hour away and I had never been there before and haven't been since.

My seat was next to a wooden pillar, one of several supporting the little balcony. The seat was comfortable and my view of the stage was unobstructed except for a few bobbing heads straining to get a better view.

It was all very simple, really. No technical wizardry. No theater lighting. No pit orchestra. Just simple homemade costumes and a room full of warmth.

It was the Christmas program in a small country church. While from a technical excellence perspective it was pretty much a disaster, it clearly wasn't about all that. What mattered here was a bunch of kids singing their hearts out and a packed house of parents and grandparents full of excitement and love. It was one of the best performances I have ever seen.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Pops Concert

This afternoon we attended a Pops Concert put on by the Berks Youth Chorus, with music featuring "the best from late night radio jazz sessions to early morning Broadway broadcasts." BYC is a choral group that Chris was a part of and now where Jesse and Nicole are getting excellent musical training as well. Most times they dress up in formal attire, but this time it was jeans and color. And a lot of fun to watch.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Some Day

Some days I start up the aviation GPS app and watch as the little airplane on the screen follows my progress along the highway. Some day I will again be in the pilot's seat and watch the little airplane take me to an airport. That will be a happy day.

Thursday, February 05, 2015


That is a big idea. Huge. No way to do justice to the concept of thankfulness here. But what I can say is that I am ultimately grateful for my best friend. She is an amazing conglomeration of student of God's Word, nature lover, humorous, has a contagious laugh, keen insight, understanding, efficiency, leadership, event planner, multi-tasker, friend, creativity, gardener, motivator, includer, dreamer, listener, counselor, practical, team player, encourager, cook, musician, educator, supporter, companion, and wife.

It is an honor to go through life with this amazing woman and, as the years go by, watch her become even more herself and all that God has intended for her to be.    

Wednesday, February 04, 2015


There is a tension I have come to live with. One one hand I am a proponent of the concept of letting those who are good at what they do, do it. So if you need the car repaired, let the mechanic do it. If the roof needs fixed or plumbing needs to be done, call the professionals. On the other hand, my natural inclination is to try to figure out how to do it myself, which I often do.

However there are some things that, without any doubt, are best left to knowledgeable professionals. One of those things is insurance. And I have to give kudos to Tom Davenport at Blue Marsh Insurance. He is brilliant. He is focused. He understands the many options out there and has the ability to explain things in a very non-intimidating way. Then he can help filter it all to create a solution.

I am also a firm believer that when a good experienced is had, it is something we ought to be letting others know about it. Which I just did.

Monday, February 02, 2015

The Cruel Joke

I am convinced that those push-to-walk buttons are there just to make us feel like we actually have a bit of control, or keep us occupied while waiting at the corner. They are not really connected to anything. It is a false hope. A placebo of sorts perhaps? If the signal does actually change when you push the button it was just a happy coincidence -- the light was about to change anyhow.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

How It Used To Be

It used to be that we waited for the actual Super Bowl game to watch the Super Bowl Ads. Now they are available to see with a few clicks days or weeks before the game.

It used to be that there was a Black Friday Sale, on Friday. Now there is a Pre Black Friday Week and a Post Black Friday Week Sale. Same with Cyber Monday. And any other days named to generate a shopping frenzy. And people are actually stampeding and trampling on others and shooting them just so they can be the first to buy stuff.

It used to be that stores would have Christmas music and displays as Christmas approached. Now they are starting to put up the Christmas displays before Thanksgiving. And Valentine displays before the carols have died away.

All of this is laser focused on enticing us to spend money. It doesn't consider our particular economic situation or how it might affect our budget. It is designed to elevate our wants to a perceived level of need -- to create a culture of desire,

What if an equal amount of focus and money was invested in creating a massive cultural shift, to that of giving? Not the kind of giving that is just supporting a fundraiser, the local radio station, or even giving gifts at Christmas.

What if the corporations that spent that much money for a 30-second commercial in the big football game would invest an equal amount in initiatives that fostered a spread of goodwill, volunteerism, and giving? What if that much creativity was applied to helping those less fortunate than us or supporting the efforts to end the massive problem of human trafficking?

Has there ever existed an example of a person who gave selflessly, endlessly, who might set an example for us to follow? I believe there is. Jesus.