Monday, October 30, 2006

I'm Finally Published...Really...

I'm not normally one to shamelessly promote myself. But, pursuing a side career in writing has been a dream of mine for a long time. I've gotten my share of rejection letters or even worse, no responses at all and after a while it causes lots of discouragement....especially when you have people saying "You should try and write professionally." And, I answer, "well, I've tried" and leave it at that.

My job gives me opportunity to do some sales and marketing communication writing, which keeps my english and grammar sharp, but when you long to be a cross between Dave Barry and Erma Bombeck, you can't really work that into a sales sheet.

Back in August, I submitted an article to our local paper, The Courier-Journal. They have a Saturday Scene section that includes a column called "The Best." Each week, columns written by various people tout the joys and perks of all sorts of products and services. I'm a religious reader of that column and often pondered submitting my own piece. Finally, I did. At the time, the editor told me it would "probably" be published in October, but knowing my past track record, I wasn't holding my breath. Then, the end of September, a day or so before my birthday, I got the word it was going to appear on October 28th! I was ecstatic! Nothing else could have made me happier than if a man had dropped to one knee and proposed. In the immortal words of Mater, "I was as happy as a trailer in a tornado!" I'll receive $40 and all the fame I can stand. And, getting paid for writing constitutes my first real published piece.

My column featured Blockbuster Online, which I've praised on this blog more than once. Unfortunately, I can't link to an online article for the world to read. Only staff writers at the CJ get their articles online. But, if you are in the Louisville area and can get your hands on a copy of Saturday's paper...enjoy!

**Update** You can now view the article online by going here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Celebrity Geneology is a cool site that allows you to upload your photo and see what celebrities you most look like. I posted back in January about this site, and when I ran the scan then, with the same picture, I looked like Rita Hayworth and Kate Winslet. Recently, this site began offering some nice blog and web page tools to post a collage of those stars you most resemble. I got a different result due to the addition of more faces of celebrities to the database. Here's my famous "geneology"...

Ok, I'm a bit frightened that one of my look alikes is Monica Lewinsky. For the record...I've never been to the Oval Office....

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Scene of the Crime

Yesterday morning I arrived at work after a long commute. I had to head to downtown Louisville via LaGrange to bypass a couple of accidents that had the main travel arteries clogged. All the way to work I had a weird feeling that something wasn't right.

I got to my office and turned on the light to find an interesting sight. My hard drive, keyboard and mouse were packed up and sitting in my side chair. My flat screen monitor was sitting on the floor, and the monitor stand was leaning against the wall. My first thought was "I'm getting a new computer" soon followed with "Maybe I'm laid off and didn't know it." Given my past experience, that wouldn't surprise me.

I've watched enough television and movies to begin sleuthing out what was going on. I realized that some papers and post-it notes I had at my computer were either in the trash or wadded up on my desk. The first sign this wasn't a job of tech support but some would-be thief. I headed back to talk to my boss and in the mean time the story unfolded...

Apparently the evening before, sometime after 6pm when I departed, an unseemly fellow was lurking around our office. Our cleaning crew noticed he didn't belong and questioned him, to which the less-than-astute robber said, "I'm with the cleaning crew." Our guy said, "Um, no you aren't, because I'm the cleaning crew." And, off the guy went, with my office half disassembled.

It's kind of a creepy thing, but I'm quite thankful no one was hurt. We recently had an assault about a block from our office - oh the joys of working downtown. We now have our doors secured at all times and a security sweep every evening. Nothing like a close call to make you realize you have no precautions in place.

As if that wasn't enough, on my way to church after work, I saw a crumpled up body on the side of one of the streets as I waited at a traffic light. At first I thought it was a bag, but then I saw an arm. Either someone was homeless and curled up sleeping, or wounded, or drunk, or heaven forbid, dead. I called 911 and they assured me a unit would go check out the situation.

This concludes today's episode of "Law and Order: Special Blogger's Unit"

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

An Epiphany on Men

I've always wanted 5 minutes in every man's mind to figure out what's going on up there, but most of them tell me it would frighten me. This weekend the mystery of men continued...

Guys get really excited about competition, war games, and such. That's great....I hope they all protect me in battle. This was evident at our college retreat as the guys flew 90 miles an hour down the interstate to get to the paintball field leaving us girls in the dust. And, the 1:30 am Wal-Mart run they made to buy "cammo" wear for the following day confirmed their obsession. Boys, dontcha love them?

Another interesting tidbit is their love of fire. Quite the pyromaniacs, they are entranced by the flames and like to do odd things to the campfire. Saturday night as we made smores around the fire, the guys felt the need to throw marshmallows directly into the flames. Nothing really happened other than some sparks, but they thought it was the coolest. Go fig.

Then, I had my epiphany...

I now know why God spoke to Moses through a burning bush. He knew nothing would grab a man's attention like a non-consuming flame. I'm amazed at how God knows how to uniquely reach us in the most effective manner.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Paintball and Pansies

I'm currently recovering from a weekend college retreat, "No Pain, No Gain." I love my college students, but spending a weekend with them reminds me how old I really am. I'm old enough to be the mother of most of them which really makes me feel ancient. But, some of them assure me I'd be the coolest parent, so that takes away some of the angst of it all.

Our weekend was full of food, discipleship, and fun. The sessions were led by Brian and Heather Payne, members of our church. Brian is a full-time professor at Boyce College and Heather is a member of the contemporary Christian group, Point of Grace. We are so blessed to have them in our church family and even more privileged that they could lead during this weekend.

One of the fun events for the weekend was playing Paintball. We loaded up the cars and headed for Waddy, Ky, about 45 minutes outside of Louisville. Once we arrived at our destination, we traveled by tractor through a 15-minute ride of the 207 acres that were owned and used by this family for Paintball outings. It was a gorgeous day and we rode by their home, which was a large log cabin. After the first round of Paintball, a few of the students were complaining that they couldn't move and I reminded them - "see me in about 20 years." During the break as we served lunch, Brian led a devotion on putting on the full armor of God. My favorite "Brian-ism" of the weekend came out of that devotion time - "When you go out into the world to fight the Spiritual battles, if you get pricked, you better bleed Scripture." Now that's good stuff, I don't care who you are. After a few hours of Paintball fun, we headed back to home base.

Heather spoke to the girls this weekend about how God prunes our lives so that we can grow. Quoting John 15, she used the Vine and the brances illustration from Scripture to visualize how we have to be connected to the Vine, Jesus Christ, in order to grow. Being a celebrity in Christian circles hasn't made her lose her humility. As a leader, I was able to spend some time with her, and I see her as "Heather Payne" and not "a member of Point of Grace" - she has so much wisdom and insight to share and she's just like any other woman, dealing with a full-time job, being a wife, and raising 3 sweet children.

At the last session she gave each of us a pansy as a reminder of what we learned about cultivation, pruning, and growth. I do not have a green thumb. I've killed multiple african violets. But, I'm willing to give this a whirl and pray for the best. My first job is to repot it, which will be a first for me.

All in all, it was a great weekend - cookouts, bonfires, paintball, and pansies - all surrounded by the study of God's Word. I pray that this weekend will forever shape and "prune" all of us.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Gospel According to Geeks

After being in technology publishing for 15+ years, I've become quite the tech geek. I don't own lots of gadgets, so I'm not an uber geek, but I know enough techspeak and how to manipulate technology that the common man would don me a geek. I remember attending one of my high school reunions and telling my former classmates what I did for a living and they stared at me blankly as if I just conjugated the book of Psalms in the Hebrew language. They responded with, "I barely know how to attach something to e-mail."

One of the things I do daily in my current job is work with HTML (HyperText Markup Language). To define it simply, it's the code that is hidden behind web sites and e-mail newsletters to make them look aesthetically more pleasing than something you just produced on an old IBM Selectric Typewriter. There are multiple applications that allow a novice like myself, to product HTML pages with ease, and little knowledge of all the tricks of straight HTML coding. Products like DreamWeaver (not the 70s hit) and FrontPage are just two well-known HTML creation applications. The ingenuity of the product is you design it in one view and then it magically creates the code behind the scenes. Knowing how to use the product makes creating HTML pages a snap. All is well, until something pesky happens and your design view suddenly looks askew.

This is a challenge I face often. A stray space or symbol appears in my design. Or extra space between lines are there without my knowledge. I'm stuck and then have to begin looking through the code to decipher the problem. One extra space in the code or one stray ">" can cause extreme havoc. And it's normally something I've done to add some odd character in the code. But, once all is in order, the design flows properly and beautifully.

During one of my recent Bible studies, I read through the 38th chapter of Job. This is a chapter where God answers Job by defining who He is. Reading through it truly gave me a refreshing look at really Who God is and what He can do. My favorite verse is 35: "Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, 'Here we are'?" I get this great visual that the lightning bolts line up in front of God and say, "Hello, Captain, Here we are!" That whole chapter speaks to the mighty power and control of God's Hand.

As I go through my day wrestling with my HTML creations, I realize the code is in the background really doing the work. And, when I start to get my hands in the mix, it messes it up. God is like the Ultimate HTML Coder. He is behind the scenes designing our lives and shaping us into who we are. I'm reminded that when I try to do it on my own, it looks horrible and even one small stray thing can cause my life to go into havoc. It's good to be reminded that He is God and I am not.