Feb 282005

First to the blogosphere — stay tuned to jenlemen.com, where Jen Lemen will be eBaying a galley proof copy of Brian McLaren‘s forthcoming new book, The Last Word And the Word After That, the concluding episode in the NKOC trilogy! All proceeds go to support Burundi hunger efforts.

[update 3/3/05] Jen’s opened the auction! Read the background story, or go directly to the eBay listing, bidding ends on Mar-12-05 17:32:45 PST. It’s already up to $63.00!

2 shy

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Feb 282005

My Bloglines reader tells me I have 498 feeds, 2 shy of 500. Hearing Robert Scoble on a podcast say that he was subscribed to 1400 feeds, and I’d imagine he’s broken 1500 by now, I don’t feel so bad for reading & skimming so many. Granted, I’m behind on my RSS blog reading and intel’ gathering, partly due to a recent web server crash, and also an overloaded lifestyle. I’m starting to incorporate smarter “keywords” and “watch list” technologies to scour the web for certain things outside of my RSS subscriber list.

For this website, after I rollover every web page to my current template, I’m contemplating a switch to WordPress. Will make good use of a b2evolution to WordPress migration tool someone put together. If Rudy can switch over in 10 minutes, I’m up for it.

And, they’ve finally announced the date and location for GodBlogCon 2005: it’ll be at Biola University near Los Angeles, October 13-15. The pundit called it.

life is unfair

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Feb 272005

Life is unfair, we all have to deal with it. Most get inherited advantages (or disadvantages) via genetics or finances. The Economist captured an incisive analysis of meritocracy in America: Ever higher society, ever harder to ascend. While on paper we have no caste system, the informal social strata and ethnic enclaves persist for generations. Nothing short of a revolution can change it all. But, revolutions are bloody.

A small percentage break through and get on the upward mobility track. That’s the stereotypical American dream: born into a poor family, and seizes the opportunity to break free and rises in net worth and status. It’s also the stereotypical immigrant story, my family’s story — that my parents came to the United States 30 years ago with three young boys, I was 8 at the time, to have the possiblity of a better life and opportunity for us. And, Keith Ferrazzi is one of those stories.

Master networker Keith Ferrazzi (or one of his staff) stopped by my blog and commented on my July 2004 entry titled “amateur networker“, to tell me about his new book Never Eat Alone : And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time. Kudos for how quickly they’ve gotten onto the blogosphere.

From its official website at www.nevereatalone.com, I read an excerpt, and it appears to be a compelling read. (Also found Chapter 1 online.) You might even say it’s the 21st century’s version of Dale Carnegie’s How to Make Friends and Influence People. You might imagine that seminars, conferences, and consultations will soon follow.

Being an amateur network myself, I’ve already got an immediate affinity for the subject. My personal hurdle is probably my resistance to monetize my network. And that is the difference between an amateur and a professional. One is unpaid, one is paid.

[update 3/05/05] They’ve released some more excerpts of the Keith Ferrazzi book at 800CEOREAD.com, wi th tips like Learn the Power of Nonverbal Cues, Develop Conversational Currency, Adjust Your Johari Window, and Learn to Listen.


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Feb 242005

Got word of a new software under development, and now open for beta testing; it’s called Zoundry, an offline blogging software that works with Blogger, MovableType, and Typepad. This is your invitation to go try it out!

You can use Zoundry Blog Writer for offline blog entry creation, but its real power is how it makes it easier to embed links and images to products you can sell as an amazon.com affiliate and such. For those of you into making a little cash from your blog.

The software is free to use, and the cost for this added convenience is a percentage of referrals. Or you can give the entire commission to a charity. Keep up with what they’re up to at the Zoundry Blog.

limits of leadership

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Feb 232005

Taking an online course, Dynamics of Leadership. Great deal b/c I’m auditing as a DTS alum — no homework, streaming videos of Howard Hendricks in action, plus transcripts of the lectures. Better than sitting in class to take notes! It’s a course I’ve heard great reputation about, and it’s taken the past decade for me to realize the cost of leadership and what it takes. Way more than what I’ve got in me, I’ll say.

It’s been sobering as of late, as I heard of a news item about someone I know. But I’m refraining from commenting on it b/c of the raw gossipy nature of media, news, and personal failures and allegations. Veiled reference to protect the innocent until proven guilty. It’s yet another item for prayer, as well as the brokenness of humanity, the limits of leadership.

So much of that leadership talk is of the pump-it-up motivational variety, limitless bounds on dreaming big, getting the troops to conquer the world and more. Blindingly optimistic. That stuff motivates the masses, but not me. And yet it is a part of a leader’s job to motivate. But my question is: who picks up the pieces? The track record of leaders across the board is not pretty. I’ll quote from Howard Hendricks:

“The Bible mentions approximately 1,000 leaders. Only 100 of them do you have enough data in order to get the full picture. This is what I want you to remember. Are you ready for this? Of the 100 leaders about whom we have sufficient data, only one third of them finished well. And most of them failed in the last half of their life. It is a very profound study.” (excerpt from CL205 Unit 02B )

The Gates

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Feb 212005

Yes, we made it to The Gates! (and made it back too) Hoards of people from all over the world. Those same people overflowed to the art museums nearby too. The biggest unanswered question revolving around this giant art installation has been: what is the meaning? True to postmodern form, the artist behind its conception, and those who get it, says it’s just something that has to be experienced. We did not walk through the entire 7,000+ gates, which traversed over 23+ miles all over Central Park. We did contribute to the traffic jam of driving around Central Park for a preview before we went on foot. We did eat big deli sandwiches from Stage Deli. We did sit for almost an hour getting in, and getting out, via the Lincoln Tunnel. I hit my upload limit at flickr.com so wasn’t able to post all my photos there — I’ve uploaded 194 of my photos at The Gates over at fotki.com. :(

speaking gig

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Feb 172005

I took a speaking gig for a summer camp set for the end of July. Rarely do I do that, between 2 jobs and more (2 hour plus commute, single-parenting during weekdays), plus being out of practice and feelin’ a bit rusty.

Now I’m discovering that my blog reading audience is largely different than those who’d intersect my professional positions, I may take a little more liberty divulging some other things going on outside of the jobs arena. Seeing bloggers who blog about their jobs getting fired left and right is not inviting for me to breach that arena.

So, I’ll be serving up 5 messages over 2.5 days for a summer youth camp in Austin, Texas. The guy who made the invite (over IM at that) is very prepared, way ahead of the game. Impressive. Theme will be “extreme makeover.” At this moment, I’m thinking of picking up a few profiles of people who’ve been dramatically changed by God. Some that are competing for the few spots: Saul/Paul, Job?, Solomon?, the woman in Luke 7, Jacob/Israel…

I also hope to work my sched out to make my pilgrimage to Liquid (the oddsmaker have put it at 75% probability they’ll do a scaled-back Liquid that weekend).

scorched souls

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Feb 172005

Having pastored for about 5 years, and not pastoring for about 4 years now, I’ve had some time and distance away from it to come out with 3 observations about church life (in no particular order nor priority, just what comes to mind during this blogging moment):

1. Church is both organism and organization. Even the most organic expressions of church (a word with roots going back to Old English and the Greek for “the Lord’s house”, and related to the word ekklesia, meaning “the called out ones”), it still has levels of organization, albeit less formal, less systematic, maybe less planned and more spontaneous. Organization has been developed to such a business and science in modern America, some half-jokingly describe how America has turned Christianity into an entrepreneural enterprise.

2. I went into ministry expecting God to do more of the work for me, and I would do the spiritual disciplines kind of thing to show my dependence and reliance. Waiting on God. Prayer is the real work. Let go and let God. Those were the foundational mantras. The practical reality of things involved more of my own effort than I bargained for. Not that I didn’t want to work hard, I did. I was plain naive. Now I’m realizing that it’s as much human effort as it is divine intervention, not less human effort.

3. Scorched souls are among the greatest tragedy of church life. While each church caters to a particular demographic, whether through a social network, or a strategic targeting of a community segment, the best intentions of well-meaning Christian leaders has scorching negative impact on some of its attenders and/or members. I’m just speaking of upstanding Christians, not those who choose to opt-out of the faith to explore other options (whether it’s towards a sinful lifestyle or an alternative religion). I still know a handful of people who have yet to recover from the scorching effect of burnout, legalism, power trips, church conflicts, poor counsel, et al. Intentions don’t matter as much as the impact on the recipient. Quality congregational and pastoral care is so hard to find.

reconstructive surgery

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Feb 092005

I just finished an hour-long reconstructive surgery — to rebulid the lost blog entries from yesterday’s server crash. I first learned of the crash from goodmanson.com (with whom I was dialoguing about money and church in a comment thread now gone). Had a power conversation with Rudy over IM today, to which I’m sworn to secrecy, but 1 piece of intel’ passed security clearance — his kind request for me to retell about my reconstructive surgery.

18 entries were recovered in all. 100% of comments were lost (while recoverable via Web caches, the head surgeon deemed it expendable). About 98% of the content is fully restored. Hyperlink target tags were left as is from cache records. About 80% of the permalinks were successfully restored. Damage yet to be fixed include at least a dozen pages on the website side of djchuang.com, the new category of church directories at my church index, this blog template, and other things I’ll discover later. Pure estimated guesses — I’m not that AR to track all the statistics from this reconstructive surgery. I switching back and forth between 4 windows, lots of copy & paste, resetting dates and titles, much monotonous work.

Most of the content was restored from bloglines.com cache (which, incidentally, was bought out by ask.com early this week). A kind co-worker found another cache of my blog at feedster.com and there is also the infamous Google cache (from which I used to recover 2 other entries overwritten by yesterday’s entries b/c of how b2evolution does its blog management).

Now when you have to do blog reconstructive surgery, be sure you do it promptly. Time is of the essence. Web cache might have a short time to expiration, maybe 3 days, maybe longer. But you can’t gamble b/c it’s unpredictable. Or, you can chalk it up to spring cleaning and not bother to recover it.

The best insurance is regular backup, and no, I still have not learned my lesson after hard drive crash every so often. I will not backup. I confess, I gamble.