links for 2007-12-30

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Dec 302007

[update!] watch the New Year’s Eve celebrations LIVE in cities around the world via webcams, including New York City Time Square, of course

[ed.note: wild! this is a new function in that automatically posts my new links for the day into my blog; so handy to not have to collect links to post here, and then have a whole 'nother set of links being managed and stored over there; one thing I'd much prefer is being able to have this auto-generated post recur weekly instead of daily]

Dec 292007

For the past few months, been pondering this idea of traveling around to see world cities. I’ve been to most of the major cities domestically, and want to see more internationally in my one lifetime. So far I’ve only been in 4 cities: London, Hong Kong, Moscow, and Taipei (by default, 1st 8 yrs of life.) I’ve got a short list narrowed down, which includes Paris, Tokyo, Beijing, Rome, and Rio de Janeiro.

What I haven’t yet figured out is how to pay for all these travels. I’m not a budgeting type, nor a strong-investor money maker, so it’s not going to my own earning capacity.

Tonight on the drive home, got to talking with my sister-in-law about The Amazing Race, a great reality TV show. The a-ha moment hit me. I could audition for that show and get to travel the world!

We deliberated about it a bit, and it could work. My partner wouldn’t be my immediate family. I was thinking through my circle of friends who could complement me, in areas like physical fitness and stamina. 2 or 3 came to mind. I think I can do the traveling part and the figuring-out part, even though I don’t speak many other languages and haven’t yet traveled internationally.

We watched the most recent episode via YouTube, commercial-free at that. We skimmed through the official website. They even have The Amazing Race WIKI chock full of info!

Then my bubble burst. That TV show is about a race. It’s highly competitive. I don’t have a drop of competitive drive in me. Not one.

Push the idea to stew longer on the back burner.

Dec 282007

I’m in the midst of preparing for a workshop titled “Witness To the Present Day Culture” at a conference near Houston next week. Yes, I’ll be flying out on New Year’s Day, which means I probably will not ring in the new year at midnight. I need my routine sleep. The question of culture itself is so huge, as big as humanity. I was initially going to start with the 5 categories from Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture categories. As I considered it further, especially in present day culture, I recalled 2 thought leaders who are skillfully and wisely reconsidering this question. So, I’m going to be adapting my workshop content from Andy Crouch and Tim Keller. I’ll also speak from my work with L2 Foundation. I plan to post my powerpoint slides, links, and possibly audio at the L2 blog next week — if the retreat site has Wifi.

I may even go multimedia, beyond the powerpoint, and possibly show a clip from the Intersect|Culture DVD that Andy Crouch / Christian Vision Project helped put together. This is an excellent DVD that I’ve seen all the way through. The DVD comes with a companion curriculum for small group discussion, with 6 discussion starters on video filled with inspiring stories and teachings from many Christian leaders including Ken Fong, Makoto Fujimura, and Tim Keller, and Lauren Winner.

Render Conference is hosted by the Partnership of Asian American Churches in Texas (PAACT). PAACT is a fellowship of evangelical churches whose vision is to assist the local church in advancing ministries among English-speaking Asians. The conference is held to support and encourage English-speaking Asian-Americans in the pursuit of vocational Christian service and to cast a vision for ministry in the local church.

[update] just found out there’s a conference website:

Dec 242007

It’s that time of year, when all of us look back at (some) highlights of the year 2007, and to celebrate Christmas holidays too.

If your inbox resembles anything like mine, with lots of unread emails and Inbox Zero hasn’t become a habit yet, you’re probably receiving lots of emails with a PDF attachment (or Word .doc) of people’s annual Christmas newsletter. With rising costs of gasoline and postage stamps, this is the way things are going to be for a while.

Our version is less wordy and image-y this year. So to you and yours, a very Merry Christmas!

 Christmas 2007 e-Card

[update] with over 2,500 emails in my Gmail address book, there’s no way I can personally address each e-card to my friends and family. So this is my catch-all.

And, if you’re also tired of the consumerism of the season, join the Advent Conspiracy to restore the meaning of Christmas, its worship, compassion, joy, peace, and goodwill to all.

[AC] Advent Conspiracy from Jon Collins on Vimeo.

Dec 232007

The final votes have been counted, and the top 9 questions are now final. These will be the starting point of 9 sermons that Mark Driscoll (at Mars Hill Church, Seattle) will be preaching starting in January 2008. I’m most interested in how he will answer this one (coming in at #8):

Why do you make jokes about mormon missionaries, homosexuals, trenchcoats wearers, single men, vegans, emo kids and then expect these groups to come to know God in the same sermon?

Dec 202007

Haven’t had a soda pop in months. I’ve reduced my caffeine intake (usually at Starbucks) to half caf’. I drink enough water on a regular basis. And I don’t want to contribute any more to the $16B bottled water industry. Even with soaring gasoline prices, a gallon of bottled water costs 2 or 3 times more than gas!

What I’m looking for is a decently tasting carbonated drink, especially for around home. Iced tea is out, since that has some level of caffeine, even though I do get iced tea now and then. I don’t like that powered iced tea mix stuff at all. Smoothies from Jamba Juice or Smoothie King are great, but hurts my wallet. For a collectible but not drinkable soda, see Jones Soda’s PERSPIRATION flavor.

I sometimes order a glass of club soda. I’ll get a 2 liter of Fresca when I can find it. I would search around if it had a way to find a no-caffeine no-sugar beverage. Any other suggestions or ideas for a flavored healthy drink, without breaking the bank?

Dec 172007

Emeril Lagasse’s show, “Emeril Live” has been cancelled, according to NYT’s Changing Courses at the Food Network.

… The program taped its last installments and laid off a half-dozen staff members, bringing an end to an impressive 11-year, every-weeknight run.

Unbelievable. I still get the sense that Food Network does continue to grow in viewership, cf. “… its average 2007 prime-time audience of 778,000 viewers is its highest ever.” My hunch on why: more women chefs + hosts (with pretty faces like Rachael Ray, Giada De Laurentiis, Sandra Lee, and Nigella Lawson), and more food as entertainment — lots of road trips to foodie destinations and food competitions like Iron Chef America; cooking shows alone don’t do it. Could competitive eating be next, as in Major League Eating?

For the insatiably curious, I’ve started logging what I’m eating. This is not for a diet or anything, it’s only a record of what I’m eating. Snacks not included; I’m not much of a snacker anyways.

Dec 162007

People want to stay connected, or at least people say they want to stay connected. This often happens after a live event or conference, like a conference or a high school reunion (I’ve never been to one of my own, and wouldn’t really want to go to one of my wife’s). I suppose people from college reunions probably would use Facebook, but that’s (in my opinion) only a pretty loose coupling, even if it’s valuated at billions of dollars.

For a group of people that wants to stay connected by regularly communicating, there are three great (and free + friendly to non-techies) ways to do that over the internet.

WordPress is ideal for a team blog and/or building an web-editable website with an adjacent weblog. The team blog would keep a running log of regular communications between the group members, with most recent entries at the top. is the free version with hosting all taken care of. is the free version that requires software being installed on a hosting service. Alternatively, a group can do a similar thing with a team blog hosted on the free

Wiki is ideal for sharing up-to-date information between a group of people. Communicating in a wiki is more of a snapshot approach, with content that could be posted on several different web pages. During a conference call this week, I stumbled onto a great metaphor when trying to explain a wiki to a non-techie: a wiki is like a big virtual whiteboard, and people from different places can update it. Another metaphor I think would work is an online encyclopedia or reference guide, especially with Wikipedia‘s popularity. The wiki app I have used are and 2 other ones that look good (and free) are: wikispaces and

Google Group is ideal for on-going discussions between a group of people with discussion board, easy-to-edit pages and sharing files. The board can be used for messages online and/or via email (like a Listserv) — some people like discussions that are threaded. What I like about a Google Group is that new posts are (optionally) delivered to my email inbox, and I don’t have to go to a website (be it a blog or wiki) to view new communications. Yahoo Group works in a similar way.

Each brand of these web apps have different combinations of functions, how multiple contributors/ authors are invited, whether content is public or private, usability, and look & feel. This post is here to help make a quick overview of a blog, a wiki, and a discussion group, so that a small group of people can discern together what to use for staying connected.

Dec 112007

I have a confession to make. It’s about my blog consumption, blog reading habits.

About 3 years ago, I used to skim through about 1,000 blogs using the web-based Bloglines reader. I trimmed that down to about 300 select blogs last year. And now, I’m working my way down to about 100 blogs or less.

I can no longer keep up with all the text, audios, and videos strewn everywhere in cyberspace. I think information and knowledge is growing much faster than doubling every 10 years; it’s growing more along the lines of an escalating exponential curve.

Maybe it’s just my aging. Last time (about a year ago) I saw an eye doctor, and he said I’m right there on the edge of needing bifocals. After this summer, I’m noticing a little difficulty focusing while reading. No fun. Psychosomatic symptom? Self-fulfilling prophecy?