I Salute You, Mustache Men

Today is the last day of November, which means it’s the end of the Movember charity drive, an event where men agreed to go clean-shaven and then grow mustaches for the month of November in order to raise money for men’s health. Movember specifically fights prostate and testicular cancer and donations go to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Since its inception in 2003, Movember has raised more than $47 million for men’s health. That’s a lot of money for mustaches.

I first heard about this event when I saw my old friend Kyle and my brother Rick participating this year. I really wanted to join them, but my wife said I wouldn’t get kissed for a month if I grew a mustache. That’s a long time to go without getting kissed by your wife, so instead of participating I’ll have to make do with supporting them. Cancer is one of those things that inevitably impacts everyone. My grandpa is a prostate cancer survivor—and it’s through efforts like these that hopefully there can be more survivors.

Despite my wife’s distaste for the mustache fashion statement, I have to say that I love these kinds of charity events. As a culture I think we place entirely too much importance on personal appearance, and anything we can do to thumb our nose at the status quo while supporting a charity is just awesome. (This coming from the guy whose only haircut in the past two years has been shaving his head for a cause.) Maybe next year I’ll forsake getting kissed for a good cause (but don’t bet on it).

So even though I couldn’t join my mustachioed brethren, I salute your Movember efforts and the mighty hair spreading across your upper lip. Every mustache makes a difference. You can support Kyle or Rick by making a donation on their respective pages.

And what’s a post about mustaches without an homage to them in song from none other than the Tick? We could all use a little mustache feelin':

Today Has Conspired Against Me

Or maybe this entire week has conspired against me. Let’s count the ways…
(In case you can’t tell, this is one of those whiny, poor me posts, so feel free to move on now)

  • I’ve been sick since Wednesday night with a sore throat and persistent cough. Last night I was coughing so hard my chest hurt.
  • Because of all that I couldn’t go to the Social Media Breakfast on Friday morning.
  • I also couldn’t go to a planning meeting for a group of local church communicators I’m helping to organize.
  • That sickness also meant the date night my wife and I have been trying to have for two months that almost happened this weekend didn’t happen.
  • It also means I forgot about the U2 tickets that sold out in two hours on Saturday morning.
  • It also means I never had a chance to enjoy one last taco at Dora’s (OK, it would have been more like six last tacos).
  • This morning I left the kids with a babysitter and took the bus to the doctor. I missed the bus.
  • Which meant I missed my appointment by 20 minutes and the doctor wouldn’t see me.
  • Then I spent three hours at the dealership while they investigated my car’s uneven tread wear problem, only to tell me they have no answers.
  • Then I got a call from the babysitter that Lexi has been throwing up.
  • I dropped $50 at Best Buy tonight to replace items that have been lost or stolen in the last six months.
  • One of those items was a power cord for the portable DVD player Lexi watches in the car. Thanks to disposable electronics, that portable DVD player will now be the main DVD player powering our living room TV. (Our house has two VCRs and four DVD players, and only two of the DVD players work. And one is portable.)
  • We have two couches in our house. Lexi managed to throw up on both of them.
  • While preparing all the puke-stained items for the wash, I realized the dog peed on the carpet.
  • At this point it was supper time and I realized I never had lunch.
  • Being gone all day meant I got next to nothing done for work.
  • We were planning to go to Kansas for Thanksgiving and I was excited about introducing Milo to lots of extended family that hasn’t had the chance to meet him yet. Tonight we decided we can’t go to Kansas with all the sickness and our complete lack of preparation.

Did I forget anything?

However, this week is Thanksgiving. So let’s find some bright spots, shall we?

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Twitter Tip: Context in Responses

Here’s a quick Twitter tip for you: Give context in your @replies and DMs.

“Yeah, that’s so true,” means nothing to me. I have no idea what you’re responding to. You could be reacting to any of the 8.4 tweets I post in an average day. Or you could be responding to something I said three days ago. How am I supposed to know?

It’s especially awkward when someone challenges or insults me. Sorry man, but I don’t know what you’re getting offended about unless you give me a little context. And I can’t give you a source on “that” unless you tell me what “that” is.

This lack of context for conversations is probably one of the biggest downsides to Twitter’s setup (which is saying a lot—this is a minor complaint) and it’s a definite area where Facebook is far superior.

(This is a fine example of when a 140-character limit would have produced a better result.)

Update: A few folks have pointed out that the thread of an @reply conversation is something Twitter is set up to follow. It’s just not immediately obvious. On the Twitter site, the tiny, grayed out text below an @reply will include a link back to the relevant tweet, assuming someone clicked on the ‘reply’ button in the first place. Most Twitter apps pick up on this and deploy the feature in some manner (though again, it’s not always obvious).

Good info to know, making me look kind of dumb.

Of course it still helps to give context in your response. Without context you have to assume someone knows about these features and assume that they used the ‘reply’ button. Sometimes just appending your “LOL” with a “Funky Chicken:” makes all the difference.

The Problem of Canceled TV Shows

So Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse is canceled. At least Fox will let the season end, airing the remaining episodes and giving the show a proper, if early, finale. Another sci-fi show wasn’t so lucky. ABC canceled Defying Gravity just as it was getting good, though the remaining episodes in the season were allowed to air in Canada. U.S. fans will have to either find the pirated versions online or wait for a DVD release to see how season one played out. Thankfully Defying Gravity creator James Parriott shared online how the show would have progressed beyond that first season.

Those are just two quick examples of current network cancellations, though the airwaves are littered with shows cut down before they could tell their stories.

In this DVR, DVD, on-demand age I wonder if networks are only hurting themselves. Many viewers are getting to a point where they won’t commit to these long story-arc shows until they know it’s going to last. Why get wrapped up in a story line if it could potentially be canceled? Some people are opting to wait for a show to run its course before checking it out on DVD. It would help if networks could pick a show and stick with it. But maybe fans need to start demanding it. Maybe we should refuse to watch a show unless it has a two-season commitment. It’s not how Hollywood works, but maybe show creators should refuse to do a show unless they can get a multi-season commitment.

It’s unheard of, but it sure beats unrealized story arcs and half-revealed plots.

We’re All Adopted: Overcoming the Stigma

I came across this reflection on the stigma surrounding adoption. It’s pretty heart-breaking. The writer, an adoptee herself and an adoptive mother, talks to kids about adoption a lot.

Here’s what 10-year-old “Sam” said when she asked him what he thought it meant to be adopted:

“Well, being adopted is when the kids that nobody wants are put into an orphanage and then if the kid is really good, someone rich will pick them and buy them to have in their family.”

Ouch.

She writes about five themes that continually come up about adopted children:

  1. Adopted children are unwanted.
  2. Adopted children can become more desirable when they exhibit good behavior, i.e. being the perfect child.
  3. Adopted children are thought of as a commodity; they are a good that is exchanged in a transaction typically received by someone considered rich or well-to-do.
  4. Adopted children are disposable; their permanence in their adoptive family is always conditional.
  5. Adopted children deserve pity, because they are the kids who no one wants.

That’s even more heart-breaking. Help me in overcoming, shattering and in any way possible breaking these myths about adopted children. Kids (and all of us) need to hear the truth.

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Business Cards for People with Multiple Hats

My new company business cardsI mentioned earlier today that I ordered new business cards. Several folks asked to see them, so here they are.

The front covers the basic Monkey Outta Nowhere info and the red monkey will actually be applied by hand with a rubber stamp. The back will cover three major side projects I’m involved with, the church communications blog Church Marketing Sucks, the public art site Start Seeing Art and this here personal blog.

After the UnSummit I complained about the difficulty of handing out separate cards for my various endeavors. Somebody suggested I go with a combined card and my designer friend Michael Buckingham of Holy Cow Creative came up with the idea of putting the side projects on the back of my Monkey Outta Nowhere card. It’s an ideal solution since Monkey Outta Nowhere is tied to all three and is really the over-arching brand. It allows me to focus on my main company while still mentioning the assorted side projects. It also means no more juggling multiple cards.

Michael updated my old card and worked within my limitations (don’t touch the logo, don’t touch the monkey) to come up with this new take. It’s very much in the same vein as my old card (same logo, same monkey, same colors), but it’s a major boost in quality. I know how important designers are and how much they can bring to the table, but it’s cool to see it firsthand. I ordered the cards from Uprinting.com today and I’m excited to get them in my hands and see if they’re as cool in reality as they are on screen (that step is always a little scary).

Major thanks goes to Michael Buckingham for the design (I should also give a tip of the hat to Matthew Taylor who gave me advice on the original design five years ago and helped me solidify the logo and the monkey), Jeffrey Martin for the Start Seeing Art logo (we’ll be rolling that out to the Start Seeing Art site soon) and Gabe Taviano for mentioning Uprinting.com as a good (and cheap) source for business card printing.

Unlike Taviano, I managed to order my new cards just in time to miss the only major out of town conference I’ve attended in five years. Oops. On the plus side, they’ll arrive in plenty of time for Christmas.

And the best part? No more using a sharpie to cross out the three-year-old mailing address.

Firewood for Charity

Hauling WoodToday I borrowed a truck and drove up to Wyoming, Minn., to pick up some firewood. Despite my disdain for the helplessness of Craigslist, I went there looking for firewood and came across this ad of two kids selling firewood to raise money to buy a goat through World Vision. Awesome.

They even threw in a dozen fresh eggs from the free range chickens that were wandering the yard. Oddly enough it was a pretty swank neighborhood for free range chickens.

If I have to buy firewood I’d rather help a couple kids help people in need.

Now That’s Funny: Christian Chirp

The Christian Alternative To TwitterIf you haven’t heard about it yet, Christian Chirp is a new Christian alternative to Twitter.

In and of itself, that’s funny. I’ll let you revel in it.

Now go look at the site. It’s down right now because of a massive attack (screenshot). Must be the persecution of the last days.

No seriously. That’s what founder James L. Paris blamed the attack on. That’s funny.

The mustachioed Paris has a Twitter account. And a financial advice site called Christian Money.

That’s funny, too.

Then there’s Christian author and humorist Matthew Paul Turner who discovered Christian Chirp and went from incredulous to curious to #1 chirper to deleted in less than 24 hours.

That’s funny. If you like Turner’s irreverent take on faith, you’ll love his skewering of Joel Osteen.

Then Michael Hyatt, CEO of the Christian publisher Thomas Nelson made a comment about Chirper being a Christian ghetto, prompting multiple responses from Paris.

Christian media “mogul” cat fight. That’s kind of funny.

Paris’ best insult? Pointing out Hyatt’s publishing history, which includes a trio of Y2K survival books (one is a novel!).

OK, no disrespect to Hyatt, but that’s hilarious.

When it gets less funny is this blog post, the Truth about James L. Paris and Christian Chirp, alleging that he lied about being banned from Twitter (part of the ethos of Christian Chirp), that he censors Chirp content and that he was indicted for securities fraud. The comments get even uglier as Paris himself shows up to argue the charges.

Oh, Christians. And we wonder why people think we’re so weird (I mean persecuted). Musician and rabble-rouser Justin McRoberts has a good take on Christian Chirp. It’s not ha-ha funny, but it’s good.

Craigslist Tip: Be Helpful

Craigslist is one of the incredible success stories of the web. And they do it by thumbing their nose at conventional wisdom. They don’t care about stunning design, complicated systems or making more money. Craigslist is all about functionality. If you haven’t read Wired‘s August 2009 story on Craigslist it’s worth a look behind the veil at one of the web’s weirder successes.

As great a techno wonder as Craigslist is, I hate using it. Why? It’s nothing wrong with the site, it’s the people. Sadly people are often the downfall to many of technology’s innovations. Every time I post something on Craigslist I get countless e-mails with stupid questions, drawn out conversations that don’t go anywhere and time and time again I’m left hanging.

So here’s a tip to improve your Craigslist experience: Be helpful.

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Oh No! My Mom’s on Facebook

Tonight it finally happened. My mom joined Facebook. And friended me.

I’ve been friended by my mother. Now I know how everyone feels.

Once the initial shock faded I approved that friend request and heartily (and somewhat jokingly) welcomed my mother into the world of Facebook.

The idea of children being embarrassed of their parents online is kind of funny. I get it. I think what’s behind all of it is the false sense of privacy that we have online. We have this sense that somehow certain people aren’t seeing what we’re saying online, that this is our own unique space. The problem with that is that it’s just not true. No matter how protected you think you are, whatever you do or say online is public knowledge. You have no expectation of privacy (or you shouldn’t).
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