Romantica on the Current

You may remember my complete shock at recognizing Ben Kyle’s voice when I first heard Romantica. Their debut album, It’s Your Weakness That I Want, is pretty good and I’ve had the pleasure of reliving that shock when I hear their music on the radio (so far just the Current).

But the Current really likes them, and that’s pretty cool. Today the Current’s Song of the Day is “The National Side”. Plus they played live in the studio a few weeks back which you can hear online–and you can hear Mary Lucia tell Ben Kyle to “shut it” (when Ben tells her one of the judges of the International Songwriting Competition, which Romatica has won, was Tom Waits).

Romantica’s sophomore album, America, is now available. You can hear some of it on MySpace. Plus, they’ll be playing this Sunday at the Stone Arch Festival of the Arts. It’s free. It’s outside. I might just have to go (and hey, it’s Father’s Day, so I get to do what I want, right?).

Thoughts from My Former Self

I was importing some old blog entries this evening (something I do from time to time when I get bored–even though I jumped over to Moveable Type years ago, I still haven’t converted all my old entries. I still have about 9 months worth to import) and I came across a few interesting entries:

  • Prayer as an Act of Spiritual Defiance – The entry isn’t that brilliant, but I love that thought.
  • Hard Work Comes Crashing Down – The subtext of this post (I did this a lot back then, talking about something but not really talking about it) was that the company I spent a summer working for was going under and none of my work would see the light of day. But I speculated it wouldn’t be for nothing–that God might have an ace up his sleeve. It turns out the relationships I made that summer are still helping me today. Thanks Brad.
  • The Six Billionth Person – We passed that milestone back in 1999, and I think we’re pushing 6.5 billion now.
  • Sedgewick: Three mini stories featuring one of my favorite characters who went on to star in his own novel.

Facebook & Flixster Wasted My Time

So while I’m waxing eloquent about Facebook and its new applications, there’s one thing I’m not so keen on. They just wasted my time.

I recently launched a new book review and movie review blog and added them to my sidebar. The main functionality I was going for–namely easily ranking and reviewing books and movies and being able to add them to my blog–are exactly the things you can do with Flixster. And while I’m not a fan of Flixster itself (it feels too ‘MySpace,’ all flashy and bloated with ads–which I think should be the new Internet insult), the fact that I can use it through Facebook means that I tried it out. And though I still don’t like Flixster’s interface, I can use it through Facebook which means I probably will use it. The partnership with Facebook enabled Flixster to find new users and overcome their site’s own shortcomings.

So how is my time wasted? I think all that time I spent setting up my new movie and book review blogs was a complete waste–Flixster does all that and more.

Continue reading Facebook & Flixster Wasted My Time

Facebook Explodes

Brace yourself–Facebook just exploded.

Facebook is the little social networking site that could. While Friendster collapsed under its own weight and MySpace got all the hype, Facebook has been steadily building something better: a useful experience. I’ve thought for a while that Facebook had a better setup, but a few weeks ago they introduced a new developer’s platform and the site’s potential has exploded.

MySpace sold for nearly $600 million and everyone thought it was insane. The price tag tossed around for Facebook lately is around $2 billion–and they’re not very eager to sell.

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The World’s Most Polluted River

2007_06_07pollutedriver.jpgYou could just call it the river of garbage–check out the incredibly polluted Citarum River in Indonesia, clogged with the garbage and waste of more than 9 million people and 500 factories. That picture is a guy in a boat in the river–you can’t even see the water.

Bono has said that poverty is a justice issue, and I think this kind of pollution is likewise a justice issue. (link via

Your Logo Means Nothing Until You Make It Mean Something

2007_06_06londonolymp.jpgWhen it comes to logos, marketing guru Seth Godin says the image you pick doesn’t really matter. The meaning comes not from the logo itself, but what your company actually does.

“A great logo doesn’t mean anything until the brand makes it worth something.”

He uses the example of Starbucks, Nike and Apple. The logos of two of those companies have nothing to do with what they actually do (I don’t think Nike’s swoosh supports Godin’s claim–as abstract as it is, that feeling of movement actually goes pretty well with an athetlic shoe company). So the lesson here is don’t sweat your logo–just pick something and then give it meaning by what you do. Interesting approach. And it takes some of the intimidation out of picking a logo.

All of which is of course inspired by the announcement of the London Olympics logo (Godin: “That’s why spending $800,000 for a logo is ridiculous.”), which is being reviled and revered across the web.

Family Trees Made Fun

Ah, web 2.0 has finally hit the old skool field of genealogies. Enter

It’s a site that lets you enter your family tree–and we’re talking more than just straight lines back. It’s got siblings and cousins and in-laws and exes and the whole shebang. Plus when you add people you can invite them to help you add to the family tree. So now it’s no longer a single random relative maintaining the family records, but everybody can pool their resources, collect all the info and keep it going for future generations. It’s free (currently ad supported and will probably later add additional features for a fee) and you can print out or export your tree, so you’re not locked in to their system.

Continue reading Family Trees Made Fun

Levity for Longevity: Humor at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

More fun at the office: The End of World Wide Pictures, a tweaked desktop from a screenshot of a WWP movie.An article I wrote for was just posted. It’s a fun little reflection on humor in the workplace, featuring some of the behind-the-scenes highlights you wouldn’t expect from my years at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association:

For two and a half years, I worked in the Internet Department of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. We were young, tech-savvy folks who could have worked at dotcoms but instead chose to work for an aging evangelist. The job had its share of stress—crashing servers, last-minute changes, and webmaster emails from people who didn’t know how to copy and paste.

We coped—in part—thanks to humor.

There were the Monday mornings when laughter would spread like the plague through our department. You could almost tell when the latest flash-animated cartoon had been released on and nearly everyone in our department would pause to watch the disgruntled StrongBad answer his latest email in typical mocking style.

Read the rest, and be sure to click through to my author bio for a great pic.