Saturday, December 31, 2005

Wowed by Apple

I had such an amazing experience with Apple today that I had to blog about it. Four weeks ago today I became the proud owner of an Apple G4 PowerBook and was loving it all the way up until I noticed a couple of days ago that some of the paint was starting to come off the button used to open the laptop. I called my local Apple store representative immediately and the guy I spoke to assured me that it could be fixed in-house.

However, once my wife and I made the nearly hour-long trip to the store [to also attend a FREE class], I was informed that it would need to be shipped off to be repaired, which I wasn't wild about. Upon noticing my chagrin at the prospect of being without my new laptop for several days, the fellow went to speak with the store manager and soon returned to inform me that he was authorized to give me a NEW laptop in exchange for my defective one.

It's not every day that I am WOWED by a customer service experience, but I left that store today an Apple evangelist. My wife, who is a customer service manager herself, was equally stunned at the length to which Apple was willing to go to create an overwhelmingly satisfied customer. In addition to posting this blog, my wife and I both plan to relate our thanks to the store manager and to share our experience with others.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Call of the Mall

My very favorite time of the year is the holiday period stretching from Thanksgiving to Christmas and continuing through New Year’s, yet I was reminded the other day of the crass commercialism that threatens to turn the holidays into anything but “holy days.”

My wife and I watched with a mixture of humor and horror the frenzied rush of shoppers overwhelming retailers on what has become the biggest shopping day of the year. And as we observed, we couldn’t help but think that the day after Thanksgiving has become a victim of the twin thieves of thankfulness: speed and greed.

As long ago as the 1830s, the French writer Alexis de Tocqueville blamed the shopping instinct for jacking up the pace of life: “He who has set his heart exclusively upon the pursuit of worldly welfare is always in a hurry, for he has but a limited time at his disposal to reach, to grasp, and to enjoy it.”

And Kent Nerburn writes in Simple Truths: Clear & Gentle Guidance on the Big Issues in Life: “Unwittingly, we have allowed ourselves to be trapped by the thrill of the hunt. In our excitement we have forgotten that the pursuit of most possessions is nothing more than that—a pursuit—and have allowed ourselves to believe that our happiness would be increased by the next possession we acquire.”

As for me and mine, we intend to avoid the call of the mall, and hearken instead to the still small voice calling us to a kinder, gentler pace. If you are racing to and fro this holiday season in a vain attempt to find peace in presents, do yourself a favor and remember this helpful proverb: “Better is a handful with quietness, than both hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.”

Monday, October 31, 2005

Receiving the Day

My wife and I just returned from a relaxing vacation to Kennebunkport, Maine and while there I read an insightful book titled Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time. My reading of it comes on the heels of another thoughtful book I read this month called Sabbath Keeping: Finding Freedom in the Rhythms of Rest. Both books served to reinforce the convictions of my wife and I concerning the need to throttle the speed at which we live our personal and professional lives.

Retreating to an idyllic setting as we did helps to slow the pace of living but our journey toward “the unforced rhythms of grace,” as Eugene Peterson calls it in The Message, has been some time in the making. And it has been satisfying for us the last couple of months to experience the pleasure of sharing our philosophy of life with several others through a presentation we call “Sense and Simplicity: Relax, Refresh and Renew.” One good nugget of advice: slow down long enough to read a good book.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Taming Technology

I finally joined the twenty-first century and upgraded from dial-up to high-speed Internet. It has gone relatively smoothly, with a couple of kinks yet to be ironed out. But it has left me thinking anew about the place of technology in my life. For example, in exchange for all the extra speed I gained with the upgrade, I also spent considerable time contacting tech support personnel for assistance with the process.

In the long run, the transaction will be well worth it, I am convinced. Yet I can’t help but wonder how much longer I could have made do with the old-fashioned technology. I am no Luddite: one who is averse to all types of technology, no matter the convenience it offers. It’s just that I rather like living simply, particularly when it comes to taming the tentacles of technology. For I’ve realized that it may make life easier, but not necessarily simpler.

Technology has afforded me the luxury of being able to do the work I enjoy virtually anywhere in the world, as long as I am connected via phone and computer. And with the growth of wireless services, I am greatly anticipating the time I will be freed from the tangle of wires that encumber me. But even as the day approaches, I plan to keep the number for tech support handy in case of emergency.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A Tale of Two Cities

Together with the rest of the world, I have been witnessing the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Katrina, particularly in the beautiful, historic city of New Orleans. As I’ve watched, I’ve been reminded of the immortal words of Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

That phrase summarizes for me the good and bad aspects of human nature that have been on display the last couple of days. “The best of times” has been represented by the heroic rescue efforts of the brave emergency personnel in New Orleans. Yet “the worst of times” also has been on display, namely through the brazen acts of thievery perpetrated by desperate city residents.

During a visit to New Orleans for a convention, I found the city charming, but for the notable exception of Bourbon Street. So it is with sadness that I see its downtown district awash in waves of water. But it is the human story that I find most disheartening. I can’t help but recall the quote I read of a tourist as she observed the rampant looting of the French Quarter: “I thought this was a sophisticated city, but I guess not.” A tale of two cities indeed.

As I try to make sense of the situation that continues to unfold, I also am reminded of the timeless words of Jesus found in Matthew 6:19-20: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Art of Creative Living

I read the latest book by famed “Painter of Light” Thomas Kinkade, called The Art of Creative Living: Making Every Day a Radiant Masterpiece. The book is the sequel to his bestselling title Lightposts for Living: The Art of Choosing a Joyful Life, a personalized copy of which I proudly own. I must admit Kinkade’s romantic vision of the simple life resonates with me personally and it is one that I seek to experience daily. Both of the artist’s books spoke to me on a deep level, but the riches of the latest one are most freshly on my mind.

In an effort to capture the essence of the book, I enclose here a brief excerpt from Kinkade’s luminous writing: “I have come to believe that in an expansive sense, creativity is God’s highest calling. The call to creativity isn’t complicated. It could be a life’s work or a ministry for the moment. Whatever your occupation or daily responsibilities, once you discover your special creative calling and begin to fill in life’s canvas, you’ll be on the way…to an experience of creative living that is your own work of art…a masterpiece.”

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Sowing and Reaping

I recently perused a book in my library called Blur: The Speed of Change in the Connected Economy by Stan Davis and Christopher Meyer and a statement leapt off the page at me: “Remember, knowledge, a main currency of the BLUR economy, has a unique property: You’ve got it, you sell it—you’ve still got it! So, don’t hoard your knowledge. Spread it, get credit for having known it early, become known as the source of interesting ideas, whether they’re original or secondhand. If you don’t, your friends will hear it from someone else. Velocity of knowledge is crucial to your success. The more you give away, the more you’ll get back.” Sounds like sowing and reaping to me.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Reading Life

I finished reading The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life by Steve Leveen, founder of Levenger, the purveyor of “Tools for Serious Readers,” and loved it. Subtitled “How to get more books in your life and more life from your books,” the book recalls the simple pleasures of the reading life. For more about the book, visit the author's site at

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Chronicling the Blogosphere

I read Hugh Hewitt’s latest tome, a chronicle of the blogosphere titled Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World. For the uninitiated, Hewitt is the unofficial historian of the blogging movement, with one of the highest traffic sites in the blogosphere, located at

As it states on the book’s cover, Hewitt articulates “why you must know how the blogosphere is smashing the old media monopoly and giving individuals power in the marketplace of ideas.” To that end, he does an artful job of explaining how Web logs are in the process of replacing mainstream media as the most influential, if not powerful, force in media today.

Hewitt cites the incredible growth of the blogosphere—which boasts nearly 5 million blogs in existence and is expected to double within the year—as indicative of a communications breakthrough comparable to the revolutionary printing press.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Archiving the Internet

I was channel surfing the other day and stumbled upon an intriguing program on one of the few stations that make television worth watching: C-SPAN. The program featured Brewster Kahle speaking at the John Kluge Center at the Library of Congress about his ambitious dream of cataloging the Internet.

Kahle sold his company, Alexa Internet Corp., which is the chief chronicler of Web traffic, to in June 1999, and is now hard at work on the Internet Archive, a project that is designed to save and sort the world’s collective knowledge. For more info, visit its site at

“The Internet has the potential to be the greatest library in the history of mankind—a repository of memory, thought, culture, and scholarship; a record of what it means to be human. But without an archive, it’s nothing more than a catalog of the perpetually changing now,” said Kahle.

I jotted down some of the more fascinating statistics that Kahle shared in the process of outlining the daunting task he faces. According to Kahle, there are about 28 million books in existence today, 2 to 3 million music recordings, 100,000 to 200,000 moving pictures, 50,000 software programs, 50 million Web sites and 40 billion Web pages.

Apparently unfazed by the job ahead, Kahle blithely stated that as big as the challenge is, it is nonetheless doable in our lifetime. As an example, he said that the equivalent of the entire collection of the Library of Congress could be archived at a cost of 200 million to 300 million dollars, a fraction of its current operating budget.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Watching for Trends

I subscribe to an insightful newsletter from and this month’s featured consumer trend is what is called Nouveau Niche. Here is an excerpt from the latest issue: “BusinessWeek called it ‘The Vanishing Mass Market.’ Others talk about Niche Mania, Stuck in the Middle, or Commoditization Chaos. We at dubbed it Nouveau Niche: the new riches will come from servicing the new niches! To continue thinking of niche as unprofitable or even worse, unpopular, may equal commercial suicide.” For more information or to subscribe visit

Monday, January 31, 2005

Blinking Without Thinking

I finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s insightful new book titled Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking the other day. I got tons of new insights from it, but for the time being I’ll simply include an excerpt from the book’s cover copy and a link to Malcolm Gladwell’s site for further reading:

Blink is a book about how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to made in an instant—in the blink of an eye—that actually aren’t as simple as they seem. Blink reveals that great decision makers aren’t those who process the most information or spend the most time deliberating, but those who have perfected the art of ‘thin-slicing’—filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables.”