Friday, August 29, 2008

Environmental suggestion

mercedes benz lotAbraham Piper wrote: "Blogs are not generally good places to be didactic. Rather, they’re ideal for suggesting and commending. I’ve learned, after I write, to go back and cut those lines that sound like commands or even overbearing suggestions, no matter how right they may be. Because if it’s true for my audience, it’s true for me, so why not word it in such a way that I’m the weak one, rather than them?"

I tried to tone down the idea that follows - but succeeded only minimally. Forgive me.

Car dealerships and all car industries selling in America could make a significant change to improve the environment.

In most car lots, there are always way more cars in inventory than will ever be sold in a reasonable amount of time, in the name of providing customers with more choice. I also think it has to do with the typical sales model of "if you leave the lot today, you won't buy the car later." So having more models to choose from increases the chance of that elusive sale.

In Europe, the equivalent of a Chevrolet dealership will have just one or two examples of each model on their lot. You can still get the exact version you want - but you may have to wait a day or so for it to be delivered from another dealer or a depot.

Think of the huge amount of cash tied up, just sitting there all the time. Think of the money spent keeping all of them washed and their batteries charged. One dealer I passed on the way to work here in Colorado had an employee start each car every morning during winter, just to warm up the engines - resulting in lots of fresh carbon monoxide filling the air. Think of the money tied up in unnecessary real estate. Think of the bookkeeping and accounting just to keep track of them all. Think of all that times many thousands of lots all over the country.

The first two rows shown here, alone, are worth more than $2,000,000 at today's prices - and that's based on the most stripped-down versions' prices. This is the Mercedes dealership about two miles from where we live. And a big Chevrolet dealership that we pass on our way to Dallas has probably five acres of vehicles - with massive awnings to keep the sun off the cars. You can choose between 45 Silverado pickups.

My solution: slowly sell off the extra inventory. (Slow change is good.) Eventually reduce the size of dealerships. A PhD can figure out how to make this work. (Yes, the workers still need income. And what should be done with all those car lots? I don't have any good ideas.)

Am I being too extreme? Do you have any ideas about how to get America to trim its inventory?

Footnote: I have actually been thinking about this post for more than four months. What kept me from posting was getting the photo. (Click on the photo to see it larger.) I put our biggest ladder in the back of our minivan and drove to the lot. I stood outside the lot on the top of the ladder and quickly snapped three photos. Then at home, I used Photoshop's auto-merge feature to amazingly stitch the three photos together to create the panorama. I lazily filled in a non-photo section at the lower right with grey. I also did not fix the two-part roof of the black G-class in the foreground.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Spring cleaning, at the end of the summer

As I looked at my CD collection, which I started around 1983, I realized there were many CDs that I will never ever listen to again. Some had good tunes that I've heard enough that I never need to hear them again. Others had tunes that I enjoyed for a year or two and won't enjoy again.

So I have been going through the collection and getting rid of them in three ways. The valuable ones I list on Amazon. The ones that go for next to nothing on Amazon (shown), I am taking to a local used CD dealer to get a smaller amount for. And finally, the ones that he won't touch will end up at the Goodwill.

And what a freeing feeling it is to be lighter.


thanks to jessamyn westI had to at least do a small nod to the Democratic National Convention, since it's taking place only about 13 miles from my front door.

We weren't invited, so I can't tell you much. (The photo is a creative commons shot by a lady named Jessamyn West. You can read her blogger's account here.)

I did manage to go downtown Tuesday evening for an outdoor prayer meeting, to support my buddy Andy (and to pray). It was fun to see all the delegates walking around with huge badges around their necks, and giant black SUVs with Illinois plates. (Sorry - forgot to bring my camera!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Africa ripples

"Read the project book thrice. Good one. Have improved my skills now and using it to capacity build others."

We have a friend in rural Kenya who we have known since our first time there, in the early 90s. He requested a project management book that Heather sent.

How often have we read a book like that three times! Anyhow, we were encouraged that God has used us in his life, even though we left Kenya more than a year ago.

(I took the photo in his home town.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Evidences of the struggling economy

blank billboardIt was a long drive from Colorado to New Hampshire and back. I did the bulk of the driving, which was fine with me. (I enjoy driving. When I was a kid, I dreamed of being a truck driver. Living out that fantasy would kill my back, though.)

So while I was looking at the road and the trees and the cars and the hillsides, I saw a million billboards. Kansas featured many pro-life ads. Missouri specialized in adult shop ads. But by far, the most common billboard was one awaiting an advertiser. I think the ad budget has been cut by many many companies, from where it used to be.

And for the sake of those of you who read this blog regularly, this is the very last post that has anything to do with our summer vacation.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Upon request of my daughter

small pineconesugar pineRachel said, "You gotta take a picture of this for your blog!" (She knows me and how much I enjoy blogging.)

I think it's from a sugar pine. (That shot was taken in Maryland.)

We camped out for about half of our vacation and stayed with gracious friends and family for the rest. As you might guess, this pic was taken during the camping phase.

In contrast, Ben is shown with a pinecone from a totally different breed, here in Colorado.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A penny saved is a penny earned

ben franklin gravestoneI thought it is really ironic that the man who said that now has pennies on his grave.

I didn't even think of that till I was looking through my pictures from our trip!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Infatuation with wealth

yachtWhile we were in New Hampshire, Heather's uncle and aunt treated us to a boat ride around their town's harbor. The tour guide went on and on about this yacht. He pointed out how much it cost to run the boat each day, the purchase price, etc. It is owned by a super-rich person whose name was kept secret to protect their privacy.

I think we were all embarrassed at how interesting this was to us. Heather's relatives rightly pointed out how truly more interesting and beautiful some of the natural sights were that we saw during the cruise.

Anyway, happy Friday and happy weekend, y'all. Enjoy the wealth you have.

Totally worth it

free fontIf you go here (for a limited time), you can pick up this real font: Chambers Sans Medium Italic. It's even an Open Type typeface.

You will have to sign up to get the font, but its a real type foundry's site, so there are no worries about your name being sold to a spam factory.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Strawberry Banke

Strawberry Banke is an amazing museum in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It was certainly one of the biggest highlights of our family vacation, for me. It's the only place I've ever seen where you can tour a house representing different periods of American history in the same neighborhood. And the details are very well cared for. (Examples are the bird house shown and the plant identification.)

The certificate is for a Cuban lottery ticket from the early 1800s, I think. (I forgot the story behind that.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Another hilarious site

yearbookyourselfGo here.

You get to see what you might have looked like, way back when.

I like the way the site is paid for - with advertising from your local mall. (In my case, though, the only choice was a mall that is a bit out of my socioeconomic class. I have been there, though!)

Plants I saw as a kid

This weed was very common in the yards of my childhood. But it doesn't grow in Texas or Colorado, where I have spent my USA years since about age 18.

We used to loop the stalks around and shoot the ends at each other.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Book Review: "The Faith of Barack Obama"

faith of obamaOver the weekend, I just finished Stephen Mansfield's The Faith of Barack Obama.

I'll cut to the chase... his faith is complicated. Mansfield describes Obama's beliefs as fitting into sort of a new culturally-acceptable left-wing moral majority (the "religious left"). Obama uses all the right words to describe his faith and make it acceptable to evangelical Christians, but his voting habits seem to slant the other direction. (Ultimately, his faith is known to him and God.)

The book is a quick read. The most interesting section was the first half, which covered Obama's life history and how that shaped his faith. The "meat" of the book was the second half, but I guess I'm more into stories.

The last section compares the faith of McCain, Hilary, George W. and Obama. Mansfield's well-informed descriptions were interesting and drew some thought-provoking conculsions.

Mansfield ends with hope. It's almost as if he assumes that Obama will win - but hopes that the ensuing change in our country and the world will be for the better. I think I agree.

Should you buy the book? If you are an Obama fan - or detractor - and are curious about his faith, I would recommend it.

ps (Update) Yes, there was an interesting debate on TV over the weekend too. I'm watching it via YouTube, when I can find time. So far, very interesting. Highly recommended.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A diversion from the Olympics

rampenfestIf you're facing Olympics burnout tonight, go to your computer (if you have broadband) and go here.

It's 35 minutes long, and it is hilarious.

The button (greatly enlarged) is from their CafePress site. (They actually have merchandise from the fictional shop in the film! Such is the detail BMW put into the piece. Also, there is a site supporting the fictional town. And all the tacky flash banners lead to other sites featuring fictional businesses and places.

This is viral marketing at its finest.

I'm posting later, on purpose

At 4:45 pm, mountain time, I'll put up today's post. (It's already created.)

So check back, y'all.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Google does so many things right

I think this particular story is hilarious.

And I was reminded how useful a tool Google is in my every day life.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

In memory of those who served

Vietnam Veterans MemorialI'm not sure if you have ever been to the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington DC. It is a moving experience.

Heather's Uncle Cliff's name is on the wall.

You might take a moment to pray for those of our troops serving overseas. It's not easy for them.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

On the cover of Rollin' Stone (well, Time, actually)

rick warren timeYes, Rick Warren made it to the cover of Time magazine.

Incredibly, it was a somewhat positive article!

Their commentary about how he often bites off more than he can chew was good. (Often great things are accomplished by such people.)

About the only thing negative was the cover shot - his skin tone looked like he had just been released from a hospital, after having received chemotherapy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Geef punkie

We interrupt this broadcast... (You're probably tired of reading stuff related to our family vacation*, so I am giving you a break today.)

My nephew Tijs is the featured artist today. This is from his school work. (He lives in Belgium, which is good, since his dad is Belgian.)

I love the fact that my nephew spoke Flemish before he spoke English.

And I think it's just fun to see kids' artwork.

* Our vacation ended about 3 weeks ago, but there were so many little things I wanted to blog about from it, that I had (and still have) a lot of material. I hope you can hang in there with me! Not much longer till I'll be back to the "normal" stuff, whatever that is.

Friday, August 08, 2008

An early bulletin board

ben franklin printshopBen Franklin's print shop in Philadelphia has this "bulletin board" on the wall.

For some reason I thought it was a nice authentic touch, on the part of the curators.

Strange name

I dunno about you, but I thought this was a strange name for a chain of gas stations.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

"Eventually it turns analogue"

jon swansonMy buddy Jon Swanson and I finally met. He's the most social-network-aware pastor I know. We have been talking for about two years through our blogs. We decided to talk on the phone.

I'm in the midst of figuring out what social media might look like for my organization. His suggestions were wonderful.

This social network thing really works.

Thanks, Jon!!

I'm so thankful for cameras

liberty bellIt's great to be able to capture some memories with a camera. And it's even greater to do it without having to get a roll of film developed. And it's even greater to be able to share those memories with many more than would have been able to share them before the olde internet.

It's amazing that some of the places we visited would actually let people take photos. That seems to be rare in the continuing wake of 9/11.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Beauty in decay

old ford truckWe took a short cut.

In our attempts to cut a few miles off the long days, we cut across the top of West Virginia using a winding mountain road. Turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the journey!

One of the kids had to stop for a reason that shall remain unmentioned. I had been looking at several interesting sights as I balanced the need to get there and the desire to enjoy the journey. So I waited until we were at a perfect place to take a break.

I loved seeing trees growing through the back of this old truck. (This stop was not a normal tourist destination.)

Monday, August 04, 2008

19 wonderful


Yes, today marks 19 wonderful years that Heather and I have shared together. Thick & thin, fun & not fun. God has been in it all. And we're very thankful.

I'm thankful to you, Heather.

Yesterday, we celebrated by hiking up in the hills, as a family. (It is still spring up there.) Rachel took the photo.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Crab Spice potato chips

crab spice laysI just had to pick these up at the supermarket while we were in Maryland. They were actually pretty tasty.

This is a good example of how a multi-national corporation can tailor their offerings to the local tastes.

How can you adapt what you do for a wider audience? (Or do you need to? If you do, think about ways to expand what you offer without taking away from that tasty crunchiness that brought people to you in the first place.)