Viewing entries in
Stream of Conscience


The Paradox of Choice

This post is probably just going to be a brain explosion, because explosion sounds cooler than brain dump... but first watch this: 

If you watched the video, good for you. If you didn't then you really ought to take the time to do so. It's 20 minutes that you'll never get back, but it's probably worth it. 

This Christmas my wife did the impossible and bought me a gift. I say impossible because I have everything I want (and can afford), and the other things I want we simply shouldn't' be purchasing because the money is better used elsewhere. So instead she gave me a number of Thursday night from the end of work to 9:00pm during which I cannot come home. Never mind she's likely shuffling kids from dinner to swim practice to bed all alone (and Thursdays are THE WORST days of the week) so this is pretty cool. During this time I get to do anything I want. Last week I spent time getting our budget figured out and started chapter one of the book we want to write. This week was nearly passing out at the gym and a trip to Starbucks to write this drivel and people watch. Kristi also gave me a cool Moleskine 18-month planner and mentioned to the kids that daddy has lots of thoughts and sometimes just needs time to think about them. Whoa... she's right but that was two weeks ago when I was still allowed to go home on Thursday nights. Now my thoughts have dried up because I feel the "pressure" of producing something with my time. Gym time and errands are important, but I now feel the need to produce something tangible, generous, or meaningful. No burden there. 

To be fair this pressure is all put on me by the man in the mirror, not at all by my wife. 

So here I sit at my local Starbucks (Howard wrote a good book) fighting with what to do with my time. In a sea of choices which one do I choose? Hey, I'll start my own business/side hustle/passive income that's easy right? Well... back to choices like: 

  • After school coding club or a club that focuses on the trades. I'm not a genius but if life is cyclical then I'm guessing we are at the cusp of moving from a knowledge work place to a skills work place in the next few years. I asked Kristi what I should do a few weeks ago and she hesitantly mentioned I should teach. Probably because she knew I didn't want to hear it... but I do well with the children. As another aside see David's Ted Talk and another good book.
  • My own IT company which sounds super cool, but I've done good work with my current company and I'd hate to throw that away. AND... the whole wife and four kids to support thing. 
  • Coaching sounds cool. I like listening to people, I like solving problems, but it seems like being a coach comes with a lot of responsibility. To be fair though I have many books on my shelves of rich particle board that deal with business and people management. So if I don't' know the answer, I can probably find a book that does. So can a library. 
  • Anything. Not because someone once said I could be anything I wanted if I just put my mind to it, but because short of working with animals I'm a curious guy. 

So there are a few ideas I'm struggling with. Which is really just a facade to suggest that perhaps (ha perhaps...) I struggle with self-confidence. I love having fun and joking, as long as I'm in control. People who have met me since marriage may know the progression. Basically it starts out quiet and shy and slowly progresses to more open and boisterous. 

This is all I have time for. I want to go home as it is 15 minutes before I'm allowed to walk in the door again. A brain explosion, meaning I'm 37 and don't know what I want to do with my life when I grow up. Ha. Thanks for reading. This is not a cry for help, nor an announcement that I'm quitting a job and starting something on my own. Just a few thought written down. 



Not a good post

Greetings from the Garden in Guangzhou. Remember that song "one of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong"? Yep that's us in this hotel. I'm sure Kristi or I will share more as the week goes on, but for now you just get pictures and snarky comments. What can I say? I'm tired and hopped up on generic brand Benadryl (Thanks Walmart).

Today was Yang Jin Hua's first flight and he pretty much nailed it. He was in awe of the free food and beverage service, and to show is appreciation Kristi and I each got to take him to the lavatory where we flew like good passengers and didn't light up our smokes. Smoking seems very popular in the country so we'd just be doing our best to fit in. 

Random thought: I'm a white guy living in Zeeland where I fit in quite nicely. On a few occasions I've been out solo in a city filled with Chinese. Outside of our hotel I'm not sure I saw a single white male (or for that matter a white male who also happened to be single. #englishishard). So here are a few pics to recap:  

Double fisting breakfast. In the orphanage, or even foster homes you never know when or how much the next meal will be. For now this behavior is most definitely a good thing. 

Captain Studious. 

There has to be a Seinfeld joke here somewhere. "No Fun For You" is the way too obvious choice. It's a park for goodness sake!

Assuming this is a spiral staircase there are 68 steps. If this is not a picture of a tall tower like staircase well then I'll fix it in post. 

We went to a restaurant that was supposed to have pictures for the foreign language impaired. I guess the logo counts as a picture... but it was the only one. 

Victory = eating dumplings, rice, noodles. I had a little bit of all of the above. 

He's one cool dude, being all casual at luggage pickup. 

Boy has his priorities straight. Naps ARE still important. 

McDonald's Fries for the win...

Followed by free ice cream for the double whammy. 

Followed by free ice cream for the double whammy. 

And that, my friends, is all I have for tonight. Tomorrow (Your Friday night) is medial checkup at 10:30 so instead of hitting the St. Patrick's day party why don't you stay home, raise a pint of Guinness (yuck) and pray for a safe examination. 


***Afterword - My wife just chastised me for calling this "Not a good post" she could care less about the quality but I suppose what she means is akin to a Doctor clicking his tongue in a tsk tsk fashion while you are on the exam table wearing nothing but a hospital gown and the smile the good Lord gave you. I can assure you the "Not Good" relates to only my writing and the other content in this post. 



What to do when you can't do what you do?

A few weeks ago I think I wrote a post that had many things you could do to show initiative or take risks today without permission. Along the same lines, and perhaps the exact same lines this post is going to address "What to do when you can't do what you do?"

Why waste time on such a pointless title? Well... I work at Egltech, Inc. and this is a bit of a delicate issue since we are supposed to have our stuff in order. The truth, however, is that we are only as strong as our weakest link and even though we have all kinds of great stuff, we are at the mercy of our cable internet provider. Sadly, our ISP has been letting us down. As someone who talks to people on the phone and remotely controls their computers (insert eery music) my team and I depend on a solid Internet connection which has been too sporadic recently to even get caught up on my Amazon Wish List much less consistently help people. 

At one point today someone (innocently) uttered the words "Can't do much without Internet". OHHHHHHHH Really. Remember the dark ages when there was just dial up? Remember when people used to write a letter, lick the envelope a few times (it tasted so good) and actually mail it with a sticky stamp. Or I don't know... going outside? 

So if you ever find yourself with out Internet, or without a machine that you need to produce your goods, or short of a cup of flour for that ever important wedding cake you are baking, here are a few ideas I have for what do do when you can't do what you do. (Although if you really are baking a cake call me. No bride should be without cake because you were short some flour, I'll spot you a cup)

  1. Take out the trash. Sure it isn't your job but if you ever want to be a hot shot in the office then you have to do the menial things like moving a week's worth of drink mix packets to the dumpster out back.
  2. If it is snowing out you could man up and shovel the drive or sidewalk in front of your business. Again, perhaps a menial task but people notice and if you are smart enough to play the long game it is well worth your time. 
  3. Read one of those, um... what are they... oh yeah, books! I have days worth of reading on my shelf at work. Some is work related, some is just to make me a better human being. I'm quite certain if you had training manuals or certification courses to rifle through your boss isn't going to mind using some unexpected down time to educate yourself. 
  4. Say Thank You. You have a cell phone right? The one you were just playing (insert hot game here) on? Do you still pay for calls by the minute? No? Great! Use your own phone (again the long game, don't ask for reimbursement) and call five clients to say thank you. To ask how they are going, or even to schedule a meeting in the future. I really wish I had thought of this earlier today when I was staring at the rack hoping my death gaze would bring the Internet back. 
  5. Say Thank You again! This is a super stretch, but maybe just maybe you could write a real tree killing paper thank you note to a client. Email is great, phones are great, but if you are like me there is still something special about getting mail addressed to you. If your office has gift cards for clients snag a few and drop on in the thank you note. Personalized mail with gift cards has to be a double or triple win. 
  6. If you are feeling super duper social, and your phones aren't dead, offer to sit in for the receptionist for a few minutes. Those great people do a thankless job and if you are not able to do yours for a while, let them NOT do theirs. Just don't make me use the fax machine, they are my kryptonite. Well, fax machines and grammar. 
  7. Clean your disgusting desk. Sure it isn't glamorous, but the rest of the staff is mentally begging you to do it. They are just too polite to say it out loud. 
  8. Hold an impromptu staff meeting. Set some goals for the next quarter, discuss headaches from the past week, play rock, paper, scissors. Or have a coke vs. pepsi vs. meijer cola (I won $25 this way once) taste test. Anything that builds the team or furthers the business. 
  9. Along the same lines, set some personal goals. Use the down time to really evaluate yourself and what you want to accomplish, or what you have accomplished. 
  10. Write a marketing plan. Does your office not have a marketing department? I bet they do and I know exactly where they are... go look in the restroom mirror and KAPOW! there they are. Now that you've met, work on telling the story of what you do. Simon Sinek says "people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it". SO TELL THEM WHY! Then order the book

So that's it for now. Just because you can't do what you do doesn't mean you are stuck. Don't be these people: 

I'm sharing this at the bottom so that I can feel honest while at the same time not advertising that I was, in fact, these people. Not today, but in the past I had a similar attitude and though I didn't take the brunt of it, the team was basically told GO SHOVEL THE SNOW. So the next time things were broken, I put my jacket on and started shoveling. Whew. Weight off the chest :) 



1:1 Presentation

I just whipped this up in about 45 minutes. To be honest it has been in my head for weeks, I finally had a clear enough path to write it down. What do you think?


1:1 Presentation


Good evening, thank you for being here to hear from Ron and the Master Plan committee, and thank you for the chance to talk to you a bit about technology and how that plays a part in the future of KCSA.


Before I talk about technology though, I wanted to talk a little bit about something that I feel is even more important, at least to me, than the technology. My kids.


My kids are nearly 1.5 and 3 and I’m totally uncertain of their future. Specifically, I’m unsure of what is going to happen to them after they survive “school”. Will there be jobs? College? Money for college? What will it look like? The class of 2026, What will their first job be?


I’m fairly certain that the questions about a job is going to be hard to answer. Who knows what jobs will be available, what they’ll look like. Factory? Work from home? Office? Where? Doing what? Reality is we cannot predict, and therefore we cannot ‘teach’ them in a way that guarantees a college degree and a job, because that is no longer a guarantee.


What I want for my kids, what I think will help them succeed in their world, whatever it is, is this:

-       I want them to attend a school that provides them with a sound academic foundation on which they can build, grow, and excel. I don’t want them hauling out their smartphone to calculate a tip… that’s done in your head.

-       But in that sound education, I want my kids to be challenged to do work that matters. Quizzes, tests, research papers may have their place, but they are meant for an audience of one. The teacher. I want my children to understand the importance of a vetted authoritative voice, while at the same time appreciating the feedback and critique of their peers. I want them writing and responding to each other online because working together is a life skill they will need.

-       Instead of learning that tools like Wikipedia are vault of mis-information, I want them to learn discernment, research principles, and instead of running from it I want them to edit Wikipedia because in a way they are giving back.

-       I want my kids to learn in a collaborative environment where, when appropriate, the lines between students and teachers are blurred and instead you see a classroom full of learners learning from one another.

-       I want my kids to know that it is ok to seek out problems and solve them. To not wait for the teacher to provide the “problem” but to seek it out, make it personal and to solve it and learn from it. They need to be in control of their own learning and that is a gift that they must never let go.

-       I want my students to learn how they learn best and to apply that to their personal life as well. To understand that listening to a sermon is good, but it is even more meaningful when you read the scripture again after, or before.

-       Finally, I want my kids to know who they are. To know where their strength comes from and how to use their gifts, talents abilities and a passionate desire to learn more to glorify Him.

That is what I want for my children. Actually, that’s what I want for your children too.


How do we get there?


It won’t be easy, but I believe it is the right thing to do. We cannot teach our children how to connect with the outside world, or with each other if we continue to educate them in 30x30 brick boxes. Yet, in most ways, that is the reality of school, and that is why I believe technology plays an important role.


Our mission is to equip our students with the knowledge skills and Biblical vision for the advancement of His kingdom. Technology is a part of that kingdom and it is important that we realize that and work to reclaim the ethical and responsible use of technology for His glory. This is a skill that we owe our students, and we cannot do it with the resources we have today.


We also owe it to our students to provide a rich and meaningful environment in which to learn with technology. To teach discernment, research skills, spreadsheets and databases without a meaningful context is not doing our students justice.


That is why I’m proposing that we start giving all 6th-12 grade students a laptop of their own. By implementing a 1:1 laptop program KCSA will be giving students access to the most powerful productivity tool available. A connection to each other.


Furthermore the technology can serve as a tool to help students take charge of their own learning. To provide them with the tools and meaning to further their learning on any given topic. It can also be used to give our students a voice beyond just their classroom or homes. It can be used to connect them to the world, to let them be salt and light to others all while having the wonderful gift of a caring Christian community to turn to if they find themselves struggling.


-       lets math or science student focus on the data and the meaning, not making sure the hand drawn graph they are making is perfect.

-       Allows a English student to seek out more poetry by a favorite poet, to connect with living authors.

-       Permits SS and History classes to keep up with current events. To use tools like Google Maps/Earth to simulate the travels of traders, armies, and expeditions.

-       Allows the collection of assignments, assessments, and curriculum online for easy access anywhere, any time. No more dog ate homework.

It can be used to give the quiet student a meaningful voice in the classroom, and as a means to allow students to do work that they can be proud of in their future. Straight A’s are great, but starting a website that is straight A quality that brings together people from all over sharing that same common interest is something that is more meaningful, more relevant, and totally impossible in our classrooms today.


How does it work?


-       When putting together the tuition for next year KCSA will include an additional $150 per 6th-12th grade student, and that fee will remain part of the tuition calculation through the life of the program.

-       Laptops would be bought in the summer of 2012 for distribution the week before school begins.

-       Laptops will be in service for four years once the full program is running. New laptops for 7th and 10th graders. 10th graders return to 5th grade, graduate laptop cycle down and begin a 5th grade 1:1 in school program. After 5th and 6th the laptops are resold.

-       Laptops go to and from school with each student

-       Insurance considerations would be made to provide coverage fro accidents and failures.

-       Staff would continue schedule PD and find additional training starting immediately.


Thank you for listening to my vision for what the school can provide for my kids, and for yours. Regardless of what we do, I ask that we remember that we are preparing kids for their future, not our past or present.