Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement

1/31/09

Useful in Studios, Less So For Individual Designers - American Corporate Identity reviewed

American Corporate Identity

"American Corporate Identity" by David E. Carter is a handy overview of a broad range of corporate imaging. Full of 'groundbreaking designs'? Not really. Some ideas will be very new to readers, but much of it, though very creative in its context, will seem routine to followers of branding and marketing ideas. It lacks strategic context.

Well-organized, well-indexed, but ultimately, it is a reference book that a studio can keep on hand for those times when a client needs help thinking, or a job needs inspiration.

It is useful as a picture book, but can be improved had the creators provided insight about the effectiveness of the designs. What challenges did the clients place before the projects began, and how did the campaigns meet those challenges? Did they make money or achieve influence Were the campaigns within reasonable budgets? Otherwise, all the book becomes is fodder for the studio lunchroom.

Anthony Trendl
http://anthonytrendl.com

1/30/09

Robot, Anyone?

Des Moines, Iowa -- Dave's an out of work senior software engineer. Credentials like his are hard to find. Motorola, Rockwell and others fill his resume. He's been involved in things people actually use, like cell phones and the washing machines you see in laundry mats. Still, the market is tough. He is interviewing heavily, and keeping his eyes open for a good position.

Like any of us, he wants a better world. He's not an economist, though, but he is an engineer. He knows a few things very well, and high on his list of expertise is electronics.

Some men with technology in their back pocket spend it playing online games, wondering what happens to their time. Squandering his days is not an option, decided David Weichelt of Des Moines, Iowa. He is not the type that will wake up in his 60s and ask what he did with his life.

Some men lament the struggles of high unemployment rates, and dwell on what they can't do. Despair is not an option either. Action is. But why not have fun in the process?

So what is he doing? Building a robot. Watch the build in process. Keep up with his adventures involving a cat, a dog, and a boy named Jake.

Can he build it? Yes he can.

1/28/09

Amazing Grace by Scrum (video, Australian Power Folk)

Amazing Grace by Scrum (video)

Australian Power Folk. New concept of music to me, reminds me of some Irish thrash I heard at a festival few years ago. I love it. Take a listen. Then, imagine this at your church.

1/27/09

Renowned US novelist John Updike has died at the age of 76

Renowned US novelist John Updike has died at the age of 76.

Not much can be said.

RIP.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7854554.stm

Thankful in the Midst of Stress

Up late, not feeling well, I caught myself looking at a prayer request a friend sent, a reminder from another friend to read something from the Book of Acts, and the news regarding layoffs. Caterpillar and Sprint, among others announced major layoffs Monday. 75,000 people are losing their jobs, not counting my friends. Tonight, I learned of friends who are looking for work. One is a single mom, and another woman is an underemployed designer. Meanwhile, I met Brian, a newly graduated designer. He needs a job, his first one.

There is much I am thankful for, but today, the message surrounding me was work. It is good to have.

During the day, I thought about my previous four months at Wheaton Academy. My first performance review is coming up Friday and I was asked to complete a form asking me my impressions about my work. These things can be a minefield of dishonesty, but I will give my honest reaction. It caused me to think reflectively from a reality-based point of view.

I am thankful for my job. It is a job, but within it are important things: relationships, opportunities to serve, spiritual lessons, and, then, in the tasks I'm called to do, the ability to communicate to the outside world the strengths of a Christian high school. That I can sustain my family on this is a greater blessing.

We are eating, paying our rent, and surviving. We have a friend who lost her home in a fire. We are helping as we can. We are helping my dad get cable TV for the first time. This is possible because of my work.

Aliz works at a major retailer facing layoffs soon, and sometimes the media implies more dire concerns for her company. Neither she nor I know what is in front of us. I admit, I feel the stress of it all, but also know I'm not in control. I know who is.

1/22/09

We Are What We Read: Consuming Words?


That is not true, is it? We are what we eat, right? That's true too, but I'm a writer who reads a lot. I'm not a dietitian.

It is true. All of us choose to read some books, and, depending on our jobs, read other things to keep in the know. What do we choose?
Eclectic readers are rare. The truly broad-listed reader who has also strong convictions about what is truth seems hard to find.

I'm a runner. I read a lot of running books and magazines. I know about the sport from several angles even though I'm not especially fast. I'm a poet, and, like running, reading things relating to poetry. I'm hopefully going to help with a chess class at my church. I should do some reading on opening and endgames to refresh my mind.

I'm also a Christian, which, I'm realizing as I write this, I do not read enough about God. I do go in spurts, but lately, have not chased information about my faith. A little reading of Scripture here and there, but that's just playing around, not serious study.

One friend is a voracious political blog reader. I asked him the other day what else he reads. Nothing else. No wonder he is pessimistic. He knows well that no president can change the hearts of Mankind, so he knows that when the Barack Obama honeymoon is over, life returns to talks of war, oil prices and demonizing.

Another friend reads only fantasy. His real world relationships are weak, but he can tell you about the ten planets of Jujube and which is inhabited by the Ipsidoodles.

One friend, a particular religious one, reads only authors approved by his friends. There is no committee that censors his list; he is free to read whatever he likes. Still, he reads books that agree with his slant, and he is predisposed to agree. At first, he seems the broadest minded of all my friends, being extremely well-read, but his reading list repeats itself. Same books, same magazines, just with different titles and authors.

What does our reading list tell us? Our obsessions? What we are brave enough to read? Does the history buff ever read the comics? What if my blog reading friend picked up a collection of Victorian plays? What would happen?

I once read several dictionaries purposely. These were ones focused on unusual words. I read one dictionary backwards, just to see what would happen.

Are Bushaters only reading Bush-hate books? Did McCain fans read Obama-love books?

What is as telling is what is missing from our reading list. Does the conservative Christian subscribe to Sojourners? Does the liberal Christian read John Piper books?

Most of us who call ourselves eclectic readers are not all that eclectic, I think. It sounds good, but isn't true. A quick look at what we have read, and perhaps reviewed (for those of us foolishly compelled to discuss books by writing reviews), in the last 2-3 months can answer this.

Whatever excuses we have about why we read what we read, consider the next book carefully. Make it worth the time.

1/20/09

Strong Arguments on a Shaky Premise - Review - The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution

The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution

"The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution" by Denis Dutton concludes itself before it begins, and it does so masterfully. It tries too hard, and asks too much of the reader, all with more aplomb than solid premise.

Charles Darwin argued a species evolved to protect itself, to multiply itself in his theory of evolution. All instincts meet that function, one way or another; no instinct exists that does not meet that function except for anomalies that are bleed from the gene pool.

Art, says Dutton, is instinctual. I caught this in the rambling introduction, and on the back flap. The back flap owns great praise summed up by Steven Pinker, a psychologist (not an artist or biologist or geneticist) who is listed six times in the bibliography. That's far more than any other author (including Kant, Derrida and Aristotle). That's except for Dutton himself, who happens to list himself six times as well.

In other words, his introduction was a chapter in itself, but lacks the strength of a good structure.

He does not adequately show why beautiful birds', in their beauty, are form and not just function, and how, if that is true, humans are part of this. Instinct's goal is never art for art's sake, but pure function without form. The base animal mind is not asking for art, but for a way to gauge the worthiness of a mate.

He tries to define art, which he agrees is a dicey thing to pin down, loaded with bias, knowledge issues and "personal idiosyncrasies." He dodges around the cultural differences, while swooning toward tribal art with only the most vague critique.

Among his larger challenges are ones surrounding the Dadaist movement, and forgery. This begs back to his chapter, "What Is Art?" Not Dutton, nor I, can clear up whether Dadaism is art or just a philosophically statement. He rightfully cites "Fountain," the urinal signed by Marcel Duchamp in 1917 as a pinnacle of what the Dadaists offered.

Dutton sees art as including the visual, musical and literary arts, and tries to respond to all of them at once, integrated and interdependent. That might be more than his small book can handle, as the topic requires several times the volume to make the necessary points.

Readers, in turn, cannot appreciate the book without a vast range of knowledge in each area. Dutton includes notes, but misses the opportunity to quote more from, at least, the literary pieces. Pictures, too, are in order. I caught myself reading this with an online search engine and encyclopedia opened, and even then, am not convinced I understood all his allusions.

Art may have, in its past, some kind of instinctual use, but Denis Dutton does not prove it. "The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution," discusses making an argument for itself, but never really lands. As Dutton himself once asserted about another writer, his book "beats readers into submission and instructs them that they are in the presence of a great and deep mind."

I'm not so sure.

Anthony Trendl
http://anthonytrendl.com

October 17, 2011 - One Thousand Days of Barack Obama - Hope?

I didn't vote for Barack Obama. I am not among those who see today as great joy. I'm ambivalent, since no man is truly leading this country alone. We have checks and balances in America, and this will temper all decisions.

That a black man can be elected I am happy, but race has nothing to do with my view of him.

However, if he can improve the economy, great.

Personally, this is the best year economically our family has ever had, and getting better, but things can change. Layoffs happen.

The housing problem could result in great strides for us as I look for my first home. Still, the suffering of others is not what we want. If Obama can help them, fantastic.

The terrorism issue concerns me, so if Obama can keep America safe from bin Laden and others, great. I am less confident here, but he ran his campaign based on less information than he will see as president.

In general, I'm hopeful, but I am always hopeful. I see Obama like a Hail Mary Pass. He will either succeed wildly, or fail miserably. However, as many Americans see failure as status quo, he might be worth a chance.

Obama, like Bush, like Clinton, Like Reagan, will be judged partly on the actions of those he surrounds himself with, not great speeches. He knows this, and I think he will give a great speech today, and then be relatively quiet the next 100 days trying to be a man of action, not speeches.

In 100 days, he'll knock off the easy stuff that gains good press. The real work is in the next 1,000 days. My hope resides toward October 17, 2011.

The Sky Isn't Falling, Nor Is Your Messiah Delivering

If you are reading this, the sky has not fallen, nor has the Messiah arrived. At least, not in Washington DC.

As a conversative, you might be dismayed your dour prediction has not come true. Your guy did not win, but America has not dried up. As a liberal, you are a little disappointed that thrill up your leg is just a tease. The guy you voted for won, but there's more to being on the winning team than a single election.

I don't agree with a lot Barack Obama brings to the table. Besides being defiantly prochoice, very willing to allow mothers the legal ability to kill their babies, he doesn't get the nature of the war in Iraq. True, it could be managed better, but Obama is willing to let democracy fail to be properly installed there. Just the same, he will be better than Jimmy Carter was in the late 1970s.

Obama has a great opportunity to do great things. Every president does. In his case, he can help lead our nation to a better economy. How much can one president do in four years when our economy is part of a global economy? I hope a lot.

The sky will not fall under his watch. It cannot fall, at least not by his design.



Chicken Little [Blu-ray]

So far so good. Here's to America!

1/19/09

Pete Seeger Sings Amazing Grace

Pete Seeger, not famous as a man of faith, sings one of the most sacred of songs, Amazing Grace. With a banjo in hand, he tells vaguely the story, but misses the spritual broken heart noted by John Newton. What Newton wrote, as most know, was not a social activism song, but one about the grace of God. That he happened to have been a slave trader accentuates what he knows of grace, given the horror of what slavery is. Afterwards, Seeger sings a perky song.

Not the best rendition of Amazing Grace. Pete's 88 here (he is still at it even today), and the crowd is small and unresponsive compared to his concerts of the 1960-70s when he played before thousands, often with the Weavers. Still, he adapts and tries to meet the crowd where they are at.



Know slavery is still rampant, but on a black market level. Check out this book by my friend Dawn Herzog Jewell on what's going today.

Escaping the Devil's Bedroom: Sex Trafficking, Global Prostitution, and the Gospel's Transforming Power


Edgar Allan Poe - Happy 200th Birthday




Rest in peace, Edgar Allan Poe.

Happy 200th Birthday.

1/15/09

Running a Marathon: Follow My Adventure on Facebook


While I have a blog dedicated to running, I thought there may be readers who will find this interesting. If you are running your first marathon, join me in my struggle in my Facebook "My First Marathon" group, created just for the occasion. Join and tell me your story? Tips? Caution? Race suggestions?

I thought I'd track my general progress there, and invite others to do likewise. I'll still publish my running exploits here, but the Facebook group will focus entire on the marathon.

Why?
I decided to run my first marathon. Where? I don't know. When? Maybe this fall (2009), but the real goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2010, and race Boston in 2011.

Can I do it? It will be close. I need to run under 3:21 (for my age group, according to Boston Marathon qualifying standards), and as of yet, I only have raced 5Ks. My best is 21:35, and should be a minute faster to correlate with a 3:21. Many miles, races and blisters are in front of me.

1/14/09

Amazing Grace Sung by Odetta

Amazing Grace Sung by Odetta
Odetta sings at Philly folk fest in summer of '03.

Nice to know a song about God still gets sung at folk music fests.



more versions of Amazing Grace by many musicians

1/12/09

Fine Dining at White Castle

While others dwell on the mysteries of life, the tragedy of death, or what's with the new judge on American Idol, we dined until full at White Castle yesterday after church.

No one cares what I had for lunch today, but here you are, reading away. See some of the more thoughtful posts linked on the leftside bar.

In the meanwhile, as there are true troubles in this world not involving petty reports about my lunch, give generously, or get involved.

If good food is what you need, then I say try a Hungarian meal tonight. Make one yourself, or, if in Chicago, try our favorite Hungarian restaurant. If you go there, be sure to tell the owners (Tamas or Alina) I sent you. You won't be the first, and he'll be glad to hear the good news.

1/6/09

Plugging a Paperback for a Friend

Written in the same vein as John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Thy Kingdom delves into the reason for our need to change from what we are to what we are meant to be. It is by stripping away all the meaningless outer crust of our existence that we are left with the simple and the profound. When we finally arrive at both, that is when we can begin our journey to an eternity of our own choosing. But what type of common journey do we all travel? Read on and find out.

I Am Not a Millionaire

I am not a millionaire. We looked over my savings, budget, income, and the rest of my financials, and it is true.

Neither are you, probably.

I used to declare to my brother I would be a millionaire by the time I was 30. Didn't happen.

Do I wish I was? I don't care anymore. There are things I want, but money means nothing. Most of the things I want are not relevant to my health, so these can be easily ignored. I do not have the belief (defiantly) that God wants us rich. Maybe he wants us in a place to give, but giving that money to Best Buy for a huge TV isn't it. Giving to the hungry, the thirsty, those who cannot protect themselves beats a cool TV, doesn't it? I would rather see the smile of a well-fed person across the table than a starving person in high definition.

Give to World Relief to help refugees here and abroad. Give to places that help unwed moms, like the one near me. Give to homeless missions, like the Olive Branch Mission in Chicago. Or, if you are a milionaire, hire someone who needs a job.

1/1/09

Florida Homeschoolers: Books and Beyond: Literature Live Conference: Open Books, Engage Minds, Expand Horizons, Build Relationships

I'm uninvolved, but a friend is heading this up. She's an expert in homeschool learning and asked I give it a plug. So plugging away I go.

Winter Park, FL, January 24 -- NearHim Home Educators is sponsoring this energizing, one-day event. Jan Bloom, conference speaker, living books extraordinaire and co-owner of BooksBloom will be the morning keynote speaker presenting Cradle to Grade: Giving Your Child a Love of Books. The afternoon keynote speaker will be author, conference speaker and owner of Faithful Bookshop, Doreen Morgan. Doreen will present Great Expectations. Attendees will enjoy lunch and mid-day entertainment by FiddleDEEDEE. Vendors will include BooksBloom, Faithful Bookshop, and local authors.

In addition to the keynotes, attendees choose 4 workshops from the 19 offered, 2 of which will be presented by Kay Ness, respected, certified neurodevelopmentalist. Kay has successfully trained professionals and parents to teach and to remediate children with learning challenges. Many of the workshop presenters are conference speakers and authors. Several workshops are offered for dads. Choose from workshops packed with practical tips and helpful hints. Come, be energized and refreshed for 2009. For more information, including detailed descriptions of each workshop, lunch options and registration, please visit www.nearhim.com (click on Books and Beyond).

Early Registration Deadline: January 15

When
Saturday, January 24, 2009
8:30am - 4:00pm

Where
Killarney Baptist Church
701 Formosa Avenue
Winter Park, FL