Apple does it again. A flurry of announcements with some really cool digital devices. The Mac Mini is relatively inexpensive at $629. It is a 2-inch tall, 6.5-inch square anodized aluminum enclosure. Mac mini houses a 1.25 or 1.42GHz G4 processor, 40 or 80GB hard drive, a CD-R/DVD-ROM optical drive, 256MB DDR SDRAM and ATI Radeon 9200 graphics chip with 32MB dedicated DDR SDRAM.
I continue to be quite impressed with Jordon Cooper. I highly recommend his blog. He seems to be involved in many different online activities as well as active in ministry. Thoughtful and informative and I always seem to discover something new and interesting from his posts.
Time to change cars and I made the decision last night to get a BMW 5 series sedan. The car should be ready this coming Friday or next Monday. Quite a machine. I’ve also started to grow a beard. And, my 48th birthday is just around the corner.
Can anyone say mid-life crisis?
I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done over the Christmas break. Since then I have come across a few interesting posts on how to manage Outlook as well as how to be more focused on getting through the many tasks of each day.
Email is a blessing and a curse. I enjoy the ability to readily communicate with a wide range of people yet the sheer volume of messages can be overwhelming at times. Between my various email sources at work, at home, via RIM, via blog and websites, I usually process 200 – 300 email messages a day.
Jeff Sandquist has some great posts on how he approaches managing his inbox here and here. I had already downloaded the Outlook add-on from David Allen’s site but I had not taken advantage of the category feature of Outlook. As part of my New Year’s resolutions I had decided to be better organized with my inboxes. Jeff’s material offers a great start. I also enjoyed this link from Jeff’s post.
I also committed myself to learning more about postmodernism and the emerging church. This site had a fascinating collection of resources, links and recommended readings.
There are those that believe that the emergence of the postmodern era (1960 onward) will impact the world and the church in a profound way. The church is heading to a second reformation. I do hope the church in North America does head somewhere. As far as I can tell the church is at risk of heading nowhere.
Occasionally, I have to deliver bad news. And I suffer. I find such conversations very difficult.
Our recording studio gets very busy and I have limited time to respond to all of the requests that we receive to work with artists. Needless to say, we have to be very selective with new artists as the amount of time and effort must be well spent.
Sometimes we have to say no to someone during the discovery process of preproduction. I hate doing that as it usually means a disconnect in communication. This happened over the week-end.
We work with artists. Artists that are active and committed with a track record in performance. We will sometimes take on development work with unproven artists that have significant potential. However, we never take on spec work for songwriters.
So the situation I found myself in on Saturday was talking to a songwriter who wanted to produce a commercial quality project to sell songs. It took me almost 4 hours to communicate a few key points:
- We work with active artists not songwriters so I could not move forward with this project
- Songwriters do not need commercial quality productions to sell their songs to the market
- The market for such material is highly competitive and the ability to earn income from such activities is very limited
- Clear and realistic objectives should be thought out before starting any major recording project
I also had to have a discussion with the songwriter on talent and vocal ability. Musicians generally have a bit of a blind eye to the quality and potential of their own talent.
A difficult discussion. I did try to help as much as I could under the circumstances. I have a friend who is an active songwriter and he has pitched songs to artists like Reba McEntire. He will be a good contact for this songwriter to learn more about the market and how to approach it.
We had troubles with US Airways when we flew down to Tampa from Toronto three weeks ago. We had a connecting flight in Philadelphia which we missed due to a two-hour delay in departure from Toronto. We had to stay overnight in Philadelphia in a shoddy and dirty airport hotel. We resumed our flight the following morning and everyone and their luggage all arrived safely.
Although inconvenient, the trip down was not overly stressful.
The return leg was a comedy of errors. If you can think about all of the things that can go wrong on a flight then you have some sense of what we went through. Delayed flights. Cancelled flights. Lost baggage. Incomplete bookings. Terrible customer service. Disorganized processes. Misleading information.
Not the best way to end a vacation.
I also suspect that the winter storm we are experiencing today is due, in part, to my blog. I had been boasting of the sun and warmth in Florida during our vacation. I now get to face the harsh realities of living in Canada during the winter months. Boy it gets cold and the snow… where are my snowshoes anyway?
As for US Airways I can only relay what the Air Canada customer service representative in baggage told me: “…if you fly US Airways you will lose baggage. It happens all the time…”
Despite the travel hassles we had a wonderful time away. Here is a picture from Walt Disney World. I took over 1,000 pictures with my digital camera on this vacation. I promise you that I will not post them all here on my blog. Back to the audio portion of this blog next time.
We had another great day at Walt Disney World yesterday. The weather has been perfect: high 70s, mainly sunny. The crowds were pretty busy and by noon we decided to take a break. We returned to the resort and challenged the Seven Seas Lagoon with a flotilla of water sprites. Water sprites are small but pretty lethal powerboats. We had a riot. We then returned to Disney Marketplace to get some souvenirs and gifts. I stopped by the Guitar Gallery to see if the custom Fender Strat was still available. And it was. I took a picture of the price tag so that you can see that it is possible to spend $20,000 USD on a Strat. By comparison, a well equipped American Strat goes for about $1,000 USD.
Our flight heads out from Tampa International Airport tomorrow morning at 9:30am. We need to check-in by 8:00am. The travel time to Tampa is about 1 hour and 10 minutes. We will need to leave the resort tomorrow morning by 6:00am to allow for any potential traffic issues.
We did have a chance to see the Tomorrowland Band at Magic Kingdom. This is a stage band that entertains the crowds out in the park. I was curious to see what kind of sound system they were using. The keyboard player and the bass player used 2 x 10 + tweeter cabinets. The bassist was wireless. The drummer played without mics. The horn section swapped mics for the featured soloist. The sound system consisted of a small Mackie mixer, a small set of JBL speakers and a few Shure LX wireless boxes. All in all, a compact and effective system. The band was snapping.
Great players. Cheap sound system. Go figure. The sound was terrific. Maybe the most important ingredient in live sound is the talent?
For the past 15 years I have taken some time over Christmas to reflect on the achievements of the past year and to think about goals and objectives for the new year. I was motivated to take this approach after I had read Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I developed a mission statement which highlighted vision, mission and values. You can learn more about this process at Franklin Covey’s website. The site includes some helpful articles as well as a mission builder wizard. You can also order the 15th anniversary edition of the 7 habits book.
Each year, I create a set of objectives that fall into the following categories:
- Faith: spiritual growth and ministry
- Family: developing and caring for my family
- Physical: maintaining physical health and well-being
- Financial: managing my financial resources and planning for the future
- Professional: managing my professional career
- Personal Development: intellectual development
What makes the process a bit more interesting is that I assess my achievements against the objectives that I set for the year. A performance review against my life. I find that this process helps me to think about the important things in life: how to serve family, friends and those whose lives I touch.
Here is a summary of Covey’s 7 habits. The book, although a bit dated now, is still a great read.
Habit 1: Be Proactive
Change starts from within, and highly effective people make the decision to improve their lives through the things that they can influence rather than by simply reacting to external forces.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Develop a principle-centered personal mission statement. Extend the mission statement into long-term goals based on personal principles.
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Spend time doing what fits into your personal mission, observing the proper balance between production and building production capacity. Identify the key roles that you take on in life, and make time for each of them.
Habit 4: Think Win/Win
Seek agreements and relationships that are mutually beneficial. In cases where a “win/win” deal cannot be achieved, accept the fact that agreeing to make “no deal” may be the best alternative. In developing an organizational culture, be sure to reward win/win behavior among employees and avoid inadvertantly rewarding win/lose behavior.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
First seek to understand the other person, and only then try to be understood. Stephen Covey presents this habit as the most important principle of interpersonal relations. Effective listening is not simply echoing what the other person has said through the lens of one’s own experience. Rather, it is putting oneself in the perspective of the other person, listening empathically for both feeling and meaning.
Habit 6: Synergize
Through trustful communication, find ways to leverage individual differences to create a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. Through mutual trust and understanding, one often can solve conflicts and find a better solution than would have been obtained through either person’s own solution.
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Take time out from production to build production capacity through personal renewal of the physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual dimensions. Maintain a balance among these dimensions.