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Two things. One, I’d like to call your attention to a very enlightening post in Scientific American (Parental rejection of gay teens worsens health: Scientific American Blog) about the how parental rejection of gay teens can adversely affect their health (“eight times more likely to have attempted suicide than those whose families accepted them…. nearly six times as likely to report depression, three times as likely to use drugs and three times as likely to have unprotected sex.”) It’s a sobering reminder of just how important it is for our congregations to offer Our Whole Lives and provide a safe environment for youth who are dealing with questions about their sexual identity. Two, I’m trying out a new tool on WordPress that allows me to post a link to something interesting I’ve found on the web using a “Press This” bookmarklet on my Firefox tool bar. I like it better than some of the other options (using the “Quick Post” feature on my WordPress dashboard, or the “Daily Blog Posting” option on delicious). Now when I run across something that’s really worth sharing, I can both bookmark it on delicious and post a quick note about it here.
We’ve had the instructions for making a family chalice for over a year now. And we’ve even had all of the necessary materials on hand (flower pot, tissue paper, white glue, spray-on shellac). But it took being pretty much snowed in with sub-zero temperatures for us to get around to it. One of the things you do with a family chalice is paste words on it that are important to everyone in the family. When we asked Henry David what words he wanted, he said we should put in the name of our church. We go to Unity Unitarian in Saint Paul regularly, but we have gone to Faith Mennonite in Minneapolis, too. So we put in both “unity” and “faith.” A couple of the the other words are ones that Julia and I have prioritized as family values: “peace” and “joy.” And of course “family” and “love” round out the set. When it comes to being a Unitarian Universalist family, making a family chalice together is pretty high on the list of things to do!
One of the things to do when you’re serious about blogging is to read other blogs to see how it’s done. There was a time about a year and a half ago when I was reading about 15 to 20 blogs a day, and not just blogs written by Unitarian Universalists. I was reading a fair number of tech blogs as well as a sampling of some well-known Christian bloggers. Two of my favorites in the later group were Ben Arment (whose blog “History in the Making” can be found at www.benarment.com) and Andrew Jones (aka Tall Skinny Kiwi at tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com). Aside from their evangelical fervor (for both blogging and Jesus), I appreciated how each one kept their respective blogs fresh with a mixture of personal and professional information. Arment, a church planter, has some lovely posts about his family (like dancing in the living room with his young son, or spotting from the inside of a Starbucks his wife strolling along with their children). Jones is a globe-trotting apostle for the emerging church movement, and his posts are liberally illustrated with photos from his travels. So in spite of any theological differences I might have with these two, I thoroughly respect them as bloggers. And, of course, part of me wanted to emulate them.
However, this blog is really mostly about my work as the Lifespan Program Director of the Prairie Star District. In fact, there’s a link to it from the from home page of the PSD website (www.psduua.org). This means that even though it’s a personal blog (I started it on my own), I feel an obligation to blog primarily about my work as a program consultant co-employed with the Unitarian Universalist Association. But I still feel it’s important to have some personal information here, as well as a photo or two of the family (see my last post “Henry the Redhead Reindeer). So…a bit of a dilemma. Do I post more often with a lot of personal stuff mixed in with the professional? Or do I keep posting at the current rate of one or two a week and stick to the strictly professional? What’s a blogger to do?
Well, I think I’ve found a solution. Enter the microblogging service Twitter. In case you haven’t heard about it, what Twitter does is allow you to send out 140 character posts (know as “tweets”) to whoever happens to care about what it is you’re doing. I’ve avoided the service until now because it seemed like a colossal waste of time. But then I realize that I could use my WordPress RSS feed widget to post tweets on my blog. Which is exactly what I did. So if you scroll down below my Flickr badge, you’ll see this:
That’s my “Tweets” feed, which I plan to use primarily for keeping you up to date with where I am and what I’m doing. Not that anyone really cares too much. But I do enjoy sending little updates when I’m traveling (like “Just checked into the Microtel in Ames, IA.” or “Having lunch with Sherry Warren, Prairie Star’s youth and young adult specialist.”), and while this information may not be inportant enough for a full post on Phil’s Little Blog on the Prairie, it might be of interest as an ongoing log of what I’m doing for work. And there’s the personal element, too. I twittered yesterday about eating lutefisk at Pearson’s in Edina, MN. Apparently that is news because my colleague, PSD District Exec Nancy Heege, posted something about it on her blog Nancy’s Views of the Landscape. So I think Twitter will give me the opportunity to add a little bit more of the personal as well as some posts about my travels. That, along with the Flickr badge, will allow me to update more often and add more photos without a full-fledged blog post. Who cares? Who knows. At least it gives me something to do when I’m on the road!
P.S. If you are interested in following my tweets directly from Twitter, you can find me at twitter.com/psdlund. Oh, and I’ve found that I can use Twitter to update the status on my Facebook page as well. Neat, huh? Finally, if you really want the full scoop on Pearson’s and lutefisk, check out this article from the New York Times: Forget Eggnog; Bring the Lye-Cured Cod.
Okay, so I’m testing a few new things out on my blog. This particular test has to do with photos. I haven’t posted any in a while because: 1. I selected a nonfunctional program to “Always Use This Program for Downloading Photos” on my computer–so whenever I plug my camera in, I have to go through a bunch of steps to download even a single photo. And 2. I haven’t been taking a lot of pictures lately because it’s such a hassle to download them (see 1). However, I’ve installed an Eye-fi card in my Canon which downloads photos wirelessly and automatically posts them on my Flickr account. Now this particular photo of Henry David wasn’t downloaded via Eye-fi. I’m putting it up as a test for another reason. See, in the past when I’ve blogged directly from my Flickr account, the photos have been categorized as “Uncategorized” by default. But I just figured out how to change my default setting to “Photoblog,” which is what I consider these Flickr posts to be. So hopefully I’ll have more photos to share from my travels around Prairie Star. In the meantime, enjoy this one of Henry David that I took last week when we were in Vancouver. Oh, and those other things I’m testing? More on that later. (By the way, this is a re-post. I didn’t like the original layout, so I change it.)
For the past few days I’ve been in Vancouver, British Columbia with the family. We’re visiting my wife’s sister and her family, something we like to do around the holidays. I have to confess that we didn’t make it to church this morning (it snowed here last night, so Julia and her sister, Christine, decided to take the children, Henry and Lyra, out for some sledding while the sledding was good!). For my part, I stayed at home to work on a new presentation called “Congregational Designations: Options for the Future.” I’m still using the same free service called SlideShare, but this time I’ve added an audio track, creating something the SlideShare folks call a “slidecast.” I’ve embedded it below in case you want to check out the content (how we designate the small, unaffiliated groups meeting within Prairie Star), or the technology (it involves uploading a slide presentation to SlideShare, uploading an audio track elsewhere, then syncing the two). Just press the green button and enjoy. The audio is a little low, by the way, so you may need to use headphones. Let me know what you think!