Tuesday, December 18, 2012

100 Words, 4 Word Clouds, One Robot Life

I love writing.

I love writing music, lyrics, articles, and I've absolutely loved writing these blog entries. I wanted to look back to summarize my 3 years of blogging and thought that instead of telling you what what the blog has meant to me, let's look at what the words tell us directly.

Here, with no editing, is what justarobot.com had to say:
To see the word clouds in full, click the thumbnail.
Note: For the geeks, I exported my entire blog...every word of every post and comment...and added the content to wordle.net where I created word clouds. These clouds count up how many times I use a word (not counting common words like 'is'), and the larger the word, the more frequently I used it. Finally, the words are visualized.

To me, it said:
  • Life has hard moments, but pales to the love I've found
  • I have great family
  • There's always a next song
  • Always looking for the next experience
  • My wife comes before guitars (and it looks like I love and need both) :-)
  • My wife makes adventure good
  • I hope for good adventure...even at home
  • Music is central to what Greg thinks about
  • Best moments are when God is first in my day
  • I worry about the time I spend at work
  • New songs are awesome and keep me happy

If I look at it differently, I get a different view:

This time I see:
  • I love being on stage
  • God is why I started first playing music
  • I need family to be happy - including my church family
  • Guitar is much fun!
  • I have an amazing life
  • I get to grow old with my wife
  • I sometimes feel old
  • One great song is my dream
  • Playing a concert is like living in another world
  • I found adventure throughout my years

Next, if I filter to show only the top 100 words I used:

I see:
  • First go to a concert, play guitar
  • I love time at home
  • I need adventure, and every adventure should always involve my wife
  • Music makes me see happy
  • I've got One.Great.Life filled with Song.Love.Music.

This last view tells me...
  • These years have been quite amazing
  • I think I've got it really good
  • I want music in my day
  • I love my wife
  • My kids are awesome
  • Love makes great adventures...and great songs
  • Remember to play and feel happy
  • To feel happy play something on my guitar
  • Jesus, life, christmas...all gifts
  • Now is the time for even one concert to hear a little guitar

I think that sums it up well.

I look forward to see what the next 100 blog posts bring.

What phrases popped out at you as you saw these word clouds?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Don't Look Up...You Might Miss It

Yesterday I was in Florida demoing for an event. 

Today I drove home from a gymnastics event.

...at least that's what it seemed. These events were exactly one month apart: 11/02 and 12/02.

What's going on?

I've said for years that life is going fast, but I really have no idea what to do about how fast this last month went.

Am I just not remembering?

Should I be more "in the moment"?

Should I, as Ferris Bueller says, "Stop and take a look around, or I might miss it"?

Am I trying to pack too much in?

Am I planning for the future too much?

Or, I wonder, am I doing it right...and it just goes so fast because I'm immersed in something I love...like when I'm writing a song and I look up after 20 minutes only to find 3 hours have passed?

When I looked back over the month, I looked at the things that matter and noticed:
  • I played a lot of music at church. I've said it before, but I'm certain my path in life was paved so I would end up in Rochester serving at Crosswinds with my wife. I also started working on a CD I'm releasing of music I wrote a while ago but have had constant requests for...Maybe I can even write some new songs that go along with all the instrumental music.
  • I engaged my oldest - exchanging great conversation, hard to dole out discipline, gaming excitement, and sharing the stage with him performing worship songs. He's like a rocket taking off and while I tend to wish everything would go straight and I wouldn't have to trouble-shoot or help adjust his trajectory, I wonder if that's why we're so close...and maybe this deep immersion in his life and behaviors is exactly what he needs...and wants.
  • I dedicated time with my youngest wrestling for fun, wrestling through homework and reading, watching old Battlestar Galactica, and listening while he told me how he made a home-made basketball hoop out of his box of "Stuff Jaxon makes cool stuff out of" (yes, we have a big bin filled with cardboard, plastic, containers, stuff that we think he could be creative with). I know he savors my attention...and my deep focus on the details he cares about means the world to him.
  • I taught my girls science, did lab experiments, drove my girls most every morning to gymnastics training. They love it and I'm seeing some really great results...not just in their scores (although those are great), but in life-long lessons on how to overcome challenges. Regardless of what they do in their gymnastics from now on, both of them struggled, dedicated time and tons of sweat and effort to work towards their goal, and achieved that goal. I am so grateful I was a witness to that.
  • I spent time loving my wife. We sang together, we put up outside christmas lights, we watch some great TV shows, we had some amazing meals together (she may not think so since she cooked them, but it's my favorite place to eat on this earth), and we communicated. It seems the more I immerse myself into her details, the closer and more intimate we become.

Was this month perfect? Not at all. I did some dumb things and wasted some opportunities.

Did I have any regrets? Yep...when I lost my temper and said something that made one in my family sad. But I talked about my mistakes to my youngest/oldest/girls/wife, I think we're stronger afterwards because we shared those details.


I know what Ferris said, but maybe in my life it's different...maybe the joy I have in my life is found in the details...the individual conversations, the one single hand I hold, the one guitar note, the singular glance at my wife that says our 'front-line' position in life is something we wouldn't change a bit...

...maybe in my case it is all about the details...maybe for me the secret is really:

"Don't look up...you just might miss it"

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Official Rules for the "Real-Life Facebook Party"

So we're sitting in the green room in the back of our church auditorium between our opening worship set and our closing song, when we got into our weekly "deep talks". 

You know, the talks you have with fellow servants...about topics that can only surface after years of trust has been built...

Like how it would be REALLY COOL to have a real-life Facebook party!

No phones, no tablets or devices, only people, pens, and lots of sticky-backed paper.

After a short but intense brainstorming session, we carved out the basic tenants, and after updating the rules as much as I could, I think we've uncovered yet another universal truth that only the Church (or at least a worship band stuck in a little green room too long) can uncover. Here I give you the...

Official Rules for the Real-Life Facebook Party

When you arrive, walk through the door and put a green dot in the center of your shirt. This will let your 'friends' know you are available to talk. Of course during the evening if you get tired, fed-up, or you just want to harvest some carrots from the 5'x5' real organic corner garden without interruption, switch the green dot with a grey dot...this will inform your friends you are 'not available to chat'.

You will be given a stack of purple dots that say "Like". At any time, stick those purple dots onto people, pets, CDs, pictures, ...anything that gives you a smile.

Note: these dots firmly adhere onto what you 'like' thanks to the latest in adhesive technologies. If you decide to 'unlike' that thing, quickly rip the purple dot from that item and listen/watch as that item screams at the lost arm-hair. User research has found that this method of 'unliking' is very satisfying.

Your clothes are your wall. Your friends clothes are their wall. During your social conversations, if you want others to know what you are thinking, or have a funny quote simply use the provided post-it notes and a pen, write it down, and post it to their shirt (wall).

You have previously printed out a variety of photos from your week, past, vacation, etc. Carry multiple copies around and number them. These can be added to your shirt/wall or posted onto your friends wall.

If your friends like a post or photo on your wall, they can copy it (with your name on it of course), and add it to their wall. If others see it on your friends wall, they can copy it and share it...and so on.

Note: At the end of the night, the person with the highest shared content will win a prize

As you walk around and converse, you may use your voice, but you MUST use 3rd person to talk about yourself (an homage to the old days of Facebook where all status updates started with "Greg is..."). For example, you walk up to the bar:

"Greg is thirsty!", with a host response, 

"There are over 30 micro-brews that Greg might enjoy", followed with, 

"Greg enjoys Trois Pistoles", finishing with, 

"Greg loves this party!"

Or, you walk up to a girl you like:

"Greg thinks you're pretty cute but is not sure how to ask you to dance", followed by, 

"Karyn married you 19 years ago dear, you had me at 'Greg'", finishing with, 

"Greg loves Karyn"

While this may seem very odd at other parties, it will add authentic realism to a Facebook party.

You will be given a stack of "Request" badges with your name on them (drink coasters). If you see someone you do not know, you can request their friendship by giving them a request badge, and only if they return it to you can you strike up a conversation. Of course you are free to read their shirt/wall, but they may have privacy settings which will make them turn away from you.

They can return it to you at once or later once they get around to it. Or, you may find your request badge underneath their empty drink glass and then you will know you never really had a chance at being their friend.

Note: If you are reading the wall of a female, watch where you read...unlike the digital Facebook, this real-life Facebook comes with real-life cheek-slaps meant to course-correct those wandering eyes.

For fancy Facebook parties, hired wait staff can also double as 'Facebook Groups'. You can tag the wait staff with a label they wear on their hat such as, "PRS Guitars", or "Sushi Lovers", and anyone who wants to join the group drops a request badge onto their tray. Any time a member of the group posts to the group wall (their tuxedo vest), the wait staff must shout it out loud so all members of the group can hear.

In the corner is a small stage with a microphone. This is called the "Sponsor a Post" stage. With proper payment, you may stand on the stage and say most anything you like and all in attendance really have no option but to hear it.

Note: Proper payment depends on those in attendance. It may be a case of beer, a box of Pokemon cards, or my favorite, G strings (for my guitar of course...what were you thinking?!?)


Well, I think we've got a hit on our hands. A Real-Life Facebook Party. What do you think?

What would you add? Respond and I'll add to it and give the proper credit :-)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

What I Hear Between The Drums

Take a listen to this awesomeness...this is a great example of the Mayo High School drum line where my son plays Bass Drum 1 (smallest bass drum)

While others may hear cool drum riffs, here's what I hear:

A sophomore who has found his place

A captain whose passion for excellence permeates throughout her team, and who is more satisfied showing off her team rather than her self

A group who accepts each other even though they're different

A group of unique individuals who learn to use their differences to have a unified, amazing impact on those who are willing to hear

A father who is grateful for music...how it can rescue a teen

A son who learns discipline + effort = reward

A team who teaches that hard work and practice pay off

A group who thinks it's cool to dedicate themselves to something that's not easy and requires focus

A group that IS cool because of the awesome drum rhythms they pull off together

A group who smiles at excellence...not to gloat, but because it's just so dang fun

Thank you, Mayo High School Drum Line...for inviting my son into a tight-knit group where old-fashioned hard work, practice, excellence, and acceptance are encouraged.

I am forever grateful.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Day After

Saturday was a crazy-long day. Gymnastics meet, driving, laughter, long waits, bleachers, heart-palpitating events, gasps watching others fall from high bars, and cheers for great results from our girls.

Sunday, the day after, was a recovery day

...a day at a slow pace

...a day filled with contentment, rest, reading, fall weather, and watching my gymnasts have fun outside...just laughing and playing. 

Let me show you...

First, the day...A PERFECT FALL DAY!

Then, my sunset chairs, (or in this case, fall color chairs), complete with book, drink, and sounds of my girls laughing in the distance...

From every angle, including UP, the world was beautiful from the sunset chairs

Then I watched my girls engage in fall fun...

First, find kitty...

Second, place kitty in leaf pile (with "don't you like it?" being overheard)

Third, follow kitty into leaf pile

Fourth, mimic kitty in burrowing under leaf pile, and emerge fully covered

Finally, add a kitchen and guest room to their fort

What a joy to see them play. Not train, not compete, not focus on perfect kips, jumps, routines...

...just play. 

And you know what? I followed their example...it really was a fantastic day

...to just play.

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