Monday, February 27, 2006


I didn't get to see too much of the Olympics this year. I enjoyed what I saw (for the most part) and watched with great interest the men's biathlon 12.5 km pursuit. What a cool concept! Cross-country ski for a couple kilometers, then with your heart pounding at 180 bpm+, shoot at five small targets. For every target you miss, you have to take a penalty lap! The lead changed quite a bit because of that!

Overall, the TV ratings for the Olympics were down this year. I was stunned to find this article in a USA Today last weekend with suggestions for how to improve the ratings. I still can't decide if it's satire or if it's honest. Here are parts of it with my comments included:

To many Americans — particularly younger people — the Olympics aren't relevant. Put simply, they aren't cool. "I hear no buzz about the Olympics any more," says Irma Zandl, a trends forecaster. "The Olympics has lost its soul."

Alright. What is THAT about? The Olympics has lost it's soul? Have the Olympics changed that much over the years? Are there not gold, silver, and bronze medals awarded for each event? What has changed here? The Olympics or the surrounding culture?

Fixing the Games' image won't be easy. Or cheap. Or without risk. But it can be done, say sports marketing gurus, image experts and event planners contacted by USA TODAY to brainstorm 10 ways to revive Olympic "cool."

Because "cool" is what it's all about.

1. Put more 'reality' in Olympic TV.

In a world of risqué reality TV shows, people crave nitty-gritty details and down-and-dirty competition.

"They should have athlete confessional rooms" where Olympians privately vent their innermost thoughts to the camera, says David Adler, founder of BiZbash Media, which produces an events trade website and magazine.

Yes, and we know from past "reality" TV programs that everything we the viewer sees is real. What is the deal? This is about the games, right? The conflict is on the ice/snow. Do we need to create artificial conflict so that somehow the athletic competition becomes more interesting, or we're somehow more attuned to the event?

Yet another way to offer more reality TV would be to reinvent the Olympic Village. With its global appeal and throngs of young, hormonally charged athletes, the Olympic Village is ripe for an uber-cool transformation — and maybe a few gimmicks.

Yes--intramural sports meets Mardi Gras. And stop using the word "Über" without the umlaut!

2. Let viewers have a say.

Viewer voting on televised competitions such as American Idol has given rise to new phenomena: official judges might get the last word, but they're no longer the only voice.

This is briliant. Allow the public to have a say in sports they can't even spell, let alone know the rules. The voting would be based on nothing more than superficial qulities of the athletes.

3. Tap more tech.

Rather than banking on the younger set watching TV, Olympic organizers need to move faster in distributing content through other media. Think more podcasting, streaming video, text messaging, even ring tones that have Olympians saying cool phrases...while this might cut prime-time viewing, he says NBC could make up lost revenue with the right fee structure. It could sell an Olympic package for "a couple hundred dollars" or sell viewing rights for individual events, sports or athletes.

You've got to be kidding. People aren't watching the Olympics now when it's brought to them for FREE, so this guy now thinks it would be a great idea to sell subscriptions just because it can appear on alternate media?

4. Spotlight big rivalries.

Any sporting event without rivalry is boring — especially the Olympic Games, says Michael Lynch, senior vice president of marketing for Olympic sponsor Visa USA.

"We could do a much better job building up the rivalries," he says.

Yeah, since the demise of the Sovient Union, the US has lost a real "bad guy" to go after. Who's left? China? Canada?

5. Decide more medals head-to-head.

Gold, silver and bronze medals in timed events could be decided by a single race pitting the three finalists with the best times, says Lynch. "The less done by the clock the better."

Wow--so now the arbiter of the highest standard is completely removed from the equasion. Can you imagine three or four people on the the same time?

6. Offer more and hipper music, less and hipper talk

Olympic events need to move to the beat of diverse genres of current music, suggests Carol Moog, a consumer psychologist and blues harmonica player. "It should look more like a music video," she says.

For events such as snowboarding, she says, lose the TV commentary altogether in favor of a Gen Y-favored music mix.

When commentary is called for, NBC should find more young, hip voices, says Katie Paine of KDPaine & Partners, which consults on business reputations. No self-respecting teen wants someone like their father describing snowboarding, she says. "Instead of someone translating snowboard-ese into English, you need someone who actually speaks snowboard-ese."

This is a great point. As long as we're doing it to sport, let's go ahead and reduce music, language, and commentary to the lowest common denominator--so the kids can understand it.

7. Go back to the 4-year wait.

Sponsor pressure nudged organizers to reschedule the Olympic Games from every four years to separating the Winter Games and Summer Games two years apart beginning in 1994 with the Lillehammer Winter Games. "It's created Olympic fatigue," says management consultant Pam Murtaugh. "It was a pinnacle experience that has been diluted by its frequency."

Dude--whether the summer and winter games are combined or not, the wait IS STILL FOUR YEARS! So "Olympic Fatigue" would be reduced if we had both portions in the same year as opposed to one portion seperated out by two years?

8. Be less predictable.

"Unpredictability and surprises really can work to your advantage," says Don Mischer, producer of the Atlanta and Salt Lake City Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the 2006 Super Bowl half-time show. For the Atlanta Games, Mischer and a handful of people kept the last torch carrier a secret — and awed the crowd when Muhammad Ali came out.

I'm sorry--I think surprisingly few people watch the Olympics for the opening and closing ceremonies. The Olympics, after all are about the games, not the fireworks. And what's the deal with Avril Lavigne?

9. Be more extreme.

Olympic organizers could rip a page from ESPN's extremely lucrative X Games — adding a slate of grittier, heart-pumping events. For the Winter Olympics, organizers should consider adding a snowboarding competition that includes a terrain park with jumps and sliding rails, says Ron Semiao, creator of ESPN's X Games. For the Summer Olympics, he suggests adding skateboarding, bicycle motocross and motorized sports.

I can't put my finger on it, but something seems very diluted and impure about that suggestion. Maybe the motorized portion. The "snowmobiling" race? Could happen.

10. Rethink the Olympic mission.

"Is it about athletic competition at the highest level, or is it about generating revenue?" asks David Carter of Sports Business Group, a consulting firm. Like other big-time sports, the Olympics has become "addicted to the corporate dollar," he says. As a result, more critical decisions are being made by the network and sponsors, not athletes or organizers.

That this is even a question amazes me. This is continuing evidence of how big money has infiltrated all of sports--especially in the US. The ability of the team, the individual contributing unselfishly to the whole, the players/athletes team play is secondary to the money the teams make, the TV revenue generated, the big contracts the players get, etc., etc.

One more thought that may be an unfair generalization of age group who was primarily represented in the Olympics. Could it be that "the kids these days" don't have as much interest in the games because they can't relate to the hard work and dedication it took for these Olympians to achieve all that they have? Could it be that a kid's ability to do virtual snowboarding with cooler tricks that defy virtual reality leaves him uninterested in the true nature of the sport?

Could it be that a large part of overall disinterest in these games by most Americans is that we really don't know anything about the games? What are the rules? What is good form? How are they judged? How is a winner decided?

What about the time zone issue? Are we so used to seeing "instant" results, "live" as it happens that the tape delay just makes it seem less real to us?

I can't wait for the next round of Olympics.


For all you Mac OS 10.4 users, there's a nifty little widget from Google that lets you add an entry to your blog without ever logging in to the web site. I used it for the previous post. It is built specifically for blogger, so I guess I'm talking to Derrak, Emily, Dave....who else?

A great thought

A great line from Dr. Swenson's seminar this morning:

"Jesus didn't try to heal every leper in the world during his earthly ministry."

A good thought as it relates to quantifying your work and ministry.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Another dumb online quiz

I am a d6

Take the quiz at

CCM perspectives

Matt Brown, you've done it to me again. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I'm going to re-post what I wrote as a comment on Matt's blog, however incoherent it may be and let the games begin.

This started with a commentary written here, by a guy who I don't think I know, but appears to be from our old stomping grounds. Read his thing first. Here's my commentary:

Yeah--in an effort to be profound, this guy hasn't thought things through all the way. Is Zondervan publishing based on a malicious platform because they publish "christian" material _and_ make money? What about Christian travel agencies that book tours of the holy land?

The problems start with this statement--and I'll comment as we go:

Certain concepts are intrinsic to the operation of the CCM industry, namely that Christian music is a ministry,

Yeah--let's make sure that's dispelled. Companies do exist to make money. Christian radio stations sell advertising, for example. Slapping a "christian" label on something does not preclude its ability to compete with a business model that allows it to survive.

and Christian musicians are ministers (in the church leadership sense)

No. Some, maybe, but the real smart ones--I mean the ones who desire to minister in the church-- avoid being signed all together. Once signed, the label can take much more control about where the artist goes and "ministers" and this is usually at the expense of the many smaller congregations scattered around the country who could go NUTS to have an artist come to their church. Problem is, their venue is too small, so the label sees a loss. This isn't anybody's fault, it's just a reality of the business. If an artist commits to a label, they know what the consequences (good and bad) will be.

who are accorded the same privileges and responsibilities as pastors.

And we cannot blame the artists for this. This is brought to bare by others who bring these kinds of presumptions to the table.

In a broader stroke, let's assume that a Christian artist (CCM artist) is a Christian. What does THAT mean? It means that they can sing about anything they want. Just like I can play jazz piano in a club. Just like a (Christian) doctor can practice in a hospital. He doesn't have to go to a "Christian" hospital to work, he just needs to be a Christian doctor where ever he is. He isn't less of a Christian because he doesn't use his gifts on a mission field. The one place that could use Christian artists/musicians is the music industry. The reason Christian artists can sing about or write about anything they want is because that is the reality of life. We don't go through life without some interaction with the "secular." So why should it be ignored in the music?

The point is that CCM artists can sing about God, about biblical things, or they can sing about how they felt when they broke up with their love, or how their car broke down--the difference is their world view--their perspective on life, their view of broader heavenly context.

So--what am I saying--I don't know it's late and I need to go to bed. In a nutshell:

CCM labels are in it for the money: duh.
CCM artist=ministers: no--not in the same way a called pastor is--not all the time.
CCM can be about anything and fall under the umbrella of "kingdom perspective" and not be inappropriate.

For more on this read Charlie Peacock's At the Crossroads: Inside the Past, Present, and Future of Contemporary Christian Music.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


I'd like to dedicate this to all my guitar-playing friends--and to anyone who ever wanted to play the guitar for this reason:

Friday, February 17, 2006

This is what happens...

...when you try to edit margins on a template set in a language you know nothing about but start tweeking numbers because they seem like they oughta be just what you're after. I don't know how to get it back.

Maybe time for a new template....

My Star Trek Character

I'm not a big fan of Star Trek, but I took the test and found out who I am most like. Those of you who know me may not be surprised: (Take the test and post your result!) (and thanks to Matt Brown for the link!)

Your results:
You are Data

An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Jean-Luc Picard
Geordi LaForge
Beverly Crusher
James T. Kirk (Captain)
Will Riker
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Deanna Troi
Mr. Sulu
Mr. Scott
Even though you are a genius
you are always striving to be better.

Click here to take the "Which Star Trek character am I?" quiz...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Various Mutterings

It's time to update the blog. Thanks for tuning in.

  • I just bought a cell phone. Actually, I bought two cell phones. We went with Sprint because my whole family is on the sprint network, as well as Eric H and David B. Janet and I will share the minutes. Happy to give you the number--just let me know that you'd like it.
  • The person the Indians will miss the most next year will not be Coco Crisp--it will be Bob Howery.
  • For the first time Wednesday morning, I had to scrape a thin layer of ice/frost off my window before leaving for the Y. By mid-day, it was in the 60s.
  • I got my NC driver's license yesterday. I decided to go in and wing the "written" test. The test was administered on a touch screen computer. There were twenty-five questions of which I had to answer 20 correctly. I JUST squeaked by. I answered twenty correctly. The things I didn't know were questions about what would happen to me if I got 7 points, what would happen if I refused a substance abuse test, etc. Next step is to help Janet pass the test then get the NC state plates. In NC, only one plate for vehicle is issued--no one has plates on the front.
  • I am currently reading a biography of Benjamin Franklin while I walk on the treadmill at the Y each day. I read about 25 minutes a day. It's going to take me a year to get through the book--unless, of course, I read it at other times!
  • I walked into the steam room at the Y for the first time Thursday. It was hot in there. Kinda hard to breathe too. I don't think I'll be spending much time in there--I like to earn my sweat the old fashioned way.
  • I don't think it's a good idea to have Steve Wozniak on This Week in Tech podcasts. He may have helped get the home computer industry going in the late 70s with Steve Jobs, but he monopolizes the podcast with uninteresting anticdotes and comments that bog it down. I think Dvorak is annoyed by him too.
  • I have a 20 Gb 3rd generation iPod that I'm using now. I like it better than the one I used before--it has a dock and it holds twice as much. I prefer the original interface, however.
  • I think I'll need to get the starter on my Mazda replaced soon. It's being temperamental.
  • I've opted for punctuation on this post, Rob.
  • I've run out of USB inputs on my G5 at work. Here are the devices that require them: iPod, Palm, MIDI interface, keyboard, external HD, and mouse (it's a long story). I had to get a USB hub from the IT guy. Some things, however only work if they're plugged directly into the computer (for some reason). The MIDI interface, I think needs to be powered directly by the computer, as well as the mouse receiver. I've finally got it figured out. I think.
  • I am also reading a great little book as a devotional that I got as a freebe at the Saddleback Worship Conference last summer. It's written by Buddy Owens and it's called The Way of the Worshiper. Starts with Romans 12: "In view of God's mercy..." I'm sure I'll comment on it further as I get into it--as well as the biography I'm working on.
  • I take an elevator to my office every day. It's on the 4th floor. Sometimes, if I really feel ambitious, I take the stairs. Never on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, however, which are the days of and after my leg day at the Y.
  • The church building requires no keys. That's kinda nice. My key chain has never been so light! Access to various floors and sections of the building is granted by a keycode that you punch into a pad by doors and in elevators and stair wells all over the building. You only have to know your one code, and with your code, the system gives you access to areas you should be able to access and blocks you out of areas you should not have access to. I mean to which you should not have access.
  • It's been a bit of a rainy day here, but the rain has stopped and it's 65 degrees out so I'm going to go for a walk while the kids are napping. It's supposed to turn cold here this week. Highs only in the upper 40s and low 50s. Some apologies to my Ohio friends.