Month: January 2015

January Bookshelf: A Glimpse of Jesus, Artemis Fowl Series, The God of All Comfort

I decided that I want to be more intentional about reading more books this year. I guess you could call it a New Year’s resolution but that just seems like setting myself up to fail once you start calling it that. So don’t and I won’t either. I should note that some of these were “read” as audiobooks. I do quite a bit of commuting to work and audiobooks help keep me awake and alive.


A Glimpse of Jesus by Brennan Manning, Rating: 5/5. This was the first book I finished this month but I didn’t start it this January. Actually I started it in January of last year after my wife had purchased it for me for Christmas. Taking a year to read such a short book seems a bit ridiculous but I feel like theological and self-improvement books are best consumed slowly. So you can savor the words and let them impact you over an extended period of time. After all if you were attempting to learn how to play the guitar you wouldn’t go through an entire instruction book in one day and expect to know how to play the guitar would you? The same is true of books that deal in matters of faith and just better living in general .

But about the book itself…I had never heard of Brennan Manning until he passed away on April 12th, 2013 when a couple of my Facebook friends posted some thoughts on how he had impacted their lives. That led me on a search to figure out who Manning was and when I read a couple paragraphs from A Glimpse of Jesus on Amazon, I knew that it was a book that I needed to read. I was not disappointed either, Brennan Manning had such a simple and effective way of explaining Gospel truth and God’s love for His people.

The God of All Comfort by Dee Brestin, Rating: 1/5. Due to some tragic circumstances within my family I decided to seek out a book about dealing with personal tragedy from a Christian world view. Unfortunately this book didn’t connect with me at all. It is more of an autobiography with excerpts from Dee Brestin’s journal that jumps back and forth in time as she attempts to adapt the journal into a product with commercial viability. I don’t often give up on books but after forcing myself to stick with it 3/4 of the way through, I finally gave up. Perhaps others could find value in it but it wasn’t for me.

Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer, Rating: 5/5. I also read 3 books from the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer. The books are aimed at young adults but are a good enough read for adults to enjoy as well.  Specifically I read The Eternity Code, The Opal Deception, and The Lost Colony. The books follow the adventures of Artemis Fowl, an Irish teenager with suspect morals whose life becomes entangled in the affairs of elves, dwarfs and other mythical creatures. I highly recommend these books as a fun quick read.


The Maze Runner by James Dashner, Rating 4/5. I had never heard of this book until seeing the movie title at a Redbox and decided to check out the book first. I enjoyed The Maze Runner but have to acknowledge that the subject matter of the book definitely stretches the limits of what my mind is willing to accept as a plausible scenario for the characters to be in. Still, it is enjoyable and I look forward to watching the movie and reading the other books in the series.

Wow 6 books in one month! I can’t imagine that I will continue that pace all year but it is a good start anyway. I’m not sure what books will be in February yet other than the first couple that I am getting a jump start on.


Money Talks: Learning from the Founders

IMG_1176-0.JPGYes money talks, or more accurately for this post, currency does. I began thinking recently that there was a lot of wisdom in the founding fathers of this great country and several of those founding fathers have their faces on our paper currency.

As time marches on and the history of our country lengthens, the history books used in schools have less page space to dedicate to early American history. In addition to that, there is a very small but very vocal minority of educators and agitators that take joy in tearing down this country’s heroes of old and make sure we all know how awful they were or how awful they would like us to believe the founders were. No one is perfect of course and the founders of the United States were flawed people just like you and I. But to focus solely on the flaws is to miss the amazing things they accomplished and the wisdom that they can teach us.

To that end I began to wonder if perhaps writing a short quote from the historical figure pictured on whatever currency note is in my grasp might be a way to share some of that wisdom. I should note here that the US government has a law in place in regards to defacing currency in such a way as to make it unusable or not able to be reissued and you should read it entirely before proceeding. While I would not presume to offer legal advice to anyone, I’ve never heard of the government going after any of the Where’s George people.

The point of what I am trying to say is that much of America seems to be bent on moving forward without care to what direction is being chosen by elected officials or what the final destination might be. It also seems easy enough to assume that for the majority of Americans, money and the pursuit of it is very central to their world view. Whether the pursuit of it takes the form of working hard to obtain it or hardly working and getting it from the government. Either way, money is the one thing left in America that we all still have in common.

At a time when politicians and the media take great joy in creating uncertainty and anxiety and separating us by beliefs, by color, by gender, or whatever else the current hot button social issue is, money, the idea of obtaining it, is the great unifier.

With that in mind, why not let the wisdom of great Americans like Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Ulysses S. Grant impart some small nuggets of wisdom to your fellow Americans? Ask yourself, is it the type of wisdom that they are likely to find in many other places in current society?

Want to get started? It is pretty simple, just type the name of the person on your currency in a search engine followed by the word “quotes.” There are many quote websites available to choose from.

If someone were to start marking their currency, even after reading the law mentioned a few paragraphs earlier, a good rule of thumb might be to choose quotes that are short enough to fit on the bill without obstructing anything important to verifying the bill’s authenticity. Perhaps on the back side in an out of the way place.

There is a wealth of wisdom hidden in the pages of history. Perhaps through this small idea, some bits of that treasure can come to light and spur an interest in someone to dig deeper.


10 Months Later: The Story of My Pogo Water Bottle

IMG_1156All the way back in March of 2014 my wife bought me a Pogo water bottle from Target. Unfortunately this water bottle from Pogo was defective and the water spout that pops up would separate from the straw down in the bottle, rendering the water bottle useless.

We had lost the receipt for it so I contacted Pogo directly about my concerns. That was many emails and 10 months ago.  Below is a transcript of those emails. I left out my mailing address and the auto-responses that annoyingly arrived in my inbox every time I replied to an email from Pogo. It all starts out pretty normal but as the amount of time became more absurd, so did some of my emails.

03/26/2014
To whom it may concern:

A couple weeks ago I purchased one of your 24 oz Pogo drink bottles. Unfortunately, it has been nothing but trouble since the second day. The part of the cap that pops up to drink out of pulls up a little bit when you open it which creates a gap that lets air through and not water.

Consequently every time I open it I have to push it back down if I want to get any water out. Last night was the worst. As I tried to push it back down it flew off the top entirely and nearly hit me in the eye.

I can’t imagine that all of your products behave like this but this particular bottle has been completely useless for me. I would appreciate a response and replacement or a refund.

Thank you,
Tim Yordy

Pogo’s Response on 03/30/2014:

Greetings from Pogo!

Thanks very much for your purchase and for contacting us! I’m sorry you are having trouble with the flip straw. Let me see if I can help. Is the straw fully and firmly attached pressed into the lid? Sometimes if the straw is not fully engaged the suction is weak.

If this does not help let me know and I can send you a replacement.

Best regards,

Jordan

My Reply on 03/30/2014:

That is the problem. Every time I open the bottle it comes up a little bit and I have to force it back down to be able to get any water at all out. So yes, if you could replace it, I would really appreciate it.

Thank you,
Tim Yordy

Pogo’s Response on 04/02/2014:

I’m sorry to hear you’re having problems with your straw. I’d love to replace it, and I’ll be sure to notify our engineering team of this issue so we can get it resolved right away.

Please let me know what color you need, your full name and address.

Thanks so much,
Jordan

My Reply on 04/04/2014:

I don’t care what color it is.

Thank you.

I allowed several weeks to go by before contacting them again on 05/01/2014:

Hello, it has been nearly a month and I still have not received my replacement water bottle. Can you tell me when this item was shipped?

Thank you,
Tim Yordy

Pogo’s Response on 05/01/2014:

Hi there – Thanks for checking in! Sorry for the delay – we are waiting for replacement parts to arrive at our office. Once they do, I’ll make sure yours is shipped.

Thanks for your patience,
Jordan

My Reply on 06/22/2014:

Hi there,

It has literally been 3 months now since I originally contacted you about the problem with my water bottle. Seeing as we are in the heart of summer right now, I am getting rather thirsty and fear that I might be suffering from dehydration soon since to this day you have done nothing to remedy the problem with your product.

When can I expect a resolution to this?

Pogo’s Response on 06/22/2014:

Hi Tim –

Please accept my apology for the delay on this. I will make sure to put you on the list for a replacement lid this week. We send it via U.S. mail and it can take up to 5 days to ship.

Thanks so much for your patience,
Jordan

And then my response TODAY:

Dear Jordan,

I finally received my replacement water bottle today and I really appreciate it. You may remember from our last email exchange back in June of 2014 that I had begun to suffer the affects of dehydration due to my lack of a functioning water bottle. As you can tell from my emailing you right now, that I managed to survive the Summer. Squeezing sweat out of my socks to drink might not have been the most tasty, but it got the job done.

Once Fall arrived I survived off of the juice inside some crab apples that were scattered around on the ground. Winter in some ways has been easier as I’ve been able to stay hydrated by eating snow. You do have to eat a lot of the stuff though, what with the way water expands when it freezes. Not much water content in each snowflake.

Anyway, just wanted to thank you again for getting this sent out. I look forward to using my new Pogo water bottle.

When I got home from work today I could see the mailman’s footprints in the snow leading away from our mailbox and up onto our porch. I got a little excited knowing that this meant some kind of package had been delivered. When I saw the box said “Pogo” on it, I thought to myself, “Why does that company sound familiar?” Yep, it had been that long that I couldn’t even remember who they were anymore. Imagine my surprise when I opened the box to find my shiny new Pogo water bottle. I can only hope that they have been using the last 10 months to improve the design. Hopefully I won’t nearly put my eye out again.


New Music Tools


For Christmas some nice folks had given me a $100 gift card to Amazon and I knew right away what I wanted to use it for: A pair of studio monitors. If you aren’t familiar with what studio monitors are, they are essentially just speakers that are intended to produce a flat “untainted” sound. This is especially useful for music production when trying to mix all the elements of a recording together into something that hopefully sounds good to the listener.

I’ve never had studio monitors before and it has definitely been a struggle mixing my songs over the years. I would mix it on my computer and think it sounded good then make a cd and listen to it in my car and for some reason it sounded terrible. So I would go back to the computer and tweak the mix and then make another cd and repeat the whole process. It amounted to a lot of frustration and wasted cds.

Mixing music is an art form unto itself and I can’t hope to match what a professional could do. However, I should be able to have a fighting chance at creating something that doesn’t sound like I recorded it in my bedroom, even though I did.  I’ve learned from past experience not to discuss what musical projects I am working on because I have a pretty bad track record of actually completing them. These new Numark NPM5 studio monitors should make the process just a bit easier though and hopefully lead to some more music actually making it out my house and out into the wild.


Thirty Three

Sometime in late Spring last year I made this blog completely private and shut it down due to some challenging circumstances taking place in my life in the real world. I figured today on my birthday would be a good time to finally relaunch it. I will cover some of my plans going forward for this blog and creative projects more in another blog post. Today’s post is about challenging myself to approach life differently this year.

I turned thirty three years old today and as I was driving to work this morning I began wondering to myself what significance there was in that. After all 33 isn’t one of those popular birthdays that people make a big deal about. And then it hit me that Jesus was 33 when he was crucified.

I began to think about how by 33 years old, Jesus had already impacted the lives of thousands of his contemporaries and of course billions of lives in the two millennia since then. Which caused me to question, in my 33 years on this Earth, whose lives have I impacted? Whose suffering have I eased? I don’t presume to think that I will be used in a way that will be remembered for millennia, because fame and personal legacy isn’t the point of Christianity. And I’m sure the people whose lives Jesus personally touched during his lifetime had no concept of the passage of time that would stretch out beyond that Earthly life.

Their focus and their hearts were touched then and there. Jesus showed compassion to the suffering people in his life in a way that I think for me personally gets lost sometimes. And I don’t think I am alone in that. I grew up with a mindset that many of the suffering people in this country are there by their own choosing. That poverty, substance abuse, and abusive relationships were something that could be risen above if only these unfortunate people would make different choices. A mindset that says that someone on government assistance must be lazy and chooses to stay on government assistance because it is the easy path. Sometimes I wonder if the rise of government assistance was fueled by a decline of charity from the Church or if the rise of government assistance fueled the decline of charity from the Church.

While there are certainly elements of truth in the above paragraph and for some people it is more true than others, what strikes me about this way of thinking is that nowhere in the scriptures do I see Jesus utilizing this same kind of cynical logic to excuse not easing the pain and suffering of the people around him. I was pondering today, what if the woman accused of adultery hadn’t listened when Jesus told her to “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11) Would He have said the same thing to her if their paths had crossed a second time under the same circumstances? Would He have then condoned the stoning that the accusers had wanted in the first place? Any answer to these questions is pure speculation of course and I don’t pretend to know the mind of God.

My point here is that, Jesus lived a life of compassion towards humanity during His time here on Earth. Most of the miracles He performed were driven by being moved to compassion by the suffering of people around Him. If we are Christians, people who embrace the teachings of Christ, should we not live the same way?

Every year I choose some kind of theme for the year for my life. I’ve been doing this for many years now and I don’t even remember how it started. This year I want to make my theme Compassion. It is probably one of the more challenging themes I have ever given myself because it requires effort beyond my house, beyond my family and out into the world to help heal the hurting and the lost with compassion.

Last year’s theme was Accomplishment and I failed at it completely. It was a theme built around the idea of finally accomplishing some of my long-term creative goals. And I didn’t accomplish any of them. I should probably more upset about that but 2014 is over and living in the past won’t fix it.

So I am moving forward into 2015 with the compassionate actions of Christ as my guide and knowing that successfully embracing that theme will be a bigger accomplishment than anything I had hoped to do for myself in 2014.