Monday, December 27, 2010

The end of an era and the beginning of a new one

I think that title is just pretentious enough.  I'm closing up shop at this particular blog and moving all of my blogging activity over to mattbrier.tumblr.com

I like the Blogger platform well enough, but there is an ease of use with Tumblr that will hopefully inspire me to do more on a regular basis.  I will be leaving this blog intact as a reference and an archive, but if you want to keep up with my current status please follow me at mattbrier.tumblr.com.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Learning from Nanowrimo

What I've learned from Nanowrimo:

1.  November is never a good month for me to try and hack out 50,000 words.  Inevitably I run against the wall of preparing to go out of town, going out of town, spending time with family out of town, and for some reason work decides to get busy too.  I've managed to double my output from last year though and I'm not saying I won't make it in the end.  Realistically though, I'm only just over 11,000 words as of today and I should be around 30,000. 

2.  Given the right attitude I can make myself write on a regular basis.  I have pounded out around 1000 to 1200 words a day for the past three days.  This is huge for me and will play a large part in planning things for the next year.

3.  Even when I don't think the words will flow, they do some how.  They aren't Shakespeare, but they do flow.

4.  When it comes down to it, it isn't the success of the failure, but the doing. 

I don't know if the novel will ever get finished.  I can see adding to it even if I don't finish it by the end of this month, but I may or may not be as diligent in getting it done.  I've got renewed passion for other things in my life and I will be, with healthy input from my wife, putting together a plan for the next year and praying over it.

I'm probably even going to try and blog some of it so I can get some writing done on a regular basis and have a reason to keep this blog around.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Top 10 Podcasts

This is the second day of the '31 Days to Build a Better Blog' challenge in which I have decided to participate.  I hope the lessons learned will help me not only bring more to this blog, but more inspired writing in general.  Today's assignment is a list post and to give you some further insight into my life I present the follow.

Top 10 Podcasts that inform, inspire, and entertain me
1.  Steelehouse Podcast - Mark Steele and Jeff Houston, along with other guests, discuss God in pop culture.  The conversations, sprinkled with much wit and candor, center around how God or the want for God shows up in everyday works if we just take a moment to see.  Honest and open discussions underlay the humor.

2.  This American Life - This American Life started as a radio program and has had two seasons on Showtime.  Each week they choose a theme and produce stories based on that theme.  The stories are more often than not true.  The production and story telling are top notch.

3.  WNYC's Radiolab - Taking a page from old time radio, Radiolab produces a show dedicated to science, philosophy, and life with the twist of making it extremely entertaining.  Sound effects, humor, music, and interesting topics are wrapped around interviews with experts and well investigated stories.

4.  The Moth Podcast - Stores told life, from the stage, without any notes.  Some adult content throughout, but the stories open an insightful window into humanity.

5.  PodCulture: Equal Opportunity Geekness - Geek news and reviews from an ensemble of geeks.  Very entertaining, especially segments like 'Geek Cuisine' and 'Guilty Pleasures.'  Some language throughout, varies episode to episode.

6.  NPR: All Songs Considered -  A weekly look at what is new in the world of music, primarily focusing on indie and alternative music. 

7.  Bored Again Christian - The music is not what you will find on Christian Radio.  It is art inspired by or inspiring the listener to God.

8.  Cranky Geeks - Weekly computer news, reviews, and commentary with John C. Dvorak and guests.  It is my link to keeping up with the tech world.

9.  The GeekDads - From Wired magazine and in some ways similar to Podculture.  Every other week the podcast brings news and reviews from the world of geek culture from the perspective of a parent raising a kid in the digital age.  On the off weeks they produce a shorter program called Geek Dad Hip Trax that features geeky inspired music(think Nerd core, chiptunes, wizard rock, filk) that can be shared with the whole family.

10.  This Week in Tech - Leo Laporte's flagship show.  Each week Leo and guests discuss the latest in technology news as well as review the latest gadgets and services.

Hopefully you will find something new in this list to inform and entertain you.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Not much, how about you?

I was going to doing this as a series of Twitter updates, but then I decided that I have a neglected blog that needs something written in it now and again. So here's a little of what's been going on in my neck of the woods.

1. God is shaping me in new ways and really opening my eyes to what is important in my life and what isn't. I know I have a lot of decisions to make in the coming months about how I'm going to spend my time and what I get involved in. I've always been of the mindset that once I get to a certain point in, whether an organized office or out of debt, I'll be able to do things. The truth of the matter is I can do things now, maybe not in the 'perfect' way I would want to do them, but if I wait for perfection I'll never do them in the first place.

2. Between working, being a husband, keeping up a house, producing a two hour radio show, sometimes writing reviews for destroythecyb.org, sometimes producing a podcast, and studying up on new technologies something has to give. Writing has become really important to me in the past year and I want to do that as much as I can. I've cordoned off time for the radio show so it doesn't interfere with the rest of life. That leaves the podcast and studying. I've been doing better about studying, but the podcast has really fallen by the wayside. I'm beginning to think I should fold it for now. Something I know I need to seriously consider.

All of that plus I really need to de-clutter my life of everything I thought I would eventually get around to and focus on a few key things for a period in my life. I'm really bad about wanting to investigate all kinds of avenues and bunny trails, but it is only serving to make me mediocre at a lot of things, but not really good at any.

It doesn't help that we're entering the holidays and things tend to get hectic, but God has been adjusting my perceptions and attitudes and I believe this new focus will help me to maintain the busy times and work harder in the slack times.

3. I signed up for National Novel Writing Month this year. The goal is to write a novel over the course of November ending the month with 50,000+ words written. This is my first year and I'm way behind on word count, but for me this is a trial run. My focus is more on exercising my writing muscles and stretching my creativity, if I don't make the word count, there's always next year. Either way it has been a fun and helpful experience.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Kingdom vs. Country -- Where is Our Allegiance?

This comes as a follow-up to Saturday's writings on celebrating America and patriotism. I have all of these ideas in my head, all of these thoughts that need to be said, but I'm not sure how to start other than to rip the band-aid off.

"Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself."
--Philippians 3:19-21

Somewhere along the way we've gotten confused. We've traded in the assurance of grace and eternity for the comfort of the land in which we live. We've traded the power of God to save us for the power of democracy to enable us. Instead of pledging our allegiance to eternity in heaven we pledge it to a flag. It seems as though it isn't enough to be Christian if you live in America. It used to be "God, country, and apple pie," but somewhere along the way country took precedence.

Saturday I stated that we need more patriotism. Today I'm saying we need to keep it in perspective. It's okay to celebrate the country we live in. It is this country's commitment to freedom that allows us to worship where we want, when we want, and how we want. The problem comes when that respect colors our belief.

We can never forget that God created the world, not just the United States. We can never forget that Jesus died for the world, not just the United States. We should not allow ourselves to be comfortable here. This is not where we are going to spend the rest of our lives. Our call, our privilege is to help bring the kingdom here.

The problem comes when we mix patriotism with worship. I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion. The moment we mix patriotism with worship we cross into dangerous territory. The line can become blurred. Are we worshiping God or country? Are we pledging allegiance to our country or to heaven?

Too often as a church we get caught up in patriotic celebrations around Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Veteran's Day. We intermix our services with music and speeches that don't pay tribute to God above, don't add to the worship, and don't point to the good news of the gospel. In doing so we fail to live up to the grace that has been given to us freely, we fail to uphold the living God in Jesus as the center of our lives.

This is not meant as an attack on anyone. This is meant to provoke thought in everyone. I agree we need to be thankful for the nation we live in, but I am bothered that we have become more concerned with the country and less with the kingdom.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Difficulty of Writing

I'm still working on the piece I mentioned a couple of days ago. I think I have finally found the voice, but I'm not sure I want to express it openly. It is a difficult piece for me to write because the opinions I express in it are going to clash violently with the opinions of people I respect. I'm trying to find a voice that is firm enough to say what needs to be said, but respectful enough to say it in a way that doesn't come across as harsh or arrogant.

Beyond that I don't have anything in my mind to write at the moment. This of course makes writing everyday, or nearly everyday as it now stands, a challenge at best.

I did remember what I wanted to point out a couple of days ago. Mark Steele of Steelehouse Productions, writing, and podcast fame has a new book coming out in the beginning of August called 'Christianish: What If We Aren't Really Following Jesus At All?" It can be pre-ordered through Amazon here:

http://www.amazon.com/Christianish-What-Really-Following-Jesus/
dp/1434766926/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1246838645&sr=1-3


I've read his first two books and enjoyed both immensely. He writes in a humorous style true stories about his life and ties them into a bigger theme of his relationship with God. Two chapters of this book were released in audio form around Christmas through his podcast and they were both side-splittingly funny and thought provoking at the same time and I'm really looking forward to reading the whole thing.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Nothing new today

I'm working on article, but it isn't quite ready for prime-time.

There was something else I was going to comment on here as well, but apparently I'm drawing a complete blank here so. . .