Hope Center Christmas

We're soon heading back to our beloved HopeCenter and they've just sent us some pics of their first snow.  We're getting excited to be back...



I sometimes try to impress the 7 people who read this blog with my massive traffic numbers...

Recently I've surpassed the 30,000 mark in visitors to this site.  I guess this is good but recently my daily totals have been way down... mainly due to my lack of any content whatsoever.  I don't blame you for not visiting lately but you better come back and check in post-January 7th when we're back in Ukraine.

Also, over at ARiskADay.org we have gotten some pretty great indicators that people are interested in the concept.  We have 40 email subscribers to the daily risks and our facebook group has over 170 members at last check.  If you haven't seen it, get over there and let me know what you think.


Nothing good to say...

...but something needs to be said.  That's how blogs work, right.

I'm at my brother-in-law's place using his internet to check my extra overloaded inboxes and see about Liverpool's Friday results.  Plus I gotta download some podcasts and get my facebook fix.

In case you were curious about LFC, we beat Bolton Wanderers 3-0 on TWO goals by our much-maligned striker Robbie Keane.  We may have turned the corner on this one and given ourselves a secondary goal-scoring capability when Fernando Torres is out... as he's prone to be.

Also, every day I get a chance to post, I'm going to do the Hope Center countdown.  Currently we are 11 days from being back at camp.


Livin' life in MI

I like Michigan.  I love my in-laws, I like the rural setting, I like the fact that EVERYONE hunts, I like the polite country folks and I like Junkyard Wars, the only decent show available on my father-in-law's satellite TV package.  I say all that as precursor to this...

I am in cyber purgatory right now!  I just drove 20 miles on semi-icy roads for the honor of paying a high school kid $2/hour to use WiFi at the only internet cafe/coffee shop within 3 counties.  Granted, this is a great coffee shop and minus the fact that they charge for internet (that's like charging for air these days!), it's a cool place to hang out.... or it would be if it wasn't a half-day outing to get here.

I'll probably swing by here every few days to catch up on e-mail, download podcasts and try to connect with people back in the real world.  If the posts come slow and it seems like I'm never online, take heart....  in the new year we'll back in eastern Europe and have our standard high-speed internet again.


Goodnight and good luck

It's almost 9pm and we're sitting here trying not to do the things I need to do in order to leave.  Me, Sarry and my boy Tommy are hanging out on all of our last night in CO.  I just wanted to let everyone know that I might be MIA in a cyber sense for a few days until we figure out an internet situation in Michigan.

Also, I wanted to thank you for visiting here regularly as I just passed the milestone of 30,000 visitors to the site since I set up Sitemeter about 18 months ago.

KOR Kast today!!!

Unfortunately, since I have less than 24 hours left to get everything ready for Michigan and then Ukraine, I don't think I'll be able to watch/listen to Kor live today.  I will definitely catch it on podcast when it hits.  Catch it at Castle Rock Radio.

My absence doesn't mean that all of you can skip it too.... in fact you are REQUIRED to listen in my stead.  It is spoken, it will be done.


Risks are flowing

Due to busyness, I neglected mention that ARiskADay.org is up and running at full speed.  Today (Sunday) marks the second day of risks so go check it out.  Incidentally, today's challenge is to honor the Sabbath and back away from the aforementioned busyness.

Have a great day and take a risk!


LotD - James Lileks

Lileks has a few - direct from Twitter - talking about the extremely cold weather in Minneapolis Friday.

"Temp is still One. But they're releasing 1.1 as a noon upgrade."


"Economy hits Minnesota weather, temperature lays off three degrees. Ah, noon warmth - when will I see you again?"


"News from overseas weather forecasts pushs the temp up to 12 in late-day trading!"

This year's deer update

I already posted the photo of my first whitetail that I shot this fall in Nebraska....

...but this morning Timmy provided an unexpected surprise.  A game cam photo of my deer (unarguably the same animal) from earlier in the year when his rack was still mostly intact....

He was a beautiful animal - as we expected, a solid 10 point - and I am so glad that Timmy was able to find this photo for me.  Thanks, buddy!


A Risk A Day site is set, risks coming soon!

Last month I explained a new site called ARiskADay.org.  It's a GA side project that is currently being designed and managed by my co-worker Ryan McKeel and I (but was started by the lovely Vikki Walton).  

We have a site...
...we have 'Risks' written and ready to post...
...we even have a group on facebook... 
...and now we also have a logo (which will soon be available as a badge for your own site).  

Here is the first thing you'll see when you go to our page.....
First, follow the link in the first sentence to read the explanation of our goals and how it will work.

Then, go to ARiskADay.org and subscribe to the risks via RSS or an easy daily email sign-up.  The content will be flowing daily very soon.....


Boredom leads to inovation

I was messing around this evening and was looking back into Twitter.  I know, returning to an old addiction like a dog to...  well, you know the Proverb.  Anyway, I figured I'd mess with tinyurl.com to see how much I could manipulate the output urls.  I put in my page on the GA site (the one linked to at right) which is a little awkward - http://www.global-act.org/web/guest/ukraine_support and turned it into http://tinyurl.com/ukraineorphans.

They both go to the same site but one is a bit easier to type into a browser.  Any thoughts on that?  I honestly don't know if it's more or less confusing that the original URL.  Oh well, it's not like it cost anything anyway.


Exchange rate

I just caught from a respectable Ukrainian blogger that the Hrivna is trading at 7.40 to the US dollar today.  Neeka is a great resource for an eyes-on-the-ground perspective from Kiev, which is completely different than our Kerch.

In some ways a more favorable exchange rate helps us - at least in the short term - to stretch the dollar even further.  Unfortunately this can only serve to increase the already devastatingly high inflation in Ukraine - already pushing 30%.  Over time, it will only serve to create greater need, more demand for our already-limited resources and exacerbate the destructive social problems that we are trying to combat.  I hate to say it but I think Ukraine is rapidly heading in the wrong direction for the benefit of its people.

To the footy haters

I'm frequently asked why it is that I've seemingly defected from traditional American sports and am now a big soccer fan.  I just caught a video that I hope will help folks understand somewhat from whence my passion has come.

In no other sport do you have the largely seamless, uninterrupted build up to feats of spectacular skill such as the one in this video.  

It would have taken some skill to catch this ball, let alone pull off the spectacularly timed ninja move that this guy does.  And let's remember that this is a normal guy playing in a little indoor league against guys in pink.

I know many of you think it's boring but it's actually the pace of the game that I have come to love.  Admittedly it takes a little time appreciate the intricacies of the ebb and flow but once you do, all that's left is picking a team.

Shame on all of you!

I've noticed an interesting trend in past few months regarding visitor numbers to our blog.  The lowest day of the week is always Saturday, followed by Sunday.  I figured this was because people planned things on the weekends and got out away from their computers.

Today is the second snowy day in the past few weeks and I have noticed that the visitor levels are pretty low on both of those days.  So this means the consistent variable for many readers is actual presence at work.  I get high numbers when you people are at work and lower numbers when you're at home.  What a irresponsible use of company time and internet!

Uh-oh, my boss is coming, I gotta get back to looking like I'm working.....


Coming back from Arizona

We just finished another presentation on the HopeCenter and now I'm sitting on Bryan's couch watching SportsCenter in lovely Goodyear, Arizona.  I haven't watched it a long time - almost as long since I've gotten to hang out with Bry.  I don't really know what to say about it, but I'm just enjoying it.

In a second I'm going to go to join Sarah in Bryan's 2 year old son's bed... the 4th bed in 4 nights.  We have a strange life.

We'll be back home by noon tomorrow and that begins the last week in CO for a long time.


More bad news from Kerch

For those of you who have actually been to the Hope Center this news will come as a bit of shock.  I'm in Arizona for the weekend and upon arriving I received a phone call telling us that one of our HC employees was killed in a car accident.  Yuri (or Yura to his friends) was one of our security guards and a staple of life at camp.  His story is amazing and the path he traveled to meet the Lord shows the infinite mercy of our God.

He spent much of his early life in prison for a variety of very serious crimes and that's where he met the Lord.  As far as I know, the Hope Center provided him his first post-prison job.  Yura's first night as a guard at camp he walked the territory and cried at the thought that he was trusted with that responsibility after all that he had done in his life - the Lord had blessed him for his faith.  I was looking forward to hearing his entire testimony when we returned but I won't have that chance.  There's a VHS tape of him talking about himself at camp so I'll have to listen to it and have an interpreter help translate.  

Here are 2 of the very few photos that I could find of him:

Here he's at the Black Sea with us for our post-camps outing.  It was the only time I got a picture of him without his shirt.  His tattoos each have meaning (if you want some interesting reading, check out Russian mafia tattoos on Wikipedia) and are a testament to the life that he left behind.

Anyone that's met him knows the "Yura walk."  He had a distinctive strut that you could pick out from a mile away.  It was something like a cross between a boxer and the gang-bangers in "Blood in, Blood out"

Whenever he saw Cam he would say hello, also in a very distinctive way.  To this day Cam says hello just like Yura.  He usually stayed up at the front gate during the day (since that was his primary responsibility) so the boys would go up there to play.  They knew that was where they could almost always get a little game of 'football' going.

I wish I had more pictures to put up here.  I crave to write more about him but I'm kinda spent.

I know his wife and daughter will never read this but I'll tell them he was a beloved member of the HopeCenter family and will be missed.


We've come full circle

I've spent most of the fall dreading this time of year.  We left Ukraine on August 31st with a weeks worth of clothes for a late summer vacation and have been living since then with essentially those same clothes.  Friends have been extremely generous with us in loaning and gifting some warmer items but it has still been a bit annoying.

Why is that pertinent?  Tomorrow we will fly out of snowy Colorado for a work/pleasure weekend in sunny Phoenix and Tucson, AZ where the weather should be just about right for the clothes that we actually packed more than 3 months ago in Kerch.

All is right with the world....

Andrey update

I have gotten some follow-up questions about our friend Andrey (not my boss) who is in the hospital in Cape Town, South Africa so here is an update.  For the backstory see here.

I have been checking in with his doctor every morning (SA time... it's 12 or 2 am here) and he is doing much better.  He has a bit of anxiety and depression possibly stemming from his perception that he let his family down by not staying on-board the ship.  Treatment is slow and difficult since he needs both a psychiatrist and a translator for any analysis of his mood and mental condition.

Please continue praying for him, the hospital staff (particularly Dr. Gordon, his wonderfully helpful physician), his family back in Kerch and that the payment of hospital bills will be resolved in a fair and manageable way.


I've got Ukraine on my mind

I was playing legos with Cam last evening and he wanted me to make "the office," which isn't too hard since the Colorado GA  command center is just the top floor of an office building that is nearly a perfect cube... a pretty easy design with big-block legos.  I opted for a greater challenge....
Ok, pretend that you see the cross and onion domes.... it's an orthodox church!  I just thought you should all have a chance to appreciate my genius with toys designed for sub-5 year olds.


New games

I just relearned for the 60th time how to do quick screenshots and I couldn't really think of anything cool that I wanted to use it on...  except our new Ukrainian summer camps exclusive webpage!

So this is what it looks like and I think if you click the screenshot it will go to the actual screen from whence I shot it.

Please don't forget the orphans in Ukraine as you think about your year-end giving.

How do you misspell an acronym?

I use a service called sitemeter which monitors traffic data for this blog.  One of the items that it shows is 'referrals' - ie. how a visitor found my site.  Today I noticed that recent hit was registered when the person Googled:

"80HD symptoms"

I looked back in my archives for this post on ADHD which was my 9th entry on this site - now at well over 460 posts.  In it I write satirically about the epidemic-like progression from 80D to 80HD and finally to 1080HD.  I just reread it and would highly (and egotistically) recommend it.  Even I laughed at my former glory.

If I were to try to answer the searchers question - based on the fact that 1080HD gives a great picture quality - I would guess that the symptoms of having only 80HD resolution would be generally poor picture quality and a very grainy watching experience....  but I'm no doctor.


I am seriously professional

Today marks the point at which I have finally decided to make myself some business cards...  with exactly 14 days left of my Colorado Springs stint of fund and awareness raising.  I have no idea why I felt that it this wasn't necessary earlier, but here it is.
As a side-note, I made this using one of the many business card templates in Apple's Pages program.  They have at least a few dozen separate options in sheets of 10 cards each, all of which have the same MASSIVE flaw....  

There is no way by which you can change the information on all the cards on the sheet!  Why would I want to make a page of mismatched business cards?!?  I had to go through and edit the text, layout and picture for each of the 10 cards per page.  It wouldn't even let me cut and paste!

I love my Mac and wouldn't go back to MicroSoft to save my own life, but this is one area in which they have displayed utter incompetence.