Published by Brian Slezak on 30 Mar 2009

Daily Irony

Browsing through one of my image folders while waiting for a database to synchronize, I came across this picture:

5 Star Support FAIL(How often does it feel like this?)

I don’t remember taking this screen shot, but I still find it humorous.

Tags: ,

Published by Brian Slezak on 28 Mar 2009

Here comes the spring snow

It is snowing in Overland Park, KS, in huge beautiful flakes. It just started minutes from me posting this, so I thought I’d throw up a couple pictures.

Published by Brian Slezak on 25 Mar 2009

The Brave One

Pania went to bed early the other evening, and my mind was still awake even as tired as I seemed . While she slept I scrolled through the HBO on demand movies, finally coming to The Brave One. My memory sparked as I remembered wanting to see it after watching the trailer because I enjoy Jodie Foster in most of her movies. Impressed yet again with The Brave One, I was moved to write my off-the-cuff reaction. Spoilers follow – you’ve been warned.

I loved the way this film unraveled! The storyline revealed itself like a comic book, Batman for instance, but based itself more in reality than the fantastic. No caped crusader in this film; instead a petite woman, Erica, who is transformed by brutal violence into her darker self. After her fiance is beaten to death, and herself nearly so, she is reborn not into the light but into the dark. The same face in the mirror stares back at her as did before; she has not been physically altered, but a completely different person lives behind the same eyes.

The movie takes you through her downfall as she consciously and deliberately lets evil into her heart after defending herself in a convenience store robbery. She becomes a vigilante, consumed by the thrill of doing what she feels is good and right by eliminating evil from her city. The same evil that changed her forever, and killed her fiance. Her clothing through the film changes with her from white to gray and finally to black. We struggle with her as she knows what she is doing is wrong – it is killing; it is illegal. She swings from knowing she is right, to justifying her actions, to almost turning herself into authorities, and back again. At one point in the movie she gives away the crucifix necklace that was once her fiances, and she has been wearing throughout the movie, to a woman whose life she saved a few nights back. (She obviously does not truly understand what this symbol represents.) This done right in front of police officer and right after Erica asked the woman who she saw the night, and the woman replies no one.

I felt the movie struck a lot deeper than its surface appearance. The viewer has a connection to Erica, because in our hearts we want her to exact her revenge. She knows it’s wrong and so do we. What happened to her is horrible, and we want her attackers to be punished for what they did. Erica takes us down a the road where we choose dark. The movie made me feel that the dark is not just out there waiting for you to choose to step into it. The dark wants you. It is not waiting, but wanting. The dark wants us, because we want it. It is so natural in us even when we consciously know better. Choosing the light is so much harder. This was not a story of struggling with forgiveness.

Sadly, in true moral depravity that only Hollywood can produce, Erica not only exacts her revenge, she is justified by the police officer who is on to her throughout the movie and even instructed how to perform her crescendo of violence “legally.” The movie ends with Erica running away from the bloodbath that the officer has covered up, only to later stroll through the same dark tunnel where the story began – toward the light at the end of the tunnel. A better ending would be her walking into an ever darkening tunnel.

Aside from the ending (sigh) the movie is very well done, and is a present comic book story that is, scarily, easy to relate to. The lesson is how easy it is to relate to Erica’s dark desires, how easily they consumed her, and how quickly she fell away into the darkness. There is no light at the end of that tunnel folks. Revenge is not ours. If you found it easy to relate to Erica, you are not alone, but that does not make it just.

Tags: , ,

Published by Brian Slezak on 07 Mar 2009

Online Church Fear

I’ve become very bad about reading anything, but Clif put up a post that sparked my interest and it actually sparked a post of my own. I read some of the other posts Clif linked to, and I recognized some old rhetoric applied to a new subject. The new subject is online communities, with the old rhetoric being how destructive “online church” could be to Christian community.

The old rhetoric, believe it or not, was aimed at sermons available via on-demand audio and video. I read posts and heard conversations about how this enabled people to sit at home and watch the sermons rather than “going to church!” People were essentially asking, “What if people stop coming to church,” or to freshen this question, “What if people stop having a full and authentic Christian life?”

Mutant Sub-ChristianMy opinion is that this thinking is founded in fear. Fear that providing a church experience consumed while sitting at home will create some new sub-human mutant race of almost-Christians with hideous skin quality and large eyes adapted to viewing 320×200 video in low light who sit around in tattered underwear. Aaaaahhh!

I am certain that just as many people were fearful of projectors in the sanctuary and on demand audio streams as are now fearful of churches providing fuller online experiences.

So what have churches learned from providing sermons online? I can tell you that Resurrection has found that it reaches people in ways no one could have ever imagined. People around the world, not just in the nearby state, are able to connect to a Christian message and find the narrow path, some for the first time. I wish I could post the hundreds of positive, uplifting thanks we have received by providing this service.

I will suggest that if you are out there discussing the negative ramifications of providing church experiences online, you must recognize that you can not imagine all the amazing and powerful ways God may use that experience.

Acts 5:38-39 – “Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these people alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these people; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

I admit that fear aside, the remaining question needing an answer is whether an authentic community born and maintained solely online can be a theologically grounded authentic Christian community. If inauthentic online Christian communities could exist, should we be paralyzed with fear that they might happen? Can’t they be horribly inauthentic offline as well?? What might also happen is that God uses those experiences in profound ways that we could have never imagined. Do this for godly purposes, not human purposes. Leave the imaginary sub-human mutant Christians behind and hand it over to God to throw down or lift up.

Tags: , , ,

Published by Brian Slezak on 16 Jan 2009

Steal-Proofing IT Stuff

Steal-proof Cable

Steal-proof Cable

Ok, I have to brag on my co-worker a bit, because I can’t get him to blog on this himself. This morning I came in to find one of extra long networking cables outside our office door. How did you get that returned, you may ask? Why did it not walk away, but get returned outside your office door? Pictures are worth a thousand words.

Let’s break down how Jeremy steal-proofed this girly bad boy. 1. He used a displeasing color. Few people look at a nearly flourescent pink cable and think, “Oh I gotta have that.” 2. He terminated the ends with jacks, not plugs. Looking at it, the novice would surmise that won’t work for them. 3. He finished the cable with ridiculously short jumpers, which no one in their right mind really needs. “Ooo, that would work perfect for my … nothing?”

Evil Genius at Work

Evil Genius at Work

Tags: , ,

Published by Brian Slezak on 08 Jan 2009

America's Cross to Bear

I sometimes listen to Marketplace on NPR on the way home because it is typically on during the time I leave for home. Tonight I heard a great quote that made me think of a conversation I had with a co-worker within the last month. We were discussing the major factors of US economic fallout and how to view it in positive light. We both agreed that these times will be our cross to bear as a nation, state, city, or family. Things will right themselves, and this is a time for growth.

The quote was by Charles Handy, the “London Business School founder and Claremont Graduate University’s Drucker School of Business Professor.”

[Referring to the US econmic situation] But there may be some good news in all of that and we may get back to a saner kind of world — what Adam Smith [author of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations] called “cultivation” or “civilization” — where we don’t all sort of spend our life trying to make money, to buy things we don’t really need to impress the neighbors, and so on. But we actually do work not 60 hours a week, but 40 hours a week. Where we actually do take holidays. Where we actually get to know our kids again. ….

How tragic does that sound?

Published by Brian Slezak on 08 Jan 2009

Government Relief Index, QGRI

I just learned of the new NASDAQ index QGRI, which

allows taxpayers and other investors to measure the performance of U.S. companies that are participating in the government’s financial relief plan,

The index started at $1000 on Jan 5. As of today it is measured at $941.42

Although it is not the greatest of tools to measure how these companies are doing, it is the first thing toward accountablity that I’ve seen. :-/

Tags: , ,

Published by Brian Slezak on 11 Nov 2008

Morality FAIL – Health Care

cross 1Is the over-inflated cost of health care in the United States an instance of capitalism gone bad?
Is it the role our government to intercede when anything goes bad?

These were a couple of questions that went through my mind the other night as I was doing a poor job at falling asleep. I think I ended up generating more questions than opinions. 🙂

There is money to be made off the sick. Doctors are highly paid, and hospitals have boards and stake holders that receive compensation in non-profit and for-profit organizations. When the actions of a non-profit hospital become about maximization of surplus, (non-profit lingo for ‘profit’,) and inflated reimbursement to executives rather than providing health care for the community, I think they put their 501(c)(3) status in jeopardy. The government collects taxes, and if your organization’s purpose is to provide charitable services, they can waive those taxes.

The previous paragraph aside, and assuming everyone agrees that all people deserve access to medical care, how do you build a system that allows equal access to that care regardless of a persons station in life? Some may measure equality by the cost of the service. I think we should measure equality by the access to the service. On the surface, it doesn’t seem fair that someone with great wealth should pay more for health care than someone with little wealth. I can see how someone would look at that and say, “That’s clearly not fair,” and I suppose they would be right. It is not equitable in value, but it is honorable. I think it is a morality failure for those with more to not help those with less. It is a morality failure to abuse health care for personal gain rather than using it to care for humanity.

We need more incorrupt people managing health care rather than more legislation attempting to regulate moral behavior. Maybe the former is just a pipe dream?

Published by Brian Slezak on 06 Nov 2008

Managing a Web Site Improvement Project

Carol Johnson, over at Lee’s Summit United Methodist Church sent me a link to her article that was published yesterday at Church Solutions. If you are have one of these projects in your future, I recommend reading the article. It provides some first steps to anyone managing a web project:

So, you have secured a line item in the church budget for “Website Improvements,” now where do you begin?

I had the opportunity to work alongside Carol in raising up Lee’s Summit’s current website on the TYPO3 / WEC platform a couple years ago. The project took 9 months and cost just over $14,000. Aspects of the strategy mentioned in the article were adopted from Sprint, which as you can imagine is an enormous company that manages massive technical projects.

In 2006 the website project won an “Award of Excellence” at Church of the Resurretion. Although I’m horrible at accepting compliments for my work, it was pleasurable for some of my work to be recognized. 😉

Published by Brian Slezak on 05 Nov 2008

A Feeling of Pride

Last night I sat up quite late to watch the numbers come in, listened to both speeches, and watched responses on twitter. People were emotional at Obama’s speech; many admitted to tears. I watched it and was simply satisfied without much emotion at all. I wondered last night if I just wasn’t getting what was happening? I wasn’t emotional. I did get one chill, but that was it. I understood the significance of it all, but I must have been tired.

This morning driving in to work the radio announced, “Last night Barak Obama made history and became the first black person to be elected US president.” I immediately got teary eyed, and chills swept over me. :p Today is a new and unique day. Regardless of Obama’s performance over the next four years, I am very proud of my country today. I never thought this day would come so early in my lifetime.

« Prev - Next »