Published by Brian Slezak on 02 Nov 2008

Lack of Posting, and Big News

Well, I haven’t blogged nearly as much anymore, and I never followed up from the CITRT event either. As it ended up, hardly anyone there blogged the event, and everything we discussed was over Twitter. If want to see our stream of conciousness on this, do a search for #citrt. thumbnailI have a good exucse for my busyness though. My wife and I began attempting pregnancy, rather than avoiding it, back in July of 2008. We were successful right out of the gate! Pania is 16 weeks along. Along with that news, I’m announcing, where we will keep extended family and friends up to date.

Published by Brian Slezak on 06 Oct 2008

Church Tours, and CITRT

This week I have returned to writing after hiatus. A return prompted by my trip to the CITRT held at Seacost Church in Charleston SC. I am joined by Clif Guy and Jeremy Grabrian from our team at Church of the Resurrection, as well as Jeremie Kilgore . For more links, because I’m incredibly lazy and Clif did all the work for me, see Clif’s post. 🙂

For your enjoyment, I’ve been tweeting only the pointless and mundane events as they happen. :-/ Hopefully I’ll have more interesting stuff as I get back into the swing of this. [Update] But at least it’s not as boring as what JKilgore is doing on 12 seconds. C’mon man, your world can’t revolve around Tony Dye. 😉

Tonight we toured Johnson Ferry Baptist Church. Their network was highly impressive, with a lot of enterprise class hardware in it. It seemed way over engineered, but their network admin said they were overloading the previous gear.

If you a reader here, watch my twitter and blog for more updates of the conference throughout this week and next.

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Published by Brian Slezak on 05 Oct 2008

Emergency Economic Stabalization Act of 2008

Well, yesterday the bill poorly, or aptly, dubbed the “bailout bill” was passed and signed into law. You can read the bill in the The Library of Congress. For me, it will be remembed as the bill that got me interested in the legislative process, perhaps for the first time. Throughout the week of Sept 28, 2008, I’ve spent numerous hours on THOMAS browsing bills and reading about what congress was trying to pass with the “bailout bill.”

The hours of research and reading were actually prompted by Scoble’s post, Economic Idiocy, in which he states:

In the past 18 hours I’ve read literally thousands of posts and have done almost nothing but hang out on FriendFeed. I’ve seen a LOT of idiocy.

I have been interested in the recent ecomomic and legislative turmoil for a while but had not researched it. Some of my co-workers started engaging me in conversation, and all I had was unknowledgable opinion on it. Upon reading Scoble’s post, I just got tired of myself and started researching reliable resources. I re-learned a lot on the legislative process itself, having first learned this back in high school when I could have cared less.

I am not going to post all my thoughts about the emergency economic stabalization act of 2008, but only to say after hours of reading, thought, and discussion amoungst friends, I find myself in favor of it … for now. I think the people that cry for justice against these leding institutions should read Devistion A, sections 111 and 302 of the bill. If you are not satisfied there, read bill H.R.7125, initially named Let Wall Street Pay for Wall Street’s Illiquid Assets Act of 2008. Then contact your state house representatvive and senator and tell them they need to support this bill.

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Published by Brian Slezak on 25 Aug 2008

And It is Windows Vista for the Lose!

I just got off the phone with a staff member who told me about her experience buying a new laptop. She said that she and her husband were looking at a PC, but everyone has told her that she won’t like Vista -including the sales people she talked to. She said, “Why would I buy something if you’re telling me that I’m not going to like it?” The sales person said, “Well, we have Apple laptops.”

She ended up going with a Mac, of course, and loves it. The store where she bought it offers a 1 hr per week tutoring service for $99 per year, and she’s thinking about doing that to get up to speed with the change from Windows to OS X.

Microsoft is losing.

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Published by Brian Slezak on 20 Aug 2008

Do Not Advertise Like This

A couple weekends ago we were driving home after a late dinner with friends, and we drove by a church which had a tell tale, hand-written sign on the edge of the church property, facing the street. (I wish I had a picture, but I was driving at the time.) The sign was a white backboard with large, black, hand written text that read, “Thinking about becoming Catholic? 816-123-4567”

<sigh> I instantly knew this was wrong in many ways, but after actually putting some thought behind it, here is why:

There is NO Audience for this Sign
C’mon. Seriously, who walks around with the thought, “I’d actually like to be <insert denomination here>. I wonder how I can do that?” No one does. This sign better targets squirrels, because squirrels like to sit on signs. Squirrels can’t even read.

The End is Near
More likely, this sign is a visible cry for help. Please be a part of our church, or we’ll die! Help!

You Will Talk to Us
Rather than provide a site url, allowing someone to experience the church before attempting anything in-person, they provided a number. That means even if I was interested, I’m gonna have to talk to someone and say, “Yeah I saw this sign with this number … so I called it.” Hmm.

That’s Some High Quality
A hand written sign plopped in the front yard? Oh no – you didn’t?! Printing out banners on 8×10 sheets of paper, splicing them together, and and covering the whole thing with clear tape – would be a step up from this. Think about that. How serious is this church about welcoming someone, if they either A. will not pay for a printed sign, B. don’t have the motivation to go through that trouble, or C. do not have the money. If C – then close the doors.

Please, please, if you are someone in a church that has this or other similar sign – take it down! Please don’t advertise like this. Squirrels appreciate it, but you are making rational people laugh, cry, or both.

Published by Brian Slezak on 19 Aug 2008

Support a Breast Cancer 3 Day Team

Some of our good friends , who are committed and passionate about supporting breast cancer research, are participating in a three day walk up in Minnesota. Pania and I have supported them in the past couple of years, and I’ve heard Viminda speak about why she does this. You can hear in her voice the authentic desire to minister to this community who needs support. The team consists of family, and each of them is is highly driven to walk in this event. When is the last time you wanted to walk 60 miles in 3 days for no personal gain? 🙂 You can read about the project, and how it is helping make progress in this fight.

If you’ve ever thought that you don’t have time or strength to be part of a cause like this, you can be a part of this with them by donating to their team before the end of this month. If you find yourself without their passion, join with them by supporting them financially. If they can’t raise enough money or pay out of their own pocket, they will not be allowed to walk. 🙁

As I’ve said, they are good friends of ours and their team consists of mother, daughters, and niece. We have vacationed with them, been on mission trips with them, and been in small group with them. They come recommended. :p

Published by Brian Slezak on 02 Aug 2008

When I Use Electronic Payment

As a follow up to my last post, I thought I’d explain when I use electronic payment options over paper options. This is in answer Laura’s comment, because my comment got too long. 🙂

My wife and I regularly attend Living Water Christian Church, where Laura Guy, wife to my boss Clif Guy. We also give regularly, by check, even after the option became available to use PayPal. Honestly, I had told Clif that we’d be one of the first people to sign up for electronic transactions at Living Water. We haven’t yet, because of the reason Laura mentions in her previous comment.

My lifestyle, since I can remember having to pay bills, is to use electronic transfers. I haven’t paid a utility bill by check since about 1998, excluding the one or two months between moving and signing up for electronic transfer once again. The main reason is that I’m horrible at remembering to pay bills! Send me the statement or invoice, and I’ll make sure it is free from mistakes before you hit my account with an EFT, but don’t expect me to remember to send you a check at the right time. I want to pay it on time every time, and I feel horrible when I’m late to pay, but I’ll miss it many times per year.

The other part of my lifestyle, strangely enough, is that I’ll always pick the cheaper option. I refuse to pay $5-15 to electronically submit my income tax, when I can print everything out and mail it in for cost of First Class mail, currently 42-59 cents. (As a side rant, leave it to government to make what should be the less expensive option for them, more expensive for us! How about no? Process my paper!) I have a printer; I have envelopes, and when I go to the post office they sell me postage. 😮 I only use electronic submission when it’s roughly equivalent to the cheapest option, because only then does convenience begin edging out price.

So after I got the e-mail from Laura stating that PayPal was available, I thought, “Excellent. Lets do that.” Then it hit me. I paused. The reality that it was my money that was about to be trimmed, three to four percent plus a transaction fee going to PayPal, rather than all of it to the church; I suddenly didn’t want to do it. I had always known that fee was there, but when it was my money I thought about it a great deal more. We’re there every weekend we can be, and we have checkbooks, and when we fill out a check and put it in the basket, it fulfills our contribution.

Just this week, I was surprised to learn that Resurrection is stopping remote deposit because after using it for some time they’ve found that sum of labor, time, and frustration of remote deposit is greater than the ease of letting the paper check do its thing. This is mostly due to the inefficiencies and duplicated efforts of the process we are currently locked into, but it examples how electronic solutions are not inherently easier and cheaper.

Now I will openly admit that this is where Laura may trump my position on this. 🙂 If the cost of business though PayPal is less than the overhead it takes to manually process our check every month – my bad, I’ll sign up today.

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Published by Brian Slezak on 01 Aug 2008

Online Giving and Payment Gateways

I was excited to have been a part of the trip to Edmond, OK to visit the LifeChurch campus there. See team posts here, here, and here. One of the numerous things that crossed my mind, somewhat unrelated to why we were there, was the challenge of online giving. Using any gateway processor out there will cost you 3-5%, or more. It made me wonder if it were possible to create a non-profit infrastructure that provided payment processing at a much lower cost. If a group of interested Christian businesspersons had enough wealth and desire to solve that problem, could it be solved, or is what we have as good as it gets?

I can’t imagine the amount of money that would saved and returned to churches by lowering the barrier to online giving and eliminating the concern about throwing away that money. I understand the fear of churches allowing someone to give to the church via credit card, and I don’t encourage anyone to use that to their own destruction, but I think a reasonable and sound method of electronic giving would be a blessing to many.

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Published by Brian Slezak on 26 Jul 2008

Domain Name Change

Welcome to the new domain for the office curmudgeon, which is a slightly better named. 🙂 This was a huge pain to accomplish, taking me about 6 hours of work, but it is completed exactly how I wanted.

If you are linking to this site, please update your links to when you can. The links will continue to work indefinitely, simply redirecting to the new domain.

Thanks all.


Published by Brian Slezak on 23 Jul 2008

My Closing Thoughts on the DZ Mission Trip

I wanted to provide a last post to lay down my thoughts about the trip and event as a whole. Without a doubt, I feel the mission was worth the time and money to visit the Navajo people and serve them, even if for a short time. Could we have done a lot more and been more efficient? Oh sure, hindsight is always 20/20. Would we have had the same cultural experience if we were more efficient … probably not. In all ways it was worth it, and I really hope I can return again some day.

Ironically, the Monday after I returned I found a post on a blog I casually read titled Are Short Term Missions a Waste of Money? In the post, Andrew addresses the Washing Post article, Churches Retool Mission Trips. I’d suggest taking a moment and reading those posts, they are both thought provoking.

I’m guessing this topic is an age old question that has been asked since missionary work was formed. I’m also guessing that people gave Paul a hard time about how far he traveled at such great expense of time and or money, only to get thrown out of a town on his butt. Is it a shame that Paul didn’t decide, “Hey, I can make a lot more impact at a lower cost of time and risk if I just focus on the local community?” In the Washing Post article, a Florida pastor was quoted in saying,

“It became too hard to justify the expense of flying the kids overseas”, Brinton said. “If you’re going to paint a church, you can do that in Florida as easily as you can in Mexico.”

Ouch. While I am sure it is easier to pant a church within a 5 mile drive of your house than one in Mexico, I think the cultural experience is going to be a bit different. The article sites some great examples of mismanaged mission efforts, and I agree that there are probably a decent number of trips that need to be canceled, heavily trimmed, or completely reorganized. But as a member of the race of broken people, I can’t see the brilliance in ignoring everyone outside of our comfortable range of influence and hoping that there is someone closer to do the job for us. Continue Reading »


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