It’s Friday, Friday, Gotta Go Shopping On Black Friday

It’s that time of year again where Americans mindfully practice gluttony and then stay up all night to save some money on things they may not otherwise buy. With Black Friday less than 6 days away, this year’s holiday retail sales forecast is $465 billion, a 2.8% increase over last year.

If you are planning to get some Christmas shopping done or make a purchase for yourself this Black Friday, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Some stores will be kicking there sales off early. Search around and look for any possible deals.
  • Know what it is you are looking for. If you have an item or items in mind don’t get focused and go for it!
  • Find out when stores are going to be opening. Some may open at midnight others may not open until 4:00 a.m.
  • Don’t go alone. It’s just more fun when you do it with others.

Here is a cool infographic with tips:

 Black Friday Smart Shopper Tips and Tricks brought to you by hhgregg

(Infographic By: hhgregg)

Here are ten more helpful tips from Bradsdeals.com:

  1. Research: Start your Black Friday 2011 sale research on Thanksgiving Day or earlier.
  2. Make a plan: Identify what you want to buy, which stores have the best sales on Black Friday and what time they open.
  3. Timing is everything: Arrange stores by opening time, from earliest to latest.
  4. A fool and his money: Be wary of Black Friday deals with quantity limits. If a store has only 10 items at that price, go elsewhere.
  5. Visualize: Know where your items are in the store.
  6. Stay safe: Previous Black Friday sales were honestly deadly; please don’t trample or shoot anyone!
  7. Power of numbers: Go with a team and attack separate stores or separate sections of the same store. Designate a meeting place.
  8. Bring a snack: Only amateurs stop at the food court on Black Friday! (Or the bathroom — so go before you leave.)
  9. The quiet ones: Don’t ignore stores that don’t advertise. They will have Black Friday deals, too!
  10. Have fun: Enjoy your family, friends and deals!

To learn a little more and find some other good sites that will help you prepare, read USA Today’s insights on the big day!

I will spare you of the more violent videos and outrageous news stories, but just be cautious around all those crazies out there.

Check out these other interesting infographic on Black Friday:

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Marks of a True Christian

This blog post is a slightly longer one, but I encourage you to pray, read and meditate on the scriptures, set some time apart to think through it, and respond with what God spoke to you through this text and how we might apply some of these things to our lives. I read this passage this morning. The more I allowed God to speak to me through it and the more I wrote in response to it, the more I realized that it is kind of piggy backing off of Pastor Drew’s sermon this past 1st chapel.

In Romans 12:9-21 Paul talks about the marks of a true Christian. He instructs the Romans in their conduct by saying this:

9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,t serve the Lord.12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.t Never be wise in your own sight.17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Yes, I used a corny heart picture, and I'm a guy... but it's a nice picture.

If we desire to live lives that will glorify God, then we must have a love that is genuine. This passages helped me see that the context of unity/harmony is loving others no matter what their condition or your condition is. We are not to discriminate against another person’s condition: poor or rich, young or old, white or black, male or female. When someone’s condition is sorrow, we are to weep with them. When someone’s condition is joy we are to be joyful with them. That is what it means to be unified. Under God, we are all a family. Each and everyone of us, designed and created by God in his image with unique gifts, are tied together through a God who loves us. We are to be there for one another and lift each other up.

Furthermore, we must ask ourselves if others look at us and see that we have a hope that can’t be acquired from anything in this world. When others look at us do they see us complaining because of the difficulties we are facing or do they see patience that goes beyond a person’s natural tendency to just want to shut down, mope around, or get angry? Are we constantly in conversation with God? No one is perfect and we all could work on these things. If we begin to meditate on that verse 12 alone and start living it out, then we will begin to reflect Christ more and others around us will want to know what it is about us that is different.

What makes that difference is God’s love working in us. If God’s love wasn’t in us, then we wouldn’t be able to combat the sin that our flesh and human nature desire, love others, do good beyond what the world considers good (ie. love your enemies), and live passionately. God’s love calls us to live above reproach and “overcome evil with good.” It is when we experience God’s love for us and come to know and have a greater revelation of God’s love for us, that we will begin to hate what is evil because it pulls us away from that love. When we know God intimately, we know what good is because he reveals his heart to us. God alone can give us eyes to see as he sees. God loves every person abundantly, so we are to love all even when we have the right not to in the eyes of this world.

What is truly good only flows out of real love. What’s good and what is evil does not change so we must change and become more loving. Real love conducts real living.

God, I pray that we would let nothing keep us from receiving your love and sensing it daily. I pray that we would extend your love towards others even when we have the right not to. I ask that you would just grant us grace as we fight against our natural desires and work towards what is good through the power of your Spirit. Thank you for calling me out of my sin and freeing me from it. I love you God. In the name of your son Jesus, through whom all who believe have been set free, I pray that you would seal this in the heart, soul, mind, and spirit of every person who reads this, including myself. Amen.

Where Surfing Meets Couches: Adventure and Hospitality In Many Cultures

When you are planning to travel there are many things that you have to take into consideration: transportation, food, places you desire to go, things you want todo, expenses of the trip, and where you will stay overnight. While the practice of hitchhiking goes back many years and has taken care of transportation for those who can’t afford it, a new phenomenon has arisen for finding a free place to stay. That phenomenon is couch surfing.

The Urban Dictionary defines couch surfing as “A cheap form of lodging used mainly by college-students or recent college-grads, where one stays on acquaintance’s couches rather than a hotel.” It defines the couch surfer as “one who defeats homelessness by relying upon a series of friends’ couches. A friend or acquaintance who frequently crashes at your house. Can be due to inability to pay his own rent, frequent and/or persistent intoxication, or reluctance to return to his own dwelling.”

While couch surfing can occur in a variety of ways, there seems to be one company and website that started the idea and has the largest network–CouchSurfing. It all began when Casey Fenton found an inexpensive flight from Boston to Iceland in 1999. He decided to randomly email 1,500 students from the University of Iceland asking if he could stay with them. How he had access to those emails is beyond my knowledge, but it led to him receiving more than 50 offers for accommodation. When this happened he came up with the idea to create a network where people could get to know others by their profiles and stay for free in areas all over the world.  According to Wikipedia, a beta site was launched in January 2003 by Fenton and 3 others and it became a public site in January 2004. The site had just over 6,000 members by the end of 2004. As of October 2011, the site has over 3 million members.

Couch Surfing gives travelers the ability to learn cultures from the locals and form many new friendships. You can also be a host by sharing your hospitality and experiencing your city through new eyes when you offer travelers a place to stay on their journey. CouchSurfing describes itself as a community and a movement.  It is a global community with members in over 230 countries and territories around the world. There vision is to see “a world where everyone can explore and crate meaningful connections with the people and places they encounter. Building meaningful connections across cultures enables us to respond to diversity with curiosity, appreciation and respect. The appreciation of diversity spreads tolerance and creates a global community.” There mission states that they desire to “create inspiring experiences.”

I first heard about couch surfing this past summer from someone I worked with. When she explained what it was, my immediate reaction was, “Are you serious!? People actually do that?” I was a little sketched out by the idea and my inner child reminded me of stranger danger, but there are several precautions taken to ensure one’s safety when couch surfing.

This is one of the guys whose testimonial showed up own the site. I know I'm not supposed to judge, but I don't think I would want to stay with him... creepy.

  • There are references from the experiences of other couch surfers.
  • You can also see how many close friends they’ve made from their friend link.
  • Members profiles are not censored so that you know what to expect when staying with someone or hosting someone.

CouchSurfing also has a new member welcome team that will verify your information. I would add to the list do not couch surf alone–that way if a host is a murderer, at least there is a witness (please take note the sarcasm). There’s a reason Jesus sent the disciples out in two’s (Mark 6:7). It’s just like when we were kids and we were told to have a buddy to hold hands with as we crossed the street. There is more power in pairs. Ultimately, you make the decisions, so safety is up to you.

If you are planning on traveling this upcoming winter break, spring break, or summer break, couch surfing may be for you. It simply requires 3 things boldness, an adventurous spirit, and signing up for an account in order to create a profile and begin exploring your options. Be wise in your decisions and live life to the fullest!

Whether you are looking to stay in Rome, Paris, Sydney, LA, or Boston, CouchSurfing has a host for you. If any of you try this out make sure to let me know about your experience and possibly even post something on Anthrotourist about it. It’s really something how social networking and the internet have affected travel in so many ways, and the couch surfing movement is just one of them.

Here’s a video that displays another form of couch surfing.

What’s Your Bloggeragative? The Motives Behind the Blog Posts

Over the course of the last year and a half or so I have been listening to my dad go on from time to time about how blogging is important for businesses, mind you he’s an electrician. While he doesn’t really do it all that much for his business, he began to get convinced of the power of blogging from watching videos about online marketing. He would inform me of how blogging on your website will increase your ranking and how it helps you present yourself to potential customers. I always just kind of blew my dad off because I thought he was wasting his time trying to learn how to get rich quick by marketing online so he could stop working long hours and retire sooner. Even with this, I did not realize how much blogging is used professionally before taking Writing for Digital Media. 

Since 2004 Technorati has been following growth and trends of blogging. This year they have payed close attention to blogging and social media, bloggers and traditional media, traffic and analysis, brands and marketing in the blogosphere, bloggers’ motivations and consequences, monetization, and changes that have taken place over 2011. They found that bloggers are updating their blogs more frequently and spending more time blogging. While conversation between friends was the primary influence in 2010, other types of blogs are having more of an influence in 2011.

Technorati displayed their results according to five different types of bloggers:

“1) Hobbyist: The backbone of the blogosphere, and representing 60% of the respondents to this survey, Hobbyists say that they “blog for fun” and do not report any income. Half of hobbyists prefer to express their “personal musings” when blogging. 60% indicate they spend less than three hours a week blogging, yet half of hobbyists respond individually to comments from readers. Because 72% blog to speak their minds, their main success metric is personal satisfaction (61%).

2-3) Professional Part- and Full-Timers: These bloggers represent 18% of our total group. They are independent bloggers who either use blogging as a way to supplement their income, or consider it their full-time job. Most of these professional bloggers don’t consider blogging their primary source of income. This group primarily blogs about personal musings and technology

4) Corporate: Corporate bloggers make up 8% of the blogosphere. They blog as part of their full-time job or blog full-time for a company or organization they work for. These bloggers primarily talk about technology and business in their blogs. 70% blog to share expertise, 61% to gain professional recognition, and 52% to attract new clients. They have found that blogging has given them greater visibility in their industry (64%) and company (63%). 63% of corporate bloggers use their number of unique visitors to measure success. 

5) Entrepreneurs: 13% of the blogosphere is characterized as entrepreneurs, or individuals blogging for a company or organization they own. 84% of these bloggers blog primarily about the industry they work in, with 46% blogging about business and 40% about technology. 76% blog to share expertise; 70% blog to gain professional recognition; and 68% to attract new clients for their business.”
You can read the full post or see more of the results by reading “Who the bloggers are,” “What’s in it for bloggers,” and “Active blogging.”

After reading this I thought of another category to be added.

6) Student Bloggers: Students who are forced to maintain a blog and have a certain amount of posts by a certain date. Hopefully these bloggers will become one or more of the previous types of bloggers above, but for now most of them just do it for the grade. However, somewhere along the way many of them will discover the value of blogging and learn of its importance. There are a few hobbyist bloggers that are in this group and hopefully many that will emerge out of it. It is also a possibility, but most likely very rare, that there are professional part-timers and entrepreneurs in this group. 

I hope to use blogging in whatever ministry or organization I end up in after graduating. I want to use it to raise awareness about certain needs, teach people different principles of Christian living and leadership, and to update whatever community I’m a part of about what is going on. I also wish to blog as a hobbyist. I will pour my thoughts into posts and hopefully somehow help others through whatever I write; I may do so through tumblr. Maybe along the way I will even be blessed enough to become a part-time blogger.

How will you be using blogging in the future? Where do you see the blogosphere heading?

Adopt-a-block

What is adopt-a-block?

Adopt-a-block is a ministry that gives those desiring to reach out an opportunity to do so. The purpose is to make connections with the people of a focused area (a literal block). With consistency in reaching out, relationships will be established and the gospel will be received with open hearts.

Webster Block 1

Today, I walked around a few streets near the Dream Center of Lakeland with three others. We headed out from the Dream Center with bags of food and no specific destination except the parameter of our assigned block (5th St. to Webster St. to 10th St. to Lincoln St. and everything in between).

Along the way we saw several people about to head to a funeral for someone who was shot in the back of the head. It was a picture of the sorrow and pain that the community faces all too often. As we talked to a neighbor who told us what was going on, you could sense the reality of their suffering and pain. I cannot even begin to imagine the horror of knowing that someone stuck a gun to the back of my son’s head and pulled the trigger. While the presence of the Dream Center has helped to lower the crime rate in the area, there is still a need for people to see and experience the hope of Christ’s resurrection and His abundant, steadfast love for all humanity. This alone has opened my eyes to seeing how necessary it is to be interceding for the lives of those in this community.

Graphic designed by Travis Cooper. Click on the picture to check out more of his work on his tumblr.

As we continued to walk along, we met a few more people and familiarized ourselves with the streets. One encounter that stuck out to me was when we stopped and talked to a women named Laurie. We offered Laurie a bag of food and she gratefully accepted it. We talked with Laurie, for around half an hour and this encounter helped me see how ungrateful I can be at times. I complain a lot about Chartwell’s food, yet her 10 year old son stuck his head out with the biggest smile after tearing open the plastic bag to find applesauce. There is a great need and I pray that we are able to meet some of them and show/share the love of Christ in the midst of it.

How to get involved

Anyone can get involved by coming out to the Dream Center of Lakeland (on the Corner of 5th St. and Kettles St.) at 9am on any Saturday except the 4th one of the month.

A Devotional of John 15:8-11

John 15:8-11:

8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

A revelation of God’s love will not occur until we obey what He commands us to do in His word. Sin separates us from the love of God, but if we keep His commands, then we will be free from sin. We will always have sinful desires, but God helps us to remain in his love. It’s what you know about God and the magnitude of his relentless, abundant love that will determine fullness of joy and life. Once we experience that joy, our lives are never the same. It is a joy that is complete; therefore, we can’t help but change habits and things in our lives that interfere with it.

What are we to do to experience such a joy, bear fruit, and remain in God’s love?

  • Abide in scripture. God has already provided us with a written guide for our lives. As Pastor Chris said one Monday night chapel, “Just read it and do it.”
  • Die to your flesh daily and continually have a repentent heart.
  • Ask God to draw you closer to him. Really seek God out in prayer.
  • Do not ignore those times when the Holy Spirit is tugging on your heart.
  • Thank God for his grace and mercy.
  • Meditate on the fact that God is always with you. He is the closer than any friend, he always sees the best in us, and he is always interested in what we have to say.
  • Lastly, we bear fruit when we put your faith into action.

Dear God, I ask that you would remove everything in our lives that is keeping us from growing and bearing fruit. Help us to abide in you and remind us that without you we are nothing. I thank you for your grace, mercy, and patience as I look to you and your will.

May we always be obedient to God and in doing so be intimately connected to his love and joy, amen.

A Review of “Writing for the Ear”

The News University course “Writing for the Ear” discusses creating quality audio narratives for radio, podcasts, slide shows and video. It is about improving your audio writing. Writing for the ear is something that is completely foreign to me, as are all forms of reporting, so I learned a lot.

What I learned:

  • Audio stories have fewer words than print pieces. They tend to be narrower in focus.
  • When it comes to writing for audio, you must have a ruthless eye for telling detail.
  • Axx stands for a sound that is an actuality; they are snippets of a recorded interview included in a spot or feature. Traxx stands for a voice track. Nat stands for a natural sound.
  • By having a concise pitch, you will more easily be able to narrow down the focus of your reporting and know what you are looking for in an interview.
  • A focus statement is a one-sentenced statement that summarizes your source’s main message and motivation.
  • A question line is the list of questions you want to ask in the approximate order that you want to ask them. It serves as a guide in an interview.
  • The basic building blocks of all radio stories are host intro, axx and traxx.
  • SFX stands for sound effects and it is the way for the reporter to communicate mixing instructions to the sound engineer.
  • By using sound and your words you transport the lister to another place and create scenes. Each scene makes a particular point.

What surprised me:

  • Other than what is written on a script that will make up the axx and traxx, surrounding sounds and nats should be thoughtfully incorporated to help tell a story.
  • Radio has a high rejection rate; this makes pitching a story well especially important.
  • One piece of advice when it came to pitching a story was to pitch what you know.
  • In order to avoid having too much tape, a preinterview should be conducted in which you create a focus statement and question line for your actual recorded interview.
  • Writing short, punch, effective sentences is especially essential to writing for the ear because every word counts.

What else do I want to know:

  • What kind of writing goes on for talk radio?

Overall, this was a very thorough and detailed course. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about reporting through audio.