Blog: The absolute latest random thoughts

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When did the Fall happen?

The merging of the blogs...

Living in micromanaging

MNBlogCon 2017 musings

Bread and circus

Salvation vs. Kingdom

"In your anger, do not sin"

Envy and the Cross

What is Repentance? Really?

Living sacrifices

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SpringShare and Dapper

Just learned about these two -- more fun stuff to explore! Wow!!!

I wonder if there's a personal homepage site/app that behaves like SpringShare does? Hmmm...


A couple educational URLs

I should throw these into Delicious, but they look even more promising than to just get buried there:


What is a "church"?

Berean friends (or others) should listen to this overview of the new Awaken plant:

- theological distinctions between BGC and Covenant
- the role of a "missional church"
- the audience of "cultural creatives"
- when to hold church - what does 5:00 p.m. get you, what does it not?
- why keep these plans a secret and then spring them on the congregation?

As frank and open as any on-the-record conversation could be, I think.

Podcast Title: Soulstice Podcast
Episode: Awaken_Q&A
Media URL:

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Podcast feed URL:


Gaming for learning (and related ethics)

I need to dig up the podcast (EDUCAUSE, maybe?) where a speaker discussed gaming as "crowdsourcing" to end up gaining data for one purpose or another.

It's all about marketing (or worse), right?

Podcast Title: APM: Future Tense
Episode: The Coming Gamepocalypse
Media URL:

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Podcast feed URL:



Google Tries to Simplify Fonts on the Web

Gotta look into this one...



Faculty as Curators

Joseph Rueter gave a great conceptual overview of curation at today's MinneBar -- one that had no overt push for his company CurationStation.com. Instead, it was a great look at the role of curation in society (I have no hope of summarizing the deck and presentation here; trust me, it was good) and it got me thinking about the role of faculty.

Some get worried in the face of MIT's OpenCourseware and such -- "if the content is freely available, what good am I?". But someone needs to steer/guide students rather than dumping information on them (or letting them dump it on themselves). That's the role of a curator!

Nothing magical about the name and role has been around forever but, just as "podcasting" gave rise to distributed on-demand audio content merely because people had a concise name to attach to the concept, "curation" as a term can have an empowering role in the conversation.


Promoting social engagement?

Question I have based on a social media session: how do you use social media to move people "up the ladder of engagement"? The @ignitus mission, if I got it right, is "connecting non-profits with passionate supporters"... But what about your supporters who aren't "passionate"? Yet?

Notes from the session on this concept:

@RachelJeanMpls touched on the concept early on -- that there are levels that people move along.

Lisa @footenotes said you can have the infrastructure in place and then react when a news event gets people thinking about your issue (but not pouncing as an ambulance chaser)

@AlanHill8 talked about entertaining/celebrating, and maybe that helps reach Lisa's goal without doing it in a negative environment?



A YouTube alternate

I have to read up on this one:




Leadership podcast episode

Oops -- independent vs. "interdependent."


Leadership podcast episode

This is a really interesting episode -- especially the independent vs. integrated teams idea. Some "teams" really aren't, and the people on the "other" team (who you depend on to do your job) are really on _your_ team.

Podcast Title: Blog Business Success | Blog Talk Radio Feed
Episode: Kevin Eikenberry: Remarkable Leadership - Nov 02,2007
Media URL:

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Podcast feed URL:



The struggles with "rewards" programs

I heard back from the good folks at StaplesTweets who asked for details on the problems I've had with rebate programs, since I mentioned them as part of a tweet on my less-than-fun experiences:

"I'm amazed at how companies (@bestbuy, @officedepot, @staplestweets) make their "rewards" programs so convoluted & frustrating"

So, in brief (but not as brief as 140 characters that I'd be limited to on Twitter), here's my Staples experience in particular:

In March, I had two "Staples Rewards" certificates -- 20-some dollars that expired that month, and 30-some dollars that expired a month or two later. I made a $30-something purchase and paid by handing over my $20-something certificate to pay most of it, then handing over my $30-something certificate to pay for the few dollars on the balance.

When I got home, I took a close look at the receipt; instead of there being nearly $30 left on the certificate, it said that there were only $4 or $5 left. It's as if the first certificate didn't exist.

I got the kids to bed and rushed back to the store before their 9:00 closing so they could dig out my first certificate from their bag-of-certificates (which, of course, I had no evidence of having given them once I gave it to them).

Long story short, it turns out that Staples "rewards certificates" are actually "coupons" (according to the store manager) and you can only use one at a time. When I handed over the second one, it applied to the entire purchase and the first one (which expired earlier) was ignored (but not handed back to me).

So, the manager voided the entire purchase and re-rang it all, then took just the first certificate, and I paid the balance in cash.

I specifically asked, "Is the second certificate still good, or will the computer consider it to be 'used' now?" She said it would be fine, but if I had any questions she'd be sure to remember me and fix it if it didn't work the next time I used it.

Fortunately, I made sure to go back on the same day and time when I used it a week or two ago because -- you guessed it! -- it didn't work.

My wife had sent me to get some batteries that are supposed to be free (or super-cheap or something) "after rewards"... but now, not only do I not have any idea if I'm really going to get the rewards on something that I bought with a rewards certificate... but even if I'm supposed to, I don't know if I really will because I don't know what the manager did to the system to make sure that it actually worked that night.

And, from what I understand, it's going to be weeks before I know whether the sale "posted" to my account properly. What I do know at this point is that the purchase of a chair mat on a day I wasn't there has shown up just fine... which doesn't give me much confidence in the system.

So, here's the point. Eventually, it'll all work out fine (though it might take a few phone calls from my wife)... but I don't "feel good" about Staples, and isn't that the purpose of a "rewards" program? When my wife says, "Can you swing by Staples and pick this up for us?"... I don't feel excited.

I feel worried.

Isn't that a bad thing?

To be an equal-opportunity complainer, here's a response I sent last night to someone else about a the Best Buy rewards program:

With rebates, there's kinda the understanding of "If you jump through these hoops, we give you an insanely good price on something". But the "rewards" stuff is branded as "You're a loyal customer so if you buy things with us instead of our competitors, we'll treat you as 'special' and give you some money or coupons once in awhile."

So, let's take Best Buy as a hypothetical example... I bought a Wii and a cheap Insignia camcorder for Christmas. No points showed up, for weeks. When I re-entered the receipt number, it said it had already been entered. So I just went back in [to the Best Buy rewards site], found that I had a $5 certificate waiting with one month before it expires, but that $89 and change had been "forfeited" on 2/5. And when I checked my preferences, I found that "e-mail me coupons and things" had been unchecked, which I know I'd had checked before -- and which I'm sure is why I didn't get any sort of "birthday coupon" in January.

Thus, what's my feeling about Best Buy? Certainly not the warm, fuzzy, "I like shopping here" thing that they're going for. With rebates, I understand that it's a "game". But the "rewards" thing is supposed to make me happy and make me like them, isn't it?

Sometime soon I have to podcast about the opposite -- the AWESOME way the Burnsville Hope Depot handled their Saturday morning kids program (in contrast to the Apple Valley one).

Anyway, it's just frustrating -- not personally, but in that "No, squirrel! Don't run under that car that's speeding toward you!" sense.
And, rounding things out... I bought some stuff at Office Depot using a gift card that I'd received, and they were supposed to end up "free after rewards"... but the system says that rewards aren't given when purchases are paid with a "merchandise card". A "gift card" isn't supposed to be a "merchandise card"... but that's how it showed up on the Office Depot rewards site. But Ruth called and asked and they said that the free-after-rewards program was "totally separate" from their standard rewards program. Will my free stuff be free? Maybe. Of course, they said if it didn't come through, "all we'd have to do is call them"...

Somehow, I don't feel very "rewarded".


Politically incorrect advice


Neil's article "Do Business Like A Prostitute" isn't a very "polite" topic... But I think his observations are spot-on!



Basecamp plans, pricing

Been told it's "like Sharepoint in the cloud"




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