Friday, July 11, 2008

2008 Report of the Committee on Platform

I don't think many people have ever seen or read the Republican Platform of Iowa. When I first saw it several months ago at our Polk County Convention I couldn't believe how conservative the platform actually was. There is a lot to this platform and tomorrow at the 2008 Iowa GOP State Convention it may be modified. I'm going to look for the Democrat Platform of Iowa sometime to compare the two. Update: Democrat Draft Platform

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Church Website

For almost a year I've been working with a team to update our church website. The biggest update we made was the move from static html pages to a full blow custom content management system built with Expression Engine. Needless to say, I'm REALLY excited about the site going live last weekend.

We still have some debugging to complete to call this version finished; however, I'm really happy with our EE designers at EjaeDesign in New York. They took our really rough ideas and made them come to life. This being our first website built upon a content management system took a lot of back and forth communications to get on the same page. It was worth the effort.

In addition to Expression Engine, we utilized several other tools in putting the website together.

  • Lighthouse | Simple hosted Issue tracking, bug tracking, and project management software.

  • Jumpchart | an online interactive sitemap creator

  • ConceptShare | Online Design Collaboration Made Easy

  • Project Management Extranet | Where we communicated milestones and exchanged information

  • SlideShowPro | a Flash photo gallery and slideshow component for the homepage

  • Wimpy Player | Streaming MP3 Audio and Streaming Video Players

  • | links to many church websites we researched

  • FeedBurner | media distribution and audience engagement services for blogs and RSS feeds

  • Scribd | a way to easily put your documents online

  • Adobe Creative Suite | Photo Editing and Optimization

We chose Expression Engine for our content management system due several reasons. The biggest was longevity and flexibility. EE does a wonderful job separating your content from the design (we can easily change our design in the future) and it is really affordable to use. I highly recommend the product and hiring an EE expert like EjaeDesign to get you started. While we could have programmed and designed the entire site ourselves in-house, EjaeDesign's experience building EE sites allowed us to focus on the content and functionality instead of the nuts and bolts of template and CSS coding.

You can read more about our updated website on the "About Site" page at

Friday, January 18, 2008

Cloning Computers

With a little help from CST (our IT support) and Symantec Ghost Solution Suite 2.0 we've are well on our way to setting up our 19 new computers. The 800+ page implementation guide for Ghost made the project seem more complicated that it really was.

Now that we've successfully created our master image, ran a trial clone, ran a multicast session to clone three additional computers, and did a simple name change and joining to our domain those new computers are all ready for their new homes. I'm looking forward to learning how to use this tool better in the future. It will make the rebuilding and deployment of the computers easier.

The next step is to make an image of the out of the box configuration from HP to have on hand. After that we can clone the remaining machines so they all are identical to one another.

I'm sure there are many ways to configure and push computer configurations out to new clients. For me, Symantec's Ghost Solution has made the process easier. It may be a costly solution to implement for most businesses but with charity licensing the option is very affordable for non-profits.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tim Stevens "Pop Goes the Church" Book Review

Today I got an email from Tim's assistant letting me know I was chosen today. It was a pretty exciting moment for me.

Tim has been working on this book now for several months and it was been interesting reading his progress on his blog. I'm amazed at his ability to write a book, goto to India, and somehow do everything else he must have on his plate at Granger Community Church.

I eagerly await the arrival of the manuscript tomorrow at work. I won't be able to share anything specific about the book or share it with anyone until it is officially released, but I will put together a review about my initial overall impressions when I've completed the work.

Thanks Tim for this wonderful opportunity to provide you input on your latest book. I hope whatever feedback I give you will be helpful. For me it is a great opportunity to give a little back to the one whose given me so much through your other books and blog.

Configuring New HP Computers

Back in December a member of our congregation donated 19 new HP computers along with LCD monitors to replace our aging Dell machines our staff uses. Because of this unique opportunity to set-up all our machines from scratch, we obtained the latest version of Microsoft Office 2007 and Symantec Ghost Solution 2.0 for all the machines. With Symantec Ghost Solution 2.0 we'll be able to set-up one machine and clone it to all the others. Tomorrow we plan to see how it goes.
Our outsourced IT support is sending a guy over in the morning to help with getting things set-up and working. I'm hoping things go smoothly. A couple weekends ago a volunteer and I spent an afternoon loading up our master machine with software. Hopefully that work will payoff tomorrow.

Tonight I got all the machines started up and attached to our server. I was really amazed at how long it takes to simply unpack cables and hook 19 machines up. It does look impressive seeing it all at once.

I'm relatively new to IT work in an official capacity and know far more about the things I don't know than the things I do.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


I've heard the word change tossed around all my life. This week it is everywhere. We want this to change. We want that to change. Changes means so many things to so many people I believe it is a matter of perception.
Heraclitus wrote over 2,000 years ago that:
Nothing endures but change.

The variant of this I grew up hearing all the time was:
The only constant in life is change.

Then again... I also remember that I've heard the opposite said many times as well.
Things will never change [but they typically do].

Life is all about change. The only thing I've ever known in life not to change is God. While my understanding of God has changed as I've grown up, God has been a rock on which I could depend upon. God doesn't flip-flop on the issues. He doesn't rewrite history to spin the truth of actual events. God just "is". Despite how the winds may blow from one day to the next I can rest assured that no matter what each day will brings he'll be with me each step of the way. How about you?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Fred Thompson Speech Following 9/11

I came across this blog that had the speech Fred Thompson gave a few days following 9/11.

Fred speaks from the heart and shows a deep understanding about the issues of those days. His tune hasn't changed over the years since 9/11 regarding this war our country continues to fight.

If you haven't seen Fred speak or checked him out then this is a great example of the kind of statesman and leader his is.

Thanks JammieWearingFool for sharing this!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

World-Class Service: The Greeting

QAQNA: Whether you are an anonymous cog in the gears of a giant call center or you are self-employed working in your home office, it's important to answer your phone well. By the time you finish greeting the customer, he or she has already made a judgment about you, what kind of mood you're in, and how easy you'll be to work with.

If you want to up the level and quality of your interactions with people on the telephone then you need to check out what Tom Vamder Well wrote. This simple bit of advice is so full of common since it is easy to forget.

Thanks Tom for referencing this post in your blog this week. This kind of advice goes along well with the other simple bit of advice I gained from a friend here at work... always greet people with a smile. Until she took the time to explain why smiling was important (similar to this post about the reason for the same ol' greeting) and encouraging me to do it (since I wasn't), I didn't know any better. Now I do my best to always smile when meeting people (even in stores). It makes a huge difference like the simple things in life typically do.

About Tom: I now read all posts from Tom Vander Well's blog QAQNA. Tom is partner and Vice-President of c wenger group, a consulting firm in Des Moines, Iowa that specializes in helping clients measure and improve customer service in their contact centers. I think he is pretty smart.

Thompson Sets Sights Beyond N.H.

ABC News' Christine Byun reports: Fighting to stay in the GOP race, Fred Thompson pressed on with his campaign –- but will essentially forgo the next battleground of early voting: New Hampshire.

It makes a lot of sense that Fred Thompson is going to spend his time and resources where he'll be strong instead of where he is weak. All other presidential candidates do the same thing.

I find it pretty amazing that most people think any candidate has unlimited funds in which to actively campaign in every state in the country. The dramatic differences in airtime costs between some media markets than others goes understated in many cases.

The debates this weekend will be pivotal for all of the candidates. I'm glad Fred will there to give more Americans the chance to see him.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Why I Chose Fred

Tonight I emailed over a dozen friends and family members about why I'm for Fred Thompson for President and to invite them to check him out themselves. The first email I sent was simply a form letter. The letter was so well written and said things so much like I would it didn't make sense to rewrite something myself. Instead, I followed up that email with the following. I thought I'd post it here to share it with the world (or those who take a peak at this corner of it).
<Friends & Family>

I just sent you a form letter from Fred08's website. It really does speak well about my opinions about Fred, but I wanted to personally explain why I'm supporting Fred Thompson for President.

Last night I caucused for Fred. It wasn't until Wednesday night (the night before the caucus) that I really took the time to look into Fred Thompson. I was really undecided up until reading all the position papers and principles Fred outlined on his website.

I've become somewhat of a political junky as I've grown older. I listen to talk radio far more than music in my car, and I try to keep up on current events around the world. Over the last year I've had a hard time determining which candidate for president I'd be able to support. I frankly haven't been thrilled about any of the choices, but I also knew that shouldn't keep me from participating in the process. Someone will be elected as President in 2008 and sitting on the sidelines and just doing nothing doesn't sit right with me anymore.

Fred Thompson may not survive the coming weeks due to the lack of any media attention, but I do feel in the depths of my heart that those who do take the time to check Fred out will be surprised. If anyone the current line up is going to be labeled like "Reagan" then Fred Thompson is the guy. Fred may not be the best communicator in sound bits and those 30 second commercials but when I sat down and listened to his 16+ minute messages to Iowans on Wednesday night (on his website I knew Fred was the kind of man I needed to support.

I find it somewhat amazing that so much of my life is now spent doing the two most controversial things people can do: religion and politics. I don't expect any of my friends or family members to be like me or even believe like me, but I do feel obligated to share with you those beliefs. What you do with them is your decision.

Well, in case you haven't read my blog in the last 24 hours, I'd ask that you check it out. I stepped out on caucus night to do a couple things I've never dreamed of doing before. I've going to get involved more actively in politics on a local level. I've been looking for something to do outside of my life at work/church and this might be just the hobby (aside from reading!) that will enable me to interact with a lot of new people.

Well, I've said enough at this point. If you care to read more you can do so at I just might post more of my thoughts and opinions in the days to come! Feel free to join in the conversation.

If you haven't taken the time to check Fred Thompson out for President I encourage you to do so today.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Iowa Caucus

Tonight I participated in my first Iowa Caucus. It was a pretty interesting experience.

The first thing I noticed tonight was that the turn out was far greater than anyone expected. When pulling up to caucus and seeing a long line of head lights I knew something special was going to happen. I ended up having to park about half a mile from the school and others had to park even further.

Note to the GOP and Democrats... don't have your caucus in the same location. Most schools don't have adequate parking for a lot of cars. In the future you might try and get many of the larger churches in town to open up their facilities and parking lots to host events like this. But... I'm really new to how the system works so it may not be that easy of a fix.

I stood around with over 500 others (only 200 were expected) waiting for the chance to put our name in the hat for our preference in the presidential race. The whole process was fairly informal and the precinct temporary caucus chair did a great job explaining the entire process to everyone.

After he explained everything, representatives from each of the candidates were given time to speak. Regretfully, no one from the Fred Thompson campaign was there to speak on his behalf. I almost stepped forward to say something but didn't know if it would have been proper or not. Following that everyone put their name in the hat and the rest of the evening proceeded accordingly to the agenda. I'd say 80% of those who came left after putting their candidates name in the hat.

I decided to hang around to see what the rest of the experience would be like and ended up stepping up to be one of the two people chosen to represent our precinct on the Polk County Republican Central Committee. Members on the committee form the backbone of the GOP volunteer force in Polk County. The term of office is two years. As a central committee member I'll be asked to serve on a subcommittee and to provide service to the party at events and for political projects. For me it will be an interesting experience and another opportunity to serve our community.

I'm also going to be one of 22 people participating at the Republican County Convention on March 8!

The results from the Iowa Caucus were not entirely surprising to me. I'm grateful that Fred Thompson came in third place so he'll continue his campaign to the White House. It is really amazing how little the press even mentions his name now that I'm paying more attention.
The coming days will be interesting.

Go Fred Go!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Fred Thompson for President

With the Iowa Caucuses less than a day away I finally took some time to look into the GOP candidates for president. Later today I plan on participating in the Iowa Caucuses for the first time by supporting Fred Thompson for president.

Up until tonight I didn't have a clear idea of who I've be voting for until reading up on Fred Thompson. I know Fred doesn't show up high in the polls here in Iowa but in my opinion he most represents the kind of leader our country needs in the coming years. His positions on national security, immigration and social security reforms make a lot of sense and reflect the wisdom and experience of a man who knows the issues and how to address them.

A big part of me wishes Fred Thompson entered the race sooner in the process. When I first started researching the candidates running for president no official position information from Senator Fred Thompson was available. I regret that I didn't seek this information out when he finally announced his intentions to run.

If you happen to be undecided for how you should vote into tonight's Iowa Caucus then may I suggest you take a closer look at Fred Thompson. He posted a special 16+ minute message to Iowans which provides you more than a sound bit about the kind of man he is. After watching the message I really found myself disappointed in how Fred comes across in commercials.

Regardless of how Fred Thompson does tonight I hope he perseveres and continues his candidacy.