Memes of New York

someecards meme creation for facebook

I have always been a big fan of the late, great Dave Barry. I say late because, as of the writing of this post, he is fifteen years late responding to my fan mail. Seriously though, his writing style has been truly inspirational to me. Every word so carefully crafted, it’s as if his filter was not a six pack of Budweiser, but a chain mail of brilliance. A lot of what made his writing so ingenious was his ability to pull together the most random of objects or discussion points, find a hidden link and tie them together to a wonderfully resounding denouement.

In the hopes of following in his steps, I want to talk about the memes that have recently been littering my Facebook news feed (I am referring to the images with a clever quote overlaid ..or something like that). Where did this phenomenon originate? Who came up with this crazy thing? To find out, I decided to use some investigative journalism. [Note to the IRS: Yes, it has been a long time since I've done any investigative journalism, but if you take a look at my previous articles, you will see I definitely do it for business reasons.] This time, my professional journalistic nature took me to the grand city of New York.

For those of you who have not yet been to New York City, let me tell you a bit about this wonderfully stuffed berg. It houses two of the most hated baseball teams in the Major Leagues and is the only logical city for Spiderman to sling around in. Let’s be honest – imagine if Spiderman lived in Omaha, NE. All he could do would be to spin a huge net between the Woodmen Tower and the First National Bank Building. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think he’d be very effective that way unless criminals were sling shooting themselves through the air.

Back to New York. While there, I ran into the tremendously helpful Jolene Smithers. When asked about her knowledge of the funny card corporation, Someecards, she excitedly responded, “Who?” To help jog her memory, I told her I was talking about those funny cards that get passed around a lot on Facebook. Now clear on what I was asking about, she said, “Oh, I don’t do that Facebook thing. Sorry.” That confirms only 1 of the 18 million people living in New York are not familiar with these memes, proving these are obviously significant no matter where you live.

Why does this matter? It matters because these memes are so completely helpful to our daily life. Thousands of barely surviving business struggle on Facebook trying to provide relevant and informative information to their constituent base, but they’re not doing anything for the gazillion Facebookers out there; nobody cares about helpful information anymore – mindless entertainment is the way to go! I could not agree more, as I am certainly a huge fan of mindless entertainment. I must say though that I am not a fan of the letter games going around; I’ve spent all day trying to figure out how many states do not have any vowels and I’m now way behind on work.

That is why I am so fond of Dave Barry’s work; his mind is as disconnected as mine and he doesn’t use words more complicated than “potato”. I’m pretty sure if they had memes back in the 80s, he would have become a millionaire (but only if he had been the one to invent them). [Note to the IRS: I admit this does not seem like a lot of research for an entire trip to New York, but I can assure you that I have more crackpot investigations to come; such as, what would happen if the Incredible Hulk got trapped in the subway? Or, what exactly does crab juice taste like? Trust me, there is a ton more where that came from.]

someecards meme creation for facebook

The Beauty of a Storm…Passed

It was, at the time, an eerie calm outside. It felt as if the wind had hit the pause button, though somehow you could still feel something moving through the air. My family lived in a single story home, which is rare for the Omaha area, and had very few options when rushing for the safe spot in the house during a tornado. Crushed and clamored in the hallway was certainly not our first choice for family interaction, but on Pease Drive, it was the safest. Reports were coming in with a tornado touching down about two miles west of our home, moving southeast.

This was all more of an annoyance, really. Growing up in tornado alley, this was just part of the summer experience. By the time I was in high school, I slept through and completely missed the tornado sirens for a touchdown that occurred on my school route. At the time, though, this was intense. I was maybe seven or eight then and the electricity in the air was palpable. My father decided he wanted to take a look and see things for himself; I immediately decided I had to as well and opened my eyes to my first live look at nature’s wild beast. I, of course, felt like Indiana Jones jumping over a chasm; my inner manliness wanted out to stare danger in the face. My dad, on the other hand, was frustrated this storm forced him to stop working on his yard project out back.

As a child, our eyes are usually closed even when we think we are staring danger in the face. That tornado did not pose a significant threat against me, even if it had turned more our way. With my parents making the decisions and advanced warning tools gaining momentum, there was only slight worry as to our fate. If things had gotten bad we could have taken the 30 second run over to our friends’ home with a basement; and even if we couldn’t get over there, our home was at the bottom of a hill and we were all tucked inside a hallway. Everything we could have done to protect ourselves was checked. At that point, all there was left to do was wait for the finger of God to move.

Recent posts of mine have referred to a story of a particular storm in my life; one that included years of car trouble, job searching and city jumping. It has certainly presented itself like a storm of storms. I felt much like the Israelites must have while trapped between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army. As I was seemingly nearing the end of the storm, my church pastor gave a copy of The Red Sea Rules by Robert Morgan. It was not a big or complicated publication, but it highlighted ten basic rules of faith that was portrayed through the Israelites’ flight from Egypt.

I hope beyond explanation that this storm has passed. I am coming to realize, only now, the real purposes of this storm. Looking back over the last three or so years, there was not one moment where I was not under the protection of God. We never missed one bill payment, lost out on one meal, nor did we even have to significantly sacrifice much in the way of entertainment. We may have been dangling over the ledge, but there is no question there has been a rope tied around our waist. Of course, we could only be in the eye of the storm at this point and the cord could be cut – we could still go broke, lose our home, and go hungry; but God has made this abundantly clear: no matter what happens, He is still in control.

That said, I choose to praise and thank Him for His presence in my life. Things may improve from here leading to a wonderfully prosperous time for Nita and I; they may push us off the cliff. Either way, I have learned that though I may bend, I won’t break. I trust in Him who provides. Here are some words from MercyMe’s song Move, that I feel mirrors our experience up to this point. Enjoy.

“When life won’t play along

And right keeps going wrong

And I can’t seem to find my way

I know where I am found

So I won’t let it drag me down

Oh, I’ll keep dancing anyway

This hurt is getting heavy

But I’m not about to cave

Everything’s about to change

There’s gonna be brighter days”

redsearules

I’m Done Wasting My Life; Time to Lose It

riskisright

Yesterday I finished reading John Piper’s Risk is Right. It’s not a huge book, but I took my time with it, as due to the circumstances in which I received it, I felt it worth savoring slowly. I received it about a week prior, the afternoon after I quit my job. It was sent in the mail to me as a gift from two very close friends back in Omaha. For the three weeks leading up to leaving my job I battled constantly the idea of risk vs. wisdom. I have been feeling the call of God to start inching my way towards ministry again (He may or may not want me to be inching along, but currently that is my pace).

I left full time ministry 10 years ago and until last January never looked back. Based on prodding from my mentor in Seattle, the thought and opportunity to come back into church service has begun to bud. Even though I came very close to a job offer at our church in Seattle, it was not to be, and God led Nita and I down to south Florida. It was there he brought me to Cape Alliance. On our first day of visiting, they announced that was the last day of their Associate Pastor whom would not be replaced by paid staff. One of his main duties was the youth group. God spoke and here we are leading an entire youth group.

Upon our arrival to Fort Myers, both Nita and I graciously landed jobs quickly so that we could get our feet set. It is now seven months later and I am back in the job hunting mode again. At least this time we have no intention of moving. This is not a story about what happened at the job, and though it had a lot to do with circumstances surrounding working there, my battles over the last month have been about taking the next step in my faith. Maybe that meant moving a few inches at once, maybe just one, but it has certainly been a battle.

Conventional wisdom taught me to never quit a job without another one lined up. That has only been magnified under the current economic stress. But I felt a continuing nod to end my career in sales and open myself back to the world of giving, whether in church or at least non-profit service. With building pressure on every side, I became forced to make a decision: either stay where I am and close my heart to God’s pull or step out in faith. I have always desired control, even more so over myself. God kept tugging on me to let Him supply our needs and live on faith. One easy way to try that would be to give up an income…

Thus, last week I either did the stupidest thing ever or made one of my biggest leaps of faith. That said, I am being responsible and job hunting with fervor, but I have noticed that my faith and desire to trust in God’s leading for the next step is growing. There is where the book comes in. Arriving at the perfect time from friends that I trust with my life and who know on infinite levels more than me what it means to live on faith, I opened the pages and was impacted with the nature and power of risk immediately. The story of Joab and Abishai in 2 Samuel 10 was particularly convicting.

“Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother and deployed them against the Ammonites. Joab said, ‘If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to come to my rescue; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come to rescue you. Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.’” (2 Samuel 10:9-12)

We are called to do our absolute best with the talents, knowledge and strength given to us, but the lesson here is that God controls the outcome. The LORD will do what is good in His sight. I do not know what will happen, but I know that Nita and I have placed our lives in the center of His hands and am confident He has a good plan for us…granted, that plan may not be on this side of heaven. We’ll just have to travel on this journey and see where it goes.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

In case anyone is curious, though I am fully confident in God, do not be misled. The only times my knees are not shaking is when I am on them praying. Which, at this point, is often. Lastly, let me send a shout out to my friends Lee and Chelsea, the ones who sent me this book. They live on risk daily as they are paid by faith support through their college ministry, Cru. Follow the link to learn more about them and consider supporting them. Their first child is only a few months old and they are adopting 3 more children this summer. I’m afraid Nita and I still have a lot to learn…

riskisright

Phil Stalnaker, Stickboy Creative’s Business Development Director, Interviewed by News-Press

Phil Headshot CL

I am honored to announce that I have been highlighted in a story from the News-Press in their Coastal Life Section. The article was published on Friday, November 23rd, and tells the story of a dedicated professional who works hard while enjoying his sunny new life in Florida.

I am excited to be on the Stickboy Creative team and pumped that my efforts have led to an article after only four months of living in SWFL! Follow the link to read the article in the News-Press and see my dedication to doing what is right for each and every person I meet.

Stickboy Creative is a cutting edge Design Company specializing in Website Design & Development, Print Design and Print Management, Animation, Video Production, Identity Branding and much more. We are a one stop shop for all of your company marketing materials and we do not disappoint. Stickboy Creative was established in November of 2007 and has been growing at a rapid pace. Please contact us at 239.206.1193 or toll-free at 888.758.5558 to get a website that will make you bold | innovative | now.

FYI, since the publishing of the article is has already turned into direct business for our firm. Thanks, Florida!

This is a scan of the actual paper from the News-Press.

This is a scan of the actual paper from the News-Press.

Here is the full link to the article for sharing:

http://www.news-press.com/article/20121123/COASTAL_LIFE/311230003/Q-Phil-Stalnaker?nclick_check=1

 

Giving Thanks is Hard Work…So is Shopping

Black Friday Mob

As we enter into another holiday season, we realize how easy it is for all of us to quickly jump into Christmas mode while the impact of Thanksgiving fades away with the tryptophan. While I enjoy cringing at the start of “The Christmas Shoes” as much as the next guy, it seems a bit unfair that our beloved turkey day gets left in the dust. Stores have traditionally never had respect for the holiday, decorating for Christmas while children were still out trick-or-treating. Yet each year the disrespect deepens to the point to where “Black Friday” has now officially become a higher priority than Thanksgiving.
Black Friday, the day where good people turn into vicious monsters, has gained fame in recent years with the growing bargains of retail stores. As stores compete for who can run out of merchandise the fastest, consumers are prodded with earlier open hours and larger percentage discounts. Only a few short years ago, early starts on Black Friday were 4am. Last year, 4am turned into midnight, and this year has turned into 8pm the evening of Thanksgiving.

As much as it pains me to admit this, the frenzy for bargain shopping and the response by the retail outfits is actually in line with the original spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday. As the pilgrims celebrated the first year’s harvest, each individual at that table was relieved and thankful, because their death inducing labor finally showed fruit. With the first Thanksgiving, early Americans could finally see a future to work towards. Survival would soon turn to growth, and growth would eventually give birth to a thriving national economy. We, the people survived. It was true grit and tenacity that saw to that.

It is true grit and tenacity that will ensure our survival through these difficult fiscal times. Whatever business you may be in, success means rolling up your sleeves and getting into the game. We know that – and we know that we cannot do it alone. The team is the golden egg; just as any team truly is. Companies that have close, tight-knit units will operate with power and efficiency; those that don’t…well, let’s just say it doesn’t matter how early they open on Black “Friday”.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my wife and her willingness to do what it takes for others. I am thankful for friends and family, whether they have been around for days or years. I am excited and appreciative for every future opportunity and will continually be on the lookout for those whom we can help along the way.

The original settlers did what it took to survive and celebrated their success with thankfulness. Now, we do the same to survive in the mall. The times may look different, but the attitude of thankfulness stays the same. Let’s all hope that attitude is in full bloom when the shopping begins, as it is that attitude that made it possible.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Black Friday Mob

Image from Gengame.

The Incredible Dork-i-ness of Being

Phil and Nita at Universal Orlando

I admit to being a dork, and truthfully, I don’t exactly mind it. There is a lot of fun allowed in this world to the dorks, nerds (smarter versions of dorks) and generally unappreciated members of society. Bart Simpson himself is a dork – he gets bullied at school, hangs out with Milhouse (and, at times, Martin) and is a failure at being a rebel because he cares too much. Coincidentally, that would be the first piece of evidence of my dorkiness; my ability and desire to discuss deeper philosophical issues from the Simpsons. But part of what makes life so much fun is relating most everything to the krazy karacters headlining Fox’s Sunday night animation domination (Peter Griffin, is still second to Homer).

The topics of deep discussion move forward from there, but not necessarily upward. One of my favorite debates is the swallow’s ability to transport coconuts. Before you ask me whether I am talking about African or European swallows, let’s make sure we stay on track. And was it really that hard for Lois Lane to not catch Superman hiding behind Clark Kent’s glasses? I will always side with Aragorn’s story over Frodo’s and am honestly glad that the movies did not include the 27 more endings for Return of the King that the book did. I enjoy having my opinions and arguing their basis for insight on human nature; after all, how would we know not to skip immediately to ludicrous speed if not for Dark Helmet’s mistake?

As I’ve aged, the naysayers that laughed at me during puberty have all fallen into silence. It’s incredible to note that more people seem to discuss Glee in public circles today than the Philadelphia Eagles’ plummet from the ranks of the NFL elite. By the way, I do not in any way endorse Glee – I have never seen an episode and do not intend to – I would still rather watch an Eagles’ game (despite me NOT being a fan and their dismal play of late). Being a dork isn’t really made fun of anymore – it’s glorified, respected; even admired. This is unlike one of the other labels I have been living under.

In media, culture and even some individual chatter, being a Christian is becoming more and more a joke. Not a Peter vs. the Giant Chicken kind of joke, but a serious offense against the rest of the world. As humans, we are all in this together, and though we each have our own opinions and beliefs on what is best and how to move forward, we still occupy the same space with each other. Whether or not there is room enough on this planet for all the differing opinions does not matter; we are all stuck here on this planet and all life (thus all opinions) have a right to exist.

As a Christian, I hold to certain opinions (the content of those opinions is not important here). This is where most people get angry, as they see those opinions as intolerant and aggressive towards other worldviews. Why? Look at this first part of the sentence: “As a Christian…” This means that I have chosen to live under a certain set of principles. My opinions are held for those who choose to live under the same set of standards. If I were to say, “As an American, I believe in taxation with representation”, that would be a belief held by those who choose to live under America’s standard; regardless of how they became a citizen. That may not be the opinion in another country, but I have no right, rhyme or reason to judge the citizen of another country that does not espouse that belief.

People who have chosen to live under another faith, or no faith at all, have ultimately chosen a different set of standards and principles to live under. That is their choice. Do I believe that my faith has something to offer other people? Absolutely, and I’m not afraid to share that. But it is still their choice to follow. If they choose not to, then they are free to live with whatever opinions they see most desirable. Tolerance is allowing them that decision. There are those inside my same faith who believe it is their duty to push their rules onto other people. Those people also exist in every faith, nationality and world view. In the end, each individual is accountable for only themselves.

I cannot nor will not answer for the inquisition, Holy wars, or even Jimmy Swaggert. What other people have done in the name of their country, their faith, or even themselves is a problem for every race and creed. What I can answer for is myself. Are my acts friendly, loving, and full of grace? After all, if you sum up everything in the Bible it comes down to one thing: love.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

It’s incredible being a dork.