Shared posts

19 Dec 13:57

What does the ideal day look like?

by Stephen Abram

What does the ideal day look like?



Well-Being at Work


26 Jul 13:24

Debunking 52 popular myths

by Stephen Abram
16 May 13:55

The Importance of Proper Punctuation: INFOGRAPHIC

by Stephen Abram

The Importance of Proper Punctuation: INFOGRAPHIC

Punctuation Matters infographic



04 Dec 22:38

The Fall of Christmas

by (Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary)
(Today a terrible tragedy hit my community, and I'm reminded that some people wake to Christmas mourning. A timely #TBT post from December 2013. )

So. Our Christmas tree fell over. 

It had been leaning for a while (like, since the second we put it up) and then, finally, after a few days, it succumbed to gravity and crashed to the ground amid the sounds of creaking branches and breaking glass and my giant fur-faced husband shouting, “YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING!”

I knew it was going to fall over -- I wasn't surprised at all when it did. Not even an hour before it made its big dramatic flop to the floor, I took pictures of it tilting off to one side, star drooping like a spent balloon. I kept asking no one in particular, “Do you think that tree is okay? Does that look right?” I knew it was all going to fall apart eventually, but I didn't know how to fix it and I knew I couldn't shore it up on my own, so I backed away, fingers crossed that it would last until Christmas. But it didn't. It couldn't. So we were all just waiting for it to go down. 

Trees fall over sometimes. They just do. Sometimes it's unexpected and other times it's not, sometimes there are good reasons and other times there are not. But it doesn't really matter, because it always makes a mess. And it always sucks.

Really, it's not the Christmas tree falling that hurts, it's the collateral damage that wants to break your tiny heart. 

After our tree fell, my husband and I got down on our knees to pick out all the memories we could salvage and to sweep the broken pieces into the palm of our hands, like little shards of Christmas past to be carried off to the trash. I learned a long time ago to hold loosely to the things of this world, possessions and people both, to the degree that I honestly worry it's too easy for me to let go of the things I love. But when the Christmas tree fell, “aloof” is the tool I pulled out of my back pocket. For me, pretending not to be sad is easier than being sad. Old habit, I guess... old... unhealthy... habit.

It's funny, isn't it? How you can know something is going down - you can see it falling - but you can't always stop it, you can't fix it, you can only watch. And then maybe pick up the pieces. And pretend to not be sad (if you're me. Or, actually be sad, if you are a reasonably well-adjusted adult who is not me). 

Before the tree fell, I was fighting to find joy this year. I was struggling to make a place for the delight of Christmas because I was wrapped up tight in the pain of loss. When it fell, I was like, “Perfect. That is just effing perfect.” Because this Christmas was already well on its way to Sucksville and an unwilling Christmas tree was just the icing on the Birthday Cake For Baby Jesus. *rolling my eyes*

It's been a rough one for me and for some of the people I love. Frankly, this is not the most wonderful time of the year for us, at least not this time around.

I've noticed this year (probably because I'm having a super lame horrible dumb stupid stupid stupid Christmas) that there doesn't seem to be a lot of space in our lives for hurting people during the Holidays. But, man, there are a lot of hurting people. There are a lot of people for whom this time of year is sad or bitter, hollow or lonely, or just plain painful. 

While some of us are celebrating, others are aching.

While some of us are toasting long lives, others are mourning life lost.

While some of us feast on family time, others are starving for love.

The bustle of activity and togetherness in December only serves to make some houses feel all the more empty. 

Loneliness is the quiet enemy of Joy. 

When my Christmas tree fell, it was like Christmas fell with it. The surviving ornaments stayed in a pile on the floor, and the tree, now wrenched upright and properly secured, sat untouched with bare spots and bushy places and branches all tweaked out of order. Ugly. It was ugly and sad, and it felt just like Christmas to me... it felt right. 

So I left it like that until yesterday, when I decided it was too depressing to look at anymore and I set about fluffing and fixing it, rearranging it, and putting it back together. It will never return to its former glory, that is certain. This poor tree is just gonna have to be a little shabby and a little wonky and a little bit lonely looking with so few ornaments left on it this year. But, to be honest, it warmed my own shabby, crooked soul to see it there, waiting for me this morning. That dinged and droopy star calling my name, whispering a truth that I needed badly to remember...

Jesus didn't come to fix it all.  He came to be with us in it all.


God with us. 

Blessed are the poor, the mourning, the meek, and the hungry... for The Lord is with us


Merry sad Christmas, Beloved.   You. Are Not. Alone.

22 Apr 18:18

On the Catwalk

by Mary Kelly

Holly Black likes cats wearing dresses. My cats would run away and never come home.

Fashion Cats

Personal bias alert: I don’t like animals dressed up as people. I think it is weird. That said, if you are into that kind of thing, this is your book.  Behold the pictures below. ‘Nuff said.


PS I am extremely interested in how they got these cats dressed and posed without incident.

More cats:

Crazy Cat Ladies

Bad Kittehs

Cat Training


12 Apr 14:42

Librarian lego minifigs!

by Blake



Books are just about the Librarian’s most favorite thing in the entire world. Reading them can take you on exciting adventures in far-off lands, introduce you to new friends and cultures, and let you discover poetry, classic literature, science fiction and much more. If only everybody loved to read as much as she does, the world would be a better place…and quieter, too!

The Librarian feels that it’s extremely important to treat a book with the proper respect. You should always use a bookmark instead of folding down the corner of the page. Take good care of the dust jacket, and don’t scribble in the margins. And above all else, never – ever – return it to the library late!

10 Apr 12:35

Another Reason to Store Your Data in the Cloud

by Dick Eastman

For Eric & his sleepless night after the computer crashed

I broke my eyeglasses this morning. While loading a toolbox into the back of the car, my eyeglasses slipped off my face and landed on the concrete driveway. One lens shattered.

Luckily, I also have prescription sunglasses that happened to be in the front seat console of the auto. I put the sunglasses on and had full vision, but I wouldn't want to wear sunglasses around the house, especially at night.

Evernote-and-dropboxI should also mention that I am in Florida, but I purchased the glasses a bit more than a year ago from a big-name optical franchise in Massachusetts. I drove to a local franchisee of the same chain, hoping they would have my prescription on file in their computers and could make new glasses for me quickly. Alas, it was not that easy. It seems the local store's computers could not access prescription information from another store.

A very helpful clerk suggested I call the office of the ophthalmologist that wrote the prescription and ask someone at that office to FAX the prescription to the local store. I had a better idea.

I remembered that I had taken a picture of the prescription within a few minutes after I received it last year, using my cell phone's camera, and then I had saved the picture in Dropbox. I also remembered that the picture had been very clear and the text of the prescription was easily readable in the picture. While still in the store in Florida, I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket, touched the Dropbox icon, and retrieved the prescription from the Dropbox servers. A few seconds later, a crystal clear image of the prescription appeared on my cellphone screen.

Of course, an optician cannot easily make new glasses while looking at a prescription displayed on a tiny screen. I also did not have a printer with me. Once again, the solution was easy: I asked the store clerk, "Does the store have an email address?" He said they did have email and gave me the address.

While still displaying the prescription on the screen, I touched the "forward" icon in the lower left corner of the screen, touched EMAIL, and then entered the store’s email address. I then touched SEND. The clerk went out to the back room and re-appeared about a minute later with a piece of paper in his hand: my prescription. It was much clearer and easier to read than the typical FAX document.

The total time consumed was less than five minutes. That certainly is much faster than calling an ophthalmologist's office in another state, asking them to FAX the document, and then waiting for it to arrive.

My glasses will be ready this afternoon.

Between Dropbox and Evernote, I have hundreds, perhaps thousands, of documents filed away, including prescriptions, insurance policies, travel itineraries, bills, automobile titles and registrations, all sorts of receipts, and notes to myself that I used to write on yellow "sticky notes." In effect, I am carrying the equivalent of a large filing cabinet in my pocket at all times.

I also save backup copies of all my genealogy data in Dropbox. The copies include the latest update of my genealogy database (and several earlier versions as well), all text notes I have written, all email messages I have sent or received concerning my own family tree, and scanned images of all the old family photographs. Even if I have a fire or a burst water pipe in my home, I know my data is safe on servers in well-managed data centers that are professionally maintained and backed up often. Of course, I always keep copies on my own computers as well.

You can easily do the same. I use both Dropbox and Evernote. Several other, competitive services are also available. I find Dropbox to be better at keeping documents, pictures, and larger computer files. I especially like the quick and easy method of uploading pictures from a camera. I typically upload the photos every week or two and then delete them from the camera in order to make room for new pictures. However, I prefer Evernote for "notes to myself" as well as many smaller things I wish to save by copying-and-pasting from information displayed on the computer screen.

You might have different preferences. You might find images created by a smartphone's camera are perfectly acceptable. Then again, you might prefer to scan various pieces of paper using a desktop or handheld scanner. Evernote and Dropbox don't care; they will accept either method.
NOTE: Almost all the companies I deal with, including my bank, offer paperless billing or paperless banking. I select that option whenever possible. The mailman delivers very little paper to me these days except for junk mail, and I don't scan that. Almost all my bills now arrive in email where I can quickly save them in Dropbox. Bank statements and even canceled checks for the past several years are now available in my Dropbox account. I don't keep any of that on paper.

Security? Online security is much, much better than keeping pieces of paper at the house, where those documents would be available to thieves or to visitors to the house or subject to mold or mildew. Also, if I throw away paper documents at the house, “dumpster divers” can retrieve them from the trash. With electronic documents, I don't even need to buy a shredder. Even better, I can find those receipts and even canceled checks in seconds in Dropbox. Doing the same thing with a filing cabinet will require much more time, especially when on vacation or just traveling down to the local mall to visit an optician.
Both Dropbox and Evernote are available FREE of charge, up to some reasonable amount of data (two gigabytes of storage space for Dropbox, 60 megabytes of data transfer per month for Evernote). Those limits will hold a LOT of documents. More storage space and data transfers are available for reasonable fees.

Both Dropbox and Evernote can retrieve your data and store it in Windows or Macintosh systems as well as in most of the popular handheld devices of today. Assuming you carry a smartphone with you, your "filing cabinet" is available to you wherever you are. You can download the Dropbox software to your computer at and find instructions for installing Dropbox on Android, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, and Kindle mobile devices at You can download Evernote for computers and mobile devices by starting at

While you hopefully won't break your eyeglasses any time soon and need an emergency prescription, you never know when you will have an urgent need for some piece of information. Having all your documents available to you electronically, wherever you are, can save you time and frustration.

Stop running around! Make your life easier! Store your data in the cloud with Dropbox and/or Evernote.