Posted by: pberry | July 27, 2009

It might get awesome

Thanks to @mattgronseth for this gem. Can’t wait to see when it gets to Colorado Springs.


Makeesha Fisher made a wish on facebook late last week: Really wish people would refrain from having loud private awkward conversations on their cell phones in public. If we can’t stop them, at least we can laugh at them. This one reminds me a bit of the guys who claim they can get you 15,000 followers on Twitter. Never mind that they only have 30. They can do it for you.

My friends Brian and Lori were at a local coffee shop partaking in overroasted espresso and free wifi. It’s a great place to people watch if you like watching Bible studies. That day, one guy made it kind of hard not to watch.

“I’m talking loudly because I’m getting very excited,” he says into his cell phone. “I’m getting very excited about what I can do for you. That’s why I’m talking loudly. I’m telling you, I’ll hang 20 lbs of pure muscle on you.”

From all appearances, he wouldn’t have struck you as a physical trainer. He was short and stocky; his stomach round and chin doubled. Nothing about him indicates concern for his physical appearance, especially his ragged grey sweats. He looked as though he could certainly lift weight, but would never be mistaken for being “in shape.”

“I’ll give you biceps like coconuts. You’ll have tear-drop calves. You’ll have abs like a turtle.”

The trainer stops his loud talking, presumably listening to his would-be turtle-abed protege. Brian and Lori look at each other, eyes wide, broad smiles slowly creeping over their faces. Brian mouths the words “Abs like a turtle?”

Given the untrained appearance of the trainer, one can only assume the person on the other end of the phone replied, “Why don’t you look that way?”

“Because I was in a car accident you numb-nuts!”

Four years ago, the same guy had approached me in the same coffee shop with the same line. Makes me wonder whether there was a potential turtle-abed client on the phone or he was just hoping someone would overhear how he is an awesome trainer.

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Posted by: pberry | July 1, 2009

Heaven: The Map!

Props to Mark Kraakevik for finding this gem.

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Posted by: pberry | June 29, 2009

Moneyball for the rest of us

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game A couple years back, my brother-in-law loaned me Michael Lewis’ Moneyball. Matt pitched in college and is a pretty smart guy, so I gave it a read. It was another instance of his typical brother-in-law awesomeness. It was so good that I neglected to give it back. I think Matt has already purchased another copy. (If not, Matt, let me know and I’ll buy you a new one. Your old one is falling apart.)

In 2002, the Oakland A’s spent $40 million on player salaries. The New York Yankees spent about three times that amount and three and a half times as much as the lowest team that year. Baseball has a luxury tax, but it does little to keep teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels from spending amounts that small market clubs could never dream of while still making a profit. (On a side note, the problem continues: The Yankees spent nearly 10 times more than the Florida Marlins in 2008.)

Moneyball tells the story of A’s attempt to win inspite of the inequity of team salaries. Through the research of a night security guard in Kansas, A’s GM Billy Beane focused on different success indicators. This lead Beane to draft and sign players that no one else wanted and trade players other teams valued that he didn’t. Beane and the A’s executives weren’t asking if a .300 batting average was still a good batting average. They were asking if batting average was as good an indicator of success as other statistics. Are walks valued enough? Is a player who makes a diving catch a better fielder than the one reads the ball better off the bat? Do RBIs matter at all? Are closes over-valued? How can we exploit all of this?

For the baseball fan, Moneyball is a fascinating read about how to win games in the modern era. Moneyball isn’t about redefining success. This book is about reevaluating the way you achieve success. Baseball fan though I am, I took a lot more away from the book than the importance of OBP. It got me asking questions about achievement indicators in business (and ministry). What things point toward a successful employee? Are policies based on this? Do we hire based on this? Do we compensate based on this? Do we discipline based on this? Do we fire based on this?

All the questions this can bring up for you boil down to two things. In my context:

1. What conventional wisdom is actually folly?
What thing is traditionally valued in my context that has no bearing on my success or failure? What measure am I using that doesn’t really accurately reflect how well I’m doing?

2. Knowing this, how can I use it to my advantage?
What should I be valuing instead? How can I change what I measure?

I’ll leave an idea or two in the comments. Please add yours.

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Posted by: pberry | June 18, 2009

We could have won state Here’s a comment I submitted at the KC Star’s Royals blog. The post again laments the Royals being suited for the NL. Personally, I’m tired of that discussion. We’re not in the NL. Maybe it was a bad decision, but certainly not worse than those listed below.

We don’t suck because of one bad decision. We suck because of a decade of bad decisions. This was one of them. Why keep talking about it? This horse is dead! It’s not getting up! Here are some other dead horses we could beat instead:

What would this team be like with Johnny Damon in the lineup?

Or Beltran?

Or Dye?

Or Ibanez?

Or Howell in the pen?

How much better would we be if Angel Berroa were still at short hitting his career worst .234? Seems like a dream now.

What if Tony Pena’s team hadn’t quit on him in 2004?

Or how would Gabe Gross have developed and helped the team instead of Colt Griffin?

Or Adam Wainwright instead of Mike Stodolka?

What if Mike Sweeney hadn’t had a back as crooked as a question mark and he could have maintained his production?

What if we’d signed Paul Byrd and Jeff Suppan were still pitching here?

For that matter, what if we had Leo Nuñez or Ramon Ramirez in the pen instead of Horacio Ramirez?

Seriously. Plugging their stats into this season’s roster and seeing where we would be is not only on the same level of speculation and it would be infinitely more interesting.

Or we could talk about how to make this team work again instead of how we could have won state if the coach had put us in.

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Posted by: pberry | June 17, 2009

Let them wear pants (and why trust beats rules)
I’ve had a number of friends who have worked with Focus on the Family. They all had one thing in common: they hated the dress code. Men wore ties, women wore dresses or skirts. No casual Friday. That changed this week as Focus said goodbye to the ties and said yes to pants for all employees, regardless of gender.

This is a good step forward for Focus. Jim Daly is quoted as saying he thing it will make the employees more positive. No doubt. I’m thrilled for the employees, especially the women who don’t have to wear hose anymore.

But if they are hoping the new dress code will “help Focus attract talented, young Internet technology workers who otherwise would have been put off by having to dress formally every day,”  they are mistaken. No young “internet technology” worker is wearing a tie right now and most aren’t wearing slacks and a collared shirt. If they’re wearing a jacket, it’s with jeans and a t-shirt.

Here’s the lesson: treat people like adults. This is especially true in the case of dress codes. People can dress really well in denim. They can also dress really poorly in slacks. I once worked with a woman who wore pants that had purses embroidered on them. Hideous! But they fit in the dress code.

Don’t make a policy to solve a person. People will always try to get around rules. If you trust them to do your work, trust them to dress in a way that honors your organization. It’ll be better for everyone People may break your trust, but they generally want to earn it back. On top of that, you’ll get their respect and loyalty as well.

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Posted by: pberry | June 17, 2009

Meche’s shutout and the Royals starters this season Martin Manley (yes, that’s a real name….a really manley name) has taken Bill James’ formula for Game Score and applied it to the Royals starters this year. It’s a fascinating read, especially in light of some really great performances over the last week. Until a week ago, Greinke had the seven of the top ten pitching performances of the year. Now, he’s got just five, with each of the other starters having at least one brilliant performance. Check out Manley’s blog here: Just how good was Meche… again? | Upon Further Review

Perhaps more discouraging: everything else. Relief pitching has been inconsistant, but it’s not totally their fault. The Royals rank sixth in the majors in errors and twenty-sixth in field percentage. Guys on the DL not withstanding, what reason is there to keep a guy on the roster who’s hitting .097 if not for his glove. Yet in 21 games (and just 9 starts) Tony Pena Jr. has 3 errors. Cut him loose. I’m pretty sure we can find a guy who can  play shortstop somewhere. Bloomquist could play there everyday if Aviles was a one hit wonder and we’re much better with Willie in the lineup than when he’s not. We could still plug Hulett or Hernandez into the  lineup when Bloomquist needs to play the outfield. Or, we could go get an everyday shortstop. Maybe a former phenom who is playing in the minors somewhere. Where could we find someone like that? Hmmm….

With only four players hitting above .260 (just six players with a better than .330 OBP), the offense is still in trouble. Miguel Olivo seems to hit the ball a ton when he’s trying to prove something. But put a little faith in him by naming him the regular starter or moving him up in the lineup, and it’s a sure bet that he’s going to hit about .220.

Greinke on the mound tonight. He’s given up eight runs in his last two starts, going 12.1 innings. Not horrific, but not nearly his normal output. I’m hoping for a return to form for the phenom. First pitch is at 6:10 Mountain Time.

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Posted by: pberry | June 15, 2009

Why I like your tweet (or not) Some people just get twitter. They understand what it is and how to use it effectively, be it personally or professionally. Don Miller gets it. I read all of Don’s tweets. He doesn’t tweet too often, nor is he a ghost. Sometimes it’s about his work. Other times it’s about his dog. In any case, Don crafts his twitter well. My brother-in-law also does a nice job. Almost always about travel, an amazing event (like his wife rifling a line drive off the outfield wall in their softball game), or his uber-adorable one year old. Mostly positive but with just enough whining to know that he’s human. Anyone who knows Matt and Susie would really enjoy his twitter.

Other’s just don’t get it. There’s another guy I follow whom I won’t name. I don’t know him and I won’t detail my reasons for following him (they are professional at least). But I get his tweets. And I can’t stand them. It’s not “I enjoyed this” but “go watch or read or eat this”. It’s not, “Here are my thoughts on this”, it’s “Go comment on this.” Add to this name dropping and bits of would-be wisdom, and it’s annoying as all get out. He’s probably a really nice guy. But the tweets are really bad.

(What’s that? You? Of course it’s not you, it’s someone else. I love your tweets!)

Good tweets share. Bad tweets instruct.

Good tweets invite. Bad tweets promote.

Good tweets are there for followers to enjoy — here’s what I’m thinking/doing! here’s my book! here’s my kid! here’s 40% off of my kid and my book!

Bad tweets are there to make readers do or think or believe something that they currently don’t. The follow on twitter may be the permission that marketers are seeking, but it isn’t permission to market badly.

These ideas will be inspiring my tweets for the foreseeable future. We’ll see how I do.

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Posted by: pberry | June 2, 2009

Finish The Shack and my next travel read

The ShackI finished The Shack a few days ago. Before I go into what I thought, a brief word about “agreeing with everything.” To say I don’t agree with everything found in the book would be an overly obvious statement. This sort of statement could be applied to nearly anything. Dig hard enough and you’ll find something you don’t like. The question is whether or not they are heading in the right direction and if you’ll go there with them. Add “I don’t agree with everything” to my list of sayings that should be banished from the English language, along with “I don’t mean to interrupt” and “I don’t care who you are, but that’s funny.”

My take: The Shack heads in the right direction. A fictional work is well suited to tackle the problem of God’s justice and righteousness. Perhaps it’s the only one that can really do it justice. Non-fiction castrates the discussion, depriving it of the emotion that makes the discussion relevant. Fiction forces you to deal with the emotions that are such a part of who we are.

As a book, it was fair. Young is a fine storyteller, forcing you to either engage with the tale or quit reading. He hits some very good theological points. I don’t have any problem with the idea that God the Father would show himself as an African-American woman. Any objection to this is based in a sort of literalness that the Bible simply doesn’t embrace. Few have a problem with Jesus showing up as a lion in Narnia. Why such a problem with a woman in The Shack?

If I have a criticism, it’s that the writing could use some work. Good storyteller, but the writing needed some help. I usually give up on a book if it doesn’t take me in the first three chapters and was glad I stuck with The Shack through four. But this is a minor concern. More important is that The Shack is helping people deal with fear and pain and the redemption of God in tangible ways.

A Prayer for Owen Meany I’m heading for Africa with work this week. We’re paying for Amy to come along and I’m looking forward to seeing what pictures she gets for me. She’s an uber-talented photographer. Amongst my belongings making the journey to Africa will be my next read, A Prayer for Owen Meany. It was recommended to me by two of my more favorite people, Chad and Teresa. Both are writers and proclaim this to be their favorite book. I’ll also be taking Lord of the Rings (two chapters from the end of book four) and The Books of The Bible. With 20 hours of flight time, I think I’ll get through some significant reading. If you have any more recommendations, let me know. I leave Thursday morning and get back eight days later. Pictures will abound when I get back!

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Posted by: pberry | May 29, 2009

Donald Miller gets in on the game

All of you facebookers that I’ve been telling about Twitter (don’t make me name names, Andre), here’s the best use yet: Donald Miller is going to be printing out several copies of his new book at kinkos and placing them all around the country.

Locations will be distributed via….you guessed it: twitter.

You have to assume that Don had some inspiration for his own wild goose chase.

(For the record, Derek turned 35 here, not 53.)

He’s got 13,293 followers as of the time of the announcement. I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t break 15,000 by the time the book comes out. Surprised if it’s not 18,000.

While I’m at it, here are a couple of my favorite Donald Miller things:

Don talking at Seattle Pacific University (free from iTunes U.)

Don pitches a book, it doesn’t quite work out, and finds out that Tolkien’s feet weren’t as hairy as he thought.

Searching for God Knows What, which I enjoyed at least as much as BLJ if not more.

And finally, this little note. Guess I can’t keep it quiet anymore.

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