Christ, with six eyes, four beards, & a flannel shirt.

A Portrait of Christ from Jeremy Cowart on Vimeo.

This video is around 6 minutes long, but watching it is well worth the time if you have even a jigger of appreciation for art.

It’s pretty crazy how I stumbled into writing and producing animated web videos, because while I’m a great writer*, I don’t know a lot about how the animations are actually, well, animated. I should say, I know generally how they’re made, but I don’t know the specific strokes and clicks.

So even though the medium is different from what I create, it was jaw-dropping to see it all come together.

p.s. I found the video via Don Miller’s blog.

*Don’t you love how I stuck that in there so nonchalantly?

Friday Link Love

Yes, I realize it’s not Friday, but I was sick, and I still haz links to share.

10 Lessons from Angry Birds that can make you a better CIO
I love Angry Birds & thought this was a very insightful article on leadership. Point #3 resonated with me personally, in terms of my temper. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hit the reset button before my first bird even hit the target – I just KNEW it was a bad launch! Likewise, I feel like I’m finally in a place where I can abort my temper before it really even hits its intended target. Not all the time, but enough to make me think I really do trust this Jesus guy after all.

The article came to me by way of Geek Wire.

Ben Kingsley, on portraying Holocaust history (NPR)
“I think it’s just very important to embrace tragedy as a real part of our lives….Western civilization is a civilization determined to outlaw tragedy. If removed, the interpretation of tragedy, and the presentation of tragedy, promise shaman, who’s sitting by the bonfire – you’re telling the tribe nothing of real life. And it doesn’t prepare us as adults. It’s infantilizes us, and it dodges an enormous responsibility.”

When Ruthie was three, her grandpa died. A few years ago our beloved dog died in our living room as the kids snuggled around her. Elderly women stand outside a nearby abortion clinic with signs, and my son asks why that baby in the picture is turned inside out. They now have friends whose parents are divorcing, and they ask why so-and-so’s mom and dad don’t live together anymore. Earthquakes and tsunamis are wiping out thousands of lives.

My kids observe tragedy all the time. I can’t hide it or protect them from it – or maybe I can, but choose not to. I think it’s possible for my kids to keep their innocence without becoming ignorant. I don’t go looking for scary stories to tell them, but when they see the scary stories being written all around them, they need a language to interpret them through. Jesus gives us that language in the Bible, which is full of death & betrayal & murder & tragedy. But he also gives us a language of hope & life & grace. They can’t truly appreciate the Easter moments of life without somehow experiencing or understanding the tragedy of Good Friday.

Changing Education Paradigms
I’ve watched this video several times since it was posted. I feel like I need to keep reminding myself how important it is to be involved in my kids’ learning, even if we’re not called to home school. It also made me realize that Thomas is an innovator, and at barely six years old he blows me away with his curiosity, creative problem solving, and ability to MacGuyver his way through a challange.

Friday Link Love

My Life Changing Diapers
This post really struck a nerve with me. In fact, I’ll probably end up writing an entire blog post in reflection. I’m not sure how a selfish person like me was allowed to parent children, but I feel like 99% of my anger issues come from the frustration of not being able to do whatever the hell I want because of these meddling kids.

I absolutely do not feel called to have more children while Jesus works this out in me, but I definitely understand that my heart seeks to please itself at the cost of serving others. I think I’ve finally hit the bottom of myself and find this reality so gross that I’m this close to praying something drastic like, “Lord, please give me a heart that’s willing to serve others.”

All the churchy people in the room just gasped because they know I’ll soon be drinking service from the fire hose.

Coffee Drinks Illustrated
My personal favorite, other than a basic cup of black coffee, is the Espresso Macchiato. This is how a real Macchiato is made, and I hate it when a clueless barista makes me a giant cup of milk sweetened with caramel. Blech.

Percolator Flickr Group
I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I downloaded a new photo app called Percolator. This week I discovered a Percolator photo group on Flickr. Browsing here makes my brain happy when it can’t write technical scripts any more.

Friday Link Love

Social Robots raise moral, ethical questions
Interesting story on NPR about people who are so distraught over human relationships they crave non-human companionship.

Fonts In Use – Black Swan posters
I wish I was better at font design, so I’ve been looking around for resources to help me learn. I came across these Black Swan posters on Fonts in Use and like them better than the typical movie poster.

Planting Dandelions: Field Notes From a Semi-Domesticated Life
A blogging friend of mine is due to release her memoir next month, and I can’t wait to read it. My copy just came in the mail this week – thanks Kyran!

Photo Apps Are Like Crack
With the addition of these two, I now have around six or eight photo apps I use regularly. I’m sure Jenny has infinitely more – she’s the only person I know who takes more self-portraits than me.

By the way, the best feature on the iPhone 4? FRONT FACING CAMERA. Yeah, I’m a big fan of myself.

The Seattle Nice Is Alive and Well In Portland.

The Birthday Boy

Last night Bryan and I stepped into the bar of a fancy schmancy steak house to dine with the common people, but happy hour was in full force, and all the tables were taken.

Directly in front of the entrance was a large round table suitable for about eight people, and the server asked if we minded taking one side of the table while the couple behind us took the other side.

Sure. No problem. We’re community kinda people.

The table was huge and the room was loud, so there wasn’t really any awkwardness re the couple we ignored across the table. But they were only there for drinks and appetizers, and left after about an hour.

Almost immediately, another couple pounced on the vacated spot across the table. Well, a couple and her mother. I attempted to smile and make eye contact with our new table mates, but to no avail.

And then I heard the daughter say, “I’m just trying to spread out a bit,” as she placed her jacket on the chair between us.

I can’t explain why this alarmed me since she could very well have just wanted the chair to hold all her stuff, but my Spidey senses were alert as I sensed a hostile takeover on the horizon.

Sure enough, another couple arrived – the gal sat next to me and her husband sat next to Bryan. We were now a full table, and still no one acknowledged we were there.

I was beginning to think we were slipping into an episode of Portlandia.

And then the most glorious thing happened – more guests arrived, hovering around the table, and one of the young men introduced himself and shook our hand.

Him: “Hi, I’m so-and so, and you are?”

Me: “Uh, Jennifer?”

Him: “Great to meet you – how do you know the birthday boy?”

Me: “Ah, so this is a birthday party then!”

Him: *confused face*

Mother across the table: “Oh they’re not with us, we’re just sharing their table. But you’re probably more polite than we’ve been.”

Me: “True story.”

Mother across the table: “Well, we were just trying to give them their privacy.”

(notice how she’s still not talking to me?!)

Me (to Bryan): “I think that privacy wall was breached the moment they added ten more chairs to the table.”

Bryan (to me): “We should just start telling them about Jesus. That always clears a table.”

Me: *maniacal laugh*

So there we sat, eating steak and onion rings in the middle of a birthday party that crashed our table.

And then the second most glorious thing happened: Bryan struck up a conversation about mobile web development with the guy next to him, and they went on and on about shit I didn’t understand.

I did not mind this distraction, though, because by that point our dessert had arrived and I was able to eat three bites of Bananas Foster for every one of Bryan’s.

I don’t know who this Foster is, but I sure like his bananas.

As we were paying the bill, Bryan said he was going to hug the birthday boy and wish him a happy birthday as we left.

I dared him.

I readied my camera.

But in the end, he opted for a wave and a head nod.

Regardless, I think this goes down as one of our best dinner memories EVAR.

Friday Link Love

I’m bringing back Friday Link Love, a weekly collection of interesting and inspiring things I find around the web.

Family Moves to Pioneer Square
We’ve been exploring the idea of moving back into the Seattle core for many of the same reasons this family lists, though I can’t really relate to the price tag for a 2400 sq ft condo. Hope they got a deal!

Over the Rhine: The Long Surrender
“Some people write love songs about what happens in the beginning of a relationship,” Bergquist says. “We’ve sort of moved on to what happens during the bulk of that relationship — the work, the investment, the commitment, you know? And some of it doesn’t really sound all that sexy.”

Macklemore

Bryan discovered this local rapper via KEXP, and DAY-YAM. I love this song, Wings, in particular – it’s great story-telling.

We donated to his Kickstarter campaign to fund a Wings music video, and I think you should, too. It’s important to support good story-tellers. Check out his previous music video – it’s gorgeous.

Sundance Day 1: Paparazzi Jen

my streaming perch

Yesterday was a little… well… not what I’m used to.

At several points during the day I found myself surrounded by the media, like when Beau Bridges and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar arrived for a panel to discuss the role of social media in promoting their new movie, On the Shoulders of Giants. I was sitting on my tall stool working my streaming video camera with several long camera lenses lurking over my shoulder.

At one point, as I stood next to my stool to stretch my back, I absentmindedly reached over to lean on the backrest and instead found myself leaning on a handsome photographer.

Oops! Well at least it was a comical conversation starter.

the streaming control roommedia on my shoulderBeau Bridges & Kareem Abdul-Jabar

As part of our streaming duties we are also assisting tv and internet personality, Shira Lazar, as she wanders around the venue doing “man on the street” type interviews with celebrities. Once again I found myself surrounded by the rush of media as various personalities came in to do their thing on the red carpet.

iPhone mounted on a monopod for portable web streaming

Our roaming streaming set-up drew quite the interest from the professional cameramen, as I was simply using Bryan’s iPhone attached to a monopod to stream directly via the Ustream Live Broadcast app. Several cameramen filmed ME as I filmed Shira interviewing celebs.

So watch your local entertainment news for the back of my head at Sundance!

We also interviewed Bob Saget, who is a dirty, dirty man. It was quite entertaining, though, and I think I broke cameraman rules by bantering with him during Shira’s interview. I couldn’t help it! It’s not like the iPhone was pressed up against my face like a camera, so he kept looking at me as he went on and on about his horse-like… qualities.

But the creme-de-resistance of the day was the big entrance of Adrian Granier, the handsome lead from HBO’s Entourage. It didn’t go as I imagined though, since he kind of tripped over the bottom of my monopod.

blue strobe tequilaThe look he gave me was not the look I was hoping for.

By the end of the evening I was very happy for the open bar with the tray of tequila shots waiting to be snatched up – even IF they were strobing blue lights obnoxiously (said the old fart).

Speaking of old farts, we were pretty wiped by day’s end (which started at 4am), and were in our jammies by 9:00 despite the super cool Tweet House after-party that went on without us until 1am.

I don’t think I’m cut out for this!

Who needs an autograph when you can have a conversation?

Picture 8

We flew into Salt Lake City tonight for the Sundance Film Festival where we’ll be live streaming and producing video at the Tweet House.

While standing in the baggage claim Bryan goes, “Hey, there’s Ted from How I Met Your Mother.”

FIVE FEET AWAY.

I watched a few people ask for his autograph, smile at him while he signed it, then walk away without really saying anything. What was I going to do with an autograph? Go home and show people my signed flight itinerary? #boring.

Besides. Fan Girl isn’t really my thing. I was MUCH more interested in his musical taste, anyway.

I don’t think it’s a mere coincidence that I JUST heard Josh Radnor’s interview on KCRW’s Guest DJ Project in which he featured one of my favorite bands that no one’s ever heard of – Cloud Cult.

Coincidences don’t just happen like that – I think Jesus wanted me to talk to Josh Radnor.

So I did.

“I heard your guest DJ Project on KCRW,” I said. “Cloud Cult is one of my favorite bands.”

“IS IT REALLY?”

I don’t recall if he said IS IT REALLY? exactly, but that was his sentiment. He was excited – the kind of excited you get when you love something totally obscure and you find out someone else not only knows what you’re talking about, but GETS it.

THAT SOMEONE ELSE WAS ME.

We talked about how awesome they are, and how weird we thought it was that KCRW never heard of them, and how PHENOMENAL their live shows are.

“I put one of their songs in my movie, Happythankyoumoreplease!” he said.

I’ve been thinking about that all evening – how Josh Radnor made the movie he wanted to make, and put the music he loves into it, and now people are going to know about Cloud Cult (as they should).

Reminds me a little of Zack Braff and his Garden State – loved the movie, LOVED the soundtrack. In fact, Let Go by Frou Frou is one of my favorite songs, and I heard it first on Garden State.

(I used it here as a soundtrack to a significant day.)

At any rate, here’s what Josh Radnor had to say about Cloud Cult in his KCRW interview:

The lead singer is a guy named Craig Minowa and he and his wife lost their child, a baby, when the kid was about one or two and most of their records have been a response to this grief….when I listen to the Arcade Fire I feel like the world is ending and Cloud Cult makes me feel like the world’s already ended and, like, now where do we go? Everything’s in shards and pieces on the ground and they’re building something new. It’s really like this transformative experience listening to them.

Yes, like the world already ended – now what? I feel that way most of the time, which is probably why I love that band.

But I digress – back to happy topics:

I had a conversation with Josh Radnor today in baggage claim.

The live feed:

Picture 7

Picture 8

Picture 9

Picture 10

Beverly Hills, prepared for disaster!

Beverly Hills, prepared for disaster!We are in Los Angeles this week, helping with video at the 140 Twitter Conference. And by we, this time I really do mean WE – I’m the second camera operator. But since that sounds boring, and I can’t have a cool title like gaffer or key grip or best boy, I plan to call myself Director of Photography this week.

It may be a slightly elevated title, but that’s what L.A. is all about, isn’t it?

Speaking of what L.A. is all about, we had a chuckle over these decorative flags along Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, because what could be more welcoming to a community visitor than pictures of fire and bomb explosions?

Allow me to rant, if you will.

Did you hear? President Obama is brainwashing our kids today!

I don’t normally rant about politics in this space, but this issue gets me riled up at a foundational level.  Because for me, this is not really about politics, but about fear of Other, about thinking we’re in Control, and about PARENTING OUR CHILDREN.

So, allow me to back up and fill in the blanks in case you haven’t heard.

President Obama is giving a speech today directed at school children around the nation, encouraging them to work hard and stay in school. The uproar from conservative communities regarding this speech has, in my opinion, hit a tipping point into conspiracy theory.

“OUR CHILDREN WILL BE BRAINWASHED! OUR CHILDREN WILL BECOME SOCIALISTS!”

From a ten minute speech?

Because here’s where I have a simple solution for everyone who is protesting this:

HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH YOUR CHILD.

It’s that simple, really.

Ask your child what he or she heard in the speech. Reinforce what you agree with, and talk about the things you disagree with.

There. That wasn’t so hard, was it? It’s called CRITICAL THINKING.

That’s about all the time I want to sacrifice on this topic. Though I could say more, here are other comments from around the web:

CNN

A Baltimore, Maryland, teacher who asked not to be identified bemoaned the fact that the country has “become so polarized that we believe that our president is an enemy and not our leader.”

Former First Lady, Laura Bush

“And I think it’s also really important for everyone to respect the president of the United States.”

Abraham Piper

If you can’t handle your kids listening to their president for 10 minutes, perhaps you should consider moving to a different country.

Albert Mohler

At this level, the controversy is a national embarrassment. Conservatives must avoid jumping on every conspiracy theory and labeling every action by the Obama administration as sinister or socialist. Our civic culture is debased when opposing parties and political alignments read every proposal by the other side as suspect on its face.

Furthermore, this controversy smacks of disrespect for the President and, by extension, disrespect for the presidency itself. Both fly in the face of Christian responsibility to pray for those in authority. Respect for our government, though never as an end in itself, is part of our Christian responsibility. This controversy threatens to sow seeds of permanent distrust and suspicion in the hearts of the young. In an age of rampant cynicism, this is inexcusable.

John Piper

This is the speech I expected the President to give to our children—excellent.

Given that he is not directing them to Christ, which would be the best counsel, his advice is a wonderful gift of common grace from God to the students of our land.

If you settle for the news headlines that say the president tells the kids to wash their hands and take care of the environment, you will miss the wisdom and courage in this speech. Within its spiritual limitations it is simply amazing.

Friday Link Love

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Going Big – This American Life
I first heard of Geoffrey Canada last year when I was thinking a lot about education in the inner city, and found his “total life” approach to education fascinating. I am completely in love with his charter school concept, and totally heartbroken by the socio-economic divide in education.

Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone has revolutionized a generation in Harlem by providing resources and education for inner city kids from birth to college. His program is fascinating.

Test results from the charter school’s third grade state-wide assessment tests just came in, and the results were astonishing. Reading scores were above New York City average, and 95% of the students met grade level in Math. This was the first group of kids to enter the charter school program before it was fully in place – most of them didn’t enter the pre-kindergarten program, and their parents did not participate in the parenting classes.

But the kids entering kindergarten now have been in the program since birth. Their whole lives. When these kids get to third grade, says Canada, look out.

Small donations having measurable impact – Jolkona Foundation
Friends recently launched this incredible foundation inspiring youth and young professionals to give back. Donations can be made on a small budget, and donors can choose specific projects to fund and see the impact of that gift.

For instance, $40 will pay for one girl in Afghanistan to go to school. If you choose this project, a picture of the sponsored student will be posted online along with her report card at the end of her school year. You can see where your money is going and how it’s impacting others.

Jolkona is involved with 50 projects in 25 countries around the world, with giving options as low as $5. I encourage you to check out the website, give, and spread the word.

14 Cows for America – The Story
Heard this interview on my local NPR station about a village in Kenya who broke generations of tradition to comfort America after the 9/11 attacks.

The 10 principles of economics – Ignite Seattle
HILARIOUS presentation by the “standup economist,” Yoram Bauman.

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Ignite Seattle: Public Library Hacking, by Dawn Rutherford

Postcards From Yo Mama
This is one of the websites I go to when I need a five minute break to laugh my ass off. Real email and IM correspondence with mothers, and you won’t be able to stop reading!

Controversial Breast-Feeding Doll
Yeah, I think it’s a little weird – I don’t really get the need for all the accessories when all you need is a doll and your imagination. I would never buy my kids this doll.

But seriously? With the uproar? Are people REALLY saying – and I quote – “breast-feeding is too grown-up for young children — and may even promote early pregnancy.”

WHAT. THE. EFF.

I have two calloused nipples that prove breastfeeding does not romanticize having a baby AT. ALL. And sure, I GET that not all children are exposed to breast feeding and may find the whole thing a little awkward – SO DON’T BUY THAT CHILD A BREAST FEEDING DOLL.

Personally, between me and several friends who breast fed, it’s nothing that phazes Ruthie, and she pretends to nurse her dolls all the time. Not a big deal.

For your kid a big deal? Maybe. I’m not here to judge nursing vs bottle feeding.

I do, however, judge idiots who say idiotic things like exposure to breast feeding will lead to trauma and/or teen pregnancy, because, well, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

That’s funny.