blogging

One of the most profound developments in the last 3-4 years on internet is the development and growth of weblogs (blogs). Technorati recently shared their research related to the blogosphere. Here’s some of their statistics (buckle your seatbelts):

  • Technorati now tracks over 27.2 Million blogs
  • The blogosphere is doubling in size every 5 and a half months
  • It is now over 60 times bigger than it was 3 years ago
  • On average, a new weblog is created every second of every day
  • 13.7 million bloggers are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created
  • Technorati tracks about 1.2 Million new blog posts each day, about 50,000 per hour
  • Over 81 Million posts with tags since January 2005, increasing by 400,000 per day

We truly live in a new era, with new ways to communicating and connecting with each other. If you are interested in creating your own blog, it couldn’t be easier. Try www.blogger.com. This is a place where you can set up your own blog for free.

books

Two friends of ours just arrived to Budapest from Virginia. In their luggage, they managed to pack some books for us!! Here’s three of them:

“Why Marriages Succeed or Fail” This is a book I’ve heard a lot about. John Gottman spent 20 years researching and studying 2000 married couples, trying to understand what makes marriage succeed. Apparently, he is renowned for his ability to predict (within 94% accuracy) which people will stay married and which will divorce. Here’s some statements from the book cover: “More sex doesn’t necessarily improve a marriage. Frequent arguing will not lead to divorce. Financial problems do not always spell trouble in a relationship. Wives who make sour facial expressions when their husbands talk are likely to be seperated within four years. There is a reason husbands withdraw from arguments–and there’s a way around it.” This will be an interesting read!

“Good to Great”This book by Jim Collins is quite popular in the business world now, and a couple friends are reading it. Their comments have peaked my interest. The subtitle is “Why some companies make the leap…and others don’t.” A couple weeks ago, Kristof showed me his Hungarian version of the book. And that made me even more interested.

“Moral Calculations” Since Péter and I talked about this book months ago, I’ve been hoping to read it. Unfortunately, I’ve had a lot of trouble getting a copy of it until now. The subtitle is “Game Theory, Logic, and Human Frailty,” and it’s by Lászlo Mérő. Mérő is a leading Hungarian mathematician, psychologist, and thinker.

lurdyház

Sunday night I took Seth to Lurdyház, and we joined 30 other children and their parents from our neighborhood for a winter birthday party. It was so fun. Seth has been talking for two days about it. Here’s a few pictures from the party.

Laura and I enjoy living in our neighborhood. The families are wonderful, and there is a great feeling of community. If you’d like to see a slideshow of some of our winter pictures click here.

Lurdyház is an awesome indoor play-land. There are a lot of these kinds of indoor play areas in Budapest (which is really great for a cold winter), but Lurdyház is probably the best I’ve seen. I really wanted to climb up the ladder and jump down the huge inflatable slide.

observing people

Coaching and counseling university students over the years, we’ve really enjoyed helping them think about their strengths, talents, and styles of leading and communicating. Every person is infinitely unique. Even still, there are some intriguing similarities among our personality types. Over the past 3000 years, significant thinkers have all independently observed and identified four primary categories of personality. In case you’re interested, here’s a brief list of some pre-20th century thinkers and their observations.

Galen, a doctor during the Roman empire, identified four humors: Sanguine (optimistic), Melancholic (doleful), Choleric (passionate), Phlegmatic (calm).

Around 400 B.C., in his book entitled The Republic, Plato wrote about the four temperaments (in terms of virtue) attributed to Hippocrates: Iconic (artistic), Pistic (caretaker), Noetic (idealist), Dianoetic (rationale).

Aristotle observed four types and defined his in terms of happiness: Hedone (sensual), Propraietari (asset gathering), Ethikos (moral) and Dialogike (investigatory).

Paracelsus, a Viennese doctor in the 1500’s, observed four spirits similar to what Galen and Plato offered: Salamanders (impulsive and changeable), Gnomes (industrious and guarded), Nymphs (inspired and passionate), Sylphs (curious and calm).

Interesting huh?

stuffed

Occasionally when I go to the gas station (benzine) a service man will come and offer assistance. He says something in Hungarian which means “how much gas do you want?.” Sometimes I tell him “töltött!” Well, I’ve learned that töltött means “stuffed.” You can “stuff” a pepper, a taco, or some pasta, but you can’t stuff a car with gas.

Bono

In case you haven’t heard, Bono was invited to give the speech at the National Day of Prayer breakfast. This was one speech which I was eager to read. He delivered a great message, and I think many of us resonate with it. If you would like to read the whole speech, visit Sojourners here. There might be a free registration required, which is not a big deal.

Here’s some excerpts from different parts of his speech:

“Yes, it’s odd, having a rock star here – but maybe it’s odder for me than for you. You see, I avoided religious people most of my life. Maybe it had something to do with having a father who was Protestant and a mother who was Catholic in a country where the line between the two was, quite literally, a battle line. Where the line between church and state was…well, a little blurry, and hard to see.

I remember how my mother would bring us to chapel on Sundays… and my father used to wait outside. One of the things that I picked up from my father and my mother was the sense that religion often gets in the way of God.

Look, whatever thoughts you have about God, who He is or if He exists, most will agree that if there is a God, He has a special place for the poor. In fact, the poor are where God lives.

God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them.

It’s not a coincidence that in the scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times. It’s not an accident.

And finally, it’s not about charity after all, is it? It’s about justice…..And that’s too bad. Because you’re good at charity. Americans, like the Irish, are good at it. We like to give, and we give a lot, even those who can’t afford it. But justice is a higher standard.”

average joe

My friend Michael is the lead singer for the U.S. Airforce Country Music Band. If you’d like to hear some of his music click here. You can even hear a home-recording of Michael’s song “Average Joe” with yours truly (me) playing guitar. We used to play a lot of music together when Michael was a student at North Carolina State University. Those were fun times!!

From what I understand, Michael and the band perform at the Capital, in the Pentagon, in the White House, and for dignitaries from all over the world. How cool is that!

Thanks Michael for the comments on the previous post!

utazni & community

“Utazni,” in Hungarian, means “to travel” or “to journey.” Life is a meaningful expedition. For me, “traveling” well is a natural result of living in authentic community with others. I think most of us would like to have a formula, a predictable road map to success and happiness. But life can be a little mysterious. There are questions. If someone doesn’t have many questions, then he is not human. Sometimes I’m not sure how human I am myself. And sometimes I’m not aware of my own questions till I go to a coffee house and have a good conversation with a friend.

If I have a question and I keep it to myself, that question becomes a burden slowing my pace. If I honestly share my question among safe friends, allowing for community ownership, that question becomes a source of energy propelling me farther. In this sense, authentic community keeps me moving, growing and discovering. And there’s nothing like sharing a discovery with a friend!

Authentic Community is not the road map, but it might be the guard-rails. I’d venture to say that having authentic community is almost a matter of life and death. It can keep me from driving off the road. With it, I’m in the process of living. Without it, I’m in the process of dying.

Journeying in community seems to depend on selflessness and orientation toward others. I’m not sure, but I’ve been wondering if the following statement is true: I can only understand my own questions and needs as I give attention to the questions and needs of others.

On a related note, we’ve had fun learning some Hungarian sayings lately. One of our favorites so far is, “Sok jó ember kis helyen is elfér” (thanks Fanni!). In English, it means something like, “In good company, there is enough room even in a small place.” Isn’t that great! A friend is more important than being physically comfortable.

Fanni also pointed me to a very cool website called “Fresh A.I.R.”, and I think this is an interesting on-line version of a growing, exploring community. The site’s vision is to promote international understanding, and it hosts articles written by young adults around the world. Recently, the topics have included voting, security, and gender barriers. Fanni wrote a great article on voting! Check it out.

Lastly, I’m really excited that a couple friends of mine are coming through Budapest this week. We’re going to visit a friend in Vukovar Croatia next Friday. More on this later.

three years old

Jacob turned three years old on January 30th. If you know Jacob, you know that he is full throttle. If he needs to go somewhere, he runs. If he needs to get off of the couch, he jumps. When he plays cars and trucks, there is a crash every few seconds. He never misses a chance to tackle one of his brothers.

Jacob seems to love life. He loves the thrill of the moment. I remember a time this past summer when I took Seth, Jacob and Nathan hiking in VA. We hiked for 45 minutes, and when we arrived to our car, Jacob ran through some grass to get stick that he dropped. He jumped right over a Copperhead snake. The snake rose up into an attack position, and Jacob saw it. He screamed and ran to me crying. Within five seconds, he started laughing about it. He loved the thrill of that moment. He also likes it when I tell that story at bedtime.

We named Jacob after Isaac’s son in the first book of the Bible. In the Bible, Jacob was a “go-getter.” He was a leader, he made things happen, and when he wanted something, he knew how to get it. He stirred up a lot of dust. There was a time in his life though when Jacob wrestled a strange man, and he was severely injured. Possibly for the first time in his life Jacob felt weak and vulnerable. He recognized his humanity, and he clung to God. Jacob’s name was changed to “Israel”, and he impacted the course of events throughtout the entire Bible.

We have dreams for our Jacob. We dream that he will be successful, that he will be a leader, a “mover” and a “shaker.” But also, we dream that he will be in touch with his humanity and with Jesus. We dream that he’ll find a deeper resevoir of energy and life from his Source, from the One who created him. We dream that as he clings to God, he will discover a new “wildness” to life. I can’t wait to see him grow.