I am preparing for a new series of sermons and leading a small group through the Gospel of Luke. Right now I’m refreshing my big picture understanding – so I’ve just finished reading through the entirety of Luke in J.B. Phillips’ translation.
It occurred to me that this translation is quite good but not well-known and so I wanted to share it with you. 🙂
In my personal studies of Scripture I have found I can sometimes go into “automatic” mode when reading Scripture – a mode that feels like it already knows what the text is saying or even worse that just wanders off elsewhere while my eyes still parse the text.
To overcome this dilemma I frequently use different translations of Scripture. I tend to do devotional reading in a single version over a period of time – till it has become familiar and then move to another translation – and so on. After a while away from a translation I find the words are again crisp and fresh.
When I’m preparing a sermon I like to read from as many different translations as possible. While there are various levels of literal fidelity to the original languages in translations, every translation is to some extent an interpretation or commentary upon the Scriptures. Reading different versions highlights the different ways different individuals have thought about these particular passages in a concise way which can then be further explored via commentaries and other resources.
J.B. Phillips was an Anglican clergyman who began translating some of the Scriptures into “modern” language during World War II. His ministry was in a heavily bombed area and the translation occurred under this recurring threat.
His translation was well-liked, among his admirers being C.S. Lewis. He also saw his translation being used “authoritatively” and felt that it was not good enough so he went about retranslating it.
Phillips completed the entire New Testament as well as some books of the Old Testament. His NT is best known.
Throughout his life he struggled with depression and reflects a theological perspective more reminiscent of William Barclay’s “liberal evangelical” than fundamentalist or evangelical generally.
As I noted earlier, I read from numerous translations – I’ve spent time with the KJV, NKJV, NIV, NLT, ESV, HCSB, LEB, The Message, The Living Bible – and the list could go on for quite some time.
I do not necessarily see one translation as superior to the other but each providing insights that another may not have been able to highlight. I use the ESV, LEB, NASB when working with the details, but utilize the NLT and NIV when working more big picture.
So, I am not suggesting this should be your bible – but that it is a good bible. If you come across passages that sound different from what your more literal bible says – compare them, do some research – one often learns fascinating things because of the differences in translation.
I find Phillips’ translation to be fairly literal overall but at times it strays significantly into thought-for-thought territory. The language is contemporary and has that British flare to it which brings a different taste than our American translations.
Phillips’ is good at making the text flow and showing the connections between texts. If your translation feels a little stale – give it a try – or any one of the numerous other excellent translations/paraphrases out there…just know what you are getting (e.g. The Message is a very free-from paraphrase, I still think it has a place, but it is for that place and not every place).
The NIV and the HCSB are both mid-way translations, somewhere between the fairly strictly literal approach of the ESV/NASB and the dynamic/thought-for-thought translations like the NLT/Living Bible.↩
SaveUp is an interesting site. You associate a few of your bank accounts (credit, debit, school loans) to SaveUp and they then give you “credits” based on the amount you pay down. These “credits” can then be utilized to enter raffles or play various lottery-esque games. It takes maybe ten minutes to setup the first time and then perhaps two minutes a day to enter the various contests. I haven’t won anything yet – but I am competing for one of the biggest prizes ($50k).
This site could be useful for anyone, but I’d considered it especially useful for anyone who has a lottery card buying habit – here you can essentially do a lottery without spending any money…save a few bucks – still have the opportunity to win a few more.
Growing up I went to a tiny local library. Its hours were sporadic and it sprawled over the first floor of an 1800’s residential home that had been retrofitted for that use. It was a very, very small library – but I loved it.
We’d make forays into Greenville to visit what became their much bigger library after they added a beautiful new addition and which also offered computers – which we could use to play games, etc. (I’m not sure the internet was an option for the first few years). Once in a while we’d even travel all the way down to Bethlehem to the monster library (which actually is decent sized, but not all that large).
Libraries where a second home for me. My mom would drop me off at one and I would stay for hours and hours. The library was a source of almost infinite knowledge – especially in those pre-internet days…and I loved knowledge.
I don’t go to libraries nearly as much these days – mainly because most of the information is now at my fingertips (and I don’t read fiction much)…but libraries aren’t relegated to irrelevance. They still house numerous books that provide deeper insights into a topic, they can get their hands on almost any book you could want (but don’t want to buy), and they offer a number of programs for children and adults – usually with an educational twist.
My local library is now the Langhorne branch. They’ve really done a beautiful job refurbishing the library – giving it a more coffeehouse/relaxing aesthetic. They have 10-20 computers that are available for public use and meeting rooms for special activities. Its a nice library – and if you want to make a trip out of the house – the library is an enjoyable (and free) place to go.
Ohh, and don’t forget about wireless internet access. Most libraries now offer free wireless internet access…and as the “Resources” page on the Bucks County Libraries’ website informs me – you can get access 24/7 by being just outside the library. Haha, this was kind of surprising – it sounds like they are inviting folks to come sit in the parking lot at all hours of the night? My guess is that in practicality, you might have a police officer visiting you one or more times during the night to see what you were up to…
In any case, what I really want to talk about is the digital resources that libraries make available. I can’t tell you exactly what resources are available at your library – but I will share with you some of the resources available through my library and I’d suggest that many (most?) libraries have similar offerings available…and they can be accessed directly from the comfort of your home (usually).
Via Zinio my library offers access to a vast array of magazines in digital format. Here is a list of a few representative titles (but there are many, many more): AppleMagazine, Astronomy, Backpacker, Country Home, Bicycling, Billboard Magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek, Car and Driver, Consumer Reports, Cosmopolitan, Discover, Elle, Esquire, Field & Stream, Forbes, Fortean Times, Harvard’s Business Review, Ladies Home Journal, Men’s Health, National Geographic, Newsweek, O, PC Gamer, PC Magazine, PCWorld, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Redbook, Rolling Stone, The Economist, Us Weekly…oh boy, excuse me while I go lose myself permanently in the vast amount of quality reading material available!
The libraries offer a number of resources called the “POWER Library” – this is probably available at most Pennsylvania libraries. One of these resources is an “Auto Repair Reference Center.” This is a treasure trove of information. Look up your specific vehicle’s model and see detailed instructions with images of how to perform various repairs and maintenance on your vehicle – or watch videos that explain how different components of vehicles work! Need to get an idea of what a repair is going to cost you? This can help on that front as well.
eBooks and Audio Books
The selection is much more limited than is available in the physical library – but that doesn’t keep there from being some excellent options available – you can’t argue with the convenience of never having to leave your home, wait in a line, or worry about late fees.
You’ll find books by Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code), John Grisham (the all-star of legal thrillers), Lee Child, George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones), J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings), Mitch Albom (The Five People You Meet in Heaven), J.K. Rowling (of Harry Potter fame), and Ted Dekker (Christian thriller author) amongst the many fiction titles available.
And what about for us non-fiction buffs? How about Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts, David Perlmutter’s Grain Brain, Jon Meacham’s Thomas Jefferson, Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live (I recommend), Timothy Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Body, and so on.
Need help with a school subject? There is plenty of free tutoring available – including through Brainfuse – for K through College covering Science, English, Math, Social Studies, and Writing. Instead of guessing at your homework – or your child’s homework – here is a chance to improve your understanding and grades.
So Much More…
And there are all sorts of other resources as well as you can see here. Legal, research, film, continuing education. So go check out your local library’s website and see what vast resources have been sitting untapped at your fingertips!
I’m a geek – so of course I wanted to test out the healthcare.gov site immediately after it launched – and failed. First I wasn’t able to connect to the site and eventually when I did connect to the site it would let me go through the profile process but once it attempted to verify my identity it would drop me into purgatory and leave me there – forever and ever and ever (literally, I could leave the site and come back days later and I’d still be stuck there).
I tried a couple times creating, deleting, recreating, on various days and over various months – no luck. Finally I decided to call the phone number and admit that I, an IT guy, couldn’t get the site to work for me. The phone was picked up fairly rapidly and I was led somewhat painfully through providing all the information I had already provided numerous times via the site. At the end I was given an application ID number which the representative informed me I should “enter on the site” and it would show my enrollment – but that sometimes it took up to 24 hours for the change to happen on the site.
I grimaced at the 24 hour statement. While I was on the phone I attempted to pull up the application and of course it didn’t work. I had a pretty good feeling that if it didn’t work then it wasn’t going to work in 24 hours – and I was correct. The next day it still couldn’t find my application ID and weeks and even a month or two later it still could not find the application ID.
People have been noting how few younger people have been signing up through healthcare.gov and I wonder – does the system, for whatever reason, have problems with younger individuals? I don’t mean that it is intentionally discriminatory, but that the data about older individuals is more readily available, organized differently, etc. For example, it may be that older individuals already are “known entities” to the system b/c they have utilized services like Medicare. Just a thought.
Today I tried again…I successfully walked through the process from start to finish. I still don’t like the site design (it is using funky and complex functionality to display the forms, which I found to be jerky in transitioning…) and the site still managed to leave me with a few “what do I do now?” moments…
But it is all done, I’ve signed up for the Keystone Health Plan East HMO Silver Proactive. Cost is less than $230/mo. (unless the premium changes, which I have heard happens…). This may be a decent jump for young folks in good health compared to pre-Obamacare, but for me it is a huge drop. Since I have pre-existing conditions Keystone would have charged me around $600-$700/mo. for health insurance…which was just impossible for me (and thus I have been without health insurance for over a year now).
Ohh, but the real reason I wanted to tell you about this is b/c something bad happens if you don’t have health insurance by the end of March…which I think most people know (I know a fine…and I think “open enrollment” closes which means you can’t get healthcare until the next “open enrollment” occurs – which might not be for a few months), but perhaps more important – if you want to have coverage as of April 1st you need to be enrolled in a plan by March 15th. If you are registered after March 15th, your insurance policy won’t “start” until May 1st!
Back in September 2013 I wrote about DollarShaveClub which delivers inexpensive and quality razors to your home on a recurring basis for an affordable subscription fee. Not surprisingly, others have jumped on the subscription bandwagon – one of them being ToothbrushSubscriptions – not quite as innovative a name as DollarShaveClub – but it gets the job done.
Do we really need a subscription program for our toothbrushes? Am I really too lazy to pick up a toothbrush at the grocery story? The answer to both is – no. I go grocery shopping semi-frequently, that is once every one or two weeks. I could pick up a toothbrush from the grocery store – but it is more convenient to have it delivered to my doorstep – and its not like I’m paying a premium for the service!
See, ToothbrushSubscriptions discovered a real niche. Everyone wants their toothbrush to be workable (yet oftentimes they get destroyed and we continue to use them b/c we forget to pick up another) and also cleanish (yet we oftentimes use them forever, forgetting to purchase another).
How often do we need to replace our toothbrushes? I don’t know…but every time I see those pictures of microscopic bacteria swarming all over everything, it makes me want to buy a new toothbrush. ToothbrushSubscriptions sends me one automatically every three months for $1 – flat. That means over a year’s time I receive four toothbrushes – which remind me to replace the one I have been using each time they arrive – and it costs me a grand total of $4.
Granted, I am using the Economy Toothbrush (their least expensive) and one could get a baby toothbrush for $2 or a luxury toothbrush for $3 or even the American Dental Association Approved Advantage toothbrush for $5. But even if you go all out and get the $5 ADA toothbrush, you still are spending $20 a year – not too shabby in the larger picture. :P[/ref]
The packaging is pretty primitive – not nearly as attractive as DollarShaveClubs’ packaging. Maybe that is why its DollarShaveClub and ToothbrushSubscriptions – but I expect with time and growth the packaging will improve.
There isn’t the same humor either – you won’t find funny YouTube videos and you don’t receive humorous business type cards in most packages…but hey, its toothbrushes and there is less margin on toothbrushes (I’d imagine) than on razors.
Now the site isn’t amazing either. For the life of me I can’t figure out how to login to my account. I can create an account (I did) but where is the login page?!? I don’t know. Hopefully this will be remedied soon – it is a simple fix, adding a link to the page (which I am sure exists, I just don’t know where).
I’d also like to see ToothbrushSubscriptions diversify their product portfolio – I’d love to get my toothpaste and floss shipped directly to me. They do carry floss – but its the old-fashioned string kind instead of the new plastic disposables which are so much easier to use. They could also add mouthwash – that’d be nice – but I know its a liquid and a bit more difficult to mail.
Where ToothbrushSubscriptions could run into problems is if DollarShaveClub decides to diversify its portfolio to include toothbrushes – and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. That said, as loon as ToothbrushSubscriptions offers a reasonable price, a reasonable product, and reasonable service – I wouldn’t see any need to switch over to DollarShaveClub for my toothbrushes even if they began offering them.
How could you ever justify spending $60 yearly on toothbrushes, Dave? First off, I don’t. Secondly, I don’t have cable – so there.Aka, I can buy my gadgets with the money most folks spend on their cable bills!↩
I’m a fan of Dr. Daniel Amen. I’ve read several of his books and think his ideas about SPECT scans fascinating – if controversial. I appreciate the way he tries to determine exactly what is causing specific mental conditions to refine treatment methods and also his use of non-medicinal and alternative medicine options for treatment.
In a recent email newsletter there was something about his Brain Life Fit program – I wish I had kept the email. It sounded like a new and revolutionary program for brain health – and I wanted to try it (of course).
I’m already a paying Lumosity customer – but I respect Dr. Amen’s work and it sounded like a much more comprehensive program than what Dr. Amen offered. Here are my observations on Brain Fit Life, especially in comparison to Lumosity.
Complicated Sign Up
The process started off easily enjoy, I clicked Join Now on the BrainFitLife site, but was soon transferred over to the MindWorks store on the Amen Clinics site. If I didn’t already have an account with MindWorks (I did) I would have had to create one. I had to order BrainFitLife through the MindWorks store.
Once I completed the purchase I received an email with a link to setup my BrainFitLife account. This account uses a separate username and password from the MindWorks account – so for anyone who is totally new to Amen Clinics, you have to setup two accounts just to get started.
I really wanted to like BrainFitLife, but I’m afraid there is more bad news. During the signup process there are several places where one is invited to click on a link but no link exists. Further there are a number of grammatical and spelling errors – this does not represent the level of professionalism I expect from an organization as prestigious as the Amen Clinics.
BrainFitLife’s Dashboard is called (confusingly) “My Homepage Journal.” It is somewhat aesthetically pleasing (the My Anchor Images ruins it for me) but is overwhelming with the number of icons. On the left-hand side one can choose from different sections of the site – and to the right are icons for tracking various aspects of your health. All of these icons are designed using the same basic pattern and colors – this makes it confusing whether the icons on the left are for different functions than the icons on the right (they are).
Assess My Brain
That is okay though – if the content is really good I can plod through a complicated sign up process, inferior design, and a confusing dashboard. Let’s try Assessing My Brain. This is where the site stands out a little – it allows you to take an assessment which then tells you what sort of brain it thinks you have – based on Dr. Amen’s methodology (see his books to understand more about this methodology). I have a “Impulsive, Compulsive, Sad, Anxious” brain – boy, doesn’t that sound cheerful and optimistic?
The Assessment also looks at brain health (e.g. memory, focus, impulse control) and then generates a customized plan based on your specific brain type, strengths, and weaknesses.
It gives you a list of recommended brain training games, recommended exercises, and recommended supplements. That is pretty nifty. In comparison, Lumosity doesn’t offer an analysis of your brain type – they are focused solely on strengths/weaknesses of your brain – not mental illness. Lumosity also doesn’t offer recommendations of exercises or supplements.
If you click on a recommended game it takes you to the games page – a list of games – but not to the specific game you clicked on.
Know My Motivation
In the Know My Motivation section I can add “anchor images” – visual reminders of what matters to me. These are the images that show up on the dashboard I mentioned previously. Its a nifty idea – though the implementation on the dashboard is sub-optimal. Images can be much more powerful than words.
Then there are a number of forms to fill out, “5 Results from Being Healthy,” “5 Results from Being Unhealthy,” “5 People or Places that Support Being Healthy,” “5 People or Places that Support an Unhealthy Life,” and “Future of My Life.” This is a good process to work through – what matters, why it matters, what helps/hurts, and what we want out of life – but the presentation is quite simplistic and not much of a value-add. You can find pen and paper worksheets that provide similar processes and Simpleology offers a better implementation of the goals concept.
There is another “tab” called “One Page Miracle” – sounds pretty awesome…but it is basically another pen and paper form that talks about different life areas – children, grandchildren, significant other, other family members, brain, physical, spirituality, interest, work, finances, and friends. Hope you read the instructions at some earlier point – b/c there aren’t any now! Gahh! Once again, very simple functionality. I’d like to see Simpleology implement something similar.
Know My Numbers
In this section Dr. Amen suggests that you should know a number of values regarding your body and have them regularly updated – this is something he talks about in his books as well. I think it is a great idea – but he doesn’t say how to accomplish this. I would recommend WellnessFX and think a partnership with them would make great sense for Dr. Amen.
They make it simple and affordable to get your blood drawn and tested almost anywhere in the United States. They provide results and analysis via a web-based interface and also can provide personalized, live coaching regarding your results and recommended changes in your regimen.
They also track almost all of these “numbers” automatically – so why waste time reentering them?
I’d love to see Lumosity integrate with WellnessFX as well and provide charting of how these numbers correlate with brain performance.
Train My Brain
Ack! This page hurts my eyes! I recommend the designers go take a look at Lumosity’s site, it is so much more aesthetically pleasing…but I can overcome aesthetic issues if the product is good enough, how are the train my brain games?
Hmmm…Inferior. Well, at least they feel inferior. They are not as refined as Lumosity’s games, there isn’t as much explanation as to how the game helps your brain, and honestly, I have high doubts about the effectiveness of some of the games. With Lumosity you can feel your brain stretching – with some of these games (e.g. shooting a target with an arrow and adjusting for wind issues) I have a hard time believing it is doing anything for my brain health.
Another example is one of the thoughts for training your mind to think more positively. It shows up bubbles with words in them – some words are positive, others are negative – you are supposed to click on the positive ones and let the negative ones fall…I really can’t see this beign a big help.
They do have “games” in several areas that Lumosity does not – and these are interesting, though their functionality can be reproduced by other web applications and processes – many freely available. For example they have games whereby one can engage in relaxation techniques, but you could also use the free Calm.com service.
“the more the use it”
“selected for just for you and play one now”
Once a game has completed your only option is to play again – there should be an exit option.
The names of the games are extremely uncreative, “e-Think Focus” or “e-Motion Faces.” Yes, everything is electronic – I am running this on a computer – which is electronic. I mean, e-Motion faces is a little cute, but all the games I looked at are practically name in this same exact manner – and most don’t have the cute factor – e.g. e-Think Focus – nothing cute or really informative there.
There are images associated with each game – they are clickable, but clicking on them does nothing. You have to click a separate button underneath the game to play it or learn more about it.
Train My Body
But there is more! Maybe the Train My Body section will set Lumosity in it’s place? I mean, Lumosity doesn’t have anything for physical training. Unfortunately, no.
This section has a few links to PDF articles with basic exercise instructions and a few blog articles. I wasn’t impressed.
Then there is the “Workout Log/Plan” – which really seems to be a workout log, not a workout plan. As far as I can tell you can set up a “plan” for a single day – but have to recreate the plan every following day – and can’t set up future days in advance.
The workout log is fairly basic. I’d recommend Noom as a free alternative that runs on your smartphone or, if you want to invest a few bucks, get a Fitbit – its workout tracking is pretty sweet.
Change My Thoughts
A basic method of reprogramming one’s brain to be more optimistic/positive is recognizing and countering Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs). This portion of the site provides a very basic, simple workflow that takes you through the process of identifying your ANT, choosing a response to the ANT, etc. Again, can be replicated very easily with pen and paper. If I’m trying to help someone get the most bang for their buck, I’d much rather that they bought David Burn’s Feeling Good which provides a self-help manual of sorts based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with lots of helpful worksheets.
The tool returns results like, “Guilt is generally not a helpful emotion. It often backfires and can be counterproductive to your goals. The problem is that when we feel pushed or guilted into doing things our natural tendency is to push back. It?s better to replace ?guilt beating? with phrases like ?I want to do this,? or, ?It fits with my goals to do that. ?” This occurs when one uses an unsupported font and is a rookie design mistake. If the correct font is used these question marks should appear as single or double quotation marks.
Take My Supplements
I like that Dr. Amen recommends supplements for me. I can figure out what supplements I should be taking using his book – but that is a bit complex and time consuming. The web application does it all for me.
Ouch! That is a lot of money! Over $200/mo. on vitamins? Well, you can’t put a price on health – right? What if the health you get is way more expensive than similar health someone else gets? Hmmm…I don’t like that. It seems to me there is a pretty huge markup on these vitamins.
Lets take a look at just one example – the Omega-3 supplement. It costs $24.95/mo. through MindWorks. I use Coromega, which is a tasty, yogurt-like ketchup-sized packet and pay $25.09 for a three month supply (wow, three months for the same price as one of Dr. Amen’s Omega-3?!).
But what about the ingredients? Here is a comparison:
Total Omega-3 Fatty Acids
So, Dr. Amen’s are more potent – but if I take two Coromega per day, I still end up getting 1.5 months supply to every 1 months supply of Dr. Amen’s – and personally, I think Coromega’s form has better absorption than pills and doesn’t cause fish burps (and actually tastes good!).
I appreciate the breakdown of recommended supplements – but I can’t see myself buying them through MindWorks.
Eat Right to Think Right
Once again, not very impressed. Some blog articles and videos. All the blog articles and videos appear to be freely available via the BrainFitLife – so a subscription isn’t needed.
But there is a Meal Planner – errr, make that a meal logger? I don’t really see how it helps me plan meals (at least not more than a day in advance). It also has an incredibly small “library” or foods. I’d recommend Noom or Fitbit over this Meal Logger any day.
They do have a number of healthy recipes – and that is cool – and they include nutritional values – which is even cooler – but they are also freely available via the blog. The formatting of the recipes is nice – includes instructions, nutritional values, ingredients, and an appetizing photo of said food.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to hide steps you’ve completed – for example, there is a “Meet Tana Your Nutrition Coach” which once clicked leads you to a blog article. Great – now I know Tana – but I really don’t need to see a link to getting to know her every time I visit Eat to Think Right.
One other annoyance is that the blog posts reference all sorts of studies but then don’t provide any citation information. I don’t doubt that what Dr. Amen and Tana Amen are saying is true – but I’d like to know what the original studies/sources are so I can read up on the topic further!
The Soothe My Stress section includes a few games – for example ones that help you practice relaxation techniques. This is one of the more unique and impressive areas of BrainFitLife – but not nearly enough to convince me to pay up. It also contains a number of meditative/hypnotic audio videos – but you can find similar videos across the web for free (see, e.g. Calm.com).
Break My Barriers, Cravings and Addictions
Ooh, I want to see what this section contains! I have an addictive personality – I’ve struggled all my life with sugar consumption, sometimes binge on TV, etc. There are three short videos – less than 20 minutes combined – and that is it. Bummer.
Get Better Together
There is a community aspect to the site – but I’m not sure what software they are using to power it, but it seems pretty basic. It allows for status updates, forums, live chats, and calendaring – but I don’t see notification options or other essential features.
On the positive side, there are live coaches who monitor the site and perform regular live coaching sessions…I’ve never been too big on them though.
Trackers are cool. They let you track all sorts of things – mood, sleep, focus, energy, anxiety, cravings, memory, motivation, and so on. The implementation on BrainFitLife is fairly basic. If you have a Fitbit, it includes much more robust tracking…or you can try a free service like Trackthisfor.me. MedHelp also had fairly robust tracking tools for free. I do like the idea behind the “gratitude” tracker – which is a little different in that one doesn’t just keep track of numeric values but actual items one is thankful for.
There are a number of videos featuring Dr. Amen throughout, these are neat and informative and short (which I like) but the videos are poor quality (the way they were resized causes rough edges on whatever is on the screen – e.g. Dr. Amen). Dr. Amen is very expressive in the videos (lots of hand motions) – a little more expressive than I’d suggest, but to each his own.
There is a very simple but helpful help overlay when you first login…unfortunately if you click on Get Help later you get that same basic overlay – at least if you click on it on the Dashboard page. On some other pages (e.g. Change My Thoughts), clicking on it does nothing but reload the page.
It is neat that they have an option to receive SMS (text message) reminders at specific times to remind you to do certain tasks (e.g. update trackers, take supplements).
The “Manage My Account” link takes you out of BrainFitLife and back to MindWorks which is annoying.
In some places under Quick Links there are two “My Brain Type” links – they lead to separate places but share the same name – quite confusing.
BrainFitLife is too expensive ($8.25/mo.) for what it offers. It claims this is a reduced rate from the normal $29.95/mo. – which is either a price they never plan to charge (but makes it look like a must-get-now value) or it is an outrageous charge.
BrainFitLife is a great idea, but a poor implementation. Lumosity is a definite keeper.
I don’t know why this happens but I notice that oftentimes as an organization/personality grows bigger the quality of the product decreases. I’ve felt similarly about some of John Maxwell’s materials. I’m not sure if it is the need to turn out a constant line of new products/services to keep income flowing, too little time, too wide spread of a focus, or what – but I hate to see it. One ends up with a lot of half-baked products/services from someone folks trust to provide them only with the best. This is a real bummer – I’d encourage folks to do less better.
I hope Dr. Amen will take this as constructive criticism and ramp up his endeavors with BrainFitLife. It has real potential – but it isn’t there yet. I’d suggest expanding the development and design teams and acquiring some other businesses or at least partnering with them to integrate their functionality. I mentioned some great places to start – e.g. WellnessFX, Noom, Fitbit, Simpleology, Trackthisfor.me, and even Lumosity!
Now Foods True Calm Amino Relaxer has Niacin 45 mg, Vitamin B-6 8 mg, Magnesium 13 mg, GABA 200 mg, Glycine 200 mg, Taurine 200 mg, Inositol 100 mg, Valerian 25 mg. It includes three months supply and costs $8.04 on Amazon. Now Foods offers a Holy Basil Extract product with three months supply at 500 mg for $12.07 on Amazon. A four month supply of Relora from Now Foods on Amazon is $18.90 with each capsule containing 300 mg. Finally, a two month supply of L-Theanine from the same on Amazon is $16.46 and has 200 mg per capsule. I’m not going to spend the time doing the math – but it should be pretty evident that this supplement seems exorbitantly more expensive than a similar mix from retail.↩
NOW Foods has Green Tea Extract, 250 pills, for $12.99; Ashwagandha, 90 pills, with 450 mg, for $11.46; Rhodiola, 60 pills, 500 mg, for $9.99; Panax Ginseng, 250 pills, 500 mg, for $18.02. You get the idea.↩
I wrote a while back about a nifty new company (Postable) that offered beautiful and humorous thank you cards at reasonable prices – which they mailed directly to your desired recipient with your message printed in a handwritten font (which was difficult, but not impossible to distinguish from real handwriting).
Recently I received an email from Postable informing me that they had significantly expanded their product line. From only carrying generic thank you cards they’ve expanded into specific niches – baby, graduation, and religious. They’ve also added holiday cards (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Groundhog Day (?!), Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, New Year, and Valentine’s Day), and cards for everyday occasions (congratulations, get well, birthday, moving, apologies). Wow! Now I don’t ever have to write a card again!
Okay, so maybe I’ll still need to write some cards – but point is – this is pretty exciting. In the email I received Postable provided a 20% off coupon for Valentine’s Day cards. The coupon code is LUVCARDS.
Now guys, I may be a dunce when it comes to being romantic – but even I know that one of the quickest ways to end up in the dog house is to give that special someone a printed Valentine’s Day card (errr…make that any card!)…So use this for those you care about – but don’t blame me if you find yourself in hot water if you choose to give a printed Valentine’s Day card to her.
Here are a few of my favorites designs for Valentine’s Day from Postable’s site (my horribly corny sense of humor may surface…):
I’m always trying to improve myself. I’m always learning, always looking, always seeking. I’m a bit of a technophile, I love the ways that technology can improve our lives. I use all sorts of systems – including task management systems. I’ve used a number of them over the years – most recently I was a big Asana advocate (and I still use it)…
One system that I began using way back in the day (2005, 2006?) and have continued to use off-and-on since then is Simpleology. Lately I’ve been using it more and more…I’m not ready to switch everything over YET, but I am impressed by the system and wanted to share a bit about it with everyone…as well as disclose to Mark Joyner (Founder/CEO of Simpleology) and his co-workers my thoughts on the system and the areas that need to improve/be refined before it can really, REALLY be what I need.
Why Simpleology is Different
The first thing to note is that Simpleology is different from other task management systems. Are you familiar with David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology? It utilizes task management – but it is not just a task management system – rather it is a process by which one engages life, especially the task oriented aspects of it. Simpleology is along the same lines.
I suppose you could use Simpleology simply as a task management tool – but its real power is when you get up in the morning (or in the evening in preparation for the next day) and work through the workflow that is Simpleology. It takes the massive amount of ideas, problems, opportunities swirling around in your brain and guides you through the process of selecting which tasks you should actually work on today. It helps you be productive in the right areas and to feel productive at the end of the day.
With other task management systems (e.g. Asana) I sometimes feel overwhelmed. Great, I’ve got hundred of tasks and sub-tasks…but what do I need to do today? How do I decide?
In addition to this, Simpleology provides a number of “life hacks” that help you increase your productivity – and one of its strongest (and weakest) points is the ongoing interactive training that is available to teach you the usage of the web application.
What It Needs
I’m using Simpleology, but I’m not fully sold on it yet…Here are my concerns, big and small:
The interactive training for Simpleology is great – it keeps you moving forward at a good pace – but it is also frustrating. Sometimes I just want a PDF user manual to Simpleology. I want to begin using some features before I’m trained on them via the interactive training. Most features are fairly intuitive, but the exact mechanisms and business logic underlying these features isn’t clear and could cause me issues down the road…Here are a few areas I need to know the nuances of w/out waiting for the interactive training:
Observe & Change
Engines (this is supposed to allow custom programmability / triggers within Simpleology)
Projects (this is a new feature in 5.5, I haven’t messed with at all)
Delegation Station (This seems powerful, but I need to know exactly how it works – what happens when the individual isn’t a Simpleology member and I assign them a task? Can they complete it and tell me it has been completed w/out becoming a member?
You can’t jump between different sections of Start My Day. That isn’t true, you just need to change to Expert mode instead of Guided.
The pricing model is unwieldy. You can get a great base of features for free, then move up to pro for $7/mo., but then the ultimate, elite package is $57/mo. I’m not suggesting that is too much – but there needs to be more steps in-between. For example, I’d suggest making the Business Growth, Financial Growth, Recurring Tasks, Observe & Change, Update Trackers, Ben Franklin Habits, and Prioritize add-on modules that can be purchased individually. I really have no use for the Business Growth or Financial Growth modules at this juncture. I can probably live without the Update Trackers or the Ben Franklin Habits module – but the Recurring Tasks and Prioritize modules are must haves for me – but there is no way I can afford to spend $57/mo. to get these features (ok, recurring comes with pro…). I think this would increase revenue – and folks might still find themselves throwing in all $57/mo. eventually – but it is a more gradual progression (you gotta boil a frog in a pot by slowly turning up the heat, right?).
The lack of storage for historical tasks. Mark informed me these limits are done away with in 5.5.
Under Lists there is no way to make a task disappear from its list once it is completed without deleting it. It should be able to be moved automatically to archived targets once it is completed.
Under Lists there is no reason to have “Mental Lockbox (Legacy)” for anyone who doesn’t have items in this category.
Other Stuff I’d Like
Here are a few items I’d like to see, but that aren’t core necessities for me (rated 1-10, 1 being unimportant to me, 10 being very important…although none of these reach the importance of the big items listed above)…
[I’ve never met Mark in real life, I’ve never had an extended conversation with him, but I have used his products for years and followed his journey over time…and I figured I’d write down my thoughts and memories before I forget them…This section has little practical use.]
I haven’t been online as long as some, but longer than most. I remember this slick marketing guy I used to follow – Mark Joyner. He wrote a bunch of books, founded a bunch of companies (ROIbot, SearchHound, StartBlaze, Aesop Search Engine, etc.), and I thought ran Trafficology – but it seems Wayne Yeager ran this, maybe Mark can clear that up for me? Perhaps my memory is just lying to me. If you had to sum up Mark in one phrase at the time I would choose the title from his 2002 book MindControlMarketing0.
Mark had a way with words that soothed you into compliance – and he was willing to teach you how you could become a mind control master as well.
Then in April 2003 Mark sent out a surprising email. You can read it in its entirety here. I think you’ll quickly see the power of his sales phrasing (mind control marketing). I was never comfortable with selling using these techniques – but I still followed Mark for a lot of his more mainstream guerrilla marketing tips (is that an oxymoron?).
Mark decided it was time to go find himself, “Bottom line is, it’s time for me to simplify. My business has become so incredibly complex that it just isn’t fun any more. It’s time for me to clean everything up, finish the unfinished business, and move on.”
Then in 2005 Mark came back on the scene with Simpleology. I remember giving it a try pretty early on. I thought it was cool – I don’t remember much about it other than some PDF books teaching productivity hacks. The usual mind control marketing techniques were evident in the early rendition of the Simpleology site. Mark used the popular technique of offering the basics for free and then charging you for the premium parts once you were hooked. Don’t get me wrong, what Mark gave away for free had real value.
In 2011 the site received a complete reboot – and I once again began using the system. Now, Simpleology has been innovated upon yet again – upgraded to 5.5 and I was lucky enough to be selected as one of the early access users.
I’ve been impressed by Mark’s movement from mind control marketing techniques to creating products that don’t need any mind control to sell. You’ll see some of that old style peering through every once in a while – sometimes you get redirected to pages that encourage you to sign up now and get huge bundles and deals (even within Simpleology). I kind of wish these would go away – but to each his own.
It doesn’t have to be PDF, HTML, DOC, whatever is fine – just something I can read!↩
He always harped on his time spent in the military working in intelligence and how this provided him with many of the skills he shared regarding MCM.↩
Not that his earlier products lacked value, just that now his products contain such value that persuasive selling isn’t necessary.↩
Last year, on November 29th I wrote a review of Lumosity, a brain training/exercise web-based program that uses games to increase brain power. Its been around two months and I figured it was time to give everyone an update on how Lumosity is going…
Brain Performance Index (BPI)
The first column explains what score this is – e.g. BPI is overall brain power, which each of the remaining items is a specific type of brain power. The dates represent when the brain power numbers are pulled from. The BPI reflects my percentile compared to all other users of Lumosity in my age bracket – so, for instance, my over brain performance index is higher than 69.2% of Lumosity’s users within my age bracket.
I’ve actually moved into a new age bracket (30-34), but I’ve included the percentiles from 25-29 first since this was what I was using when I created the last post. The numbers within parentheses are the percentiles for my current age bracket.
I should note that I’ve been a bit of a slacker recently. I missed an entire week of Lumosity, only did four days last week and have done three thus far this week – I’m trying to be more regular with it. I don’t remember what was going on in my life, but it seems like something which drew me away from Lumosity. Ohh well. The biggest takeaway is that my scores would probably be higher if I had been using Lumosity daily.
Overall, I’m pretty impressed with Lumosity. I hate a few of the games (though I love most of them), though I’ve found if I’m willing to stick with them, after repeatedly beating my head against the monitor I eventually develop competency in them – though usually not until after I’m convinced I’ll never improve in them.
For example, with the Penguin game (which still drives me nuts) I could originally only make it through 5-6 levels, now I can make it through 13…and the pinball game I could originally only do 3-4 levels and today I reached 11. Mainly the games that have to do with memory frustrate me – I enjoy the attention, speed, etc. games.
I think its worth the cash outlay and hope you’ll join me in using Lumosity – then we can compare scores! 😉
Within Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) there is a sub-type known as “scrupulosity” or “religious OCD” – and it is one nasty monster. I’ve been afflicted with it since early childhood and during my early college years I almost dropped out, left the faith, and probably verged on institutionalization due to it.
Since then I’ve learned a lot of coping skills, I take medications, and so on – and it isn’t nearly as intrusive (though it is still a regular pain in the butt). One of the major ways in which I experienced relief from these symptoms was through Mark Rutland’s excellent (yet poorly known and under-appreciated) Streams of Mercy which spoke about receiving and reflecting God’s grace.
Seriously, this book revolutionized my life. I’ve read it many times and it continues to make me break down in tears with great regularity. It is an easy read with plenty of personal anecdotes from Rutland’s fascinating life and creative short stories that illustrate his points. A must read.
I’ve written about Streams of Mercy before – but I want to write today about Mark Rutland the man. Sometimes folks write a good book – but what are their lives like? Well, Rutland founded a ministry called Global Servants which has done some impressive work around the world – not least of which is the founding of House of Grace, a refuge for Akha girls who are being drawn into the sex trade. Ahh, here was a man who put his hands and feet where his mouth was!
Rutland continues to run Global Servants, but has also been involved in an amazing array of other endeavors – starting in 1987 he was Associate Pastor at Mount Paran Church of God in Atlanta, Georgia…but he didn’t stay in this potentially comfortable position for too long, moving on in 1990 to Calvary Assembly of God in Orlando Florida in 1990, a church attempting to recover from scandal and financial insolvency. After successfully leading a turnaround of this church he moved on to Southeastern University of the Assemblies of God in Lakeland Florida in 1999, again leading a successful turnaround of the University. He thought he was done with these gigantic endeavors but was called yet again to serve as President of Oral Roberts University (one of the largest and most reputable charismatic higher education institutions), which was on the verge of collapse – and over a several year period again succeeded in turning around the institution.
It seems evident that God’s blessing has been upon Rutland’s work. Somehow he has also managed to preach numerous sermons and write numerous books – which I am grateful for, b/c I want to keep reading and learning from this man. Up to this point I had only read about him, read Streams of Mercy, and listened to one or more of his sermons – but recently I picked up his latest book called reLaunch about turning around an organization (I had no clue this was something he specialized in) and it is again proving to be a magnificent, encouraging, and challenging read! Then I subscribed to his blog and began reading his posts. The first one was “The Antidote for Poison Berries” posted on January 22nd…I think a few choice excerpts and comments concerning this post will give you an idea of why I find Rutland such a fantastic inspiration:
Rutland openly shares that he has struggled with depression at times throughout his forty-six years in ministry (this has become more common in smaller ministries, but I still don’t hear a lot about it from bigger, successful personalities within Christianity).
He then goes on to state, “I have known dark moments and personal failures. I have been deeply disappointed in myself and struggle at times to stay in the ministry, or even to feel that I should stay in the ministry. In one truly terrible season, only the grace of God through my wife, two friends that refused to let me quite, and the wise anointed help of a trained counselor kept me in the work.” Wow. Again, Rutland is willing to admit significant enough failures in his personal life that have led to his questioning (at times) his qualifications for ministry – and that he would have abandoned ministry altogether except for the moral support he received from others…What an encouragement to ministers who are struggling to keep their heads above water! Further, Rutland admits seeing a “trained counselor” something which is still widely looked down upon in many Christian circles – an admission which normalizes this practice for others – who really need it.
He goes on, “Is this shocking you? Are you thinking, why should I listen to this guy? He shouldn’t even be in the ministry. Is that what you’re thinking? Then I submit to you that I cannot think of but a handful of sturdy saints who should be in the ministry.” Thank God! A leader who is willing to admit that we are not qualified, that we do fall short. Yes, there must be accountability and standards within Christian ministry – but this too often occurs at the cost of masks – masks of pretend people who pretend to be things they are not. We hide our sin in a corner (even from ourselves) so we can be “qualified” for the ministry we are undertaking. I’d like to know who these “sturdy saints” are of whom Rutland speaks, b/c he knows more than I – I know of none (including myself).
But Rutland, have you ever been so tired you just couldn’t do it any more? Have you felt that battle raging within you that you feel like is going to kill you if you don’t just surrender, give up, give in? “The wrestling match within myself has at times been almost unbearable, but when the sun came up I limped toward whatever shred of victory I could still find.” Wait? What about the victorious Christian life? Shouldn’t you have experienced calm and peace and serenity in the midst of this unbearable suffering? That is what the Apostle Paul had, is it not? Perhaps…but at least there are a few humans in ministry who also “limp” toward a “shred of victory” that must be “found!” Ahh, here is someone more to my level!
“You know all the keys to spirituality. Prayer. The Word. Accountability. You can name them and you have preached on them and they are incredibly important…[but] what do I do when I have done all those and deep tissue, immobilizing, paralyzing discouragement settles like inky night upon the parsonage?” Wait! Rutland, are you saying that you have applied the proper methods as taught by Christian circles – derived from Scripture – and at the end of the night there has been no relief? No light at the end of the tunnel? That you have foundered in the cess pool of darkness? God be praised! Christian experience cannot be reduced to a set of rules and formulas by which we experience peace and healing from our struggles (the Book of Job is my favorite book of the Bible currently…Job finds no relief, no answers, and He is not the ‘prim and proper’ individual we like to recommend folks to be when they experience suffering – he is a raging, crying, frenzied maniac who cries out to a God who has abandoned him).
He talks about various ways he attempts to restore himself in the midst of these dark times – remembering he is not the first to struggle (see Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, David, Paul, and Jesus he says), avoiding isolation (including seeing a professional counselor), resting, not comparing our ministry/life with others (he says we don’t need to be a Joel Osteen, I’d add, that we don’t need to be a Mark Rutland, though I’d like to be…), and he says that we should not allow failure or fear of failure to stop us: “If you have not failed at anything lately, it’s time to try something new.” Yehaww! (No, I don’t talk like this in real life)
Okay, I’ve quoted huge portions of his post – but there are some really excellent other nuggets that I didn’t include – simply b/c I didn’t want to include the entirety of his post. Go read the original here.
[Some may wonder, “Is Dave a Charismatic?” The answer would be no. I’m a non-cessationist. I do not believe that the spiritual gifts have ceased to operate – but I also see many expressions of the spiritual gifts which are questionable at best and downright hypocrisy and blasphemy at worst. I will accept the proper expression of a spiritual gift but I will also demand that any expression of spiritual gifts meet a high level of accountability and integrity. I have great respect for individuals like Mark Rutland, Wayne Grudem, and John White who fall into more charismatic circles – and I want to learn from them. I think both Charismatics and non-Charismatics have some truth in their hands – and that we find ourselves strongest when we sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron – challenging in love and humility the authenticity and validity of our beliefs in such a way as encourages the upbuilding rather than the dismantling of Christ’s body.]