Good Words, Right Order

The Seanachai, by Patrick McClean, was one of the first podcasts I ever listened to, and it’s still one of the best. (It’s only flaw is that it isn’t updated nearly often enough, hint, hint. I miss my stories, Pat.) I’ve always admired Patrick’s writing; he finds clever ways to say interesting things.

So I was delighted to see that Patrick has a new blog/video podcast called Good Words, Right Order where he teaches writing. I’ve already watched all four of the videos on the site, where he takes some badly written glob of text and turns it into a clear, concise sentence.

It’s not a grammar site; it’s about how to communicate clearly in writing. It actually reminds me a lot of my expository writing class in college, except without the homework and the endless lecture. That class was one of the hardest classes I took, but it made me a much better writer–when I actually take the time to consider what I’m writing.

In other McClean news, he’s participating in NPR’s Public Radio Talent Search, so go and vote for him so that he can be on public radio and get paid to write insightful things instead of ad copy.

After that, go to Good Words, Right Order and learn how to write from one of the best writers I know.

More Fun @ Christian Supply

I’m always amused when I visit Christian Supply, a local Christian bookstore, for a couple of reasons. First, I love seeing the innovative new ways that people try to sell Bibles. You might think that there’s no market for a 2,000 year old book that most everyone in the South already has a copy of, and you’d be right. That’s why Christian marketers have had to invent things like:

Drink Deeply Bible

This is essentially a standard paperback Bible, but stuffed into a plastic box.

metal biblemore metal bibles

This is a Bible in a metal case. Same words, different style!

Second, I enjoying seeing the blatant exploitation of trends in popular culture, such as:

jack bauer as religious instruction

Frankly, that could be referring to their ratings this season as well as to anything spiritual.

christian ipod nano cases

If there is a consumer product, there will be a Christian rip-off of it. Seriously though: Tune in to God? You know iPods don’t have radios in them, right?

These next couple are from the Christian Self-Help section:

Probably the same guy who moved your cheese.

They don’t even try to dress this one up in spiritual language. They just get right to the point.

Then, there are the T-Shirts, ranging from the irreverent to the nigh-blasphemous.

I like how they trademarked this.

Clever.

That’s clearly a picture of a headless dog being held down by a pair of tires.

As with any advertisement, you have to watch that fine print.

If there is MySpace in your afterlife, you did not go to heaven.

Jesus as the Starbucks Lady. Calvin and Zwingli would not approve. Not as offensive as the Godweiser T-Shirt, but close.

As long as Christians are a marketing demographic, there will be cheesy Christian-targeted books, products, and clothes, and I will always have something to write about after going to Christian Supply.

An Easy $500

I recently discovered a blog called “Five Cent Nickel,” which specializes in personal finance tips. They’re having a two-year anniversary contest where you (or, preferably, I) can win an iPod Nano or some personal finance books.

In looking around the site’s welcome page, I found an article that I could use to get enough money to pay for an iPod without winning the contest. It turns out that credit card companies will give you money just for signing up with their card.

Of course, most of this money is in the form of rewards points or gift certificates, but it’s still spendable money that you can get for filling out paperwork. My only concern would be your credit rating. Since I have no idea how that’s calculated, I have to wonder if would it negatively affect your credit rating to sign up for four or five credit cards all at the same time.

In any case, I’ve subscribed to Five Cent Nickel, and I’m looking forward to finding out more personal finance tips.

Something Strange Is Happening in Spartanburg

I’ve just arrived at work, and already I can tell it’s going to be a strange day. On my way to work, I passed thirty or forty men dressed in camouflage, carrying assault rifles, walking down W.O. Ezell Blvd., closely followed by an unarmored personnel carrier. (I presume that either this was some sort of training exercise or downtown Spartanburg is about to be attacked).

Later, as I was on Daniel Morgan, I passed a funnel cake stand and a cotton candy stand, both of which were being set up in a parking lot to my right. It looked like there were rides and other food stands being set up as well.

Perhaps that platoon I passed on W.O. Ezell is moving in to prevent Spartanburg’s Spring Fling Weekend. I’ve got to go warn them! We’ll talk later.

CVS Camcorder

I recently bought a disposable camcorder from CVS.

cimg2478.jpg

Theoretically, users are supposed to buy these cameras, shoot about 20 minutes of video, then give them back to CVS. CVS keeps the camera and gives you a DVD with the videos you’ve shot.

However, some clever people have figured out how to pull the videos out themselves without having to pay CVS for processing or having to give CVS the camera. This makes the camera ideal for things like putting them into model rockets.

Unfortunately, the camera I bought has the newest firmware version. This new version can’t be hacked–yet. Eventually (hopefully sooner rather than later) someone will figure out how to hack this thing, and then I’m probably going to strap it to the front of my car and record my drive to work or something.

Hatcher Gardens

After dinner tonight I went out to Hatcher Gardens to take some photos. These are the best shots from the trip.

Next time I’ll need to get there a little earlier though. I was only there for a little while before I lost my daylight; some of these photos needed a little Photoshop magic to make them worth showing.

It’s a nice little place. Hatcher Gardens used to be the back yard of Harold and Josephine Hatcher. Over time more property was bought and new improvements were added. Now it’s sort of a public park, available free of charge to anyone who wants to come in. Call it the Central Park of Spartanburg.

So, a big thanks to the owners and to the volunteers who keep it looking nice. It looks great.