Wednesday, July 27

Website review: Collectible Supplies

Growing up, I had a large amount of sports collectibles in my room. I acquired them mostly through garage sales. At this point in my life, I am slowly getting rid of all these knickknacks. Some of my favorite pieces were various schutt mini helmets. Obviously my favorite was the University of Michigan Wolverines helmet I got as a birthday gift way back in the day. Now had I decided to further my collection, a good place to start would have been Collectible Supplies, a website dedicated to the sales of various sports collectibles. Their Schutt helmet collection is very large, featuring teams from most major colleges. The site even features rare throwback helmets from older teams. They also have collectibles from all major sports, including the NFL, NCAA, NBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR and other minor sports. You want a new pair of Everlast MMA gloves? Boom. Is a Detroit Red Wings Mr. Potato Head Doll on your Christmas list? Look no further. What about that Minnesota Twins hitch cover that grandpa has always wanted? Got it. The variety of products on this website makes it a useful tool for the casual and serious collector alike. Purchasing is easy, with credit card or PayPal options. The site also features a nice "order tracking" feature, which allows the user to follow the status of their precious collectible. So if you are looking to expand your collection beyond a few bobbleheads, take some timeout of your day and head to Collectible Sports.

Friday, July 22

Campus Crusade changes name; takes out Christ

Day old news, but I was too busy getting a library card to blog about this. Basically the Christian college organization Campus Crusade for Christ is changing its name to Cru. Why, you ask? Well, why don't we find out from the vice president, Steve Zellers.

"We felt that our name was getting in the way of accomplishing our mission. Our name was becoming more and more of a hindrance. It’s reverted back to some of its meaning related to the Middle Ages – forcing Christianity on different parts of the world,” he said (FoxNews). Nine percent of Christians and twenty percent of non-Christians were "alienated" by the name, according to their research. "We've been having issues with two words in the name -- campus and crusade," said Zellers.

I can see the rationale to drop the "crusade" from the name; as not to associate with the crusades from the Middle ages, but they fail to explain why "Christ" was left out in the cold. You want to disassociate yourself from the crusades? Then don't use an abbreviation of the word as your new name, then take out Christ. And how can the word "campus" cause issues?

The pathetic explanation for dropping Christ was explained in the Huffington Post:
"Cru enables us to have discussions about Christ with people who might initially be turned off by a more overtly Christian name," said Cru's FAQ section. "We believe that our interaction and our communication with the world will be what ultimately honors and glorifies Christ."

Let me get this straight. In order to bring more people to Christ, you are dropping Christ from your name so that people don't think your group is associated with Christ? I mean, what a ridiculous concept, for a Christian organization to have an "overtly Christian" name, right? (Please note dripping sarcasm.) Personally, I don't think tricking people into joining your organization is the best way to spread the Gospel. You say that your communication will be what honors and glorifies Christ? What about the communication to the world that Christ in your name is a "hindrance?"

The 16th verse of Romans comes to mind, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." Note that Paul does not say anything about alienating people because he calls himself a Christian here. Or Luke 9:26 "Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."

Newsflash, if you think changing your name will bring in people that feel alienated by Christianity, then you might want to reconsider your public relations strategy. What an underhanded way to bring people into your organization.

I gave Cru a try back in the day, and I have to say, it was not my cup of tea. That's another blog for another time, but I do feel that a non-Christian would be very alienated by what goes on inside the organization, rather than it's name. I simply don't think it is a very good idea to change the name because a small percentage did not like it.

So many Christian organizations are hidden behind nebulous names such as InterVarsity (I thought it was some sort of intramural tennis club for about a year), Agape, Kairos, Power to Change, Promise Keepers and See You at the Pole (what?). Why not be honest and have an "overtly Christian" name? I'm sorry, but this is just not a good look for Cru. It sends a terrible message to the whole world. A message that says "we are afraid of offending people with the name of Christ." Cru is an internal nickname that works amonst those who were already part of the organization. Cru is not a brand that can carry the organization, or even try to explain what goes on within itself. But Zeller couldn't care less.

“Much like lots of brand names they don’t necessarily have meaning in and of themselves,” he said. “It is a name we intend to give meaning so that when people hear it they know that it’s a caring group of Christians who are passionate about lifting up the name of Jesus.” Forcing meaning to a meaningless name? Could there be a more risky PR strategy?

In conclusion, Cru could have easily dropped "crusade" from it's name, and kept Christ. I don't care about their explanation or what really goes on within the organization, it is the public's perception of the change that matters. And so far every single news report has had a negative headline regarding the change. This causes the public's perception of the organization to change in a bad way. There are almost no positive comments on these articles, and that should not surprise anyone. It just looks bad on Cru's part. Cru folded to the pressures of a politically correct world, and took a substantially weak stance. Now they have to clean up the mess and put out a few more hurried "explanations" before they lose all credibility.

P.S. The Lutheran campus organization is called "Christ on Campus." Just saying.

By Aaron Brandt, who was impressed with the Allendale Public Library's collection of "The Book Thief." They had about ten copies.

Monday, July 18

I'm on Google+

I just got on Google's new social network, and I am in the middle of figuring it out. Seems pretty cool so far, as long as lots of people start using it. It makes Facebook look cluttered. I really like how it connects all of Google's various services together in one place. It's nice for bloggers and users of Picasa, such as myself. And there is no such thing as Farmville or Mafia Wars and all the other stupid apps that clutter up my newsfeed.

So if you are on Google+ already, add me. And if you want an invite, I'll send you one, as long as you promise to read my blog. Or send me cash donations.

And for the op-ed section of this post; I think it's funny when people knock new social network sites and updates. For example, when people talk about how much they hate Twitter when they don't even have an account. Now it's all about how Google+ is stupid because Facebook already exists. Or when people complain about a change on Facebook that we will all get used to in a day or two. If we had a choice, none of us would go back to the old versions of Facebook and such. There's the rant. Again, if you want an invite, hit me up and I'll do what I can. And add me to your circles if you have Google+. Also, +1 this post.

By Aaron Brandt, who used Twitter before it was cool and MySpace after it was cool. 

Thursday, July 7

Zip line crash! At a wedding!

Check out this video. It really got me worked up this morning.

My job at the zoo is to ensure the safety of all riders on the zip line. We go over inspections, safety checks, rules, more safety checks and attach a harness which reduces circulation by 12% when you have it on all day. So when I see something like this, well, I can't say I feel bad for anyone. Let's break this down.

Mistake #1- The bride clearly is not adhering to rule number four, which instructs riders to keep their hands on the rope, or keep them at their sides. Instead she goes flailing like a wounded bird, which could easily knock the trolley off of the line, causing her to get stuck or at least slow down (which happened).

Mistake #2- Clearly the bride ignored the "no dresses allowed" rule. I mean, come on, how is she supposed to put on the leg straps? Let's not get into the details of why that wouldn't work.

Mistake #3- This dude is the definition of people I can't stand. I can explain all the rules very clearly, telling them not to run or jump at the end of the platform, and what do they do? Take a running start and swan dive off the edge. Umm, bro, when you start at a high rate of speed on a downward angle, you are going to end at a high rate of speed. And the 18 year old girl at the other end will not be able to catch your beer gutted body when it slams into her at 100 MPH. In this case, just married Justin slams newly wed Wanda and the rest is history.

Mistake #4- Good idea, getting on the line when someone else isn't even at the other side yet, Hot Rod. I mean, with your running start, there is no way you will hit her, especially since she slowed herself down by flapping her arms...Oh wait, never mind.

Mistake #5- Was this dude even attached? I mean, the harness I put on people has three carabiners attaching the person to the rope and a two piece, Petzel harness which is certified climbing gear. It is impossible to fall off, even if someone acts as stupid as this guy. Was he just holding on to the rope? Good idea, man.

Mistake #6- The camera guy. Dude, just shut up and film. Let Tom Bergeron and Bob Sagat narrate your video later. Instead he chimes in with an insightful "I got it all on fiiiiilllllmmmm. That's Youtubin'...I'm Youtubin' that shh...I'm Youtubin' that, Red." I bet Red doesn't even care, or have a computer for that matter. Red is just happy about the open bar, which is clearly where the groom was right before he got onto the zip line.

In summary, it is always a good idea not to act like an idiot when you are attached to a half inch wire while suspended off of the earth. It makes my job easier, reduced your medical bills and save the life of the 112 pound girl at the catch side if you follow the rules and just enjoy the ride. So please, come to the zoo and visit me at work. Our zip line is 100% safe, and 100% fun. Juicy Juice. 100% juice for 100% kids. (paying the bills)

By Aaron Brandt, who does not do anything with lions or animal poop at his job. He remembers when that joke was funny. Oh wait, he doesn't.