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About a month ago I wrote a post about how people on the internet are manipulating your emotions. Destin from Smarter Every Day completed four videos that are extremely helpful in understanding what’s going on and how to protect yourself from it. This is the kind of thing that I think will be critical to teach our kids as they grow up in a world that looks very different from our childhood. (Video links: 1 2 3 4)

Matt Cremona built a ridiculously nice tool storage cabinet. The highlight for me was how he used bookmatched pieces of wood surrounded by epoxy. They look incredible and the process for making them is wild as well. The video below should link directly to the point in his video where he talks about them, but if not, jump to 4:26.

Rocket powered golf club? Yes please!

Illinois Funeral

As I mentioned in the previous post, Grandma Martens passed away on Easter. I was very thankful to be able to make a quick trip back to Illinois for the funeral. It was a very memorable trip!

Buying last minute tickets means that you get to pay top dollar for the privilege of scrounging through what everyone else has left behind. My flight left at 6am on Friday morning and I was back by 10pm the next day. I flew out of the new Paine Field passenger terminal. I have never seen a terminal that looks anything like that place. It was so fancy! But aside from the luxurious surroundings, it was very nice flying out of such a small airport. Parking is easy and TSA agents outnumbered the passengers in line by about 10 to 1. Assuming the price was right, I’d definitely consider flying out of there again.

I was able to get a cheaper flight on United with their “Basic Economy” fare. The main differences were that I couldn’t choose my seats ahead of time and I was only allowed a small carry on that would fit under the seat (or a checked bag.) I took it as a challenge and did the whole trip with only a backpack! That was a little tricky since I wanted to bring a suit but I flew out there in my suit and hung up the jacket during the flights and it all worked out very well.

My flight connected through Denver and then went straight to Moline, IL. Both were small planes but having a seat assigned at the last minute worked out fairly well. I got an exit row one time and on the flight back I had an empty seat next to me on both legs of the journey.

With all the flights and layovers, I was very thankful for two tech gadgets:

  1. Anker 20100 mAh battery pack – We used this on our Disney trip too and even with rapid charging phones multiple times, it still has gobs of power left according to the meter.
  2. NordVPN – I signed up for NordVPN and while I think their signup site is a little shady in how it always implies that you’re about to miss out on a crazy deal, I do like their service. It’s very fast and let’s me safely connect to the internet on shady airport WiFi.

Once I landed in Moline, I was met by Mom and we headed straight over to the visitation. We had some time as a family before the doors opened and wow, once they opened it seemed like there was a line out the door for two hours! The final tally was well over 200 people in addition who stopped by. All four children were their with their spouses chatting with all of the visitors while the cousins milled around in the back catching up. Obviously it would be nice to catch up with everyone under different circumstances, but it was still nice to see everyone and since we were all confident that Grandma was in heaven because she believed that Jesus paid for her sins, the mood was not super somber.

After the visitation, the family split up and I was in the group that went out to a Mexican restaurant for dinner and I finally ended up back at Uncle Dean and Aunt Sandy’s. A huge thanks goes to them for letting Dad, Mom and I stay there in addition to both of their kids’ families! It was a full house but I slept very well after such a long day.

Saturday morning we headed over to Zion Lutheran Church in Taylor Ridge, IL. The weather was giving us all it had that morning with 30-40 mph wind, heavy rain and temps around 40 degrees. The forecast not too far away in Iowa was calling for 3-6 inches of snow!

Grandma had left lots of ideas for her funeral service and she picked some great topics and hymns, praising God for sending Jesus to save us and encouraging all of us to stay strong in our faith and join her in heaven.

I was a pallbearer along with some of the other cousins. We braced ourselves against the weather and carried he casket out to the hearse, followed it across the street to the cemetery and then brought it into the tent. As we made that trip, the church bell tolled once for every year of Grandma’s 93 years on earth. That tent looked like it was going to blow away but it held up for the graveside ceremony and managed to dump a bunch of water down Uncle Mark’s back not once, but twice.

We made our way back over to the fellowship hall/gymnasium for a luncheon put on by the church. Thanks to all of the families who brought food and put the lunch together!

Everything about the morning felt like it was out of a movie, except that while there was sadness, the overwhelming emotion was one of joy and hope. We’re thankful that Grandma was so active up until that last month, and it’s extremely comforting that she shared her faith every time we talked to her. There’s no doubt that she was welcomed into heaven with open arms because Jesus had saved her from her sins.

From the church, Mom took me back to the airport and I had an extremely wild ride up to cruising altitude for the flight back to Everett. I was very thankful to be connecting through Denver instead of Chicago because over 600 flights were canceled in Chicago that afternoon because of the snow. Our little plane got bucked around very strongly by the winds and hail but we made it out.

I was in Illinois for a little over 24 hours, but there were a lot of memories crammed into that small time frame. Thanks to everyone who made it happen including Tyla for staying home with Elijah and Mom and Dad for giving me rides while I was there. I’m so thankful I could attend! While I hope we have another reunion at some point, it’s hard to imagine ever collecting that much of our big family in one place at the same time.

 

Dad and Mom Visit

My parents flew out on Good Friday to spend a week with us and it was a very unusual trip! The oddities started on the trip home from the airport as Tyla, Elijah, Dad and Mom were in the Escape and got rear ended on 405. Thankfully everyone was ok and the other driver had insurance with Progressive. Progressive was great to work with and we had the car back from the shop by Wednesday.

The next surprise was that Grandma Martens passed away on Easter morning. Having it happen on Easter made those Easter hymns all the more wonderful as we thanked God for her strong faith and her entry into heaven. But those of us left here on earth had to do some scrambling to adjust travel plans and get ready for the funeral.

Even with the modified schedule, we still crammed in a lot of fun activities. Dad and Mom got to attend one of Elijah’s baseball games and we had a big family dinner on Sunday afternoon. We also got to take them up to a chapel service at Zion Lutheran where Elijah will attend first grade next year.

While we all wished they could stay longer, we were thankful for the time we could spend together and we’re looking forward to seeing them again this summer when we fly out to Indiana!

Happy Easter!

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.  Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see him.  Now I have told you.”  Matthew 28:5-7

Jesus’s took our place on the cross and died for all of our sins. His resurrection from the dead proved his power over sin, death and the devil. There’s nothing we can do to earn heaven. It’s a free gift available to everyone who believes. Want more?

Manipulating Your Emotions

It goes without saying that there’s a lot of anger and vitriol online. Sometimes it feels like the whole Internet has turned into a 24/7 screaming cable news channels. What gives? Are we really all that angry all the time?

Take an individual who’s really worked up and show them that there are thousands or millions of other people who feel the same way. Instead of just keeping it to themselves and moving on with their life, no they feel like they have a tribe and they’re much more likely to take action or join in the yelling.

Now take someone who is just trying to make ends meet. Give them a platform like YouTube or a blogging/news site where they get paid for views. What kinds of content do you think is going to get the most views? The controversial stuff! These sites end up getting flooded with all kinds of messages solely intended to ignite your emotions and make sure anyone in your internet reach sees them too. The author is using your anger to make money. We can get mad at them all we want, but they’re not really breaking any rules, and if it wasn’t effective, they wouldn’t do it.

It’s incredibly difficult to do anything to block this kind of content. It used to be that pictures were as far as you could go to make fakes but now we’re seeing full videos of people making speeches that they never made. Even if you’re on the lookout for fakes, they can be hard to spot.

On top of that, anytime a site tries to block this kind of content, there’s inevitably going to be false positives. Does site X hates viewpoint Y because it took down a legitimate video? What if they have more accidents on one side than the other? Is it because the site has a political agenda? Probably not. The simpler answer is that the people trying to make a buck on the videos have figured out that they make more by angering one side of the topic than the other.

Obviously we can’t just roll over and give up. There’s a group called Media Wise that is working to train kids (and adults) how to be smart consumers of media. They teach you to withhold your belief of any story until you’ve confidently answered three questions:

  1. Who is behind the information?
  2. What’s the evidence?
  3. What do other sources say?

The questions seem to simple but how often do we ignore them and jump to being angry?

Some talks I listened to at Strata delved into this and Destin from Smarter Every Day has been diving into this as well. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic so you can help protect yourself from being part of the problem, here are some recommended pieces of media to consume:

  • No Dumb Questions and in episode 55
  • Destin met with the Media Wise group in a recent video and walked through two examples of asking those three questions about real news stories.
  • I haven’t watched it yet, but I suspect that the first video in Destin’s new three part series is going to be a good dive into the complexities of this problem.

This problem isn’t going to go away. Change starts at home. Train yourself to be heavily skeptical of everything you read. If you have kids at home, these skills are some of the most important things you can teach them.