Addicted to Ink

Friday, April 21, 2006

Did anyone else do this at school?

(Note: this is cross-posted from my "daily journal" entries at, but I was just curious if anyone else had fun memories of "parachute day")

With a snap of his wrist, the blanket sharply rose, then gently fell, hitting the mattress smoothly, evenly.

"Like 'parachute'," I said, a simple memory triggered. "Did you guys do that in gym class?"

"Yeah," he said. "We'd throw a ball in the middle, and wave the parachute up and down."

It made me smile, thinking of those days in elementary school gym class. All 30 of us would stand there, each with our portion of the cool, slick fabric. We, too, would throw balls in the middle, rigging up some kind of game. We'd march in a circle, waving the fabric up and down, seeing how fast we could go. We'd all raise the fabric as high over our heads as we could, as quickly as we could, then scramble to sit under it, to create a vaccum, and time how long it took for the tent to collapse.

It was the perfect gym activity for all kids. The chubby ones. The clumsy ones. The shy ones. The awkward ones. No fear of being picked last. No fear of doing something stupid in front of everyone. We were equal. We were a team. We were one, working together, a unified goal of keeping the balls bouncing or the parachute in the air.

We were covered by the graceful sweep of a gentle, sturdy fabric softly embracing us all.

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, whose sins have been covered. Romans 4:7.

That's all of us. The chubby ones. The shy ones. The clumsy ones. The awkward ones. The broken ones. We are covered by the precious grace and forgiveness of our Jesus, whose perfect sacrifice embraces us all.

Monday, April 17, 2006

another good article for the day

Bothered by the cross
by Deanna Murshed

As someone who has been a Christian for a while now, I must confess that the idea of redemption through the cross has lost its power to bother or puzzle me as it did in the past.

I remember being jealous of folks who could confess a grand conversion experience that pulled them from lives of sheer drunken hedonistic debauchery - dramatic stories in which they were saved just in the nick of time - into resurrection just by the skin of their teeth. And although getting in by the skin of our teeth is surely true for all of us, it is at least more obvious in those great stories, for whatever reason.

But that is not my story...

For Meg & Dawn:

(Wish we had one of these in C-town... or a Trader Joe's would work, too!)

Whole Foods impressing customers, investorsMonday, April 17, 2006 Advertisement
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Without a hint of pretense, John Mackey recently said this to shareholders of his company, Whole Foods Market Inc.: “There aren’t many big corporations that we look at and say we want to be like that when we grow up. I think we are grown up, frankly.”

That might be an understatement from the co-founder and chief executive, say analysts who marvel at the grocery store chain’s annual double-digit revenue boost in an industry where sales are relatively flat.

They also like how the company melds idealism — selling organic food and making environmentally conscious business decisions — with an eye still focused squarely on the bottom line driven by aggressive growth.

Whole Foods accomplishes this undaunted by the emergence of smaller, yet formidable, competitors such as Trader Joe’s or Wal-Mart Stores’ steady infusion of organic foods into its grocery mix.

“What matters is if you take on a strategy or a philosophy, then create an environment that resonates with your consumer, you’ll win,” said Canaccord Adams analyst Scott Van Winkle. “What they have found is their customers care about the same things they consider important.”

Whole Foods closed its fiscal year in September with $4.7 billion in sales and a $136 million profit. It has stated goals of $12 billion in sales by 2010.

Begun in late 1980 as a quaint Austin neighborhood market with a hippie image, Whole Foods now has 181 stores scattered throughout the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. The company went public in 1991 when it had just 10 stores, about 1,100 employees and a stock selling at $4.25 a share. Today, it has 181 stores, nearly 40,000 employees and a stock price trading in the $65 range.

More than 25 years after the first store opened, the company is still unafraid to be different.
— It awards stock options to store employees, not just senior executives. That may be just a few options a year, but it comes at a time when grocery companies are closing stores, pulling out of markets and, in some cases, at odds with unions over wages and benefits.
— It has a salary cap. Mackey makes no more than 14 times the average company salary, excluding stock awards and options. This meant forfeiting $46,000 of his bonus last year. CEOs earn as much as 600 times the company’s average salary, according to Paul Hodgson of The Corporate Library.
— The company provides autonomy to the store managers. Rather than take out national or regional ads, Whole Foods provides a $150,000 marketing budget to the store manager who can spend it without corporate oversight.

The decentralized structure and the employee perks are essential toward Whole Foods’ empowerment philosophy, and ultimately the kind of success that generates as much as $1 million in weekly sales per store, said chief operating officer Walter Robb.

“I liked coming to work because it was never boring — never boring — and I was bored being retired,” said 68-year-old butcher A.J. Kutach. He worked in the company’s first market and recently came out of retirement to work in the company’s flagship, which opened last year in downtown Austin, a few blocks from where the original store stood.

The first thing that really strikes you upon entering the Austin store may not be the highly publicized size of the building — 80,000 square feet — or its 500-employee work force.
Rather it’s the scents competing for your attention: Citrus from the produce section, the lavender from adjacent floral section, and roasting pecans and walnuts.

The store also has islands, much like those found in kitchens, for shoppers to sit down and enjoy a salad, seafood or a barbecue sandwich and draft beer.

Shopper Ann Skok, who spends about 90 minutes per visit, barely got out of the produce section before sitting down to enjoy a beet salad with shrimp.

“I had to have lunch, too, you know, so here I am,” she said, wiping her mouth after the final bite, then washing it down with the last sip of white wine.

“Whole Foods have niche in the supermarket space that hasn’t been addressed by conventional operators,” said Morningstar analyst Mitch Corwin.

“Grocery stores have historically been fairly boring and not a fun place to shop, but now Whole Foods turned that image on its side.”

Whole Foods is expanding three ways: buying smaller companies such as seven Wild & Fresh stores it bought in the United Kingdom two years ago; expanding existing stores and building new ones. By next year, the company plans to open as many as 25 stores a year, including its largest, most elaborate offering to come in London.

But the kind of growth and change found throughout the Austin store must be done judiciously, said BB&T Capital Markets analyst Andrew P. Wolf.

“So far they’ve done a good job of making sure they don’t expand into bad locations,” Wolf said. “As you accelerate growth, you want to make sure you’re not diluting the quality of the stores or the people you hire.”

For now, Whole Foods has no peer, but the company must not become complacent, or it could be looking eye to eye with a competitor one day, analysts said.

Wal-Mart is already in the middle of a hard push to stock organic foods. And smaller, somewhat regional operators like Trader Joe’s, Wegman Food Markets and Wild Oats Markets remain undaunted by Whole Foods’ enormous stores.

Trader Joe’s just opened its first New York store in the city’s Union Square last month — almost one year to the day that Whole Foods arrived with its third Manhattan store, two blocks away.
The store is about one-third the size of Whole Foods, relies on more private label goods and is less expensive that Whole Foods, which still tries to shed the “Whole Paycheck” image.

Smaller stores such as Trader Joe’s remain popular with shoppers lured by a signature items such as Charles Shaw wine, whose familiar name is “Two-Buck Chuck” for its old price of $1.99 a bottle.

“Usually, you have somebody get in your face with competition, but they don’t have that,” Wolf said. “No matter what, you always, always have to keep an eye on Wal-Mart — always. Even Whole Foods has to.”

Whole Foods COO Robb says a letdown is not going to happen.

“If you don’t evolve, you will get yourself into a pile of also-rans,” he said. “Nobody gives you credit for what you did yesterday.

“That’s why there is no complacency here and no arrogance going on. At the end of the day, we’ll let our performance and our stores do the talking.”

Sunday, April 16, 2006

for the next two weeks:

I'll be writing for the daily journal at Barclay press:

That's every day for the next two weeks. Which likely means I won't be spending much time here.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter!

Thursday, April 13, 2006


got my links--and my old template back.

still not caught up yet...but it's a start :)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

my amber-colored lenses

If you’re already having a rough coupla days…you may not want to read this.

Or wait…maybe you do.

Ever feel like lots of things are going wrong at once?

I, the hopeless optimist, am usually able to find the silver lining almost immediately.

But when things start really piling up… yuck. I’ve had lots of not-so-great days in the last couple of weeks, mainly due to the fact that I am really terrible at conflict. However, because I’ve had so many of them lately, I’m getting better at resolving issues, AND managing to come out of these ugly times not feeling like I’ve been completely ran over or taken advantage of. (Thanks, Todd, for the phrase “Help me understand your intention when you say/do…”)

Conflict will never be something I enjoy. I am forever the middle-child-peace-keeping-people-pleaser. But I’m growing, right? And solving conflicts sooner than later is much healthier than becoming passive aggressive about them….

It also seems like LOTS of pre-trip stuff is happening with our upcoming service-learning trip. Is it my fault because I’m the “official” leader, I keep wondering. What am I doing wrong?

And I know that eventually, my optimism MUST take over this one because otherwise I want to run screaming. One of my favorite books (and, hey, it involves Russia!) has this passage in it:

Carolyn Myss, the medical intuitive who writes and lectures about why people don't heal, flew to Russia a few years ago to give some lectures. Everything that could go wrong did-flights were cancelled or overbooked, connections missed, her reserved room at the hotel given to someone else. She kept trying to be a good sport, but finally, two mornings later, on the train to her conference on healing, she began to whine at the man sitting beside her about how infuriating her journey had been thus far.

And he said--gently--that they believe when a lot of things start going wrong all at
once, it is to protect something big and lovely that is trying to get itself born--and that this something needs for you to be distracted so that it can be born as perfectly as possible.I believe this to be true. And I especially believe it when other people's things are breaking down. when it's my stuff, I believe the direct cause is my bad character.

Traveling Mercies, Ann Lammott

That’s me… while I believe that these struggles are happening because something amazing is going to happen over there, but somehow I keep blaming myself for every obstacle we face.

The last time I had lunch with my friend Jackie, she was telling me about her daughter-in-law’s absolute devastation at being turned down for a job. Jackie wrote her a letter of encouragement, pointing out the difference between what is true and what is truth. (I.e. “while it is true that you didn’t get the job, it is truth that you are a good teacher)…and essentially, that no matter our circumstances, the Truth that remains is that God loves us unconditionally and that He has a plan for us.

I’m not Pollyanna-izing this and saying that our journeys are going to be strewn with all sweetness and light…I’m just saying that looking at the big picture–that perhaps something big and beautiful IS trying to get born–is what is slowly helping me keep stumblin’ tumblin’ onward.

Monday, April 03, 2006


Forgive me if I've told you this story already. But I love it. (Oh, and Rachel said I should blog it!)

My niece (my best friend's little girl) is gorgeous. And sweet. And knows she has her Aunt Amber wrapped around her little finger...okay, okay, so that wasn't very hard to do.

She's two and a half. Her mama, though like me was a communications major, has always worked in more the social work kinda field. And in her job-before-her-current-one, she worked for this agency that offered services to children to make sure that they were developing properly. So she signed her daughter up, just to confirm E was as developing as well as we thought she was!

One day several months ago, C's co-worker was at their house. She was in the kitchen, which adjoins the dining room. He was in the dining room with E and handed E a piece of paper or something. As he stuck his hand out, E, who is learning her colors, took his hand and her velvety brown eyes widened in sudden realization.

"Mommy!" E said, running into the kitchen. "He's brown!"
Her coworker laughed. C smiled.
"That's right," she said.
E looked at her own hand. "Mommy!" E squealed. "I'm brown, too!"
Then she looked at her mother. "Mommy--you're white!" E said. She thought for a moment. "Daddy's white, too," she informed her mom.

E thinks her skin color is the greatest thing--she's very proud to be different. I hope it is always this way.