Tag : creation

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147: Band-Aids and the Big Bang Theory

Three weeks ago, I punctured my right palm while kayaking. The next week, I wore a bunch of skin off a finger on the same hand during—of all things—a golf mishap. It has hurt to lift weights, to accept a hand shake, and at times even to wash my hands.

I’ve gone through a lot of Band Aids.

The other day, as I was applying a fresh bandage, I was struck by the idea that I expect my hand to heal itself. I saw the issue of my cells regenerating and my skin replacing itself as a matter of when, not if.

Over the last few decades, I’ve watched my body heal itself after a double hurnea operation and shoulder impingement surgery. To date, I’ve recovered from influenza, bronchitis, pneumonia, sun poisoning, a cracked rib, a broken finger, a strained psoas, multiple sprained joints, a neck wrenched with torticollis, and more cuts & bruises than I can remember. Thanks to sports injuries, I’ve needed massage and physical therapy multiple times in the past few years alone. I’ve wondered several times what my physical existence would look like at this point in my life, if I had lived two hundred or two thousand years ago.

Modern medicine and the science behind it have allowed me to live a life with as few ramifications for my physical mishaps and misfortunes as possible. I’ve not soaked in the wonder of that often enough. On a daily basis, I’ve taken that gift for granted.

I call it a gift, because I believe there’s a giver. Even though it disqualifies me as a voice of reason in our culture, I find intelligent design behind every little marvel of our planet and its surroundings. There is an incredible display of diversity and serendipity in a world where the pragmatism of chance and adaptation wouldn’t need such creativity.

With the billions of dollars spent annually on medical research, it seems lost on most of us—me included—how much work evolutionists are doing to prove that we can’t reliably and sustainably be made whole or wholer, if you will, by beneficial mutations and freak anomalies. The more the scientific community collectively learns, the more patterns and order they find. Ironically, scientists who believe that everything is the result of unfathomable chance spend their lives proving that observable occurrences in the natural world follow predictable patterns.

Chance isn’t working with omniscience or omnipotence. Neither is our will. Few people, if any, can will their bodies to healing—for cancer or AIDS to disappear, for tissue to regenerate, for chemical imbalances to correct themselves, for lost senses to be restored. While lifestyle choices do determine a large portion of deaths in the world, you’d be hard pressed to say that natural selection is systematically weeding only the weak.

There are answers out there that trump chance and mere survival. That’s part of why we need science and its role in modern medicine. Neither academic medicine nor commercial research has found all of our needed solutions yet, but we know more each day than the day prior. Scientific medicine has righted a lot of its former wrongs and not just a long time ago—like the recent discovery that the source of ulcers is not stress or acid but bacteria. On the aggregate, most of the global population now enjoys a longer life expectancy and a better quality of life.

Standup comedian, Nate Bargatze, jokes in his Comedy Central special that scientists can constantly update their declarations without repercussions for the past scientists who got it wrong. Because science (and medicine with it) is seen as a series of substituting discoveries, there is an inherent belief about science that it’s not always right and that it’s definitely not finished. Everyone knows there’s more out there to know.

Academics and researchers who know there’s a lot they can’t yet prove with observational science ridicule people with spiritual or mystical suppositions that they can’t prove with science. That street runs both ways, too—with religious people discounting science’s yet-unprovable assumptions, when we have a good number of our own.

Observational science will never solve the origin debate, because no present or future generation has the ability to observe it or consult with someone who might have observed it. Neither camp can or ever will reproduce that initial moment on the same scale that they believe it happened. Those who believe in chance and those who believe in design are both looking at the same evidence and making different assumptions on that evidence.

To some extent, debate about origin is healthy. For me, though, it’s more productive to discuss our motivations for research—our primal hopes and unavoidable biases. People of religious faith explore to discover more evidence of a supreme being with incredible forethought, a source to which we owe our lives. People of humanistic faith research to prove that humanity is self-sufficient and unaccountable to anything beyond ourselves. Intelligent design says, “We can (or will someday) be healed.” Evolution asserts, “We can (or will someday) heal ourselves.” Creationists hope to find meaning by exterior infusion. I assume that those who ascribe to Darwin’s overarching ideas seek to create their own purpose for existence.

While science may not be able to unite us, it should be a common and ardent pursuit for everyone. Both worldviews should push us to explore the cosmos around us and the portion of infinity that lives inside us. All of us should ask why as we research how. And we all should find wonder in the small things we previously took for granted—like the hydrologic cycle and the colors of fall foliage, symbiotic species and biodiversity. Or maybe just how our body heals itself in the right conditions.

I hope that wonder leads you where it leads me. If it doesn’t, I’d really love to know where it does lead you and how it inspires you.

103: 5 Advertising Lessons From the Interstate

Image Purchased from iStockPhoto.comLast Saturday, I put over 500 miles on the odometer on the way to and then from an out-of-state wedding. I passed scores of billboards, but I only remember a few. Not surprisingly, two of them were advertising auctions.

Even though I passed both of the auction billboards twice, I never did finish reading their respective messages. Some might be tempted to blame part of that on high interstate speed limits and even higher traffic speeds. Some could even make the case that I’m not the fastest reader. Hopefully, the majority of travelers would agree with me, though, that there was simply way too much text to be absorbed during the short time of interaction.

The billboards I saw looked like the 25-word line ads I regularly place in statewide classified networks. There was no hierarchy of fonts or colors, sizing or bolding. Everything was emphasized, which means nothing was. They looked like Jenga stacks of text blocks. With no images or unused (“white”) space, those text blocks abutted the edges of the signs—crammed in the boundaries like alphabet sardines.

I’ve designed busy billboards that I’ve later been ashamed to pass on the highway; so, this post isn’t meant to denigrate these different auction companies’ work. That said, there are some lessons from my interaction with these signs.

Context is Crucial
What works on a billboard doesn’t work on Facebook. What works on YouTube doesn’t work in direct mail. And what works on AuctionZip doesn’t work on radio. Advertisers face an ever-growing array of advertising media.  One of the biggest challenges of this reality is adapting the message delivery to the nuances of each medium. Rather than simply copying and pasting from one medium to another, we need to ask ourselves about who the audience is in each medium and how they interact with that medium.

Time Flies
In my recent Certified Auctioneers Institute class, I hid a gift card in a stack of mail from home and asked for a volunteer to flip through the stack like they would at home until they found it. My volunteer averaged less than two seconds of viewing time per direct mail piece—about half the time that I had to read the passing billboards. We need to simplify our initial advertising impressions to the answer of the question, “If I could communicate just one thing—one thought—what would it be?”

Simplicity Sells
Less is almost always more. In advertising, sentences trump paragraphs, and phrases trump sentences. If the headline doesn’t sell our asset or service, adding more words will not make the sale. One of the easiest ways to subtract words is to replace them with images of the assets being described.

Images Expedite Absorption
We live in a show-then-tell culture. Pictures are shortcuts, and we all read images before text. Since we have limited time for interaction, it’s baffling to me why more marketers don’t use shortcuts like photos.

Margin Matters
Space around words makes them easier to read. The space around text can also signify importance and hierarchy. If we don’t have color or images with which to work, the next best thing for getting our message absorbed is empty space around what is important.

Good advertising is more often a result of subtraction than addition. Consider an advertisement as a collection of shares of impression. The fewer the shares, the more each share is worth—and the more likely they’ll be remembered.

The wedding I attended took place in a one-room country church, built in bygone years with an adjacent cemetery. While the wedding party was smiling for their family pictures, I meandered between the headstones. Looking at the landscape from my drive and the collections of birth and death dates at this graveyard, I was struck by many of the same lessons for life as the billboards were for advertising.

My interaction with others needs to be tempered to the context of the moment.
The Bible says to use days wisely, since I don’t know how many days I’ll get on this planet.
There is beauty is untangled, unhurried life. Find the simple pleasures in life and sit down in the moment with them.
The observation—the images—of the life I live will say as much or more as the words I write—no matter how much I write.
The concept of margin (rest) starts in Genesis, when even the Creator took a day to reflect on creation.

I’ve heard these lessons many times, but I have a short memory and even an smaller store of discipline. I’m thankful to a God who takes me to new places and old places to remind me of his timeless truths.

[footer] Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com. [/footer]

96: Winning The Close Ones

Having helped auctioneers with proposals for over a decade, I’ve found that many auction proposals follow similar outlines and use similar selling points.  So, how do you separate your plan from the competition’s one?

The way you present it.

Our culture is becoming more and more visually stimulated and educated; and your marketing materials need to reflect that—especially your proposals.

Display media choices & other marketing tools.
LoopNet SampleDon’t just list the media you plan to use; show it.  Grab screen captures of the websites on which you plan to list.  Splay covers of brochures or postcards of similar properties you’ve sold.  Maybe even include a digital tear sheet showing what their ad will look like in the newspaper.  You can find similar ways to illustrate press release work, too.  This tactic will save you from burning through past auction brochure samples and allow you to include these samples in PDF presentation via email.  In the past, I’ve even inserted a chart showing the subcategories and quantities of planned direct mail lists.

Sample MediaAnd it wouldn’t hurt to show online bidding screens or a picture of someone bidding online to illustrate that process, especially for an online-only auction.  On at least one occasion, an auctioneer has hired me to build a sample ad or even a full direct mail piece of the property to demonstrate to the seller what they can expect.

Demonstrate numbers with charts & graphs.
Sir Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is power.”  But knowledge that isn’t easily understood or retained loses its power.  Charts and graphs not only make your information more indelible, they allow you to impress people by the fact that you’re even curating the statistics they illustrate.  If you have some of the following information—and it it puts your work in a favorable light—leverage it for your case!
• Percentage of bidders and/or buyers (on-site vs. online)
• Average quantity of registered bidders per asset type or per geographic location
• Sale prices vs. assessed values
Comparison to Assessed Value
• Price per acre per crop type or land location
Sale Prices Per Acre (Fictitious)
• Breakdown of areas of specialty by quantity of auctions in each category
Areas of Specialty
• Quantities of online only, simulcast, and offline auctions
Bidding Platform
• Media (specific or categorical) choices by number of past bidders or buyers
Pie ChartIllustrate your experience with maps.
My chiropractor has a map in his waiting area showing all the countries from which his clients have come.  Anecdotally, I’ve found that biplane‘s coverage map has given my career experience more credence than the number of auctions I’ve advertised or even the years I’ve been in the business.  To many folks, those units of measure are ambiguous.  Numbers might be relative, but geography is typically a concrete value—especially when selling real estate.  So, show your prospect the nearby locations where you’ve held similar auctions: ““We’ve sold X properties near yours.”  Or show them the geographic expanse of your work, whether that’s by county or by state: “We’ve sold your type of asset from coast to coast.”

The free website, BatchGeo.com, can help you quickly create maps of multiple locations from your database.  Or maybe create a state or county map showing the number of properties that you’ve sold in those boundaries or number of acres successfully auctioned in them.  I’ve been impressed by auctioneers who have mapped in what states and countries they had online bidders and from which they had online buyers.

Your offer—all the things you are promising to do and for what price—will be the deciding factor in whether or not you get the job.  For situations when the proposals on the table will all have similar offers, make sure your proposal gives the impression that you’ll execute the auction with unmatched dexterity.  One way to do that is to use fewer words and more images.

I’m not sure that I’ve ever read an entire real estate sales contract, even though we’re preparing to buy our third home in less than a decade.  I’ve never finished reading the iTunes service agreement or all the entry rules in contests to win a trip to the Super Bowl or a new F-150.

And I’ve never read the Bible from cover to cover.

There.  I said it.

I’ve memorized literally chapters of the 66 books—including every verse of Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the canon.  I’ve studied entire books going verse by verse.  But genealogies or major prophets usually kill the hitting streak.

I’m grateful that God supplemented all those inspired words with his inspired nature.  Even in its “groaning,” decaying state, Creation teems with colorful illustrations of his creativity, evidence of his perfect engineering, and analogies for his transcribed principles.  It’s no wonder that Romans says nature alone is enough to show us our need of redemption—a rescue from the entropy of our soul.  And it’s critical that we, who have been restored, worship his revealed glory—so that the rocks don’t have to cry out in our place.

[footer]Stock image of graphs purchased from iStockPhoto.com.[/footer]

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