- Case study: Archival Vaults for Library of Congress
- Press release: MasterWorks International Receives Authorizations from Dell and Lenovo
- Blog post: KIPP and segregation
- LinkedIn articles:
- A Massive – And Avoidable – SEO Meltdown
- Search Engine Rankings Are Stupid. Stop Obsessing Over Them.
- The Coming Breakup of Google
- Looking for Digital Marketing Help? Quit Unicorn Hunting and Hire a Team
- Avoid These SEOs
- The Houston Astros are back. The fans? Not quite.
- A Digital Marketer’s Plea: Planning to Engage in Digital Marketing? Please Do Just One Thing
- Drone Warfare: How Businesses Can Prepare for Amazon’s Next Attack
- The Case for Facebook to Acquire Bing
- SAF: The Market Realities. (A market analysis that I conducted for a client in February 2022.)
- Away From Home. (A marketing strategy I helped develop around June 2016.)
How do you write a eulogy for a difficult individual?
I am sometimes truly surprised at what gets traction on a blog. A few years ago, I posted a eulogy for my brother who overdosed on heroin, and some months later, I posted a separate eulogy for my abusive father. What I hadn’t expected was the amount of attention this would attract from people seeking advice on writing eulogies for similarly troubled individuals in their own lives. I got this email a while back:
I’m hoping you can help me. My father-in-law passed away from a long battle with alcoholism. My family has been doing everything in our power to save him over the last 13 years. We’ve been through multiple rehabs, temporary sobriety, relapses, trouble with the law. You name it, we tried it. Unfortunately, after all of our efforts and support, he succumbed to his addiction. We are having a very small burial and I have offered to do the service. I’m lost as to what I should be saying. The hurt and pain our family is experiencing is so raw. I want to say something beautiful and positive, share stories about the good times but I feel I shouldn’t be hiding the fact that his death was caused by mental health and addiction. I don’t know where to start so I’m hoping you can give me some advice from your experience. I don’t want to say the wrong thing. It’s so hard. Thank you.
Here’s my advice to anyone in the unenviable position of delivering a eulogy for a troubled family member.
Broadly speaking, I suggest that a eulogy serves two purposes: to honor the memory of the departed, and offer solace and comfort to the living. I would further suggest that achieving both can only happen if you tell the whole story of the recently deceased. As reflected in my eulogies for my father and brother, I didn’t mince words about either man. Both were deeply flawed, and to sugarcoat their mistakes – particularly in the case of my brother, since his mistakes ultimately claimed his life – would have been futile. Instead, I sought to be forthright about their lives.
Which brings me to what I think is absolutely critical to a meaningful eulogy: when I say tell their whole story, tell their whole story. Not just the bits where the recently departed made a mess of things, or the stories that cast him or her in nothing but the most favorable light. Instead, speak of the recently departed in a way that makes him or her fully recognizable to those in attendance. Consider this: if an individual who never knew the deceased showed up to the service and heard you speak, how accurately would he or she understand the deceased based on what you had to say?
In addition, remember that you will be speaking about one of God’s children. Whatever your loved one’s flaws may have been – and if you’re reading this blog post, I’m certain that they were many – he was still a son or daughter of God. All of us, no matter how virtuous we may have been, will leave some level of damage behind when we pass on, and someday, someone will deliver the eulogy at your funeral as well. As challenging as it may be, do your best to have charity towards him or her, (see 1 Corinthians 13), to be as kind towards him or her as you would want your future eulogizer to be towards you.
Most of all, pray for God’s Holy Spirit to guide you as you write and speak. While I have spoken in church on numerous occasions, my eulogy for my father – which I did deliver at his memorial service – was written out word for word. Even then, I ended up going off script once or twice, simply because I felt that something needed to be said. In the end, I think there was some degree of closure and healing for those in attendance. When I took my seat with the congregation after speaking, one of my brothers leaned over and said, “Good job.” Which is high praise, coming from him.
So don’t sidestep avoid speaking openly about your loved one’s issues, no matter how acute or damaging they were. Don’t soft-pedal the pain he or she inflicted on friends and family. Be forthright and honest, but also be loving and merciful, praying for God to bless you as you speak. Do this, and I am certain that there will be some real healing and closure for all in attendance.
Contact Form 7 not working? Consider Jetpack
I’ve been doing some consulting recently for a local start-up that has used school computers for sale. When I put their website together, I did what I’ve done for numerous other clients: I used Contact Form 7 to put some email forms on the site. I put a shortcode in a sidebar widget for an email form. But for some reason, although the main contact form worked with no problem, emails submitted through the sidebar form failed, every time.
After some research and discussion with the hosting provider, I reached the conclusion that there was some issue with the sidebar that was breaking the shortcode’s functionality. Bottom line: I would need to either insert the code manually into the template (I try to avoid that), buy a premium plugin (not really an option in this case) or use some other hack such as Foxy Form.
However, I discovered a simple workaround via Jetpack, the free service from Automattic that connects self-hosted WordPress sites with wordpress.com. Very handy way of getting an email form into a site without running around looking for a new plugin.
Family is Great!
Steve Jobs: reflections
Sometime in 1997, while visiting a printing office of some variety, I experienced a bit of shock at seeing a Mac of some sort on a desk. A Mac! Why, Apple is still in business? Mostly I was surprised to see one in the flesh, especially in a business setting. I mean, I could see a graphic designer owning one, and a jazz musician I knew used a Mac laptop for his drum machine, but otherwise I thought of Macs as a curiosity rather than an actual computer.
One year later, Apple launched the iMac.
This past Saturday, while waiting to get a haircut, I looked around the waiting area at the other customers. I counted no fewer than four iPhones, including my own. A nine-year-old boy sitting on the floor played a game on an iPad. I had left my MacBook Pro in my car.
I marveled a bit at what Steve Jobs had wrought, and how far Apple had come. Not only that, but how dramatically Steve Jobs had changed nearly every bit of personal computing technology the world knows. What colors were computers in the 1980s and 1990s? Beige, beige and light beige. Then came the iMac.
Suddenly, you could get your computer in red, blue, green, or even in polka dots! Yes, other manufacturers had produced computers in multiple colors in the past. Apple made it mainstream. Admit it: even now, more than a decade later, you still want to play with this thing. And I use the word “play” deliberately. Because if Apple products are nothing if they don’t stand for fun.
Then Jobs decided to push ahead again, which brought us the iMac G4. You remember, the one with the floating screen, looked like a lamp?
This was more than a dramatic reinvention of the personal computer. Through the G4, Jobs became the arbiter of standards of the computer industry. When he unveiled the G4, he openly proclaimed the CRT monitor dead. Did he succeed? Think very carefully: when was the last time you saw one of these monsters in regular use? Is it even possible to buy one brand new? And since when have you used a floppy disk for anything? Starting with the G4, this tiny company with relatively small market share in essence told the world, “This is how personal computing works.” In the process, the company not only dominated some areas (first MP3 players, then smartphones) and created others (the iPad), it upended entire industries, and arguably saved others. Granted, the recording industry as we knew it is essentially destroyed at this point, but iTunes seems to have made it economically viable to continue to sell recordings of music.
Understand, I don’t think I’m some sort of blind Apple fanboy. I have more than a few qualms with my MacBook Pro, and I would love to be able to customize my phone (not to mention view the occasional Flash video) as I do with my browsers. And let’s face it, Jobs was by all accounts an unbelievably difficult boss. But as much as I have considered switching to Android, there’s a reason I went ahead and upgraded to an iPhone 4S today: my 3GS has been a fantastic phone, and I have no reason at all to believe the 4S won’t be vastly better.
To me, the amazing thing about Apple under Steve Jobs isn’t merely how ubiquitous Apple products became, nor their quality. The thing that amazed me is how they fit so flawlessly into our daily lives while at the same time fundamentally changing them. Consider:
- When was the last time you had to check an actual physical map to get someplace you had never been before?
- How many more spontaneous, unplanned, high-quality pictures and videos do you have of events from your daily life?
- How is it that you can on a whim send a detailed status update to mere acquaintances, good friends and our closest relatives en masse?
- How is it that we can show a video to an individual, a group of people or even a class of students, just because?
- Next Page »