Archive | April, 2014

Der Blog ist groß!

der die das blog

That headline is nonsense, of course, but I sure am having fun in German classes.

I was sitting in the train yesterday listening to the conversation taking place in the seats behind me (in German), and I realized that I actually knew what they were talking about – some juicy gossip. Which produced great joy in me – große Freude! – that I could actually understand, but then I realized that I was listening in on something I shouldn’t have heard, which prompted a little guilt.

And of course, being helplessly human, the guilt was followed by some brilliant rationalization – “they shouldn’t have been talking so loud if they didn’t want me to hear!”

Isn’t it great to be alive? Joy, guilt, rationalization all in the space of about 10 seconds!

But back to the blog, which is getting grosser and grosser. Readership in March averaged close to 200 unique views per day, meaning that I am closing in on a readership of 6,000 per month. I’m very pleased that this little venture has continued to do so well, and thanks for your support. (Subscribing, by the way, is as easy as entering your email address in the space provided on the right side of the page. New posts will show up in your inbox within seconds of being posted.)

According to Google Analytics, the greatest (grossest?) increase in readers, not surprisingly, has come from Switzerland. Here’s how the 20 top cities break down:

1) Zurich

2) Fort Lauderdale, FL

3) Ann Arbor, MI

4) Wheaton, IL

5) Meilen, CH (where I now live!)

6) Chicago, IL

7) Stafa, CH (just a couple of train stops away)

8) Grand Rapids, MI

9) Hialeah, FL

10) Basel, CH

11) Geneva, CH

12) Plantation, FL

13) Dubendorf, CH

14) Davie, FL

15) New York City

16) Glen Ellyn, IL

17) Pompano Beach, FL

18) Hollywood, FL

19) Dallas, TX

20) Frauenfeld, CH

I hope this finds all of you well in the days leading up to Easter.  (Below is a front view of the French Reformed Church where you are invited to join the congregation of the International Protestant Church of Zurich in worship on Sundays at 11:30.)

front of French church


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Top 10 differences between Switzerland and the U.S.

Swiss army knife

  1. Everything is closer together. Well, not trees and bushes, but people and buildings and even countries. Susan and I went grocery shopping (and had lunch) in Germany on Monday. We could as easily have gone to Lichtenstein, but will save that destination for another time.
  2. Speaking of groceries, there isn’t nearly as much variety in the stores. I’m wondering where the other 73 brands of toothpaste are. The Swiss appear to have cornered the high end of the market on just about everything and are perfectly content to offer only those items.
  3. A car isn’t absolutely necessary. But then that didn’t stop us from buying one – in fact, the biggest one we could find. (I may post pictures of the Volvo station wagon in all of her glory later. It’s a beauty. The color looks like a serious leg bruise on about the third or fourth day. But it runs.)
  4. The view from the window: having lived in places like Illinois, Michigan, and Florida, I’m not used to seeing snow-covered mountains in the distance. But there they are – in every direction.
  5. Languages. Having moved most recently from south Florida and having heard Spanish, Portuguese, Creole, and more on a daily basis, I wasn’t expecting to hear an even bigger variety of languages spoken here. Switzerland has four official languages, not including the one that most Swiss seem to speak fluently – English. But I hear even more on the train each day.
  6. The Swiss are punctual – in fact, überpünktlich, but then I’ve blogged about that previously. Fortunately I’ve always been a bit obsessive about that myself. I feel as though I’ve come home.
  7. In a land of cheese, there is no cheddar. True.
  8. Chocolate. I once served a church downwind of Hershey, Pennsylvania, so I know all about chocolate, but in Switzerland chocolate is a national treasure – along with cheese, watches, fondue, army knives, and skiing.
  9. There are 8 million police in Switzerland. Every single citizen has been deputized to enforce Swiss law. No infraction – no matter how minor – escapes the searching eyes of the Swiss. A dog walked improperly? A car parked on the line? A noise between the hours of 12:00 and 14:00? All will receive disapproving words from local law enforcement.
  10. Oh, and no yard work on Sunday in Switzerland. We don’t have a yard and are actually glad about this one.
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10 things spiritually healthy people do every day

feet in tennis shoes with park in the background

Reactions to that headline will most likely fall into one of two categories:

1. Wow, just the thing I needed to read today! (And why doesn’t my pastor offer such helpful, practical messages?)

2. Doug’s Blog has just hit a new low. (I would cancel my subscription to let him know how I feel, but I don’t subscribe.)

Sorry to disappoint, but my post today will not be about the ’10 things spiritually healthy people do every day.’ (Spiritually healthy people probably don’t participate in silly surveys, so we may never know how they spend their days.)

My concern is really about obnoxious headlines. Here are a few more I read this morning alone…

  • 16 alarming airline secrets you’ll wish you never heard (most of them aren’t alarming or secret)
  • 10 shocking photos that will change the way you think about consumption and waste
  • 4 myths about heart disease busted
  • 5 ways to stop being too busy
  • Kim Kardashian breaks out the bikini (somehow I resisted the temptation to click on that headline)
  • 5 habits that make you lose hair
  • 17 ways to prank your family and friends (it’s April Fools Day today, and I’m hoping my younger daughter doesn’t read this one)

The purpose of a headline today is not to let you know what the article is about, but to increase the likelihood that you’ll click on the article and read it. I’m finding that headlines for my blog posts are a critically important factor in how many visits posts receive. I never write a blog post headline without thinking about ‘search engine optimization.’

I’m feeling the same pressure with my sermon titles.

A church member in my last church showed me an advertisement from a nearby church, with thousands in attendance each weekend. The pastor was preaching a new sermon series on what Jesus would say to famous people – for example, ‘What Jesus would say to LeBron James,’ ‘What Jesus would say to Lance Armstrong,’ ‘What would Jesus say to Barack Obama?’ and so on. (Personally, I wonder what Jesus would say to Kim Kardashian.)

So, for next Sunday I’m thinking that the current sermon title ‘Jesus and Lazarus’ has got to go. Frankly, I’m embarrassed about it. No one is going to show up to hear a message with a title like that. Instead, I’m giving serious thought to ‘5 proven ways to get Jesus to come to your house,’ ‘Jesus’ shocking response to the news that his best friend died,’ or ‘What made Jesus weep – it’s not what you think!’

I’m new to this, so am open to your suggestions.

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