All posts by kchagan

Google Pixel 2 – My Experience

In October I was due for a cell phone upgrade and after some research, I settled on the Google Pixel 2.  Using it every day for the last two months I have some observations.  I really like this phone.  It is the best phone that I have had ever, but it should be.  It isn’t perfect, but it is very good.  The Pixel 2 had the best features available for this price point (around $650).  Below are the aspects that bring me the most joy and frustration:

  • Camera – This camera is amazing.  Seriously.  It is so much better than anything I have ever used before.  It doesn’t have a ton of control options which is good because I would just screw those up.  I just take the picture and Google’s magic makes it looks great.  If you don’t want to learn how to take great photos, but want to have amazing photos – get this phone.
  • Phone Size – I had hoped that this would enable me to go back to using a phone with one hand, it has not.  For me, the phone feels a little too big to use comfortably one-handed.  I do LOVE that I can put it in my pocket and I can forget it is there!  It is nice having a phone that doesn’t take up so much space in my life.
  • Squeeze to Activate Google Assistant – I have enjoyed this feature, but it hasn’t been a game changer.  It is nice not having to yell, “Ok Google.”  But it still seems like I can only get a successful interaction about 80%, which is better than anything I have had with Siri, but not enough to make me it a go-to option.
  • 5 Inch Screen – Having come from the Nexus 6p which had a 5.7-inch screen, I was concerned about the smaller Pixel 2 screen size.  The older I get and worst my vision gets the more I want to have the luxury of the larger screen.  It hasn’t ruined my experience, but it is one of thing first things that I think about when reflecting on this phone.  Apart from the size, this is a good looking screen.  Google has offered some more options for ramping up the color saturation so some of the early complaints you will find in initial reviews aren’t an issue at this point.
  • Headphone Jack – At this point, if you are reading this you should know that it doesn’t have a headphone jack.  I get it.  It is terrible that it doesn’t have it.  You only notice it when you need it…which is ironically when you need it.  The adapters are cheap enough, but the fact that they don’t include some cheap USB-C headphones is frustrating.  I would suggest you order 2 or 3 extra adapters when you order your phone and have them already attached to connectors you need in your life (car, favorite headphones, office, etc).
  • Operating System & Apps – Android is a fun OS and most of your favorite apps are available on Google Play.  But “most” isn’t “all.”  Some of the more trendy productivity apps are iPhone exclusive and don’t seem to be moving to Google/Android anytime soon.

Fountain Pen Ink – Noodler’s Georgia Peach

I came across Noodler’s Georgia Peach when looking on JetPens.com Fast-Drying Fountain Pen Inks, page an essential resource for us lefthanded writers.  Having lived in Georgia for my entire life I was immediately drawn to the name.  The color is fantastic.  It is a solid pinkish color, but it readable which is a problem with some colors like this. 

Almost all of my writing is done in my Muji Notebook which is my every day carry and cheap copy paper.  I was using a Lamy Safari with a fine nib.  The drying time wasn’t as quick as I had hoped it would be, but it wasn’t unusable.  It is just really dicey as a lefty side-writer.  Overall I would recommend this to a righty, but for those of us left-handers, I think this is a pass.

Ministry Tip: What We Say – When We Fail To Communicate

What we have here is a failure to communicate…

I never knew where this line came from.  It was the introduction to one of my favorite jams as a teenager, Guns N’ Roses song Civil War.  I came across the actual movie that it comes from, Cool Hand Luke, a was reminded of it.

Do you know what you say when you fail to communicate?  When we fail to connect with our target audience.  The easy answer is to say nothing.  But we actually communicate quite a bit.  We convey that the statement that we have made wasn’t very important.  Whatever it was we wanted to get across: a message, an apology, congratulations, won’t be heard and it won’t be received.  When we fail to communicate with intentionality and clarity we aren’t just missing the mark, we are confusing our messages and muddying the waters for our future opportunities for influence.

Gift Ideas For Folks Who Have Everything… (hint: PENS!)

It is the holiday season and people are thinking about what gifts they can give to people that already have too much of everything.  I like to give gifts that people will actually use and that will help improve their lives in some way.  One of the things that everybody uses, but rarely thinks much of, is their writing instruments – pen and pencils.  I thought that I would offer up some options if you want to improve your friend’s pens and pencils.  Below are my favorite pens at various price points.  You can find most of these pens at Amazon and all of them at JetPens (my preferred pen purchasing location!).

  • TSWBI Eco Fountain Pen $32
    • My favorite and first love in fountain pens
    • Note that this pen requires you have a bottle of fountain pen ink, but having accessories if part of the fun!
  • Lamy Safari Fountain Pen $30
    • Just a super toss in your bag and go fountain pen
    • Tons of colors available for these too
    • It takes both cartridges and bottle ink
  • Retro 51 Tornado $27
    • A fabulous roller ball pen that is as smooth as any pen I have used
    • You can see what I think about mine here
  • Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen $4
    • A perfect Fountain Pen to have so you can share
    • Love them!
  • Uni-ball Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil $6
    • This is a great mechanical pencil because sometimes you need to do math homework and you can’t use a pen on your math homework
  • Pentel Energel Gel Pen $2

Hope this helps and I hope that you consider giving the gift of pens this Christmas!

Pen Review: Retro 51 Tornado Slim

I have been hearing about Retro 51 pens now for over a year on the Pen Addict podcast. Myke, one of the host, is always raving about his love for Retro 51 Tornado pens. About a week ago I finally decided to order one – Tornado Slim Electron.

It uses the Schmidt Easy Flow 9000 black ink which is kind of a mix of rollerball and ballpoint pen ink (you can learn more about it here – a great blog post about the ink).  And I will say that it is a wonderful pen.  The turning mechanism to get the pen ready to write is tactilely fantastic.  The ink is smooth and dark, but dries quickly and writes on just about any surface.

My only issue with the pen is, do I really need a $25 rollerball pen?  At the end of the day, that is what this decision comes down to.  I really love this pen.  It is an A+ pen.  It isn’t a question of IF it is a better writing experience than the pens anyone will pick up at Office Depot.  And yes that even includes my beloved Energel!  It is a question of, “Am I someone who needs a $25 rollerball pen?”  If you can afford one, by all means, get one.  It is really a dream to write with.  But if you can’t, don’t feel like you are cheating yourself.  It is more an issue of do I need and will use this pen enough to purchase a $25 rollerball pen.

Ministry Tip: …God meets us where we really are.

“God comes to us not where we should have been if we had made all the right choices in life; not where we could have been if we had taken every opportunity that God has offered us; not where we wish we were if we didn’t have to be in the place where we find ourselves; not where we think we are because our minds are out of sync with our hearts; not where other people think we are or think we ought to be when they are attending to their own agendas. God meets us where we really are.“ – Margaret Silf (Source: Inner Compass)

I came across this quote a few years ago and found it again as I was preparing for an upcoming sermon.  It is easy to think that if we have missed our preferred future or dream life that we have somehow missed out on God.  Scripture and experience remind us that that just isn’t the case. Thank God that he is where we are, not where we could have been.

Ministry Tip: You Have To Learn To Take It or You Have To Learn To Hit It

I was watching a baseball game last week and Preston Wilson, a surprisingly accomplished baseball player, shared a story about one of his former batting coaches.  In developing as a hitter Preston was told, concerning facing certain pitches, “You have to either learn to take it or you have to learn to hit it.”

As leaders, parents, pastors, or people – we are probably talented. We can get the job done in a handful of areas.  We have learned to hit a lot of the pitches we face.  But I wonder if we have learned how to “take” the pitches that we can’t hit.  Are we comfortable not trying to do more than we can?  Are we willing to admit that we can’t do it all?  Sometimes the best thing we can do with the opportunities that are presented us is simply to let them pass by.  If we can’t hit it, we need to learn how to take it.

Ministry Tip: “I walk down another street.”

I came across this poem a few years ago.  It is from Portia Nelson, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery.  I love it.  In ministry, we have many, many folks who have been walking down the same streets for years and sometimes even generations.  Sometimes, those folks are us.  Find another street.

“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.”

Ministry Tip: It Is Only High From The Ground

This weekend I was with my kids at the playground.  I was doing my typical parenting style of being overprotective and worrying.  My son, who is 2 and a half, managed to work his way up the stairs and steps to the third tier of the playground slide.  I gave my usual encouragement that was couched in overcoming my own concerns.

It reminded me of an expression – that it mountains only look high from the bottom.  When Henry was up on highest level, it wasn’t high to him.  He was just having fun and enjoying his surroundings.  When you are trying to make a brave and bold decision, some folks from the ground might be concerned.  They will probably think that you are too far up and way outside of their comfort zone.  That is ok. It isn’t high for those of you who are up doing great things.  Hang in there and take a friend up there with you so that they can see what you are seeing.