Christmas in January

Since I began blogging in 2006, this blog has become the vehicle for my annual family Christmas letter (See the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 editions.) The advantages have been numerous, including the ability to add color images and video and no need to pay for postal service distribution. Sometimes I’ve even completed it during Thanksgiving.

This is the first time I’ve needed to push it significantly into the New Year, and with some good reasons beyond procrastination. With so much of our family (including grandchildren) home for Christmas, it seemed odd to consider doing this post until I could get updated photos and video featuring them. And once our grandchildren arrived the day after Christmas, it would have been odd to take time away from being with them to be writing about them. After all, they live in Michigan and we don’t get as much in-person time with them as we’d like.

Here’s a picture of me with grandson Judah and his sister Evelyn during one of our family Christmas gatherings, as we Skyped with my daughter Ruthie who was in Vienna (more on that in a bit):

Lee Judah Evie

Then the flu hit, and what had been planned as a 6-7 day visit from the Borgs stretched to two full weeks. It was nice having them here that long, although we would have preferred healthier circumstances.

So…somewhat belatedly…here is our Aase family 2012 update.

Our oldest daughter Rachel and her husband Kyle continue to live in Grand Rapids, Michigan with Evelyn, Judah and Aletta. Kyle is in his last semester of seminary and will be looking to move in May to accept a call as a pastor. They have three good options and we pray for wisdom as they try to discern the best one for them.

Speaking of options, as our six kids were growing up we had a family tradition called “The Option Play.” I would pretend I was a quarterback and they were the football and would call out the signals before faking handoff and then pitching. Because I always called out the same numbers in the pre-snap count, this tradition became known as “9-87.” Until they all got too big for me, one of the favorite things I’d hear my kids say was, “Daddy, let’s do 9-87!”

During their Christmas visit I got to continue the tradition with a new generation:

Our oldest son Jacob lives with his wife Alexi in LaCrosse, Wisconsin where he is in the second year of the Physical Therapy program. He got to do an internship in Rochester during August, so it was nice to have him staying with us. We got to ride into work together several times, which was really special. He’ll be doing internships in the Phoenix area this Summer and in Atlanta next Fall. Alexi is working full-time while Jacob devotes himself to studies. He’s halfway through and should be well set for employment prospects a year from May.

Bekah Ruthie Nurses

Rebekah is in the second year of the two-year RN program at Riverland Community College in Austin. She’s also a member of the Riverland women’s basketball team, and twice has been named NJCAA Division III national player of the week. She also works part time at a local nursing home as an LPN, where Ruthie, who is now back from her seven-month stint in Bulgaria, is working as an RN. It was fun one day recently when I got to bring them lunch at work.

Speaking of Ruthie, she arrived home on Jan. 7 from her mission trip to Bulgaria (another good reason to delay writing this post). She was there with Mission to the World, our Presbyterian Church in America world mission. It was a great experience for her made more bearable for us by Skype and other communications technology. We’re glad to have her back in the U.S.A.

Joe has had quite a year, starting with being a co-captain with our nephew Tom of the Austin High School basketball team that was the first Austin boys team to win the section title and make the state tournament since 1982. It was a fun family night to celebrate the section win together:

Section win

Joe and Tom played AAU basketball together with the Minnesota Magic Elite last Spring and Summer, traveling to Pittsburgh, Houston, Chicago, Orlando, Las Vegas and Milwaukee (twice) to play against some of the top teams in the country.

Joe had several college scholarship offers, and so we spent much of the Summer and Fall sorting out options. We visited Nebraska-Omaha, Winona State and Minnesota State-Mankato unofficially since they were within driving distance. Here’s a picture of Lisa as we stood in the rain in Mankato watching the Vikings (on Adrian Peterson’s first day of practice):

Lisa at MSU

We took official visits to two Division I schools, Davidson College and Boston University, in September. Jacob came with us on the Boston visit, where we got to (among other things) tour Fenway Park:

Joe Jake Fenway

It was a happy and proud day in November when Joe and Tom signed their National Letters of Intent to accept scholarship offers: Joe to attend Davidson and Tom to go to Division II University of Sioux Falls.

Joe Tom Signing

Joe and Tom were glad to get the college decisions out of the way before their senior season, and it’s been a great year so far. The Packers are 15-0 and currently ranked #2 in the state in Class AAA. We’re hoping for a return trip to Minneapolis for the state tournament in March. Follow the Packers on Twitter, Facebook or on the blog.

John, our youngest, is 14 and in eighth grade. He’s home schooled but is in the middle school orchestra, and also participates in Bible Bowl. Lisa’s home schooling is definitely much simpler now with only John among her students. With Joe’s high school and AAU basketball finishing in March, we will be able to focus more on John’s pursuits. Here’s John with his brothers engrossed in a computer game at Christmas:

John and brothers

As a family, we’re glad to be members of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Rochester, where I am an elder. The congregation has been a great blessing to us, and we’re looking forward to completion of our new church facility, likely in May. The construction is proceeding nicely:

Church Building

My work also has been going well at Mayo Clinic, where I am the director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. It’s been great having Dr. Farris Timimi as our medical director, and we have a fantastic team. Between our Social Media Summit in October in Rochester, our New York City event in May and many other travels, it’s been gratifying to meet so many people interested in using social media to make health care better.

Only God knows what we have in store for 2013, but it’s likely our house will be a lot quieter this time next year, with Joe going to Davidson and Rebekah and Ruth possibly moving to the Twin Cities. Rachel, Kyle and the kids will likely either be in Kansas or Indiana, and Jacob and Alexi will be far away for his internships.

So as we anticipate lots of changes in the coming year, Lisa and I wish you and yours many blessings in 2013.

Joyous Occasions

This is a big week for the Aase clan, as my son Jacob is getting married today. I will follow up with a post with some more wedding-related photos, but here are some highlights from the events leading up to the big day.

The wedding provided a reason for my daughter Rachel, her husband Kyle and our two grandchildren, Evelyn and Juday, to make the trip to southern Minnesota from western Michigan. It also happened to be right at the time of Evelyn’s second birthday, so we had a family party for her on Wednesday night at our home. Here are some highlight photos (click to enlarge):

The Borg Family

Here’s the big finish, in which her father, Kyle, helped ensure that as of this moment she has NO boyfriends:

Last night we had the rehearsal for Jacob’s wedding to Alexi Iler at the church in La Crosse, WI. Jacob’s favorite food is steak, so that was our main course, and I got to grill 13 boxes of No-Name steaks:

Grilling 52 Steaks

More highlights coming soon.

Another Facebook Baby

In my presentations I frequently introduce my granddaughter, Evelyn, as someone who owes her existence, humanly speaking, to Facebook. As a Presbyterian elder I believe God ordains everything, but also know that He uses secondary causes to bring about His purposes. In Evelyn’s case, Facebook was the means by which her father, Kyle, met her mother (my daughter, Rachel.)

I would call that a really significant ROI from social media.

This weekend I got to travel to Grand Rapids, Michigan to meet Evelyn’s baby brother, Judah, who was born on April 9th (and pick up my wife, Lisa, who had flown there to help Rachel.) He’s a pretty sweet little guy, and here are a couple of photos:

Judah Scott Borg

You can see more pictures from our visit….you guessed it… on Facebook.

Meanwhile, here’s a video update on Evelyn:

Flip Video Camera vs. Kodak Video Camera

In many of my presentations this year I have used the video embedded immediately below to illustrate the quality available through consumer-grade video cameras, such as the Flip video camera. With my daughter Rachel’s permission, here’s an example of what you get from the Flip UltraHD, from my granddaughter Evelyn’s first birthday party in August:

Here is an example of a video I shot earlier in April with the standard definition version of the Flip video camera (before we got HD), with Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth, in a room behind the dugout at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia:

You will note that in this video there is background noise from the indoor pitching machine and batting cage, but I think in both cases the quality of the video is perfectly acceptable for use on the Web. And since the HD only costs $50 more, I think it’s well worth the extra cost. (Of course, I’m kind of partial to the subject of that HD video .)

Kodak has some similar consumer-grade video cameras, such as the Kodak Zi8 HD, and their key advantage is that they have an external microphone jack, which could improve the audio quality in some cases. If I had used that camera for the interview with Jayson Werth, for instance, the batting cage noise probably would have been less pronounced. The good news: you can put in a huge memory card to get really long recording times without having to download the files to your computer. The bad news: extra cost.

Here’s an example of a video we shot with the external microphone, and uploaded to YouTube:

One additional advantage of the Kodak is it can record in 1080p, but can also downshift to 720p or even standard definition. Here’s a brief sound bite to that effect from my colleague Joel Streed, shot and edited as 1080p.

The downside of 1080p is that for a video of any length, the processing power required is pretty immense, without much of a perceptible difference in image quality, at least for Web video.

If you don’t see yourself complicating the recording process by attaching a remote microphone to the interview subject, the Flip video camera is fine.

So, to sum up, here are the advantages I see for each of these cameras (as compared with each other):

Flip UltraHD Camcorder, 120 Minutes (Black)(Amazon Affiliate link – currently $149.99)

  1. Simplicity and cost. One-button operation and a ready-to-go camera. With the Kodak, by contrast, you really can’t shoot video unless you have purchased an SD memory card. And if you’re going to take advantage of the external microphone, that means you need to buy an external microphone. So the Flip video camera price is pretty much “all inclusive” while you will have some additional costs for the Kodak. Given the $70 difference on Amazon you see here currently between the Flip and the Kodak, you’ll likely spend at least $100 more for the Kodak.
  2. Solid, durable design (the Kodak’s USB connector seems a bit more flimsy)
  3. Can use AA batteries. (With the Kodak, you could possibly be stuck with a temporarily unusable camera if the built-in rechargeable batteries run down. On the Flip Ultra HD, if you’re in that situation you can swap out the rechargeable pack and replace it temporarily with AAs.)

Kodak Zi8 HD Pocket Video Camera (Amazon affiliate link – Currently $219.99)

  1. External microphone jack. If you’re shooting in a noisy environment, this gives you the possibility of using a remote microphone to get better sound. With the Flip you need to choose where you shoot if the sound quality is important.
  2. Flexibility in storage. The Flip UltraHD holds two hours of video in its 8 GB memory. With the Kodak you can use a bigger card and record longer, although a larger card adds to the camera’s cost.
  3. Multiple resolution choices. You can record 1080p, 720p or standard definition. The Flip UltraHD is just straight 720p.

The really good news to take away from this is that there are at least a couple of good options for capturing video using consumer grade cameras for use in your professional efforts in social media, whether it’s posting videos to YouTube, Facebook or some other sharing site. Both of these cameras are light, small and therefore easy to carry in a coat pocket or purse, so you’ll never need to worry about missing an opportunity to capture video.

The first rule of video is that you can’t edit what you don’t shoot, so these cameras both make it more likely you’ll get some good material for editing.

Privacy begins at home

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Last week when I was in the Netherlands (See “Putting the ‘Global’ in SMUG”) I had the opportunity on Wednesday to help lead a couple of master classes on Web 2.0 for health care communicators from UMC Radboud, one of six academic medical centers in the Netherlands, in Nijmegen.

I often like to demonstrate Skype and its videoconferencing capabilities (and the fact that it’s FREE) in my presentations. It’s one thing to say, “Skype is like the video phone in The Jetsons.” That gets heads nodding. But it’s entirely different to show just how easy and cool it is. So I have sometimes Skyped with my daughter Rachel and granddaughter Evelyn, and also have done videoconferences with Darrin Nelson (a Mayo patient from Rochester, NY who shared his story about robotic heart surgery here, here, here and here on Sharing Mayo Clinic.) In those cases I had sent messages on Facebook (for Rachel) or Twitter (for Darrin) to arrange the times for our conversations and to ensure that they would be available.

Our Wednesday morning master class in Nijmegen went off flawlessly, as @JohnSharp and @CiscogIII and I tag-teamed as teachers, but in the afternoon they had to head back to Amsterdam, so I was on my own (along with my host, Lucien Engelen.)

I was doing fine until I got to the reference in my slides to Skype, and then I got what I thought was a great idea: I went to Skype and saw that my lovely wife, Lisa, was on-line.

So (on the spur of the moment, not to mention a classic case of y-chromosome poisoning), I decided to just “surprise” Lisa with a Skype call without advance warning. I’ll let the Facebook conversation she started tell the rest (click to enlarge):






Lesson Learned: Privacy isn’t just something to be concerned about from a HIPAA perspective. It begins at home.

And a special note of thanks to Lucien for providing his own peace offering (although he personally had done nothing to offend), in the form of this beautiful bouquet of roses, pictured below next to my now fully showered bride of nearly 25 years.

Picture 11