Category Archives: Design

Video on Doing More with Less

During this career transition over the last six months, we’ve had to be super careful and even scale back in some areas. It has always been my opinion though that we Westerners don’t know how great we have it. I live in a 1,500 Sq Ft apartment with four girls, and some people would pity me for that. When I was in Mexico and later in India, I really got a sense for how spoiled we are, so my perspective is that I live in a mansion. Ran across this video a couple of weeks back and I can’t stop thinking about it. It reminds me that creativity and a healthy mindset go along way toward helping us be content in any living situation.

New Blog Look – Reynolds Blog 4.0

I redid the skin on our really outdated family blog tonight. Will be putting up a bunch of family photos and videos in the next few weeks. Ashley is ready to show off MY beautiful kids on there. Anyway, I thought the 15 of you who still hit the site every day know what was up. I changed my About excerpt to read something more current:

The Reynolds Family is 1 man trying to live with 4 beautiful girls who insist dolls are more fun than dirt.

Jason’s Yearbook Photos

My buddy Blake Thompson has been inspiring me to keep blogging since around the time “blog” became a word, and his post of old yearbook pictures made me want to make fun of myself publicly. So, here are some fun photos of me through the decades. Because they look the least doctored, I think my favorites are 1952, 1970, and 1988.

Jason in 1952
Jason in 1952
Jason in 1958
Jason in 1958
Jason in 1960
Jason in 1960
Jason in 1962
Jason in 1962
Jason in 1970
Jason in 1970
Jason in 1974
Jason in 1974
Jason in 1976
Jason in 1976
Jason in 1980
Jason in 1980
Jason in 1982
Jason in 1982
Jason in 1988
Jason in 1988

Swamp Buggy

When mom and dad were over here in West Palm Beach a few weeks back, we went out to the South Florida Shooting Sports gun club where I am a member for some shooting. We took the whole family because Lily just loves to go out and watch me shoot. An incredible storm came up out of nowhere, so the shooting didn’t last long. We even were hailed on.

My buddy Jeff, the owner/operator of the club, had arranged a swamp buggy tour of the nearby 3,000 acre wild game ranch. Being right after a storm, the animals were out tending to whatever they saw fit to do. My two girls had an awesome time checking out the wild goats, blackbuck, red deer, fallow deer, sika deer, and water buffalo. We even saw a bobcat and a pheasant couple. It was really unreal.

I wasn’t familiar with swamp buggies before I moved to Florida, and just assumed everyone went around in airboats. Texas obviously has large vehicles that are very capable for off-roading, but this thing is more equivalent to a mini monster truck or a logging skidder. This isn’t the best photo, but it should give you a glimpse of the beast. My dad is about 6’0″ to give you some perspective.

The Ride of Our Lives

Fully Automatic Rifle

So I am writing about something a little bit different tonight. As you know I am primarily a gun owner because I am a hunter. But with my move to Florida I have become more serious about personal protection. I want to be prepared if God forbid the day ever comes when I need to defend the life of my family or myself. In addition to this, I have an entrepreneurial interest in the shooting sports industry because it is a niche I understand and can relate to. Owning only two shotguns and a pistol doesn’t make me a “gun nut”, but I do generally like everything about guns except their misuse. As with all things, balance is needed.

With that as a backdrop, I had a unique opportunity to go to the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show and Conference (SHOT Show) show in February as a point-of-sale system consultant for a new Gun Club operator. I had a complete blast checking out all the hunting and shooting gear, and the new products were of high interest. Another unbelievable thing was the $125,000+ shotguns in the Perazzi booth. Those shotguns are really artwork with limitless durability.

While at the show, we were able to be one of the privileged few to get to shoot the new KRISS Super V System. This sub-machine gun is a completely new design and is amazing. I marvel at how the minds behind it have reinvented something already perfected and how simple it is to shoot.

Because fully automatic weapons typically cost $2500-$7500, most people never get the opportunity to shoot a quality sub-machine gun. Sure there are the gangsters and crazies out there who get a hold of cheaply made Uzi and Mac-10 guns, but those don’t really count because they are considered machine pistols and aren’t super accurate. This sub-machine gun is a serious weapon intended for military and SWAT use. I was able to put my first three shots inside of an inch circle at 10 yards shooting offhand. I am not that good of a shot. Of course, the red dot Aimpoint (the brand) sight sure helped with this.

So I am showing a 7 minute YouTube video below that will give you an idea of what I got to shoot. But let me just say that this was the easiest shooting gun I have ever had in my hands. Though it shoots .45 caliber bullets, it kicks like a .22 and stays right on target even on full auto. The KRISS shoots roughly 10 rounds of .45 per second. So, you can imagine how exhilarating it was to shoot the full magazine of 13 shells all at once. While this is not a gun I would ever have a need to own outside of a business opportunity of some sort, it was a neat once in a lifetime opportunity to shoot a weapon way ahead of everything else in it’s class.

Praise God My Daughter is Fine

As you may remember from our hospital stay and the update, one of “my little-darlin’s” had an airway event week before last that threatened her life. This morning we went in for the procedure to scope her airway with the anticipation of finding something structurally wrong or possibly some other kind of odd obstruction. After a 10 minute procedure and a short 1 hour recovery, praise God my daughter is fine.

By fine, I don’t just mean gorgeous and altogether brilliant, or that she recovered well from the procedure. I mean her airway is perfectly normal. The ear, nose, and throat doc is left shaking his head and saying “it must have been one of the worst cases of croup ever”. Yet, there is no remnant of inflammation, an aspirated obstruction, or anything else that would have caused the problem. From the looks of things, there is absolutely nothing wrong and she has never had any issues. What is wild is that she never really had horrific coughing or the other symptoms of croup!

So, some will ask, was this a “healing” or a “miracle”? Did the prayers of literally hundreds of Christ-followers across multiple time zones, in at least 6 large churches, and from all our family and friends make the difference? Was it the determining factor that lead to her now “normal” condition? Most cessationists would probably say no. Bible.org does a fine job of laying out the issue, but here is a snippet:

The [non-charismatics/cessationists] generally make a distinction between sign gifts and edification gifts. Sign gifts, they say, served their purpose in the first century by attesting to the authority of the apostles and their divinely-inspired message. Once the New Testament canon was complete, miraculous gifts were no longer necessary, and they gradually disappeared from the church. Hebrews 2:3-4, for example, is used by non-charismatics to imply that signs and wonders had already ceased by the time of the second generation of Christians. Some also build a case for the cessation of sign gifts from 1 Corinthians 13:8-10.

I am sure some folks would even ride the fence and say that the gift of supernatural healing and the outcome of supernatural healing are two different things, thus the cessationist argument can hold true. It would indeed seem short-sighted to believe God accomplishes NOTHING supernatural through his people on earth these days. My own view is that if God’s character never changes, then He can not help but continue being Himself … which involves creation, healing, judgment, undeserved grace and mercy, miracles, et al.

Ok, ok, back to the question. Yes, I believe this was a healing. Having been with her when she nearly went to see Jesus, I know how serious it was. She was moments away from checking out. Then, within less than 24 hours she was nowhere near deaths inevitable door. Within 2.5 days one did not know anything had ever been wrong. And now, there is no evidence of anything that would have caused the situation. I believe the prayers of many made a difference!

Did we move God? Nope, I don’t think so. I think this was all within his plan and purpose for all of our lives. Not much stirs the heart more than a sick infant, does it? God allows this stuff to happen for our faith and growth. It is to accomplish His Glory! In a sense, Ashley and I were asked in this crises to give up our right to our youngest daughter in the same way we had to give up a mis-carried baby who we named Samuel. Christ was quietly asking, “do you love me enough to …?”. We answered “not our will, but yours.” We are guessing most of you prayed alongside us in a similar way.

God is faithful regardless of this outcome, but it sure feels great to be perplexed over exactly how she became whole again. Will there be similar issues down the road? I dunno. I do know my daughter is now well, those I love have supported me in ways unimaginable, my faith has grown, and that my Jesus remains Holy and Just. Thank you all for walking this bumpy road with us.

Do I Look Like Michael Jackson?

Last September the Communications Director where I work helped me look stupid and drunk (no, that isn’t my normal look). He has done it again with some crazy photo doctoring of a pic he took for me early this Winter for yet another bio. This was before I shaved the beard after a no-kill season of hunting.

It looks to me like he has thinned out my nose, enlarged and bugged out my eyes, blown up my teeth, flattened my bottom lip, and removed my top lip. He just dropped this image in a folder with other pics that were keepers for the bio, and never said anything about it. What is brilliant about his work is that at first glance, ya’ just kind of think I have a jacked up face. It takes a long second to realize it isn’t real. So, in an effort to laugh at myself more and allow others to do the same, here ya go:
Jason's Jacked Face - Photoshop Magic

From Bubble Graphs to Mind Maps

Bubble Graphs

I can honestly say there are almost no learning techniques from Jr. High that I have carried forward through my short academic life into business. However, there is one gift that a now nameless, faceless teacher once gave me. That gift was the ability to put my thoughts on paper first, and then dork with them and refine them. She (I think it was a “she”) called them “Bubble Graphs”, but the point was to brainstorm about a topic for a speech, a paper, or an argument and document things. Then go back and do the organization and structuring of those thoughts, with a final output being an outline.

Those of you who have conversed with me for more than a few moments know that my brain multi-threads pretty well when thinking, speaking, and typing. It doesn’t do so well with multi-tasking actual work, but it is highly optimized for thinking. This becomes problematic when my environment puts certain constraints on me, like for instance time, energy, and sleep. So, in time I developed a method of getting my rapid, fluid thoughts out of my brain and onto one of these “Bubble Graphs”.

I started using them in Junior High in Extemporaneous Speaking contests, and then used them at Baylor on almost every paper I wrote and every speech I gave as a Speech Communications major. This approach even helped when I entered the business world as I created Powerpoints, training documentation, technology proposals, project plans, and conducted audits of companies. For me, it was simply the best way to get the unstructured data that flowed rampantly in my brain onto paper, and then decide how the concepts were related, what was worth keeping, and how the final deliverable would be structured. I now know this method to be the same as a concept map.

Mind Maps

About four years ago I stumbled on some software that would allow me to do “mind mapping”. The differences between a mind map and a concept map are subtle. Basically a mind map tends to be more structured in format and there is typically no direct grouping of concepts other than by what the structure and hierarchy of the mind map document provides. That said, the process for creating a mind map and a concept are essentially the same.

Mind mapping software enables a person or persons to quickly document ideas on a screen with almost no technical difficulties that would hamper the creative process. And yet, these ideas can be restructured very speedily by simply dragging and dropping an idea underneath another idea. This creates a very agile approach to document individual or group ideation, whether it be mission statements, business plan outlines, venture capital pitches, or things as abstract as meal recipe organization. It can even help with brainstorming about lengthy blog posts (see my mind map for this post below).

FreeMind Mind Mapping Software

After trying many different mind mapping software products over the last four years, I have finally settled on one that I can’t get enough of. FreeMind is the tool I have recommended recently to a number of other internet professionals. Regardless of the varying ways they think, they almost always come back and say “the more I use this, the more I use this”. Once you really “get” this process and this kind of tool, you begin to find heaps of other ways in which it will help you.

I recently used FreeMind on a consulting engagement where I was asked to make recommendations about how to turn their business around. I took notes of each stakeholder conversation in individual text documents, but then used the mind map to tie all the concepts, problem spaces, and solutions together. This aided me in understanding a large, complex problem at a single glance. It came in handy when it was time to draft the deliverable document of my recommendations.

Also, recently, I used FreeMind on a 150+ page web project to develop the navigation scheme (Information Architecture) that will easily expand in the future to more than 500 pages. The two freelance designers I was working with were able to collaborate on my work by simply opening my file and changing things up. On this same large project, 15 of us used FreeMind during a series of meetings to create a massive mind map that profiles our eight core audience member types. We included each of those profiles characteristics, needs, and the many ways we felt we could meet their needs based on what resources we have available to our organization. This was an invaluable tool in not only understanding our audience, but in helping us as a team to decide which of the 8 types of people coming to our website would be our core focus, which would be of secondary focus, and who we would try to serve as we could.

Why I Love FreeMind

  • Free to use(yep, it’s open source)
  • Cross platform
  • Scalable for very large maps
  • Easily installed and updated
  • Has numerous export options (images, PDFs, outlines in various file types)
  • Built with Java and XML

There seems to exist a little online community around the FreeMind software, which is maybe best illustrated in this online list of mind maps that you can explore for ideas on how to do your own. I am especially fond of this start on Calvinist “Sects”.

Mind Map for This Blog Post

FreeMind Mind Map