The danger of embracing ignorance

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Today’s a big day in Ontario, the province where I live: Election Day. June 12th is the day when Ontarians have the opportunity to make their voices heard and… vote for the member of provincial parliament in their riding who will represent them in the legislative assembly and the leader of the party with the most seats becomes Premier. Yes, it is as convoluted as it sounds.

While no one’s entirely certain who will come out on top this time around, there’s one thing that’s almost a sure bet: there’s a good chance this year we’ll see a record low voter turnout. Just like last time. After all, even the best of the parties we have to choose from is pretty unsavory, and it’s unpleasant to have to choose the best of the worst at the ballot box, y’know?

But I’m not sure that’s the reason most people decide not to vote. Actually, I’m concerned far too many choose to remain ignorant about things that really matter. (And like it or not, politics really does matter.)

But this kind of embrace of ignorance goes by another name: foolishness.

Years ago, during another election season, my wife asked one of her coworkers—one who was extremely well educated—if he was going to be voting that evening. His response? “Nah, it doesn’t really matter. They’re all bad anyway.” Incidentally, he also once argued with me that nothing really existed, including himself.

Foolishness.

Slightly beyond politics, there’s the ongoing myth of overpopulation, one which continues to hold sway in popular culture, even as we see nations sink into economic disaster due to under-population.

“I can’t believe you have three children—don’t you know we have a population problem?”

“Actually, the entire population of the world could fit in Texas with about 1000 sq. ft. between each person.”

Foolishness.

And then there’s the recent rise of the “trigger warning”—the idea that you might need to label blogs, articles, and, shockingly, classic books because they have content that might be offensive to modern sensibilities.

“I had no idea this book had this word in it! How can they put it on the curriculum?!?”

“It’s Huckleberry Finn.”

Foolishness.

There’s a kind of ignorance that comes with a lack of knowledge. When we simply don’t know something, that doesn’t make us fools. It just makes us ignorant. It’s a situation we can change and should want to gladly. But when we embrace ignorance, when we latch on to nonsensical ideas and perpetuate them, when we fail to engage with literature and the arts, when we neglect rights and privileges because politicians are “bad…” I can’t help but wonder how much the words of Ecclesiastes apply to us:

“Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense, and he says to everyone that he is a fool” (Ecclesiastes 10:3).

 

When the h-word slipped

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My wife let the h-word slip in conversation with Abigail a few days ago.

No, not “hell”—homeschooling. Which in our family, is far more scary.

Not too long ago, I asked if you’d mind praying for our family as we make some decisions about our children’s education going forward. We had always intended on having our kids in the public education system, but over the last couple years, our feelings on that have changed. Not because of any particular conviction that we must do this lest we disobey the Lord—we just want our kids to get the best education possible, and our schools aren’t doing that.

With teachers that hold Abigail back (“We don’t want her to get too far ahead in her reading,” her senior kindergarten teacher told me) or hypnotize them with TV during lunch (yeah, that’s been happening at a LOT), the impression that we’ve gotten has been they’re more concerned with doing what’s easy than what’s best. (And yes, I know not all teachers are this way, there are problems with the system, etc.…)

We’d always said we’d evaluate every year and every semester to determine the next step. Up until recently, we’d had concerns, but not anything that would have made us say “when.” Until we did. So over the last few weeks, we’ve been talking to friends, doing research, even having practice homeschool days when Abigail’s been home sick.

Through it all, Emily’s been approaching it from the “if we do this” perspective, something I appreciate. She’s been trying to be careful to not make a rash decision, or do something as a knee-jerk reaction to issues that have come up.

And then she let the h-word slip. And once that Genie’s out of the bottle, it’s really hard to put it back in.

Thankfully, our kids have been gradually getting comfortable with the idea. Abigail’s the only one with traditional school experience, but she’s been increasingly looking forward to the change. And honestly, so are we—if we 100 per cent decide to go forward, that is. But there’s a lot of work to do, yet. We have to find the right curriculum for the kids, find out if we’ve been accepted into the homeschool co-op… and then, figure out how to tell our parents.

That’s probably going to be the hardest part. My family tends to poke fun at the notion of homeschooling (which is funny since we didn’t know anyone who was homeschooled growing up). My in-laws place a very high value on education, but we’re not sure how they’ll react. Lord willing, everyone is going to be accepting of the direction we’re going (or at least polite enough to keep their disapproval to themselves). But if you’d mind continuing to pray with us about this, I’d sure appreciate it.


photo credit: Mohammed Alnaser via photopin cc

Is there really a BAD gift for Mother’s Day?

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Yes. The answer is yes. 

Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and some of us may be in scramble mode. We didn’t already pick up something or we’ve been so busy that we totally forgot. But some of us, we’ve got it covered. We got the card. We got the gift. We’re set.

Maybe.

Unless we aren’t.

Now we’re starting to second-guess ourselves and wonder, “Did I just get [my wife or mom] a terrible gift?” The cold-sweats have kicked in. You’re considering ordering some flowers RIGHT NOW just to cover yourself.

But do you really need to freak out like this?

Maybe. But, really, probably not. You just think you do.

To help you feel better, I wanted to share the secret of what makes a bad Mother’s Day gift. Are you ready for it? Here goes:

A bad gift is something inconsiderate.

Simple as that. Here are a few examples:

If she life isn’t a reader, don’t buy her books. And especially, don’t buy her books that you want to read. This is also known as “pulling a Homer.”

If she hasn’t been eyeing certain brands of vacuums for years, don’t buy her one. However, if she’s spent a great deal of time lamenting her college-broke budget vacuum that doesn’t even pick up red pepper seeds, you’re in the clear to buy a good quality one.

If she’s not a fan of women’s retreats, don’t buy her tickets to the TGC women’s conference. While I’m sure the event will be great, it’s probably not the best thing for a woman who really hates pretty much any sort of women’s event.

I could go on, but I trust you get the point.

So what makes a good gift? Here’s what I’ve found is helpful:

Keep it simple. Focus on what she likes. Flowers and/or chocolates, while they might seem cliché, are still effective (at least in my house).

Keep it fun. And by “fun,” I mean fun for her. Emily is pretty easy-going in this regard. She likes action movies (though she doesn’t like going to the movies very often), walking around museums (even kind of lame ones like Museum London) and Starbucks dates where we can have grown-up conversations.

Just ask her. This is the most effective way to get a good gift. You don’t have to read her mind, or attempt to discern what she wants by understanding the meaning of every smirk and raised eyebrow. Emily really appreciates it when I just ask—and those are the best gifts I can give.

So can you get a bad Mother’s Day gift? Yep. But is it easy to get a really great one? You bet.


photo credit: Alex E. Proimos via photopin cc

Can you write about writing without sounding like a tool?

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An increasingly popular topic (and, arguably, increasingly popular faux pas) is writing about writing. Now, there are certain people who can and should write about writing. For example, when a Doug Wilson or Stephen King writes about writing, it’s going to be worth reading. Why? Because they have wisdom to impart that’s based upon decades of experience.

But most of us aren’t these men. We lack experience and are short on wisdom. So when we write about writing, it’s usually about stuff like calling and destiny and dreams and such things. But writing this way has an unfortunate side effect: more often than not, we come across a bit pretentious.

While sometimes we might feel as though “here I write, I can do no other,” when you actually say it, it just sounds kind of, well, dumb.

So is there a way to write about writing without sounding like a tool? Sure.

Here are a couple of suggestions:

1. Don’t write about it often. Let’s just be honest: the best kind of writing about writing is the kind that doesn’t happen too often. (And as a friend pointed out recently when curmudgeoning about this very subject, it’s telling that few exceptional writers actually write about it at all. Instead they just write. That’s good advice for us all.)

2. Keep it practical. If you’ve been reading helpful books on writing, like Wordsmithy, On Writing, How to Write Short, or even Bird by Bird (though I’m not a huge fan of Anne Lamott’s style), write about that. If you actually learned something useful while working on a big project (like a book), share something like that every once in a while.

3. Keep it honest. An example will be helpful here: Every time I’ve been asked about why I started writing, I’ve said the same thing: I started writing out of pure desperation. It wasn’t a perceived calling. I didn’t have a fire in my bones or any such thing. I was thrown into a writing job and needed to figure out how to not suck at it. When I say “keep it honest,” that’s what I’m talking about.

And that’s pretty much it. If you write about writing and don’t want to sound like a tool keep it practical, keep it honest and don’t do it very often.

Unless I’m wrong, in which case you’re on your own.

Four pieces of leadership “wisdom” you should totally ignore

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Every leader, no matter if they’re leading one person or one thousand, wants to get better at what they do. Fortunately the leadership industrial complex has produced a number of really great books offering really sound advice.

Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of dreck out there, the kind of stuff that makes me want to start reading Jesus’ seven woes out loud as emphatically as possible. Here are a few pieces of worldly wisdom that Christian leaders should probably ignore:

1. Criticized? Take heart—it means you’re a great leader. The other day I saw the following quote by Edwin Friedman in my Twitter feed: “Criticism is, if anything, often a sign that the leader is functioning better.” While certainly criticism can be a sign you’re doing well, it can also be a sign you’re failing miserably. The type of criticism you receive and how you respond to it are far better indicators. Proud “leaders” quickly write off criticism as being the divisive words of “haters” (and nitwits make videos about it). While not every piece of criticism merits the same level of attention, humble leaders listen, process, and respond to what they receive accordingly.

2. Throw your peers under the bus. This nugget came from John Maxwell’s 360-Degree Leader, where he shares the story of “Fred,” a man with a moody boss. The moral of the story? If your boss is unstable, watch and see which way the wind is blowing as your peers bring up issues. If the boss is in a good mood, bring up your list. If not, slide it back into your pocket and let your coworkers get burned (see pages 76-77).

Never mind taking a risk and calmly saying, “I had some concerns I wanted to address, but I can see this probably isn’t the best time.” It’s dangerous to do this, but it’s better than silently letting everyone else get blasted. And besides, it’s not like your volatile boss can fire you for it (unless he wanted to face a wrongful dismissal suit, of course).

3. People complaining? Be even harder on them! This one’s a bit of a cheat, because it’s identified as being terrible advice. When Rehoboam was faced with rebellion and had to choose between easing the burdens of his people and increasing them, he ignored the counsel of the elders and went along with his stupid friends. The result? The nation was torn in two.

4. “It is much safer to be feared than loved…” This come from Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince. Here it is with more context:

…it is much safer to be feared than loved because …love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.

Much of Machiavelli’s writing deals with self-preservation as the highest virtue. Love is risky, he’s right. But good leadership is all about risk. Compliance via fear is “safer” only because it’s easier to intimidate than to actually show those you lead that you care. Threats work in the short term, but don’t think you’ll have anyone sticking their necks out for you when you really need it.

Those are just a few of the gems out there that you should almost certainly ignore. What are a few pieces of terrible leadership advice you’ve heard?

5 things we loved about Nashville

We just wrapped up a fantastic week enjoying the sites and visiting friends in Nashville. Here are a few things we loved about our visit:

1. Sunday at Immaneul.

Our first morning in town, we visited Immanuel Church, where Ray Ortlund serves as the pastor. We loved spending the morning there and meeting a whole bunch of folks (it was funny how most people assumed we were moving to town rather than visiting). What I most loved about the morning was the way Ortlund employed William Bridge’s Exodus 34 liturgy to engage the congregation and remind us of the truth of God’s character and our confidence in Christ.

2. The downtown library.

We’ve been to story times at libraries before, but we were shocked to see the production at the Nashville Public Library. They put on an amazing show for the kids, the type you’d normally expect to pay for. Library Pete and Mary Mary clearly have a lot of fun.

Beyond the story times, the downtown library itself is gorgeous. It was terrific to roam around there.

3. Chick-Fil-A.

Emily’d never tried the fabled Chick-Fil-A before our visit on Monday. She’d long heard me going on about how delightful it is and she kept thinking, “Really? It’s a chicken sandwich.” She had something like a McDonald’s chicken sandwich in mind—and when she took the first bite, her response was telling:

“This – is - good.”

Turns out I didn’t oversell it.

3. Hanging out with Trevin Wax, Micah Fries, Jonathan Howe, Matt Capps and Michael Kelley.

Wednesday we spent time a lot of time at LifeWay and with the great folks who work there. Really enjoyed meeting Michael Kelley in person for the first time (shame we didn’t have longer). Having lunch with Trevin, Micah, Jonathan and Matt was a real treat and they were incredibly hospitable (especially since we had our three kids with us). We also got to spend time with Matt and his lovely family before we left town. Our girls were happy to make a Nashville friend. :)

Side note: While we were away, I read Trevin’s soon-to-be-released fiction book, Clear Winter Nights. I’ll tell you more about it later.

4. Really old Bibles.

One of the coolest things at LifeWay is found in their library—they’ve got a display cabinet showcasing a number of extremely old Bibles, including a reproduction of the Gutenberg Bible and the Gun Wad Bible, the first Bible printed in America on American made paper. As the story goes, the reason it’s called the Gun Wad Bible is because it was used as cartridge paper during the American Revolution.

5. People love kids.

One of the things that amazed us most during our stay was how we didn’t get the sense we were burdening society by being outdoors with our three kids. People smiled and talked to them and generally made us feel welcome wherever we were with them. This was a really nice change because, although it doesn’t always happen, we sometimes get the sense our presence is offensive to others here in London (usually at a store).

Those are just a few of the things we loved about our vacation. I could probably list a ton more, like my daughter discovering she likes comic books, our trip to the Frist Center for the Arts, visiting the Parthenon in Centennial Park, Hudson getting his land legs…

In fact, aside from some issues with our hotel and our car having a bit of surprise repair work (and if you’re in the area, go to Antioch Auto Center!), it was a practically perfect vacation.

We’re glad to be home and looking forward to getting back into the normal routine, but we’re already looking forward to when we get to go back. Nashville, consider yourself warned.

Help us make a documentary on the life and legacy of Spurgeon

Recently a new friend, Stephen McCaskell, contacted me about being part of a documentary about the life and legacy of Charles Spurgeon. Spurgeon has long been one of my heroes in the faith, so the opportunity to be a part of a project like this intrigued me from the get go. Together with Adrian Warnock, we set about plans to make a crowd-sourced film, Through the Eyes of Spurgeon. Soon a fourth party joined our merry band, Matt Pennings of Red Rubber Studio, and we’ve just recently launched a support page on Indiegogo.com.

Yep, we’re crowd-funding a movie. :)

Here’s a short video featuring Adrian with the details:

“This child will one day preach the gospel, and he will preach it to great multitudes…”

Did Richard Knill have any idea how God would bring these words to life when he spoke them over a young Charles Haddon Spurgeon?

During his lifetime, Spurgeon did indeed preach to great multitudes. He faithfully made known the great truths of the gospel to millions of men and women in his ministry—and he continues to do so today, more than a century after his death.

Spurgeon has much to teach us through his great successes—and also through the hardships of his life. No stranger to physical illness and crushing depression, Spurgeon’s handling of great suffering has been an encouragement to many. Pastor John Piper once said during a difficult time in his own ministry, “I have turned to Charles Spurgeon in these days, and I have been helped.”

This is the legacy we want to share with you in our documentary, Through the Eyes of C.H. Spurgeon.

Together with video production company Red Rubber Studios, we’re telling the story of how one man’s faithful ministry continues to bless believers the world over to this very day—a story of lives changed by the gospel and a legacy of faith that all of us involved in this film want to see emulated in the lives of every Christian.

We’re asking you to help support the making of this film because we believe Spurgeon’s life and legacy have much to say to believers in our day. With your with your financial support and your prayers, you can help make this film a reality.

Why writers need to diversify

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One of the best—albeit more peculiarly expressed—pieces of advice Douglas Wilson gives to writers in Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life is diversify:

Stretch before your routines. If you want to write Italian sonnets, try to write some short stories. If you want to write a few essays, write a novel, or maybe a novella if you are pressed for time. If you want to write haiku, then limber up with opinion pieces for The Washington Post.

(Read more of Wilson’s advice to writers here.)

Wilson’s point is well-taken. If you want to keep sharp, it’s wise to write something different. We writer types can become complacent and lazy—we can pretty easily get into a nice routine (or rut, depending on your point of view), shift into autopilot and write basically the same thing, over and over again.

Recently, I’ve seen some of very fine folks trying to stretch themselves, and it’s a wonderful thing, indeed. My friend Trevin Wax is writing a fiction book (which I’m pretty excited to read when it’s out). And then there’s my online pal Stephen Altrogge, who is cranking out really fun material like crazy these days!

If you’ve read his blog or his major release books, you probably know he’s really funny. Not that “I’m trying to be funny” kind of funny that’s not really funny at all; he’s got a very natural sense of humor and timing that shines through in his work. (For this, I am jealous.)

But in seeing the material he’s been self-publishing of late—The Last Superhero, and serial meta-spy-adventure novel Escaping My Story (parts one and two are now available and are really good!)—you can see he’s really trying to take this call to diversify seriously.

He wants to get better at his craft. This is something more of us need to take seriously, especially me.

A while back I made reference to writing a couple of kid’s books for my wife to illustrate. So far they’re coming along really well.

I have to be honest, though: it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be. Trying to tell a complete story in 1500 words or less with compelling characters is a really challenge. It’s given me a new appreciation for the books we read to our girls on a daily basis. There’s so much work that goes into keeping the story tight alone that I didn’t even consider when I first started working on it.

Although it’s a bit tangential, at work, I’ve got another challenge: adopting a new style guide to keep all our writers consistent. For those of us who’ve been there longer than our new staff, it’s a real challenge at times because we’ve gotten into certain habits or are just used to going on gut and preference.

But formalizing these things is another good challenge. It’s been forcing me consider word use, punctuation, grammatical issues so much more that I’ve been really lax on. This is a good kind of challenge as well—one that’s getting me thinking about the mechanics of what I’m writing, not just the content.

The point is this: Writers, whether we’re writers of books or blogs, we need to diversify. We need to be willing to try different things, regardless of whether or not they see the light of day and regardless of whether we succeed or fail. In the end, our writing will get better and we might even have some fun in the process.

Introducing the new book reviews page

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Readers of this blog know I read a lot and consequently write a lot of book reviews (around 48 per year). Figuring out how to archive and present them all has been an ongoing challenge.

A couple years ago, I created a new page for reviews that brought a lot of order to the site… but it quickly became a bit clunky and time-consuming to update. Everything—and I do mean everything—had to be added to a table manually and after a while, I just couldn’t keep up. I needed something that could be more or less left alone (beyond some initial category updating) but keep everything up-to-date.

After much searching, I finally found a plugin for WordPress that lets me do what I want, and voila!

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A screen shot of the new book reviews page

The new page features nine titles per screen of clickable (and mobile friendly!) images showing you every book review on the site, starting with the most recent. Simply click the image and you’re set!

The new version of the reviews page is still a work in progress, but I’d love your feedback. What works? What doesn’t? Is there anything you’d like to see done differently?

In the meantime, head on over to the new book review page and start reading!

My favorite articles of 2012

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Tis the season for bloggers to write their annual “best of” lists. Recently I shared my favorite reads of 2012; today I want to share a few of my favorite articles of the year. These don’t necessarily represent this blog’s most read articles (although some of them are). Instead, these represent some of the work I’m most happy with from this blog over the past year. I hope you’ll check them out:

Why I quit following (most) “celebrity” pastors on Twitter, and maybe you should too

…lately I’ve found myself continually disheartened by much of what I’m reading from a few “celebrity” pastors on Twitter, Facebook and their blogs, to say nothing of the fuss that ensues. And frankly, it’s all a little bit tiring. So, I did the most helpful thing I could: I stopped following them. Here’s why I did, and why you might want to consider doing the same.

Four functions of sound doctrine

Recently, I wrote that one of the key functions of doctrine is that it divides. Because Jesus himself is the most divisive person ever to live, all doctrine that aligns with him will necessarily cause division. But that’s not all that doctrine does.

Broken, yet intricately woven

My wife’s example here is a standout example of faithfully exploring the

I was diagnosed with epilepsy on Friday. My first thought was, “This is very inconvenient.” I asked the doctor how it happened, but there is no apparent cause. It just is.

In defense of neatniks

Now to be sure, there are some folks who are definitely a bit too… intense about their preciseness and forget that misspeaking is different than being a heretic. Likewise, one can be so focused on the trees that they miss the forest (which a frustration I’ve got with a book I’m reading with my men’s group right now). But I wonder if sometimes we label some folks theological neatniks as a cover for our own sloppiness? That rather than own up to a mistake or do the hard work of making sure that what we’re saying is actually right in the first place, we allow our pride to take over and brush it off by saying, “Stop being such a nitpick!”

Three lessons from shutting down our home business

Ten years ago, I purchased my first domain name and web hosting package. Emily and I were fresh out of school and ready to take on the world as graphic designers for hire. Earlier this year, we shuttered it for good.

Between running this blog, writing books, raising a family with three very young children, serving in our church, facilitating a small group, creating stock art, and—oh yeah!—my day job, it was pretty clear something had to give. And the thing that lost was the business. Here are three things we learned in the process.

Life after home ownership

This week Emily and I are celebrating the one year anniversary of officially no longer being home owners. (Emily celebrated by making brownies.) As long-time readers may recall, we spent eleven months between August 2010 and July 2011 deciding and preparing to sell our home, trying to sell it on our own, having two deals fall through and finally getting it sold when we went with an agent.

Now, a year later, are there any regrets?

Nope.

Three lies we tell ourselves about marriage: my spouse is the problem

I remember some of the first fights that Emily and I had as a married couple. Most were over pretty silly things… but not always. One evening, I came home after another frustrating and unfulfilling men’s ministry play date (there was no real “ministry” happening; it was just a bunch of dudes whose wives signed them up to get together). Emily could see that I was annoyed (I don’t like using my time in unproductive ways) and she wisely told me the truth:

“You need to quit.”

Rejoice! We serve a precise God

This is great news for us; because God is precise, we get to live in confident expectation that the promises He offers will come to pass. That when we place our trust in Christ and in His finished work on the cross, we will most assuredly stand with Him in glory at the end of the age.

Backpedaling and public Christianity

We need to take great care in not being too quick to give an off-the-cuff response to anything. As much as we are able, we need to think carefully about what we are going to say in any and every situation. I realize that mistakes happen; sometimes we let something slip against our better judgment, me especially. Only the Lord is fully aware of how much folly has come from my mouth. But when we see ongoing patterns of foolish talk coming from our mouths, should we not consider seeking assistance and accountability?

Disciples, deal with difficult texts

A number of years ago, I went on my first missions trip. At the time I was excited, but really wrestling with questions of what I was supposed to be doing with my life, frustrated and a little bitter when I saw others around me—some friends and some not-so-much—finding great success. Rather than rejoice at the good fortune of friends who the Lord had blessed, I found myself grumbling over the fact that others who I was working harder than those finding good fortune.

“Didn’t I deserve better?” I thought.”Why was I being treated so unfairly…”

“Where was God in all this?”

Strengths and weaknesses of working on an iPad

Several months ago, I bought an iPad. While we are, in general, Apple aficionados in the Armstrong house, this wasn’t a random gadget purchase. For a while Emily and I have wondered, “What if you don’t have your laptop available to you—what’s your backup?”

Well, last week my laptop became unavailable after an unexpected fall that left it more or less a fancy paperweight. So since Thursday morning I’ve been using my iPad for everything.

All my updates on the blog. All my correspondence. Even my work for my day job (when I’ve not been busy recuperating from a nasty cold.

So far, the experience has been interesting. There are a lot of positives and a few drawbacks as well. Here are a few of the strengths and weaknesses I’ve found so far:

Strength: Great apps keep you from missing a step.

I love Pages for the iPad for word processing. It’s got terrific functionality and a very clean interface. Whenever I’ve been working in it, generally I’ve been a happy camper. However, there are a few things it can’t do, like read annotations made with Word’s reviewing tools. That’s where CloudOn comes in. This app gives you all the features you need when collaborating with Word users, allowing you to accept changes, respond to their comments and more—which worked out well for me on Friday when I needed to work on a very important project.

Weakness: WordPress’ dashboard interface isn’t tablet-friendly enough (yet).

I love WordPress as a content management system and blogging platform. They’ve made some wonderful improvements in getting the dashboard mobile friendly and having an app that’s pretty decent.

However, many of the functions available are painful to try and use on an iPad. Accessing your media library or formatting text, come readily to mind. Personally, I’ve found that it’s not worth the hassle to try to add an image at this point. I’m sure there are some major improvements on the way with WordPress 3.5 and beyond, but for now, it’s left me a bit cold.

Weakness: You’re going to need accessories.

The iPad’s on-screen keyboard is great for short tasks like writing an email or a Facebook or Twitter update, but for anything more intensive, you’re going to need some additional hardware. My iPad’s case includes a very thin keyboard—so thin that it’s practically a touchscreen itself—which is really nice for travelling or taking notes in a meeting, but when I’m settled somewhere, my larger wireless keyboard is a better option. (Also there’s something comforting about the clackity-clack of keys when you’re typing, I don’t know what it is.)

Strength: The iPad forces you to focus.

You can really only do one thing at a time with an iPad, which is a wonderful gift to those of us who are easily distracted. Distraction kills productivity and destroys excellence in our work. It’s why we’re seeing new apps show up for our laptops and desktop computers and plug-ins for our browsers to keep us away from Facebook or other sites when we should be working…

This has probably been my favorite thing about working on the iPad full-time over the last few days. I’m only doing one thing, and it’s taking me less time to do it (or rather, it’s taking me the same amount of time without the distractions).

Strength: The iPad forces you to adapt.

Because there’s no mouse and no trackpad for the iPad, you are forced to adapt. Admittedly this has been the most difficult part for me of the whole experience. There are some things that are just easier to do with a cursor, at least for now. Probably my biggest struggle has been with correcting spelling and not accidentally copying in a block of text that’s on my clipboard (this happened at least three times during the writing of this article, by the way).

But it’s fun to figure out the mechanics of how to work on a totally different set-up and find out that, with some minor tweaking, you can do most of what you need to do without too much fuss.

Would I go full-time permanently?

I’ve wondered about this for a while. In theory, I could probably do it, after getting used to a few things and making sure I’ve got all the right apps and accessories. But there are some things I can’t do (or at least, I’ve not figured out how to yet).

I like doing the occasional bit of design work for the blog or for an eBook, but there aren’t a lot of good tools out there for the iPad—and maybe there shouldn’t be. I might change my mind, but for now, the thing I appreciate the most about the iPad is its simplicity. I can write a significant amount of text easily and effectively. I can store it and distribute it with ease. Used strictly as a writing tool, it’s wonderful. But for the rest, maybe it’s better to leave those to other tools. In a pinch, though, I’m more than happy to work on an iPad.