Archive for March, 2010

Consultant Consultant

There are various ways for a stay-at-home mom or stay-at-home dad to earn extra income, or at least try to. One of the more popular ways is the Independent Consultant.

The independent consultant sells a company’s goods via home shows – get someone to host a party and the IC demonstrates the products and takes orders.

It started with Tupperware, at least in my recollection.

Then along came Pampered Chef.

Then Creative Memories.

Then the snowball started getting out of control – Usborne Books, Lia Sophia, Close to My Heart, Southern Living at Home, Uppercase Living, and various other candle, lotion, perfume, and home goods companies.

The array of choices is so overwhelming that I think it needs some organizing. What if someone is interested in becoming an independent consultant but doesn’t know where to begin or what companies or products there are?

I propose a new home-show-based business: Meta Consultants.

The Meta Consultant (or Consultant Consultant) would be an independent consultant whose job would be to advise people about being an independent consultant. She would go into someone’s house for a home show and describe to the attendees the various companies and products there are to sell.

I’m sure there would be food and games involved too.

The Meta Consultant would not sell any products herself – she would get a commission based on how many people sign up to be consultants (or book new home shows).

I don’t have the details of where the company would get money to pay commissions, since no one is selling any products. But we’re in a service-based economy now, right? And we’re selling services instead of products now, right? So the money will come from somewhere, somehow.

And that’s why I’m typing this as a blog post and not as a business plan.

And they said, “We will call the girl and consult her wishes.”

Genesis 24:57

Better Than Avatar

This post is split into two parts. Read one or both or none, depending on which blogging platform(s) you use. Users

Hey all you Blogger/Blogspot users: are you tired of people on WordPress who don’t show your profile picture next to the comment you left? Do you want that profile picture instead of the default or randomly-generated icon?

The reason your picture doesn’t appear is that you are using only and not Now Gravatar is supposed to be a Globally-Recognized Avatar (where “Avatar” is an icon or small picture, not the movie with extra special effects to distract you from the lack of a good plot). But it requires people to sign up for the service and a bunch of people, mainly users, have not done so.

You have two options:

1. Sign up for

2. Tell the person who uses WordPress instead of to install Grab Avatar. Send them to the Grab Avatar page for details.

I recommend step #2 because if everyone does step #1 then I’m out of business.

WordPress Users

Hey all you WordPress users: are you tired of people on who leave comments but don’t have a Gravatar so you can’t display their profile picture? Now you can please everyone. Grab Avatar finds a person’s avatar whether it is on or

It is a simple process and doesn’t require any code editing. Just install the plug-in and it magically starts working. Visit the Grab Avatar page for details.

Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.

1 Corinthians 15:49

Crooked Blinds

The old, cheap roll-up shades that we had in the living room were showing their age. Some edges were torn, some had broken or missing reinforcement rods at the bottom, and one couldn’t even roll up anymore so it was left halfway up all the time (or halfway down for you pessimists).

The dining room has two windows, and those did not have the roll-up shades. They, instead, had the old-school blinds, with a pull-cord to raise and lower them and a long handle to twist if you wanted to change the angle of all the slats. Since those types of blinds are being recalled and shunned due to the strangulation hazard of the cord, we decided to replace all the shades and blinds in both rooms. No sense in having nice new shades in one room and ratty old blinds in the next.

The replacements are the cordless cellular shades.

Unfortunately, we found out too late that “cellular” refers to the construction of the shade and has nothing to do with mobile phones.

I installed all the new shades, being careful to make things nice and level. Then I stood back and surveyed a job well done.

picture of cordless cellular shade installed crookedly

Thinking to myself:
How could that happen?

I made sure the shade was level when I screwed it into the wall. Why is the shade so crooked?

It’s pretty obvious. People are going to notice that. Now we’re going to need a nice valance to cover over that.

That’s the problem with an old house. Things are either level or even. I make new things level, with a level, but then they don’t match the existing things that match but aren’t level.

Then I stepped closer to the window.

picture of cordless cellular shade installed crookedly

Hey, look! The shades aren’t crooked – the curtain rod is.

Step back, look at the rest of the window.

picture of cordless cellular shade installed crookedly

I think it’s just the curtain rod. That shouldn’t be too bad to fix. What could go wrong with that?

What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted.

Ecclesiastes 1:15

GIMP Stuff: Swirl-Tile

I like using GIMP for creating and editing images. I was playing around with the auto-generation of images and just thought I’d share what I did, in case anyone else out there is wondering what the Swirl-Tile option does.

My goal was to generate some background for a website. I wanted the background to be interesting but not too distracting, and the seams between tiles shouldn’t be noticeable.

Setup: Find the option to generate swirl-tiles.

GIMP menu for swirly-tile

Step 1

It will have some defaults. These are the default settings:

GIMP menu for swirly-tile

And this is what the default settings will generate:

GIMP swirly-tile

And here are a few of them put together. The seams aren’t too bad.

GIMP swirly-tile put together

I’ll cut off the post here for the general blog readers who don’t care about web page background images. But those who are interested can click on the link below to continue reading.


Pblk Education

Alpha attends the local public school. He was able to read before starting kindergarten, but not all of his classmates are at that level so the teacher teaches to the lowest common denominator. That means the public school is causing my child to regress. His spelling is getting worse by going to school. (that’s his going to school, not his spelling that attends . . . oh never mind).

The teacher has a lesson, and it seems that all students are to follow the lesson. The problem is that the lesson is about letter sounds and spelling words as they sound, not how they are spelled.

Here is an example. Alpha brought his schoolwork home, as he does just about every day. We saw this:

kindergarten schoolwork for the letter M

My wife noticed how he spelled the words and just asked him “Alpha, how do you spell ‘mouse’?

And he replied “M-O-U-S-E“.

Why did you spell it ‘M-O-W-S?
That’s how everyone else spelled it.

Then she asked “And how do you spell ‘monkey’?
And why did you spell it M-U-K-E?
That’s how the teacher told us to spell it.

My wife and I were taken by surprise at this. The teacher had warned us at the beginning of the school year that we were not to correct our child’s spelling, so that she (the teacher) could see the child’s progress throughout the year. In theory, the teacher would see that the child was spelling poorly as he was just learning letter-sound concepts and then, at the end of the year, the child’s spelling would be better as he has learned word concepts.

“In theory” is the critical part of that paragraph.

What happens when a child already knows how to spell the required words? How does the teacher measure progress then?

Now, lest you think we made too much fuss over one piece of paper, let me describe to you some more of the story.

We had discussed our concern with ourselves, and we explained to Alpha that he should still do the right thing even though his classmates were not. “Some of them haven’t learned how to spell words yet, so the teacher is trying to help them. If you do know how to spell a word, you should write it correctly.” And we all were satisfied with this plan.

Then Alpha brought home his next paper.

kindergarten schoolwork for the letter O

He spelled “orange” as “ornje”.

Alpha, why did you spell orange like this? It looks like you had it right with the G there.
The teacher made me change it.

That’s right, he spelled orange with the proper letter and the teacher had him erase it and put the wrong letter in there (click on the picture for a larger view). He already knows that G can have a hard or soft sound. And he knows that orange is spelled with a G, not a J.

To be fair . . . he had a substitute teacher that day. But why would the sub do that? Either she had strict orders from the teacher or she went through the same spelling curriculum training as the teacher. Either way, she had to have been told by someone that kindergartners cannot know how to spell and she must enforce illiteracy. And either way, we are not impressed with what we’re getting for our tax dollars.

Just for fun, to torment the kids who can spell, they made almost enough boxes for the letters. They left off one or two boxes for each word.

kindergarten schoolwork for the letter I

It’s like musical chairs for spelling. There are 4 letters but only 3 spots. Which letters can find their places first? Which letter will be left standing? Oh, too bad. Letter N is out.

If only they made the spelling sheets with an area for writing the word instead of letter boxes. Then the children could spell the words the way they wanted, including the right way.

kindergarten schoolwork for the letter H

I don’t know why they did that for one letter sheet but not the others. Most of the letter sheets had the wrong number of boxes for correctly spelling the words.

Unfortunately, Harrison Bergeron is applicable once again. You would think a teacher would encourage excellence and high standards and good stuff.

If it’s kindergarten and we’re already having conflicts about what the school is teaching versus what we the parents think is right, I am not optimistic about junior high or high school. And the conflict is over the rather innocuous subject of spelling.

On the bright side of things – at least that’s the only problem we’ve had with the school. We’ll just be sure to keep our children supplied with real books that use real English words. That way, they will learn literacy at home and can be prepared for life.

The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?”

John 7:15

Family Conversations, Part 9

This exchange happened a couple weeks ago, when icicles were hanging off our front porch and I was outside with the kids.

Some Guy (handing icicles to the children): Here, you can eat these icicles. These are good because they are clear. Don’t eat any dirty-looking icicles.
Alpha: Like the ones on the van?
Yeah, cause they’re salty.
I licked one!

Well, you gotta learn somehow.

Now on to last week:
We had finished dinner, and Alpha decided he wanted Fun Dip for his dessert. After mulling over the package, he announced that he was going to have the “Cherry Yum-Diddly” flavor. Then he read some more of the package.

Alpha: “Artificially flavored” What does that mean?
Some Guy: It is a fake flavor. That means it tastes like cherries even though it doesn’t have any cherries in it.
Do you know what, Dad?
What, Alpha?
That means that it doesn’t have any real Yum-Diddlies in it either.

I would have to agree.

I still haven’t figured out what a Yum-Diddly tastes like, real or artificial.

Finally, a clip from earlier this week, where we deal with the ever-present problem of children who are ready to be done with the shopping trip and have nothing constructive to do while waiting in the check-out line :

Alpha (grabbing an item off the display rack beside him) : Can we get this?
Some Guy: No, put that back please.
What is it?
That’s a lighter and it is used to start fires.
Hey look! Mini-lighters.
Put those back too please.
(reading the packaging before putting it back): Aww…it says to keep away from us.

The packages do usually say “Keep away from children” don’t they?

Does not the ear test words,As the palate tastes its food?

Job 12:11

AOL Was Right

In a way, AOL was ahead of its time.

What’s the difference between Facebook now and AOL back in its day?

Connect with friends, send them things, play games, etc. Facebook, the new AOL. Or AOL, the original Facebook.

The same with Twitter. That’s just AIM revisited. Come to think of it, AIM in its day was about as big as Twitter is now.

The first difference is that AOL provided the internet connection and the services. FB/Twitter just provide the services. AOL had people paying to use their services and they still went under somehow. Once people had options other than dial-up, they didn’t need AOL for the internet connection and the services were an exclusive club – only for those with a subscription.

The other major difference is cell phones – the whole mobile platform. AOL was there for the initial wave of internet popularity, but they peaked then and didn’t recover in order to take advantage of the second wave of smart phones and iPods.

I don’t have a horse in the race, so I don’t care if Facebook and Twitter stick around or fade away. I think the latter is more likely. They, like AOL/AIM, will fade away and then some upstart company will produce a service with a slightly different twist that will be hugely popular for a while.

And repeat.

That which has been is that which will be,And that which has been done is that which will be done.So there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9