Archive for February, 2015

Parental Dread

Here is a list of things you don’t want to hear your spouse say, if you have small children:

  • Where is that water coming from?
    It’s bad enough if it’s on the kitchen floor. Worse if it’s on the bathroom floor. Worst is if you hear that when your spouse is in the room below the kids’ bathtub.
  • I thought you had him…
    It’s bad enough if you don’t know where the child is. Even worse if your spouse doesn’t either.
  • Please tell me that’s chocolate.
    It’s bad enough to find a mystery substance. Even worse if you find it on your khaki pants.
  • Why is it so quiet?
    It’s bad enough when you have to get up from what you were doing to see what the kids are doing. Even worse when you actually find out what they are doing.
  • Here, he’s all yours.
    Enough said.
  • For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while—

    2 Corinthians 7:8

Disney Family Analysis

What is it about the Disney formula that requires an orphan and a princess with a father and no mother?

It’s been a little while since I wrote anything about Disney’s Frozen, so here are some thoughts about that movie.

Why is Frozen better than Disney’s other movies?

This is best answered by going into how it is different from their other movies. It deviates somewhat from their standard formula.


By having meaningful relationships. In particular, family. More specifically, sisters.

Try to remember all the other popular Disney movies, and think of what family relationships there were:

Note: “practical orphan” means he might have parents or siblings, but we never see them or hear anything about them. We can’t tell if he’s an orphan or not.

Beauty and the Beast
– Belle: no siblings, single father
– Beast: practical orphan
– Jasmine: no siblings, single father
– Aladdin: orphan
Little Mermaid
 – Ariel: sisters exist but aren’t a part of the story, single father
 – Prince Erik: practical orphan
– Rapunzel: no siblings, single mother*
– Flynn: orphan
Snow White
– Snow White: single step-mother
– Prince: practical orphan
Sleeping Beauty
– Aurora: father and mother
– Prince Phillip: not an orphan
how’d this one make through the screening process?
– Cinderella: step-family, bad relationships
– Prince Charming: not an orphan
– Mulan: father and mother
– Li Shang: practical orphan
– Pocahontas: single father, no siblings
– John Smith: practical orphan
Princess and the Frog
– Tiana: single mother, no siblings. But she has a good friend.
– Prince Naveen: has parents but effectively orphaned, at least financially.

– Kristoff: orphan, following the usual formula
– Anna: two parents (until the tragedy) and a sister who is part of her life and part of the story.

What’s the point of this blog post? Good question. Probably that, although the princess-meets-orphan storyline is dependable, that doesn’t mean that other storylines aren’t good too. Other family dynamics, such as the relationship between sisters, can be even more powerful because the audience can actually relate.

* plus her real parents are part of the story, which makes gives it more emotion. Try to think how intriguing the story would have been without the tension of reuniting them.

Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.

Isaiah 1:17

Radio Ad Suggestion

Radio advertisers need to spell out website names, especially if they contain a name or word with homonyms. Like duel/dual. Or Catherine / Katherine.

Or a store name that isn’t common and people could guess wrong. Like Hods. Or is it Haads? Or Hahds?

Numbers too. Spell them out if they are spelled. If the domain name does contain numerals, tell us that. Don’t just not spell them. For example: ” …, the number 4, and …”

Radio spots are the hardest advertising medium to make an impression and convey information that people will remember. If all those commuters don’t know how to spell your website, how will they get to it? Will they even bother if they think they don’t know what it is?

On the other hand, maybe the advertisers are doing it on purpose. By having it slightly unclear, they are forcing the listeners to think about their ad. That would create a more lasting impression than a typical ad that is consumed without thought.

For You have kept their heart from understanding,
Therefore You will not exalt them.

Job 17:4


Disclaimer: if you haven’t seen The Matrix, you might not fully appreciate this blog post. Remember to watch only the first movie.

How did the people progress from how we are now to how they were in the movie The Matrix?

Simple: gradually.

You start with nothing – content and complete by yourself.

illustration showing a person using no devices

Then you add in an audio connection to devices – iPod.

Rewarding Behavior

It is tempting to give an electronics device (iPad, Kindle Fire, anything else that has games) of some sort to youngsters who act up, in order to get them to sit still at an event.

But don’t.

That ends up being a reward for misbehaving. It should be this: sit still, and then you can play afterwards. Not this: you get to play if you’re being disruptive.

Which behavior do want to reinforce?

If I may try an analogy here: Raising kids is like firing a gun. Assume the kid is the bullet. You as a parent have a target for them to hit.

You do have a target, right?

Even if it is just “to become a productive member of society”, you should have a goal. You should have a plan to reach that goal, too. But that’s another topic.

So you want your kids to hit the target. The target is a long way off. What does a bullet need in order to reach the target?

Two main things: propulsion and constraint.

I’ll skip propulsion – the point of this post is boundaries. Constraint is the boundaries you give them.

A gun with a short barrel is inaccurate – the bullet has a low chance of hitting the target. Similarly, a child with no boundaries is going to veer off somewhere.

When is it easiest to correct the course of a bullet – at the beginning of its travel or near the end of its travel? At the beginning, I would expect. I’ve never tried to correct a bullet at the end of its travel. The same applies to people. Get them on the right course early, and it will save you and them much effort and grief later.

The right course at hand for this topic is being able to survive without being amused by a glowing screen.

And if you’re not familiar with the etymology of amuse, you should be.

I have no peace, no quietness;
I have no rest, but only turmoil.

Job 3:26

Windmill POV

In the interest of combining things (“leveraging technology” if you want the appropriate buzzwords), I thought through how wind turbines could sell advertisements.

By “wind turbines” I am referring to the tall, 3-vaned, modern-looking windmills that generate electricity (and kill birds) and are popping up in more and more places.

In fact, my niece plays soccer in the shadows of a few of these.

photo of an electricity-generating wind turbine windmill

Now for the advertisements. If you’re not familiar with the concept of Persistence of Vision, here’s an example:


Birmingham Recap, Part 2

Welcome back, those of you who read Part 1 of my recap.

This part, the second and final of the set, concerns the airplane portion of the trip.

  • It had been several years since I was on an international flight, and the entertainment options are vastly improved since then. Now, you get a USB plug to charge your devices, WiFi if you want to pay for it, and about 50 movies that you can watch and control for yourself, thanks to touchscreens in every seat. More on that later…
  • Regarding airplane food, avoid the entree with meat. On the way over, I chose chicken instead of pasta. That was a bad choice – the chicken was rubbery and not tasty. On the way back, they were out of the pasta by the time they got to me, but they did have a Cobb salad. The chicken on that had been cooked but was cold on the salad. That was fine. Apparently chicken cooked before getting on the plane is okay, but chicken cooked (or at least heated) on the plane is not. That’s my assessment having had one of each.
  • Here’s a photo for those of you who have forgotten what it’s like to fly:

    photo of clouds, from an airplane window

  • Here is a photo of my first sight of the Netherlands:

    photo of the Netherlands coastline, from an airplane window

  • It was fun trying to guess which lines were roads and which were canals:

    photo of the land around Amsterdam, from an airplane window

  • And here is a photo of our plane landing:

    photo of an airplane about to land, from the airplane window

  • One thing that struck me on the flight back was how mindlessly passive everyone was. The flight there was an overnight, so I watched a movie because it was novel and I could, then I tried to sleep. Then I read and tried to sleep again. After sleeping and eating, I watched one more quick movie before landing. So I didn’t notice that the whole plane was dark because it was night and it was supposed to be dark.

    But the flight back was a daytime flight – it was midday the whole time. Left at 1pm, flew for 9 hours, and landed at 3 pm – following the sun the whole way. Almost kept up with it, too. So I expected the plane to have some daylight.

    But for various reasons, they ask people to close their window shades closed so the plane stays dark. The reason stated was so that people can watch movies without glare. But I suppose some people who wanted to nap would appreciate it too.

    And I just thought that was sad. “Here’s a window seat so you can look out at the glorious sunshine if you want – but don’t. We don’t want you to.” I watched a movie, then I read, then I scribbled some notes and stuff. I had to turn on my overhead light to read and write, which I shouldn’t have needed to do because there was plenty of sunshine available.

    Out of several dozen other seats that I could see, only a handful of other people had their lights on. As best I could tell, all the rest were watching movies or TV shows. I’ll agree to some entertainment – I watched 3.5 movies on my round trip. But that’s about 5.5 hours of screen time out of 18 hours flight time. That’s still a lot of sitting and watching, but I didn’t have much of a choice on the sitting part.

    As I was looking around, in awe of how people were able to watch movies for 8 hours non-stop, I thought “how mindless is this?” I made a choice specifically not to watch a screen for a chunk of the time. That was harder than you might think, because as I am writing, my habit is to look up when I pause to think between items. And, even though I had turned off my screen, my eyes were naturally caught by the bright glow of the screen of the woman in front and to the right of me. And she had the closed-captioning on, so my eyes caught some bad words, too.

    In summary for this point, I am worried about our society, that people aren’t going to be able to do anything (or sit quietly) if it’s not on a screen in front of them.

  • Here’s my view during the flight home:

    photo of the interior of an airplane that is darkened to allow people to watch their screen entertainment.

  • In case you’re wondering, the movies I watched were The Boxtrolls, Kiki’s Delivery Service, How to Train Your Dragon 2, and half of Captain Phillips.

Who are these who fly like a cloud And like the doves to their lattices?

Isaiah 60:8