Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Reel People: Tom Hanks is Walt Disney

The film is Saving Mr. Banks. Saving Mr. Banks is directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blindside), with a screenplay written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith.

Walter Elias Disney

Walter Elias Disney was born December 5, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois. Walt was the fourth son of Elias and Flora Call Disney. His parents would have their fifth child, a daughter named Ruth. Ruth was born the day after Walt turned two.

In 1906, Walt's family moved to Marceline, Missouri where the family had purchased farm land. Four years later, in 1911, Walt would move with his family to Kansas City. Interested in art he would take Saturday courses at the Kansas City Art Institute.

In 1917, Walt's father Elias moved his family back to Chicago. He took art classes from the University of Chicago and wrote political cartoons for the school newspaper for a short while before dropping out of high school to try to join the Army during World War I. The army rejected Walter due to his age and instead he and a friend joined the Red Cross where he was sent to France and was an ambulance driver.

After the army, Walt returned to Kansas City instead of Chicago where his parents lived. His brother Roy worked at a local bank and helped connected Walter to a client who worked for an ad agency, Posman-Rubin. Walt would at this time meet Ub Iwerks, a commercial artist. That would briefly have their own company Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artist, which would last only about a month before he moved to the Kansas City Film Ad Company.

Walt Disney recruited Fred Harman and the two began making animated films at Disney's new studio Laugh-o-gram which aired in the Kansas City area. He started the company in 1921 and brought on a number of animators, but the company would go bankrupt in 1923. Disney decided to move to Hollywood, California with the money he made from the sale of his video camera.

Walt Disney and Roy Disney pooled their money together to an animation studio in Hollywood, with there first product being a short-series called the Alice Comedies. The company was founded as the Disney Brother Studios in 1923.

In 1925 Walt Disney would marry, Lillian Disney a secretary in the ink and paint department at Disney Studios.

As the Disney Brother's Studios expanded they were able to rehire much of the Kansas City staff and yet ran into a challenge after creating a successful character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in 1927. Universal Studios maintained distribution rights for Oswald, and although Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks created the character, Universal cut the rate Disney was paid and pulled many of the Disney Borhter's Studio employees to be a part of the Universal staff.

Losing the rights to Oswald, Iwerks and Disney created Mickey Mouse (originally Mortimer Mouse). Iwerks did all the drawing and Disney provided the voice of the character (through 1947). In addition to the early Mickey Mouse films, they would also create Silly Symphonies in 1929. Silly Symphonies was not as successful as Mickey Mouse, but there was a lot of competition in the industry and the studios were quick to sign and drop deals.

In 1932 Walt Disney would earn a special academy award for his creation of Mickey Mouse.

During the 1930s Walt and Lillian would have a child, Diane Marie Disney (born in 1933), and adopt Sharon Mae Disney (born New Year's Eve 1936). The Mickey Mouse cartoons would also add supporting characters, Donald, Goofy and Pluto as well as add color to the series. Disney's biggest competition during this time was Max Fletcher who's Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons were very popular.

Walt Disney began an imbitious project during this time to make the first feature length animated film which nearly bankrupt the Disney Brother's studios, but resulted in the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by RKO in 1938. Incredibly popular, Snow White became the highest grossing film of 1938. For his work, Disney also one an honory Oscar (actually 1 big Oscar and seven miniature Oscars).

With the revenue from Snow White, Walt Disney Studios would open up a new site in Burbank and release Pinnochio, Fantasia, and Dumbo. Non which had the same success as Snow White. They continued to make short cartoons, as well as educational work at Disney, and post-war saved up enough money to produce Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland.

In the late 1940s Walt Disney began drawing sketches for Disneyland. Disneyland would eventually open July 17, 1955 with a live TV preview co-hosted by Ronald Reagan, Bob Cummings and Art Linkletter.

Also during this time, Disney began producing live-action films. There first was Treasure Island in 1950, and would be followed up with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in 1954. They also began airing specials on ABC with the TV show Disneyland, which would later change it's name to a series of other names including Walt Disney Presents, and The Wonderful World of Disney. The Mickey Mouse Club House began in 1955 where Walt Disney returned to be the voice in the series.

The 1960s offered a continued successful rise for Disney and his studio, including Walt Disney as the head of pageantry at the 1960 Olympics, the acquisition of P.L. Traver's Mary Poppins and the successful release of the film.

In 1965 Disney released his vision for the Magic Kingdom featuring the Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow (EPCOT).  

In the fall of 1966 was scheduled to undergo a surgery from a neck injury, but pre-operative x-rays showed a tumor on his left lung. The lung was removed, but on December 15, Walt Disney died of accute circulatory collapse caused by the lung cancer.

Roy Disney would continue the Florida project and rename it Walt Disney World in his brother's honor.

Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks is the firm biographical film to portray Walt Disney and focuses on the production of the 1964 film Mary Poppins, include P.L Travers life in Queensland Australia and the 1961 negotiations.

In addition to Tom Hanks playing the part of Walt Disney, the film co-stars Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers. Paul Giamatti plays Ralph (Traver's chauffer), Jason Schwartzman & B.J Novak play composer brothers  Richard and Robert B. Sherman, Colin Farrel plays Taver's father, with Ruth Wilson playing the part of her mother. Other cast includes Kathy Bates, Bradley Whitford, Victoria Summer, and Rachel Griffiths.

Will two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks receive another nomination, perhaps even a third Oscar win for his performance as this multiple-Oscar winning Reel (Real) Person?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Our Review: The 2013 Caldecott Medal Winners & Honors

The Randolph Caldecott Medal recognizes the most distinguished American picture book for children from the previous year. You know the look - those kid books that have the silver or golden seal on the jacket.

The gold seal is for the winner, the silver seal is awarded for "honors" -- or I would call the "runners-up."

The award is given to the illustrator, and while I'm sure story content could play a role, the emphasis on the pictures.

Thanks to our local library, we've had the 2013 winners hanging out our house for the past month or so. With that, I present "Our Review" of the six selections for 2013. When I say "our" in this post, I am speaking of my recently turned five year-old daughter, and my two-and-half year-old son, who have been wild about books recently. I won't speak for my wife or 11 month old.

The Caldacott Winner: This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen.
While this is the award winner, this is not our favorite. This is not anyone's favorite. It's a short story about a little fish who steals a little bowler hat from a large sleeping fish. The Caldacott award goes to illustrations, not content, but me and kids mostly enjoy content, and while this has some sarcasm the plot is quick, brief, and forgettable. The kids do not request this read.

Caldacott Honor: Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Illustrations by Peter Brown
***Shep's Favorite (Shepherd's my Two Year Old).
So, the way this works is Peter Brown's the honor recipient here for his artwork - and his artwork is fun with high gloss black and white images reminiscent of an old horror movie. The splash of orange that fills the pages as the protagonist fears for Creepy Carrots creates both striking and fun art. Shepherd would bring this book into our room in the morning or request a reading. He looks at the pictures by himself and loves saying the title "Creapy Carrots." Not sure if the full irony and fun of the plot captures his mind, but the art certainly does.

Caldacott Honor: Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, Illustrations by Jon Klassen
***Linden's Favorite (Linden's my Five Year Old)
Jon Klassen not only is the winner of the 2013 Caldacott, he also received an honor status for this book as well. I personally really enjoy this book as well. The illustrations are a stark white and black, but the little girl in this book starts knitting sweaters for everyone and everything in the town with her "extra yarn" that seems to never run out. I really enjoy reading this book, it's fun, whimsical, has a cute little story. The artwork is striking and the tempo of the story is great for bedtime.

Caldacott Honor: Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
The pictures in this book are beautiful. I would hang the pictures on my wall. The book has artful cutouts that lead from one page to the next. It's honor status for the illustrator is well deserved. But the text of the story reads like the paint chip samples at Home Depot. The least narrative of the bunch, this is the families least favorite.

Caldacott Honor: One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo, Illustrations by David Small
***The Dad Favorite
This story is an incredibly inventive story about a boy who brings home a penguin from the aquarium. The reality is that the pictures are probably the least striking of all the honors, but fit perfectly with the dry tone of the story. The story is dialogue driven between the boy and his father, and my wife says when I read the story I make the dad's voice sound creepy, like Jim Moriarty in BBC's Sherlock. I think my kids will enjoy this book even more as they get older.

Caldacott Honor: Sleep Like A Tiger by Mary Logue, Illustrations by Pamela Zagarenski
***Probably The Family's Runner-Up
This is a cute story that fits into the "bed time story" sub-genre of children's stories. But it has a special sweet tone to it, wonderful pictures and a feel that is both modern and classic at the same time. We have probably in reality read this one the most, because it's simply a nice bedtime story to read to the kids and they love it. From the standpoint of narrative and art this one is a fantastic children's story.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Frog Went A-Courtin (Uh Huh, Uh Huh, Uh Huh)

So, in the quest for good library books I stumbled across Frog Went A-Courtin' by John Longstaff and illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky. The book won the 1956 Caldocott Medal, an award given out yearly to book illustrations. The book is cute, especially many of the illustrations, but what has been more enjoyable that the book is digging into the history of the song for which it is based.

The book plays on the English language folk-song. The folk song dates back to Scotland in the 1500s, but became a famous American folk song. In the Roud Folk Song Index, Frog Went A-Courtin is Roud #16.

Even Langstaff's book includes a summary of the song's history as well as some bars of music to play to hear the song. But of course, the bars of music are there in part because in 1956 there wasn't YouTube.

So, I went on the hunt and found tons of versions of this song which has tons of variations, from the 1930 Anna & Juliet Canova version, to Jimmie Roger's version, Tex Ritter's 1973 version, or even the 1955 Tom & Jerry version.

Whether you say Crambone, ummm mmm, or Uh Huh (like Elvis presley did in his version), this song is a whole lot of fun and frankly all three of my kids (10 months, 2 years and five years old) can have a good song singing this song.

Yet - of all the versions out there (and there are a lot) the one I most enjoyed in all my YouTube searching and watching is the beautiful Elizabeth Mitchell video. She leaves out any sort of "uh huh" type of cadence in her version and brings some peace and beauty to this song. In fact, I shared this one with my video and we reflected how the wedding portrayed in this video is one of the most beautiful wedding scenes we have ever seen filmed -- we loved the natural beauty and simplicity presented. So while I encourage you to play some of the different versions you might find (I recommend Suzy Bogguss' version as a personal favorite), I trully encourage you to enjoy Elizabeth Mitchell's video shared here:
 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Reel People: Idris Elba is Nelson Mandela

The film is Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. The film is directed by Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl and BBC's Bleak House), with a screenplay written by two time Oscar nominee William Nicholson (Shadowlands and Gladiator)

Nelson Mandela

When Nelson Mandela (born Rolihlahla Mandela) was born in July 18, 1918 his great-grandfather ruled as the king of the Thembu people who resided in South Africa's Cape Province.

Rolihlahla was the first member of his family to attend school. There he received his English name, Nelson, from his teacher, Miss Mdingane.

Nelson's dad died when he was 9 of tuberculosis, and went under the care of a guardian who sent him to a Wesleyan school. Nelson still lived the life of Thembu royalty and was treated well. He was interested in a variety of activities including boxing and running.

Nelson did go on to attend higher education at University College of Fort Hare, University of South Africa, and the University of Witwatersrand. During this time Nelson Mandela began shaping his own political ideologies as well as nurturing life long friendships.

Having received his degree in law, Nelson's friend Oliver Tambo and him, set up a law firm. Mandela and Tambo provided affordable legal advise and counsel to poor blacks without representation.

Nelson also was very active in the African National Congress, especially with the political victories of National Party which supported apartheid in South Africa.

Influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, Mandela was arrested and charged with treason along with others who participated in a non-violent protest in 1956. Mandela along with the others were acquitted.

In 1961 Mandela became the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC which was formed in cooperation with the South African Communist Party to fight apartheid. Nelson became more interested in armed struggle as a last resort in a fight against South African policies.

After living on the run for 17 months, Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962 after the CIA tipped off the South African government to his whereabouts. Mandela was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment and labor, and was eventually brought to trial with other ANC members in 1963 for their attempts to overthrow the government. By 1964 he and 8 others were sentenced to life in prison.

Mandela remained in prison until 1990, having served 18 of the 27 years at Robben Island Prison off Cape Town. Many believe when Mandela was transferred from Robben Island the intentions were that he was being moved to limit his influence with younger activist who might attend "Mandela University" in the prison.

February 11, 1990 Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison, upon decree of State President F. W. de Clerk. He reversed the decision of banning anti-apartheid organizations and wanted to bring peace within the community of the black majority.

In 1991 in the first meeting of the African National Conference since 1960, Mandela was elected President of the conference (while friend Oliver Tambo was elected the National Chairperson of the ANC).

This was not a time of peace in South Africa, but F. W. de Clerk and Nelson Mandela were devoted to cooperation and negotiation despite violence and assassination of leaders like ANC's Chris Hani.

In 1993 Mandela and de Clerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their negotiations and cooperation.

1994 was the first year for multi-racial elections in South Africa and Nelson Mandela won and was inaugurated as the first black president of South Africa May 10, 1994. Mandela made the National Party's F.W. de Clerk his first deputy.

Mandela had a huge challenge in a disrupted South Africa that was trying to bring together the white and black South Africans. One of those attempts was in getting all South Africans behind the Springboks, the South African national rugby team that was hated by black-South Africans.
Mandela also had a number of challenges, but is particularly marked by his attention to problems AIDS in Africa.

In 1998 was re-married to his 3rd wife on his 80th Birthday. His bride, Gra├ža Machel, was the widow of the former president of Mozambique who had died 12 years earlier in a plane crash.

In 1999, Mandela decided not to run for a second term of office retired from the presidency at the age of 80. His friend Thabo Mbeki succeeded him.

Despite retiring from public office, his involvement in politics and the world continues, despite his age and battles with prostate cancer.


In 2013 Mandela continued to struggle with his health. On his 95th birthday (July 18, 2013) Mandela was in a hospital in Pretoria.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

The film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom tells the story of Mandela's journey from young child to become the first democratically elected president of South Africa.

In addition to starring Idris Elba in the title role Naomie Harris is featured in the role of Winnie Mandela. 

The Weinstein Company have announced that they will be releasing this film in limited release the end of November.

It's only been a few years since Morgan Freeman was nominated for his portrayal of Nelson Mandela. Will Idris Elba receive similar praise and attention, perhaps an Oscar nomination or win for his performance as this Reel (Real) Person?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Me & Facebook: Part V - Controlling Transparency

Transparency Introduced
One of the things that was unique about Facebook from other social media before it's time was that Facebook seemed to encourage transparency more than any other social media had before it.

Even before Facebook it seemed more common for people to have cryptic e-mail addresses that hid their identity (it was pretty common it seemed in the 1990s for e-mails addresses to read like KoolKat15, TubaDude78, No1SoccerStar04, Racecar111111). Yet somehow Facebook seemed to help ease people into using their real name online and trusting Facebook's security controls...at least initially.

A real name, a real picture, and real information about yourself. But it was controlled because only your friends could see what you posted - and what others posted on your wall.

Of course, everyone holds their cards a little closer to their chest then others. Some people are pretty open all the time, but others seem to find new openness when it's written.

Generally, as Facebook developed people began posting on more topics more frequently. And now instead of just posting their political and religious affiliation people often post on these topics. We've seen Facebook in this past election and depending on your friend group you might have seen it get heated at times. Or how about when Sandy Hook Elementary shooting happened - it seemed that Facebook was filled with very open and revealing thoughts regarding people's thoughts towards gun control.

Facebook Rules
Yet, despite all the new found openness, it seems that most people have established their own rules for Facebook. The rules are written and inconsistent but they are there.

For me, one of the ways I have controlled my own transparency on Facebook is in who I ask and accept at friends. Ask me to be your friend and generally I will say "yes." I only have two conditions...one is that I know you, and the second is that you don't work with me.

For me the mix of work and Facebook seems awful. Work is a place where I like to keep my cards a little closer, and while I might enjoy your friendship at work and even have interest in remaining in touch if we split paths, Facebook is not the place for us. Who knows what I'll write (or someone else might write about me) that could jeopardize my job, work relationships, or opportunities.

The other impact of the expanding realm of Facebook is the increase of family presence in the medium. I don't feel like I have two versions of myself that I would present to my friend circles and family circles but I do know people who do. This obviously plays a role with kids who still live at home, but it continues to play a role with adults who are independent but might not share similar ideologies or positions as their families.

As a personal rule, I try to shy away from contentious topics on Facebook. Generally, it would seem that Facebook isn't the place for the dialogue. Although, I know some who think it's the perfect place for it - whether it's to discuss ideas with like minded friends or attempt to spread their ideologies and beliefs.

It seems to me that Facebook has given us a concept of transparency -- a concept that people have moved elsewhere. 

► LindenIn
I must not be alone in my feelings about not-friending work friends, because I think it's out of that unique relationship that many people find themselves a social home on LinkedIn, a social network specifically designed for professional relationships.

► Twitter
Similarly, where Facebook includes a wide range of connections, it seems that part of the reason some people have migrated to social network sites like twitter is because it provides the freedom to discuss, share, and post thoughts with a audience that want to discuss social, political, religious, or other topical interest. Twitter seems to be a safer and more appropriate place to discuss controversy.

► Pintrest
Like posting pictures about recipes, do-it yourself projects, furniture you like. Your Facebook network might care less about those cute cupcakes you want to make or the new project you have in mind using mason jars. And here is another place some people have found another second home.

► Other Sites and Applications (Like Google-Plus and Instagram)
Some other sites and applications have also sprung up with various degrees of popularity - one of the big ones seems to be Instagram. My wife and many of my friends use it regularly with great pleasure. I'm sure people have different reasons they use these other social networking sites, but often it seems to me that it's like they need a friend list reboot and instead of de-friending all of there facebook friends they find a new online home where the list is more controlled.

For Me...
In general, it seems that we have become not only comfortable in recent years with online transparency, but we desire it (of course with people who share our same book of unwritten rules).

For me, I'm coming to a place when I'd rather find ways to have transparency in three-dimensional real relationships as opposed to those in cyber-land. Yet, I also realize that this part of a new reality and I need to figure out how to reconcile both a new world order and how to get past a fear of missing out (FOMO) if I opt to stay away.

I see some of the functionality - in addition to blogging, I'm on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. And honestly, it feels like a lot of online persona's to monitor - but more than that, undestanding which parts of myself do I express in each of these worlds. Or even wondering, do I need to have a virtual presence in each of these places.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Forget the Seven-Year Itch, I'm Talking About The Seven-Year Dish

My wife and are just about finished with our seventh year of marriage.

The term "The Seven-Year Itch" can refer to a psychological term suggesting that happiness in marriage decreases after seven years in a relationship - often leading to infidelity.

These types of marital issues are real, and I don't mean to speak lightly (or blow past them) in an offensive ways, but this post isn't about infidelity at all. Fortunately, seven years in, my wife and I enjoy each other more than ever.

That said, I want to speak about another observation about seven years of marriage.

It seems to me that while many marriages might not make it to the seven year milestone, those that do have to deal with the fact that the wedding presents that they received weren't designed to last through the whole marriage, and it seems that during the seventh year we've found ourselves in need of another wedding shower.

Over the year chipped dishes have had to be tossed.

Glasses broken over time have had to be replaced.

Linens have become worn and frayed. The wedding towels are no longer the one's used for display when guest come over.

In the past couple years the coffee maker, the toaster, and the blender have all been replaced.

Lamp Shades have been replaced if the lamps haven't become outdated.

Floor rugs have been rolled up and trashed.

Even the other day I was counting the spoons wondering if the dish ran away with the spoon (or two).

Wedding presents might not last forever, but I'm glad I have a marriage that holds up better than my cups and saucers.

Photo from Apartment Therapy.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Overheard At The Airport Restroom

My experience has been sometimes my own kids decide to be most chatty in a public restroom.

My wife and I are out of town, so I present to you a conversation overheard in the men's restroom at the airport.

I feel like I've had this conversation a dozen times and appreciated hearing someone else have it.

Dad: Don't forget these are motion sensor toilets so try by to wiggle too min going potty.

Son: Will it suck me in.

Dad: No. If it does flyer while going potty don't be scared.

Son: What are you doing?

Dad: Cleaning the seat.

Son: Why is it dirty. I don't want to sit on a dirty toilet.

Dad: that's why I'm cleaning it.

Son: Did someone pee pee on the toilet.

Dad: just a little, I'm cleaning it up.

Son: Can we use a different toilet? 

Monday, July 08, 2013

Reel People: Ashton Kutcher is Steve Jobs

The film is Jobs (originally titled jOBS). The film is directed by Joshua Michael Stern, with a script written by Matt Whitely.

Steve Jobs

Steven Paul Jobs was born February 24, 1955 in San Francisco, California. His parents met at the University of Wisconsin where his Syrian-born father, Abdulfattah "John" Jandali, was a young teacher who's girlfriend, a student Joanne Carole Schieble became pregnant. Joanne's parents objected to the relationship and put there  baby up for adoption.

The baby was adopted by Paul Reinhold Jobs and Clara Jobs, both of whom did not have college degrees.

The Jobs family moved to Mountain View, California when Steve was 5. Paul was a mechanic who taught Steve how to fix things and build things, while Clara an account for a high tech firm Varian Associates.

In school Jobs was encouraged to skip two years because of his test scores, but his parents decided to only advance him one year. During his high school years he was interested in electronics.

Upon graduating from high school in 1972, Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Due to the cost of the school and his parents income he dropped out after 6 months, and then began dropping in and auditing classes while sleeping on the floor of friends dorm rooms and getting food by returning soda bottles and dropping in on free meals offered at a Hare Krishna temple.

In 1973 Steve Jobs returned to California to take a job as a technician Atari, Inc. in Los Gatos, California. Where he had a reputation for being smart as well as arrogant. In 1974, Job went to India for a spiritual enlightenment trip. Which upon his return had him practicing Zen Buddhism, shaving his head, wearing Indian clothing, and having experimented with LSD.

Jobs returned to Atari were he began working with Steve Wozniak to reduce the number of chips needed for the Atari game Breakout.

In 1976, Jobs and Wozniak, along with another Atari employee Ronald Wayne, would co-found Apple Computer Company when Wozniak invented the Apple I computer. They were working in Job's parents garage while they tried to sell the product.

In 1978, Jobs and girlfriend Chris Ann Brennan had a baby, Lisa Brennan-Jobs. Chris had the raise the daughter initially on welfare while Steve Jobs denied paternity claiming he was sterile. Steve and Chris would break up and Jobs would remain uninvolved in Lisa's life for some time.

In 1980 Jobs found his birth mother, as well as let him know about his biological sister author Mona Simpson. (They would keep their relationship to one another secret until 1986, when Mona introduced him at a party for her first book).

With some investment the company was able to grow including the development of a mouse-driven interface and a personal computer for business use called Apple Lisa, followed by the Macintosh developed by Jef Raskin. The computer was named after Jobs daughter. In 1984 during the Super Bowl, Apple aired the famous "1984" commercial.

Around this same time, in 1983 Jobs had hired John Sculley from Pepsi-Cola to be the CEO of Apple. Yet by 1985 a power struggle between Job and Sculley ended in the board of Apple siding with Sculley and Jobs ultimately resigning from Apple.

Steve Jobs immediately started a new company, NeXT Computer which early on was subsidized by Ross Perot.

Also around this time he purchased The Graphics Group (later named Pixar) from Lucasfilms.

In 1990 NeXT Computer released a personal computer at the cost of $9,999. The high cost made it a tough sell in the marketplace. But Jobs was dedicated to not just make a personal computer, but an interpersonal computer that featured webmail and ethernet connections. The company made their first profit in 1994.

In 1991 Steve Jobs would get married to Laurene Powell with a Buddhist monk presiding over the wedding. Their son Reed would be born later that year. Two daughters would be born of Laurene and Steve in later years, Erin in 1995 and Eve in 1998.

In 1995 Pixar released it's first film, Toy Story, with Jobs created as executive producer.

NeXT Computer created WebObjects in 1996, and the company was acquired by Apple Inc. in 1996 for $427 million. This brought Jobs back to Apple. Steve Jobs convinced Apple's board to remove CEO Gil Amelio in 1997 (shortly after the stock fell, in part due to Steve Jobs anonymous selling 1.5 million shares), and Jobs became the CEO of Apple again shortly after.

Jobs was involved with innovation and product development at Apple Inc., including the January 2001 Jobs release of Apple's first generation iPod.

In October 2003 Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which he announced to his staff in 2004. Jobs view of alternative medicine led him to make decisions that many now view potentially cost him his life.

In January 2006 Jobs negotiated a deal with Bob Iger for Disney to purchase Pixar in an all stock transaction worth $7.4 billion making Jobs the largest single stock holder of The Walt Disney Company's stock.

Under Jobs, In 2007 Apple entered the phone market with the iPhone.

Battling health issues Jobs took a 6 month leave in 2009 at which point he underwent a liver transplant.

In August 2011, Jobs resigned as CEO but remained Chairman of the Board.

Steve Jobs died October 5, 2011 in Palo Alto of respiratory arrest due to complications associated with his pancreatic cancer.

Jobs

The film Jobs tells the story of Steve Jobs life from 1971 to 2011. The independent film features in addition to Aston Kutcher as Jobs also features Josh Gad as Steve Wozniak and Matthew Modine as John Sculley.

The film premiered in 2013 as the closing film at the Sundance Film Festival.

Will Ashton Kutcher's portrayal of the iconic visionary receive awards attention, and maybe even an Oscar nomination for this performance as a Reel (Real) Person?

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Saturday Morning Cartoons, PBS, Toddlers & The Victory Garden

When my wife and I just had one kids, my daughter hardly knew the name of a character on a TV show. TV just wasn't part of her life.

Yet, when we had our son when she was about three she probably started watching more TV for a variety of reasons, one of those being it was a good way to keep her occupied if someone was busy feeding or changing a baby.

Now my daughter is five, my son is about two-and-a-half, and we have another son who's 10 months old.

The 10 month old doesn't watch TV, but the older two do. And generally we've found that putting in a DVD gives us as parents some distinct advantages over TV.

1. We can control exactly what they're watching
2. We have more control over the start/end/duration
3. The shows are commercial free

Yet, there are times and situations where TV is easier or more convenient that a DVD. Not to mention, might offer a little more variety if the current DVDs on hand (typically form the library) are over-played and tired.

In our house if the kids watch cartoons on TV it's going to be PBS. For our family, PBS offers the most family-friendly and educational programming. Our kids love Cat in the Hat, Thomas the Train, Curious George, and  Super Why! These shows tend to be the shows on if we turn on PBS sometime in the morning.

Yet, the biggest "crisis" comes the morning we might turn to PBS the most. Saturday! Saturday morning seems like the perfect day for morning cartoons and yet we run into the most issues on this day if we try to turn on the tube.

The kids might wake up sometime around 6:30 or 7:00 and I'll escort them downstairs and turn on PBS in hopes of eeking out an extra hour of sleep. And yet, at 7:30 they come up stairs alerting us of a crisis.

In our market, after an episode of Super Why! at 7:00 in the morning, the show transitions at 7:30 to PBS's long running gardening show The Victory Garden, which is only made worst in the following episodes which are sewing and quilting shows.

Logically, it seems that there would be other options.

This past week while on the road in a hotel, we were getting ready and thought we'd put on some cartoons for the kids. Yet, the networks strike out Saturday morning at 7:30. While PBS is airing The Victory Garden,   the Network channels are showing local news (hardly toddler appropriate), and the Tour de France.

We were in a hotel with basic cable, but even the kids and cartoon channels had shows I think are hardly toddler appropriate, namely, Nickelodeon was airing non-stop SpongeBob Squarepants.

I am strongly against SpongeBob namely because it seems really dumb, but also because of the research done a couple years back by the journal Pediatrics which was reported to significantly impact attention in children (specifically four-year-olds in the study).

So, we were without any options, and that's okay...because we can pass on Saturday morning cartoons.

Yet - as a non-expert in the industry, it seems to me anecdotally that there are simply less option regarding Saturday morning cartoons than when I was a child. And generally, it seems that the options available are of a lower quality -- both at an educational and entertainment level.

I want to blame The Victory Garden and PBS for not airing an episode of Curious George at 7:30, but maybe instead this should help me appreciate the programming that PBS does create and that it is entertaining, educational, and engages my toddlers.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Me & Facebook: Part IV - The Never Ending Reunion

I haven't really been interested in an attending a formal high school or college reunion.

There are definitely certain friends and acquaintances who I would like to reconnect with if I had the chance. Some I have seen and spent time with since college, others I haven't.

But generally, anything I would hope to get out of a high school or college reunion I probably have gotten out of Facebook.

In my last post in this series I talked a lot about how Facebook for me (and many in my feed) seems to be about posting and sharing pictures of your children. And the reality is, this is the phase of life those I graduated from high school and college are currently in.

Perhaps you're feed looks different.

There are a lot of good things about reunions, but there are also some negative stigma to these gatherings.

One of the things is that people are concerned about how they are presented, where they are in life, and do what they can to put on a good face. Facebook is no different. Because of the day-in-day-out nature of Facebook some of this is eliminated, but Facebook can also seem disingenuous. I can look at someone's pictures and comments, but I get a much better sense of how they are in person. Facebook can create a false impression - largely in part because the person is posting often through the lens of how they want to be perceived.

On the other hand, this "good face" that is presented is not necessarily awful - I think in general Facebook is a better place when it's positive. If people posted all of their troubles, concerns, struggles, and trials not only would Facebook be a downer, but it also might not be an appropriate place to share these details with the scope of the audience.

I hate to admit it, but sometimes I see someone I'm friends with on Facebook, particularly females who's names have changed in marriage and I wonder "who is this person?" There's only a handful of friends in my Facebook profile who make me scratch my head on occasion, but it's worth considering when you post all types of details of your life whether the audience...a very wide audience in many cases is appropriate.

Another thing I hate to admit, is that there are certain people in my Facebook world who I unintentional watch their life in a fishbowl. My wife and I might be having a conversation and we might say "Did you see what that person said today." And we discuss a "Facebook friend" without the friend being included in the conversation. Not just that, but there might not be a context (natural or unnatural) where I will even talk to this person at all, and yet I know about things in their life that are very real and personal.

I wonder who reads my Facebook post or comments and think things about me in ways I can't imagine. We like to think that when we see those thumbs up liking our post that there is a general consensus that is positive about us, our lives, our families, our hobbies and so forth. But we must acknowledge that there are the comments that are written and those that are thought and spoken offline.

This is a reality, and we pretend it's not true. Some of these offline thoughts might be judgmental ("Whoa, he's getting fat/bald/unhappy"), but there are also thoughts of hurt, loneliness, and disappointment that occur offline. Life brings curve balls with careers, families, and relationships and I can think of many examples where people have shared feeling hurt over something someone else (or people) posted on Facebook.

I hesitate to write real examples for someone to read this and realize that they have hurt feelings or that their hurt is being exposed here. So I avoid the examples intentionally. But I think you can probably think of examples when you've felt down after a time on Facebook. If you haven't, you've certainly heard people who have been down.

For those who are perpetually down of fixated on watching certain people's lives through the fishbowl of Facebook, Facebook becomes a never ending reunion. For all the positive things that come at a reunion, the negative comes as well. And sometimes there's probably a point where we all can deserve a break from the reunion.

Maybe it's just me who feels like I need a break from the reunion. It's not a single reason - but I think there's something that's fitting for me to spend time with the people I want to spend time with. Pick up the phone if I want to share something, and be focused about what and who I'm sharing with. If I have a cute picture of the kids I want to share, maybe I text it to a friend or two instead of the hundreds of people in my Facebook world. I don't expect I'm skipping the reunion - just considering not going to the reunion every day or so.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Me & Facebook - Part III: Likes, iPhones & Babies Become Kids

If you've been reading the series (see Part I and Part II), or even if you haven't, you can imagine what this post might say. But even still, you're going to read it because there's a part of you that knows when it comes to Facebook these things have made Facebook a crazy beast of a monster.

One of the premises for this series is that from the time I first joined Facebook eight years ago not only has Facebook changed a lot, but so have I. These unrelated changes have a pretty significant interplay.

There was a pretty significant period of time when I didn't really log into Facebook. It didn't really have much to offer me. Those first years of rapid change post college had passed and I generally knew where people were, who they were dating or married to, and wasn't interested in seeing if they had made updates to there "about me" page on Facebook (you remember the page that showed your favorite TV shows, movies, and music).

My wife's interest hadn't waned in those years. She was interested in seeing people's vacation pictures and other thing things they uploaded (kid pictures, cat pictures, whatever...well...maybe not the cat pictures).

Yet, things started getting hot on facebook - suddenly more and more people were joining and they were posting more than ever. They were posting there day to day events, their thoughts, their feelings, and pictures of their food.

The Like Button
On February 9, 2009 Facebook unveiled the "like" button and I definitely feel like this changed the Facebook experience. Admittedly, I didn't really get it at first. I'm sure I criticized it. I know I teased my wife about logging on to "like" things.

To me the term seemed week and suddenly now when you were flipping through your friends trip to see Aunt Tilda you "liked" the one they posted of the sunset, and your friend playing with their nieces.

iPhones
It wasn't just iPhones, obviously it was a lot of different types of brands, but the Smart Phone Explosion played a huge roll in the Facebook experience. Now you had a high quality camera that could quickly add pictures and thoughts in a moment. It wasn't downloading pictures into a Facebook album when you had the chance, it was instant. Now you saw the friends sunset with Aunt Tilda the moment it was taken. 

You might not have a lot to say about the sunset, but you could "like it." And you did.

Babies Become Kids
Probably more pictures get taken of children than any other subject. My parents have a slide projector and while there is a variety of subjects, it's me and my sister as kids that fill most the cubes in the closet.

So it's reasonable that nothing changed with a more readily available camera in your purse or pocket that allowed you to take pictures of any thing you saw. I of course loved taking pictures of my babies, why would anything change when months turned to years.

Babies Become Kids + iPhones
And if you could take a picture in an instant of your favorite subject, why not take it one step further and post it on Facebook

Babies Become Kids + iPhones + Likes
And if I upload a picture (my food, my sunset, my kid) and can instantly get feedback (like a dozen or so likes) it can be a decent interactive and ego stoking activity. I have to think there must be some endorphins shooting through your system when other people affirm something about your kid. Whether it's there looks, there messes, their accomplishments, or your parenting.

Don't get me wrong, I like seeing pictures of people's lives, but as many kids grew into the toddler stage there was more to post than ever. Every day is an adventure with young kids. Some days are good, some days are bad, and some days are simply wonderful. And you have an instant place to post these things and receive feedback.

And it's more than likes you also get encouragement. If you're having a rough experience the comments come in ("Don't worry, you're doing great."). If you do something creative say bake a cake, sew pajamas, or redecorate their room, you get more encouragement (something like "You're such a great mom," or "How do you do it."). And if it's just a picture of the kid, or go on a trip, or take a picture of a kid with a grandparent and you get encouraging feedback.

People post more than just there kids, but admittedly, with three of my own I realize that my most common Facebook subject (and the one that by virtue of comments and likes) get the most interest are one's involving my kids.

And to what end? I do want to share my life with many people who I connect with on Facebook. And I'm not slumming for likes and comments. But I like the encouragement, or even the feeling that other people care about my life and kids.

There's no general criticism here. This is what it is. I am also guilty. Yet, I've wondered where it stops? Do you stop posting your kids every move when they some day get their own Facebook accounts. I am friends with some teenagers and their parents on Facebook and I don't see these parents regularly posting pictures of their grades on their high school homework, results of their doctors appointments, or pictures of them on their first day of school. And sure, some do, but I don't anticipate I will document my teens every move online.

So when does it stop. When do I stop posting pictures of my kids. Sharing funny things they say and do? In the same way my life will change in the years to come (anticipated and unanticipated), the Facebook experience undoubtably will as well (as shown by it's track record).

It's incredible to me how much these three forces (likes, iPhones, and Babies Becoming Kids) have dramatically changed the Facebook experience. And years back when I would go weeks without checking Facebook, I find it hard to go many days without logging in. If I'm not logging in to see what you and your kids are up to, I'm posting a tidbit of me and my kids.

Thinking about this, I've been compelled recently to cut this back a bit - wondering to what ends or purposes I am posting these things.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Me & Facebook - Part II: Life Events Post-College

In 2005, a couple years out of college I had just gotten married. I still lived in the town I had attended college but many of my relationships were changing. People were moving, getting married, taking prestige jobs in big cities, interning, doing mission work, and moving in different directions (literally and figuratively).

I often think that people who attended college during or in close proximity to the turn of the millennium like e-mail more than a lot of other generations. We figured out in college without a predominant cell phone presence, Facebook, or text messaging how to communicate with one of the original social networks, e-mail.

Yet, even though many of us were trying to stay in touch via e-mail and the growing ability to call one another via cell phones, there were just certain people who you didn't keep in touch with via e-mail or making a call.

You still cared about where they were going, what they were going. Even if you didn't attend the wedding (or get invited) you were interested in seeing a photo (including who else was at the wedding). And when people moved, or came back in town you wanted to know at least where they were.

Facebook updates in the early stage seemed generally light for most people. People didn't daily post an update of what they were doing, but they were quick to update relationship statuses, where they lived, or where they were attending graduate school.

Yet, looking back at my own photo album, something crazy happened. I had a baby. A couple of moves that were partially documented on Facebook. A very visits with friends and vacations, but nothing was so transforming to my Facebook experience as having a baby.

For starters, we had to consider how we would break the news on Facebook. After breaking the news my wife would post updated pictures of her baby bump but the real action happened when our daughter was born.

It was 2008 and now we had moved a few times since college, many of our Facebook friends lived all over the country and we were at home and what better thing to do than post pictures of our baby, people visiting our baby, our baby laying there, playing with toys, being held, and so forth.

We were stuck at home in a way we hadn't been previously, and we were using our digital camera and uploading pictures more than ever.

At this time, I had a phone that could take pictures, but certainly not one that could upload them directly to Facebook. Plus, I think my phone could only take around 30-60 photos, and the quality was decent, but not something you would probably post.

For us, anything that went on Facebook up to this point came from a digital camera, which is why Facebook pictures typically had been big events previously (weddings, vacations, etc) that we took with a digital camera. Most everything we took pictures of we put on Kodak Gallery (a company/site which doesn't even exist anymore), but there was something fun and rewarding about posting them on Facebook and getting a comment or two. Remember, in 2008 there was no "liking" yet, so if we got a response, it was a comment. (More on "liking" in a later post).

And so really for the first years of Facebook until 2008 Facebook was focused on big events, staying connected with the who, what, where of friends (mostly college, but by now some high school friends as well).

Yet Facebook was evolving. More people had joined Facebook by this time, at a personal level, my mom had joined and was one of the people commenting on the pictures of my newborn.

Also as a random memory of Facebook...Facebook was trying out some new things, it was around this time that Facebook let you give "gifts" on Facebook - which was little pictures you could give to people. You got a free gift to give, but after that they cost a dollar. These gifts were a way some people spiced up birthday greetings. These gifts were also a way to put something funny on someone's wall, like toilet paper or a thong. Gifts could be anonymous, and each picture had a limited number that could be given.

 But for me, I logged into Facebook infrequently. My wife was probably far more apt to read Facebook, post on Facebook, and keep up with what was going on in people's lives via Facebook. While I was tagged in pictures holding my baby.


Photo Credit: Photo above is from TheFamilyofBoyds.blogspot.com, I don't know these people but flipping through my own Facebook pictures found at least one that was very similar. Not wanting to post unsolicited pictures of my friends I opted for one that was already online.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Me & Facebook - Part I: My Reluctant Beginning

The picture above is real. The names and picture have been changed to protect the innocent. Namely, me.

When I joined Facebook in 2005 many of my friends had long been on Facebook. In fact, one of my first wall posts I received was the one above. Pointing out this sense that I was "late to the party."

I felt this way - and I didn't really understand what Facebook was. I teased my then fiancee and her roommates (who were still in college) about their Facebook stalking and there excitement at finding people they new to be their friend.

I wasn't that intrigued, but decided to join the party sometime during the fall of 2005. I was out of college, and at that time you could only create a Facebook account if your college was one that was recognized and you had an e-mail address ending with a college extension. Even though I was out of college our school provided alumni e-mail addresses and I used this to create a Facebook page.

I wondered if I was irrelevant having a Facebook but account but not being in college, I even started a Facebook group called something-like "I'm So Uncool I Didn't Join Facebook Until I Was Out of College."

At that time, Facebook was a little different so creating a "group" was like "tagging" something to your profile, and others joined my group (mostly at my invitation) but it really didn't mean anything or add an value to the Facebook experience.

So this was my beginning. At the time of starting up the account it seemed like a race to see how many people you could be friends with, see who might be connected to who, and beyond that the experience for me was kind of flat.

It was 2005 and to me Facebook was very much a college thing, and in some ways I had the feeling that it wasn't for me. Facebook had started by Mark Zuckerberg in in February 2004 and by fall 2005 it seemed like a thing of the past to me, and perhaps to others as well (by evidence of the initial comment I received).

Eight years after I joined, Facebook has changed dramatically. Facebook didn't reach it's first 100 million users until August of 2008, 500 million in 2010, and it topped a billion in fall 2012. So in many ways I was in the early group of Facebook users.

I joked about joining after college, but now Facebook is open up to 13 year-olds and up (although there are estimated to be a millions under the age of 13 with accounts), and there are many many people who are well past college age on Facebook.

Facebook has become a part of our culture. Not only have they made an Oscar nominated film about Facebook (The Social Network), it also is a publicly traded stock, it makes the news regularly, and companies frequently attempt to advertise and contact to people through the site.

I was reluctant to start using Facebook, I had avoided some other social networking sites at the time I joined Facebook, namely sites like Xanga weblogs and Myspace. Although I did use AOL instant messenger regularly in years previously, and it seemed like the connection I had with others via AOL was be supplanted  with Facebook. So perhaps, post-college wanting to connect I bit the bullet.

Yet, now eight years since I became a member, not only has Facebook changed, but I have as well. Recently, I've been wondering what place Facebook has in my life, and so I am beginning this series called me and Facebook, sharing and working through some of the thoughts I've had recently about the Facebook social networking experience.

Enjoy and feel free to share your own thoughts as well.