Wednesday, November 28, 2007
NPR podcasts and my Marin-SF commute became quick friends. When Mary asked if we could drive to the city this morning, I was a bit disappointed. I had just refreshed and synced the ipod! Initially, I was mostly tuned into This American Life, Fresh Air, Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me and All Things Considered ... because yes, I am a nerd. However, I realized I needed some music as well ... for times when talking into my ear just wasn't going to work: tired, distracted, reading The Onion. I first looked to NPR to give me some soothing instrumental and classical.
However, I noticed that NPR music was so much more. The cornucopia I expected had more than squash, pumpkin, apples and pears. Ahhh, this horn of plenty contained (if I may continue this remarkably lame metaphor) pluots, avacados, elderberries and persimmons. I eagerly await my Song of the Day. The Okkervil River concert got me through the long Chicago-SF flight, and Spoon will give me a nice treat on the California Zephyr. This is music with a touch of edge to it, hip stuff. On NPR?
Yep. Now that the cover is blown by VSL, I can admit to it. Support your local public radio! Yo!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Take this collectible Hulk figure on all of your smashing adventures!
Now, you may recall from a previous nerdy post, that I am a fan of the Hulk. I want to share this joy with young Lucas.But do I really? Do I want to share this Hulk with Lucas. The Hulk is unfettered anger represented through a green behemoth of destruction. Not someone that you take along for a "smashing good time." Within a couple of years, he will be ready for a much more true to story action figure:
Will Lucas have trouble accepting the true character of Hulk, because of this initial experience? I know famous "monsters" such as the mummy, werewolves, Count Dracula and Frankenstein's monster were made so incredibly palpable for my childhood that they lost their fear factor. Check out these guys.
I think this happens too often with too little consideration. By the time I finally read Mary Shelley's masterpiece, I was disappointed by the lack of monster-appeal. This book should be a treasure for high school reading, not a disappointment. Furthermore, these classic characters like Hamlet, Huck Finn, Captain Ahab and Hester Prynne are introduced to us at an age before we have the opportunity to truly appreciate their sophistication. However, we still create archetypes from these simple personal understandings. Characters which will continue to influence all our stories.
There should be some educational incentive to revisit these tales at older ages... I know teaching Marketing post-marketing career has not been an act of "re-learning" for me but original learning.
And branding... sure these kids establish an early relationship with Jeep, and you can't deny the fun they are having, but what other attributes are being linked? They may be positive, but will they be ownable come time to purchase the larger models? Believe me, I know many smart brand managers are contemplating this pre-product release ... however, I bet research overrides gut way too often.
Anyway, Lucas is getting his Hulk ... and we'll wish for the best.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
Last Thanksgiving, Mary and I took an impromptu visit to Big Sur and enjoyed the most lovely sunset I have ever enjoyed (although Tahoe on the trip to California came close). This Thanksgiving, we rushed to newly reopened Rodeo beach so our visitors could capture a glimpse of the wonderful sunsets California offers.
While the beach was open: (a) the water was "closed" due to shark sighting, and (b) I stepped in some of the oil sludge ... it was indeed some nasty stuff. It took some serious scrubbing to get it off.
The sky made up for what we did to the earth. Giving us both the wonderful sunset and moon rise.
See more pics in the ever growing Thanksgiving set.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I am no longer an Alcatraz virgin. There are only a couple of things on my list of things we must do in the San Francisco area, and the Alcatraz Night Tour was one of them. Alcatraz obviously has this incredible mystique about it, primarily built upon its location. This rock in the middle of the bay. I see it every day on my commute, whether by bus over the Golden Gate Bridge or by ferry. From the tops of Mt Tam and Coit Tower, Alcatraz presents itself.
It was a great group family experience as well (we had a big group as you can see from the fake alcatraz pic above). We all got a ferry ride together and then milled about with our headphones (I love audio tours.) Sam was the best; the tour totally captured him. I learned many fascinating bits of trivia, so I am ready for the Alcatraz column on Jeopardy. Also, the beauty juxtaposed with the misery is unlike any place I have ever visited (except maybe a mosquito infested Louisiana swamp back home).
We also maximized our family togetherness schedule, and had our Thanksgiving dinner last night. The early bird gets the potatoes au gratin. Now what will we do with Thanksgiving day??? Who knows, but I'll keep a running account in the Thanksgiving Flickr Set.
I hope everyone has/had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
I doubt any bookstore section has grown more over the past 5 years than the manga section. If you are looking to learn more, this month's WIRED has some great stories summing up the phenomenon, including a fabulous 101 course. I think what I enjoy most about this is how young America has so easily adapted to reading stories right to left. Scott McCloud (and many others) continues to take stories in new directions.
I believe (like many) that one of the greatest barriers to creative thinking is the fact that we all start from the same place. Therefore, our creative ideas are mostly determined my the depth/height of our thinking rather than the breadth. As today's kids develop the ability to break from the convention of story, we will experience quite the blooming of tales ... and other creative endeavors.
Unfortunately, I am not really a code monkey; I just like to mess with HTML and see what happens. So, I went to Template Panic and grabbed wider format. I liked that it disposed of the header. Headers are a big waste of space for a personal blog. It is not like I have a tremendous need to brand the blog or inform new visitors what is going on.
I did want Philip's picture to stay a central role. So I plugged it up in the corner and kept it as my favicon. I liked the Flickr flash badge, but I am digging this cleaner one of just a single pic ... however I wish it would scroll through deeper. (UPDATE: Nevermind, the Flick slideshow didn't have real time). I also want to maintain the gray/orange hints that have followed this blog since day 1.
I'm going to concentrate on this truly being a "personal" blog ... and eventually turn Instantly Understandable into more of a work thing. Anyway, let me know if the template works for you or not.
Friday, November 16, 2007
I found this:
on the great "ad shelf" while watching VBS.tv. Although more fanciful, this zune stuff just feels more authentic.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
"What's a Z-Score?
The z-score is a statistical measure of how a particular number compares to the average. Technically it is the number of standard deviations from the mean, but one need not have a complete mathematical understanding of the z-score to appreciate that it shows how a given player performs compared to the competition.For example, if the league average for home runs is 9 and a player hits exactly 9 home runs, his z-score is zero. If he hits more than 9 HRs his z-score will be positive and if he hits fewer than 9 it will be negative. Precisely how positive and how negative will depend on how other players in the league fared. ...
In short, z-score is a measure of a player's dominance in a given league and season. It allows us to compare players in different eras by quantifying how good they were compared to their competition."
This gives an incredible view into just how dominating Babe Ruth was for his time. He has the #2-#8 home run Z-scores!
The obvious thing of note was ... "Hey, what is this #1 Buck Freeman listing" ... 25 HRs in a year when the league hit only 350 total! Wow.
Image discovered here.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
(a) One of the advantages of this industry is we can invest in popular culture our expanding our creative base, our understanding of mass preference and individual psychology. However, we too often spend time steeping ourselves in our own favorite subjects. We don't expand our horizons to understand what is truly popular among all groups.
(b) Advertising education is very focused on producing traditional portfolios of full-page one-offs, 3 idea campaigns and the :30 spot. However, this is not the direction of the industry. I want to encourage content generation, adding to environment of popular culture for the student portfolios and idea generation.
So, this is my first stab at a pre-syllabus for a 15-week course.
Suggestions are greatly appreciated.
American Popular Culture – A Survey
Signs of Life in the USA by Maasik and Solomon
Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson
Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide by Jenkins
and obviously a generous dose of “popular media”
1. Introduction - What is Popular Culture; History; Case Study: The Hippies
2. Storytelling- Folklore, Vernacular, Humor and Popular Fiction
3. User-Generated Content – Individuals creating culture; Marketers creating culture; Project Assignments.
4. Music and Dance; Case Study: the Rise of Urban/Hip-Hop Culture
5. Movies; the Pop Icon
6. Gaming and Game-play; Participatory Culture
7. Television; Cultural Convergence
8. Technology and the Internet; Case Study: The Rise of Geek-Culture
9. Comics, Subcultures and Counterculture
10. Food and Beverage; Consumerism
11. Fashion, Style, Fads and Trends
12. Kids, Toys and Play; T(w)een Culture
13. Sports – Participation and Spectator; Performance and Festivals
14. Student Work Presentation
15. What's Next? Other forms of popular culture, with a peek at international pop culture
Student Work: Analysis of Pop Culture and its role in idea generation and advertising; 3 projects reflecting pop culture around content creation: a plan, a mini-project, a full project.
Fabulous Flickr Image.
A Postcard from the Volcano
Children picking up our bones
Will never know that these were once
As quick as foxes on the hill;
And that in autumn, when the grapes
Made sharp air sharper by their smell
These had a being, breathing frost;
And least will guess that with our bones
We left much more, left what still is
The look of things, left what we felt
At what we saw. The spring clouds blow
Above the shuttered mansion house,
Beyond our gate and the windy sky
Cries out a literate despair.
We knew for long the mansion's look
And what we said of it became
A part of what it is ... Children,
Still weaving budded aureoles,
Will speak our speech and never know,
Will say of the mansion that it seems
As if he that lived there left behind
A spirit storming in blank walls,
A dirty house in a gutted world,
A tatter of shadows peaked to white,
Smeared with the gold of the opulent sun.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Sam is spending the weekend in L.A. with his pop. Mary and I spent a rain-soaked day exploring Sausalito and southern Marin. Mostly we went movie-watching, grabbing both Into the Wild and American Gangster. We enjoyed both remarkably (thus the remark.) The rain from yesterday meant waterfalls today!
We opened the Hiking Marin book and checked out the list of "best waterfall hikes" We had done #1 Cataract Creek, and #4 Carson Falls and I've done the rainbow drops of #5 Alamere Falls. So, to knock out the top 5, we needed #2 Steep Ravine and #3 Cascade. Cascade is in a very difficult to park area ... we needed an earlier start. So, we did Steep Ravine. We started from Rock Springs (due to my driving right past Pantoll) which made for a 7.4 mile hike with a 1750' elevation change. It has been a while since we did a long hike like that. phew. It was lovely; like many woody hikes, the light was too low for most pictures.
More pics in this Flick set.
Friday, November 9, 2007
O.K. - We staged this dramatic shot... however, I'm sure this will be the image that Sam's opposition will pull for their posters in Election 2038.
While Sam's fearsome "Hiii-yaaaa" is impressive (one of the few times red-eye improved an image), what is even more impressive is the handmade, wooden Katana. Sam has been working on this Japanese-style sword over at The Planet for quite some time. Tom's tutelage has been exemplary; the way he calmly guides several young children through their wood-working projects is a skill for anyone who directs/manages others. Sam has progressed from simple projects, through more sophisticated to the finely crafted swords you see below (the right hand is holding a bronze sword). I have a feeling Sam may eventually mod these wood creations into wii devices for future games?
We are very thankful for The Planet, every kid should have one. Now, I am going to go watch Sanjuro (a Tom recommend) to help Sam brush up on proper Katana use.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Monday, November 5, 2007
I had been desperately seeking some good Middle Eastern food here in Marin. I grew up with great Middle Eastern food courtesy of Cedar's Grocery (which has a place on my "list".) Chicago was obviously full of options. But, we had not really found anything up here.
Pictured are my swawerma and Mary's veggie plates, plus our relish.
Friday, November 2, 2007
My new occupation has been rather ... well, occupying.
I anticipated the time it would take to teach, to grade, to commute, to take a more active role in taking care of Sam's needs (with Mary's new job) ... but I did not fully anticipate the time to prep.
This job happened rather quickly, you know? I suddenly had 5 classes and three courses to set. wow, this blog post started with me getting a better understanding of why occupations are called occupations; now I am getting why courses as classes are called courses. Much like a nautical course it is best to set the path before embarking. Honestly, I didn't quite do that. I had a general idea of my end mark and some destinations along the way ... but the course wasn't set.
This is what is taking my time the most. This is why Charlie said I'd have no time for freelance this semester. The time I spend trying to figure out how best to convey these ideas to students.
Things are going well. I really like my students. As someone who failed 10th grade and got a 4.0 my freshman year of college, I recognize the different styles within my class. I am learning my role.
I think I want to keep doing this ... like for a long time.