Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Still going...

I've been staying away from the battle between the Emergents and Traditionalists lately. I made the mistake of clicking through some of their sites for the first time in a few months. Like the Duracell bunny, they're still going....

The first poster is put out by the anti-emergents and the second poster is the emergent's response.

Monday, July 30, 2007


I just finished two HUGE projects at work, so this week will be a good respite. My sister and her daughter, Emily, come to visit on Friday; it'll be good to see them again. It has been a bad couple of years for my sister since Hannah died. I hope that she'll be able to rest out here.

I've been struggling with the outlines for my scripts this weekend, but feel like I've made some progress. I'm planning to divide the series into two parts so that I can sell the first part and hope that it will allow me enough finances to fund the second part. Going slowwwww....

Silvi spent the night over at my parent's this weekend so Annie and I went to see the latest Die Hard film, which was very enjoyable. The perfect film to help me forget all about ontology and dualism.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

To spank, or not...

I just got back from taking Annie for a second ultrasound; doctors were a little concerned by Ian's weight, but as it turns out, everything is normal. As I was driving, I was listening to a radio talk show about spanking vs. not spanking. Annie and I choose not to spank or swat or flick, etc. I'm not going to try to convince anyone to do as we do, but here are a few of my reasons.

Personality - Each personality test that I take renders the same result: Intuitive, sensing, feeling, thinking, etc. Even though Silvi is only a little over two, there is no question that she possesses many of these personality traits. There's simply no reason to spank someone with this predisposition. Silvi is so aware of her surroundings and actions that if I am completely "present" (this is key) with her in a heated power struggle, she senses it and we can usually resolve the issue without too much grief.

Patience - Don't misunderstand me. There have been times when I wanted to swat Silvi on the butt for continued and wanton disobedience. Often it's just because I'm impatient and want her to stop doing whatever it is she is doing. I'm tired or grumpy, etc. If I take a minute to remove myself from the room and screaming, I calm down and can regroup. She's only a toddler, after all.

Presence - It's hard to be truly present. Especially for a daydreamer like me. But when I do completely participate with Silvi in her frustration and struggles, she seems to sense this and it helps to diffuse the situation.

Persistence - How many times do you have to say not to cross the street without looking both ways? If Silvi does run out into the street, will a spanking help her not to do it again? I don't know since I don't intend to ever spank her. I just can't reconcile how physical pain (spanking) will teach Silvi better than loss of freedom or privileges. I'll keep teaching her until it becomes part of her.

I don't believe that my desire not to spank Silvi or Ian stems from any weakness on my part, rather from an attempt to fully engage my kids as they learn about responsibility and boundaries. Kids who are spanked seem to struggle with just as many issues as Silvi does; they hit and are possessive and act up. I'm not trying to change anyone's mind. Some kids need to be spanked. I just hope that those that choose to spank do it for the right reasons. And I hope that my choice not to spank serves Silvi, Ian and those around them well.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Know your audience

As I begin writing these scripts, I'm reminded of the old writing rule to know your audience. That could have helped the advertising department at Gerber.

When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the US, with the smiling baby on the label. Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the labels of what's inside, since many people can't read.

And a few others: Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign: "Nothing Sucks like an Electrolux."

Coors put its slogan, "Turn It Loose," into Spanish, where it was read as "Suffer From Diarrhea."

Pepsi's "Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation" translated into "Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From the Grave" in Chinese.

Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious porno magazine.

Frank Perdue's chicken slogan, "It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken," was translated into Spanish as "it takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate."

The Dairy Association's huge success with the campaign "Got Milk?" prompted them to expand advertising to Mexico. It was soon brought to their attention the Spanish translation read "Are You Lactating?"

The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as "Kekoukela", meaning "Bite the Wax Tadpole" or "Female Horse Stuffed with Wax", depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 characters to find a phonetic equivalent "kokoukole", translating into "Happiness in the Mouth."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Say what you mean

When I became serious about starting my own company, I sat down and wrote out some of the principles by which I hope to operate. One of those principles is that I want to say what I do and do what I say. Not very profound, but by it I meant that I want no secrets from the people I build relationships with.

All too often companies purposefully hide little details to deceive the customer, hoping to close the sale while the customer is on the phone or in person. "That price is for the European model." "Those accessories cost more."

If someone that I am dealing with misunderstands something that I have said, either in person or on my website, I plan to err on the side of the customer.

I recently bought my computer from the Apple store because in doing so I received a free scanner/copier/printer. "Free." Mail-in rebate. I don't know how many of you have experienced the "mail-in rebate" fiasco, but I wonder if it was worth it considering how frustrating and time-consuming a process it was. It is not a straight forward "mail-in rebate." Upon receiving the HP all-in-one product, I searched through the paperwork included in the box without finding any mention of the rebate. I went to the HP website and typed in the product ID on the rebate page only to have the dreaded "There are no entries matching your search." message appear. Another 30-minutes of searching through the enormous HP website garnered no new information. I considered calling the Apple store but it was late and closed.

I went to the Apple website and after yet another 20 minutes, finally found a rebate matching the one offered to me. I filled out the lengthy forms, having to go pull the Apple computer box out of the closet to get the UPC codes off the side. Finally, I was done. So I thought. The mail-in rebate form then told me to print the form and mail it in, and to scan in the proof-of-purchase to keep for my records while cutting off the original from the side of the box. Print and scan. Ok, I can do that. But I can't. I need to go buy an A-to-B USB cable in order to set up the printer.

A trip to Target and I'm back in business. I install the printer (another half-an-hour job), scan in the proof-of-purchase, print the rebate form, cut the original proof-of-purchase from the box, locate the receipts for the printer and the computer, make copies of them, get an envelope, address it, find a stamp and finally, three hours later, my rebate is ready to mail-in.

These companies know that many people will give up. The mail-in rebate is designed to discourage people. At this very moment, somewhere within a large corporate glass building, there sits a person trying to figure out how to make the mail-in rebate process more difficult.

It's a good lesson on how not treat a customer. I hope I remember it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The end of First Friday Films

The co-founder of First Friday Films, John, has moved back to the east coast to pursue work with The Discovery Channel and to get his non-profit organization - Media Serve International - up and running. He asked me if I wanted to continue showing documentary films at Bethlehem Baptist, but after thinking it over, I've decided not to any more. Besides having to work on my philosophy series, I'm just not cut out for the "culture" of the Church. I enjoy talking about films and diverse issues, but perhaps there is another venue.

I still want to have a Nanni Moretti marathon film showing: Palombella Rossa, Aprile, Caro Diario and The Son's Room, in that order.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Radio Shack

I should have bought stock in Radio Shack before starting Narrow Ridge.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Paperwork - Part II

I've filed all the forms needed to form an LLC (Limited Liability Company) in Minnesota and my brother is writing my grant proposals and business plan. My check finally cleared so I should be getting my camera in the next few days if all goes well. I'm setting up my edit suite in our apartment in the corner of our bedroom. Not glamorous but it'll do for now. The website is up and running and I've started outlining the scripts. I love Google Documents because I can write anywhere and I feel safer storing my info on their drives than on my own (although I am backing things up onto a flash drive).

I've been researching universities and their philosophy department's curriculum, trying to find the greatest common denominators in order to have the widest potential market. Lots of leg-work. Many different opinions. Some professors emphasize experience while other focus on logic and analysis. I'm trying to cover a broad spectrum of teaching styles. Hope it's broad enough to sell well but specific enough to fit into the curriculum.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Computer Desk

Think putting a computer desk together is exciting? Try doing it with a toddler and a cat helping you.

Friday, July 06, 2007


[UPDATED: I'm not going to take the office. I would have to share the space with another company that would require me to store my computer and gear in a closet every time I left. I'll keep looking.]

I won a bid for the Canon camera I mentioned earlier. Scary spending that kind of cash on eBay with someone I've never met or talked to. Also, my bank had locked my account because they thought someone was fraudulently buying a bunch of electronic gear.

I'm in the process of filing for LLC status, getting state and federal ID numbers, a merchant license, etc. And a business plan and proposal.

I still have to make time to write a 10-part video series. But am very excited about it in spite of all the hurdles. I hope to sign for my new office in a few hours. It's all taking shape.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

New Office?

I find out tomorrow at noon if Narrow Ridge Productions will have a home. I'm hoping to rent a small office right down the street over a bakery. I'll post some pics this weekend if I get the space.

Monday, July 02, 2007


I feel like Tom Hanks in Cast Away as he sat on his patched together raft in the stormy seas. Over the weekend I narrowed down my fourteen-part philosophy series to a ten-part series. It'll save on time and some of the material can be condensed. I also learned that there are a lot of sharks out there when you're buying electronic equipment. Never, ever buy from New York City if you can help it. The price quoted on their website is NOT the actual price.

Dealer: "Ok, sir, I see you bought the PAL camera for use in Europe."

Me: "Uh, no, I live in MN."

Dealer: "Oh, you want that camera. That one costs $700 more. Yes, sir, it does say that on our website. It's on our products page... Not that page... The one at the bottom... Keep clicking... It's on page 18 of our terms... Now, did you want a battery and a power cord?"

I had this actual conversation twice, both dealers located in New York. Cancelled (at least I hope) both orders. I also tried to buy a cheap laptop from Craigslist, but it was too dicey. The guy wouldn't tell me where to meet him until a few minutes before we were supposed to meet and then he hung up on me.

Scammers... I hate them.