Stuff from July, 2014

This is the archive of tumbledry happenings that occurred on July, 2014.

Ed Catmull

Ed Catmull: Keep Your Crises Small:

Now, Toy Story 2, as he returned, had to be delivered in nine months. So it was already a tight schedule for all they were. So he came back. He watched Toy Story 1 before he came in to work from this trip to Europe, came in to watch the reels. He walked in and said, “You’re right. We’ve got a major problem.”

So basically, we took the A team - we put them on the project. We went down to Disney and said, “The film isn’t good enough. We have to throw it away and start all over again.” And the answer was, “Well, actually, it’s better than you think. We think it is good enough, but more importantly, it’s too late. You literally do not have the time between now and then to deliver it to redo this film.” So we said, “It’s not good enough, and we know we don’t have enough time, but we’re going to do it anyway.” So we came back. John told the story crew to take a good rest over the holidays and come back on January 2nd. We were reboarding the movie. So we then started - we now had eight months left.

We then started this incredibly intense effort to get this movie out. It was boarded quickly. It was pitched to the company. It was an electrifying pitch. We had a lot of overachieving people working for overachieving managers to get the movie out - worked brutal hours with this. When I say “brutal”, we had a number of people that were injured with RSI. One of them permanently left the field.

We had, actually, a married couple that worked there - and this was in June, so it’s summer. And the father was supposed to drop the baby off at daycare, but forgot - don’t know why. But he came and left the baby in the car and came into work. And given, you know, as the heat was rising, the mother asked about - and they realized - they rushed out, and the baby was unconscious.

The right thing was done, they put ice water on the baby; and the baby ended up being fine in the end. But it was one of those traumatic things like “why did this happen?” Are we working too hard? So when I say it’s “intense,” I mean it really was intense.

So, I come back to the first question. Which is more important? What’s the central problem? Finding good ideas or finding good people? And the answer is very clear: the idea [with Toy Story 2] was the same.
If you have a good idea and you give it to mediocre group, they’ll screw it up.
If you give a mediocre idea to a good group, they’ll fix it, or they’ll throw it away and come up with something else.

Because initially, the films they put together - they’re mess! It’s like everything else in life. The first time you do it, it’s a mess. And sometimes it’s labeled, “well, the first time it’s a failure,” but it’s not even the right word to use, right? It’s just like you get the first one out, you’ll learn from it.
The only failure is, if you don’t learn from it - if you don’t progress.


Don’t Help Your Kids With Their Homework

Don’t Help Your Kids With Their Homework:

Robinson and Harris posit that greater financial and educational resources allow some parents to embed their children in neighborhoods and social settings in which they meet many college-educated adults with interesting careers. Upper-middle-class kids aren’t just told a good education will help them succeed in life. They are surrounded by family and friends who work as doctors, lawyers, and engineers and who reminisce about their college years around the dinner table.

As part of his research, Robinson conducted informal focus groups with his undergraduate statistics students at the University of Texas, asking them about how their parents contributed to their achievements. He found that most had few or no memories of their parents pushing or prodding them or getting involved at school in formal ways. Instead, students described mothers and fathers who set high expectations and then stepped back.




(More here.)

Mykala and Dragonfly

Mykala and Dragonfly

On the ferris wheel last year.


Dear baby,

You’re the size of a small watermelon now. Where did the time go? It feels like we were just finding out about you, or moving, or painting your room, or assembling your crib, buying your mattress, picking out your diapers, installing your car seat. Get this: pretty soon I’ll be addressing these to you by your name instead of the generic “baby”. You used to be the size of a grain of basmati rice and now you’re huge!




A “GrowBox“—the bottom half provides water in a reservoir, which is wicked up by the soil. You only have to water about once a week! Clockwise from upper left: tomato, cucumber, kale, zucchini, rosemary, parsley. The consistent watering helps, as does the included organic fertilizer. The burlap-looking thing keeps weeds down, reduces moisture loss from the soil, and apparently provides some nutrients as well, though we’re a little skeptical on that part. Let’s see what we’ve got in August!


I went to bed on Tuesday evening, expecting to head to work the following morning, a little disappointed that our baby girl’s due date, July 22, had come and gone without a hint of her arrival. But instead of sleep, I felt Mykala’s gentle nudge and heard her voice just a few hours later at 3am: “My contractions started, I think.” She sounded so calm that it took me the better part of an hour to fully wake up and realize that this is The Big Show. We began timing duration and interval of contractions, and true to my computer geekery, I created a new text document in BBEdit that I would later save as labor.txt, here’s a snippet: