Friday, May 29, 2009

Night at the Museum 2 - Review

Tonight Patty and Grace were at a girl scout campout, so I took Jacob to the movies. I thought we were going to see Pixar's UP, but when we got there Jacob wanted to see Night at the Museum: The Battle of the Smithsonian.

Oddly, I never saw the first film despite the fact that we own it. But the kids love it and I was not surprised by his desire to go. The movie starts off with almost everything in the museum being shipped off to the "Federal Archives" under the smithsonian, in order to be replaced by a bunch of holographic displays. The time this movie takes to get to the smithsonian seems to be somewhere between 2 and 3 hours, but is in fact quite a bit shorter than that. The problems here are greater than just pacing.

Ben Still delivers a rather typical Ben Stiller role. Some of his lines and delivery remind me of Mystery Men. Unfortunately it was funny and fresh then, now it seems a bit tired. The first half of the movie rather dragged for me. Things began to pickup at the Air and Space Museum when everything came alive, but honestly I found myself thinking that as solid as the concept was, they really didn't utilize that material very well.

I began to enjoy the movie more in the last third or so, as the humor began to connect better and things finally got moving. The highpoint was the the performance of Amy Adams as Amelia Earhart. She sold the role far better to me than the rest of the actors and actresses in this film and was a nice relief against the rest that seemed rather wooden to me. I was also surprised at how much of the cast was from "The Office" and how little they were used. Great talent squandered.

Still, I was glad to come to the end of the movie. It wasn't a bad movie, but I don't see myself ever watching it again. It was marginal at best. I'd say it earns a C, or 2.5 stars, depending on whatever system you like to use...


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

ChMS - Children's Check-In

We have been looking for a mac check-in solution since before we even started the new database search. I believe we have finally found it.

Arena's children's check-in is a windows app, and we were really not relishing the idea of deploying up to 20 windows boxes on our otherwise windows client free campus. Enter the fantastic guys at CCCEV (we refer to them as C-Cubed EV as it's easier to say). Nick and Jason built a check-in application that runs entirely in the browser. Using opera, we can run the browser in kiosk mode and create check-in stations that run on Mac OSX. The server has to interface with the actual printers, so there is some windows involvement but not nearly the support burden we would face by adding a bunch of XP boxes to our network.

With the software hurdle overcome, we sat down with the kids team and showed them the functionality of the check-in system that Nick and Jason wrote. They were quite pleased, and so we then moved on to spec-ing out the hardware. We ordered a mac mini, a Zebra GK420d printer, and an Elo Intellitouch touch screen to make up the hardware package, and then designed a kiosk that our facilities team is building for us.

Today we looked at the prototype kiosk and it is sweet. The base is only 18x20, making it much smaller than most of the commercial products. This is a big deal to us as storage is a very big problem on this campus. We made a few design changes and should have a final prototype by tomorrow or so.

We have wanted children's check-in for over nine years here, so to finally have this underway is awesome. Once again, I am thrilled with the community approach that makes Arena such a great product. Rather than being stuck with a solution we didn't like, we were able to choose from three separate check-in solutions and found the one that was adaptable to the mac. This allows me to support the kiosks with my current team, rather than having to develop windows expertise. Good stuff!


Saturday, May 16, 2009

The boys of summer

Jacob's little league game is an interesting mix of evangelism opportunities, new friendships, and a lot of yelling instruction to kids who haven't learned how to play the game all that well yet.


Posted by ShoZu

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The good and bad of conflict

Fasten your seat belts, this entry goes all over the place...

This has been a rough week for my son. It started when he got hit by a pitch from a flamethrowing pitcher in a little league game, making him terrified of the baseball. To that stress he added a problem with a bully at school, and having to learn how to stand up for himself and face having no friends. This second element is what I am going to focus on before talking theology...

My son is a wonderful kid who makes friends easily. There is a kid at school, we'll call him Bob, who wants to be his friend even though he is probably not a kid that my son would hang out with much. Another of his friends, we'll call him Steve, doesn't like Bob and is trying to make sure that Bob has no friends. We told our son that he doesn't have to be best friends, but he has to be nice to everyone and cannot shun Bob simply because Steve does not like him. With me so far?

This week Steve found out that our son had Bob over to play, and freaked out and told our son that he hated him etc. He didn't want to go to school the next day in order to avoid the conflict, and it provided a great opportunity to parent him through this, teaching him not to fight back (Steve hit him the second day) but to turn the other cheek, and to face the conflict in front of him. The end result was that our son told Steve that he was not willing to be his puppet, and Steve was more interested in being our son's friend than ruining Bob's life.

The good and bad is easy to see here, because on the plus side our son learned to face conflict, and on the down side, he had a rather miserable week. But how much worse would his life be if he had allowed himself to be bullied into behavior he knew was wrong? How much worse would his life be if he allowed himself to be ruled by fear, trying to avoid the conflict rather than face it? Instead he did what was right. I am praying that these lessons will carry with him to later in life when he has friends who try to convince him to do other things he knows is wrong. The ability to stand up and say no is a powerful skill.

I've been reading through the book of Acts lately. Acts is an amazing and often overlooked book on the beginnings of the church. Specifically, I was dwelling on the story of Paul and Barnabas. In Acts 11 Barnabas comes to Tarsus to meet Saul, and then spent a year in ministry with him. Chapters 13 & 14 tell of the amazing ministry these two apostles did together throughout the world. These guys were the "dream team" of early church evangelism. But something happens at the end of chapter 15. Conflict over John Mark, Barnabas' relative, comes between them:

“And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.”
(Acts 15:39-41 ESV)

It's astonishing to think that two apostles could have such a sharp disagreement that they would break up the dream team over it, but there it is. I have often heard this passage cited as one of how God can use everything for His glory. By breaking up this powerful pair, the gospel was spread to more places because they could cover twice as much ground apart. That is the upside, but is there a downside? Yes.

The record of what Barnabas did effectively ends in Acts 15. There is a touch more in Galatians and 1 Corinthians, but compared to the record of Paul's work, we are left to wonder at the effectiveness of Barnabas and John Mark whereas we can read in great detail on the journeys and preaching of Paul.

I find myself wondering what kind of ministry Barnabas had after he and Paul split. It's interesting that we have no commentary on the effectiveness of Barnabas in Cyprus, but we know that Paul and Silas strengthened the churches on their travels. We don't know what their ministry was like or what they did, but we do know two results of this split: (1) Barnabas and Paul clearly reconciled as they did ministry again in later years and (2) Paul's distrust of John Mark was alleviated because they did ministry together after this event as well.

So once again, there is good and bad in conflict. The good side is that ministry was accomplished by both teams, and the better side is that John Mark and Silas both had the opportunity to minister side by side with great evangelists and be mentored by them. The downside is that we have lost the record of the work that Barnabas did and we are only left to wonder how effective the duo of Paul and Barnabas could have been if they had continued together.

God is sovereign, and only He knows why He allowed this to happen. If God believed that we needed to know what Barnabas and Mark did, I have no question in my mind that it would be recorded and preserved for us. But I still can't help but be a little saddened that the dream team had to be split up due to a conflict.

No great conclusion, just musings...