personal website

Avatar the movie

December 31st, 2009 . by maria

We saw the movie Avatar last night. Let me get the obligatory things out of the way:
1. If you go to the movies over the holidays, expect it to be BUSY. We arrived early, and still couldn’t get 4 seats together. I’ve never seen it so full!
2. The graphics were AMAZING. It was impossible to tell what was real/costume/CGI. (Except that obviously floating moutains aren’t real, so they must be CGI.)
3. We saw it in 2D. No funky glasses. It was so beautiful, I can only imagine that the 3D would have actually detracted from the experience.

Yes, there was a little bit of a message about protecting the environment, but the story didn’t revolve around that. The indiginous people are portrayed in a slightly stereotyped way. If you’ve ever watched NatGeo, you’ll recognize some of the ‘tribal wear’, some portions of their ceremonies, etc. But I believe that was the filmmaker’s shortcut to explaining their culture, and none of it was negative or derogatory or made them look stupid. And, of course, there was plenty of sci-fi tech and graphical eye candy and beautiful scenery and a love story – a little bit of something for everyone.

The movie made an impression on every member of our family. We all had the sense that we weren’t ready for it to end…we wanted to crawl back into the story and explore the place some more. We wanted more time to process it…there was so much beauty, so many messages.

The turning point in the movie is when Jake’s digital diary reveals to the other main characters what he has discovered about their prospect of bargaining with the Na’vi. He says “There isn’t anything of ours they want, or need.” And it is true, for the Na’vi have a direct pipeline to God. Their needs are provided for, they live in balance, they respect each other and their world, and they communicate with God. (They don’t have medicine and roads and technology and committees and science, but they don’t need them.) Jake experiences this as he lives with them, joins them in it, and even prays and has his prayer answered. The message here, at least the one that has struck me, is more about the Na’vi’s experience of God. It is the very picture of how our church should be – in direct contact with God, treasuring that contact, appealing to it, respecting it. And the result is that anyone who spends any time with the Na’vi, comes to want what the Na’vi have. This is the effect our church should have. Jake is told he is special and chosen. He is paired with a mentor. The mentor takes time to understand who Jake really is, and what his gifts are. He is taught their way of living by experiencing it, is tested, and is invited when he is ready to join. Eventually, he comes to be a leader. Is this the experience people have joining your church?

When people look at you, at your church, do they have the sense that you have everything you could need or want…and does it make them want to have what you have?


December 31st, 2009 . by maria

St. Augustine said: “The world is a book, and those who don’t travel read only one page.”

So quit diligently developing your weaknesses. Instead, partner with someone very UNlike you, share the work and share the wealth and everyone’s happy. – Marti Barletta, speaker, consultant and author of Marketing to Women and PrimeTime Women

There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos. – Jim Hightower, the colorful Texas populist

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things only hoped for.” –Epicurus

Of the immediate and small and common and momentary things of life, of usages and observances and modes and conventions, he builds up fortifications against the powers of darkness. – Widdershins, by Oliver Onions

…horror, when it can be proved to be relative, by so much loses its proper quality…- Widdershins, by Oliver Onions

If there’s no provision for enforcement, then the law isn’t really a law at all. – Orson Scott Card,

We place a high value on sophistication, because we’ve been trained to seek it out as a cue for what lies ahead. We figure that if someone is too clueless to understand our norms, they probably don’t understand how to make us a product or service that we’ll like. – Seth Godin

Backstory is a richer source of character than forestory.
– Orson Scott Card

A 50%-good solution that people actually have solves more problems and survives longer than a 99% solution that nobody has because it’s in your lab where you’re endlessly polishing the damn thing. Shipping is a feature. A really important feature. Your product must have it.
– “The Duct Tape Programmer” by Joel Spolsky (

Belief in a shared crusade—and a sense that the tools and opportunities are available to achieve that goal—is an intensely liberating feeling. People get a sense that they have control over their own destiny.. – Jono Bacon, The Art of Community

You should be aware right now that some people are going to frustrate you. Some people will be too quick to act and opine on a subject, and some will be too timid and reluctant to put their hands up. Some people will obsess about the wrong things and regularly produce what appears to be a tempest in a teacup. But then again, some people will inspire you with their sense of responsibility, their ability to react to situations with grace and elegance, and their willingness to care for the community. As a community leader you will experience all sides of human nature, from strength and innovation to weakness and uncertainty. Whatever you hear from your community, you should endeavor to be the best listener that you can. – Jono Bacon, The Art of Community

In any community, entitlement is an enemy: it values the person over the contribution, creating unrealistic expectations about how people should be treated. – Jono Bacon, The Art of Community

“A man does not work only for the sake of producing, but to set a value on his time. We feel more satisfied with ourselves and with our day if we have stirred up our minds and made a good start, or have finished a piece of work.” –Eugene Delacroix

“Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.” –Henry David Thoreau

Gilb’s Law of Quantification: there is always a way to measure that is better than not measuring at all.

In fact, everyone is always doing their best under the circumstances….That’s because in this moment, given the perceptions someone is holding, the way they behave is in fact the only way they can behave…If you don’t like the way someone is acting, understand you can’t change his behavior, you can only change his circumstances. – Seth Godin

That must be a dull spirit that cannot suspend its toil when the sun is setting in glory, or the violet rainbow appears on the cloud. – A Crystal Age, by W. H. Hudson

If it had consisted with his plan to make these delicate mortal bodies capable of every agreeable sensation in the highest degree, yet not liable to accident, and not subject to misery and pain, he would surely have done this for all of us. But reason and nature show us that such an end did not consist with his plan; therefore to ask him to suspend the operations of nature for the benefit of any individual sufferer, however poignant and unmerited the sufferings may be, is to shut our eyes to the only light he has given us. – A Crystal Age, by W. H. Hudson

the practice of introspection has a corrosive effect on the mind, which only serves to aggravate the malady it is intended to cure. – A Crystal Age, by W. H. Hudson

After all the effort, all the Visions, I got old instead of making it happen. – Anthony Zuppero, To Inhabit the Solar System

You can buy peeled fish in the store. You can’t buy a rocket to take half the United States to Mars in the store. – Anthony Zuppero, To Inhabit the Solar System