Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Dr. Strange and the movie leaving madness

My daughter summed up my feelings about Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness when the credits rolled and she proclaimed "that was dumb." I felt let down and betrayed. For the past month we had overloaded on Marvel movies getting my younger two kids caught up so this could be their first MCU movie to watch in a theater. The trailers looked good, Spider Man No Way Home exceeded expectations, and I walked into the theater expecting to share something special with my children. I got this instead:

I have learned a bit of context in the week and a half since watching the film. My position has softened a bit. Elizabeth Olsen felt like the MCU had cost her too many opportunities and wanted out. The Scarlet Witch from the comics actually goes full crazy. The Darkhold has a rich history of corrupting users. Fans eager to see a "Marvel horror movie" looked to see Sam Raimi unleashed on the screen. If I had thought through it a bit more maybe I could have seen this coming, but I did not. 

My biggest complaint came from the treatment of Wanda. Instead of building off what she "learned" in WandaVision, this movie picks up like that series did not even happen (other than her two kids being the impetus for the entire plot). With little or no transition, she goes from triumphant and repentant hero to villain worse than Thanos. It felt a little tone deaf to take one of the few female Avengers still alive and make her the antagonist. Not just tone deaf: it sounded like a dog whistle to incels. 

I had other qualms besides Wanda's arc. The Illuminati seemed superfluously stupid. This group supposedly defeated Thanos, but then couldn't even go a few rounds with the Scarlet Witch? Reed Richards is the smartest man alive, but he doesn't realize he's hopelessly outgunned? Wanda goes insane using the Darkhold and becomes the bad guy, but Dr. Strange suffers only a weird growth in his forehead and no other consequences? The Wanda variant is not able to fight back and just lets her body get used? For that matter, Wanda and Xavier can't overcome the Darkhold together? 

I think a better exposition and maybe a clearer redemption may have helped with Wanda's story, but the movie would still be a mess. This is easily my least favorite Marvel show or movie so far. I'm saying this is even worse that Fantastic 4. I left wishing I had saved my "first Marvel movie with all my kids" token for Thor

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

My daughter, the illustrator

I'm excited and proud that the book my daughter illustrated is now available for purchase!

Moldyrocks and the Three Bears by Jared Koyle and illustrated by Ada Cooprider. 

While remaining true to aspects of the original story with beds, chairs, and porridge, this unique story offers a delightful twist to the classic tale—Goldilocks and the Three Bears. This is the story of three clever sisters, princesses, who discover that to preserve the kingdom they were forced to leave, they must defeat their own queen. Together, with magical stones from a mysterious hare, the sisters set out on a journey that will reveal their ultimate destiny. Along the way they are introduced to a glassmaker, a wood worker, and a rope maker. The sisters learn that by giving away something personal, they receive more in return. They must also lose their way before they can know the true direction they are to follow. Then, just as it seems the evil queen Moldyrocks will reign forever, the combined patience and ingenuity of friends and family saves the day.

Available for purchase from these fine retailers: 

Alpha Book Publisher: 


Barnes and Noble 

Google Books 

Google Play 

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Learning Python

 I stumbled across what appears to be a great resource for learning Python. It's been over a decade since I've known I need to learn Python. During that time I have taken a Coursera course and written a few scripts here and there, but I still do most of my Python programming by Googling and searching Stack Overflow. That works okay for occasional use, but I have recently found the need to make Python my daily driver. So I went in search of some solutions in the fall. 

I started by looking for something that I could use on my phone. Python Programming: Ultimate guide looked promising, but my enthusiasm for their app waned as I an into some technical difficulties. I should go back and revisit that, though. 

Eventually I found Python Morsels, and I think this is what I need in my life right now. I did the free month-long trial in the fall and I just signed up for a year. The site is created and maintained by Trey Hunner, a Python trainer for teams. I'm still fairly new on my journey there, and he just introduced a new "flexible mode," but the basic structure seems pretty well established. He gives an assignment, reference hints, automated verification, and follow-up discussions of the solutions. I highly recommend it.

The new "flexible mode" sets up a profile that can be made public. Mine's not that interesting, but I expect it will become more so over this next year!

3/11/21 Edit: I just noticed that Trey is a contributor to EditorConfig and his name is on a bunch of the plugins.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Goal setting

I spoke in the Lynnfield ward today. This is my third time speaking in that ward. Previously I spoke on citizenship in the ward and the restoration. Today I spoke on goal setting. It's a little different now that this is my assigned ward and so I know the congregation a lot better. Goal setting is something that has been on my mind a lot recently for a number of reasons, so I appreciated the opportunity to collect and organize my thoughts. I thought things came together okay, although my delivery had some bumps. I made the cardinal sin of going over time, which I felt bad about (especially since I actually had plenty of time). 

Hopefully somebody found the talk helpful. I used Wall-e as a framing device.
Image result for Wall-e

Here's the notes, but the formatting is off due to copying and pasting. I suggest you look at the Google doc instead.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Hope in the Latter-days

I spoke today in the Billerica Ward. I had "what does it mean to be a saint in the last days" as my assigned topic. While there's no shortage of material about the last days, I definitely wanted to make sure I stayed applicable and useful for the congregation rather than speculative and sensational. I also didn't have time to binge-watch Good Omens. In the end, and at the suggestion of my wife, the material came together around hope: gaining hope, sharing hope, and nurturing hope.

Image result for desolation of daniel four horsemen apocalypse

I didn't write out everything about my talk due to preparation time constraints and that I tend to just read my words when I do that. I did collect various notes, quotes, and scriptures and share the outline below. Most of the main ideas came from Elder D. Todd Christofferson's talk titled Preparing for the Lord's Return.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Fundraising ideas for Destination Imagination Global Finals

My daughters got lucky and fell into a great Destination Imagination program at our town. Not everything has run perfectly, but we have been extremely blessed and are now preparing to head to globals for the second time. A large part of that preparation right now is fundraising. The move to Kansas City seems to have made it especially more expensive this year. My daughter's team seems to have had a lot of success with fundraising this year so I wanted to share some tips from what I've seen (mostly from the outside):

  • Year-round fundraising. Ideally, fundraising occurs all year round and not just during the month or so between states and globals. The problem with this is what to do with the funds if you don't actually make it to globals? Our town has a non-profit that supports the DI program. Money accumulates with that organization so that it's there when a team does make it to globals. That's the theory, although I realize there's a lot of details in the implementation which I do not know.
  • GoFundMe. We got tipped off to this during our first trip to globals and we're using it again. The site does take a fee off the top, but it's worth the cost in the ease of use. A lot of successful fundraising has to do with reducing friction for those who want to donate, and GoFundMe does a great job of that.
  • Business sponsorships. Our town has a culture of working with local businesses to provide support for various things. It really does take a village. I realize that demographics and culture might make this a less viable option. Remember that it's a culture that has to start sometime and somewhere, so why not with supporting DI? You can even sweeten the deal by mentioning how you will display your gratitude for the fundraising
  • Business fundraisers. This is another side of the previous item, but maybe more palatable for businesses. We have a number of restaurants in the area that will do proceed sharing nights. For example, 20% of the proceeds from orders at Ginger during April 23rd were donated to our town teams heading to Global Finals. I admit that the owners of the restaurant have a daughter on one of the teams, but I've seen other organizations do similar things with a local pizza place. It makes sense: you drive traffic to their restaurant and so everybody wins.
    Women of Science
  • Bonfire. We did a t-shirt fundraiser for the first time this year and it took off like gangbusters. Part of that came from a particularly popular design by the older sister of one of the team members, but even our less popular shirts did well. Obviously you want some kind of original design that will sell well, but that's a little like saying "buy low, sell high" on the stock market. 
  • Cookies. A different organization we participate in uses selling cookie mixes and doughs to fundraise. We are dipping our toes into that a little right now, although I cannot report on the results for us yet. We have noticed success elsewhere with selling cookie doughs or mixes. It takes some time to create and deliver the goods, but the supplies are actually pretty cheap and yield a good return for what you sell. I've seen a similar approach done with pizzas
  • Share. Share on every social media platform you have, and then do it again. Specifically, I am thinking of Facebook and Instagram. If you use Twitter, tweet early and often. Same with Pinterest. Even go for Reddit, if it fits. I am not sure about LinkedIn as a platform for this, but I tried it. I am not a Snapchat user so I did not use that myself, and the same goes for Whatsapp. I probably should have. Once you have the GoFundMe or Bonfire or whatever set up, market it on social media over and over and over again. 
  • Individual emails. Email your family. Email your friends. Email everybody you know. Probably don't email your coworkers, but if they have an off-topic channel or list or forum, put it there. Don't spam people (email them repeatedly), but a single reach out shouldn't bother anybody. Ask for donations, but also ask for them to share with THEIR networks.
While it's great to score a big raise through these efforts, it's really more about eating the elephant: one bite at a time. Good luck and have fun!