Posts tagged “family”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Kraft Dinner mentions must stop, teacher told [CBC News] – [Kraft Dinner is a Canadian-specific brand for packaged macaroni and cheese, known among the pastacenti as KD.] Kick the KD teaches students how to avoid convenience foods and eat healthier. Clapson received a notice from Kraft Canada demanding the name be changed and any references to Kraft Dinner be removed. "We understand that the focus of the cooking program is to encourage students to prepare meals which are healthy and delicious. Please note that Kraft Dinner macaroni and cheese is a nutritious food that can be part of a balanced diet. In addition to being delicious, it is also a source of calcium and iron and a good source of protein." Clapson said he didn't know "KD was trademarked and personally enjoys the occasional bowl of Kraft Dinner." Clapson said he intends to keep running the classes and has taken suggestions for a new name. The most popular one so far has been "Kick the Crap Dinner."
  • [from steve_portigal] ‘Cinema Verite’ review: ‘American Family’ revisited [SF Chronicle] – [Fascinating article on how a recreation bio-pic of the filming of the original reality show reveals shifting cultural contexts and the challenges of authenticity] In 1971, Craig Gilbert and Alan and Susan Raymond, set out to document the lives of an everyday American family. Viewers may have subliminally understood that reality was somewhat altered through editorial choices, but they more or less accepted what was on their TV as life as it actually and naturally happened. But was it? That's the question posed by "Cinema Verite" directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini as they look back at "American Family." Did Gilbert direct the Louds' actions to make his film more dramatic? In "Cinema," Gilbert (James Gandolfini) is shown inserting himself into a scene and telling the family what to do. We also see the Raymonds (Patrick Fugit and Shanna Collins) revolting when Gilbert begins to cross the boundaries of documentary filmmaking, perhaps because he's developed a crush on Pat.

Explaining your product puts you ahead of the pack

A few weeks ago I saw this full-page newspaper ad for Verizon’s Hub:

I’ve blown up the smaller text at the bottom:

The phrase “the home phone reinvented” reminds us that explaining a new product in terms of what it is replacing, enhancing, or integrating with is often a very effective way to help ground something new. But the ad works mostly by establishing a physical context (the kitchen) and a use case (distributed family communication and meal planning). The actual functional specs are presented almost as an afterthought in the footer and greatly in service of the “reinvented” aspect.

I was excited by this ad because it does a reasonable job at something crucial that so few companies are actually doing: explaining clearly what their product is and who it is for.

I don’t know if this product is a good idea or a bad idea; it’d be fascinating to see how new users begin to use it and what sense they make it of it. But it seems that this product team Verizon is at least half a step ahead of many technology groups out there who collect a bundle of technology together but fail to create a compelling story about why this matters.

Automobile Avatars


I’m seeing a lot of these lately on rear windows of minivans and similar larger family-sized vehicles: icons that represent every member of the household (including pets).

Seems like a new example of personalization; an untapped bit of car real estate, and a new message to publish (who are the – writ rough – people in our household).

I wonder if this is more common among Hispanics and/or the churchgoing. Any ideas? Do you have one of these? Where did you hear about it? Where did you get it?

Flat Daddy revisited

Last year, I blogged about Flat Daddy (a full-size cardboard-mounted photo of a deployed military family member, providing a form of tangible substitute). Now, a woman details her own family’s struggle with the challenge deployment has brought, and the experience with Flat Daddy.

But much of the time we simply keep moving forward as if there’s no hole in our family. It’s sheer pretense, as flimsy as a tissue, and I’m not sure how long it’s sustainable – or if it will get us through the long days ahead.

But it’s better than pretending a smiling cutout loves us back.

Portigal gets The Get: First Interview with Talia (Portigal-)Todd

Last weekend we had a baby naming ceremony for my brand-new niece, Talia. As part of the ceremony, there were readings and speeches from family and friends. Here’s what I read, using a tiny bib and hat on one hand to represent the other party in the dialogue. Apologies for some of the in-jokes that won’t read here.


In preparation for today’s event, which is of course all about Talia, I thought it would be great to get the perspective of the person we’re all here to welcome and honor, Talia herself. I got in touch with her earlier in the week and did an informal interview. It ran a little long, so I’ve cut it down and will be reading an edited version.

SP: Talia, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me.

TPT: Poo.

SP: I’m sorry?

TPT: Oh, sorry about that. I just thought I’d start there.

SP: Um, good. Great. Listen, I wanted to ask you —-

TPT: (interrupts) Poo.

SP: Yes, I think we’ve covered that. So to move along, what do you make of things so far?

TPT: Totally freakin’ awesome. I’m pleased as punch to be here. I’ve booked myself a pretty sweet gig, as far as I can tell.

SP: In what way?

TPT: Well, non-stop hamburgers and pizza.

SP: What?

TPT: Yeah, hamburgers and pizza. I love ’em.

SP: I’m pretty surprised. I didn’t think you’d be eating solid food by now.

TPT: Hamburgers are solid?

SP: Yep. And pizza too.

TPT: -..hmmm-.well someone told me those were hamburgers I was eating, and I just figured pizza as well.

SP: I think someone was messing with you-

TPT: I guess so. Huh. Well, when it comes to messing with an infant, let’s just say that two can play at that game.

SP: Before we go back to the whole poo thing again, let’s move along. What’s going on at home right now?

TPT: It’s a lot of fun. I am totally hitting it off with Lenny.

SP: Really? I’m a little surprised to hear that!

TPT: Oh, no, he’s totally cool. He plays guitar, and he has a wicked sense of humor. Loves to sweep and clean.

SP: I don’t think that’s Lenny you’re talking about.

TPT: Really? Who’s Lenny, then?

SP: About your size. Dark fur. Pokey claws.

TPT: Next question.

SP: Sorry.

TPT: Well, who was it I was talking about? Is that Brucey?

SP: He probably wants you to call him “Dad.”

TPT: Dad, eh? Whatever it takes.

SP: I think they’d also accept Daddy or Da-da.

TPT: Get outa here? That’s better than Brucey? Whatever it takes.

SP: What about you? What do you think about Talia?

TPT: What do I think about who?

SP: What do you think about your name, Talia.

TPT: Oh, right. I’m still not used to it. I always think people are talking about Talia Shire.

SP: Talia Shire?

TPT: Yeah, you know “Aaaaa-drian” and all that.

SP: I wouldn’t even mention that if I were you.

TPT: Ah. Word to the wise. Will do.

SP: What else is going on at home?

TPT: Did I mention my Mommy?

SP: No, you didn’t.

TPT: Oh, sorry. I’m still filling out my short-term memory. I mean, it’s pretty much ALL short-term memory at this point, so it’s a little full, if you know what I’m saying.

SP: I think I do.

TPT: Okay, then.

SP: You were saying?

TPT: What?

SP: Your mommy?

TPT: Oh, right, right. Well, the woman is a marvel. Blankets whenever I want them. She and the other one are always cooking. Mostly for their friends, but still, I’m hoping for the odd scrap now and again. And let me tell you, she can SHOP like nobody’s business. I mean, I haven’t seen a lot of shopping so far, but my impressions of her are very solid.

SP: Actually, she helped me pick out the shirt I’m wearing right now.

TPT: Does it have bunnies on it?

SP: No, it doesn’t.

TPT: Trust me, go for the bunnies. You can’t go wrong.

SP: Okay, good advice. So what else is on your mind?

TPT: Have you read this thing in the news about the head of the CBC?

SP: I don’t get a ton of Canadian news where I live, but I did hear a little bit about it.

TPT: Totally cracks me up. He got fired for saying how great it was to poo. I want that job!

SP: It looks like we’re running out of time here, so thanks so much.

TPT: Did I say poo?

SP: I think you did.

Flat Daddy helps

Life-size cutouts of deployed service members

are given by the Maine National Guard to spouses, children and relatives back home.

The Flat Daddies ride in cars, sit at the dinner table, visit the dentist and even are brought to confession, according to their significant others on the home front.

At the request of relatives, about 200 Flat Daddy and Flat Mommy photos have been enlarged and printed at the state National Guard headquarters in Augusta, Maine. The families cut out the photos, which show the Guard members from the waist up, and glue them to a $2 piece of foam board.

Take that, designers of pillows-that-hug, USB-devices-that-emit-fragrance, robots-that-care-for-elders, simulated-dogs-that-soothe. A low-fi (functionally) but hi-fi (representationally) has dramatic (anecdotal) impact. Should we be chastened, saddened, or charmed?

Catch that Kid

BusinessWeek describes a curious design research initiative. A UK home builder has a family living in a sensor-filled concept house, where the people are all RFID-tagged. They’ll collect usage data for six months and then use the resulting who/where/when/how-long data to improve the home’s design. Just like using weblogs to redesign a website – you know what people have been doing, but you have no idea why. Unless you ask. And the families in this project will be extensively interviewed by a “consumer researcher” so we figure they’ll get that piece of the puzzle too.


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