Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Habla HTML?

My 13 year old daughter just finished designing her first webpage. Oh, I would like to take credit that I am just such a gifted teacher, and so technologically savvy, that I have passed this knowledge on to my children…but my nose may grow terribly long or I may be struck by lightening because that would be a big fat lie!

So, what enabled my child to design a webpage? The answer is a very handy DVD called “Web Design for Kids (and Curious Grown-ups!)”. This easy to follow DVD walks the viewer step-by-step through the process of basic web design using that mysterious language called “HTML”. You know… the computer lingo that looks like the Tasmanian Devil talking in a Looney Tunes cartoon…yes, that language!

Brian Richardson sets an easy-going tone to hold your hand and explain things in a natural progression. The only software necessary is “Notepad” and “Internet Explorer” which is automatically on your computer if you have Windows. We used our laptop in the living room while we played Mr. Richardson’s DVD-- occasionally pausing to catch up-- but usually the pace was just right. I would surmise that if you don’t have a way to use a computer near a DVD player, it may be difficult to seamlessly follow along. Pressing pause and running back and forth to the computer, or taking really good notes, would be the alternative.

By the end of the DVD my daughter could type a basic HTML code that would cause the letters to scroll across the page and to flash on and off. She learned to change the background and text color and also to add pictures. She had a lot of fun learning and was really proud of her final product! She eagerly showed it off to family and friends.

Though the explanations are very clear and concise I do feel a need to comment that Mr. Richardson is rather hard to understand in the first portion of the DVD. Smiling while he speaks, probably in an attempt to appear relaxed, he sort of comes across as a ventriloquist. With his mouth barely moving around his smile, it is hard to clearly hear what he is saying. However, as the video progresses, he seems to relax and become more easily understood.

Furthermore, Mr. Richardson has two kids that assist him in demonstrating how easy it is to make a webpage (they are following along on their computers). The “acting” is so sad and lacking; it rather takes away from the overall feel off the video. “Lame and cheesy,” were the words of choice from my daughter and I have to wholeheartedly agree. I totally understand the need to be low-budget to be cost effective. I am okay with low budget! But the interaction of the kids with Mr. Richardson is so unconvincing, it just would have been better without it, in my opinion.

Fortunately, other than impacting the aesthetics, the pitiful dialogue has zero impact on the content and therefore I still rate the usefulness of this product very high. If you can handle your child rolling his eyes and shaking his head in parts, than I’d say this video is a “go.” The skills taught in “Web Design for Kids” are so useful and in demand in this technological age. They will only serve to benefit your student and possibly spring board him or her into many more creative endeavors…maybe even a family or home business website!

To see a sample of the DVD and to place an order, go to . At $19.99 plus shipping and handling, this DVD is a smart, affordable investment.

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At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.