Eric Meyer is an expert in what we call Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), which are used to control how things “look” in your web browser. Truth be told, he’s a bit of a legend who has spearheaded the development of making it easier for us to build beautiful things. At Rare Bird, we’re all familiar with his work and some of us have either heard him speak or read his books (or, in a few cases, both.)
A couple of weeks ago, on June 7, his daughter Rebecca passed away. She was six.
Eric and his wife, Kathryn, requested that “those who attend the services and are comfortable wearing purple do so in honor of Rebecca and her favorite color.“ Upon hearing this, a member of the WC3 staff, Dom Hazaël-Massieux, requested that a purple in the CSS color list be named “Becca Purple” in her memory. Eric suggested that it be named “rebeccapurple” instead, because his daughter wanted everyone to call her Rebecca after she turned six, and – after all – she was six for almost 12 hours.
On Saturday, June 21, Rebecca Purple (#663399) was officially added as the 141st color to be recognized by name by all web browsers.
And so, from this tremendous heartbreak, a color is born.
Char told me a story yesterday that I hadn’t heard before. It goes like this:
A few years ago, my Mom sent the kids a bunch of cookies for Easter. They arrived by UPS truck. The kids were ecstatic and over-sugared for days. Score a point for Grandma (and, apparently, the UPS man, because after this delivery they’d shout “Cookies!” and head for the door every time they saw the UPS truck.)
Funny enough, until you imagine how their little hearts broke each time it just drove on by – or worse, stopped to deliver something entirely NOT cookies. Still, they associated the sights and sounds of the big brown truck with cookies just as they did the sights and sounds of that creepy van with ice cream of questionable value and provenance. (An aside: I’m not sure where they get the die for the popsicles coming out of the back of the ice cream truck, but let it touch anything and it will stain for life.)
Fast forward to this week, when Char is out walking Scout and the UPS truck comes around the corner and stops at a neighbor’s house. Scout starts dragging her in the direction of truck. As the tug of war continues, Scout stops dead in her tracks and sits in the street. It takes some amount of coaxing to get her moving again.
As they continue their walk, the UPS truck catches up. Again, Scout starts pulling in the direction of the truck. Char’s mystified… until the truck stops, the UPS man hops out and says to Scout, “Aw, good girl, so good to see you again…” and tosses her a treat.
Score another point for the UPS man, who now apparently only delivers dog cookies.
In a commencement address in 2005, David Foster Wallace told the graduates of Kenyon College that they were about to face a life of boredom, routine, and petty frustration. He said, “The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what ‘day in day out’ really means. There happen to be whole, large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. [One of these is that] the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.”
David Foster Wallace (Photo credit: Steve Rhodes)
He then explains that the real value of their education is not in teaching them to think,
but in teaching them how to think, by providing them the ability to make a choice about what they think, and when they think it. He continues:
But please don’t just dismiss it as just some finger-wagging Dr. Laura sermon. None of this stuff is really about morality or religion or dogma or big fancy questions of life after death.
The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death.
It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:
“This is water.”
I could go on about this, but I could never do it the justice that the author did, so I will merely provide the following and encourage you– as strongly as possible– to watch it and then read the transcript. I’m telling you, truer words may have never been spoken and few commencement addresses provide as much real world advice to graduates. This should be required reading in colleges throughout the country.
A note about the author: David Foster Wallace was an award-winning American novelist, short story writer and essayist (as demonstrated with applomb by “This is Water.” His second novel, Infinite Jest, was cited as one of the 100 best novels from 1923-2005 by Time magazine.
Sadly, he suffered greatly from depression and hung himself in 2008, at the age of 46.
Everyone had a play date yesterday except for Grace. So when Char came home, they decided the two of them would ride their bikes to Huddles for some frozen yogurt. When they rang up the totals, there was a significant disparity in the cost between their cups.
Char said, “Grace, my gosh, my yogurt was only $2 and yours was $6.50.”
Grace looked at her cup of two flavors of frozen yogurt, topped with gummy bears, mini white chocolate chips, and Nerd candy and said, “Mom, I haven’t had candy for 40 days. Don’t judge me.”
Well, it’s Friday… another week gone by, another month in the history books, and another conversation about how hard it is to find people who can write programming code.
So it was in this spirit that Tom brought this video to my attention. It’s simply brilliant, and raises a question that has the potential to haunt us all in the future: If we don’t encourage our kids to learn to code, how will we find qualified people to fill the shortage of computer programmers?
Fortunately, there are some great resources available. Take a look at code.org for advice on helping your kids start the process of learning to create things with their hands, intelligence and problem solving skills . You can also find resources to help you teach, even if you’re learning yourself.
The MIT Medialab has created a really cool tool called Scratch, which teaches kids to learn programming basics in a web-based drag and drop environment. While being simple to use, it also helps them understand advanced concepts like variables and object-oriented code.
One more thing… If you know of anyone who is writing code and wants to be a part of a great team, send them our way.