Gender difference of opinions?


I shared the idea of going to Papua New Guinea on a three-month assignment with a few people I know and trust.  I wanted to see whether they thought taking this assignment was a good idea or a bad idea.  Again, the assignment isn’t mine by any means.  However, if I’m convinced I should take it, I can lobby hard for it at work.  I have a great chance of getting it if I want it.  The assignment has both positives and negatives aspects, and it isn’t clear how good an opportunity it really is or how much of a hardship it will be.  I do not even know if the opportunity will pan out, but it has definitely stirred strong emotions among those who know about it. 
 
What is perhaps most interesting is that those who favor going to Papua New Guinea and how those who do not differ by gender.  Every woman I talked to about it thinks that I should not go to PNG, regardless of whether my family accompanies me.  Every man I talked to thinks I should do it.  I have my suspicions as to why this is, but I thought I would throw this out to you, dear reader, as food for thought.  If I have the opportunity to take an important assignment in a very difficult location, probably separated from my family for about three months, should I take it?  Should I pass on it?  What do you think?  And why do you think men would agree and women would disagree?  It just goes to show you, we don’t always think the same way.

Our first house guest


Our first house guest in Korea arrived today.  Our good friend Trudy, who lives in northern China where she studies Mandarin Chinese, arrived this afternoon.  She will stay with us for three days until she departs for the United States on vacation.  After she returns to China in July, she will study for one more month before she moves to a small city in Qinghai Province in order to teach English.  Qinghai, located in central western China, is the Chinese version of Nevada (sans the glitter of Las Vegas).  Dry and isolated, it has missed much of the frenzied development taking place along China’s eastern coastline.  I admire Trudy for her willingness to live and teach in relatively harsh conditions.  She will be one of the first foreign teachers teaching in that part of Qinghai.  It’s great that she can bring native language instruction to an area of China that sorely needs more TLC, especially economic development.  She definitely has a servant’s heart.
 
I’ve known Trudy as long as I’ve known my wife.  In fact, I met them together one fateful day in the fall of 1992.  Through the years she’s been a great friend.  She was the maid of honor at our wedding, and we see her every year or so whenever she passes through where we live (until recently in Seattle).  She had never been to Korea before, so she went out of her way to book a connecting flight from China to the U.S. via Seoul.  We’re happy to see her, because we always love catching up with her.  As my wife says, she’s one of those friends where you can pick up the friendship right where you left it.  Do you have a friend or friends like that–the kind you’re still very close to even if you rarely see them?   In general, my family doesn’t get too many visitors.  We didn’t while we lived in Seattle because Seattle is a bit isolated relative to the rest of the U.S.  Granted, my entire family, including Wade3016, visited us while we were in living in Washington, D.C.  However, I don’t anticipate that we will have many house guests here in Seoul.  My parents, Wade3016, and his aunt have told us they’re planning to come for a visit, but not until next year.  My wife’s family will probably come for a visit from China.  That might be about it for our house guests in Korea.  I’m happy to be able to show someone the live we have here.  It’s great to share.  If you’re in the Seoul area while we’re here, let me know and we’ll see if we can connect.
 
We have a spare bedroom that I fixed up for Trudy.  Until last weekend it served as an ad hoc storage area.  Her arrival gave me an excuse to straight up the room.  Unfortunately, space is at a premium in our house, and I had to shuffle a bunch of junk from the room to other areas of the house.  Most of it went into the laundry room, so now the laundry room is full of boxes.  I’ve created a small path so that we can access the washer and dryer for the time being.  One of these days I’ll get rid of some of those boxes, but for now it’s nice to have reclaimed the guest bedroom.

Why the box office phunk?


I love movies.  Between Korea and my son, I haven’t had much time to keep up with the latest offerings churned out by Hollywood.  Perhaps even more than watching movies, I enjoy following the movie industry.  For example, I love playing a game called Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX), a free game site where you "invest" in upcoming films and "hot" actors.  It’s a great way for me to test my investing mettle against my potential as a movie studio executive.  Although I’ve been too busy to play lately, my ranking is still in the top 4% of HSX traders.  I’m a methodical, patient investor who makes modest bets on movies.  I recently read that Hollywood studios suffered through their 18th straight decline in weekend box office revenues, a modern day record.  What gives?  Why have movie box office receipts declined so dramatically this year?  Is it because Napster has undermined the movie industry and people are skipping movies because they can download them for free to their iPods?  Hardly.  This box office decline is due to a confluence of factors.  I see this trend continuing unless the movie industry changes its business model to accommodate a new reality.  An industry that routinely hundreds of millions of dollars in investment on films is vulnerable to failure and business downturns, and it needs to adjust because its market is moving away from it.

 
Here are some reasons why Hollywood’s box office has declined:
  1. The rise of alternative entertainment options, particularly gaming.  The gaming industry, fueled by Sony’s PlayStation, Microsoft’s Xbox, Nintendo, Sega, and a slew of game makers such as Electronic Arts is fast capturing the eyeballs of America.  Individual game releases are viewed in the vein of movies–they are costly to make, are preceded by marketing blitzes, and have a limited shelf life.  A successful game like "Grand Theft Auto" or "Halo" can make millions.  Legions of Gen Y’ers and Gen X’ers ages 10 to 40 are increasingly turning away from sitting in a movie theater to other entertaining pursuits.  They want interactive experiences.  Aside from being there for the occasional epic moment such as the end of the "Star Wars" saga, or the highly anticipated "The Matrix" sequel, they prefer to read the book or wait for the video.  Movie studios need to consider how to make their offering more interactive beyond movie web sites with flashy online content.
  2. Movie tickets are expensive and theaters are too inconvenient.  Hollywood may have reached the near-term limit on how much it can get away with charging for a ticket.  When it costs you $17 for a movie ticket, a small popcorn, and a soda, you know you’re paying too much.  And that’s just for yourself!  Plus, movie theaters are too far away and too much of a hassle for many people to bother with nowadays.  Movie studios need to figure out how to bring their product to the masses, rather than expecting the masses to come to them.  The movie distribution network and ticket-revenue schemes inked between studios and cinema owners is as outdated as the traditional automobile dealer network.  It needs to figure out how to deliver content dynamically; for example, combining the concept of pay per view with movie distribution.  Would you pay as much or more than a movie ticket to watch that brand new movie release on your digital cable?  The answer is probably yes.  The studios need to work with the likes of Comcast and DirecTV to offer another outlet to distribute original features.
  3. Studios are not producing original, compelling content.  You’re probably read this time and again, but it is so true.  Just look at the top movies so far this summer.  Another "Star Wars" film, another "Batman" film, a remake of the TV series, "Bewitched," a remake of "Herbie, the Love Bug," another zombie sequel, and another CGI animated film featuring cute animals.  Can’t wait to see that remake of "War of the Worlds," another alien disaster flick, or yet another comic book turned into a movie ("Fantastic Four")?   "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" is the only high-grossing feature with a somewhat original theme, although it borrows heavily from classics such as "The Scarecrow & Mrs. King," "The War of the Roses," and Schwarzeneggar’s "True Lies."   Just like television needs to lay off its incessant urge to turn everything into a reality show, the movie studios need to throttle back on the number of remakes and sequels it makes.  Indie film makers are keeping alive the flame of originality, although there’s no reason why Hollywood can’t make an original film that appeals to mass audiences.  Start by reworking the canned plotline we all know and expected:  develop character, key moment in character’s life, character responds, climax, happy ending.