Friday, December 29, 2006

My Reading List for 2007 and beyond

02/12/2007 -- I've decided to continue updating this post with new books as I discover them instead of having multiple lists.

One thing I want to continue this next year is lots of reading. I've rediscovered it and I'm learning so much. Hopefully I can someday apply some of the stuff I'm learning to my career. I can't see how yet, but hopefully I'm learning and retaining information. Thanks to Jeff Jones and Mark Howell who loaned me books while I was at Lake that restoked my passion for reading.

A great quote from Dan and Chip Heath in Inc. magazine, talking about their new book "Made to Stick:"
The great cruelty is that the smarter you get about something, the harder it is to share what you know. This is the problem we all have with doctors, lawyers, and accountants. We all know that they know what they're talking about. But we've all had that experience of sitting in a lawyer's office and not understanding what they're saying because they're forgetting that you don't know what they know. It's the same with a 10-year-old trying to show you how to play a video game. The child can't fathom the scope of your ignorance.

This is my planned reading list. Every day I find a new book to add to this list. Unless they're a series, I'm reading them in the order that they become available from the library. I've cut back and am not buying books myself at the moment, though if I get through all the ones available from the library I guess I'll be forced to head to Barnes and Noble. My list comes from other books I read, things people recommend and from recommendations or mentions in Inc., Fast Company, Entertainment Weekly or Reader's Digest.

— A —

— B —

— C —

  • Citizen Marketers: When People Are The Message

— D —

  • Democratizing Innovation (Eric Von Hippel)

  • Completed: Disney War (Stewart)

— E —

— F —

  • Fast Company's Greatest Hits (Vamos, Lidsky)

  • Faith Begins at Home [added 09/09/07]
  • First, Break All the Rules (Marcus Buckingham, Donald O. Clifton)

  • The Future of Competition (C.K. Prahalad, Venkat Ramaswamy)

— G —

— H —

  • Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths And Total Nonsense

  • Completed: Harry Potter and the Deathly Boredoms (Rowling)

  • How to be a Star at Work (Robert E. Kelley)

  • HR from the Heart (Libby Sartain, Martha I. Finney)

— I —

  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Robert Cialdini)

  • The Innocent Man (John Grisham)

  • The Innovator's Dilemna (Clayton M. Christensen)

  • The Innovator's Solution (Clayton M. Christensen, Michael E. Raynor)

— J —

  • The Joy of Fundraising (Terry Axelrod)

— K —

  • Karaoke Capitalism - Daring to be Different in a Copycat World (Jonas Ridderstale, Kjell A. Nordstrom)

— L —

  • The Leader Of The Future 2: Visions, Strategies, And Practices For The New Era (Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, Richard Beckhard)

  • Leading the Revolution (Gary Hamel)

  • Life 2.0 (Rich Karlgaard)

  • The Lexus And The Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization (Thomas L. Friedman)

  • Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands (Kevin Roberts)

  • The Lovemarks Effect: Winning In The Consumer Revolution (Kevin Roberts)

— M —

— N —

  • Narratives From The Crib (Katherine Nelson, Emily Oster)

  • Completed: The Negotiator (Henderson)
  • The New Capitalists (Davis/Lukomnik/Pitt-Watson)

  • The New Pioneers (Thomas Petzinger, jr.)

  • Completed: The Night Awakens
  • The Night Gardener (George Pelecanos)

— O —

  • Open Innovation (Henry Chesbrough)

  • Currently Reading: The On-Time, On-Target Manager (Blanchard/Gottry)

— P —

  • The Paradox of Choice (Barry Schwartz)

  • The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture and Coolness (Steven Levy)

  • Pour Your Heart Into It (Howard Schultz)

  • Completed: Praise Habit: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi (Crowder)

  • Purple Cow (Seth Godin)

  • Purpose: The Starting Point Of Great Companies

— Q —
— R —

  • The Road (Cormac McCarthy)

— S —

  • Sacred Marriage [added 09/09/07]
  • Completed, with review: Sahara (Clive Cussler)

  • The Secret River (Kate Grenville)

  • See Brand From The Inside (Libby Sartain, Mark Schumann)

  • Selling the Dream, (Guy Kawasaki)

  • Shackleton's Way (Margot Morrell, Stephanie Capparell)

  • Small Giants: Companies That Chose To Be Great Instead of Big (Bo Burlingham)

  • The Strategy Paradox (Michael Raynor) [added 04/02/07]

  • The Success of Open Source (Steven Weber)

— T —

  • Team of Rivals (Doris Kearns Goodwin)

  • The Ten Faces Of Innovation: Ideo's Strategies For Defeating The Devil's Advocate And Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization
  • .
  • Ten Rules For Strategic Innovators: From Idea To Execution (Vijay Govindarajan)

  • Theodore Rex (Edmund Morris)

  • Treasure Principle (Alcorn) [added 09/09/07]
  • Turning The Future Into Revenue: What Business And Individuals Need To Know To Shape Their Futures.

— U —
— V —

  • Visionarian(?) (Andrew Stanley) [added 09/09/07]

— W —

— X —
— Y —

— Z —

  • Completed: Zig Zag [not recommended!]

Link Friday

But first, a rant. Stupid Taco Bell and Del Taco for not taking regular credit cards. I hate those places that only accept ATM cards.

Waterworld worth visiting? - A design for a hotel built into the side of a quarry. Very neat looking.

That would be a long extension cord... a guy at MIT has designed floating wind turbines to be tethered out in deeper water where they wouldn't be an eyesore to beachfront property.

Funky Stroller - like the iBot does for handcapped, this stroller's innovative design raises the baby up so that it's not lost among people's legs in crowds.

Modern and Future Lighting - how lighting is and will be changing in the years to come.

What's New in Iran? The Tehran International Trade and Convention Center Conference Schedule for 2007

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Is it Time to Go Yet?

7:51 am - Listened to a little bit of the Ricky Gervaise Christmas Podcast on the drive in. Carl Pilkington is hillarious. It's hard to know, though, if he actually means to be. His brain works so differently that it would be easy to just call him stupid but I don't think that would be a fair assessment. Anyhow, either you've heard the podcast and know for yourself what I mean or I recommend you go out and download it free from iTunes. I think if they did more, I would be willing to pay for them if they were reasonably priced. But I haven't listened to too much of this one and they were saying they were bored of the whole thing.

My alarm went off at 5:50 and I snoozed it until 6:30. I paid some bills and had breakfast and got out the door later than I had intended. A new goal is to start going to bed earlier and start getting up earlier again. When I got to work I felt like I could do a lap or two, but then I looked at the thermometer in the car and it said 28 so I said nevermind.

I'm feeling tired this morning but hopefully I can quickly snap out of that. When I was making my cofee I tore open the Equal packet and some of the Equal-dust went straight into my mouth. That was a nice jolt.

9:01 am - Just finished devotions. Definitely tired today, yep, tired.

2:23 pm - It's been a slow day. There's no work for us, so we're doing data cleanup. It's something we need to do, but it's something we shouldn't have to do. We do it because they employee people at minimum wage to put the data into the system in the first place. People who don't know what an e-mail address looks like, what it should have (like a @ and .) and shouldn't have (spaces, commas, etc.). And they also scan some of it. So when we're collecting addresses that were rejected by the system, we have to look to see if it's a scanning problem ( instead of or a human error (like Of course, those are the easy ones.

But while I talk about scanners or people who haven't been trained, the biggest culprit? Oracle. We have this big huge fancy Oracle system that keeps track of millions of dollars and thousands of donors, but it lacks (a) the ability to check an e-mail address -- when enterred -- for missing information or invalid characters and (b) the ability to quickly update records. Right now, for each bad address we find, we have to search for that address and then go into the record, go to the tab, create a new entry for the corrected address and then inactivate the bad address and then blah blah blah blah. I can do several a minute, but it's still far more effort than should be made, considering how much I'm paid.

2:40 pm - Lori and Rachel came to visit me today at lunch. They usually bring me lunch once a week. It's a nice break, to get to see them in the middle of the day. We had soup and crackers. Then we walked around the ponds as we usually do. It was so cold. Probably less than 40. Two of the three ponds were frozen, the third was in the sun. The first one was filled with cattails but the second one was pretty much just a solid uninterrupted sheet of ice. I threw large rocks on it and marvelled as they would make a splash as they broke the ice, but then skip across the surface of the ice. I walked around a second time and brough the camera to take some photos of the ice.

4:33 pm - Is it time to go yet? It's gotten dark outside. I'm looking forward to when it gets lighter earlier in the afternoons. We'll be able to walk again after work. That'll be nice. I ought to start taking the dog for walks when it's not too cold and not raining. It'd be good exercise for both of us and we both need it. I just completed a task worse than data entry. Fortunately, it got paired back, but I'm betting it's not entirely over with. I guess that's what happens when you don't have anything monumental to do... last minute requests actually get done. Oh well. I guess that's a good thing? Someone's lack of preparation didn't cause them difficulties and if this is God's work, I guess it's all for the good that I was able to do it quickly. That old saying "A lack of preparation on your part doesn't constitute an emergency on my part." or however it goes really doesn't apply here.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Where Did 2006 Go?

Looking back at the year, the theme for me was a lack of time.

It's a rather odd theme, considering that I had a shorter commute and Lori took on a larger share of the household chores since she's now working outside of the home now. Sure, for April through September I was working a little late each night to make up time so that I could attend chapel (temps don't get paid for chapel). But where has all my time gone? I'm not quite sure... I've been reading a lot more but I suspect I've also watched more TV this year, which is kind of sad, considering I've watched far less HGTV and DIY.

Once again, a lot of electronic "ink" was spilled over the weather. I kind of find that amusing. I wonder if that has to do with my complete lack of interest in sports. I didn't talk much about my diet because it had its own website which I folded when I abandoned the project. I wish I hadn't killed it off, I'd like to go back and look at it now. The good news is that my goal was 30 and I got 27. I've gained 7 back since then, but that's still impressive. On March 1 I'll start the diet again and this time the goal is 20. I'm hoping that some others will join me and I can see how well my experimental diet works for others.

January 27 - Snow Day
But today's a day I would have really liked a snow day. Our financing plans have fallen through on the new home purchase, our home still has not had any offers, Rachel is recovering from a nasty fall (eye was still swollen shut today), I didn't get enough sleep last night (stayed up with Rachel for awhile) and this morning I had to bring the websites back to life after an upgrade last night that we knew would hose them all.
February 7 - 36 Hours
We figured it out... in the past 36 hours, we have sold a house in California, purchased a home in Washington, and I was offered a job. It's a contract job, but a job nonetheless.
March, part 1 (Los Angeles)
So here I sit, on my last day of work, in a very quiet office, with my Starbucks, my doughnut and some Seattle music while it pours outside. Yesterday I paid off all the credit cards and today I'll pay off Lori's car. Later today they're having what sounds like is a big production for my surprise going away party.
March, part 2 (Seattle)
My diet today wasn't that great. In order to try to change my eating habits, I've done some rather odd things that may or may not actually by themselves do anything good for me, but rather represent a change in thinking.

Current events and introspective... coming soon. One of my goals for the new start is to read more. Each week I am going to consult the New York Times Bestseller List for Non-Fiction and if it's a new one, then I'm going to purchase and read it. For my birthday Lori got me a really interesting book called "Blink" which I notice this week is #5.
April - I can't wait for Christmas
The affair is over. To anyone I ever told "I'm a native Southern Californian accidentally born in Seattle," I apologize. It was a lie. It's like that period of time when I thought Lowes was better than Home Depot. I fell in love with a place I could not afford to enjoy. Only now that I don't live there will I be able to enjoy it again. Trips to Disneyland will be more magical, traffic will the minor inconvenience while getting between destinations, not the norm of life. The heat, the smog, the pouring rain, it'll all be something I won't be able to see again through the palm trees. We'll say "I miss the area." and then we'll fly home and say "Nah, I don't miss it." Maybe someday, San Diego. But I can't imagine ever calling Los Angeles home again. It has a beauty, a hope, a promise, but it's better seen on the silver screen than lived by the general masses who inhabit it.

This is home.
May - A Day at Target
So that's going to be something that's gonna bug me. Here, another opportunity to catch up with an old friend, blown because I'm still just as socially inept as I ever was.
June - The Phone Call
Finally a moment of creativity. Click to read.
July - Blech
I have a bad taste in my mouth. It was a bit of pastry. Tasted good at the time. But now it's unpleasant. I think it was too much sweetness and I've been trying to decrease my intake of sweets as I try to lose weight. But it just feels heavy and I feel bummed that I gave in. Losing weight is tough and not at all fun.
August - Mine to Lose
About two weeks ago my boss came to me and took me into a private conference room where he told me that my permanent position had not yet been approved and there was an unforeseen delay. However, instead of just waiting, he recommended I apply for a new position that had just been created. It would have been more responsibility, more pay, and a great stepping stone to more and more.

And I blew it.
September - The End of Passion
Well I was washing my car today and noticed some rather unpleasant scratches on the back door, down towards the bottom. All the way to the metal. I can't imagine what from, maybe a tricycle, maybe some strong bushes, maybe a curb? I'm not quite sure.

But I look at the scratches and all I can say is "Wow! Look at these scratches." Lori comes over and is at least a little better in saying "That sucks."

But is this what it's come to? Sure, it's an object. Most of the world doesn't have a car and we have two, so should I be lamenting minor damage? Or is that all the more reason? I'm fortunate enough to have a car and so shouldn't I be upset when it gets damaged? I think most people would side with Lori and suggest not seething is actually the correct response.

But I find that hard to accept. This is my car. The biggest, most expensive object I've ever owned. (The bank or my dad owns the house, I'm not sure.) So I should take care of it and be upset when it's been damaged. Where is the passion? Where is the emotion? Should I not be upset, and shouldn't it just be expected?
October - Busy Day
I sometimes wonder what people would think if they could peek into my brain. I often feel like the best description might be an butterfly on speed with ADD. Flitting from idea to idea without even stopping to complete one before moving to the next. I think it's why it's hard sometimes to talk because I get too excited and get so far ahead of myself that I have to stop and figure out what I just said and remember what I had been thinking at the time I started speaking. I wonder if I would be a high-functioning mental case or something. But that's ok, I find it kind of amusing. I just wish I could do something with all the ideas in my head.
November - First Day of Christmas
Well, the tree is up and it's got lights on it. And maybe one ornament, I'm not sure. And there's one small tree outside with lights on it. But after a drive through the neighborhood, I know I need to do more, but there are also a lot of slackers in the neighborhood.
December - Unwritten
Wow, it's getting really bad this year. It's already December 8 and we've collectively completed 3 Christmas cards, I think. I would like to come into the season once where I'm not wishing it were over and done with long before Christmas ever arrived.

Last December I said...
So what's next? I'm going to try to get back to the diet, back to the creativity, and maybe some more regular introspective and real posts, not just commentary on the news.
I think I was mildly successful.

So how will I re-orient for 2007?

I aim to post in my blog more frequently. Overall my posting is down for the second year in a row, but we'll make the quality versus quantity arguments later. Honestly, posting isn't that difficult but I guess it doesn't always occur to me. I certainly want to post more on Rachel's blog, there have been some great recent developments.

I want to take more artistic photos. Lori and I put up a frame in our entry way that holds five photos. At the end of the month I pick out the best non-people photos and then we choose one to go into the frame, bumping the oldest one. So every month there's something new and interesting. But I want to up the ante. Less photos at the zoo and more photos out in the world. Since we replaced the broken digital camera, I have the broken one with me often so I can to snap more "life." We'll just see if I can do that without the LCD screen.

I plan to do a lot of reading. My original goal for this year was to let everyone else do the picking for me. Try to see movies with the highest box office, buy music on iTunes that was highly purchased, read books at the top of the New York Times Bestseller list. That didn't work as well as I had intended, but thanks to Jeff and Mark and Lori's recommendations I've found myself heading down a really interesting track with my reading (planned reading list in a separate post). I hope that I'll someday be able to apply my learning to my career.

I intend to be more social. I won't say much on that subject, except to say I've improved but I have a ways to go. It's becoming easier and coming more to the forefront.

The diet will return. After last year's success, I'm excited to go for round 2.

I will figure out how to be less busy. Not sure what that even means, but I intend to "re-orient" and figure out how to be less tired and feel less busy. Especially next Christmas. I essentially "missed" Christmas this year and I'm noticing how many posts I selected to recap talked about Christmas in some fashion or another. I'm a little bummed by that and hope to do better next year.

I will be a bigger help around the house. I think I've kind of slacked a little bit and I didn't mean to. I think I can do more. Sometimes it's all we can do do get the basic chores done, let alone attack the clutter. If I can de-clutter, I think that will help me re-orient.

And the little things... make it to The City monthly, try a new restaurant each month, eat at the same restaurants less often, send Lori flowers more often, don't waste time with chores or computer stuff when watching Rachel, find a new home for the dog, get the finances under control, talk to Lori's dad at least once a month, her mom at least twice a month, my parents and brother at least twice a month.

And I will revisit this list regularly to make sure that needed course corrections are smaller.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Random Thoughts

I woke up late this morning when Lori's alarm went off. I had to rush but still made it to work on time. It should be an easy day, last day before break and we're almost all done with everything that has to be done for next Wednesday.

When my alarm went off I was dreaming that I was trying to explain to someone the benefits of cross-disciplinary working-groups. My explanation was going poorly but they were still getting. My stuttering (if you can call that) has been getting bad at work lately. I don't go st-st-st-stut-t-t-t-er, but I struggle to find the right word and sit there unable to complete a sentence. I suspect that's partially a sign that I need more sleep but I still also maintain that my brain just works faster than my body can handle.

I realized this morning that most of the people I know work in the caring or leading professions: Healthcare and Teaching. I think they (you) are the ones most likely to be able to keep the idea of "changing the world" alive. But I suppose it's still hard, especially as teachers. Because we're the enemy, the adults, the ones who have messed it up. So it's a really particular skill to be able to help the students to learn on their own that they do have the power and the ability to be a force for change.

And if the CEO of your organization suggests you sit down with them and some other lower-level colleagues for a game of Risk, I don't think you should mercilessly trounce him. Especially if he's the former CEO of Parker Bros. Just a thought.

Anyway... something I was waiting for has finished, so back to work for me.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Stop Waiting

I like the sound of this song. I even like what it stands for. But at the same time, it makes me almost giggle when I think about people believing in it. Sorry if that paints me a cynic mere days before we celebrate the birth of our Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

But the song's a little sad, isn't it? We all want to believe these lyrics and can even throw ourselves backwards to high school when we might have believed something like this. What happened? We're on our way to becoming the very people our children will one day be waiting for the right to wrest power from. Perhaps the real lesson in all this is that we can't keep on waiting. Because the world won't change, unless we change it. It won't be some grand gesture, it won't be because it's our "turn." It'll be in the small ways we live our everyday lives, to paraphrase the boy scouts, leaving the world a better place than we found it.

If I can take any solace, it's that I've been blessed enough to be allowed to participate in an organization seeking to make the world a better place for children. One thing that's really popular each year is the World Vision Gift Catalog. You can make contributions for specific items -- like seeds or a goat or a share of a deep well. You can "gift" your contribution to someone else with a nice online e-card, too.

Waiting On The World To Change - John Mayer

Me and all my friends
We're all misunderstood
They say we stand for nothing and
There's no way we ever could
Now we see everything is going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don't have the means
To rise above and beat it

So we keep waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
It’s hard to beat the system
When we're standing at a distance
So we keep waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change

Now if we had the power
To bring our neighbors home from war
They would have never missed a Christmas
No more ribbons on their door
When you trust your television
What you get is what you got
‘Cuz’ when they own the information ooohhh,
They can bend it all they want

So while we're waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
It's not that we don't care
We just know that the fight ain't fair
So we keep waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change

(Guitar solo)

We're still waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
One day our generation
Is gonna rule the population

So we keep on waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
Know we keep on waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
Waiting on the world to change
Waiting on the world to change
Waiting on the world to change

The Cake is Back

Ok, March 1? Cake2. If you're interested in attempting to lose some weight next year on my weird made-up diet, shoot me an e-mail or leave me a comment. I think it'd be cool to have multiple people all doing it at the same time this year.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Is This Thing On? pt. 2

The next morning I rose and went downstairs and manually raised the garage door and got my car out and then manually lowered the locked the garage door. I drove to a corner only a few blocks (within reasonable walking distance, a way I would have gone if I had gone out anywhere the day before by myself) to a gas station just inside the Tacoma city limits. One side of the road, Pierce County, Tacoma, Gas Station, power, long lines of cars. The other side of the road, King County, Federal Way, Walgreens, Starbucks, empty parking lot, no power. (You should have seen it during the snow storm. Only one side of the street was plowed. Talk about petty.)

Anyhow, I got home as quickly as possible, manually raised the other garage door, got the SUV out, closed the garage door and went back and got in line. Because of how the station and its entrances were arranged, there was two lines and one was much shorter and there wasn't anything anyone could do about it, so I got in the shorter line, bought a tank full of premium (that's all that was left) and went home and went through the process of putting both of the cars back in the garage and closing the doors. Then we loaded the cars, secured the cats in the laundry room, loaded the dog in the back and headed for my parents' house.

Best drive to their house yet. No problems at all.

We spent the next two nights there. I was thankful for the diversion. Barkley loved having over four acres to roam and took it upon herself to explore much further. The parents loved the time with Rachel and with us and we appreciated having someone else to distract Rachel. The poor little one did not do so well. Didn't get her regular naps, spent a lot of time in the car, a lot of time being cold and a lot of time being carried around. A lot of time being around stressed out parents who asked her to be quiet.

On Sunday night we were to drive back but I started feeling ill. I was unable to stand for long periods of time and ended up e-mailing in sick.

On Monday afternoon we packed up and headed home. We had an invitation to stay at a friend's home in Federal Way but we were hoping that we could stay with my brother's fiance in Tacoma or my brother in Bonney Lake because it feels a little better to accept charity from family.

We arrived home at 2 pm. By this time, only God knows how many times we've called PSE. I'm sure PSE logged each and every call we made, but it didn't log all the times we called and their system hung up on us without even going through. The best? "Press 1 to report a gas leak. *1* Sorry, we cannot take your call at this time. Goodbye. *CLICK*" (Why did I press "1"? Because every other time we had called up until that point (and a few hours after that point), pressing 1 was the option for Gas and Electricity.)

The power was still out. We were happy to find out that while it was 38.6 degrees in our bedroom, it had never dipped below 45 degrees in the downstairs where the cats were. We were imagining cat-sicles or living the rest of their lives with cats missing toes and tails and ears from frostbite, but they seemed perfectly normal, if not a little more aloof than usual. Usually when we come back they either punish us by avoiding us or they're incredibly clingy and won't leave us alone. They acted more like we had just been down a few minutes prior to run laundry. Perhaps they had been hibernating.

We noticed the dog was bleeding from one of her paws. We couldn't find much of anything sharp in the yard she could have cut it on, except ice so were puzzled. We'd later learn my parents had found blood on the floor in their house, so whatever the dog had done she had done in Silverdale but then not bled at all in the truck on the way home. (Later examination of the paw turned up no blood and she wasn't treating it weird at all so we're watching her but not concerned.)

We went to Panda Express and then Petsmart and then Petco) looking for something warm for them to stay bundled up in (not at Panda, though). I now officially prefer Petco over Petsmart. I wasn't sure I could even tell them apart but Petco was much more open and less claustrophobic-feeling. Then we went back home and re-packed for another night away. And then we got in the car and drove to Home Depot.

As soon as we got to Home Depot, I again called PSE. For the first time ever, the person was able to give me an estimate... Wednesday, maybe, hopefully. She, of course, told me more different information than anyone else, but at this point, I was expecting a completely different story, so she did not disappoint.

As soon as we got off the phone with her, my phone rang again. Brinks Home Security was calling. Apparently our alarm system had complained to them of a low battery. Suddenly I was very excited. We have VoIP from Comcast at home, the only way they could have heard from the security system would be if the power was up and the cable was up. They told us how to intiate a battery re-charge on the system and we hurried home.

We didn't get to be excited until we were really close because all the houses near us had already had power. The houses that share our property line to the back are apparently on a different grid or switch or circuit or network or something. But as we came up the ridge, we could see street lights, and then our neighbor's kitchen light, and then we turned the corner and saw our meager Christmas display in full effect in the front yard and it was a joyous moment. We had power.

Not only had the lights come up, but the security system had reverted back to its armed stage and the thermostat had turned the heater on. It took about 5 hours to raise the temperature 27 degrees in our bedroom. I don't know if that's good or bad but it was exactly the right amount of time for us.

The irony is that at the time we were talking to PSE, the power was actually on. And yet she didn't have the ability on her computer to see anything indicating that. It took someone in Texas calling us to let us know. (I have been nothing but completely satisifed with Brinks Home Security. Of all the services we've ever dealt with... Southern California Edison, DirecTV, DISH Network, Comcast, Los Angeles Water and Power, Puget Sound Energy, City of Tacoma, Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless, Sprint PCS, Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Washington Mutual, USAA, Navy Federal Credit Union, Union Bank of California, and on and on and on, only Brinks Home Security has -- after 3 years of having me as a customer -- not yet ticked me off even once.)

All told we were 89 hours without power. And I know there are still people without power, people who made it to work yesterday, made it to work today and who have suffered more. Maybe I'm a wus, maybe it's harder with so many animals and a two-year-old. Maybe I'm a wus, yeah, that bears repeating. But I'm glad the mini-ordeal is over. And that's all I get to call it because I was never forced to live in a FEMA trailer and I was never forced to live in a tent with blankets to cover me when it was 20 degrees out like the people in Pakistan who at the same time had no food and were grieving the loss of loved ones. And that when the power goes out here we don't have to hope that someone from the same country who bombed away a lot of the infrastructure might get around to get it up and running so we can have an hour or two of power a day.

And I wasn't trapped in a car with my family for seven days, only to give up on being rescued, set out on my own, walk 10 miles in the snow and eventually die of hypothermia two days later about the same time as my family was being rescued.

And we had family to flee to. And I mustn't be bitter that it took so long to get to us because there are still lots of people without.

So in perspective, it was nothing. I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to bear it a little more resolutely but hopefully I can learn from it and re-read only these last few paragraphs when I need to be reminded of how I shouldn't take my cush reality for granted.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Is This Thing On?

Ugh... 89 hours. In some ways, not a long time. But when you're up against a monolith of non-help, it can seem like an eternity. This time, the monolith was Puget Sound Energy, a true Prince of Darkness.

On Thursday night we had a wicked, wicked windstorm. I guess I knew it was coming, but I had no idea. Depending on who you talk to, it was a 10-year storm or a 100-year storm. New wind records were reached at Sea-Tac airport and at least 100 flights were canceled, delayed or diverted. Many poorly constructed (or neglected and in need of replacement) fences blown over. One well constructed fence (by my dad and I, only about five months ago) was all twisted out of shape.

Hopefully it was only a 10-year storm because there were also 10-year storms in 1993 and 1994. (Though one of those might have also been a 100-year storm. Again, depends on who you talk to.)

Anyhow, it was an amazing storm to listen to and we knew, laying there, that it was only a matter of time before we lost power. And then we laid there listening to the thunder, rain, wind, trees falling and watching the flashes of lightning. Work was optional for the next day with our corner of the second floor being one of a few spots in either building that was operational on generator power. I opted to stay home and they kicked everyone out at noon.

We thought we could just head east and find a place beyond the storm's path, a small town where we might get a meal, and as it turned out, get some gas. We instead found a small town with no power and huge lines for the town's single gas station, who had the intelligence to have a generator running and who fortunately still had working phone lines (with which to take credit cards). Unfortunately, we weren't sure we had the gas to wait in the line so we bought a gas can and I stood in line. Well, all three of us did, but the sympathy vote didn't play out and no one offered to let us sit in their car. Turns out the sympathy vote had played out, it just took a nice couple from Ellensburg awhile to move all their luggage so by the time the guy had crawled into the front seat and rolled the window down, I was there alone. But, a really nice gesture.

I got gas, went back and put in the gas and we headed back to the Super(ha)Mall which had power. We had a nice meal, walked around a lot, had Blizzards and walked around a lot more.

We then went home. My parents suggested we come to their house, but it was after dark, we were without power and didn't have enough gas in the car to go looking for a working gas station. That night we all hunkered down in the living room with lots of blankets in front of the fireplace. We burned through all the wood we had and still woke up to 45 degree temperatures. It had been a long, long, long, cold and dark night.

to be continued tomorrow... (There are still people out there without power. If you know anyone who needs a place to stay, please call us.)

Saturday, December 16, 2006


We've relocated to warmth... yes, my parents on their dead-end street off a dead-end street in Silverdale never lost power. After trying it one night and burning through all the firewood and still waking up freezing, we bundled up the baby and the dog and headed out. The cats will have to fend for themselves. Kudos to Brad at PSE for being calm and polite and not trying to rush me off the phone as he looked up information about our outtage. E-mail's the best way to reach either of us at the moment.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


This morning when I got to work, I didn't have much to do. So I decided I was going to get all my stuff off of my hard drive and put it on the network. You know, do the responsible thing. I've never had a computer die on me, I've never lost any files because they were on a computer that died. But it had been piling up, so I decided I ought to get them off of my computer, be a good little computer user.

So I was working on that and then it was time for devotions. After I came back from devotions, my computer was off. Odd, I thought, since it had been on when I left. I tried the power button. Nothing. I got under the desk and unplugged it and plugged it back in. Nothing. So I unplugged it and plugged it in to a different outlet, thinking that was maybe the problem.

My cube-mate (we're running out of space) says "woah. smoke." I looked up to see smoke coming out of the computer. Not little wispy stuff. We're talking full-on, hope the sprinkler system doesn't kick in dirty gray smoke pouring from the vents on the top of the computer. I hastily unplugged it and tried to dissipate the smoke by waving my hand over the opening.

Well, the computer was fried. They couldn't even swap out the hard drive into another machine so I could get my data. It was all gone. Done for. The guy who came and took it from my desk asked me what I had done. I told him the story, then told him about how Dell had been pushing the little tiny computers on my boss at the last place and after a few test machines overheated, he had said no thanks and gone back to the larger sized machines. The guy looked pretty panic-stricken and said that he had just deployed 200 of them across the campus.

I guess my area won't be the last place to smell of acrid smoke for days to come.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bang 2

Today started with a bang. It was rather cool. I woke up a split-second before and then I heard the boom and the sound waves actually shook the bed. I thought leaving L.A. meant being woken up by the bed shaking was a thing of the past. But there was thunder so loud and so close this morning that the bed physically shook. That was wild. Car alarms were going off and I lay there waiting for Rachel to cry, but she never did. The water was being thrown at the windows at such a way that would give some of those L.A. rainstorms a run for their money. Unlike an L.A. rain, though, it was all over and quiet again in under 20 minutes. But, it forced me to get up a little earlier (I knew I wasn't going back to sleep after that) and so a little more leisurely getting ready for work. That's kinda nice after oversleeping yesterday.

People are coming tonight to meet Barkley. Please pray it will go well and that they'll be the ones to adopt her.


On Sunday Lori and I did a lot of chores, getting the house in really good shape. Then on Monday, I took the day off from work in order to give Lori a "day off." Rachel and I packed into the car and headed to Bellevue for the day. It was a dark and stormy day, but we headed for Bellevue Square, an upscale mall with the foresight to have built plenty of covered parking. We started at The Lodge, a parking-garage wrap-around with a bunch more stores, including a Starbucks off of a three-story atrium with a three-story rock-faced fireplace, a two-story Christmas wreath and a smattering of leather couches. Rachel and I took a table at the Starbucks music store and watched people burn CDs and hang out with their laptops while I enjoyed an Eggnog Mocha (not my favorite, I'd order any number of other things before trying that again), us a piece of coffee cake and she peaches and milk.

Then we wandered the mall aimlessly looking for gift ideas for Lori and specific items I had written down as ideas already. I got some great photos from that mall.

Then across a skybridge to another place which really should be better described. Turns out it's a hotel, some more restaurants, a bank and a The Container Store store. There was some Chihuley there, including plants twisting and growing out of a fountain that was fed by four story sheets of glass with water cascading down them. There was a really big piece installed separately where you'd miss it if someone else didn't point it out to you. I got yelled at and told photos weren't allowed and that I should hurry up and snap one more photo and then put the camera away.

Then back to the car for a drive in the dark to the Southcenter Mall. (I love the carpool lane!) The rain had been off and on all day and it was pretty on for that drive. I had the classical music turned up so that Rachel would sleep and we cruised along in the dark with the windshield wipers going steadily.

At the Southcenter Mall we wandered around, had a cookie and the waited for Lori. We had dinner together at the Rainforest Cafe and then headed home. It was a really nice day and I wouldn't mind if I could do that everyday. Maybe I should be some rich person's "away nanny" who takes kids on outings. I wish I were rich so it would be Rachel.

I did not want to work the next day. I was singing "I don't want to work, I want to bang on the drum all day." in my head as I went down to my car. I got in the car, opened the garage, turned on the radio and heard "I don't want to work. I want to bang on the drum all day." Gotta love Jack. They might play what they want, but they often seem to play what I'm thinking.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Wow, it's getting really bad this year. It's already December 8 and we've collectively completed 3 Christmas cards, I think. I would like to come into the season once where I'm not wishing it were over and done with long before Christmas ever arrived. I'll have to think about that for the rest of this season and see what I can possibly do differently next year to avoid that. (1) Do my Christmas cards in early November. (2) Do my Christmas shopping in July. (3) Take more random single days off. I'm sure I can come up with others. Readers, please hit that button below and add your own suggestions.