Monday, December 31, 2012

Self-Service

I love Fred Meyer. Round trip to car, buying two boxes of oatmeal and paying with a credit card using self-checkout. They even had the bags pulled open on the carousel. That was a nice touch.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Digital Simplification

Feeling frustrated earlier today about how much of a failure my theme of "Simplify" had been overall for the year, I decided to do something about that today.

* Deleted 32 apps from my iPhone.
* Deleted 10 apps from my iPad.
* Closed MyPoints account.
* Closed Sunrise account.
* Requested deletion of my Earndit account, after donating my points (immunize 4 children in India from Polio, provided 1 month of health care for 500 kids in Guatemala - both dependent on them hitting their goals)
* Reduced volume of Pinterest emails
* Reduced volume of Twitter emails
* Reduced volume of Google+ emails
* Unsubscribed from Manhattan Declaration
* Unsubscribed from Food Network
* Disconnected Sigfig, removed all subscriptions and requested cancelation
* Unsubscribed from All Star Ford
* Unsubscribed from Socl and deleted account
* Unsubscribed from ResumUP
* Reduced volume of MyAutismTeam emails
* Unsubcribed from 15 feeds in Google Reader
* Not today, but recently trimmed my Facebook friends of people who I don't interact with or who don't interact with me. Of course, not like I have time for Facebook or Twitter these days.

A few more to probably kill soon like e-rewards and epinions and probably more app deauthorizing to do in Facebook and Twitter.

Oh, and a trick that's been helping the past few months. At the end of each month, I create a new folder. And then I tell gmail to deliver all email (except Lori's) into that folder. That way, the number of emails on my iPhone directly relate to the number of work emails + Lori (minus any work ones that also skip the inbox). That way, I'm always only dealing with what's most recent, even when I go into that folder in gmail. Has really helped me keep my email closer to tame.

Two-Thousand Twelve

In 2011, I had the goal of a post every day. I didn't share that goal with anyone, just in case I decided to change my mind, there'd be no witnesses. I was successful and actually logged 380 posts in 2011, up from 375 in 2010. In 2012, I decided I wouldn't have any specific plans to post and, well, it showed, with an anemic, pathetic 171 total posts.

Is that pathetic? I think so. I think I had more to say, there were times where there was something nagging at me, but I never got around to writing.

One thing that was different was that I traded regular laptop use for iPad. That definitely changed behavior - I became much more about consumption versus creation. I feel that's a bit sad, especially if it's a trend and not just my experience. How much are we missing when people consume without contributing?

I will try to do better in 2013. Not for any sort of vanity or pride, but because I felt like I left a lot unsaid in 2012. And boy was it ever a year, from our trip to the ER and resulting hospital stay to the numerous power outages and all the things that made for a rather frustrating year.

Without further ado, a look back at what I *did* write about in 2012.



January 2012: Things (7 total posts)


As with all new years, it provides the opportunity for new starts, new beginnings, new attempts to better ourselves (yes, you know where I'm going with this), new goals for oneself, the dreaded new year's resolutions. [...] I have too many things. Phsyical, mental, it's all clutter. So, for this year, I'm going to have a simple motto: SIMPLIFY.

I feel like I failed miserably and I'll dive into that in a separate post or series of posts in the near future.

Also in January: I canceled or suspended a few blogs, trimmed my Google Reader list and complained that Google wasn't following its own advice. Also, cheered for Ben for a big success at school. On to January's posts...



February 2012: One Little Word (5 total posts)


I regretted it the minute I said it. One little word I wish I hadn't said. I stammered an apology and moved on. It was out there, I couldn't take it back and I hoped that it wouldn't cause the listener to discount everything my boss and I had said in the past hour, trying to make our case.

Also in February:

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Where's my water?

It's odd to me that one of the sinks at work isn't hands-free when the other two are. I could have sworn at one point it was also, but maybe it broke and it was easier to just to replace with a standard one?

I wonder if they giggle when they think of people like me walking up, holding out my hands and wondering why there's no water.

Reminds me of the episode of Better Off Ted where they have to hire white people to follow black people around the building because the new automatic lights don't seem to work right. It sounds racist, but it was actually well done and very funny. I miss that show.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Sure... Why Not? #JanBlogADay

I've been invited to join the Anti-Boring January Project* or "January Blog A Day" (inconsistent marketing, ladies!).  And by invited I mean I was tagged in a Facebook post.  Well, no, a Facebook comment Lindsey made on her own Facebook post.  Way, way, way down on the list.  Like hmmmm-there-must-be-more-people-I-can-tag down on the list.  But why not?  I'd like to post more.  Now I'll have a way to make myself look really bad when I fail to keep up.  Or maybe I'll keep up.  Or write them all out ahead of time and schedule them.  Hmm... that's an idea.  (*I only skimmed it.  It was really long.)

Anyhow, so here's the deal - 31 topics words or phrases.  Do with them what you want on the assigned day.  Beyond that, they don't care (and you know I don't).  But hey, it could be fun.  And no, I'm not sure why "favourite" is spelled so colonially when one of the authors used to live in Seattle and now lives in Minnesota and the other used to live in Seattle and now lives in New Zealand (where, yes, I know they spell it that way, but she hasn't lived there that long).  And why does Google Chrome claim Zealand is spelled wrong?  Zealand.  (Suggests "Zeal and" or "Zeal-and" or "Dreamland".)

So here you go, Lindsey and Katrina - I'm in. Sure.  Why not?  Wait... what...? Shoes?  Really? I should have read this thing more closely first.

Post a comment below if you're in.  Link to your blog entry on the subject if you want.  Not sure this blog warrants a visit from the likes of "Latrina" (don't ask) but I'm still curious and maybe just maybe they'll stop by and see how no one's taken me up on the offer and this post has the same average number of comments (zero) as all my other blog posts.




The whole list:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas with Flair

My team got together and got me "The Office Space Kit"* for Christmas.

It has a little mini red stapler, the Innitech mug, a piece of flair, cover sheets for my TPS Reports and more. Such fun. :)

I work with some neat people.

*This is an Amazon link. That's two in two days. I'll try not to make a regular habit of it - I mean, I'm not posting this just so you'll buy something. On the other hand, feel free to click the link and then go buy stuff. Every time you buy a million dollar's worth of products from Amazon.com, they give me a shiny nickel.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Stupid Country Air

This company (possibly also called "Country Aire TE" - but it shows up on our caller ID as "Country Air") calls multiple times every night. It was getting old. Our awesome Panasonic Cordless Phone with Call Blocking* does an awesome job of blocking most of their calls but they keep changing phone numbers. Just tonight they called with 253-302-4465 and 253-302-4461 and 253-267-5056 and 253-503-1484. Those ones are the most common, but then there was also one from 253-302-4233

17 of the last 50 calls received on our landline is from this company. And that's with all the health issues and medical appointments we've been dealing with lately.

I found another website which listed some more numbers for them, such as 253-203-9000. You can't call any of them, you get that "Out of Service" error alert if you try.

But then I struck gold: 253-472-8300. A guy picked up after two rings, I told him I wanted them to stop calling, he asked how many calls we'd received and when the last one was. He asked for my name and I said I didn't want to give it and he went on to the next question, asking for the number that they'd called. I gave it to him, he said he'd take care of it. He was polite, so I stayed polite.

Hopefully that does the trick because any additional calls are gonna get DNC'd.

*This is an Amazon affiliate link. Clicking it on your way to Amazon helps keep me caffeinated.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Free Christmas Music

Garritan, volume 9 is now available. It seems like it was a little late this year, but it will surely be worth it.

Garritan produces "virtual music instruments" - software for reproducing the sounds of musical instruments without the musical instrument. I'm doing a poor job of describing it, but it allows you to create music without physical instruments. I suspect this is mostly for the entertainment industry, for cases where you might want a soundtrack but not hire an entire orchestra.

Anyhow, each year, they put together a Christmas album of music created with their software and then they give it away. You can download this year's music here. (It's mostly instrumental, but in the past few years some artists have added vocals as well.)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Conspiracy

So a new conspiracy has arisen - that Sandy Hook was orchestrated by the government (or a governmental organization) as a way to garner support for a UN Small Arms treaty. A mentally ill 20-year-old was conscripted to shoot children and then kill himself.

That's even more ludicrous than the idea of 19 Saudi Arabian citizens being hired by the United States government (or a defense contractor) to hijack and crash airliners into skyscrapers in downtown New York and the Pentagon.

Where do people come up with this stuff?

I mean, seriously, anyone who believes this bunk ought to have their heads examined. The very same government that can't balance its books is supposed to be able to pull of these elaborate acts? The funding, the planning, the necessary secrecy?

Even when our government tries to keep the truth from us (Benghazi), the truth doesn't stay silent. Even when our government officials try to sneak around (Clinton, Petraeus), the truth comes out.

So anyone who wants to accuse the government of anything as elaborate as a cover-up is simply giving the government far too much credit. Trying to make anything fit into a conspiracy makes me wonder what agenda the conspiracy theorists have, trying to make the government look smarter and more effective than it actually is. That smells of conspiracy itself.

Occam's Razor, people.

Though I am still curious about Vince Foster.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Worth Repeating: Ernesto Sirolli



Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! When most well-intentioned aid workers hear of a problem they think they can fix, they go to work. This, Ernesto Sirolli suggests, is naïve. In this funny and impassioned talk, he proposes that the first step is to listen to the people you're trying to help, and tap into their own entrepreneurial spirit. His advice on what works will help any entrepreneur. More at TED.com

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dang It

So Andy Sernovitz is one of only two thought-leaders I follow in Google Reader. He's often got something interesting or insightful to say, and they're typically bite-sized, easy to consume.

Unfortunately, as much as they often resonate with me, I forward them to my friends and colleagues far less than I'd like.

Why? Because of his URL... damniwish.com (as in "Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! Unusually Useful Ideas for Smart Marketers)

Recently, I screen-grabbed an article from his website and sent it on to someone much higher than me at work. I usually like to provide links to stuff I send online. Either to give credit or to allow people to see the article for themselves. (And also because if I've forwarded something, they might want to read other stuff by the same author.)

I hate not giving people credit, so I wrote him a quick note and suggested maybe he could also reserve dangiwish.com and just post to both blogs.

He posted my comment but didn't like the idea and offered a few lessons learned, but even though he veered close, I think he missed one. Not a new idea, but one I wished he'd stated more clearly.

Branding Lesson #3: When you choose your audience (see #2), take time to think about the potential audience you are not choosing. Make sure it's an acceptable, measured cost.



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Kindle

It's an entertaining book so far, but dang that's a lot of tree. I could read longer each night but just holding this book up wears me out. 817 pages. So far I've been introduced to people in 1776 and 1980. It was recommended by EW and I've been striking out a lot lately with their suggestions, but I like this one so far. Writer has a casual easy-to-read nature.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Worth Repeating: Janine Shepherd



Cross-country skier Janine Shepherd hoped for an Olympic medal -- until she was hit by a truck during a training bike ride. She shares a powerful story about the human potential for recovery. Her message: you are not your body, and giving up old dreams can allow new ones to soar. More at TED.com

Monday, December 03, 2012

tuxederalls

Tuxederalls - Because it's after 6 pm *and* you are a farmer.

Lori and I were talking tonight about how Ben hates pants and how we'd solve everything if we just bought him a bunch of overalls.  Which made us think of that line from 30 Rock.

Liz: "Why are you wearing a tux?"
Jack: "It's after 6.  What am I, a farmer?"

And thus it was born: Tuxederalls - It's overalls in the theme of a tuxedo.  We both thought it had one of those great "Is it real, or is it fake?" names like Fishkin or Mockolate or Fishtachios.

So this is our poor Man's Patent: tuxederalls. As of 8:49 pm pst on 2012-12-03, there is absolutely no search results on Google for "tuxederalls" or "tuxedarals" or "tuxederals" or "tuxedaralls"  I'm surprised by that.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

TMI

Sometimes, our access to information can be overwhelming.

I was in a big 2-hour meeting this morning when my phone rang.  It was the city-wide alert system, but I figured it was just reminding me to vote, so I ignored it.

Soon enough, an email from my wife that our childrens' two elementary schools were in lockdown.  (Yes, our children attend different elementary schools.  Long story.)  The missed call got recorded, the voicemail transcribed and emailed to me.  Yep, the district informing us of the lockdown.

So I kept checking the district website during the meeting.  In less than an hour, the nearby high school was also in lockdown and suddenly a ring was being drawn around our neighborhood.  And I saw from Facebook that others had seen at least 9 police cars race down the street when they were dropping off their child.

A while later, an all-clear posted on the district website and a an all-clear call I wasn't able to get in time, but which also got voicemailed, transcribed and emailed to me.  By then, the meeting was over and I was able to go to a local newspaper website (how will we get our local news once the newspapers have all died?) and learn that two burglars had robbed a house in our neighborhood and the car was seen at a second house where the police apprehended one of the burglars and the stolen car and were looking for the other burglar.

So all that for a pair of robberies.  That's great, I mean, that kind of thing just does not happen in our neighborhood, and it's cool that they were that on top of things, but in the end, it was a situation that could have happened and gotten all resolved without me knowing and been blissfully unaware.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Saturday, November 03, 2012

It's Back

Barely did we all get well when sickness returned.  At least three of us had bits of that long cold that lingered for really long.  But we'd all gotten back to decent health.  But now Ben's got a fever.  We took him to the doctor's this morning and she did the checks of his heart and lungs and peered into his ears before getting out the tongue depressor (do tongue depressors grow up thinking they're going to be Popsicle sticks only to wake one day to the cruel reality of their career path?) and peering down Ben's throat.  As soon as she did, she kicked off and wheeled that little wheely chair backwards away from him really fast while exclaiming that he was definitely sick - little white bumps on his throat. 

So, a nurse was called in and together, with Lori restraining Ben, they took a culture.  The rapid test came back negative for strep so now the longer test must be done we'll learn on Monday what's going on.  In the meantime, a cycle of fevers and over-the-counter medication to make him feel better.

And so we've missed his nephew's birthday party and we have to reschedule his grandma's birthday party. 

The absolute worst part is that he's unable to even tell us how or where he hurts - just that he feels "yucky." and we're unable to convince him that the medicine will help so every adminstration (via dropper into his mouth) is a struggle where one of us has to hold him in place with his arms restrained just so the other can give him the medicine.  Of course, within 10-15 minutes the fever drops and he's giggling and laughing, but he's not making the connection with the medicine this time around.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Run Down

I went out there yesterday and just decided to run.  Did the loop around the lake, 2.7 miles.  First run in a really long time.  Today, I looked at the rain and decided I didn't want to run in that.  So, walked down the stairs and out of the building for a walk and realized, I didn't even want to walk.  I did, but man, I'm really sore from yesterday's run.  Hopefully I'll still do another run soon.  It's the danger season with Halloween candy, Thanksgiving and Christmas treats all in the immediate future.  I need to run or else I'm gonna have even farther to go next year.  It's so tough.  I just need to get to my goal weight because then my available calories each day go up.  Then it might be easier to start tracking consistently again.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

No Love for the Elevator

So my elevator theory was completely wrong.  People who take the elevator are anti-social grumpy people with frowns who don't want to engage or even make eye contact.  But mostly, I end up riding the elevator solo and just wasting electricity and not getting any health benefits.

Turns out the stairs was the right approach after all.  Lots of eye contact, lots of smiles, and actually more time to interact as one is going up and the other going down.   And I've had a few times recently where I've ended up doing a couple of West Wing walk-and-talks down or up the stairs with people.

So back to the stairs for me.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

First Sighting of the Season


Elevator

My new car is slightly shorter than my old car and I'm raised up a little higher.  While I'm not "running around in traffic in a rain poncho" like I would be in a smaller car, I get the feeling of more of a bubble in this car than the last car.  Maybe it's also my stage in life or the realization of how infrequent serendipitous encounters with people are.  

I've found myself thinking a lot of movies where people just encounter others on the street.  But in my world, those streets do not exist.  It's to and from everywhere in our cars with the windows rolled-up, the climate control keeping us comfy and music to cover the silence.

We're in our little bubbles.  And we float from hub to hub.  Home to work to home to work to home to church to home to work to home to work.  And so it goes.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Not Recommended: Gone Girl (Spoilers)

You might wonder why I've got an Amazon link if I say right in the title that I don't recommend this book.  I'm hoping you'll drop by Amazon and maybe buy something else.   That helps me caffeine addition.

Anyhow, I think this must have been another Entertainment Weekly recommendation and I might just have to stop reading EW soon.  Well, all I really read these days are the book reviews in my wife's subscription, but I'm not having great results lately, seems like their taste in books is different than mine.

I will admit, the device in this book, at least in part one is pretty interesting.  It starts on the "day of" for Nick Dunne, which you come to find out is the day his wife disappears.  Or the day Nick killed her.  Or something.  Their fifth wedding anniversary, but this is a deeply unhappy couple.

The next chapter is her diary entry from the first time she met him, over five years prior.  And so you flip back and forth, he moving forward a day or two at a time dealing with her disappearance and navigating suspicion by the police, dealing with his inlaws, etc.  At the same time, you're moving forward in time towards this date, months and years at a time along her timeline through far too detailed journal entries.  (I find it hard to believe anyone would keep journal entries that complex.)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tasked


I love the written word. It is my favorite medium for communication. In a book, I can pause, wind it back, read it again and again. I can put it down for weeks, or spend an entire weekend, book in hand.  And then there's Twitter --  challenging you to choose wisely if you want to craft something brilliant in its tiny box.  


And in work, it allows me to be connected to many people while giving me the space and peace I need. Or causes me to work many hours outside the office since email is always at hand. 

I am no brilliant writer, but I have been told I do not fully comprehend how persuasive or influential I can be in my writing, that it's something I need to be careful of since not all of my examples are positive. I love the idea of the pen as a sword, parry, swish, stab, slice, it's all there.  Writing can be as intricate as the footwork of a swashbuckler or as cutting as the heavy blade of a soldier rushing into battle. 

There is the charge that I rely too heavily on email and there are hopefully signs that I'm attempting to practice the other forms of communication, but that's not what this post is about, I've talked about that at length before.

No, today I saw something that bugged me and has stayed with me all day to the point that I finally had to get it out.  In written form, of course..

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Resolved

I'm going to make an early new year's resolution - I'm going to try to stop speaking negatively of five things: Tacoma, Pierce County, Portland, Oregon and Washington State University.  I feel like I've gone over the top negatively recently or perhaps it's become too easy or I've had too many opportunities, but I need to take a break.   It's become old, dated, routine and less fun.  So it's time to let it go and move on.  To what, I don't know.  That is to say I'm in no hurry to find new targets of derision (still not a fan of United or Sprint PCS) maybe I just spend less time speaking negatively.

This doesn't come from any course correction or anyone saying anything, just something that's been rattling around in my brain for awhile.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Night On

Why would I want to spend a night on the Hilton Facebook page? (the subject line)


Saturday, September 15, 2012

cheap

The latest in this.

People often confuse cheap with inexpensive.  Or use it to describe someone who tries to hold on too tightly to money.  But cheap, as I mean it here, speaks to something that's of poor quality.   Something made by someone who doesn't give a, well, you know.  A mass-produced object designed (not really, design implies intentionality) to simply break the minute you get it some.  A flimsy, rough, unpleasant thing that makes you feel sad just to be near.

A steering wheel that's too small or too thin.  Panels that don't match, things that flex where they shouldn't.  Sharp edges, hard corners, modeled plastic with little burrs.  It's a poorly written book, a website with error messages that at best insult you and at worst do nothing to help you resolve an issue.

Not everything must be expensive, but I try to avoid too many things where no attention is paid to detail, where stuff is good enough (far below what should count as good enough) or where the sole purpose is to get you to part with your money with no effort made to hoping for future purchases or an ongoing relationship with a brand.

Show me you care.  Help me understand why I should care as well.  Don't just bid something out to China hoping I'll buy it and forget about you before it breaks. (You'd think with all their nationalist pride, China would be wary of these tactics, but just shows you how much they're following the money when they're perfectly happy to be the source of the world's shoddy garbage.)

Sunday, September 09, 2012

If you give a mouse a cookie...

Mom and dad stayed overnight at our house with the children last weekend while Lori and I snuck away to L.A. for a very brief getaway.  Upon our return, I asked my parents "If this were your house, what's the first thing you'd work on?"  They pointed to the moss on the back deck.  I hadn't really noticed it, but they said that, untreated, it would destroy the deck.

Today I cleared everything off the deck and then ran a screwdriver between each board to loosen the moss. Of course, it also loosened some paint.  And there were plenty of places where the paint was already coming up.  I suppose I shouldn't be surprised - it has been at least six years since the deck was painted and while they did a really nice job flipping the house inside, I'm not sure they were as well versed in what to do outside, judging by some of the other places where the house needs repainting and by some of the shrubs that were planted inappropriately close the edge of the sidewalk and grew to intrude.  (Some we've removed, some are still waiting for us to remove them, but I trim them back regularly, but that makes them look bad.)

So, scraped loose paint, used a push broom, even my favorite tool, the leaf-blower - that was really great at blowing away paint that wasn't adhering to the deck at all.

Of course, then that meant getting out a hammer and nailing the deck boards back in.

Next will probably be sanding, and then repainting.

Oh, and the rainy season is supposed to start tomorrow at 11 am.  I suspect at some point we'll tarp it off and then I'll take a day off from work and Lori and I can paint.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

ugly

Attempting to work on this series some more after another long break.

Ugly actually takes some work.  Often, you're faced with bland or soulless, but ugly takes work.  Of course, in the physical world, it's hard to move beyond suggestive.  The first thing that comes to mind are cars.  I can name a few cars on the road today that I find ugly, but there are people driving them and it's not simply because they were the cheapest.  Well, maybe the Ford Pinto and the Pontiac Aztek.  Those two seemed to be universally reviled.  

So I've struggled with how to write this one.  I've actually written quite a bit and then already erased it.

If I say "What is ugly?" it's not just enough to say "Well, it's things that aren't beautiful" because that's not helpful.

Ugly is...

- a lack of attention to detail

- ugly is not caring

- ugly is harsh, clashing, overwhelming and complicated.

- ugly is stupidity and ignorance.

- ugly is neglect.

- clutter is ugly.

So I aspire not to be ugly.  I aspire to not to open my mouth and let ugly things come out.  I aspire not to be surrounded by ugliness.  Unfortunately, my work is in a cubicle with gray walls.  I have a few pieces of art made by my daughter on the wall but I make sure when I leave each night any papers on my desk are stacked in a single pile.   I have blandness as well as ugliness in piles of dirt or scary pokey weeds at my house, but that's more of a lack of time and money than anything.  Over time, we are working on the most egregious areas to make them more pleasing, to eliminate the pockets of neglect and blandness.

Clutter is also something we're fighting, especially at home.  We've made some great strides.  It'll be years (decades?) before we're clutter-free, but we have children, so a little clutter, a little chaos, a little overwhelming will have to be excused.  But I won't let myself get an ugly attitude about it.

Monday, September 03, 2012

So Worth It

Two bright shiny new cars in the garage.  Looks so good.  Ok, fine, a 13-year-old sedan and an 8-year-old small SUV.  But I spent $8 each to get them washed this afternoon.  In California, we very regularly paid to have the cars washed.  Now, granted, the cars were newer, there were lots of car washes, and they also vacuumed the insides and washed the inside windows and wiped down all of the interior surfaces, but it was something we indulged in.

And then we moved to Washington and for whatever reasons we stopped getting regular car washes... life was busier, we no longer had two incomes, it rains more here, whatever.  We stopped.  But it wasn't like we started washing the cars by hand.  The hose in the front yard is not conveniently located and it's just a big hassle to go out and wash the cars, dry the cars, etc.  So it didn't even become a case of the value of my time or the value of money, let's just call it what it was: neglect.

I've grown tired of my beautiful car looking less than beautiful.  It's 13-years-old and there is still some remnants from the paint can issue (story here, pictures here) but I still think it looks really good.  I've taken care of it and it's gotten very few door dings and most of the other damage has been replaced with new parts over the years, but it does not look like my idea of a 13-year-old car.

So today I took them both and had them washed.  I am really impressed at how good a job the automated car wash did, even on the rims.

I guess it's going to be up to me to clean the insides of the cars, but I'll probably be more motivated to do that when the outsides are clean.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

If you want to go left, you have to go right.


The Sphinx: Your temper is very quick, my friend. But until you learn to master your rage...
Mr. Furious: ...your rage will become your master? That's what you were going to say. Right? Right?
The Sphinx: Not necessarily.

So... to go wireless... I plug it in?


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Why @CNET is a failure. (An ALMOST Work-Related Post)

I love CNET.  I remember way back in the day when it was c|net.  I remember Netscape 1.1 slowly drawing each yellow dot of their yellow background.  I remember when it was a TV show before they had a website.   I've been a fan for a long time.  To be sure, I learn much more from <s>MS</b>NBC, news360 and all of the feeds in Google Reader, but I've still subscribed to CNET's Daily Dispatch forever.

A few weeks ago, it broke.  It stopped working on my iPhone, my iPad, Gmail, Lotus Notes, you name it.  I even tested it in Chrome, Firefox and the iPhone Safari instance.   I've tried it at work, I've tried it on my home network.  I've tried it on my wife's laptop as well.

And then I tweeted them with my findings, but to no avail.  (Not sure they're actually monitoring their Twitter account.)

They even made two changes during that time.  First, to make it break a little less hard, and then secondly, they did a redesign.  But it's still broken.

Every time I try to click on any link, it takes me to api.facebook.com/l.php  And no matter what I use, I get the same error "Not found."

Am I the last subscriber and is this a ploy to get me to unsubscribe?  I know they've tried to kill off this great newsletter before.

The newsletter:

The result:


Monday, August 20, 2012

Back to It

Once again, restarting the diet. My biggest problem is that there is always special occasions, reasons for me to break my diet. The good news is that lately, I get back to it quicker and I don't have as far to go. This time, I have 10.2 pounds to go and I feel good about that. We just wrapped up a week of vacation and we ate out a lot because we like to explore and try new places. We also walk a lot, so that was not bad.

So I'm back to tracking it all in Lose-It! and I ended the day with several hundred calories unspent. I got in two walks and got up early so got lots of exercising in, got caught up on Breaking Bad and got quite a bit of reading in (with more still to come tonight.). Also got a lot of chores in this evening, nice to be getting caught up on that stuff, including straightening up some extraneous finance stuff like account access and verifying old gift card amounts so that I can use them up.

It was a rough first day back at work, but there's still a lot of upside, but I did have to come to a realization today that some things that I thought were important aren't -- at least temporarily. Someone else will make them important again, but until then, I'm not going to worry about it. Because they know I'm not going to move until they signal that they need me to, and when they need me to, that will restart the process and they won't be able to get answers for a week or two after that. I don't like operating like that, but the other alternative makes no one happy. (Makes me think of that classic memo "The beatings will continue until morale improves." Yeah, good luck with that.)

Instead, I'm just going to work on stuff people care about and work on stuff that will yield results where I can have an impact. And that which is difficult but no one seems to care about, I'll let it go. For now.

That feels good to say that. And it feels good to reflect on the day. And it feels good to get up here so early I still have time to read.

---
http://about.me/James.Lamb

Why, Nissan?

For all that is right and good in the world, why, Nissan, why????


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Be Afraid

Honest to God, this was a full-sized cardboard standup at the local non-discount chain movie theater:



Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sure, why not?

If you haven't lost a job, perhaps you want to buy a beach house?


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Test Again (and then some)

Excellent. I hate the Blogger app on the iPhone and there's no native app
for the iPad, just the enlarged grainy iPhone app. And the Blogger website
itself has some unique (ok, mind-numbingly stupid and frustrating) um,
quirks, about it that makes it difficult to use at best. Oh, and it's super
slow and doesn't capture everything I type. So that's been a barrier to
entry.

Well, until I remembered that Blogger has allowed you to email a post, and
it's not a new option. I used it a few times many. Many years ago. So I
think I'll use this option to post more regularly because I can use the
iPad and iPhone email app just fine. Perhaps too well if you ask my
co-workers.

So, I'm going to try to post more regularly.

I am noticing that it did include my signature, but it was a website
address and ended up as a link in Feeddler from Google Reader. That's good.


A few more tests. I suspect they will fail, but will try anyhow.

<!-- more --> (more test)

<a href="http://tvjames.blogspot.com/">my blog</a> (link test)

#hashtag test $TSLA cashtag test.

<hr>
<hr nshade size="1"> (rule tests)

<table><tr><td>1</td><td>2</></tr></table> (table test)

<font color="#FF6600">orange</font> (color test)

I expect all of these tests to fail, but I want to know what's allowed and
what's not. Sorry/thanks.



---
http://about.me/James.Lamb

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Call it a priority maybe

Read a post on Lifehacker recently that's stuck with me - to boil it down, it said "Don't say you don't have time, say it's not a priority.". Sorry, didn't file the TPS reports because I was busy. No, I prioritized something else ahead of it.

I've really been liking it - I've started to try to think about it at work when declining meeting requests or setting aside an email to maybe get to later.

But in my non-work life, I've struggled with it. There are a few things I currently am not doing but would really like to be. But it finally dawned on me tonight - unlike work, not all non-work hours are created equal.

For one item, I need 20-30 minutes of quiet where I can listen to a recording and take notes. This was best done at home while exercising in the morning, but I've had trouble getting up lately. Perhaps I've been prioritizing sleep over that exercise and that podcast, but it's been unavoidable. Other times when I exercise it's either not stationary (at work, outside walking or running) or it's not solitary (while watching TV with Lori).  I do want to start doing those things again, so I have to work harder at getting to sleep sooner or figure out why I now need an extra hour of sleep. I suspect it's the weather.

For another, I need 30-60 minutes weekly during daylight hours to wash the cars. That's actually difficult to come by because there are other chores (priority) but also it's more difficult to do something on my own because that means I'm not helping with the kids and stuff. The solve here is to start paying for car washes again. I can buy extra time.

There's this blog. Clearly not a priority for me this year. Last year I had a goal to blog every day and I did. Plus some in other blogs. Not so this year. That saddens me, but I can fully own it. We'll see if I decide to change that for next year.

And finally exercise. Mixed bag. I could probably create the time for more running. I haven't. Clearly getting down to my goal weight isn't a priority.  That's sad, but at least I can be honest about it.

I am happy with most of my current time choices. There are still things I wish I were doing but am not, but there's little I am doing and wish I weren't. The rest becomes a consideration of both priority and availability of the right kind of hours for the thing I want to do but am not. Or if there's anything so worth getting done that I pay someone else to do it or something else allowing me time to do it myself.

That feels good to think that through. Liberating.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

120: Mad Lib

Rachel provided 3 nouns: world, drinks, food.

"You want food?" the elephant asked the squirrel.

The squirrel nodded and then elephant blasted him with water.  "Have a drink first!" He said, laughing.

The poor, wet squirrel ran off crying.  He returned a few minutes later with a Red Panda and a small Arctic Fox.

"Oooh, I'm so scared," the elephant said, laughing.

The started towards him menancingly.  The elephant, it turned out, was scared.  He was a big bully.

He fell down the hill and into their spaceship and they blasted him off into space.  And he had a nice view of the earth.  Until his oxygen ran out.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Worth Repeating: Nicholas Christakis

We're all embedded in vast social networks of friends, family, co-workers and more. Nicholas Christakis tracks how a wide variety of traits -- from happiness to obesity -- can spread from person to person, showing how your location in the network might impact your life in ways you don't even know.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Worth Repeating: Esther Duflo

Alleviating poverty is more guesswork than science, and lack of data on aid's impact raises questions about how to provide it. But Clark Medal-winner Esther Duflo says it's possible to know which development efforts help and which hurt -- by testing solutions with randomized trials.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Worth Repeating: Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question "Why?" His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers ...

Monday, July 16, 2012

satisfied

Yeah, every post now comes with the "It's been too long since I posted." note.  Bah.

I'm on vacation, sort of.  I took the week off from work while Lori and Rachel are at VBS because last year Ben did not do well in the nursery for three hours while I was at VBS in a role that didn't have much to do except during the opening and closing. (Attempts to find or make work didn't really amount to much.)

So this year, I decided I would take the time off, spend it with Ben and do therapy-type stuff.  I always say I wish I had more time to do that, so this was the perfect opportunity to do it.

And what a great day it was.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Worth Repeating: Nathan Myhrvold

Nathan Myhrvold and team's latest inventions -- as brilliant as they are bold -- remind us that the world needs wild creativity to tackle big problems like malaria. And just as that idea sinks in, he rolls out a live demo of a new, mosquito-zapping gizmo you have to see to believe.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

chaos

The break from this series was both ironic and way too long.

 I admire people who can wade right into chaos.  Not me.  When chaos strikes, I need to step back.  I need information, I need time to process it.  Otherwise, I'm overwhelmed and can become indecisive or unable to act.  This can even be as simple as being asked to make a simple choice about where I'd like to have lunch.  I've learned some coping mechanisms, such responding with a request for a finite (preferably 2) set of choices.

I've really seen this play out rather dramatically in my son who has autism - too much of anything can overwhelm him.  Noise, motion, light.  His hands go to his ears, or he'll bury his face in your leg or he may just lay down and refuse to move.

I can also be overwhelmed by chaos represented by clutter. Sometimes it manifests itself as claustrophobia and I feel an immediate need to escape and other times, it becomes a compulsive need to bring over from the chaos, regardless of how much more important some other thing is.  Other coping mechanisms can be the "dirty room" where everything goes until I'm in a better mind to deal with it.

During a session with our daughter's neurobehavioralist, my wife and I learned a lot about each other.  She does not see the clutter as a problem like I do and is a "spreader" - if she can see it, she can find it again.  I would frustrate her no end when I would move stuff from the kitchen to the dining room table in an effort to clean the kitchen.  It turned out that it wasn't the moving, but the piling and re-sorting I did as I moved, believing I was helping.  My wife's still not 100% happy that I move stuff, but now I keep things the way they were when I relocate and her stress level's gone way down.  (I move because the goal is always to then move on to the dining room next, though I'm rarely as successful there because there's no next place to move things that I don't know what to do with.  Except the family room, but we've already done that too many times and agreed not to put more in there until we've dealt with what's already in there.)

My anxiety around clutter and chaos fits so perfectly with my desire for simplicity.  There will always be chaos I can't control, but there's no sense in me adding my own, or adding complexity that can become chaos.  Remember the Milk and Evernote are two tools I use to keep my life straight in this regard, using principles from Getting Things Done - get it out of my head and confidently know it's stored where I can find it again.


Worth Repeating: Ellen Dunham-Jones

Ellen Dunham-Jones fires the starting shot for the next 50 years' big sustainable design project: retrofitting suburbia. To come: Dying malls rehabilitated, dead "big box" stores re-inhabited, parking lots transformed into thriving wetlands.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Holding Pattern

I realized late last night that I've been acting like I'm in a holding pattern - that I've been mentally "holding my breath."  I can't completely explain it, but I've been holding back, holding off, restraining myself.  I've been unwilling to do what I normally do, pursuing what I normally pursue.  I've been delaying, postponing, deferring, thinking "someday," and "eventually."

I've been trying to figure out the source and I've come up with quite a few.  First, there's my stupid injury.  Nearly two weeks ago I stepped on a child's block on the stairs, lost my footing and ended up falling.  I banged down a few steps before coming to a stop with that block lodged firmly in the small of my back.  For nearly two weeks now, my tailbone and back have been in pain.  Sitting hurts, laying down hurts, sneezing hurts, running hurts.  It's been pretty annoying and so I haven't run much.

Secondly, there's a new game for my iPhone/iPad that I've been quite addicted to called Grabatron.  You pilot an alien spaceship that has a giant grabbing claw on the bottom.  You pick up cars, tanks, rocks, sheep, mobile homes, etc. And then you throw them.  It's violent, it's cartoonish and it's actually quite fun.  You control the ship by simply starting with your phone held flat and then tipping it in the direction you want to go, tapping the screen to engage or release the claw.  The gameplay is fun and it gets intense when you have to make sudden moves to dodge gun fire from farmers, police or commandos and rockets from soliders, tanks, helicopters and missile launchers.  It has a 1950's feel to it, but it's a bit anachronistic when the sleek and deadly helicopters come after you.  So I've been playing that instead of reading.

Third, I've not been sleeping well.  So I end up staying up at night playing on my phone and then I sleep in and don't get up and do my morning exercise or listen to the podcast.  And then at night, all I want to do is watch TV, not really read Google Reader or post in my blog.

Fourth, I've been totally cheating on my diet.  Every time I've turned around, there's been goodies in the house - leftovers from baked gifts Lori's made for teachers, birthday parties, fourth of July, etc., etc., etc.  I've been unable to avoid all the amazing goodies and I have absolutely no willpower.  The way to keep me on my diet is to keep tasty treats away from me, the way to make me break my diet is to put tasty treats within reach.  Sadly, that's it.  So lately I've also gotten back in the habit of eating handful after handful of cereal right from the box.  It's a really bad habit.

There's been a lot of uncertainty at work.  There's a weird power thing going on above me between my former and again current boss and my most recent boss.  I feel like I'm caught in the middle and my current role means I have a responsibility to both of them (regardless of the org chart structure) and I succeed when I help both of them succeed, so it's kind of this weird dynamic.  I don't want to overstate my own role, but it's slightly undefined and so there's a lot of potential there to shine and that'll be the easiest when they are both comfortable with what I'm doing, but they don't have the exact same goals, so it's tricky to navigate.  Making it more confusing, part of my role is a role that's very slowly being vacated by someone who's leaving the company, but doing it very, very slowly.  His family's next chapter is elsewhere, but it's been a bit of a journey for them to determine exactly where, and then he's had to navigate finding a new job and buying a house and all the preparations for them to move.  So I'm slowly moving into his role, slowly exiting another role (complicated by stuff I can't talk about here) while keeping a few other roles, while he guides and coaches me from the sideline all while we're redesigning things as a result of the re-org we took the opportunity to do to align with his departure.

And this one is weird, but I think Ben's autism is also causing me to kind of be "stuck" - from the very few traumatic/painful experiences I've had to endure, you figure they have an end.  Whether it's a financial hardship, or even an injury or loss - you know there will be grief, a feeling out of the ordinary, but that at some point, things will change - that there will be a new normal, or you'll eventually pay off the financial problem or something.  But Ben's been diagnosed as "PDD-NOS" and the last part of that is "Not Otherwise Specified" which means that at some point we can expect a different diagnosis probably.  But I don't know when, so I feel like it's something I should be waiting for.

There's also all the stuff I want to do, ideas that float around in my head, unformed - like things in the yard and house to eventually do when we eventually have the money.  And then two other things I'm working on but not yet ready to talk about.  All this weighs on me.

And then there's the heat... that's making me sluggish and also makes it hard to sleep.

And email.  Both my work and home email boxes are overflowing.  It's bad.

I've also felt on the edge of irritability, that I'm bombarded by constant noise and demands and don't have a moment to myself to think.  Part of this is my own fault, like right now, trying to type this close to dinner time in the kitchen.  (It feels a bit selfish, too.)

But I've got to break out of it.  This post is helpful, but I think some good sleep will really help.  As will returning to my to do list and being productive and getting stuff done.  Also, writing down the other stuff, getting it out of my head, that will help as well.

So, as soon I'm done with this post, I'm firing up Remember the Milk and Evernote and getting to work.  This slump will end.  Already today I logged all my food in Lose It! and pared down my list in RTM to a reasonable list of things that are potentials to get to tonight.  And in the near future, it'll be time to weed my inbox.  And the yard.

Onward!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

120: The Sound

As he got out of his car and walked to the track, he marveled at how spectacular a day it was.  Blue skies, a few wispy clouds.  Warm, but not overly so.  He walked onto the track and immediately broke into a slow jog to warm up.  His shoes made a soft and rhythmic thud.  A slight breeze created a headwind, but it felt oh so good.  The overgrown brush alongside the track and the trees amongst it rustled slightly and the smell of cut grass rose up to meet him.  In the center, two families played at opposite ends of the soccer field, joyful shouts.  As he picked up speed, he passed two ladies walking slowly and talking about their day.  White noise from the nearby road provided a backdrop over which birds chirped and the soft drone of a plane could be heard as it passed overhead.  Not by him, though, his headphones shoved in his ears and loud music cranked up robbed him of one of his senses on this fine day.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Worth Repeating: Johanna Blakley

Copyright law's grip on film, music and software barely touches the fashion industry ... and fashion benefits in both innovation and sales, says Johanna Blakley. At TEDxUSC 2010, she talks about what all creative industries can learn from fashion's free culture.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

#Autism, God and Parenting

It's been too long since I've blogged. Things have been hectic and it's led me to just want to chill in the evenings - Google Reader, Grabatron (an addicting iPhone game) or maybe regular reading, but nothing that's involved actually thinking.

But yesterday I was reading some autism articles and I was thinking about how normally when I become interested in learning more about a subject, I'll find sites about it and put them in my Google Reader.  But then I realized that much of what I read about people's experiences with autism is so depressing that I don't want to put more in my life - these aren't things I can learn from and the topic is so foreign that I guess I'm not ready to become well versed in it.

But I've read a couple of posts recently that have bummed me out more than normal - about people who see their autistic children as proof that God doesn't exist, or who, after receiving the diagnosis rejected God  and turned their back on their faith.

We received our daughter's ADHD/OCD/ODD and our son's Autism-PDDNOS diagnosis within a few months of each other.  It was a crushing blow, but our faith in God is what pulled us through, gave us something to lean on, to focus on, a place to shout "Why????"  Answers were not immediately forthcoming, but we knew we were heard.  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Worth Repeating: Billy Graham

Speaking at TED in 1998, Rev. Billy Graham marvels at technology's power to improve lives and change the world -- but says the end of evil, suffering and death will come only after the world accepts Christ. A legendary talk from TED's archives.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

opacity

Hey, did you hear?  I'm doing a series on identity.

Opacity in the most simplest definition is when light isn't permitted to pass through something.  So when I say that opacity is a trait that I am opposed to, I think it means that I value transparency.  I don't like it when I can't understand motives or reasons.  To me, opacity means a lack of information and therefore, a hinderence to the ability to truly make an informed decision.

Opacity is when motives aren't clear (and therefore suspect), or when directions are given without explanation as to why.

Some of these negative traits end up being difficult to write about because I don't know how much to say about them except that I don't aspire to them.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

dishonesty

Back to the series, finally.

I think we all know have a good idea about what dishonesty is, probably one of those things most of learned in kindergarten but then tested the limits of, at least in the simplest form of lying.

Dishonesty is the intentional intent to provide false information, either by lying or by failing to provide accurate information in situations where it's called for, where volunteering it is the right thing.

I know it's not black and white, I know that there are times when I lie, but it is rare.  I'm probably more guilty of failure to offer up information.

Why did I put this one on the list?  I think because it's contrary to something I believe strongly in, the freedom of information.  And disinformation can be worse than the absence of information.  I think I'm looking at dishonesty from the perspective of selfishness.  We tell lies because we want to make it easier on ourselves, we want to get away with something we shouldn't, because we want something that for our own personal gains that would not be accessible truthfully.

So, yeah, not something I aspire to, not something I desire in those I keep close in my life.

Worth Repeating: Susan Cain

In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.

Weight loss update

It's been a long time since I posted an update. I keep meaning to, but then another day an another day goes by and now faced with so much lapsed time I'm asking myself if I really want to do the wok necessary to get caught up - and I've decided I don't - that it's not th best use of my time.

There's no evidence that it helped me stay accountable to post and no evidence that being so open about my own weight loss has helped anyone else, so I think it was jus clutter in the archives of this blog.

That said, things are coming along well - I'm down to 150.4 as of this morning - 5.4 pounds from goal and highly motivated to get there. I've gotten out of the habit of snacking late at night while exercising and I'm drinking a lot more water now (I'm addicted to the carbonated flavored waters). I am also mentally preparing for the need to replace most of my wardrobe - I've reached the point where stuff is just to big to the point of looking bad or becoming difficult to wear - like pants - so much bunched material at waistline that it's annoying/uncomfortable.

So I am going to donate a lot to charity with the goal of keeping a much smaller set of coordinating clothes. That should lend to simplicity and allow me to be more consistent in my presentation and mean less laundry - not Steve Jobsian with a single outfit uniform, but a narrow enough set that it becomes my "style".

I am apprehensive because that will involve some cost and some research (because this is not my strong suit heh) and probably also maintaining a wish list so people who like buying me clothes don't risk buying me something that I'll immediately return or donate.

But yeah, I like the idea of a consistency or predictability, my own personal style guide for fashion, if you will.

I am also anxious about the idea that this could make shopping more unbearable because I'm money-conscious. I guess I need to finish my personal vision/mission process so i can use it to help inform.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

busy

I'll get back to the series soon. Just when I thought it couldn't get any busier... It may have. I think we're on the other side, but yeah, craziness around here. It's meant that by the time I came down here for my nightly exercise, I've not wanted to post, just wanted to watch TV and maybe do some Google Reader.

I had a brief period without reading, but I've picked it back up at night with a leadership book my wife grabbed from the "new arrivals" section of the library and I've started using the time after the morning podcast the last few mornings to read some back issues of Fast Company from the stack. I also read more of Tale of Two Cities on my Kindle while I walked at lunch today. Crazy weather (monsoon or heat wave) has made exercise unappealing but I'm trying to get back to running and walking. Several parties this past weekend saw really bad diet failures and I'm paying for it now with my weigh-ins, probably set myself back at least a week. But I am starting to notice that my clothes really really don't fit anymore. Before too long I'm going to need to donate most of my wardrobe. It's starting to actuslly look bad - I'm swimming in some of my shirts and pants to the point that shirts won't stay tucked in. It's cool butit's another thing to think about and budget for.

We sat down at work and listed everything I'm doing and then crossed out a bunch. The hard part is that everyone else is so busy that we haven't told people about some of the cross outs yet because it will mean some things are no longer being done and some things are now going to fall to them. And I don't think this is the end of the changes. There's one more thing looming at work that I'm waiting to see the impact of.

But right now things are good. Starting to get back on track. I'll feel more on track when laundry's caught up, back lawns are mowed (mowed the front lawns tonight - so stinking tall) and I'm able to start doing new work in the yard again. And a car wash. Way overdue. And an oil change. It's time to get that done but I'm worried it'll turn into other stuff that needs to get done. I might just rent a car when I drop it off and just plan on them having it a few days and charging me a lot of money.

But, yeah, things are good. Fat and happy. Less fat, more happy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Scoop (A Work-Related Post)

I've followed the Litmus blog since they were first mentioned in another email blog a few years ago. We recently became a Litmus customer so that we could learn more about where our emails were being opened. It is a fascinating tool - we knew mobile was taking off, but the amount of our audience that opens on a mobile device was much higher than we expected. Much higher than the stats being offered at this year's EEC back in February. (Do you know your mobile stats?)

Anyhow, Litmus recently released a rather interesting consumer-facing tool: Scoop. As an email marketer, it has some implications that should be considered.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Book Review: Southern Discomfort by Margaret Maron

Lori handed me Southern Discomfort and I was at first drawn to the film noir style writing on the cover and the picture containing a woman looking at blueprints with a house being constructed in the background.

I started reading the book, which was rich with detail, but began complaining because it felt like *nothing* was happening.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Worth Repeating: Jennifer Pahlka

Can government be run like the Internet, permissionless and open? Coder and activist Jennifer Pahlka believes it can -- and that apps, built quickly and cheaply, are a powerful new way to connect citizens to their governments -- and their neighbors.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

simplicity

Onward, the series continues.

My last entry bugged me for awhile but I had trouble figuring out why. Finally, I realized that it was because it was more of a list (and probably incomplete) than any sort of examination. Oh well. Perhaps it was one that's harder for me to pin down.

Anyhow... Today's is a good one, though one I won't spend a lot of time on because it's a variant on this Year's motto of "simplify" -- simplicity.

To me, simplicity is the opposite of mentally taxing. That's something that just works, that's the absence of stress, it's a calmness of being exactly what's needed and nothing more. It's not dumbed down, but it's also not veiled, hinted or obtuse. I realize that to get there is actually more work, but it's a place I want to be.

Monday, June 04, 2012

beauty

Another in the series - collect the whole set!

Beauty, eh?

Beauty feels like an easy one. Whereas richness dealt with what went into something, I think beauty is the outcome. I see beauty everywhere, both in nature and in made things, in people and in objects.

Often when I leave work, I can look up at blue sky, fluffy clouds and tall trees. Beautiful.

A fine automobile with graceful lines that evoke speed even when standing still. Beautiful.

The laughter of my children. Beautiful.

My wife. Beautiful.

Book Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

I had high-hopes for Tempest by Julie Cross. I've been pleasantly impressed by the Hunger Games and Divergent series and so when Entertainment Weekly talked about this as another young adult novel with a slight dystopian outlook about a guy who has learned that he can time-travel and who watches his girlfriend die and then must figure out how to prevent it, I was like "sold."

But, I can't recommend it... (and here be the spoilers)

Sunday, June 03, 2012

richness

Moving on to the values section of the series.

Sometimes I have a difficult time describing richness.  Sometimes I feel like it's something that I appreciate but don't do enough to cultivate or exhibit in my own life.  It can treat one or more senses, but richness is something you can feel.

When I speak of richness, I'm not talking about money in any way - I'm talking about a craftsmanship, texture, layers, depth.  I'm talking about walls that aren't white, gray or beige, crown molding and recessed lighting, a song that makes excellent use of a symphony or orchestra.  It's a garden full of color, plants of differing heights and colors mixed together carefully to produce a pleasing display.

Richness, to me, is careful cultivation.  It's planning.  You can see that effort that was made.  It may not always be to my taste, but it's something I can look at and see that careful thought went into the effort.  

Saturday, June 02, 2012

politician

The first NOT of the series.

This turned out to actually be the most difficult one I've written so far.  I thought Christian would be.  My perceptions of how people would receive it, both those who are resistant to Christianity and religion, but also those who also believe like me but might wonder if I was missing something or getting something wrong.

But this is more difficult.  To define what I'm not, I have to first define what I think it is, and then say that I can't relate to, or more accurately, do not like those traits, do not aspire to those traits, wish to live a life in which I exhibit those traits as infrequently as possible.

My first attempt at this started with my perception of politics and all that I find wrong with them and then quickly veered into what I was worried was far too much an indictment of my workplace and co-workers. I felt uneasy about it, asked my confidant (and a much smarter person) -- my wife -- to read it over and it didn't sit well with her.  Though her first comment was "Wait... now you're claiming undiagnosed Asperger's as well?"  Well, we all knew I am, if not a hypochondriac, at least extremely suggestible.

I'm probably not, but there's a lot to like about Abed, who says what he thinks, is straightforward, someone whose intentions and thoughts and motivations are easy to understand.  If you don't know who Abed is, that's sad.

Worth Repeating: Rob Reid

Comic author Rob Reid unveils Copyright Math (TM), a remarkable new field of study based on actual numbers from entertainment industry lawyers and lobbyists.

Friday, June 01, 2012

@Ford is Tacky

Too much?  Too soon?  Or am I too sensitive?

This just feels icky.  I like a good zombie joke as much as the next guy, but tying it to the recent events in Florida and Canada?  Euuuuwww... I can't believe you went there, Ford.  

(click to enlarge)


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Christian

The latest in this series.

I am a Christian. That is, I believe God exists, I believe Jesus Christ is also somehow God but distinct. I can't explain it, but it's not a polytheistic thing and I'm not here to try to convince you or debate the issue. This is my blog and this is about me exploring my me-ness in all its facets as a precursor to developing a mission or vision statement or whatever. I kind of hate this disclaimer, but I feel it's necessary. I've encountered way too many people who feel that I am delusional or confused or stupid because of my faith and I'm not always confident in my ability to respond and so it can be frustrating.

I was raised in a home that alternated weekly between my Mother's Catholic church and my Father's Lutheran church. In high school I moved to a different church and in college I mostly avoided church except when I could get home to "my" church or when someone of the female persuasion told me I was accompanying them to church. The college had Lutheran in the name, but it was hard to find God on that campus. There wad church services and Campus Crusade, but while I was attending, there was also a proposed new mission statement that no longer included Jesus. After college, I found another church, Lutheran, because that's what I knew. We married at a Presbyterian church because it was more attractive than the Lutheran church and as we moved further east into that other valley, we stumbled into a non-denominational church. This is where I first really understood the concept of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and where I decided that I would never again claim allegiance to any denomination. The fact that this personal relationship concept was new to me after so many years in the church, acknowledging my own complicity, is an alarming, if not worse, indictment on these churches. I wouldn't say I was memorizing scripture, but I attended church weekly, sang the worship songs, read my Bible, attended Bible studies but yet somehow this concept alluded me. I believed in heaven, I believed I would be going there when I died, I believed accepting Jesus into my heart was the key, but then it was like it stopped there - grace was enough.

But, not a church does a Christian make, nor religiosity and its trappings salvation bring.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

employee

Part 3 in a series.

I've been working for what seems like forever. I filed my first income tax return when I was 14. As kids, my brother and i had a gag gift shop and we collected aluminum from neighbors on garbage day (there was no recycling collection back then).

I've found that it's the least risky way to get someone to give me money, to show up somewhere and help out.

In most cases, things have worked out well for me. I've been laid off a few times, fired a time or two. (I still say that one company fired and rehired me multiple times, but they say I might have been misinterpreting my reasons for temporarily not needing to show up for work and also not receiving money. A couple of times people have begged me to help them and then turned around and begged me to take their money. I have been employed in as many as four part-time jobs simultaneously.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

husband and father

Part 2 of what may be a very long series.

Interesting things happened today. The thing I was working on at work but didn't think was a fit for me. It was cancelled. And I was actually a lot more disappointed than I would have thought. It was a temporary cancellation and I resolved to ask to be put back on it when it picked back up. I decided I wanted to see it through, I wanted to prove I could do it, and I believed in what it was. Well, some other people got pretty mad, things were said, others got even madder, meetings were held and by the end of the day, it was uncancelled and I quickly retrieved a bunch of stuff from my recycle bin.

Anyhow, this post isn't about that.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Identity

I've been thinking recently about who I am.

At work, I've told no less than two supervisors that I don't have any interest in a particular role, I don't think I am skilled at it, I don't want it for a career and I was recently tapped to fill just that role. I'd like to think I'm a good sport and I've already committed to do whatever's asked of me, to the best of my ability because I really like working there and don't want to fall into the trap of being selfish or ambitious or political. So I've dived in. It's felt like it's taken me awhile to get up to speed and it was obvious that they weren't happy with my progress either, but I think I'm actually now doing better than average and I get the sense that they're a little impressed and a little appreciative of what I've been able to do. I would hate to think I'm misreading the room or a little full of myself, but since it wasn't something I felt like I would have any proficiency for, I think things are going better than I expected.

Online, I recently took a week off from Facebook. I got over my addiction

Book Review: The Expats by Chris Pavone

This must have been one I picked up based on a blurb in Entertainment Weekly. I'm not sure why, but it's been letting me down lately. Whatever method my wife has been using to choose books (which she hands off to me when she's finished) has been working a lot better considering ones she's recently handed me in the last six months (Hunger Games, Divergent, an old one from 1993 that I'm currently engrossed in). Odd, since it's her subscription to Entertainment Weekly.

In any case, there were parts of The Expats that I liked - descriptions of Europe and the life of an expat - things I've not experienced. I don't know if they were accurate, but I could understand and transport myself into the descriptions, which it something I always appreciate about books. However, there were too many twists and turns, too many tidy endings (think of how movies based on Saturday Night Live characters turn out) and too many people that seemed to have noble reasons for deeds that were far from noble. The depths of deception here was amazing for characters who didn't seem like, in their current actions, to be able to pull off such deceptions.

I've complained a lot recently about a plot device in TV shows that have annoyed me to no end

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Breakthrough

Interestingly enough, church today touched on both "Nothing" (my post for yesterday) and "Breakthrough" (what I had already decided to call this).  Despite my grand plans to do "nothing" this weekend, they played a video that asked us not to do "nothing" - that at the very least we should be praying for our armed forces who are deployed, their families waiting at home for them, and for those families whose armed forces won't be coming home.  At least not in a joyous homecoming.  That's fair.  But I was of those minor sucker-punch "d'oh"s of irony.  

The sermon series has been on final days and it's been kind of interesting - not the usual run through Revelation, but looking at other things.  In today's case, Elijah.  On his last day, he and his attendant Elisha walked 35 miles, visiting four towns.  For whatever reason, it was quite well known that this was Elijah's last day on earth and so he was visiting places where he'd founded schools.  But our pastor also used it to describe stages of Christian life and the final city he related to breakthrough - a place of new blessings.  (the other stages were "beginnings," "seeing God's presence," and "past victories."   Breakthroughs was the one I had the least amount of notes on, but I still found it surprising that those two terms came up so obviously for me in church this morning.)

So the breakthrough I wanted to share was an eating breakthrough.  Ben has texture issues and also just some general eating issues.  He doesn't like slimy food and he likes to hoard food in his hands.  But this morning before church, I decided I was going to work with him.  Lori was on worship team so she and Rachel had gone to the early service.  So Ben and I were left to get ready on our own to go to join them for the later service.   With ample time, I decided I'd work with him on eating.

Day 46: 155.9


Overall, it is definitely harder to get Free Step in on weekends.  I brought the Wii upstairs and had a chance to get more exercising in.  Did some other exercises as well.  Hopefully we'll get off this plateau soon.  So instead of just entering in the oatmeal as usual, I scanned recently and discovered that it was coming up 20 calories less than I had been entering.  Sure enough, at some point they'd changed it and there it was pure as day right there on the box 160 instead of 180.  Go figured.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Day 45: 155.9


Oops, that should have been 700 for lunch and 700 for dinner but can't really be bothered to change it now.  The 700 for lunch was a conservative estimate for Menchies.  It starts out healthier, until you add in stuff.  It was Lori's estimate, she's better at that kind of stuff.  Nice walk as a family.  Should have done more free step but was too tired.