Thursday, January 31, 2013

31. Favourite #JanBlogaDay

If we're going to get all fancy, then I'm going to write about my favourite flower.  Yes, I do have a favourite flower.

I've always known of this plant as "Celosia Plumosa" (That's "Celosee-UH" not "Celosee-AH") but Wikipedia redirects to "Celosia Argentea" (a nice name) and notes that it's also called "Plumed Cockscomb," which is not nearly as nice a name if we're trying to keep it fancy.

Like a cross between a cake pop and my favorite holiday, they typically look like fuzzy little Christmas trees on stakes in vibrant colors.

I don't have any interesting stories, I just like the look of these flowers and should probably see about growing some at this house.  I think I've grown them in the past but can't remember if it was here and they died or if it was at the old house.   Here's a bunch more photos on Google Images.

It's been a fun (but exhausting) month.  I hear Latrina's got something less intensive in store for February.  Can't wait.

Day 31 of January Blog a Day.

The whole list:

January 2013: Month's End (Already?)

Busy month. Not much to say about it.  Feel like there's more I want to say but not just yet.  Which means it'll have to be its own post later next month.

simplify - It's been on my mind, but I'm not sure I've done a lot in that area. I cleaned up some stuff that had been bugging me in my bedroom, but there's plenty of other places to declutter. I started using my Kindle instead of my iPad at night in order to do more reading and less playing of games.

Diet - Hit and miss. I haven't been serious. I keep thinking that running will save me when it gets nicer. Scary thing is, it's about to get nicer. Wish I had walked more, but it was cold and rainy at lunch often. And dark before and after work.

Work - A much calmer month. Things are a little confusing.

Family Present Ideas - Didn't come up with any.  Need to be more intentional about this next month.

February Goals - Read two books, take photos of all of the family, update my photo across the internet, apply moss killer to driveway and roof, regrout bathtub, eat at 1 new restaurant, visit 1 new park or tourist attraction with the family.

My Favorite Posts

  1. Ten Things Fail Jameses for the Day #JanBlogaDay -- I look at what might derail me and how to avoid it. I didn't realize at the time how beneficial this would be for me. (2013-01-13)
  2. Mood Board #JanBlogaDay -- This turned out to be a fun exercise. Fortunately it was planned for a long weekend. (2013-01-21)
  3. How To: Save the Postal Service (@USPS) -- Is it too late for the United States Postal Service? Here's some creative ideas to make it more relevant. (2013-01-04)
  4. Drama (A Work-Related Post) -- If you work hard, I'll take your drama. (2013-01-22)
  5. How To: End the Gun Control Debate -- Some steps towards fixing it. (2013-01-08)

Top Five Most Viewed (This Month)

  1. How To: Fix a "TE Error" on an LG-WM2277HW (part 1 of 2) -- LG should send me a check. Their mistake but here's where I help a lot of people fix it. (2011-01-27)
  2. Ten Things Fail Jameses for the Day #JanBlogaDay -- I try to examine the things that derail me and how to avoid. This has been very helpful for me. (And apparently Lindsey.) (2013-01-13)
  3. Pet Peeves #JanBlogaDay -- Get off my lawn. (2013-01-04)
  4. Honesty #JanBlogaDay -- The one where I admit to not knowing what to write. Neither deep nor ironic. (2013-01-08)
  5. New #JanBlogaDay -- The first day of January Blog A Day. We were so young then. (2013-01-01)

Top Five Most Viewed (All Time)

  1. Facebook Messaging (A Work-Related Post) -- Remember when Facebook killed email? Me neither. But its latest offering was a dramatic shift. This piece, written for my colleagues in the Email Marketing industry, showed how Facebook treated commercial emails sent to email addresses. (2010-12-13)
  2. How To: Fix a "TE Error" on an LG-WM2277HW (part 1 of 2) -- We bought a washer that turned out to have a design/manufacturing defect. Not ours, but all of them. In this post (and in part 2) - I show how to repair it, complete with photos. (2011-01-27)
  3. Reorg (A Work-Related Post) -- A post about a reorg. Not all that thought-provoking a post and we've had several since then (including one earlier this week). Not my favorite of my "work" posts. (2011-09-01)
  4. Nasty People (A Work-Related Post) -- I realize I need a new approach to people who act nasty or else I'm going to be stuck with them forever. (2011-08-04)
  5. In Defense of Epsilon (A Work-Related Post) -- I defend a former vendor, but I don't let them off the hook for their huge mistake. (2011-04-06)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

30. Your Biggest Flaw #JanBlogaDay

I have to admit, I haven't been looking forward to writing this one.  And it wasn't because I didn't know what to write about.  Biggest Flaw?  Plenty of competition, plenty of source material.  On top of that, while I'm not actively looking for a job, I do get inquiries from time-to-time, and did I really want recruiters potentially seeing such a post?

I had a couple of different directions I could head.  It's so easy to be self-critical.  This is definitely one where if you disagree with me, I'd welcome emails instead of comments below.  Overall, I'm very happy with me.  I don't feel like I have huge, gaping flaws.  I feel like it's a continuum and I'm always learning and always open to feedback and coaching, but I feel like I'm in a good place.

But in the spirit of January Blog a Day, onward we press.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why I Don't Foodblog

29. Home #JanBlogaDay

I've been writing this one in my head for years.  I just never realized it was going to be a blog post.  Also, I didn't have the lame but simple summary until yesterday morning in the shower:

Home is where you pay to live.

I know, that's lame.    But here's what I mean by it.  We don't choose where we're born and probably none of us got to choose where we'd grow up.  And even in college, you get this sort of dual citizenship whereby you might reside somewhere in school, but you still get to call mom and dad's place "home" - unless they've already converted "your room" into the Greatest-of-Intentions Brand-New-Fitness-Equipment-Shaped-Dust-Collector Room, at which point you refer to it as "Merle and Wanda's Place" and describe yourself as homeless, which is fine because your dorm room probably looks "homeless chic" anyhow.

So, when you come to the point in life where someone expects you to hand them money each month in order to permit you to store your stuff there, that's home.  Whether you're renting or paying a mortgage and paying a contractor what you used to pay the mortgage company, that's home.  Whether you can paint the walls or only serve your guests water for fear of not getting your deposit back, that's home.  Whether it's you and a cactus or the constant noise of a spouse, a dog, three cats, a parakeet and three or four little ones (two of which are yours), that's home.

And if it's not where you want to make a home, get packing, you deserve to go home.

(Now..not rooting for the home team... that's a whole 'nother post I will probably avoid writing. And my parents are not named Merle and Wanda - they never built an exercise room. They just sold the house and moved away after I moved to California.)

Day 29 of January Blog a Day.

The whole list:

Sunday, January 27, 2013

27, Regret #JanBlogaDay

Regrets... not an easy topic. I feel like there's quite a bit I could throw into this category, but at the same time, I'm not interested in devolving into a pity party or making things sound dire, because they aren't.

Plus, what is regret? I decided simply being sad or disappointed wasn't enough. I looked it up and a "sense of loss" is also a potential regret. But what of a sense of loss that I played no part in?

Thinking of a Space Shuttle disintegrating or a terrorists flying a plane into a building or a miscarriage. No, not sure that's it, either. And what of something that's fixable? Is it a regret if it's something that could go away tomorrow? I'm not so sure.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

26. Winter/Summer #JanBlogaDay

Miami, Early February 2012

I open my eyes, rubbing away the sleep.  As the room comes into view, I see light is already coming in the windows, seeping around the edges of the Venetian Blinds, and filtered through the cream-colored curtains which are waving gently in a light breeze from the open windows.  There is a subtle clicking as the blinds are pushed away from the window frame and quietly fall back.

Beyond the breeze, there's nothing to feel.  It is literally room temperature.

The air is clean, crisp.  The neighborhood is quiet.  The children are still asleep.  Lori is still asleep.

Friday, January 25, 2013

25. el. oh. vee. ee. #JanBlogaDay

I love my family. Here are three pictures that have special meaning for me.

Attention to Detail: Pink (@VSPINK)

Apologies if this is a repeat.  While I am not their demographic, I snapped this with my camera last month because I think it's pretty awesome.  Once a year I spend most of the day in Tukwilla at the mall or surrounding areas - shopping for Christmas presents, walking or jogging, taking a little time to myself.  It's usually early in the first week of December and this year I headed up after dropping the children off at their schools.  So I got to the mall before most shops (save Starbucks) had opened.

So I grabbed my coffee and began to wander.  So where lots of other stores have ugly roll-down or roll-out gates, PINK has something far different - a series of wood and glass panels.  The wood is distressed and varied in color/finish, the glass ranging from clear to frosted to stained glass.  Most people will never see this and it probably cost more than a standard metal bar gate but it's a really nice touch. I think this speaks to me in terms of beauty and richness.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

24. Teachers #JanBlogaDay

I scrapped my original post on the topic.  It would be too easy to talk about the teachers I liked during my formal period of schooling, but I hated that period of my life.  I so much wanted to be over and done with it. I expect that I was probably just a very well-behaved ADHD/ADD/OCD/ODD/EIEIO.  Rigid rows of desks with assigned seating and uncomfortable chairs.  No thank you, I do not like it, not one bit.

I will say that in 2nd. grade I had a teacher who I thought was out to get me.  He had a double-classroom, separated by a movable wall.  I spent quite a bit of time on the other side of the wall in seclusion by myself with the lights off (plenty of outside light from the windows) for misbehavior.  I'd come to learn much later (like in the past year or two) that that had been his first year of teaching and he told my parents I was "a hoot."  I hope I prepared him well.

From the Vault: Less and More Draft Post

This is one of the oldest surviving post in my draft folder.  I've been using draft a lot more to save ideas and photos for later posting, but it's also caused me to notice that there's really old stuff in here.  This gem from June 2009 suggests that I was struggling with priorities and expectations long before I decided to make 2012 the year of "Simplify" (a theme I'm still working in 2013).  Several other posts I deleted included one on all the magazines I was going to give up (some were harder to shake and some apparently have *really* long subscriptions) and online gaming (I gave up, then I added some but I'm pleased to say I'm not playing any of those online Facebook games that suck you in and then end up hooking you and then you hit the brick wall where everything stops if you don't start inserting quarters.)  In general, I've been spending less time on Facebook.

I have been thinking about the idea of a monthly (or weekly?) assessment so I can say... how'd I do this week?  Where'd I succeed, where'd I fail?  What could I do better?  What should I do more/less of?  What did Lori mention which might be a great Christmas/Birthday idea?

Ironically, it's probably quite possible that it was truly a simpler time in 2009, as crazy as it probably felt then.  I think we were in the mother-in-law overstays and before either child's diagnoses.

.... original post ...


Internet (Facebook, Gmail, Reader, Twitter)
Television (Castle, Dollhouse?)
Screaming Baby
Driving, Car
Incoming Mail



The Same


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

23. Dessert #JanBlogaDay

I like desserts.

A lot.

I have no willpower.

People at work like to point to "self-control" as a fruit of the spirit.  I like to suggest I'm not wired that way and they shouldn't "lead me into temptation."

Lori makes some fabulous desserts.  Around the holidays, I kind of give up and pack on the pounds.  The rest of the year I run and try to enter the next holiday season lighter so that the peak won't be as high.  A vicious circle of peaks and valleys.

But this topic isn't "Diet" but "Dessert."  So I've been trying to think for the last few days what my favorite dessert is and I can't.  I'm not a big fan of pies and I'm not too thrilled about most kinds of cheesecake, unless there's a graham or chocolate crust involved.   With choices, I will often avoid something that's chocolate-upon-chocolate-upon-chocolate because it can tend to be too much.  And if there are doughnuts, I can typically avoid the puffy pastry types, especially if there's an old fashioned or other type of crunchy doughnut.

But that still doesn't answer the question of what I do like, in case you were taking a survey or planning to kidnap me but want to make sure that when you let me go I'll pretend to be unable to pick you out of a line-up.

in your face

Our department does all things digital for the organization... website, email, social, advertising, SEO, you name it. We're situated right next to another group that handles mostly print. One might ask why we're siloed by medium, but that's another topic for another day on someone else's blog.

(click to enlarge)
There are three ways to access our department. One of them involves going past a wall of signs extolling the virtues of print. I find it insulting but I'm told (by someone on our team who we hired away from that team) that its placement makes sense considering who sits on the other side of the wall. I don't know what that means, but whatever.

I really want to add two of my own:

"Print is permament."


"Print is hack-proof."
(And then scribbled across it "if you don't have a Sharpie.")

I feel like I'm almost creative enough to do them in such a way that they could stay up for days or weeks without people noticing but I feel like that would ultimately annoy the wrong people who might make things unpleasant for me by way of a meeting with my boss where he tells me to knock it off.

I'd probably have better luck making signs for the Home Depot sheds like "Not intended for use as a residence" or "Guaranteed Ghost-Free for Three Years"

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

22. Kids #JanBlogaDay

Someone once said
Goats have kids, humans have children.
I can't remember who or when (it feels like it was either in the IM conference room on the second floor at WVUS or in the Skyroom at Lake Avenue Church.  Regardless, it's stuck with me.

I've tried not to make my hangup anyone else's, but I've tried to avoid using the word when referring to little humans whenever I can, especially in phrases like "sponsor a kid" or "you'll never believe what my kid did."

Although I will occasionally in phrases like calling to my wife - "Hey, Lori, your kid bit me." or "These kids are driving me crazy."

Day 22 of January Blog a Day.

The whole list:

Drama (A Work-Related Post)

So in a recent* leadership training day, they used "Would you rathers" to transition between sessions. One of them was "Would you rather have a 'Drama King/Queen' who was a high performer or a low performer who didn't make waves?"

Most of the class raised their hands for the low performers. I quickly and enthusiastically raised my hands for the high performer. Of course, they quickly said "Ok, James, why did you choose the Drama King/Queen?"

That was so easy and hopefully I changed some people's minds that day because I felt anyone that went for the person who didn't make waves was selling themselves and the organization short. That's right - if your preference is the low-performer, you're doing everyone a disservice.

I have some experience managing people -- close to 7 years now between WVUS and WB directly supervising direct reports (plus dotted-line staff and consulting/mentoring) and additional time at UTV and LAC where I supervised volunteers and interns (not to mention pretending to be a manager at Blockbuster and Little Caesar's early in life.) I also have plenty of experience being managed. Furthermore, I can be a Drama King. (I am so glad they've changed that title.)

Simply put, if you have a Drama King/Queen who is a high performer, you have a high performer.

In rare cases, they may have the coping mechanisms that allow them to survive the employment jungle, but it may have come with a high price. They will be frustrated, feel like others just don't get it (or them) or that others don't care as much as they do and it will cause them to become stuck, burn out, act out, or simply be overlooked by someone wanting to avoid conflict.

Most likely the more extroverted they are, the more confident they will appear, but they will still struggle internally. The more extroverted will probably job hop, thinking their unease is not having found the right fit, becoming increasingly frustrated with each new encounter with a bad fit.

However, in many cases, until the right mixture of grace, discipline, empathy and patience are applied, they will struggle without knowing why.

It is your responsibility as their manager to help them cease to be a Drama King/Queen.

Drama stems from a few basic things:

Monday, January 21, 2013

21. Mood Board #JanBlogaDay

I've been dreading this one ever since I saw it... "Make a Mood Board"?  Ack.  Katrina asking us to make a mood board is like John Williams asking you score a movie.  I didn't even know what a mood board was before I met Katrina and the ones I've seen are really cool, colors, pictures and typography to set a mood.  Set out multiple boards and ask the client to tell you which ones they identify with, or to rank them in order of preference and it helps you determine the creative direction to go.  For mine, I just decided to use Google Images to look for images that resonate with me.  In some cases, I couldn't find quite the image I wanted, or sometimes an entirely different image showed up and I think the composition is better for it.

I don't intend to explain my choices, except to say that I found it interesting that I had to keep it linear and orderly.  I tried to have all the photos overlapping, more haphazard, but in the end it bugged me.  That probably wouldn't surprise those of you who know me.

So... how do you interpret this? Your comments gladly welcomed below.

Day 21 of January Blog a Day.

The whole list:

Good Heavens, Fred Meyer

How many trips does it take to Fred Meyer to get a prescription filled?  In our case, four.

So we had documentation from the hospital (hospital letterhead, doctor's signature) and a prescription noting that the specific leveling up strategy was detailed separately.

Finally on the fourth visit my Lori was able to get them to accept the prescription.  But they did make her wait while they spoke to a nurse on the phone and made the nurse give them the instructions verbally.  I don't mean they verified the piece of paper - they didn't want to see that, I mean they made the nurse give them all the same instructions over the phone so that they could type it all into their computer so they could print out this crazy label:    

Sunday, January 20, 2013

20. Beautiful #JanBlogaDay

I realize this may feel like a cheat, but I wrote about this last year during my still-incomplete series on introspection.  I went back and re-read it and I like what I had to say. So, my apologies if this feels like a bit of a letdown, but today on #JanBlogaDay, a repeat.

Please see beauty (originally posted June 4, 2012)

Day 20 of January Blog a Day.

The whole list:

Worth Repeating: Don Levy

It's been 110 years since Georges Méliès sent a spaceship slamming into the eye of the man on the moon. So how far have visual effects come since then? Working closely with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Don Levy takes us on a visual journey through special effects, from the fakery of early technology to the seamless marvels of modern filmmaking. More at

Saturday, January 19, 2013

19. Superpowers #JanBlogaDay

(video) If you don't feel like watching, it was down to "(evil or not evil) genius" or "flying" and I went with flying.  I had hoped to be petting a cat in my lap for the video (after he crawed onto my lap as I was about to start recording) but during the third take, he'd had enough and so then I sat there watching the screen and wondering how long he was going to stand there with his tail in my face, and yeah... maybe that's another reason not to be one of those geniuses, sometimes the props don't always cooperate.  Plus, I don't have access to reliable minions.  The nice thing about videos is that there are no typos.  Just lots of "ums" and I say "video posts" three times in the first 12 seconds. What's done is done. Day 19 of January Blog a Day.
The whole list:

I think I'll take the bus

(click to enlarge)
Not sure what model of plane is pictured, but I'd call that an adverse relevancy advertising failure.  Oops.

Speaking of CNN, is it just me (am I a low value demographic to advertisers) or do they have really poor and cheap advertisements on their homepage?  You'd think big named advertisers would clamor to be there. But I'm not seeing them.

Friday, January 18, 2013

18. Advice #JanBlogaDay

Advice is only worth as much as you paid for it. If you continue reading, you owe me $4.28. Go ahead and just send it directly to MultiCare. I need like the first 500 people who read this to do that.

You will never completely understand the cost of health care. Don't try, it's all made up anyhow.

When you are pregnant, lots of people will want to give you advice. Most, instead, will give you badvice. Smile and nod and move away slowly before they grope you in the baby-area. I still remember one balmy Southern California evening trying to get a hard-edged swimming pool to flex enough to shove into the back of the Santa Fe, a gift for our monster dog. Lori, quite pregnant, was assaulted with this unsolicited gem "Go out to eat now as much as you can because once you have kids you'll *NEVER* get to go out to eat." However, look at the parents you admire and see what you can learn from them. And the ones you don't admire, you can learn just as much. However, don't try to say what you ultimately will or won't do or will or won't be like - your child will sense that and defeat it.

After being pulled over, saying to a cop, "I didn't think the police had jurisdiction on private property." is a risky move. I wouldn't recommend it. There are just times when you look back at yourself as a teenager and think "How on earth did I get away with that?"

What Are We Listening To? (All-Time)

We've changed the way we listen to music.  We're using Pandora more at home and at work and we play it less frequently at home as background music.  We're also buying less music overall.  Therefore, first mover's advantage seems to hold - the stuff at the top is the same stuff that's been at the top, even though we haven't taken a survey since June 2011.  I think that one of our children may have also reset the play counts on a swath of songs, sadly.  [Brackets] indicate their placement the last time we did the list.  Only a few new ones.

This also does not include nursery music played on iPods to help children sleep.  Those would take up all the spots, played 100 (or 100s) of times more than any of these.

1. Bye Bye Bye - *NSYNC [1] - still? why? Oh yeah, that was one of the few things our youngest would regularly communicate verbally was a request for this song. Title and lyrics that repeat are a perfect fit for him.

2. Trashin' the Camp - Phil Collins [2]

3. Here with Us - Joy Williams [new] - a Christmas song I've allowed to play all year long. Love this song.

4. Hey, Soul Sister - Train [3]

5. Who Says You Can't Go Home - Bon Jovi (feat. Jennifer Nettles) [4]

6. I Want to Hold Your Hand - The Beatles [6]

7. Jingle Bells - Barenaked Ladies [7]

8. Closer to Fine - Indigo Girls [new] - an old classic. Interesting. I can't explain its rise in popularity.

9. Ancient Words - Michael W. Smith [8]

10. Strangers Like Me - Phil Collins [13]

Thursday, January 17, 2013

17. Things that Rhyme #JanBlogaDay

My lunch break is almost over and I've yet to hit the microwave. Can't decide what to eat, there's nothing I really crave. Pizza perhaps, but not today. I didn't go walking and who knows how much I weigh. (The temperature was freezing and I'd get a cold... all that sneezing.)  Coffee? Maybe, but it'll have to be the office drip because I don't have time for a Starbucks trip. Several choices from which to choose, similar calorie counts, so nothing to lose. Beef Stew? Maybe. Chicken Carbonara? Sounds nice. But wait, here's Sesame Teriyaki Chicken - with rice!

BRB (in less than 3)

License to Dirve

I hope they got a discount on their novelty plate.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

16. I Would Do Anything for Love... But I Won't Do That #JanBlogaDay

A discussion at work the other day about Carolinas and Dakotas ended with me asking "There's a NORTH one?"

I sent that graphic back to explain my understanding of our country's geography.  Of course I knew there was a north and south one.  I even know that Virginia is further west than West Virginia.

But I was trying to think of things Lori might reasonably ask me to do that I wouldn't do. After 44 minutes, I hadn't gotten any further than my little story about work. I think Lori knows me well enough not to ask me to wear plaid or argyle, listen to Bette Middler or The Bee Gees, paint the house bright green, buy a plasma television or sign-up for AOL. Of course, she's still mad at AOL, too, probably. And even though i was the one that held out hope the longest, if she asked for another child now, I couldn't get on board with that and pretty sure she wouldn't ask.

So all I can think of is where we'd live...

Puppy Town

Memo to self - don't use 1,000,000 likes as the threshold to allow the family to get a puppy.

Still, this is pretty cool.  Go, internet!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

15. Transportation #JanBlogaDay

When I was still being formed in my mother's womb, my parents owned a tiny little Fiat.  I can't picture it.  I think it got broadsided by a pickup, but because it was raining and because the car was so light, the car just slid away.  I'm led to believe that if it hadn't been raining or it had been a larger car that held its ground there's a good chance I wouldn't be here today.

The first car I remember is a large green Dodge that would have made Al Bundy proud.  I remember when we came back from Longview in May 1980, piles of ash would collect under it every time we washed it.

Guess that's why in 1981 we replaced it with a Chevy Malibu.  I still remember standing in the garage and just feeling kind of giddy when they'd start it up.  It just had such a power and exciting roar to it.  We had that car for a *long* time as that was also the car I learned to drive in.  KKZ 912.

In 1984, the Buick Skylark joined the stable.  I don't know what it replaced, I have a mental block, I can't even remember what was in the other side of the garage next to the Malibu.  The pool table?  Did we even have two cars?  EZX 094.  Why do I remember these????!?!?

Monday, January 14, 2013

14. Food #JanBlogaDay

I'll take the doughnut pizza.
(You can keep your PBR, you silly, dirty hipsters.)
Ah, food.  My mortal enemy.  Can't live without it, can't live with myself after when I enjoy it.  I have an interesting dieting plan.  I will pick a goal, I will work until I've come within 3 pounds of the goal, and then I will abandon the goal and gain lots of weight.  Not sure why.  I'm like the snail in the well - climb up three inches each day, slip back two each night.  I'm making progress, but it's incredibly slow.

We've assembled into a team for the quarter and one of the big topics at our kick-off meeting was about what caused someone to have to bring doughnuts - what kind of rule violation.  I begged that they keep that to a minimum and they tossed something back at me about a fruit of the spirit being "self-control" and I threw something back about not being wired that way and how they shouldn't lead me into temptation.  I'm not sure it worked and I just became the cranky guy who doesn't like doughnuts.  Only, anyone who really knows me knows that's really, really, really not the case.

Don't Live in the Past

An origin story is nice, even for Band-Aid Brand Adhesives, I suppose. But I finally had to turn the box around, I got tired of reading about Earle Dickson and his clumsy wife every time I opened the vanity in our bathroom.

Band-Aids are no longer the only type (or cheapest kind) of, um, well, band-aid you can buy. Perhaps they should add another paragraph on the patents and research since then - how they continue to innovate.

That would be the kind of affirmation that tells the customers they made the right choice and why they should continue to reach for Band-Aid Brand Adhesives in the future and not one of the cheap brands. (Can you tell I'm reading "Start with Why"?)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

13. Ten Things Fail Jameses for the Day #JanBlogaDay

Today we've been issued the topic Top Ten. We don't get much more than a common theme to go from. Sometimes that can be challenging, other times it's quite easy. I convinced my wife to participate and it's been really interesting to see what she commits to screen in a long-form post. She's the queen of Facebook (every post generates enough comments and likes to be its own forum) but I love the insight that comes from the longer thoughts.

So I've been thinking about Top Ten today. I like lists. Lists are my thing. Before I even knew what the topic was, I was making a list. The past few nights I (and the whole family) have been blessed with good sleep. But then last night, we weren't. Rachel and I made poor choices (me staying up too late, her waking up in the middle of the night and choosing to camp out by the supply cabinet eating snacks and reading books), Ben had a period of wakefulness and Lori just didn't sleep well with lots of tossing and turning. So what I was thinking about in my head was how I would react today. I've had a lot of days lately with negativity and I thought it was just how things were, but these past few days, yesterday in particular, showed me just how valuable a great night's sleep can really be.

So if the only difference between yesterday and today was the quality of sleep (and the disappointing near miss by the Seahawks), here's what I need to be cognizant of today:

1. Interruption Frustration - I learned about this from the free therapy I get by attending Rachel's Neurobehavioral consults. This is when you're so engrossed in something that interruptions are seismic, cataclysmic. She and I both suffer from this. I've learned to endure them silently, giving my attention to the interruption while inside what's going on isn't so pretty. Rachel lets the inside out and it can be scary. For her, we've learned to ease into things that will be a disruption. For me, I've learned to remain calm. My ability to shift gears into the interruption is far improved with a good night's sleep.

Tactic/Response: Anticipate interruptions and mentally prepare for them, do not allow myself to become so engrossed that it's difficult to temporarily surface and shift gears.

2. Plan Disruption - that's happening at this exact moment. I had a plan to work on this post and now I'm being asked to do something else as a member of this household and not a selfish person focusing only on myself.

Tactic/Response: Reprioritize. Put the laptop back on top of the printer and walk away. This post can wait. A child needs tickling. Lori's still on the clock her job needs her somewhere else at the moment. At minimum, prepare to multitask.

3. Overstimulation - I can over-stimulated by too much noise especially when I'm trying to think.

Tactic/Response: Be involved in the noise-making if necessary. Eliminate unnecessary noise (fans, music, cat meowing) where possible. (Don't worry, not eliminating the cat, just figuring out why he's meowing and stop him.)  Take a break if the noise is too distracting and can't be eliminated (like a child's TV show.. those are only 22 minutes long anyhow.)

4. Financial Anxiety - It's bill-paying day. The finances are a bit touchy and complicated at the moment.

Tactic/Response: Remind myself that there's nothing to be anxious about and much to celebrate - Lori and I are on the same page to a greater degree than we have ever been before, we've spent the week reducing costs and setting some goals in a way we never have been before. We're making progress, we have a plan.

What Are We Listening To? (Christian)

It looks like I haven't done this since mid-2011. There's not a lot of movement. As our library grows, I think it takes more to change things, that you get a first-mover advantage going on. "Here With Us" rocketed to the top of this list as well but most of the music here has been at the top for awhile. I guess we haven't bought as much new (Christian) music this year. I think we've done more Pandora this year, especially Lori where she's got a few good stations aimed at the type of Christian music (she's got stations like "JJ Heller Radio," "Praise Bands," "Reliant K Radio" and "Tommy Walker Radio").

One recent addition to our collection that I've really liked is "The Story," a compilation of artists singing songs from the perspective of different Bible characters. There's a lot in there that make great between-service music for those mornings when I'm running sound at church.

Without further ado, here's the top 25:

1. Here With Us - Joy Williams [9]
2. Ancient Words - Michael W. Smith [3]
3. My Savior My God - Aaron Shust [2]
4. In Christ Alone - Adrienne Liesching (with Geoff Moore) [1]
5. You Are Holy (Prince of Peace) - Michael W. Smith [5]
6. Keep The Candle Burning - Point of Grace [4]
7. Secret Ambition - Michael W. Smith [6]
8. Dive - Steve Curtis Chapman [10]
9. In Christ Alone - Adrienne Liesching (with Geoff Moore) [new] - apparently I like this song so much two copies made it into the top 25. I wonder if last time I combined them.
10. Back Home - JJ Heller [15]

Saturday, January 12, 2013

12. Recovery #JanBlogaDay

I've mentioned before about how late last year I jumped off the diet wagon with reckless abandon and glee and then turned around and ate the wagon and the horses and then the road we were traveling on. I stopped running, walking weighing myself, and it was as if I wanted to destroy all the progress I had made, like I was seeking out weight gain. As if there was something inside me saying "Too little! Too thin! You must be fatter!" And I reveled in it, sad as that is.

And then came the new year. It wasn't so much a resolution as just an acknowledgement that the debauchery was over, it was time to be responsible again.

And for the most part, I'm happy to report that it wasn't too difficult. I found the road, found the wagon, climbed back on and we're underway again.

What Are We Listening To? (Christmas)

I'm surprised to see that I haven't done this since January 2011. My goal had been to do Christmas yearly and everything else twice a year. I'm also surprised to see what happens when you allow some songs to be in rotation all year ("Here With Us" and BNL's "Jingle Bells" and all the "Let It Snow" variations.) I want to look to see if there are some more of a Christmas theme that would make good year-round music like JJ Heller's "Wake Up the World." So here's the top 25 list from iTunes. The 2011 rankings in [brackets]. Links to Amazon so that you can listen to short clips if you're not familiar with any of these.

1. Here With Us - Joy Williams [3]

2. Jingle Bells - Barenaked Ladies [1]

3. Linus & Lucy - Vince Guaraldi Trio [new]

4. Christmas Lullaby - Mannheim Steamroller [new]

5. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow - Dean Martin [new]

6. I Saw Three Ships - Mannheim Steamroller [new]

7. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Bing Crosby [new]

8. Let It Snow - Celtic Woman [new]

9. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Frank Sinatra [new]

10. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow! - Jaci Velasquez [new]