Friday, May 31, 2013

May Done

It's hard to believe it's been another month. I'm tired, so very tired. Today, but in general as well.

It's late, so I'm going to make this quick.

The Big Elements

Simplify - I fell off the wagon a little bit, but I think I'm back on. Little nibbles are the way to go, keep tossing stuff, keep cleaning. A little at a time. Didn't have a summit with the family, but getting better with the calendar.

Diet/Exercise - not much this week, but overall, 39.05 miles completed this month. Got a nice email from RunKeeper noting that. Also been doing some Wii Fit each day. Still haven't reached my goal.

Work - It's been a good month. Holy cow crazy busy. But good. Not much to say.

Manipulation, Much? @GerberLife

Gotta love this mailing from Gerber Life Insurance Company.

Photo of a baby with a thought cloud that wonders "You love me, right?" The cute little guy has been forced into child labor to guilt grandparents* who don't remember what their grandchildren look like to "Do something today to show your love now... and for years to come."

*This was addressed to my dad but delivered to my post office box.  They must have the same low-rent data source that General Motors uses.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

#EEC13 @VerizonWireless (A Work-Related Post)

Note: I attended the Email Evolution conference in early February but have been so swamped since my return that I've had trouble getting back to my notes and turning them into useful information to share with my organization and the world.

John Edwards (LinkedIn)
Director, Digital CRM,
Verizon Wireless

Wacarra Yeomans (LinkedIn)
Director, Creative Services, Responsys

Presentation Slides (PDF)

Mobile First

In general, people give each email:
  • 3-5 second skim - desktop
  • 1-2 second skim - mobile

So... what does "optimize for mobile" really mean? 

Take someone with a gmail account using an iPhone:
  1. Native email client
  2. Gmail client
  3. on safari
  4. on chrome
    ...etc... (now add yahoo, hotmail/, aol, corporate email, etc., etc., etc.)

Slow Kills

Slow load times will reduce customer activity for up to 5 months (Google). Are you chasing away customers with a bad mobile experience?

So... now what?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Free TV ad for Dreyer's

I was sneaking a spoonful or two of ice cream the other night and noticed the heart on the top of the container.  I immediately wondered what it was there for.  And within seconds, a television commercial had taken shape in my mind.

Scene: Grocery Store, a tall cabinet filled with ice cream.  A teenaged girl is looking over the flavors and tentatively pulls out a carton of Dreyer's.  A guy with perfectly coifed hair and dazzling teeth, holding a large microphone walks into frame followed by a guy with a camera on his shoulder and another guy with headphones and a large boom mic.

Talent: "Hi there."
Teenager: "Uh, hi." (looking around, looking at the reporter and back at the ice cream as if it's going to explode)
Talent: "I see you've got some Dreyer's Ice Cream there."
Teenager: "Yup." (looking puzzled)
Talent:" Well, we just wanted to thank you and tell you we love you."
Teenager (to woman down the aisle): "Mom, this guy says he loves us and wants to thank us for buying ice cream."
Woman: "What?" (striding purposefully toward the camera crew) "Do I need to be calling security? What are you saying?"
Talent: (begins stammering and lowers microphone)

Cut to a man looking at ice cream.  He grabs a different brand, then puts it back and reaches for a Dryer.  As soon as his hand touches it, Talent leaps to his side, perfect white teeth sparkling.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It's only a flesh wound.

This seems like a bold claim for Band-Aid brand bandages to be making.  You've just cut yourself and are looking for something to stem the tide of the vital fluid leaking from a hole that shouldn't be there. And Band-Aid says "Hey, no worries, dude. You're going to be just fine." They've put a TM next to it. Something tells me the legal department makes no such claims.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Get Them Talking (A Work-Related Post)

My colleague saw this recently on the way to work, thought it was so funny that he told us about it.  I immediately thought "I must see this for myself." and asked him if he'd take a photo for me.

But, let's be honest - this is pretty brilliant.  We give them extra credit because they aren't a chain so this comes across more funny than calculated. And yet it resonates because it's relevant.

There's probably very few people that don't feel some kind of guilt about stuff they should have thrown away but haven't, closets in their house they haven't visited in quite some time.  And who hasn't seem promos for the TV show Hoarders?

At the same time, "Buy More Stuff" makes us laugh nervously. Because, of course they will say that. And because of course, we will.

Is your messaging memorable?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Week 8 (Saturday)

Week-at-a-Glance (May 20-26)

Weight: 153.7 as of 05/22 (8.7 to go) [Goal for Friday - 152.5 or less]

Exercise (week): Walk: 4 (6.0 miles) [goal: 12 miles]
Jumping Jacks: 550 [goal: 350] // Situps: 220 [goal: 150] // Pushups: 220 [goal: 150]

Remember the Milk: 25 repeating + M 23; T 18; W 15; R 10; F 8; A 46; S 61 (175r+181nr)

Sunday, May 26 - 11:13 pm - It was not a good day.  There were lots of good elements, but I did not do well today.  I have some ideas of what I should have done differently, it's just now the problem of catching it sooner and making correction.  As far as this process is concerned, it was a good week.  I left a lot on the table but I am smarter about what is possible in a week - like the weekends - I should expect to get less done, not more.  But overall, I should expect to get less done.  That I got as much done as I did was the result of a lot of simpler tasks being repeated.  I'm unsure about calories.
Lose-It: 1,658 calories available; ? consumed; ? earned exercise; ? remaining.
Email: 31 (Inbox: 1; Mailbox: 30) // Feedly: zero! // TED Talks: 11
Remember the Milk: 57 completed 
Remember the Milk this week: 393 completed
Reading since last night: 20 minutes book, 0 minutes magazine
Bed last night: 11:40 pm 

Attitude Adjustment

We had a bit of a rough day and during I dinner, I started calling up videos. For a little while, it lightened things. I need to remember to do this sooner in the future, especially for my self.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Worth Repeating: Parag Khanna (@paragkhanna)


Mapping the Future of Countries - Many people think the lines on the map no longer matter, but Parag Khanna says they do. Using maps of the past and present, he explains the root causes of border conflicts worldwide and proposes simple yet cunning solutions for each. More on

Why I'm Posting - While slightly dated now (amazing how quickly the world moves), it's a really interesting look at what's going on now and how history repeats itself. Also, further proof that we should really be wary of China. Everyone says it, but then I think everyone goes right back to their business. Seriously, those who teach their children Chinese are going to have a leg up on everyone else in a generation or two.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Are you @SiriusXM?

Got this in the mail today from SiriusXM. Apparently somewhere in the paperwork I signed eight months ago, I gave permission for the dealership to give my info to Sirius.  That's fine, I'd still recommend that dealership, they gave me an absolutely awesome deal.  Still, it is a bit unnerving to get a letter in the mail with your car's VIN just sitting there in all its glory along with your home address. (I have most mail with PII- or PCI-type information going to my post office box.)

So the letter tells me that my car's SiriusXM satellite radio has been re-enabled for a few weeks so that I can try it out.  Sorry, I plugged in my iPhone before I drove off the lot, I haven't listened to anything except iTunes or Pandora since I got the car.  One time I forgot my iPhone and listened to my iPad. Another time I forgot my iPhone and figured it sered my

The letter goes on to offer me six months for $25 (normally $14.99/month) and -- get this -- the activation fee is waived! This is such a big deal they've noted it twice (I've highlighted it twice.)

If the service is already on in my car, what exactly is this fee they're waiving?  I hate "activation" fees - time was that actually acquiring a customer was just the cost of business.  I own the equipment, they just need to enter some info into their computer (or if I do it online, there's no new cost).  This fee is unnecessary. (And if it's always waived, it only exists to make you feel good.)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sad Ice

Please don't kick the ice.  It's sad.  That's why it's hiding under the machine.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Attention to Detail (A Work-Related Post)

It's unfortunate (or ironic) that the photo makes it difficult to see, but this was a stage at an event we attended this past weekend.  A speaker from the stage was talking about how they're the "city of parades" and if you look on the local culture website, you'll see they host a lot of events.  Impressive, really.  (This doesn't look well attended, but it was late in the afternoon, there had been intermittent rain and there was lots of other stuff going on -- there was definitely lots of people in attendance.  Even some stuff that really resonated with our autistic son.  A really great event.)

The problem here are the two large banners flanking the stage.  The banners proclaim the city's name in large letters, there were a number of them throughout the event.  However, these two are both backwards.  

So they put on a show, but it's surprising that no one noticed that these had been erected backwards or flipped around.  (It's wasn't particularly windy that I can recall.)

But I suspect that there were a lot of event coordinators wandering around, but this didn't get fixed.

It's minor, but it's a part of your brand.  

Have you put someone in charge of the minor details?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Plumbing Leak

The other morning Rachel noticed water on the floor in the laundry room in front of the washing machine. I looked up and saw a small wet spot in the ceiling about the size of a half dollar.

I pressed at it and it was definitely wet.  I cut a small hole and found the center of the hole was a screw holding the drywall. I cut until all of the wet drywall was removed. The beam was wet and I'm sure the insulation will also be wet.

Through trial and error, I narrowed it down to the master bathroom toilet. Yes, the master bathroom, the one we had to bring down to the studs, replacing the shower, subfloor, reinforce the joists and replace the insulation and drywall underneath. Guess I can at least be glad I hadn't gotten around to repainting it - it's a pain, it's up 12 feet.

So, we have someone coming today to see if the leak can be stopped quickly or if we have a bigger problem on our hands.

Sigh. Will we ever get a break?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Worth Repeating: Meg Jay @drmegjay

I know I normally have these on Saturdays (in fact they're scheduled out for quite a few upcoming Saturdays) but I just watched this one and thought it couldn't wait. If you're under the age of 29 or have a child under the age of 29, you need to watch this.


Why 30 is Not the New 20 - Clinical psychologist Meg Jay has a bold message for twentysomethings: Contrary to popular belief, your 20s are not a throwaway decade. In this provocative talk, Jay says that just because marriage, work and kids are happening later in life, doesn’t mean you can’t start planning now. She gives 3 pieces of advice for how twentysomethings can re-claim adulthood in the defining decade of their lives. More on

Why I posted this - In under 15 minutes, Meg dispels so many misconceptions that are detrimental to people in their 20s.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Week 7 (Final)


Weight: 153.9 as of 05/08 (9.3 to go) [Goal for Friday - 153.0 or less]

Exercise (week): Walk: 4 (11.2 miles)
Jumping Jacks: 350 [goal: 350] // Situps: 120 [goal: 140] // Pushups: 120 [goal: 140]

Remember the Milk (non-repeating): 197 - M 34; T 21; W 18; R 16; F 13; A 40; S 55

Sunday, May 19 - 9:39 pm - Good week.  Definitely planned for far too much.  I almost think I need to plan less for the weekends than during the week. Did not meet my goal for pushups and situps but did for jumping jacks.
Lose-It: 1,659 calories available; N/A consumed; N/A earned exercise; N/A remaining.
Email: 38 (Inbox: 3; Mailbox: 35) // Feedly: 112 // TED Talks: 6
Remember the Milk: 64 completed; ? items postponed
Remember the Milk this week: 402 completed

Review: I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59 by Douglas Edwards

I've come to realize that I enjoy a good biographical or autobiographical book - you get to see mostly the highlights of a period of time, to get some more insight, some more backstory.  I enjoyed the Conrad Hilton story and DisneyWar and I definitely enjoyed this one.  The downside to biographical books is that at some point the book ends but history moves on.  This was less frustrating because the period covered (1999-2005) is still fresher in my mind and the details explained were ones I had lived through as a customer.

This was a really good read - it was fascinating to learn what went on inside Google, but provided some cautionary tales as well.

The takeaways I got from it:

* You really have to give someone something to believe in.  It would be harder (but not impossible) to foster that kind of culture within our large, old non-profit.  But it has to feel special, it has to be something people want to be a part of.

* You always need to be hiring people smarter than yourself. I've often heard it said that "Wow, if I was being interviewed today, I wouldn't get hired."  I know that's not entirely true, but on the other hand, it's because we're there, we're smart and we're improving the process.  Therefore, we need to continue to bring in smarter and smarter people to shake things up and make sure we're doing the right things.

* Trust the data and test, test, test.  Take risks, but make sure you can measure them.  Don't use the testing as an excuse not to intuit or move quickly and boldly.  If you're transparent, apologies will be accepted and mistakes forgotten quickly.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Worth Repeating: Tim Brown (@tceb62)


Designers: Think Big - Tim Brown says the design profession has a bigger role to play than just creating nifty, fashionable little objects. He calls for a shift to local, collaborative, participatory "design thinking" -- starting with the example of 19th-century design thinker Isambard Kingdom Brunel. More on

Why I'm posting - Brown illustrates some good examples that you might not even consider design, but cases where big things happened, infrastructure-big. It's hard to imagine things that large being done today and it's no wonder that when we think of design we think of websites or logos or cell phones.

Friday, May 17, 2013

I'm... Microsoft?

This weird thought has been flittering around in my head and i can't shake it.  So, I guess I'll write about it as a way to get it out of my head.

Many, many years ago I was interning at a place that did a lot of work for Microsoft.  I think this is free and clear of any NDA issues now because it's been so long, but I saw this video back then.

Forget Bob, Google Now, Ford Sync or even Siri, this was of a parrot named Polly.  It flew around in a virtual room and it talked to you.  And you could talk to it.  You could ask it to play music and it would, you could talk to it and it would talk back.  If you ignored it, it would preen or put its head under its wing and go to sleep.  Or, it would fly around the room.

Oh, and the camera also moved.  It would make small movements when you were interacting with Polly and when Polly was flying, it would make grand cinematic moves to show off the rendering of the bird.

The animation quality was probably almost as good as Toy Story but without the lighting effects, but it was in real-time, and it did voice recognition and natural speech and it understood your music library and could even make suggestions.  This was long before MP3 players, hand-held devices or even high-speed internet.  It was a great idea but it had nowhere to go beyond research.

So when I hear of talk now that Apple is doing a watch as if it's some novel new thing, I think "Wait... didn't Microsoft do SPOT like years and years ago?"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Magazine: Fast Company (May 2013)

Here's some selected reads from the May 2013 issue of Fast Company.

The Magical Tech Behind Paper For iPad's Color-Mixing Perfection - a look at the math and UI considerations of color mixing on a touch-device.

The Maestro Speaks: J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler shares 10 rules for creative success - some great insights. A quick read.

Andrew Mason on How to Deal: From Founder to Ex-Groupon CEO - wow, so not a quick read. But an interesting look at the up and then down of Groupon and where it's going next.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Just like everyone else...

Thanks, Cigna.  I feel loved and ever so special.

Does anyone else see this when they sign-in, or is it just for me?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Rewarding Loyalty - @HiltonHotels (A Work-Related Post)

Last September, my wife and I stole away for a very brief visit to Los Angeles for our anniversary.  Since I also needed airfare, a car rental, convenience and stealth (I purchased the whole deal ahead of time without telling her), I went through Expedia.  They're easy to use, give me good rates and in this case, also a $50 discount by opening up an Expedia branded credit card.  Also handy because it helped me further obscure the purchase while I was paying it off.

I chose the Embassy Suites in Glendale for a couple of reasons, one of which was that the Hilton Family of Hotels is the Official Hotel Chain of the Lamb Family.  Whenever we can, we stay at a Hilton Hotel, preferably Embassy Suites.  (The ones in Oxnard, Calif. and Lake Buena Vista/Orlando, Fla. are pretty cool hotels.  Glendale, not so much.  Bellevue, Wash. is pretty standard.  Can't recall any other Embassy Suites.)

So I included my Hilton Hhonors points in the notes for the hotel and presented by Citibank Hilton Hhonors credit card at checkin for incidentals.  Ended up with a subpar room, but didn't spend much time in it anyhow, so whatever, and great breakfast and neat lobby, very friendly staff.  But the most bizarre parking lot ever.  I know it used to be a Red Lion hotel before Hilton bought the property, but the parking is so bizarre, it's like they just dug under the building and the adjacent building (you can tell at one point you're driving through a formerly solid wall that they've cut through the concrete) and then paved.  So many columns, so much unusable space.  Crazy.  Anyhow, I digress.

Bottom line, we love Hilton. (The Hilton Arctic Club in Seattle?  Totally awesome.  Cannot wait to stay there again, especially if we get a top floor room again.)

I realized a few weeks ago that I wasn't seeing any mention of our stay so I contacted them and provided details as best I could.  The fact that they wanted specific information I wouldn't have and provided little area for notes, I should have guessed it wasn't going to happen.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Week 6 (Final)


Weight: 153.9 (05/08; 8.9 to go) // Lose-It! Today: 1,659 minus N/A (food) plus N/A (exercise) equals N/A under.
Jumping Jacks: 300; Pushups: 120; Situps: 120
Walks: 5 (1 for a meeting) - 10.7 miles

Email: 47 (1+46) // Feedly: 144 // TED Talks: 8

8:49 pm - I made a conscious decision this afternoon to stop doing chores and go play with my son outside.  I was going to take both children but Rachel was being disobedient so I didn't take her.  After we came back in I was still pretty tired so I didn't do a lot more after that either.  So I'm ending the week with a lot yet unfinished, but I'm still happy with the week, unless you count the poor diet Friday, Saturday and again today.  It's going to be awhile before I'm willing to weigh myself again, but I'm going to get back on track tomorrow.  No more birthday cake, apple crisp, cookies, doughnuts, bacon, french toast casserole, ice cream, etc., unless I can be certain of the portion and calories.

I think what I learned from this week is that I can get too focused on the day-to-day tasks.  I can get a lot of stuff done, but some of that will just be there again tomorrow, so missing a day isn't going to be the end of the world.  In a few cases, I did extend the length of time between recurrence, even on a few of the daily items, but there's probably even more I could do in the coming week.  So I did complete 437 items, but I'm carrying over 113 I didn't get to.  I also need to look at the week as a whole more, both in looking back and in looking forward, especially on those non-repeating tasks.  Also, I need to have some goals.  Not just track email, but have a goal of where I want it to be at the end of the week.  Stuff like that.

Monday: 87; Tuesday: 73; Wednesday: 65; Thursday: 64; Friday: 30; Saturday: 68; Sunday: 49

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there, but especially to Lori, who has the really tough job of putting up with all of us.  We love you and hereby proclaim "You rock."

The Three Troublemakers

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Worth Repeating: Hans Rosling (@hansrosling)


Let my dataset change your mindset - Talking at the US State Department this summer, Hans Rosling uses his fascinating data-bubble software to burst myths about the developing world. Look for new analysis on China and the post-bailout world, mixed with classic data shows. More on

Why I'm posting: Rosling's talks are always fascinating, illustrating historical data and trends that really help you to understand how different things impact the countries and the world, and how you always have to dig deeper on the data.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Things @Waze should do

Waze is awesome.  I read about Waze before I even had an iPhone and it was the first app I installed after I finally got an iPhone.  I've pretty much used it every time I've driven and often when I've been the passenger in a vehicle.  I report problems, I do updates on their website.  I love Waze.

(If you don't know what Waze is, it's crowdsourced GPS.  As you drive, the driving conditions are reported passively and you can actively report things like construction, accidents, police traps and road closures.  It will give you driving directions and because it knows real-time road conditions, can route you around things that will slow you down.  It also can help you find the best gas prices near you.  And because you contribute by noting new roads and map changes, they happen more quickly than with a standard GPS, and with no upgrade fees or maps to purchase or download. The more people regularly use it, the better it gets.  It will also occasionally try to tempt you by suggesting you want a Chalupa and offer you directions, but considering Waze is free to use, that's a small price to pay.)

I've been sitting on this post for a few days now, just a riff I threw out the other night and then saved in draft without posting.  But with the news that Facebook's making a run at it, I might as well post it.  But first, let me express my disappointment.  I think it's a bad fit.  In terms of cool utility, it feels like a much better fit with Google.  To be sure, Google could probably build something similar with its own mapping tool, but it hasn't.  Which made me think that maybe they were interested.  Heck, even Apple is a better fit, even if it meant its first foray into making Android apps.  I'm sure that would offend their sensibilities but if Microsoft and Google make Android apps, this would be a case where Apple could benefit from having a cross-platform offering for all the data it provides.  So here's hoping that Facebook's offer simply causes a better dance partner to make an even better offer and make the swell folks at Waze even richer.

Anyhow, this was just a collection of ideas that have been floating around in my head for awhile of the things that Waze might do as an independent company if they wanted to expand their core offering.

From easiest to hardest...

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Facebook is lazy.

Greedy Facebook is misguided and greedy.  And possibly lazy.

Hey Mark, you're so rich, you buy her the mug.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Wha.. Why?

Behold!  I give you the "Lowes Hardware Danger Challenge Course Extravaganza" - a three part rather silly and seemingly unnecessary and potentially hazardous bike lane that crosses two car paths and at one point has car traffic on both sides of it.

I think you park in the Lowes parking lot, ride half a block and then walk back to your car having killed and 2 minutes and avoided getting run over by fast moving traffic.

Click to enlarge
Here's the street on Google Maps*.  That whole section to the west was entirely moved south and rebuilt after the Lowes was built and the corner rebuilt, so it's not even like they can claim that they would add more as they rebuilt the streets nearby.

*I would have zoomed in more but it wants to do that stupid 45 degree tilt thing which makes it very difficult to see the street.  (You can turn it off when you're in Google Maps, but there doesn't seem to be any way to create links that have it turned off.  Very stupid.  Boo, Google!)

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Legal Drink

Wow, just to read this you feel your soul being deflated. The ingredients list is no better, and I quote:

Filtered sparkling water (sufficient to reconstitute), juice concentrates (blueberry, apple, pear and white grape), natural flavors.

It's been sitting on the counter for two weeks and no one's dared open it.

Monday, May 06, 2013

The Easy Thing (A Work-Related Post)

There was an interesting discussion recently in one of the groups I participate in.  A company had offered electronic gift cards and now they were facing a lot that hadn't been redeemed.

The easy thing to do would have been to do nothing - that's pure profit in their pocket for every gift card that's never redeemed.

But they knew the easy thing wasn't the right thing.  Unused gift cards means the giver's money didn't go where they intended, it means that the recipient didn't benefit and it means carrying that as a liability because at some point in the future, the gift card could still be redeemed.  Unused gift certificates are also a missed opportunity to gain a new customer and word of mouth.

So they were trying to figure out their options.  Could they email the recipient?  Maybe.  But they didn't really have a relationship with the recipient.  They didn't want to run afoul of the CAN-SPAM laws.  Worse yet, if there was some kind of delivery problem the first time around, there's no guarantee the recipient would receive it this time either.  And maybe the recipient didn't like the company issuing the gift card, or didn't find anything they liked.  That would make the email unwelcome and possibly risk the recipient flagging it as spam.

Another participant on the list had a brilliant idea:

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Week 5 (Final)


Weight (Wednesday): 154.3 (9.3 to go)
Lose-It: 1,662 calories available; N/A consumed; N/A earned exercise; N/A remaining for the day.
Exercise (week)Jumping Jacks: 300 // Situps: 130 // Pushups: 130 // Walk: 4 (11.2 miles)

Remember the Milk: Today: 0/84; Week: 0/442
Email: 49 (13+36) // Feedly: 151 // TED Talks: 13

Reading: Fast Company May 2013 (100 of 121); Fast Cpmpany Dec. 2012/Jan. 2013 (completed); Inc. May 13 (57 of 114); Inc. Dec. 2012/Jan. 2013 (99 of 112); I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59 (113 of 390)

10:12 pm - Good week.  So... what I learned:
(1) I need to look at the calendar before planning what I want to try to get done in a day.  If I won't be home in the evening, thinking I can get anything done is silly.
(2) I'm not allowing for fun - playing games with Rachel or just spending time laying on the floor while Ben jumps on me.
(3) Letting the daily recurring items prevent me from getting to the non-daily items (therefore not making any headway).
(4) Items that aren't specific enough - need to make them more specific.
(5) I am overpromising and underdelivering.  I'm the customer, so all I'm doing is disappointing myself.
(6) I can't sleep in.  I need the time in the morning to get some stuff done.  Otherwise, some things I just need to kick off the list if I don't do them before work.
(7) I need to consult with Lori about my plans.  If they don't match hers, it's a recipe for frustration for one or both of us. I gave her a list of the big items I've been postponing and she noted all the ones she wants to see done in May (and by the same token all the stuff

This was my third day of not tracking my calories.  That was stupid.  I feel like Friday-Sunday of next week will also be a problem.  I guess I need to work to come in under my calories by quite a bit Monday-Thursday and do my next weigh-in on Friday morning.

So I've consulted the calendar and I know what's coming up this week.  I haven't fully aligned my plans to the week yet, but I'm at least aware.  I'll adjust further as the week progresses.  I have a plan for the week and for the month.  It's not perfect, but this week was quite helpful.

Book Review: Decisive

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip Heath and Dan Heath is the latest and greatest from the brothers Heath and my favorite so far.

Decisive lays out a framework for making choices that is smart, easy to follow and I think will really help me in the future. As with their other books, it's packed full of great examples that help you understand and remember the concepts. And a feature I really loved is that at the end of each chapter there's a summary of everything you read about in that chapter. I think this is a book you could put on your bookshelf and refer to from time-to-time to hone your decision-making skills.

Here's a quick run-down of the book.

    The book starts by laying out "The Four Villains of Decision Making" all with great examples:

    • you miss options by framing your options too narrowly; 
    • you gather self-serving information in order to support a confirmaton bias; 
    • you're tempted to make the wrong choice by short-term emotion;
    • and you're overconfident about how the future will turn out.

    and then introduces the four-part process that will help you to avoid those pitfalls with the acrostic "WRAP" -- and the following tactics:

    Saturday, May 04, 2013

    I Rock Laundry (Part 2)

    <<< Continued from part 1 (yesterday)

    Step 5: Washer to Dryer

    A silly step, to be sure.  Another step I regularly enlist my young autistic son in helping me with.  Where a front loader is great.  We pull it out of one machine into one of the "clean" baskets and then slide it over and load it into the dryer.

    We have five laundry baskets.  The first two are the "dirty" baskets that are upstairs to collect the laundry.  The other three are "clean" baskets that are used in various situations.

    All the sweaters get laid flat to dry on the rack next to the bins.

    Cheap Seats #maythe4th

    This is a photo from a few months ago when Lori and I went to see/hear John Williams at The Hollywood Bowl.  This is one of those few times when it pays to sit further back because the audience really gets into it.

    It had been a few years since we'd been to a performance, but going to the Hollywood Bowl, and a John Williams performance in particular, was a treat we regularly gave ourselves.  But this year, waiting for the shuttle, we knew that things were... different... from the last time we'd been as Princess Leia was waiting in line with us.  Yeah, turns out the Star Wars portion of each show is nothing less than a full-out audience participation extravaganza.  Imagine looking in every direction and seeing light sabers bouncing in sync to the music.

    Friday, May 03, 2013

    Worth Repeating: Ron Finley @evofarm

    Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA -- in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where "the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys." More on

    Why I'm posting this: This guy's on to something.  And he's doing so much good - with vegetables and community.

    I Rock Laundry (Part 1)

    There was a time when we didn't do much laundry.  We had no children and a wonderful woman named Leticia came once every two weeks to clean our house and she did a lot of the laundry. These days, we generate a lot of dirty laundry and no one to come and do it for us.

    My friend mentioned that laundry is her nemesis and linked to a Lifehacker article that I felt was quite disappointing, I thought I should write one myself.  So welcome to part 1.  I guess it's only fitting, considering the two posts where I take the washing machine apart to fix a design flaw are the most read posts on my blog.

    So here's my take on rocking the laundry.  But first, to answer the question I get asked a lot: "James, you do the laundry?" That's an easy one.  It's easy, it gets me out of some other unpleasant chores, and it frees Lori up to do other chores.  I do have caveat, though - that when my daughter starts wearing the kind of underwear I wish my wife would wear, that when I officially hand over the reins. I remember Bill Engval mentioning in one of his comedy routines about show her a pair of underwear and making a leering face and making suggestive comments and congratulating his wife on her new underwear only to be told it was his daughter's underwear.  So, yeah...

    Because I love wringing efficiency out of a process, I feel like I've got it down to almost a science and I had read that same article a few weeks ago and thought "boy, they missed a bunch of stuff."

    This is important: Chunk Up the Process

    Laundry has multiple steps.  Taken together, it's one massive chore.  Broken into individual steps, it's not as daunting, it feels more productive when you complete, and you can recruit other family members for individual steps.

    Thursday, May 02, 2013

    Don't Need a @Lyft

    Wow... this misses the boat on so many levels.  I don't know how they're doing their targeting but apart from living in Seattle(-ish, but that's not their fault), I don't know why Lyft is so aggressively targeting me on Facebook.  Maybe they think I love misspelled words and cutesy clever.  They would be wrong.

    I've taken two cabs in my entire life (and rode with someone else in a third).  I think I've commissioned 2, maybe 3 limousines (ah, that brief, sweet period where we were rich).  If I find myself without a car, I'm going to rent one or call a shared van because I know at least hotel to airport I usually have a good chance of getting a Town Car instead.  In a pinch, I'll walk or maybe take a bus.

    This car one has a large novelty mustache. And it's pink.  It's not Ron Swanson, so it shouldn't have a mustache.

    Wednesday, May 01, 2013


    The smaller print on this sign: "If you should encounter this animal, please move away slowly and call Zoo Security as soon as it is safe to do so. Whatever you do, do not run, scream or make eye contact."