Thursday, October 31, 2013


30 Days of Being #Thankful starts tomorrow.  I hope you'll join me.

How?  Every day in the month of November, tweet or post a status that starts "I am #thankful for" and then... whatever.

October, Out

This was a tough month. It was a beautiful month and I'll have the end-of-the-month photos posted soon.  But it was a tough month. We suffered with colds, had to cancel events and plans and we struggled a bit.  But, we also celebrated a birthday, enjoyed time as a family and made a good financial move. At the moment, I'm a little trepidatious about November, but I don't want to hold on to that, I want to be optimistic. And part of that is plans to be intentional about calling out things I'm thankful for. Plus, now people will be a little less judgey about us listening to Christmas music.


simplify - canceled DirecTV.  However, after 10 years of DVRs, watching some current shows now means watching commercials. I haven't really watched too many commercials in the last decade. That's quite painful.  Still working to transition stuff away from the PO Box so that we can close that as well.  And trying to simplify my chores while trying to get more done.

diet and exercise - It's been a mix of good and bad - more walks, but 10 days with incomplete reporting, probably most of those were days where I completely failed my diet.  I haven't weighed-in in two weeks though I'm trying to get to the point of weighing in weekly. Saturdays might be a bad day to do that, though.

work - Getting whiplash.  Trying to juggle a lot.  Good news is that I'm inching towards getting my open positions posted.

family gift ideas - Nothing new this month.



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Dell Dive

Annoyed that Dell went private today.

I had purchased a small lot of 10 shares in 2003 and so they did a force sale today for less than half of what I paid for them.

We have a Dell downstairs that mostly these days just runs iTunes and Dropbox and from time-to-time Chrome but it's a solid machine that's been running almost non-stop for 13 years now (except during our many power outages), got it shortly after we got married.  Once the hard drive got corrupted and we had to rebuild it but otherwise it's been solid for all that time.  Started with Windows 98 and then 98SE so we could add a scanner and finally Windows XP (skipped ME, of course).  Added Firewire (for a Hi8 video camera we bought just before everything went digital - expensive camera gathering dust - sigh) and added an extra 300MB hard drive to store all of our photos and music which we back up regularly to an external hard drive as well.  Workhorse of a machine.  Played a lot of SimCity on that back before we had children.

The Dell I have at work, though, probably from 2011 or 2012 is such a horrible piece of junk that it was the reason I finally switched to a Mac at work.

Maybe if Dell had been making machines in 2011 with the same quality as their 2001 machines they wouldn't have tanked so bad they had to go private.  Or maybe no one would have bought new ones and they would have gone out of business sooner from being too good.

Or maybe now that they've gone private they can turn their eyes back to a focus of quality.

Teeth Brushing (Life with #Autism)

Ben is not a big fan of toothbrushing.  He'll mostly just want to run away.  But I've found a safe way to hold him that does the trick.  (Of course, he still mostly just wants to suck off the toothpaste, but I'm at least able to get the brush moving around in his mouth.)

We're normally in the bathroom, but one night we were brushing in the kitchen so I asked Lori to take a snap.  I have him stand on his stool, or in this case, a chair.

I take his hand and hold it behind my back.  I don't have to hold tightly, he likes holding hands.  If he pulls away, I can tighten my grip on his hand.  If he pulls a lot, or feels like he's going to jump, I can let go quickly and there's no risk to hurting him.  But he rarely pulls away, he often will just lean into me, like a hug.

Now if we could just get him to be ok with flossing.  But then, even I don't really care for that.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Keep Me (@DirecTV)

So, canceled DirecTV late last week. They tried, but not very hard, to keep us by offering to knock $30 off the bill.  I'm guessing it would be in exchange for another 24-month contract.  We declined and they let us go easily.  Within two days, this email:

This tells me several things:

(1) DirecTV can afford to charge you far less than they are. (DirecTV's just trying to get as much as they can as quickly as possible because they know they'll lose a lot of people quickly.)

(2) A product (Genie) which would have cost me a lot to purchase while still a customer, I can now get for free. (DirecTV doesn't care about its existing customers.)

(3) DirecTV doesn't use the information it knows about its customers.  (We never watched any sports in two years.)

(4) DirecTV is just playing a game. (Notice the fine-print underneath the price where it says football's not included at that price.  Also, I doubt anyone can get the $29 price - there will be taxes, fees for additional services, etc., etc., etc.)

So, yeah, if you like sports, DirecTV is probably a good choice for you.  If you want the latest CBS shows, probably also a great choice.  But if you just want to be entertained, Netflix has a really deep catalog and is a far better and cheaper choice.

Companies who have fans, those companies know retention.  But if your goal is only the next sale, or to lock someone into a contract, there's a problem with your product.  You haven't figured out how to differentiate or you haven't figured out the value proposition.

Or you're chasing after the wrong audience, allowing them to buy your product, be dissatisfied with it and then be disgruntled about it.

My experience with DirecTV was not good. There was a promotional discount period at the beginning which was complicated to actually enroll in, there was a bunch of add-ons that were designed to try to get more money out of me and were difficult to cancel, the promotional marketing was designed to always to try to extract more money from me.  And for the longest time, they couldn't even be read on an iPhone.  (The black line through the hero graphic as rendered above is my fault for shrinking the email, it rendered perfectly.)

Never did DirecTV do anything to affirm me as a customer or partner, I was just someone to shake down on a regular basis, and then come back around and see if I had more money in my pockets.

Monday, October 28, 2013


The most recent in my identity series.

I love entertaining. Well, sort of. I love it when I can make others laugh. I'm only sort of good at it because of my dry wit and sometimes using the wrong medium (something that takes too long to explain) or I misread the room (it's funny to me but not others).

I love being entertained. Or at least I wrote down "entertainment" when I first created this identity series. But the more I think about this tonight, the more I think it's about being mentally stimulated. My brain is often moving at a high speed and I allow myself to get bored easily.  Call it entertainment, or call it distraction.

I will usually add music wherever I can to whatever I'm doing. Or I'll carry around the iPad while I'm doing chores, watching something on Netflix. (Now that I have Netflix, I rarely watch TED Talks. I'm still coming to grips with what I think of that.) Or I can't stop checking my email. Or I'm reading Feedly while watching TV. Or reading a book while I walk. Or before I go to bed. Most nights I'll squeeze the equivalent of at least two hours of TV in (minus commercials) and still get 30-60 minutes of reading in, plus reading before work. And while I'm driving, I must have Waze running and either music or on the way home from work, the weather forecast, latest tech, business and general news and the stock quotes for a bunch of companies thanks to Sync. I must constantly have external stimulus.  Before I get out of bed, I'll check my email, the latest headlines from MSNBC and Feedly. I usually have 1 or 2 books in progress and at least one magazine.  While I'm shaving I'm playing a video game or watching Netflix on my iPad.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Week 30 (Final)

Sunday evening - The rest of this week went poorly. We've been sick, there's been other stuff going on, it just basically all went to heck, to put it nicely.  This is too messed up to easily recover from and I still really don't feel good.

  • Family/Schedule: Tuesday, Friday and Saturday
  • Simplification:
  • Reading: The Lacey Confession; The Typographical Elements of Style; Consumer Reports Oct. 2013
This Week:
  • Total: 162 completed (220 200 180 155 131 total goal remaining)
  • Sunday: 36 completed, 3 postponed (35 planned of 40 carried from last week)
  • Monday: 27 completed, 2 postponed (30 29 planned)
  • Tuesday: 34 completed, 4 postponed (25 32 35 planned)
  • Wednesday: 31 completed, 8 postponed (30 31 32 36 planned)
  • Thursday: 18 completed, x postponed (25 27 32 37 planned)
  • Friday: x completed, x postponed (20 24 planned)
  • Saturday: 16 completed, x postponed (30 33 34 35 38 planned)
  • Sunday: 28 completed, x postponed (25 30 32 planned)
Wednesday evening - This week is going by quickly.  I think.  8 postponed but that's OK.

Tuesday evening - Tuesday? Already? I think that's good. Family over for dinner, that was nice. Children did well. Sat at the nice table. Tasty pasta dish. Hoping that's what I get for lunch tomorrow. Got all but four things done - paying Rachel for her chores (she had a streak of 12 days before she gave up), reviewing our budget, brushing the cats and writing a blog post.

Monday evening - I printed out the list last night for today. That helped. Got all but two things done - reading from Consumer Reports and writing a blog post.

Sunday evening - Got almost everything done that I wanted to.  (Didn't watch a TED Talk, do a blog post or update Lose-It, but that last one was more about a day where I failed my diet due to lunch with friends and less about not actually getting it done.)  My secret might just have been printing out my list. Of course, I said that about my "nice-to-have" list and it didn't help there.

Sunday afternoon - New week. Not going to be all gung-ho, last week wasn't great as far as getting stuff done.  So will try to temper my expectations for this week.

Book Review: The Final Summit (@AndyAndrews)

The Final Summit: A Quest to Find the One Principle That Will Save Humanity by Andy Andrews

This fiction book begins with all kinds of accolades including Zig Ziglar, Dave Ramsey, Sandi Patty, military people, sports people, Hollywood people, you name it.

The central character, David Ponder, is one that was new to me, since this was my first Andy Andrews books. But, I think it's a pretty safe bet that he's been a featured character in one or more previous Andrews works.

So this guy Ponder is what, in this world, is called a Traveler - someone who has had the opportunity to travel through time and meet other people. While the rest of the people are more notable, Ponder's pretty much an "everyman." Well, a really rich guy, but not famous like the rest of the Travelers.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Worth Repeating: Larry Smith


Why you will fail to have a great career -- In this funny and blunt talk, Larry Smith pulls no punches when he calls out the absurd excuses people invent when they fail to pursue their passions. ( More on

Why I posted -- A great talk. Sadly, he's right.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Feed Sift

Five things I wanted to share.


Machine language: how Siri found its voice - Ever wonder how these speaking computers can say just about anything? Quite cool. (h/t Kristen)


The Science of What Makes an Introvert and an Extrovert - the comments are interesting, how so many extroverts don't get it and seem to be offended with the notion that some people aren't like them.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cutting the Cord, three weeks in

Canceled DirecTV yesterday. When Lori called to cancel, they asked why.  She said we were trying to save money and they offered to continue the subscription, but for $30 less per month.  So if you have DirecTV, definitely call and try to cancel.

Last week DirecTV's DVR didn't record Survivor for some reason. We plugged in the laptop and went to and watched it.  This week it recorded fine.  We're watching tonight.  It'll be interesting to see tomorrow if it will let us watch recorded stuff off the DVR or not.  We made a list of everything that was on it.  When we turn it on this morning, it just says that nothing's authorized, so we can't get to recordings on the DVR or any channels, not that this was a surprise. The iPhone app registers an "unknown error" - guess they never bothered to write error handling for lapsed accounts. The DirecTV2PC app on our laptop also loads up, shows the shows and then responds with a generic "An error has occurred." alert if you try to play anything. Not surprised, but thought it was worth a shot.

Thanks to the way CenturyLink and DirecTV do their billing, we haven't purchased our Roku yet. We had to pay for this month and then wait to figure out who's going to send us a refund.  When I had been researching the Roku, I started getting ads from Amazon advertising it for $10 less than it was listed on their site.  But when I'd click through the ad, it would show the full price and not the advertised price. An email this morning from DirecTV confirms end of service, but it's all about additional ways they might bill you for more stuff.

Hulu Plus charges sales tax. Whatever. Still, a little bit of a surprise.

Our daughter's had frustration with the Wii remote going to sleep while she's watching Netflix.  She's not remembering to wake it up and getting deeply frustrated when her little brother interrupts her and she wants to pause it or rewind a little bit.  Often the Wii will need to be restarted or the Airport Express will need to be restarted before it will play well without stuttering or the app crashing.  May have to move the router and printer over and wire in the Wii directly or try to encourage more devices to plug in downstairs.  Or buy another Airport Express, but that's a last resort.  (We have to keep unplugging the router and plugging it back in before we print, so maybe it's just a problem with the refurbished router.)

Our big TV was someone's cast-off about 8 or 9 years ago and they had lost the remote. Thanks to Sony and Samsung's website, it was super easy to set up the Blu-Ray and VHS remotes to control the TV.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I love my Contigos

I was surprised to see that my wife's post about Contigo on her blog has gotten a lot of traffic.  I thought "I want some traffic. Maybe I should write about my Contigos because I love them." I've raved about them on Facebook but never written a blog post about them.

What makes Contigos really cool is this thing they call AutoSeal.  The opening has a spring-loaded sealing valve inside the screw-on top.  The valve is operated by a large button at the back of the lid.  That allows you to use one-hand to take a drink.  This is handy when you're on-the-go.  It can tip over, fall out of your hands, be dropped and nothing spills.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Guest Post: Watching Ben in P.E. (Life with #Autism)

LAST PERSON BLOGGING -- I had a chance to sit in on Ben's P.E. class on Monday. The physical therapist leads the Monday class and gives assistance and directed tasks for the children to follow. She had assessed Ben in September and he qualified for the PT assistance, and she invited me to come visit to see how they do things. I was surprised by the roller coaster of emotions that I felt while I was there. Read more on my wife's blog...

Monday, October 21, 2013


I try stay away from too much that's political - for the most part, politics frustrate me - I don't think we're getting these days what was intended when this country was founded.

But I can't resist this.  Jim Ferrell has been a fixture in Federal Way politics for some time now, either as a council member or as the deputy mayor.  I don't know much about him, but if this is expressing dissatisfaction with the status quo, then he needs to be counting himself in that.

So when I see signs like this, it's embarrassing and frustrating. First off, it's a weak slogan. Just about as weak as "It's All Within Reach" (which implies "None of it is here.")

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Week 29 (Final)

Wrap-Up - Spent Saturday at home enjoying family time, so didn't do a lot.  Today we went to church together (instead of having to drive separately which is how it usually is since one of us normally has to attend both services, either Lori singing or I doing sound or p.a.) and then had friends over for lunch.  So not a lot done today either. I'm just going to close the week now, postpone everything and plan a really light week to try to get caught up on stuff that slipped this week. Finished a book and need to review it, finished two magazines and need to pull out the relevant articles to add to my blog. Still suffering a bit of a cold.  Last Sunday I printed out the "nice to have" list but then didn't consult it enough during the week. Worst week yet (not counting vacation) for actually getting stuff done.

This week:
  • Schedule/Family Stuff: Lunch with Lori on Thursday, family outing on the weekend?
  • Reading: The Elements of Typographical Style (72 of 332); The Lacey Confession (35 of 447); The End of Wasp Season (completed); need to do summary work for Fast Company Oct. 2013 and Architectural Digest Nov. 2013; and Architectural Digest Oct. 2013
  • Simplification: I don't think I've done anything to simplify stuff this week.
  • Diet and Exercise: Met goal Tuesday and Wednesday nights and Thursday nights. Not Friday.
  • Total: 200 completed (214 205 179 133 98 75 0 total goal remaining)
  • Sunday: 21 completed, ? postponed (24 carried from last week)
  • Monday: 29 completed, 12 postponed (Goal: 29 40)
  • Tuesday: 32 completed, 16 postponed (Goal: 30 31 42)
  • Wednesday: 22 completed, 21 postponed (Goal: 30 31 43)
  • Thursday: 48 completed, 14 postponed (Goal: 25 27 32 48)
  • Friday: 18 completed, 13 postponed (Goal: 20 21 22 25 31)
  • Saturday: 26 completed, 24 postponed (Goal: 30 31 32 37 47)
  • Sunday: 4!!! completed, 40 moved to next week (Goal: 26 27 28 30 28 48)
  • Once and Done: 81 79 73 64 55 40 33 n/a
  • May Repeat (only counted once): 15 11 n/a
  • Daily Repeating: 16 17
  • Can Be Done Early (might still repeat): 48 47 46 43 40 28 23 
  • Nice to Have: 145 137 133 130

Friday night - You'd think I'm not even trying.

Thursday night - Stayed home sick from work today.

Wednesday night - A great night's sleep (new high score in Sleep Time: 95%), but not a lot done, especially considering how much I did before work. I think I've gotten lazy or something.

Tuesday night - Once again, crummy sleep.  Rachel was up.  Ben was up.  The cats were up.  So I slept in to the last minute.

Monday night - A good day. I started out feeling kinda crummy and wondering if I should stay home sick. Took some FakeQuil and slowly improved. Felt really good by mid-afternoon and have remained well. Currently watching Grace and Rigsby from The Mentalist get married which is a shame because this means one of them is going to die, right?

Sunday night - Postponing a few things, but got a few other things done. I think this is going to be a good week. Unless I can't shake this stupid cold. Irritating cough and congestion. The stuff I keep postponing are blog posts. I'm about to run out of posts if I don't spend some time soon writing some.

Sunday afternoon - alright! A new week.  This week, I'm printing out the "Nice to have" list.  The other lists are seemingly reasonable. This is getting easier and easier. It's almost no work now to plan out my week.

    Book Review: Days of Blood and Starlight (@lainitaylor)

    Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

    So this is the sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, a rich and dense story I read a few months ago. I don't want to spoil it, so here's my review. That would make it challenging, then, to write this review without spoiling this book.

    I was really engrossed with book one but got to the end and couldn't figure out how there could be sequels, but I liked it so much that I pledged to keep reading anyhow. DSB and DBS cover a lot of ground. In the first book, you learn about another planet and its ongoing conflict and a desire by some to end the conflict that for two, blossoms into a relationship. A twist at the end of the book seems to result in a bittersweet ending that you wonder how they'll recover from.

    Book two extends and expands the story, but the problem at the end of book one is allowed a slow burn. Not a tease in any way, but a reasonable progression. The book is an engrossing and rich read (512 pages) but even as it stands on its own, you can tell it's part of something big, something epic.

    Saturday, October 19, 2013

    Worth Repeating: Amy Cuddy (@amyjccuddy)


    Your body language shapes who you are -- Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” -- standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident -- can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success. More on

    Why I posted -- At the start of the year, I declared this to be one of two really good talks I had recently listened to. For awhile I had a reminder on my phone that would play the Imperial Death March from Star Wars and remind me to "power pose." I turned if off at some point when my schedule changed. I should think about reinstating that. :)

    Friday, October 18, 2013

    Feed Sift

    Some stuff I've come across recently.


    Bill Watterson: A Cartoonist's Advice - A fan takes a speech by Watterson and mimics the C&H style to illustrate the speech. Very cool.


    Suburb-Terranean: 70s Bunker Home Simulates Day & Night - as seen in Blast from the Past and more recently CSI:Vegas.


    Thursday, October 17, 2013

    F minus minus

    Seriously, how racist is this company?

    "Kreative Kookies for Kids - Ready to Kut - Kreate & Bake - Kreative Kookie Cookie Dough" - thirteen words and six are spelled incorrectly. 

    Wednesday, October 16, 2013

    Colorblind (@BestFoods)

    When you think of mustard, what color comes to mind? Most people will say yellow. A few, brown and one smart aleck will say "Grey" and you'll glare at them and they'll cheerfully say "Pardon me, do you have" and then trail off as you continue to glare at them and then gloomily say "Yellow." (not from personal experience)

    And when you think of mayonnaise, white is probably the only color you think of.  (Bonus if you also think in your head "I order all of my sandwiches with mayonnaise, I'm a whiz at minesweeper I can play for days, once you see my sweet moves you're gonna stay amazed.")

    So what was Best Foods thinking?

    Tuesday, October 15, 2013

    Guest Post: Letting Go of Dreams (Life with #Autism)

    LAST PERSON BLOGGING -- When we found out that Ben had significant delays in nearly every area of development, we went through a grieving process. We had to let go of a lot of our expectations and hopes and dreams for him. We realized that life for and with him would probably not look like what we had thought it would. Growing up and making friends, playing with other boys at recess, having conversations and other things as basic as those are the things that I dream and hope for Ben now. Continue on to my wife's blog...

    Monday, October 14, 2013

    Missed Opportunity @Amazon: Authors and Artists

    Over the past 14 years, I've purchased quite a few books and CDs from Amazon.  But I've never gotten an email from Jamie Oliver or Martha Stewart or Martina McBride (some of these were gifts).

    That seems like a huge missed opportunity.  I don't mean a generic email from Amazon telling me that so-and-so has a new book or CD out, but right after I purchase, why not an email inviting me to join their fan club on Amazon and their mailing list through Amazon.  Does Amazon even have fan clubs on its site?  Even if it's just an enhanced author/artist page curated by the artist or their management, you'd think anything that gets people to come back to Amazon on a regular basis, even when they're not specifically intending to purchase, would be a good way to (let's face it) sell more.

    Sunday, October 13, 2013

    Week 28 (Final)

    Final - A good week, but mostly because I rocked it yesterday. Need to do better.

    This week:
    • Schedule/Family: Lunch with Lori, Plans Friday night and Saturday
    • Reading: The Elements of Typographical Style (72 of 332); Consumer Reports Nov. 2013Architectural Digest Nov. 2013; Architectural Digest Oct. 2013 (134 of 230); The End of Wasp Season (18 of 310); need to do summary work for Fast Company Oct. 2013 and The Final Summit
    • Simplification: Been doing a better job of keeping up with Feedly and Email this week.
    • Diet & Exercise: Failing pretty badly this week.
    Tasks this week:
    • Sunday: 33 completed, 10 postponed (11 planned)
    • Monday: 29 completed, 9 postponed (30 36 planned)
    • Tuesday: 15 completed, 22 postponed (30 34 planned)
    • Wednesday: 19 completed, 29 postponed (30 29 31 50 planned)
    • Thursday: 18 completed, 29 postponed (25 24 27 47 planned)
    • Friday: 27 completed, 22 postponed (25 24 23 25 50 planned)
    • Saturday: 78 completed, 17 postponed (29 30 29 31 29 32 55 planned)
    • Sunday: 14 completed, 24 postponed (30 36 35 37 36 37 40 planned)
    • Once and Done: 91 82 71 70 64 60 52 21 14
    • May Repeat (only counted once): 15 17 16 14 13 5 3
    • Daily: 16 15 17 16 15 16
    • Can Be Done Early (might still repeat): 63 57 51 44 47 35 17 11
    • Total: 234 completed (210 209 175 170 140 119 95 40 0 planned remaining)
    • Nice to Have: 144 137 136 135 134 123 125

    Book Review: Aliens in the Gift Shop

    Near-final cover
    (from the author's website -
    where you can get the first
    chapter for free)
    Aliens in the Gift Shop by D.E. Morris

    I had the privilege of being a beta tester for D.E. Morris' freshman outing, Aliens in the Gift Shop.  Aliens tells the tale of an alien race that's researching Earth. They have not yet made official contact - Earth is unaware of any other alien races - but it's an early scouting expedition to become more familiar with Earth. The two aliens come from a much more advanced race whose beings have the ability to travel through space as well as, we learn later, possess advanced weaponry and technology that can transfer consciousness.  Without giving too much away, this race is also in a trade dispute with another race and they eventually become involved as well.

    This book is contains well-developed characters with their own worlds, complete with consistent idiosyncrasies and idioms but you don't have to work hard to get into the story, it's very accessible.  It's also very funny.

    There are times where you'll get specific descriptions but there's also plenty where you get enough to follow along without it being lost in the weeds.

    Saturday, October 12, 2013

    Cutting the Cord, 2 weeks in

    Ok, so we're firmly committed to cutting the cord. Ironic since there is no cord because it's satellite that we're doing away with, but so perhaps we're dissing the dish.

    Netflix - We signed up for the Netflix free trial and we've been loving it. Watching TV on my iPad has totally changed my habits, though not always for the best. I watch TV while doing a lot of my chores now, but sometimes I don't move as quickly because I've been watching the screen. I discovered and watched all of The IT Crowd and have started watching Battlestar Galactica and Archer. The profiles are pretty neat.  Netflix on our Blu-Ray player doesn't work because it doesn't support the resoluton of our TV.  Thanks for that Samsung.  Netflix on the Wii works well, but earlier today there were too many devices connected to the Airport Express and it couldn't connect to Netflix. Had to put some stuff in Airport Mode before it would connect. Will have to keep an eye on that see if we need to move the Airport Express and hardwire it.  We've also encountered the issue where Rachel watching something in the living room and Lori watching something in the kitchen and I couldn't watch something on the iPad because you can only do two streams at once.

    Hulu Plus - I haven't really used it, but Lori has. She complains that there's still a lot of commercials in The Voice.  They give you an entire week of free trial.  How magnanimous of them.  Apparently all children's shows are commercial free, that's cool. So the trial's already over so we got our first charge for that.

    Amazon Prime - haven't used it much even though we've had it for over a year now.  We just save money on the free shipping and discounts on recurring shipments.  It's difficult to find things and it's a mix of free and paid and even if it's free to stream, it shows purchase options so you have that "wait... am I about to buy something" panic that comes with having one-click purchasing turned on.

    DirecTV - we're deleting stuff we know we won't get to before we cancel. And that is becoming a bit of a challenge in and of itself. The contract ends 10/23 but the next bundle payment to CenturyLink is 10/20.  So we have to pay for another month of DirecTV and then call and cancel and wait to get a refund.  So might need to wait on the Roku box so as not to destroy the budget.

    What we haven't done yet is sat downstairs together to watch stuff in a non-DirecTV way except for the few random things via the laptop, usually when the DirecTV DVR fails to record or corrupts the recording. It'll be interesting when we do make the switch-over.  Bought an extra power cord for Lori's laptop so we can more easily move it.

    After that, then we'll take a hard look at cheaper cell phone options. And then the security system nd local phone line - you're next.

    Worth Repeating: Robert Gupta (@guptaviolin87)


    Music is medicine, music is sanity -- Robert Gupta, violinist with the LA Philharmonic, talks about a violin lesson he once gave to a brilliant, schizophrenic musician -- and what he learned. Called back onstage later, Gupta plays his own transcription of the prelude from Bach's Cello Suite No. 1. More on

    Why I posted -- A wonderful and sad story.

    Friday, October 11, 2013

    Feed Sift

    Five things I wanted to share.


    Words Are Hooks, Words Are Levers - Another good reminder that words mean things, better if we agree on what. (Seth Godin)


    The Last Stand of Walter White - A looong look at Bryan Cranston and his role on Breaking Bad and his life before, during and after. (GQ)


    LEGO Brooklyn: Artist Recreates Borough with Plastic Blocks - man, to have that kind of time and that many Legos... dang. (Web Urbanist)


    Five Ways to Do What You Want When You Want - a great skimmable reminder that we do have control over the chaos of our lives and that we can easily optimize and improve things. (Unclutterer)


    Freeze and Explode by Cassettes Won't Listen (h/t Zen Musings)

    Thursday, October 10, 2013

    On What Planet?

    Ok, two questions prior it asked me my salary. And then offers me these choices?

    Wednesday, October 09, 2013


    Woo hoo, I'm in print again! My letter to Rick was published! That can only mean one of two things...

    Tuesday, October 08, 2013

    Trader Joe's Hates Canada

    There are no Trader Joe's in Canada.

    But there is definitely plenty of demand. The store closest to the border regularly sees 40% of its receipts from foriegn (mostly Canadian) credit cards.  And it suffers from long lines.   So much so that there's a guy who regularly travels from Canada to the U.S., visits a Trader Joe's, buys about $25,000 worth of stuff and then drives back.

    He adds a small mark-up and sells it all rather quickly. Why? He's a fan. He used to live in Emeryville, Calif.

    Trader Joe's got mad. They posted photos of him in the stores and tried to keep him from buying from them. He had to resort to hiring people after his other idea (of cross-dressing in a mumu) almost got him arrested.  Someone even (hmm... I wonder who?) once put in an anonymous tip that he was smuggling wine - that got him held up at Customs for a long time.

    And eventually they sued.  And they lost.

    This bothers me. On one hand, ignoring a customer base... that seems un-American.  On the other hand, using lawyers, alienating your fans and acting like a big bully... that seems very American. Like THE MAN.

    But is Trader Joe's now THE MAN?  Here's what SHOULD have happened.

    Monday, October 07, 2013

    Feed Sift

    Five links I wanted to pass along.


    Oxford Dictionary adds “twerk,” “derp,” “selfie,” “phablet,” and more voguish vocabulary
    I've heard the Oxford Dictionary described as a mainstream version of the Urban Dictionary. One wonders if maybe they're just a delayed version? (


    Scuff-Proof Shoes - How do you make scuff-proof shoes? This really isn't about shoes. (Seth Godin)


    Sunday, October 06, 2013

    Week 27 (Final)

    Sunday afternoon - Got a lot done, but still quite a few things left for today and not sure I'll get to all of them. I did not get anything done on the nice-to-have list, really. I think for next week I'll print it out so that I can consult it and make sure I'm making progress on it.  Lots more laundry than I have been expecting/planning for.  No end to it. Finished the book and magazine I was reading. Still need to summarize/blog about the previous week's magazine and book.  Only time I've done less in a week was when I was on vacation and trying to keep it to a minimum.  Worst Monday, Tuesday and Friday to date.

    This week:
    • Schedule: Lori's party on Tuesday. Woo hoo.
    • Family: Lori's party on Tuesday. Woo hoo.  Coffee with Rachel, walk with Rachel.
    • Reading: Days of Blood and Starlight; Reader's Digest Sept. 2013; need to do summary work for Fast Company Oct. 2013 and The Final Summit
    • Simplification: not sure I simplified anything this week.
    • Diet & Exercise: Under my weight goal Saturday, and a long walk with Rachel. Friday - walk at lunch plus walked to and from building 2.
    Tasks this week:
    • Sunday: 10 completed, 9 postponed
    • Monday: 20 completed, 15 postponed (35 planned)
    • Tuesday: 14 completed, 31 postponed (30 42 planned)
    • Wednesday: 44 completed, 10 postponed (30 33 55 planned)
    • Thursday: 27 completed, 11 postponed (25 33 planned)
    • Friday: 11 completed, 23 postponed (20 27 32 planned)
    • Saturday: 40 completed, 23 postponed (35 36 39 51 planned)
    • Sunday: 39 completed, 26 incomplete (40 41 42 53 planned)
    • Total: 205 completed (215 195 175 137 102 93 zero planned remaining)
    • Once and Done: 83 79 76 55 49 46 32 n/a
    • May Repeat (only counted once): 15 n/a
    • Daily: 17 16 n/a
    • Can Be Done Early (might still repeat): 58 56 57 42 39 40 n/a
    • Nice to Have: 147 145 144 

    Book Review: Putting Jesus in His Place

    Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case of the Deity of Christ by Robert M. Bowman, Jr. and J. Ed Komoszewski

    The book starts with several pages of endorsements (19 in all) and most are professors. It's no surprise, considering this is probably more of a scholarly work aimed at Biblical scholars, especially those early in their studies.

    And it's in that it became quickly clear that I was not the audience for this book, though I persevered and read through it anyhow. I had hoped this would be in a similar vein to I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (which I love - my review) or The Case for Christ (which I have not yet read).  When I say that I hoped it would be like those two books, I mean that I hoped it would be a book whose audience is the non-Christian, the curious and the Christian who wants to be able to better explain (defend) their faith in a reasoned, gentle fashion. (Not a Bible-thumping turn-or-burn kind of way, but a able to thoughtfully respond to all the "Yes, but doesn't the Bible say.." and "But isn't that kind of exclusive..." or "That doesn't seem very loving..." or "How could all knowing all loving being allow..."

    Instead, this more scholarly work asks you to make some basic assumptions: You believe in Christ, you believe in the authenticity of the New Testament.

    But if you get past that, there are some cool things in there. Using the acrostic "HANDS" the book addresses these five areas:

    Saturday, October 05, 2013

    Worth Repeating: Julian Treasure (@juliantreasure)


    Five ways to listen better -- In our louder and louder world, says sound expert Julian Treasure, "We are losing our listening." In this short, fascinating talk, Treasure shares five ways to re-tune your ears for conscious listening -- to other people and the world around you. More on

    Friday, October 04, 2013

    Trying to rip me off, @Amazon?

    So why would the Amazon ad on MSNBC offer me $10 savings on a Roku box but when I click through, there's no sign of the discount.

    Click to enlarge

    Thursday, October 03, 2013

    We Need This, @LoseIt

    Dear Lose It! - we really need a "share this meal" option. It would be really helpful for families who eat the same meals.  Also would have worked well last year when we were attending a small group and nearly everyone in the group was using Lose It! - it would have made it easier to share the foods they brought.

    Otherwise, it ends up like this because I'm lazy. (Lose It! does allow you to share a recipe, but that's different than sharing a meal.)

    Wednesday, October 02, 2013


    So... why doesn't IKEA sell LEGOs?

    I mean, think about it.

    They're both Scandinavian companies with four-letter names, they both sell products that come in pieces that you have to put together yourself and they both have word-free instructions that contain little things that sort of look like people and show you how, often at what appears to be a 30° angle.

    In a way, LEGOs might be a gateway product to get you hooked on thinking DIY assembly is fun. Though I do have to say... that poor hörse that growth on the back that the people are sitting on... looks painful.


    Tuesday, October 01, 2013

    (this one's only for Lori)

    We went on a cruise on Lake Washington during our anniversary trip. It was a nice cruise, but it was gray and overcast. Looking at my photos, the only pop of color was you. 

    We are so grateful to have you in our life. We love you!

    Happy Birthday!

    - Me and the children