Sunday, March 31, 2013

March Madness: End of the month

This was not an easy month, either at work or at home.  I'm glad to be starting the next month with a week off.  Won't be doing anything specific, other than just hanging out with the family.  We're trying to conserve money, so we don't have a lot of plans, but we'll be getting some stuff around the house and taking care of some medical and other errands.

I don't think I paid enough attention to my To Do List as the month went on.  Got some good stuff done, but not everything that I would have liked.

March is traditionally a wonderful month, it's when we moved to Washington and I have fond memories of great afternoons of sun and rain at the same time.  I saw a few of those and from that perspective, I'm surprised March is over.  We'll see what April brings.  Not a lot of rain in the first half, according to Accuweather.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


What is "Breakfast Internet"?

Worth Repeating: Tyler Dewitt

High school science teacher Tyler DeWitt was ecstatic about a lesson plan on bacteria (how cool!) -- and devastated when his students hated it. The problem was the textbook: it was impossible to understand. He delivers a rousing call for science teachers to ditch the jargon and extreme precision, and instead make science sing through stories and demonstrations. More at >>>

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Alcohol for Kids

This caught my eye in the boy's bathroom in the gym at Rachel's school. It's probably apropos of nothing, but I remember how it was drilled into our heads as kids that alcohol is bad. But apparently you should put it on your hands. (Yes, I know this is silly, but remember, words have meaning.)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

'Sense of Humor' Award Goes To...

Yay @FWPS210 (Federal Way Public School District) for allowing me to poke a little fun at them without being upset by it.  Yes, that was an actual subject line of an email they sent us.  Guessing their system has a short space for subject lines.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

In Service (Life with #Autism)

If I get any details wrong, I trust Lori will leave a comment and correct me.  

Lori told me the other day the new Chldren's Director at church called and essentially the gist of it was that she was recommending we change church services.

There had been awhile where we were attending both services.  Lori typically sings with either the worship team or choir and I was working in the technical booth.  But then we found out that Ben wasn't doing well in two services - it turned out that he it was just too much for him.  So we started trading off - I could work in the technical booth or Lori could sing, but not both.  (That's why I stopped posting the sermon notes, I found to get really good notes I needed to listen to the sermon twice.  I miss that.)

Anyhow, yeah, so Ben was doing much better in only a single service.  Whoever wasn't "working" would bring him and Rachel to the second service.  When he was little, I'd bring him in for the beginning of the service because he loved the music.  But when we started going to both services, we'd place him in the nursery at the start of the service.  When we went back to one, we were still putting him in the nursery right away.  He's almost five, but he's little and because of his mental development, it was still seeming to work.   After his seizure I tried a few times to bring him in for the music but he was just upset and mean and scratching.  But now that he's on the new seizure medicine, I've been bringing him in and he's been loving it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Alignment (A Work-Related Post)

This isn't a new or novel concept, I won't claim that this is my breakthrough, but I feel it bears repeating.

My daughter gets frustrated when a toy breaks quickly, doesn't work right, or doesn't live up to her expectations.  It's been a learning opportunity for her - a chance for me to point out the sad fact that all too often, the sole job of companies is to get your money.  Once they have liberated you from your money, they've done their job.  Nevermind if the thing never works as you'd hoped or is such a piece of junk that you never actually play with it.  You paid for it and that was their end goal.

Sadly, you think of the people who designed it, manufactured it, shipped it, stocked it, rang it up.  You think of the resources mined/cultivated/chopped down to build it, package it, the vessels that transported it, the fuel used to power them, and it's amazing the amount of waste expended in the production of garbage.  She doesn't think that deeply yet, but she's starting to understand the concept of sheer blind greed that puts the seller at odds with the customer.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


This weekend was great.  But first, last week.

Monday - can't recall anything interesting.  As we were checking on the children at the end of the night, we accidentally work up Rachel.  We would learn Tuesday morning that she had actually not going back to sleep.  So she got 3-4 hours of sleep and then played all night long.  *sigh*

Tuesday - I was really busy and had a couple of calls that I let go to voicemail in rapid succession.  One was the nurse's assistant and Rachel's school asking us to call back ASAP.  Instead of calling, I called Lori.  When Rachel stays up all night long, she often complains of stomach pains the next day.  That was not the case.  She and another child had collided on the playground.  I wasn't sure of the damage, but I agreed to meet Lori at Urgent Care.  Lori's mom went to the house to watch Ben.  We waited awhile at Urgent Care, watching a lot of Madagascar 3.  They finally led us into a room, an assistant removed the bandage and then announced that the doctor would probably be sending us to the ER.  He came in, took a look, and yep, off to Mary Bridge.  We waited there watching a lot of Ice Age 3.  They finally took us to a room where we waited a lot and watched most of Toy Story 3.  We got to a point where Rachel's speech was slurred and she was giggly, kept talking without moving her mouth much.  If you're friends with Lori, she posted the video tonight (Rachel finally agreed to allow it and earlier today allowed a still photo).  So 1 stitch inside, 7 outside.  I had to keep looking away.  Rachel, however, was so nicely drugged that she thought the needle tickled.  Finally released, headed back to Urgent Care to collect my car.  Rachel fell asleep in the car.  The doctor came out when we arrived (nice timing, I think) and asked how she was.  That was a nice touch, it had been 5-6 hours since he'd seen us.  Lori went to get food and I headed to Fred Meyer to get a prescription.  No movie there, sadly.  Finally home at 9, devoured a lot of KFC. I missed an interview for an open position in my group, but two of my colleagues covered for me.  Sadly, this will make the guy have to come in again next week to meet with me.  Just as well, I was in a foul mood that day after my boss' boss insulted me. He probably doesn't realize he did it.  After that first night, Rachel has not wanted any pain medication. I'd probably still be on the couch crying.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Worth Repeating: Shabana Basij-Rasikh

Imagine a country where girls must sneak out to go to school, with deadly consequences if they get caught learning. This was Afghanistan under the Taliban, and traces of that danger remain today. 22-year-old Shabana Basij-Rasikh runs a school for girls in Afghanistan. She celebrates the power of a family's decision to believe in their daughters -- and tells the story of one brave father who stood up to local threats. More at >>>

Friday, March 22, 2013

Pick a card, any card (Life with #Autism)

So Ben doesn't talk a lot.  At school they'd been working with him using PECS (Picture Exchange Card System).  We had chosen not to go that route at home, but after the last IEP meeting, I just decided we needed to try them.  So I made some for food items and printed them out and taped them to the refrigerator with blue tape.

They worked well - he could go and pull down the one he wanted.  Sometimes so violently that they'd rip.  Other times, he'd crumple or chew on the paper, but overall, he'd give them to us and we'd give him the food.

But that was enough success.  Lori got on board, bought a laminator, some velcro and redid the cards and made a bunch more.  There's a small box on the counter by the computer that holds a bunch more and we can swap them in and out when we want to offer different things, or from time-to-time we'll add treat items to the right side and wait for him to notice.

From time-to-time we need to remake some cards because they do get mangled, but it's working really well.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Jerk Move (A Work-Related Post)

Sorry this is sideways. That's not the jerk move, but I will admit it's pretty lame. I blame the iPhone.

So this is a postcard we received recently.  If you've never been there before, 50% off your visit.

But if you're already a customer?  Only 10% off for you.

This is stupid.  Penalize your own customers? This should be like "Already a customer? Bring this postcard and a friend and you both get 50% off!"

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Recommended: Recharge Chocolate+Caramel

I've gotten free samples of Recharge bars twice now thanks to Lose-It.

They have three flavors: 
  • Peanuts+Caramel
  • Raspberry+Apple
  • Chocolate+Caramel

Each bar has 100 calories, 8g of protein and 3g of fiber.  All three are dense bars, as you expected for a health bar.  The first two, neither Rachel or I cared for (but Ben did).  

But I really liked the Chocolate+Caramel bar - it's quite tasty.  You can watch Lose-It!'s Twitter feed for possible future giveaways or you can order them directly from

(I was not compensated in any way for this post nor do I have any future expectation to be compensated as a result.)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Missed Opportunity 2 (A Work-Related Post)

So got this email the other day from DirecTV.  The good news is that they took my advice are finally previewing their emails on iPhones and iPads.  For the longest time, they were using line heights less than the font making it impossible to read.  I finally complained to their customer service and now their emails are readable.

But this email is dumb.

We already know that they know how what channels we watch and for how long.  First, it would be stupid for them not to know this kind of information.  Secondly, they so much as admit it every time negotiations get contentious between DirecTV and one of the media companies insisting that they carry channels no one cares about like ESPN Ocho or Nick Jr. Jr. or Disney Family After Dark.

So here's what gets me... they didn't need to send me this email.  Or they could have made it a small include on another email.  Instead, what I see is DirecTV taking something away.  Nevermind that it's not something I even care about.

Bottom Line: They should use their data to market, inform and communicate smarter.

Also amused that it takes place on April 1 and they refer to it as the OWN Network (Oprah Winfrey Network Network). 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Feed Sift (Week Ending 3/16)

-1- The Autism Advantage

A great, but long piece about new ways autistic adults are able to participate in the workforce. In Denmark, but spreading to the United States. A detailed piece, looks at why this isn't for everyone and some of the pitfalls that employees and employers might face, but a really interesting piece. (New York Times)

-2- Light it up: Epic LED show to wrap SF Bay Bridge in swirls and stars

This is pretty cool. There's a video on this page that I watched with the sound off (it's about the lights anyhow). I wish there had been more long shots just letting it play. Mesmerizing. (CNET)

-3- TV Apartments

Using only the shows themselves, an interior decorator from Spain has drawn up floorplans for a number of popular TV shows. Amazing how massive those apartments are and how set designers seem to love putting things at angles. Funny to watch design shows where they criticize putting things at angles. (TwistedSifter)

-4- Graffiti Archaeology

Photos over years (or decades) of areas that are popular with graffiti artists - you can see how the walls have changed over time, in the style of the art and how people have worked together in some cases to enhance and tweak each other's work.  (

-5- History of L.A. Transit

A timeline of all of the transit companies of Los Angeles, starting in 1870 in an interactive map.  (Tiki-Toki)

Worth Repeating: Edi Rama

Make a city beautiful, curb corruption. Edi Rama took this deceptively simple path as mayor of Tirana, Albania, where he instilled pride in his citizens by transforming public spaces with colorful designs. With projects that put the people first, Rama decreased crime -- and showed his citizens they could have faith in their leaders. More at >>>

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Back Atcha. @GoogleReader #savegooglereader

If between Google Reader, Feedburner, Blogger and AdSense somehow the brilliant minds of Google couldn't figure out how to offer it for free and still make money, they're lying or they don't understand its value or they are not as smart as we think they are.

And heck, if you want to talk insights, if Google Reader users are subscribing in large numbers to the same feeds, then every time we read or don't read a post that could influence the PageRank. I think this will hurt overall readership of the internet and actually even hurt Google. I think it was shortsighted.

And that's why on July 1, I will stop supporting their fledging social network, Google+.

And I'm really scared about what's next...
  • Feedburner? (Duh. That's in round 3 coming in two weeks.)
  • Blogger? (It's extraneous - you can post on Google+!)
  • Google Voice? (Pfft... voice... You can host a hangout and use video!)
  • Gmail? (You'll have more fun chatting with your circles!)
  • Google Apps for Personal Use? (Oh... wait... you already killed that. That's why you keep hounding me for $5/person/month.)
Speaking of wanting my money... where's the offer to pay to use Google Reader? Not that they need the money, but pretty sure they could make a profit selling subscriptions to Google Reader. But no, they're not interested. Shortsighted, I tell you.

Wondering what all the fuss is?  Here's an explanation of Google Reader I wrote in 2007.  Sadly, so little has changed since then that this is still probably a legitimate guide to using Google Reader.  Still Not Using Google Reader? (tvjames x blog, Nov. 2007)

Moves Management (Evil Edition)

When you work some place you like, sometimes the most difficult path to promotion is the people who already hold the position and have no desire to vacate it.

I read an article recently that said Google was expanding a nearby campus in order to nearly double the number of staff they have in the region.  This campus is too far away from me (I love my commute and I believe in the work of our organization, so I'm not ready to go anywhere) but there are a lot of people in my organization who live up that way.  (Their commute must be quite unpleasant.)

So I began to wonder - what if I could get them to go work for Google.  And suddenly this evil idea I would never actually do (and you shouldn't either) formed:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Save Google Reader @googlereader #savegooglereader

First and foremost, thank you for reading my blog.

Most of you never actually visit my blog, but instead, read it via Google Reader or some other RSS reader.

Google announced today that it's shuttering Google Reader later this year.  This is bad news if you follow a lot of blogs, this is bad news if you have a blog of your own, and this is bad news if you use Google products.  The message Google is sending is that no product, how awesome, how useful, is in jeopardy of being canceled, even if they've decimated the market to the point that no alternatives exist.  This is essentially an abuse of a monopoly.  Worse yet, they didn't even give people the option of maybe paying a yearly fee to keep using it.  Or monetizing the offering with ads.  Instead, they're simply shutting it down.

If you operate a blog, this will probably result in less people regularly reading your blog.  If you have ads on it, that will mean less money for you.  (And ironically, probably less money for Google.)

If they can cancel this today, what's to say they get tired of Google Voice or Gmail tomorrow?  At the same time, they continue to invest in products like Google Chrome for which plenty of decent alternatives exist as well as silly projects like self-driving cars or glasses which have little screens on them so you can read your email while you're walking or driving.  Well, ok, if people have these silly glasses on, I guess I'd rather they have a self-driving car.

But as readers of my blog, I hope you will please consider signing these two petitions.  Not sure it'll do any good, but to quote Edmund Burke ""All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."  Tell Google to stop being evil.

Mac to the Future

I did it.  I switched to a Mac at work.  And if I'm using a Mac, it must not be cool anymore.

I suppose it was inevitable when you look at the Appling of our house... Airport Extreme (replaced the dLink), Airport Express*, iPod Video (a gift), iPod Nano*, iPhone 3G* (acting like an iPod), iPhone 4 (Lori's), iPhone 3GS (work), iPad Classic Original First Edition (work).

* Surplussed by their original owner.  Yeah, they just leave their old stuff here - like we're an electronic recycler for them or something.  Not that we don't appreciate it.  :)

So I have a MacBook Pro with the SSD and the 8gigs and... the training wheels.  Other than a few months of playing with a MacBook Air a few years ago, most of my experience with Macs was about 25 years ago.  It's interesting to see how they've changed and how they haven't.  I can't help wonder if some things that they've kept the same (menubar disconnected from app window, for one) were poor choices they regret now but stubbornly hold on to because they don't want people rioting and burning police cars in the street.

I'm slowly learning my way around Mac OS, but I didn't get it for the operating system, I didn't get it for the caché of the glowing palefruit. I got it because I know it's a solid machine, a well manufactured machine from a company who pays attention to detail. And an operating system designed to work well with it.

That is, it's not a Dell (the only other choice at work). I've been a Dell fan for a long time. But the one I have at work made me stop being a fan. It overheats (and shuts down) regularly, the bezel has cracked and is pulling away from the machine, and it overheats. Yeah, that's a really irritating thing. If I were to take it to a meeting, I can't dock it when I get back to my desk because that kills it. Often I had to have an external fan blowing on it. It came shipped with Windows 7, they downgraded it to XP, and then later upgraded it back to 7, but their version of it. Locked away, crippled, frustrating.

But you know what? I've been spoiled. My modern experience with Apple has been iOS. I know it's difficult, inventing something new, something better. And then looking around you and realizing that when you start over, you can scrap so many mistakes, leave so much legacy out. Build it solid, built it smart, build it right. But all around you, people proud of their work, resistant, resentful of the new. Slowly, your learnings make their way back to the legacy product, but it's difficult. So that's where we are with Mac OS. The learnings are slowly making their way over, but it's still early. Things don't work as well as they do in iOS and some stuff (like the app store) just doesn't seem thought out well at all.

The good news is that there's plenty of learnings from iOS and plenty of potential for future improvement in Mac OS. It'll be interesting to watch.

That poster up there?  It hung by my desk at UltimateTV and Warner Bros. I should find out if it's in storage somewhere.  That would be a cool thing to put in my cube.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


"The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him... The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself... All progress depends on the unreasonable man."
-- George Bernard Shaw

Monday, March 11, 2013

nous sommes toujours là

Six years ago today, we arrived* in near-Seattle.  A lot has happened** since then. I really don't feel like recounting it, but I didn't want to let the day go by without mentioning it.

There's a lot I miss about Los Angeles.

But then there's a lot I don't.

*No internet, so it took a few days to get online.
**Perhaps I shouldn't have said everything

Sunday, March 10, 2013

And breathe...

Well now... that was a bit of a roller coaster of a week, but it certainly ended on a high note. This is mostly for my own decompression. I don't actually expect anyone (except maybe Lori) to actually read it and hopefully she won't tell me I need to edit it.

Monday - I don't recall anything of note. Busy day at work.

Tuesday - Busy day at work, departed early because we had a meeting with Rachel's neurobehavioralist. Despite some recent issues with sleep, he's really encouraged. It was a really good talk. We also brought in one of his progress reports that we had Ben's teacher fill out. I think he *finally* had a good idea of what we were up against, or why some of the tactics he wanted us to try with Rachel was easier said than done in this household. He spent some time talking about Ben and what we've been working on with him. For now he wants to let the medical side play itself out but could see us eventually consulting with him for Ben as well. And then he switched to talk about us. When confronted with the challenges of these two, he wanted to make sure we were doing all right, that we were getting enough sleep, that we were getting chances to get away, stuff like that. I really appreciate that we never feel rushed when we talk to him and that I've learned more about myself and about my relationship with Lori and about Lori as well from these sessions. The area of neurobehavior is pretty fascinating and it's surprising how this stuff all interconnects when it comes to learning styles, cleaning styles, organizational styles and so on.

Book Review: In Between the Ears

I made it 55% through In Between the Ears by Lee Goetti before giving up on it. I think this must have been a free Kindle book because it was on my Kindle and I didn't remember it, but started reading it recently.

The stream of consciousness writing style is unique (and fun) and there are a few moments of laugh-out-loud funny.  But I found that I really didn't much care for any of the characters, so I had no one to root for in this meandering story.  So halfway through, we have the stories of a band that's doing OK and the separate storyline of the would-be drummer (Paul) who instead has a mess of a life due to an injury that prevented him from being in said band and who is now instead in some sort of cult led by a guy who'd like to be considered a great leader but who's just quite messed up himself.

55% in is where the latest cult crop are at a retreat and a truly psycho person starts thinking that he's talking to a slug.  Yep, you read that correctly.  There's something involving a hatchet the slug wants him to put in Paul's room after cutting down a tree.

I jumped to the end where I notice that still nothing happened.   Whatever happened with the hatchet didn't happen to Paul as he's still around.

I would give it zero stars for story but I'm instead going with two because I want to give credit for the writing style and the humor.

The themes and content and language and situations in this book would also prevent me from recommending to my friends, even if the story were improved.  Sorry, but there you go.

I put the Amazon link so you can jump to it, but do not buy this book.  If you want to get rid of some money for no reason, just send it directly to me instead.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Worth Repeating: Keith Chen

What can economists learn from linguists? Behavioral economist Keith Chen introduces a fascinating pattern from his research: that languages without a concept for the future -- "It rain tomorrow," instead of "It will rain tomorrow" -- correlate strongly with high savings rates. More at >>>

Friday, March 08, 2013


Don't forget, clock-changing time is coming up. I recommend making the time change at 2 PM on Saturday. You've still got 2-3 hours until dinner and it means the children get to bed at their normal time and no one loses an hour of sleep.


I think Lori and I have unwittingly been preparing ourselves for a post-live TV reality... it all started when we discovered Firefly long after it had been canceled.  We watched all of the episodes followed by the Serenity movie all in one fell go (an episode a night).  Shortly after that, we were loaned the first season of Vampire Diaries and the first few seasons of Bones.

We really started to enjoy the consistency - no matter what the day threw at us, we could head downstairs at the end of the day and escape for 44 minutes to the storyline/world we'd been in the day before.  It certainly beat trying to keep all kinds of stories and arcs in our heads week after week, especially if there was a shocking cliffhanger or reveal.  Not to mention shows that were brand new - what if we invested in them and they got canceled?  (Like 666 Park Avenue... Lori ditched it, but I was still watching it.)

So we started just DVRing everything and letting it pile up.  There's a few things, like the half hour comedies and Amazing Race and Survivor (and ironically, Vampire Diaries) that we'll watch very soon after (same night if possible) but the rest of it, we just watch all of one show and then move on to the next one.  (It was hard going to that kind of schedule with Person of Interest and Once Upon a Time.)

So we just got caught up from Elementary this week.  I'm glad that we started recording that one because it's been really entertaining and now I'm a little bummed that we're done with it for awhile.  But we're back in Hawaii (Five-O) where it's warm and sunny and by the end of the week not sure where we'll be... Storybrooke, New York or any number of made-up towns in California with The Mentalist crew.  Or Vegas.  Or D.C.

It's also helped me to realize that certain shows I end up not wanting to continue like Grimm).

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Official Rules for "Three Things"

"Three Things" is the practice of reflecting on your day and highlighting things that made it great. This is accomplished by making a Facebook post near the end of your day that highlights the things in your day that made you happy. It's all too often easy to grumble or grouse or use Facebook to whine, but this will make you reflect on what went well that day, both at the time it happens (so you can remember it) and at the time of your post.


Good example: Promptly escaping.
Bad example: Being sent to prison by a military court for a crime you didn't commit.

Here are the official rules:

(1) Posts will begin with "Three Things I liked about today" followed by three things you liked about today.
(2) No negativity. Negativity is bad.
(3) List items in the format (1), (2) and (3).
(3) In rare cases, you may find that you just can't limit yourself to three. Congratulations! This is awesome and that means "Three Things" is working for you - you had a lot to celebrate and you need people to know that this day was extra special. Examples might include something your children did or that you had pizza for dinner. In that case, simply repeat the third entry as needed. Some might accuse you of cheating, but sadly it might just mean they've not read the official rules.

So there you go. Welcome to your new happier life where if you are paying special attention you'll probably start finding it easier and easier to point to three things every day that you liked about today.


Mashup Mashon Mashin

I recently recalled an incident a few years ago where we were at a reasonably realistic Chinese restaurant and I poured some soy sauce on my food. My Chinese-American coworker was appalled. He said they would have put soy sauce on it already.

I put ketchup on my fries.
I put ranch on my onion rings.
I put syrup on my pancakes.
I put salt and pepper on my eggs.
I put creamer in my coffee.
I put wallpaper on my desktop.
I put music on my run.
I put sunglasses on my face.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013


Part of my identity series.

To say I love knowledge is a weird one. Sometimes it's hard separating data from information. (Data = facts, information = facts with a context, facts with a use).

I can get lost on Wikipedia and I can get lost on MSNBC just reading more and more, following interesting trails.

Sometimes I want to know stuff so I can tell Lori about it before she tells me. Sometimes it's because I'm impatient want to know about something before it happens, like on TV or the latest Apple/Google/Microsoft offering. Fortunately, in the case of TV, our recent habit of Netflixing (sort of) everything has helped curb that. But as far as information and knowledge, it translates into a lot of RSS feeds from Engadget to TwistedSifter to Crosscut to the Seattle Transit Blog.

It also means I'm reading, but with the iPad there's always the lure of games. Knowledge does not always win out saving sheep from aliens or using my UFO to throw cars at unsuspecting cows. Not to mention paper tree books and a stack of magazines that is growing. I've tried before to let some lapse but then they keep offering deals that make it silly not to keep subscribing.

My coolest favorite right now is my car. When I get in to head home, I press a button, it chimes and I saw "Services" - a few seconds later the voice asks me what I'd like and I say "Favorites" and it launches into a weather forecast, tech, business and national news followed by Google and Apple's closing stock prices.

And then there's the TED Talks.

I think if I were on a deserted island I'd go crazy from being disconnected. Unless I had a very full solar-powered Kindle.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

How sad is this?

My latest organization attempt is to carry four (4!!!!) calendars with me.  On paper.  Perhaps not the model of simplicity, or perhaps precisely the model of simplicity (in that it's not complicated and technologically cumbersome).

In time, I will probably figure out a way to improve the process, but right now, I'm going to live with this because it seems to be working.

They are:

* My current work week (although it has changed quite a bit since then so I may need to re-print) - this helps me throughout the day to know where I need to go next and who I'll be meeting with next

* My blog post plans - I didn't blog enough in February, so I'm trying to be more intentional in March

* The current month for our family stuff - I felt like I was often surprised by events and so I decided I wanted to be more informed and possibly even be more responsible or do more leading and planning of stuff.

* The current month - when I might be able to get to the big to do items around the house - Remember the Milk is great for those daily repeatable tasks, but I found that I was just getting them done each day and never getting to the big projects.  So, I pulled the large projects out onto a list on our bulletin board in the kitchen and then tried to place some of them on the calendar where I might be able to get to them.  There's definitely more items then good potential dates, so it may help me plan a more reasonable list for April.

App Review: Sleep Time (iOS)

Updated, 6:55 am - fixed name and added links to iTunes to download free or paid version of app.  One more note to add to comments later about snooze.  

Sleep Time is a pretty slick app.  I was so impressed with the free version that I bought the 99 cent paid version just to encourage the app's developers.  (The screenshots are from the free version.)

Sleep Time is an alarm clock designed to wake you up in a very refreshed manner.

You specify the range (10-30 minutes) and then you set the *latest* you want the app to wake you up.  It may wake you up sooner.  Press the green music note if you'd like it to play a soundscape for 45 minutes to help you fall asleep.

Press the "Start" button and place the phone face-down on your bed near your head.  At any time during the night, pick up the phone to view the time.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Missed Opportunity (A Work-Related Post)

Where I work, we're seeing open rates on a mobile device as making up 50% of all opens.  And we would not project our audience to be on the cutting edge of technology.   Even if we're wrong and our subscribers are on the cutting edge, 50% is huge.  Which points out an interesting opportunity for emailers.

Here's a recent screenshot from my iPhone.  Now more than ever, the text that appears at the top of your email matters - even before someone opens, it's now another opportunity to entice readers to open.  To be sure, this isn't entirely new - Gmail and other web-based email programs have shown you a preview for years, but in an increasingly competitive inbox, are you squandering an opportunity?

In this short sample alone, three emails simply repeat the subject line and two more have their "View this on our website," a hold-over from when lots more people had BlackBerrys which would display the HTML version instead of the Text version but then strip out all the formatting and pictures.

Even still, a short teaser above the "View as webpage" could entire BlackBerry and Text Version users more than just launching straight into the "View as webpage" as if you just naturally assume they will *want* to.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Book Review: Guess How Much I Love You

I read this book to my son recently and I have to say, I was appalled.  Appalled, I tell you!

"Guess How Much I Love You" tells the story of "Little Brown Nuthare" and "Big Brown Nuthare" as they prepare for bed. For the sake of brevity, I'll refer to them as LBN and BBN.

Character development is weak at best.  the two main characters are never given names and their relationship is never explained.  Father? Older brother? Abductor?  They are appear to be on the run, sleeping in the open country.  Or are possibly homeless.  No mention is made of any female influence in their lives.

The essence of the story is that LBN wishes to convey to BBN how big his love.  He struggles for the right words, using body language to express just how much he loves him.  (For example, arms spread wide, arms lifted high.)

At no point does BBN recognize LBN's sentiments or try to help him expand his vocabulary - the unlovable lout is too busy trying to one-up the little hare.  Anything LBN says, BBN has to top it.  Right down to the point that LBN drifts off to sleep saying he loves him as far as from "here to the moon."  Instead of simply being content to appreciate his charge's love, BBN has to take it one step further and whisper to the now sleeping LBN that he loves him "to the moon and back."

The illustrations are nice, but it should be noted that fuzzy animal nudity is present.  (The animals are not clothed at any point in the book though any inappropriate animal naughty bits are carefully omitted.)  There is no mention of drug use, alcohol consumption or language that would be inappropriate for any age. BBN does transport young LBN on his back without an age-appropriate safety seat.

At $7 for 20 pages, I also found it to be overpriced.  I can't recommend this book, it's frustratingly stupid in the message it seems to be conveying.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Feed Sift (Week Ending March 2)

-1- Tiny, tiny clocks.

This is mesmerizing, but perhaps too many jump cuts in the video, would have liked to see longer movements. You'd think my OCD would want all the clocks to be set to the correct time.

-2- Editorial: RIAA takedown requests and ad complaints are missing an opportunity

Probably the most brilliant thing I've read on Engadget. Sadly, the right people will probably never see it. (Engadget)

-3- The Project that Saved the White House from Collapsing

Amazing photos from 1949-early 1950s when the White House was gutted in a $5.7 million dollar renovation that saved it from collapse or condemnation. (Twisted Sifter)

-4- Science Explains Why Our Best Ideas Come in the Shower

Nothing earthshattering, but still interesting. I'm all for anything that encourages more showers. (Lifehacker)

-5- Balancing a Flexible Work Environment

A long look at Yahoo!'s decision to require its staff to start working from its offices, eliminating alternative working arrangements. It's pretty thoughtful and while it tries to stay neutral seems to make the case for why it was the right thing to do. (Learning by Shipping)

Worth Repeating: Bruce Feiler

Bruce Feiler has a radical idea: To deal with the stress of modern family life, go agile. Inspired by agile software programming, Feiler introduces family practices which encourage flexibility, bottom-up idea flow, constant feedback and accountability. One surprising feature: Kids pick their own punishments. More at >>>

Friday, March 01, 2013

PSA: O and then M and then G

We were watching an episode of Friends last night. I was astounded at how frequently the phrase "Oh my" and, well, you know, was uttered. But I guess I do remember how well Matthew Perry could deliver that line. I remember I used to laugh at that line.

But somewhere along the way that stopped being funny to me. And probably shouldn't have ever been funny to me.

So it really pains me when I see people string together "O" and "M" and "G" on Facebook. Worse so when it's a Christian.

Listen, free speech and all, but don't kid yourself... "G" does not stand for "Gosh" or "Goodness." It stands for "God." To claim otherwise, you are kidding yourself.

Not a Christian and wondering why that's a big deal? It's (or should be) quite offensive to Christians:

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name." - Exodus 20:7 (NIV)

Use it if you must, use it if you want, understand what it means to your Christian friends.

But to try to claim you mean "gosh" or "goodness" you're are only fooling yourself. It's like me saying "I just joined the KKK." and expecting you to understand I mean "Kirkland Kountry Klub."