Saturday, August 31, 2013

August Photos

379 total. Here's a sampling of the public ones. See the full set here.

The Lamb Family's August 2013 photosetThe Lamb Family's August 2013 photoset

Endurance Test (Life with #Autism)

So Lori and Rachel left for errands and it was just me and Ben at the breakfast table. I thought about the day... if we stayed around here, I'd play with him and I'd also do a lot of chores. I thought "Why?" and realized that if I went somewhere with Ben I'd be focused on Ben.

But where? Wanted to see if I could still do some other stuff while spending my time on Ben. I looked to see if there were any stores around here that sold Autism-training related supplies. I thought I had heard of one, but I didn't find any.

Scram, August!

Hard to believe another month is coming to a close. I think August went pretty quickly. If keeping it around could mean more of the same, I'd probably keep it around, I think August was a good month.

Today was a great day. I need to write a blog post just to cover it.

The Big Elements

Worth Repeating: Rory Sutherland (@rorysutherland)


Perspective is everything -- The circumstances of our lives may matter less than how we see them, says Rory Sutherland. At TEDxAthens, he makes a compelling case for how reframing is the key to happiness. More on

Friday, August 30, 2013

Print Sift

Here's some stuff I've read recently in magazines that I thought was worth passing along...


The Secrets of Generation Flux - A great article at some of the challenges of leading today, from startups to large companies to war. A quote I liked

McChrystal invested in technology to spur communication and decentralize decision making; his organizational structure made sure that it was used by the troops in more efficient ways. "My command team and I guided our values, strategy, and priorities," he explains. "The leaders lower in the organization made tactical and operational decisions in line with those principles." (Fast Company, March 2012)


10 Weird Reasons You're Being Bitten by Mosquitoes (Reader's Digest, July 2013)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Canceled Shows

So we've really gotten addicted to watching shows as sets. Letting them pile up on the DVR and then watching the lot as a whole. It offers us continuity and escapism. There are certain shows, like Vampire Diaries and Breaking Bad that don't build up, but for the most part, we'll let 5 or more episodes of a show build up before we watch them.

The downside to this is that the warts are more apparent as well. Things that might be annoying in small doses become unwatchable en masse. And it also makes it more of a snap judgement on new shows.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

We've been watching this since the beginning. Lori gave up part-way through the whole Laurence Fishburne/Nate Haskell thing. I stuck around. Lori came back for Ted Danson and we were really impressed. He brought new life and new sensibilities to the show, but the show began to take back over in the creepy, annoying way it does to where by the end of last season we were only sort of caring and we suffered through this season to reach the end where once again, a cliffhanger with people shot and people in jeopardy Gil and Sara probably having marital problems and us just not caring at all.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Paying It Forward

Mom and Dad gave me one of these as a gift. You can jumpstart a car, inflate tires and stuff and charge a cell phone with it. I'd used it plenty of times to inflate tires and other things around the house, worked quite well.

Once a week Lori has lunch with me at work. If they're out of school, it's all of us having a nice family meal in the work cafeteria. Recently we decided at the last minute to meet some place for lunch instead of coming to the office. The kids were having a slightly rough time of it and Lori wasn't feeling like preparing lunches or trying to stop somewhere with them and pick up something. So we met at Wendy's instead.

While we were eating, we watched someone messing with a dead car two over from Lori's. After awhile, another car came. The dead car was a newer model Toyota sedan of decent size. The helper car was a tiny mid-80's I dunno... maybe a small Yugo or something. It was a tiny car. I just imagined them hooking up jumper cables, cranking over the Toyota and seeing the little car explode. After a while the small car left and the couple was still there with their dead car.

So when we came out, we were loading up the children and they asked if we had cables. We started to pull them out and then I thought that maybe I should bring my car around instead. No sense in having the little ones sit in the hot car. So said goodbye to the family, they left, I jogged a few rows over to my car. By the time I had gotten back around, the space next to them was now open. (They had pushed it out some to try to get the cables to stretch to the little car.)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Editing and Auditing (A Work-Related Post)

We have a rather nice coffee service at work. (The coffee, well, that's another story.)

I have had an opportunity to see it evolve over time. The coffee machines (real and fake) and hot water dispenser as well as the cups have always been on the right. The gray tub is a new addition in the past few years, holding sweetener, stir sticks, lids and tea. Previously, the lids were on the counter next to the cups and the other items were in their boxes. And then the sugar and creamer. They got their own post recently. And then a bin with the cardboard sleeves to keep you from burning your fingers or wasting a second cup. (They, too, used to just be in a box.) And then the paper towel dispenser and a receptacle for used grounds, a new addition this month.

To the left of that is a sink, a trash can and a really sparsely stocked first aid box.  The paper towel dispenser used to be on the wall to the left of the sink above an open trash can. The trash can now has one of those spring lids and the paper towels got moved to where they are now. Drawers under the cabinet hold spoons, knives, forks, filters and coffee.

But here's the problem - as the offerings have grown and moved over time, some problems have occurred. First, everything was moved to the right and there wasn't much counter space.  Now, it's all spread out. But you can't get the paper towels - they require a downward pulling motion. So instead they rip, so you pull out a lot. Or you pull at the wrong angle and a lot fall out. So there's waste, there's clutter and things aren't working as they should (there's often paper towels stacked on top of stuff or little bits of ripped towels sticking out of the dispenser).

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Week 21 (Final)

Sunday afternoon - And then I rested. I wanted to end the week a little sooner, but I had a few last things to wrap up. This was a great week. I got a lot of the right stuff done. I didn't get everything done (downstairs remains un-vacuumed, Lori's car still needs to get washed and have an oil change) but I got a lot of good stuff done - stuff that's just all done now or stuff that won't repeat for weeks or months.

This week:
  • Once and Done: done
  • Repeating This Week: done
  • Daily: done
  • Completed This Week: 283
  • Sunday: 0 planned (17 completed)
  • Monday: 20+daily planned (36 completed)
  • Tuesday: 15 22+daily planned (49 completed)
  • Wednesday: 5 12 17+daily planned (21 completed)
  • Thursday: 10 11 17 30+daily planned (27 completed) 
  • Friday: 15 19 30+daily planned (37 completed)
  • Saturday: 25 28 35 39 57+daily planned (57 completed)
  • Sunday: 19 24 29 31 46+daily planned (39 completed)

Vacation, Day 7: Panda and the Pool

And so ended our vacation. Day 7 was pretty much back to normal - up early for first service and then home. Another spectacular sunny day, blue skies all around. Worked on stuff around the house and did some cleaning. Panda Express for lunch as a final hurrah. And now back to the dieting and strict financial controls of normal life. We talked at lunch about how the week went and Monday seemed to be the best day for all of us, followed by Friday and then Thursday, marred mostly by the Carl's Jr. experience. Wednesday didn't really count and Tuesday, which was supposed to be the day most directly planned for the children, especially Ben, turned out to be the low point of the week. (We can only hope for a renovated - but not remodeled - Children's Museum in Seattle since the one in Tacoma moved and opted for the open floor plan last year.)

Is Panda talking about our anniversary trip next month?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Vacation, Day 6: Menchies

We began to ease back into non-vacation life. We got up and hung out in the kitchen together for breakfast (that was cool, we don't do that enough under normal circumstances) and then Lori left for an engagement and I hung out with the children. Ben was way too hyper today and eventually I moved him to his room to play up there. Rachel alternated between cleaning her floor and playing on the computer. I used a timer that would lock the computer after 10 minutes and so she'd come back up and put away everything that I'd put in the hall. By the end of the day, her room was ready for vacuuming. While she was cleaning, I also read to Ben, but he couldn't even keep still for very long for that.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Vacation, Day 5: Lunchbox Laboratory and MOHAI

Day 5 was a spectacular day. Sun was beaming, blue skies all around. So we headed north to Seattle. Because of timing, we ran a few errands in town and then went up and started with lunch. Lunchbox Laboratories ( was on our to-do list, but we weren't sure if it would be during Vacation Week or next month's quick anniversary trip.

We drove up, found it, found a great parking spot and went in. The place has a fun look to it, neon test-tubes and burgers and the area between the bar and restaurant had a wall above the booths that was made of classic metal lunch boxes suspended on horizontal metal rods. They even had the yellow Snoopy lunchbox. I have the red one from when I was growing up and I've seen plenty of yellow ones on eBay, but never a red one. Anyhow, I digress.

One of the things that sold it for me was "Dork Balls" - fried balls of duck+pork. They were gone so quickly I wasn't even able to get a photo. Lori and I shared two great burgers - The Smoker (beef, havarti, bacon) and Truffle Love (beef, swiss, bacon, black truffle mayo) and Rachel had Grilled Cheese. Rachel had fries (shoestring, very crispy), I had sweet potato fries (so good) and Lori had tots. Rachel and Lori shared a Reese's Peanut Butter (substitute chocolate for vanilla) Shake and a I had a Crunched-Up Kit Kat shake. Both shakes were tasty.  I would like to go there again.

MOHAI was a late-add to our list of options for the week. Lori didn't know they had opened their new location in South Lake Union but when she found out, we penciled it in. It was a struggle to get to and from due to construction plus typical Seattle traffic, but parking was easy enough, a nice short walk through a park, and the museum. When you walk in, it feels open, possibly sparse. Along one wall are a number of Seattle icons, such as the Eddie Bauer stuffed cougar, the Rainier Beer and Ivar's Clam costumes from their ads and the Rainier beer's "R" from its old brewery. (You'll see a "T" there now as you drive north into Seattle for Tully's as a nod to Rainier.)  You also see the Lincoln Toe-Truck (a pink tow-truck shaped like a foot, used for years in parades and advertisements) and the Huskey helmet car, also from parades. And then a 1924 Truck from the Kenworth Truck Company.

Along two walls are a draped section that will be the Bezos Innovation display eventually. Right now if you peak around behind the curtain there's nothing there yet. Jeff Bezos could probably just kidnap famous people from around Seattle and just make them mill around in the space greeting people.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Vacation, Day 4: Foss Waterway Seaport

Day 4 was a rainy, overcast day. A perfect day to be inside. We headed south to the Tacoma Waterfront, to a new museum. Tacoma has a large port, but over time, it's moved to its new location. The older port areas along Ruston, Dock St. and Schuster Parkway have mostly given over to museums, parks and restaurants. There had been an old port building, over a mile long. Part of it burnt down and what was left was probably going to be torn down as well, until it was saved. They shaved off the front and replaced it with a wall of windows, removed the pier and flooring and replaced it with concrete and now it's a new museum. They also fortified the structure itself with new steel beams. The testament to steel, there aren't a lot of beams, so you are still left with this rich, wonderful, cavernous space with lots of intricate wood beams. To enter in, you can tell it's still a bit of a work-in-progress, but there's still plenty to see. You start with a history of the building itself which is really pretty cool. Then there's a section of models and ships in bottles. There's lots of salvaged boat signs and mechanical stuff, some of which I'd be hard-pressed to even explain. If you look out the windows, you have views of the water, the trains, the hillside and the freeways hung from it and all the buildings of downtown up on top of the hill.

There are boats to look at, a boat to play on, lots to read. There are some interactive displays and a children's area complete with areas for pushing around boats (container boats and boats full of cars) and loading onto trucks (a mini-port, if you will) and a section on building bridges using K'NEX. Rachel would have liked to have spent quite a bit more time there. There's also a section that contains a bunch of ancient and contemporary tools so you can compare - like a massive metallic lamp with red glass and a tiny little red beacon (to mount on the side of your vessel) or a giant company and a tiny GPS device. That was pretty neat.

There's a bit of information on the Foss family themselves, but it doesn't have the prominence it deserves and will probably ultimately receive. (Thea Foss started a business renting boats and she and her husband Arthur turned it into a much larger business that eventually was heavily into tugboats and whose design is the design used by most tugboats these days.)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Vacation, Day 3: (none)

Because Ben had been sick the day before, we didn't do anything on day 3. We stayed home and watched The Hobbit on DVD.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Vacation, Day 2: Olympia Hand's On Children's Museum

Day 2 did not go so well... so the Olympia Hand's On Children's Museum has been a favorite of mine. Shortly after we moved here, we took Rachel. And by "we" I mean Lori and I and two of my college pals. It was great - with a ratio of 4 adults to 1 child, we got a chance to play ourselves. Children's Museums always have such cool stuff but children don't always appreciate it. I've suggested that they need "Kid-Free Nights" where grownups can come in and play with stuff without children. So this was a repeat from last year's Vacation Week. But since last year, they've moved to a new location and I can no longer recommend it. Essentially everything that could be wrong, is.

Starting with the parking lot. Getting to the parking lot itself is counter-intuitive with the car entrance far from the museum. That would be good, if it made sense on how to get there. The parking lot is small with tiny spaces and all of the edges are 2-3 foot-tall and made of concrete. So, you're all but guaranteed door dings or that you'll open your door into a concrete wall. It makes no sense whatsoever. The parking lot of a Children's Museum should be forgiving - large parking spaces, gentle edges, enough spaces and a well-marked (and protected) walkway. And it's a pay lot. But with only one place to pay, you'll most likely have to backtrack quite a bit to your car. (I said it was small - it's narrow.)

The museum itself is not autism-friendly, putting form over function. A beautiful, wide-open space encourages children to run and scream and be loud. Don't get me wrong - it's gorgeous - beautiful soaring space with lots of wood, but it's all open, essentially each floor has minimal partitioning and multiple hallways, it's difficult containing a child to a specific area. And in one case, a giant corkscrew slide from the second floor down to the first. It says that you're not supposed to go until the person in front of you exits at the bottom, but you can't actually see the bottom. So the first time, a bunch of girls jumped in and then Ben jumped in right after them and then I had to race down the stairs to the bottom, avoiding children and parents on the stairs, to make sure I didn't lose sight of him. The second time, he stopped short of the bottom and another children crashed into him. The water table has been a favorite of his in the past, but this time all he wanted to do was dip his hand in and then lick his hand. I tried keeping him out, but he did it repeatedly. And with no walls around, no matter where he was, he could easily get back there, so he did. Repeatedly.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Vacation, Day 1: Remlinger Farms

The last few years to save money and make it easier on ourselves, we've done stuff that's within driving distance. We've found that Ben has the best time when there's some predictability. This week proved that Ben's ability to cope has greatly improved over last year and it was exciting to see how well he did.

Day 1 was RemlingerFarms ( in Carnation. There was a fair bit of driving in both directions but Ben did really well. So well that we left because the park was closing, not because we had run out of steam. We had been there several years ago for the company picnic but just on the corporate picnic grounds, not on the fair/attraction side.  A few days before the planned trip we also heard from my sister-in-law that their family had just been there and she thought it would be a good fit for Ben.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Vacation Week (Final)

Sunday afternoon (Final) - Vacation week - Watch for recaps of the vacation all next week, complete with photos. Watch Flickr for even more photos (and even more still to be uploaded). If none of the photos show us, then you need to sign-in to Flickr. And if that doesn't show us, then we need to invite you. Email us.

I'm continuing to extend items that don't need to be done as frequently as I'm now doing them and am toying with the idea of an item called "any time" for items that I'd like to get done during the week but not necessarily on a specific day. I don't know yet if it's a good idea or not so I'm not going to mess with it in the coming week, just think about it some more.

This week:
  • Completed: 217 items
  • Sunday: 0 items planned (19 items completed)
  • Monday: 22+daily planned (28 completed)
  • Tuesday: 15+daily planned (40 completed)
  • Wednesday: 34 13+daily planned (38 completed)
  • Thursday: 8 5+daily planned (18 completed)
  • Friday: 42 18 14+daily planned (ZERO completed or at least nothing checked off)
  • Saturday: 23 31+daily planned (40 completed - might include some from Friday)
  • Sunday: 12 10+daily planned (34 completed - might include some from Saturday)

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

This is such a rich book that I couldn't read it fast enough. There were points in time was I was so eager to figure out what was happening that I found myself skimming or skipping words with such speed that I realized I wasn't actually getting anywhere and had to slow myself down and read each word carefully.

It's hard to talk too much about this book without spoiling. I've found myself reading a lot of the current Y trend books, that seem to be about a young heroine, either discovering abilities she didn't realize she had or learning about a world that wasn't what she thought it was. DSB switches it up a little bit in that the heroine knows her upbringing wasn't typical, that she inhabits a world that those around her are unaware of. But she doesn't question it too much, encouraged to live a typical life, except for the random odd "mission" she's occasionally called to undertake but for the most part, she strives to live in the world that everyone else does. No knowledge of her parents, her earliest years were spent in another world she knows little about beyond the small shop she grew up in.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Failing to Plan = Planning to Fail (Life with #Autism)

Went to Menchie's this evening. I was worried it was going to be a problem. And so it was.

Menchie's, if you don't know, is a frozen yogurt place. It's a small space. At the back, 8 self-service flavors in a curved wall. There are cups at the start and tiny sampling cups behind you. Then another wall that contains mix-ins - candy, nuts, toppings.  In the center is the island containing the cash registers. So the idea is that you sample some flavors, then get a large cup and dispense yogurt and then add toppings. (I like to put some yogurt, toppings, more yogurt, more toppings.)

This requires two hands. Not one hand and a hand holding the hand of a small child. Not one hand because the other arm is holding a small child.

So here's what typically happens: my wife and daughter will get their yogurt while I try to get mine. Invariably Ben will rebel and run or fight or have a mini-meltdown. I'll have to give up and just wait until they're done. So their yogurt begins melting. At the same time, a group of about 8 adults and children will come in and stand in front of the machines sampling everything and slowly getting their yogurt and then slowly paying.

I'll finally get mine after Lori comes and takes Ben. In the meantime, without supervision, Rachel will get too much yogurt. And then these things are sitting there unpaid for and I'm worried that the cashiers are starting to think they're trying to avoid paying.  And I'm seriously anxious and frustrated and so then that colors the whole rest of the visit where Ben, not wanting to be there, screams and yells and gets upset because we try to offer him a spoon of yogurt.

So if this is what happens every time, that means it's a problem or a challenge. And all good problems are just opportunities for designing a solution. And that's what's missing. Future trips can be successful.

So... now just need to engineer success.

Why did that take me so long to realize that I need to responsible for the future success? Oh well, at least now I know. So now I can fix it.

Next time - an enjoyable trip to Menchie's where I don't stress, get mad, get anxious, get frustrated and don't eat quickly. But instead one where we move like a well oiled machine, from insertion to execution to extraction to frozen yogurt awesomeness.

Once more into the breach. Seal Team? Lamb Team. Boo-ya.

Worth Repeating: Markham Nolan (@markham)


How to separate fact and fiction online -- By the end of this talk, there will be 864 more hours of video on YouTube and 2.5 million more photos on Facebook and Instagram. So how do we sort through the deluge? At the TEDSalon in London, Markham Nolan shares the investigative techniques he and his team use to verify information in real-time, to let you know if that Statue of Liberty image has been doctored or if that video leaked from Syria is legitimate. More on

Why I posted -- This is great. It's cool how this kind of work is done.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cream of Confusion

Wow... Fred Meyer brand Sugar Free Coffee Creamer has only 30 calories per serving. That's less than a third of your typical non-dairy creamer. That's great!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I'm So Blue I Don't Know What To Do

This is just disappointing. The is the blue tape that Rachel and I put on Ben's wall. Rachel noticed it was starting to sag an hour or two after we'd hung it so she carefully worked to set it again. And then a few hours later, I saw that it was loose again and so I went back over all of it with a second strip, offset, to hopefully adhere it better to the wall.

And yet the next morning it was all on the floor. It's going to be difficult for me to get in and get the strip on Ben's wall painted (with multiple coatS) with my schedule so I need something that will stay for days or a week or more. Scotch Brand Blue Painters tape by 3M used to do that. This stuff which is even printed with "3M" every few inches on the front of the tape (Rachel: "Why are they advertising on their tape?") is garbage. So disappointed.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Yay, it's that time of year again!

Grab some coffee, pull up a chair. It's time for the 2013 Bulwer-Lytton awards! Similar to the idea of "Don't Make Me Think" requiring lots of thought, here are some great examples of people who have worked really, really hard to produce some brilliant, albeit bad, writing. Much like this blog, but in a much more condensed and entertaining format.
This was a very easy mystery for me to solve, so I never considered putting it in a story until I was telling some friends about it, and I realized the average person, such as yourself, has trouble figuring it out, although it is really laughably simple. — Thor F. Carden, Madison, TN

Don't Make Me Think (A Work-Related Post)

So the coffee creamer and sugar at work went upscale. The containers were redesigned with the dark neutrals that are all the rage these days, but at the cost of usability.

It used to be that these containers were primary colors: One was blue and the other was red. A bleary-eyed soul who hadn't yet had their first cup of coffee could quickly reach for the correct one without having to stop and you know, think. Thinking's not any fun before coffee.

The world will go on, but it just seems like one of those silly decisions made without putting enough thought into it.

The title of this post comes from a great book on web interface design that actually argues in order to make a foolproof, brain-dead simple interface that people just intuitively understand without thinking - that requires a lot of thought by those who are designing the interface. The book is many years old now, but it's still so true.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Spying 2

So I had intended to write about this yesterday but really sidetracked with hackers and governmental agencies with three-letter names. Let's skip past all that, shall we?

Over the weekend got to briefly visit some friends and their new baby. I hadn't seen them in quite some time - he, not sure how long. She, a colleague who transitioned to being a stay-at-home-mom / freelancer / independent business owner when it was time to go out on maternity leave in advance of the arrival of their second child.

But because they share their life through blogs, complete with photos and video and because we do interact in Facebook, it was so easy to just jump back in. True, the visit was a brief encounter spent mostly trying to keep Ben from being miserable and making everyone else's time less pleasant, but it also felt like there hadn't been any time apart.

But to reflect on it later, it was a little bit weird - because so much of what we put out there (save Facebook) is truly unidirectional, broadcast-even, you may feel like you're connected or know someone, but the feedback loop is unclosed (save, again, the occasional comment on the blog). You posted a blog, I read it, you don't know if I read it, or if I understood it, or how it factored into my mental model of who you are. It also probably allowed me to be lazy or less in the moment. Only after we were in the car did it occur to me to express something meaningful that I should have said in person. So I sent them a note on Facebook after I got home. pffft.

I recall the first day of COMA123 as a freshman in college (yeah, the irony of "coma" is not lost on us Communications Majors from PLU) when they taught that 1+1=3. What I say, what you hear and the experience we share together of saying and hearing. (Or alternatively, what I think you heard me say. In truth, perhaps 1+1 is at least 4. But now I might be digressing again.)

Monday, August 12, 2013


So this isn't what you think... this isn't about the NSA. Though I have to say... they must be really annoyed that Obama and bomb sound so similar. Or else they've got sophisticated computers that can tell the difference. Either way, I'm sure this post will now get reviewed by them. Hello, boys (and girls?).

I'm pretty tame, honest.

Yes, I've searched for how to make a pressure cooker bomb on Google, but it was just out of curiosity. Of course, even mentioning that probably ratcheted this up a few notches. I do appreciate the work our intelligence agencies do, even if there's some merit to Benjamin Franklin's "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." (He's got some other great quotes on his wikipedia page.)

So now I've gone "full tangential" and I'm not going to write about what I originally intended to write about.

So instead, two other recent articles on hacking and spying that I've been pleased to read. First, there's a group out there (probably Turkish) that are infiltrating the computers of certain Americans and putting viruses on their computers. Recently a 21-year-old man was a victim of the virus. The virus locked his computer and told him that the FBI had detected illegal content (child pornography) on his computer and that he immediately needed to report to his local police station and pay a fine to avoid a criminal investigation. Of course, the minute he walked into the police station indicated why he was there, he was arrested. Yay, hackers. Read "'FBI warning' virus causes man to turn self in on child porn charges" on

The second is the news that the "worlds biggest trafficker in child pornography" had been identified and efforts were being made to extradite him to the U.S. (he holds Irish and U.S. passports) was the result of a sophisticated hack that put beacons on the computers of anyone who visited sites created on one of the world's largest underground networks. The strong suspicion being that the FBI was the one doing the hacking (they're the ones requesting the extradition.) Read "Meet the New Hackers: Johnny Law" on

So... my real post on "Spying"... that'll have to wait until tomorrow. Maybe I can get to it without getting side-tracked.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Week 19 (Final)

Sunday evening - Really frustrated with how today went. Unexpected events derailed my efforts to get much done, but I was also a bit undisciplined. I thought I slept well last night, but I've been cranky and short-tempered today and so glad the children are in bed. I had planned to close off the week at 3, but, yeah, something autism-related happened today and you don't need the details. But now the children are fast asleep and hopefully now I will be able to calm down and change my attitude. I was going to try to get some more done before calling it a week, but now I don't care and figure I might as well close the books. That will officially put me on vacation, so I will have a very light load next week. I continued this week to try to find stuff that could be done less frequently and tried to be strategic about what I did and didn't do, but in the end, it all came down to whatever was easiest in the circumstances I found myself in.

Also, apparently my mother-in-law asked if she could come over and do some stuff to help out.

This week:
  • Completed this week: 247
  • Sunday: 2 items completed
  • Monday: 42 items completed
  • Tuesday: 41 items completed
  • Wednesday: 40 items completed
  • Thursday: 25 items completed
  • Friday: 26 items completed
  • Saturday: 47 items completed
  • Sunday: 24 items completed

Book Review: Legend

Legend by Marie Lu

I gave up on Entertainment Weekly after continually getting books I didn't like that had come highly recommended by EW. It turns out that it may be, in part, my fault. Lori has been recently getting books and saying "You might like this." - sometimes before she's even read them herself.

Legend tells the story of Day and June in alternating chapters, living in a dystopian future where the United States has collapsed and different portions are at war. Day and June both live in the United States. Both are prime individuals, she of military and scholarly prowess, he of the not-quite-bad criminal element. They both live in Los Angeles, a city shrunk by the rising sea but also crippled by regular plagues that affect the poorer zones. An industrial military element controls the city and a test at age ten defines the future of the citizens of this country which is ruled over by a leader who's just been elected for an eleventh four-year-term.

So it's probably no surprise that these two individuals' paths will cross and that the story will try to figure out how they relate to one another while we learn more about the world they live in. The author says that inspiration is from drawn from Les Miserables, which I haven't seen/read.

The story is entertaining and moves at a good pace. But if there's one thing that bothers me, it's the age of our protagonist and antagonist. At 15-years-old, it feels implausible, that she would have risen so far, that he would have committed so many crimes. I had to repeatedly suspend disbelief. I know difficult times force children to grow up quicker, but this just didn't seem likely, that there's a level of maturity that isn't there at this age, regardless of how much of a prodigy someone is. (Or from what we've been studying in regards to parenting, often this comes with a deficit elsewhere.) I suspect there's also supposed to be some sort of subtle messaging here with parallels to modern or past historical wars, but I think I'm gifted at missing those pointed criticisms of the real world buried in most fiction.

I will be reading at least the next book in the trilogy.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Worth Repeating: Julian Treasure (@juliantreasure)


The 4 ways sound affects us -- Playing sound effects both pleasant and awful, Julian Treasure shows how sound affects us in four significant ways. Listen carefully for a shocking fact about noisy open-plan offices. More on

Why I posted -- Julian Treasure makes you think about sound anew (there will be more here over the next few months or oyu can just go to now).

Friday, August 09, 2013

We Aim to Tease (@HiltonHotels)

So we booked a night at a local Hilton Hotel (Hilton Hotels are the official hotel chain of The Lamb Family) using HHonors points we earned from other trips and from using our Hilton HHonors VISA from Citibank. We've stayed at this hotel before - it's a very nice hotel.  Last time we stayed there, they put us on the very top floor - we had a balcony and a really large room that was decorated in the style that made us think of a luxury room on the Titanic or something. Really nicely decorated with a real period feel to it. It was awesome.

I know I shouldn't hold my breath - I won't always get the upgrade to first class, the town car instead of the shuttle van, the 800 sq ft suite instead of the 200 sq ft room I paid for (all things that have happened to me), but there's a small part of me that hopes to get such a nice room again this time. I know there's no guarantee, but you still hope. We don't get to get out much and it's nice to feel for a few hours like we're wealthy elite who get nice things.

But then I saw this on the confirmation... a link to what they call "eStandby".  Here's a shot of part of the website:

Thursday, August 08, 2013

The End?

It's weird, it feels like I've run out of stuff to say on here. It's been a busy summer, but I'm not sure why I've had so little to post. I am in another holding pattern at work, but that's almost the norm these days, so perhaps I should get used to that. We are approaching vacation so I should soon have a new batch of photos, restaurant reviews and adventures to recap, so that's cool. But guess it's been a little bit ruttish lately - wake up, do chores (or try to sleep in), rush to get to work for an 8 am meeting every day, eat oatmeal and drink coffee, go to meetings, work is a bit scattered at the moment between teams, projects and transitions, take a walk on my lunch break and read a book, come home, spend a little bit of time with the family, do some chores, exercise and watch a little TV, read, go to bed, pray for good sleep, maybe get good sleep, maybe not, wake up and do it all over again.

It's not that things are bad, but they're a bit predictable and routine at the moment. Which I guess means little interesting to write about. I guess I just haven't felt motivated. Hopefully vacation will shake stuff up. Hopefully some things at work soon resolving themselves will shake things up.

Because I like posting on here. I like writing stuff, feeling creative.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

120: The Kitten

This was no "throw-the-ball-throw-the-ball-throw-the-ball" of a dog, this was the steely gaze that said "throw. the. ball. I. will. destroy it."

The little playful chirp was a red herring, the muscles were taught, the claws were out, this kitten was ready for the fuzzy blue ball with the pieces of shiny blue pieces of metallic-looking plastic thread sticking out of it.

You knew that when you threw it, there would be no "Why, hello.. what do we have here? Hello, Mr. Ball, I think I'd like to play with you."  No, this was going to be a massacre: throw the ball, pounce, sink teeth.

Someone might say "Awww, look at the little kitten play" but they were people who had not yet had the kitten declare war on their toes.

120 is a the umbrella under which I place my creative writing. It refers to one of the practices - writing for 120 seconds on a single topic with no chance to go back and edit. Click here to read more.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Feed Sift

Some interesting stuff I've come across recently on the internet...


Activating Streets: The makeover of Pioneer Square - great comments as well


'Transit' Might Not Be Essential to Transit-Oriented Development - interesting - the notion that you need light rail or something to create demand might not be true


In Lieu of Money, Toyota Donates Efficiency to New York Charity - boy, that's gonna be tough to write off


Photos That Captured the Best Moments in People’s Lives - a feel good read/view


Escher + Inception: Tour a Digital World that Defies Physics - someone please hook this guy up with Robyn and Rand Miller. This messes with my brain but I'd sure like to be able to virtually walk around in the space and take it all in.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Week 18 (Final)

Sunday evening wrap-up: Completed quite a few this week. The weekend was clear, which is unusual. There's a few things that I got checked off that I only partially completed, so I need to put them into next week to get them done.

  • Completed this week: 314
  • Sunday: 19 items completed
  • Monday: 40 items completed
  • Tuesday: 33 items completed
  • Wednesday: 35 items completed
  • Thursday: 26 items completed
  • Friday: 35 items completed
  • Saturday: 67 items completed
  • Sunday: 59 items completed

@CBS: We're not going to take this anymore!

If you don't recognize the title of this post, shame on you. Go here (Wikipedia) and here (YouTube). [Language warnings on both.]

I love this interaction (image below) on Facebook. Zoom in to read it. Time Warner Cable has dropped CBS and they're trying to get people to call Time Warner and complain. Or switch to a competitor like DirecTV or DISH.  Oops... guess they're fighting with DISH right now, too.

But people are starting to wise up. We are no longer sheep without a voice, at the whim of an elite few who will tell us what to watch and when to watch it. Change or die, right?

Time to tell CBS and Time Warner that we're not their pawns. (Sorry, I realize that's ironic.)

Yum (@TheRealCheezIt)

Should be in the deli case. 

I mean, Cheez-Its are good ad addictive normally - but they knocked it out of the park with the Provalone ones. 

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Worth Repeating: Rory Sutherland (@rorysutherland)


Life lessons from an ad man -- Advertising adds value to a product by changing our perception, rather than the product itself. Rory Sutherland makes the daring assertion that a change in perceived value can be just as satisfying as what we consider “real” value -- and his conclusion has interesting consequences for how we look at life. More on

Why I posted -- Rory Sutherland's talks are always fun (there will be more here over the next few months or you can just go to now).

Friday, August 02, 2013

Ineffective Management (Parenting)

I've struggled from time-to-time with Rachel and chores. There are certain things that are her responsibility to do. But sometimes they're prerequisites to stuff we need to do. Case-in-point, I need her to take down and sort the dirty laundry before I can run a load of laundry. But sometimes she just can't get it into gear as early as I'd like. That's led to days of nagging, pushing, prodding and other behavior on my part that often did not result in the chore being completed, or it being done with lots of stomping, thumping (or throwing) of laundry baskets and resentment.

A new approach is needed because this interaction doesn't teach anything, doesn't instill any positive values, doesn't actually get willing compliance. In short, there's no redeeming value in it. So, yeah, a new approach is needed.

I could change the requirement to have a time constraint, but then that would just mean that if she didn't get it done by a certain time, she couldn't consider all her chores done for the day and then she couldn't get paid. So miss the deadline for that one and we'd see no other chores get done that day.

I could wait on doing laundry. But I'd rather not - it's an easy chore. Sometimes it's difficult getting any chores done, but I've found that if I start with the easy ones, it helps me to get into the groove of being productive.

So, what we have here is the need to compromise and I have two options that I'll work with:

(1) If it seems like she could get to it, I'll ask once and give her a little time to comply. If she does, excellent. If not, I'll do it and she won't get credit for the chore completed.

(2) If it's more that I'm ready to start running a load of laundry, then maybe it's just easiest for me to get the load down. I'll still give her credit for it.

The original goal was to get her involved in doing stuff to help around the house to save us time. On the weekends, it's not a lot of extra effort for me to do this. And certainly takes less time than repeatedly asking. And less frustrating than feeling ineffective because I asked for something to be done and not seeing results. (That's where the office is more fun - the people there are motivated by a common purpose and the paycheck. Rachel at this stage is not so concerned about either.)

This one's too small to note, but if I have to do all her work for her, then I don't have time to help her with the stuff she wants to do. I'll probably be years before she can actually appreciate this.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Book Review: The Enemy

The Enemy by Charlie Higson

Lori picked up this book from the library because it looked interesting. She had a few others to get to first so she handed it to me and said I might like it. After the disapointment that was Justin Cronin's The Passage (my review) I wasn't sure I was going to be all that interested in a book about zombies. And then ironically, the day I after I started reading The Enemy I also read this Basic Instructions comic.

But I devoured this book. I could not put it down. I read every night, staying up past my bedtime to get more reading in. I took it to work and read it for an hour each day at lunch as I took the 2.7 mile walk around the lake. I even skipped the "Anyone walking?" Skype call-out for fear that someone would say "Yes" and I'd have to skip a day of reading.