Friday, January 31, 2014

Worth Repeating: Roger Stein


Roger Stein - A Bold New Way to Fund Drug Research: Believe it or not, about 20 years' worth of potentially life-saving drugs are sitting in labs right now, untested. Why? Because they can't get the funding to go to trials; the financial risk is too high. Roger Stein is a finance guy, and he thinks deeply about mitigating risk. He and some colleagues at MIT came up with a promising new financial model that could move hundreds of drugs into the testing pipeline. Read more on

Why I'm Posting: This makes a lot of sense. Wish I had some money to invest.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Week 42 & 43 (Final)

Sunday night - After church, I decided it was more important to do something as a family rather than run home to lunch and my chore list. So we went to McDonalds because that's easy for Ben. Blew my calories, but we had a nice time. It's not super-late but I'm going to put an end to this double-week and get next week's planned.
  • These weeks: 331 completed 
  • Sunday: 31 completed
  • Monday: 27 completed (8 postponed)
  • Tuesday: 23 completed (14 postponed)
  • Wednesday: 20 completed (15 postponed)
  • Thursday: 26 completed (8 postponed)
  • Friday: 11 completed
  • Saturday: 18 completed (iPad conference)
  • Sunday: 14 completed (church and birthday party/travel)
  • Monday: 37 completed (Martin Luther King, Jr. day - work/school holiday)
  • Tuesday: 20 completed (31 postponed)
  • Wednesday: 19 completed (34 postponed)
  • Thursday: 25 completed (32 postponed)
  • Friday: 21 completed (28 postponed)
  • Saturday: 36 completed (25 postponed)
  • Sunday: 3 completed (45 incomplete at week's end)
  • Nice to have: 56 remaining
Saturday night - It's been a good day. We all had a great walk this afternoon. I also got a lot done today. I feel like I might actually get a blog post in tomorrow. I'd like to do one.

Friday night - It's weird. All day I've been thinking "It can't be Friday already." I mean, I was glad it was, but I still had a lot to do. Last night we had sleep issues again. It turns out Ben's pajamas were caught on his toes but he couldn't tell us so we just thought he was having sleeping issues. Guess we have to check even more when he's awake at night. Feel bad that didn't occur to us to check.

Thursday night - I can't think of anything to write tonight.

Wednesday night - My velocity has been off recently. I sort of know why, but I thought it would be improved tonight.

Tuesday night - I decided to just carry on to a second week. It's been busy. Today was an awesome day at work. Finally had a few moments to breathe. Had a little bit of trouble overnight, but it didn't destroy me. I haven't looked at the week to know how it's looking.

Thursday night - This extremely long week is one day closer to being done. I guess I only really have to make it to the end of the work day tomorrow to breathe a sigh of relief. It's been a tough and challenging week, but not exactly a bad one. I guess by the end of the day Friday what's done is done and what's left undone remains for the following week. I've all but given up on email at work - I have had so many meetings I haven't had time to do anything with emails that take more than 2 seconds to triage. At home, I'm behind on my regular mail and getting stuff changed over from the post office box. I was under my calories and made my walking goal. Lori was under her calories as well. And Rachel just completed day 10 of getting all her responsibilities done.

Wednesday night - I'm having a problem being motivated to get stuff done. I think it has to do with this being what feels like the most difficult and busy week ever in my adult career. Fortunately, that's just at work and not at home. Holy moly. I did meet my steps goal and my calories. Lori did too. And Rachel did her chores - day 9. Yay.

Tuesday night - We had a doctor's appointment this evening so much less time at home.

Monday night - I haven't had time to do much work to prepare this week. I kind of just had to launch into it. Lori and I were both under our calories today. Woo hoo. Got 14,900 steps today (supposed to get 8,000). And Rachel completed all her chores for a 7th. day in a row (she's home sick today and tomorrow, poor girl). And Ben's saying more "yes" and "no" and when we sing the alphabet song and end with "Next time won't you sing with..." and he says the tiniest little "me." So cute.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Worth Repeating: Dan Ariely


Dan Ariely: What makes us feel good about our work? -- What motivates us to work? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it isn't just money. But it's not exactly joy either. It seems that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose. Behavioral economist Dan Ariely presents two eye-opening experiments that reveal our unexpected and nuanced attitudes toward meaning in our work. More on

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Where's James?

It's been busy. I've been busy. I've not felt like I had a lot to say. It was almost easier when I was forcing myself to post something every day. I'd like to post more frequently than I have, but so far that's not been happening and I think that's OK.

I'll try to find some kind of groove again soon. Have a massive amount of interesting articles saved and a few other posts in draft. I suppose I should start posting something with some some sort of frequency.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Worth Repeating: Dambisa Moyo @dambisamoyo


Dambisa Moyo (@dambisamoyo): Is China the new idol for emerging economies? - The developed world holds up the ideals of capitalism, democracy and political rights for all. Those in emerging markets often don't have that luxury. In this powerful talk, economist Dambisa Moyo makes the case that the west can't afford to rest on its laurels and imagine others will blindly follow. Instead, a different model, embodied by China, is increasingly appealing. A call for open-minded political and economic cooperation in the name of transforming the world. More on

Why I'm posting: Another call to look seriously at China, but without the "the sky is falling rhetoric" - why if we want to remain relevant, we need to be doing more to help other countries and how it's easier for China to do that because the corporations are an extension of the state. This isn't a new thought to me (but it's articulated and supported far better than I ever could), I've always wondered why part of our strategy in these recent wars wasn't to bring in not just engineers to improve infrastructure, but also corporations to establish factories (jobs) or imports (culture, product, goodwill) for new markets.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Week 41 (Final)

Sunday night - Following the same pattern, I got busy Friday and Saturday and didn't post. It's been a good week. Today we had friends over for lunch and that was nice, but still had a lot of day, owing to the fact that we went to the early service for church today. And the Christmas lights are finally off of the house. They're on in piles on the garage floor, but they're not still on the house or in piles in the yard. That's good. In the end, fell way short of the goal of 200 completed for the week.
  • Total: 167 completed 
  • Sunday: 16 completed (none postponed)
  • Monday: 23 completed (6 postponed)
  • Tuesday: 31 completed (2 postponed)
  • Wednesday: 20 completed (13 postponed)
  • Thursday: 24 completed (7 postponed)
  • Friday: 13 completed
  • Saturday: 20 completed
  • Sunday: 20 completed
Thursday night - I've been taking sleep aids earlier this week, but I think now the pace of work is exhausting me. I can't believe there's still another day left. I did wake up earlier today which was good. After work was dinner which didn't go so well. I had to stay after with Ben and it took a long time to get him to eat. Ok, I didn't have to, I just knew I could get him to eat and I was going to win. And I did and he ate a pretty good meal with actual healthy stuff. Rachel got all her responsibilities done again today. I am just about to hit my step count, but I didn't hit my glasses of water goal (that may be impossible) and I didn't count my calories today.

Wednesday night - It really feels like it should be Thursday night. I was all ready for it to be Thursday night. Work has been good this week, but supremely busy. But, people seem happy so that's really cool. Lori tells me that yesterday Ben was watching a video about ducks and left the room, returning a minute or two later with one of his rubber ducks. This morning she was in his room with him and he was holding a duck but saying "Duckie" in a concerned voice while looking under his bed. She said "You have a duckie. Oh, did you want a different duckie?" and he answered "Different! Different duckie." She looked under the bed, discovered two more and gave them to him and he was happy. Rachel finished all her "must dos" for a second day in a row and even did a "may do." I'm pleased by that. We've got the list on her door so hopefully as she sees the progress she'll be inspired to keep getting everything done. (I had wondered if it was too hidden on the refrigerator.) Slept better last night. Not as well as the night before, but still pretty good. A co-worker asked if I'd slept better. When I said I had he said he could tell, I looked a lot better. D'oh. I didn't get as much done today as I would have liked. But I got home from work later than intended and then Ben was up later than usual so more family time, less chores.

Tuesday night - Better sleep. Sleeping caplet (pill sounds better) and ear plugs. According to my sleep tracker, slept a little bit then was awake for awhile and then slept really hard until Lori woke me up at almost 7. Weird day at work. Not exactly sure why. I think it was good. Finished a book during my walk today. Nice dinner (chicken over potatoes - yum!) with the family at home. Rachel did all her chores today (yay!) and I've been having Ben sit on the potty seat each night for three minutes as soon as I get home. He's doing better at sitting there the entire time. He's not being, um, productive, but he's tolerating sitting there. It's only a matter of time, I think. Lori said they said he did really well in speech therapy today. Got almost all of the chores done and started my taxes. Feeling quite tired. Under my calories again today.

Monday night - I left a few things incomplete, like writing a blog post. Just didn't have time and didn't want to force one. I slept really poorly last night. I don't know if I got even 3 hours last night.

Sunday night - ok, I need to be committed this week to checking in daily on here. Even if it's a little more work, it's the only way I'll take this more seriously. We took a walk this afternoon. Clearly we haven't taken Ben on enough walks - he kept pulling away at neighbors' homes. We thought he was just cold and was mistaking their homes for ours and wanting to go in. But after a few homes, he protested "treats!" - so I guess he was remembering Halloween, even though he didn't like it so much when we were doing it, I guess he understood well enough what he was getting. We finished the walk and headed in. I did not track my calories today and only had three glasses of water, but I did reach my steps goal (8,431/8,000). Last night I probably got 4 hours of sleep at most - probably my worst night of sleep ever. We've just started watching Arrested Development on Netflix.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

iPad Project, Day 1 (Life with #Autism)

We recently applied for a grant from a local non-profit for an iPad for Ben. We were accepted and today I picked up the iPad. Now, I have a work iPad, but this is different - it's not so much about the iPad, but the apps. Next week we get apps, also a part of the grant - apps specifically identified by Ben's speech/language therapist. So today they gave us what appeared to be a refurbished iPad 2 with iOS 7 (the guy next to me appears to have gotten a 3 or at least one capable of Siri but with iOS 6).

I had tried free apps before on my work iPad with little success, but it had been awhile. So today, with the new iPad (in a massive Otterbox Defender) I downloaded some free apps again and did some hand-over-hand on the screen. He seemed to get the idea of touching buttons on his own, especially when the screen simply showed a big yes and no. When I asked him if he needed to use the potty, he made it say yes (after several swipes at the screen) and so we went upstairs, I put him on his seat and he went immediately. I'm not going to claim some amazing breakthrough, but that was pretty cool.

So I'll probably work a little more with him on the free apps this week and next weekend, we'll get the specifically recommended ones. Excited about that.

Worth Repeating: Henry Evans


Henry Evans and Chad Jenkins: Meet the robots for humanity: Paralyzed by a stroke, Henry Evans uses a telepresence robot to take the stage -- and show how new robotics, tweaked and personalized by a group called Robots for Humanity, help him live his life. He shows off a nimble little quadrotor drone, created by a team led by Chad Jenkins, that gives him the ability to navigate space -- to once again look around a garden, stroll a campus... More on

Why I posted - loved it when he talks about the times when we all need assistive devices.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

In a day....

Rome wasn't built in a day, neither was it destroyed in a day.

Same with my clutter. I spent some good time yesterday dealing with some clutter. I pulled a bunch of stuff from the bedroom to the dining room table and then went through it as best I could. There was stuff to recycle, donate, trash and keep. But, I wasn't able to completely sort - it was just overwhelming.

But, it was a good effort, chipping away. What I took back upstairs to the bedroom was much less than I took down. I have a plan of attack:

(1) Regularly revisit the remainder, continuing to chip away.
(2) Aggressively prevent new clutter from making it into the bedroom.

This feels good, this feels right, this feels like progress.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Soylent Snack (A Work-Related Post)

I would have thought this placeholder copy, except for the registration mark at the end. But am I the only one who looks at "Real fruit from real people" and thinks "Eeeuww.... what kind of fruit comes from people?" (Yes, real fruit.)

Perhaps I've watched too many zombie movies or I'm just a little bit twisted, but good marketing is clear and leaves no room for misinterpretation. Any time you permit ambiguity, your intended audience may trip over meaning, be confused without context or form incorrect impressions.

This is a great case for a Devil's Advocate - someone who can look at your work critically, seeking to find potential problems before something goes to market.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Week 40 (Final)

Final - So I think this week proved that I need to be checking in nightly. So I'm going to set a new cut-off of 9 pm - whatever's done is done, whatever's not done is not done.

serenity - not this week. Working towards cleaning up our bedroom to make it more of a haven, did get some work done on it this week. But I would say that serenity is in short supply in my life. I'm not sure how much I'm actually allowed, but it's still important to me. I'm also probably thinking a lot about last which was horrible, probably the worst night of sleep in my entire life.

simplicity - my life is still so far from simple, but I'm keeping this in mind.

serendipity - this is an interesting one - I can't actually force serendipity, that's an unexpected outcome, right? There was something fun today - we ended up taking a walk hoping the fresh air and exercise would tire out the children. We discovered we don't do enough walks because Ben kept trying to pull away to go up people's driveways. We thought he was just mistaking their houses for our house and wanting to go back inside because it was cold. But after the third house or so he started insisting "treat" - apparently thinking about to Halloween. So he got a treat when we got home.

focus - not constantly, but it's been top of mind which has helped me in some decisions and some efforts. Is this unnecessary complication? If yes, then why am I thinking about it? This is so far definitely easier to think about than simplify was.
  • 162 completed (41 incomplete)
  • Sunday: 27 completed
  • Monday: 12 completed
  • Tuesday: 0 completed
  • Wednesday: 44 completed
  • Thursday: 10 completed
  • Friday: 12 completed
  • Saturday: 25 completed
  • Sunday: 32 completed
Saturday - Didn't get much done yesterday or as much today as I wanted to. I did, however, do some work to declutter in the bedroom. This is my focus right now, the bedroom.

Thursday - no, this week has not improved as far as keeping up on stuff. I really pulled tomorrow and Saturday back to the bare minimum. We'll see what I actually can finish this week.

Monday - Things were thrown out of whack last week with Christmas and I haven't really gotten back into the swing of things.

Book Review: Gods and Beasts (Alex Morrow #3)

Gods and Beasts by Denise Mina

By the third outing for Alex Morrow, things have settled down a little bit. Alex's home life has gotten better, her work life has gotten better and the book itself seems to have found its groove. What I think is really interesting about the Morrow novels is that they are mysteries, but they're subtle mysteries. You get caught up in the narrative and you forget that there are small clues and hints about the eventual outcome. When DS Morrow finally puts all the pieces together, a lot of details come to light quickly and at least for me, I'm sitting there wondering what clues I missed because I know they were there, but that they were subtle.

I wasn't sure about reading #2 after #1, but I wanted to read #3 after I read #2. I'm now looking forward to #4 but I did like #2 better than #3. I'll also check out other works by Mina.

#3 starts with a brutal murder of a customer at a post office during a robbery. It seems like a chance happening except that the customer is called up from the floor and made to help the robber before being killed on the way out the door. He seems to recognize the masked robber and quickly pushes his grandson to another customer cowering on the floor. So the story has to unravel who the other man in line really is. The book also devotes a large portion to a separate political storyline. You know they'll come together and when they do, you wonder if that story could have been told in a simpler, shorter way. Perhaps, but it wouldn't have necessarily been true to the style of these books.

In the end, this book was probably less about the crime and more about advancing the the main characters, a foundational set-up for a bigger showdown to come later in the series and that's fine. While there's one thing that feels like a violation of Pixar rule 19 (Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.), it's overall a good book. I'm really glad to see the character development and excited/nervous for what's to come in the series.

Still Midnight (My Review/

The End of the Wasp Season (My Review/

Gods and Beasts (

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Worth Repeating: Drones

Three great talks about the potential benefits of drones.

Video: Lian Pin Koh: A drone's-eye view of conservation

Ecologist Lian Pin Koh makes a persuasive case for using drones to protect the world's forests and wildlife. These lightweight autonomous flying vehicles can track animals in their natural habitat, monitor the health of rainforests, even combat crime by detecting poachers via thermal imaging. Added bonus? They're also entirely affordable. More on

Video: Greg Asner: Ecology from the air

What are our forests really made of? From the air, ecologist Greg Asner uses a spectrometer and high-powered lasers to map nature in meticulous kaleidoscopic 3D detail -- what he calls “a very high-tech accounting system” of carbon. In this fascinating talk, Asner gives a clear message: To save our ecosystems, we need more data, gathered in new ways. More on

Video: Andreas Raptopoulos: No roads? There’s a drone for that

A billion people in the world lack access to all-season roads. Could the structure of the internet provide a model for how to reach them? Andreas Raptopoulos of Matternet thinks so. He introduces a new type of transportation system that uses electric autonomous flying machines to deliver medicine, food, goods and supplies wherever they are needed. More on

Friday, January 03, 2014

Feed Sift (Jan. 3)

Five recent finds I wanted to share.


Use the Hairy Arm Technique to Deal with Overly Critical Bosses - the idea that if you give someone something intentional to criticize, everyone gets to a happy state quicker.


Uber Might Be More Valuable Than Facebook Someday. Here’s Why - Technology + a real-world opportunity.


This 100-year-old deal birthed the modern phone system. And it’s all about to end. - Interesting article about how AT&T originally avoided deregulation a long time ago.


How Looking Rushed Spreads Stress to Your Coworkers - Five good reasons to try to avoid rushing or looking rushed.


Capacity: Los Angeles - a really interesting look at how many people could live and work in Los Angeles and what some of the limiting factors are. Great live action infographics.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

The Examined Life

My digital footprint grows with every step, literally. An app tracks my every step, prompting me to drink more water, and plays a happy tune when I reach my step count. A different app tracks my runs and yet another my sleep habits. I have an app that can measure my heart-rate. I track my caloric intake. 

An app tracks my drive, suggests a route and predicts my arrival, another texts my wife when I'm close to home. At least one and probably two devices track my car regardless of who's driving or as it sits, bored, waiting for me in the parking lot. 

The phone company and NSA tracks my cell phone. And if you've followed my blog, you know I review books and have an app that I use to track my to do list. Alarms tell me when to leave for work, chime all day for meetings, when to go to lunch, when to go home, when to go exercise and when to go to bed. All the music I listen to is tracked, each new play or skip altering the contents of the playlist.

It's interesting because it's a lot of data. Bits and snips, zeroes and ones, left all over the internet. It's that interesting question between data and information. Can I make something of this? Should I make something of this? Some people have made neat infographics out of their data, how much running or how many pints they consumed in a year, how many times they wore purple, whatever. 

While I'll continue to track, for now, it's only for use in the now, in the moment. I don't have plans to build it into an infographic, to turn it from data into information. If I did, I wonder what I'd learn. For one thing, it would probably point to how lazy I am. Because it would probably be the work of an app invented by next December that aggregates all the data for me.

So why track? For now, it's entertainment, it's amusing, it's a toy. At some point maybe it gets interesting and useful. But for now, little trinkets to keep me honest about my diet and exercise (when I start using them again after this shameful Christmas break) and little toys to make my drive more interesting.

Would be interesting to see what the NSA thinks of me.