Thursday, November 30, 2006

Perhaps I'm done for...

Yesterday I wore a suit to work. It attracted no end of attention - comments, catcalls, etc from my co-workers. Some were actually concerned I was out interviewing (which says a lot, given that I'm "just" a consultant), others were making HR-questionable comments about how well I "clean up" (again, as a consultant, I am fair game for the meat market commentary... ;-) ) The best was that I had two meetings with the CFO, and he is traditionally a sharp dresser, and for some reason had decided on a casual look for the day. So I ribbed him for not bringing his game. Mercilessly.

Turns out I was dressed up for a schmoozefest for the company I sub for: They had an evening planned at the new Guthrie Theatre - tours and food (but no show), and wanted all their manager-level consultants to be there to chat up the clients. It was all current clients, so this was not so much a sales opportunity as much as a thanks and let's be friends sort of evening.

And I'm ashamed to say, I actually had a pretty good time. Usually these sorts of obligatory evenings are just my worst nightmare, but I got my chat on, and had a good time. And yes, I even stayed off the social lubricant - it was just chatty Jimmy. In fact, I spent most of the evening hanging with the clients, not gravitating toward my co-consultants... so I even did my JOB.

The new Guthrie is just an amazing space. The building is flat out hideous from the outside, but inside it feels like a slice of the future, in a good way. I half expected to turn a corner and find someone walking towards me on the ceiling. But what's craziest is that they literally planted the OLD Guthrie right in the middle of it - it looks exactly the same inside. Honestly, it reminded me of the Star Trek (Next Generation/Scab Crew) Holodeck. I half expected Picard and Data to be spouting some shakespeare before being interrupted by some Romulan nonsense.

When I got home, poor Pamela was at wit's end: Bella was asleep, and then got UP with a second wind, and Isaac was overtired and crabby. I slipped out of the suit into jammies and played "child whisperer" and got them down, while my grateful wife retreated to her sensory deprivation chamber to decompress... ;->

Tonight, Pamela was at church decorating, so I took the young'uns to a mall, we had dinner, played in the playpark, and I brought them home, exhausted, and tucked them in. No muss no fuss tonight...

I did break down and get a toy for myself tonight, however... you can't expect daddy to be out playing and not get something. The Dyson hand vacuum. LOVE it. It was that or "Butterscotch" the 3 foot high robot pony, which Bella played with, enraptured, for 15 minutes at Target. What I loved about Butterscotch was that while it did have "realistic" reactions, it also had VERY loud servomotor sounds, and it reminded me of when me and my buddy Mark would pretend to be robots, making whirrr sounds as we moved... yeah that was around 6 years ago, not in my youth. I know.

So now I'm going to finish up my intro to the Brainready book: I've tweaked all 28 worksheets, and we're ready for the printer, I just need to make a cover and an intro. If you haven't seen my worksheets, you really should look. There are 12 of them out on the website now ( I'm kind of proud of them.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Two in One

Isaac continues to amaze as wonderbaby. Last night, he was clearly tracking action on the TV as we watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (which was just a crazy movie - I had forgotten much of it!). Then he delighted us with but one wakeup in the night... Today, however, we're seeing him gnawing on things and the drool is starting... can teething be far behind?

This morning I had a bit of a jump on the rest of the house, so I took advantage of the window to go do some exercising. I did my weights course, and then I don't know what possessed me, but I decided to stay and do another hour of step aerobics. So it was two hours of high intensity workout. I thought I was going to pass out. Luckily there was a quiche right across the street to help me through the protein crisis. Then I skulked off to home for a short nap (though unusually, there was no actual sleep - just me lying there thinking while my body did it's very best to NOT BE MOVING).

Tonight was the final round of Leftovers as far as I'm concerned, and they were great. We watched Elf, which is truly Will Ferrill's finest work as a spaz. Bella was laughing throughout, which was fun to see. When we watched Rudolph earlier, she simply steeled herself from the get-go for the inevitable appearance of the Abomnable Snowman, who she is no great fan of.

PapaBam and Lilli will head back to Chicago tomorrow, with full bellies and hopefully having had a great trip. I've loved having them here, and I appreciated that they let me have space to take this vacation weekend as decompression therapy. I'm really starting to feel leveled, which is nice. I'm feeling a bit bad about my B-Day proper, where I feel like I was still in high-stress mode, and maybe didn't loosen up to celebrate properly. I think that if given a do-over today, I would definitely loosen the tie and have some more giggles.

And now, it's late and I'm off to bed!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Sweet Downtime

It's only Friday and it feels like a Sunday. I took off a little early on Wednesday to get a little rest in before my Birthday festivities (dinner at Oceanaire - nothing can compare!). Thursday was pure mayhem from start to finish - we had sort of forgotten to pre-make any of the thanksgiving food, so we made it ALL happen just like THAT.

It was a good group last night: Carrie and Scott and Freddie, and a swedish family who didn't know what all the fuss was about... so we showed them! Plus Papa and Bam and Lilli, who is such a big girl now our minds are all blown. The Turkey was perfect, as was the stuffing and potatoes. Other things that I don't like to eat were also reported to be fantastic, but I cannot vouch for their excellence directly.

The swedes brought a pair of little girls, and Bella, Sara, and Lisa (ages 3-5) were a pack of nordic blondies running around giggling all night. We got some footage of a dance party (Dancing Queen, of course).

Today was much mellower - Bella and I went off to Body Jam again (she really loves it!), and enjoyed quiche afterwards at Patrick's. All evening, Bella amused and tormented us by singing some of the Body Jam cues (Paaah-puh-PAAAH-PAAAH). She also got a t-shirt, and was very very proud. Pamela, having done a bravura performance the day before, konked out on the couch for a well deserved day of rest, after working with Bam to somehow completely clean the house.

I've been working on the BrainReady worksheets - the book is almost complete... Things keep going well with that: We are getting over 2000 readers a day, and our podcast is in the top 20 of iTunes now. We are getting some wonderful emails too. Here's a sample:

"Hi to the folks and I think you are great and I have already begun passing your site on to family and friends and even business contacts.
I work with folks in the beginning stages of Dementia and Alzheimer's creating video documentaries of their lives. Your podcast, blogsite, and mental exercises are a wonderful contribution to my clients and their families who worry. Thank you so much for not only providing this info but doing it for free. May all your good come back to you 1000 times over."

When I read things like that, it really puts a spring into my step!

And I'm off for the evening. But I have TWO MORE DAYS off of work! I'm just awash in luxury right now. I can hardly believe how good this "relaxing" thing feels. I'll keep the posts-a-coming.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Family Fun

With Birthday Season well under way, we had a fun change from our typical "have a blow out in a restaurant" affair - we went to Dad and Karen's, and had the pleasant surprise of Steve and Lorna, good family friends to celebrate an evening with a fire, steaks, crab legs, key lime pie, coffee, and a touch of good port. It was very relaxed and we loved the evening!

During the day Saturday, we were out most of it, seeing Santa's arrival at Bachman's: He was drawn by a sole reindeer, but it was dramatic. Then his annual comedy show, and pictures with the kids. As usual, Bella refused to smile with him, so the pictures had the look of duty more than joy, but they'll do the trick!

Afterwards, I was off to "Body Jam", which is an aerobic workout with dancing rather than working a step. THIS is what I was going off to when I got the call about Isaac, and I hadn't made it to a Jam session since... (Side note - for 3 weeks now I HAVE been back on the exercise wagon, going 2-3 times a week to my weights class - and I feel GREAT). Back to Jam. Around 1/4 of the way into it, Pamela and the kids showed up to watch daddy prance and crump... and within minutes, Bella joined me out on the floor. She was watching the instructor intently, and really working on her dance moves. She approached it very seriously, and she was actually pretty darn good at it. So now I'm thinking she can join me for Jam every week... perhaps?

Today, Bella and I had a date to go see Happy Feet. What a great movie. The trailers made it look like "Cute Robin Williams Penguin Movie", but really it was so much better: Tapping by Savion Glover, and a really good ecological message... and boy, I'm going to have a hard time going to a zoo ever again. Made by the same guy who did Babe, which had it's own subversive messages, this one takes stabs at religious orthodoxy too, and hugo weaving was spectacular as the penguin "pope".

Allright, a quick update, but I have to go clean the house - we have guests coming this week: Papabam and Lilli arrive Tuesday for the holidays!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A week already?

Yes I'm still alive. Unfortunately, work is being very busy again for me (the slowdown was much less than imagined), and when I get home, it's one kid or the other... and when I help put Bella to sleep, more often than not, I'm falling asleep too for an hour or two..

So the upshot is: Yes, we're ok, we're happy, we're healthy. But we're not good for much else outside of the home - I know I've missed some events and I feel bad, but only for a moment, because my little boy laughs with me every night, and somehow that's feeling like a priority. So to those of you who have felt snubbed - I am very sorry - and I'll try harder! Really!

My slow re-entry into the normal life will continue and I'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


First off... let me just say WHEEEEEEE what a great day after the election! I'm very excited to see the what's going to happen with some real checks and balances back in place in government. I'm a little sleepy from watching the races all night... but it's a happy tired.

Moving on...

Today while watching Oprah with Mommy, Bella asked "Why is she always talking to people she doesn't even KNOW?" Good question.

Pamela called me at work today announcing she was getting sick, so I rushed home and took the kids while she napped. We had a great evening out, going to the burrito store, grocery store.... but NOT the Apple Store nor Guitar Center today. I still haven't figured out the Isaac dimension for those two.

We got a new stroller today - which was only a few days too late: On Friday, I had taken the kids out for the afternoon, and almost broke my arms clear off holding Bella AND the baby seat with jumbo Isaac. At the end of the day, I was pushing Bella in a stroller while toting Isaac on the arm... it was a good workout I guess.

The new stroller is a double, with room for two kids strapped in, or one kid and one car seat. It collapses and sets up very easily, and feels very solidly built. So we took it for a test drive tonight - it did well through Babies R Us and Best Buy. Bella wanted me to bring it into the grocery store, but I tried to explain how I would also need to push the cart. Bella offered that she could sit in the front of the stroller and push the cart for me. What a train that would be.

Finally, the shoe finally dropped at my work: one of my team members was let go. She was the kind of person who worked 70 hours a week, but could never tell you when something was going to be done. We had really hoped that things would work out, but when we went live, her part of the application was revealed to have been rather poorly built in the financial area, and 3 weeks later there are still charges that haven't posted, and the CFO is hopping mad. It didn't help when he came to a meeting and asked WHEN things would get better, and she wouldn't commit to a date.

So she's officially pursuing other opportunities, which I believe means she was cashed out of 3 months of PTO and given 3 more months of severance... and we'll just have to go from there.

And now it's back to my brainflexes - I need to get caught up, after this election mayhem!

Monday, November 06, 2006

In the sweatshop

I now have a system for making Brainready Worksheets - several at a time. The goal is to have 28 ready for publication in an actual BOOK pretty soon... I'm having a lot of fun. There are 9 on the website now, 11 in the hopper, and I'm working on the final 8. Then I need to reformat them to greyscale, remove the color-based puzzles, add a new puzzle for the back (since a book of them doesn't need the intro to Brainready on every page), create an introduction and some tips for getting the most out of it, design a cover... hey that sounds like work. But FUN work, and I think the proof will be together within 2 weeks.

Tonight, I put some GEEK terms in for the vocabulary on one sheet - and one of the terms is "1337", which is number-speak for LEET, short for "Elite", which then means "Cool" or "Superior" in geek parlance. I bring this up because I went the grocery store to stock up on some supplies and was near ecstatic when my total was $133.37, and I exclaimed "I'm LEEEET!" The cashier sort of raised her eyebrows, which naturally I took as an opening to explain the whole thing. I don't think she was terribly impressed, but the bag boy gave me a knowing nod... he knew I was 1337. Or 13337.

I only wish my wife could have been there to see the geekiness first hand.

Tonight, as I'm working on my worksheets, I have Isaac on the swing before me, where he has alternated between gazing at me, smiling and cooing, nodding off, and doing a crazy fish thrashing move which seems to indicate "DAD, Look at my neck muscles - NEVER leave me alone on a changing table because I will TOTALLY somersault off." He's also enjoying standing up... With all his verbal cooing and physical ability, I'm afraid he's going to be walking by 4 months and joining debates by 6.

Still, it's just wonderful to be sitting here working on puzzles to help stimulate the brain with an audience... whose brain I can only wonder and marvel at.

Finally, we're going to get a visit from Justin the ex-Manny this week, to allow Pamela and I go see Borat and get some dinner... I just cannot wait!!!

Back to the digital sweatshop now - must make more brain exercises!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Clown Family

We have Jenny here again for an overnight - Once a month, Jenny stays here, and Bella stays there. They're having a wonderful time together.

Today as we were driving home (Jenny, Bella, and I) from a birthday party at a roller rink, Bella was telling Jenny a joke and I was laughing... Bella said "no listening - I'm talking to JENNY!!!!" and I covered saying "Oh, I'm just laughing at something else." Suspicious, Bella demanded to know WHAT I was laughing at then... I said "I just saw a clown driving a car".

Bella reflected for a moment and asked "What if WE were clowns? All of us? Isaac could be Baby Clown, I could be Big Sister Clown, Jenny could be Other Big Sister Clown, you could be Daddy Clown, and Mommy would be Mommy Clown!!!!"

I laughed at the idea, especially considering Pamela's morbid fear of clowns.

Bella paused and said "Hey - we already ARE a clown family. I mean, we ARE pretty funny".

We had the first of the November Birthday Dinners at El Meson in Minneapolis, an Iberian/Carribean restaurant. We had Paella, and many other delicious things, including the best Flan I've had ever. Bella and Jenny were in tow, and were PERFECT restaurant girls. There was a guitar and conga combo playing behind us, and Bella was quite fascinated: When we go to the music store (Guitar Center), she always loves playing the Congas, so she really was watching the man playing that wonderful hand drum. Isaac was pretty good, but got into his 7pm Cranky Phase.. we had to do some bouncing to help him chill.

Everyone's asleep in the house but me now. Isaac passed out on my chest after a baba, burp, poop, baba, and burp as Pamela put the overtired girls to bed, then herself. Now I'm going to finish a few more BrainFlexes!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Brainready Update

Ok - so you know that little website project I'm working on with Paul - the brain training exercises with the podcasts and worksheets? Well, we have 3 podcasts out there now, and 9 worksheets, and a bunch of health updates in the "Blog" section, so go check it out at if you want.

But what's cool is this: It's getting popular. We're getting over 1000 hits a day, and it's not all from robots. We have several hundred people getting the emails now, and our Podcasts have been downloaded 15,000 times. It was just picked by Apple as a featured podcast and put on a feature page...

We also have some "fans" who are spreading the word to other sites, like (which is like a Myspace for silver foxes) and others. We're starting to get partners, like ZenMatcha and some others in the works...

So for all of the plotting and planning, it turns out that this little project that Paul and I did just because we had an INTEREST in the subject matter, but without a grand business plan is looking to be taking off all by itself. It's really remarkable.

My next step is to work on a few more Brainflex worksheets and we'll be assembling a book for purchase of them - sort of a go-anywhere product. That'll be ready by Xmas for sure if not sooner (I have a "system" for making these now... I can do 2-3 a day without hurting my mind!)

Anyway, I'm just glad that my work has started to ease up so that I can really jump in and make this crazy thing WORK! Wish me luck, people. Oh, and Paul and I are keeping our day jobs - this is still for love... we put some ads on the site, and maybe we'll make something on the books, but for now, it's two geeks sharing our love of knowledge with the world.