Tuesday, March 27, 2007


My second book has been uploaded to the publisher and I'm awaiting a proof copy... in a few weeks it will wend it's way to Amazon. And I will be a twice published author. HA!

It's a very nice feeling.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A glorious day

Though the weatherman said we were getting storms in the afternoon, today wound up being a gorgeous spring day - temp in the 70's with a cool wind, bright sun, blue skies with fluffy clouds... Bella was out in the communal yards up the block having fun, and we walked Isaac over to Turtle Bread for pastry treats.

Yesterday was also very nice - Mom had us over to tea and sandwiches (though thankfully the requisite cucumber and watercress sandwiches of a traditional tea were passed over - our sandwiches had lots and lots of bacon on them). Bella and Isaac interacted with Jasper, the most patient bunny rabbit on the planet, and we had a very nice time.

The devoted reader will be relieved to know that those sniffles were most likely allergies from a warm day and emerging molds and pollens. I have acquired some sudafed (again, the real stuff) to help me through, though after yesterday none has been needed... AND the rabbit did not make me sniffle. The Christmas Miracle continues.

Last night, another piece of music created, and more work on my book covers. THIS afternoon, I did more revisions on the book covers (so picky) and finally came up with a possible logo for this venture... let me know if you like it (if it shows up here... it's not showing up as I write this). It's pretty simple, but I was going for clear type, the little brain, and sort of a sunrise and/or light bulb going on feel.

Tonight, I did finally work out after another 10 day gap... and I'm a bit sore: My arms felt like rubber as I rocked Isaac to sleep tonight. I also told stories to Bella and had a long chat in bed... and it was very funny: In her running around today she spent a lot of time with an 8 year old, and Bella picked up those vocal inflections completely:

"I was all 'hey what's that' and she was like 'oh that's just a thing' and I was totally 'no way'." What's funny is that she's like a sponge with language and picks up new phrasings just like that, mimics them for a day or two, and then she's back to her own unique patois. She's a clever girl, that one.

So tonight, I don't think I'll be writing another song, or tweaking the books further (I'm waiting on Paul's opinion on my new covers and logo), and I already did a Japanese lesson, so I think... yes... I think I might actually go to bed. IMAGINE THAT.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Great, either the allergies are in full bloom, or I got a real live cold and I'm not happy. Ah well.

A short note: Isaac started crawling today: It's the "Army Crawl", where he's pulling himself along on his elbows, like a wounded soldier... but it has given him forward motion, and he is impossibly pleased with himself. Adding to his rotate and flip maneuvers and he's now a force to be reckoned with.

Time for bed!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mad for language again

I'm working two languages now... Mandarin and Japanese. Clearly I have gone completely insane, right? It's actually a cunning experiment: now that I have a facile working of French, Spanish, German, and English, and I got stalled on Japanese, I think that my ability to parse the uniqueness of a language is definitely getting pretty sharp. Also, I will say that based on my first week of this, there really is NO chance of mixing them up any more than there's a chance of mixing french and German: The sounds are totally different, the sentence structure is totally different. The only thing they share is some idiogram characters, which have similar meanings but different pronunciation between the two.

And did I mention the SOUND is different? In Japanese, it can be spoken monotone, but Chinese is almost like singing: The same syllable has four meanings based on if you say it with a high flat tone, a medium rising tone, a low "dipping" tone (hi-low-hi), or a high falling tone. An analogy would be if you're calling someone for tea: First call out, "Tea!". Not sure if anyone heard you you'd say "Tea?" rising up. A little frustrated, you'd growl "Tea..." with the falling-rising dip. Then at the end, you shout TEA! with a fall off on the tone at the end. Maybe that doesn't make any sense. But it works for me.

I've discovered two new resources to help me: Web based learning from Japanesepod101.com and Chinesepod.com. Each of these have lessons in 10-15 minute increments at various levels, and accompanying PDFs to show the written vocabulary. They both have online tools for quizzes, and for hearing individual words repeated... But their core audio lessons ARE free, which is superfantastic.

I'm afraid I'm starting to drive Pamela nuts with language now - pretty much everything I say, I repeat quietly in the other languages just to see if I can... and Pamela says "That's a lot of input coming at me." So I'll have to do it more quietly. I'm also considering making a book just for me to practice polyglot-ism: Copy a book, sentence by sentence, and on each page, have one sentence that needs translating into 4-5 languages, plus checkboxes for what learning (pimsleur, podcast, etc) I did...? I think that this idea may actually be too nerdy even for me. Please... HELP ME.

One final detail on Language: I went to a sushi bar tonight, and sat down with a cheerful "Kon ban wa!" (good evening) ready to to chat up my chef (I had a lot of comments ready in Japanese). The guy gave me a look and said "Sorry dude, I don't speak japanese. Maybe you can teach ME something". I got "dude" from a sushi chef. Then he messed up my order too. It was a bit of a letdown, and I don't think i can go there again... They also over-vinegar their rice a bit. Nuts to them.

While doing all of this, I've also been busy with BrainReady: I did a prototype cover for Book 2, which may go to printing this weekend. And the content for Book 3 is essentially complete, it just needs to be dropped into the book template, and that will be at the printers by next weekend.

We're also working on CDs of visualizations, and to support that I've been doing a lot of music - in the past 3 weeks, I've written 8 new pieces of music, which is almost as prolific as I used to be back in the early 1990s (back then, it was 1 piece every 2-3 days for a few years - over 500 tracks written from 1990-1993). I've had to get very efficient, and my new "laptop at the dinner table" studio is proving to be very effective.

Well, it's time for bed now...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Many iPods, many purposes

I have SIX iPods. It is too many, but each has a purpose. Tonight, number six serenaded us with a great mix, which got me reflective:

Number 1 is a 40gig 3rd Gen. He lives on the Bose SoundDock in the living room, and provides dinner and party music.

Number 2 is a 4gig silver Mini, and permanently by Bella's bed with speakers and plays night night music, and the occasional boom boom music during the day.

Number 3 is a first generation shuffle and sits unloved on my third floor.

Number 4 is a 4 gig Nano, and he's my running around listening to stuff iPod.

Number 5 is the 80 gig Video iPod, who has my tv shows and movies, and Bella watches shows on it during long road trips.

Number 6 is the NEW shuffle, and he's clipped to the cup holder in the Mini. I fill him up with random mixes from my music collection, and he has the soul of a DJ. Tonight, he hit us with the following five-in-a-row:
- Something Good by Utah Saints
- Mad World by Tears for Fears
- The Walk by The Cure
- One in Ten by UB40/808State
- Rescue by Echo and the Bunnymen.

At that point, I had to simply stop it from playing, since ANYTHING it played after that point would be somehow... disappointing... if it had uncorked an NSync or something, it would have been a buzzkill.

And that's my iPod story.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Bella is painting an unassembled model kit (a wooden crab of some sort), and announced:

"I'm painting this at a Scientist Level. Do you know what a Scientist Level is? It means I'm painting this like a SCIENTIST, not like a little kid."

Isaac's voice right now is vaguesly cookie-monster - he's talking at TOP VOLUME and it sounds a bit like a shriek. He sure likes the sound of his voice!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

One additional Detail

Last night Bella's best friend Jenny spent the night too (yes, scotch nite and a sleepover the same night). We had a fun day at the Mall - it was sort of a different day than we usually have - lots of rides, lunch at the Rainforest cafe (the girls loved it).

But here's the detail: As Rich, Pamela, and I were waiting for Nick to arrive and for the girls to get into their PJs and brush teeth, Bella and Jenny came down and announced they wanted to give us a "show". They had the sweetest smiles. We said "Sure!".

From behind their backs, they brought out toy power tools (chainsaw and jackhammer), and proceeded to attack us with squeals and giggles. Then they ran off, and came back with "ANOTHER SHOW".

This time the stuffed dogs they were holding were snarling and went for our faces. Finally the third act involved stuffed tigers and jaguars, which were hissing and slashing at us.

Now, we don't do a lot of violence in the house, and I'm not too sure where this came from, but it probably didn't help that we were paralyzed with laughter. I'm sure that if Al Queda ever figured out that smiling 4-5 year old girls can get away with anything.... we're done for.


Last night's scotch night was one for the record books: our goal was to do vertical tasting... some 10-15 or 12-18 year tastings. And yes, we did compare a Deanston 12 to a Deanston 17, and we were stunned at the difference - at how much richer the 17 is... and when revisiting the 12, you could totally tell the family traits, how the extra 4 years of maturation allowed certain flavors to mellow and others to bloom.

But the truly mind blowing moment was that Rich uncorked a Highland Park 25 year. This is over $200 for the bottle, and we were quite intimidated. But upon tasting (and as a cask strength, we needed to add a splash of water) the complexity of character was so amazing it was if the others were all two dimensional, and this was three. Or the others were sepia and this was technicolor. It just had such a rich, multilevel flavor that we felt honored to be tasting it.

Turns out, while cleaning, Rich happened across a stash of cash he had been paid 5 years ago for some freelance work. It was by all accounts now "Free Money" and he felt like treating himself (and us). BRAVO!

Ok, on to the non-scotch moments:

Isaac has had some major developments in the past two days. First, he's tantalizingly close to crawling - he's now able to inch forward so so slowly... it'll be game over for us. But more importantly, he started talking with GUSTO this weekend. Ah-Dah-Dah is his favorite, though Ah-GAH-Yah, Ah yah, and Da-Da-Yah are all other variants. He YELLS these words constantly while playing. In between maniacal giggles, that is.

We dropped him off at the nursery at church today, and when I picked him up 80 minutes later, the sitter was in awe - she had never had such a solidly happy guy. He apparently just laughed and played and never fussed even a bit. Good boy.

Bella and Isaac participated in their first Peace march today: We walked 2+ miles with around 4000 other peaceniks from uptown to downtown. Pamela decorated the stroller with cute signs like "Iraqi Kids: Wanna Play?" It was in the 40s and a bit windy and overcast, but it did not rain, so we were fortunate. For the record, we're not "chanters", so whenever somebody would start up with the "Whadda we want? Whendowewantit?" chant, we'd either stay silent until it died down, or we'd yell things like "HAM SANDWICHES! WITH MUSTARD!!!!" Really, does chanting help anyone?

So now I'm off to "work" - doing more music for Brainready audio projects, and coming up with still more exercises for our BR Book #3. It's most excellent.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

PS - Heroes

I finally got caught up on Heroes - all 18 episodes so far. It's on hiatus until late April now, so I get my life back. I am still amazed at how good every show is... still infused with wonder. Sylar is a great villain, as is the man with the horn rimmed glasses... though as time goes on, he's getting sympathetic.

One of my favorite details is that the bad guys in "The Company" all speak Japanese to eachother to keep from being overheard... and they think in Japanese too, to protect themselves from mind-readers.

Which only made me want to get better at Japanese. Of course, if the bad guys were all german, I'd want to bone up on my German, wouldn't I?

I have been doing short Japanese lessons from Japanesepod101.com, and they're just amazing. They have a work ethic that stuns me: They generate at least one lesson a day, and have since late 2005. Each lesson is in audio with 4 participants, with an accompanying transcript in Romanji, Kana, AND Kanji. And it's all FREE - there are like 600 lessons out there, from beginning to advanced, audio blogs, cultural notes, etc. If a person really owned just one of their 15 minute lessons every single day, they'd be fluent in a year, I really think so. And it's very contemporary culture based, so you're learning polite and familiar terms. It's much deeper than my Pimsleur (which I stalled again... curse you "real life") and it emphasizes reading as well.

SO I'M GOING TO DO IT. Starting at Beginner 1, and going from there.

Oh, and Brainready: I also stalled on Book 3 while Heroes infected my brain. But by the end of next week, both books 2 and 3 will be ready and being proofed. REALLY. I came up with some fun new exercises for book 3, which will really add value to the full set. I can't wait for you all to see them!

Now I really AM going to the mall. Happy weekend!

Viva Carnival!

Last night was the Highlands Elementary Carnival, the annual festive event with moonwalks, games, food, and gift basket raffles. Of course, Bella isn't a student there yet (and won't be for another year), but we've gone the past 3 years just to support the school she WILL be attending.

This year Bella was VERY interested in the bouncy moonwalk-style events - there was a maze that ends with a climbing wall and slide, and she completely OWNED it, going through it 3 times in a row, then once more at the end of the night. Pamela's favorites are the cakewalks, and we were pretty lucky in those - we got two boxes of cereal (Cap'n Crunch Peanut Butter, and Fruit Loops), and two muffins. We came up empty in the "Junk Food" one, and the students were completely mental for the idea of getting bad-for-you food, and were way too cranked up. It was scary.

At the end of the night, we were picked to win one of the gift baskets: A big box of science from Lakeshore Learning - crystal growing kits, mechanical puzzles, electricity experiments, skeleton and eyeball models, and a MICROSCOPE!!! Super cool, and bella thought so too. Isaac spent the evening in a baby backpack on my shoulders, laughing crazily and looking around.

After getting home too late and getting the keyed up kids to bed, I thought it might be fun to watch the new Christoper Guest movie - For Your Consideration. In a word: Meh. No laugh out loud moments AT ALL? Pamela went so far as to say "they shouldn't have even RELEASED that movie". We just didn't know what the point was - it reminded me of some of the very obvious jokes in LA Story that some people thought were "biting" and I thought were "duh". Or maybe hollywood is just such a broad target and has been so well covered that it couldn't help but seem tired.

It was certainly no Guffman, or even a Best in Show... It made us a little sad, so I hope that they really go for something different next time.

Tonight's another Scotch night with the boys: Now we're doing VERTICAL tasting - that means that while we had previously been exploring the different tastes between regions and distilleries, tonight we are trying out different vintages from the same distillery. So a 12 year versus an 18 year. And no jokes people - we don't ever taste enough of this stuff to wind up Horizontal... we're classy. Oh, and the movie will be Batman Begins - the super dark origin story starring Christian Bale and directed by Christopher Nolan (who were also star and director of The Prestige from 3 weeks ago!)

Finally, I'm getting excited about the new gig possibility... and have taken more steps to help my current client find someone "like me" for the maintenance work. I think I helped them get a key concept in why my skillset is unique, and maybe they'll be able to post the job a little better. Up to now, they've been getting techies who can't speak to humans, and project managers who came up through the business, not technical, who don't know the details of how software WORKS.

My suggestion is to look for Data Warehousing people - we always needed to work with end users ("I want to see top salesmen ranked") and techies ("That data is in three databases, you'll never get it together"), and synthesize it all ("I extracted key data from those three databases, built a new database, and here are your reports, sir").

That skillset is surprisingly hard to find, actually, and I reflect on how lucky I've been to be able to work with as many great DW people as I have. It's like we have superpowers.

We're off to the Mall of the Americas for some walking around blowing off steam fun. Later!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Where to start?

1) I am hopelessly addicted to the NBC show "Heroes". It started with a single download, and I'm now 13 episodes in... out of the 18 so far. It's like X-Men meets X-Files, the whole thing is a big story arc, it's well written and acted, and the characters are engaging. EXCELLENT show.

2) I was thrown for a loop this weekend - I worked a "Golive" for one of the modules at my current client. I was at work 6am-2pm Sunday and Monday, with the added bonus that with things going WELL, there was literally nothing to do. Nothing to do but watch 6 episodes of Heroes, I guess. But worse, it threw off my clock (along with DsT) and I've felt uncreative and unproductive so far this week... alas.

3) I think I have a NEW client starting next month - while I've recently been doing work on revenue cycle (the business side of hospitals), my previous gig was working with radiologists, and it was somehow more rewarding: It was good to be directly involved with patient care tools rather than insurance tracking. My current contract does go to the end of the year, but it's mostly maintenance work - and you all know how well I cotton to maintenance work. Well, some old friends called up and asked me to be working with CARDIOLOGISTS for the next year or more at a major hospital in downtown. I've had a couple of interviews, and I also cleared things with my current client, and it'll start part time next month. So I might be taking the bus again, I'll be skyway walking, and I'll be involved in tools that directly impact patients again. FUN!!!

4) Did I mention that I've finished the second BrainReady book? I just need to format the cover and it's ready to go. It should be available in a few weeks. Book 3 is half written at this point - see points 1 and 2 as to why I haven't finished it yet. Between feeling draggy, and needing to finish this fantastic show, my plans for world domination are alas on hold.

5) Tonight, we had a date night, and went to a place called "Let's Dish" - basically, it's food prep stations, where you get a whole mean ready to cook, and you bag it up and freeze it. It's pretty reasonably priced, and you get access to decent ingredients and recipes. And it's fun to go around the stations and assemble these food kits. It was a great evening, and we have 13 different meals, each of which is enough for two nights.

6) Isaac can now sit by himself... until he falls over. But he's soooo strong!

7) Two new Bella-isms: when she gets an idea of something to do, she says "Are you thinking what I'm thinking? How about the Burrito Store!!!" But the "Are you thinking" thing is just too excellent. The other one was her standing on the couch, pointing to a spider web, saying, "Hey, look at this beauty". As though she was a used car salesman or something.

Her language is just so charming. We're so lucky to have such a clever girl.

And that's the update. I'm sure there's more, but it'll have to wait. I need to get up in 5 hours to work out.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Cute kid moment

but this time, NOT my kids:

At work, our building complex is shared with a day care, so occasionally you'll see a line of kids walking, holding the rope.

Yesterday, we were standing in the foyer waiting for the shuttle bus to take us to the main hospital, and we saw the kids-on-a-rope train coming around the corner - some days they just walk them clear around the building once and that passes for exercise. They were all bundled up, and I'm guessing they were all around 2 years old or so.

The line leader seemed to be having some trouble, however - as we watched them approach, he seemed to be stumbling a bit, and flat out falling down. As they passed our foyer, the issue was clear: The kid was ASLEEP: His eyes were shut, and he was being held up by the lead daycare lady. We laughed, wondering just how long this would work... and sure enough, 20 paces further along, there was a new line leader and sleepyboy was being carried.

But naturally, not even 10 paces further, total chaos had broken out - if one kid is being carried, they all wanted to be carried. The shuttle bus came right at that moment, as the line had devolved into total chaos. And of course, this all happened at the exact half-way point around the building, so there was naught to do but soldier on.

And that's the cute kid story.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Flash Daydream

Sometimes at work, if I'm a little tired, I have extremely sudden and strange daydreams based very loosely on what people are talking about, and I usually have to stop myself before I add a comment to the discussion that makes perfect sense based on the daydream.

These are literally "flash daydreams" because they start and stop in a matter of seconds, but the detail and "backstory" created has a scary amount of detail.

I'm taking a moment out of work to document one such instance for you.

In a conference call today, we were talking about the status of a request: The request is to add a check mark to a screen to indicate whether a report has been printed yet by an end-user. It's for surgery, so they know if the supply room is already assembling the surgery tray.

In my dream: I am high up in a skyscraper with floor to ceiling windows, overlooking a futuristic cityscape, with lots of buildings that look like bulbs on the end of long stems - totally Jetsons. I'm wearing a silver unitard with short sleeves, and I'm standing on one leg doing a quad stretch. I have a phone headset on (I'm on the conference call), and am viewing a screen that is hovering over a desk.

"This check mark will certainly come in handy while tracking where one is during a workout" I think.

Fortunately I did not actually come out of my mouth. And I was right back to the meeting... no one was any the wiser that I was temporarily IN THE FUTURE.

I will be very happy once Isaac starts sleeping through the night I imagine. This is getting weird.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Workout Update + Zoo and Ikea

After 10 days, I finally went back to the workout studio for my exercise... And I feel great. I didn't lose any ability being gone those days. I do have to say that part of my not going was about the insane busy-ness we find ourselves in, but also I was a little sad.

Turns out my little 6am "private classes" on Monday and Thursday aren't terribly profitable for the organization, with the Mondays regularly bringing in, oh, two of us. So they canceled the Monday and are keeping the Thursday. The issue is that if not at 6am, then sometime that the kids and family are awake and I could be with them. So I'll have to find a regular early evening slot to colonize to keep my 2-a-week going.

I will survive.

On another subject - we went to the Zoo today with Anne, Tony, Evan, and Marit: I've worked with Anne, and done music with Tony for many years, and we're great friends... and Bella is right between Evan and Marit, so she enjoys time with them too. The zoo was fairly sparse, with all of the outdoor exhibits closed, and "just" the aquarium and tropics exhibit open. But it was great fun. It was bittersweet watching the dolphin show - they've lost 2 or 3 of their dolphins this year, so they're down to 2 performers...

On the way home, we stopped at Ikea so that Pamela could get more boxes with which to better organize her life. On the way in, Bella walked right over to the kid's playland and said - I'll be in here while you shop (it's a sign-in, monitored play area, for this purpose). This would be her third visit to the area, but always it had been with a friend. Today she just wanted to be in there, no matter who was or wasn't with her. It was very "big girl" of her, and we got a little misty.

At the end of the hour, she came out smiling, but not divulging any information about what she did, if she had fun, or anything. Only as we were in bed for stories did she tell me that the best part of her day was jumping in the ball pit in playland.

She also said she didn't ever want to get any bigger, that she likes being small. Well, maybe she could be 5, but not more than that. For once, we're in agreement - I'm going to miss that little girl when get gets bigger.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Let it Snow...

Oh my have we got snow here. In the last 3 days we got over a foot, to go on top of the almost a foot we got a week earlier. It's a good old fashioned winter around here, and we're having a blast. We are truly happy that we arranged for a plow/snowblowing service, because the road berms post-plow are looking like small mountain ranges.

But the snow has also been recreational - Bella loves being a snow bunny and has spent at least an hour outside almost every day. One afternoon, she just plopped down into a field of deep snow, and stared up into the sky for minutes on end, peaceful.

The snow ALMOST caused a cancellation of a Scotch night, but we monitored the snow plowing, and decided that we were safe indeed to have our evening last night. And it was a wonderful night. Two old favorites (Highland Park 12 and Lagavulin 16) and two new ones - something I can't recall from the craggy northeastern shores of Scotland (I think it was distilled from rocks), and one cheap blended whiskey called White Horse which comes from Lagavulin, and is surprisingly tasty for a $16 bottle. (I concealed it from the others by keeping it in the brown bag for tasting...).

The only problem with my surprise was that it followed the Lagavulin 16, which has a quite strong flavor, so the smooth blended taste was completely overpowered - it might as well have been weak tea. But revisiting later, we were able to discern the charms.

The movie last night was "The Prestige" which is an AMAZING MOVIE... a true thriller without any gore or sex, just great ideas, wonderful setups, and a whole lot of "oh my goodness... you don't suppose....?" revelation moments.

Today we weren't terribly ambitious, but had a good day with the family. We had take out burgers from the newly remodeled France 44 restaurant (Cafe44), and it's safe to say it was one of the BEST burgers I've ever eaten... Pamela was beside herself. I grabbed a cold bottle of Prosecco (italian bubbly) from the adjoining liquor store, and we had a real feast while watching Mr Rogers.

The kids are asleep, all is well with the world.


Go get my book at Amazon. WHOO HOO!!!

Find it HERE

That is all for now.