Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Out of Sync

I'm still adjusting to my new schedule and the new expectations of my work: This is not a punch the clock sort of position, but I'd still like to feel like I'm showing up... My CEO dropped by and laughed because he recognized the transition from billing consultant to sales can be a rough one and that I'd need time to find the new rhythm.

I submitted my expenses for the previous week's trip, somewhat sheepish about the costs (because of the last minute trip, my airfares were not the cheapest). Turns out my boss submitted almost twice as much for that week (he had one more leg of the journey), so no worries. I'm beginning to understand why the company needs to make a certain margin on consultants - something I had chafed at AS a consultant, but it has been illuminating to see this side. To BE this side, I should say.

LinkedIn is like a Facebook or myspace for professionals - it has been helpful for me to get hooked up with some previous co-workers. I've been on it for 6 months or so. But once you add "Vice President" to your profile name, you get a lot of interesting emails. Like I said, it's an adjustment.

One advantage to the new position is that I've been able to be home most mornings a little later (or more accurately, come home after my 6am workouts and hang out before work) and been able to get morning cuddle time with the kiddies, help get them dressed and fed, and give Pamela time for a shower.

Isaac has been borderline out of his mind with a combo of brainstorming AND 4 teeth coming in (two cut in the last day). He's been aggressive and precocious. Yesterday, he was running a circuit in the kitchen of "Things Mom Hates Me To Do", one after another: Turn on the dishwasher, hang on the oven door, swipe my hands over the tabletop to find anything up there, attack the printer, climb the couch and turn up the stereo - repeat as necessary. Pamela was picking up the phone to call me and Bella asked "Who are you calling, Mom? The Police?"

And yet, he is now saying please and thank you, and singing like a little bird: He has music in his bones. This morning I put on some Black Eyed Peas, and he was shaking his rump all across the kitchen. That kid is a born entertainer.

In the midst of it all, Pamela takes her house duties seriously: The house has officially changed over from post-Christmas Winter decorations to Valentines - Red roses and hearts are everywhere now. She amazes me every day with her creative touches.... I think that Isaac's boundless energy MUST be rubbing off on her!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Isaac versus the iPods

Not content to have destroyed two iPods with his suspicious "putting them in his mouth" maneuver, Sir Isaac the Destroyer of iPods has launched a two prong attack:

1) A renewed set of attacks against the new iPod Nano: It was found suspiciously wet and unresponsive... a careful washing seems to have brought back much of the functionality...

2) New attacks against the SPEAKERS by way of ripping the pod out after a rocking back and forth motion. Now our two iPod docks (JBL and Bose) and non-functional.

He is devious. I suspect a conspiracy with kickbacks from none other that Sir Jobs himself.

Safe and Sound

Well who'd a thunk it: My flight in from LA actually got in a half hour EARLY tonight, so I got home in time to put both Isaac AND Bella to bed. Bella was on me like a passport wallet on a European vacation, and it was wonderful to be showered with affection.

On little gripe on the Kindle (GASP) - as it is "electronic", the airlines want it off during takeoff and landing, which is a good 10-20 minutes each way of reading time... so I DO need some sort of deadtree media as I travel. Fortunately the swedish textbook fits the bill. On the Kindle I was rotating through three books and the Times this trip:

- Crucial Conversations - a good book about better communication skills during difficult situations: Very eye opening, and I've already learned a lot.
- Cryptonomicon: Another BIG Neal Stephenson book which I'm appreciating a lot more without the weight. I think that subconsciously I have a tendency to assess a book by how many pages I've gone through and how many remain, and in Kindleland, your sense of pages is completely off - it's easier to focus on the story.
- Colloquial Japanese: A japanese text to help me with writing and reading and the rules of grammar - taking it up from my simple verbal skills.

At the hotel this AM, I was sure to get up really early so I could pretend to be on Central time. I did exercise, and then rewarded myself with an omelet made by a Kyrgistani woman named Olga. Bolshaya Spaceba! Then a few hours of work writing up my results of the trip and sending followup messages to our clients... and off to the airport.

On the flight, I took advantage of the new iTunes Rentals and watched the Simpsons movie on the iPhone. It was just wonderful, and helped the time pass. I also worked on my japanese writing, and some swedish exercises as well... I really want these flights to be productive time for me.

Back at home, Isaac was thrilled to see me, and kept growling "Daaaaa Daaaaaa!" as he cuddled up. The love was only briefly upset by a burp gone horribly wrong soaking us both with some larger percentage of the 16 ounces of bottle he had greedily gulped down. Ah, kidpuke. It's good to be home.

Tomorrow I need to make my appearance with the Docs at the old client and try to figure out what my strategy will be next week when we meet with the "vendor who let us down". We shall see. But after those meetings, I'm calling it a week, and hopefully hitting the weekend a bit early! Huzzah!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

No Cal

Not referring to whether it's fattening or not, no, I'm talking about Northern California. Yesterday I flew out to San Fran with my boss and pal Mike with the goal of two client visits, and two meals with consultants to get intel. Alas our flight out was delayed 2 hours, so the first consultant meal got missed... but all else has gone delightfully to plan!

The drive to Sacramento was quite beautiful - rolling green hills, occasionally dotted with cattle and goats, punctuated with unnervingly identical strip mall eruptions every 10 miles. The closer to Sacramento, the flatter it got, and the more rows of orchards... this is farm country.

On the way to Sacramento, I got very very hungry: I hadn't eaten for hours, and by my food clock, it was well past dinner. So I got Mike to stop at an In-n-Out Burger. This is a California chain (they've reached a little further, but it's intensely regional). The menu offers 4 items (burger, cheeseburger, double cheeseburger, fries), and freshness is their watchword: Everything made to order, potatoes are peeled and julienned as you watch. They pride themselves on politeness and cleanliness... it's maybe the best fast food place in the universe.

In Sacramento, our contact had recommended two hotels - one very close to the site, and one a bit further, but much nicer. We decided to go for the close one, since that's where our people stay... and while it wasn't bad for me, it was terrible for Mike: He got the "Ice Machine" room, and had people making noise outside his room at all hours - getting only 3 hours of sleep in total. Our consultant couldn't believe we had stayed there - and even though the job site is a mere 1.5 BLOCKS from the hotel, she said it was not safe to walk to! Me, I think it wasn't so bad...

Dinner out with our Consultant was good, though she's a vegetarian and didn't much like that I got the Cassoulet (with duck, pork, sausage, and white beans). But she ate maybe 4 leaves of butter lettuce in the course of the evening, so I suspect she's not so much against meat as much as against FOOD. But the conversation was very pleasant, and she's a GREAT consultant - I'm lucky to have her there. And the only fish dish they had was a scallops in cream sauce, so I wasn't TRYING to be "mister MEAT", but the circumstances dictated it.

Today we drove 3 hours from Sacramento down to Fresno. Yes, we stopped at another In-n-Out on the way, and this time got the burgers "Animal Style" - this is off the "secret menu" only available to those in the know - it adds grilled onions and the burger is fried with mustard... oooooohhhh it was good. Fortunately I had worked out, so I didn't feel TOO guilty, but I'll need to be sure to do it tomorrow too, or the pants will not fit.

Between the San Fran to Sacramento leg and the Sacremento to Fresno leg, it was over 5 hours of drive time with Mike... and I'm pleased to note that the time passed quickly and the conversation flowed without trouble. That is a good thing. The scenery on the Fresno leg was very flat, lots of orchards, punctuated with depressingly similar trailer parks every 20 miles... More than a few farms looked to be in complete disrepair - it'll be interesting to see what this corridor looks like in 10 years - will the cities (modesto, stockton, lodi, madera) between Sacramento and Fresno blur into one long strip-mall-o-plex? You can already see the tendrils extending north and south, and the older businesses starting to go to seed... Soon it will be all "Bed Bath and Beyond" wherever you go.

I was seized with a romantic notion to swoop in and buy one of these farms and really have a go at it. Then I remembered The Grapes of Wrath, and thought better of it.

In Fresno, the potential client seemed eager enough, but had a strange condition: Would it be ok if they didn't pay until late 2009? They made a mistake with their capital requisition, so the funds won't be available until then. That's usually the point at which you throw the smoke bombs down and disappear in a haze, but no, we smiled and said we could work something out. Despite the odd financing, it looks like a lot of potential. On the way out the door, with loaded arms and jackets on, the client decided to keep on chatting... more of a monologue really... and literally we had to fake another appointment to escape after 30 minutes.

At the Fresno airport, we got on a tiny little 30 seat prop plane for the jaunt down to LA. It was a bumpy ride, but quite pleasant. I amused myself by thinking it was 1957 and we're in a DC3 or a Constellation, with wood paneling, and we're wearing felt hats and smoking pipes...

When we landed at LAX, there was a beautiful moment - we were landing, while on a parallel runway a 747 from Virgin was just taking off - so we moved together for a time, us slowing, him speeding up... and in the darkness with the brilliant halogen/xenon lights, it had a science fiction feel. We then taxied all around the airport, and with our size, it felt like we were in a go kart speeding around. We almost scooted under a few much larger planes, which were like hulking whales. We felt nimble, agile... like a mouse running across the floorboards.

A quick meal at the hotel, and we're in for the night. A noon flight home for me (between flight time and time change, I won't see home until after 6). So I'll get some work done in the room in the AM.

So a relatively successful first business trip: No signed papers, but that wasn't expected. No, we made some good contacts, got some good leads on work that is coming up that we can position ourselves for, and most importantly had some fun.

But I'm SO looking forward to seeing Pamela and Bella and Isaac: I'm imagining their hugs right now, and I hope they feel my virtual hug in their dreams.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The semi-first day

Well you all know I sort of started the new job a few months back, but today was the day that I officially started. I showed up, went into my office, and as is the tradition in any job, spent the first few hours with tech support trying to figure out my logins and whatnot. But by lunch, I had working systems, a whiteboard on order, and email flowing.

Now, way back in 2000 when I started with this particular company, my boss sat in this very office, and there were all sorts of hijinks in rearranging his furniture, redecorating, making faces... and now 6 years later I am in that very office, while Mike is just next door (in a bigger office, still the boss). People who I worked with back in 2001-2003 when I was working out of that space are still there, and it's old home week. By 2003 I had started consulting at client sites again, so it wasn't a home for the past few years as much as a place to drop by.

Well, it's home again.

It kicked off right - Famous Daves pulled pork and ribs were catered in, so I had a solid feed of PORK on day one. And it was fabulous. Any gig that starts with pork has GOT to be ok. They even got some packets of the spicy stuff.

I'm off to northern California tomorrow morning for two nights - The stars aligned and we were able to get two critical client meetings, plus one meeting to get intel on two even bigger ones... so it'll be a good trip. I got bumped up to First both ways, so it'll be a relatively comfy trip too. (I shouldn't get used to that... but I see it as auspicious!) Hopefully the hotels will allow for the Videochat! I had trouble making it work in Chicago last weekend.

I even got home a bit early today to spend extra time with the kiddos: Bella and I poured toxic gooey stuff into molds in the hopes of making translucent dinosaurs with visible bones. We didn't have time to play Go Fish, which made a dramatic resurgence last night (No cheating and no dad-assist, Bella thoroughly creamed me last night TWICE). She fell asleep resting her head on mine in bed, and it was a wonderful feeling. And then she started snoring. Ah, she's her mother's daughter.

Bella has fallen prey to an "online trend" - oh the trials of parenting in this future world. She and her friends are interacting in "Webkinz" world: It's a virtual space where you pretend to be your stuffed animal. It's brilliant marketing, and every kid in the universe seems to be hooked: The dolls cost a little extra, but they are the key to the online world. For younger kids, there's just games and decorating... but as you get older, you chat with friends and there's a tamagotchi-like element to "Caring" for your webkin - when you "visit" online, you need to feed, walk, and play with them, or they get surly or dysentery or something. I don't want to know.

My good friend Paul S' kids love them, as do some of Bella's cousins from Texas, so I think they'll all be "remote friends". I also suspect this will jumpstart Bella's read/write skills so she can chat with friends. I'm sure of it!

Oh speaking of reading - I also have my first "required reading" at work: "Crucial Conversations" - a study of personality types and how to best relate to them, as well as how to avoid self defeating pitfalls when talking to difficult others. This was left on my desk (un-ironically) and is being read by the whole management team. Of course I got a copy for my Kindle - there's no reason to carry wood pulp around, is there?

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Great Escape

Yesterday was my last full day with the Cardiology project: When I accepted my new VP position, I did so knowing this day would come and not really be movable. I gave over 2 months of notice, and tried to leave things in a good state. But things rarely work out that way:

The careful reader will recall that the vendor took a ghastly detour, deciding to change their product focus, which threw the very nature of my project into question... for the past 3 weeks, I've been exploring legal options, reviewing RFPs and Contracts, and trying to put a positive spin on this for the physicians, who are not taking it particularly well...

That's not quite right: The passionate doc who referred to the whole mess as a "Cluster" a few weeks back. He's now walking around with a peaceful grin on his face. He has figured out his time for bluster is over - to truly emerge from this crisis on the top with what he wants, he is taking the peacemaker role - the "let bygones be bygones, let's work toward the future". It's amazing to watch...

Anyway, my date couldn't move, so I've tried to put things into as good of condition as possible, but things are truly no more decided than before, and won't be until a big meeting on the 31st. Which I'm coming back for of course!

But today, I spent a leisurely morning with the family, reading the funnies, building dinosaurs, and bench pressing the kids. Now I'm at the airport - a one night-er to Chicago for the annual party and planning meeting. It's at the Peninsula, but I'm staying 2 blocks over at a Courtyard - which is just fine.

Next week, it's a 3 day trip to Northern California, which already looks to be a pretty positive time - we have 3 big meetings set up, and they're bringing the right people, so it could be bidnesstime. I'll wear my power underwear just to make sure.

And the answer that you are all likely looking for: Nope - not getting the Macbook Air. Yes it's little and sexy. Yes it's beautiful. BUT it is not THAT much lighter than my current macbook, and it's certainly slower, and certainly has less disk space... So there's nothing pushing me in that direction. Yet.

Actually, my Macbook has a bunch of scratches and scuffs on it - I decided not to baby it - and it really feels like it's "mine". And having replaced its dang hard drive 3 times (restoring from scratch each time), I have some sweat equity in it too.

Oh - some kid stuff: Bella has been giving out tons of cuddles these days, so I'm loving that. The other night, she laid down along Uncle Ant's legs in the dining nook, an extended cuddle that sent the Ant to heaven. Isaac is getting better and better about eating, and about sleeping: He's down to one wakeup usually (knock wood). I think that this will get better and better the more nights I stay away: Pamela is a deeper sleeper than I am and Isaac needs to really REV UP for her to respond, whereas when I hear a snort or murmur I'm up heating water. Yes, I am probably the problem here.

And on a language front: I had a few email exchanges with Annika and Rickard, our Swedish friends, and I did my best to keep it in Swedish. And I understood what they were writing back, so the language junkie is on his way back!!!!

Well, time to get over to the gate and get on the plane I suppose.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Suddenly a week later

You guessed it, things got crazy again.

My paternal grandmother was something of a family anchor: Christmas Eve at her house was THE event that brought the far flung family together from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and points east. She passed away a while back (I think 8 years), and we began a new tradition. Every year around her birthday, we celebrate it by assembling in St Paul at the Lexington Restaurant - a mini reunion of sorts. The Lex was one of her favorite restaurants, and we always welcome her to the table by saving a seat and ordering a scotch and water for her.

The food is always great, the conversation lively, and by the end of the night, her drink has made its way around the table, with everyone taking a sip - a communion of sorts.

When it's this time of year, we always open the house to our cousins from Madison (technically Fort Atkinson... ok), and their three boys. Bella loves playing with Seeger (5), Liam (4) and Julian (2), and Isaac got right into the swing of it as well. It was a raucous, fun time. They stayed from Thursday to Monday.

When Seeger showed up, Bella marched right up, stood toe to toe and said "Hi. I'm Five". Seeger responded "I'm five and a half". Bella paused, then said "That's interesting. My grandma said you're six." and with the pleasantries out of the way, they disappeared into the fort made from sheets, chairs, beanbags, and the dining room table that served as home base for the kids.

Unfortunately, Isaac drew the short straw - we gave Julian his room and Isaac joined us in our room in a portacrib. It threw off his rhythms, and we had some good screamfests. Some of them might have been from gas too, however, since he's been experimenting with lots more foods in the last weeks... But hopefully he'll be back in shape tonight in his own crib.

Oh yes, the dad Harman is Dutch, so I endeavored to learn a few words in Nederlands for his benefit (yes, Pimsleur again). So when I walked in Thursday, I greeted him "Daag minheer!" (hello sir!), to which he looked wide eyed, and responded "Daag! Hoe gaat het met je?" (Hi! How are you doing?) Quick on my feet, I had to answer "Niet heel goed." (Not so good! Hey, I was just getting off of work!) We traded little Dutch phrases all weekend, and he was quite impressed with my pronounciation. Pimsleur rocks, as always.

While I did play hooky from the workouts (with bad sleeping, 6am workouts would be a recipe for disaster), work itself didn't give me many breaks, as the "situation" keeps getting more dicey... but my exit is imminent, and all I can do is try to put things in place to help them through this. In the "looking forward" category, I went to the annual party (Minneapolis office) on Friday night, and had a great time with the team: I'm REALLY looking forward to getting going with these people!

This Friday is a short trip to Chicago for a night for the Chicago annual party, then next week is my trip to California - I have appointments in San Fran (Stanford) and Fresno... and a possible jog to LA as well. There'll be a few miles on me in January.

Well, that gets us sort of caught up for the moment...

Monday, January 07, 2008


Short update: Just had dinner with one of our favorite couples... and they announced a date for their wedding. And they asked me to participate in the wedding. But get this:

They asked me to go get ordained online and officiate! They want ME to marry them!

This is flat out the coolest thing I've ever been asked to do. I am beyond honored, and SO excited...

Now, which church: First UFO-itarian? Church of the Recidivist? Our Most Holy Disapproval? SPACE CHURCH? The mind reels at the possibilities!!!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Ah the kids

We had a visit with my mom today - had some of her wonderful soup and some great chatting. Isaac was amazingly well behaved: The house is full to bursting with knick knacks (in a good way), and somehow he did not go into his default "what's this? What's this? What's THIS? GrabGrabGrabGrab" mode. He seemed happy to bounce on the couch, whack on drums, and have walkabout adventures... but there were few causes to jump up and redirect him (aside from his attention to the admittedly fascinating space heater).

Bella was in a shy mood, and had Pamela and me relate most of the information she wanted to share... though by the end Mom and Bella were doing an impressive rat hand-puppet duet of a Josh Groban song, so things had warmed up pretty well.

Afterward, we took them to Edinborough Park for them to run around... alas, Isaac's pants were a size too large, and I spent much of the play time racing across the gym floor pulling his pants up from around his ankles. He thought it was great fun. Bella was a bit reserved again, until she saw the new moonwalk: A giant doghouse. She pointed it out excitedly and ran into it for a good 15 minutes. She came out a bit bounced and sweaty and announced "THAT WAS AWESOME".

Once home, Isaac went right to bed, and Bella proved a bit brittle and overtired: We got an All Creatures and some pizza into her and then up to bed. While we were resting, she turned to me and asked:

"Dad, do you remember all the good times we've had together?"

Of course I rattled on for a good 10 minutes about all of the wonderful things I recall, and how I love being with her every minute of every day. She had her eyes closed with a sweet smile as I serenaded her with memories. When I stopped, she snapped her eyes open:

"Just one more question, Dad. How do they make corn?"

I told her that was a bit of an involved story and it was a bit late to get into it... She said "Well, I guess you could just tell me about that tomorrow.". She then rolled over and within a minute started snoring.

Can you stand another Kindle Post?

Just a couple of thoughts on my continued affair du Kindle.

1) It fell. A few weeks back, I was sitting on a high stool and it slipped out of my pocket: A good 4 foot fall onto hard tile. The back flew off, and it came apart a little, but a quick snap back into place and it's all fine. The only issue is a hairline crack on one of the buttons. This will sound crazy, but every day I notice that crack, I think "Hmmm, wonder why that hasn't healed yet?"

2) There's a specific sort of book that I like that has very little chance of being interesting to anyone else, and will be doomed to take up 1 inch of shelfspace for the rest of time. One such book was "DeLuxe - How Luxury Lost its Luster" - a detailed accounting of how the major Luxury brand conglomerates have pursued the middle market and how this cannibalism sows the seeds of their demise. Fun reading, but not essential, and probably not good enough for me to INSIST that someone else read.

So I ordered it and read it in the Kindle. I just finished it last night. Instead of a hunk of pulp, I just have a few bits and bytes of this book now, and the storage space is in no way onerous. Looking in my library room, there are dozens of books which I have enjoyed that I wish I could zap into ether in a similar manner.

3) 2-3 years back (not mentioned in the blog, I checked) I was trying to make my way through Neal Stephenson's ambitious trilogy which began with "The Quicksilver". These were 800-1000 page hardback tomes, which after 300 pages of the first one, I gave up in disgust: The author has a tendency toward circuitous writing, long cul-de-sacs of detail which can be a true delight... but in this particular case, I found myself desperately wishing he'd get TO THE POINT ALREADY.

In retrospect, I'm realizing that part of my annoyance was that these books were huge and heavy, and I was resenting the fact that not only was the story not moving quickly, but I was having trouble breathing while holding this gigantic brute of a book on my chest at night.

I have begun re-reading another Stephenson book in the Kindle (Interface - his techno thriller), and am delighting in each detour, each deeply imagined detail, and am inclined to turn a more sympathetic eye back to the trilogy... but only if I can download them into the Kindle: My svelte little reader will swallow those 30 pounds of ponderous book-age and serve it up one cheerful page at a time, never weighing more than its 8-10 ounces, never swelling the sides of my briefcase unnaturally.

Yes, I might finally read that series now that I have a technological means to do so that does not leave me literally breathless.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Back in time...

After a full day of more meetings and an easy flight home, I walked in the door just after 8 last night to find Bella still awake and waiting up for me. I read to her and had cuddles while Pamela bolted to the basement to watch "her sports" (aka - CNN) to find out about the Iowa caucuses. But before letting her go... something had changed in the house...

In my one night of absence, Pamela had managed to paint and redecorate our bedroom, which is now a cool blue with burnt orange curtains, new knobs on the furniture, and new accent pieces. I rubbed my eyes with disbelief - it was (is) gorgeous! The paint stink was still present, however, so we made use of the 3rd floor guest room... which is such a wonderful space!

The morning came way too soon (extra soon since I chose to work out!) but I came home between workout and work for some family fun. It was not too stressful today, though I did have one of the cardiologists sit me down and carefully explain why he thought this whole project was a "clusterf**k" and that while it wasn't my fault, he'd appreciate it if I documented the extent to the "CF-ness" for the next person so they truly understand the situation. I assured him I would. Oh, he was passionate about this. This is truly important stuff to him.

I made it home again to find the house in cacophonous chaos: Isaac has refound his scream mechanism, and Bella was being entirely too helpful. But we all settled down to dinner, and I mean ALL of us: Even "never sit still" Isaac was in his high chair enjoying hot dog and strawberries... until he got a whiff of the spicy penne pasta I was having, and insisted on having some. In the end, he must have eaten over a dozen noodles along with his other food! Pamela and I were amazed. Then an 8 ounce bottle and snoozeyland.

We watched an All Creatures Great and Small, Bella's new favorite cuddle show, and then off to bed with her... but not before a few more stories. As she asked for just ONE MORE I explained how I had told her so many already and that my throat was getting tired. She paused and said "well, I noticed that in telling me that, you used a lot of words, you could have just told another story". Ooooh, she's too clever by half.

A blissfully light weekend of commitments this weekend. I suspect my powerdrill will be used a fair amount to hang art in the new bedroom, and we're having a late Xmas/Solstice/New Years with my mom on Sunday, but otherwise, it's just family time. And maybe just maybe I might hit bed a bit early tonight. Say, around 9:30pm? Oh the luxury! Be still my heart!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Bidnessman

So even though my start date for the new job is in 3 weeks, I'm in a hotel room in Chicago participating in the annual business development planning sessions for the new company. I'm not 100% sure why we're in Chicago, when 90% of the team is from Minneapolis, but I guess it's nice to get out and be in a foreign place away from distractions... or something.

The 2008 goals discussed are indeed aggressive, but completely achievable. I think the staff recruiters were the most worried - they're going to have to find, vet, and hire enough people to double the company in 12 months. They'll do fine.

Last night we had a team dinner out: No reservations necessary - apparently the 2nd of Jan is one of the slowest nights in the restaurant universe. After a very good meal, we headed next door to one of those "dueling piano" bars. It was pretty amusing to watch them REALLY trying to get the room activated with over half the tables empty. But we did get them to play most of the requests, including Rio, Hold Me Now, and Don't you want me baby (done as a breakneck ragtime stomp). There were four performers in rotation, sitting in on drums, bass, or the two pianos... let's just say that when we walked in, we had the "B" group on lead, but by the time we left, the "A" group was on fire.

The VP of Marketing has a 6month old girl, and this is her first trip away... so we both took off from the bar good and early and were back to the hotel by 11. The same thing was on both of our minds: A NIGHT OF UNINTERRUPTED SLEEP, PLEASE.

It didn't work: I must have heard Isaac through the ether, because at 2am I snapped awake for a half hour. DANG IT.

Breakfast in the hotel was unreasonably delicious - and wildly generous. At the end of it, there were STILL 3 pieces of crispy bacon left on the plate... I had tried my best, but they had given me so much... so much BACON. Ooooh. Delightful.

A full day of meetings again today, then off to the airport for an early evening return to life as usual.