Friday, March 28, 2008

A vision of the future

In the philly airport, killing a few hours before my flight, all of us business travelers are roaming up and down the aisles looking for an open power outlet - of which there are only 2 for every 1000 square feet, half of which are not live. I have secured a "sweet spot" with a chair, off the beaten path. Others are on the floor or standing behind abandoned desks hoping that not EVERYTHING has been turned off.

More than one have come around the corner and viewed my position with envy. I imagine that as the afternoon goes on, the envy may turn darker, and I may need to defend myself.

Philly wound up being very productive: Good meetings at the primary client, and then an unexpected call from another lead in town to "drop by if I have time" - natch I made the time and got some good leads.

When I checked in last night, they had me down for a "midget bed" and were surprised to learn I was not, in fact, a midget. (can you say midget these days? Or only in reference to old MG cars?) They gave me a "hospitality suite" instead, which is essentially a 1500 sq foot party room with a full living room. I've had smaller apartments (much smaller). It was completely wasted on me, since I checked in at midnight and left at 7:30am

Oh, and it's not ALL bad food in my life: for lunch, my philly contact took us to a great "local agriculture" place where everything on the menu is from within 100 miles or something. I had a goat cheese and carmelized onion quiche and a side salad. Deeeee lish. Funny thing: The place was made for "sustainability", and the owner decided to hire only educated types who believed in the vision, and paid living wages... So naturally the place was shut down for a while a year later when the workers unionized and went on strike.

Looking forward to the weekend!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Daylight savings was over 2 weeks ago, and every clock in the world was properly set. Except the one next to my bed last night (because of the small size of these alarm clocks, they tend to get "rotated" frequently by little Isaac - so this one must never have been set, nor never have been by my bedside in the past weeks).

What's funny is that I got up, thought it was 5, did my whole morning routine to get out of the house by 5:45 for my 6am workout. I checked mail, looked at clocks to make sure I was pacing myself properly. Not once did my eyes register that the hour was off. 4 different clocks in the house, plus the computer, all telling me it was really 6:45, but I didn't notice.

Not until I was half way to the workout, when I looked at the car clock. Long and hard.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Home again

Well, we didn't get to that pizza joint - we did a tasty chain called GoRoma, which had something for everyone (and was very close by when all of our stomachs decided it was TIME). There was pizza available, and Isaac loved it. Bella had two servings of the Ravioli - that girl is going through a growth spurt - every morning she's got a little more height and a bit more sparkle in her eyes.

Tuesday we hit our favorite breakfast place on earth - The Palatine Inn - and saw some family. Bella and I had some Gyros for lunch (well, I did - she had chicken), and back off to the book shop for espresso, cocoa, and reading. In the evening we saw Rick, Kari, Bailey, and Ty for PF Changs: We had a gift certificate so we surprised them by treating... Isaac was home with Bam, and Bella was passing out in the restaurant (the collective action has wiped her out) so it was an early night.

Today we headed home after a Portillo's run (soooooo good) and the 6.5 hours passed like, well, 6.5 hours. Isaac only slept 1 hour, but was only really mad at the world for one hour too, so there were 4.5 hours of the kids relatively pacified watching scooby doo episodes almost non-stop.

We bade farewell to the rented minivan (with help from a friend), and re-settled.

Isaac was so happy to be home, he ran around the house like a maniac, stopping at his favorite things (living room table, fish tank), patting them and laughing. When I put him into his crib, he jumped around yelling "Ah-DAH-dah-da-DAH!!!" There was no mistaking his utter joy at being back in home base.

Bella had her "serene" smile on from the moment we walked in, and was happy to have stories for bed again (in Palatine, we stayed in one big room, so we kept quiet at Bella's bedtime to not wake Isaac).

The week will end on a busy note: A possible VERY strategic placement cooked up early in the week out in Philly, and I'm going out tomorrow night late to attend the Friday morning meetings to seal the deal: Literally out of state for 24 hours total. The weekend brings a poker party to celebrate a friend's 40th, and a re-do on the visit from Bella's birth family (since the last try was scotched by illness).

So it's good to be home: I will miss my delicious Chicago food, but I feel like I really ate my way around. I'll be at Step tomorrow at 6am working off the insult I've inflicted upon myself!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Some People

From Bella tonight:

Some people are afraid of Bees, Crabs, and Lobsters.
Bees? They'll sting ya.
Crabs will pinch you.
Lobsters will pinch you AND whack you.

Chicago Adventures

Yesterday we had a great brunch at the retirement community where Pamela's Grandma lives - it was a top notch buffet, without huge lines. Isaac was a total maniac, running miles and miles down the hallways of the community, giggling the whole time. He exhausted 3 adults in the process, and showed no signs of tiring when we strapped him back into the car to go home.

The Chicago-style food love-fest continues: We did Portillo's on Saturday, and I'm convinced that my ticket to fame will be to open the first in Edina... it will be amazing. Tonight we'll do a pizza joint with the whole family.

This morning we headed off to Woodfield - best mall in the world. We got Isaac and Bella some new shoes: Isaac's first "big boy" shoes: With them on, we got an amazing show as he tried to work out how to walk with heavier shoes with actually grippy soles: He was walking stiff legged like Frankenstein, lifting his feet almost up to his ears to overcompensate. Of course within a half hour, he was sprinting again, completely adjusted to the new feet.

Of course we visited the Lego store (the new Millennium Falcon model is insane - it's 3 feet long and wildly detailed), the Apple Store (I love love love the Air), and the Sony Store (the new OLED TV is so bright and compact....)... The only problem was when Bella ducked into the BuildaBear store and really really wanted a wolf. For some reason I put my foot down (they're expensive, she has a million dolls, including 2 webkinz got just yesterday!) and dealt with many tears.

I've been enjoying downtime with the new book by Charles Stross - Halting State. Of all of my favorite Sci Fi writers, he's the one I most want to go out and have drinks with - you can tell the ideas just flow effortlessly from him, and you KNOW he'd be a riot in a conversation. Reading his books directly stimulates my pleasure center, and the world disappears into the margins: I can't say he's a writer for everyone, but he's one of the best writers in the world for ME!

It's a lazy afternoon - Bella's having mac and cheese with Scooby Doo, Pamela and Isaac are napping, and I'm about to start doing a little more reading. All is well in the world.

Friday, March 21, 2008

On anonymity

At my new job, one of the duties is to serve as the final interviewer for incoming consultant candidates: I do around 2 a week, and it's good to have people like us doing the interview, since we're responsible for selling AND making sure the clients are happy. So far, mine have been 50-50 hire or no-thank-you, which isn't a bad ratio all things considered.

But in two cases, I've had candidates who had done their homework on the company... and not just the company, but on ME (my name is on the invite for the interview), so I've been "googled". Now, I've looked up what happens when you google me, and it's pretty innocuous (some old music stuff mostly, and a couple of articles for healthcare publications).

Which is why I don't use last names, nor do I use company names in this blog - not that there's anything INTENSELY personal here - nothing I wouldn't want my mother to read (hi mom!), not anything libelous toward anywhere I'm working (though the "troubles" with my last client would probably be embarrassing if the full names were out there).

But there's a part of my life that is public, and I think it's important for the people I write about to know that I'm protecting ALL of our privacy here.


Last night, we drove down to Chicagoland for the Easter Weekend, ahead of the snowstorms. As usual, Isaac had a very hard time falling asleep in the rented minivan - staying up well past 9. We pulled just after midnight, bleary eyed, but happy to be here. When we awoke around 7, the world was white with big flakes of snow - it was a GOOD IDEA to have left last night.

Today, even with the weather, we had to run out to get some solid Chicago-style food: An amazing italian combo from Johnnie's beef. The proprietor, the garrulous Frankie, is a friend of Papa's. He heard that I was from out of town and had never tried his friday special: A sandwich with eggs scrambled with green peppers. Next thing we knew, another sandwich was sent to our table.

Alas, regular readers will recall the "christmas miracle" from 2006, where my allergies mysteriously disappeared for the entire week of the visit. No such luck this time around: My nose is red and runny, and my head is full of cotton. I've used my inhaler for the first time since the fall. We'll just have to see how this goes.

I had a strange thing happen as I ran out to grab dinner for the house: No gloves, and I had to do some ice clearing, but nothing I hadn't done before... The total trip was less than 20 minutes. But when I came into the house, two fingers were pale white and had no feeling. I ran them under warm water and they recovered.... but it was very odd!

Finally, it's been a lazy day - Both Pamela and I got NAPS, which seemed impossibly luxurious - thank goodness for people in the house watching the kiddies!

So not an earth shattering update, but we are safe and sound in Chicagoland, my nose is running, we're taking naps, I'm eating wonderfully bad-for-me chicago food, and now it's time for bed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


6 weeks ago when I was last in Sacramento, the person I was meeting with ate literally like a bird - I've never seen someone eat so little. I had ordered a bowl of stew and felt like a total hog shoveling down food while she just sat there.

Last night, I pursued a different strategy:

I ate a full dinner 1 hour before meeting with her. Then when we got to the sushi bar, we both ordered just a little bit of food and nibbled in concert.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Amazing Awesomeness

1) I just got my invite to join the private beta of Evernote - a supercool personal tagging application: You take pictures of things, and it scans them for meaning and indexes them: Take a picture of a business card, and the text is readable. Take a picture of a page of notes (handwritten) and it's all searchable. Take a picture of a bottle of wine, then you can add comments to the picture, and search for it later.

What's best is that it's completely server-based, so you can do it all via iPhone, or your desktop, or a borrowed PC - it doesn't matter - you can always get at your "external brain".

I recommend checking out the demo video at It starts slowly, but if by the end you're not completely amazed, I'll give you your money back*.

2) I'm trying some Mandarin software from Fluenz which is really pretty revolutionary: It's not that any one part hasn't been done by someone else, but the whole look and feel is very clean, and the instructor is very engaging. I do have some complaints - there don't seem to be many keyboard shortcuts so there is a lot of mousing around, which is annoying when every single tone mark (of which every word in Mandarin has one) is a mouseclick instead of a keystroke... but we'll see if I can get beyond that.

So far, 4 lessons in, I feel it's "better" than Rosetta Stone, which I'm 21 lessons into for Swedish now... but these are both early impressions, and I'll reserve judgement until the end of both sessions... we'll see which one gave me a better command of the language. One trick of Rosetta Stone is to really figure out which of the 14 different exercises per lesson is best for you: After a lot of trying, I've figured out two that help things stick for me, while the rest don't really help do anything but exercise my multiple choice skillz.

*regarding the money back guarantee: not really.

A different trip

Monday night good and late I took off for Portland: This is an "existing client" touchbase trip, not a hunting trip, so I left the fancy suits at home (went for the sportcoat look). The flight took off a little late - 9:45pm, and we got into Portland at midnight PST. I was in bed by 12:30, which was of course 2:30 by my body time, and I was feeling a little fragile.

Leaving wasn't easy - I had hoped Bella might already be in bed, but instead she was latched onto me pleading with me "don't go, Daddy, don't GO!!!!" This was after a nice dinner and 2 games of Go Fish where she smoked me fair and square... And Isaac was having mad brainstorms as well. I sensed that perhaps Pamela would have an evening of it.

On the plane, I was able to identify some people from our preferred software vendor by the wifi network their laptops broadcast (which popped up when I turned on my macbook). It was a very strange thing to realize the different ways we broadcast our identities to the world.

I had intended to have a wakeup call at 7am, but my darn body clock had me up before 6am with no hope of extra sleep, so it's just as well I had decided not to have breakfast sent up: I was already done with breakfast and back in the room before the time I would have had the food delivered.

It looked like a cloudy morning and the doorman gave me a garish red and white umbrella as I went out to my AM meeting... I went to one of the 100,000 coffee shops and got a bag of pastries and a tub of coffee for the team, and discovered upon arriving that my client had called in sick - so no meet and greet. I was able to connect with my person here, though, and that is an important function of these trips - to make people who are working alone at a client site feel somehow connected to the general team...

Meeting out of the way, I had a couple of hours to kill in Portland, so I ventured out to Powell's Books - the biggest best bookshop in the galaxy. Nothing got bought, however - all I could think about was "where will I put this - how far must I carry it today?". By 10:30 I realized my body clock was getting mad at me for not eating lunch... so I lurked at a deli's door while they took down their chairs and got the place ready for... me...

So now I'm cooling my jets in the PDX airport getting ready for the second leg of my trip - checking in with my team in Sacramento. I have an hour to burn, so time for some language learning... if I can ignore the man playing cheesy piano in the atrium here - with a synth for strings. Oh, it's glorious stuff.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Two Bits tangentially involving Fred Rogers

1) As Bella was drifting off the other night, Pamela fielded this query:
"With six millipn people in the world, how come some of them need to die?"

Pamela paused and started with: "There's always new people being born..."

Bella interrupted:
"Yeah, I think baby Macey (her new birth-cousin) probably replaced Mister Rogers."

She's got it all figured out.

2) The car wash I love has a blue macaw named Seaweed in an open pen near the cash register. They treat this bird well, and there are always new toys for it to play with. As I walked up, Seaweed was rather ferociously trying to untangle a string of beads and was a bit flustered. I've certainly never touched the bird, and he always seems to keep his distance from the customers.

On the TV near the register, they were playing Mister Rogers, and as I watched a yo yo expert try to show Fred and Bob Trow how to "walk the dog", I caught a brilliant blueness out of the corner of my eye.

Seaweed had crept up on me, and grabbed hold of my sleeve with his beak. He then pulled one leg up onto my arm, keeping one on his perch, and was looking me right in the eye, clacking his beak. I reached out with my gloved hand, and he gave me a few knuckle gnaws.

I told him he was a good bird, but that I needed to go now, and I helped him back onto his perch and waved goodbye.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Jimmy in Philly

The Trip - Part 2

We hopped the Acela Express from NYC to Philadelphia at 1pm. Train travel is just so dang civilized: You get to the station 10 minutes before departure. You climb on, find a seat. The train leaves with a minimum of fuss - no seat belts, no emergency exit declarations. Lots of legroom, a big space to open up the laptop (and with my 3G wireless card, I had network the whole trip too). 1 hour later, we pull into Pennsylvania 30th St Station, and were in our new hotel within 2 hours of having left our hotel in NYC. Compare to air travel, we would probably only be halfway there by the 2 hour mark! Why can't we have more better trains? It just makes sense.

The hotel in Philly was another Marriott, with a decent workout room that I took advantage of to help work off that second lunch entree (was it really the same day???) listening to Belgian Heartbreak Techno by Milk Inc: The ellipse machine kept yelling at me to reduce speed for heartrate, and I kept saying "But the beat is 135bpm and the drums are KICKING!!! Don't you tell me to slow down!!!)

A nap was also achieved.

We met in the hotel bar, where a nosy bartender had to butt in with his opinions about the Spitzer case, and we had amusing half-conversations with completely plastered conventioneers of some sort. Then we were off to dinner... at Morimoto's.

Pamela actually gets credit on this one: She heard that Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto had opened a restaurant in Philly, and said we should check it out. So we did, we got reservations, and we sat down for the tasting menu. 8 courses with paired alcohol, and every single bite was amazing - I can't recall them all, but there was Toro Tartare, shaved sweet scallop in hot oil, broiled lobsters, seared kobe beef medallions, nigiri sushi, all paired with amazing champagne, white, red, and sake. It was a good 3 hour event and we stumbled home completely satisfied.

I decided to go for a pay-per-view: The Golden Compass. Full disclosure, I loved the books, and felt there must have been some conspiracy that made the movie not do very well. Little did I know the conspiracy was actually inside the movie crew: It was a very stilted movie that barreled at breakneck speed, but did very little in the way of telling the story with any artfulness - it felt rushed and superficial. I did love Ian McKellan as Iorek Byrnson, but little else. I actually turned it off right before the end, because I just didn't see the point. Sigh.

The morning was an adventure: I had left the menu card outside my door for 7:30 breakfast delivery. At 745 I called down and they assured me the food was on the way up. At 8:05 I called and they said the knock should be at my door within a minute. At 8:10 they called ME and said that I had forgotten to put my room number on my menu card, and so they had NOT sent me my food, and did I still want it? I said no.

I headed out to the Reading St Market - a large indoor food mall (restaurants and grocery) inside of the old Reading Station, and 1 block from my hotel. I stopped into a diner in there, and had an omelet with grilled onions and peppers and bbq pork, with american fries and stewed apples. Got completely full for less than $10 and 20 minutes.

Our meeting this morning was with a physician practice affiliated with a large university: Honestly, we had very low expectations for the meeting, but they had visited the booth and seemed interested in talking, so here we were. The cab took us through a terrible neighborhood and we got quite a show as an angry bum in a wheelchair was crossing a 4 lane highway against the light, flipping people off, spinning his chair, and generally daring the universe to strike him down. He made it safely, and I swear he shook his fist to heaven.

At the meeting, we were pleased to discover an actual OPPORTUNITY almost of the level of our first NYC one: Major implementation starting early summer with our favorite software, we're giving good advice right before they go out to sign the paperwork, and we're at the top of their call list for followup. It was an amazing result. Mike put the credit on his "lucky tie" which he had not worn for almost a year, since the lucky tie drummed up some business in Texas (which is now 1/4 of our total business). I can't argue with that.

We had a little time before our flight out today, so we made the pilgrimage to Jim's Steaks - one of the ORIGINAL homes of the Philly Cheesesteak. And it was quite good... but... we both came to the realization that as a sandwich, the Cheesesteak is not quite on the level as a Chicago Dog, or an Italian Beef.... there just isn't as much flavor going on. Coming off of all of the amazing flavors we'd had in the past 2 days, the Cheesesteak was more than adequate, but not really in the same league.

That said, if you do like cheesesteak in general, Jim's is the best you will ever have.

Caught the 2:20 flight home and thanks to the way time flows across the globe, I walked into my house at 5pm. Bella loved her gifts, Isaac was thrilled to see daddo (and took some time to settle down), and Pamela was happy to have backup again! It was a great homecoming, and I'm happy to be home.

It seems crazy that it really was just 2.5 days and we fit so much in... but I missed so much of what NYC has to offer, and I'm looking forward to my re-visits in the months to come. I loved that dang town! (Philly - not quite so much. Still nice though).

Jimmy in NYC

Part 1 of 2

When I took the new job, they initially said "West Coast"... but as things have developed, we're being a lot more opportunistic in how we divvy things up. So when some potential work appeared on the East Coast, I gladly added it to my plate. This week was my first trip out East with my boss/pal Mike, and we lived well.

We flew in Tuesday AM, getting to town around noon. On the way to the cab stand, we were hijacked by an Argentinean who had an SUV and a flat rate to the city... It was a good ride, even while the guy opined at length about the Governor's Troubles, the relative stinkyness of most cab drivers, and why Kenyans keep winning Marathons. Just smile and nod....

We did NOT know that there are three "Courtyard by Marriott" hotels within a 2 mile radius, and got dropped off at the wrong one. Once we did get that sorted out (with another short cab ride), we decided to walk the 20 blocks to our first meeting at 2pm (from 54th and 3rd to 32nd and 1st). We stopped on the way for a slice of pizza, which was a great starter. We ALMOST did the Soup Nazi, but ducked last minute to Pizza. Along the way, we checked out Rockefeller plaza, and other landmarks.

Potential Client #1 is a large academic medical center which is mere days from inking a deal to install the software that is the bread and butter for our company - A good 100 person team will need to hit the ground running, of which hopefully we could provide a dozen or so for 2-3 years. As they were technically still pre-sale, we offered a lot of advice on how to finish the negotiations, which I think he appreciated. The guy was a mousy radiologist with the classic NYC abrupt manner, so the fact that we actually took the whole hour was pretty amazing.

We walked back up to 5th Ave, stopped in the beautiful Apple Store (and resisted buying anything), and looked for an "old school bar" to toast our success with. The Oak Room at the Plaza? Sorry - closed for renovations until May. The sky bar at the Peninsula? Sorry, closed until October. We settled on the paneled room at the back of the St Regis.

Alas, things didn't go well with the drinks: I asked for a smoky scotch (the Ardbeg Uggeidal), and got a apple-infused cognac instead (the name sounded similar, but the flavor was NOT in the same league). I got it straightened out (though needed to settle on a different scotch, as their list was out of date). We then made use of their Concierge to get reservations at a restaurant (Seems that you can use any hotel's concierge even if you're not a guest, but be nice and give them $20 for their trouble won't you?)

Dinner was in a small Northern Italian place off of Park Ave on 54th that was infested by possible mafioso, with a headwaiter with an indeciperhable Italian accent, a fleet of silent and efficient staff that let no crumb settle, beautiful fresco art on the walls, and amazing food to match. The loud f-bomb dropping tables around us showed that if you're a man and eating pasta, that tie goes OVER your shoulder.. so we followed suit. We even spiced up our conversation with some effenheimers, but it felt forced. Dessert was an embarassment of riches: Creme Brulee, Creme Caramel, and Panna Cotta were all on offer.

Having been up since 5 in the AM, when we finished dinner around 11pm, our only real option was to go to sleep...

The next morning, it was up into the 70s and 2nd for the second meeting. This one was more tactical, less strategic. We cabbed up there, full of quad espressos to restart our brains. This is a HUGE orthopedic surgery group who is rolling out digital imaging to their ORs - which is EXACTLY what I did back 3 years ago, so the meeting turned unexpectedly into an interview of my skills. Not that I'll be doing ALL of the work, but if we got it, I could oversee another person and have an excuse to be out there for a few more days...

With a few hours to kill late morning to afternoon, we went shopping: A brisk tour of Bergdorf Goodman's mens store brought us face to face with $5000 bathrobes, and the scary 1980s fashion revival: A pink pair of shorts paired with a blue/white seersucker jacket had us humming "Love Plus One". Izod/Lacoste is back in a BIG way. I threatened to move my entire wardrobe to Blanc du Chine (chairman mao-style), and apparently White so white it hurts your eyes is the new white, and window after window on 5th ave blared these hard-to-clean styles.

A detour into FAO Schwarz for the kiddies: Bella's first Steiff (a Pug), along with a Steiff Owl for Isaac and a tiny hand-made steiff hedgehog for Pamela. (I should note that all three have already been appropriated by Bella for "safekeeping"). A second "resist" at the Applestore

For lunch, we were torn between deli food and more pizza, and found a great place that did both ably - so a pastrami on rye with mustard matched with a pepperoni and sausage slice. We could barely move after that. Oooooof!!!!

Our adventure over, it was time to head to Penn Station for the second leg of our adventure.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A different sort of day

As I went to sleep last night, the day ahead looked predictable: Bella's birthfamily was due for an afternoon visit, so we'd get up early, clean the house, hit the grocery store, prepare some snacks, and strap in for a fun visit with Bella's birthcousins... The actual day did not go that way, however.

It started comically: Isaac had woken up with a devil in his car and was unusually fast and mischievous, escaping from every room we were in. So in a moment of craziness, I grabbed one of the old-fashioned keys and actually locked our bedroom door with us all in it. Now, these locks are quite old - we've never even tried them out. But in my mind, when that key turned, hey, they must work!

So after a giggle, I turned the key the other way to unlock... and it stuck. Nope, that deadbolt was NOT moving.

I spent the next 20 minutes trying to unlock the door again with the whole family laughing (at least we had formula, a phone, and a bathroom on OUR side of the door!). We left a few messages for people who have keys to the house, asking if they'd come try the lock from the other side... Fortunately, we had a set of tools in the laundry room and I was able to jimmy the lock with a screwdriver. It was a completely insane way to start the day.

Once downstairs, Bella wanted no food all morning, and was even paler than usual. Her energy level was in the sub-basement, with a slight fever. All she wanted to do was watch shows horizontally, not eat, and not have Isaac anywhere near her (tears were fast to come when the two were in the same room).

We figured out that she was not merely crabby but actually sick (a call confirmed that Jenny had the same symptoms!), and we canceled the visit - no point in passing along some strange illness to other kids! Bella took a few naps, watched a few movies... and by the end of the day had enough appetite to make time with a PBJ, and play one game of go-fish, before asking to go back to bed. I asked if she had a headache, and she said "Just a touch".

As I snuck out, believing her to be asleep, she stopped me and asked for a story when I was a little kid... "but just tell me anything because I'll be asleep while you're telling it". Sure enough, she was out cold by the end of my tale (about my hamsters Danielle and Cheryl) - she just wanted my voice to help her relax.

Isaac also took a HUGE nap today (4 hours!!!), but was ready for bed at the usual time too.

And I did something horrible to my lower back while reaching for something on the floor behind a chair... it just went "WINCE", and the tears started flowing. Which is just crazy: I work out 4-5 times a week, I'm in great health, and I reach for something just wrong, and I'm laid up? Who made THAT rule? Add to that my pink eye AND my sore knee (I lost my balance stepping over one of Bella's forts yesterday)

Since there was so much downtime today, I started work on The Rosetta Stone Swedish: I've heard so much about this program so I figured it was worth a go: Given what I already know, I cruised through the 10 lessons of Level 1 today, but there are 9 more levels to go, and they won't all be this fast. It's interesting: Whereas Pimsleur gets you started immediately on conversations (hello, I'm american, do you speak english?), Rosetta Stone is more about general sentence structures: This is a boy. The boy Jumps. The boy is under a table. The boy is on an airplane. The boy is in a car. The car is white.... You get the idea. You learn the grammatical rules through immersion.

There is no English anywhere - you pick up meanings through context clues in pictures. I'm not sure how this can build to advanced concepts, nor do I see how this can move to first and second person, since it's all about pictures (which are inherently third person!). But I'll keep an open mind: People really seem to like this program, so I'll stick it out!

A business trip this week to NYC and Philly should be fun (if my back behaves)... Carrie has sent me a lot of suggestions for things to do in "the City" - which I've never actually been to as far as I know (certainly not in my adult life!!!)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A Saturday

I woke up this AM with one eye sealed shut with gunk... and once I pried the lid open, I found an angry pink orb staring back. Yes, somehow pink eye came into my life. Having just seen Knocked Up with a hilarious Pink Eye reference, i immediately looked to see if anyone had farted on my pillow, but nobody fessed up to that.

I caught an immediate appointment at the Minute Clinic, who without hesitation prescribed the eyedrops, and I've been bathing my eyeballs with powerful antibiotics all day.

This morning was "Dads and Donuts" at the Family Center where Bella and Isaac to preschool (and pre-pre-preschool in the case of Isaac), which was basically open gym time for 90 minutes with donuts and coffee. It was wonderful, and the kids ran around like maniacs. Of course, four walls can't contain Isaac, so he spent a fair amount of time running OUT of the gym, up the hall and towards the parking lot... He also enjoyed two donut holes, so he was a bit jacked up.

After that, Bella went out with Jenny to get their "sister portraits" done - they've taken a formal portrait every year together. Isaac and I had a nap, then I cleaned up the joint a little.

Tonight we finally had that dinner with the Swedes, and it was wonderful: Bella played well with the girls, and Isaac was a complete maniac all evening, but still we had good conversation and lots of laughs. I pulled out a few bits of Swedish for them, and was horrified to learn that the version of Swedish I had been learning was a bit formal and staid, a bit grandmotherly. They had a good round of raised eyebrows and giggles when I asked for my coffee black as "en slät kopp koffe" instead of "en svart kopp koffe" - While slät is technically usable, it's practically in "23 skidoo" territory in terms of currency.

Anyway, it's good to know that the book I'm using is perhaps not the most current and excellent language... and perhaps I'll look for other sources!!! But hearing them chattering in Swedish to their kids was inspirational and made me want to keep learning... it's such a beautiful language. And yes, I did get a FEW of the things they were saying to eachother.... ;->

It's time to spring forward and lose that hour of sleep, so I imagine I'll be hitting that hay a bit earlier than usual, so good night!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Oh yeah

1) What happened to the language addict anyway? Really, when things went SOUTH with the old client, my available brainspace appears to have been voided. Add in the working-two-jobs thing, and the trying-to-maximize-family-time thing... And actually one more factor: It's been so dang cold that my primary language time is CAR time, and when I'm in the car right now, I just focus on warming up and getting there... and usually I'm AT the destination before I'm warm enough to think about another language!

I am cautiously optimistic that by getting down to one job AND the weather heating up a bit that I'll have more time and energy for my language pursuits! So keep an eye out for it!

In the meantime, I do have my conversational gambits ready for my dinner this weekend with real live Swedish people. Pamela stumbled across my DOC file and giggled about my crib notes. In a nice way.

2) Tonight we played go-fish with real cards... and Bella said it would be "no problem at all - it's got Jacks, Queens, and Kings right? Just like that other game. Checkers". I asked if she might mean CHESS, and she wasn't sure, but she and Casey definitely played checkers, and it had kings and queens, but no jacks. I asked how she did, and she said "I totally won: I got like TEN guys, and Casey only got ONE."

I am very curious as to what this game might have been.

And if you're wondering, it was a nail-biter right to the end, but she beat me fair and square. Her smile actually extended beyond the confines of her face somehow.

3) Ah my little boy. Tonight we went to The Burrito Store, just Dad and the Kids. And Isaac actually ate a few fingerfulls of Burrito (just cheese, rice, sour cream and beans - Bella style) - he seemed to really like it, however. So perhaps this will be a food that BOTH kids can agree upon! He even sat for the meal and didn't shriek. I was pinching myself.

4) Off to bed now... I do want to let you, my dedicated readership, know that I greatly appreciate you letting this serve as a primary communication vehicle in these busy times, and please don't take it poorly if I'm slow to respond to a call or email: As the posts may indicate, we're hanging on to life and sanity by the merest threads, and I am deeply grateful for your understanding.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Working on closure

So I have been at the new job for around 6 weeks now, during which time I've also been doing maintenance work for the old client (the Cardio department), biding my time until my replacement was found. Well she started this week, and I am absolutely thrilled: She's an older woman with grown kids who consults because she likes a challenge, not because she needs to. She did similar work at another hospital, knows the ways of Cardiologists, and knows many of the key software players.

We spent a few hours yesterday reviewing the project history, and I handed off a stack of documents. Today we got together and she had a page of questions, all of which indicated that she GOT the issues, and was looking for a deeper level of detail. I'm completely confident that she'll be able to run with this project as soon as next week without my direct involvement... though I suspect that as that "living history" of the project, I'll be tapped a fair amount.

Still, it's a good feeling when you are handing something off, and you are CONFIDENT that this person will not only do as good a job as you did, but maybe even be better at some of it.

In the new job, I made my first real sale last week, and now have 3 people working... and I'm headed out to New York and Philly next week to get number 4 placed... and to meet with some new possible strategic clients too. It's all really starting to move... I'm getting busy, and it's getting exciting. But not so busy that I couldn't take off a bit early today to take the family to Ikea!!!

Yep - we hit Ikea, had some dinner: Isaac snacked on fries, meatballs, chicken fingers, and chocolate milk... but not enough of each to truly call it a "meal". Bella was still full from her post-swimming Panera feast, so she poked at some mashed potatoes. Me... Meatballs tack så mycket! (thanks so much!). Then we shopped for desk accessories for my office - I need to liven it up: My team mates have decided to decorate FOR me since I haven't yet, so the gauntlet is thrown... we must decorate! Anyway, it was a great opportunity to have Isaac run around. I was chasing him everywhere, and by the time we got home, both kids were almost asleep before we got them upstairs. So we've had a bit of an evening to ourselves. Time for bills and blogging. ;->

Isaac's words are really getting clearer with each passing day: Upstairs, downstairs, bottle, bearbear... The other day, he looked to have mischief in mind, so I said "Isaac, come here." He stared with a smile, and stayed put. I repeated it. Still no move.

A third repeat, and he said "NO" (though it came out "DOE"). I said "Isaac, did you just tell me 'NO'?"
He grinned and said "Yeah!" and ran away. Hooo boy, he's the cutest little stinker.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Recharge

I took most of Friday off and had an impromptu 3 day weekend... which was just divine. Lots of wrestling, cuddling, and laughing.

In fact it was a bit of a blur... naps were taken, playdates happened, food was eaten... most importantly, my feet were on the ground at home, and life felt good.

And that's the update.