Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hot dog day

Today I taught Bodyattack at 6 then went into the office for a morning of catching up and making sure I get reimbursed for the crazy travel I've been doing.

A quick sidebar on BodyAttack: I love this program and it is very very tough. So far THREE of the SIX of us who have been trained have sustained injuries (low back, calves, planar facia) and have needed to drop their classes. I remain uninjured, but one of my class participants was wearing inadequate footwear for her workout level (she goes ALL OUT) and actually wound up with a foot cast. This is like the workout of doom, and we'll just have to see if it keeps going at our studio! I hope so... but even today on track 9 I wound up with a side cramp half way through and needed to drop to lowest impact. It's brutal, but I'm a monster, I guess.

Anyway, worked out, worked. Tried to break into a couple of new clients, tried to get a fence sitter to make a decision (without pushing him over the wrong side), and learned that the past week was very good for payments and my February check should resemble something close to what I was promised in the job a year ago... ;->

Left work early and headed over to Bella's school: They let parents visit the class to watch their kids learning, and even join them for lunch in the cafeteria. Bella was surprised and happy to see me, and I got to watch her working on paper crafts with her friend Emily. Then off to lunch, and I got the hot dog, apple, and grape juice, while Bella brown bagged it. Bella's friends at the table were all grilling me - one wanted to know "my real name", another wanted to know ALL about Isaac's adoption, and I got into some teasing "lunch trading" with some other kids (I'll give you this fork for that piece of salami. Come on. It's a good deal.) When I tried to get out of the tiny bench table, I fell back and walked back with my hands to get my legs out from under the table. This was maybe the funniest thing the whole table had seen. Ever.

So my dreams of being the funny dad that Bella will grow to dread are totally going to be realized. DESTINY!!!

This reminds me - on the way home from Seattle last week, a TSA guy was totally flummoxed by the fact my DL says "James" and my ticket said "Jim". "They're not the same name, sir". I explained that Jim is short for James - it's very common. The guy had to ask a few co-workers if this was true.

And none of the people involved here were recent immigrants, this was just plain confusion. To his credit, after the survey, the guy slapped his forehead and said "he completely spaced that". Keeping us safe. Yep!

Back to Bella - she's been doing a lot of paper art: She has been making "laptops", folding paper, drawing screens and keyboards, and even logos on the back of the lid. Today at class, she made a duck head out of construction paper, and it's maybe the funniest thing I've ever seen: Picture attached.

Pamela bought a couple of whole chickens, roasted them up, took the meat off and made some broth yesterday. Then we made chicken noodle soup for dinner tonight - and it was fantastic. Isaac had a bowl too, and proudly brought spoon after spoon up to his lips, only to have the liquid go right down his front before he could taste it. It was just increasingly comical. He also has a bit of a cold, so between the dribbles and the sniffles, he was a wet mess.

He's going through some big brain development right now and has a VERY hard time going down for bed. Lots of singing, and role playing with his dolls. He's pretending to be animals a lot (he loves being a frog, a dinosaur, and a shark) and his language keeps expanding. There's a lot going on in that fuzzy head of his, and it's amazing to watch.

Well, off to bed again, but I wanted to share these things today.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

In love with a city.

Oh my did I like New York. Easy flight out there, helpful sedan waiting for me, smooth checkin to the hotel, nice 29th floor room looking out at other buildings (I watched a few people working...)

Monday night I set out to the Lower East Side to visit a small Austrian restaurant recommended by my dear sister. And I found it. The street I walked up was amusing however: Rows of tiny storefronts, shops no bigger than Isaac's bedroom really, with a mere handful of merchandise on display. How do these places exist? How can they do enough business to survive? Then it hits me - in a city this big (just like Tokyo, where I saw similar things) any niche will have enough devoted fans within shopping distance... NYC can support the strange small things, because there are enough people in NYC who happen to like them. Whereas in the midwest, population density is such that any strange niche here would need to aggregate the entire populations of MN, WI, ND, SD, and IA, if not more. Just can't happen. I think Chicago is just on the edge of supporting strangeness, but NYC really makes it HAPPEN.

Anyway, back to the restaurant: 4 tables, 6 bar stools, full on a Monday Evening, and from my bar perch I saw the cook working one burner, one oven, and a broiler, feeding the whole place. The staff was friendly and they gave me some delightful plum schnapps to finish the evening. I took the subway back and settled in for a quiet evening...

I watched Burn After Reading - the "light" Coen Bros movie... and I must confess there are around 5 things that were flat out brilliant in the movie: Clooney's invention revealed, Brad Pitt's idiot act, Tilda Swinton's revealed profession at the end, JK Simmons' "make it all disappear" CIA guy, and "The Russians". Unfortunately, the rest of the movie was mean dumb people doing mean dumb things... I sometimes like to have ONE person in the movie I can relate to. And when the only person I can relate to is the CIA chief who keeps wondering what the hell is going on, then perhaps it was lost on me. Not a wasted evening, but time that would have been better spent on, say, 30 Rock.

I had a GREAT meeting on Tuesday AM: One of those times when you really realize that in sales it helps so much to have face to face contact, and your travel budget is completely justified. No direct business yet, but a lot of credibility built up. Plus a nice walk up 34th street in the brisk cold, but hey, it's NEW YORK. Did I mention I like this city?

Took a commuter hop up to Boston that afternoon and wandered the skyways of Prudential Center, since it was freaking COLD, and I couldn't do my traditional Boston Walkabout (strolling to the North End). On the way, discovered that my two meetings were begging off and Boston will remain a no business zone for me. So I could have gone home... but I had a meeting Wed AM with someone from a sister company in the mothership, so it was good to stay, rather than schedule a followup meeting next month.

Tues PM I had dinner at Ciao Bella on Newbury Street. Haven't been for years - last time might have been in 1997 when I was in Boston for the Data Warehouse Institute Conference. And what was odd was that NOTHING had changed since that visit. The glass tables, the leather/chrome chairs, the soundtrack (Steely Dan Aja, Sting Dream of the Blue Turtles, and some Kenny G on the CD Changer). The food was great... but the place was deserted. Wonder if they'll be there in 10?

Today I had the meeting, and we caught a lunch at Legal Seafood, which is a chain, but a very very good one. Ice and snow was building up in Boston, and I had a 4pm flight home, with a connection in Cincinnati, which would put me home around 10pm. After lunch I caught a sedan out to Logan and discovered that due to the storms, I had been moved to a 6pm DIRECT flight (still going to arrive at the same time, but at least no layover in Cinci). But then they figured out that there was still room on a direct flight leaving... NOW! RUN!!!

So I got home at 4:30pm, surprising the family (in a good way). We all had dinner, watched some cooking shows, I put the kids to bed, had some cuddles, and got to blog, all before I was supposed to be home!

The week should be a bit quieter: I have some "hot leads" to follow up on at the office, but the family should also see quite a bit of me these days too. Next week is a trip to San Fran, then a 10 hour visit to Denver (No overnight, not sure I'll have time to visit E Mexico, but I'll try). But the following week: NO TRAVEL PLANNED. YES.

Allright, that's the update. I loved NYC, I need to go back, and I need to bring Pamela. She needs to see it. It is lovely. Boston this time was a bit of a bust, but the weather was a big factor. Bring me back in the springtime and I'll be a happy guy. But first, those clients need to get on the ball. ;->

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The insanity continues

Since the last update...
1) I had a long week in Tacoma. I had meetings on Tues AM and Wed PM, which meant I had to fly in Monday and out Thursday, so it was a little longer than I was hoping for. On the plus side, I had a massive brainstorm and was able to completely design a full solution on Monday night, after many moons of not really seeing a way to solve their problems. As I had meetings throughout Tuesday, my vision refined, and my presentation on Wed PM was a real firecracker.

The only problem is that most of the people who needed to see the solution blew off the meeting, which led my sponsor to grim pronouncements of "we'll just have to see"... Now that I've laid their strategy out, it's up to them to act. And if they do act, we need to find someone other than me to DO it, because I can't do that job along with my "real" one. Also, I don't want to do these three night trips - it's very hard on the family.

So perhaps closure on Tacoma, perhaps not. I also got to see Paul in Kirkland, where we again enjoyed very good sushi at Izumi, and I got to catch up with an old colleague who is now at my client site, learning all about everyone we both worked with. Good networking, in a part of Tacoma I hadn't yet seen!

Another positive: I have the feeling that the solution I came up with might just be a very unique concept and could be a very very marketable idea. I am going to spend some time on the next level of design....

2) This weekend was our 9th annual posthumous birthday for Grandma R: She would have been 97 this month. As always, our cousins from Madison (Fort Atkinson really) drove up with their three sons (Seeger - 7, Liam - 5, and Julian - 3). So the house was full of laughter and kids playing pretty much from morning to night - all 5 got along wonderfully. We had the extended family over for a long brunch that started with donuts and finished with chili... and then the grownups took off to the Lexington in St Paul for the traditional dinner.

Last year, my reputation as a scotch snob was known, and the two other scotch drinkers/toleraters took my lead and ordered Taliskers, which were a little to peppery for their tastes. So this year I scoped the shelf and came up with recommendations for them should they ask, while ordering myself a Lagavulin. Well those sneaks went ahead and ordered "What he's having", and again, they were a bit disappointed (their tastes are a bit more... mainstream).

My uncle Bill just looked despondent and admitted he's rather have his regular Dewars. I took his dram from him, to let him get his own. Only problem - he had ordered ICE: So for the first and last time EVER, I enjoyed a Lagavulin 16 on the Rocks.

The kids are traditionally looked after by 2-3 young women, but our babysitting gaggle fell through entirely. So we had a neighbor mom take on all 6 kids (adding in Tiffany and Scott's kid Trent) for a reasonable fee and a bottle of wine, and she did a great job. When we got home, we got a full report on each kid for the whole evening. I think the job is hers next year if she wants it.

3) Today was the traditional light brunch post-Lexington gathering at cousin Heather's house, and this year we added in a surprise baby shower for my dear sister Carrie, who is expecting a little dude in May. Like me, Carrie has a short torso and skinny hips, so even at less than 6 months, she's protruding like she's about to DROP, so it was great fun. Of course, as a "surprise shower", we hadn't told her, nor her fiancee Scott, so Scott was taking the opportunity to sleep in a bit and read the paper, believing his family obligations to be done. HA! We had to call him and get him to drive in....

As always, after 3 days of intense play, the kids were getting a bit frayed around the edges and there was a lot of crying, which I'm sure was quite comforting to the mother and father to be at their shower... ;->

Once we got home, Isaac passed out for a good long nap, Bella vegged out with cartoons (she needed some down time), Pamela fell asleep, and I conquered the Sudoku and NYT Crossword. And I had coffee with my local Paul (whose wedding I performed last year) to talk through work and the world at large... I love having him as a sounding board, and we both felt good about life.

4) One thing I'm working through: When I re-joined up with my company last year, they had been acquired but not assimilated. Well, 15 months into the process, we're firmly into the digestive tract, and a lot of big changes are happening that are causing me to reflect on whether this is the job for me... and it's not just the travel. The management structure seems to be moving a lot more to a "rear view mirror" method of managing, looking backward at performance and ignoring opportunities in the near term. As a person who sells consulting services, I think it's important to keep resources available on the bench and hire prospectively, but the new philosophy is keep the bench lean and hire only to open gigs...

So things are definitely changing. And my days at the sales conference in Dallas didn't do much to really jazz me up for the company either. So I'm keeping my options open. I swore I'd give this at least a year, and I'm at that anniversary. I'm not giving up yet, but I'm officially keeping my eyes open, assessing whether this is the right thing or not.

I've enjoyed my travels, to be sure, but missed my family terribly during those trips. It's not even as though I get "caught up on sleep" while I'm away, since both Isaac and Bella do sleep through then night now. The travels also make it tough for me to teach as many fitness classes as I might like to... and sometime in the past 6 months I've really fallen FAR off of my language lessons, so I need to really refocus my efforts.

Yes, we'll be keeping our eyes and ears open. As we always do.

And that's what I've been up to in the past week. Tomorrow I'm off to a short east coast jaunt: NYC Mon-Tues and Boston Tues-Wed. Plus I should hear about some new opportunities in San Fran, and London too... Cheerio!!!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Living in a suitcase

So I did escape the conference intact on Tuesday, and had a great evening with the kiddos. Yes, it was staggeringly cold upon my return, but since Dallas had been disappointingly chilly, I didn't feel all that bad about it.

And then it was off to Seattle for one night - it was another of those "CIO Forums" like I did in LA back in December where there is a 10-1 Vendor to Potential Customer ratio... but in this case I had friends at my existing Tacoma client to hang out with, and actually made face time with three potential clients I had done email exchanges with in the past. Hopefully it was business worthy. So NOT a total waste of time.

Speaking of waste of time, the past week has got me addicted to, and then finishing with, the Jack Campbell "Lost Fleet" pulp sci-fi series about John "Black Jack" Geary, frozen in time for 100 years, and unfrozen to lead a changed humanity in one last desperate charge against an unknown enemy... four books, one day each, and no resolution in sight - probably will have 2 more before this sucker wraps up, but now I'm waiting for my April release date on Book 5. It's wonderfully trashy.

Ok, so I got back into town early to spend more kid/family time, had a day of meetings on Friday, and then Pamela and I disappeared to the Graves 601 hotel downtown Mpls: When I married our friends last summer, they gave me a certificate for one night there, so we lived it up, and Tara took care of the kids (and they were thrilled to be having a "sleepover"). We ate room service, brought our own hooch (Baileys, Lagavulin Distiller's Edition), watched some very good movies and got a lot of rest in. Pamela watched "The Duchess" while I exercised today... I remembered I need to teach BodyAttack on Monday AM and it's been over a week since I've taught it, so I need to get back in practice. But I always feel odd doing aerobics in hotel workout rooms - the treadmill people don't really know what to make of that prancing man. Fortunately 10am on a Saturday is pretty "low tide" for the Graves 601 exercise room, so I was free to let my freak flag fly.

Last night we watched a few 30-Rocks (to get her hooked on the funniest show on TV... and I can't get Tracy Morgan/Jordan's way of saying "LIZ LEMON" out of my head) and "Rachel Getting Married" which was an AMAZING movie.

Anne Hathaway was utterly convincing as the recovering addict who is let loose on her funky family gathering. A flash of recognition at the behavior will hit just about anyone who has dealt with this in their lives. But it's not a diva role - there's amazing nuance and depth to what she's doing, and by the end, things have hit a sort of natural equilibrium that gives one hope.

We got home this afternoon to find Isaac had skipped his nap and was out of his mind, and Bella was on an all-day adventure with Grandma and Grandpa... when she came home waves of aroma came off of her: She had been helping Grandpa make his spaghetti sauce, and she was flat out beat from the day. I think the the cumulative effect of the weather for the week, and all of the comings and goings had us all a bit tired. So Bella was in bed by 7, and Isaac too, though as of this writing he has popped up and realized he forgot to eat so has had a bowl of cereal and a handful of crackers. In bed. And no I'm not going to kick him out of bed for eating crackers. It's his bed.

Next week I spend Monday with the family (while my health insurance may not be the best with this new job, at least they have a lot of holidays), then off to Tacoma again, this time with an agenda to put the hammer down and get them moving on the project. No more navelgazing on who the team members need to give input to... we're just moving forward. Like Black Jack Geary of the Alliance. Never Surrender.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ready for home

I'm officially playing hooky on this last day of the conference... I walked around Dallas (the least pedestrian friendly city on earth I believe), had a little early lunch, have been working, emailing, etc. Anything to avoid a "motivational speech" by the former captain of the Blue Angels. This whole thing has been very tightly scheduled from 7am to 10pm every day, and I needed a little me time.

The awards ceremony last night was a grueler: there were over 45 people awarded in one way or another: 10 specials, 35 "supersales". And each one got called out, walked up with the same little funky theme song, and took a picture. And we stood for each one. It was long. And no I didn't win... Which is ok.

Back to Gilley's: I've been finding more evidence that I perhaps didn't come through the bull experience unscathed: I found a bruise on my thigh that is 10 inches long and 2 inches wide. Massive. My elbow has a huge red mark. My right ring finger is bruised purple. Nothing actually HURTS, but I'm not looking my best. Better than the guy who bit his tongue however.

I tried to sleep in today, but my room is next to the elevator shaft, so this "rrrrrrooooommmmmmmmmmmm WrrrrrooooooooOOOOOOOMMMmmmmmmm" started up around 5:30... I went to work out but all of the machines were occupied but this strange device which I think you're supposed to PRANCE on: Prancemaster. It was very odd.

Yeah, I'm ready to be back in my own zone. It'll just be nice to be home tonight and see the family before I take off again for Seattle for one more night...

Monday, January 12, 2009


Forgot to mention: The JFK conspiracy Tour was very interesting - seeing all of the places, from the book depository (which is now a JFK Museum) to Dealy Plaza (which looks just the same, and is much smaller than I expected it would be) to Parkland Hospital to Oswalds rooming house to the Texas theater and many points in between. Had a presentation with slides, and then added commentary on the tour, and I'm convinced of two things:

1) Oswald did not act alone.
2) We will never know what really happened.

The analogy used by our guide was "it's a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle but there are a million pieces in the box" There are just too many pieces of data, and you can make almost any story make sense by picking and choosing what you're looking at. But the only thing that really DOESN'T make sense is the idea of Oswald as a lone gunman.

The guide also used the phrase "I'm as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs". That alone was worth the price of admission.


Yep, we all giddyupped over to Gilley's last night. I suspect we were off in some "fake" corner of the real Gilley's where they let sales conference attendees play without scaring the regular folk... And where they only offered cheap watery beer instead of a full bar. Probably better off that way.

But there WAS the mechanical bull, and it sat in the middle of a moonwalk-like inflated floor, so I of course had to try it. As a fitness instructor, I didn't want to get hurt, otherwise my 6am people might be without a teacher. So did it safely: Early, while the operators were still possibly generous and not wanting to scare people away. Sober. And with the rule "only ride as long as it's fun." So with those three, I was on for at least 30 seconds, before I decided "this is no longer particularly fun" and I rolled off the saddle. And I'm not injured.

The rest of my team did the bull much later, and were more sore. And we saw a guy get flipped off pretty brutally, and he bit his tongue severely - which is why they have you sign the release... but the poor guy just looked pained.

There were some tables for Texas Hold'em, which I played for just a little while: There were no real stakes at play - you sit down, you get chips. You run out, they give you more. So people were playing pretty fast and loose. I went all-in with 3 tens and walked away a free man. I hate poker.

A little while later, one of the tables had completely died down and two dealers were just sitting there chatting. So I sat down and challenged them to a game of Go Fish. In the end, I tied with one of the dealers (10 pair each), and we all had a good time.

Finally, there was a pen with 4 armadillos in it - there were a couple of races through the evening, but for me it was just fun to watch them running around. They're impossibly cute animals and I spent maybe too much time just watching them running around playing.

Off to more sales sessions today. Wheeeeeee.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

yeee haw

Well I'm in Dallas for a big sales conference... several hundred sales-y people from across our larger organization holed up in hotel, exchanging leads, promising to synergize, and working the room in concert. It's pretty alarming, really.

On the flight down, I sat across the aisle from our CEO, and we had light conversation about the Kindle, our new Blackberries, and technology geeking in general. My whole goal is of course to be an identified presence to these people, so that there'll always be a face by my name in their mind... I like to do that right up front and just be Jimmy. Other people on my team work a longer game, keeping the profile low, but being the last man standing at bar close time: I can't compete in that one, and will usually make a show of being the FIRST to leave the team drinking party. That almost always leads to a followup the next day "Man you had the right idea, leaving early". I can't argue that the "last man standing" method is also effective - at least one colleague seems to have that as his primary way of keeping his job.

Back to the flight, the CEO is something of a wild primitive man-wolf. He ignored all directives regarding iPod (music on throughout), he spread his stuff across multiple zones in flight, he had me hold his coffee while he found a place to stuff his bag. When we landed, he had his seat belt off 1 second after touchdown, and was out of his seat a good 40 feet from the gate, getting an exasperated "SIIRRRRRRR" from the attendant. Add to this, one of my coworkers had seen him at a restaurant, eating a whole chicken with his hands, sucking the meat of of bones (my colleague's wife had pointed him out, and said "that is the most disgusting man I've ever seen in my life". My colleague replied "that's my boss"). And no, that last anecdote is not made up.

Anyway, the schmoozing was actually relatively productive: We have a new acquisition and they have a presence at a few New England and New York clients I'm trying to wiggle into, so I think we'll be making a few trips out that direction soon.

I got to the room relatively early last night, and happily so since I had been up since 6 (early rising kids) AFTER another scotch avenging (in bed at 1), so I got a good 7 hours of sleep and am ready for the world. The breakfast buffet was an adventure in disappointment - but at least there was peanut butter toast, and there's a Starbucks nearby to provide relief from the colored water "coffee" they were serving.

The day is tightly scheduled, but I'm looking forward to the group activities this afternoon: I'm going on a JFK Conspiracy Tour! I'll let you know if I find out anything groundbreaking.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Isaac Updates

1) Pamela cut Isaac's hair this morning, turning his wildly uneven Don King mane into a more reasonable spongy 'fro. It added a full year to his look, and he really looks like a little boy now. And unless I'm reading it wrong, I think he thinks he looks smooth now. He's shooting some poses. Surprisingly, he sat still for the whole cut.

2) Isaac continues to be destroyer of technology. This time, he KILLED MY KINDLE. Yes, he somehow delivered a blunt force trauma to my book reader that it was unable to recover from. The kindle has survived falls from tables, jostling unprotected in my laptop bag, squeezing under airplane seats, many accidental "being sat on" moments... and somehow he got it for 2 minutes and it was toast... and not even with an audible event that I can recall. The top quarter of the screen was garbled, and it would freeze up... and yes, it's a month past warranty, so they got me a replacement for well under half price, but it still cost a few pennies. But I'm taking better care of this one, using the leather case, and keeping it WELL AWAY from the kid.

For those keeping score at home, that's 3 ipods, 2 ipod docks, 1 camera, and 1 kindle creatively destroyed. AND I caught him feeding CDs into the Playstation 3 - two were already crammed in and he was trying for a third. Fortunately nothing broke. Yet.

3) Isaac's favorite bedtime story is "Going on a Bear Hunt", which is an adventure going to find a bear and crossing fields, river, mud, forest, snowstorm, finding the bear, and quick running back. When we find the bear, he SHRIEKS "A BEAR!!!!". We read this 2-3 times before bed and then he's out.

4) Isaac has a cute accent developing - sort of like Morgan Freeman: There's a dialect I think around Philly where the word "Turn" is pronounced "Toine". A lot of what Isaac says has this little "oi" sound in it: Mine is Moine, etc. Look, it just reminds me of Morgan Freeman, and maybe nobody else hears it that way. But I do.

5) I intentionally let Isaac have a piece of technology: I loaded up my Nintendo DS with the "Electroplankton" music game - you'll recall I bought this in Japan. It's a total intuitive musical toy with strange little creatures that make noise when you tap them with the stylus... very hypnotic, and very Japanese. Well, I thought that Isaac might like to try it. He played with it an hour straight, and has asked for it many times since. He loves the music, he loves the creatures, and he can navigate through the system like a champ (even though the instructions are in japanese... he can't read English either, right?) And he hasn't broken it either. Very fun to watch.

I'll have a Bella update in a day or two, but I wanted to share some of what that boy has been up to.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Quiet House again...

Well, Papabam and Lilli took off today for home, and we responded with naps all around (except Bella who disappeared to Jenny's), storing up our energies for a return to normalcy tomorrow: Bella goes back to school, I return to a regular workweek (but no travel until Saturday - this will make a solid 4 weeks with the family), Isaac goes back to ECFE (tues) and Pamela returns to her household machinations - looks like the third floor is next on the list for attack, and unfortunately most of that stuff is mine.

On Friday Papa, Lilli, Bella, Jenny, and I set off to Big Brain Comics in downtown Mpls - a amall independent comic store that I don't mind patronizing. Walked out with two big bags of stuff, including more ScoobyDoos for Bella, as well as some new Donald Duck and Scrooge comics, which we started reading. I picked up bound volumes of "the Astonishing X-Men" which was a 24 issue series written by ubergeek scribe Joss Whedon (pure pleasure, with great art to match). I also got a reprint of a comic I had read obsessively in high school: Howard Chaykin's American Flagg. I'll just say it's a fabulous time capsule of the early 1980s in many many ways, and it brought me right back in time to when I bought them new at Schinders or Comic City... and tried to imagine what my parents thought if they flipped through them (there were some pretty risque things in there!)

On the fitness: Starting tomorrow (Monday the 5th) I'll be teaching 6am 3 days a week when my travel schedule allows. Two BodyAttack, and one BodyPump. In the past 7 days, I've done or taught 7 1 hour classes, and I'm on track to do five more in 5 days. It's crazy. But I'm also impressed that I'm able to teach BodyAttack at all - it's a killer cardio workout, and I have to be up there doing it (with better form than the whole class for good modeling) AND coaching it? But I've done it several times now, and will do it regularly for the forseeable future.

In another front: Paul from Seattle and I have come up with a lot of business ideas, which we kick around and usually find some flaw with and let settle. Often the flaw is "we don't have time or the exact skills to do this". But sometimes we find an actual achilles heel in a plan, and decide we dodged a bullet. Exactly 2 years ago, we started work on a "Social Network Aggregator" - one portal you log into and it has your messages and info from Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Friendster, and whatnot.

After a week, we figured out a little problem: Facebook and the rest don't charge users: They make their money off of the advertising offered on their sites, hoping that as you're looking at friend pages you'll click on an ad or two along the way. Whether that's a valid business model or not (I have personally never ever clicked on a google ad for anything... sorry google) you understand that a product that offers the INFORMATION on Facebook without any of the rest of the content (including the ads) is probably not going to be looked at very favorably by those companies. We decided that yes, it's possible to make this, but you're just asking for trouble. We let the idea drop.

Sure enough, two years later, some guys actually built this product, got venture capital, got a working beta, and are getting their tushes sued by Facebook. We'll see how it turns out, but it proves two things: 1) we can come up with good ideas, and even if we don't do them, they're viable for others, and 2) we were right to leave that one in the hopper.

In other news: The Mini is gone... turned in to the dealership. Bella had a hard time of it, but seems past it. The ice melt and subsequent skating-rink-ification of the entire world last week made the rear-wheel drive Jaguar a bit of a challenge and for an instant I wondered if I had made the right choice... until the seat warmer kicked in and I decided "I might wind up in a ditch, but I'll be damn comfortable there.".

Finally, Pamela is turning the corner on her sinus infection, but it was a long few days for her: It's very hard when family is here and she's not feeling 100%. I gave her extra "poor dears" for her trouble. Hopefully things will keep getting better for her this week.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

After the obsessive post-a-thon of last week, I imagine you're all going through some sort of withdrawal. For that I am sorry.

Getting caught up - I went into work Mon-Tues to find a ghost town, but did dredge up some meaningful work to justify my existence... At least a little. Monday started with a 6am Bodypump AND a 6:30pm Bodypump, followed immediately by the Avengers coming for for a little early New Years scotch tasting and Dark Knight viewing. Got to bed well after 1pm.

Which made Tuesday AM a bit rough, as I was on the hook for a "public practice" of BodyAttack at 6am. I made it, we had a good class, but I needed to pass out a bit afterward. Papabam braved the weather and brought niece Lilli along for the New Year. Even better, they brought along the fixings for Portillos Italian Beef sandwiches, which made for a delicious dinner.

Pamela got it into her head that soups and sandwiches would be our order of business for this trip, so she whipped up three vats of soup, filling the house with delicious aromas.

On the 31st I had a few conference calls but didn't go into the office at all - and had some great family time. As is tradition, our New Years starts with a Papabam Christmas (yay more presents!), then a big dinner (Soup!!!). Isaac went to bed at the usual time, but we let Bella stay up a bit longer - we were watching her like a hawk, so when here eyes started to roll up, it was time for me to cue up the tape of New Years in Taipei. We sang and celebrated, then packed her off to bed (at 8:45pm). Then we all stayed up a bit longer with icecream, toffee cake, and peanut brickle. Happy New Year!

I started the new year off right today by doing a double shift at Time Out Fitness: I participated in BodyPump at 10, and then led the "formal" launch of BodyAttack at 11:15. We had a good crowd at each - lots of regulars, but also some new resolution holders. But working the double slightly exhausted me, and I accidentally took a nap on the couch. Poor Pamela also figured out yesterday that she has a sinus infection, and started her Z-Pack... and has been a little under the weather. But if you're going to be sick, there's nothing like having backup in the house to cover Bella and Isaac, right?