Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Around 2pm today, I started falling down down down with a mild headache, the sneezes, and an impossibly runny nose. Emergency medicine applied, I made it through meetings and back to the hotel for a nap...

A bowl of hot Pho made me feel a little better, but now it's time for bed. I have a busy day tomorrow, and this cold needs to speed its way through. Water Water Water!!!

Update: Wed AM - took my morning meetings via conference call in the hotel, but am tentatively feeling better. The sore throat has not emerged, and the head doesn't hurt. I'm just a sniffle factory. I'm out in the world now. Starbucks has better wifi than the hotel today.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Only the craziest weekend.

Friday was planned to be busy: Pamela had been working on the Edina Family Center's presence for the Edina HS Homecoming Parade. 40 custom T-Shirts had been made. Huge signs. Hundreds of hand cut-outs. Our day was meticulously scheduled - I was to pick Bella up at 3:40, we'd hustle to the parade start, I'd drop the kids off and race back, park the car at the end of the parade route, run back and march in the parade, then post parade party.

Of course, after 10 days of near drought, Friday was the day the rain decided to visit. All morning, the moms were wondering if they should pull the kids out of the parade, just have a mom-presence in the float... but that decision was pulled, because the whole parade was canceled due to rain basically coming over the horizon sideways at people. Of course right at parade time, there was a brief clearing... and everyone slapped their foreheads... but then the rain was all "naw, just messin with you" and started back up.

But that was an emotional rollercoaster, and the only thing for it was some early birthday celebrating for Pamela with some Maggiano's and some Cheesecake Factory takeout. After packing the kids to bed, it was "decompress time". Naturally I took the opportunity to watch Fringe and Dollhouse, which make life good. Oh, and Friday AM is also when Zinsser got his cone off and was the happiest dog alive.

(BTW - it's Monday night. Heroes is just finishing up, according to the clock. But am I watching? No. They're DEAD TO ME.)

Saturday was a full on sprint day: Started with Isaac swimming (he really is the best in his class), and I ran into the drummer for my old high school band PG13 who threatened/promised to finally bring me a box of our albums (which I haven't had a copy of for at least 15 years) for next week's class.

Then it was a birthday brunch... Isaac and Bella got hippity-hops which they spent the weekend bouncing around on. Later in the day it was off to Bella's Birth Family for her cousin Clayton's birthday (and they also celebrated Isaac's, since he was born just a week before Clayton.) we got home and it was another collapse-in-a-heap evening.

Sunday we had people over for a joint Isaac and Bella birthday party with Cupcakes. Just 90 action packed minutes that felt like 4 hours, but seemed over in 15 minutes in retrospect. I'd like to formally apologize to all the parents in the neighborhood for injecting that much sugar into their kids... they were screaming and running around like maniacs, with frosting smudged on their faces. Spontaneous hog piles, climbing up high on the swingset... it was pure energy in motion. And the weather decided to visit again - high winds, and a drop of at least 20 degrees over the course of the 90 min with a little spitting rain... but that didn't keep the kids from playing.

With everyone gone, Tara showed up and took possession of the kids for the evening so that I could take Pamela out to Oceanaire to celebrate her birthday (which is actually today). It was one of those perfect nights where it wasn't too busy, the pacing was great, and the server was on our wavelength. And the food was as always incredible. It is a true pleasure when the "fine restaurant experience" is actually in full effect.

Oh, and of course there was work to be done as well: One of those fun things where one of my consultants took off on a 2 week tour of Italy, and one week in, the client freaked out that something hadn't been done, and it's up to me to try to get them connected RIGHT NOW. I think it all worked out, but it's still reverberating today.

Then it was up at 4:30 and off to my airplane. I now have an airport buddy: Dana who worked at my old place, but now works at my new place takes the same flight as I do (though we part ways in Philly), so we have a little time before boarding to catch up on the week, which is good since I'm the overall Project Manager of her project! The poor dear is only Gold Elite, not Platinum, so we'll never share breakfast up in First... I giggle nefariously. How odd that stale raisin bran is something I covet on an airplane but nowhere else on earth.

In Philly, it was GO time on one of the project phases: I finally got extract files from two vendors, and spent part of the afternoon loading them up into Access and doing comparisons... while also working with HR and Medical Records to get a temp to help fix all the problems I'll be finding. AND the info I filled my brain with last week has finally slotted into place and I'm busy typing to get all that down onto a less organic storage medium.

When I hit the ground later this week, I'll be Doctor Solo DaddyKins, while Pamela takes a little trip for the weekend... So keep holding onto your hats, it just keeps being busy.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Full Brain

I had a few major interviews in the last 2 days, getting overviews on how Electrophysiology procedures are documented, as well as how heart-lung machines operate and when/how clamp procedures are documented.... also how Pacemakers are tracked, plus long discussions with peers at other hospitals about how THEIR cardiology departments are structured. That's a lot of info to take in.

I find myself in the odd position of feeling as though my brain is actually FULL. I can't even transcribe my notes yet - I need to close my eyes and let all of this information start to get collated and filed. I need to do nothing with my brain for a little bit.

Speaking of my brain: I had one of my odd "waking moments" last night. I woke up and grew convinced that all of my possessions in the hotel room had "shifted" to one or two rooms over: As though all of us hotel guests have our things on a lazy susan, and it had spun. That suitcase, that laptop, those clothes, all someone else's. Pretty much the whole floor was going to wake up and find someone else's stuff in their rooms. Unless I did something.

So I sat up, closed one eye, extended both arms in front of me, and "waved" them to the right. The first time didn't work: I felt my fingers "slip off". So I firmed my hands and gave a more purposeful flick. And it all rotated... but THESE weren't my things either. So one more flick, and I took a look, and yes, THESE were my things. Satisfied, I put my head back down, and was fast asleep.

Now, when I woke up, my things were indeed there. But more strangely, I remembered doing this whole thing very clearly, as real as if I had got up for a drink of water. So yes, a strange evening.

I'm looking forward to coming home tonight, having family time this weekend, and most importantly, having a one-on-one date with Pamela on Sunday to celebrate her birthday (which is Monday). It feels like months since we had time with just the two of us, and I'm extremely excited.

Ok - enough brain activity - time to go look at a website that makes fun of poorly made cakes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Full of Garlic

Yes, a food post. A few weeks back we tried to do a company outing to a well known Italian restaurant in the Southern reaches of Philly, only to discover they'd closed for good. There was another place nearby but it was too crowded, so we fell back to a good nouvelle-style place a ways away... but I was always curious about that other place. Ralph's is the second oldest restaurant in the US, operating in the same family continuously since 1900.

An unpretentious red sauce joint with tight tables and mobster accents all around.

But was it any good? I had ziti with grilled italian sausage with a very garlicky red-sauce. And it was wonderful. Add on a sprite, and I was out of there for well under $20, completely stuffed. The waiter was very nice, and we had a long chat about the Kindle - his daughter is going to college and he's hoping she can get textbooks on it.

One of the things that fascinates me about Philly is the subterranean complexity: There are areas near City Hall where you can go several city blocks without ever coming above ground - some areas are long tiled tunnels with harsh lighting, some are depressing 70's era underground malls. Some stations have art deco tiling and iron work reminiscent of the 1930s, others are newer and more sterile.

In some areas, there are three distinct eras of technology: The Broad Street Line (north south) is a classic old subway from the 30s or earlier, passing right under the street, a single flight of stairs down. The cars have a laquered metal look, and you can see the iron beams and parallel tracks as you go. The Market street line (east west) feels more like a 1970s line, with smaller, darker tunnels and gleaming aluminum cars. And deeper still are the old streetcars, which have large subterranean boarding stations in center city, and emerge from the ground west in University City. And right by my hotel, all 3 are present.

And that doesn't count the commuter rail lines running east/west just a few hundred feet north of all of this (which I use to get to the airport), even further underground, nor the entirely separate lines going eastward - the "Patco" lines with ill lit stairways on side streets and peeling paint indicating ancient disrepair, yet somehow it's still going. Whereever you walk, you feel the rumble of something moving underground.

The world right under my feet is bustling. It reminds me of my time in Tokyo, in the Shinjuku district, where we went blocks and blocks without being in sunlight.... but while it all felt very clean and new over there, it's all old, worn, and yet strangely loved here. You almost get the feeling that some of these stations aren't so much DIRTY as much as they're just like the well worn jeans you can't bear to throw away...

Yeah, I like Philly ok.

Monday, September 21, 2009

3 Years

My little Isaac turned three years old today. I did spend a moment with him this morning just as he was turning 3: When my alarm went off at 4:30am to get me to the Airport, Isaac woke up too, hollering "DAD!!! DAD!!!! WHAT'S THAT SOUND????" I went in to see him and told him it was my clock. He chuckled - that's no CLOCK dad. It sounds like... like... a FIRE TRUCK!" I gave him a big kiss and lay down by his bed to help him drift back off to sleep... then crept off to the shower, though I would have loved nothing more than to keep on snoozing, even on the floor.

The weekend went quickly - our effectiveness was impacted due to the complete collapses we had on Saturday - but things felt better by Sunday. Sunday evening, we took Isaac and his two sisters (including Jenny) to the California Pizza Kitchen for a treat. Evening's not the right word - somehow once we arrived we realized it was only 4pm. But more's the better to have the place to ourselves as Isaac reminded us why we don't take him to restaurants: The boy cannot be contained. But he sure is cute doing what he's doing.

Anecdote from the weekend: Isaac came to me the other day asking if he can have the "DA-da DA-da". I had no idea what he was talking about despite his repeated attempts to tell me about the DAda DAda. Finally he took my hand and said "come with me, dad, I'll show you". He pointed to a card on the desk - a birthday card we have in wait for one of my friends - and I opened it - it plays the Chicken Dance. He started dancing, hollering "DAda DAda!"

So I'm back in Philly. Work was work: A smooth flight, but stuck in Coach. A beautiful room at the Courtyard that overlooks City Hall (I can look up at Ben Franklin). Got more things done on my assessment, plus work for Jersey, and some fresh work for an Allentown rehab hospital. Then took a little break for a short nap and the season premiere of Heroes. It didn't unlatch my brain or anything the same way as Terminator or Dollhouse has, so I may be a bit of a fair weather friend to this series this year.

Tomorrow I'm off to Jersey for the AM... good times will be had by all.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


1) I somehow fell into watching Syfy's X-Files Lite series "Warehouse 13".. I watched the premiere, and wasn't sold, but somehow wound up catching all 11 episodes thanks to downloading... and dang it they got me caught up in it. There are some truly loathsome elements, not the least of which is the liberal use of early 1990's pizzicato strings in the soundtrack for when they're indicating "they're just being cute here"... plus very unsubtle "backstory setup, backstory relevance" couplings: You know it's tough when in the premiere someone says "yeah, I heard about what happened in Denver" and you set your watch, and sure enough, in two episodes, you find out "what happened in Denver".

But these things aside, the core charm of the show is in these malevolent yet creative artifacts - sort of a whole show about the Weasley Brother's Magic Shop gone loose in the world with just a couple of FBI agents to try to keep it in line. I caught myself caring a bit, and having fun. So there you go.

2) We had some financial stress points these past weeks with the gap in me transitioning from contractor to employee with my new firm and a 4 week gap between paychecks, which I could/should have managed better.... As I've hinted - the past 18 months at my old job had been pretty bad for us, and we're clawing our way out of a pretty deep hole. Even though things have been getting better, we wound up in a bit of a bind this past week... Not bad enough for us to need to reach out to anyone (and there is help out there, I know), but definitely as close as we've got without actually going there. So when the check cleared Friday, it was a good thing, but in that instant, we both just deflated into heaps, not believing how close it all felt... And today we both reacted... Pamela with a migraine, and me with a general grumpiness....

Of course the kids picked up on it and were very defiant and yelling all day, which was extra fun. But by the end of the evening, equilibrium was back in the mix, kids were sleeping happily, Pamela and I had a good talk, and we're set up for a good Sunday.

And yes, everything is now ok.

3) Perhaps reflective of the stress, I had a very strange dream:

I'm on an airplane headed to Botswana (where in the real world, my company is managing the building of a hospital, so that's where that came from), and upon landing I realize I forgot my passport. As I'm walking through the Botswana airport, they have a food court just like any american airport, and so I stop to grab a drink while I work out what to do without a passport. I realize that the language of GOVERNMENT in Botswana is Dutch (which it isn't really) and regret that I hadn't done more work on that language.

As I'm pondering, I look over and see my friend Gene (who was also best friends with Mark Loesch in the real world), and ask him what HE'S doing here. He just shakes his head and his rough-looking friend stares me down. I exclaim "I've known you for 15 years, I see you halfway across the world in Botswana and you can't tell me what you're doing here?" As I say this, I'm on the floor, as someone has drugged me....

I wake up, on a flight back to the states.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A new lease...

Philly again, after that week away. I'm feeling invigorated and am hitting the project(s) hard. Big presentation yesterday in Jersey, big meetings in the AM in Philly, and I'm feeling "re-bonded" with my client sponsor, who I think was getting a little bit prickly for some reason before my week off, but now all is well. And I'm going back out to Jersey tomorrow, and have multiple phone interviews set up through the end of the week... it's a good and busy week, and that's how I like it.

I switched hotels from the Four Points near Chinatown to the Courtyard right in front of City Hall: We're talking 4 blocks difference, but a whole world apart. Dunkin and Starbucks right around the corner, subway right there, but more importantly, the rooms are BIG, the walls are THICK, and the bed is COMFY and the internet is FASTER. It's definitely worth the $30/night more, but probably not worth the $120/night more it would be if I didn't get the hospital discount...

It was employee health awareness day at the hospital, and they were doing flu shots, but there was a huge line for that, so I "settled" for a full health evaluation: BMI, Blood Pressure, Glucose, Cholesterol. And I'm here to say that while I could use a little more fish oil and fewer carbs, my numbers are all in the normal-to-good range. Nothing is high. Which is a wonderful relief, especially considering I haven't really been exercising all that much in the past 2 months - 2 times a week max. I celebrated with a burger for dinner. Ain't I a stinker?

Speaking of stink - it was a wild day back in Edina: Pamela had things scheduled from 7am to 8pm nonstop. Zinsser got "fixed" (though he would likely disagree with that description) and had some dental work done at the same time. He is totally a dog wearing a cone. Isaac skipped his nap. Pamela visited the dentist and had NO CAVITIES! I got tired just hearing about it. Hopefully she'll get a good night sleep tonight.

Week 2 of school appears to be going without incident... and PapaBam are safely back in Chicagoland, much to our shared sadness. It would be great to have them up here full time. Papa could make magic wands for everybody, and Bama would be the dog walker.

I don't often post links but Caesar forwarded me a truly disturbing/hilarious site called "People of WalMart" and I simply can't stop looking. I know that makes me a bad person. BUT IT FEELS SO GOOD.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sept 13

It was two years ago today that I lost my friend Mark Loesch....

I was writing about him on the 90's blog and it was a good memory... he was a good man and I miss him.

Friday, September 11, 2009

End of the week...

Well, Bella ended her first week as a First Grader, and BOY is she tired. She has been melting down practically from the moment she walks off the bus - it's a huge adjustment from the lazy days of summer to actually using your brain for 8 hours IN A ROW. I'm getting little moments of sweetness, but a whole lot of sass, which comes on when she's tired. And she's been ravenous for dinner - last night eating a full plate of pasta, two pieces of garlic bread, and SEVEN meatballs. Tonight she was complaining of pain in her legbones, so I think that in addition to her brain cells being worked hard, I think we'll be seeing our little weed sprout up a little higher in the week to come.

Isaac has been in the midst of mindstorms as well this week: He's been sleeping poorly, having days of extreme emotions, has been VERY cuddly... Part of it is he's missing his sister, for sure. But also we've noticed that this week he's acquired some new language, and by tonight I was noticing some very distinct new turns of phrase. I think that a bunch of brain bits were working to realign this week, and clicked into place. He's a subtly different boy today.

Part of it may be that today HE got to go back to school too: He'll be at preschool 2 days a week (2.5 hours), and 1 day of playgroup. When he came home from class today he was BEAMING - he loved going back to school and being with kids. This is a social guy, and he loves the group dynamic. His teachers remarked on his changes too - they said that this spring he was "a blur of a boy" - always on the move. But now he's more focused and interested in detailed play.

And detail is what he likes: He's been taking blocks and building long lines... and then sorting them by color, then by size... he's capable of entertaining himself quite well.

Papa has taken over half of our dining room table with his projects: This time it's carpentry related. He has made two colorful wood robots that stand up, but can fall down and become zoomy cars. I think that he could sell these things, but when you factor in the amount of time he spends on each one, his hourly rate would be.... um.... a dime. He also has made the most incredible magic wand for Bella, splicing two twigs with gold wire, rubbing with inks, inlaying beads and orbs... this thing truly looks like a an object for conjuring, and I'm planning on waving it over a lottery ticket tomorrow.

This has been a good week: It has been fun to watch the kids going back to school The bus stop has been wonderful. Working in the house has been a treat. Visiting with PapaBam has been a dream. But Sunday night, I must return to Philly for meetings. All good things... as they say. But I have treasured this week and am grateful to have been able to do it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


As you know, Isaac refers to his blanket+bearhead combo as his Didda. The word came from nowhere, but it has stuck for since he had language for it.

I found out today that "didi" (pronounced didda) in mandarin chinese is "little brother".


The Grader

Well, Bella started First Grade this week. The whole neighborhood assembled at the bus stop to send all the kids back to school, and there were a few misty eyes... among the parents. This year, there are 5 little kids at the bus stop, waving off to the big kids, and Isaac is only the second-youngest of them. They all run up to the end of the block to watch for the bus coming, and when it shows up, they try to RACE the bus up to our end of the block, screaming "THE BUS!!!! THE BUS!!!!!"

And of course Zinsser gets to play every morning with his cousin Otto too, and they're almost the same size now, so it's a more even match.

Papabam have been here this week to help out, walking the dog, making projects, doling out the cuddles, and generally giving Mom and Dad some backup. Zinsser thinks he's in heaven since he gets 5 long walks a day. No accidents in the house!

Tuesday night, Bella got to pick dinner for her first day, and it was TACO NITE. Since switching to soft tacos, she's gone down from her trademark 7-8 tacos to 2-3. Those tortillas are definitely filling. We've eaten well this week: Pizza night, Pasta night... last night was BLT night, which went better than expected (thank you Nueske's!)

Yep, I'm here this week, and I've been working quite a bit. I had two really good site visits at former clients, picking their brains on how their cardiology departments are configured. I actually got two completely different "philosophies" explained this week, either of which would be a good way to go in our Phuture in Philly. I've been sending breathless updates to my peers and sponsors in Philly, which may explain why I'm not writing as much here.

The other explanation might be the launch of my Tales From the Nineties blog (linked at the Right)... this is something I'm doing with Paul and Caesar (all on our own blogs) where we're trying to tell stories about the bubble years of the 1990s. It's all explained on that blog if you have any interest. It's all about work and technology and opinions, not family or current events... so no need to keep current over there for many of you... but go ahead and check if you like.

Bella and I have been loving the new They Might Be Giants CD/DVD called "Here Comes Science" - they're all little songs about science, and while some are pretty light ("Electric Car" doesn't really explain anything), others are brilliant ("Meet the Elements" and "Bloodmobile" are standouts for me). The package has a DVD with a cute video for each. The explanation of all the things Blood does in Bloodmobile was actually instructive for me. And I work in Cardiology!

Isaac likes the songs too, but not for the content: The boy loves to dance to them. Bella just studies the videos and listens intently. That's my scientist.

Back to school: Pamela was asking Bella last night what she learned or found interesting about her day in school: "Pretty much everything was interesting."

Also, as she was drifting off to sleep, she decided that "The Earth is a giant eye, and the Sun is the other eye, and they're always watching. But only the Earth can BLINK".

Sunday, September 06, 2009

First Grade Coming...

On Thursday I came home early to attend the open house for Bella's elementary school, since she's going to be a big First Grader. We met her teacher, found her locker, and had some good playtime in the playground. Bella was her usual nervous, reserved self in the situation, and Isaac was his usual gregarious self. On the playground, he found a neighbor friend, Amelia, who is just a little younger than he is. He shadowed her around the playground, making sure she could get up the ladders and down the slides. He waited at the bottom of one slide for her, and and she came down, he helped her off and said "Great Job, MeeLeeAh"

You already know about Friday... Saturday was a lazy day with a lot less going on, as we collectively passed out. Papa set up a giant blue tarp over the swing set, and kids have been in it every waking minute - everyone loves a fort.

Today we went out to the Arboretum after a nice pancake breakfast and wandered around the beauty. We lingered by the waterfall, and appreciated the flowers still in full bloom. Isaac and Bella had fun under the big oak tree in the nature play area they have set up in the education area, and we ran into a friend of Bella's from kindergarten, whose mom let us know a sad bit of news she had just learned:

One of Bella's classmates from last year, who is also in her classroom this year, was diagnosed just Friday with brain cancer. The kid is 6 years old, and woke up Friday with half of his face limp. They rushed to urgent care and an MRI later discovered that he has a tumor. It had been growing for who knows how long, and finally impacted a nerve cluster, and left untreated it would shut down more and more parts of his body. Unfortunately, survival rates for this sort of thing are very low (a 25% chance of surviving 12 months and a 10% chance of long term survival).

We're all really hoping for the best - he just started an aggressive radiation and chemo regimen, which will take all his time for 6 weeks, then they're hoping to be able to let him come to school... be with friends and play. It'll be an interesting year, and no matter how this turns out, these kids are all going to learn things about the world that most adults don't need to learn for many years.

I find it sad and amazing that in one week I learn that one kid Bella's age is surviving with a new heart in her body, and another boy her age woke up with a lump in his brain that could end his life. And I look at Bella and think of all the stories I've told about her, and all the stories I hope to tell, and all the stories I hope she tells me... and it makes me hold her that much closer.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Scenes from The Fair

1) As we walked from the car past the portapotties to the gate into the Fair, I decided to do a quick pit stop to deal with the diuretic issues of drinking 4 doubleshots of espresso before 8am. Isaac saw me veer off and asked Papa where I was headed. Papa said "Your daddo is off to see a man about a horse". "I WANT TO SEE THE HORSE!!!!" was his instant, tearful reply, amazed and saddened that I'd be off seeing animals without bringing him. We finally got him calmed down, having explained about 'euphemisms" and "archaic turns of phrase", and fortunately the wonders of life birth building was mere steps away and we were able to distract Isaac with baby chickens.

5 hours later, as we were walking back to the car, Isaac pulled my hand and started toward the porta-potties: "Now I want to see that horse." He made me open 3 separate (unoccupied) rooms to prove that they were indeed just toilets, no magic horse stables within. We have made Papa swear an oath to watch his language with the kiddos. ;->

2) Yep - it was 5 hours at the fair with Isaac, Jenny, Bella, Pamela, and PapaBam. Great food, an hour at the KidWay with the kids, an epic visit to the Butterfly House, and delight with the small animals building - always my favorite. Isaac was having a grand time, and was literally DANCING through the fair, with a little sashay-skip move with occasional spins. Bella and Jenny were a good pair as well, though when it came to the rides at the Kidway, Bella was the cautious one as always, with Isaac and Jenny going for the thrills.

On the Merry-go-Round, Bella got up on a tall horse, but after a few minutes (and before the ride actually STARTED), she climbed off the horse and went for one of the benches. The round-and-round was enough excitement without needing any up-and-down-maybe-falling-off action. She had a pretty satisfied look, though with occasional moments of worry. That Bella is no thrill seeker... Though all three kids (and Daddo) went down the giant slide TWICE!

3) We all got home around 2:30, and Jenny and Bella settled in for a movie, and everyone else went to sleep. It was a wonderful break in the day, because at 6 we were back in the car and back off to the fair - no kids this time. We got tickets to see A Prairie Home Companion at the Grandstand. The show was definitely fun, though I was a bit vexed by the camera work - between the cameramen and the director picking which camera to show, it was horribly clear that nobody on the visual side had any idea who was doing what on stage: You'd have a violin solo happening, and the camera would hang on the guitarist. There was a quartet singing, and the cameraman framed 3 of the four, left the 4th guy entirely off screen, and let that shot sit for the whole 3 minute song. I know, it's radio - we shouldn't care - but the big screens help a big place like the Grandstand feel a bit more intimate, so it did make a difference.

As to the show itself, it was a typical show with some funny state-fair live interludes. It's interesting to remember that Garrison really is a somewhat shy person, and he started the show singing with his back to the audience... but as it progressed he unfurled and by the end he was very out there. And the fireworks at the end were dazzling.

4) I destroyed my brain and taste buds with a jerk chicken roti from Harry Singh's: It was delicious, but so hot I was almost hallucinating. Somehow I've grown so used to things being advertised as "hot" not really being that hot. To have their tag line "Oh God It's HOT" actually be completely accurate was unexpected... and delightful.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A story

One of the reasons I've been willing to be away from the family is that the opportunity to make a difference at a pediatric hospital really seems like a good thing to do for the world... even if they move slowly and bureaucratically in many ways, it's also obvious they do great work for kids.

My first week onsite I was getting a tour and walked past a room with a sign above it - "Camp Need-a-Heart" - inside was a girl I'll call "Sara", about Bella's age, awake and talking to her parents, hooked up to a machine the size of a refrigerator. The room was decked out beautifully, with an entire wall of "get well" cards and colorful streamers across the ceiling. The nurse told me she was waiting for a heart transplant.

One of the things I've been charged with doing is analyzing how data flows between the systems in the cardiology department, so I noted her name and looked at the data trail: A transplant patient really has every possible sort of exam and procedure done at some point - Echocardiograms, EEGs, Holters, Caths, Transplant prep visits and documentation, surgery... in one patient I could see it all. So I used this data to make my flow charts, and moved on...

Mostly. I was curious about what documentation would actually appear once the transplant took place, so I made a point of checking on the record every week or so, just to see if that new document had arrived. And a few weeks ago, there was a new record: Transplant Surgery Performed. I logged the document path, and was done with my workflow.

But I wondered about Sara, and how she came out. Seeing her that first day had been so powerful - a girl about Bella's age with a failing heart and a family so devoted. I wanted her to be ok.

Two days ago I was walking through the department and wound up walking past her room for the first time since that first day. I slowed just a little to look in as I walked past, wondering if she was still there. The sun was shining, and Sara was sitting on a couch by the window next to her mom, reading a book. She was smiling broadly and I caught her looking up at her mom with a laugh. The fridge-sized machine was gone, and she didn't appear to be hooked up to anything. Looks like she came through ok.

It made me proud to be doing what I'm doing.

Take me home

1) My hotel is on the "other side" of the Convention Center from Center City: To get to my place from the subway, I walk up 12th street, through a full city block-long tunnel, surrounded on both sides and above by the convention center. It's actually quite wide and not claustrophobic, (unless there are lots of buses filled with conventioneers). It's very echoey, which makes the skateboarders and occasional drunkards very audible. On both sides, large windows offer a view into the convention center itself, and I get to see what's being set up.

As I was walking "home" last night, I saw a number of police vans in once side of the center, and several dozen officers walking around in an otherwise empty convention floor. An hour later I walked back
through on my way to dinner, and saw that they had set up a complex set of obstacles: Ramps, stairs, boxes, etc, and this was actually BIKE COP TRAINING! I didn't get to see them going through their moves, but I was excited to see that high curbs, 10 foot stairways, and retaining walls are all things that the Philly PD bike police are trained to handle.

2) On that same walk, I heard a swarm of bees coming up behind me, and turned to find a pack of 12 people on Vespas coming up the road. Walking toward me was a group of 3 moms and 8 kids, and the kids literally started jumping up and down hollering and waving their arms. The Vespas all obliged with enthusiastic beeping and as much of an engine rev as they were capable of. The kids turned to watch them go, literally springing in the air, dancing with excitement. The Vespas passed, the kids passed, and I was alone on the street again. It was fun to have that moment swirl around me.

3) It was a much more effective week for me: Finally FINALLY closed that sale, which will bring a nice bonus around the holidays. Got a lot of work done for both clients. Did some good language learning. Ate some half decent food (no disappointments this week, thank you very much). Got some exercise. Kept a positive attitude. I'm not sure why some weeks feel good and others don't... I think that I do go through cycles - maybe every 5-6 weeks I have a few down days, and they just hit last week. OR maybe it has to do with my excitement at having a week at home coming up.

Yes, I'm working "remotely" next week. Papabam are likely already at the house, we're hitting the State Fair tomorrow, have tickets to see A Prairie Home Companion Friday Night, and then just quality time with the family. I have a lot of writing to do and I'll be on the clock next week... and I have a few site visits set up to see what's working or not for some cardiology groups in Minneapolis, but my nights will be in my own bed, I'll be tucking in my kids, my dog will be on my lap, and thing will be good.

4) I'm on an early flight right now, coming home to take Bella to her open house at school, to meet her first grade teacher. This is big important stuff, and I'm happy I could make it.

Oh: My first week with the MacBook Air has been like some sort of crazy dream. This thing is so light and wonderful. Incredible.