Sunday, April 25, 2010

Polar bear relationshios

Sitting with Bella this am watching the rain, she said:

Bella: "Sometimes I think that when it's raining it's Mother Earth crying, because of all of the pollution we put out there. I worry about the trees and the water, and a lot about the polar bears. You know dad, they're actually in trouble. They might all die,"

Me: "well, Bella, hopefully we can change things before it gets too bad and save the bears"

Bella: "yeah, before there's only one left. Or two. You need to bears to make more bears you know.'

Me: "Yep we need a mommy bear and a daddy bear"

Bella: "Actually, dad, if there aren't any kids, it's not 'mommy and daddy'. It's 'husband and wife' "

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Yep, it was good

It was a wonderful week at home, and I got a lot of stuff done. Of course, we had a few political flare-ups that I had to tamp down remotely, but nothing I couldn't handle, and having the family around was wonderful to help decompress. I'm starting to arrange things so that I am extremely "replaceable" out in Cleveland, and have started the work of finding my next gig locally...

Only looking for a week, and I've already had a couple of compelling opportunities, which is just wonderful. One interview, one request for a resume, and one impromptu meeting with a CIO that resulted in a few "possibilities". So if all goes as planned (ha!) I'll be off of airplanes for a few months, in time for summer.


In other news: Had a visit last night from Rick and Kari who were passing through town back from a funeral. We had dinner, late night laughter, and a great morning together. Rick and Isaac bonded well, and Isaac spent most of the AM chasing or climbing on top of him. After they left, Isaac was a bit of a zombie with exhaustion, and he was asleep tonight at 5 min before 7. Bella was her usual "sort of shy" self, but warmed up by today...

A Kari visit always means a trip to Wild Rumpus: The kids' bookstore that won't let me (or isaac) linger, what with all of the animals they have laying around there. If encourages decisiveness and fast action, before the lungs seize up. We left with a handful of Magic Tree House books and a Captain Underpants (which Bella was reading to herself and giggling).

A highlight of their visit: Ty (a senior now, going to college next year??? I met him when he was 3 months old when Pamela and I were dating) decided to join the Show Choir - Palatine's "Forte". We watched a 20 min video of their performance at the Show Choir invitational, and watching Ty sing and dance was just amazing. I don't recall there being things like this when I was in school - Choirs were sort of straightforward, and Theater and Dance kept to their own areas. But with Glee and whatnot, I guess Show Choir is a hip thing, and these kids were amazing. Plus, they did a DuranDuran song!

Not content to let Ty take up something completely unexpected in his final days of high school, Bailey (the PomPom dancer girl) decided to take up Lacrosse and has picked up the nickname "The BEAST" by her teammates by being such an incredible goalie. It just makes me smile to think that so many kids would look at spring in High School as their time to coast to the end, and these amazing kids have decided to try something new and make the most out of their time. I'm so proud!

Well, it's back to Cleveland next week (Japanese Steakhouse, here I come!), and for the next 6 weeks... I've got work to do to feather the nest locally, to transition things out there, and oh yeah, probably also do another "part time" project for a client in Detroit. Good times!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Making me Itch

1) An Isaac quote: "I can smell stop signs. They smell like roses. RED roses".

2) Work from home is a good thing this week. I'm already feeling more positive about things, and hey, things are happening too. One of the reasons I'm working from home (aside from the fact that I was unable to physically push the "buy" button on the plane ticket - I just COULDN'T) is that "The Man" at the work site shut us down.

See, we're all consultants, and the space we're in in temporary until June (and I may not be there then). They didn't get us desk phones, we don't have name plates, and we don't have computers. We were told to use our own, and we'd have desktops when we moved, eventually, though we ordered a dozen to cover, and they were going to arrive "any moment". So in the meantime, we were to use the wireless with our own laptops. Which didn't actually REACH to our space... so we improvised and plugged into the live jacks under our desks. For 6 weeks.

And last week, a network guy found out, and flipped his lid: "we're compromising network security" and he was going to send some sort of "remote self destruct" message to our computers if we didn't disconnect immediately. Now, of course, if such a self destruct signal was even possible, it would be transmitted every second of every day to every computer on the internet from hacker internet cafes in the former Soviet Union. The threat was lame, but the intent was real. Gotta disconnect. So where were our desktops after 6 weeks? The PO was still sitting on the CIO's desk unsigned.

This came down mid-week, and I suggested that since we don't have computers and can't get on the network locally, we could either fly in and dial in from our hotel rooms, or have an expense-free work from home week. He went for the work-at-home option.

And no sooner did we agree on that, then late Friday, the network/desktop swat team descended on our workspace... and installed computers. I just can't make this stuff up.

3) Anyway, the search for local work is well underway. Being home is wonderful, even if my hotel has a benihana-style teppanyaki grill right next door. It's great just to spend time in the house, with the family... holding conference calls with my dog on my lap... Isaac has been glued to my side, just wanting to be around me. Lots of shoulder rides and more than a few cuddles. Bella's also pretty thrilled. To say nothing of how nice it is to be around my dear Pamela too.

4) Was out last night with the Avengers at the residence of a guy with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra. Loved hearing orchestra stories... They combine good "road warrior" tales with "I'm an expert and they're idiots" anecdotes, as well as a lot of gear talk. I heard about cuban cigars being packed into the bell of a french horn, diva conductors who play the same program during every visit, and the nightmare of playing in one-off "period instrument ensembles" with authentically flat tuning.

My favorite was a long anecdote that I can't do justice to: The orchestra was playing at the Mayo clinic, and was doing a program of "difficult" 20th century stuff. They were launching into a 20 minute Alban Berg piece that our guy described as sounding "like the orchestra is warming up and tuning, and getting louder and louder for 20 minutes, until is just stops cold". In the front row was a man who had been wheeled in, who had been bandaged from head to toe, so we're guessing burn ward. He's sitting there in this sonic assault, as the crescendo builds and builds and builds, and it gets to FFFF and there's a sudden grand pause. And in the silence, the guy in bandages exclaims to his friend:


The orchestra was barely able to finish the piece - everybody was just in hysterics. And it made me recall those many years of going to see that orchestra in the late 1970s, listening to "difficult" pieces by Cage, Xenakis, Berg, Schoenberg, and others, and it's a wonder I still like music, I think.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Another Odd Week

Back in Cleveland, naturally. Lots of meetings scheduled, it has been busy busy busy. I've come back to the room thoroughly exhausted, but sleep has been hard too. Last night I was down by 11, but up at 3, then back down at 5 and up at 7. In that window, I did a lot of work that had been on my mind. Which is DEPRESSING.

Speaking of depressing: Went out to dinner with my boss at the client site tonight, and I think the guy is actually clinically depressed. Lots of time just staring forward, lost in thought. Three of us trying to keep him engaged in conversation. It was a lot of work, and I think he needs a serious break.

Things are looking up for me actually being done here in the next couple of months: They have a few good candidates for permanent replacements, which frees me from my fear of being stuck here for the next year or two.

Looking forward to more time at home: I'm doing a work from home week next week, which feels like a luxury.

I might just turn in now.... zzzzzz.....

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The inner light

Ok this is odd. As i posted before, I had been talking about great tv episodes. On the subject of Star Trek, i had picked a couple that I had loved but they didn't hold up that well. But I realized that there was one episode everyone talks about that I had never seen - the inner light. The one where Picard is zapped with an alien probe and lives a full life on a dying world. How can this be?

Well, it's hard to remember the 1990s when there wasn't tivo, or movies streamed on demand. I simply missed it every time it was on. For a few years, and never rented it either. I just missed it.

Flash forward to today - you tell me there's something I need to see, give me an Internet connection and dang right I'll be watching it within an hour. So I watched it. And wiped tears away, several times. Wow, that was a great episode! Great acting, good story, and a minimization of the technobabble that undoes so many trek episodes. Trek is redeemed for me now.

Yes i watched it on the iPad and yes I'm blogging again from the pad. I'm growing to love this thing more each day. And I typed this whole thing on the iPad keyboard - and am not too slow at it either.

The future is here, yo.


1) the macbook air was fixed this weekend so the infernal noise is resolved. I'm much happier now.

2) I do still love star trek people! I was just amazed at how the pacing of the show was so much slower than I expected. Look at the battle scenes - it takes them a good two minutes to decide to load torpedoes... They really treated those ships like slow yachts. But i still love Brent spinet and whatnot.

3) trying a new breakfast place near work - hope to have reports of wonderful pancakes soon.

4) blogging from the iPad people! I'm touch typing on the video screen and it is pretty intuitive. Looks like I need to work on my capitalization.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Hibachi Madness

In the lot next to my hotel in Beachwood OH, there has been a restaurant called "Wasabi". Upon our arrival, it seemed that Wasabi was a restaurant that had just closed... but I guess it was a restaurant that was in the process of OPENING. After 4 months (has it been that long REALLY?) it is finally open. It is a Benihana-style teppenyaki grill with the big cooking tables and the cheesy cooks... and the decor is truly amazing: gleaming steel, blue lighting, and a full wall of fish tanks with blue lit bubbles. All I could imagine upon sitting down was that this place was BUILT to be shot to pieces in an action film. I could only hope that it wouldn't be during my visit.

The menu is the same as any of these places - grilled chicken and steak and shrimp, with a flamboyant preparation of the fried rice, and the two sauces... the chef was a funny cornball (as always), and he had a ketchup bottle filled with sake that he shot into my mouth. A few times. Ok, a lot. He shot to fill, then overfill, and my clothes are covered with sake. I'm lucky I only had to walk across a parking lot, actually.

It'll be fun to have this place close by.

Work - well it goes ok. Things are getting to a bit of equilibrium of mild suckyness, but it's at least tolerable. I've had indications that the storms of unreasonableness are now taking place at a level above me, which is nice in that I don't really need to be affected now. They're having some trouble hiring for my permanent replacement, which worries me. I had a co-worker say in a meeting "well, Jim, if you would just stop saying how terrible Cleveland is in your BLOG, maybe people would want to work there". Which totally freaked me out.... Dawn, are you READING this? ;-> I know, my policy of not naming names only goes so far when you're dealing with a major client... in Cleveland... I mean, how many groups are we talking about? That's right, I might as well have it out there. I'm working for


Easter was wonderful, by the way: Papabam were in town, and while Papa is suffering from an EPIC sinus infection (and suffering even more from the biohazard antibiotics he's on), he was still game for art projects and fun. And we enjoyed Inglourious Bastards, which was made for Papa in a way. I'll be watching it yet again this coming weekend with the Scotch Avengers, and that's just fine by me.

I'm sure you're all wondering: Did Jimmy get an iPad. The answer is yes. I HAVE ONE. And Pamela is ok with it too - we cleared it in the budget with some key "old technology" sales - it's budget neutral.

I love love love it, but truth be told, I'm still exploring it, and it's not yet an essential part of my existence. It easily replaces my Kindle - my books moved over. Movies and shows are great, and the calendar is gorgeous. The extra apps are very sweet too... But I'm a couple of days away from deciding if it is the best thing EVAR. Basically everything i've had to do in the past 2 days has been laptop or phone based, and so I'm trying to work out how the Pad fits. But give me time... I've already established I can connect to my work intranet using it, and it displays most of my work documents well, so I'm thinking it will wend its way into my world soon enough. But form factor, holding it, playing with it, it really feels like a piece of the future. It is amazing.

Fringe on last Thursday was maybe one of the best episodes of TV I've ever seen... and it got me emailing with buddies about other "best shows ever". I identified a couple of Star Trek TNG episodes (Yesterday's Enterprise, Best of Both Worlds), and was met with "well.....". So I downloaded them and watched them - and... um... yeah. TNG was not the best show ever. The sets looked like a Marriott, the effects were only ok... In retrospect, not the greatest shows when held up on the grand continuum. But still enjoyable.