Saturday, April 30, 2011

A better night at the circus

Pamela called up the circus to find out what the deal was... and they were both informative and apologetic... but it turns out that some of the information about where we could stand and more importantly, info on our free tickets, had been sent along and had wound up in Pamela's junk mail folder, unread! So part of it was us. But they acknowledged that part of it was them - their ushers and crew should have known the processes for toddler parents (because we weren't the only people confused and angry).

We had a much different night last night - and we did get seats. We stayed for 4 more acts (including the most amazing kids standing, walking, and jumping rope on top of 3 foot diameter balls.)

And I was on "go get Isaac duty" after his bit, and to bring him back up to the stands, and I will say that the ushers had a very different demeanor, and were far more positive in how they were herding the expectant parents off in the wings - it looked like a much better night for all involved.

So I just wanted to have that update out there - I beefed about Circus Juventas, but then we worked it out, and it was a much better night. So they're back on my happy list.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Busy Boy

By the way, work just keeps going. Here are the projects I'm currently doing:

1) Minneapolis: Two projects - my "old" project of being the lead for the clinical teams for a big Epic install - 5 weeks into a successful golive, working on transitioning out, but still in the role. Will be done in 3 weeks.

2) Minneapolis - same client, Second project, and major PACS upgrade (digital radiology). Still in the planning stages, will be full-time (sort of) for 12 months. Just 5-10 a week for now.

3) St Louis: Reviewing their reporting architecture to assess their readiness for reporting on Accountable Care metrics. 100 hours in 8 weeks.

4) Maryland: Finalizing my findings for their reporting and data access audit and planning a one year project to implement tools to improve the consistency of their reporting. About 40 hours in 2 weeks remaining, more to come.

5) New Jersey: Reviewing proposals from 2 vendors for a full suite of Cardiology tools - assessing whether there are major gaps in the proposals and mapping against my own "what works" knowledge. 30 hours across 3 weeks.

Plus we have a proposal on the table in New Orleans for a project similar to 3)....

AND I just had a huge meeting with a major health system in Rochester MN, and may have a portfolio of projects for 2-3 people for the next year - will know more about this as it develops.

So Jim is a busy boy!

It should have been fun but...

Isaac had his first show tonight at Circus Juventas, and we were all very excited. We ran out for dinner together, and got there early... Isaac was led away to backstage for the show and we eagerly awaited. The show is a 3 hour "recital" for all of the kids from toddlers at the start to highs schoolers. The show started at 7, which is actually when we like to get Isaac started for bed, so we knew we couldn't stay for anything beyond his little bit.

Now, during the dry run, we were told we, the parents, would be at one end of the stage and the kids would come over to us at the end. So when we headed that way for the show, we were stopped by the ushers and told that no, we had to wait in the lobby, we couldn't watch the kids, and they'd be brought to us afterwards. THEN, another person said we could "sneak" over to one of the side stage areas by the bleachers, but we'd have to keep back with bad sightlines and no seats. And several times during the (5 minute) set people came through hissing at us to "leave a path - people need to get through" - of course the only people who actually needed to come through were the people hissing at us.

Through this Bella started crying - she just wanted to see her brother. Unbeknownst to us, Isaac in his 45 minutes backstage was getting anxious - he thought we had LEFT him, and was getting freaked out, and when he did come out to perform, he didn't know where we were.

Ok - I'm sympathetic that 90% of the audience is parents of kids in the show - you can't have them not paying for the show. But for the kids who are 6 and up, the parents are free to drop them off and pick them up later. For the toddlers, the kids need to see their parents, and the parents need to see the kids. And it's unreasonable to ask us to buy $20 tickets for the 5 minute toddler parade.

I think it would have made a lot more sense to have a little roped off area for the parents of the toddlers and kinders, let us just beam with pride and lead the kids to us at the end - it would have been an "awwww cute" moment.

As it is the whole thing left us feeling sort of shabby - like we had to sneak in to see Isaac perform. We should have been sneaking cigarettes too. Knowing this is the scoop for next year too doesn't really fill me with excitement.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Yep we got another dog... little Gesso is a Schnoodle from the same breeder as Zinsser, but different parentage. He's strawberry blonde, and just over 12 weeks old - a good month older than when we got Zinsser and boy it shows. Gesso is lot easier than an 8 week puppy for sure - he's already holding his pee and poo for hours and is pretty good about going outside - just a day into it.

Gesso is totally daddy's dog. Wherever I am, he wants to be, and he's in my lap at least as much as Zinsser is in Pamela's lap. I took a nap today and he was curled up on my chest for most of it, and I woke up with him laying across my neck. As with Zinsser, I have NO allergies to this creature.

So how did this come about? Well, it all happened this past week. A combination of elements combined to help me feel somewhat at ease about life: I got put onto a new project at the big client (lower stress), I got kudos from another client, I got a healthy tax refund... and I "accidentally" surfed to the website of Shelbo Schnoodles, where this little face stared out at me.

We'd always intended for two dogs, really, but number two was planned maybe to be a standard poodle. But truth be told, I like Zinsser's size, and I like the temperment of the Schnoodle, So when I saw this little blondie looking out at me, I said "I WANT HIM". I did clear this with Pamela, and contacted the breeder, and we made it all happen on Saturday afternoon.

The kids had no idea. We brought up a picture from the website during lunch on Saturday, they said "awwwww" and Pamela said "well let's go get him then!!!" Bella was sort of in a smiling, shocked silence, while Isaac was dancing and yelling around the house. We drove the 45 min to Isanti, got the dog, and life has been great.

Zinsser was definitely aloof for the first day. But by tonight they're fully playing with eachother - Zinsser does the respectful "play bow" and brings toys to Gesso. They play Tug of War, but Zinsser attenuates his tugs so it's not hard on Gesso. Gesso is now playing tag with Zinnie. They are having a lot of fun.

So why "Gesso?" Zinsser is a brand of wall primer. Gesso is what painters use to prime their canvases. So they're both primers. Getting arty with it, they're "foundations" on which we can paint our lives. Also, it's fun to say "Jess-Oh" in a "GOOD BOY" voice.

A final note: Tonight at dinner, Bella sat back with a smile and said "You know I remember going to go get Gesso like it was Yesterday!". Pause for laughter. That girl is a HAM.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

In case you were wondering:

1) I was able to recover from Disney ok - I really did have a rough two days back, but have re-adjusted to the non-magical world.

2) Happily, the golive that I had abandoned to go to Disney actually went really well. There were problem areas, but they were the same ones I knew about when I left, and 3 weeks in, they're stabilizing. I actually was able to take last weekend off, so things aren't too bad.

I did have one of my team leads quit on me just this week, but I seriously think she was slightly insane. It is for the better, this.

3) Strange coincidence: I was reading a book on lessons healthcare can take from the airline industry ("Why Hospitals should Fly" - great subject, but very clunky prose). A key turning point in the aviation industry was in 1977, on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, when two 747s collided due to bad communication and top-down leadership style (the engineer was afraid to correct the pilot). I'd never heard about this disaster, nor the island of Tenerife.

Later that evening, I was listening to a spanish learning podcast - Coffee Break Spanish. I was a big fan a couple of years ago, and downloaded their latest for this trip. I pop the headphones on and it's a dialogue about the language and culture of... Tenerife.

I got double Tenerifed in one day.

4) Business is BOOMING: Right now I technically have two jobs at my main client (and need to pick between them). I'm in Maryland on a third one (close to finishing up), just sold work in St Louis, and am close to a deal in New Orleans. Now I need to clone myself or find some very smart people like me. NOT ALWAYS EASY. I'll make it through this group of gigs with a protege brought in, but I'll need more more more help.

It's a good position to be in, however. As long as I can keep all of the plates spinning!

5) I just want to have out there that I have lust in my heart for Chik-fil-A. I had some for dinner 4 hours ago and I am still nowhere near hungry. That stuff fills you to the edges.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Safe at Home

After the rainout of Thursday, we were looking for some sun on Friday, and we got it - it was a temperate, sunny day, perfect for a revisit to the Magic Kingdom. We got there bright and early, and hit all of our favorite rides again: Papa and I knocked our backs out of joint on Space Mountain, then got all spinny on the rockets ride... so we eased up on the thrills and kept it to the lovable rides - Small World didn't disappoint on the revisit.

By late morning, the word had got out to all of the world that it was a GREAT DAY to be at the park, and a sea of humanity descended onto the Magic Kingdom. Soon, even "gimme" rides like the Teacups were posting 20 minute waits, and Peter Pan hit 60 minute wait by 11am. We got Fast Passes for the Jungle Cruise, which is typically not that hard to get on, but when we finally arrived, we found that the "civilians" without Fast Passes were waiting 70 minutes. We sped through in 10.

The Jungle Cruise was interesting because there was a "never event" which clearly rattled the boat driver - the elephants who playfully spray water just in front of the boat had their timing off (or the driver did), and we were blasted with firehose-strength water. I looked it up, this just doesn't HAPPEN on the ride. The driver was really apologetic, and dropped his Bob Hope cornball routine for a bit, wanting to make sure we were actually ok.

(Later in the evening, as I put Isaac to bed, he spent some time crying about the elephants - WHY DID THEY SPRAY US? I DID NOT WANT THAT!!!)

Our brainstorm for our last day at Disney was to acknowledge the fact that Bella had blisters on her feet, and Isaac by the end of each day was insisting on a grownup to carry him, so we got a big double stroller for the kids, and they were very happy. The strollers have a window for a big nametag, so we named ours "Duran Duran (Rockstar)". After every ride, we'd call out to eachother "Where did we leave Duran Duran? We'd better go get them".

We bailed by 3pm, having ridden the train around the perimeter of the park again, and also the TomorrowLand People Mover. Everyone was pretty beat so we zoned out for 2 hours with some shows and naps (and the Giraffes and Zebras came over to give us a show on the porch too). Then it was down to dinner at the "fancy" restaurant at Jambo House - Jiko. The food was AMAZING - everything was incredible - as good as I remember some dinners at Table of Contents back in the day, if that's any indication. Simply amazing, and the waiter was great with the kids too...

A huge surprise - Dave and Kristine (who bought our old house and live on our block) and their kids decided to cut short a road trip to Colonial Williamsburg and hit Disney, and they surprised us at our table (I helped plan it, from text messages earlier in the afternoon). The kids ran off for some serious playtime, and we got to hang out with D&K and swap tales of Disney. It was very spontaneous and fun.

Isaac had a VERY hard time going to sleep, and as noted above, had worries about the elephants, but also tearful protestations that he wants to stay at Disney FOREVER, and have somebody send down his toys and Zinsser and we can just LIVE THERE. WHY CAN'T WE LIVE HERE? It took an unheard of 45 minutes to get him wound down.

Today we got a late start, had a big breakfast, and made our way to the airport. We had plenty of time... assuming of course that I had noticed that our flight time had changed. As I checked in, the kiosk said I was too late to check luggage, and I discovered our flight had moved UP 2 hours, so far from being early for our flight, it was leaving RIGHT NOW.

I almost had a full on panic attack. I'm sure they must have sent me a message on this at some point, but I've been so swamped with work I must not have processed it properly. Long story short, being Platinum does have privileges, and we got on the next flight, though we lost our First Class seats, and Pamela "had" to sit by herself in an exit row while I sat with the kids. Hey wait, I think that actually worked out ok for Pamela.

By the time we finally got home, we had maybe one nerve left between us, and we were about to fray that one too, but Grampette was to the rescue, with Zinsser at the door ready to greet us. We forgot our stress and got ready for bed. Well, most of us did. I read Bella a long awaited chapter of Harry Potter (which she was asleep by the end of - I'll be doing some refreshing tomorrow night). Not a peep from Isaac, and Pamela has been out for 90 minutes already. So what am I doing up? Well, I hadn't seen last week's big Fringe cliffhanger, so I had to get caught up. But I think I'm ready for bed now.