. . . all week.
I'm familiar enough with myself and my patterns of existence to know what's going on. The year's winding down and then it's going to very quickly go to warp speed. So this week's been a time to get ready. Sort of. As is often the case, I over estimated both my energy and desire to get things done. Really, I'm most productive when backed up against multiple conflicting deadlines, faced with some sort of technology failure, and jet lagged. It must be the adrenaline or something. It focuses the mind, mine at least.
But it's been a fine week. Work-wise I'm happy to say I completed an expense report, had some meetings, wrote some email, sheparded some things along and did quite a bit of work getting three projects partially done. (We'll ignore my pre-Christmas assumption that each would be completed by Wednesday.) I'm been thinking a lot about what's coming up which is important and--really, I'm not bullshitting here, I've already established that I'm introspective and self-aware--I'm pretty much like an Olympic figure skater closing her eyes and visualizing each of the fine moves and fast spins in my long program routine. Or something like that. Maybe more like a bobsledder. Or Luger. Someone doing something fast, with turns. Speed chess, perhaps.
Outside of work:
I have reduced my RSS feeds from 197 to under a hundred and reorganized them in a way that will improve my efficiency and enjoyment of the Intarweb. I have watched viral video. I have backed up my computers. I have audited my mileage statements and have determined that I am 30 air miles short of retain my coveted "skip the security line" status on United. I am exploring a workaround. I have made advances on refinancing our house. I purchased a new suit, which contains pin stripes, a first for me. And two shirts and ties that the relentless but charming sales person upsold me; I drew the line at the bomber jacket with elastic waist.
Most importantly I have been reading.
I finished off Gary Benchley, Rockstar in a single twelve hour binge. It's a fun romp through present-day music hipsterland that will be completely non-understandale (not a word, I know) in five years. And I'm about 20% of the way into Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It, which is sharply written and has a title that I'm afraid might aptly sum me up, though I'm resisting that notion. Clementine in the Kitchen is something altogether different. I'm a third of the way through this memoir/cookbook which tells the tale of a family and their French cook who live an idyllic life in France up until the Nazi's raise their head and they return to the US. The recipe for Escargot is NSFW. I like this book.
I think it's a 98% certainty that we'll step back and let people who don't often go out on the town go nuts tomorrow night. An evening at home with some good food (who knows, maybe a board game!) sounds like a delightfully subdued way to welcome the new year. I've been noodling on a BIG POST (that I expected to get finished by Wednesday) that might rear its head, but maybe not. I'm sure I'll be popping up before we turn over to 2006, but for now: ta-ta. Wait, that's not right: Ta-Da!
I spent a chunk of last night making some chnages to this here site, the most obvious one (and th eone which took no time at all to figure out how to do) is that I've increased the font size ont he sidebars. I must be gettin' old but things were lookign ahrd to read. Do you like? Prefer it smaller as before?
The new content can be found to the left:
I'm thinking of ditching my "Friends" sidebar, mostly likely moving it to some link directory of which it would be a category.
If you yourself are a Live Journaler or a TypePad user then continue reading 'cause there are some things I want to ask you and share with you . . .
The temperature in the oven of work has been set to WARM this week; usually it's set to BAKE, occasionally ROAST, but much unlike my last gig it's seldom set to BROIL.
That's meant a great chance to catch up on things, plan for a hectic Q1, and get to some projects that have been out of the oven and the back burner. One of those is trying to capture the way I talk, or more precisely, the way I talk about our product. Sometimes I feel like my title should be VP of Product Demos as I spend a significant amount of my time explaining to people why they should give us money for our glorious and very useful service.
I've noticed in multiple context that language is so often the key to getting great things done (or, I suppose hideous things, cf. Hitler). Whether it's selling a product or an idea or a belief, the consistent use of a powerful, evocative vocabulary can change the way people perceive their world, a particular problem in front of them, or the value of something you have to offer.
Back in the 1990s, my partner in crime Scott and I actually sat at a picnic table at the UW and developed a vocabulary to talk about teaching with technology that we then spent three months propagating in every discussion we had with anyone until it reached the point that people began talking to us in this language in a natural and authentic way. I'm not talking about inventing buzzwords, which typically obfuscate what's going on, but rather developing a language framework that makes something new or complicated understandable. (The result of the work Scott and I and a bunch of others working on our team was, by the way, this).
Ah! The joys of being WARM--some mental space to put a task in a broader context and begin to think of ways we can move from "keeping heads above water but still kicking ass" to "great."
I found this Googlewhack by accident trying to help someone on Ask Metafilter who'd purchased a Hindu-Festival-in-a-Box. This instantly made me smile thinking about the terrific (I've upgraded my opinion) one-man show I saw a few weeks ago and then exclaim, quite appropriately under the circumstances: "Holy Cow!"
I give you: Pujapa Samagri
Happy Boxing Day!
The past few days have been a whirl of holiday goodness. Brian and Natalie came into town around midnight on Wednesday, though we got barely a glimpse of Natalie as she pushed forward the next morning to get to Forks to visit her family.
Mom and Dad arrived on Thursday, happy to be in a home that had heat and all of its drywall intact; they're in the midst of a remodel.
On Friday, we all went to Teatro Zinzanni. It was a most excellent time. If you have not been to Teatro Zinzanni and you have a special someone or a special occasion and you have roughly double the ticket price per person to spend on a night out then by all means go! Dia and I have been three times since it opened and each time it's just been an exceptional, fabulously entertaining time. And each show we've seen--about eighteen months apart--has been different. El Vez is currently in the show and he's great as is the incomparable Kevin Kent, whom my parents didn't realize was a man until about half way through dinner. It helped that we had the best table in the place. Some pix here.
Christmas Eve involved lots of cooking in advance of our open house. This was our attempt to continue a thirty year tradition of my parents' Christmas Eve Open House and it was a wonderful time. I thought that the gravlax, the duck confit, the smoked tomato-goat cheese-chipotle spread, the green goddess-esque dressing for the crudite, and the mushroom and carmelized onion tarts I sort of winged were all quite tasty. And there was none left, so I take that as a vote of confidence.
My only regret is that in the rush to plan the thing I realized after the fact that there were some people I would have loved to entertain and see but failed to invite. One of these days I'll get my contacts centrally organized, rather than have 1,000 contacts in Outlook, which overlaps with 250 in gmail, which may or may not overlap with the 1,500 business cards stacked in my desk, the 150 phone numbers in my phone, and the miscellaneous scraps of papers and envelopes with return addressed gathered in rubber banded bundles in my home office. Perhaps this will be something to tackle this week. I'm working all week, but the meeting schedule is light and I'm hoping to use this week to get ducks in a row and tee things up for a fabulous 2006.
In about four hours my brother Brian and his wife Natalie will arrive in Seattle. I haven't seen them in, what? A year? Damn time flies.
It seems like an excellent time to pimp his new book, the first of several I'm sure he'll publish: White Slave Crusades: Race, Gender, and Anti-Vice Activism, 1887-1917. I just received a copy last week and have not had a chance to do anything more than skim it, but Brian is a gifted writer and never, to my knowledge, results to the crutch of the bulleted list or the em-dash as I so frequently do. In a surprisingly cool turn of events, his book is one of those on Amazon that let's you "Search Inside" and actually read a bit of the book. So go and check it out.
From the publisher's site:
During the early twentieth century, individuals and organizations from across the political spectrum launched a sustained effort to eradicate forced prostitution, commonly known as "white slavery." White Slave Crusades is the first comparative study to focus on how these anti-vice campaigns also resulted in the creation of a racial hierarchy in the United States.
Focusing on the intersection of race, gender, and sex in the antiprostitution campaigns, Brian Donovan analyzes the reactions of native-born whites to new immigrant groups in Chicago, to African Americans in New York City, and to Chinese immigrants in San Francisco. Donovan shows how reformers employed white slavery narratives of sexual danger to clarify the boundaries of racial categories, allowing native- born whites to speak of a collective "us" as opposed to a "them." These stories about forced prostitution provided an emotionally powerful justification for segregation, as well as other forms of racial and sexual boundary maintenance in urban America.
Happy Birthday Trevor!
I first met Trevor when he was a vegetarian DJ in a tutu/cowboy ensemble.
Now of course it's "Dr. Trevor" and, well, I shouldn't speculate on either his diet or the current status of his predeliction for finery.
He remains one of the dearest people in my life and I'm happy he's been on the planet for another year.
In 2002, I attended the 3GSM show in Cannes, which is the mobile industry's biggest shindig of the year. We were late in booking hotels, though, so my boss and I were stuck in some dumpy "resort" a mere hour/$150 cab ride from all the action. I vowed never to make that mistake again. This year we booked our hotels in Barcelona for the February 3GSM show way back in August.
Ah, but then there's CES, the biggest tech trade show in the US, which happens in about two weeks. I hadn't planned on going--rather I'd planned on not going--until yesterday but an excellent business opportunity calls and so I spent part of today looking for hotels. Well, I could stay at the Howard Johnson's that Orbitz found as the "lowest price option" (see above). But instead I think I'm opting for Arizona Charlie's ("Focused on Gaming, Focused on You") where I'll be a mere $30 from the action and also where the amenities include "Remote controled color television," "Data ports on request" (I think that means I have to figure out how dial up works), and--wait for it--RV Hookups!
<sigh> I should have learned this lesson already. Probably the biggest lesson not being "plan ahead" but rather, for the moment anyway, thinking that I can avoid attending these magnets of corporate promotion.
I woke up at 5am on Saturday--incredibly odd for me, this time of year, particularly on a Saturday--and rolled out of bed to tackle a most unpleasant but necessary task.
We'd noticed a sudden infestation of tiny moth-like creatures and with just a little bit of inspection found the larvae that were spawning them in the cupboard. More specifically, we found a few crawling, disgusting little worm creatures. I knew this mean that there was a hidden moth larvae lair that needed to be smoked out.
We had to find the Worms of Meal Destruction. And destroy them. Alex the cat joined me in a Coalition of the Willing and we went about our hunt for WMDs. Actually he pretty much just laid there on a pillow and occaissionally yawned. I'll spare you the disgusting details, but you should be on your guard and recognize that these food terrorists can infiltrate tightly sealed jars and zip locked bags. It's for this reason I've begun continual monitoring of all food storage containers. The terms of my marriage dictate that I get approval for such spying on a case-by-case basis but I think these extraordinary times call for extraordinary action and, anyway, I take Dia's charge that I "erradicate the moths" as blanket approval for my newly expanded powers.
The multi-hour cleanup filled an entire trashcan with foodstuffs and created an amazing amount of space in our cupboards. This of course prompted me to rearrange the pantry, refill thirty or so spice jars (not infested, but fresh spices are better anyway), and take inventory of our larder. I won't bore you with a complete tally but I will note that we have six types of oil, eight kinds of vinegar, and fourteen varieties of hot sauce.
With kitchen order and hygiene restored, on Sunday I went on a minor cooking tear. There was an eggplant variation on pasta puttenesca for dinner, a batch of split pea soup for lunch throughout the week, my first stab at duck confit, and a gorgeous side of steelhead that is currently transforming itself into gravlax. The later two delicacies are for Christmas Eve and I hope some of my dear readers out there will help me to eat them.