Friday, December 28, 2012

100 entries

This Little Project has a bunch of ways to get to 100
The moment has arrived - from January through a long inactive stretch, into the mad dash and... finally this post.  100 entries for 2012, a milestone I established on Jan 11th of this year.  At that time, it was a sleepy goal, as my next post was 8 days after sharing my goal on this blog, when I got a balance ball from my wife to make my home office days more healthy; I've used that balance ball occasionally but maybe not so often as I could or should.

It was another month until my next post, when I made my first trip to New Orleans at the start of Carnival.  The food from that city inspired a series of Saturday date nights in February and March to celebrate tasty culinary places of the world (Tuscany, Provence, Rome, and the "Big Easy", which inspired it all).

There were trips scattered in there - NYC, Safari, Venice - and walks with Ruby.  A long pause through most of the first half of the year.  Another long pause into the second half of the year.  A random barrage of photos from a trip to Maui in October.  And then, early in November, motivation.    Followed by over 50 posts in less than 2 months.

Now, 100 entries later, I have accomplished one of my stated goals for 2012.  I missed a few others.  But I am energized by the new year, knowing that it is still possible to accomplish something new when I put my mind to it.  And, it's never too late to get started.

Wishing everyone a happy 2012 that keeps momentum and pace into 2013.  Perhaps another 100 entries?

Clean House

Borgo's take on housecleaning
It takes constant vigilance to keep living spaces tidy and spot-free.  It also takes good help on occasion for a good scrub (thanks Rosa!).  But the effort is worthwhile and satisfying, particularly in the afterglow when the scent of cleaning supplies and whir of vacuum motor are still fresh and mark the transformation back to clean.

Now, I am ready to jump in to a new year with a clear mind and a clean house - so bring on 2013!

Anxious Dog

Maybe pumpkins bring calmness?
Ruby is an anxious dog, particularly when the vet is involved.  Her annual check-up is an exercise is demonstrating calmness and meditation.  Granted, this attempt to provide a soothing environment still results in the same panting and lap-circling, but optimism runs eternal to make her feel more secure.

The check-up ultimately went fine, with the exception of a heart murmur that has picked up.  Dogs do become family members, so this caused some concern, but it does provide another chance to test or nerve-calming methods in a return trip to the vet.  Here's to hoping she is more relaxed the second time around and her heart evaluations produce results just as calm!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Winter Wonderland

Holiday travel on snow-laden roads is best left to contemplation. I thought often this afternoon, on a drive best described a crawl, of the holiday classic "Let It Snow". I was hoping for no place to go, but 10 hours later, I was just happy to jump out of the car from hours of blizzard and traffic.

Still, after all the cars in ditches and backed-up highways, it was a winter wonderland out there. Next time, though, I'll stay back and roast chestnuts instead.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Home for Christmas

When Bing Crosby sang to the "boys on the front" to come home for Christmas if only in their dreams back in 1943, the spirit was similar to my latest holiday sojourn with family. The food and fellowship have been warm and filling, a nice way to close this year and prepare for the next.

I hope others experience the same warmth this season and enjoy the holidays at home or wherever families might be.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Child's Christmas Eve Poem

Church bells ring,
Choir sings,
Pastor bellows
While church fellows
Fall fast asleep.
On Christmas Eve
All hope to leave
Quiet as mice
With open eyes
That hang as low
As lights will go
On "Silent Night".
Let's hope for carols,
Let's hope for candles,
Awaiting Santa
When fun last comes.
Until final hymn,
Struggling within -
Let's rise like angels
Above slumber's keep.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Celebrating Holidays

"It's the most wonderful time of the year"
Occasionally, my family comes together for a meal.  This becomes increasingly harder due to schedules and lifestyles across three different cities, but we take advantage of such moments, like this morning, to celebrate family and togetherness.  

This time it was first Christmas for first baby in our family (niece, grandchild, great-grandchild) with a special gathering around a secluded table.  Nothing more than a quiet room, crackling fire, dainty red bows on the chandeliers overhead, and conversation of the past year gone by.  It was idyllic like a Norman Rockwell postcard, and especially comforting after several mimosas.  Celebrating holidays gets no better than such moments.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

400 entries

Others also celebrate 400 followers, it's an auspicious number
It might not be as great an achievement as the Simpsons, but I have reached 400 entries in this blog, give or take the entries that might squeeze in on earlier dates from this one.

I'll commemorate the moment and then go to bed, I'm enjoying the holidays too much to think much more about this post.


P for Precious
I have recently become an uncle, as of three months ago.  Since I don't live in the same city as my brother, my niece and I are acquainted on an infrequent basis, which provides an interesting perspective on the growth of a child.  A month can be seismic in an infant's lifespan, every day seemingly a new encounter or discovery.  In other words, the literal meaning of growth.

To share moments together with P in snippets as I do reminds me to appreciate how we all grow in our own way if we can pause long enough to appreciate the changes.  It might not be as dramatic as an infant like my niece, but it is precious all the same. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ready to Go

Who would have thought - Go Dog Go is now a play
Harnessing the second espresso of the day with a recollection of the energy of one of my favorite children's books - "Go Dog Go".

For some reason, I recall this one above all.  It must have been the rhyme.  It must have been the swift time.  The colors and the shine.  Oh my!

Up a tree, down a tree, through a house, with a mouse, with a dog, with a cat.  Go too fast and hear a splat! (on the windshield)

There are my memories for all to see, memories that are precious to me.

And with that, I'm off to the races!

90 and counting...

In Spain, this means slow down
In the Kentucky Derby, this post would trigger the call of "and down the stretch they come".  So here we go, I'll be happy to reach my target.

Moment of Silence

For the victims of:


Presents in the present?
Words are interesting creatures.  Case in point - the word present.  In the context of this morning's energy around the state of the world today, this word means "in the moment" or "the period of time now occurring". But in no more than a day, this word will quickly switch to take on its other major meaning - "a thing given to someone as a gift".

Both meanings of the word are relevant and poignant.  Usage depends on context.  Intent matters.  These are the seemingly silly conflicts we wage with the English language in order to make sense of what we are trying to say and write.  For instance, it allows me to write, with a straight face, this zinger of a line: I present you this present in the present with present company that was pre-sent to be prescient.

Don't worry - you won't find this line in my next written piece, but it makes for a nice random thought to throw around at cocktail parties.

End of the World

It seems that the end has come and gone, and I am still here typing away to reach my 100 posts for the year.  Which is nice because I am on track to reach that goal at this point.  So I went random again and took the best song to encapsulate this happy feeling of the end and all.  REM came to mind, so that is the soundtrack of the day.

Runner-up was "The End", by the Doors.  I suppose that would have been more fitting if the end was more gloomy than it is turning out to be (although the local weather is playing its part!).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Post a Day...

... Just about achieves 100 entries for the year, if I can maintain this leisurely pace for the next week-and-a-half.  It has been a hustle, but somehow I am generating a fresh set of ideas, enough to accelerate my publishing pace in order to hit the target I set as a new year's resolution for 2012.  To say it was a slow start this year is an understatement, but I am making up for lost time (no offense to any Proust lovers).  Now that I am working in a brisk pace of generating some words, I might yet have some writing in me for 2013.

Step by step, though - I have to clear a few more cobwebs before more substantive writing will ensue. Stay tuned, I'm just getting warmed up and not a moment too soon (for new year's resolutions).

I Fall in Love Too Easily

Back in college, I discovered jazz.  I'm not talking today's light variety that has become almost a classical form, I'm talking the funky stuff that made the Beats tick and turned a generation of hip cats into urban legends.  Parker.  Davis.  Basie.  Ellington.

It started in the basements of Westwood on weekends when some friends would rip and bring the brass over strings.  The kind of house party you might see in an art house film worth seeing.  Of course, this sounds more romantic than it probably was, but it was delicious all the same.  I can thank Marcel for that.

We met at a bonfire the first few weeks at UCLA and kind of stayed connected since.  Even distance and time could not keep us separated; I still remember the random Sunday brunch in NYC that reconnected us after several years, mutual acquaintances bringing us fatefully together until I saw him just strumming his guitar in the back.  Things like that happen in NYC, but those stories are for another day.

I suppose these reflections should make it no surprise when I just stumbled upon a track that Marcel laid down in Germany earlier this year called "I Fall in Love Too Easily".  This standard, crooned by Chet Baker, indelibly marked my first year in college, the whole collection of Chet Baker pieces that seemed so right for the romantic in me.  Appropriate to thread the needle on jazz, Marcel, connections, standards, all so neatly.  On YouTube at that.  Thanks, Marcel - this made my day.


Bottle returned from our last trip to Italia
I have a special affinity for Italy.  I learned the language in college.  I studied abroad in Milan.  I almost found a job there early in my career until circumstances kept me in the US.  In all my travels and sojourns, I keep finding myself drawn back to the richness of its land, people, and culture.  There is so much to love about the place, as simplistic as it would be to encapsulate today's Italy from its varied history, regions, dialects, and cuisine.  I find that limoncello stands a sturdy symbol of what Italy is all about.

Italians turn the everyday into an art.  They do it with the simplicity of the earth, extracting its essence.  The people are sweet, strong, and then linger after association.  Handled precisely, with particular methods and rhythms, Italians aspire to transcend the moment for eternity.  I can continue, but these qualities are inherent in the best of what a limoncello has to offer.  Limoncello is very simply the zest of lemon peel steeped in alcohol.  It can be nothing more than lemons and sugar for some of the best concoctions.  The typical method is to drink limoncello after dinner as a digestivo, not before or after; this is when the sweetness of the lemon coupled with the potency of grain alcohol is most divine.  Best served chilled, straight from the freezer.  And even better consumed with friends and family, as it should always be.

I'm looking forward to opening this bottle over the holidays and rediscovering the essence of Italy in a shot glass all over again.

Go Smokey

Random thoughts on the last day of the world (according to the Mayans), but another cultural reference came to mind besides Prince and Queen & David Bowie - Smokey and the Bandit.  I loved watching that film as a kid, Burt Reynolds in his prime hustling the bumbling Sheriff Buford T. Justice on a race across the South to divert the chasing cops from a race to deliver a beer shipment.  For some reason, the refrain from the movie's lead song popped into my mind, "We have a long way to go and a short time to get there", so I was glad to divert my attention in remembering this 70's classic.

Just as in the spirit of the film, my random thoughts are done, and I'll be getting back to work.  Go Smokey, I'm following you in spirit into the afternoon.

Party Like It's 1999

A coworker sent me a meeting invitation to the end of the world.  Fitting.  I'm not sure if I should accept or not (suppose it depends on your views of the end of the Mayan calendar), but somehow it reminded me of the Prince song on a related subject.

Fitting as well that this coworker was not born when Prince extolled the virtues of partying like it's 1999 (side note: I did party like it's 1999 while studying abroad in Milan at that time, which was a heady experience with the coming of the Euro and all.  How times have changed, how the mighty have fallen...).  Time change, sometimes faster than we think, and our cultural references become dated.  Perhaps just like the Mayan calendar falling out of fashion over the last few centuries, until its end becomes a modern cultural phenomenon - or not, depending on your view of things.

In either case, it's worth partying like it's 1999 regardless because hey, it will be Friday when this all goes down, and Fridays in the modern world have their own meaning (even an abbreviation - TGIF!), especially right before one of the bigger US holidays.  So go out and have some fun - it's the end of the world anyways, right?

Under Pressure

This is a particularly grueling morning at work, several time windows with overlapping meetings, jumping in and out of calls, and generally trying to push forward a bunch of documents before the holidays.  It looks like a late night ahead, and I have not even gotten started yet.  Just as well, it reminded me of this classic by Queen and David Bowie that I used to listen to in high school.  As dark as the music video can be, it's still a catchy song that energizes me to keep going.


My friend Simon showing classic IMD grit at the whiteboard
I've always known a life of working.  Maybe it was my father as role model, a workaholic in my mother's eyes but also someone who truly enjoys his occupation and the long hours he devotes to his company.  Maybe it is my own passions, which lead me to industriousness and output as a sign of progress.  Wherever it is, I have followed a path of working and applying myself to the maximum of my time and abilities.  Which explains why a Wednesday night at 9:40pm might find me typing away at my computer on another presentation or website versus lounging in front of a television.

In the end, that's OK.  I accept my working lifestyle because it is me, and I enjoy it.  Thankfully, my wife accepts it too (most times - but not always!).  So, it is another self-discovery that defines my path and orientation towards things.  I suppose this ultimately makes me more American (live to work) than European (work to live), but this concept is too general.  Besides, from a more practical vantage point, it makes me busy much of the time, which means I need to remind myself to take a break and take Ruby for a walk.  Sounds like a good idea right about now, while I remember, before I start working again.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Year-ends are good times to reflect and take stock on the year gone past and the year coming ahead.  I took a longer view, though, when thinking about the lifespan of the digital age, at least my personal trajectory.

A few dates were noteworthy and interesting:
My first email address - 17 years ago
My first digital camera - 12 years ago
My first mobile phone - 11 years ago
My first blog post - 9 years ago
My first tweet - 4 years ago

This means that half my life has been spent in the digital age, enough to ingrain (and ingratiate itself) into my lifestyle.  For those older, maybe less so; for those younger, even by a few years, materially more so, to the point where we will not understand each other fully out in the next decade.

This makes the notion of timespan an interesting notion, in that the break in generations that occurred from the computer and internet explosion at the turn of the century will likely accelerate the distinction that generations feel from one another, even from a few years out.  I'll be curious as to what we will feel about this topic in another decade, when the digital age will have become automatic, the "evernet", and seamlessly interwoven into the fabric of our lives.  Or not - let's see what happens.

On the Road

Kristen Stewart gets a billing in On the Road
So many threads bring me back to travel and the open road.  First, I received an email from my regular hotel brand about 2012 stays.  As usual, I was in a hotel room almost 50 days this year, a trend I have maintained over the last 10 years (that's right - I have counted over 500 hotel nights).  Then, I saw the trailer for the movie, "On the Road", which is based on one of the seminal books that I read in my youth, by Jack Kerouac.  Then, I was reminded of upcoming travel to NYC in the new year, which requires another booking.

Somehow, this adds up to a life on the road, which means something very different now with my hotel nights at business-quality hotels versus then when "On the Road" resonated so strongly.  But it is the spirit of travel, adventure, and the open road nonetheless.  I still remind myself to open my eyes and look out in wonder, because the world is a beautiful place.  


Traffic, SF style
A case study in how online traffic works.  Since I have hustled to achieve my 2012 objective of posting 100 blog entries, my site traffic has increased 10x from its normal traffic levels.  Granted, it is difficult not to increase traffic for a site that averages less than one post a week for the life of the site, which then suddenly jumps to 20 posts per week.  But it is a wonder in how the online world works today.  This blog is hosted by Blogger, part of the Google network.  Google considers pageviews as economists consider transactions in the market, a necessity to spur economic activity and value creation.  For Google, pageviews leads to engagement which leads to ad placement which leads to clickthroughs and money generated from advertisers.  For me, it is a matter of achieving a personal objective and crossing a task off my 2012 list.  In either case, it leads to traffic.

In any case, keep reading - there are more posts to come!

Holiday Greeting

Something changes this time of year, when we are allowed to be festive and happy for no other reason than to celebrate the end of another year.  I love the classic music of the holiday season, but I also enjoy the simple revelry that accompanies holiday parties, tree decorations, and light stringing outside the house.  So, it was fitting that Ruby and I get decorated ourselves to share a holiday greeting of best wishes and good tidings for this holiday and the new year.  Let's just hope that the end of the  Mayan calendar doesn't somehow interrupt this wonderful time of year!

Let the countdown begin

Carina's words note lots of different countdowns
Year-end is only 12 days away, and my countdown to 100 blog entries is now 25 entries away.  This explains the latest proliferation of posts that is rushing to beat the clock.  In other words, the race is on, the finish line is now in sight, so let the countdown begin...


The state of newspapers today
Back in the "olden days", when news came from print and waited for the morning and sometimes afternoon hour to spread to the people, the audience was big for the newsprint word.  For the youngsters, this waiting for news any longer than a few keystrokes is a foreign concept.  Of course, the journalistic and media industries have never really waited for news, there has always been a rush to print for the latest breaking stories that would grab people's attention.  And then where there are people, there is promotion.

In this sort of news cycle, pages of finger-dirtying print started to explode, with the finest explosion saved for Sunday morning when common folks had the time to sit with a cup of coffee and browse over the mountain stack of articles and advertisements.  At some point, this "other stuff" that accompanied the news became known as "filler", that empty text and image that said nothing except the next retail blow-out, personal classified, or job listing.  A service, no doubt, but perhaps more to the newspaper publisher than to anyone else.

And so, in these sad days when we mourn the loss of those "simpler" days of morning and afternoon news runs, we can also mourn the loss of filler, which we can still celebrate, if we pay enough attention to the wealth of banner ads that accompany our online experiences.

Focused Thoughts

Life Alchemy has a bit on focused thoughts
Now that the rhythm of gearing up thoughts for writing has returned, habit has chance to take hold.  At least, this is the prevailing "wisdom" of the productivity experts who uncannily make money off of the inherent stasis of human behavior and action patterns.  I count myself as one who has sought the expert opinion in understanding how to live a more productive, effective life, and the experts approach this problem in a variety of ways - technology, religion, mindset, community, etc.  One of the common threads that binds these experts together is focused thoughts, which are meant to keep one on a path towards reaching some sort of objective that drives the initial thought for change.

Of course, the problem comes when change is hard when the inherent stasis finds its way back into common pattern.  Again, where habit becomes important to form before inertia sets in.  But focused thinking can help.  And if any of this makes sense to you, then you are well aware of the struggle to change!


An altogether different take on triumvirate, courtesy of
Budding Latin students learn their language through poetry.  The first is the Aeneid, arguably one of the greatest written works of the Western cannon.  The second is Ovid's Metamorphoses, a colorful poetry collection.  But what follows is a rich collection of historical accounts from a variety of writers that tell the story of Roman greats, the intrigues and foibles, grand plots, and stunning turns of fate.  As I shared before, watching the HBO series Rome refreshed my memory on this fascinating subject.  It also reminded me of the great triumvirates I read about in my studies of the historical accounts from the likes of Suetonius and Pliny the Younger.  

Of course, triumvirates don't often work out, and it was the same in Rome.  The first was a shared power structure amongst Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus, which resulted in Caesar as the first emperor of Rome.  This led, interestingly, to a second triumvirate after the turmoil resulting from Caesar's power play.  Octavian, Marc Antony, and Lepidus tried the same power-sharing structure to the same result but the second failed attempt cemented the imperial structure provoked by Caesar, now with Augustus (formerly Octavian) as the grand ruler for decades to follow.

If all these power plays and historical characters trip you up, check out the HBO series.  Or dig in to the Roman history well-told in the history books - it makes for fascinating reading.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Building Words

What Building Words can look like as a speech tool for children
Writing skill comes from capturing thoughts through distinctive use of wordplay and grammar.  Stated differently, writing is all about building words.  I remember my earliest school boy days when I started to discover this skill, devouring book upon book of simple story lines and pictures that were the hallmark of classic children's literature.  I still observe the same patterns, in characters and letters.  How words can look strange and sound strange and somehow form a lyrical pattern.  Then express meaning that connects with a reader who nibbles on the same words, and teases out different meaning to the same words than even the writer had been able to create.  

If it sounds like a game, it is - and the winner is ultimately the reader who gets to enjoy how the game is played.  I'm returning soon to the game, once I finish a few work documents that are in the way!


Rome, on HBO
I've always been fascinated by Rome.  From the Latin language studies in high school to the study abroad experiences and several follow-on trips to the eternal city, there is no place like the center of the Western world before Christ.

So, it would come as no surprise that I followed the series, Rome, with great interest.  Unfortunately, HBO financed a series that cost too much money and did not find enough of an audience, but it was spectacular while it lasted and provided a too-short glimpse into the seminal period of Roman history when Julius Caesar instigated the transformation of Rome from a senate-driven republic into a emperor-ruled dynasty.  I definitely recommend checking out the two seasons of episodes that chronicled Caesar's rise followed by Octavian's ascendancy - it's fascinating television.

Celebrating Davy Jones

Interesting.  Some random thoughts led to a quick search on the Monkees.  It turns out that the lead singer of the Monkees, Davy Jones, passed away end of February, 2012.  I was reminded of the classic TV show that this "teen idol" band had on the air when I was growing up.  Far cry from today's music-less television (anyone watch MTV recently?) but a happy thought to liven the day.  Thanks for the memories and worthwhile to celebrate Davy Jones.  And in the odd chance that this inspires you to reconnect with this classic icon of 1960's and 1970's entertainment, look out for the Monkees memorial convention in New Jersey in 2013!

Random Thoughts

Random thoughts are random - check out Marvin's Room
Somehow, I ended up on a roll.  Rattling off entry after entry, collecting some thoughts, and getting them down on paper to keep on the path to 100 entries for the year.  Next thing comes the stream of consciousness and random thoughts that comprise the majority of our frontal lobes.  Did I remember to pick up the dry cleaning?  I should brush my teeth.  Whatever happened to the Monkees?  I wish my desk were clean.  My dog is lazy but cuddly.

Random thoughts are random, but they make sense in the context of one's mental processing and internal priorities.  Let those random thoughts fly, and let your stream of consciousness guide you to what's currently important in your daily life.

No Name

It's a funny exercise.  You go to an event with a lot of people.  The organizers decide that they want the attendees to better meet and greet each other, so they put together name tags.  Or, they leave blank name cards to write out and put on your shirt or blouse.

The initial thought is to help people know each other's names.  But the first point of introduction is either informal greetings to those you know, or a raised hand to shake hands and pronounce names.  Even if name tags are sitting prominently on each other's person.

That's how you end up with name tags later in the night, after these formalities have been whisked away by failing adhesive or glasses of wine, affixed to the back of other guests.  I suppose at one point this sort of exercise in name tags made sense, but I find it even harder in the world of social networking to reconcile.  Although I still like the idea of the business card, it falls in the same category. You might imagine that my future parties will have less of these anachronisms and more of the classic host duties, which is introducing people at parties to talk and form connections that name tags allow us to hide behind.  Novel concept, eh?

Reflections on Loss

When the news of the latest mass-shooting tragedy in Connecticut roiled the airwaves and interwebs last week, I took a pause and then tuned out.  This was particularly difficult to do with the widespread reaction that rippled through every conceivable channel, particularly in this Facebook and Twitter world.  But I did it for a few simple reasons.  First, the mania of this event was a bit of a downer, and I was looking forward to a nice weekend at home.  Second, there was nothing that I could add to further clarify or to better understand what this tragedy meant.  Third and related, I could not find a way to access the path towards grappling with the outcome and its impact on so many people (and in, seemingly, a deep and profound way) to start down the path of grieving the loss.

Perhaps I am too close to the tragedy at Penn State last year, but I have learned that such high-impact shocks require their own, personal path towards internal grappling and closure that can take days, weeks, months, or even years to resolve.  I have also learned that the outpouring is its own form of grief and healing.  The Greeks called it catharsis, which was applied as a concept to their theater, moments that allow the audience to connect with the scenes onstage, even if not related to their own life, as an emotional outlet.  The truth comes from relating to and feeling the emotion, which can purge one's own feelings related to the drama unfolding.

Unfortunately, we should expect life full on ongoing shocks and traumas.  And as soon as we address the feelings resulting from such a senseless mass-shooting tragedy, another tragedy will come along to take over the airwaves and interwebs.  I only hope that we continue to learn how to grapple with these tragedies in ways that take into account our shared humanity but personal, diverse journeys towards grappling with grieving and loss. 

Moving Day

I've been lucky - going on six years without packing up my things for a new location.  Before that, it was an annual (or semi-annual, depending on my consulting engagement!) ritual for six years running that reminded me of the human accumulation instinct - and the drudgery of picking up for another place once settled.

But I can now live vicariously through my sister, who has just relocated to DC.  Not only do I now have a blood-kin within a stone's throw, I have a simple reminder of the comfort of a settled house.  As her moving truck rolls up today, I tip a hat to the old days and look forward to helping her out - but returning to the comforts of a cozy hearth at the end.

Monday, December 17, 2012

On a Walk

Ruby deciding on which loop to take...
There is a certain cadence to my daily routine when I work at home.  I start the day with a wonderful espresso from the new-ish Nespresso machine downstairs.  I size up my inbox and then have a daily stand-up call with the team.  Then, I crank on some things until lunch, when I take a break.  Before I eat, I go on a walk.

It's at this time every day that Ruby and I get some bonding time.  Depending on her mood, she goes on a short loop in the neighborhood (a "booby" loop), a longer loop (a "Ruby" loop), or wants to go on a full-out walkabout (an "oh man" loop).  In all cases, I let her lead the way on wherever she wants to go for the day and how much energy she has to work out.  At which point, we come home, I eat, and I crank on things again while she takes a nap.  It seems to work OK, and I kind of miss our little walks when I am away on business travel.

Which reminds me, it's time for today's walk.  I'll be back shortly.

On a Streak

Viral video might be a way to get this streak, according to this article
I'm running out of days to hit my magical 100 entries for 2012.  As of last count this is entry #60.  Another 40 to go with only two weeks left until this year is fully in the books.  It looks like I will need some continued prolific creation in order to hit my goal.  Wish me luck - I'm on a streak.

White Christmas

White Christmas, the Bing Crosby classic that always classic
I am intrigued by old-time radio and music of earlier 20th century periods (cue my wife's eyes rolling on Sunday evenings when I tune in sometimes to "The Big Broadcast" on WAMU public radio in the DC area).  There is something about the tonal quality and richness of the notches of records and phonographs from that period - not to mention the differences in slang, intonation, and accents in how we talked at that time.

The height of this period was the "Golden Age", that stretch right after the Great Depression and leading up to World War II, where mass media found its stride in film and radio.  Movies were the thing to do when going out on a Friday night, and radio was thing to tune in when at home.  Television was still a decade away, and it was the cinema that captivated our imagination with the imagery, double features, newsreels, cartoons, and grand stars of the time (Humphrey Bogart, Carey Grant, Clark Gable, Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, even Mickey Mouse!).    

This is the proper backdrop for the song playing on Pandora currently (way to fast-forward, right?) - White Christmas, by Bing Crosby.  Highest-selling record of all time (check out Lost City for a great rundown of this and other classic holiday song origins), the classic Bing Crosby croon always puts me in the mood for the holiday season.  Incidentally, Bing went on to record another smash holiday hit - "I'll Be Home for Christmas", which had special poignancy back in 1943 when it really meant something to the soldiers serving far away overseas. 

With all the resonance, memories, and connections to the past, I like to pause for a moment when I hear this song and allow myself to dream of a white christmas, where the treetops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow.

Mystic morning

Outside on a mystic morning
The sky has been hanging heavy here, "expectant with rain" as the literary would jot in their notebooks.  By the time this blog post clears the interwebs, I'm sure the sky will open into drizzling rain and provide the right sort of background for pensive thoughts and crafting of deep thoughts that reflect strongly on a page.

Returning to my own literary doodlings, these have stalled over the past several weeks, as work has ebbed again to be "expectant with rain" in its own way.  Pages and pages of documentation, gnarled in a "co-creation" process with a variety of different-minded people ("stakeholders" the business world likes to call them), attempting to describe the same thing.

The publishing process at my work looks somewhat like the tree in this picture that I captured this morning, sturdy singular trunk that loses focus as it reaches up through its branches into hundreds of points of end-lines that carry leaves in the summertime.  As it is now mid-December and the year is closing, there are no more leaves.

I should hope for inspiration as the rain falls today, to resume my march to the end of the year and then another year after that - because today is as good a day as any, to start new again.

On the phone

Last week, I finally got a new phone. Ironic, as my work revolves around the latest of these devices, I had remained steadfast with a device almost three years old.  Until last week.

It is amazing what mobile devices have done to the daily and banal, and I realize it from the random photos that I have captured since. Just watch a youngster today for about 15 minutes, and you will see what on the phone really means.

As for me, I am learning again as I tinker with the latest of smartphones in my pocket. Somehow makes me want to get a picture of my feet on a plane after landing in Dallas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Remembering 12 12 12

We have had a good run, eh?  From 1-1-1 through 12-12-12, and all the years in between that have had multiples of the same number in the year.  We have to go back to 1988 for the last time we faced the last diversity in numbers in our year.  This is also the last time we get a day that repeats numbers like this until the next century.  I've heard there were a lot of weddings planned for this last numerical hurrah, as it were - we will have to see how many more babies we get to see the results.

To mark the date, here is a blog post to commemorate this special day before we return to bland numbers again.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Wish Upon a Star

Walt Disney
I've had too many wonderful memories at Disney theme parks to count, and of all the tens of thousands of people over the past 50 years who have made magic happen at the happiest places on earth, we can thank one person who had the courage and the vision to originally turn it into a reality - Walt Disney.

Happy birthday, Walt - you would have been 111 years young today.

Countdown to 100

Celebrating 100 comes in different forms - it can be entries or followers, I suppose
Quick reminder of reaching 100 entries for the year.  Yeah, this post is kind of cheating, but the lost hard drive should count for a couple quick posts like this one, right?  As of last count, I have 45 entries to go and 25 days to get there - think I can make it?

Microsoft Office Rules

Not ashamed to recommend Microsoft Office - and yes, it does work better on PCs
I'm finally learning how to use Microsoft Office.  An odd post, to be sure, considering that I have created Office documents for the entirety of my working life and that I was forced to become a bit of a power user as a managing consultant over a good part of that period.  But I was always wrangling with the peculiarities of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint in trying to bend their features to my will.  I never ventured into the land of "true" power users, cranking out macros and coding up Visual Basic customizations, but I attempted a number of hacks and workarounds to the core functionality for what I needed those applications to do in creating client-worthy documents.

But no more.  My hard drive crashed, and I am three weeks in to a laborious back-and-forth process to finally restore my personal computer to its prior incarnation.  I have too much data, and I need to consolidate.  Strange place to start in really learning Microsoft Office, but the logic is this - my data explosion and difficulty in managing content is directly related to the amount of work I do to create Microsoft Office documents.  If it is not for the tens of thousands of images that I have captured on digital cameras or the thousands of songs that I have ripped into MP3's, it is the variety of Office documents that have cluttered my hard drive for work and personal projects.

So, I decided to finally figure out how these applications really work and what they try to do in order to make my life easier - and more streamlined - in handling Office documents.  It turns out that Microsoft has a come a long way (baby!) and that the current iterations of Office 2010 applications work together better than ever.  And with a little sweat and tears, one can draw more blood from this application suite to complete the task at hand than ever before - and without a lot of the crazy workarounds.  Which ultimately is helping me organize my document libraries and figure out what I need and keep, what gets consolidated, and where the rest of my document overload goes.  I hate to admit, but Microsoft Office rules - once you understand what its rules are.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Work Break

Ketchum with some ideas for a different sort of work break
Somehow it is Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and I missed a week of journaling.  You can imagine that it was a dry spell creatively but rich socially.  It started with that most American of holidays.  The holiday reminds me of the simplicity of childhood, the anticipation of a run-up to the end-of-year festivities, and the feel-good story of pilgrims, indians, turkey, corn, and passing that first winter together.  Giving thanks with a simple story that was likely nowhere close to the kid's book version of American history spooned out in my youth, but that is beside the point.  The food coma lasted for days, thanks to my wife's wonderful cooking.  On the other side, I was quickly over my head in work documents and website building.  This backlog will last through the holidays, a different sort of anticipation than my childhood afforded.

No matter - this is a short respite before I jump back in.  We all need a work break at some point.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Late in the Day

Late in the day on a typical evening in Lahaina, Maui
Somehow the day got away from me.  Never mind the work travel and the meetings and the document production for other projects, I let the better part of the day inhibit me from jotting a few journal notes.   This is certainly less than the creative time needed to keep formulating the ideas rattling in my brain, of which one I hope to extract for a long form piece next year.  If I was honest with myself, I would admit that more time is required to soak in these thoughts than I have provided thus far, time which is slow coming and needs focus and solitude.  Alas, the work of a writer is often left for those moments that linger late in the day, when reflections peek out enough to capture and dissolve like a sunset.  I will keep trying.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

50 entries

I just crossed the threshold of 50 entries for 2012 - I'm halfway to my goal for this year.

Let's see if I can continue the same proliferation from the last couple of weeks to reach this goal by end of year.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Couch surfing (good day to be a Bruin)

Bruins Nation gives the beautiful details - photo by Harry How
It was a great afternoon.  Back to back, Penn State and UCLA had great victories in college football, and my schedule was clear and free to watch and savor every moment of their games.  The day was particularly sweet as a Bruin, as today was the rivalry game with cross-town foe USC, one of the biggest games of the season.  It had been 5 long years since UCLA's last victory over USC, and the 38-28 win was sweeter for the Pac-12 South championship that came with it and a chance to qualify for the Rose Bowl this year.

A day of couch surfing worth commemorating.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Anyone can blog and be effortless in doing so, according to

It takes a lot of work to appear effortless.  In a sudden burst of energy, I have this image of what a story idea might look like completely fleshed out, characters living and breathing, plot lines taut and tension-filled, and the emergence of a piece of writing that communicates something important.

Unfortunately, it is just an image, a mirage really, for covering up the countless hours and head-banging attempts to do the actual work to flesh out a story idea.  This is the reason why good ideas take a long time to realize and seem to go "quiet" for such a long time.  Going "quiet" means that something is happening.

In that context, I am learning to appreciate that effortless is actually the state we reach when hard work starts to "pay off" and acceleration occurs from the point of idea to achieving noticeable results.  My goal is to reach that state with my current writing pursuits in the new year - I'll keep trying!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Press the productivity button from Talent Alley
My wife teases me that I spend so much time figuring out how to be more productive.  Reading about time management and getting things done and systems thinking and other personal productivity techniques.  It turns out that the effort has less to do with finishing a task list than feeling better about the amount of stuff one is able to accomplish.

It also turns out that time is finite.  That also applies to things getting done.  If the day has only so many hours available, it begs to reason that only so many documents or writings or meetings or phone calls can be accomplished.  Managing time might mean no more than better quantifying the amount available - not that magic happens and more comes out of the effort.  And if one believes that more hours can be squeezed out - less sleep, more energy, what have you - the net result is strangely the same.

Except if one decides that whatever can be accomplished with whatever time is available is good enough.  Even better if it is considered great and worthy of  the time.  Which begs the question - is productivity nothing more than perspective and focus to maximize the time and energy available? 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Focus pattern from
A quick entry to keep the momentum.  I've been researching how to create better Word documents, which will come in handy at the office.  My schedule is full of meetings, but I'm trying to draft an elaborate document by the beginning of next week.  And wouldn't you know it, Thanksgiving is also next week, and there is preparation required for that - shopping and cooking and all - since my wife's parents are coming over to celebrate.

I will keep it brief, focus is the word today.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Image from

Writing is difficult on some days.  This is one of them.  At least, the day has started in a slump, and perhaps it will improve.  Stumbling blocks often revolve around lack of (sometimes cloudy) thoughts or lack of motivation.  This morning it is more of the former, which I am trying to combat with the latter.  Since I have decided to reach my goal of 100 entries this year without cheating - and I still have a good bit to draft through December - I have tried to jumpstart this blog as a space to reintroduce the discipline.  The trouble is finding a voice that delves into areas worth writing about.  Strangely enough, it is my day job at this point that allows me to publish work, albeit product requirements for a mobile app and system, but it is something.  And that's a start.

This all builds into something, which I am trying to corral in the new year.  Stay tuned as I sort it out - motivation might get me there.

Monday, November 12, 2012

60 Second entry

Courtesy of user Samnavy at

What could you get done in a 60-second entry?  I tried it and put a timer on the desk.  Organizing thoughts can take up to 15 seconds, as the timer gets going.  Stucturing an idea can take another 10 seconds.  Good thing that I can type faster, although errors creep in in such a short amount of time.  Ultimately, I spent 60 seconds thinking about this post, which is the idea.  If only I could come up with something better - and time is up!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Skyfall - one of the Best Bond films?

James Bond in Skyfall - official movie site here
It's amazing to think that James Bond is 50 years old.  Oct 5, 1962, to be exact, was when Dr. No debuted in the UK with Sean Connery as the first Bond.  Bond returns in his 23rd film, Skyfall, with Daniel Craig as the sixth and current Bond.  It's a must-see.

I'll avoid the spoilers but echo a similar sentiment that many critics have shared - this is a modern Bond that pays proper homage to his legacy.  The film is also a joy to watch.  The opening action scene is arguably the best action scenes of any Bond film I've ever seen.  The Bond song, "Skyfall" by Adele,  is reminiscent of the classic Bond songs (I was thinking Goldfinger), and it plays over an opening credit sequence that feels connected to the golden age of  Bond opening credit sequences (from Thunderball to The Spy Who Loved Me).  The Bond action is, well, Bond action, but the film is also character-driven like the earlier films like From Russia with Love or On Her Majesty's Secret Service.  And the Bond villain carries all the psychological misgivings and creepiness of some of the great Bond villains, played perfectly by Javier Bardem as a character who would also be at home in some of the latest Marvel and Batman movies.

When it was over, I was also relieved to see that familiar message in the end credits - "James Bond will Return".  No movie title followed - and hard to guess what it would be since we are out of Ian Fleming book titles at this point - but it's coming.  We should be very happy about that because if upcoming Bond films are anything like Skyfall, we should expect the Bond legacy to thrive with many more worthwhile films to come.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Saturday brunch begs for pancakes.  We were invited to a friend's house for such a morning feast and get-together, where the guests volunteered to bring a specialty to share.  When it comes to breakfast food, my most accomplished specialty is pancakes, so it was out with the griddle this morning.

I learned this skill from my father, who liked to fill Saturday mornings with batter and flapjacks.  He also referred to his western Pennsylvania roots and brought in regional flavors, such as buckwheat pancakes.  Since those days, I have carried forward the pancake skills, which my wife appreciates.  And for a Saturday brunch, it was the perfect dish.  So if you are enthusiastic for flapjacks, let me know, and we'll cook 'em up next time we are together!