21 December 2009

Sibling Rivalry

Many events and new learnings with the girls have come and gone. Its too hard to keep up any more. They really are like little people who just have a lot to learn. Such as last night, when I showed them how to hold a spoon they all of a sudden starting eat much more neatly than before. There is one story from this morning, however, that I thought fun. It illuminates the love and hate that exists between siblings.

After breakfast this morning the girls were still a bit hungry. We keep a bottom drawer in the kitchen unlocked and stuffed full of snacks for the girls. They regularly raid this drawer looking for goodies. Today, Alisa scored a box of animal crackers. She brought it over to me and asked me to open it (her request was to hold up the box and say "Me.") Inside there is another packet sealing in the cookies. After I popped open the box I handed her the packet to let her play with it a little bit before eating. Leia jumped to hand and grabbed the other side of the packet. A tug of war ensued where both girls were literally leaning way back, pulling frantically at the packet of animal crackers while eyeing the other with fierce jealousy. When I tried to take the packet to stop the fight they wouldn't give up and both started tugging against me.

I finally got the packet open and they each had two crackers. Their favorite pet is a kitty and, as luck would have it, they both got a kitty for their second cracker. Leia, however, had tired of the animal crackers by then (she's not much into carbs) and dropped her kitty on the floor. Alisa became concerned, picked up the cracker and gave it back to Leia - evidently thinking Leia had accidentally dropped the kitty cracker. Leia looked the cracker over, decided again she didn't want it, and gave it back to Alisa. This time Alisa gratefully took the cracker, smiled and said "Nya Nya" (the Japanese children's word for kitty) and ate the cracker.

19 December 2009

Back to the Front!

Its been a really f'ng hard week. As I write this, at 6:30am on a Saturday morning, my hangover is just starting to kick in. God I hate booze. Give me weed any day of the week. An old colleague from Pune, India dropped by on Friday and we went out for drinks. Among many other things, we discussed the brutal nature of off-shoring jobs and emotional nature of our own roles. It got me to drinking way too heavily.

To give you some sense of what its like, my team has lost 30% of its individual contributors over the last year. A similar percentage of managers have become individual contributors. Every step I personally make has an effect on whether or not one of my friends & colleagues has a job next year. And still our jobs relentlessly disappear. The pressure is intense. After I came home last night I just sat on the kitchen floor and broke down.

Now at last I feel a little better. The tears are gone and, once this headache is gone and Sunday rolls around, its back to the front. Although next week is holiday, there really is no chance to stop working anymore. Holidays and days off are used to prepare for another battle in trying to keep jobs here in the US.

14 December 2009

Baked Beans: Twitter Edition

Life is more than hectic right now and will be until mid-April. So here's a bunch of one-liner status messages.

- Alisa had her first three word sentence today. Hirono took her dirty diaper flushed the contents away. She responded by saying "Poopoo go away."

- I still think there may be criminal activity with individuals in the 2008 financial bailout; but, to suggest there is a conspiracy is going too far. Obama may be tragically misguided but I don't think he or most of his cabinet are actual evil like the last batch of goons in the White House.

- Work is nuts. Focal review period, still dealing with layoff ramifications, getting close to ship, lining up the next projects, fighting for funding, trying to make the teams take another step toward process perfection, planning the holiday parties and getting ready for a 2 week vacation all at the same time.

- Hirono and I are starting to have a real life again. We can spend up to ten minutes communicating at one time while the girls play together. There are now moments when its easier that the girls are twins because they can play with each other.

- Alisa likes to always play with another person. Leia likes to play alone half the time. That leads to trouble sometimes and entertaining chase scenes as two diaper clad wee ones go careening around the house in a badly balanced game of tag.

- Music! We can listen to music again. I even got in a real practice session on the alto recorder yesterday for the first time in over a year. I learn once more that playing music and playing D&D are the only things that unfailingly keep me away from weed.

08 December 2009

Short Stream of Consciousness Post

The illnesses this winter have been relatively mild. We're now in the second cold of the season, with post nasal drip, sniffly noses, nightly coughs and general sleeplessness. I'm working from home today to try to recover from a sleepless night. I won't get the chance to nap; but, at least it will be more relaxing so that I can deal with 2 hours of sleep (interrupted multiple times.)

To heighten the sense of being pampered today, I've walked downtown to have breakfast and my weekly cup of java. There's a cafe downtown that serves an excellent Eggs Florentine and has Peet's on the premises. There's a full bar in the afternoon/evenings and televisions silently showing European soccer. A bevy of older Italian gentlemen hang out here most days to watch soccer and drink wine. The sound of them arguing over the game in Italian is surprisingly calming.

The lasagna here rocks, too.

07 December 2009


Outside my office window I can see snow on the hilltops weirdly juxtaposed with the palm trees on the street below. If the sun comes out I'll take a picture.

06 December 2009

Long Night Ahead

The girls are finally down. Its been a difficult weekend with them both being slightly ill and four shots each (including a booster for H1N1) at the doctor on Friday. They do continue to grow and learn in leaps and bounds. Leia was walking around on her tippy toes tonight, quite a feat in balance for someone who only learned to walk a few months ago. Alisa's vocabulary is up to about 35-40 words and growing. Her ability to put words together for new meaning is increasing. They both have really taken to pretend play, such as feeding their stuffed animals or tucking them into bed. Alisa is also starting to really sing songs rather than just random rhythmic noises. Best of all, they're almost to the point where I can read a real story to them rather than a very simplistic board book - that's when the real fun begins!

The title of the post refers to work. I'm just sitting down to work. My first meeting is in 15 minutes. 1 hour of meetings tonight, about 250 emails to catch up on, its the end-game in our (truly massive) product cycle and - on top of it all - is focal review season. I've got about 6 hours of work that must be completed before tomorrow morning. Ugh.

Now if only I could find where I lost my motivation. The weak kneed leaders in the Senate don't help.

03 December 2009

18 Months

The girls are 18 months old today. The experience has been intense. Its starting to relax a little and I'm beginning to find myself with more energy to do other things. Work cries out for attention. So does my home life. Getting a balance between the two isn't easy.

Alisa uses two word combinations regularly now. Leia responds correctly to amazingly complex sentences. Their biggest problems now are phonics and vocabulary. This calls for a trip to the bookstore!

Leia is the ringleader. She's the one who always has an idea for something new to do, some new game to play. Alisa follows along joyfully. If Leia does anything to hurt Alisa, she tells on her. For example, Alisa will come complaining to me saying "Leia" and slapping herself on the head.

You can always tell when the girls enjoy their food. Leia is quiet and eats prodigiously. Alisa smiles and says "mmmmmmmm".

Alisa likes playing the recorder and the piano. Leia likes drums and dancing. These are some of the last photos of the girls before they turned 18 months. They are clearly no longer babies; but, budding individuals.



30 November 2009

For a Less Hysterical Approach

Now here's some sound reasoning to our economic crisis.

Don't for a moment think that the current economic crisis is in any sense over or even on the way to recovery. Any 'recovery' now will be short lived and jobless unless something changes dramatically. The change could be reigning in government spending on wasteful adventures in the Middle East or it could be coming up with a fiscal policy that matches today's environment. Either way, Obama and Congress and the bureaucrats in Washington clearly don't have the will to change.

h/t Cunning Realist.

Updated: My favorite quote from the article:

Abandoning its role as neutral arbitrator, the Fed tilted in favor of capital over labor. The institution was remolded to conform with the right-wing market doctrine of chairman Alan Greenspan, and it was blinded to reality by his ideology (see my Nation article "The One-Eyed Chairman," September 19, 2005). --e

29 November 2009

Brief Status Report

Thanksgiving is over. We had the family here at out house to celebrate. All in all it went smoothly. My parents were in town, which helped immensely.

The girls' ability to communicate continues to improve. Alisa has started using two word combinations. I first noticed it about two weeks ago when we passed by the master bedroom, in which Leia was taking a nap, and Alisa said, "Leia nene." 'Nene' means 'to sleep' in baby-Japanese, being a childish conjugation of 'neru'. Yesterday as I walked to the bathroom Alisa said, "Daddy pooh-pooh", her only way of articulating anything to do with the bathroom.

Work basically is abysmal. I'm about as unmotivated as one can be.

An last, a picture to cheer me up. Here's the girls waiting for Thanksgiving dinner to be ready.


23 November 2009

There Is Nothing

More than this...


21 November 2009

Short People Can Help, Too

A couple more firsts this weekend for the girls on top of Alisa's potty use mentioned below.

They both went to bed in the same room last night. Leia went to sleep first and Alisa went up afterwards. It made for a very calm, comfortable night. I was asleep between them an hour later. I really love sleeping on futons. The futons being on the floor lets the girls wander around after they wake up. This usually affords us an extra fifteen precious minutes of sleep in the morning. The closeness of sleeping as a family, Japanese style, is also very satisfying.

Alisa also helped unload the groceries today. Her most capable maneuver was to take a box of corn flakes out of the bag, open the drawer, place the box correctly in the drawer next to the Teddy Puffs, and close the drawer. Its been a big week for her.

18 November 2009


That's my answer to the question posed by skepchick. Unfortunately, someone beat me to it. I guess its too obvious.

17 November 2009

Big Milestone

Alisa used the potty for the first time tonight. She still made a mess on the floor; but, it was a really great step forward. Leia became jealous.

Now we have to work on timing and consistency.

It Reeks In Here

There are those who think I'm going off the deep end with the bailout topic; but, everything about the topic smells deeply of malfeasance. Meteor Blades points out, these thieves are stealing from you and me.

In the wake of the worst layoff for the products for which I'm responsible, I cannot help but be furious at the upper echelon capitalists. The bank leaders who pulled off the bailout really do deserve a good tar and feathering. My wife lost her job and is going through the rigors of job hunting right now. Many of my friends are in the same boat. For some of them, they were the only income for their family. My actions through the coming year will have direct impact on many people I care about. Though the bailout might have saved us from a depression, the details didn't have to be this way at all. Warren Buffet had a good deal with Goldman Sacs while you and I got the sucker's deal.

First Round for Winter '09

We're going through our first round of illness for this winter. It would be naive for me to hope it was the only round of sickness this winter. Leia and Alisa are pretty much through the worst now. Leia's stuffy nose is about all that's left. Hirono seems to have mostly escaped. I'm home with a sore throat today.

In other news, I continue to be surprised at the amount the girls understand. This morning while playing with crayons I asked Leia for the blue crayon, which she dutifully picked out from other colors. Same with the orange crayon. After two perfect choices in a row I decided to quit while we were ahead. So I don't know the extent of her color knowledge. I'll wager her range of color names matches the Winnie the Pooh book of colors we read regularly.

13 November 2009

Belated Halloween Photos

I'm finally getting off my lazy back side and putting a few blog posts up. Here's a picture of each girl preparing for their Halloween parade at day care.

P1010782Elfin pride

P1010779Mama holding Snow White.

Plain Pasta

Its amazing how much of this stuff these girls can put down.

P1010945Leia likes to empty the bowl before eating.

P1010960Alisa likes to eat slowly, one strand at a time.

11 November 2009

A Fortnight of Baked Beans

I've been eating like crap lately. My diet has generous portions of Dairy Queen, which is conveniently located literally across the street. I've also been slacking off on this blog journal. Hence the post's title.

So much has happened in the last two weeks. I feel as though I'm a different person than I was two weeks ago. Now more than ever I can feel my age. Its not just being tired; its mental as well. I feel worn down a bit emotionally. Slower. Always looking for an additional layer of meaning to the world around me.


Ah, the girls. The chorus of this song really expresses one of the deepest changes in me:


We had layoffs yesterday. Hirono was laid off from her job. Shitty day. Come to think of it, today was pretty shitty as well. It is starting to push on that whole "looking for an additional layer of meaning to the world around me" button.


Like I said above, yesterday was a really bad day. They're done with. It was tragic, the depths of the cuts and the good people who were lost. At least the denial phase of grief is passing for me. Now comes the confrontational stage, characterized by the thought of "my life will never be the same".

Its really interesting being in this position. I can see how people's jobs are funded and the trap that US workers are in. Cost drives projects overseas when they reach a certain level of maturity. So the US workers must have a good reason why the new projects should be engineered in the US.

Whenever a new project gets funded there is often a relationship with an older product that is now overseas. This means it is more effective to build the new project overseas. Add to that the fact that it is way cheaper and the remote site wins hands down. This means there are fewer projects available here in the US and they take the cutting edge people to land those jobs. This results in serious competition for a dwindling number of jobs. Those jobs, however, are often breaking new ground for the corporation.

So for the US worker that means always staying up front of what the company needs in terms of technology, ideas or leadership. The alternative is to lose your job. Its tough; but its not cut-throat.


So many developments in the girls. Its fascinating how thought develops.

They clearly have abstract thought going on. They can respond to such ideas as please go bring me the drum, by fetching a drum from a pile of random toys without me pointing. They help unload the dishwasher; but stay away from the porcelain or glass in the dishwasher. They seem to understand the purpose of the potty and speak about their own movements; but, they don't yet have the physical control to do more than sit on the potty every now and then.


Alisa loves clothes. Leia loves shoes. They both love bags.


A couple of times there have been phrases coming out of Alisa. Her pronunciation is clear enough (at least to my ears) that I can hear her pronounce phrases I say like:

Hey, cool!
That's great!
It's fun!

She also sings along with her favorite songs. Occasionally the phoneme comes out clearly enough to make out what she's saying.

When I repeat the right phrase to her she nods. It usually takes me a couple guesses to figure out the right phrase.


They understand negation. When we speak to them in negative phrases they respond correctly. Things like:

Do you want to go to bed? Shakes head.
Do you want to go to bed? Shakes head.
Do you want to go to bed? Shakes head.
Do you want to not go to bed. Nods head.
Do you want to go to bed? Shakes head.


I can now confidently use pronouns with the girls. They understand you and me and I now. We can start to speak like normal people again instead of referring to ourselves as "Mama" and "Daddy".


Leia is throwing tantrums. Once it also set Alisa off into a tantrum. There is a certain dread every day to the nightly tantrum.

She's also been very negative. The above head shaking was her. She generally answers no to everything. She'll shake her head at food but reach for it when I hold it in her direction.


The girls showed no reluctance to eating bone marrow last weekend. I made beef stew out of sliced beef shank. The marrow stayed in the hollow of bone. When it came time to pull out the marrow the girls didn't hesitate to eat it. Even I didn't get much marrow because they wanted some. That's a good sign. They may like the same food as me yet. Certainly they seem to eat most everything we eat - if they're in the mood to eat whatever we're eating. Other times they just want plain carbs.


They are now completely in the toddler room at day care. They're not as happy there. Even though their closer friends have been in the toddler room for a couple months, they still aren't terribly happy there. Its intimidating and tiring for them. Everybody else walks better than them. Just keeping up with the crowd is hard.

That's when the tantrums started. Leia's been the most agile in the infant class for some months. Now she's the new kid on the block and is easily bullied.


Hirono and I have been thinking a bit about relocating to India. No joke.

It would be hard. Really hard. There are real concerns about making sure your house or apartment building have their own power generator. That's in one of the most modern of cities. Health, security and education are all concerns we have for the girls. But if we can time it right for them it would be one of the most wonderful experiences in the world. Can you imagine spending 4-5 years in India as a young child? Oh, the memories.

It would also be hard on Hirono. Living in a second world island within a third world country is not easy. East Asians are on the bottom end of prejudice there as well. Prejudice is rampant in India (though Japanese and Chinese business folks can usually avoid the condemnations.) I would also be enmeshed in the Indian work environment. That means hours, lots of hours.

But its too easy to fall in love with the people of India. Crossing the Himalayan passes to Kashmir on a motorcycle - oh, my!

Then there's the fact that mature projects go overseas. Eventually my job will go overseas as well. It may even be possible to divine when that would occur. I could shepherd my project over, though I'd want to pass it off to someone else within a year so I could do something else there. I've also got to find something for my team here to do while I'm away. There's an idea hatching.


The project at work is going well. I had set a goal of US$30M for the first year coming from the Chocolate Factory idea. We have an opportunity that looks to be more than twice that number per year starting next fall. There are other opportunities on the drawing board as well. This is going to be achievable. If all goes well we could put a much bigger mark on revenue much sooner than I expected.

01 November 2009

Too Much In Common

Its kinda scary, I have more in common with Liberal Quakers than what I rationally choose to believe, nontheism (or more specifically, atheism.) And the religion to which I have most emotional and experiential affinity, Mahayana Buddhism scores pretty low - which I actually expected given some of the mumbo jumbo of Mahayana Buddhism about reincarnation and karma.

Go check out where you sit at Belief-O-Matic. Here's the full breakdown for me:

h/t: GrrlScientist

28 October 2009

Stress and the City

There's lots to say; but, I'm so deeply behind at work that there isn't the time or energy to put thoughts to keyboard and make a post. Suffice it to say that it sucks royally to work at a company that isn't "too big to fail." If I had made mistakes of the relative magnitude that the banksters have made, me and my whole team would be on the streets looking for work. Of course, instead Goldman Sachs and others are making money hand-over-fist by leveraging the tax payer's dollars.

On the home front, we finished H1N1 vaccines for the girls today. It was a really long line and Santa Clara county was down to just a few shots left. The H1N1 vaccines went really quickly. We had to queue up in a very long line out the door of the clinic. Already the clinic was restricting H1N1 vaccines to just high risk individuals, which meant the girls could get shots but Hirono and I could not. By the time we reached the nurses, even many high risk individuals were being turned away (such as those who were chronically ill or otherwise more susceptible to the flu but over the age of 24.) Luckily we made it in time before they ran out of vaccines for even the babies.

Also with the girls, their ability to comprehend us continues to amaze me. I've been very careful not to talk about sweets or desserts; but, today I slipped and immediately after dinner asked "What about dessert?" I'm not sure how Leia learned the word 'dessert'; however, she made a bee line directly to the drawer where we keep crackers and the like. She fished through the crackers, found the sweetest cracker that we have (a kabocha/egg cracker from Japan) and promptly brought it to me for distribution. Clever little girl, that one.

21 October 2009


Adobe just spent about $400 of my time trying to file an expense report for $143. The exact details were needed and the forms tool sucked badly (no, our HR didn't use Live Cycle forms - which actually work.) So I had to re-enter the information three times.

19 October 2009

What He Said

Glenn Greenwald says it well.

On top of that, this is a new freedom that is meaningful for me personally. Well done, Mr. Obama.

18 October 2009

Not-Working Work Night

Lots to do for work tonight but I'm just totally unmotivated. I've got about five hours worth of work to complete tonight. I'll probably do about two and head to bed at around 1am. I'm taking tomorrow as a vacation day and will work half-a-day to catch up from tonight. Depending on the hours logged by the end of the week, I may or may not actually file the vacation day.

The weekend has been fun. Spending time with the girls has become one of the most enjoyable pastimes ever. Although the days are taxing, and the nights still too short to get a full night's sleep, I'm very happy with my personal life (work is OK but severely stressful in this economy.) With Hirono's parents returning to Tokyo this past Thursday, we've had to spend the last three days recovering from their presence. The girls had to become adjusted to having only Hirono and me here. The kitchen needed to be rearranged to the way I like it after the interlopers left. And we had the normal chores to do. At the same time we moved the girls to one nap per day, which was very challenging for all four of us.

We went to the nearby uber-playground this weekend. The girls haven't been there for a couple of months. Since that time their own learning horizon has increased considerably, so they found a whole new playground awaiting them on Saturday morning. Both of them really enjoyed the swings this time, as well as the see-saw and the slides. They were frightened of the slide at first; but, after cajoling them into a ride with me holding them from the side, it was love at first slide. Eventually both girls even found their way around a wooden stage to the big kids' slides, where they promptly displayed an absolute physical need to go on the biggest slide possible. We eventually took them up to the littlest "big kids' slide" and held them on our lap as we went down together. They loved this, and it provided a good way to close out the morning before going grocery shopping. Sadly, we didn't bring the camera.

The girls have also developed a joy for shopping. With Alisa in particular, she loves shoe shopping. She points to the shoes she wants to try on and cries whenever we put her own shoes back on to leave the shoe department. Once we found a pair of shoes that fit our needs and her feet, she decided she wanted to parade around the store in them. It was quite fun! Now she started applying that same behavior pattern to clothes. While walking past the clothes section she twice squealed for a particular item that she liked. One of them, a sweater, had her size and she eagerly looked about for a mirror. Of course, she cried when we didn't buy the sweater - not accepting the rationale that we had enough sweaters already. In the toy section they had the most fun, of course. Both of them have a strong attraction to Snow White. Alisa is fond of anything cute and cuddly, such as all the animals in a toy pet store. Leia is more interested in balls and sporty stuff.

On the emotional front I'm quite pleased with the girls' progress. They both enjoy the praise whenever they try to help. Usually they really just get in the way; but, the fact that they are eagerly trying to help brings out our praise nonetheless. They also show lots of affection now. For example, I was dozing off this morning on the bed while the girls played around in the nursery. We sleep Japanese style (futons on the floor), so Leia found it easy to climb up next to me while I drifted off to sleep. She picked up Alisa's blanket and covered me with it, then proceeded to stroke my back trying to comfort me. She's such a sweetheart. Leia will also often bring Alisa's comfort object (a stuffed Miffy toy) to Alisa whenever she see's that Alisa is starting to get upset. She'll also share her food with Alisa regularly, including once giving Alisa the last cookie. Both girls regularly hug each other for fun or comfort. Often they'll bump their heads together when the hug, setting off a raucous wrestling match or game of chase around the first floor of our house.

Lastly, twice this weekend Alisa wanted me to teach her how to play songs on the piano. I'll play a melody she loves and she'll hold out her finger (often correctly on the first key of the melody) and have me use her finger to play the melody again. So far her two favorites are the theme song from Tonari No Totoro and the title song from the same cartoon. She'll also pick up her own recorder and try to play it whenever I play one of these songs on a recorder. She easily gets frustrated by not being able to play the songs herself, so we have to carefully encourage her to continue to learn and grow in this area without becoming bored or overly frustrated.

14 October 2009

This is Where Obama "Earns" His Nobel Prize

Andrew J Bacevich accurately describes my feelings about Obama in general.

The decision in Afghanastin will define his presidency - beyond being the first black president, I believe. He already won the Nobel Peace Prize, and he doesn't have to "earn" it in the sense that many (including myself) reacted when first hearing the news of the award. This is his chance to "earn" the prize in a big way. Shutting down both wars would be the first substantial step toward closing down the military industrial complex. This is also the decision that will determine where is the limit for the Change he promised to bring.

A few days late: John Lennon, Rest In Peace. Thank you for the song that calms Leia at night.

This link (sorry, no embedding) matches the theme of the post more, though. Yoko sent the unique brilliance of John Lennon off into a new direction. Where is our John Lennon today to bring attention to what is at stake?

Local Carnival

We went this week to the local carnival. It was Sunday afternoon and we weren't sure where to go for a walk. Hirono pointed to the obvious, a ferris wheel over the neighbors house.

Actually, it was two and a half blocks away. It just looked that close because it was a big ferris wheel. The local Catholic cathedral was holding its annual benefit parking lot carnival. I'm not one to support the church in any endeavor; but, this one could not be missed!

The spectacle amazed the girls. The pictures mostly came out poorly (with the notable exception of my mother-in-laws' shining face below.) The lighting was just a bit harsh with no greenery around. The priests' garden was the only flora, and that was taken by a stage with the most god awful cover band that ever played. At least there was a ride for the girls. They had a very colorful train for babies. I was mightily embarrassed by the operator chastising me for trying to strap a baby strap around my own waist. Leia was a dare devil and wanted to try the adult rides. Of course, when the train ride started she became scared again. All bravado!

Then she cried when the ride was over because she wanted more.


Not a Good Place to Be

Jetlag hit me again. I was asleep all day. It's 3:30am and I still am not tired.

Yummy Pickles

Since Kona and txrad are so fond of pickles I decided to pick up the best pickles I could find. One of my friends keeps bragging about her mother's cooking, and her colleagues back up the claim. So I took her to task and asked for a couple of her mother's best homemade pickles. She came through with a jar of mango pickles and a jar of lemon pickles; though she warned me that if I didn't eat the lemon pickles she'd kill me on account of her liking them so much herself.

On the way out of the New Dehli (Indira Ghandi) airport the security guards go through a very strict search. When they came across my pickles they were intrigued. It wasn't so much that I had funky food or that I was carrying pickles on board; but, rather, that the lemon pickles came in a pickled garlic jar. He was clearly aware of what they were and so was confused about the jar's label. He opened he jar and smelled the contents. After raising his eyebrows in appreciation of the smell, he closed the lid and put them back in my carryon bag. Then he let me pass.

We landed first in the US via Chicago (O'Hare), which is where I had the worst ever customs experience anywhere in the world - long story for some other time. Anyway, the xray machine for my connecting flight tagged this jar in my luggage. So the guard pulled it out and started questioning me about it. I told him that they were special pickles you couldn't buy in the US. That didn't impress him so I made up a story about how my mother-in-law made them for my wife. The sob story went on about her not being able to get the pickles in the US for years and that I was carrying them back as a special favor. Eventually he called over the shift boss, who had the pickles analyzed. They wiped the jar down with some cloths and ran the cloths through a chemical analyzer. The test gave them nothing, so they decided to bring over the vapor analyzer kit. That's when the guard opened the jar and made a screwed up face like he'd just been rubbed in the face with a skunk butt. Needless to say, they hurried through the vapor analysis as quickly as possible. After still finding nothing the let me through with the pickles. I bid them a nice day and was on my way home still clutching two precious jars of homemade pickles.

Thus far I've only had the chance to try the lemon pickles. They were truly awesome with some flat bread. Soan's mother had a fine showing with these little gems. They're sour and salty with just the right blend of spices to have a heavenly aroma. Its definitely food for the soul, at least for those of us with a taste for the pungent. Oddly enough, Hirono's mother liked them as well. She never likes spicy food and has a delicate stomach; but, she loved these little babies. They are slightly reminiscent of umeboshi, japanese pickled plums, so I guess it isn't too odd that she'd like them.

Kona and txrad, I had originally contemplated shipping these jars over to you after tasting them. Now that I've tried the lemon pickles I'm keeping them. If you want to try these bad boys you'll have to get your lazy butts to the SF Bay Area. Come on over, you'll at least have a home base to stay in for free while exploring the SF environs (I'm about 60 minutes away from SF by car, 90 min by train.) And you'll get to meet two of the most beautiful babies in the world. I promise to keep at least half a jar of each pickle for 6 months from today. After that, they're history.

10 October 2009

The Long and Winding Road

I'm feeling super mellow. This was written on the plane home tonight (today, this morning, yesterday, whatever it was.) The airline was so cramped I couldn't open my laptop. So it had to be written by hand.

This past week has been exhausting; but, as I fly home from India I’m filled with renewed vigor and enthusiasm for the coming years. The first stage of the Chocolate Factory is nearly accomplished. We can articulate a vision, show how that vision provides significant return on investment, explain a strategy to reach that vision, and have an action plan in place. Finally, after numerous attempts at selling a project idea, we have a plan that is audacious enough to be funded. Soon we enter the execution phase.

The vision and strategy changed dramatically over time. What started as exasperation over our dysfunctional bureaucracy has turned into a project that can both drive more revenue in its first year than many products we currently offer, and it can break apart this monolithic beast of ~1400 people all striving toward one insane schedule. We tapped into a groundswell of frustration across the business. People from almost every discipline felt similarly. Each had their own view of the problem and their own ideas for a solution. In the end, most are convinced and aligned. Some, primarily in marketing and experience design, seem more hemmed in by their narrow view. (As an aside – the business leadership has brought new blood into marketing that is more aligned. In addition, as experience design starts seeing the specific tasks needed for this project they’re coming around and now trying to partner with us.) All of these disciplines contributed so that now we have a broad-based vision and a five year strategy to achieve that final vision. Most importantly, the path along the way can be “productized” to generate surprisingly large incremental revenue.

This trip to India had many goals, some short term tactical goals and some long term strategic goals. While the tactical goals of ensuring our current raft of products ship on time and with quality were important, it is the strategic goals that were the heart of the journey. After getting input and alignment with business and engineering leaders over the past year, what we really needed to accomplish this week was to sell the vision and strategy to the engineering boots on the ground. I think we nailed it.

After our all-hands presentation on Tuesday I saw the mood and tenor for the team change. They had already been tasked with a lot of the specific steps needed to move forward. Now, however, they understood the context of the tasks. Multiple times different individuals came up to me to express a renewed motivation. They had a greater vision for what we could become. They grasped the logic, the cause and effect relationship leading from their day-to-day work to our ultimate business goal of long term shareholder value. They understood the investment we were making in the people and why. And they were happier, much happier, to be able to apply that context to their role in order to more effectively further our strategy. Visible action took place the remainder of the week, from the engineering director on down through senior engineering management, program management, development and testing. There was anxiety for those who saw that their work or skill set wasn’t a perfect fit. There was excitement for those who saw how much more they could contribute. But mostly there was understanding and reaction.

It’s not that everything was displayed simply and beautifully for a glorious new future. Almost everyone , including me, showed a healthy dose of skepticism. What lays before us is a daunting set of tasks. Even when we’ve fully accomplished our goals our work won’t be any easier. The challenges, particularly for the testing teams, will be incredibly hard. We fully expect to stumble occasionally. After we succeed in breaking apart this monolithic CS product process we’ll have the chaos of 150+ teams with much more independence than ever before. It’s frightening just to think about how to coordinate so many people after tearing down the very bureaucracy designed to manage them.

The next steps are to finish the first phase of The Chocolate Factory; sell the ideas to the individual contributors on the US engineering teams and write the next generation document describing the project in detail. Then it’s a simple (hah!) matter of execution. We have lots of challenges to overcome: the ability to succeed at the tasks immediately before us, maintaining funding in a high profit margin company, continuing our commitment through the myriad emergencies that arise, developing the right skill set on the team, my own ability to lead our teams through this upheaval, and – most challenging of all – figuring out how to work with the non-product functions within the company with whom we must partner. It most definitely won’t be easy. But we’re ready, energized and confident.

Beyond Reason

The flight from New Dehli to Chicago was long and tedious. I’m glad its over. What confused me, though was the many Indian men wearing white ten gallon cowboy hats. WTF?

08 October 2009

Ah, Fuck!

The week is nearly over and I'm going home tonight. Although the week has been extremely productive, I'm really glad its almost over. I miss my family something fierce.

This post originally went on for about another page worth of material about what has been accomplished this week; but, the damned online access in the hotel room timed out and I lost all the data. Crap!

07 October 2009

Fat and Happy

Ever since the girls were born I feel a strange sense of disinterest in self reflection. It isn't clear to me why this is so; but, in keeping with a general lack of desire to understand, I have very little interest in discovering why. Much of my life this would have troubled me. There were times when, if not drunk or stoned, I would have labored over discovering why I felt no care over my own motivation. Now, however, I just relax within a cacoon of disinterest and enjoy the sensual, shallow pleasure of food and drink.

Perhaps its fatigue. The girls have surely sapped my strength and energy like no other force before them. Sleep and relaxation are more precious than at any other time in my life. Even last night's five hours of sleep felt luxurious and refreshing compared to the neverending series of sleepless nights and crying babies.

Perhaps its contentment. There is no longer any fire inside, no hunger. I've realized all that I desire: beautiful wife, two gorgeous baby girls, nice house, challenging job, the respect of friends and colleagues. I've travelled the world (indeed, I'm half way around the world - twelve time zones from home - as I type this post.)

Perhaps I'm a jaded old man. There is little in life left to experience. I've seen pain and violence, death and hatred, hopeless poverty and the heights of opulence, passion, fear, debauchery and sin, plumbed the black abyss of my soul. Through it all I've witnessed mankind's ignorance, greed and sloth. I'm uninspired. Fat and happy. I have no compunction, no need, no desire to change. And I'm content to stay this way.

02 October 2009

We Have Ignition

For those following the continuing saga at work, not only is the strategy I'm pushing supported across the organization; but, the first re-org in line with the strategy was announced today. My US team has just more than doubled and we're poised to get this party started. Tomorrow I leave for India to sell the idea to the folks there. If next week in India is a success, then I'd say we have liftoff.

Updated: Nailed it. I'm wasted from multiple 17 hour days, transcontinental flights and high pressure presentations in front of 60+ people. But the critical piece of this week in India is done and done well. There was immediate effect on a number of individuals and excited eagerness for others. Sold. Now its down to a simple (hah!) matter of execution.

25 September 2009


Leia has really turned out to be a sweetheart so far. She regularly tries to feed all of us, including her sister once she has satisfied the worst of her own hunger. Such a simple, primal gesture.

It caries through to sympathy as well. Both girls have come to comfort the other at times. This morning they learned how to climb on their private bench. Alisa fell backward and got stuck between the couch. Of course she wailed. I extricated her and stood her up beside the couch. From there I started stroking her and comforting her. Leia responded by sitting down, legs through the back of the bench, stroking Alisa's belly softly and cooing.

P1010471This picture was from last weekend.

23 September 2009

Eager for Halloween

Last year's Halloween was a blast, spending time with Toast and clan in Las Vegas. This year, however, the girls are old enough to enjoy Halloween. So I'm really looking forward to dressing them up and wandering downtown.

We bought costumes for the girls last week and attempted multiple times to get them fitted by just trying them on. Alisa resisted forcefully. Finally I was able to convince Leia to try on her pink fairy costume, at which point Alisa became extremely jealous and begged for us to put her into a Snow White costume. They both fit well and the girls loved running around the house all dressed up.

P1010553Snow White

P1010549Pink Fairy

21 September 2009

Regression and Advancement

Leia was really hard to get to sleep tonight. She desperately wanted a bottle of milk as she was going to bed. Eventually she cried herself to sleep. It was painful to watch; but, better in the long run that she learns to sleep without the bottle. With a mouthful of teeth now she really needs to stop drinking milk while laying down for bed. Otherwise cavities set in pretty quickly. Also, its time for her to grow up and become more independent.

One area where the girls are growing up is in their interaction with the world. They seemed to have crossed a threshold from infancy to childhood. They act more like children than babies now. Each new experience is met with curiosity and experimentation rather than clinging in fear to Hirono or me. In the park they are starting to approach other kids to play rather than running around our feet. At the farmer's market they show interest in exploring the different displays (and trying every sample available.) They have even started the kids game of twirling in circles until they get dizzy and falling down in fits of laughter when they can no longer stand up.

On top of all that, tonight Alisa went to bed without a nightlight and with the door closed. She was in complete darkness and fell asleep without problem. Now if we could just get them both down so easily on the same night!

17 September 2009

No More Bottles

That's it. The comfort bottle at the end of the day to put them to bed is now history. No more washing bottles. They're all put away.

13 September 2009


P1000976Leia enjoying Macaroni Bolognese

We spent the weekend weaning the girls from bottles. They are now down to one bottle each per day, the last bottle before going to bed. Even this last bottle they don't quite finish. It was rough, particularly Saturday; but, they seem to be getting used to it. Tomorrow they'll be going to day care without any bottles at all for the first time.

Another big item this past week is that the girls started eating dinner with us at the dining room table. We've now had three dinners in a row as a family of four all eating the same food. The food isn't quite how I would cook it for Hirono and me; but, its close enough to adult food that we can all eat the same meal together. I particularly enjoy this development as I can see it becoming a ritual for decades to come.

Work sucks.

07 September 2009

Dare Devils


big bad wolf says it well: i'm proud of them and happy for them when they are finished and barely breathing during.

It's wonderfully thrilling to watch the girls dare a little more every day.

They are just now mastering the art of walking. Leia is well advanced and can actually run, which is an unfair advantage when racing to snatch Alisa's favorite stuffed toy. For her part, last week Alisa learned that you can easily turn around while standing if you just balance a little better. That totally changed her attitude to walking and she hasn't sat down since.

Today they discovered the balance beam.

Campell's City Hall has an earthen amphitheater in front. The seats are more like narrow (15") concrete sidewalks placed in a low rise of earth. Their play became an exercise in balance as they navigated each bench up the rise. Leia didn't stop there and ended up climbing around the City Hall building. Eventually we had to stop her when she wanted to climb onto a shelf coming out from the structural wall itself. I was nervous at times; but, they escaped with only one of four shins scraped climbing around in the bushes.

On the communication front there's a fair bit of progress as well. They've both been smitten by Winnie the Pooh. This afternoon I mentioned "Pooh Bear" to Alisa in passing. She stopped in her tracks and said "Pooh". Then she turned and went to their sprawling pile of toys. In the middle was a book, upside down with nothing indicating any Disney characters on the back. She unerringly went straight up to the book, turned it over and picked it up for me to read to her.

They first saw Pooh when my parents stayed with us. My mother and I share a love for children's shows, so we had to watch Winnie the Pooh with the girls. The girls have only seen the movie twice; but, they love the character. He hasn't replaced Totoro yet; but, he's starting to be a contender.

Since my parents have left Alisa occasionally sees something that reminds her of them and she says, "Papa, Mo." Today it was the quilt in the guest room that my mother made years ago. Alisa climbed on the bed, pointed to the quilt and said "Papa, Mo". Her vocabulary is growing rapidly. You can tell she's trying to learn a word when she watches you speak very carefully.

Leia's phonics are starting to catch up as well. She clearly tries to speak words; but, she is often frustrated at forming the words in her mouth. Then there are times when she sings nonsense syllables and she can randomly form just about any sound she wants. Her ability to understand and obey us is quite impressive. She's also a little sweetheart.

03 September 2009

Tagged Again

1 One
is contented me

2 Two
are the greatest blessings

3 Three Things I can do unconditionally
play with the girls, exchange smiles with Hirono, rock hard

4 Four Things I am pleased to have
family, comfortable life, ganja, energy

5 Five Things high on my wish list
retire and see the world in the girls’ childhood years
find a way to bring out someone’s true potential
play DnD regularly again
have the time to be close to my brother again
have the chance to hit replay at the end

6 Six singers/bands I like
Rob Halford, Maynard James Keenan, Dominique Vallard, Amy Winehouse, Emmanuel Bonnardot, Brad Nowell, Chris Cornell (oops, that’s seven)

7 Seven Things I don’t like
the day after Piels, weakness (h/t Sonika), not enough energy, prejudice broken joints, growing old, hangovers

8 Eight things I love
our girls, the smell of not-quite-so-clean hair, pork fat, stories, the memory of being carefree, fresh food, subtle curves, the touch of a noodly appendage

9 Nine Things I need currently
sleep, fresh food, time with my wife, to get to the gym, an appointment with a dermatologist, caffeine, non-capitalist society, political leaders who aren’t scam artists or criminals, a bowl

10 Ten movies/tv shows i recommend
2001:A Space Oddysey, The Princes Bride, となりのととろ、ぽんぽこ、まだだいよ、いくる, The Seven Samurai, とんぽぽ, The Life of Brian, Harold & Maude

11 My best football team
Hoosick Street Toilet Bowl, 1987

Praise Firefox

This was written yesterday; but, due to internet connectivity problems wasn't posted until now.

I’m on the train home from the SF office today and doing fine. His Skanketh, FSM hath touched his noodly appendage upon me thrice.

There’s no wireless connectivity on the train; but, I could still call home and let my parents know when to expect me. They’re caring for the girls while Hirono is out at her first Cheep Trick concert since before the girls were born. Of course, I’m late. Firefox knew to cache the train schedule page since last there this morning. Praise Be.

My badge was lost somewhere between the office and the train station. On the train they asked for a ticket. I talked them out of it. Praise be.

I had linguine with shrimp for lunch. Praise Be.

27 August 2009

26 August 2009

Negotiations 101

The Huffington Post has a revealing statement from McCain. Its interesting not because its McCain who said it, because I don't believe he matters much anymore. Rather, it reveals what I observe as a fundamental tenet of the modern conservative movement.

"He had a unique way of sitting down with the parties at a table and making the right concessions, which really are the essence of successful negotiations," McCain said

Um, no. That's not the essence of successful negotiations. That's the essence of belligerence. Successful negotiation consists of finding a way to contribute to each other's goals together. Its basic game theory as well as Obama's one true strength. Its sad so many people don't grasp this fundamental lesson in human interaction.

Update: The Stupid! It Burns! After that brilliant quote from McCain above, we have Wolfie with probably the dumbest statement I've heard in a long time.

23 August 2009

Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon

Alright, maybe not lazing; but, procrastinating on a Sunday evening. Its about time to buckle down and get some work done; but, I'm not very motivated to start working. Meetings don't start for another 1.5 hours. I should get some other work started... ugh.

First thing this morning Leia ambled over to Alisa, poked her lightly in the chest and said clear as day, "Sister." Then gave a huge grin around the pacifier still hanging from her mouth. Leia rarely speaks in words. She occasionally says "Dada" or "Mama". Once I heard her say "Wan Wan". Today's very clear "Sister" was a complete shock and got me up out of bed right away for a big bear hug.

We went out on a family outing to the book store today, one of the girls' favorite places. Leia ran around frantically flipping through books. Alisa works through books in one spot, jabbering nonsense for the whole 90 minutes we were there. We ended up getting a bath time book and an "Elmo Says..." book (like Simon says but with a furry, red monster.) My parents came with us to join in on the fun.

There was one really big first this morning. We were able to order food at a cafe and scarf it down before the girls got fidgety and caused a ruckus. That hasn't happened since they were too small to even cause a ruckus. Maybe someday soon we'll even be able to go to a fast food place for dinner.

22 August 2009

Another Onion Layer


The girls continue developing their personalities. I can see a new layer of abstract thinking in them. They predict events and talk about those events before they arrive. For example, we go for walks to downtown Campbell six days a week. Its the only exercise Hirono and I can get. The girls are hit & miss on whether they enjoy the jaunt or not; but, one thing they always look forward to is the dogs and cats we pass.

Whenever we get ready for a walk, Alisa chants "Wan Wan. Nyan Nyan. Wan Wan. Nyan Nyan." Those are Japanese child words for dog and cat, respectively. She quiets down quickly if we can get a bowl of Cheerios or sippy cup in her hand. As we approach any house along the walk that has a dog or cat, she calls out to the dog or cat using the right word based on what pets live at that house. Once she spots the pet she shouts out triumphantly, "Wan Wan!" or "Nyan Nyan!". Leia watches intently and occasionally throws in a side comment. When we leave they say "Bye bye!", wave their hands and watch for the next house that has a pet.

The girls also enjoy the Galleria Courtyard in downtown Campbell. Its about four blocks from home and has a bunch of art galleries, nick-nack shops and a clothing boutique or two. The girls love to wander the little courtyard and look into the shops. They were fascinated by the pedicurist. A couple of weeks ago a local blues band was playing on the grass (and were pretty good.) This last Friday all the art galleries filled the courtyard with displays (along with a bunch more artists and musicians scattered up and down the street.)

P1000676Transfixed by a pedicure.

Tomorrow we'll go to the weekly farmer's market and let the girls run around the courtyard again.


21 August 2009

Happy Friday

Praise the heavens, it's Friday! Tough week; but, things at work continue to gel. My hours have gone back down to 40 (44 last week.)

Now, to the weekend. The plans are to keep the kitchen as clean on Monday morning as it is on Saturday morning. Its a struggle.

18 August 2009

Playing Tag-Tag

From Sonika. I blew off her last meme, so I can’t delay on this one.

I hope to..
Survive this winter with as few sicknesses as possible with the twins.

I hope not to..
Be an ass to people who report to me.

I want to..
Live every moment of life intensely.

I don’t want to..
Waste an opportunity.

I should have..
Changed instruments as a child (to the bass, I didn’t do it until my mid-30s.)

I shouldn’t have..
Been a frightened little boy with the sophomore hottie who sat in front of me in Civics class.

I could have..
Rocked the world!

I couldn’t have..
Lived a quiet, normal life.

I did..
Too many drugs, or not enough if you prefer.

I did not..
Ever catch an STD. No regrets there!

I wish..
I could spend all day with the twins.

I regret..
Being inconsiderate to a number of people whom I love.

I should..
Rein in my urge for chocolate.

I should not..
Give up.

I could..
Change my little space in the world.

I couldn’t
Have faith in political leaders.

I never thought..
It would end this way.

I always thought..
I’d live a quiet, normal life.

Let’s hear from Tracy.

16 August 2009

Little Helper

Alisa and Leia have found out that its fun to help Mom and Dad get things done around the house. We have a video of them cleaning the couch with Hirono. They also often try to help by pushing the stroller or shopping cart for us. Its usually a lot harder for us when they do help; but, you can't crush that earnest, helpful spirit in them. So we go along and encourage them to help whenever we can.

Leia has really taken helping us to heart and occasionally actually does things that really helps us. For example, today while I was changing Alisa I found a refrigerator magnet in the diaper supply (I can only guess how it got there.) So while Alisa squirmed around on the changing pad I handed the magnet to Leia and asked her to put it back on the refrigerator. She dutifully wandered over to the fridge and placed the magnet up as high as she could reach. Very nice!

Sometimes it doesn't quite work out so well, though. Yesterday I handed Leia a scrap of paper and asked her to put it in the recycling bin. She took the paper, ambled over to the bin, opened the cover and proceeded to empty everything else out of the recycling bin.

Update: Here's the video.

Racism, Alive and Well in Silicon Valley

There's plenty of racist douche bags in this part of the world. Even being in the San Francisco Bay Area doesn't protect you from the ignorant Conservatives.

I've traveled many parts of the world and been subjected to a variety of racist comments and incidents. Most of them are of the less obvious type based on exclusion. Its only here in the US where I've personally experienced the truly ugly, violent brand of racism.

Yesterday afternoon I went shopping for groceries at the local Japanese supermarket. We tend to get our groceries from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods for everything except the specialty items needed from the Chinese or Japanese store. There's a strip center about 3 miles from home with a big Japanese supermarket, a handful of Japanese stores and a dive bar. Since its just after lunch, the place is packed and the only parking places are on the other side of the dive bar. No problem, the Japanese bakery is right next to the dive bar so I have to go that far down the mall anyway. So I park the car, scoop up Leia from the car seat, and the two of us walk to the supermarket.

There's a bench outside the dive bar upon which sat a lady in her 50s smoking a cigarette. When we cross in front of her she spits out to me, "Try American!" in the most hateful tone she can muster. At first I was shocked that Leia and I were the target of such vicious hatred. I simply kept walking and did the shopping. By the time the shopping was done I had overcome the shock and was ready to get into with this person; but, she was gone.

Tell me again, what makes America so great? It isn't the people.

14 August 2009


Long week. In some ways depressing; but, in other ways quite good. In the whole, productive.

I got home from the San Francisco office late tonight. It was at the right time for Hirono to pick up the girls from day care and meet me at the train station. We ended up walking through the civic center park across the street from the office. It was fun; but, Leia drove hard on her independence.

She refuses to hold our hand, though we can sometimes convince her to do so. Usually I just lock my fingers around her wrist like a bracelet. She's fast and can dart into traffic in a split second. You have to watch her every second. Still, she's a lot of fun at it all. She laughs and dances and sometimes tumbles to the ground. Her laugh is hearty, from the belly.

Today her game was to climb a three-step, stone stair up and down. She recently learned how to stand up and walk down stairs; but, its quite difficult to do. The trick was to have one foot come down at a time from the upper stair, not land on both feet. She learned that trick at the garden downtown this week. So she's been practicing it every chance she gets. At this point she's gotten to the stage where she can just hold one of my hands and only fall 1 out of ten stairs. Pretty soon she'll bound down faster than me.

Work is done until Sunday night. All hail Discordia!

13 August 2009


How could anyone ever have been uncertain about Rob Halford's orientation? Its just too obvious.


Hirono accuses me of passing this gene on to Alisa.

I can usually get by on 4 hours of sleep, and am just fine on 6. Though I really do love 8 hours of sleep at night at least once or twice a week. Alisa is the same.

12 August 2009

Ups and Downs


Leia has good taste. She loves classic rock. Whenever I turn on the classic rock station she immediately smiles, laughs and starts dancing. Her favorite seems to be Grand Funk Railroad.


I'm on the warpath at work. Serious f-up from the team. This must not continue.

09 August 2009

Harder Still

Yes, it gets harder. Leia has tasted freedom and refuses to be bound once more.

At least they both like cabbage fried in salt pork.

08 August 2009

Life Just Got Harder

We went grocery shopping today, as we always do early every Saturday morning. Usually we grab two shopping carts and split the girls as well as the shopping. Today we brought pairs of shoes instead and tried shopping with just one cart. The girls loved it!

Once inside the store Leia threw both arms back behind her, bowed her head forward and ran headlong down the isles. Alisa was more interested in candy bars and the like. Going shopping as a family was a bad idea.

By the time we got home all four of us were beat. Luckily the girls were tired from all the uproar and went to sleep pretty well. Then after lunch we met a close friend who's wife is now pregnant at a cafe. After their earlier taste of freedom, both Leia and Alisa would stand for nothing else than getting on their shoes and roaming the cafe. So much for even pretending to hold a conversation with friends. It was a ton of fun; but, exhausting. I got a cardamom milk shake out of it.

Tonight Alisa made another step in her progress toward walking. She is almost comfortably standing without holding onto anything. This week I'm sure she'll be walking regularly.

The Toddler Chase has begun.

07 August 2009

New Love

The girls have a new love. He's big and furry.

06 August 2009

Happy Anniversary

Today is our fourth anniversary. Our lives are so hectic that we both acknowledged the anniversary is coming a couple of days ago but neither of us had the chance to even get a card yet. We'll celebrate in a couple of years when we can hand off the girls to a baby sitter some night...

We did have a slight celebration by going to Cafe Campbell (a local Italian brasserie.) It accepts toddlers running amok shrieking, so we were safe with the girls. Hirono had a gelato and I had a prosecco. We both said "Happy Anniversary!" to each other briefly, toasted flute to cup, and then chased the girls around the cafe. Such is life...

Interestingly, the spell checker doesn't understand gelato and instead suggests fellatio. Go figure.

05 August 2009

A Few Steps

Yesterday Alisa finally took a few hesitant steps without support. She's been having troubles going to sleep lately and so stayed up much later than Leia in the last few days. As such, she was able to practice her standing and walking without getting tackled by her sister. This all lead to more courage and trying to walk unsupported, at least two steps between Hirono on the couch and the kotatsu.

In the meantime, Leia runs down the sidewalk and I have to move quickly to keep her out of the road.

Lastly, I had an argument the other day over at an acquaintance blog. The argument was about outsourcing and, clearly, I started the argument with my poor wording about having very little reason to invest in the USA when hiring. However, the argument still stuck under my craw. I think the reason is that folks in the US for some reason feel they are entitled to a good paying job more than people in India or China. Given that I have some very dear friends in India, I took this sense of entitlement as an insult to the worth of my Indian colleagues. I'm sad that so many people are out of work because of outsourced jobs; but, really, why do people think they are more entitled to a job than someone in India or China? What gives?

31 July 2009

More English

Alisa's first words were primarily in Japanese. She's picking up more English now. She may be getting some Farsi and Spanish at daycare; but, I wouldn't recognize the word.

This morning she learned the word belly.

Our sleeping arrangement is Japanese style, meaning we sleep on a thin futon stretched out on the floor. Usually Leia sleeps on the outside by Hirono and Alisa sleeps on the outside next to me. This morning they both woke up at the same time. When they each sat up in bed they saw each other over the top of Hirono and me. They both squealed when they noticed each other. They are known to lay back down and go back to sleep if they see Hirono and I are still sleeping; so we just lay there pretending.

Leia is much more mobile. She climbed over Hirono and sat such that each girl was facing my torso. Alisa, still with pacifier and stuffed bunny, lifted my shirt and pointed to my belly button.


I told her it was my belly button, five or six times slowly. Finally she started to repeat after me. Eventually she got out a clear "belly".

After a little cheer and a chant of "dada" she settled down again; but, was still pointing at my belly button. Leia sat up and pointed at my belly button, "Dat." I told her it was my belly button a few times and she just made an inquisitive "eh?". Then she leaned forward and carefully pulled the hair around my belly button. So much for sleeping in.

And that's how Alisa learned the word "belly".

30 July 2009

Odds and Ends

Its been a while since posting an update of life in general. Life really means work and family, there's nothing else right now.

Work goes very well. I presented a three year strategy to the Sr. VP who heads our business unit (think general manager for 1500 people or so) on Monday. It was basically an overview of the strategy for all my projects in the coming three years, including the pet Chocolate Factory project. The presentation went very well. I walked away with approval of the whole shebang. So I'm pretty much set for the coming three years. Its now all a matter of execution. Some interesting shake ups on the team and across the corporation will surface because of it all; but, in the end we're clearly going in the right direction.

The girls grow too fast to describe anymore. They are so aware of the world around them. Alisa practices her vocabulary and phonics constantly, always trying to repeat the words we say. Liea runs down the sidewalk and can walk relatively long distances now. They both try their best to manipulate Hirono and I to get what they want. Right now they seem to be experimenting with different cries to see which one gets us to jump the fastest. Alisa is still interested in books more than anything else (except carbs.)

All in all, domestic bliss continues.

28 July 2009

Its Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

Looks like consumers are turning to "subprime" beers. They neglect to mention to true flavor king of low price beers, Milwakee's Best. My hat is off to the old Beast.

26 July 2009

Thanks, Whomever You Are

A package arrived in the mail recently of two baby T-shirts. Whomever sent them, thanks! Once the girls fill out a few more months they should fit and I'll upload some pictures of them in their new shirts.

24 July 2009

A new favorite

It's MR Bill.

He hit the nail on the head with a comment on the problems of established religions.

22 July 2009

Sleepy in Seattle

Well, I've finally made it on a business trip again. Its been since last December. I've enjoyed not having to travel for so long; but, my work has suffered.

Seattle is such a beautiful city in the summer. 68', sunny with a mild breeze. The office is right on Lake Union and surrounded by yacht harbors and parks. It makes for a very pretty scene.

The team in Seattle seems to be doing well. They're one of the more advanced teams as far as changing their software process to be fully Agile and follow most of the principles we're trying to follow. It shows. Their work is really high quality. The engineers are relaxed. Nobody has had to work overtime in on this entire project cycle and we're nearing our feature complete milestone in two weeks. Its all on schedule and below budget. Very well done in indeed!

Now I just gotta catch up for being sick the last two days and missing two really critical strategy presentations for the coming two years. Ack!

19 July 2009

Picky, Picky

I'm on a roll tonight with multiple posts. Maybe I should have just passed a plate of Baked Beans; but, I'm straight and sober right now on account of being sick. A fever and chills in 95'F is not fun.

We've noticed a trend in the girls' eating patterns lately. Alisa is still a carb addict and Leia still often eschews carbs altogether. That's not changed. What has changed is that the girls are becoming very picky. Their pickiness seems to be based on the freshness of the food:

Exhibit A: They both loved strawberries over the last two months. Now that strawberry season is ending and the berries are starting to become watery they just aren't interested.

Exhibit B: Same as A but for blueberries (and only Leia every really liked blueberries.)

Exhibit C: Some stew cooked a little too long ago was served to them for lunch last week. The stew was still fine and wouldn't cause any problems at all; but, the flavor started to fade. One bite each and then they stopped eating it entirely.

Exhibit D: No day old bread. Only the fresh stuff or toast it lightly. Likewise with Cheerios. If they've been out of the tupperware for more than a day or so they won't eat them - preferring to gesture toward the Cheerio tupperware until they get fresh ones.

Exhibit E: When I take the time to cook a special meal on the weekend, usually seafood, they go nuts for it. See the most recent Bake-n-Bake entry.

I can't wait to turn them both into food snobs AND get them interested in cooking. If they complain about my cooking, they know where the stove is.

Listen to the First Line, Pat

The title says it all.

Updated: For international visitors, we have a little domestic dust up about appointing a Latina judge to the US Supreme Court - this highest court in the USA. Pat Buchanon is a leading evangelic Christian with his head buried deeply up his butt.

18 July 2009

Bake-n-Bake: Mushroom Waterfall

We keep trying different ways of doing our chores, hoping to find something that worked. Today seemed to work out pretty well because Hirono and I were able to actually sit down together at the dinner table to eat. It mainly involved cooking a Saturday dinner that fulfilled three requirements:

(1) Non-carb NHE
(2) Can be enjoyed mostly tepid.
(3) Can be served to the girls.

Its not as hard as it sounds.

Tonight was fried sea bass and a colorful vegetable dish. The inspiration came when the local Whole Foods finally stocked salt pork again. Pork fat rules!

I crispy-fried sliced salt pork. Its more like pancetta than bacon, but milder still and more salty. Pour out most of the oil and all of the pork over a pile of shimeji mushrooms lightly tossed with rice wine and soy. The mushrooms get cooked enough to make a wonderful sauce with plenty of texture. Reserve enough oil in the fry pan to crispy-fry three, thinly cut sea bass filets. Fry 'em nice and crispy. Sprinkle gomashio (a mixture of roasted sesame seeds and sea salt) on two of them before the final flip.

Shimeji drenched in pork fat

We then fed the girls some parboiled, diced tomyo. Alongside were the plain piece of sea bass cut in half and a toddler-fist sized clump of sticky rice. They ate it all. Leia scarfed down her rice in great mouthfuls, chewing widely and grinning.

Fried sea bass

Two hours later they were bathed and put to bed. A large mound of tomyo is parboiled and used as a noodle for the mushroom sauce. I was in a hurry and arranged mine as a simple waterfall. The tomyo was served hot enough to heat up the mushroom sauce and was fibrous enough to act as noodles for the extra salt.

Mushroom Waterfall

The Pope

This comment has instantly become one of my favorites.

So, an old ex-Nazi wearing a dress and a doily on his head tells us all about morality. Charming.

16 July 2009

Getting Closer

Alisa is getting closer to being able to walk. She's not yet able to stand without holding on to something. She's certainly not able to walk without holding on to something. Up until now she had to be holding on to something firm and stable, or have one of us hold her hands to help her walk. Yesterday morning, for the first time, she was able to walk holding on to just the walker toy.

What Do You Say?

What can you say to a friend who is dying? I'm speechless. My thought's are with you, Wolf.

Updated: Brother Wolf died yesterday from bone cancer. He and I weren't terribly close; but, the few times I did spend with him were rich and vibrant fun. He is one of the primary examples to me that you can still be successful with your career and enjoy life to its fullest. Rest well, Mike.

15 July 2009


It seems a number of people are piling on to the Brownback-Landrieu hybrid cloning ban. Current technology limits our ability to clone or mix tissue from different species. Current limitations are profound. Scare tactics about creating a slave race of manimals are just plain silly.

That said, what is wrong with altering the human species in ways we decide for ourselves? People do all sorts of funky piercing and tattoos. Augmentation in the form of organ replicas (organic or not) are becoming more common. If we can control the outcome with surety, why shouldn't we make ourselves smarter or more resistant to disease or longer lived through genetic manipulation? Likewise, why are people afraid of hybridization with machines? What's wrong with merging humanity and machine into a cybernetic super-species?

Sure, there will always be ethical questions such as is it morally right to raise a creature simply for the service of ourselves? We may be morally bound to not cause undue suffering or humiliation to our creations. But how does creating the species change the same moral questions we face today about slavery or experimentation on living creatures or even just raising creatures for meat?

14 July 2009

Where can I get a pitchfork?

We need to have some serious rabble rousing. Glenn Greenwald points out a string of events that provide a compelling story for how the public is being reamed by Goldman Sachs and our elected representatives in Washington DC. Its enough to make someone take heed of Kreator songs.

So, what was it? Was there really risk of a financial meltdown last winter or was it manufactured hysteria? I've seen no proof that any of the $700B was put to good use and the Fed is refusing to provide any accountability for that money. This is thievery. Goldman Sachs is making money hand-over-fist and I have to daily face thoughts about unemployment for myself, my wife and people on my teams.

Incidentally, Kreator puts on a really great live show. I've seen them a couple of times at the old Pound in San Francisco and never left a show without some kind of wound.

11 July 2009


H/t to Andrew Sullivan.

10 July 2009

Domestic Bliss

Life still seems to be going by at breakneck speed.

Its quiet at home now, with all three girls sleeping. Hirono will likely get up very shortly. I've cleaned the kitchen and picked up the toys, so most of the chores are done. Tonight we come up with the menu for next week so we can go grocery shopping in morning.

The girls both continue to grow and change every day. It used to be that when we returned home from day care in the evening they wanted to stay inside, eat and go to bed. Whenever we tried to go for a walk they would cry and carry on about half-way through the walk. Now they both are eager to go outside all the time, even as I'm trying to put them to bed at night. On Wednesday Leia wanted to take a walk outside and we ended up walking half a city block down the sidewalk. Alisa is also becoming comfortable with standing and walking, though she still prefers to be carried.

Alisa is really starting to get into animals and cute, furry creatures. She regularly expects to carry two Miffy stuffed bunnies with her wherever she goes. She cannot even contemplate going to sleep at night without both Miffys. She also says "Wan-wan", the Japanese baby-word for a dog, whenever we meet a dog on our walks. Leia's interest in animals or stuffed toys seems much more just a curiosity that quickly wans as she tries to find something more interesting to do.

One furry creature they both seem to like is Totoro. Totoro is probably the most beloved Miyazaki film in Japan. If you haven't seen it, the movie really is a joy for young and old.

Good night, all.

04 July 2009

What PZ Says

Read to the end of PZ's post. Its the bottom of the post that has the really strong statement. And I agree. Lenon was right.

13 Months

The girls are 13 months old today (well, yesterday since its now after midnight.) Its amazing how Hirono and I have completely changed our lives to revolve around those exhausting little bundles of joy.

Today's major developments are two-fold: One for work and one for Alisa.

Yesterday Alisa showed signs of responding both affirmatively and negatively. For a week or more both girls have been able to shake their heads "no" appropriately. For months they've clearly indicated when they meant to reject something (like overly bland ground mutton for dinner.) Today Alisa clearly shook her head no or yes according to questions, sometimes verbalizing with the correct intonation. For example, she correctly answered questions like:

"Do you want to go to bed?" - yes
"Do you want a bottle?" - yes
"Do you want a strawberry?" - no
"Do you want some Cheerios?" - yes
"Do you want me to change your diaper?" - no

Life is becoming much easier from even this simple level of communication.

For work, I've finished a second draft of the Chocolate Factory documentation. This is the project coming out of my study of the Theory of Constraints and applying it to the product I'm leading. The rubber is starting to hit the road and peoples' work is now beginning to be affected by this effort. So far, so good. We're about 6 months into a 5 year effort. Momentum has not yet reached a critical level, and probably won't for another 15 months; but, it is still getting traction.

Update: Alright, it isn't just a fluke that Alisa is answering questions. This morning when asked one of the same questions as yesterday ("Do you want me to change your diaper?") she answered affirmatively. She then scooted over to the changing table by herself.

01 July 2009

Too Much Going On

There's just too much happening with the girls' growth to keep up with. Adobe's US offices are closed this week, so we have some time finally. This means lots of time with the girls and so many fun things to talk about.

Our normal routine is to pick up the girls at around 5:30 from day care. We come home, go for a walk, feed the girls their dinner, bathe them and put them down. Then we sometimes have a chance to eat dinner before my evening meetings start.

Alisa is a bookworm and can spend 30 minutes or more just poring through a pile of books. At 5:30 in the morning this can be a wonderful attribute since it allows me to take a cat nap wrapped around her. She has a pile of 25+ of her favorite books sitting the middle of the floor. The books are a mixture of Japanese and English, with Dutch and Spanish thrown in for fun. She tends to like the Japanese books more. Its the pictures in the Japanese books that really get her though; colorful with an overload of cuteness. She's also starting a new pile of books in the music room.

Her most favorite books are about Miffy. She totally loves Miffy. Hirono has always loved Miffy as well. Miffy is a craze in Japan for women young and old, and has been for decades. Hirono has a terry cloth Miffy doll for herself, as well as a framed Miffy picture in our living room (the only other framed pictures being of the girls.) Alisa has two plush Miffy dolls with which she must sleep every nap and at nights (alongside a handful of other furry creatures.) She has two Miffy books (with a Dutch one in the cupboard because nobody here can read Dutch.) We also have a Miffy themed bathroom (designed and remodeled before the girls were born), Miffy plastic silverware, Miffy bowls (also Hello Kitty), and Miffy lunch boxes on mail order. Of all this stuff, Leia is only interested in the Miffy wooden blocks (with Japanese kana glyphs instead of the alphabet.) Everything else makes Alisa literally dance in delight. Whenever one of us talks about Miffy Alisa will look expectantly at us and start to dance, hoping we'll start singing the Miffy song so she can continue dancing.

Liea climbs the stairs just like Mom and Dad now. She doesn't use her hands to help crawl up the stairs. She just walks up. Its pretty incredible to watch. She does have to hold on to my hands; but, she does all of the effort herself. She has a wonderful belly laugh when she reaches the top.

We went to a professional photographer for family photos. Hirono likes to support the Japanese community here, so we went to a part-time photographer who immigrated here from Japan. The photoshoot was at his house, upstairs in a very hot room. Alisa had an ear infection that day as well. Altogether it was extremely taxing; but, we got a number of decent pictures out of it. The only way we could keep the girls in front of the camera was to bribe them with crackers.

There is a serious danger of me spoiling the girls rotten. Today was the very first day I've gone out shopping for anything besides groceries, baby supplies or home supplies since well before the girls were born. Hirono and I both wanted to get a pair of jeans. Although the girls didn't need anything I spent 90% of my time looking (and buying) toddler clothes. There is just too much cute stuff out there for them.

I try to spend 15-30 minutes a day in the music room with the girls. Its easiest when they are bathing. Hirono will give one of the girls a bath while I and the other girl will sing and play with instruments in the music room. We do this on weekend mornings as well, usually when Hirono is showering or taking care of herself. Each of them have their own favorite instrument; but, they both try all of them.

Music is everywhere. Both of them like to dance as well. We dance ballroom and modern around the house together (I'm a big dance fan myself.) Leia likes a fast waltz or to be spun upside down. Often when they hear music (performed by us or from tv/radio/computer) they start to dance on their own as well. Alisa's dancing is all in her arms, bouncing to the beat. Alisa also sometimes sings along on the baby's part with one of her favorite Japanese songs (hottokeeki - Pancackes!). Leia's dancing is more of a body-swaying rhythm at random times during the music. Leia definitely is moving to the beat, and will dance to either live or streamed music. I haven't yet noticed if she has any favorite songs or just sometimes feels like dancing. Her dances are almost always accompanied by a most wonderful belly laugh.

The girls' eating habits are different from each other. Alisa really likes carbs. She's happy sitting and eating Cheerios all day long. She loves pasta, toast and rice (in any form.) If its sweet, she'll eat it. Alisa is always in danger of spoiling her dinner by eating Cheerios when we go for walks after work. Leia, on the other hand, never spoils her appetite with Cheerios. On our walk today Leia only finished half her bowl of Cheerios, hand-feeding Alisa with the rest of her bowl (until Alisa grabbed the entire bowl from Leia for the last few.) What Leia really likes are leafy green vegetables, fruit and meat - or anything she can successfully eat with her own hands. They both chow down heartily on tofu and seafood. They've been practicing with their spoons but really can't feed themselves yet. Today I cooked the same dinner for all four of us (ground chicken with onions, carrots, soy sauce, a dash of rice vinegar and some white pepper.) Its really nice that they like my cooking thus far (and Leia seems to relish it.)

We pretty much opened up the house to them now. For the last few months we've had toy fences up in the living room to keep them corralled (though it was never fully closed and they had plenty of opportunity to roam.) We've now changed the strategy and just fenced off a couple of places. The rest of the house if free roam for them. They're just now getting mobile enough to really appreciate the change. Leia in particular loves to ramble around the house endlessly poking in to things. She also has a fondness for cleaning the floors.

Update: Oh, yeah, and I would totally love to lay down on my belly on this balcony, looking thousands of feet downward as the tower swayed in the wind.