31 January 2009

Bake-n-Bake: Cointreau-Citrus Pork Chop

This dish is best made with pasta. I've tried it a couple of times now and am finally satisfied with the recipe.

Marinade thick, center-cut pork chops in salt and enough Cointreau to nearly cover them.
Sear the pork chops with butter and then cook to medium rare (or whatever you prefer.)
Remove the pork chops and pour the marinade into the pan with the drippings. Add an equal amount of grapefruit juice.
Squeeze in the juice of one lime and just barely enough sugar to counteract the bitterness in the grapefruit juice.
Add heavy cream (a good dose, maybe 20% of the volume already in the pan) and reduce.
Pour a small amount of the sauce over the pork. Mix the rest with al dente pasta.

No pictures this time. There just wasn't enough time to snap photos with the girls wreaking havoc at the same time.

On a side note, both girls drank from a cup today for their first time. They were both really thirsty and just downed the water and mugi-cha very deftly. Another milestone. Oddly, Leia won't drink any water or mugi-cha from a bottle or sippy cup. She will only use a real cup.

30 January 2009

Work Update

So I went in to work yesterday for most of the day and met with folks. The goal was to drop in on people to get status plus start to evangelize the ideas around TOC mentioned earlier on this blog. The teams are moving quite nicely without me (yay!) and I've now got a 2 hour presentation scheduled at a senior management offsite at the end of February. Time to get cracking on some slides. The best thing is that all the managers on my staff grok TOC pretty intuitively. One manager immediately bought the book and already finished it (and has ideas on where to go with it), which is sweet!

The other thing going on around work is that this vacation made me realize how valuable the time with the girls really is. I no longer want a job that takes so much time from me. It really is time to think seriously about public service. I've got 3-5 years left at the present job to finish this TOC idea. That gives me enough space to figure out how to work in public service. I've always liked teaching, maybe I should go into community college teaching. What would that take?

I Love this Diet

Ah, the joys of NHE. Disclaimer: Diets seem to be a very personal thing. This diet works for me. You'll have to try it for yourself to see if it works for you.

With the return from Japan this January I went back to my long-time diet, NHE. The diet is truly a find. Apart for a six month hiatus when the girls were born and occasionally weekly jaunts, I've been following this diet strictly since 1999. Now that I'm back on it, I can see why it stuck so long. I feel fantastic.

Energy levels are up. The extra fat gained after the girls were born is melting off and I've not yet started my exercise routine again. Just now I was unloading groceries from the morning's shopping and my belly felt a little uncomfortable. It took a moment to realize that I was hungry. Blood sugar swings are virtually eliminated, leading to a level head and better mood most of the time without those hunger pangs really taking hold.

Tomorrow night is carb night. Last week's Cointreau-citrus pork chops with pasta really worked well so I'm now trying it again but adding some fresh squeezed lime juice and a dash of sugar. Then I'm thinking of trying a chou pastry to make cream puffs (which is why I went shopping this morning - we're out of heavy cream.) I'll have to get my mother's recipe. She made really tasty cream puffs.

29 January 2009

Scotch Blogging

Aberlour A'Bunadh
Last trip to Bev Mo I spied a scotch I'd not tried before, Aberlour A'Bunadh. Its a Speyside. Since I'm back on NHE and can't really partake of wine or beer very readily, I'll start reviewing scotches instead. For all you whiskey lovers, cheers!

The first thing to notice, beyond the annoyance of the wax cap that needs to be peeled off, is the beautiful caramel color. This scotch is darker than most in color. It casts a wonderful rich hue on the white table beneath the glass. The smell of the sherry plugs are evident from the moment you bring the glass to your face. It also smells really smooth, with barely a hint of the medicinal smell many popular scotches exhibit.

The taste is just as smooth as expected. Swishing the liquor around the mouth causes no sharpness at all on the tongue. The Oak taste is dominant, with strong overtones of powdered ginger and cherry. There's a slight, pleasant bite at the back of the palate as you swallow followed quickly by strong aftertastes of pepper, sherry and, slightly weaker, oak. The taste is as rich as the color and the silky, creamy body.

A fine scotch here on all counts. How to rank? Let's use the glass scale of 0-5, with 0 being nearly undrinkable and 5 being heathered heaven. A drinkable, nondescript scotch like The Glenlivet 12 year single malt can be pegged at the middle of 2.5 glasses. Given this scale, I'd rank Aberlour A'Bunadh a solid 4.5 out 5. This scotch is easily the match of something like a MacCallan 18, which is saying a lot. Sip it nice and slow. If the flavor had a little more character it would get the 5.

27 January 2009

48 Questions Meme

Because I can't pass up a pointless meme.

48 Questions (from Kona:

My father, Richard. It was a stretch.

When Leia went back to falling asleep in my arms again. She didn't for a month or more.

I avoid it as much as possible.

Liver of some kind.

Twin girls, almost 8 months old.

Of course. I'm too cool for words.



No. Not interested. What are the safety statistics, anyway?


None of my shoes have ties.





My wife. There's not much time to spend together these days.

Nah. Its a waste of time.

White socks (no shoes) and gray pants.

Colin Walcott, Jack DeJohnette, JOhn Abercrombie in "Prancing" on the album "Cloud Dance". Its Indo-Bop.


Bread with good yeasts baking, reducing cream and cognac with mushrooms, really well made sushi rice.

The manager of my Seattle team.

Seems cool. Never met. Would love to share a volcano with him if the opportunity ever arose.

Turn off the TV and participate.

Depends on the month. Naturally brown-gray.



I first said "my own." While I like to brag about my cooking, the food really is better in Barcelona.

Like Kona, thought-provoking endings. 2001 Space Odyssey comes to mind.

Baby Mozart.

Gray. Its a drab winter day.



My bladder.


Plato's "Dialogues".

No pad.


Groovy bass.


In an absolutely objective sense, probably somewhere in the air over Bangladesh.

It seems that way; but, I'm not sure what it is.

Dearborn, MI.

Anyone who bothers.

She used the printer outside my office.

Update: It seems that wasn't 48 questions. Here's three more from Toast:
Yes. The odds are in favor of it.

I don't sleep enough to remember my dreams. At this time in my life, I barely sleep.

Either 5 and I die from a heart attack from work pressure - or - 75 and I slip into a cannabis-tainted dream and pass away at the ripe old age of 115.

26 January 2009

Glenn Rocks

Check out Glenn Greenwald's post, particularly the video. This freshman Congressman is doing a fantastic job.

Can we please have some criminal prosecutions?

24 January 2009


My laptop died on Monday and I won't get a new one until I return to work in a few weeks. So posting will be extremely light for the next couple of weeks.

Bake-n-Bake episodes are queued up: Cointreau-citrus pork chop with pasta and spicy tequila beef. I'll post them after the new laptop arrives.

Alisa has her fifth and sixth teeth now. Leia is still toothless. Alisa is also "playing" the recorder (she's figured out how to blow on it to make it whistle.) Leia uses her recorder to beat on the bodhran; but, she's really grooving when I play the bass and likes to strum the strings herself.

So far everyone at work agrees with my assessment of the "Bottleneck" for the Theory of Constraints. The question is what to do about it. I'm speaking with my boss this week about it.

Update: It looks like its eight teeth for Alisa. There were two more hiding in the top that have just broken through her gums. So eight teeth and she's not even eight months old.

Also, Carb Night! Pizza, beer, cheese cake, strawberry shortcake, potatoes, rice. Mmmmm.

17 January 2009

Made It!

I can carb load tonight! Huzzah! I likely won't carb load until tomorrow, though.

Today has been pretty tough. This is Hirono's "afternoon for herself" so she's meeting friends at a cafe for a couple of hours. Both the girls were tired and cranky but refused to sleep. After about two hours they're finally both down. Now its dishes, laundry and, if they're still asleep, a cat nap myself.

Update: I just got off the phone with my brother. No cake tomorrow since the "kid's party" was today and there was plenty of cake. So I'm carb loading tonight. Wohoo! The dishes and laundry are done. I think I'll go dream about what to eat tonight. That whole magnum of beer might just have to be all for me...

16 January 2009

Carb Load Planning

I bought a magnum of Anchor Steam to celebrate making it to my first carb load. After that starts my first time to the gym as well. I'm trying to go full-bore NHE, including two heavy weight days. That should mean walking the girls to day care and about 1.5 hours in the gym a week. I think I can handle that even after I get back to work.

The first day I can carb load is Saturday; but, I'll postpone until Sunday so that I can carb load with my family. We're all gathering at my brother's house on Sunday to celebrate my nephew's birthday.

Depending on how the day goes, I'll try a new pasta sauce that night. I've got a Cointreau-citris sauce brewing in me that I'm dying to try. If we come home early enough from the birthday gathering then I'll cook that. If we stay there until too late then I'll just cook it on Wednesday, when I can next carb load.

That schedule gives me Monday or Tuesday to make it to the gym. Again, I think I can handle that even after I get back to work. The trick is to keep track of my time carefully at work and really stop at 45 hours. That should allow me to schedule the time I need to eat, go to the gym and take care of the girls.

What Was that Old Movie About?

Awesome video from someone by the name of Joe Nicolosi. h/t Extreme Conflicts.

15 January 2009

Good Morning

Last night was Alisa's first night in the nursery. It went really well.

Normally we co-sleep with the girls; but, its about time to think about them sleeping in their own cribs in the nursery. So yesterday I finished getting the nursery in shape and we put Alisa to bed there last night. To make it easier on her I slept on a futon on the floor beside the crib throughout the night. She went down easily at 8pm and slept without feeding or changing until 5am. Awesome!

Just as helpful, when she awoke she was happy just playing with some toys downstairs while I made a bottle, a pot of coffee and breakfast for myself. When both our breakfasts were ready she started complaining about food, so we sat down together and ate. Very pleasant and relaxing for a 5am morning.

Update: Alisa went back down into her crib in the nursery again at 6:30am without a fuss. So I was able to do the dishes and can now prepare for day care without hassle. Sweet!

13 January 2009

Imagine All The People

Its been a long, hard day – so to speak. Lots has occurred, so let’s get caught up.

I’m having a blast with the girls. While on sabbatical I spend more time with them and lett Hirono sleep. I don’t really keep up on my sleep; but, Hirono needs it more. Its also a ton of fun getting to know the girls more.

Alisa can stand. She needs help getting there and she falls over pretty soon unless you hold her hands. Hold her hands, even down below her shoulders, and she stays up indefinitely. She now prefers to get really sleepy and then go to straight to bed. She no longer always wants me to sing her to sleep. When she’s really cranky and won’t go down then she best falls to sleep to me repeating the base line for “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” over and over again. Even if we’re in a crowded, noisy bus between Tokyo and Kichijouji, so long as I keep the beat at a volume that she can hear (her ear is pressed against my upper chest) then she stays asleep. Today we were rolling a ball back and forth. She’s not so good at the ‘back’ part yet.

Leia isn’t into gross physical movements; she likes her hands.She does many things with them, mainly beat on things. She totally adores the bodhran. She seems to understand how how to use the stick yet cannot quite connect with the skin well. Most of the time she uses her bare hands adroitly. She also likes rattles. I put a collection of 3 colorful plastic cups before her today. She immediately went for the one with a compartment in the base that had rattly things in it. She proceeded to shake it non-stop until I wanted to get it back to put it in the dishwasher. When I took it she got very upset and wanted it back. Into the dishwasher it went. Then I picked up Leia to comfort her and distract her with another toy. She immediately started punching me in the jaw. A connection right in the same corner of the jawbone with every one of the 8 or so strikes.

What to do to discipline her now?

First, I grabbed her hand and held it down gently. Then I told her, sternly but with no anger, “No. Don’t hit Daddy. That’s not nice.” I waited about three seconds holding her still. Then I picked up another toy to distract her. She immediately went for the other toy (another rattle) and started chewing it. Another datapoint, we knew she was already very tired and we were trying to bathe Alisa first. So we needed to distract her with quiet play until it was time for her bath and then bed.

Was that right? Enough discipline for a 7 month old? Too much? We’ll see what her behavior is like in the next few days and if she keeps hitting.

After her bath she was very tired. When putting her to sleep I sang her the John Lennon song “Imagine”. I couldn’t get through it. She fell asleep during the second verse and my voice choked during the third. Its a very poignant song. This was the first time Leia heard it, or at least the first time it was sung to her.

The fact that she calmed down quickly and fell asleep in my arms has a strong impact on me. Leia is more dependent on Hirono; but, during this vacation I’ve been able to get her used to me putting her to sleep again. When she was colicky at 2-4 months she liked me to hold her in my hands and sing to her. That put her to sleep. About the time she grew out of the colick she also became to big to sleep in my hands. Now, she lies crosswise in my arms. Her side presses against my diaphragm. Then I sing her to sleep.

Singing “Imagine” to her while she fell asleep, particularly after the punching earlier in the night, struck me on a couple of levels. The lyrics of the song are a vision for the social changes that humanity needs to make before we can reach our destiny. Primarily, people must learn how to live in peace. I believe getting rid of nationalism and religion are two of the biggest milestones along the way. Leia made it clear to me that there also needs to be a way to teach control of anger. I hope she learns to control her anger.

Cravings Are Done

I'm on day 6 of the NHE induction period. Nearly there. The cravings have stopped entirely. From here on its smooth sailing, so long as I never go hungry. The trick is to always have food with you... Always.

11 January 2009


I was actually able to cook and eat breakfast this morning without the girls interrupting me. Amazing! This is a first. Of course, I had to cook and eat at top speed. Coffee and this post had to wait a few hours.

09 January 2009

Bake-n-Bake: J-Homecooking

After New Year's with Hirono's parents I really grew to appreciate their cooking. The breakfasts are fantastic. Her mother's winter vegetable stew is also great. Her father makes a variety of dishes that have a lot of promise to make into something really good. I've got some extra energy in the coming weeks so I'm going to try to reproduce Hirono's parents' cooking; but, alter wherever I wish to fit my own taste.

Tonight was the first attempt at Okasan's winter vegetable stew. It was eaten generously on the first night and then as a small dish with every meal until gone. I didn't think it out clearly enough ahead of time (blame the jet lag) and so didn't soak any dry shiitake instead of fresh, which would have given the broth much more depth. This is definitely a dish to do only if you have ample time to clean the vegetables.

Fresh shiitake. I should have used dried.

This dish is low enough in carbs for NHE.

If I had a dog, he would go crazy with joy tonight.

Soak dry shiitake overnight (or at least four-six hours). Clean well afterwards, reserving the soaking water.
Put to stew some pork bones and salt. I like to add some rice wine as well.
After 30 minutes or so put in the cleaned shiitake. You can pour in the soaking water too; but, be sure to strain it carefully.
Pare, clean and cut two-three long gobo and a bunch of thick carrots. If you want to make the higher-carb version you can also add satoimo or even normal potatoes.
After the pork is done put in the tubers. Gobo takes longer to cook than most tubers, so put them in a little early.
When the pork is at the desired tenderness, pull them out and let cool.
Put in sliced konnyaku about 15 minutes before serving.
Serve piping hot when the veggies are done.

Konnyaku is a strange beast. All soluble fiber and water.

These soup bones remind me of why I like NHE. That's good eating for any carnivore.

Mmm. Mmm. Good.

08 January 2009

Jonesing Bad

I'm nearly done with my first full day of the NHE induction period. Its a hard one this time. Already on the first day and my cravings for bread and sweets are skyrocketing.

Identified the Bottleneck

I’m pretty sure I’ve identified the bottleneck for CS. It was done by going through some case studies and thought exercises. Of course, this is my own opinion and CS is a big beast. So I should get some other opinions. Before going into the bottleneck, let’s discuss some things left out in the original post.

First off: Bugs are inventory. That may seem counter-intuitive in some sense since the defect itself isn’t a net positive resource for the project. However, consider the fact that bugs are work items that need to be addressed prior to shipping the product. They are one of two outputs of testing (the other being a certified build) and feed into the rework process. So bugs are inventory. Given the fact that many projects find themselves in months of rework to address bugs, it seems pretty clear that rework to address bugs (or BRCs to defer them) are another possible bottleneck. They could be one of the biggest. In our case, I think that bugs are one of the issues that will eventually become a constraint; but, there are tighter constraints right now than bugs.

Secondly: Yet another bottleneck could be outside the software engineering process per se. The bottleneck could be (indeed, on further contemplation I believe it is) outside the engineering group. Earlier I dismissed the idea of using unit sales as a way of measuring throughput since I wanted to focus on engineering issues. However, focusing on engineering issues only is really a detriment to the system as a whole. Let’s take another look at throughput.

According to the definition given by Goldratt, throughput is the “rate at which the system generates money through sales.” The emphasis comes from the author and he stresses that the definition is worded precisely. So let’s rethink our throughput as money generated from selling software.

After going through numerous case studies and a couple of thought experiments I believe that the biggest bottleneck is really the business model that Adobe uses for its Creative Suite. A second bottleneck is the deployment cost of new releases for our customers. Luckily, in both cases Adobe is trying to address these bottlenecks. I don’t believe the bottlenecks have been elevated appropriately, though.

The fact that the business model is the biggest bottleneck was really staring me in the face. I’m embarrassed for not seeing it immediately. There’s so many data points or case studies that point to this fact. By business model in this case I mean the terms of our licenses, the technology used for licensing and the deployment methodology. Deployment is included here because it is an implicit component of our license agreement. Without getting into confidential information, here’s some salient points:

- Our highest call volume generators are related to the business model. Licensing (and in some cases deployment) is the bane of our customers. I’ve spent significant time in the last year advocating putting in place an engineering team (led by me, of course) that would focus solely on the business model needs. I’ve got that team now and its taken almost 15% of my time this entire year (yes, I keep careful records) just to get them started. It will be my biggest effort in the coming two years. This is the OOBE-1 project, for those interested and familiar with some details of how Adobe does business.
- Many large sales are blocked by our licensing model. Lots of examples can be given here, though in the interests of confidentiality I’ll only mention that education sales have been limited frequently in the last two months because of our business model. The perpetual license or inflexible expiring license is costing us sales.
- Enterprise sales are blocked by our business model in two ways. Cost of purchase must be justified before the enterprise customers will actually purchase a new version. Even more important, the cost to deploy our software is much too high for enterprise customers.
- Many software releases are ready to ship but blocked due to business constraints. Although the business model isn’t the cause for every piece of completed software that we don’t ship, it is the most common case. In other cases the constraint is still on the business side; but, not necessarily easily traced to our business model. Examples just from the last three months on just my engineering teams include CSXS SDK, new Extension Manager versions, and new Configurator versions. I’ve heard complaints from other engineering managers for years along the same lines. Revenue recognition rules based on our business model legally block us from making releases of valuable solutions to customers and it sucks. This is one of the primary reasons why I think engineering is not the most important bottleneck for CS.
- It is entirely possible to shorten release cycles for our products, including the Suite itself. We could easily shift gears and release the entire Suite every six months from an engineering perspective; but, the business organization isn’t prepared for such a change. Nor do our customers want major releases every six months. Its too expensive for the customers. However, if we did release the Suite every six months each release would have far fewer features; but, over time there would be more features and more appropriate features within the products than you see today.
- Projects are killed because they don’t easily fit our business model. The project could make money and they could be implemented at a reasonable cost. In some cases, that cost in so incredibly low that its quite clear it isn’t the additional cost of engineering that is the bottleneck.

The good news is that we’re already putting some attention on the business model. I don’t think its recognized as the largest constraint for CS from a TOC point of view. That’s my next evangelism task – which can hopefully be done well before I return from sabbatical.

Another good thing is that the entire organization is set up to work at the pace of the business model constraint. We can clearly do better. For example, we don’t have extra capacity in non-bottleneck areas. And as you can see above, we are most definitely not optimizing our bottleneck.

One thing I really like about this sabbatical is that it allows me to really walk away from the day-to-day concerns of leading engineering teams and do some work at a more conceptual level.

07 January 2009

Home Sweet Home

We made it back. The return trip started at 7pm local time (Tokyo time), so it was analogous to night for the girls and they slept about half the time. Much nicer. Hirono and I each got about an hour of sleep as well.

All three girls are now fed and sleeping. It was somehow very touching to see them eat heartily and instantly fall asleep when they were put in their own beds. All three seem so happy and content. I'm off to the grocery store. NHE starts up again tomorrow.

04 January 2009


I’m a bit claustrophobic after being cooped up in this one bedroom apartment with five other folks for 10 days now. Just one more full day after today then we’re off to home again. I really enjoy being with Hirono’s family and I’m very happy the girls are getting to know their grandparents. So I’m glad we came; but, I’ll be just as pleased to return home. The girls will sleep better at home as well.

Theory of Constraints for Adobe Creative Suite

Recently I’ve been reading the book The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt. Its a fundamental text of manufacturing management explaining the Theory of Constraints (TOC). It really has me thinking a lot about my own career goal. Here are some initial thoughts. After finishing The Goal I’ll have to find out if there are texts on TOC specifically for the software industry.

My career goal is to find a way to turn software production into something like a factory. There’s got to be a way to improve software processes in a way that is analogous to what the industrial revolution did for factory production. That is, crank out software on a very predictable and efficient process such that the art of computer science starts to become a craft. Assembly lines are analogous to the set of dependent events in the software process, which have been becoming more and more formalized over the decades. Interchangeable parts can be analogous to multiple versions of the same component or a component which replaces an earlier, obsolete component. Standards in tooling and quality are as applicable to software as they are manufacturing. To be sure, software is very different from manufacturing; but, I’d like to find a way to really revolutionize the software process into something more like a factory. Taking advantage of an existing revolution would be almost as satisfying.

I’m not sure how applicable TOC is for the software industry. We’ll see more when I’m done with the book; but, so far it seems only partly applicable to software creation in general. For the Adobe Creative Suite the concept seems to be somewhat more apropos. The Suite is really an assembly of many components and applications into a system of feature sets. As such, it seems the factory metaphor is more appropriate than when creating individual software applications.

Some definitions as they apply to Adobe software in particular:

Goal – Most simply put, the goal is to make money. For TOC this means increasing throughput while decreasing inventory and operational expense.

Throughput – For software this can mean the rate at which sellable features are delivered to customers. The sales rate is critical in order to maximize revenue; but, from an engineering perspective the rate of delivering unique, sellable features is more interesting. Given my particular role at Adobe, managing the Creative Suite, I’m most interested in an ecosystem of sellable features that satisfy creative and creative/developer customer needs. This can most easily be expressed as fulfilling key roles within the user workflows; but, such workflow attention is really not essential for the goal.

Inventory – Those assets which are consumed when creating throughput. For Adobe software (again, from an engineering perspective) this includes product ideas, project definitions, project requirements, designs, architectural designs, project plans, code modules, builds, test plans, test cases, components (libraries, etc.), application content, user documentation, (strike-through)integration documentation, applications (assembled components), installers, prerelease builds, media images (or ESDs), printed material, boxes and printed DVDs. There are plenty of business specific inventory items that I won’t go into such as advertising, marketing material and press demos. Software inventory is different from production inventory in that the storage cost is essentially free for almost all the inventory, just disk space on some server somewhere. The primary cost of inventory is the opportunity cost associated with sitting on inventory while it is in queue or waiting. The opportunity costs are quite significant though so the goal of reducing inventory is still important.

Operational Expense – The cost of taking inventory and making it into throughput. For software operational expense is dominated by personnel costs. Other items included in operational expense are things such as depreciation on equipment, utility costs and office space (which if owned can be part of inventory instead.) There’s plenty more but you get the idea.

The trick now is to find bottlenecks in the flow of inventory through the system so that the entire system can be optimized and flow can be controlled through these bottlenecks. Intuition and experience tell me that bottlenecks may occur at one or more of these locations: project definition, project requirements, implementing code modules, executing test cases, and integration (assembling components into complex applications or having applications coordinate feature sets). Some more investigation and actual measurements are necessary to determine the most critical bottlenecks. Then there is the task of optimizing the system by better control over the bottlenecks.

For very complex assemblies like the Creative Suite, the installers or build aspects can be bottlenecks as well. Indeed, I think these were bottlenecks in the past. One of my managers has kicked builds in the ass so hard that we’ve got it licked for the moment. It was a good lesson for me as well: never underestimate the value of a good release/build engineer. The last 18 months of my life were dedicated to the installer problem, which we now have a handle on but haven’t quite solved yet.

After that, using the standard manufacturing trick of reducing batch sizes should be very applicable to the software process. In this case, batch sizes really mean the size and complexity of the feature sets in any given iteration on a project. Just like in manufacturing, a smaller batch size allows us to get to market with that feature set sooner and respond to changing market conditions more quickly. SCRUM may have a role here.

Alright, enough for now. I’m through my second beer and starting to ramble. Hopefully I can find a text on TOC for software as well. Also, I’m TSP has a role here. More later.

01 January 2009

2008 Year End Meme

Almost the same meme as last year at Toast’s place:

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
Changed a diaper, and everything else that goes with newborns.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Yes, though its been hard.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Uh, yeah.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What places did you visit?
Too many cities to count. Japan, China, India, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, France, England (well, Heathrow.)

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
June 3rd, 2008. That’s when the twins were born. I guess June 2nd works as well since that’s when Hirono went into labor. Then there’s the 4th when I pulled my second all-nighter in a row trying to get Alisa to sleep. Then there’s the 5th when I pulled my third all-nighter a row because the girls wouldn’t eat and Alisa was jaundiced. Also, like Toast said, the 4th of November was also very important. Mainly there was this huge sense of relief that the US had hope to actually get out of its insane funk of wingerness.

8. What was your biggest achievement(s) of the year?
Shipping CS4 on schedule with the quality goals actually achieved, leading the forty-odd people on my virtual team.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Drunken stupidity in Beijing. Way. Too. Drunk. There was also the trip to the hospital from exhaustion at work. I learned my lesson on the second one. I’m still not sure I learned my lesson on the first one.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yeah, a trip to the hospital from exhaustion at work.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Bouncers for the twins.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Hirono for her devotion to the girls and her bottomless energy reserves.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Like Toast, I’ll have to say John McCain and for the same reasons. The man sold his soul for the US presidency and lost. Second place would have to be those who enabled the useless $700B give-away to Wall Street cronies. We’ll be paying that one off for a long time to come.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Disappeared into the stock market crash black hole. I lost more than I’ll make in five years from my job. Since I’ve not sold, I guess I really didn’t lose it yet. Other than that, taxes.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The first smiles of each of the twins.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
The smell of diapers and spoiled milk.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) Happier or sadder?

b) thinner or fatter?
Definitely fatter.
c) richer or poorer?
Way, way poorer.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

20. How did you spend Christmas this year?
French Onion Soup at home with the girls, packing for the journey to Japan.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?
Oh yeah. Head over heals. With two beautiful little girls.

22. How was work?
Exhilarating. Stressful. Angering. Chaotic. Empowering. Lucrative.

23. What was your favorite TV program?

24. What did you do for your birthday in 2008?
I was in New Dehli working. The team there gave me a birthday cake. They’re a great group of people - one of the best teams with whom I’ve ever had the privilege to work.

25. What was the best book you read?
Winning With Software, An Executive Strategy by Watts Humphrey.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Stevie Wonder.

27. What did you want and get?
Healthy twin girls.

28. What did you want and not get?
$10M so I could retire.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Baby Einstein, Baby Mozart. It has been a life saver (and dinner saver) for many days.

30. Did you make some new friends this year?
Yes. In various places across the world.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Not having to lay people off.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Whatever gets you through the day.

33. What kept you sane?
There’s an underlying assumption here that I’m not sure is true. If I had to say one thing, it would be kief.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I don’t know her name. Curvaceous brunette.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
The Wall Street Bailout.

35a. What political issue stirred you the least?
Hillary’s primary campaign. This wasn’t the opposite of Toast on purpose.

36. Who did you miss?
My wife. We don’t get much time together these days.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
How do you define best? That’s a hard one.

38. Burn any bridges?
Not of which I’m aware, though I’m sure I made a few enemies.

39. Best new restaurant you went to?
Tagelleria, even though I collapsed there from exhaustion one night.

40. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
Don’t overwork. Really. And it takes written records for me to figure out if I’m overworking or not.

Tag, you’re it.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, one and all.

Its been a good holiday so far. I miss my family; but, its nice to spend some time with Hirono’s folks. The girls really enjoy being with Hirono’s father as well. They smile and want to play with him whenever they see him. Its very much like how they respond to my father or to me. I’m sensing a trend here...

They have grown so much in the last two weeks. Its not so much their size as their mental growth has accelerated. Their emotions are becoming more complex. Facial expressions are maturing. Words are starting to form. They show clear preferences between actions and objects.

For example, Leia refuses formula now. Its not that she hates the bottle. She’ll play with the bottle and suckle on it; but, she tries not to take in any of the formula within it. She still likes the breast as a way to pacify herself and go to sleep. What she seems to really want is adult food. She’s grown to really love yaki imo (baked satsuma potatoes) and okayu (rice porridge cooked in konbu dashi.) She doesn’t like okayu made with just plain water. It has to be konbu dashi. Unfortunately, Leia doesn’t have any teeth yet so eating is really hard for her. She gets frustrated easily because she isn’t allowed to have the same food as the adults around her until she gets some teeth.

Meanwhile Alisa isn’t so interested in food. She eats plenty, much more than Leia; but, her food is mainly forumula and the breast. She’s totally not interested in adult food. She’ll try it. Some of the food, like kabocha or yaki imo, she actually likes. Mostly, though, she just spits out her food if it isn’t something sweet. Unfortunately, Alisa is advanced with her teeth and matches a baby about twice her age. Maybe she’ll try crackers...

Another food difference is that Leia is totally content to let me feed her. She’s very skilled at eating adult food. She’ll open her mouth, move forward slightly as she takes a bite in order to get the spoon in far enough, close her lips around the spoon to pull all the food off it, chew (gum) and swallow pretty much all of every bite. Alisa on the other hand hasn’t figured out this spoon business – unless its yaki imo. She makes a total mess of her face, her hands, her bib, her clothes and the clothes of whomever is holding her. Even so, Alisa isn’t happy with someone else spoon feeding her. She wants to do it herself and ends up dumping the spoonful all over her face.

Other differences in preference are just as striking. Leia likes books and television. She’ll sit still and let me read a couple of books to her in a row. She’ll feel the pages and sometimes help try to turn the page. Likewise, Leia is content to sit next to Ojiichan (Hirono’s father) and watch the rooftops of Higashi Koganei or television (Ojiichan likes historical dramas.) Alisa only wants to eat the book and couldn’t care less about television. Instead, Alisa prefers to do calisthenics on someone’s shoulder; jumping up and down or throwing her body back and forth like she’s a head banger at an Black Sabbath concert.

As for myself, I’ve pretty much caught up with work and with sleep. There’s nothing to do here over the holidays. Everything is closed and we can’t go out in the cold with the girls anyway. So I’ve just stayed cooped up in this one bedroom apartment with five other people the whole time. All my paperwork and tasks are accomplished. I’m about one third the way through a stimulating management book (The Goal, by Eliyahu Goldratt.) Its had me thinking a bit about how to achieve my own career goal and how Adobe may be the right place to put some of my thoughts into action. More on that later.

Tomorrow is the family gathering. Its usually on New Year’s Day; but, the Kobayashi family (Hirono’s sister, Mizuno, and her family) went to an onsen that day. So the entire Mogi clan is gathering here tomorrow, all 15 of us. I can’t wait to see Hirono’s nieces again. They’re so much fun. There will be much food and drinking and silly kids’ games.