26 February 2009

Every Time a Cold is Gone

Every time the girls shake off a cold they change as if they've grown overnight. Today both girls are feeling better after a bout with stuffed sinuses.

After daycare things got rough for them. My Uncle Mike is in town. He dropped by my office to see us and come home with us for a little bit. At first it was just Mike and me. We picked up the girls from daycare on the way home. That's when the fun began. Mike had to help by carrying Alisa back to the car. That's when it became clear that the girls' stranger anxiety is now in full force.

They cried and cried and cried. Even though I was carrying Leia, by the time we got the girls in the house even Leia could hardly breathe because of crying so hard. Poor girls, the both had trouble settling down. Mike just sat away in the corner as unobtrusively as possible while the girls kept crying. Eventually they calmed down enough for us to put them in warm clothes and go out for a walk.

The walk settled them down a bit and we made it home without mishap. Hirono joined us from the train station on the way home. Afterwards, when it was just the four of us at home, the girls couldn't settle down. They also had a number of firsts. What stood out the most was that their personality seemed to grow one layer deeper. They interact with the world in a different way. For example, whereas before it was relatively easy to distract Leia while cleaning her ears tonight she wouldn't let her eyes off my wife's hand as she tried to clean her. And Leia wouldn't let Hirono near the ear. For Alisa, she started to sing with me when I was singing her to sleep tonight. Of course, Alisa wouldn't go to sleep.

They also are beginning to insist on particular ways to play with them. Their favorite trick right now is to shimmy up against me on the floor (they can't crawl yet) and then start to roll all over my lap. The try to roll into a position where I can pick them up by their feet into the air to hang upside down. Then they smile and laugh while their bib flips down over their face. Crazy girls.

22 February 2009

Time Flies By

The girls grow so fast.

Today we went to my brother's place to celebrate our birthdays. He turned 45 last week and I turn 41 this week. He has two boys. Today his two boys (4 and 8) and their friend (6) took care of the girls while the adults ate lunch. It was really nice to see the boys watch the babies and play with them. Babies aren't so fun to play with as a little boy, so we still had to eat quickly before the boys got bored; but, it was a nice (and rare!) break.

What struck me the most was that the girls really enjoyed playing with their cousins. They smiled and laughed at the boys' antics, very much like one would expect of gown kids. The girls seemed like they were four or five years old, they way they tried to interact with the boys. In some ways I feel as though they're no longer babies. Its liberating; but, a bit sad at the same time.

20 February 2009

What a Whirlwind Month

Today, Obama has been in office one month.

Carpe Diem

Its times like these that make me think we have an opportunity in our hands. That's how I feel about my job as well. I want to change the way engineering is done for my product.

What can we do to change the way we live life as a society? I wonder how well we will pull it off? How can you and I contribute best while maintaining our own job security? I don't know the answer.

18 February 2009

Baked Beans

Random thoughts on a night free of meetings:

There's only two nights a week free of meetings, Saturday and Wednesday. So I'm letting my mind wander.

The girls continue to amaze me at the pace in which they grow. They're both standing on their own now. Leia is trying very hard to pull herself to her feet on whatever furniture is around her as well. My Flickr album has some new photos.


Mount Etna blows smoke rings. Mother Nature is flipping awesome! People who don't appreciate science are missing out in so many fine things in life.


Another positive day for The Chocolate Factory project. The director of product marketing is sold on the idea, though he pointed out some difficulties. My boss reviewed the slides for Monday's offsite and gave me an extra 45 minutes for Q&A afterward. So things are still moving in the right direction.


I've discovered Twitter. It looks like there's another avenue for work related customer interactions. Sigh.


Scotch and kief are a wonderful combination.


I'm shocked. No, really. This is crazy. Actually, its disturbed.


These people are nuts. They put their verifiably false ideals higher than the needs of the people they are supposed to represent. I hope every last one of them is voted out of office during their next election.

TOC Update: Moving at a Decent Pace

There's lots to say about the girls growth; but, for the last couple of hours they've been asleep and I've been focusing on work. I realize that most of you aren't interested in my work life. No biggie. Feel free to ignore this post. Writing it helps get it off my chest.

The Theory of Constraints idea continues to pick up steam. I've been evangelizing the idea at least once a day since returning to work last Monday. There's only been one person in the mix who wasn't convinced; but, he's a pretty influential person. Everyone else, including some with more influence, see where I'm heading and agree that it really could be a big win for Adobe. I've also got the presentation nearly ready for the end of the month senior management offsite. I've got two hours with about 15 senior managers across the suite. Many of them I've already hit up on the idea, so it shouldn't be that difficult to get through the offsite.

The sales pitch continues to get better as well. I've got it down to about 2 minutes to cover the most important ideas. It needs to shrink down to 20 seconds before I go after the Sr. VP of engineering. I'll have to hit up the CEO sometime this summer if this is really going to succeed. I've also converted two people to my crusade who want to put in energy to make it happen, one of whom can help shake up the business folks at Adobe to see things our way (my network is mostly on the engineering side.)

Evangelization (or salesmanship if you prefer) will take up the rest of February and probably one to two weeks of March before I roll up my sleeves and start pushing for actual funding. Then the real politicking begins. It won't take much to get going, probably about $200K for the first six months. After that it could get expensive. But the payoff looks to be in the $1B - $2B range for the second year, so its really worth pursuing.

Wish me luck!

15 February 2009

Another Nail

Another nail in the coffin for those who belief in unsubstantiated mythology. There's so many earth-like worlds likely in the Milky Way. I really hope we detect life off earth before I die.

Another Blow Against Intelligent Design

The people who believe in an imaginary sky friend will be upset to hear this.

14 February 2009

Social Inertia and Lethargy

Billmon wonders why political and business elites aren't afraid of a populist, violent revolution in the US. He posits:

The answer, I suppose is either that they have lived so long in the bubble of power and privilege that they no longer realize that moments like July 1789 or October 1917 can happen, or that they are supremely confident that populist rage can always be channeled to the right, where it can be easily controlled.

Either way, it amounts to the same thing: A total unawareness that at the end of the day, the only thing standing between them and the guillotine is sheer social inertia.

There's also the very important point that people have to be extremely downtrodden before they consider violent revolution. Give us bread and circuses and there isn't much that will make us revolt.

Good Times

An old friend found me last week online. We hadn't seen each other in 22 years. It turns out, he lives not to far from me and works a couple of blocks away. We met up tonight over at my place. Great time. It was like we never were apart.

For those who knew me as a child, it was John Wall from Dover. He's in the PhD program for Chemistry at UC Davis and doing very well for himself. Its the same old John (which is why I'm up late tonight.)

11 February 2009

Some Good News for a Change

Solis passed committee. Score one for improving the foundation of a just economy. You must have good wages for working people in order to have a universally good standard of living. Without a universally good standard of living for all workers there can be no true justice.

Another Blog

So I've started a second blog as part of my job. This one is nasty. It covers a really hairy aspect of my job, responsibility for Adobe's installation and licensing technologies. I inherited installers in 2007 and licensing in 2008. They both are unglamorous, time consuming and fraught with esoteric problems. Its the least attractive part of the software business and its landed on my lap.

I put up the first post late last night and have > 20 comments already; plus a fair number of links to it from others. Luckily, we've been doing customer outreach for about a year now and most of the REALLY ANGRY customers have already blown off steam. So the comments here are fairly friendly thus far.

08 February 2009

Scotch Blogging: Bruichladdich Sassicaia 14 year

This is a truly wonderful scotch. The balance, the smoothness and the aroma are a knock-out. There is not a trace of harshness to this whiskey.

The smell has a strong peaty undertone; but, its not overdone like Laphroig. Its a very clean smell, crisp and inviting. There's nothing overpowering about it.

The flavor has just a hint of oak and that peatiness really livens up on the first exhalation. There's no fruitiness to the flavor that I can discern. It reminds me very much of armagnac. The taste could be more complex; but, I did get one of the younger Bruichladdichs.

The body is creamy, a little on the light side. The aftertaste, like the entire experience, is very mellow.

We've got a top shelf scotch here. I definitely need to try something a little more complex from this distillery. Its quickly shot up to the top of my to-buy list. I've got another scotch lined up in the liquor cabinet first; but, after that its definitely going to be an older Bruichladdich.

Again, if the flavor were more complex this would get a 5. Instead, it will have to settle for a 4.5.


Lots of stuff happening. I'm starting work tonight (meetings with India) and will be full bore work-mode for the next couple of months.

Both girls are standing now. They're starting to recognize their name and a few other words as well. They know some English phrases and some Japanese phrases. They both eat a wide variety of solid foods (today was fish, banana and whole wheat bagel.) They also both drink out of a cup. Neither one of them seem to like sippy cups. They prefer the real thing, though we all end up soaked with water pretty quickly.

I've got pictures to share as well. I'll try to get them up on Flickr tonight.

Update: More pictures added to Flickr.

06 February 2009

You Go Girl!

This post by Benen is getting some coverage out there. (h/t Toast.)

President Obama, keep calling bullshit when you see it. You're doing well.

05 February 2009

Kill the Beast

For those following US politics, there is debate on the effort to fix the economy. The comment President Obama makes about fiscal policy is so much music to my ears. Let's use reason and evidence to make a decision about fiscal policy. No more supply side economics and tax cuts.

Those ideas have been tested, and they have failed.

03 February 2009

Remembering Trauma in Photographs

Digby points out a very interesting article with great photographs.

Bake-n-Bake: Tequila Beef

This can be a grill or pan fried dish. Your choice. No pictures this time since it was served for a dinner party last night. There was no time for photos.

* Marinade beef (steak, roast, ribs, whatever) in tequila and salt
* Pan fry or grill the steak. If you grill, cut off some of the fat from the steak and render it in a heavy sauce pan.
* Pull the beef from the pan (or add the rendered fat if you grilled) and pour in the marinade.
* Add an equivalent amount of grapefruit juice and a couple of heaping tablespoons of hot salsa.
* Reduce the sauce to a thick paste. Spread the paste over the beef and serve.

I kept a generous portion of the sauce to the side in a small bowl for those who couldn't take too much spiciness. That way people could add however much sauce they wanted. This goes well with bread and veggies.

Update: You can also add some fresh squeezed lime juice depending on the tartness of the grapefruit juice added. Lime wedges are a good garnish, particularly if you grilled the beef.

01 February 2009

Bake-n-Bake: Wintry Chicken

Don't let the ingredients fool you. I tried this tonight and was really surprised at how well it worked.

* Marinade chicken thighs (with skin) in dark rum and salt. Use enough rum to cover the chicken more than half way.
* Fry thighs over high heat in heavy saucepan, skin down. If you use something other than thighs with skin then you'll need to add oil first. Turn the chicken when the skin is very crisp. Turn heat to medium-high. Keep frying in its own fat until done (about 20-25 min.)
* Remove the chicken and place on paper towels to drain the fat. Reserve the fat from the pan for later.
* Sear a handful of thickly sliced mushrooms. Place on plates as a bed.
* Add the marinade and an equal amount of heavy cream to the now-empty saucepan. If there isn't enough oil in the pan add a teaspoon or so from the reserved fat.
* Grate in some nutmeg and cinnamon stick. About 2:1 nutmeg to cinnamon. I used 2 pinches of nutmeg and 1 pinch of cinnamon.
* Reduce over high heat.
* Place a piece of chicken, skin side up, on the bed of mushrooms. Drizzle sauce.

Serve with a garden salad and, for those who eat carbs, baked potato.