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.