Category Archives: daily tedium

Hi There

The longer I see that almost-year-old post sitting there on the homepage, the more daunting it gets to think of something worthy of kicking it out of the top spot.

I’ve been blogging a lot (ok, not a lot) on the Rails Machine blog, but work, the Creative Coast and other stuff seems to take up all the time I would otherwise spend writing.

In fact, I have to write a column for the paper that’s due on Monday, so I guess I should go do that instead of writing this drivel.

Recent Realizations

  • Being CEO means making decisions all the time. You don’t always have time to think about them and not making a decision is actually making a decision.
  • The more decisions you can let other people make, the better. The trick is knowing which ones you can afford to delegate.
  • I still have a lot to learn about the business side of things, and not a lot of time to learn them.
  • I miss writing code full-time. I miss the order of write, test, debug, repeat. Management is unpredictable and messy.
  • Comfort Eagle is Cake‘s best album.
  • There’s a fine line between thinking about a problem and wasting time.
  • I wish there were more British-style quiz shows in the US. I’d watch the hell out of a US version of QI, 8 Out of 10 Cats or Mock the Week.
  • The code I’m most proud of from the past 12 months has got to be my OAuth2 server. I looked at it again today after not seeing it in a while, and it’s gorgeous. Most code I’ve written disgusts me if I go back to it 6 months later.
  • Savannah is the perfect town to wreak creative havok in. It’s the right size where one person can make some real change happen if they set themselves to it (or even if they half-ass it like I do), and a great creative community that’s easy to “infect” with good ideas who will either jump in and help or at least cheer you on.

Christmas Wishes

Just because several family members have asked for, and not because I want you to buy me anything, here’s my Amazon Wishlist button:
My Amazon.com Wish List Enjoy, and MERRY SHOPMAS, EVERYBODY!
(yes, i’ve been yelling more lately. it’s cathartic, and sometimes it’s even funny)

This and that

  • I’ve misplaced my iPod. I am bad enough at cleaning the house with it, I can’t imagine what I’ll be like now. Booo. I need my crutch! I am going to dig out our 80s-inspired iPod that is the size of my head and see if I can duct tape it to my body. That should get me through the day, I hope.
  • The kids didn’t have school yesterday so we went down to Kevin’s office for lunch. The boys were happy when practically the whole office went with us. They just looooooove Kevin’s coworkers. Brian especially enjoys spending time with the office manager, Juliet. He makes sure to sit with her and walk with her and give her hugs. He got mad at me once and said, “I don’t love you anymore. I just love Daddy and Juliet.” A couple of weeks ago a bunch of us went out to dinner, including Juliet’s parents. Brian was really excited to meet them. I joked that he was meeting the in-laws. It’s so cute to watch and Juliet is so nice to him.
  • I had a (bad) dream last night that we were moving to Utah, where we would be isolated in our liberal, hippie views AND we’d have to deal with constant four-foot snow. Kevin was thoughtful enough to buy lots of Christmas decorations so our new neighbors would like us, though. Hmm.
  • As far as I can recall, I have never voted for a winning presidential candidate before. (I honestly can’t recall which candidate I voted for when Clinton was reelected, which wasn’t my first election.) It’s nice for that streak to be over.
  • We’re going to the in-laws for Thanksgiving and I am really looking forward to seeing everybody. Kevin’s brother and his family, including a baby, will be there. YAY. And an aunt, cousin, and and a grandma are coming too. Lots of family time! I love it when the boys get to see their extended family. The downside is that we are staying in a hotel, which is my least favorite thing to do with kids. Worse than 4 hours at the Health Department without a lunch break, even. But that is what happens when your family quadruples in size, yes? So, nice problem to have, all things considering.

How I Use Evernote

I mentioned on twitter the other day that I love Evernote and use it to keep my daily to-do list and keep track of what I work on. A couple people said I should write a blog post about it. Since I’m just waiting for my Tylenol PM to kick in, I figured… why not.

If you’ve never heard of it, Evernote is a note-taking app that is accessible from anywhere. They have desktop applications for OS X, Windows and the iPhone and a really nice web interface too. I clip things I’m reading to it all the time to either save for later or because I know I’m going to want to send it to people and might not be able to find it again. I put quotes in it I want to save, put URLs to things, and even jot notes down on the iPhone if I come up with an idea while I’m out. It’s fine for that, but I didn’t become a heavy user of it until I started keeping track of my to-do list. I’d tried implementing GTD (Getting Things Done) several times before, but it never stuck, until now.

Evernote has the idea of notebooks and notes. I have notebooks called Stuff – for everything not work-related that’s not a to-do list, Journal – for all my daily to-do lists, and Work – for work stuff I want to remember.

Here’s how I use it for keeping track of my daily to-do list:

  • I have the desktop application open all the time. It’s never closed unless I’m rebooting, so my to-do list is only ever a couple keystrokes away.
  • Either at night before I leave work, or first thing in the morning, I create a new note in my Journal notebook with the date as the title.
  • Then, I just start creating a list of to-do items I want to get done that day. They’re usually always work-related, but sometimes they’re not (lthis week, one was: “Call doctor about the whole not-being-able-to-breathe thing” – and I did… check!).
  • Then, as I go through the day, I’ll either just check them off if they’re simple, or add details about exactly what I did and approximately how long it took. The details are the important thing, since I can now remember the steps I went through to do something and have much better recall when I need them again.

This sounds really anal, I know, but it’s really helped me concentrate on my productivity, and how much time I spend doing things other than the stuff I really need to get done that day. I also remember more of what I do during the day just by writing it down.
The to-do items in Evernote are still a little buggy. For example, until recently, you could only add them in the desktop application and you couldn’t mark them complete in the web if iPhone apps. I just checked and you can’t mark them done in the web interface… oh well, nothing’s perfect (and it’s still in beta).

There are some great web apps out there that are all about to-do lists, and I’ve tried most of them (I got the farthest with Remember The Milk). I think Evernote is sticking because I use it for more than just the to-do list, and I can get to it wherever I am.

On Morale

In my experience, the thing that has the most significant impact on a movie’s budget–but never shows up in a budget–is morale. [what's true for a movie is true for a startup!] If you have low morale, for every $1 you spend, you get about 25 cents of value. If you have high morale, for every $1 you spend, you get about $3 of value. Companies should pay much more attention to morale.
I’ve had this quote pretty much plastered in my subconscious for the past month. It’s from Brad Bird, the guy who directed The Incredibles. You can read more from the interview over at Om’s site.
You could replace “movie” with “project” or “product” and I think it’s still true. It’s next to impossible to motivate an team with crappy morale. It’s like trying to light a campfire in the rain with just matches. Having a high-morale team is like lighting a campfire covered in kerosene. You just need a match, and then stand back.

So Ends the Vacation, Not With a Bang, But Crushed Ice!

I took most of last week, and today off from work. Did we go anywhere? Nope. Did we do anything exciting? Not really. It was mostly to catch up on all the house stuff that got put on the back shelf while I’ve been either out of town or working ridiculous hours. Oh yeah, and I took a couple naps too.
Although we didn’t go anywhere, we did get a bunch of stuff done:
* I bought a new vacuum cleaner, put it together and we “vacuumed the hell out of everything”.
* The boys and I cleaned up all the toys and stuff on the main floor and put everything away.
* We cleaned up the basement (again, all the toys put away, and I think we vacuumed).
* Donated a bunch of baby stuff to Goodwill
* Recycled two computers and a broken monitor
* Got the oven fixed (woo-hoo, I’m makin’ brownies!)
* Got the ice maker fixed
* Made a lot of progress with ruby on rails
* Spent a lot of time with Brian just playing. I love this age. Both of my kids skipped the “terrible twos”, and I’m very happy about it. Brian is fun to be around, happy and loves to play games. He chases us around the house, tries to tickle us (I have to get him saying, “tickle, tickle, tickle” recorded), and then will sit and cuddle much longer than Max ever would. The kid’s a real joy to be around.
* Took the boys to Dairy Queen
* And, I let my e-mail pile up. I checked it once a day through web mail, but unless it felt “life threatening”, I didn’t respond, and I didn’t even open most of it. On Thursday, I pried open the laptop and downloaded most of it so it wouldn’t pile up on the server, but I still have almost 400 500 unread messages on the server, and about that many sitting on the laptop. Tomorrow morning is going to be fun.
It’s back to work tomorrow.

Long-ass life update

Brian has completely left babyhood and has entered toddlerville. He’s the big T-W-O now! He has tantrums, gets into all sorts of trouble, and tries to do please-let-me-have-my-way, puppy dog eyes. When it doesn’t work, he laughs sheepishly. So adorable. He watches Blues Clues, loves bubbles and drawing. He loves his blankets, but isn’t really into stuffed animals. At the end of the day, his feet stink-eww, the number one sign that he isn’t a baby anymore. He can say: ball, bubble, apple, moon, car, and sign more. That one sign was a huge wahoo! moment for us. Mostly he just points vigorously. Apparently I have watched too much Prison Break while Brian is around, because he sneaks into the dishwasher for a butter knife and then proceeds to slip it into the window casing. Silly kid. He is a great helper and assists with the dishes, laundry, and putting trash in the trash can. I know he will grow out of this soon, so I am taking advantage of it. I can’t put dishes into the dish washer when he is around though, because he keeps trying to “help” me by putting the dirty dishes away and then he cries in frustration. So I just wait until bedtime and then procrastinate doing them anyway. Heh.
Max is a kid, no longer a baby or a toddler. A real kid. At six, he is one of the smartest people I know. (Which, I only know like four people, so take that for what it is worth.) He is very creative and lovable and tall and funny. He started soccer this Spring. He has been really enjoying it, but is really bad at it. I read somewhere there is a Fall league; I am going to sign him up for it too. I also want to get him into karate. Maybe take it with him, as a mom/son bonding activity. I don’t want to hit or kick blocks of wood though. Hmm, do you think he’d be embarrassed to take karate with me?
Kindergarten finishes up in 2 weeks, then I am enrolling Max in summer camp. They have all sorts of cool activities and field trips planned. It sounds like a lot of fun. So only 2 more weeks of Max only having half-days away from me. Soon he’ll be spending as much time away from the home as he does at home, awake. Eep! I still have things to tell him: don’t eat before you swim, always wear sunscreen, and it’s okay to use some phrases ironically like “raise the roof” but when in doubt just don’t. Speaking of talks, I was giving Max a refresher about people not seeing/touching/showing private parts and penises and Max was all, “I know, Mom” with an eye-roll tone-of-voice.
I am a mom of two real kids now. They interact like real people. I even have to seperate them sometimes! It’s odd and cool, at the same time.
I am at home, as usual. Now that Brian is officially no longer a baby, I have been looking into doing some volunteer work. The local shelter doesn’t need any help right now. Isn’t that just bizarre and, I suppose, a good thing? The Red Cross is currently at the top of my list, but I am not sure what to do with Brian. I think I may have to put this off for a few more years. I can’t find a daycare place that will let me do a half-day. Their definition of part time is all day Tuesday and Thursday. Eh. I guess I could go that route, and then just pick up Brian early. We’ll see. Money is meant to be spent, right?
I am also looking into joining a gym, one that has daycare attached. That way, I can sit in the locker room for an hour each morning and have some peace. Ha! I am going to make Kevin come with me. Ideally, I’d like someplace with an indoor track, but they seem to be in short supply.
My biggest dream right now is to spend 24 hours in bed with Kevin, only getting up to answer the door for takeout and for the bathroom. I have been trying to finagle this for over a year now, since I stopped nursing Brian, but so far no luck. We’ll lie in bed together, watch movies, eat takeout, listen to music, take a nap, talk, and it will be marvelous. Ahhh. Doesn’t that sound nice?
My BFF was telling me that a lot of her friends are constantly fighting with their husbands. I said “I’m not.” She said, “I know. You don’t have to convince me of that because I know.” Isn’t that a great compliment? I am not sure how or why I got so lucky with Kevin. We have a great marriage and I am so thankful for him. Maybe because we are sometimes laid-back about the same things (how to spend money, the house) and other times only one of us really cares about other things (where to vacation, what kind of car to buy). Whatever, it works. Viva la KevandJen!
Most of my tv watching happens between 6am-10am when I am awake but don’t want to be and the brain isn’t functioning yet. Thank heavens for Tivo, so I don’t have to watch The Today Show. Tivo is also how I am able to provide you such witty and purposeful tv commentary like I sometimes do. I know you are all appreciative even if you don’t comment. Jerks. Hey, there is a new show starting in a couple of weeks called Wind Fall. I expect it to be bad, but since this is summer hiatus, I will take anything.
Kevin has started traveling for work again. He didn’t finish his physical therapy before the travels kicked up. I am not sure whether he will start it again or not. He is supposed to be home most of the summer, so maybe that is something he will look into. He has been really busy, happy, and successful with work. So busy in fact, we haven’t had the time to buy the new-to-us car we’ve decided to get. Sad, isn’t it? Yea, I don’t know what else is going on with him. Read his blog to the right <———— to learn more. :)

Car Time

It’s time to buy a new car to replace the Blazer. Yes, it’s time to leave the land of the SUV and get something that’s a little more fun to drive. The Blazer was good until it started having fun (and expensive) electrical issues. Apparently, they all do that. Why do they have to do that?
I haven’t had time to go test drive anything, so my experience in other cars has been reduced to rentals on trips (Ford Taurus: bleagh, Buick Century: I moved down a class just to avoid you, Pontiac G6: more later, Ford Focus Maxx: you were kind of fun, but I think that’s because you were in France). Here’s my initial list, which will get pared down once I start test driving and doing “real” research. You should get some idea of what I’m looking for from the list. If there’s anything you think I should add to the list, please post a comment. It’s got to be under $20k, have relatively low miles, get reasonable mileage, fit two boys in the back and be fun to drive. Here’s my initial list:
* Pontiac G6: I rented one on my last trip to Mountain View, and it was actually a really nice car. It was zippy, comfortable and the controls were pretty well laid out. I kept trying to find things I hated about it because it’s a Pontiac, but I really didn’t find anything. Plus, I can probably get a 2005 and come in under budget.
* 2003 Nissan Maxima: I don’t like the redesign. How is the Maxima different from the Altima now? But, I dig the 2003-2004 model. That’s a unique and cool looking sedan.
* 2003 Volvo S60: I rode in a friend’s S80 a couple years ago and it was really nice. Plus, I really like the looks. I would go for the S40, but the review I just read says it’s cramped inside, which is bad (in case you missed it, I’m not a small man).
* 2003 Audi A4: I love the way Audis look, especially the newer ones. If I had no budget at all, I’d get a new S4. But, I have a budget. The ratings I just saw didn’t look so hot, but I’m willing to dig some more.
* 2006 Honda Civic: I read the “car of the year” review in Car and Driver in a waiting room, and it was compelling enough to check out. They’ve got a good reputation for reliability, and the new one looks good.
There you go… that’s the list. Anything I should add?