Friday, November 30, 2007


My 2-year-old son recited an entire book to me tonight. I gave him a handful of prompts, turned the pages, and did nothing else. It was frightening - even though I know he's listened to that story 8,000,000,000 times - because I wouldn't have the slightest chance of repeating anything in that story from memory. And I can read. And he can't. I think.

I know my kids will eventually be better than me at lots of common tasks, until eventually they dominate me in things like bowel control and saliva removal. But I'm disappointed that I'm losing ground already.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

This is about you

Scientific American has a great article about how kids learn. There are nuggets in there for everybody. No matter how old you are, if you think this story doesn't apply to you, you are either deceiving yourself or you are very very very well-adjusted.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The (possible) Dungy Exception

An addendum to my previous post on parenting:

Some professions require a lot of time away from family. Sometimes, these situations are unavoidable - either because of unfortunate circumstances or because of a spiritual calling. These parents have a doubly difficult task: to work hard at a demanding job, yet be physically, emotionally, and mentally connected to their spouse and children as often as possible. It can be done, but one must be always on guard for warning signals and open to changing course, even if it means overcoming fear or ego.

Consider yourself blessed if you never find yourself in this position.

Book Review: Tony Dungy's Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, & Priorities of a Winning Life

Tony Dungy's Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, & Priorities of a Winning Life is a memoir about Tony's faith and NFL coaching career. His story starts slow but hits a quick pace by the end, where Tony enters some of the most emotional moments in his life: his son's suicide and his Super Bowl season.

I agree with Tony's values, but there's a disconnect between his message and his actions. The demands of his job make it nearly impossible for him to be an effective father. He discusses this in the book and surely continues to struggle with it.

In almost every other aspect of life, Tony is a great role model and his words contain important messages for all Christians, particularly fathers. But fathers should be cautious to do as he says, not as he does. Be there for your wife and children.

Life's Little Priority List

1) God (if you're a person of faith)
2) Spouse (if you're married)
3) Kids (if you have them)
4) Extended Family
5) Friends and Community
6) Career, Hobbies, pretty much everything else

If anything gets out of order, especially for a long time, and especially high up in the list, nasty long-lasting problems occur. If you keep this list in mind and act accordingly, your chances of having a supremely happy life go way up.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Brain Candy

I love The Economist. In every issue, there are at least several articles that make me say "hmmm" out loud. Whenever my wife hears 3 or 4 "hmmm"s in quick succession, she knows I'm about to start reading some obscure facts to her about globalization or Indonesia at a Crossroads. She pretends to be bored, but deep down, I know she's extremely bored.

Anyway, here are a few "hmmm"s from this week's issue:

Explaining one of many delays in the Airbus 380 launch:

"The cabin wiring—more than 330 miles of it and over 40,000 connectors in each aircraft—caused problems because two incompatible versions of computer-aided design software were used. The Germans in Hamburg had one system, the French in Toulouse another. When the electrical harnesses came to be fitted in the forward and aft fuselage sections, many didn't connect with each other. Despite efforts to resolve this, it was decided in October last year that only by updating the computer-design tools would Airbus get on top of the problem. That meant a third delay."

Why 1-day old donated blood is dangerous:

"The main reason for giving a patient blood is that it carries oxygen. It carries lots of other things, too, such as glucose. But it is a lack of oxygen that will kill you quickest. However, as Dr Stamler points out, what determines whether transfused blood works as a treatment is not merely how much oxygen it is carrying, but whether that oxygen can reach the tissues that need it. This is where nitric oxide comes in.
Nitric oxide increases the flow of blood to tissues by dilating the arteries that penetrate those tissues...When a red blood cell reaches any tissue in need of oxygen it releases nitric oxide in order to dilate the capillaries. Only then can it deliver its cargo. And that is doubly true of the cells in stored blood since red blood cells become less flexible with age, and thus less able to squish into capillaries. Dr Stamler thus wondered if a lack of nitric oxide was causing the problems associated with transfusions.
What he and his colleagues discovered, and published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was that the amount of nitric oxide in stored blood does indeed decrease—and does so rapidly. Within a day of storage, blood loses 70% of its nitric oxide. After a few days, up to 90% has been lost."

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Book Review: Unleashing the Ideavirus by Seth Godin

I write software for a living in a very coddled environment, far, far from any customers or marketing decisions (my company means well, but they are stilll catching up to the Cluetrain). Seth's blog, which led me to Unleashing the Ideavirus, is a peek into the nebulous world of human beings and the way to create products they like. Actually, Ideavirus is about creating products that people like and really want to tell other people about. Actually actually, Ideavirus is about creating products that people have to tell others about, just by using the product (like Hotmail, which was a truly innovative product before Microsoft purchased it). In contrast, something like a massage makes for a bad ideavirus because it's hard to explain the benefits to others and it's not immediately obvious to people that you've had a good one (although Sister Ros, a neighbor of mine, has done just that, by providing public massages at St. Paul Saints games for over a decade).

The book is repetitive, as most business books are, but in this case I didn't mind. If you have a product in mind, but aren't entirely sure how your product is going to spread from customer to customer effortlessly, read the book. Godin explains his point from several angles, giving your subconscious plenty of opportunities to turn your idea into an Ideavirus while you read.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Joer Purrrr's New Home

Mike S. has kindly posted the entire Adventures of Joey Purrrr series at Austin Town Ball. As his family allows, he will continue the Adventures, so continue to check back. Hopefully the folks in Austin appreciate their new cat.