Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jury Case News Article

I still haven’t blogged much about jury duty… Don’t worry, it’s coming.

In the meantime, you can read about the case I was on.  “Defense wins in ‘injured infant’ suit.”

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I just say no to tsunamis.

Having experienced earthquakes, fires, hurricanes and tornadoes, I have to go with tsunamis on this question. The problem with tsunamis is there's really no way to protect yourself... In an earthquake, get under a table or doorway. For a fire, evacuate. For hurricanes and tornadoes, go to your basement or interior room. WTH can you do when a tsunami's on the way?

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Everest

After miserably failing at my first mountain biking attempt at Sope Creek over 2 years ago, I thought I'd return to the scene of the crime yesterday and see if things had changed. Thankfully, they had.

First things first. Sope Creek really isn't for mountain biking. Sure, you can ride there (plenty of people were riding yesterday), but it's not a true mountain bike park like Blankets Creek or Big Creek. They have, fundamentally, one trail that runs from parking lot to parking lot. The other side trails are all closed at this point, mainly for damage sustained in recent Atlanta floods. Moreover, the trail itself isn't necessarily designed strictly for mountain biking, but more for cross-country running and hiking. (Feel free to disagree, but a steep uphill grade with 4x4 timbers spanning the entire width of the trail doesn't really feel like a mountain biker's paradise.)

Neither here nor there. As for yesterday, I came, I saw, I rode. The stuff that scared the shit of me last time felt easy this time around, after 2 years of mountain biking 2-3 times a week. The uphills were fun, the downhills were great, and my only spill was really just to trying to navigate some rocks I should have just blasted through.

My Everest is (for the most part) conquered. I'll certainly come back, but I don't think I'll become a regular.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We, the jury…

I fulfilled my civic duty and wrapped up a 9-day stint as a Fulton County juror last Thursday.  I think I have several blog posts in mind related to my time as a fair and impartial juror, but for now I’ll summarize.


- I landed on a medical malpractice civic trial involving a 7-week old boy who ended up with permanent brain damage due to Group B Streptococcus.  The plaintiffs were seeking around $25M in actual damages (lost wages and medical bills) and upwards of $100M in damages for pain and suffering.

- The first day was, obviously, jury selection.  Days 2 through 7 were the trial itself, followed by days 7 through 9 of deliberation.  On the 9th day we returned a unanimous verdict for the defendant (the ER doctor the plaintiffs were suing).

- I went in with an open mind, knowing it was going to be hard to (a) find for the defendant and crush the hopes of this family or (b) find for the plaintiffs and ruin a doctor’s career.  I listened to all of the witnesses and took 40 pages of notes throughout the course of the trial.  The evidence, testimony and other statements presented at trial included photos of the boy (now 2), videos of him and even a poem about the joys of little boys.  Not a fun 2 weeks.

Overall, I’m glad to have had the chance to serve on a jury and gain some insight into our justice process.  Am I looking forward to serving on a jury again in the near future?  Hell no.  Do I wish it could have been shorter?  Of course!  But both sides of this lawsuit demanded as much time as necessary to determine a verdict.

More to come…

Friday, September 18, 2009

I’m in good hands with Allstate. And Twitter.

This marks my first Twitter-related post, which is somewhat surprising based on how passionate I am about Twitter.  But I had such an overwhelming positive experience with Twitter yesterday that I decided it was time to break my Twitter silence.

For those that follow my Twitter stream you know I was involved with an auto accident yesterday on the way home from work.  For those that don’t follow me on Twitter, I was involved with an auto accident yesterday on the way home from work.  Thankfully, nobody was hurt, although my awesome car suffered some nasty damage.

After making sure nobody was injured, and after calling my wife and insurance company, I posted to Twitter:


What amazed me was the set of responses I got.  Within minutes I had Mentions and DM’s pouring through asking if I was ok, if I needed any help, if I needed a ride somewhere, etc., etc.  And these weren’t just from people I know IRL, either!  People who I only know through Twitter, some who don’t even live in Atlanta, all took time to see how I was doing.  A few even DM’ed me their phone numbers in case I needed to call.

This is only one example of how Twitter absolutely rocks.  To my Twitter friends – Thank you!  If we haven’t met IRL yet, let’s make sure we do!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Blueberry Picking @ Berry Patch Farms

Yesterday we tried something we'd never done before... Blueberry
picking. It was a nice way to spend an hour on a Sunday afternoon!
Great way to spend $2 (it's only $1.60 for a pound, if you can believe it)!

Download now or watch on posterous
IMG_0157.MOV (19067 KB)

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

21 Days Later

If you’re friends with me on Twitter or Facebook you know I went for a spectacular ride three weeks ago to Raccoon Mountain in Chattanooga.  It was probably the best ride of my mountain biking career, actually… The trails were fantastic, we rode for over 4 hours, the weather was perfect, and I went with some great friends.

Of course, if you knew about the spectacular ride, then you likely also know about my spectacular crash.  (I “supermaned” off my bike.  It was glorious.)  I’m sure in the grand universe of falls it wasn’t too bad (no broken bones, no stitches required), but it was certainly my worst crash thus far, worse than this one.  I ended up with some bruised ribs, a really nice gash above my right eye, cuts and bruises all down my legs and two sprained wrists.  My doctor suggested I keep off the bike for a few weeks.

So, three weeks later I was pumped to get back out there and headed over to Big Creek in Roswell yesterday after work.  Big.  Disappointment.  The fact that it was a sweltering 97 didn’t help, or the fact that they had closed off part of the Roswell Greenway, so the only way I could access the trails was to start right off in the middle of the advanced section.  A few things I noticed…

  • My wrists didn’t hurt as much as I was afraid they would, so I’m pretty good to go on that front.
  • When you’re used to riding 2-3 times a week, three weeks is a long time to stay off the bike.
  • Although I had no fear of crashing again right after the fall at Raccoon Mtn, I was rather hesitant yesterday; you can’t ride well if you’re afraid of falling.
  • 97 is too freaking hot for me.

But… For the first time since I started mountain biking, I was really excited to get back out there.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Weekend Excursion - Chattanooga

For the first time in a long time, we took a weekend trip a couple of
hours north to Chattanooga... Nothing too fancy, just Friday night and
Saturday, leaving Sunday morning. The bulk of Saturday was spent
riding along the Tennessee river, which had some very nice views.
Our lodging was provided by the very historic, and apparently very
haunted, Sheraton Read House Hotel. Room 311, right across the hall
from us, is only rented by request, as it's usually occupied by the
ghost of a "lady of the night" who was killed by a Union solider
during the Civil War. (Read the story here... http://bit.ly/2uUDJ)
Meanwhile, on Saturday, after enjoying a long bike ride, we had dinner
at the Back Inn Cafe (reviewed here... http://bit.ly/a1S5o). Shrimp
and grits. Oh yeah. We also got in plenty of time at coffee shops
(Rembrandts and, of course, Starbucks).
Thanks for a nice weekend, Chattanooga!

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A pre-MJT Classic? It's a Wonderful Life.

It's a Wonderful Life is a classic, and a great tradition on Christmas Eve is watching this movie. Lasso the moon! Zuzu's petals! My car, Burt... My car!

Monday, June 15, 2009

I'm constantly hanging with celebs.

Mark Wahlberg
On the recommendation of a co-worker, I took my wife to a small, out-of-the-way Italian place when we were in Los Angeles for a weekend and ended up sitting next to Mark Wahlberg and his model-girlfriend Rhea Durham. We also stood next to each other waiting for the valet after dinner. They both had very tan and very shiny skin.

Ben Stein
You know who I'm talking about, right? Bueller? Bueller? I met him at a Starbucks next to my office in Boston, wearing his standard suit and sneakers.

Kate Bosworth
The joke is that I once slept on top of Kate Bosworth... She had the room directly below mine at the Sheraton Boston when filming 21. (She was filming, of course, not me.)

I also ran into her at the Sheraton Club Lounge one night... She looked exactly like she does in her movies, and seemed like a very pleasant person, smiling and saying hi when I greeted her.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A 3-Year Old’s Secret

The joys of communicating with my 3 year old son, Gabriel…

Me:  So what am I getting for Father’s Day, buddy?
Gabriel:  I can’t tell you, Daddy, it’s a secret!
Me:  Please?  I really want to know!
Gabriel:  No, it’s a surprise!
Me:  What’s a surprise?
Gabriel:  That you’re getting an iPhone for Daddy Day!
Me:  So you won’t tell me?
Gabriel:  No, it’s a secret!
Me:  Is it a new BlackBerry?
Gabriel:  Nope.
Me:  Is it some new clothes?
Gabriel:  No!
Me:  Is it an iPhone?
Gabriel:  It sure is!
Me:  So when will you tell me the secret?
Gabriel:  On Daddy Day!  On Daddy Day I’ll tell you a story about an iPhone.

Gabriel Shhhh

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bring our Facebooks to Work Day

I once worked for a guy who was convinced that his personal life had to be fully separated from life at the office; the dude wouldn’t even tell us his wife’s name.  Seriously.  Or where he was going on vacation.  And don’t even think of mentioning politics or religion.  Of course, this was back in the day before anyone had heard of MySpace, before any of us were LinkedIn, when Oprah only cared about her books and not Twitter, and before Facebook was even a gleam in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye.  But in an age when most of us freely share significant personal information to the masses on the Internet, what’s the proper line to draw with co-workers?

Now, I’m not talking about ensuring your online “image” is work-appropriate; there are plenty of articles already addressing that topic.  I’m referring to striking the right balance between being an engaged member of your team at the office versus being that creepy dude at work.  For example, one of my guys tweeted that he was working late to get caught up.  Do I reply?  “@hardworkerdude, thanks for getting that stuff done!”  What about, “Hey, Jack, I saw you changed your Facebook status to single.  You doing ok?”  Is it acceptable to comment on a co-worker’s new Flickr album?

And what about me?  Is it appropriate to tweet when I had a tough day?  Is it ok to post personal photos of a recent vacation?  I don’t necessarily want everyone at work checking out my beach bod (term used very liberally), but what about some shots of when I’m on the bike?

I don’t want to be the aforementioned boss, but I also don’t want people on my team to think I’m too much in their personal business.  However, what’s the point of having interconnected social networks if you’re not allowed to connect with those with whom you spend 40+ hours a week?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

What’s with the suit?

For a change I thought I’d write a unique, personally-driven post instead of using Plinky or Utterli or anything else.  I know.  Shocking.

So here’s my question – What, exactly, is so wrong with a suit?  No, I’m not going to turn into The Art of Manliness (although it’s a great blog), but has the collective “we” come so far that a suit looks fundamentally out of place most of the time? 

Yesterday I decided to wear a suit to work, partially because I have a few nice suits, partially because I went to a party after work (fine, a Tweetup) and figured I’d dress it up a bit.  I didn’t wear a tie, and the jacket spent the majority of the day hung up.  But what surprised me was that I received more remarks about the suit than the people walking around the office in shorts.  “Are you interviewing?”  Um, no.  “What’s with the suit?”  Uh, just trying to class the place up a bit.  “Ooh, look at Mr. Fancy-Pants Business Guy!”  Yeah, well my tux is at the cleaners.

Have suits fallen so far out of fashion that I just shouldn’t wear one unless I’m at church or wedding or some other highfalutin event?  Hell, now that I think about it, my blue pinstripe job was out of place in the lobby of the W Buckhead when we were there last February.  The freaking W!  (I would have had to put on a pair of $600 jeans and an art-deco designer tee-shirt to fit in, by the way.)

I own 4 suits.  I look good in them.  They’re comfortable, with or without a tie.  And sometimes it’s just nice to look nice, no?  So, from time to time you might find me in the aforementioned blue, or maybe my gray pinstripe.  Call me out on it, that’s cool.  But I might ask when you’ll be heading to the beach in your wrinkled shirt, board shorts and sandals.

(picture from The Art of Manliness via Cathe Holden)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bring on the Astra

Looking back on the software I've come to depend on for years, it has to be my IM aggregator. My tool of choice? Trillian Astra.

Yes, I love PowerPoint, can't get by without a good text editor, spend all sorts of time in TweetDeck and could live on Excel. But I've depended on instant messaging communication for over a decade, and my tool of choice is Trillian. The Astra version (in open beta) supports AIM, Yahoo, Jabber, GTalk, Facebook, Twitter, Windows Live, even Skype. Oh, and it does all this with only about 60MB of memory.

No, I don't work for Cerulean Studios, but it sure sounds like it, doesn't it?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Perception vs. Reality

I've been struggling with this thought for the last several days now... People fundamentally hear and believe what they want and make that their reality. It doesn't matter how crystal clear you think you may be when interacting with others; their personal perspective and opinion will distort the message you were trying to get across.

But... And this is the kicker for me... If the above statement is true, then I'm guilty of this as well, right? So who's reality is correct? Is the only way around this copious written communication?

My head hurts now.

Monday, May 25, 2009

'The Gladiator' is a Great Go-To Movie

The answer to this prompt was a toss up between either The Negotiator or The Gladiator - And I had to go with the one that actually won some Academy Awards :)

This was such a great movie... Suspense, action, an incredible battle scene to start the movie, a terrific soundtrack. I even have it on DVD, but will still get sucked in if it's playing on TV.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Destressify on the bike.

Mountain Biking

Some great destressifications? Get out and bike! But make sure you're mountain biking... On the mountain bike you have to completely focus on the riding (you don't want to wreck, after all!), versus road cycling where your mind usually wanders back to whatever's stressing you out in the first place.

Of course when all else fails, grab a book or magazine and head to Starbucks.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Waxing Poetic about Star Trek

What happened to Vulcan?

Kirk, two Spocks and Enterprise

Save Earth from the same.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Moleskin - Write Away!

Inside the Moleskin notebook

Over the years I've switched back and forth between the electronic and the paper and have definitely settled on paper. Specifically, my Moleskin notebooks. I have a small one I use for my to-do's (it's always with me, to the point my team has made a joke out of it) and a large notebook I use for, well, note-taking.

And yes, I also have actual stationary at home for notes, thank you's, etc. Not Moleskin - Do they make stationary? I should check.

(Oh, I should add that I work for an email marketing company, so I also realize the world runs on email :) )

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Our TiVo... As dead as a Newton.

Series 2 Tivo Front

The most useless thing in the house right now is the TiVo... As electronics go, it's as dead as my first generation Newton. It needs a new power supply, and I haven't gotten around to buying and installing one (they're around $50).

Instead the TiVo sat open on our kitchen table for 2 months before finally being semi-reassembled and put next to the TV, like Bernie propped in the car, lifelessly staring at us.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oh, to be in New York City...

How much can you cram into one 3-day trip to The Big Apple? How about the Chrysler Building (during a walk from Union Square to Central Park), dinner at some absolutely awesome restaurants, Wicked, a taping of The Late Show with David Letterman, and a day at the Westminster dog show?

We could have done without the February snow storm that trapped us there for another 2 days... And I wish I wouldn't have caught the flu. But it was an awesome trip, a great hotel (W Union Square) and I want to go back!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

One day... in a Audi R8

Audi R8

As sweet as an Audi R8 would be, or a Lotus or Maybach or Maserati for that matter, I don't think I'd be comfortable driving a car that I'd be nervous about spilling coffee in. Hand-stitched leather doesn't mix well with Starbucks. So my daily ride would have to be something a bit more down-to-Earth, like the VW I have today.

But just for fun? I'd love to get an R8 or Ferrari out on a track sometime. That'd be a blast.

Friday, March 20, 2009

My First (Sub)urban Assault

Yesterday I attempted my first suburban assault ride in Alpharetta.  For those (like me) unfamiliar with this term, it’s an “open” ride along unmarked trails, power easements, random fields, business parks, and anyplace else you can think to take a mountain bike.  A buddy of mine invited me to one earlier this week, and I had no idea what to expect.  With planned obstacles like the “Dips of Doom,” “Wall of Shame” and “Satan’s Steps” I figured I’d come home battered, bruised and bloody.  It ended being a very fun 12-mile trek through our suburb, one which was certainly challenging but had a good balance of rock, dirt, gravel and pavement to keep it fun and interesting.  (My buddy, who seemed to be the main coordinator/instigator, is the type who will point out very random “trails” and shoot off to investigate them.  We did a few of those yesterday as well.)

No bruises, and the only blood was from a thorn bush I accidently rode through.

Would I go back?  Most certainly.  It’s not every day I get to try the Dips of Doom, after all!

(In my mind’s eye, this is exactly what I looked like during the ride.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Resolutions Redux

Now that we're a full two months into 2009, how am I doing against my resolutions?  In general, about as well as an AIG executive at a Senate subcommittee hearing.  Well, actually, maybe a bit better than that.

(1) Blog more?  Um, yeah, right.

(2) Travel?  Not so much.  I haven't even left Georgia so far.
(3) On the biking front I can say I did, actually, get off to a good start.  A friend of mine at work is training for a triathalon, so I've been riding with him pretty consistently.
(4) I've done ok keeping up with friends and have already connected with several good friends I hadn't talked with in a while, but I could certainly do more here.
(5) Work is off to a decent, although somewhat uneven, start.
(6) As far as "leading" vs. "managing" goes, I've had a few epiphanies lately (soon to be the subject of a blog post, see #1 above), and in sharing these with my team I think I've started to shift more towards leadership this year.  After additional reflection, however, I think I've consistently fell on the management side of the spectrum because that's what I was hired in to do.  Now that my team is generally setup and running I can disengage a bit from day-to-day management.
(7) Meanwhile, on the home front, I think I've changed a lightbulb or two.  Our garage door still needs fixin', and the garage certainly won't clean itself.
(8) I don't think I've done spectacularly well against this resolution, although I did make some nice surprise Valentine's/wife's birthday plans (W Buckhead, dinner at Brio, dessert/coffee/breakfast the next morning at Cafe Intermezzo).

So how are all of you doing against your resolutions?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Obtaining an Education Education

I had a fantastic sushi dinner tonight with my sister-in-law, a teacher at one of our Fulton County Title 1 schools.  

Our evening started with her swinging by my office on the way to dinner, just to see where I spend most of my days... "So this is how the other half lives!"  she exclaimed, checking out the ping pong table in the break room and large flat screen LCD's in our conference rooms.  "And your office," she said, "smells so nice!  It doesn't smell like a classroom!  And your ceilings are so high!"

We talked about all sorts of topics at dinner, of course, but work was certainly one of them, and I had one conclusion - There's no way I could do what she does.  Yes, she gets holidays and summers off, but I don't know how she balances that with the daily challenges she faces.  For example, there's no paper available for the school copier (she buys her own), there aren't many school supplies for her students (she buys what they need), she is allowed to take sick days, but not on a Monday or Friday or any day before a holiday and only with a doctor's note.  She typically works from 6:45 in the morning until around 7 or 8 each night, sometimes later, and almost always works from home on the weekends to grade papers and prepare lessons.  "It's just an exhausting day, ya know?"  she says.  And all of this for around $40K a year.

She clearly finds the job fulfilling, educating children with the basic skills they need and creating a safe, comfortable environment for them every day.  Growing up you only see one side of the profession (and my elementary school was far from Title 1), so it's very interesting to hear her perspective and see what goes on behind the curtain.

Support your schools, support your teachers.  It's a underrated profession that deserves our respect.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

It's Time for Those Pesky Resolutions!

The ball has dropped in Times Square, the peach fell in downtown Atlanta, we drank our champaign and we watched the debacle of Kathy Griffin with Anderson Cooper.  It's now time to start a new year and, with the strike of midnight, get to work on some resolutions.  Mine?

(1) I'd like to blog more.  I don't have anything mind blowing or groundbreaking to say, but it's a nice way to connect with people and also put on the digital record thoughts I have throughout the year.  So far, I'm doing ok with this resolution.

(2) I'd like to travel in 2009.  We came off of a 2007 with trips to Florida, New York, Boston, Vermont and I also got to go to the Bahamas.  In 2008 we went to... um... well... Chicago.  To visit family.  Not that there's anything wrong with Chicago (I love the city!), but it would be nice to take some vacations (i.e. Gabriel-free trips) in 2009.  At a minimum we'd better fly up to Bloomington, IL for our (gasp!) ten year reunion at Illinois Wesleyan in October.

(3) I'd like to bike more.  I actually did pretty well on the biking front in 2008; I logged around 400-500 miles on my road bike and a couple hundred on my mountain bike last year, I just didn't have much consistency.  For 2009 I want to participate in a century ride.

(4) I'd like to do a better job keeping up with friends.  I know it's a cliche, but time really does fly, and it's really easy to go 6, 9, 12 months without talking, emailing or IM'ing friends.

(5) I need to take the bull by the horns at work this year.  It's not like I coasted last year (that's for sure!), but I'm used to setting aggressive professional goals and working hard to hit them.  Last year was generally nebulous on the goals front, so I want to make sure I establish some and achieve them.

(6) Speaking of work, I'd like to start leading and inspiring more than managing.  This might just be my perception (meaning this resolution has already been met!), but I feel that I spend too much time being a manager and not enough time being a leader of my team.  The best teams I've been on in my career all had some inspiring people at the helm, and I want to create a similar atmosphere for the people that work for me.

(7) With all this energy I'll be expending at work, I need to start spending more energy on tackling home projects.  I'm not necessarily the most handy guy, but there are small projects around the house that need finishing.  It's far easier to spend time at home in front of the TV or Xbox or reading, but these projects won't finish themselves.

(8) Finally, I'd like to surprise my wife more in 2009.  Perhaps I'll come home with a cool tattoo or a navel piercing or something.  Or maybe just flowers.  :)

Well, readers (all 2 of you), there you have it... What do you think?  Are these achieveable?  Please keep me honest in 2009 and, if you have time, let me know what your resolutions might be!