First bike

First bike

Dear Js,

For the first time in history, your generation will get to see what your childhood was like. In video and pictures. Unlike when your mama and I were children. There are questions we can never answer. Like “What was I like when I was a kid?” “What were my parents like?” “How was life like then?” But now you get to see. I don’t know if it’s good or bad. But I can tell it will be interesting. I can’t wait to share all this with you. I’m thinking sometime in your teens.

We decided to have your birthday in the park near our house. Because we really don’t want to rent some place that will rush us and kick us out when our time is up. And it’s spring, so why not be out in nice weather?

Mama decided that the theme would be Dinosaurs. To prepare, you helped make cupcakes:

Mama stayed up to finish

Mama stayed up to finish

The day of the party. My cardboard dino heads made an appearance:

Guess what we have in our fridge after your party. 3 XL pizzas jammed into Tupperware and stacks of cupcakes because everyone felt guilty taking them home.

In the invitation, mama said no gifts please. We have no space and you have too many toys. “But if you must, books please. He likes trucks and dinosaurs.” You can say what you want, but no one wants to show up to a birthday party without a gift. So it was a good idea to mention what you liked. Your friends brought many dinosaur books:

Presents for me?

We waited til after naptime to surprise you with your first balance bike:

We went for a bike ride. “Why can I ride a balance bike?” Because you’re three now. You learned on your scooter and your tricycle. And now you’re ready for a balance bike. “Why does my bike have no pedals?” Because you need to learn to balance to have a balance bike with pedals. You need to learn to balance with both feet off the ground. When you can put your feet up on those steps, you are ready for pedals.

It didn’t take long for you to crash:

I lowered the seat. You crashed again at the slope on the sidewalk. I lowered the seat more. A few adjustments later, we found the perfect height. I know you were trying hard because you stopped every time you wanted to tell me something.

You did much better on the next day. You even tried to balance, after I described what balancing meant. See for yourself:

Soccer ball from grandma/grandpa

J – do you remember how you gave Ms Rachel a pear last week? You brought a pear from home. “I want to give Ms Rachel a pear because Ms Rachel likes pears.” Well, she wrote you a thank you card:







This week in pictures

Turtle castles

Monkey tree hugger

Monkey tree hugger

Zoom scooter

J2 – you love bathtime. You also like sharing with me and trying to shove things in my mouth. You are convinced I will like them. You also love music. You’ll crawl to the piano and bang keys. Then to the ukulele to pluck strings.

You babble. It’s not gibberish. They are slurred words. Daddy is “deddeh”. Mama is “memeh.” If I sing the music your activity table makes, you’ll crawl over to it and try to make it play the same song. You’re walking and turning.

Mama reads Goodnight Moon to you at bedtime. You know the story. I said a few lines to tease Joshua, and your ears perked. You crawled to the couch, climbed to your feet and flipped through the book. You know more than I realize for not being able to talk.

"I want a bow too"

“I want a bow too”

Morning hugs

Morning hugs

The things kids say…

At the supermarket, we were singing while I was pushing you in the cart, “If you’re happy and you know it.” We did Eyes, Hair, Mouth. Then I traded you for your sis. Mama tells me later what happened next:

He decided to put a twist on “If you’re happy and you know it”. He sang out to me (loudly): “if you’re happy and you know it touch your breasts!” Until the song was done. To add insult to injury he kept trying to show me how I was supposed to be touching my breasts….”

At breakfast mama made:

Daddy your croissant is here

I looked at mama and said I don’t think I knew that word until I was six. “How about Havarti.” Oh, college.

Me: “I don’t want a sticker”
“You don’t want to be ssssticky?”

I guess today’s letter needs a lesson. I’ll throw in a story from my adventures this week.

I realized have a dysfunction. When I have a clear picture of how the world should be, I get angry when I know I can make it happen. If I’m helpless, It doesn’t bother me. Because just like the Earth spins round the Sun, why stress if you can’t do anything about it? The things that get me are ones that make me mad because of how stupid things are. Because I can fix them and I want to fix them.

Like the other day. I was fidgeting through a VP’s talk at an all-hands. He presented some revenue numbers that came from what was clear to me was sloppy data analysis. Very fishy numbers. I cornered him after, gave an elevator pitch about how I can help, tailed him all the way back to his office probing him and twisted some follow-up names from him.

Then, I launched my email campaign:

Simplifying your huge marketing spreadsheet with Amy
Wed 4:12pm
Hi [VP],

We chatted after your talk.

Could you please connect me with Amy?

I’d like to try to help you two simplify your humungous marketing spreadsheet by using in-house DBs and data-mining.

We’ve already used this tech to find high-leverage/big ROI projects in ____’s group (but without $ numbers because we don’t have them).

I think we can use the same tech in your group to find high-leverage/big ROI projects too. (But with real $ numbers.)


No reply. Fuck it. I’m going around.

can I help?
To: Amy, CC: [VP]
Mon 1:06pm:

Hi Amy,

[VP] presented “Revenue per IP” data from your IP Marketing Excel last week @ the ____ all-hands.

It was great – everyone loved seeing hard revenue numbers for the projects!

I met him after his talk and he suggested I talk with you.

Do you have lots of data to manage/process/report from your massive Excels?

The reason I’m asking is, we have started building in-house tech for data mining and reporting. If you have lots of data and you want a good way to store/manage/process/report it, we might be able to make your life easier and less painful.

We have been using this to reveal trends, track history and find biggest bang-for-buck projects. Stuff I think you do with your marketing data too. Right?

I already asked our director and he said it’s okay if we lend you a hand. Because after all, the more concrete $ numbers we can get from our customers and Marketing, the better we can guide our software team’s strategy.

Can we meet today or tomorrow to see if I can be of help?

I am in Building 1 but I can meet you in Building 4 to stretch my legs and get some fresh air.


Later that evening…

Amy – Aaron is willing to process the compass data for any IP analysis. If you could sync up with him and see how he can help that would be great.


Oh do I have your attention now?

6.43 pm
HI Aaron,

Thank you for the offer as automation would be great. I sent out a meeting invite for us tomorrow.

Let me know if that time works.


I met with them. I went in there almost blind, so it was Diagnostic Selling mode. I listened. I learned their pain. I offered to relieve their pain. They almost cried. It was clear what they desperately needed. They gave me access to sensitive data that I might have otherwise needed clearance for from Legal. It was clear what they needed, I presented the solution, and they said, “… that would be… big.”

Understandably, they were suspicious about why I was so “generous” or why I’d care to help them. So I explained how this all started with my chat with the VP and how helping them will help me too. Because they have the $ numbers in their database, and no one else gets to see them until someone crawls over rusty nails and broken glass for weeks to generate a report by hand. She asked me if it was urgent, because she thought I had “sicced [VP] on her.” I assured her she wasn’t in trouble. We’re just excited.

The morning after our meeting the previous evening, I showed this to them:


The response? Silence. I waited for a few days. Nothing.

Here’s why this is baffling to me. They currently go through months of painful torture to manually produce a report that my tool automatically generated in a second. The way they do it is more painful and emotionally scarring than manual labor. Imagine having a spreadsheet with tens to hundreds of thousands of rows. Now imagine that every row has a field/column with many values. What they need to do is filter the rows for EACH unique value in that field/column. The poor lady manually eyeballed each and every row, and if value A existed, she would split the rows with A into a new spreadsheet. Then she did the same to make spreadsheet B, and so on. I saw over twenty spreadsheets created by her this way. And how do you make sure you didn’t screw up? Miss a row, and you might miss a $1MM sale.

And I gave them a way to never have to do that manually again, saving weeks, even months of torture and salvaging their sanity. And they reply with… nothing?

This is why I get depressed trying to help people. Most people just don’t want to be helped. You can hand them the world in a silver platter, give them all the wonders in the Valley of Paradise… but they can still be too lazy or not like it because the sunlight from the blue sky makes them squint.

So I’m going to shift gears. Now that they have a taste of the rainbow, I’m shifting to “Takeaway Selling”. I will sit back an let them suffer enough to remember, “Hey, remember that guy who bugged us a few months ago? Wouldn’t his thing make this much easier?” And suffer enough to decide that they want my help.

By the way, I now know how much my Achilles efforts are perceived to be worth. I always wondered if it was worth it to work harder. I still don’t know, but here’s what happened. I got summoned into a conference room. Strange. It wasn’t review time yet. I can never tell if it’s going to be good news or bad news. This time it was good news. They appreciated my work enough to shower some RSUs on me, out of cycle, before the review period. The number of RSUs were set to be halved for the next review because our stock price almost doubled. Getting this out-of-cycle award before the new policy meant that I was getting the double-value RSUs. I think they’re worth the total of both our cars? I was reminded me to keep it secret, because it would hurt morale if others knew.

But we all know where all the money will go. The same place it goes in any family with kids.

The other night, mama was trying to get you ready for bed. “Stay still you little jumping bean.” Somehow, Abba’s Dancing Queen song popped into my head:

You are the Jumping Bean, young and sweet, only almost three
Jumping Bean, feel the beat from the tambourine
You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life
See that boy, watch that scene, he is the Jumping Bean

After you turned three, we sing…

Jumping Bean, young and sweet, now already three…

It’s catchy. It got stuck in our heads.

Mama: *singing Abba’s dancing Queen while making breakfast*
Joshua: “Mama, why is Julie the crying queen *big grin*”



P.S. – J, you woke up crying one night. I ran to check. You were not in bed. You were squirming on the floor. I said, “You’re on the floor. Your bed is up here.” You stopped crying. You looked behind you, confused. You climbed back in and fell right back to sleep.

P.P.S. – I’m reading Car Guys vs Bean Counters. I love it. It already changed everything I thought I knew about the US auto industry. And I learned that the US government destroyed it by passing fuel efficiency laws that interfered with the free market. Not surprising, but sad because who knows what could have been.

Cute laundry

Cute laundry