First Steps

  • Jasper hasn’t changed at all in the last month. Except for the standing on his own, and first steps. Or his rudimentary vocal and physical mimicking. And he leveled up his self feeding skills, which now is at 2. Also, he can drop the shit out of a mouse pad.

  • Instead of embarking on our annual pilgrimage to Yosemite to consort with our hippie brethren, we stayed super local and explored the raging infant Berkeley Halloween scene. Things get crazy before dark. And by crazy, I mean crying.

  • I took a second paternity leave for four weeks, which was full on monkey awesome. Since we have a nanny three days a week (and very well can’t ask the nanny to not show up for a month), I had some serious time to embark on some computer-y and music-y projects. I had a few collaborators over (most notably Josh Clark from Tea Leaf Green), and made some headway on album numero 6. I created an ambitious facebook app, which totally rekindled my love affair with computer programming.
  • We’ve been real tired for the past 7 or so months. Sometime in the past month we hit a breaking point, and decided to give sleep training a go. It took exactly one night to get J-balls to sleep through the night. We’ve been sporadically kicking ourselves in the groin for not doing this sooner.

  • Lets not forget Thanksgiving! That totally just happened.
  • I saw one epic concert with involved Carlos Santana and the East Bay Orchestra. I also took Stiners on a surprise date to see Mummenchanz one afternoon. Its good to get out, occasionally.
  • Looking back, I don’t think there has been a ton of surprises about what life with a baby is like. I feel like the most surprising thing about this “having a child” business has been discovering who Jasper is. He looks and acts nothing like what I imagined (a talking toucan with an afro).
  • The funny thing about weekends is that instead of laying around in bed till noon and puttering around all day, we are up early and are very attentive to this needy little being. It makes every day feel incredibly full. We’ll always fit it at least one outing, and often two, so that we get a little social time in and the all important change of scenery for Jasper. At the end of every single weekend for the past 6 months, Stiners and I look at each other and declare, “wow, what an epic weekend!” Then the spankings commence.



Shedding some Armor

When I was growing up back east, I had a very hard time accepting feedback from other people, especially my parents. I was particularly defensive when it came to my ideas, which was probably to compensate for how emotionally fragile I was. Over the years, I have dialed back this defense mechanism since it turns out that other peoples ideas can be valuable. By which I mean, worth money. For example, Garbage Pail Kids was not an idea I came up with, and that guy was laughing his way to the bank when I was 8 (and deeply defensive).

I’m currently nearing the end of my second paternity leave. This was very different then round 1, since Jasper has developed into a little dude and we have a nanny 3 days a week. Knowing full well that I was going to have some time to work on projects during this leave, I tried to come up with a challenging computer project that would force me to learn some new mad nerd skillz.

The initial idea came to me when I was last in Newton, and I attempted to explain it to my dad. He had some feedback, which I initially rejected. I later mulled over his words and happened upon some shiny useful nuggets which somewhat reshaped my initial idea. This is a hard learned technique I picked up from surviving a long term relationship. More over, I realized I could get more nuggety goodness by sharing my project idea with lots of other people and seeing what they had to say. So for the first time in my life, I actively solicited lots feedback from tech savvy people. The rewards for this approach have been bountiful (in terms of  insightful ideas, not cash). The trick was to be open to all feedback, and take my time evaluating what people had to say. I believe this to be the most valuable thing I’ve learned during developing this web application, which has nothing to do with all the intentional computer learning that I set myself up for.

Now that I’m finished the first pass at this app, I’m really interested in the feedback that my beta testers have to give. Instead of being bruised by negative feedback, I’d like to see if I could use any of this  information to improve the app.

The basic idea behind the app is a general fuzz song unlocker, where people earn the right to unlock bonus songs by promoting my music. It’s  a little ironic to spend so much time and energy building something that I know my fans will actively dislike. Almost all my previous music was free to download before – how could I have the nerve to make people jump through hoops to get new stuff? This is the advantage of being slightly more established then I was a decade ago – there are at least ten people across the globe who are willing to do a little more then nothing to hear unreleased tracks.

I had a relevant conversation with Stina at dinner. She was talking about how amazing our friends wedding website was. When I asked, she admitted that she hasn’t taken the 5 seconds to write them an email telling them how much she liked it. We consume, and rarely provide feedback to those who produce. I’ve already fully come to terms with this behavior. Therefore, I’m trying to incentivize people to take that easy extra step.   It’s an interesting idea which may not work at all. If nothing else, I had a really fun time building the app (I had almost forgotten that I actually enjoy programming), it’s a very solid piece of code that I can add to my resume, and I’ve internalized a valuable life lesson.  That is, money is good.