Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ethan says...

"I've calculated Dad Time and Mom Time. When you say you'll be home in fifteen minutes, it means twenty. When Mom says she'll be home in fifteen minutes it means forty-five."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Grandma's a Ninja

From this week's Publishers Weekly:

"NorthSouth sneaks into spring with 'My Grandma’s a Ninja' by Todd Tarpley, in which Ethan’s grandma suggests zip-lining into kindergarten."

Publication date is March, 2015.

This is my first non-rhyming picture book; I still love toddlers, but I'm kinda warming to 4- and 5-year-olds.

More updates and pics as publication date approaches.

P.S. Those who knew Grandma Needham will recognize this as a true story.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

BTTF on the Hudson

Samuel and I went to the Hudson River pier at West 70th Street last night for an outdoor screening of "Back to the Future." There were probably 300 people there with blankets and lawn chairs.

We watched from near the front for the first half of the movie, then retreated to the far end of the pier and watched from a table in the food court while enjoying hot dogs and soda.

We've seen it a dozen times. We know all the lines. No surprises.

But it's always nice to see George knock out Biff and win Lorraine's heart, and hear the audience clap.

They are kindred spirits.

I asked Samuel if he still wants a DeLorean.

"Yes." No hesitation.

"Do you want a time machine version, or just a regular DeLorean?"

"Well, if I had a choice I'd get a time machine version, but if I had the chance to have a regular version I'd take it."

"I'm sorry I haven't been able to get you one. I wanted to. I thought I'd be richer in my life at this point."

"That's okay."

"Next life."


And we walked home together with no DeLorean but with warm hearts.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

This week's dreams

1. I was in an open field and saw a huge tornado coming toward me, but when I tried to run to a nearby house, the house kept getting farther away.

2. I started a new job only to realize on the first day that it was a nudist company and everyone was expected to come to work nude.

3. I was standing in line to see a play called "The Pursuit of Happiness." I was skeptical that it was going to be any good, but I had already committed to seeing it.

So, let's see...panic, fear of embarrassment, and disillusionment with the pursuit of happiness.

First week at a new job.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The elusive 6-minute mile

My athletic goals have become rather modest in my old age: don't pull any muscles. But now I've decided to set my sights higher: I want to run as fast as a middle-school girl.

I haven't run a six-minute mile in several years. My body isn't used to running that fast anymore. My "fast" pace is now 6:45 for a 3-mile run. For a mile--probably 6:20. But that extra :20 is a big deal.

I can still run a six-minute-mile pace for a half mile and feel fine, aside from the heaving convulsions afterwards. The problem is the second half mile. My poor old muscles just don't have the oxygen. My legs refuse to go that fast. My lungs start burning. My arms go numb. My entire body becomes liquefied and melts onto the pavement.

It's as if my body has been replaced with that of a 51-year-old man.

But I'm not giving up.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Big companies vs. start-ups

I have a job again. In case anyone was concerned about me.

The company is a start-up. Start-up is code for "make less money than you ever thought possible while suffering from the delusion that you might get rich." In other words, it's a microcosm of life.

I worked at a start-up in the past and hated it. I also worked at several large companies. I hated them too. So there is a clear pattern.

But I have some additional observations.

1. Executives at big companies whose businesses are slowly being destroyed by the Internet have a fetish for start-ups. They try to emulate them by creating open work areas, wearing jeans, and loudly dropping buzzwords like "agile" and "lean."

But their businesses continue to decline because--Eureka--configuring desks a certain way or dressing a certain way generally has limited impact on the dynamics of a business. You either have a good business model or you don't.

Warren Buffett, for example, seems to do just fine with an old, fuddy-duddy office.

2. People who work at start-ups enjoy being the cool kids. They have great disdain for big companies that focus on crass things like monetization and "just don't get it." Their future is generally dependent on being acquired by a big company.

Irony alert.

3. There's a saying--perhaps I'm the one who said it--that the only thing as dysfunctional as a large company is a small company. But big companies have a unique brand of dysfunction.

My previous company loved to tout its analytics-driven, assembly-line-type efficiency. At the center of the process was a complex, behemoth tech platform that became obsolete a few months after it was implemented a decade ago. But it cost so much to implement that it couldn't be changed. Why? That wouldn't be efficient.

When I left it was being replaced by yet another behemoth, multi-million-dollar platform that was equally complex. Implementation was into Year 2 and proceeding slowly.

In my first week at my new company, our tech team determined that part of our current platform was obsolete. So they re-built it. In two days. It's amazing how much you can get done when you're not burdened with "efficiency."

So I suppose I'm tipping my hand a bit about where I prefer to be.

Well, actually, I'd prefer to make a million dollars a year writing picture books on my laptop while watching toddlers play in the fountains at the water terrace.

But until then...

Monday, July 7, 2014

Back to Camelbeach

I finally got the whole family to Camelbeach water park this weekend--Jennifer included. But I insisted on taking a family photo, and I forgot to put my shirt on for it.

I'm in decent shape for a 51-year-old. Unfortunately, I persist in believing that I have the body of a 35-year-old bodybuilder.

I'm not going to show the photo, because I don't want to brag, but I'm pleased to say that I do, in fact, resemble a former bodybuilder.

Friday, July 4, 2014

You'd better get a job soon

Ethan: You've been out of work a long time.

Todd: It hasn't been that long.

Ethan: You'd better get a job before two years or you'll never get a job again.

Todd: Who says that?

Ethan: They did a survey. People would rather hire a criminal than someone who's been out of work for two years.