Saturday, December 8, 2012

27 years

That's how long Bill Catchings and I have worked together.  Through multiple companies, several years of full-time freelancing, and, for the last decade, Principled Technologies, our partnership has held strong.  Tonight, we celebrated the end of PT's tenth year at our annual Seasonal Celebration, the holiday party for the entire company.

This party is definitely a dress-up affair, which is why the two of us are in tuxes.

(If you're a glutton for punishment, click on the picture for a larger image.)

Wow, do I find it hard to look at myself!  The flash was blinding us, which is why our eyes look as they do.  I have no excuses for the rest.

We blew it out on this special tenth-anniversary party.  We even went for a commemorative cake from Sweet Memories Bakery

Not only was the cake over the top and festive, it also evoked images from the signature video on our Web site. 

Cake was not the only dessert, of course; we also had our traditional dessert bar.  As one of the two owners of the business, I felt I had to try each dessert in case one of them sucked and I would need to warn the others.

Fortunately, none of them sucked.  In fact, they were all delicious.

The party was great, and everyone had a wonderful time.

I am fortunate to work with the best team in the world at the best fact-based marketing company in the world.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dialog-free pivotal moments

I'm always surprised by how many times otherwise good books and movies spoil key moments by explaining them to us, as if we audience members can't possibly understand what's going on from actions alone. 

When a work gets it right, though, it's a beautiful thing.  For no good reason, a little bit ago this lovely scene from Houseboat came to mind.  Watch as Cary Grant and Sophia Loren come to fully realize how they feel about one another, even though they don't speak for long after they begin dancing. 

Never mind that last bit of painful dialog; I won't be spoiling the film by telling you that Grant and Loren will eventually end up together. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Magic on command

Sitting in the Cirque theater in the Mirage last week, watching Love, I was once again struck by how good the Cirque creators are, how they manage in show after show to transport us to magical places, to deliver magic on command. 

As I was walking out, I decided that at least in part that's what all of us, every artist, needs to strive to do.  Reading a book, staring at a painting, listening to a song, watching a movie--however we're experiencing art, there's at least a moment when we're open to magic, when it could flow through us and fill us and make us feel as if we're going to burst.  Most art doesn't deliver this effect, and doing so is, of course, not the only goal of art, but it is an opportunity art presents us. 

As I walked out of the casino to the taxi line, I realized how much I want to do better at taking advantage of that wonderful opportunity, how much I, too, want to deliver magic on command.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Why "thank you" matters

When people do things for me, I try to always remember to thank them.  Whether what they're doing is holding open a door, cooking a meal, or giving me a present, I say, "Thank you."  Even if the action is part of the person's job--a waiter serving a dish at a restaurant--I say, "Thank you."  I believe that this small courtesy, this tiny societal norm, is vital.

I don't hold this belief, however, simply because I was brought up to behave this way (I was) or because it is (or, at least, it was) a normal part of civil social discourse.

No, I cling tightly to the importance of this simple phrase because it acts as a reminder to each of us to be grateful, to be genuinely thankful for what others do for us.

Gratitude is so very easy to avoid.  Is it really, after all, necessary?  We did it ourselves. We worked hard.  We earned it.  We paid for it.  We deserve it. 

Except, of course, that we almost never do anything entirely by ourselves, or earn something entirely on our own.  Yes, we may pay for a service, or we may feel that we deserve something from someone else, but in the end the others have the choice not to participate, not to perform the service or give us the thing, and we should be grateful when they act for us.

I'm constantly surprised by how few people these days seem to share my feelings in this area.  Maybe it's always been this way and I just thought things were different.  Dunno.

What I am sure of is that we could all stand to be more grateful and to show that gratitude regularly.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A sense of scale

You know the Hoover Dam is big before you see it, but once you're there, you start to get a sense of just how large the whole construction is. 

Here's a view of the bottom of the new bridge from the dam.

As always, click on the image to see a larger version.

If you look very closely at the structures on the right and left, you can see trucks that give you a sense of how enormous even the outlying structures are.

Now, here's a view of the dam from the top center of that bridge.

Yeah, we're talking really big. 

Small parts of the inside of the dam are huge.  Check out this one section of turbines. 

I didn't expect to have a great time at the dam, but I ended up finding the entire experience not only informative but oddly compelling.  I definitely recommend a visit to it. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

On the road again: Las Vegas, day 5

I'm home after a long day of traveling that included the worst food anyone has ever served me on a plane and an hour-long flight delay, yet was generally a good trip.

Catching up on work, however, has kept me up until nearly six a.m., so I'm skipping out.

For your amusement, here's me next to one of the fine items Las Vegas has to offer.

(As always, click on an image to see a larger version.)

Okay, you can have Kyle, too, with bonus demon eyes, as he checks out the box on stage at the Penn & Teller show.

Fine!  You want more; you got it:  a salt-crusted entire foie gras at e by Jose Andres.

With that, I go to bed. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

On the road again: Las Vegas, day 4

A marathon shut down the Las Vegas strip for much of the afternoon and evening today, so getting about town was more than a bit of a struggle.  None of that mattered, however, because today's only travel challenge was one I was sure to meet:  Getting to the Cosmopolitan casino for dinner at e by Jose Andres

e is to Jaleo, where we ate last night, as minibar is to Cafe Atlantico: a restaurant within a restaurant, a small space in which a team of chefs perform feats of food magic using the latest modernist tricks.  In the case of e, the goal was to serve entirely Spanish cuisine while using all the techniques that Jose Andres learned at el Bulli--and more.  The space seats only eight diners, and e offers only two seatings a night.  As you can see from the Web site link above, you email for a reservation and then hope for the best.  I was lucky enough to get in tonight. 

The meal itself was 27 small courses, many of them only a single bite, each of them wonderful.  I didn't taste a single bad thing.  As modernist meals tend to do, this one surprised us and made us laugh even as we were oohing over how good each taste was.  From the first warm-up appetizer to the last of the several desserts, every single dish was delicious, beautiful, and surprising. 

I could go on and on, but I have work to do, so I'll end with a simple bit of advice:  If you're in Las Vegas and can possibly get into e by Jose Andres, do it.  The meal is not cheap, but it is worth all you'll pay for it and then some.  It's one of the very best dinners I've had. 


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