Catch-Up Day

I took a vacation day today. The last few weekends were packed with agenda items, and the evenings have been larded with sundry activities that leave me wishing for a few extra hours each night. Now I need to do a little catch-up, which is harder to do when you’re sitting in your office chair with a tasty cup of coffee and a cat gently snoring on your lap.
Updates follow.
Workplace Transitions
Life in the office has been interesting. My department — Quality Improvement Analytics — is now simply called Clinical Analytics, because the QI function has been pulled from my boss and given to a different leader in the organization. So instead of having a subject (QI) and a competency (analytics), we are now simply a competency. I lost two current staff members in the transition, but I am hiring a new senior analyst right now and can hire a new entry-level analyst in July.
The upside? I can still do QI, but subsumed under the larger umbrella of care-model transformation. If we play the cards right, my boss and co-manager and I will re-shape our shop into a clinical analytics center of excellence. I mildly grieved for the loss of the “quality” designation, but in the long run, this transition may free us to do more work of greater significance than when we were boxed into the QI space.
Caffeinated Press Launch
Our first publication — the Brewed Awakenings anthology — has already turned a small profit after its March 2 launch … despite not yet even being widely available on the Ingram catalog. So we’re pretty happy about that. If you haven’t yet purchased your copy, go here. 🙂
On April 6 at 7 p.m., we’re holding an event co-sponsored by Schuler Books and Music, the area’s largest independent bookseller. All are welcome to join us at the 28th Street store. We’re planning a roughly 90-minute session targeted mostly to writers. We’ll also have a book-signing table.
And our literary journal, The 3288 Review, is starting to get a masthead. Yay for that. John has done yeoman’s work in researching the current state of the literary-mag universe.
Travel
Spring has sprung, and with it, my travel schedule begins to blossom. In about three weeks, I’ll be looking forward to dinner with Tony/Jen and PPQ/GoodDoctor at Dimondale Manor, followed by an afternoon at the opera in Detroit, with April. I’ll be in Philadelphia for a few nights, the week after that, and plan to be in Bonaire over Memorial Day week for a diving trip with Tawnya, Dave and Jen.
In theory, I have the 360Vegas Vacation II in mid June, but I’m not sure whether I can attend given other priorities stacking up around the same time. Then Seattle in early August for the Joint Statistical Meetings and likely the VIMFP in mid October in Las Vegas. Somewhere in the middle of all that is an overnight trek to Chicago, too. Mid-May, I think.
And lest I forget: I have an invite for an autumn visit to see Jared and Sarah in Abu Dhabi.
Fitness
The Bonaire diving trip reminds me that strapping a steel cylinder to your back and plunging 100 feet into the ocean is a much more pleasant experience when you’ve got adequate cardiopulmonary function. I’ve been hitting the exercise bike several times each week. I’ve discovered that my normal evening routine of “cigar + cocktail + news” actually has one element that’s truly important to me: the news. And hey, guess what? I can read the news whilst cycling away the pounds. Burning 800 calories is preferable to consuming 300 calories, I guess.
It’s actually pretty easy, now that I have a new routine locked. I can log 25 or so miles in about an hour on the bike and not even think about it, given how my attention is focused on the content scrolling across my tablet. I shall not be “that guy” on the dive team who forces everyone to the surface because he’s sucking down the nitrox like it’s candy.
What I’ve Been Reading & Watching
I rarely watch television. I cut the cord with Comcast in late December and haven’t looked back. On Netflix, though, I did catch the 13 or so episodes of the first season of Helix. Interesting program.
Books, though? I’ve resumed reading more than just the day’s headlines, usually grabbing a book while enjoying dinner. In the last few weeks, I’ve finished Roll the Bones by Dr. David G. Schwartz. “Dr. Dave” is a leading academic expert about casino gaming, from UNLV; I purchased a copy of his book from him in 2013. He even autographed it for me. Anyway, I’m done with it. Fascinating historical survey of gambling, from pre-history to today. And last night I finished a re-read of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.
Oh, and I also wrapped up Political Order and Political Decay by Francis Fukuyama. Fascinating theoretical construct there. I am, I think, largely persuaded that the biggest political challenge in the contemporary United States isn’t “partisan gridlock” or “ideological warfare,” but rather elite repatrimonialization of state institutions by conflicting groups of elites. If you enjoy political theory — and who doesn’t? — I recommend this book, plus the first volume of the two, The Origins of Political Order.
Sundry Observations
And for your grab-bag of short takes:

  1. Looks like our friends from Denton, Dallas & Beyond will be a headliner at the 2015 VIMFP! 🙂
  2. Tony and I had an unrecoverable glitch that affected two of the podcasts we recorded in late February, but now we’re back on track.
  3. The Michigan Republican State Convention went well. It was held in February in Lansing. I was pleased that Dave Agema doesn’t seem to be a mainstream character. Now, if only he’d resign or get removed ….
  4. Much of my free time has been spent on CafPress stuff, but I’ve had the chance to do some fun things, including hang out with Scott and Jeremy at Logan’s Alley for the KBS tapping a few weeks ago, and visit Tony and his wife at their new palatial estate in Dimondale, Michigan. Also got to enjoy a premium cigar with Matt at Tuttle’s and crash the “bestie date” with Brittany and April for South Pacific a couple Fridays ago. (I really should attend more performances at the Civic.)
  5. The 50-year-old Grand Rapids Press building is now tumbling down. A once-iconic brand is now outsourced to MLive Media Group, thus guaranteeing that we really don’t have a newspaper anymore in this town. It’s sad, really.
  6. Still planning — I hope — to do a weekend backpacking hike with my brother this season.
  7. Easter is coming. Already. I had some aspirations for Lent, but tempus fugit.
  8. I’m trying to write more. And partially succeeding at it.

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