Be Glad and Rejoice, for Grand Staycation IV is Almost Here!

In just a few days, I begin the fourth annual Grand Staycation. With 16 consecutive days off, I will focus on end-of-the-year catch-up and planning for 2015. I’m much more excited for the vacation than I am about the holidays, but in fairness, I’m in generally good spirits about the holidays this year, so there’s that. Anyway, see below for general updates.
VLO E-200.  Today, Tony and I hit a four-year milestone with the release of episode 200 of our Vice Lounge Online podcast. The show ran roughly 45 minutes; we were blessed with five calls, plenty of pontificating, a Christmas Martony cocktail and even five minutes of outtakes I’ve accumulated over the last year. VLO has been a wonderful experience for us. Our program — a weekly 30-minute show about casino gaming, premium cigars and fine adult beverages — has grown to literally thousands of listeners each week. We’ve been fortunate to make great new friends across the country and even in the U.K. because of it.
Anthology. I wrote my anthology story; it clocked in around 11,300 words and will be the eighth submission to the Caffeinated Press All Goes Dark anthology project. I’m excited about this effort. We have eight fun stories crossing genres, written by authors local to the Grand Rapids area. Part of Grand Staycation IV includes final editorial prep for the anthology — last line edits to the manuscripts, production, ISBNs, cover art, etc. I hope to be done by the 31st of December, for release on the market by early-to-mid February.
[Intermission: Animals by Maroon 5 just rotated up. Am I the only person who wonders whether Adam Levine still has testicles? No adult human male should make noises that high-pitched.]
Literary Journal. Speaking of CafPress, it looks like our plan to launch a quarterly literary journal will actually succeed. I’ll probably serve as publisher and Lianne as executive editor, with Alaric and John as senior editors. I think — lots remaining TBD. Anyway, the journal presents a glorious opportunity to showcase local writers. As well as the sale of advertising or the acquisition of corporate or grant funding to support ongoing operations and payments to writers. The journal is intended to help grow a well-defined literary culture within the West Michigan market.
Novel. I’ve had two weeks away from Aiden’s Wager, and in that time, I’ve figured out how the story will end given the change of direction from the original plan that came through the writing process in late November. I’m excited about this project. I’ll wrap up the first draft over Grand Staycation IV and send it off to various beta readers. My suspicion is that some of the material is far enough askance from accepted West Michigan culture that I won’t try for CafPress publishing, but I think there are some niche markets where the premise makes sense.
Project Management. I did something fun at work. We’ve been swirling so much about which teams in our division will use what one-off project management tools (at one point, we were split among Excel, Project, QuickBase, Rally and Clarity PPM) that we needed to just do something. So last week, I wrapped up what my team will use — a home-grown tool with a back end in Oracle. I built seven fact tables, normalized against several more look-up tables, with quite a few foreign-key dependencies and a fistful of sequence/trigger pairs to generate unique primary-key values. I then imported the data model into Tableau, so reporting about investments, activities, updates, issues, stakeholders, file attachments and time allocations becomes transparent to anyone who wants to look. I don’t have a front-end for the tool — I figured I’d just manually update tables using Toad for Oracle — but it’s got a slick presentation layer with strong internal referential integrity. I’m happy with it.
Surgical Site Infections. This coming week will focus on one  major deliverable keenly desired by our corporate chief medical officer: An analysis of surgical-site infections undertaken in partnership with our largest partner hospital. The hospital’s infection-control team keeps registry data about SSIs, but they don’t have access to the same administrative claims data that I do at the insurance company. Literature suggests that SSIs cannot be inferred from claims data, so I’ll use the surveillance registry to brush it against claim histories to try to calculate the true cost of SSIs to the community. Fascinating stuff, and a great example of proving the value of analytics for health-care quality professionals.
Emerging Competencies. Speaking of analytics, I’ve been co-leading an initiative about the emerging professional competences in the field of health data analytics, through the National Association for Healthcare Quality. We’re wrapping up our final report. About a dozen leaders within the analytics field, who are NAHQ members, are a part of the project. Interesting insight into where the industry has been headed.
MAHQ. My one-year appointment as president-elect of the Michigan Association for Healthcare Quality has been extended into 2015 given a dearth of candidates for the role in the most recent election. That means I have to plan the 2015 conference, too — which is fine, given that I’ve already booked the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel for October. These things are easier to pull off when they’re in your own back yard!
Socializing. Been a fun couple of weeks on the social front. Yesterday I spent three hours eating food and drinking beer with AmyJo, at HopCat. Last week, we had the “Thank God It’s Over” party for NaNoWriMo. I spent time chatting with Lianne and Stephen a couple of weeks ago. We had our Write On! holiday party a week ago last Friday — the same day I went out to Founders Brewing with Cindy, Steve and Timothy from the office (Cindy bought — the rest of us are helping her as she wraps up her doctoral dissertation).
Texas, Ho! Looks like I’ll be killing two birds with one rental. The Thin Line film festival, in Denton, Texas, occurs in mid February. I also need to get to close to Dallas to bring Duane his stuff currently in storage. So I figure I’ll rent an SUV, pick up his stuff, drive to him, then spend two nights in the Metroplex. I’m looking forward to it!
Routine Disruption. In 2013, NaNoWriMo utterly wrecked my long-standing weekend routines. This year has dome something similar. Instead of having a nightly cigar and cocktail with the news, I’m reading the news every few days and I’ve had a whopping two cigars since Thanksgiving. I think I’ll use Grand Staycation IV to try to enculturate other habit changes. Maybe exercise. We’ll see.
Web Bifurcation. Although I’ll be keeping this blog active, I’m splitting my personal and professional Web presence. I’ll be retiring Gillikin Consulting and instead using one site (this one) for personal stuff, and for professional stuff. Augmenting the new site is part of the vacation plan.
All for now.