Feeling Nostalgic… And The Next Five Years

I’m feeling nostalgic today, my last day at MarkMonitor. My good friend Blake Hayward and I founded CollectiveTrust five years ago. MarkMonitor acquired “us” about three years ago. That chapter closes today.

Looking back, it’s easy to break down my career into five-year chunks. The first five years I spent in grad school, discovering programming, and getting started as a consultant. The next five years I focused on tabbed browsing and NetCaptor. The last five years have been spent on anti-phishing technologies (and more recently R&D stuff) at CollectiveTrust/MarkMonitor.

It’s hard not to wonder what’s in store for the next five years. They say you overestimate what you can accomplish in one year and underestimate what you can accomplish in five years. At least I know how the next five years will start. I’m taking a few days off this Easter week before starting Monday at AT&T Interactive/YellowPages.com on the Search and Data Services Team. I’m excited for a number of reasons… but mainly because it looks like I’ll be working with a very strong team made up of *really* smart and experienced people. Most of my work has been independent or as team leader so I’m looking forward to learning how much a strong team can accomplish.

What about the next five years for our family? Deo volente, our youngest, Claire (5), will be the age our oldest, Lauren (10) is now. Luke will be 13 and probably eating us out of house and home. Lauren will be 15 and I’ll be training as a ninja to scare away the boys. And Nancy and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Wow!

Elephants, T-Rexes, Giants and Dad

Big

I saw this on the wall at Claire’s preschool today. They had asked the kids to name things that are big – elephant, train (2x), giant, big big truck, and t-rex all made the list. What comes to Claire’s mind when you ask her to name something big? Dad. I love it!

Younger Siblings More Amusing

This study helps explain our youngest daughter Claire’s sense of humor. She’s the goofiest of our three kids, and she’s only two years old.

Professor Wiseman, who compiled the Ocean Village Laughter Lines report, said his findings tied in with other research about the effect of family position on personality.

“The youngest has to compete for parental attention, so they have to be a bit more unconventional.

“They are risk-takers, and also more humorous.

First Graders Use Optimized Insertion Sort

Every other Monday morning, I take Lauren (my first grader) to school and work in her classroom for about an hour. One of the things we do before the other students get there is to assemble homework folders for the week. Lauren’s job is to sort the folders (they are numbered) for the 20 students in her class, and I put the homework packets in the folders. You know you’re a geek when you watch your first grader sort things to see what algorithm she uses.

Turns out she uses a slightly optimized insertion sort — she scans for the smallest item (#1) and moves it to the front, then scans left-to-right looking for #2, etc. Sometimes her scan is optimized because she remembers #5 is near the end, and can jump near it instead of doing a full scan. Its not the fastest algorithm, but it works just fine for 20 items. I think I’ll wait until 2nd grade to teach her to quicksort 🙂

Dadhood Tip #2

I took the three rascals (Lauren 6, Luke 4, Claire 10 months) to breakfast at the local iHOP this morning to give mom a break. As we were driving in, I flashed back to a previous breakfast and how the kids handn’t thanked the waitress who brought our meals. Doh! Its my fault – not the kids. We don’t eat out that often, so the thank-the-waiter behavior hasn’t been reinforced much. But, I hadn’t reminded them that about my expectations.

I don’t remember where I read this, but its much more effective to discuss behavioral expectations with your kids BEFORE you expect them to do something rather than after. Talking about it after the fact may help a little, but when its something that they don’t do that often, its much more powerful (and fair to the kids) if you help remind them ahead of time. So – we talked about it in the car before going in, and I reminded them about 5 minutes before our meals came too. It worked! Loud thank you all around (almost all the way around, Claire just drooled). The kids are much more likely to remember to thank the waitress next time because they have already done it than if I had addressed the situation after they failed.

Dad Tip #2: Remind your kids what you expect them to do BEFORE you expect them to do it.

Dadhood Tip #1

I really, really, really want to be a good dad. We’ve got three kids – Lauren is 6 and in first grade, Luke is 4 and in preschool, and Claire is 9 months old and follows us everywhere. I’ve got a long way to go to become the dad I want to be, but I thought I would share a few things I’ve learned along the way. So here’s dadhood tip #1:

Whenever possible, take your kids with you on errands

Kids love quality time with parents, even if its just running errands. Today I had to run to the bank, the grocery store (a card for Nancy’s birthday) and to a local coffee roaster. I probably could have gotten my errands done faster without the little rascal, but I took Luke with me so I could have "a helper". Errand time can be quality time if you ask a lot of questions, answer even more questions, think up lots of ways for your helper to help, and talk through everything! What are we doing, why are we doing it this way instead of that way, etc. Its a blast!