Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary defines ARITHMOMANIA as “a morbid compulsion to count objects”.

Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary defines ARITHMOMANIA as “b. compulsive counting”.

I have arithmomania and I have had it for as long as I can remember. I’m still unsure if it is a blessing or a curse. Has it gotten better or worse over time? Not sure, but it has gotten more severe as I’ve gotten older. But…has it gotten more severe, or have I just gotten better at it?

It wasn’t until only a year ago that I discussed this with my wife. I always thought it was just the way my brain worked. Surely, nobody else would really be able to comprehend what my brain does on it’s free time.

My particular arithmo-flava centers in on geometric objects (better if they have corners) found in everyday life. Cabinets. Street Signs. Painted lines on highway. Bathroom tiles.

You get the idea.

I don’t actually count the number of objects. I count the angles, sides, corners of each object. Not the sum. Here’s a highly simplified example of what my brain does: Picture a white painted line on the highway. It is flat, so it has no dimension to it. There are four sides and four corners. Each side has two terminals (where the line ends at the corner). I tend to count those terminals on each corner. So in this example, each corner would have a value of “2”. So I would go around the painted line, counting 2, 4, 6, 8. Not too difficult, eh? Now, picture doing that to EVERY SINGLE PAINTED LINE on the highway while travelling at 65 mph. Now imagine applying that habit to a 3-dimensional object. How many line terminals can you count? Now, put yourself into a room that has tiles of all different shapes, sizes and thicknesses.

Now you might be starting to grasp the very edge of what I deal with constantly. It wasn’t until last year when I first stumbled upon this word and definition, and then yesterday – when I got an e-mail from a friend stating that he suffers from arithmomania as well – that I fully realized that I am not alone in my plight. I’m quite sure that the degrees of severity are all across the board. I like to think that my particular case is more severe than most, but it may not be.

How about you? Are shaking your head going “this guy is completely nuts!” or can you relate in your own life?

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I won a new Dell! I think…

Dell Vostro V130

The elusive prize. A Dell Vostro V130.

Following is a letter I recently sent to the Board of Directors of Dell…


To whom on the Dell Board of Directors this may concern,

I’m writing to seek an advocate at Dell and/or assistance in processing the following…

In late February 2011, I participated in a Dell contest to promote  your new Vostro V130. This contest was coordinated through your Chicago agency Promotions Group. I was one of two winners chosen to receive a new Vostro V130. As one of those cliché people who “never win anything,” I was more than excited to have won such a great prize.

I was immediately contacted by Sally* from Promotions Group* who acquired my W9 and Disclosure form and informed me that it would take 2-3 weeks before the unit ships to me.

Three weeks later I emailed Sally asking if she had a ship date or tracking number. She said there had been a hold-up adding a warranty to the unit and that Dell was trying to figure out a work-around. She also said that someone from Dell would be in touch with me regarding the details.

Two days later I received an email from Lynn* (Dell Senior Consultant, Digital Marketing). She was very polite in informing me the unit she had received for the contest was a pre-production sample and is not covered under Dell’s warranty. She apologized, stating that this was not known at the time of the contest. She went on to add that if I “do not feel comfortable accepting this laptop ‘as is’, please let me know and I’ll do my best to make other arrangements for you.”

My exact reply was:
– – – – – – – – –
Hi Lynn,
Thanks for the email and for explaining the situation. To be honest, I’m not 100% comfortable with a non-warrantied pre-production sample… so I would be interested in learning what other arrangements could be made. If you could please let me know what options I may have, I can make an informed decision (I still might decide to go with the Vostro).

Thanks again!
– – – – – – – – –

She said she understood and to give her a day or two to flesh-out some options and get back to me. That was on March 24th.

On March 30th, I emailed Lynn checking in for an update. No reply.
On April 12th, I emailed Lynn again checking in for an update. This time I cc’d Sally from Promotions Group.

Sally replied saying that Lynn will be in touch with me tomorrow (April 13th) to discuss.

On April 15th, Lynn emailed apologizing for her lack of communication and for the wait. She said she’s been having trouble getting approval to get me a new system (with a warranty), but that she thinks she is close to a resolution.

On May 3rd I wrote Lynn (and Sally) again asking for an update, since I hadn’t heard back.
Lynn replied quickly saying that the order made it through approvals on April 26th, but there was no delivery date set and the system said “In Progress.” She said she would let me know as soon as she knows anything further.

On May 12th I wrote Lynn for an update. No reply.

On June 3rd I wrote Sally asking for her help, since I was not hearing back from Lynn.
Sally wrote back apologizing profusely, shocked that it has taken this long, stating that she assumed I had already received the prize.
The next day, Sally called me and offered to mail me a gift card on behalf of Promotions Group to apologize. It was a very kind gesture on their behalf, but they shouldn’t really be the ones apologizing, should they?

On June 14th, Sally wrote again saying that the computer system still says “In Progress,” and that Lynn had reached out to her to say she would be in touch shortly.

On July 8th, I emailed Sally asking for an update. No reply.

I went on to post two pleas for help on the Dell Facebook page. One was deleted by your Facebook administrator. As an executive in a digital marketing agency myself, I can assure you that this was very poor social-networking form for any corporation, large or small.
I also posted on your support page which promised a reply within 48 hours. Needless to say that it’s been over a week without a reply.

On July 14th, yesterday, Sally replied to me. Stating that they are “EXTREMELY sorry!” She said that she asked Lynn about it last week and sha was told that Lynn had been in touch with me and that the order was moving along… Lynn has not been in touch with me. The last contact I heard from Lynn was on May 3rd.

Throughout this entire process I’ve also tried calling Lynn and she has NEVER answered the phone. It always goes to her voicemail – most of the times I had decided that leaving her a voicemail would be pointless.

This morning someone on Facebook suggested that I email the Board of Directors, and so here I am.

Please note that I have been extremely gracious and patient throughout the past 5 months. I’m not kicking and screaming, demanding my prize. More than anything, I’m just confused on how it seems to be so incredibly difficult for you to purchase your own product from yourself. It’s mind-boggling actually. Especially considering you’re not even advertising the Vostro V130 anymore. Is it already obsolete technology?? I hold no ill will toward Sally or the Promotions Group. In my estimation, they have done everything in their power to move this process along.

I respectfully ask for a positive intervention into this scenario on behalf of the Dell Board of Directors.

Thank you for your valuable time in reading my email.


* The names Lynn, Sally and Promotions Group are fictitious names.

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Important News

Yeah, um… so… okay, I’ve got nuttin.

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The Fourth Dimension

Kate and I went to her OB yesterday to get our second ultrasound exam to see our new baby. Since this is a new doctor’s office for Kate, they have different (read: “newer”) technology than her previous OBs. One shining example is their ultrasound machine. It performs all the same functions as a traditional 2D, black and white, sonograms… but with the touch of button transforms the image on screen into this 4D video of your baby.

Now, if you’re like me (which can be both good or bad…) you’re thinking, “4D?? I didn’t think the universe had more than three dimensions… what gives?” Well, a quick hunt on wikipedia describes the new technology as producing a 3-dimensional image, with the additional dimension of movement (and sound!). (wiki article here)

The images are so beautiful and at the same time so shocking. To see so clearly the baby still in the process of forming, yet still so SO tiny is simply breathtaking.

The technician was planning to give us the option of taking home traditional 2D printouts if we were too freaked out by the 4D images, but our baby boy was being too active and uncooperative during the exam, so our tech was only able to capture a few 4D images of his face, no 2D… so we weren’t left with much of a choice. And in retrospect I’m glad.

Without further ado, I present the first multi-dimensional images of our son:

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The New Regimen

This past May, I won a 3 month gym membership at a local gym in a raffle. I decided on the spot that I would be an idiot if I let this opportunity pass me by. So the very next morning I was at my new gym working out. It had been years since I had step foot in a gym, so I met with the head trainer and we planned a workout regimen to suit my goals. Those being to lose weight (30lbs) and improve my cardiovascular system. I began my regimen weighing in at 210 pounds in early May. For my age/height, I was just shy of being classified as obese. What I’m doing each morning is technically called circuit training.

I begin each morning with a 5 minute cardio warm up – usually on an elliptical or bike. I then move to weights. I do 10 standing shoulder presses with two 30lb dumbbells, then I lay on a bench with the same dumbbells and do 10 bench presses. I keep my feet elevated during this to purposely throw myself off balance. This results in a full core workout at the same time. I put the dumbbells away and do 10 curls with a 50lb curling bar. I then move to the pulldown bar and do 10 reps at 100lbs. I then move to the Adjustable Crossover Machine and use the pulley systems to do Ab rotations that really work my abs, shoulders and core. It basically looks like I’m swinging a baseball bat. A 70lb baseball bat. I do 10 of these swinging to the right, and then 10 more swinging to the left. I then go to the situp chair and do 33 situps with 130lb weight.

I then repeat the entire previous paragraph 2 more times, with only a short 30 second break in between sets.

After my three sets of weight training I move to an elliptical cardio machine. I stay on there about 40 minutes, with my objectives being: reach 300 calories burned, and get my heartrate up between 151-171 and sustain that heartrate for as long as possible.

So the weights and cardio combined are my workout regimen for every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

One Tuesdays and Thursdays I only do cardio, with the same goals. Since I’m on the cardio machine much longer, I usually burn well over 300 calories.

At the very end of each workout, I spend some time on a stretch chair stretching out all my muscle groups really well.

The craziest part of all this for me is that I am getting up at 5am each morning before work to go do all this!

My free membership expired on August 11th, but I have already renewed for another 3 months. In these previous three months, I have lost 17 pounds so far (more than halfway to my 30lb goal), and I’ve built a ton of muscle. I’m not ready to post any before/after shots yet, but I can tell you that my pants are all big on me, I’m tucking in my shirts now, my belt is on the last notch and I just generally feel more energetic and better about myself. I really can’t imagine not doing this the rest of my life. If I miss a day or two at the gym during the week it throws me off completely.

Oh, my eating habits? I’m not eating anything different that I did before. Just trying to make better choices about what goes into my body. And the biggie is to stop eating when I’m full. That’s it. No radical diets. No starvation. No eating like a rabbit. Just exercise and not putting more into my body than it can handle.

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Daddy, Part Trois

Since this blog traces its origins back to being a “daddy blog,” I can’t think of a more appropriate resurrection than a post announcing that my rockstar wife is pregnant with our third child! We’re so excited and feel so blessed.

Details? The due date is officially 7 January 2009. The other “little” detail is that it’s a BOY! Third time’s the charm, I guess… though we weren’t specifically trying for a boy. But, it’s amazing how many people assume we were since we already have two girls. I think since I’m so comfortable with raising little girls now, I had just convinced myself it was a girl. Plus, our friends just had their 5th girl and so that wonderful news was still fresh in our minds. So now that the shock is wearing off, the excitement is building.

The “fun” of choosing a name has begun. It seems easier for me to rule out potential names than to actually say out loud that I like one. Nevertheless, the list has begun and a few of the ones at the top are really sounding good…

I’m also very excited that my time at NF will continue with a little Tree Climber someday. I can’t wait to walk through camp with my son and bore him to tears with all the stories of the fun/dumb/dangerous stuff my friends and I did there over my 15 year tenure.


The other big news is that our oldest daughter turns FOUR YEARS OLD this Saturday. Amazing how quickly she has turned from a fragile infant to a walking, talking(!), rationalizing, full of personality, real little person! I’m so happy with the girl she is turning into. She’s so much fun. She also drew a picture of our new family (baby boy included) that I’ll post here once I take a picture of it.

That’s all for now.

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Shiloh Lifeskills

I had the great honor yesterday to be the guest presenter at the monthly Shiloh Lifeskills series in New York City. I was asked to come spend some time discussing with high school students from Harlem and the South Bronx what a career in graphic design looks like.

[From the Shiloh website:] Shiloh is a New York City not-for-profit Christian organization dedicated to equipping at-risk children with tools that build hope, confidence, and the skills to attain their goals.

After I was introduced and asked some guided questions on what life as a designer is like, I decided to have some real fun with the kids and as a group, design a movie poster from scratch. I went into it with a blank slate and let the kids make all the creative decisions. After we came up with the movie itself, it was time to discuss who the actors were, the plot, title and emotional feeling that we wanted to get across. We projected my computer onto a big screen so they could see it being built. It was very spontaneous and a lot of fun – and I think the kids really enjoyed it.

The movie we came up with was a story about a NYC-based chimpanzee named Charlie who got mixed up with a no-good talking parrot named Squanto. Squanto convinced Charlie to give up on his love interest, Delilah, and pursue his stage career in the Broadway version of Dirty Dancing. I doubt I could have ever come close to predicting THAT plot line! You can click on the visual to see the final poster larger.

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Dealing with me.

My new friend, Chris Bell points us to some great advice from Larry Hubatka at Elevation on how to deal with, and work with, creative-minded individuals like myself. While I don’t disagree with any of their suggestions, I must confess that the list could have been much, much longer. Maybe I’ll add some additional points in the coming days. Here’s some of my favorite points from the article:

“The very worst thing for a designer is to not have direction and then be told they didn’t deliver on what you wanted.”
Seriously, we’re not mind-readers.

“Creatives don’t work like you do.”
Not only do we not work like you do, we don’t even work like our fellow designers.

“Don’t stand there watching over their shoulder.”
Well, you can, but if you do I’m going to start designing exactly the opposite of what you wanted until you walk away.


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Apple vs. Big Apple

What is the deal with big corporate giants leading with their own selfish, misguided interests at the expense of their own reputation?

Last week it is was Wal-Mart trying to collect $470,000 from a former employee who is now brain damaged. Way to care about the little-guy there, Wally. Luckily they finally woke up and retracted their suit, but the PR damage was done.

Now it is Apple, Inc. submitting a formal opposition to the City of New York’s (aka The Big Apple) trademark for a new apple logo for their GreeNYC Campaign. Apple Inc. claims that NYC & Company’s new logo will “confuse” consumers into thinking it has something to do with their computer company.

You can decide for yourself, but I say that’s completely ridiculous. As someone who designs logos, the notion that even the most obtuse consumer would see these as the same company is ridiculous. What surprises me even more is that Apple has traditionally been the company that truly cares about design, and one would think that they would have a better understanding of design as a whole. Apparently they only care about their own designs. This self-obsession comes across in the actual legal opposition (.pdf) as they refer to their own company as “world-famous.” That just rubs me the wrong way.

(Sources: Neatorama and Wired News)

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MLS – Major League Spouse

My amazing spouse, referenced on my blog many times, got me an awesome birthday gift last month. She got me the opening day package to the Red Bulls NY home opener at Giants Stadium. The package includes four tickets for opening day (amazing seats at midfield!) and four Red Bulls NY long-sleeve t-shirts.

If you’re confused about the strange attraction I seem to have with this popular energy drink, please allow me to explain. Red Bulls NY is the New York area Major League Soccer (MLS) team. They used to be called the NY/NJ Metrostars. I’m a lifelong soccer player/fan.

So this Saturday I and three soccer-loving buddies (well, two soccer-loving buddies and one slightly-intrigued buddy) will begin the afternoon with bowling in NYC, then heading to Giants Stadium for the game and finishing up at the premier soccer pub in NYC, Stout NYC.

I’m really looking forward to Saturday. Thanks babe!

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Easter Steps 2005-2008

Easter 2005Easter 2006Easter 2007Easter 2008

(Click photos to enlarge)
It’s that time again, time to post the result of our annual Easter photoshoot. The girls have gotten so big and it’s so much fun to look back over these photos. The first two, of just E is from 2005 and 2006. The two of E and A are from 2007 and 2008.

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