Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Home Again

I didn't see much news while I was gone, but I imagine it was just all Iran, all the time, right? I mean, what could push that off the front page?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


They're not all sweetness and light. Our 4 year old niece, for example, has long had a wonderful imagination, but she's only just now begun to realize that she can apply that imagination to try and get things she wants. Yeah, she's been telling silly stories, and exaggerated for dramatic effect, and sometimes her answers to "so, what did you do this weekend?" stretch the limits of plausibility, but it's only in the last few weeks, that we've had to start checking up on her when she says, "My mom said it was okay."

Just this weekend, our little girl reached a similar milestone. I came into the bathroom just as Christie was enforcing the "no standing in the bathtub" rule. As soon as Chipmunk saw me, she said, "Dada?" in this questioning voice that, I swear, translated as, "Do I really have to do what the crazy lady says?"

The answer, of course, was "Yes, your mother is right." I'm thinking of getting it as a tattoo. Might save time.

And then there was last night. She woke up crying in the middle of the night, and after a suitable period of time, I came to get her and help her get back to sleep. I started to pick her up, then saw her pacifier on the floor. So I left her in her crib and bent down to get the pacifier. "Dadaaaaaa!" she screamed, with all the sense of betrayal she could possibly muster. She might as well have just ripped my heart out of my chest and stomped on it.

Clearly, she's coming along right on schedule.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

This morning was a big ol' brunch, then my ladies napped while I folded laundry and watched Mythbusters (which is really about my ideal Sunday afternoon, oddly enough), then it was off to the sprayground for some very, very wet fun. We were way too beat to cook, or to go out, so we ordered delivery from our favorite Mexican place, via Tiger's Takeout. i really can't say enough good things about them. I've got my pick of great restaurants, the service is prompt, and they keep you updated about the status of your order at every stage.

Now they just need an iPhone app.

As far as my thoughts on Father's Day, I'm too tired for anything particularly deep, but it was a little weird having my first Father's Day after being a dad for more than a year. I'm completely used to being a dad at this point, but the suddenly public nature of that relationship was a bit discomfiting. In spite of having a blog where I spill my every trivial thought, and my tendency to gush about my daughter to anyone who will listen, I am basically a fairly private person, and I've never been comfortable as the center of attention. The way I coped was to focus as much as possible on my little girl. She's the reason for the season, as the saying goes.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

With all apologies to my gamer friends

Not sure how ethical it is to tell you about a comment that is subsequently removed by the author, but I just had my masculinity impugned by some troll that followed me home from a comment I'd left on a post at a feminist web site. Of course I am the all powerful admin, so I can see the blogs this guy follows and know his hometown, but I still can't tell if he was trying for ironic and missed, or trying for stupid and hit. Whichever it was, he obviously thought better of the comment, which I applaud.

But the site emails copies of any comment to me, so I did see it, and I saw his blog, which is entirely devoted to role playing games, and mostly seems to consists of bitching about the GMing. Two words, oh troll of mine: Glass houses.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Signs that you might be a furniture geek

1. You get excited when you hear that Thomas Moser is doing the keynote at a conference, and feel bummed that you can't make it.

2. You realize that the conference is being held near an Ikea, and wonder if you could gatecrash the keynote while your wife is shopping.

Note on #2: I said, furniture geek, not furniture snob, so no sniffing at Ikea. That being said, I would much rather own Moser furniture than Ikea furnture. I just can't afford it. So if you're independently wealthy, and wondering what to get me for Father's Day, here are just a few ideas. That rocking chair is a steal at $3,200.

Monday, June 15, 2009


I can't stop checking Andrew Sullivan's blog to see the latest news from Iran. It's got that "holy shit, we're watching history" sort of feel to it. What's grim about revolutions, of course, is that sometimes nothing happens except for a lot of young people dying. But sometimes they change the world. Here's hoping this is one of the latter, and not the former.

Been there, done that

When babies attack: Labor pain is just the start.

Friday, June 12, 2009


We're refinancing. Which means a sudden uptick in the junk mail from financial companies. And today I got my first cold call. It came this morning, while I was on the phone with my father in law talking about the tensile strength of concrete (it's a foundation thing). The voice mail said, "Hi, this is Paul from Redacted Mortgage Company and I need to speak with you. My direct number is 314.xxx.xxxx. Thank you." As far as I know, I've never done business with Redacted, but I figure I better be sure. Ten seconds into the conversation, it's clear this is a sales call.

I am inclined at this point to tell him never to call me again and go back to my life. I don't want to be a customer of a company that uses deceptive sales tactics, because if they'll bullshit me to get my business, what will they do once I'm a customer? But I'm trying to do my due diligence, so I tell good old Paul to call me back in a week once I have my appraisal, and we'll talk options. He makes a note and hangs up.

Fast forward to this afternoon. I'm at Target, shopping for the big birthday party, when my phone rings. It's a 314 area code, and a familiar-looking number. I'm pretty sure I know who it is, but we have guests coming from St. Louis tomorrow, so I answer it.

Him: Hi, this is Paul from Redacted Mortgage Company, am I speaking to Michael Terry?

Me: Yes, you are. What can I do for you, Paul?

Him: We notice that you recently submitted a mortgage application, and we're wondering if we might be able to help you do a little better in terms of the rate and terms?

Me: I actually talked to you this morning, and I'm going to have to ask you to put me on your do not call list, Paul. If this is the level of attention to detail you bring to your sales calls, there is no way in hell that I am going to enter into a financial relationship with you.

Him: You talked to us this morning? May I ask who you talked to?

Me: You.

Him: Me?

Me: You.

Him: Can you remind me what we talked about?

Me: You know, I think I'm just going to stick with "Put me on your do not call list."

Him: Okay, I guess we can do that.

I wonder if I'm going to hear from him next week.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Nice article from Salon: Dude, man up and start acting like a mom.

I've never been a stay at home dad, but I totally get the shift he goes through at the end. Sure, you can look at things like vacuuming or cleaning toilets as feminine work, but why? At most of the jobs I've held where cleaning toilets was part of the job description, the women generally foisted it off on my because it was, in their words, "gross." And cleaning is really just an extension of other anti-entropic activities, like tightening hinges, or fixing cracks.

And as far as diaper duty goes, what's more macho than haz-mat?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Product Review

I have no idea why the Philips RFX2001/27 IR to RF Home Control Blaster is so hard to find online, but we picked one up at Target this weekend, and I'm loving it. We put the electronics behind closed doors as part of our babyproofing, and also because it makes the house look a bit more grown up.

Unfortunately, you can't control the Tivo through closed doors, and our newly mobile daughter is attracted to all the pretty blinky lights when the door is open. I've looked at various set ups like this before, but they start at a ridiculously high price point. This was only $50, took five minutes to set up, and works great.

He gladly stopped for me

So if you know me, you know my way of working out a thorny emotional problem is to write about it. Here goes, but I warn you, my thoughts are a mess:

My uncle is dying. This has been going on for a long time, as has my not thinking about it. There was a diagnosis years ago, then chemo, then remission, then a spot of cancer here, then there, a handful of surgeries, more chemo, then a sudden decline just recently.

But all of this has been just background noise in my life, which has been completely taken up by a beautiful little girl, colic, toys, sleep schedules, immunizations, daycare colds, babyproofing, and all of that. Just to give an example, we went to KC over Memorial Day weekend, and had hoped to see friends while we were in town, but between the schedules, needs and desires of my parents, my brother's family, who was off the following Tuesday to South America, and the baby, there was no way. It came down to seeing friends or getting home in time to start the week with a slightly cleaner house.

Yesterday was the first time we've had a truly clean house in months, and it's already messy again. Seriously. I love my to-do lists because they mean that when I sit down at night to drink a beer and watch a little TV, I know exactly what it is I'm not doing. Because we are never, ever done. And I suspect I'll never really be done ever again. There is always laundry to do, bottles to wash, a deck to blow clean. There is always something.

How, then to carve out time to do something unpleasant? Even when he was healthy, he's a lot of work. I can't, for example, remember a spending over an hour with him when the N-word didn't come up. Like a lot of men, his good side is in his actions, not his words, and those take a lot longer to come to fruition. Everything bad there is to know about Jiggs, you'll know within a few hours of meeting him. The good takes a lifetime.

In truth, though, I would have found excuses not to go see him even if he was a saint, or a great comic, or otherwise a joy to be around, because I have made enough of these visits to last me a lifetime. I know it all by heart: the smell of iodine and disinfectant, the sallow skin and sunken features, the occasional k-chunk of the morphine pump during the inevitable lulls in conversation.

I don't know what the right thing to do is, except this: whatever my dad needs from me. He's losing his older brother, and it's my job to help him. Whatever that means.


Me: You can either share the pachinko, or you can play with something else. But if you want to play with the pachinko, you have to share.

Niece: [Sigh.] I'll try.

Me: No. There is no try. Share, or play not.

More on sleeping arrangements

This was a seriously productive weekend in that we did a ton of cleaning, a bit of organizing, and finally got LG's room back into decent shape. And we finally baby-proofed it. Yeah, you heard right, the baby's room was not baby-proofed. Why should it be? She was never in it.

No more. Last night, she actually slept in her own room.

Hopefully, this will help with the biggest challenge of her sleeping in her own crib, which was that she tended not to be very firmly asleep until 11 o'clock or so, which made it hard for us to go to bed until at least then. That wasn't so bad at first, but a week of going to bed at 11:30 and waking up at 6:15 has left us both pretty exhausted.

Plus, she seems to have a sense for when we're in the room, and sleeps more lightly if she has an audience.

It went well last night, till an early morning thunderstorm woke her at 5.

We'll see how it goes.

Friday, June 05, 2009

How did I miss that it's National Doughnut Day today? Why is that not marked, in bold, on my calendar?

Man, I was totally going to put up a Doughnut Day Tree this year. Now where is the Doughnut Day Bunny going to leave my doughnuts?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Play with your blind spot. I've know about the blind spot since 6th grade science class or so, but this is still fun.

Homo Coquens?

Fascinating review in Slate of Richard Wrangham's Catching Fire, which proposes that the innovation of cooking was instrumental in human evolution. The reviewer, Christine Kenneally, has written a book on the origin of language, which is one of my favorite things to think about. I might have to hunt that one down.
Lard is good.

Family Bed Revisited

I've written before about trying to transition our Little Girl from family bed to crib. I don't think I ever did a follow up on that one, but I can sum it up in two words: not ready. Her or us? Well, that's an open question. But it didn't work.

I'm no expert on babies (but I am kind of an expert on this one), and I think it was her that wasn't ready. Last time we tried to transition her, it was because we felt pressure to do so, and she cried, literally, for hours. It worked once, but she'd only sleep in her crib for an hour or two. Then she got sick and wouldn't sleep in the crib at all.

This time, we were dealing with the aftermath of an out of town trip that left all of our sleep cycles screwed up. LG's naps were screwed up, and it was getting very, very hard to get her to sleep until 10 or 11 at night, using our usual ritual, which was to rock her to sleep, then lay her down. Considering that she had been going to sleep between 8 and 9, that was a huge problem for all of us.

So starting Sunday night, we've been laying her in the crib. She cries, but she generally stops when we leave the room, and she only cries for a few minutes before she falls asleep. The first night, she slept until 5:30, then came to sleep with us in our bed. The next, she woke up at 4, and Christie rocked her back to almost sleep, then put her back in the crib, where she slept until 6. This morning, she slept all the way until 7.

It does suck listening to her cry at night, but the fact that this is so much easier than last time makes me confident we're doing the right thing. And the simple fact is that there were tears and drama last week when we tried to rock her to sleep. She's just going through a phase right now where she doesn't want to go to sleep, and there's going to be drama. It's our job as parents to help her get to sleep in the least dramatic way, and I think we've found it.

It is a little hard to get used to how big the bed feels without her in it, though.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Quote of the Day

From Katie Couric's Princeton Commencement Speech:
"There may be some opportunities in the Republican Party. They're still looking for an effective spokesman, and the only person they can find so far is Rush Limbaugh....and he won't take the job because he doesn't want to give up his prescription plan."
msnbc.com: Kansas City is the place for cheap family fun

Monday, June 01, 2009

Pseudoscience and Oprah.
Autism and the new Star Trek. I very much identify with how Matt describes his feelings about Star Trek:
I love the idea of Star Trek ... but the show (TNG) consistently failed to hook me, and my interest would inevitably wane after an episode or two. And while I liked the movies, my enthusiasm failed to translate to the small screen or the written word.

The Tiller Murder

I'm sure you know by now that George Tiller was shot while at church on Sunday. Dr. Tiller ran one of the few clinics in the world that will perform abortions during the third trimester. I know a little about what went on behind closed doors there because a friend's late father was a pastoral counselor there, on call for those who needed or wanted religious counseling.

Right there, you see the problem with the anti-choice religious right's rhetoric on the topic. Dr. Tiller was a religious man, and he put his life at risk because he'd seen the heartbreak in families who needed these abortions. Dr. Tiller saved lives, and some moron killed him for it.

Now we see lots of backpedaling from the religious right, as they wonder out loud how anyone could have listened to them call Dr. Tiller out by name as a babykiller, and then gone out and shot him. As if he didn't get death threats on a weekly basis. As if he hadn't been shot before. As it there was no way of predicting that violent, extremist rhetoric could end in murder. As if it had never happened before.

How many murders by right wing extremists is this now? Off the top of my head, I can think of at least 4 shooting sprees this year, including one at a Unitarian Church. As always, Dave Neiwert is the guy to go to on right wing eliminationism.

If I thought the right wing was capable of learning... but no.