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Friday, May 28, 2004

I Am So Unprepared ... 

Everyday, as this pregnancy progresses, I am realizing how unprepared I am for the actual arrival of a baby. You'd think, considering how long this has been in coming, we'd be ready by now (and, truth be told, I think Evelin has a much better idea of what's going on and yet to come than I do).

Yesterday afternoon was our first appointment at the birthing center. Evelin wants to do natural childbirth with as little medicalization of the process as possible, and we're lucky that there is a birthing center in Bethesda, fully staffed by certified nurse midwives with MD back up and admittance rights at a nearby hospital, just in case something goes wrong.

I thought we were going for a tour and sort of overview of what they offer/what's special about their facility, but it turned out this was our first appointment and it looks like it's where our child will be born (assuming everything continues to progress normally).

We spent about 90 minutes with the midwife, who went over family history, a bit about our expectations and what the birthing center would and wouldn't do, Evelin's diet, and so forth. Evelin also got a check up (the baby's heartbeat was in the 150 bmp range and sounded as strong as ever).

I thought the midwife was a bit on the crunchy-granola side (particularly when we were going over our history at the fertility clinic; she kept making little tsk noises like she disapproved of the way the doctors handled our problems/case), but Evelin pointed out -- and rightly so -- the whole birthing center/midwife route was going to be pretty far on the crunchy scale.

Talking about it all on the ride home, Evelin said she liked that the midwife was concerned about her diet (the midwife said Evelin was eating too much sugar, pointing out the apples and snap peas, as well as the ice cream, as things to cut back on) and that she was totally comfortable with the place. I do have to admit the midwife did take as long as it took to go through everything with us, and the care did seem more holistic than at the OB's, so I'm sure this is going to work out well.

We go back in two weeks to meet the next midwife in the rotation ...

Still a Half Game Up 

Well, last night did not go the way it was supposed to. Yesterday, I was complaining about trying to follow a game using MBL's Gameday webcast thingie; trying to follow just the changes on the scoreboard is worse.

My in-laws got into town yesterday and R---, my father-in-law, wanted to go to a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The O's were playing the Hated Yankees, so we went ready to root, root, root for the home team.

Traffic leaving D.C. was terrible, but we made it to Baltimore, found a parking space, and got to our seats in time shortly after Ponson threw out the first pitch. The bad thing was that, as I could see on the scoreboard at the back of right field, the A's had already started to pick apart Arroyo.

The O's game started off pretty good. We were in the left-field club seats, which gave us a pretty good view of the field. However, it also seemed to be where a fair number of Hated Yankees fans were sitting. We had O's fans directly behind and ahead of us, but the Yankees fans made themselves increasingly known as the night progressed.

The O's had a great 3rd inning, putting the first three runs of the game up on the board, but the 5th was a nightmare that just kept getting worse with Yankee run after Yankee run.

During the bottom of the 7th, when the A's were up 12-2, and the Yankees up 13-3, we decided to call it a night. After walking around a little bit to give R--- the chance to look at the ballpark, we headed home.

Despite the way the games in Baltimore and Boston ended, the Red Sox are still at the top of the division, a half game ahead of the Hated Yankees. No team's going to win every game, so no big deal. Bring on Seattle. And Tampa Bay can be plucky at times, so let's see what happens.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

MLB Gameday 

Since Evelin and I don't believe in cable or satellite television, and since WEEI(AM) can't reach anywhere near D.C. with its 50 kW nighttime directional signal, I have been using the MLB Gameday webcast thing to watch some Red Sox games in near real time.

For the most part this works okay. I can flip back and forth between work or other webpages and the Gameday screen, but sometimes it takes forever for Gameday to update. For example, bottom of the 4th, Gameday told me that the bases were loaded and that Bellhorn had hit the ball into play with "run(s) scored," but it took forever for the page to update, letting me know that McCarty, Youkilis and Damon had made it home and that Bellhorn was on second after a throwing error. Actually, it didn’t update until Manny was at bat, which meant Ortiz was on first and Bellhorn had made it home, too.

Generally such a lag is just plain annoying, but there are times that I'm hitting refresh or jumping to another game and back to the Red Sox game thinking that if I force the applet to restart it will give me more information. Sadly, that never works.

The other annoying thing is, when the Sox play the O's, Gameday lags behind the radio commentary, so if I'm listening to the game and watching the webcast, the webcast is at least a pitch or three behind the game.

Complaints aside, it is better than having to wait until the next morning's newspaper to see who won and how.

[ASIDE: It's really too funny that http://www.orioles.com/ is the site of the U.S. Beer Drinking Team. (Other valid URLS for the team are http://www.usbdt.com/ and http://www.usbeerdrinkingteam.com/.) The official Baltimore Orioles website is http://www.theorioles.com/.]

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Jealous of a Smallholder 

Evelin just pointed out to me that our okra is sprouting (she planted it on Saturday). We're growing it amidst some irises, black-eyed susans and ornamental grasses in the front/sideyard, across the walk from the strawberries, which are in the bed in front of the house.

I'm a little worried that they'll lean too far into the neighbor's driveway and that we'll loose some plants/okra to his panel vans, but it should be a larger crop than two years ago, when we rarely seemed to have enough okra at one time to make a good meal.

The jealousy comes from reading today's entry at Accidental Smallholder, as I mentioned in Dan and Rosemary's comments, I wish Evelin and I had half the room/time/ability they do.

I've said it before, and I still realized I'm working through rose-colored glasses here, but I think I'd love to have enough land to eke out some fruits and vegetables for us to eat, some sheep for milk to make cheese, a few vines to make wine, and maybe a house that could be used as a B&B.

The realist side of me keeps reminding me, however, that it would be a lot more work than I realize and it would probably leave little time left over to freelance or do something else that produced an income. (Reading the blog at Rock Farm clues me into that.)

Somewhere in between here and there, Evelin was saying we could try to plant more things. (This suggestion, as always, was accompanied by suggestions to fill in the pond and tear out the fig tree neither of us likes, but I like the pond and I feel bad about taking out a healthy tree that the birds really enjoy.) She also suggested trying to find out whether or not the city has any ordinance against keeping chickens.

Funnily enough, I'd been thinking about chickens yesterday when Dan pointed to The Eglu, the iMac of chicken coops. According to the BBC article, the Eglu is fox-proof, which is important around here, but I wonder if the raccoons could figure out how to break in to steal an egg or two.

Of course, considering how overgrown the yard is, if I were responsible for a smallholding, who knows how much would prove productive and how much would go to seed ...

Blog Burst 

It's been a busy, busy day, so here's the quick entry:

Baby Kicks: I finally felt the baby kick. Last night while lying in bed, I had my hand on Evelin's stomach and the little one gave a mighty swing that made both of us jump. It was just the one kick, but now I have hope that the baby is not ignoring me ...

Garden: Peas are yummy; strawberries are yummy; raspberries and blueberries are developing well; garlic looks good; peppers are in the ground; tomatoes are still in pots; the daylily buds are tasty, too; scarlet runner beans and okra have been planted, but we're not sure if scarlet runners are edible or just ornamental.

Public Art: PandaMania has arrived. I've spotted two of the sculptures and need to find more of them.

Yard: The weeds and cicadas are winning.

Cicadas: I took a picture of one Brood X bug for BugGuide.net. Actually BugGuide.net is a pretty neat site for trying to figure out what kind of spider is crawling up the wall...

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Sharks 

Sunday night, while reading Breaking the Maya Code (Revised), by Michael D. Coe, aloud to the baby*, I ran across a statement about the etymology of the English word shark tossed off in a rather casual manner.
... the pair of fish fins ... is a rebus sign: the fish is a shark, xoc in Maya (Tom Jones has recently proved that xoc is the origin of the English word "shark"). And xoc also means "to count" in Maya. (p. 141)
The idea that the word shark was as recent as post-Columbus was a bit shocking to me, and it was irksome that Coe didn't footnote the source for Jones's proof.

I checked the American Heritage, 3rd Edition, which lists the etymology as "origin unknown," and the Shorter OED, which is equally unsure of the origin. The Shorter OED does suggest, however, that it may come from the German word Schurke (worthless person). While that would fit the shark in loan shark, that sort of usage postdates the first for the fish shark by a few decades.

Take Our Word for It takes on the shark/xoc connection in this entry, saying that "shark's etymology simply is not known with certainty." That said, however, the word does seem to have come into English following Sir John Hawkins's expedition to the Caribbean in 1586, putting Hawkins (whose ships were attacked by the Spanish off the coast of Veracruz) in the right place and time to have picked up the word xoc/shark from some Mayan language or dialect.

So assuming xoc is the source word for shark, what were cartilaginous fish (with lots of sharp, pointy teeth) called?

From what I can gather online, there may have been specific names for specific sharks but no generic name, or maybe they were called sea dogs or sea wolves or something similar. (At least one term for shark in both Croatian and Serbian, morski pas, literally means "sea dog," as does the Maltese kelb il-baħar; the Corsican pesciucane is similar, meaning "fish dog.")

Casting about into other languages doesn't help much either. I can't find any definitive etymologies for any of these, but there do seem to be some connections within various languages.

In northern and central Europe, some descendant of the Old Norse hār seems to dominate: haai (Afrikaans), haj (Danish), haai (Dutch), hai (Estonia), háv (Faroese), hai (Finnish), hai (Frissian), Hai or Haifisch (German), hákarl (Icelandic), haizivs (Latvian), hai (Norwegian), haj (Swedish), and הײַפֿיש (Yiddish). [I probably have the Hebrew characters wrong for the Yiddish heifish.]

Romance tongues are more all over the place, but with some spread into other languages: tiburoi (Basque), tauró (Catalan), tiburón (Galician), tubarão (Portuguese), tiburón (Spanish), and tubaraun (Tetum); requin (French), rèkin (Haitian Creole), rekin (Polish), and rechin (Romanian); cagnaccia (Corsican); quenlla (Galician); squalo (Italian); squalus (Latin) and canísca (Sardinian).

A few languages, however, seem to base their word on "shark" (or maybe xoc): shark (English), ŝarkó (Esperanto), shaa'k (Gullah), siorc (Irish), sherk (Scots), sak (Tok Pisin), jak (Volapük), and siarc (Welsh).

And just to round out the list of other words and languages (with the caveat that some of these may refer to specific species/types of sharks): peshkaqën (Albanian), القرش (Arabic), marraxo (Basque), 鲨鱼 (Chinese), žralok (Czech), qiō (Fijian), ზვიგენი (Georgian), καρχαρίας (Greek), manō (Hawaiian), כדיש (Hebrew), cápa (Hungarian), ikan hiu or cucu (Bahasa Indonesian), 鮫 (Japanese), NORG (Klingon), 샤크 (Korean), ikan yu (Bahasa Melayu), mango (Māori), əwḫáym (Mehri), ᐃᖃᓗᔾᔪᐊᖅ (North Baffin Inuktitut), акула (Russian), sutsxlá (Sahaptin), k'wet'thenéchte (Salish), hacat (Seri), žralok (Slovak), léḥem (Soqotri), papa (Swahili), ma'o (Tahitian), köpek baliği (Turkish), oboodede (Twi), cá mập (Vietnamese), ekurá (Yoruba), and imfingo (Zulu).

UPDATE: Digging around, I recently found reconstructions for the word shark in a handful of proto languages: *(s)kʷálos (Proto-Indo-European); *cot-ac- (Proto-Dravidian), *maŋo (Proto-Polynesian), and *laḫm- (Proto-Semetic).

* Since the baby seems to like to stop kicking as soon as I get anywhere near, one of Evelin's friends suggested I read a story aloud each night to get the baby used to my voice or something. Instead of picking a kid's book, I decided to go with what I was already reading. Evelin said the baby stayed pretty still for most of the time I was reading; I don't know if there was listening going on, or if the baby was just embarrassed by my bad pronunciation of the Russian, French, Spanish, and Mayan names/words.

Yes, Basque is not a Romance language, but tiburoi looks to a loan from the Spanish tiburón or similar. The same for Tetum tubaraun.

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Monday, May 24, 2004

Cribs 

So Evelin and I are taking the plunge into trying to actually prepare for this little person that's set to arrive a week or so after the Autumnal Equinox. Armed with our copy of Baby Bargains, 5th edition, Evelin started early scouring a bunch of websites to try to figure out what's out there in terms of cribs.

Happily, it looks like most any crib on the market today will fit into the little nook in the room we're planning to use as a nursery. Sadly, there are a lot of different cribs on the market today and many questions to consider.

Eventually we decided enough with the pretty pictures on the Web and headed off to Babies ''Я'' Us to kick the tires (or at least knee the knee-release mechanisms).

After about an hour of looking at various models, options, styles, colors, etc., we think we figured out which crib would work best for us (with another model in mind as a back up), but we're still gathering data, so if anyone out there has any thoughts/advice, please make judicious use of either of the commenting systems.

Questions we still have:
  1. Drop side or not? The non-drop-down-side cribs are definitely sturdier, but will we need to drop that side over time as the baby gets bigger and the mattress has to be moved lower?

  2. Convertible crib or not? I don't really see the need for a toddler bed, but it seems a bit of a waste to buy a crib and then have to toss it or something in three to five years. I know the convertible add some costs in terms of conversion kits over time, but at least the frame isn't going to go to waste.

  3. Drawer or none? The extra storage space seems like a good idea, but is it really a convenient place to stash things?

Sunday, May 23, 2004

XIXth Century Theatre 

Last night, we took in a historical play, "Black-ey'd Susan; or, All in the Downs" by Douglas William Jerrold [review]. It's a nautical drama based on the 1720 ballad by John Gay.

The play was performed in true 19th-Century style by candlelight on the lawn of Riversdale, and audience participation (cheering the hero, sighing for the ingénue and booing/hissing the villains). Also part of the performance: sea chanteys. The acting was overblown at times, but that is historically accurate, and it was funny to see the main villain reacting to the audience whenever he was booed.

During intermission, the first floor of Riversdale was open for touring, so we got to see the progress of the renovation as well as a quick look at the "Please Be Seated" exhibit of furniture from the permanent collection of the mansion.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Whirlwind Celebration 

As I briefly blogged last night, Evelin and I took a quick trip up to Massachusetts on Thursday for the wedding of some friends. K---, Evelin's old roommate and a long-time friend, has been in a Vermont-sanctioned civil union since 2001, but since the Vermont law that created civil unions explicitly states that while such unions do carry essentially the same rights and responsibilities of marriage, they are not recognized outside of the Vermont.

Therefore, as soon as K--- and T--- could apply for a marriage license on 17 May, they did. Three days later (the mandatory waiting period in Massachusetts) they and two other couples had a joint wedding ceremony on the steps of the old Town Hall in Easthampton.

It was a nice, simple ceremony, with about 60 people (friends, family, and a few curious passersby), but also a political statement covered by the local newspaper [registration required] and WWLP-TV from Springfield, which carried part of the ceremony live during the 5 o'clock news. In part it was a political statement (K--- and T--- consider the date of their civil union as their anniversary), but they have been together since 1998 and married in all but name since 2001, so it made sense to take advantage of the rights afforded to them as soon as the state recognized its responsibility to treat all citizens equally. That said, it sounds like their 2004 taxes are going to be a pain to file (especially since they both work in Connecticut and have to file taxes in that state, as well as Massachusetts and federal taxes).

Afterwards, about 30 of us went for dinner at The Brasserie 40-A in Northampton. It's been a while since I lived there, and its neat to see what all has changed and what remains the same.

On Friday, we went for breakfast at the Miss Florence Dinner and then walked around Northampton some more, and Evelin and I were on the road back to D.C. around noon.

While the trip up was nice (we left early and stopped at Evelin's sister's in New Jersey to visit with her and our niece and to wait out the end of the morning rush hour; we also got a bunch of baby clothes), the trip home was the single worst drive back that I've ever had. (And considering I spent nearly a year while Evelin and I were dating driving back and forth between Massachusetts and D.C. every other weekend, I think I've seen a lot of bad traffic on those roads.)

We lost about an hour a little after New Haven, Connecticut, because of an SUV rollover accident that closed the Merritt Parkway, then all the approaches through New York City were sounding backed up, so we swung north across the Tappan Zee Bridge. Which left us in more traffic on I-87/I-287.

I was starting to think we need to find a way to swing way west and take the long way through Pennsylvania, but Evelin talked me into less of a detour and the Turnpike. We took some backroads down to the Garden State, which was backing up almost as much as my frustration levels were rising. In the end, we just sat in a lot of traffic (by this time, it was the early afternoon rush out of the city that had us doomed) that eventually broke up down the turnpike. What should have been a six-hour or so drive turned into eight and a half hours.

Today, Evelin's been working in the garden, getting okra into the ground, harvesting the last of the spring spinach and pulling up the plants so there's room to plant bell peppers, and trying to convince me to finally take out the fig tree. I'm doing the laundry, but really I just want to hang around and be lazy to decompress from that drive.

Friday, May 21, 2004

I'll Explain Tomorrow 

I'm too tired to blog it all right now, but Evelin and I just got back from a whirlwind trip up to Massachusetts to celebrate the wedding [Daily Hampshire Gazette (registration required)] of Evelin's old roommate.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Not Feelin' It 

Okay, I know it's early yet, but I am getting a little bummed that I can't feel the little one kicking. Whenever Evelin feels some kicking, she starts talking to the baby -- usually saying, "Good kicking!" But when I wander over to have a feel, either the baby stops kicking (which is what kept happening last night) or I think I feel a little something, but it doesn't seem to correspond with where/when Evelin's feeling something. I guess I have a few more months before the baby will want to play with me ...

Thinking more about baby names, I think my mother was less bothered by not knowing if the baby is a boy or a girl than she was by my not wanting to bounce around names. We're thinking mostly classic names (sorry, J---, we're going to pass on the fine gender-neutral name you suggested, "Blort"), some of which have family connections (or at least I can find a distant relation who had part of that name in some cases), but I think I want to wait until the baby is here to tell people the name.

Part of that is because of something I read in Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Madison & Montana: What To Name Your Baby Now about if people know the name and sex of the baby, then there's they might get preconceived notions about the baby before he or she is born. Now it's fine for Evelin and I to have preconceived notions (which is an odd phase since we're so post-conception at this point), but not for everyone else. Or something like that.

Thinking of baby names, auFeminin.com has a big database of French baby names, including tools to see how the popularity of a name has fared from 1900 to 2002. It's all in French, but pretty easy to figure out.

One cool tool is the "Trouver votre prénom" (find your first name) engine: Just decide if you want a girl's (féminin), boy's (masculin) or gender-neutral (mixte) name; then pick the length (longueur), originality (originalité) -- chose among fashionable (à la mode), rising (en hausse), declining (précurseur), rare (rare), or classic (classique) -- and compound or not (composé); then select a first letter or group of letters (commence par) and an ending (fini par); and voilà! It spits out some choices.

The site also has top 10 per year lists (Top 10 par année) and random name generator (un prénom au hasard).

Back in the States, the Social Security Administration has released the baby name data for 2003. Jacob, Michael, and Joshua are the top three boy names; Emily, Emma, and Madison were the top three girls. The 53rd top name for girls was Trinity, but what makes it scary is how quickly the name has risen since The Matrix was released in 1999, climbing from 951st place in 1993 to 216th in 1999 to 74th in 2000 and now up to 53rd. (Thanks to Miss Bumptious for pointing that out.)

Back in Europe, the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS) has lists of the top forenames in Scotland for the past couple of years, and National Statistics Online has similar and related baby name data for England and Wales.

In Sweden, Statistiska centralbyrån (SBC) has the top names and trend information for the past few years (and the site navigation is in English). Thinking back to the rise of Trinity in the U.S., One of the new names on the boy's name list for 2003 is Neo (entering at 98th place). (A quick check of the U.S. lists shows no instances of Neo between 1990 and 2003; Trinity, so popular in the States, is not on the Swedish girl's name list.)

Next door in Norway, Statistisk sentralbyrå has (again in English) a tool to see how common a name is in Norway. Cooler are the historical charts, which graph the popularity of names from 1880 to 2003. Who knew Øyvind was such a popular boy's name in the early 1980s?

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Say Wah? 

If only it were this easy for all of us ... "Childless couple told to try sex" [Ananova]. (via Less Than Nothing)

Mean Girls 

Since I blogged most of the past few days last night, I don't have much to add this morning, except that Evelin and I went to see Mean Girls on Saturday. I like what Tina Fey has done as head writer for Saturday Night Live, but this movie was much better than I expected (and I expected it to be pretty good). Clever, sarcastic, laugh-out-loud funny at points, good use of teen-movie clichés, and all without sacrificing intelligence. And all this from a movie based on a sociology/psychology text .

Monday, May 17, 2004

A Little of This, A Little of That 

It's been a busy day, ergo the late entry.

So my mother is in town; she helped my aunt come up for a visit to visit her granddaughter (my cousin, S---, had the baby about a month ago), so even though they arrived Saturday night, we didn't see them until mid-morning on Sunday when we picked both of them up at the hotel and took them to my cousin's. (My aunt has some mobility issues and therefore can't stay at S---'s house.)

We had a nice visit and got to see the baby a bit before taking my mom away for a few days. Since S--- is in Georgetown, we drove back to Maryland via the Mall, stopping to check out the new National WWII Memorial. Despite the water elements of the memorial not being operable until the formal dedication Memorial Day weekend and some of the bas-relief sculptures not being fully installed, it really was an impressive memorial.

I have to admit, I was among those who opposed the initial design for the memorial because of concerns of how it would violate the sightlines of the Mall, but the design -- which sunk the memorial a little bit and toned down some of the columns and arches -- really helped. It looks like it belongs, and it adds to landscape.

We then stopped at the farmers market and headed home to have a late lunch (grilled onion-tomato-cheese sandwiches). The rest of the day was just poking around the garden, listening to cicadas, and catching up. Dinner was a spinach (from the garden salad) and corn on the cob, which we roasted on the grill. (Strip off the husks and silks, paint each cob with olive oil, and grill over medium fire, turning regularly, for about 15 to 20 minutes ... yummmmmm.)

This morning was two doctor's appointments: the Level III ultrasound with the perinatologist and the 20-week check up with the OB. (As of Friday, the baby is officially half baked!) Things went well with the ultrasound, and we were officially discharged from the high-risk patient pool. The OB appointment went well, too, although Evelin wasn't 100% happy with some of the answers the doctor gave about planning for a natural birth. We're definitely still in early days and haven't done too much exploring of our options, but we are going to explore our options as far as birthing center vs. hospital go.

Since ultrasounds were, at best, rare when my brother and I were born, Evelin invited my mom to come along for the ultrasound so she could get a preview of her next grandchild and just to see what's what with pregnancy-monitoring these days. She thought it was pretty neat, definitely different from back in the late '60s/early '70s.

After the appointments, Evelin and mom dropped me off at work and went shopping for a while. After all that, we met back up for dinner at Lupo's in College Park, and now I'm very full.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Spring Cleaning 

Evelin is at graduation right now (as a staff member, she has to help out, and it might be crowded this year since at least one celebrity, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, is graduating this year), so I'm at home taking a quick break from our spring cleaning to blog and surf a little.

I have upstairs and about half of downstairs dusted and swept, now I just need to finish the diningroom and kitchen, clean the bathroom and vacuum the rugs in the livingroom and basement. Then I guess I get to start cutting the grass/ogräs/cicadas.

Tomorrow, my mom will be visiting for a few days and at the end of the month, Evelin's parents will be down, so I guess it's good to get as much cleaning out of the way as possible.

It'll be good to see all the various 'rents, but since they'll be staying in the upstairs room that I started patching/prepping for painting, I've had to delay moving out the furniture to start sanding and painting until after the visits. (I probably could squeeze the work in between the visits, but I don't know if I will.)

Friday, May 14, 2004

Blogstickers 

It's been a busy day, but I just ran across a fun Web time-sink/blog-clutterer: blogstickers: bumperstickers for your blog. Basically, it's a quick and simple (and fairly limited) way to make blog buttons.

That said, it makes it easy to create a little slogan like Did You Blog Today?, Yankees Suck, or even Cowboy Up! for the blog.

The Blogsticker Factory lets you type in a phrase, pick some styling options and voilà the blogsticker is ready for use.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

George Washington Played Third Base? 

Probably not, but a new find indicates Washington might have wanted Lafayette to include a baseball stadium in the master plan for D.C. It seems officials in Pittsfield, Mass., have found documentation for a town ordinance passed in 1791 barring the playing of baseball within 80 yards of the town meeting house [ Berkshire Eagle | Globe | Herald | ESPN | NPR | BBC ]. The town officials were worried about baseballs breaking windows, something I am quite familiar with from my youth.

From The Berkshire Eagle:
The Pittsfield bylaw states, "... for the Preservation of the Windows in the New Meeting House ... no Person or Inhabitant of said Town, shall be permitted to play at any game Called Wicket, Cricket, Base ball, Bat ball, Foot ball, Cat, Fives or any other Game or Games with Balls, within the Distance of Eighty Yards from said Meeting House."

Wahconah Park is little more than a mile from the site of the 1790 meeting house (best I can figure).

It's also worth noting that the previous first written reference to baseball came from an 1823 newspaper article about "base ball" in Manhattan. Not to point things out, but a shift of the origins of baseball from the heartland of the Hated Yankees to Red Sox Nation brings a big smile to my face and can only be a harbinger of things to come this October.

The only game I saw in Wahconah Park was when the Pittsfield Mets (a Single A New York Penn League affiliate for the Mets) were there in the late 1990s. For the 2001 season, the Pittsfield Mets became the Pittsfield Astros for one year before moving to Troy, N.Y., to become the Tri-Cities ValleyCats. The Berkshire Black Bears (a Northeast League independent club) moved in next, but after the 2003 season they moved Lynn, Mass., to become the North Shore Spirit.

Now Wahconah Park is being redone for a new team come 2005. Jim Bouton has a full rundown on the latest plans for Wahconah Park.

[ASIDE: Actually, until working on this posting, I hadn't poked around the Minor League Baseball site. It's pretty well done, especially the map to click around to find regional teams.]

[ANOTHER ASIDE: I don't remember who the Pittsfield Mets played in that game I saw at Wahconah, but I do remember that I was distracted by the guy sitting in the row ahead of us who kept explaining the game to two preteens in Norwegian. He grandkids were visiting from Norway, so he took them to a ballgame, which was pretty cool -- even if I didn't learn how to say "double play" in Nynorsk.]

They're Everywhere 

Okay, so on and off I've been mentioning the Brood X 17-year periodic cicadas (Magicicada septendecim, M. cassini, and M. septendecula; the ones in our yard thus far seem to be mostly Magicicada cassini). The D.C. metro area is in the heart of cicada central, and it's only going to get worse between now and the end of May with the invasion ending by mid to late June.

At this stage, the males don't seem to be singing too much, or I haven't noticed the humming yet, but the nymph's shells as well as live and dead cicada seem to be everywhere all of the sudden. This morning, Evelin and I stepped out to check on the garden, and I noticed shells by the thousands on the irises, the fig tree, the ground, and just about every other surface in the yard, including the lilypads in the pond (and that's not counting the ones I had to scoop out of the pond -- they're too big for the goldfish to eat).

Cicadas on the irises (1). Cicada on a lilypad. Cicadas on the irises (2). Cicada shells on the fig tree.
(Click on an image for a bigger picture.)

One good thing is that since they're tunneling up from as deep as 9 feet (2.75 meters) below ground, our yard is getting nicely aerated this year.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Two Bad Bananas 

Lunch was a mix of disappointment and glee. The disappointment was that the second banana I bought today was bad. I like my bananas less ripe (much greener than Evelin does), but the ones in Safeway this morning and in Trader Joe's at lunch all looked closer to Evelin's tastes that mine. Despite that a potassium craving or something prodded me to buy one in each store.

Around 10:00 a.m., I went for the Safeway banana. I picked it up and the bottom half seemed mushy. Maybe it got crushed in the bag on the way from the store to the car to the office, I don't know, but I was sad.

When I walked over to Trader Joe's to grab something quick for lunch (a Thai Kitchen Roasted Garlic rice noodle bowl, yummmmmm, even if it is a sodium-soaked prepackaged food), against better judgment I picked up a banana. It turned out to be mealy and generally gross. Again, very sad.

But, between bites of soup and throwing away the banana, I checked my e-mail and found that Pong Nan (藍奕邦) has finally launched an official website and that his debut album is tentatively due for release in June. The first cut, "熱帶魚" (Tropical Fish) (RealAudio snippet) is apparently doing well in Hong Kong, which is good to hear, and the second cut, "自知之明" (Self-Understanding), is due for release next week.

I stumbled upon Pong's music on MP3.com years ago, and really liked it. A lot is introspective piano-based stuff, kind of emo at times, but he also does some guitar-based songs that are really fun.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Commenting 

I'm testing out the new commenting function Blogger added on Sunday. For the moment, I'm keeping the Enetation commenting live for right, but it may go away in the near future. Plus, the Blogger commenting will archive along with the posts (I think), so that may be the best option for long-term continuity.

[UPDATE: Okay, I was wrong. I did end up REMing out the lines for the old commenting. I may at some point try to transfer comments from the old system to the new one, but I'm not thinking that's likely at the moment ...]

[UPDATE: Okay, I was wrong again. I think I'll keep both commenting systems up for now.]

[UPDATE: Karen pointed out that Blogger has things defaulting so that only registered Blogger users can comment; I've changed the settings so that everyone should be able to leave comments.]

Monday, May 10, 2004

Rabbits on Parade 

So on Sunday, after the farmers market (which was after picking up more mulch and then taking the car to the car wash -- a necessity after cramming 10 bags of mulch into the back seat and trunk on Saturday and the additional five in the trunk on Sunday morning), I stopped by Finewares in Takoma Park.

Months ago, I think it was around the time of the positive pregnancy test or maybe after the second β-hCG level came back, we'd stopped in and seen this neat serigraph ("Summer Twilight Parade") by Debbie Littledeer. We both liked it, and it would be perfect in a nursery, without being a nursery-exclusive piece of art. However, caution and fears kept us from buying it that day.

In late March, I did a solo run to the farmers market and stopped into Finewares again. The picture was still there. Although Evelin was feeling much more solid about the pregnancy at this point, I still was worried about jinxing the amnio or something, so once again, I held off on buying it.

Well Sunday, I guess I crossed the point of no return. After getting our weekly supply of apples, a few asian pears, a bunch of spinach, some farmstead cheese and some free-range eggs, I walked into Finewares and bought the picture. When I brought it up to the counter, the woman said: "I've been wondering who was going to end up with this." She told me a bit about the artist, and it all made me even happier to have bought the picture.

Summer Twilight Parade by Debbie Littledeer

[The photo doesn't capture the colors very well; I had bad lighting, and the flash just caused other problems.]

Our nursery planning, such as it is thus far, consists of Evelin and I both saying that neither of us wants to deck things out in too baby-specific of stuff. Out little red room is a great, rich red color and it will be a good room for a crib and other baby furniture, but we don't want to put a border of teddy bears up or anything (after all, that was what the room looked like when we moved in; it took a while to get all that wallpaper down, the walls patched and then painted).

Instead, the closest we think we'll have to a theme is black-and-white animals. We have a cool Humane Trophies faux zebra rug that we bought years ago, and we have a couple of stuffed pandas (teddy bears, not taxidermy). Add to the mix penguins and maybe orcas and that's as close to a "theme" as I think we want to get. (And, yes, I realize the rabbit serigraph doesn't match that theme, but Evelin and I both liked it, so we're not going to worry about it.)

[ASIDE: Work may keep me blogging in the evening for the foreseeable future (but who can tell). The assistant editor I was allowed to hire to replace the managing editor who quit a few weeks ago started today. She's sharp (and a vegetarian), so I think things will work out quite well.]

[ANOTHER ASIDE: Cookie necklaces sound like a good idea, but they have a downside, as Enjanerd explains.]

Sunday, May 09, 2004

The Horror! The Horror! 

Okay, so Brood X is hardly something that would give Kurtz nightmares, but we did encounter our first of the beasties this weekend. On Saturday, I found a few cicada shells on spiderwort, crape myrtle, and other assorted plants in the yard. On Sunday, Evelin found the first one caught in the act of breaking out of the old shell. (She and I both decline to eat it.)

We actually did a lot of yard work this weekend, tons of weeding, spreading 15 bags of mulch (3 cubic yards per bag), mowing, etc. It's insane how quickly the grass/ogräs is growing. I got at least five very full bags of clippings to add to the compost heap.

But things do look better. Evelin cut out a little trench between the lawn and the lobelia that edges much of the flowerbeds in the back, giving someplace to set up a mulch barrier between the beds and the grass/ogräs. I also tied down the daffodils (the flowers are spent and it made things easier to mulch around and it looked tidier to have the leaves bunched up and folded over).

We also got a bit of a surprise by all the different spiders in our yard. I guess it's a good thing that we have so many insects (not to mention the birds, squirrels, occasional cats, and whatever it is (probably a raccoon) that seems to keep pooping on the edge of the pond), but I must have seen a dozen very different types of spiders in the yard today, including one that had interesting blue fangs. I think it was a type of wolf spider, but I can't find an online spider identification site that's set up for easy searches.

[UPDATE: The blue-fanged spider was probably a male Daring Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax).]

When I was a kid, I had a whole series of bird, fish, insect, rock, spider, etc., identification guides. It might be worth trying to track down some similar field guides again.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Quick Note 

Okay, I have work to do this morning, but I just wanted to wish Anita of And Baby Makes Seven a happy first blog day!

Friday, May 07, 2004

The End of Friends 

Well, it's hardly the end of the show. It's likely to remain on air (or on cable) through the miracle of syndication for the rest of my life and probably longer. That said, I'm still a little sad to see Friends end. I remember watching the pilot all those years ago in my little basement efficiency and even if I missed some episodes (and probably a season or two) when they aired in primetime, I know I've seen every episode at least five times in reruns.

During the 10 Years of Friends (a.k.a., "The One With All the Others: A Friends Retrospective") clip job that preceded the finale, I found myself finishing more of the lines than not, which is kind of sad in a way, but it still made me laugh.

As far as series finales go, "The Last One, Part 1" and "The Last One, Part 2" (the only episodes besides "Pilot" that aren't titled "The One With [or Where] ...") didn't make the best end to a long-running series (probably M*A*S*H), but it was far from the worst (may well have been Seinfeld). Actually, M*A*S*H was an easy series to end because the end of the Korean War provided a natural way to end the series; Friends is similar in that the characters (excepting Joey) are all ending their carefree singleton lives to one degree or another (“Lifechanges ... Arrived,” perhaps?) but it's not the sort of clean break of an armistice.

There were some low moments. The Chandler-Monica adoption storyline got really uncomfortable for me at some points. When Erica (the birth mother) was first introduced, she wasn't as dim as she's been over the past few episodes, and the writers seemed to take more care with the complexities of adoption. There was Monica's thank you to Erica after the birth and naming one of the babies after her, but it hardly made up for how all the complexities of adoption were totally glossed over during the past few episodes. (True, it's a sitcom, and the earlier infertility episodes weren't the best at covering the complexities of that issue, but they tried a little harder, perhaps because of Courtney Cox's own experiences, than they seemed to with the adoption storyline.)

I think I'd also have liked Joey to at least get a phone call setting up his move to California. I guess this means the pilot for Joey will have to start with leaving New York (maybe with a cameo by a Friend or two?). That said, I don't have any great hopes for Joey; the teaser that ran during 10 Years of Friends looked on the lame side.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Bombing the Tunnel 

I guess considering the long military history of the Washington-Baltimore area, stories like this one shouldn't surprise me, but it's still a little unsettling to think how many times I've driven through the Harbor Tunnel and they just now find 11 World War II era bombs. And these things were as big as 4,000 pounds, meaning a 2-kilometer radius had to be cleared in case one went off when they were trying to be moved.

Every now and then similar bits of unexploded ordinance show up in the D.C. area (and that's not even thinking of the abandon mustard gas and other agents found in Spring Valley in Northwest), but still it's amazing that these sorts of things could just be lost and forgotten.

After I'd been living in D.C. for about two years, part of Fort Meade was converted into the Patuxent Research Refuge. I went to go hiking there with a friend, but when checking in at the ranger station we were given a map and stern warnings not to step off the road or to stray away from a limited group of open areas. The rest of the refuge was slowly being cleared of unexploded ordinance from its days as a training ground. It wasn't the most relaxing of hikes.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Thunder, Lightning and Hail 

So it's about 10 minutes before my normal time to leave work and I glance out the window and see really, really ominous clouds and realize that the noise I've been hearing is thunder. It's been a while since we've had a good rush-hour thunderstorm, so I gather K--- (who I'd promised a ride back to Maryland), and try get beat the rain across the parking lot.

So we make it to the car and get on the road; no troubles. About a mile away, however, the rain blows in. A few minutes later: grape-sized hail (and I'm talking big globe grapes, not little champagne grapes) starts to pound the car. The slushier ones splatter on the windscreen, but the icier ones start to pile up on the hood, and it's hard to talk over the din of hail hitting the roof.

By the time we reach I-395, the rain/hail had 99% stopped (although there was a long line of people messing up traffic by trying to pull off the road below the underpasses near the Pentagon to wait the rest of the weather out), and it's sunny with a rainbow or two by the time we're across the river and into D.C.

After taking a long detour through Capitol Hill and Northeast to avoid traffic tie-ups downtown, I drop K--- off at the Metro and get home to check the garden. Although the ground was soaked and the water level in the pond was higher than before, it seems the hail stayed south of the house. Nothing looked too battered, thankfully.

Other Things

Pregnancy: Evelin has been feeling more and more movement. It'll be a while before I can really feel anything, I'm guessing, but there have been some times when I have a hand on Evelin's belly and have to wonder if I'm feeling movement or digestion …

Home Repair: I've also been puttering around the house on a few tasks. I replaced the defective dimmer switch in the dining room Monday night, and I'm slowly prepping the media room/guest room for painting. There are a fair number of cracks in the ceiling and I'm going to try this spray my father found in some catalogue. It's a flexible coating that goes over the spackle and is then painted. Theoretically, it'll help the surface "give" a little if there's any shifting or changes in the plaster over time, keeping the cracks from reappearing.

Garden: We're eating our way through the spinach pretty well, and the second crop Evelin sowed last weekend is starting to peak out of the ground. The peas are starting to climb up their various supports. The strawberries and blueberries look good; the raspberry canes look healthy, but no signs of budding.

The apple tree is swaddled in the net I usually use to keep leaves out of the pond during autumn/early winter. Hopefully that will keep it safe against damage by the cicada horde whenever it emerges.

BoSox: Okay, so the last five games were painful (although last night the bats awoke just a few swings too late). Tonight looks pretty good (bottom of the 8th, and we're up 8 to 5) to snap the losing streak, and the fact that we've had a little bit of a bad run isn't the end of the world. It's way too early in the season for thinking anything like that. Just keep up the positive visualization and the BoSox are sure to beat whichever team the National League sends to the Series come autumn.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Baby Names 

Last night, Evelin and I were going through the stacks of books J--- loaned us on Sunday. Evelin was looking through The Miraculous World of Your Unborn Baby while I focused on the baby names books. No, we're not back-tracking on plans to keep the sex of the baby a secret, and even if we do let people know if he or she will be a she or a he, we'll probably not reveal a name until there is a face to go with it.

That said, back when we first were getting into this babymaking journey, we did find one or two names that we both liked, but now there is some reëvaluation, which is only natural. Flipping through Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Madison & Montana: What To Name Your Baby Now and The Mother of All Baby Name Books: Over 94,000 Baby Names, we found a few options, a few horrible ideas, and a few new permutations of first/middle name to work with old favorites.

I also found more than a few things that annoyed me about the way both baby name books were set up. My gold standard for baby name books remains Puffy, Xena, Quentin, Uma: and 10,000 Other Names for Your New Millennium Baby, which we picked up a few years ago. It's great fun, and full of helpful tips about various names, including all the pop culture (and '70s television) references I was having to search my mind for with the other books. Anita's been reviewing pregnancy and birthing books; maybe I should work up reviews of baby name books ...

In any case, after coming to one or two possible names, we started googling. Fortunately, only one permutation turned up a porn star. The cooler tool -- I know, it's harder to get cooler than Google, but some times a specific tool will work better for a given task -- is the Social Security Administration's popular baby names index. It helps figure out how popular any given name is (based on data from 1990 to 2002) and which way the trend is going. For example, "Carter" is gaining in popularity (Evelin blames E.R.), rising from 575th in 1990 to 108th most popular in 2002; "Evelyn" is even more popular, rising from 215th in 1990 to 98th in 2002. "Evelin" (spelling counts with this tool) only pops up in 2002 in 769th place.

Just as cool is pdom's suite of tools. They're designed for selling domain names or "personal net identities," but they also have a wealth of baby name information, including top 1,000 boy and girl name lists and a cool tool for seeing how common any given prénom, surname, prénom+surname combination, prénom+last initial, and first initial+surname combination is in the United States.

According to the results, of the ~12,100 people with Carter for a prénom and the ~264,500 people with the surname Ross, about 10 of us in the U.S. are Carter Rosses.

There are also lists of the top 100 Arabic, Indian, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Spanish names, as well as tools for finding out more about the frequency of surnames.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Sheep, Weeds, and a Road Trip 

This weekend was hemmed in by worries about rain, but we got a good bit of yard work wedged in between various other activities.

Friday night, after work, I got up on the roof to clear oak silks out of the gutter. Last summer, we had some problems due to clogged gutters, and since then I have been determined to stay on top of the gutters. Literally as our house is too tall on some sides to use a ladder to clean the gutters, which means having to clean things from the roof.

Saturday was the 31st annual Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. One of Evelin's co-workers told her about it, saying that her son loved to go when he was a kid because he got to pet sheep; now he likes to go to eat sheep. Evelin figured it would be fun for both of us: I could pet the sheep, and she could do the eating.

It was really interesting. We got to see a pretty wide variety of breeds, including Karakul, Cotswold, Icelandic, and Merino, as well as some alpaca. There were some sheep cheeses for sale, but, unfortunately, none for tasting. And tons of yarns and associated textile arts stuff. Evelin's been wanting to learn to knit for a while, but hasn't yet, so we didn't get sucked into the yarn madness that seems to have infected many of the people there.

We also got to see a sheepdog demonstration. It was really cool watching the dogs put the sheep through their paces, but it was even cooler when the sheep made a break for it and escaped the corral. The dogs were set loose and pretty quickly had the sheep back inside the ring.

That afternoon, I cut the weeds/grass again. I lowered the deck on the mower because it was looking too shaggy for having only been eight days or so since the last mowing. Plus, the lowered deck helped pick up oak silks. (We have five or more oak trees overhanging our yard, so there are lots of silks to clean up.)

I managed to finish up the yard in time for us to be late to Evelin's cousin's spring cookout, but I cleaned up and we headed out, listening to Smarty Jones win the Derby on the drive down.

Sunday was a drive up to Philadelphia to see P---, J--- and their six-week-old, O---. J--- promised Evelin some of her maternity clothes, and since Evelin's starting to pop, it seemed like it'd be well worth the trip. We had a nice visit and netted not only some clothes, but also a bunch of books, a changing table, and a little fleece blanket thing that O--- has outgrown long before it will be cold enough for him to use it.

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