Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Back in March, SETI@home announced plans to switch from the classic interface to BONIC, a distributed computation manager that works with SETI@home and similar projects, but I never got around to making the change. When I returned to the office, I noticed a popup on my computer saying that SETI@home Classic was shutting down in December and that I needed to install the BONIC client if I wanted to continue with the project.
The bummer is all my old credits don't transfer to the new setup, so I'm back at 0 workunits (not that that's why I'm doing this — I just like the screensaver), but I am able to hook up with other projects, too. Now, overnight and during meetings that run way too long, my computer is happily crunching numbers for SETI@home and climateprediction.net ...
Technoarti tags: SETI@home BONIC
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Technoarti tags: Casio SK-1
Technoarti tags: cheese
Monday, November 28, 2005
Which, I guess, brings up the other part of "I'm Back ...", we went to Louisiana for Thanksgiving. Given the horror show that was Hurricane Katrina and its wake, there was no way I was going to miss being back home for the holiday. Plus, the rotation was that we would be there for Thanksgiving anyway, so no one should assume that a tree has to hit my folks' house — or New Orleans severely damaged — to get me to visit.
Unlike the Montana trip, I didn't blog things on my Palm as we went along, and although I'm heading into a work crunch, I hope to have entries for the trip up within a few days ...
- DAY 1: Disaster Tourism
- DAY 2: Preparing for T-Day
- DAY 2 (continued): New Orleans Amber
- DAY 3: Thanksgiving
- DAY 4: Global Wildlife
- DAY 5: The Trip Home
One night while we were home, my niece, A---, apparently was talking in her sleep. According to her mother, she said "No, slow down!" presumably referring to her father's driving. Well, when we got home on Saturday, Celeste was having a rough night — she's teething, maybe in a leap, and has a little cold or something — and she ended up in our bed a bit after midnight. I didn't sleep so well for the rest of the night, so I was awake at 5:00 a.m. or so when I noticed that Celeste was moving one hand up over her head. It didn't look like a stretch or anything, and she did it a few times in a row, which makes me think she was dreaming about the airplane ride home or something and was signing AIRPLANE in her sleep ...
Technoarti tags: Thanksgiving New Orleans Hurricane Katrina tree Baby Sign
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Our flight wasn't until 11:30 a.m., so we had time to enjoy a leisurely last morning, chatting and futzing around while finishing up the packing and making sure we hadn't forgotten anything before I had to resume my time as a member of BODCCATA.
The MSY–IAD flight was Celeste's eighth flight segment in her life, and considering that I guess we did pretty well. When we first got on the plane, she was a little hyped up because there was a little boy about the same age as her in the seat next to me (with his mother). I took the middle seat while Evelin and Celeste shared the window seat. Celeste spent most of the time before takeoff opening and closing the window shades and trying to reach over for the copy of Pajama Time! the boy was reading.
Soon after the flight attendants were told to crosscheck and verify, one of them stopped short in front of our row. Apparently there are only four oxygen masks above each row, which meant the mother and boy needed to move to another seat — three adults and two babies were too much for the row.
With Pajama Time! out of eyesight, Celeste settled down and ended up falling asleep for most of the flight to Virginia ... however, when the pilot came on the PA to say that he was turning on the fasten seatbelts sign and that we'd be landing in about 15 minutes, she woke up. And she was mad. For most of the rest of the flight, we were that family all the roadwarriors hate: intermittent screaming mixed with sobs and moments of silence. She was still tired and just couldn't take it. Once we were off the plane, she did pretty well, although she wasn't to keen to get back into her carseat.
[ASIDE: Even though Celeste didn't have her own seat for this trip, we still used the Britax Roundabout–Go-Go Kidz combo we used on theMontana trip. We needed a carseat in Louisiana and this way we didn't have to carry a stroller, too. Since we were checking the Roundabout/Kidz, I bought a big carseat bag, thinking I could keep the Kidz attached to the Roundabout and just check the whole thing. It took some wrangling, but I did manage to get it to fit; however, when I opened the bag in New Orleans after the first flight, one of the wheels had popped off the Kidz. It all snapped back together and worked fine, but it was a little disconcerting. When I opened the bag in Dulles, I encountered the same problem, but this time I knew to look for the little cap and washer that held the wheel to the axel. Again it snapped back together fine, but I wish there were a way to ensure that thing could stand up to checking at the gate — maybe the bag itself stresses the wheel too much and we'd be better off without a bag or just a plastic bag to protect the fabric on the seat.]
Technoarti tags: Thanksgiving air travel carseats
Friday, November 25, 2005
Basically, Global Wildlife is more than 900 acres of forest and plains that's home to some 3,000+ animals, including bison, giraffes, zebras, camels, kangaroos, antelopes, and other grasslands animals. You ride through the park on a tractor-pulled wagon/tram, which stops periodically to let people feed alfalfa pellets to the animals. According to the center's staff, they didn't loose any animals during Hurricane Katrina, although several hundred trees were downed; for the most part, the animals just huddled in big mixed-species packs and weathered out the rain and winds.
We got there a little before 10:00 a.m. for the first safari tour of the day, got our tickets, and a big bucket of pellets. Since the center was closed on Thursday for the holiday, the animals were eager to crowd the wagons as soon as they left the basecamp.
The first group was mostly longhorn cattle (Bos taurus (one of whom's horns was getting way too close for comfort), bison (Bison bison), elands (Taurotragus oryx), a zebu (Bos indicus), at least one beefalo (Bos taurus × Bison bison), and several varieties of deer (family Cervidae). The cattle and bison were not shy about sticking their heads in to the wagon to have feed poured into their mouths; A-- got licked by one cow.
We eventually pushed on, past the pens where newly arrived animals were in quarantine and past the kangaroo pen (I'm not sure why they don't mix with the general population, but the kangaroos, mostly red kangas (Macropus rufus), if I remember correctly, are kept in their own enclosure). We then started seeing more deer and antelope. We also saw a pair of Bactrian camels (Camelus bactrianus) who were happy to get close enough for some food.
Through most of this, Celeste was pretty happy. She may have tried to pet one or two of the animals, but mostly she just wanted to sit and soak it all in. A--- and L--- were getting pretty excited with dumping food out to the animals. All three girls enjoyed pouring the alfalfa pellets on to the floor of the tram, too.
Up next were the big draw — reticulated giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata)). They have a small family group — the male, Slim; the female, Kameel; and the baby, Seemore Freckles — and they aren't shy about sticking their heads into the wagons for some pellets. Last time Evelin and I went to Global Wildlife, Seemore was just a yearling; now he's still young, but getting bigger. Evelin and Celeste were in perfect position to have Kameel get very up close and personal with them, which both of them liked. Evelin got to touch the giraffe; I don't think Celeste did, however. I was on the other side of the tram taking pictures, so I don't know for sure, but I'd bet Celeste was making her blowing kisses noise, which is what she claims a giraffe says.
Seemore ended the feeding stop by doing some running and jousting with the various deer and antelope, sending a group of them scattering as he ran through the brush. As the tram continued, we saw more and more antelopes and deer, including some blackbucks (Antilope cervicapra) and Père David's deer (Elaphurus davidianu), as well as some llamas (Lama glama) and two dromedary camels (Camelus dromedarius).
Then we came to big draw number two — the Grevy's zebra (Equus grevyi) herd. Because they bite, the tourguide asked us to only drop food to the ground for the zebras and not to try to touch or feed them directly. L--- was very happy to dump food over the side.
As we headed away from the zebras and back to the basecamp, the only downside to a 10:00 safari became apparent ... too close to naptime. Celeste, A---, L--- and a 20-month-old* who was also on our tram were all getting very grumpy. We had a few snacks (which was against the rules) that the girls could munch on, which helped a little, but they were all getting tired and ready to head home.
*The little girl and her mother were evacuees from Mississippi. Apparently they'd been coming to Global Wildlife just about every weekend since Katrina forced them from their homes ...
Technoarti tags: Thanksgiving Hurricane Katrina safari
Thursday, November 24, 2005
My uncle, S---, passed out Rebuild New Orleans magnetic ribbons (the ribbon is purple, green, and gold — the colors of Mardi Gras). I'll admit that I'm a bit of a cynic when it comes to ribbon awareness and previously would only have considered a Support Our Sox magnet, but I was more than happy to put magnets on the T.R.U.C.K. and the Hyundai ... and I need to shift my commute so I drive past the Capitol every evening.
It was really good seeing everybody. Five cousins (along with the families of three of them and the fiancée of one other) were missing, so it wasn't quite a substitute for the "everyone's here" Christmas that didn't quite happen last year, but it was still a very nice time. And, of course, everyone had their Katrina, evacuation and post-Katrina reconstruction stories. It did dredge up some of those old feelings of guilt, but everyone seems to be rolling along pretty well — either rebuilding or moving in a new direction that makes sense — so it was good to hear both what people went through and what they have in store for the future.
My grandmother led the grace before dinner, and we all stood out on the deck (in the shadow of the tree that crunched my parents' house) and sang "We Gather Together". In the saying of grace, she struck the perfect note between looking back on the disaster and looking ahead to the future.
One funny thing was talking to some of my young first cousins once removed, most of whom I've had very little interaction with since we don't get down to Louisiana very often. One, L---, was hanging around while I was feeding Celeste. When I said something to her, she replied "How do you know my name?" I explained that I was her cousin and that the last time I'd seen her, she was about the same size as Celeste. She wasn't quite convinced. She didn't make me produce ID or anything, but I think she eventually accepted things when I said that her aunt and uncle (actually great aunt and great uncle_ were my mother and father and that her parents were my first cousins. The bit about Celeste being her second cousin pretty much went over her head, however.
Technoarti tags: Thanksgiving Hurricane Katrina
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Until a few days before we arrived, the back part of the house was still isolated from the rest of the place with plywood sealing off the three entrances to the room. By the time Evelin, Celeste, and I arrived, the house was back together and the back wall (which was once windows) was two full-length windows and a french door; however, while the trim work was in place, it wasn't painted and the floors were bare subflooring.
(The bare floors actually worked out pretty well considering that my nieces, A--- and L---, were spilling some food on the ground, and Celeste was throwing a bit of her own.)
Outside, we used one of the painters' ladders to climb up the tree that did the damage to the house to see what we could see. Much of the tree is still in situ; the tree trimmers need to bring a crane to the site to remove another tree (which has one bit hanging ominously over the garage that cannot be removed by a climber), so they decided to wait until then to cut down the rest of the tree that hit the house. Plus, there are two bees nests in the tree, which makes the crane an easier option than getting climbers, bee wranglers, and pest control coördinating on site.
From the ground, the drey in one part of the break was visible, as was some of the scarring and an odd bit of the tree that looked like driftwood. C---, our neighbor, is a forester and she concurred that the driftwood bit was weird looking; she said it looked almost petrified.
Climbing up, however, one could see that the tree wasn't hollow. The cavity had a bunch of dirt, leaves, and litter in it, but it only seemed to go down about a foot. There was a little weed growing up there, too. Since the tree overlooks the deck where much of Thanksgiving would be spent (a beautiful, 75°F day was forecast), my dad put a geranium up in the cavity.
In the afternoon, Evelin, Celeste, and I ran out to the farmstand to buy some fresh strawberries and satsumas, and to the grocery store to pick up some things for Thanksgiving. Celeste already loves strawberries, but fresh Louisiana berries are sooooooooo much better than the ones we get up in Maryland (be it local ones from the farmers market or ones shipped in from California, Florida, or Mexico) that it was almost unfair to let Celeste develop a taste for them. Fortunately for us, she doesn't like citrus at the moment, otherwise I'm sure the satsumas would have pushed her over the edge and she would have demanded we stay there ...
Technoarti tags: Thanksgiving New Orleans Hurricane Katrina tree
Unfortunately, Katrina also took a toll on Celebration. Eamonn Fitzgerald’s Rainy Day contacted the distillery back in early September and received this reply:
"Unfortunately, our distillery and the rum in it was submerged in the toxic flood water when one of the levees broke. The future of our company is uncertain, however, the employees are safely evacuated. We're glad you enjoyed Cane what we did, we don't know if or when we'll be making rum again."I'd read this elsewhere in the aftermath of the storm, so when I saw a bottle of New Orleans Amber on the shelf at Winn-Dixie, I picked it up. They also had two bottles of New Orleans Crystal, but I passed on those. (I do kind of wish I'd spied a bottle of the five-year-old single-barrel Cane Amber, which sounds especially nice.)
According to the City of New Orleans Property Database, the distillery site is 1.5 feet below sealevel (and in an "A2" flood zone). The New Orleans Flood Map says the maximum water at the distillery address (2815 Frenchmen St., New Orleans, LA 70122) was 3.2 feet, but clicking on the satellite image of the distillery building reports water levels ranging from barely 2 feet to nearly 5 feet. in various parts of the facility. In any case, it'll be a little while before I open the bottle, I think, but it's sad to think that it could well be something that might never be made again.
Technoarti tags: Thanksgiving New Orleans Hurricane Katrina rum
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
In planning the trip, Evelin and I looked over the options and decided to make the haul out to IAD for the direct flight instead of spending less time on the road and more time in the air/airports. We also decided to have Celeste make her first trip sans a seat of her own. It's about a 2- to 21⁄2-hour trip, and we thought Celeste could handle that.
Of course, the other part of it meant we needed to leave the house around 5:15 a.m. for an 8:30 a.m. flight. Originally, I thought we could leave a little later, maybe closer to 6:00 a.m., but 1) I am generally paranoid about not leaving enough time to catch a plane; 2) the pre-trip press reports were making it sound like the airport parking lots were already filling up; and 3) when I tried to check in online the night before, I discovered that something was wrong and I needed to talk to a person at the airline counter.
We ended up making good time to the airport, parked in the Blue Lot, instead of the holiday overflow lot, and never really found out what the problem was. At first, it seemed that it was because I had Celeste linked to my ticket as an in-lap infant, then they said it was because my credit card had only my initials on it instead of my full first name, then they said I should always travel using my full first name (this despite having been chastised once before when work booked a ticket for me as "Carter Ross" when my frequent flyer card is assigned to "T. Carter Ross" — or as the airline computers always read it "Tcarter Ross" ...).
There were several other babes in arms on the flight and things generally went well. Celeste managed a short (40 minutes or so) nap and only got a little antsy towards the end of the flight. Since I was sitting in the middle seat as we came down, it was hard to figure out the approach we were making into New Orleans. From the air, the biggest evidence of Katrina was all the blue tarps on roofs, but the tree canopy seemed thinner ... not that so many trees were down (although they were), but that the ones that were there were quite bare.
My folks met us on the ground and we headed off to visit my grandmother. She's been back in New Orleans since early November, and was doing well despite things being far from normal — lots of traffic signals were out, houses obviously empty, Red Cross relief centers very visible, millions of signs offering tree removal, house cleaning, sheetrock hanging, car buying, etc. We had a good little visit, and Celeste was very obliging in showing off some of her skillz with sign language and animal sounds.
After the visit, we headed off on a quick tour of some of neighborhoods and up past Tulane through Fontainebleau and Mid City to Lakeview and West End, near where the 17th Street Canal breeched. Bits of the city looked like they were coming back to life with lots of signs of construction and work going on, but, as we got closer and closer to Lake Pontchartrain, the higher the waterlines on the houses got and the more abandoned places looked. There was still some traffic and work going on, but a lot less. In West End, we could see where the neutral ground was still being used to store storm debris, mostly fallen trees and branches, and where it was being ground up for disposal. Some of the mulch piles (not to mention debris piles) were at least two storeys high.
Heading back through the swamp, there were further signs of damage — some houses/houseboats that were knocked over, broken trees, generally thinner canopies — but the bigger shock was when we turned on to my parents' street. I'm not sure how many of the water oaks were gone, but more were missing than remained. Several tall stumps were still in place, having been drafted as emergency electrical/telephone poles, but others were just gone. I think it was the first time I'd ever really seen the front of our next-door neighbor's house.
During the whole trip, I kept finding myself looking up across the backyard or in other directions, wondering what looked different: I'd check with my dad or mom to make sure my memory wasn't faulty, but almost every time it was because one or more big trees and their canopies were no longer blocking the sky.
Technoarti tags: Thanksgiving New Orleans Hurricane Katrina tree
Sunday, November 20, 2005
We spent a little time today trying to get a picture of Celeste for our Christmas card. I guess it's a sign of the age (our age?), but we decided to do one of those picture-with-text-on-the-side card things and for that we needed a good festive season photo of Celeste. Of course, with no snow on the ground, we were stuck with leaves or something else as the background.
The above photo wasn't the image that won out in the end, but I did rake up a nice pile of leaves and stood Celeste in it to see what she'd think. She enjoys picking up leaves at the park and walking around with them, so I thought a big pile of leaves would be interesting to her. Instead, it proved a bit overwhelming ... especially when I had the bright idea to start throwing some to give the snapshot a leaves-falling effect ...
Technoarti tags: photo leaves
Saturday, November 19, 2005
So I had three things I wanted to do: 1) get a haircut; 2) put up the second sconce (the first one went up last Saturday); and 3) enter my receipts into Quicken and pay a few bills. By 12:15 p.m., it was all done, and I still had time to pull some more vines and to clean the acorns from the street.
The first thing that helped get the day started off right was that Celeste slept very well last night. (And simply thinking that, much less blogging it, probably dooms us for tonight ...) With the current cold snap (Thursday night–Friday morning was our first freeze of the season), we thought maybe that night and the night before's bad times might be due to her being a bit cold. We've been putting two layers of pyjamas on Celeste, along with socks, and she has her blankie in bed with her (although it used more for snuggling than covering), but we do keep the house on the cooler side ... so I decided to move an oil-filled convection heater up from the basement to her room.
It was a little tricky figuring out where to position the heater so that it was a safe distance from the crib and from other furniture and where the on/off and temperature lights wouldn't distract Celeste, but we did find a place and it seemed to work. She slept through 'til 7:00 a.m. There were some little waking cries around 5:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., but no real "Hey, I'm awake!" cries.
With a full night's sleep, we were all in pretty good shape to deal with the day. After breakfast (Celeste wanted scrambled eggs; Evelin made us pancakes), I headed out to the barbershop. Perfect timing: Just after I got into the one free chair, three other people walked in ...
Soon after I got home, Evelin and Celeste headed out to the park to meet up with a friend. Celeste was dressed in a little snowsuit that made her almost as wide as she is tall. It was a bit difficult for her to maneuver in, but, as Evelin noted several times, she was warm.
While they were out, I added a new task to the list of goals for the day: the acorns. Around here, leaves are picked up by the city with a big vacuum truck. Everyone rakes everything out to the curbline and once a week during autumn, the truck comes 'round and picks everything up. It works pretty well, except that this year — because of the coolish summer, dry August, wet September, and warm October, I guess — we had a ton of acorns. The vacuum truck doesn't do a good job with things heavier than leaves, including acorns, so I came home Thursday night to several large piles of acorns in the street in front of our house.
I raked the front yard again, and then bagged all the acorns and some of the leaves and stuck things aside for the week after next (there's no yardwaste or leaf pickup next week, because of Thanksgiving).
I then moved to the backyard to see if I could pull the bits of dead porcelainberry out of the dogwood that I didn't manage to pull out last weekend. Using a polesaw, I was able to get most all of the vine out, although I did end up climbing the tree to get the last few bits from the tree. It added up to an 11th bag of vines ... and there's still plenty (dead) in another neighbor's trees.
After that it was on to the bills. Evelin and Celeste got home as I was finishing that up and Celeste went down for her nap ... leaving Evelin free to help me get that sconce up.
With the chores all done, the afternoon was free to take care of Evelin's other task for the day: a run up to Arundel Mills to the Stride Rite outlet to get Celeste some new shoes. She's walking a lot more and her Robeez are getting a bit slippy. (I've sanded the soles a few times to try and keep them rough, but they get slick fairly quickly.) I'd never actually been to Arundel Mills before and for some reason thought it was after BWI; instead, we ended up missing the exit and ran into a ton of construction traffic most of the way in to Baltimore. Considering that we were almost there, I suggested we bail on the shoe shopping and go to the National Aquarium or something, but we ended up turning back and finding the shoes.
Celeste wasn't too keen on the first few pairs she tried, but we ended up with a pair she was willing to wear out of the store. We then walked around the mall a little, and Celeste ended up going crazy over the Pawsenclaws & Co. store, petting the various stuffed animals, and walking from bear to dog to reindeer to bear, repeat ...
Technoarti tags: chores shoes acorns
Friday, November 18, 2005
That I was enjoying a Chicago tune probably undercuts the rest of this entry, but I've recently been turned on to MP3 blogs, and have been finding and enjoying some pretty good tune because of it. Back in early October, Drink at Work.com linked to Jefitoblog's "Complete Idiot's Guide to Big Country." After a few other interesting entries at Jefitoblog, I started looking around and landed on My Old Kentucky Blog, microclips, Lonesome Music, and Salon's Audiofile column, as well as The Hype Machine, an aggregator for MP3 blogs.
While a lot of MP3 blogs post MP3s for evaluation purposes with the request that downloaders delete files within a few days of downloading them, they sometimes also link to really cool things that are legal to download for noncommercial purposes, such as the Live Audio Archive. I've found some excellent Calexico shows there (you need a program to convert the FLAC files to MP3 or WAV, but this show is excellent), as well as some rare Billy Bragg performances and a few fun Clumsy Lovers sets.
One of the better live sets I've found through an MP3 blog is Iron and Wine together with Calexico live at the Triple Door in Seattle. It's not free, but Iron and Wine's performance at Bonnaroo 2005 is also excellent.
A long time ago, in one of my first few entries, I blogged about legal MP3s. I still think the Web is a great means for promoting new bands, and several MP3 blogs have been pointing to Everybody Loves Irene, a very chill trip-hop/down-tempo band from Indonesia. The Indonesia angle is just a fun note for their bio; the music is nothing like dangdut or other typical Indonesian musical styles. They're just a solid band that deserves much wider attention. Check out "Gravity Always Wins" [MP3] (Uncertainty, Anxiety, and All the Sorrow In This World EP version) and "Hybrid Moments" [MP3] (demo version).
Since I don't have an iPod, most of the time I'm playing back MP3s via the computer or I burn files to an audio CD, but a few weeks ago I did pick up a Roadmaster VR-3 FM modulator/MP3 player. It has some limitations, but being able to drop MP3s to a USB thumbdrive that I can snap into a device in the car for playback is pretty cool ... and gives me something besides Chicago to jam to.
Technoarti tags: music MP3
Thursday, November 17, 2005
A little later, I was laying on the floor, and she came over, sat on my stomach and tried to pull me up. I sat up and tipped her backwards. We went back and forth several times: I pulled her up and tilted myself back; she tried to pull me up and I tilted her back again; and so forth.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
She went to bed a bit past 7:00 p.m. and woke at 9-something, around 11 or midnight, again at 3:00 a.m., and then pretty much every half hour until Evelin nursed her back to sleep at 5:00 a.m. or so. I know, bad parenting for not realizing that she was hungry, but the usual soothing strategy — replace pacifier, make sure blankie is in her hands, pat her head and/or back — was working, just not for very long.
Last night, we gave her a little second dinner/heavy dessert just before her bath, and she was sleeping when I left for work. There were some little sleep cries on and off through the night, but none of them necessitated soothing or other intervention.
But for me (and Evelin, too, to a degree), there was a lot of awake time. I went to bed around 9:30 p.m., but woke up a little past midnight. After about 90 minutes of twisting and turning, I went downstairs to read until it was time to head in to the office. If it hadn't been one of my early mornings to work, I might have been better able to get back to sleep, but I kept looking at the clock and thinking that I have to be up in two hours and that just dinna help things.
I guessing, even if Celeste slept well, this afternoon is going to be rough for me if not for her ...
Technoarti tags: insomnia sleep
Monday, November 14, 2005
This morning, the weather forecast for Maryland looked fine, as did the ones for Massachusetts and Paris. Hammond, Louisiana, however, was registering a temperature of 126°F. It did cool off a little to 118°F later, but it soon jumped back up to 132°F.
Calling home, my mother said it was foggy (which matched what Google was saying), but the temperature was only about 70°F. After a few hours, the Google Weather report did even out to match out with what my mother said the day was like, but I still have to wonder if there was a fire at wherever the temperature sensor was or something ...
Technoarti tags: weather Google
Technoarti tags: amniocentesis
Sunday, November 13, 2005
A while ago, I noticed some vines coming from our neighbor's yard over the fence and into our dogwood. I kept meaning to get permission to go rip it out (they're getting on in years and are letting some of their yardwork slip, particularly in what's a fairly wild back corner of their yard where it abuts ours), but just didn't see them out or it would slip my mind. J--- was out raking this morning when I got home from the farmer's market, so I asked and she readily agreed.
Flash forward to the end of the day ... 10 bags of vine and other detritus and I know I didn't get it all. I did find the grandfather root and cut it off at the ground, so hopefully anything that is still in the trees/bushes will die back (especially those that are up in another neighbor's trees) and at least not spread any further, but there seem to be a lot of little roots that I'm sure are still in the ground waiting to spring up in a few months. I guess I'll need to check things a couple of times over the summer to see what can be done to keep it from coming back.
There were some comic moments. I practically had to play Tarzan to get some vines out of the trees and, of course, at least one of those broke in mid-swing sending me sprawling. Okay, maybe that happened three or four times.
Oh, and I'm sure I saw some poison ivy out there too, so hopefully the showering with anti-ivy soap helped ... I don't want to end up like last time.
In other stuff for the day, Evelin, Celeste, and I were invited to a neighbor's for brunch. Evelin made a very tasty cinnamon roll ring and Celeste went down for a nap about a half-hour before we were due at M---, J---, and T---'s house. Evelin went ahead with the food and I waited for Celeste to wake, figuring it wouldn't be more than 20 minutes or so ... and I waited ... and I waited ... and I read the paper (and waited) ... and folded some laundry ... and waited ... and about an hour-and-a-half passed before Evelin called to see if we were on our way ... and Celeste was still asleep.
Finally, she woke after a well-over-two-hour nap (not that I'm complaining), so Celeste and I headed up the street just in time to see some of the other guests leaving. We ended up spending about 20 minutes or so hanging out (and Celeste stuffed herself with strawberries) before heading back home ...
Technoarti tags: landscaping yardwork invasive plant brunch
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Despite not having one neighbor's oak, our fig tree, and a few branches from our oaks, there were still a lot of leaves to clear ... and even more disconcerting is that a lot of leaves look like they plan to stay on the trees for a while yet to come. The big twinned oak in the backyard hasn't even a hint of color.
One thing I did notice is that there seem to be a lot more acorns this year than last. Several of the bedsheet/tarp loads were quite heavy due to acorns, and the hill in front of the house grew a bit slippy as more and more acorns were raked over it. I don't know how well the city's leaf vacuum trucks will deal with that; it may well be that we'll be picking up acorns long after the leaves have been taken away.
After the raking, I took care of a few other things around the house. Evelin's mother gave us an early Christmas present — new sconces for the livingroom — and I installed one of the two (Celeste was needing too much attention to get both of them up as I needed Evelin to help hold things while I was doing the wiring). In getting the sconce in, I noticed the shelf we hang keys from and put mail on was loose, so I had to replace one of the screw anchors.
Other chores accomplished: Replaced one of the ceiling tiles in the basement bathroom; drilled a drainage hole in the bottom of one of Evelin's flower pots; and installed all the accessories/replacement parts for the B.O.B. Duallie stroller (it was missing the jogging strap and a frame plug, and Evelin wanted a handlebar console — Prolitic Sports carries all the small replacement parts, although they aren't listed on the website). There might have been something else; I can't remember at this point.
While I was doing all this, Evelin watched over Celeste, but we did all get to take a trip to the park in the afternoon. Actually, Celeste is getting really good and brave in the park. Her favorite remains the swings, but she's also really liking walking around and exploring the ramps, and she's getting really good at going down the one (fairly big for her) slide on the firetruck by herself. Evelin's not convinced this is the best idea, but I put her on one end of the platform and encourage her to walk down to the slide. She'll sit down short of the slide proper to scoot herself off the edge, and I catch her at the bottom of the slide.
Technoarti tags: raking
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Carrying ... When her grandmother was visiting over the weekend, Celeste received a box of Barnum's Animals Crackers. But she hasn't opened them yet. Celeste likes just holding the string and carrying the box around, as well as looking at the animals on the outside. I figure she is going to be upset about how long she's been playing with the box once she finds out what's inside it ...
Sleeping ... Well, I dinna blog it last night because Celeste'd been sleeping fairly well. Maybe one short wake up in the middle of the night, but easy to soothe back to sleep. Last night, however, was a bad night. Lots of crying, several wakeups, and a trip to our bed. Urgh.
And Now for Something Completely Differentto Anita and Dave over at This, That and the Mother Thing; to Kay over at narrating kayoz; and (offline) to C--- and J---! Thems a lot of babies (or at least pregnancy announcements) ... And a similar to Tiffanni and Dan at Try Whistling This for surviving homestudy visit number one.
UPDATE (Thursday morning): And another blinking goes out to MC and Darren at Running*Cooking*Writing ...
And, yes, I do think that is one of the few instances when the (rightfully disparaged) <blink> tag is allowable.
Technoarti tags: baby
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Narrating ... Celeste loves reading be it flipping through books at high speed or sitting while one of us reads to her, but lately she's started narrating some of the books herself. At the end of Tom and Pippo Read a Story (when Tom starts reading to Pippo), Celeste points to the cat curled up on the couch behind Tom and signs CAT and makes her purr raspberry. On the next page, when Tom is in bed, Celeste puts her head on her shoulder, which is her SLEEP/NAP sign.
Talking ... Both with her hands and her mouth, Celeste is expanding her vocabulary. She is saying bébé (or something close to that) while signing BABY much of the time. Also, the cadence of sounds she is making while playing or trying to tell us something is getting more English. I also thought I heard a few new phonemes this afternoon.
Signing ... Similarly, new signs keep popping up. Monday, as I was gathering some snacks to take to work, Celeste put her wrist to her chin with her hand curved below her face. She made that gesture twice, pointing at my hand in between repetitions ... APPLE. She's also using BEAR, BUTTERFLY, PUMPKIN, and TELEPHONE. While feeding her lunch, Celeste started signing TRAIN, and I wasn't sure why, but then I heard a distant train whistle ... her ears are pretty good.
Walking ... Celeste is pushing limits. This afternoon, she just kept walking and walking and walking. She'd go all around the first floor of the house, sometimes looking like she was going to grab on to a chair or something to start cruising, but instead she would turn and walk in the other direction. She still has a bit of the "Frankenbaby" stutter step, but she is getting better and better.
Balancing ... Her balance is also getting a lot better. While at the park this afternoon, Celeste bent down to pick up double fistfuls of mulch and then righted herself again. Later, after Evelin got home, she did a similar trick, bending over to pick up two rolls of ribbon several times in a row.
Anticipating ... Also connected with the walking is a little game we've been playing. Celeste likes walking back and forth between Evelin to me, but sometimes, as she starts away from me, I will snatch her back. The first few times, this just yielded giggles, but soon, Celeste started pausing at arm's length, waiting to see if she would get grabbed back or not ...
Eating ... Celeste continues to be a good eater, occasionally picky, but generally game to try new foods and often enjoying them. She's also working at learning how to use a spoon and a fork. She's been good at getting the spoon to her mouth for a while, but getting food on to the spoon is more of a challenge, but she's doing much better now. She's getting quite good with sticky things like oatmeal and yoghurt, although sometimes she still seems to do less scooping than dipping the spoon into the bowl as if she were eating Lik-m-Aid (which has apparently been rebranded as "Fun Dip").
Teething ... It looks like the fourth molar is in, making 12 teeth in Celeste's mouth. There is time here for a pause in the teething, but she was really hesitant about letting me brush the upper left side of her jaw during her bath tonight, so maybe an eyetooth or something is coming in over there ...
Biting ... And thinking of the teeth, this afternoon, I was laying on the ground, pretending to be asleep. Celeste scooted over and leaned in to give me a kiss — or so I thought. Instead, she bit my nose ... and those little teeth are sharp.
Flickring ... Probably from seeing pictures of herself on screen (either on one of our backgrounds or when we're uploading pics to Snapfish or something) or of Evelin's friends' babies on the SheKnows message boards, Celeste knows that the computer has pictures of babies on it. Sometimes, if I try to sneak a look at my e-mail or something while Celeste is playing quietly or reading, she will notice that I'm at the computer and will come over and sign BABY. Evelin sometimes just shows her the desktop background, but we've also shown her Flickr slideshows of pics tagged Baby (or, if Celeste wants, Dog). Sometimes she gets bored, but other times she is really interested, signing SLEEP/NAP if the baby is sleeping, signing BABY over and over again, signing CAT or DOG if an animal is in the picture too, etc.
Technoarti tags: Baby Sign teething language Flickr
This morning, however, I remembered it and needed a break from a particularly tortuous article so I tried to check in with Pete's Pond ... and the site was down.
In a similar vein, I received a fundraising appeal from Polar Bears International yesterday, which jogged my memory about their polar bear cam. For a moment, I was bummed out, thinking I'd once again missed my opportunity (the cam is live only for about a month each year), but I was in luck!
While the cam wasn't particularly active in the middle of the night, this afternoon, they've had a lot of shots of one bear sleeping in a snow bank and of another one walking around. The free still cam is on a 35-second refresh rate, but you can donate for access to a live video feed. It's not quite like being in Churchill, but it is warmer ...
(Of course none of these animals-in-the-wild cams should take away from the National Zoo's Panda Cam, especially since little Tai Shan is walking now ...)
Technoarti tags: webcam polar bear panda bear
Friday, November 04, 2005
(M---, and was able to watch Celeste all day, so we didn't have to worry about keeping her occupied during things, which was nice.)
Evelin's at 17 weeks, so we could see a surprising amount of detail. I don't know if it is because things are further along of if these doctors had a better ultrasound machine, but as the tech moved the wand around, I was able to pick out lots of features, including the heart (four chambers, heartbeat of 147), the brain (two hemispheres), feet, hands, etc. We go back at 20 weeks for the gross anatomy scan, but things looked pretty good today. (And probably the week before that scan, we'll get the amnio results; hopefully those too will be good news.)
Today, Evelin took it easy and needs to do the same tomorrow. The worst is that Celeste is over the weight limit for what she can lift until Sunday. But I can pick Celeste up, and M---, my mother-in-law, who flew down last night to watch Celeste while we were at the doctor's, can do the same, so it's not like she's missing out on hugs, just some things are different. I think that confuses Celeste a bit ...
Technoarti tags: amniocentesis
Thursday, November 03, 2005
This time, I arrived at 7:30 a.m. as instructed at the Prince George's County Court House, which is really not in a very convenient place. I guess Upper Marlboro is centrally located in terms of the county as a whole, but it's not very convenient to public transportation or anything. Even though the summons said 7:30 a.m., things didn't really get started until about 8:30 a.m. with the circa 1982 feel good about jury duty video presentation. We were then told there were two civil cases and six criminal on the docket for the day.
[ASIDE: I realize most people aren't too psyched about getting called for jury duty, and the court personnel realize this, but the constant little asides to knowing how we'd all rather be somewhere else seemed to be engendering less sympathy among the crowd than just reaffirming that jury duty is a terrible burden. I know I had my list of reasons why I couldn't end up impaneled on any trial that would last beyond the one day, but it still seemed to be that the asides did more to devalue jury duty than to reaffirm the responsibility involved and the importance of it.]
I ended up getting assigned to the pool for the first civil case. We got as far as the courtroom door where the bailiff had the 18 of us wait for a few minutes before coming out of the courtroom. Instead of being led inside, we were all sent back to the jurors' lounge to wait some more.
A little later, I ended up among a pool of 50 for a criminal trial, an armed robbery. This time, we went through voir dire. When the judge said it was going to be a two-day trial, which, because juries were rarely called back on Fridays, would mean coming back on Monday, I did make myself known saying that while Monday would be workable, there was no way I couldn't serve on Friday. (I didn't go into details, but the amniocentesis is scheduled for tomorrow morning.) The judge reiterated that Friday the jury probably wouldn't be called back, but noted my concern. A little later they asked if anyone knew the scene of the crime, a 7-Eleven in College Park that I go to on occasion. I don't know if it was because of that or because of how I look or something, but I ended up being struck by the defense attorney.
One interesting question during voir dire: "Do any of you think the state needs to present scientific evidence — ballistics, fingerprints, DNA — to prove its case?" The so-called the "CSI Effect". I'm not sure if that's a standard question now or one that the state's attorney asked to have asked, but the defense attorney did turn and give the state's attorney a little chuckle/nod after it was asked. Maybe it's a point he's planning to bring up in the trial.
Since I was struck from the panel, I went back to the jurors' lounge and waited around a bit longer and ended up getting dismissed a bit after noon. When they announced that those of us left in the room (two other groups had been told they could go to lunch) were free to go for the next three years, a bit of a cheer went up, which is kind of a sad statement in and of itself, but I'll admit I did get out as quickly as I could, just in case anything changed ...
Technoarti tags: jury duty
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Technoarti tags: peas baby food
That's where [Oxford lexicographer Erin] McKean has found words like farb (not authentic, badly done), nomenklatura (non-literally; by analogy), drabble (a short story of 100 words or fewer), haxie (a hack for the Macintosh operating system) and swancho (a combination poncho/sweater).The bit that caught Languagehat's eye was nomenklatura (номенклатура), but farb is the one that jumps out at me.
I first encountered farb in the late 1990s in Confederates in the Attic (excerpt):
"Farb" was the worst insult in the hardcore vocabulary. It referred to reenactors who approached the past with a lack of verisimilitude. The word's etymology was obscure; Young guessed that "farb" was short for "far-be-it-from-authentic," or possibly a respelling of "barf." Violations serious enough to earn the slur included wearing a wristwatch, smoking cigarettes, smearing oneself with sunblock or insect repellent—or, worst of all, fake blood. Farb was also a fungible word; it could become an adjective (farby), a verb (as in, "don't farb out on me"), an adverb (farbily) and a heretical school of thought (Farbism or Farbiness).I remember at the time picking the word up and using it here and there, but I didn't realize it had caught on among a broader audience than Civil War reënactors. Well, googling the word (and filtering out the German-language pages), it doesn't seem to have spread very far. However, there are a few pages that go a bit into the word's origin beyond the guesses in Confederates.
World Wide Words notes that while the term seems to remain limited to military reënactors, it is spreading beyond the Civil War (and other U.S. reënactor) crews. He also points to an article that outlines the origin of the word, which is attested to 1961 and its etymology is suspected to have come from the German Farbe (color) in reference to uniforms that weren't the proper shade of blue or grey.
As to whether or not the term is gaining currency beyond reënactors or not, Erin McKean, the Oxford lexicographer from the bad article, said in a Q&A with A.Word.A.Day that farb is a "good example of a word on the brink."
I don't know if farb will spread from re-enactors! But I'm willing to be it will. It means "not authentic, badly done" or someone who is inauthentic in their re-enacting. Fun word, huh?Technoarti tags: farb etymology language
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
For example, this afternoon when I got home, Evelin said that Celeste would probably be ready for a nap within the half-hour. Sure enough, after a little while, Celeste was looking a bit glassy-eyed and her play activities were slowing down, so I asked her if she wanted to go upstairs to take a nap. Remember this is a girl who generally doesn't like to sleep, but she knows when she's knackered.
She smiled and made her little full-body thump that correlates with yes. (Simply nodding is a bit subtle for her.) On the way up the stairs, I asked if she wanted her blankie, and she started tapping her chest — YES PLEASE. As of right now (and she'll probably make me regret typing it), she's been asleep for 20+ minutes.
She's also learning to use her signs as conversation starter. For example on Friday night, when she awoke at about 3:00 a.m., I went in to try to soothe her back to sleep. She wasn't having it, however. But instead of just crying, she started pulling out tricks. She asked for a book, and then rolled herself into a sitting position.
[ASIDE: Mind you, she's only just figured out how to get herself from laying down to sitting up; yes, she figured out how to walk before she figured out how to pull herself to a standing position, and she figured out how to pull herself to standing before she figured out how to get herself into a seated position. We expect her to figure out crawling around 2008, probably just after she starts bicycling.]
Anyway, once she was seated, Celeste started pointing to the pictures of cats and dogs on her bedsheet, making the sign for each animal and saying their noise. Point to dog; slap leg; bark. Point to cat; put hands to mouth; make purr/raspberry.
She knew exactly what she was doing. There was no way I couldn't pause to praise and encourage her for both the sitting and the talking about doggies and kitties. After a few minutes however (and it was dark, so I couldn't be 100% sure she was pointing at cats when she said CAT or dogs when she said DOG), I did lay her back down, give her a new pacifier and lay her blankie over her and encouraged her to go back to sleep.
I think it worked for about half an hour.
Actually, the end of last week up to last night (and here's another thing I'm going to jinx by blogging it), she was sleeping terribly. Last night, despite the occasionally noisy trick-or-treater, she slept through to about 6:30 a.m. For the five or so days prior, however, it was sleep until midnight or 2:00 a.m. or 3:00 a.m. then up for an hour or two — either for the entire period or waking in 20-minute intervals. A leap is possible (my standard excuse), but she's also pushing through the last two one-year molars. Right now she has 111⁄2 or so teeth (I'm not sure how far along that last lower molar is), but she's also flinching a little around the eyeteeth during brushing so there may be one or two more on their way ...
Technoarti tags: Baby Sign teething sleep
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