Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Overly Excitable

Tenterhooks. Its one of those words that is easy to misinterpret as an eggcorn. Still whether it is on tenterhooks or on tenderhooks, I am just plain on edge.

Last week, Evelin told me the baby had dropped. I immediately asked if she was feeling contractions.

On Friday, she thought she was feeling some Braxton-Hicks contractions. I immediately glommed on to the word contraction.

On Sunday, she said it looked like her mucous plug was starting to break up. I immediately asked if she was feeling contractions.

Yesterday, she was tired in the afternoon and her hands were a little puffy and arthritic feeling. I immediately start wondering if that is some sign of labor.

As of today, Evelin is at 35 weeks, 5 days. Even though the moon was full over the weekend, the baby still has a bit of time in utero. Plus we still have to get a carseat. And take the infant CPR class. And get those Funkis things painted and up on the wall. And. And. And. ...

Monday, August 30, 2004

Outsourcing "Monty"

Back in January, the comic strip "Monty" outsourced the production of the strip to some unnamed nation with a vaguely Mesopotamian style of drawing and a very sarcastic take on consumer culture.

It looks like the current economy has led to another week of outsouring for the strip:
We have an abundance of meats and televisions and yet, noble friend, there is dissatisfaction in my heart.
No hint as to whether or not J.R. Ewing and Rambo will appear this time around, however.

Down on the Boardwalk

On our way to the Jersey Shore on Saturday, I was trying to figure out why I have become a bit ambivalent about the beach. As a kid, we spent a lot of time on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We had family in Pass Christian and would spend time swimming in Bay St. Louis and walking along Long Beach.

To me, that is the beach "experience." Either the quiet expanses of Long Beach that we'd walk along in the morning seeing what the tide'd washed up or swimming and fishing off the pier and waterskiing in the bay.

I like going to beaches like Assateague that are wild and remote, or going to the shore in the dead of winter when everything is shuttered, but the Mid-Atlantic beach culture, built around the boardwalk, is just too busy, too crowded, too much for me.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Last Day at the Zoo

... for a while at least. I did what'll probably be my last panda watch for a while this afternoon. Since the baby is due at the beginning of October or the end of September, I figured it would be a good idea to beg off from any panda watch shifts until after the baby arrives and we have some sort of routine down. I'm hoping I might be back in November, but it may be December or even 2005.

Mei Xiang is in the midst of pregnancy/pseudopregnancy (I'll use "p/p" as shorthand for this) symptoms again. As during last year's p/p watch, she is staying pretty still most of the time; she's super-tired and not eating much, but we won't know if she really is pregnant or not until there is either a hormone drop or a cub.

J---, the person who was watching Mei with me today, said it would be cool if Evelin and Mei had babies with the same birthday (and I have to admit that would be cool), but I don't think it's likely. Mei and Tian never consummated the act during the breeding season, so she was given an IUI of sorts, but it probably was done after she ovulated and was unlikely to have any effect.

But this year's nest is a lot bigger than the 2003 model, so who knows ...

I took a short stroll through the zoo before and after my watch. There is really a lot of construction going on: skylights and roofs being replaced at the Elephant House and Small Mammal House; something is being done to the otter and beaver enclosures; the bison have been relocated for work in their yard; and a huge chunk of the zoo is under construction for the new Asia Trail.

Despite that, there are a few new guys on exhibit. I got to check in on the maned wolves (Chrysocyon brachyurus) that were brought in from the CRC, as well as the new red panda (Ailurus fulgens). Plus, there were four white-nosed coati (Nasua narica) running around in their enclosure: I hadn't realized we had so many of them.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

The O.C. (N.J.)

I guess it is part of trying to squeeze in as much as we can before the baby changes everything, but Evelin and I have been crazy-busy this past week. Most every day was spent visiting people (except our Thursday-night baby class). But dinner with J--- and A--- on Tuesday night or Thai food with K--- on Friday hardly compare to today's manic drive up to Ocean City, New Jersey.

We were on the road by 6:30 a.m., in Ocean City before 10:00 a.m., after some quality time with R--- and D--- and their 2-year-old, R---; J--- and M---; and Mrs. H--- (D---'s mother) — plus a lot of time walking the boardwalk, one slice of Mack & Manco's, and a surprise encounter with Ben & Jerry's Oatmeal Chunk ice cream — we were back on the road to D.C. by 5:30 p.m.

Evelin hadn't seen R--- and D--- since visiting them in Chicago in April and I don't think I've seen them since the Christmas after R--- was born, so it was a nice visit, but the sun was quite strong and I got a bit of a burn.

While on the boardwalk, Evelin stopped at a henna "tattoo" place and got a neat little sun design done around her bellybutton. When we got home, she peeled off the bandage and the mud came off with it; it looked like very little of the stain had transferred to her belly, but, in the morning, it became clear that enough had permeated the skin to transfer the design. It's lighter than she'd've liked, but it's there.

The other fun thing was that we stopped at Balić Winery on the way home. I've been wanting to stop there out of curiosity most every time we've passed, but it's usually been at times that they weren't open (late at night; early on Sunday, etc.). This time, the "open" flag was flying, so we stopped.

I haven't tried too many New Jersey wines, and I wasn't expecting much, but they had some very nice wines. Apparently, Balić has a vineyard in Macedonia and they import some of the grapes to supplement/improve what they grow in New Jersey. The Alexander the Great wine, made from an "indigenous Macedonian variety" of grape was really nice: very dark fruits and dry, was especially good. They also do a pomegranate wine, which was sour-sweet and interesting.

Of course, the daytrip to New Jersey also meant yet another day that the grass/ögras went uncut. That is the first task for tomorrow morning ...

Friday, August 27, 2004

Is There Anybody Out There?

I really need to get back into a routine that facilitates blogging.

I am still around, the baby is still inside Evelin, and everything is spiraling madly out of control. I plan to go back and add a few entries here and there, but the quick version of the past couple of days is:
  • I though I perforated my eardrum; I didn't.

  • We took a quick weekend away to Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

  • My new assistant editor started this week; she is off to a good start.

  • This new position keeps throwing new tasks, concerns, headaches, etc., at me.

  • The yard and garden have gone to hell; total neglect just doesn't seem to work.

  • It's a bit of a mental leap to jump back and forth between driving the automatic transmission Hyundai and the standard transmission T.R.U.C.K.

  • According to the Baby Daze and Nights class, pretty much everything could end up killing the baby.

  • Jeff Williams had another great outing against Japan in Olympic baseball to get Australia into the gold medal match, but Australia couldn't pull out one last miracle win to Cuba and had to settle for silver, which ain't bad considering they weren't given any chance of getting that far.
I'm sure there are other things I forgot about ...

Monday, August 23, 2004

Shifting Gears

After driving the T.R.U.C.K. all weekend, the first thing I did upon sitting in the Hyundai this morning was to mash my foot down where the clutch should have been. I found myself doing that (and reaching for the shift level) a couple of times during the commute.

I'm not sure if it's just a slightly addled mind or muscle memories taking over, but I don't remember having such frequent lapses when switching between automatic and manual transmission cars in the past.

Over the years, I've tended to alternate between standards and automatics:
  • '78 Volkswagon Super Beetle — manual

  • '86 Mitsubishi Mirage — automatic

  • '97 Honda Civic — manual

  • '90 Madza 626 — manual (Evelin's car that I took over after the Honda was totaled)

  • '03 Hyundai Elanta — automatic

  • '99 Honda CR-V — manual (Evelin's car, but I'm driving it some)
For the most part the transmission on the car was simply what was available (either because it was a used car or, as was the case with the Hyundai, it was what was on the lot), but I tend to enjoy driving the manual more even though the automatic makes going through traffic in the city easier.

I guess it's all a matter of adjusting.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Schtadtleit mit die Amischen*

Evelin has a day-long meeting at Millersville University on a Friday; I really could use a break from work. Having Evelin make a two-hour by herself doesn't make sense, so we called around found a B&B, and took off for the weekend. We took the T.R.U.C.K. because we thought we might find some Amish furniture or something that we'd want to take home (and because it's more comfortable for Evelin than the Hyundai).

The drive up was uneventful. I thought we'd hit some bad rush-hour traffic on I-695 (the Baltimore Beltway), but it wasn't too bad; we made good time and were at Millersville with a little bit of time to spare.

After dropping Evelin off at the university, I was left to myself to fill the day.

Not having any real agenda, I headed out of town and just started following signs to the Conestoga Area Historical Society Museum. After some nice windy roads, I found the museum ... and it was only open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

After some time with the map and guide book, I decided to head into Lancaster proper. I figured the Heritage Center Museum of Lancaster County would be a good place to start. The museum is in downtown Lancaster at Penn Square, and as I got into town, the traffic grew worse and worse. As I got closer to Penn Square, I could see yellow police tape everywhere and traffic was being diverted around the square.

After getting out of the mess and into a parking garage, I walked to the museum (which was on the non-cordoned-off part of the square). Inside, the two older ladies staffing the front desk were happy to explain that a bank in the square had been robbed that morning ("And on a busy market day!") [Lancaster Online]. It turns out there was also a suspicious package left behind by the robbers, so everything was blocked off until the bomb squad could arrive.

The museum itself was nice. Lots of Amish quilts and other textile arts, samples of fraktur script from the area, furniture, and other fine arts and craftwork.

After a quick spin though the exhibits, I walked through the central market, grabbing a curried lentil pita and some nice date cookies for lunch. Then it was back into the traffic.

Once out of town, I headed east into the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch County. I stopped to look at furniture in Bird in Hand and books in Intercourse, but otherwise I just drove through seeing what I'd see. I did stop at the Mount Hope Wine Gallery for a quick tasting, but nothing really piqued my interest. Plus, there was a fair amount of roadwork going on, leading to a lot of waiting around in traffic.

I then turned off Route 30, and headed south toward Strasburg. Since I was only half following a map at this point, I spent a bit of time on small back roads running past dairies and cornfields. It was interesting to see how many farms had little home-based industries set up to sell furniture, fruits and vegetables, baked goods, eggs, etc.

The next stop was the National Toy Train Museum. Talk about overwhelming. For such small trains, it was a pretty large place with five complex layouts of different sizes running and tons of model trains from many eras on every wall. They even had small set ups of Lego and Brio trains.

The really funny thing was that next door to the National Toy Train Museum is the Red Caboose Motel which has restored cabooses set up as individual "cabins." I don't know how comfortable they would be to sleep in, but it looked really funny.

After the toy trains, I headed to the nearby Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. It had some interesting trains on exhibit, including one that provided a good up-close look at the water scoops and troughs used to fill the water tanks of steam trains without the train having to stop.

By this time, it was getting late, but not late enough for me to head back to Millersville, so I started looking at the map and noticed the Robert Fulton Birthplace. I had no idea who Fulton was, but it looked like a nice bit of driving and (in a roundabout way) was heading me back toward Millersville, so I headed south almost back into Maryland.

It turns out the Fulton Birthplace was like the Conestoga Historical Society Museum: Only open on the weekend. From the sign outside the cabin, I found out that Fulton devised a early steamboat and experimented with early submarines.

Then it was back to pick up Evelin and we headed off to our B&B to clean up before heading back out to meet friends for dinner.

We stayed at the B.F. Hiestand House in Marietta, a nice old Victorian in an old four mill town on the Susquehanna River. It was a very nice place, good breakfasts, and a sweet old lab.

Dinner that night was at the Nav Jiwan Tea Room at Ten Thousand Villages in Ephrata. Every week, the tea room features a different country and its cuisine; this week it was Tanzania and we had some nice corn fritters, black-eyed peas, ugali, and a tropical fruit tart.

The next morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we went down to the Susquehanna just to see the river. Evelin was a bit uncomfortable and it was pretty muddy from overnight rains, so we didn't take a hike, but the river valley was very scenic.

We then drove downriver to Columbia and across the old bridge to Wrightsville. It was too early to visit anywhere, so we just took a look at the architecture and the scenery and then found a back road to our first destination of the day: Wheatland.

I don't think we're trying to visit all the presidential homes in the country, but Wheatland does knock another one (James Buchanan's house) off the list. It was very well preserved and had a surprising amount of the original furniture still in place, which was interesting. The presentation of Buchanan, however, was very hagiographic; not at all the typical "failed presidency" picture that one gets from reading about the build up to the Civil War.

Next door to Wheatland was the Lancaster County Historical Society museum. The current exhibit, "Playing America's Game: 140 Years of Lancaster County Baseball," was pretty cool with lots of old uniforms and equipment. It also looked forward to next year when the Lancaster Barnstormers (independent Atlantic League) will start playing at a new downtown stadium.

Next we drove through Lancaster (thankfully without the previous day's traffic) and headed toward Bird in Hand and Intercourse. Along the way, we passed the Lancaster County Prison, which has an almost ridiculous castle façade.

On the way, we thought we heard some thunder and saw some pretty dark clouds behind us, but it stayed dry long enough for us to make it into the People's Place Quilt Museum. We stayed in the museum and quilting shop for quite a while, but the rain kept coming down, so I eventually made the dash for the car and backed up next to the museum porch to minimize Evelin's getting wet.

We then took a quick tour of the Intercourse Pretzel Factory (more of a "and we sell this, and this, and this" talk than a tour) before heading back to toward the B&B. Along the way, in between Bird in Hand and Intercourse, we pulled off at a farm offering homemade root beer. It wasn't very fizzy, but it was quite good tasting.

After a stop at the National Watch & Clock Museum in Columbia — at first all the grandfather clocks were a bit overwhelming (and some of the child-oriented hands-on exhibits demonstrating how weights and pendulums worked were really, really loud), but when you started looking at the mechanics of the clocks and how the gears and everything worked, it was really cool — we headed back to the B&B for Evelin to take a nap.

But before she could sleep, I added one more quick stop at Nissley Vineyards. The person who was pouring tastings offered Evelin a glass, but was very relieved when she declined. The black raspberry was very nice; the others didn't do too much for me.

Back at the B&B, Evelin had a nice nap and I read a bit of A History of the Amish. Once Evelin awoke, we chatted with the innkeepers for a while and then headed out for dinner in The Catacombs at Bube's Brewery.

For the most part, the beers (I had a tasting flight of the six or seven things they were pouring that night) were only okay: The heffeweizen and IPA were nice, but the hard cider was on the watery side. The food, however, was excellent. And the ambiance, in an hand-hewn cave 40-feet below street level where beer used to be stored with only candles for light, was very cool.

Sunday, we headed home in the morning. Originally, I was thinking we would take a bunch of circuitous country roads home, but Evelin was feeling uncomfortable, so we shot back down the interstate in plenty of time for me to go to panda watch in the afternoon.

*"City Folk With the Amish," not that our trip was anything like "Amish in the City" ...

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Baseball: BoSox and Beyond

In fear of jinxing things, I'm not going to say anything about how the Beloved BoSox and the Hated Yankees are playing these days. Instead I will just smile and keep up with the positive visualization thing.

But, I did happen to glance at the Olympic baseball results this morning to see that the Hanshin Tigers' closer Jeff Williams helped Australia down Japan 9–4 with only 1 hit over 3 innings [ Baseball America | Daily Yomiuri | The Age | Box Score ]. The Tigers may be nine games back and at the bottom of the Central League, but Williams (who played college ball in my hometown in Louisiana) is one of the top closers in the Central League.

He's 32 now and unlikely to end up back with a MLB team at this point in his career, but there's still time, and I wouldn't mind seeing him with a B on his cap in the near future ... (Plus, based on this interview, the Ōsaka press has probably prepped Willo nicely for the Boston media.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

A Little Place Called the Internet

In general, I am a fan of Wired Style. In my day job, we use AP Style, which is effective in some places, but others it lags way behind the curve. For example, it wasn't until the 2004 edition of the stylebook that teenager could be spelled without a hyphen (teen-ager).

Wired Style, like the magazine itself, tended to make good, common sense usage decisions about Internet and computer terminology before AP ever included such items.

The latest decision to lowercase Internet, however, strikes me as wrong.
Effective with this sentence, Wired News will no longer capitalize the "I" in internet.

At the same time, Web becomes web and Net becomes net.

Why? The simple answer is because there is no earthly reason to capitalize any of these words. Actually, there never was.

True believers are fond of capitalizing words, whether they be marketers or political junkies or, in this case, techies. If It's Capitalized, It Must Be Important. In German, where all nouns are capitalized, it makes sense. It makes no sense in English. So until we become Die Wired Nachrichten, we'll just follow customary English-language usage. (Web will continue to be capitalized when part of the more official entity, World Wide Web.)
All in all, I think Wired News Copy Chief Tony Long's reasoning in this is off-base. My gut instinct is that the Internet is a proper noun referring to a specific place (even if that specific place is a nonphysical place that is distributed worldwide). That same sort of reasoning is supported in Wired News's decision to keep World Wide Web with caps.

(Net is less irksome to me lowercase; the pedantic side of me would insist on it being 'net to note the contraction, but I could see it just as net without worrying about it.)

But -- and this is where I blur on the issue -- none of this thinking applies to the use of these words as an adjective. A web browser, webcasting, even internet telephony, I can support, but lowercasing the noun form would be like lowercasing France -- France and french fries or the Internet and internet telephony, oui; france and the internet, non!

Long defends the lowercasing of Internet as "a stylistic reality check:"
But in the case of internet, web and net, a change in our house style was necessary to put into perspective what the internet is: another medium for delivering and receiving information. That it transformed human communication is beyond dispute. But no more so than moveable type did in its day. Or the radio. Or television.
I think this is selling the Internet short: Yes it is a medium, but as much as the networks may talk about "appointment television," radio and television and print all remain passive. You can do a crossword, you can yell at a shockjock, you can vote for Jasmine Trias, but none of that compares to interactive quotient of the Internet.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Japanese Baby Talk

Daddy Types recently returned from Japan, and in addition to all the Japanese baby-goodness he discovered there, he also assembled a handy phasebook for those taking their baby to Japan.

One key phrase to remember for "when a stranger demands to play with your doll":
SARS wa utsuru kanō kedo, dōzo.
SARS wah oo-tsoo-roo kaw-moe keh-doe, doe-zoe
Her SARS might be contagious, but sure, go ahead.

The T.R.U.C.K. Is Ours

Yesterday, Evelin and V--- signed all the paperwork, I added the CR-V to our insurance, and Evelin stood in line at the MVA. The end result: the T.R.U.C.K. is officially ours (well, Evelin's). I put the new license plates on when I got home last night.

It marks the end of our time as a one-car household, which began after the Honda Civic was totaled back in June 2001. Actually, we were both surprised how easy it was for us to live with just one car for three years; there were only one or two days where scheduling who needed the car when to get where turned out to be pretty rough.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Weekend Update

Well, Charley turned out to be a bit of a bust for us, thankfully. To be on the safe side, I cleared out the gutters on Friday night, but we mostly had a bit of a drizzle late on Saturday and into the night.

Saturday morning was spent in the "Baby, Birth and Beyond" class at the birthing center. One thing that's left me concerned about birthing there instead of at a hospital is that since we decided to go this route without a formal orientation/introduction to the place I've had no clue what we're supposed to do when the baby comes. Evelin and I asked some questions about that at the last midwife's appointment and it turns out this "Baby, Birth and Beyond" class (which they normally remind you about at the 36-week or so checkup) is where the answers are.

All in all, I think the class answered most of the basics. We now know (or at least are supposed to know) when to call the midwife and when to start driving to the birthing center, as well as some of the basics of post-partum care. (We also got an as-it-happens demonstration of what arriving at the birth center is like: A slightly harried looking guy interrupted the class trying to find the midwife. She hadn't arrived yet (she got there about five minutes later), so the nurse who was teaching the class got the couple settled in one of the birthing rooms upstairs.)

We also got a tour of the two unoccupied birthing rooms (and were told about the two backup rooms -- I have this fear that all five rooms are going to be in use when Evelin goes into labor, but I was told that has never happened ... yet). They all have B&B-style "themes" (the Santa Fe Room, the Victorian Room, etc.), which is a little odd, but everything looked comfortable and in order.

After the class, we spent some time trawling Bed, Bath & Beyond, The Container Store, and a few other places looking for somesort of "floating shelf" that could be put above the dresser in the nursery. In the end, nothing looked right so we decided to give Ikea a try on Sunday morning.

The next morning, after going back and forth over various shelf options, we ended up getting two Funkis wall basket things. The top baskets will probably be too high for Evelin to use effectively, but they should help keep diapers, baby powder, etc., in easy reach. Plus they were pretty cheap. Now I just have to install them.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Damn Raccoons

I think I've actually seen only two or three raccoons over the past six years in this neighborhood. But looking at our garden, it's obvious we have a few Procyon lotor poking around our yard.

Fig skins are scattered around the patio. Evelin found a half-eaten green tomato stuck in the fence. And the corn, the poor, poor corn, has been decimated. As of last night, only one stalk was still standing; the rest was in various stages of being stripped and eaten. We only had maybe a dozen stalks to begin with, and there were two or three ears starting, but when we checked yesterday afternoon ... nothing.

Oh well, at least the thick coat of water hyacinth is keeping them out of the pond and away from the goldfish ...

Friday, August 13, 2004

Don't Call It a T.R.U.C.K.!

Evelin is moving along quickly with buying the CR-V. Yesterday, she had me running through the MVA website to figure out what needed to be done for a private-party sale, and today the car is getting it's presale state safety inspection. (Maryland has an odd system where a car is inspected very thoroughly, but only when it's first being registered in Maryland or when it's sold; we have biennial emissions inspections, but no regular safety inspections.)

Yesterday, when I e-mail Evelin the steps and forms she and V--- needed to go through to seal the sale, I made the mistake of calling the CR-V a truck. When Evelin forwarded the info V---, her reply was: "IT IS NOT A TRUCK!!!" Evelin then informed me, "We call this car the Honda or the CR-V, not the truck. Thank you."

It's an SUV (albeit build on a car frame) and I still think it's really big, but I pointed out that when I wrote truck, I really meant T.R.U.C.K., which stands for Totally Road-Usable for Carrying Kids (TRUCK).

It got me a laugh, if not off the hook with V--- ...

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Journalism Slackers

From Dan Froomkin's "White House Briefing" column this morning:
Who's Following Who?

Mark Z. Barabak and Maura Reynolds write in the Los Angeles Times: "For the last few days, the two presidential candidates have campaigned almost as if they were a tag team or political roadshow. . . .
"Strategists for both candidates said they made their plans first."

Lisa Friedman writes in the Los Angeles Daily News: "Los Angeles will be a hotbed of presidential campaigning today in what by now could probably be called the Bush-Kerry tour."

Couldn't a little reporting determine who's actually first?
In general, I hate the "blame the media" game (it's too often used by politicians to avoid addressing an uncomfortable issue), but the emphasized graph above (the italics are mine, not Froomkin's) is dead on the money. I don't know if it's the 24-hour news cycle or slipping editorial standards, too much blending of the line between journalism and entertainment or what, but it is annoying.

To be fair, for the Los Angeles Times story at least, the who's following who angle is just an aside, but the L.A. Daily News plays it up in the led without trying to answer the question.

Similarly, in Salon's "War Room '04” column, there's an item about McGruff the Crime Dog’s unnamed cousin being considered by the Department of Homeland Security as a mascot to promote terrorism awareness and preparedness. Citing reports from Gannett and NPR's "Day to Day"
The as-yet-unnamed anti-terror dog will be something the Homeland Security people call an "American shepherd." While we're all familiar with German shepherds, [NPR's Mike] Pesca says not even the American Kennel Club has heard of anything called an "American shepherd." Pesca raises the inevitable question: "Is the American shepherd a canine version of the freedom fry?"
Okay, Pesca's comment is clever, but too snarky, especially when "American Shepherd" returns about 4,190 ghits. There is a German Shepherd Dog (GSD) color pattern that's referred to as the American GSD or the American Shepherd, but there also is the North American Shepherd, also known as the Minature Australian Shepherd.

Neither name is on the AKC breed list, but Pesca could have noted that there are several varieties of dogs called "American Shepherds," but there's no agreement on what the name stands for. There would have still been room for the freedom fry joke.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

How Have You Been?

Well, since last I blogged, not too much has changed. The baby is still growing and kicking inside Evelin. We have a crib, but we still need to get a mattress. And we still haven't gotten new windows for the house.

The garden is producing some okra and cherry tomatoes (assuming today's hailstorm didn't do much damage), but the green peppers, non-cherry tomatoes, and corn are just puttering along. And it looks like the squirrels and/or raccoon have discovered the corn -- hopefully, the figs, which Evelin and I aren't fond of, will fill up whatever got into the corn last week.

So, what all has been going on? Lots of work. This past issue was one of the larger ones we've had in a while, which is good; but I haven't hired anyone to replace T--- yet, which is bad. Add in trying to figure out my new, expanded duties, and other projects with deadlines arriving/slipping and things are rapidly slipping back into 過労.

On the baby side, we made a very quick trip down to Atlanta over the weekend to pickup a bunch of baby stuff from my brother and sister-in-law. The twins are about 10 months old and super cute. It's amazing to see how different their personalities are and how they respond to everything.

We did the wake-up-at-3:00-a.m. thing again and got down there in decent time. For the drive back, we took Route 29 through Virginia instead of the interstates, which made for a nicer drive. And when we got back to I-95 at Fredericksburg (via Routes 20 and 3) on Sunday evening, the backups to D.C. were already in place, so we kept on on Route 3 and took the Nice Bridge back to Maryland, adding a few more hours to the trip with the four-mile backup to the bridge. In all, we spent about 24 hours of the weekend driving, but came away with a bag of baby clothes, a swing, a bouncing chair and some other toys and tools.

The other thing is that Evelin's found herself a car; well, a truck. Long story short: A friend at work has a 1999 Honda CR-V she doesn't really want to part with, but she doesn't need another car. She and Evelin have been talking about us buying the CR-V for a few months now and V--- is finally ready to make a sale.

Evelin picked up the truck after work on Monday, and I took it to my mechanic on Tuesday. The mileage is on the high side for its age, but it's been well maintained; the mechanic gave it his approval, so we just have to work out the price and the MVA details.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Still Around ...

I hope trying to recreate a week's worth of blogging at one time won't become my regular pattern, but that looks like what will happen today, but in the mean time, I wanted to add the Meme Experiment thing ...

Testing Meme Propagation in Blogspace: Add Your Blog!

This posting is a community experiment that tests how a meme, represented by this blog posting, spreads across blogspace, physical space and time. It will help to show how ideas travel across blogs in space and time and how blogs are connected. It may also help to show which blogs are most influential in the propagation of memes. The dataset from this experiment will be public, and can be located via Google (or Technorati) by doing a search for the GUID for this meme (below).

The original posting for this experiment is located at: Minding the Planet results and commentary will appear there in the future. Please join the test by adding your blog (see instructions, below) and inviting your friends to participate the more the better. The data from this test will be public and open; others may use it to visualize and study the connectedness of blogspace and the propagation of memes across blogs.

The GUID for this experiment is:
(this GUID enables anyone to easily search Google (or Technorati) for all blogs that participate in this experiment). Anyone is free to analyze the data of this experiment. Please publicize your analysis of the data, and/or any comments by adding comments onto the original post (see URL above). (Note: it would be interesting to see a geographic map or a temporal animation, as well as a social network map of the propagation of this meme.)


To add your blog to this experiment, copy this entire posting to your blog, and then answer the questions below, substituting your own information, below, where appropriate. Other than answering the questions below, please do not alter the information, layout or format of this post in order to preserve the integrity of the data in this experiment (this will make it easier for searchers and automated bots to find and analyze the results later).

REQUIRED FIELDS (Note: Replace the answers below with your own answers)

(1) I found this experiment at URL:
* (2) I found it via Newsreader Software or Browsing the Web or Searching the Web or An E-Mail Message”: Browsing the Web
* (3) I posted this experiment at URL:
* (4) I posted this on date (day, month, year): 10th August 2004
* (5) I posted this at time (24 hour time): 1602(UTC-5)
* (6) My posting location is (city, state, country): Bailey's Crossroads, VA, United States
OPTIONAL SURVEY FIELDS (Replace the answers below with your own answers):

(7) My blog is hosted by: Blog*Spot
* (8) My age is: 35
* (9) My gender is: male
* (10) My occupation is: writer/editor
* (11) I use the following RSS/Atom reader software: N/A
* (12) I use the following software to post to my blog: Blogger
* (13) I have been blogging since (day, month, year): 24 June 2003
* (14) My web browser is: Internet Explorer 6.0.2800
* (15) My operating system is: Windows XP

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Baby's Got a Brand New Bed

Yesterday at lunch, I popped over to Babies "Я" Us to pick up our crib. On Monday evening, Evelin decided that she was comfortable getting the crib, and that she wanted the Babi Italia Isabella Lifestyle Crib. The side doesn't drop down, but it is sturdy and will convert to a standard bed once the baby gets to be a child.

I figured it would be pretty easy to get the crib home. I knew it would be big, but I thought we could break open the box and the store and get the pieces to fit in somehow.

I should have known I was off base when the salesguy asked: "Are you driving a big car today?" I was driving the only car we have, a Hyundai Elantra. He was skeptical, but I thought we'd be able to figure out a way to get the crib into the car.

After paying for things, I pulled the car up to the front of the store and the salesguy started opening the box. We tried the big headboard piece first. It wouldn't go in the trunk or the back seat or across the back seat diagonally into the front-passenger seat.

Part of this was because of how Hyundai designed the pass through from the trunk into the main part of the car when the back seats are folded down; part of it is because the crib was bigger than I thought.

We then tried the footboard. Again, it wasn't fitting into the car. Happily, the mattress spring, crib sides, stabilizer bars did fit.

The headboard and footboard, however, ended up tied to the roof of the car with some of the original packing material used to protect the roof and the crib pieces.

Given the forecast for late afternoon rain (plus, as my car would be sitting in an open parking lot, I didn't want to leave a crib strapped to the roof all day), so I flipped back by the office to grab some files and headed home.

It was a slow ride home (angering at least one or two people on I-395 as I headed across the 14th Street Bridge and garnering a few close looks from the phalanx of police manning the roadblocks by the Capitol), but uneventful.

Once I started unpacking everything, I discovered that, according to the parts list, a toddler guardrail should have been packaged with the crib. After call to Babies "Я" Us and a fax of my instructions, I received a fax of a new instruction book from the U.S. representative of Babi Italia that said "toddler bed guardrail sold separately." According to the cover letter: "Unfortunately the incorrect instructions were packaged with your crib. ... Please accept our deepest apologies for the confusion."

While waiting to hear back from Babies "Я" Us, I managed to assemble the crib with the only leftover bolts being the ones for the toddler guardrail.

Now we just need a mattress. And some sheets. And a lot of other stuff. I think.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Reinventing Last Week

I haven't given up on blogging, but I have been a bit neglectful: Part of it is work stress, part of it is awaiting-baby stress, and part of it is just a general torpor that's setting in in reaction to all the other stuff. I need to get a handle on everything and, unfortunately, Lifechanges ... Delayed seems to be suffering for it.

So, in an attempt to get back on track, I'm rebuilding the missed bits of past week from memory:

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Learn' About Birthin' (Part II)

Today was the second half of the HypnoBirthing class; this time I did a bit better with the relaxation, taking a short nap during each of the two we did today.

This time, there was some more nuts and bolts information about birthing positions, what to expect during check-in at the hospital or birthing center, what would happen after the baby was born, when to call, when to go, etc., along with some more relaxation exercises. It all ended with a run through of what we'd be doing during the different phases of labor.

All in all, I think this is going to work. As I told Evelin during our lunch break, I think I do feel a little cheated that we aren't getting the various things I've seen on TV, but I think that's more about me thinking I'm missing out on a pop culture touchstone than worrying that we've not gotten some information that could prove helpful.

I also figured out today who the instructor reminded me of: Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. There were some physical characteristics that matched up with the description of Umbridge, but the big thing was this little laugh she kept letting out at various points throughout the class.