jmadigan.net

29Feb/04Off

Sam’s Story: Week 5

Things are looking up. Sam seems to have decided against the trendy but ultimately self-defeating colicky disposition and has been in much better spirits. This is something we've worked at pretty hard, though. Geralyn cut back on her vitamins a bit in the hopes that the iron in them had been upsetting Sam's stomach. We've also been tracking Ger's diet in our baby journal, which you can see here.

The journal is a habit we started while still at the hospital and just never dropped. In addition to her diet, Geralyn tracks Sam's feeding times (as well as left or right you-know-what) and diaper status. She also keeps notes from doctor visits and the new mother's support group. It'll make quite a heirloom someday, but I imagine we should drop the habit before Sam's old enough to read it herself.

The cool thing about this past week has been that Sam is starting to interact with us more, even if it's just a little. She seems better able to focus on us when we talk to her, and she has more periods where she's awake and active, but not fussy. There have been a few times we think she may have smiled at us, but we still can't rule out gas. I'm planning a double-blind, random assignment experimental design to decide once and for all if she keeps this up.

Smiling is all good, but the big news this week has really been that this has been the first weekend that we really took Sam out in public. We went out to lunch with us at Chipotle (one of my favorites) and then on a shopping spree at Babies R Us. She did just fine during that jaunt, sleeping most of the time and not getting too excited about all the things we were buying for her.

Things turned south, however, when we later tried to take her for a walk down to the shops and park near our house. Shortly after we stopped for a coffee Sam decided that things were going too smoothly and started bawling. In our haste to clear out of there we sprinkled her hat with lukewarm latte, which didn't help. I was just afraid some of it would get in her mouth and she'd be wired for a week. But she got home and calmed down just fine. We plan on tempting fate and going for another walk today.

Here's the pictures for this week:















Finally, this week's Baby Product We Couldn't Live Without is the Fisher-Price Kick & Play Bouncer. Samantha loves this thing. She's too young to play with the lights or sounds, but the bouncer's vibrations really keep her calm. I can also put it on the floor, sit in a chair, and gently bounce the frame with my foot. If she's anywhere near tired, this will eventually put her to sleep.

Filed under: Parenting, Samantha 4 Comments
28Feb/04Off

Three fun things about Sinistar

Remember Sinistar from way back in the mid-eighties? Here's a picture in case your memory fails you or you're too young to be that cool:



I was a complete arcade junkie back then, spending more time there than anywhere else but home or school. I knew all the arcade attendants (every one of them was a loser, I now realize) and all the other regulars. I also knew Sinistar, the giant, malevolant, robotic head that haunted my dreams. He would first eat my quarters, then my hapless little spaceship as I tried to conduct a strip mining operation on his turf.

In memory of those days, here are three fun things involving Sinistar:

Run, coward.

Filed under: General No Comments
27Feb/04Off

Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad

Everyone please join me in wishing my mom & dad a very happy 38th wedding anniversary. Wow! Okay, I admit: It was yesterday and I forgot until just now. But still --happy happy!

I feel like Ger and I have been together a long time at six years (seven come this May), so 38 is pretty impressive to me. I'm glad my sister and I have had such great role models for building our own marriages, and I'm sure that baby Samantha will grow to appreciate it as well as Ger and I apply lessons we learned from both our parents about being a family.

Filed under: General 1 Comment
27Feb/04Off

Sorry, totally my fault. Here, have $36.7 million.

I doubt we'll ever see an American CEO do something like this. To make with the quoting:

Japanese Internet company Softbank Corp. said Friday its president and six other senior executives would forgo part of their pay to take responsibility for the leakage of personal data for over 4 million of its broadband customers.

Softbank's President said that he and six other executives would go without 50% of their salary for six months in atonement for the leakage of personal information on 4.51 million of its customers. In addition, they publicly took responsibility for the problem and will offer the equivalent of $36.7 million in gift coupons for all its customers.

This amazes me. Sure, part of it is spin and damage control, but you just can't get around the fact that these executives are not only acknowledging their personal accountability, but are also willing to take it in the pocketbook where it hurts. Usually it's all about deflecting blame and passing the buck (or yen, as the case may be) until the courts or congress have to step in. Refreshing, no?

(Thanks to Techdirt for the original story.)

Filed under: General Comments Off
26Feb/04Off

Dagnabbit!

You know what sucks? Spending weeks stitching together a complicated data set for a validation study, including mismatched, incomplete, and longitudinal data from half a dozen sources, then get results like this (variable names omitted for confidentiality, correlation on top with p value below it):



So I got nothin'. But all may be lost. I'm investigating ways to ...massage the data to see if there are relationships there that aren't being picked up by my clumsy, ham-fisted analyses. It sounds like a fairy tale, but it's true!

Filed under: I/O Psychology 1 Comment
25Feb/04Off

Get off my lawn!

Yesterday a bunch of old people on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 1967 Age Discrimination Act does not work in reverse. To quote this Yahoo News story:

Age has its benefits, the Supreme Court said, ruling that younger workers can't sue their employers when older colleagues get preferential treatment.

In a 6-3 decision that affects tens of millions of workers, the justices said Tuesday that the law that protects older employees from age discrimination doesn't apply in reverse.

...The Supreme Court ruled in a case brought by about 200 General Dynamics Corp. workers who claimed they suffered a type of reverse discrimination because they were too young to get benefits being offered to colleagues age 50 and over. ...The workers claimed they were protected by the 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which forbids age discrimination of any worker 40 or older. About 70 million U.S. workers are 40 or older, roughly half the nation's work force.

This has a potentially large impact on those of us who work in the fields of employment testing and Human Resources in general. What's interesting is that the people bringing the suit are all over 40, which means they were supposedly protected against discrimination on the basis of their age. The Court, however, took the stance that this protection does not apply when the recipients of the preferential treatment are older still.

After mulling this over a bit, I've decided this makes sense. In this case, older workers were being given early retirement if they were over 50 (which is ironic, since many discrimination cases come about on the basis of people not getting a job instead of not losing it). The employer may not have been able to offer the same deal to every one age 40 and up, and forcing them to would have resulted in either a) unreasonable hardship on the company, or b) the company's deciding to not offer the benefit to anyone.

The law was originally designed, in effect, to protect older workers from younger ones --not younger workers from older ones. As Justice David H. Souter said in the decision, "The enemy of 40 is 30, not 50." Now we begin to wait for someone to come up and say that this means race and sex are as relative as age.

24Feb/04Off

jmadigan.net: now with 6% more evil

This is a riot, but an important public service. It can tell you how Good or Evil a website or passage of text is. To quote:

The Gematriculator is a service that uses the infallible methods of Gematria developed by Mr. Ivan Panin to determine how good or evil a web site or a text passage is.

Basically, Gematria is searching for different patterns through the text, such as the amount of words beginning with a vowel. If the amount of these matches is divisible by a certain number, such as 7 (which is said to be God's number), there is an incontestable argument that the Spirit of God is ever present in the text. Another important aspect in gematria are the numerical values of letters: A=1, B=2 ... I=9, J=10, K=20 and so on. The Gematriculator uses Finnish alphabet, in which Y is a vowel.

Experts consider the mathematical patterns in the text of the Holy Bible as God's watermark of authenticity. Thus, the Gematriculator provides only results that are absolutely correct.

The first thing I did was run my own website through it, resulting in this:



Not too bad --literally! Here are a few other interesting results:

Try it out on your own website and post your results in this story's comments.

Filed under: General 5 Comments
24Feb/04Off

Correction!

Anyone out there know how to program SAS to compute a simple correlation coefficient (Pearson's r will do) that corrects for unreliability on the criterion? And while we're on it, do you have information on when it's appropriate to do such a correction? I can't seem to find the topic in any of the stats textbooks I have handy.

If you can help, leave a comment or e-mail me. Thanks!

22Feb/04Off

Sam’s Story: Week 4

Like many boys my age, I was charged with mowing the lawn while I was growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It's normally pretty easy work, but my family was saddled with an old crank of a riding mower that had seen a few too many days but refused to give up the mechanical ghost. It only ran on one speed, its blades were dull, and its bagging system was broken so that it just sprayed a fine green mist of clippings behind it as I rode across the yard.

Most importantly, though, it was a real pain to get started. In fact, I think that I was the only person on Earth who could get that thing to run. You had to follow a strict checklist of setting the throttle at just the right point between "choke" and "run", pulling the starter cord three times slowly, then pulling it twice quickly, then gunning the engine before it sputtered out.

Handling a crying baby isn't that different, except in this case you have to expertly apply a number of maneuvers to calm her down instead of getting her going. All this week Sam has had problems with colic (probably gas), forcing Ger and I to build an impressive arsenal of tricks for calming her down and (if we're lucky) getting her to sleep. Besides the obvious remedies like feeding and diaper changing, these tricks include cradling her face-down so that slight pressure is on her stomach, playing static on the radio, getting her to stare at black-and-white patterns, swaddling, lying her over a shoulder and patting her butt, walking up and down the stairs, and reading her the ingredients off a cereal box.

Also, earlier today we added the Snugli to our bag of tricks. We put Sam in this thing while she was wailing and she quieted down immediately then went to sleep. Here's a picture:



Finally, the facilitator at the New Mother's Support Group recommended to Geralyn a "natural" remedy called Gripe Water. Apparently it's some kind of European brain tonic that she claims eases colic, gas pains, stomach pains, teething pains, and just about any other bad thing you can think of. We've been giving it Sam via a little syringe, and she does seem to calm down sometimes after taking it, either by coincidence or its super amazing restorative prowess. It smells like licorice.

See what else I've read



Not much else to report, other than we took Sam to church for the first time this morning and she did fine. She slept through most of it and only fussed a little. She did fart during one of the prayers, though. We'll have to curb that kind of behavior eventually. She should wait until after the prayer is over to blast gas.

Below are the pictures for this week. There are fewer this time, as we're over the initial spasms of involuntary photography that afflict every new parent and leave them with a hundred identical pictures of the same sleeping baby. Enjoy.


Filed under: Parenting, Samantha 5 Comments
21Feb/04Off

The Silmarillallillion

See what else I've readTonight I finished The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkein. Man, that was dense and a decided pain in places. For those of you unfamiliar with this work, it's basically the mythology of Tolkein's world, starting with the creation of the universe and ending (at a very general overview level) with the events of the Lord of the Rings. It's pretty clear to me that Tolkein never meant for this thing to be published as a novel, or if he did he was in serious need of an editor.

It's not structured like a novel and often derails into pointless spasms of genealogy and lists of Mount This and The River That. There's also probably about one page's worth of actual dialog in the whole thing, making what would normally be a medium-sized book (300 pages) a dense mass of tangled text with page-long paragraphs. It was tough enough for me to get through that I procured an audio book version from the San Diego public library and listened along to parts of it while I read. It kept the momentum going and forced me to pay attention.

Even with all that said, though, I enjoyed great swaths of the Silmarillion and I'm glad I pushed through it. I always find creation myths fascinating, and it was cool to see Tolkein basically take us all the way from the creation of the world to the events of Lord of the Rings, though much of the tales were told in generalities. I did, however, enjoy the stuff about Morgoth (Sauron's predecessor and mentor) kicking ass until the gods have to finally get up out of their chairs and come out of the West to slap his punk ass down.

It's not recommended for those just picking up Tolkein, but it does make a nice ending for those who got through and enjoyed the whole Hobbit/LotR saga.

Filed under: Books 3 Comments
21Feb/04Off

Tweakin’ and spammin’

I hate getting spam, and have taken sufficient safeguards as to relegate it to an occasional nuisance instead of a constant problem. I never give out my real e-mail address unless I absolutely have to, preferring to give out fakes whenever possible (in fact, if anyone has the address "marf@marf.com" they're probably pretty annoyed with me). And if I have to use a real e-mail, I use a HotMail account that has pretty good filters and isn't used for anything important.

One problem, however, is putting up e-mail contact information on a website like this. There are programs that methodically browse through websites, using their superior robotic intelligence to harvest e-mail addresses so that they can inform their owners of the wonders of mortgage refinancing, erectile disfunction, housewives gone wild, and ordering mulch through the Internet. Not to mention the occasional Nigerian prince in need of succor.

Fortunately, I like to fiddle with things and improve them, so I installed a script on the Contact Us page that replaces the mailto: links (bad!) with a HTML form that sends its contents to me via e-mail (good!).



This should cut my daily servings of spam down even further. Try it out.

20Feb/04Off

A friendly plug

A friend of mine by the name of Chris Buecheler recently redesigned his website, opting for a more professional look to help his new career since leaving GameSpy. The site is well worth a look, as Chris is a professional web designer, artist, and aspiring writer. The site contains samples of his work, so check it out: Cerebraldebris.com.

Filed under: General Comments Off
19Feb/04Off

Today’s neat boffo thing

While I was at GameSpy one day our CEO decided that I needed some "project management training" and that I should get some post haste. I acquiesced, pinched my nose, and signed up for a Stephen Covey class on project management. I figured if the company was paying for it, I could at least go until lunch.

The class itself was pretty worthless. The instructor was a skilled presenter and public speaker, though, and he did teach me a wonderful new word: Boffo. As in "Sharpen the saw and everything will be boffo." He kind reminded me of the J. Peterman character from Seinfeld, both in appearance and the way he talked. About half the class centered around boffo platitudes like "Do the important stuff first" or "Write stuff down so you don't forget" or "Ask people what the hell they want from you before you do anything for them." The other half of the class involved ineffable truths disguised as catch phrases like "Sharpen the saw" or "Wax the skis" or "Choke the monkey".

In short, it was almost a complete waste of time. There was, however, one exception to this other than adding "boffo" to my vocabulary. They taught us a note-taking and thought organization technique called "Mind Mapping". If you've never heard of it, mind mapping is a kind of graphical note-taking technique where you write down ideas or concepts, then link them to other ideas, and branch sub-ideas off them. I like it much better than free form note-taking or bulleted lists, especially when you're trying to capture a lot of data on the fly.

So I've used the technique often to organize my thoughts on things like new product features, website design, database design, and project plans. The other day one of my co-workers showed me a software product called Mindjet that does mind-mapping on your computer. I fiddled around with it and mapped out a strategy for building datasets for a test validation project I'm working on. Here's the result (click for a larger version):



It's a really well designed piece of software, one that manages to add a bunch of extra functionality while keeping the simple stuff --creating a mind map-- easy to use. Most programs clutter themselves up when they add useless features, but this one doesn't.

Unfortunately, the trial I downloaded only lasts 21 days. The only thing that's keeping us from registering it is the price. It's $300 per user, which is expensive for a program of such limited use. Heck, that's almost as much as MS Office Pro (which does MUCH more), and a lot more than something like TurboTax, which is more similar in scope. I'm not sure who at Mindjet is doing their pricing, but I have to wonder if they're selling many copies.

Filed under: General 3 Comments
17Feb/04Off

Food is bad for you

Last week I mocked the Atkins movement. That isn't to say I mocked the Atkins Diet when followed strictly, but rather the whole "anti carb" movement that suggests that adding "Atkins Approved" foods to their diet will make you loose weight. The whole concept is naive and weird. While poking around the Quarter to Three forums, though, I noticed this thread, which proves that there is a LOT more territory beyond Atkins on the Obsessive Diet Weird-o-Meter.

First up are the Fruitarians, who make vegans look like gluttons by eating nothing but fruit. They open their fruit holes to preach simplicity (what's more simple than eating a bushel of apples every day?) and "eating fruit to serve the loving consciousness on this planet." The whole thing is pretty ...fruity and more than a little elitist.

One can see a trend developing here: the more restrictive and contrary to modern medical advice your diet is, the more enlightened and healthy you are. From this we can predict a constantly escalating battle of the diet nuts (including the All Nut Diet) as they all try to wedge themselves into a more restrictive and a more difficult to attain dietary counterculture. "I eat nothing but creamed corn! I'm the most enlightened!" "I eat nothing but shredded newspaper and gravel! I've got to be the healthiest!"

I thought it couldn't get any weirder than the Fruitarians, though, until someone pointed out the ultimate in restrictive diet: The All Air diet, also known as Breatharianism. That's right, they trump every other restrictive diet by not allowing you to eat at all. To quote their website:

Our bodies don't require physical food and they have only adapted to live on it because we have forced them to do just that. Food is not only unnecessary, but actually harmful to our health and well-being. Everything in life , including food, has an energy pattern which is influenced by the powerful transmissions of our consciousness, plus the consciousness of others around us. When we consume this food, it then mixes with the energies of our bodies and causes our energy patterns to be so distorted, that it's difficult to see clearly.

Prana, which is a very high frequency vibration (higher than visible light), is what the body was actually intended to use to sustain itself. This is an intelligent energy and brings many benefits to our lives, such as; increased consciousness and health. To receive this type of energy, our brain has very powerful energy receptors, known as the endocrine glands. These endocrine glands, specifically the pineal and pituitary glands, increase in size over several years when you stop eating.

...The injurious, life-shortening practice of eating food for pleasure forced these critical glands into retirement, as the body slowly adjusted to meet the new condition....or perish. So, instead of dropping dead in his tracks, man dies by degrees. The dying process science calls disease and aging, while futilely searching within the body for the cause.

So there you have it. Food is bad for you. The next time Sally Struthers shows up at your door asking you to help save the starving masses in Africa, just give her a brochure on Breatharianism and point out how blessed and enlightened these starving people are and how wonderfully swolen their brain glands must be by now. Then offer her some low-carb bagels.

Filed under: General Comments Off
15Feb/04Off

Sam’s Story: Week 3

It's 5:42 am and I've been up with Sam for the last hour or so. Unlike me, she's wide awake and doesn't seem to think that this is sleepy time at all. She reminds me of this if I put her in her crib. In fact, she's sitting right here beside me in her Fisher-Price Take-Along Swing, which is gently rocking her back and forth under the power of four C batteries. Well, at least it gives us some quiet time together.

Week 3 has gone mostly well. I say "mostly" because yesterday we had a rough time of it when Sam apparently wasn't feeling well. She wouldn't stop crying and didn't sleep at all during the day. That's what makes her alert state now kind of peculiar. But besides that, she's great. She still only has a limited repertoire of activities at this point, but I think she's gaining on the cat in terms of intelligence and ability. Soon she'll surpass him, but at this point she still can't make it through a whole chapter of the history of Tolkein's Middle Earth without falling asleep:



Grandma and Grandpa Sommer are still here, but not for long. Unfortunately, they're leaving tomorrow (Monday) to drive back to St. Louis. But they were kind enough to stay a couple of weeks, rendering all kinds of aid. They cleaned, they cooked, they repaired, they shopped, and they babysat. I'm not sure what we'll do without them.

Case in point: Ger's parents afforded us the opportunity to actually go out for a Valentine's Day dinner by ourselves. Since we both like sushi and Ger couldn't eat it while she was pregnant, we opted for a Japanese restaurant, though it turned out to be a weird hybrid Japanese/Pacific Islander/Jamaican place. We gorged on raw fish and Geralyn washed it down with the first glass of wine she'd had in many months. It was great and I'm not sure when that gem of an opportunity will fall into our hands again. Probably the next time family comes to visit. (Note to family: San Diego is great this time of year!)

Until next week, here's some pictures.

One thing to notice week-to-week: We're taking a picture every Saturday with Samantha next to a stuffed dinosaur that she inherited from me and my childhood. This week it's the first picture above. Mr. Dinosaur measures sixteen inches from snout to tail. We're looking forward to seeing (and recording through the magic of photography) how Sam grows relative to Mr. Dinosaur from week to week.

Oh look. Sam's finally asleep in her swing. I just took this picture:



Time for a nap.

14Feb/04Off

Firefox

After hearing a few horror stories about Very Bad Things taking over Internet Explorer, I decided to try an alternative browser. I've never had any of these kinds of problems myself, as I have the amazing Google Toolbar to kill popups and I never click "yes" when a webpage asks permission to install a plugin or other object. And of course I virus scan all my downloads and don't do anything stupid with e-mail attachments.

Still, it only takes one mistake to completely ruin everything and I had heard that Firefox (the browser formerly known as Mozilla) was pretty keen. So I'm giving it a test run. I'm using it right now, in fact.

The first thing I noticed was that I had an "error" in jmadigan.net's stylesheets that involved specifying font sizes in pixel heights rather then font points. I put "error" in quotes because Internet Explorer was smart enough to know what I was trying to say and displayed the text correctly. Firefox, on the other hand, is apparently a stickler for this kind of thing and some of the text on the site was being super-sized. After a bit of research I determined that the way I had been doing it was indeed non-standard, and thus technically a mistake. I fixed it, along with a couple of other minor bugs that you probably didn't even notice unless you're anal like me.

So points go to IE for being smart enough to ignore my mistake, but points to Firefox for not letting me get away with it. So it's a wash so far. I'm going to keep evaluating Firefox, though. Maybe I'll go download some pr0n or warez to see how well it protects me from the land mines of the Internet.

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12Feb/04Off

Carbs are the new fat

Ummm... What?


Or is it the new sugar? At any rate, the Atkins low-carb diet seems to be maturing from its former cult status to more of a mainstream product. Suddenly I'm seeing not only commercials for things like low carb burgers and low carb beer, but Atkins is being turned into a brand and getting its logo slapped on everything from soups to ...wait for it ...pastas. How the heck can you have a low carb pasta? It's like Atkins sitting there with his friend, laughing his ass off.

Atkins: Oh my god, dude, they've totally bought this whole low carb thing.

Friend:I know! Let's see if they'll fall for low-carb bread!"

Atkins: LOL! Look! They're buying it!

Friend: Did you just say "LOL"?

Atkins: I'm so stoned. Pass the snack cakes.

Seriously, if you stop gorging on cheddar cheese and raw beef you can probably hear him laughing. It makes me want to vomit up my low-carb doughnuts in disgust.

Filed under: General 8 Comments
9Feb/04Off

The computer says you like Police Academy movies

Ever have one of those "Hey! They stole my idea!" moments? A while back my co-worker and I were discussing how statisticians could apply their powers to the betterment of mankind by helping them select movies, books, or video games based on self-reported ratings and data clustering methodologies.

The idea is pretty simple. First, you rate a bunch of books that you've read. Then a team of either trained chimps or graduate students make independent ratings about the books on a number of objective dimensions --things like publication date, genre, author, reading level, etc.

There's then a number of clustering methodologies that could be used to group books together based on these factors, putting them into "families" that may or may not transcend the traditional genre boundaries. Then, based on your ratings of the books you've read and those books' scores from the chimps/students, the system could assign weights to each factor and recommend new books to you. It could even look at people who gave similar ratings to the same books and use that information to further refine its recommendations. (In fact, this is probably similar to how Amazon.com's recommendations work.)

You could then really take it to the next level and further improve recommendations by factoring in demographic data (gender, age, education) or psychological measures like intelligence or personality. You could find that people who are high in emotional stability but low in conscientiousness tend to like mystery novels involving cats. Neat, eh?

It's kind of a one day project, in that we thought we could get to it "one day". Looks like someone beat me to it, though, because I was poking around the 'net today and noticed a site called What to Rent.

Their system purports to recommend movies based on your personality. When you sign up for an account you take a short "personality test" that asks you about your movie preferences. It then recommends movies and invites you to come back 24 hours later to tell it how you liked its recommendations by answering more questions. Over time it's supposed to get smarter and tailor its recommendations more snugly.

This is a personality test?



They don't go into any detail about the methods used, saying that "The specific theory behind the computer system that recommends movie rentals has patents pending in many countries and cannot be published at this time due to concerns over uncredited use of the technology involved." I can tell you, however, that the personality "test" they give you is crap. It's just a short questionnaire about movie preferences, not a personality inventory based on a scientifically researched model. So that part of it seems like a sham --a glossy coat made to make a simple survey look more complicated than it is. This opinion is cemented by this quote:

To give a more specific idea how a personality is simulated and analyzed, displayed below is a schematic for the fear simulator that assigns virtual component values based upon the film database. While the actual implementation of the simulator uses Integrated Circuit chips, the design was done with analog components.

Ummm... What?



This circuit is operated with specified values and the generated output is graphed and evaluated at points of interest.

That just makes ...no sense. That's an electrical diagram. I don't think they're even trying, and haven't completely discounted the possibility that the whole site is a scam or a hoax. Still, the vision is right, even if it's not there yet.

8Feb/04Off

Sam’s Story: Week 2

Samantha's second week of life has gone very well. The jaundice from week 1 is completely gone and she's started to gain weight nicely. In fact, she seems to be going through some kind of growth spurt where she wants space her meals just one hour apart. Fortunately, both Sam and Geralyn have gotten the knack of the whole feeding thing. I think they could do it hanging upside down if they had to. Ger's still not sure about doing it anywhere but in the privacy of Sam's nursery, even after last night when we saw this lady at Chilli's whip her breast out right at the table and invite her baby to join in the mealtime fun.

Samantha is enjoying a visit from Grandma and Grandpa Sommer, who are proving themselves very helpful. Not only are they helping to watch Sam while Ger and I have some time to ourselves, they're cooking, cleaning, and doing a bit of landscaping while they're at it. Here's some pictures of them with Samantha:

In the Baby Stuff department we continue to be delighted by gifts and cards sent by friends and family. We think we (and by "we" I mean "Geralyn") sent out thank-you notes to everyone, but please drop me a hint if we missed you. Here's a picture of Samantha in her spiffy new Rice University smock (it will eventually become a bib) from Aunt Shawn and Uncle Brent:



Samantha still seems to only really have four settings: Sleep, cry, eat, and stare into space. The owner's manual says this is normal, though, and we can expect more out of her in the next 2-3 weeks. Even with this limited arsenal of moves, though, she still manages to dominate the household. Our activities are completely dictated by Sam's feeding needs, we do laundry when we need to wash her Miracle Blanket or onesies, and we don't go to bed until she does. Still, we're enjoying it and looking forward to more.

I'll leave you until next Sunday with some random photos of bath time and sleep time. I've also created a running photo album where we'll put all these pictures into once place.



Filed under: Parenting, Samantha 3 Comments
6Feb/04Off

Look at me! I’m an angst-ridden genius!

Below is my 30-second summary of Ayn Rand's Anthem, a coming of age story for a mad scientist. It helps if you imagine this being read by The Simpsons's Sideshow Mel:

I hate my life angst angst angst angst angst angst angst angst angst look we made a flashlight angst angst angst angst angst angst you guys are jerks angst angst we're gonna go live in the woods angst angst angst angst angst angst oh look some books angst angst angst I rule.

Satire aside, I actually enjoyed this book. Rand's philosophy of objectivism is interesting and worth learning more about, but at first blush I have a few basic issues with it. Mainly that it doesn't seem to leave much room for unadulterated compassion. Shoot, it doesn't even seem to let you give people the benefit of the doubt when deciding whether or not to render aid or befriend them. Despite the obvious benefits that the lone genius can provide to the world if left to do her work, the whole approach seems a bit cold and almost contemptuous of the common man.

Filed under: Books 4 Comments