Sam’s Story: Week 18

Gah. It’s been a busy week, especially the last few days. Sam started rolling over on her own this week, but only from her tummy to her back. So for those of you playing Baby Bingo from home, there’s another one for you.

The big excitement, though, has come in the last few days. Sam has taken her second cross-country trip, the first leg of which involved a flight from San Diego to Saint Louis. This time, though, we were prepared. We jammed through security and got an extra seat next to us so we could sit Sam down in her car seat during the flight. Once again, Sam was an angel, passing the time by sleeping and pooping. Ger and I were both praying that she would not decide to fill the bottom of her car seat, and Sam decided to accomodate us. She did have her first mile-high bowel movement, though, and the flight attendant let me trek her through first class to change her on one of the empty seats there. Take that first class passengers! Enjoying your fancy meals and hot towels now? Huh?

That flight was only the beginning, though. It ended in St. Louis where Sam got to briefly see Grandma and Grandpa Sommer, but the next morning we promptly packed up and hit the road to drive from St. Louis to Tulsa, Oklahoma to visit my family. Ger and I must have made that drive dozens of times while we were in college (in Tulsa) and I was in graduate school (in St. Louis), but it was our first time with a baby on board. It ended up taking us about 8 hours instead of the usual 6 since we had to stop to feed and stretch Sam. There’s just something so womanly and life-giving about stopping in a fast food parking lot off Route 44 to nurse your baby. Motherhood is so beautiful.

Finally, we arrived in T-Town and Sam got to see my parents. My mom she had met already, but it was the first time she got to meet my Dad since he was in the hospital the last time we were in town. They seem to enjoy each other’s company immensely, and my mother is doting on Sam as usual. She gifted Sam with –I’m not kidding– over two dozen pairs of dainty baby socks. And some other nice stuff like clothes and toys. I think the gift-giving will never end.

We’re staying here until Thursday, when we’ll repeat the drive back to St. Louis. Already not looking forward to that, hey. But once we get back there we’re dropping Sam off with Ger’s parents for Friday night while we attend my friend Gary’s wedding in Taylorville, Illinois. Then we’re racing back on Saturday to get ready for Sam’s christening on Sunday. Expect lots of pictures and a full account, let me tell you.

And now, photographs:

I love that last picture of me holding the very naked Sammie getting ready for her bath, by the way. I plan to break it out the first time she brings home her first date to meet me.

Sewing Oats, pages 11-16

Page 11 of my novel Sewing Oats went up last Wednesday, according to schedule. And page page 12 is up today. And since I’m going to be on vacation all of next week and the following Monday, I’ve worked ahead and also posted pages 13- 16. Here are all the recent pages, in easy-to-click list form:

If you miss coming back for updates three times a week, then just practice a little self control for cryin’ out loud.

The pace of the story really picks up in these few pages, which include the introduction of a particularly menacing figure that seems to be MORE THAN HUMAN. Ooohhh! Thomas also curses –a lot— but that’s pretty standard by this time. Also, Angela mistakes a squirrel for God. It’s also worth noting that the whole “What do you think is behing that mountain?” conversation on page 15 is the first complete, coherent scene that came together in my mind when I started thinking about this novel. In some ways, it’s what the entire thing is built around.

I may or may not make updates to this site next week (time and Internet connection permitting), but the next installment of Sewing Oats definitely won’t be until June 9th. So make these pages last!

“Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t cut it anymore

This came up last week and I’ve been meaning to comment on it. According to this article, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a disabled man was able to sue a local court house under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The guy was a paraplegic and was to appear for minor traffic charges, but the court in question had no elevator. He literally couldn’t make it to the court unless someone carried him, which he thought was dangerous (and probably humiliating). So he didn’t show up and was arrested for something he was physically incapable of doing. He sued and appealed to the Supreme Court until he won.

When I heard this story, it struck me as a no-brainer. I’m familiar with the ADA, and thought that there was no question that it required courts (and any other employer or public building) to take reasonable measures to make themselves accessible to people with disabilities. Indeed, it does. But what was weird up until this point is that while the law required courts to be accessible, there was no legal mechanism by which people could enforce it. If a court, like the one in question, breaks the law and makes it impossible for a person to access the courts, then there was no recourse.

In fact, this quote from the linked article above struck me as particularly absurd: “Most notably, the Supreme Court ruled three years ago that states cannot be sued by their own employees for failing to comply with the ADA’s guarantee against discrimination in the workplace.”

Is it just me, or is that insane? How nice of the government to excuse itself from its own laws, eh? I’m surprised it took this long for a court case to surface that called them on it.

Sam’s Story: Week 17

he theme of this week’s update is sleep. As in, Sam’s not getting enough. Oh, she’s still sleeping through the night once we get her down, but she seems to have difficulty grasping the concept of naps during the day. She may snooze for a few minutes here and there, but all the expert advice Ger has gathered seems to point to the need for much more than that.

The result is that by 7:30 or so each night, Sam is tired. But she won’t sleep. And because she won’t sleep she gets cranky. And because she’s cranky, she cries. And because she’s crying she can’t get to sleep. Most nights this week this vicious little cycle has spun like a high-powered centrifuge, separating out Sam from any good-natured, happy baby mixture that might have existed before. What’s left is a cranky lump of screaming baby. We spend 2-3 hours each night trying to slow things down and get her to sleep. Here’s some pictures of her in happier times:

This same cycle spun out of control last Thursday when I tried to take Geralyn out for a birthday dinner. We went to a place we knew was kid-friendly and wouldn’t have a wait for tables, but things still went poorly. There was something about the place (I think it was the smell) that Sam absolutely hated, and right about the time the waitress brought our food (lobster enchiladas for me, a bucket of fried lobster tails for Ger) she started wailing. I think it was the smell, because as soon as I took her outside she quieted down. So as part of my birthday gift to Ger, I dashed back into the restaurant to wolf down my meal, then dashed back out when Sam realized where she was and started bawling. Unfortunately, this meant that Ger had to eat her birthday dinner with a stuffed frog named Francois.

So besides the not napping and the not not crying part, things are going well. Sam continues to grab and suck and drool. In fact, we’re pretty sure she’s teething, which helps explain the increased fussiness. If you run your finger along the inside of her gums, you can feel little bumps pushing their way through. Of course, I’d then have to ask you to take your finger out of my daughter’s mouth.

Ow ow owowowowowow!

Hello, my name is Jamie and I have the gout. When I tell people this, they usually look at me with a mix of pity and disbelief, as if I had just told them that I have brain herpes or face cancer. My favorite thing to do in these cases is to reach out, touch the person on the arm, and say “And now you do, too.”

It’s not that bad, though. In fact, it’s something that comes and goes, and it can be many months –years, even– between flare ups. When it hits, though, it always hits me in the big toe of my left foot, making it agonizingly tender and a pain to walk on. No, I’m not going to die from it or sprout extra nipples or anything. It just makes it painful to walk or stand or exist in general.

Unfortunately this condition has decided to raise its inflamed head and attack over the last week. Worse, it decided to do this while I was spending 8+ hours on my feet at the E3 show. I was in so much pain the last day of the expo that I thought I was going to throw up, and ended up sitting down wherever I could find space –usually in the middle of a high traffic hallway. Last Sunday it got so bad that I finally gave up and hobbled down to the Urgent Care Facility and saw a doctor about it. The meeting went something like this:

DOCTOR: Hi, what seems to be the problem?

ME: I have the gout. Give me drugs.

DOCTOR: All right, then.

A few minutes later a nurse came in with a syringe. She was young, and unlike most nurses besides those portrayed in pr0n, she was very pretty.

CUTE NURSE: Hi, I’m going to give you a shot of dihydroximetocordinalocide to help with the pain and the swelling.

ME: Okay.

CUTE NURSE: We usually administer it in the upper left quadrent of the gluteal region.

ME: So you’re going to shoot me in the ass?

CUTE NURSE: Yes. Turn around and drop your pants.

I did as I was told, halfway expecting to hear a “waka-waka-wacho-woow” soundtrack queue up, but instead I got a needle full of dihydroximetocordinalocide jammed into my upper left gluteal quadrent. The good news is that it did indeed help with the pain and swelling. The bad news is that I think they were out of regular bandages and she put a Sesame Street Elmo band-aid on my butt.

I also scored a bottle of blue pills that I’ve been popping like breath mints. I don’t know what they are. When Geralyn asked what kind of drugs they gave me, I said “Blue.” Sometimes, I just don’t understand why she gets annoyed with me.

Sewing Oats, Page 9

Sewing Oats, page 9 is now available for your reading pleasure. Here Thomas and Angela are paired up. Also, Thomas punches a guy. A lot.

So, is anyone out there reading this? I plan on finishing this draft regardless, but I’m curious to know if there is anyone checking back for regular or semi-regular updates and following the story. If you are, please let me know.

Also on the writing front, I started a new short story entitled “The House on Route J” for the writing group I’m in. It will be finished no later than the end of the month, and I’ll post it here as usual.

Happy birthday, Geralyn!

Everyone please wish Geralyn a happy birthday! With Sam still too much of a baby (literally) to party hard, we’re keeping it low key this year, but there will be cake (shhh… I haven’t told Ger yet) and –GASP– dinner out at a real restaurant. With cloth napkins at a place that doesn’t have nachos on the menu!

May is turning out to be quite a festive month in our household. We’ve got Mother’s Day (new this year), Ger’s birthday, and our wedding anneversary. I should just buy Hallmark cards in bulk.

Sewing Oats, Page 8 + new short story

Sewing Oats, page 8 is up. The action continues, replete with face crunching, bone snapping violence. And yes, more weeping.

I have also posted a second draft of a new short story, Good Deeds. This story contains much less action and weeping, but I still like it. It’s about two teens on a church mission trip and how their different views on what constitutes a good deed pull them apart. As I mentioned before, the characters are fictional, but the situation is based on my real experience doing this kind of thing with my own church years ago. Read it and let me know what you think.

28 things I remember about E3 2004

As I mentioned earlier, I took a couple of days off from my real job and attended the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) this year, freelance writing for The show was a stupifying jumble of sensations, but here’s 28 things I remember:

  1. Just sitting around talking about what games are cool, just like old times
  2. Seeing Gary Coleman. For some reason. I’m not sure why.
  3. Hearing the woman behind me in line at Starbucks saying of a potential booth model “Oh, we can’t hire her. She’s old.”
  4. Thinking how cool the America’s Army training programs are to include video games for new recruits.
  5. I’ll be dipped. The Phantom Game Console is for real. It’s got an INSANE price structure, but it’s for real. I played it.
  6. Standing five feet away from adult film superstar Tera Patrick. For some reason. I’m not sure why.
  7. Being stunned by the exhibit featuring classic stand-up cabinet games from my childhood like Pac-Man, Jungle King, Bubbles, Pengo, and more.
  8. Thinking “A Tango video game? As in the tango the dance? I have to check this out.
  9. Overhearing some ditzy suit in the hallway say “So, I have this game on my computer called solotaire that I like to play. Is that what this is all about?”
  10. Overhearing someone once AGAIN perpetuating the myth that the video game industry is “bigger than the movies.” (It’s not. It’s only bigger than box office receipts. It comes nowhere close when you figure in rentals and DVD sales.)
  11. Boggling over the fact that everything in the IGN/GameSpy area was co-branded with the IGN and GameSpy logos.
  12. Seeing famous comic book creator Stan Lee. For some reason. I’m not sure why.
  13. Being so hungry that I got excited about a grilled cheese sandwich stand in Kentia hall.
  14. How terrified this booth model looked to be here. Was it me?
  15. Taking a wrong turn leaving my hotel Wednesday night and going into a tunnel. There are tunnels in downtown Los Angeles?
  16. Being freaked out when I came out on the other side of the tunnel and everything was written in Korean.
  17. Meeting Mark Asher and Tom Chick from the Quarter to Three forums.
  18. Being in so much pain from walking on my gout-ridden foot for two days that I seriously thought I was going to throw up.
  19. Being impressed by the Battle for Middle Earth RTS presentation, then realizing that we hadn’t seen any real gameplay.
  20. Thinking that NCSoft was the best publisher ever for giving me cookies and orange juice during their behind closed doors showings. I hadn’t eaten anything all day.
  21. Being perplexed over how you could possibly control a video game with a pair of congo drums.
  22. Thinking that hooking up an exercise bike to a video game was so absurd that it was going to give me a nosebleed.
  23. How impressive the GameSpy LiveWire production was this year.
  24. Trying to see Half-Life 2. I waited an hour in line to get into South Hall when it opened in the morning, then rushed to get in another line to wait to see the game, then finding out that that was actually the line to make an appointment to come back later and wait in another line to see it. I never did see it.
  25. For the first time since I started going to the show, being totally unconcerned over hearing the words “Uh-oh, the network just went down.”
  26. Watching a game developer spend ten minuted demonstrating a game to some guy with a Media badge, only to find out that the guy only spoke German.
  27. My final schwag haul from the show: A Sly Cooper 2 demo disk, a 32 MB USB thumb drive, a satchel from NCSoft, and one really awful tee shirt. I’ll have to do better next year; I don’t know how I got stuck with the satchel and tee shirt.
  28. How glad I was not to have to go to the show for a third day. I’m glad I got to go, but two days was plenty, thank you very much.

Congratulations x 2

Two quick congratulations are in order.

First, my sister Shawn went through graduation last week from the University of Houston law school! She’s officially a law school graduate, and she’s going to sue you if you tick her off. Unfortunately she’s not getting much of a break, as she has to turn around and start immediately studying for the Bar exam.

The second congratulation is for the Tabors, who have added an expansion pack onto their family in the form of Hanna JoVene Tabor, born May 15 at 5:43 pm. Everyone is doing great, and if you know Darren and Rebecca, make sure to check out the pictures. Like this one:

So congrats to everyone involved in both accomplishments.

Sam’s Story: Week 16

People who play games online often adopt a nickname, much like professional wrestlers would if they were pasty nerds in need of more exercise. I myself chose “Thrrrpptt!” and one of the acceptable pronunciations is the raspberry sound. The kind of raspberry when you stick out your tongue, not the fruit.

Samantha’s newest favorite thing in the world is to say my nickname, over and over again. It involves copious amounts of spittle. I cannot escape blame in this, as both Ger and I are guilty of teaching it to her and maniacally reinforcing her performance. We found early on that she responded to raspberries with a smile, so we just kept blowing them like a pair of puffy-cheeked idiots. Through the miracle of imitation Samantha has decided to join us. She does it pretty much constantly. We’re hoping it’s this easy when we teach her to use the toilet or balance her checkbook.

Besides the raspberries, Sam has turned into something of a chatterbox. At certain times of the day, she’ll babble pretty much non-stop, letting loose with a litany of coos, grunts, squeals, laughs, moans, and other nonsense syllables. I swear that she’s talking to us in some kind of primitive dialect, as she looks at us like we should be understanding what the hell she’s talking about, and that she’s being very patient with us by taking it slow and repeating herself. Then she blows raspberries for half an hour.

Speaking of Sam (and I almost always am), she’s sitting here right next to me as I write this on my laptop from the bedroom. I have her in her bouncer seat next to me on the bed. I guess she’s at an age in her development when pretty much any object will hold her attention if she can grab it and lift it. Right now, for example, she’s having the time of her little life with a dish rag. Don’t worry, it’s clean.

The only other thing I have to report on this week is that it was the first time I went out of town and left Ger to take care of Sam by herself. It was also the first time I spent time away from Sam. Everyone did fine in their child care and poop manufacturing duties, but there was much missing of this person by that person. I don’t plan on doing it any more than I have to.

And now, the pictures:

E3 in pictographocological terms

People have been asking me to describe E3 to them, and I usually say it’s something like a cross between a professional wrestling event, a glitzy Hollywood movie premiere, and that scene in every Godzilla movie where great crowds of people point at stuff and scream. That’s pretty accurate, but I think a picture is worth a thousand words.

And thanks to my digital camera, I have over 58,000 words worth of pictures to share below. And yes, there are photos of the infamous “booth babes.” But I tried to be an equal opportunity goober by photographing female, male, and gender indeterminate models. Enjoy.

A few pictures to which to draw your attention:

Coming soon: A summary of what I remember from the expo.

Sewing Oats, Page 6

Sewing Oats, Page 6 is up. All the cool kids are reading it, so you should too. In this bit we finally get into some real action now that things have been set up and characters have been introduced. More face punching coming on Monday with Page 7.

E3 go now

Here I am at E3 2004 for I’ll be here covering the show today and tomorrow. At this point I’m just kind of sitting around waiting for the show floor to open so I can go gape and goggle along with everyone else. I should be able to see some fun behind closed doors shows. In fact, I’d better, because I’m scheduled to write about them.

On a more personal note, it’s great to see a bunch of the old GameSpy crew. Many of them are here and we’re already having a good time.

More to come later!

Several of the articles I’ve written are now online:

I’m going to see another half dozen games today, the second day of the show. Whee!

Tulsa: It’s deadly

This is interesting. According to State Farm, my home town of Tulsa, Oklahoma has two of the deadliest intersections in the whole U.S.A. They are 51st and Memorial and 71st and Memorial.

That struck me as very odd, since Tulsa isn’t that large a town –certainly not anywhere as large as Los Angeles or New York. Then I read the fine print:

The State Farm Danger Index is determined by the number of crashes at various intersections, how many of those crashes involved injury and the severity of those crashes. It is adjusted to account for the percentage of vehicles insured by State Farm in areas where the intersections are located.

So, it’s a percentage of cars insured by State Farm in that area. Okay. And assuming that they have more market penetration in some areas (like Oklahoma), that could give you a very skewed view of things. Also, the study was released in 2001, though I can tell you from personal knowledge that the pictures of those intersections appear to be much older than that.

Yay statistics.

Sewing Oats, pages 4 & 5

Since I’m going to be up in Los Angeles on Wednesday covering E3 for, I went ahead and put up page 4 and then page 5 of Sewing Oats. Better to work ahead than catch up, eh?

In these two pages we briefly meet Angela, Thomas’s foil and the story’s second main character. We also find out more about “the sewing,” which hints at why Thomas acts as he does. Page 6 will go up on Friday.

Sam’s Story: Week 15

I really don’t have much to report this week. Sam has continued to get better at grabbing things and dragging them to her mouth, which has turned many of her stuffed animals into moist breeding grounds for all kinds of bacteria.

Oh, and funny story: We were at church this morning and Sam was sitting in her car seat between us. She started fussing, so I unbuckled her and bent down to scoop her out of the seat so I could hold her. I slid my hand under her butt to lift her up, and went knuckle-deep in poop. She had pretty much filled the bottom of the car seat, half an inch deep. Ger had to carry her out to change her, but the parish we’re is new and actually holds service in a high school gymnasium. Counter to what you’d think with all the alarming teenage pregnancy statistics, most high school bathrooms don’t have changing tables in the bathrooms. So Ger had to make due with the concrete floor, a few moist towelettes, and a lot of wiping. Fun, fun.

Here are some more flattering pictures of Sam to make up for it:

Only other thing I have to report on is that we spent a good chunk of yesterday visiting The Northcutts in Orange County, attending the birthday party they were holding for 2-year old Emma. Almost everyone there was a parent or expected to be soon, which made for a very different but very enjoyable kind of party experience for us. I guess that’s how it’s going to be from now on, and I really don’t have any problem with that.

Happy Mother’s Day, Geralyn!

Hey everyone, please click on the “comments” link above to join me in wishing Geralyn a Happy First Mother’s Day today (or whenever you end up reading this). Here’s an action shot:

I’m amazed at how well Ger has taken to motherhood, and I had high expectations to begin with. She started by greatly impressing me with her performance during the delivery, which was straight forward but long and required tremendous reserves of strength and endurance. But of course she’s followed up by being a conscientious and loving parent for Samantha, giving her the best possible start in life by keeping her healthy, happy, and pretty clean (minus the occasional projectile spit up or water sprinkler breast milk incident).

So thanks, Geralyn. You’re doing a great job. Your boss, Samantha, has rated your annual performance review as “Exceeds Expectations” in every category. There will, unfortunately, be no raise in your salary due to budget constraints. Instead, enjoy this valuable coupon:

Again, click here to wish Ger a happy Mother’s Day.