Thursday, November 30, 2006

Give the People What They Want

Two photos of Emelia from last week in Dallas, courtesy of my sister-in-law Kim (the second one is the new background for my computer):

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Announcing a New Blog

People who know Kathy and me know that Kathy is the quiet one (not that I'm necessarily loud). She won't answer the phone if she can help it, and my family doesn't always feel like they know what she's thinking. Well no longer! Today Kathy officially joins the ranks of the blogosphere, so now everyone will be able to read her thoughts on lots of things, at least those related to being a parent. Whether she maintains her four-posts-in-a-day output remains to be seen, but I for one hope she continues writing in some capacity. And while I encourage everyone to check her blog out, don't abandon me -- neither of us has so much to say that there isn't time to read us both. I've added her to my blogroll, but I didn't put her first -- not because she isn't number one in my heart, but because I don't want to put needless pressure on her (and because it won't be so embarrassing if she decides to stop writing in a couple of days).

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

On Fear

Fear is a funny thing.

On 9/11, I had just gotten to work when a co-worker told me about the first plane striking the World Trade Center, and together we were watching live TV when the second struck. I was just across the river from the Pentagon when it was hit -- I could see the smoke from my building. When we were told to go home, I walked rather than take the Metro, because if I were a terrorist, that would be an obvious target. But I walked several blocks South of the most direct route, in case the Capitol was targeted.

In the wake of what transpired that day, I wasn't afraid. Even though I live about a mile from the Capitol, and so am at a proverbial Ground Zero, I don't worry about the next strike -- I just want to live my life. Still, fear has affected me -- Kathy's fear is what led us to buying a car after 9/11 (at the time we didn't have one). It's certainly come in handy, but many times I've joked with her about how, should we need to flee the city, getting the car will enable us to be stuck in endless traffic with everyone else. And that's another part of living in DC -- you can either cower in fear of the next attack, or live your life -- an attack either will come or it won't, but worrying about it is of little help.

I guess I can't understand why people are so afraid. Six imams were forced off a plane because of the fears of other passengers, and even though nothing was found, they were refunded their money and refused access to another flight from the airline. Why would a group of terrorists be the equivalent of penguins in Bermuda shorts in drawing attention to themselves as was alleged? Fear can make people incredibly paranoid, and I expect that it was such fear that led to the accusations in the first place -- some people are predisposed to assume the worst about Muslims.

On a more personal level, this past week during Thanksgiving, I thought it perfectly reasonable to let an average 9-year-old go to the bathroom in a restaurant without adult accompaniment (this was a hypothetical -- the 4-year-old was the one who had to go). I don't mean to suggest that it's not possible for a kidnapping to take place at a steakhouse, but it seems so unlikely to me as to not be worth adjusting your behavior for. It seems akin to not driving because there's the possibility of a carjacking. Admittedly, the cost-benefit analysis is skewed between these two (very little cost to escort a kid to the bathroom, very great cost to give up driving), but I just don't see the point of worrying about remote dangers. I acknowledge that I may feel differently when my daughter is nine, but I doubt it. Strangely, one of the people concerned about unaccompanied children seemed wholly unconcerned with the much greater risk associated when the next day someone climbed up an unsteady 30-foot ladder to hang Christmas lights.

Fear is a funny thing.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thank You to Someone

When we returned from our Thanksgiving in Dallas, we found a package from Barnes & Noble. Inside was a gift for Emelia -- four Sandra Boynton board books. The package appeared to have been opened at some point prior to its arrival to us, and for this reason, we believe that the dirty pair of ladies underwear that had been enclosed was not part of the intended gift. Sadly, we know not who to thank for the books, as the underwear seems to have replaced the invoice in the package, and Barnes & Noble says that they will neither tell us who sent the package, nor notify the sender that the present arrived sans intended message. In the event that the sender is a reader of my blog, Emelia, Kathy and I say thank you for the books -- we expect them to provide much entertainment in the coming months. If you also sent the underwear, you may want to seek professional help.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

On the Road

In a couple of hours, we begin our journey to Dallas for Thanksgiving at my brother's. Kathy has been instructed not to lift more than 10 pounds for another couple of weeks. She'll be carrying Emelia, who at yesterday's 2-week doctor's appointment weighed in at 8lbs, 14oz. This leaves a pound and change of Kathy's weight allowance with which we can clothe and diaper Emelia. I will be bringing the remainder of what we'll be bringing, i.e., all the luggage for the five-day trip. The plan is for us to get to the airport via Metro. There may be a fine line between bravery and stupidity, but it's pretty obvious which side of the line this falls on.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Louise, Inc.

Emelia's middle name of Louise is a family name. It's Kathy's middle name, her mother's middle name, and her grandmother's first name. It was also Kathy's great-grandmother's name, though she was the mother-in-law of Kathy's grandmother. Confused though you may be, today we drove up to Wilmington to get together with Emelia's sole surviving great-grandparent, and commemorated the occasion with a picture of the four generations of Louises.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Three Months Later

Was it really less than three months ago that Kathy and Shizuka showed off their oh-so-pregnant bellies, days before Shizuka had her baby? My how time flies!

People keep telling us that it goes by so fast, and here's the proof of it. Before too long, Kazumi and Emelia will be considered the same age, but right now Kazumi at 12 weeks is a giant compared with Emelia at 9 days. Of course they were too young to interact during Shizuka's visit, but there'll be plenty of time for that in the months and years to come.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

For the Love of Beer

When I found Ratebeer, I was introduced to a community of people, who, like me, love beer and learning about it. It has led to nearly five years of unmitigated exploration for new beers, and resulting discoveries of some fantastic beers that I never would have found otherwise. But what it also did, or rather, what I did after joining, is leave behind many favorites, simply because I lack the liver and caloric capacity to try so many new beers and keep enjoying the old ones. Since I've joined Ratebeer, with very few exceptions, my beer drinking has been focused on beers I can rate. And consequently, I'm closing in on 5000 ratings, and am one of the top raters at Ratebeer. But now, I'm ready to rate less and return to some of my favorites more, especially now that I have such an enormous list of favorites.

Last night, Tom, Gary, and I were supposed to go to a "Wet Hop" beer tasting, but it unfortunately was canceled (a wet hop beer uses moist hops straight off the vines, whereas most beers use hops that are first dried, and sometimes even reduced to pellet form). So instead, we went to the Brickskeller, and I got to serve as the beer "sommelier" for a flight of hoppy beers.* We started off with a couple of pints of Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale, a long-time favorite of mine. Harvest Ale is the most readily available wet hop beer, and in fact, one of the only wet hop beers that makes it off the West Coast (outside of special tastings). It's one of my favorite seasonal beers, and it isn't bottled, so there's only a month or so that I can get it. Next up was another hoppy beer, Victory Hop Wallop, which has a bitterness that blows away the Harvest Ale. We finished with Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA (Simcoe is a hop varietal), which has enough hoppiness to overcome the light coating of resin that had formed on our hop-addled tongues. These are all beers I love (I've given each of these beers a rating of at least 4), and it was great to enjoy them rather than pick out beers I wouldn't like as much, or to analyze them for rating purposes.

I still plan on rating beers, because wonderful beers are being introduced all the time, and because I'll travel to places where I can try beers I've never had. It's just that rather than rate 9 out of every 10 beers I drink, I expect it'll be closer to 3 out of every 10. At this point, it seems like a better balance.

* -- Some of you may be asking what I was doing going out while poor Kathy had to stay home with the baby. Kathy wasn't left alone -- her folks are in town. FWIW, I've encouraged her to leave me with Emelia right after a feeding, so she can get out some, but so far she's declined.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Making Way for Reality

For roughly the first year of our marriage, at random points one of us would turn to the other and say, with more than a trace of disbelief, "We're married." To some extent our good fortune at having found such a wonderful mate hadn't fully registered. As implied in my last post on Emelia, at present we seem to be undergoing a similar experience -- in fact, we turn to each other now and again and exclaim, "We're parents," with the same element of disbelief that we shared seven years ago. With our difficulties in getting pregnant, and then staying pregnant, the very notion that we would become parents took quite some time to take root, though we ventured a thought now and again after we saw the heartbeat for the first time. Only in the third trimester did Kathy begin to accept that it really was going to happen this time. And now, with an eight-day-old in tow, we're still coming to grips with our new reality.

Reality, however, has a way of making itself felt, regardless of one's acceptance of it. It does so in gentle ways, such as when the eight pounds of Emelia are sleeping on one of us. And it does so in rougher ways, such as at 2:30 this morning, when Kathy's changing of Emelia on our bed was interrupted by a large flow of pee that displayed no desire to stay on the portable changing pad on which Emelia writhed. But regardless of the particular method by which the reality that is Emelia injects itself into our lives, it does so inexorably, one incident at a time, leaving us with less and less doubt that once again we have been visited by good fortune.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

As Obvious as the Nose on Your Face

Today's Washington Post has an article on the growing concern over internet addiction. The article includes the observation that "scores of online discussion boards have popped up on which people discuss negative experiences tied to too much time on the Web."

What's next, a meeting of Overeaters Anonymous at Dunkin Donuts?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Every Day is a New Day

We have a child who is four days old, and all is right in our world. It's a wonder to have in my life someone who's so small and so dependent on me. Who can make me feel elated just by sleeping in my arms or by looking at me, and can make me feel crushed when she cries. A friend asked me whether it feels real yet, and I admitted that it still doesn't. As he chased after his two daughters I asked when it will, and he said it'll happen gradually.

I suppose the unreality of being a parent is exacerbated by time having become messed up -- clocks have no meaning to an infant, which means that they have no meaning to an infant's parents. The fact that I'll be off work for another two weeks will keep me out of time. We're both tired but in good spirits. Kathy is getting less sore and more mobile each day. The joke is that she's looked one month less pregnant with each passing day, but we're skeptical that she can keep that pace over the next five days. Currently my folks are with us, and they've been a big help during their stay. Dad's many years as a pediatrician are being put to good use in answering the dozens of questions we're barraging him with. The weather here has been great, so that many of the visitors who have popped in have been greeted while we've been sitting on our steps outside.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Apologies If This Post Isn't As Coherent As I'd Like

Yesterday we went to the hospital on a false alarm first thing in the morning. Yesterday evening we checked in for the real thing, and after 20 hours of labor, Emelia Louise was born at 2:02pm this afternoon. So many things I could say about the progression, but at the risk of sounding trite, it was an event that meant at least as much to me as any other event in my life. I was involved in the whole process, right up to helping to coach the pushes, and holding Kathy's left leg as she pushed the baby out (with her sister Suzie holding the right). No queasiness, just sheer amazement, as I watched the baby get pushed out over the course of a couple of hours.

Mother and child are doing well, though both mother and father (and Suzie, who also was there for the duration) are exhausted from the minimal amount of sleep they've had over the past 40 hours (plus for Kathy, the incredible amount of work she did in delivering the baby). That, combined with the fact that it would have been very difficult for both Suz and me to sleep in Kathy's little room (with one fold out seat/bed), led to our returning back to the house to get a decent night's sleep tonight. I think having Emelia today was enough of a vote for change, but because I got back home in time, I was able to register another such vote in the general election.

The Proud Father minutes after the birth

Emelia took to suckling right away

Saturday, November 04, 2006

How to Successfully Induce Labor

Rub homeopathic balm on the belly
Raspberry Tea
Eggplant Parmesan
Spicy Food
Sex & Nipple Stimulation
Double Dose of Milk of Magnesia

Let enough time pass

Let the Doctor do it on Thursday

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Cause For Optimism?

I've been eagerly following the mid-term Congressional elections, scouring polls daily as we pull ever closer to November 7. In some ways, paying attention to the muck and mire that passes for our political process these days is akin to the rubbernecking I so dislike when I'm driving, but in this case I can't seem to help myself. It looks like the Democrats will retake the House, and have an outside shot of claiming the Senate. I see this happening not just because of the political tide shifting, but also because Democrats have successfully sought out moderates to run for election in areas which are more conservative, and perhaps most significantly, Republicans have repeatedly shot themselves in the foot.

The Senate race going on next door to me in Virginia is a great example of the latter, where Senator George Allen, a man thought to be considering a presidential run in 2008, may not even get re-elected in a generally Republican state. First there was the 'macaca' incident, and Allen's response to it. Then there was his berating a reporter after she asked a question about whether his mother was Jewish, followed by an explanation that included the remark that he "still had a ham sandwich for lunch." On the heels of this were reports of his racism, and people who refuted his assertion that he never used the "N-word." A minor ethics violation that involved a failure to report stock options he owned followed. Over the course of the past few days, polls show his Democratic opponent, former Republican Jim Webb, the Secretary of Navy under Reagan, having taken a small lead, despite trailing by over 20 points in the Spring. Allen's efforts to retake the lead can only be hurt by events like this one (follow-up letter by the man who was wrestled to the floor here).

The foot-shooting seems to be happening all over the place, and goes beyond the Abramoff scandal and the Foley cover-up that actually happened within the walls of Congress. It's taking place not just in areas where there's a slight Republican edge, but even in some of the reddest states in the country. Wyoming is strongly Republican, yet the incumbent Congresswoman, Barbara Cubin, is in a dogfight with a Democratic challenger, in part because because after a three-way debate that included a Libertarian candidate in a wheelchair, Cubin went over to the Libertarian and told him, "If you weren't sitting in that chair, I'd slap you across the face." In Idaho, about as Republican as they come, the Democrat running for an open seat is running neck-and-neck with his opponent, because the Republican who garnered the most votes in a 5-way race in the primary is reviled even by many Republicans who work with him in the state legislature. I expect that both of these races will be won by the Republican, but the fact that these races are close gives me hope that finally a Congress will provide some oversight of what the administration is doing, and prevent future versions of the outrageous pieces of legislation that have been enacted the last few years.