Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy 50th Birthday, Billy Bragg

He's not twenty-two, and hasn't been for a long time, but happy birthday to Billy Bragg, folk-punk rocker (punk-rock folkie?) extraordinaire. In his honor, here are a few songs:

The wonderfully cheesy 1991 video to "Sexuality":

A solo version of "She Came Along to Me" (from Mermaid Avenue, an album Bragg made with Wilco, putting music to unrecorded songs of Woody Guthrie):

And finally, early birthday wishes + "A New England":

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Do Glasses Make The Man?

Above -- Old Glasses, New Glasses.
Below -- Old Glasses, New Glasses.

The aging process seems imperceptible, but the 23-year-old prediction that my eyesight would improve slightly several years before I'd need bifocals has begun to come true. The recommendation at Friday's appointment was that I should try to avoid using my glasses when I'm reading, in the hope that I can strengthen my eyes so that I won't need bifocals. The optometrist said that my astigmatism may make it too difficult, but that it was worth the try. I type this paragraph without my glasses, and I can just make out the words. For the proofreading, I put the glasses back on.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

'Tis the Season 2

I know a beer snob like me shouldn't take pleasure at seeing a bunch of Grolsch bottles, but sometimes it's all in the presentation.

My friend Pete sent this to me, joking that it was something for the beer party. Maybe in past years, but all I could think of in the here and now was, "Oh yeah -- I could see Little Miss Destructo Girl having a reaaaaallly good time with that. Sure she'd just 'look' at it."

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

'Tis the Season

It's December, and that means that there are plenty of great events to experience. Last night, for example, there was a beer dinner featuring two highly regarded, extremely rare beers that I was looking forward to trying. Tonight is my friend's 20+th annual Hanukkah party, an event I always enjoy. And this Friday is our annual holiday beer party.

Alas, being December, it also means that sickness is capable of rearing its ugly head in any variety of ways. The malady that struck me is some sort of stomach bug, one that made my innards feel as though they were covered in bile and left me with no appetite whatsoever (it took a lot of willpower just to eat a few crackers, a banana, and a package of Ramen yesterday). Fever/chills and throbbing headache are the bonuses.

Consequently, I missed work yesterday, and skipped last night's beer dinner. I'm feeling somewhat better today (no bile!), but still very weak, so I also stayed home today, figuring it was better to rest up a little more and regain my strength. The remnants of the kegs with the two rare beers go on tap at 5pm, but I went slightly green when Kathy offered to make me eggs this morning, so beer isn't an option, nor is tonight's Hanukkah party.

My goal is to be healthy for our party, and for the slew of prep that's needed to get the house ready. As for Kathy, she seems to have come down with a cold herself (it seems to be one of the standard variety ones), but trooper/masochist/martyr that she is, she's working through it. Emelia might have been sick last week (and in fact, might have given me my illness), but if so it was mild for her, and right now she's doing fine (knock wood).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thanksgiving in Photos

Thanksgiving was at my folks' house in Clearwater, Florida this year. It was exhausting, but good. It almost seems like we're getting comfortable spending time as a family, something I wouldn't have guessed possible just a couple of years ago. Except for the pre-race photo, all of these pictures are from my new camera (and the pre-race photo is from Kathy's new camera). Generally i was quite pleased with the pictures I got, chalking up the ones that didn't come out right to user error.

Kathy reading to nieces Leynie and Lauren and nephew Hunter as my sister Shari looks on

Luke, Emelia's younger (by three months) cousin




Most of us before the Thanksgiving Morning 5K (we walked)

My brother Josh with Emelia

My brother-in-law John with Leynie (his daughter)

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Looks like Amazon is taking a stab at selling a new and improved e-book, called Kindle. It looks very cool -- the two big selling points are its size (about the size and weight of a paperback) and its readability (no backlighting, very easy on the eyes). The fact that you can get your reading materials (not just books, but magazines and books as well) wirelessly via free data connections is really cool as well.

That being said, at $400 I think it’s at way too high a price point, especially since that only gets you the reader (for that price they could at least throw in a couple of free downloads!). For $400 it's possible to get a laptop that can do all the things that Kindle can do, and then some. In essence, you're trading the versatility of a laptop for the size and readability of the Kindle. Apple showed with the iPod that it's possible to charge a premium for size, but the iPod offers features that are comparable, not inferior, to the competition.

There's also the risk that the market for these devices doesn't develop, so you've put a good chunk of money down for an item that won't be supported in the future (this wasn't such a risk in the early days of portable mp3 players, since mp3s were already being made and used en masse by the time portable players showed up). Then you have to pay for the content. At $10/book, the price is about the same as for a paperback, except you can't share it or sell it. There are also monthly subscriptions available, e.g., $0.99 for blogsites, and more for magazine and newspaper subscriptions, though the content for almost all of these subscriptions is already available for free online (I believe it actually costs more for the Kindle version of the Washington Post than the paper version does, without the coupons!).

The fact that Amazon is also using a proprietary file system is also troubling. Apparently it's possible to convert pdf files (the format previous e-books have used, and the standard for home computing) to a version that can be read with the Kindle, but why should you have to?

So I guess I'm pretty skeptical that sales of Kindle will be able to catch fire. I do, however, think that they could make it work in one of two ways.

The first way would be to, in addition to lowering the price of the unit, ditch the per item approach and follow the music subscription approach -- have a $14.99/month (or something like that) subscription to unlimited content that's tied to the particular device, and whose access is contingent on maintaining one’s subscription. I admit that I have no idea how such an approach can work as far as splitting the subscription fee among all the authors and publishers whose works would be used, but I'm looking at it from the consumer side, and this seems like a service that could have some appeal.

Another way that it could succeed is if they're able to make all textbooks available (something that doesn't appear to be the case right now). Given how much a semester's worth of books weigh (and cost), college students would be delighted to have access to a light (and hopefully more affordable) way to have all their books. And once college students have the device, they could conclude that purchasing additional reading material wouldn't be such a big deal, particularly if they grow to appreciate the format.

It should be interesting to see if the Kindle takes off. I think it can, but not unless Amazon makes some significant changes.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

MLS Cup 2007 was at RFK, so I went to Brooklyn

My sport is soccer, and I have a third row midfield season ticket to DC United. United had the best record during the regular season, but got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. I had already purchased a ticket in my usual seat for this year's MLS Cup, which was being held here, but I didn't go.

My cousin Jeff has been a stage manager for various off-Broadway theater productions, and while someone might mistake that fact for his occupation (it isn't -- he's a high school English teacher in Brooklyn, a challenging task to say the least), it's much more accurate to say that role perfectly describes him. He's the guy behind the scenes who gets things done. That wasn't why I asked him to be my best man (technically he was also the maid-of-honor), but when I got sick the Friday before my Sunday wedding, that talent came to the fore when he and Kathy took care of the last-minute details. As it also did when little things needed taking care of at the wedding.

It's been a tough couple of months for Jeff. His father (my Dad's brother, Paul) died in September after a four-year battle with cancer. And for the last few months of his father's life and also during the aftermath, Jeff was shuttling down to Brevard, North Carolina, missing work to be there, helping his stepmom and being there for his sister. Both my Dad and I encouraged him to grieve for himself rather than continue his role as stage manager even then, but for Jeff that was easier said than done. There was a memorial service in Brevard at the end of October, to which Kathy, Emelia, and I went. As Kathy put it so succinctly, he's always been there for us, we should be there for him. During the ceremony, Jeff broke down when he was supposed to recite something, but later recovered in order to give an incredibly moving, eloquent, funny, and wholly spontaneous reflection on his father.

A couple of weeks after the memorial, Jeff's mom (my Aunt Faith) fell, shattering her left ankle, tearing all the ligaments and breaking her leg. As her only child, Jeff immediately dropped everything to be with her in New Jersey (Uncle Paul and Aunt Faith divorced when Jeff was a child), once again missing school, even though he had already fallen quite behind. After Aunt Faith's surgery, Jeff sent out an update to his friends, which said, among other things,
Beyond that my freaking birthday is next saturday and I could really really use time to see a bunch of people. I was just adjusting to my dad's death and trying to get myself back together this past weekend when i got the call about my mom.
It may not sound significant, but those two sentences were remarkable in that Jeff asked for help, rather than giving it. I gave my MLS ticket to a friend in the hope that he could sell it, and e-mailed Jeff's old roommate and best friend, Tony. I set it up with Tony to stay with him and his wife, and didn't tell Jeff I was coming. Tony suggested Jeff come over early to go out for dinner before heading to the bar where everyone was to meet up. Jeff's double take expression when he saw me was priceless, and the entire evening, from dinner on, was great. Tony observed that it was the most relaxed he had seen Jeff in about a year.

As for me, it was great to know that I was able to give something to him, and I didn't miss the game at all.

Jeff with Emelia in North Carolina

Friday, November 16, 2007

An Obsession Renewed

In the original Star Trek, the character Spock is a Vulcan, a species that prides itself on logic and rationality. Still, a Vulcan's logic and rationality must bend to erratic behavior every seven years, as part of a mating season. I'm pretty rational and fairly logical, but it goes without saying that I'm not a Vulcan. First, I can't wait seven years between matings. Second, my rationality apparently goes out the window much more often, at least every 2.5 - 3 years. But rather than being tied to mating, my temporary leave of my senses takes place because I go camera crazy.

I've been happy with my camera -- it's given me lots of great shots, and it shows no sign of falling apart. But it's got a weakness, and that weakness is the action shot. The action shot wasn't so important to me the last time I bought a camera because at that time I didn't have in my life a certain little girl who has trouble staying still. No matter that it has image stabilization, even that can only do so much -- virtually any point & shoot digital camera is going to have the same difficulties, given the little lag between clicking and the camera taking the shot. The alternative to a point & shoot is taking the plunge and buy a dSLR. Making the decision to buy one was easy -- picking which one was much harder.

While I like the idea of getting a camera that I can grow with, an opportunity that a dSLR affords, I knew I wouldn't be looking to become a serious photographer, and I don't have an interest in buying several different lenses. So it seemed that a "low-end" dSLR would be fine. The nominees were the Canon Rebels (XT and XTi), the Nikon D40x, the Pentax K100D, and the Olympus E-510. All of these are highly regarded, so in many ways I couldn't go wrong. Unfortunately, because all of these are highly regarded, I had a lot of trouble picking among them. The choice boiled down to picking between a less-popular brand with good quality, a ton of features, and a great price (either the Pentax or the Olympus), the popular camera (the Canons), or the ugly stepchild of the photographer's brand (the Nikon D40x).

Blah blah blah -- no one but a techno/camera geek would want to hear about how I chose among these options, so I'll skip that part of the tale and tell you that I went with the Olympus E-510. The price was great, and the camera has image stabilization inside the camera, mucho megapixels (10.1), a dust reduction system, and a mediocre live view (this isn't bad -- the other dSLRs don't have live view at all). Plus, the kit I went with comes with two well-regarded lightweight lenses that give me a huge range (28-300mm equivalent). I just got the shipping notice that it's expected to arrive on Tuesday, so if all goes according to plan I'll have it when I head down to Florida the next day for Thanksgiving. Hopefully my family will understand if I'm somewhat preoccupied with playing with my new toy instead of hanging with them (don't worry Mom and Dad, I'm kidding (mostly)).

For what it's worth, over the Thanksgiving holiday I won't be the only one with a new toy. Whether the decision was made as a salve to the guilt I'm feeling from my big purchase, or simply because she's been looking into getting a tiny camera with image stabilization, Kathy's new toy is scheduled to arrive on Monday -- it's a PowerShot SD850 IS, a seriously updated version of the camera she's had for nearly three years. At around $250, it's ridiculously inexpensive compared to what that price got you three years ago.

One of Emelia's favorite words is "cheese" -- I have a feeling that we're going to be asking her to say it more often than she already does, even though she might get disappointed when after she says it, her parents don't give her one of her favorite foods.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

About That Birthday...

Emelia turned 1 on Wednesday (damn did that year go by quick!), and while I feel quite behind in posting about other things that I've done or thought about, or that have happened in the past few weeks, I figured the birthday photos needed to be posted regardless. We didn't have a party by any stretch -- the people with whom we share the nanny, as well as Tom, came over to sing happy birthday, and to eat the chocolate-frosted muffins Kathy made, but that was it. We hadn't initially planned on doing anything, but what kind of first birthday would it be without chocolate frosting (which Emelia thoroughly enjoyed)?

Many thanks to Tom for taking these great photos!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pocono Vacation

The folks had a time share that they sold a couple of years ago. In June they announced to my siblings and me that they had one exchange week left that had to be used by mid-November. When no one else could use it, we grabbed it for a week of Fall Foliage in the Poconos, a place neither Kathy nor I had been.

We headed North on Saturday, a day before our rental began, after I discovered that there was a beer festival outside of Philly on that day. Despite accusations from everyone I've told about it, I honestly didn't set this up -- we picked the rental for this week because I was off for Columbus Day. I only realized that I'd be able to attend the festival a couple of months after we booked the trip. While I was at the festival, Kathy and Emelia went 15 minutes away to visit with Kathy's grandmother.

The next day, we meandered through parts of New Jersey en route to the rental. Among other stops (i.e., stops other than the beer/wine store and brewpub), we visited a state park, where Emelia got to strut her stuff:

Alas, all that walking wore her out.

In the Poconos, our accommodations were at Split Rock, a resort by Lake Harmony. We stayed in a one-bedroom apartment with full kitchen. The resort itself had plenty of activities, but not surprisingly, there wasn't much geared toward children less than one year old. So for the most part, we used our rental as a launch point to explore the area.

Weather was warm, hot even, the first couple of days. On Monday we visited a nearby brewpub for lunch, and went past an outlet shopping center on the way back home. There, we picked up a winter jacket for Emelia (the blue Michelin-man one in the photos), and looked for a couple of other things. Even as we were doing it, we realized how idiotic it was to trudge through an outlet mall packed with tons of shoppers on Columbus Day on a sunny 85-degree day.

Our accommodations were less than 15 minutes away from a great state park, Hickory Run, with over 15,000 acres. Hickory Run was Kathy's and my favorite part of our vacation. We went there three separate times, and visited wholly distinct areas each time.

But just because Kathy and I enjoyed the hikes, don't think for a minute that nature was Emelia's favorite part of the vacation. Every time we entered the main entrance to the building we were staying in, we ended up passing a painting that made her smile. We even took her to that picture sometimes when she was getting a bit stir-crazy in the apartment, to her great delight.

Yes, our budding art critic was smitten with a painting of a dog wearing clothes.

Thursday was when the rain came, and cooled everything considerably. Fortunately we had picked that day as our pampering day -- I got a massage in the morning, and Kathy got a haircut and pedicure in the afternoon. By Friday afternoon, the weather had cleared again, and we returned to the outdoors.

It turned out that our week was a bit early for foliage -- we still got to see some color, but most of the trees were still green.

Other than those last two days of Maine, this also was the first vacation with just the three of us. Emelia didn't sleep as well as she does at home, and never slept through the night. The fact that I snored a couple of nights in a row meant that I was relegated to the sofa in the living room for the rest of the stay. It actually wasn't that uncomfortable (and the bed wasn't too comfy anyhow), but it still wasn't the ideal set-up. All of us were pretty tired by the end of our trip, but also pretty relaxed.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Civic Pride

And no, I'm not making a pun about our 2002 Honda Civic. Apparently my neighborhood is one of the 10 best in the country, at least according to the American Planning Association. Of course, I didn't need an organization I've never heard of to tell me that.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A New Emelia Video

A mediocre example of her walking (seems like she can walk forever), but since it's the only video of her walking that we have so far, I guess it'll do. ;) Besides, the highlight isn't the walking, but the smile.

Monday, September 24, 2007

An Unreasonable Application of a Reasonable Idea

Raise your hand if you know how the electoral college works. If you do and live in the United States, you're part of a small minority. For those who don't, here's a very brief civics lesson.

The general idea is that citizens of each state vote for representatives (electors) to a body (the electoral college) that selects the president, and the number of representatives each state gets for the electoral college is weighted, based on the number of senators plus representatives to Congress. As for how the representatives for a particular state votes, that's usually on a winner-take-all basis. In other words, if a candidate has more votes than the runner up in a state, all the state's representatives to the Electoral College vote for the winner. While this process usually results in the popular vote getter for the whole country winning the election, it doesn't always. The 2000 election is a good example of that. Because of the winner-take-all approach, in theory someone can win the 11 most populous states by one vote each, get crushed in the remaining 39 states, and still get elected president.

And yet, there is no requirement that a state have all its electors vote for the statewide winner. In 1972, Maine decided to have two of its electors vote for the statewide winner, with the other electors decided based on Congressional district. With Maine presently having four electoral votes, it's possible that Maine can vote 3-1 in the electoral college. In 1992, Nebraska (presently with six electoral votes) adopted what's known as the "Maine Method," and those two states are the only ones that do not follow the winner-take-all approach for their electors. Going back to the 2000 election, if Florida had also done this (and assuming no other state did), then Gore would have been elected president.
[/civics lesson]

It seems so much more reasonable for the electoral votes to be assigned under the Maine Method that it seems a wonder that more states haven't adopted it. Actually, given the politics of getting laws changed, it's no wonder at all. If you've got a largely Democratic state, with its governor and state legislature majority Democrat, and most of its Congressional representatives the same, there's no incentive to change the state laws so that the Democrats lose electors to Republicans. And the same holds in reverse. Thus, generally speaking, about the only way to switch to this approach en masse would be at the federal level, where both Democrats and Republicans have something to both win and lose. I'm not sure, however, that even if there was the impetus, whether the change could be done by statute. If it had to be done by constitutional amendment, it would be much harder, given that it would need to go through all those state legislatures that aren't changing things right now.

The wrinkle to all this is that some Republicans in California are proposing an amendment to the California constitution that would adopt the Maine Method in California. The amendment, which can pass by a simple majority of voters, would bypass the legislature. California has by far the most electors in the country, and in recent years has voted Democrat in the presidential elections, by significant margins. But not all of California is Democrat. In the current Congress, 19 of its 53 seats in Congress are held by Republicans. Under the Maine Method, if only 15 of those districts voted Republican in a presidential election, California would shift from 55-0 to 40-15, i.e., from +55 for the Democrats to +25, a difference of 30. It's far more likely that Republicans would carry even more districts (according to the link above, Bush took 22 districts in 2004, so the "Maine Method" would have moved Kerry's net in the state from 55-0 to 33-22, a difference of 44, and made the count in Ohio irrelevant). As you can imagine, that would make a huge difference in the 538-seat electoral college, given Bush defeated Gore by only five electoral votes in 2000.

The Republican entities promoting the amendment contend that this change would cause candidates to pay more attention to California, but political scientists say it would have the opposite effect. That's because gerrymandering has created so many safe districts in the state that there won't be but a handful of districts in play. They say it would be far better for candidates to focus on states like Florida, with its 27 electoral votes all going to the winner, and a fairly even split of the electorate. But then again, no matter the assertions being made, as the numbers I pointed out above demonstrate, there's little doubt that the point of this amendment is to neutralize a key source of electoral votes for Democrats.

Will California enact the Maine Method? As I noted, in the abstract it seems like a very reasonable idea. The question is whether voters will be able to look past the abstract and recognize the partisan purpose of the proposition. Perhaps some will say that it's the right thing to do on behalf of California, even if other states don't do the same. Regardless, if it passes, it will have major repercussions for presidential elections for years to come.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Look Who's Walking

In the first 11 days after Emelia took her first steps, she didn't do much walking. A step here, and a few steps there, but that was about it. Generally speaking, she still preferred to grab a finger or a hand, just for reassurance. Here are a couple of photos from Monday morning.

You can see plenty of confidence, but there's also the hand that she insists on holding.

Yesterday she finally started walking. Many steps all in a row, and not necessarily ending with a fall onto her tush. By this evening, she was taking more steps than crawling. As her success grew, she even started demanding "star treatment."

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Okay, maybe not, but I think the photo's a keeper.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

No Photos But...

You know who took her first steps this evening, one day shy of turning 10 months. All you experienced parents can chuckle to yourselves at my thinking that things aren't really going to change much, given how much mobility she already had.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cool Music Site

A friend sent me a music site in passing, and I've been checking it out for the past couple of days. Seeqpod is basically a music search engine that allows you to hunt down artists or tunes you like and which are already on the web. It's still in beta, but I'm loving some of the features, such as making your own playlist in no time at all (and being able to embed it into your blog). Here's one I just whipped up for a mellow Sunday, and which I'm playing right now (warning -- I'll probably tinker with this playlist over the next couple of hours, so what's here when I published this post might not be what'll be here later on):


Have fun making your own.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Environmentalism and Us

Kathy and I seem like we're on the cusp of something that seems like more than a phase, but because we're generally so bad at following through on our "grand plans," it may ultimately turn out to be only a phase. The thrust of our intention is trying to become significantly more environmentally conscious. Doing things like trying to reduce, or better yet, eliminate the number of plastic bags we use and generally reduce the number of disposable products (and even containers) we buy (definitely trying to avoid bottled water). And buy more local foods (particularly produce). And buy fewer "things," especially new stuff. And get rid of a goodly amount of our stuff.

Kathy's bought washcloths that we're trying to use instead of paper towels, and nylon bags instead of plastic ones. This past weekend we took those bags to Eastern Market (although the temporary building doesn't re-open until tomorrow, there are plenty of vendors lined up on weekends) and used them for the fruits and vegetables from West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Later, we used canvas bags when we did a grocery run.

I don't know how far we'll get (or whether I'll revert to being a relative Environmental Inactivist), but the fact that we pretty much independently reached similar conclusions bodes well for our willingness to pursue this path. We're not looking to be radical (yet), and we recognize that whatever we do is a fraction of what we could do. For instance, we still use plastic bags (I have to clean up after the dogs somehow), our house is woefully energy inefficient, and we're still using disposable diapers. At the same time, we figure that every little bit helps.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Learning of Nature

I don't expect to see anything interesting when I'm walking the dogs at 7:40am. Maybe I should, but years of nothing eventful taking place has surely jaded me. On the morning in question, I'm not talking about the lovely Monarch butterfly I saw hanging out on the Parkers' trellis, though Kathy and Emelia followed me out of the house, and Emelia was able to see the butterfly when we pointed it out to her.

What caught my attention was an odd sound high in a tree 20 feet away. It sounded like a cicada, but it seemed louder, somehow more insistent. Next thing I know two cicadas fell to the ground, and the clicking noise a cicada makes was altered by the brick on which they lay. I moved closer, and realized that it was only one cicada, still making that noise, and it was being attacked by, as Kathy put it, "a giant stingy thing." It looked like a wasp, but the coloring was unlike what I'd ever seen before. In another minute, the noise stopped, and the cicada was seemingly dead.

The giant stingy thing then began the task of carrying the cicada away. This wasn't an easy thing to do -- the cicada was quite a big bigger, but the GST persevered, dragging it for a while, flying for a foot or two, and carrying it into a bush. Eventually I had to go back to feed the dogs, but I was struck by this sight, something I'd never seen before.

Back home, sitting at the computer, Kathy googled around, and together we learned that what we saw was in fact a cicada killer wasp capturing its prey. Nice to know that being in the city hasn't deprived me of seeing a bit of nature every now and again.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Emelia at Nine Months

"I'm not a little monster. This is a little monster!"

Tuesday marked Emelia's nine-month "birthday," meaning that she's now spent more time outside the womb than in it. It's easy to forget there was a time when she wasn't a part of our lives, much less such an integral part of them.

Yesterday at her checkup, she received a round of immunizations that she seems to have handled without incident. As for her weight and height, she's 20 pounds 10 oz, and 28 inches long. Apparently that puts her between the 75th and 90th percentile for weight and between the 50th and 75th for height, compared with the 50th percentile for both at the last checkup, so she's grown by leaps and bounds over the past three months.

She's got four teeth, two up and two down. She's still curious about everything, and generally happy. She laughs a bunch, and "talks" a fair amount -- Kathy and Avery (the nanny) say they think she's properly used Dada and Nana (how Avery is referred to), but I'm not sure. The only thing preventing her from walking on her own is balance, and she really wants to get that down. She often prefers that we take her two hands for balance while she walks rather than crawl, and moves quickly regardless of whether she walks or crawls. All it takes is a few seconds, and she's gone over to the stairs in order to climb them (we never did get gates, and now she goes up them with no trouble (with one of us behind her all the way, of course)). She's not much into being read to -- when she's up she wants to do stuff rather than sit there. So when we do read to her, it's often background noise for her while she does something else. Still, she's started opening the books she's chewing on and at least appears to be looking at the pictures.

I also think the childcare situation is working well. Kathy loves having those two days a week with Emelia. And as for the other three days, Emelia loves Avery, and we're happy with her as well. Also, by having Jonah (the other child in the nannyshare) in her life, Emelia is probably getting at least a bit of the experience of having a sibling.

"No More Photos, Please"

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

It's Hot, Damn Hot

Despite not being one who sweats much, I was more than damp by the time I reached my office before 9 am. Now, in the "coolness" of the night, excuse me if I just stand here, letting my body melt onto the steps outside my house, the redness of my sinews blending with the bricks upon which my syrupy insides accumulate. It's cold somewhere, and that thought provides me with a scintilla of comfort, the very idea that maybe I could escape this oppressiveness -- the heat index was well into the 100s today, and is supposed to stay that way for the next couple of days. That maybe it's hotter elsewhere is no consolation. Can you see my ankle bones sticking out of the drying heap, above the blue checked short-sleeved shirt that's become glued to the sidewalk? The plants need water, though it's probably too late for most of their dried-out husks, overheated and undernourished. Maybe when it cools down to 80 or so, Kathy will come outside and sweep up my remains -- I understand urns are a popular place to put them, and it seems more dignified than having a dog piss onto my crystallized grains and send them into the gutter and down the drain that's two houses down.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Weekend in Maine

When we booked our flight to Maine several months ago, Kathy and I decided to add an extra couple of days at the end of the trip to do additional exploring. By Friday, with the lack of sleep and the extra effort of watching Suz's three kids, Kathy was ready to skip the extra days in order to relax at home, going so far as to look into the cost of going back on Saturday. Alas, there was nothing available, so we were "forced" to spend those days on vacation.

We left the house Saturday morning, and made it a whopping 1.5 miles down the road before I spontaneously decided to pull over, so we could take a trail walk in the marshes. It was lovely and peaceful, and I was a bit amused that we had stayed so close to this spot without exploring it sooner. Still, it was a good way to signal the break from our week at the beach, and 45 minutes later, we resumed our trip North.

Next stop was Freeport, and damn is that a silly place to visit. Headquarters of L.L. Bean and a massive array of "outlets" that seemed to be offering products at retail price, we wandered there for about an hour under ominous skies. Before leaving, however, we stopped at Derosiers, which has a good selection of local beers that I purchased for later, and ate an inexpensive lunch. We learned that while Emelia is quite comfortable in a high chair, she's not yet ready for a booster chair.

After Freeport we continued to make our way up the coast. We drove around Bath, but didn't stop -- nothing looked inviting enough for us to wake up a sleeping baby. In reading the brochures we picked up at the Visitors center in Freeport, Kathy noticed that Boothbay Harbor is home to the Maine State Aquarium (and Kathy's an aquarium junkie), so we turned off U.S. 1 and headed there. And while the aquarium was a disappointment (it's one large room that took less than 20 minutes to look at), its location was a treat. It's right at the edge of the harbor, across from the town, and we must have stayed outside there for a solid hour, enjoying the picturesque views while Emelia was feeling fairly miserable (not sure what the problem was, but she wasn't happy).

One other note about our time in Boothbay was that right when we sat down outside the aquarium, someone with a toy Doberman came over. Emelia has always loved dogs, and not been intimidated by them in the slightest. But she was terrified of this friendly three-pound dog named Grace, and wouldn't stop crying until the owner took Grace away.

While we thought about staying in such a nice coastal town, we wanted to see more of the coast, so we pressed northward. We stopped at another beer store right on U.S. 1, but otherwise didn't stop until we reached Rockland, where we grabbed one of the last rooms available at a hotel across from the ferry station, loaded our stuff into the room, and walked around town some before stopping for dinner. After we ate, we returned to our room, got Emelia to sleep, and went outside onto the little balcony for conversation, enjoying the beautiful evening as the sky gradually darkened, and drinking three of the beers we had bought that day.

The next morning we took our time getting rolling, but eventually checked out and made our way to the Maine Lighthouse Museum. It was by no means large or particularly impressive, but I enjoyed it nonetheless, as there were many exhibits and lots of information to take in. Afterwards, Emelia was tired and went back to sleep as soon as we put her in the car, but we only let her rest 15 minutes before we got out again to walk on the Rockland breakwater (though we didn't walk the 7/8-mile to the lighthouse at the end).

Back into the car, but already we were approaching lunchtime, so we picked up sandwiches at a Subway just south of Camden, drove through the town, entered Camden Hills State Park, and drove up Mt. Battie to enjoy a beautiful setting with our lunch. The skies were clear, and below us we could see a good chunk of Penobscot Bay.

From there we drove north to Belfast. Belfast seemed like a town we'd want to explore, but with Emelia sleeping, we limited ourselves to a drive through. After Belfast, we decided it was time to start making our way back to Portland. Rather than retrace our path, we elected to drive to Augusta, the state capital. We didn't see much to do in town, though we did give Emelia the opportunity to crawl around some in Capitol Park, across from the Capitol building. Next stop was a brewpub conveniently located less than two miles away, The Liberal Cup, where we enjoyed beers and a snack. We would have liked to stay longer, but Emelia wasn't up for it, so we hit the road again, to make our way back to the Portland area. We stopped at a Super 8 on the edge of town, took a quick swim, and realized that it was too late for us to go into town for dinner as we had intended. So Kathy hit a supermarket for carrots, hummus, and a loaf of French bread, and upon her return we sat in the stairwell next to our room while we (unsuccessfully) tried to get Emelia to sleep. It ultimately took a couple of hours for Emelia to go to sleep, and that was only when we went to sleep ourselves.

On Monday morning we did a quick drive through some of Portland before we went back to the airport for our 12:20 flight, and you already know what happened next. Still, we had a great couple of days, and by the end both Kathy and I were glad that we weren't able to come home early.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Week in Maine

Several years ago, my Mom decided that she wanted to spend her inheritance on family vacations, and the decision on where to hold the annual vacation is rotated among the folks and their four children. In year one, my folks selected Crescent Beach, Florida, near where we grew up. For the second year, my brother selected the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My sister selected Myrtle Beach in year three. If you've noticed a trend, then you're not alone, so this year, when it was our turn, we decided to break out of the Southern beach rut and head north. We first started looking at Newfoundland and Nova Scotia -- as much as those places seemed like they'd be fantastic, we were unable to find houses that would contain all 14 of us (two parents, four children, three spouses, and five grandchildren), especially in the lifestyle to which my family had grown accustomed the past couple of years. Settling on Maine, we came across this house just south of Portland. The house even came with the all-important heated pool for the family members who wouldn't be up for swimming in the ocean so far north (and for the grandchildren too young to swim in the ocean).

Overall, I'd say it was probably our best family vacation yet. The house could have used a little more effort in the upkeep (e.g., sliding glass doors and screens that worked properly), but it was more than adequate, despite everyone not having private bathrooms like in years past. We got rain for a couple of days, but it never got too hot (or too cold). And this was about the extent of the complaints. People got along better than in past years, the beach itself was awesome, and the usual fights about food (e.g., eating out vs. cooking; and parental complaints about buying too much) never seemed to materialize, due partly to better planning this year.

With all the people around her, Emelia stayed pretty wound up. As a result, she slept poorly, meaning that Kathy (mostly) or I (occasionally) would be up with her while everyone else slept, and we got more tired as the week wore on. Still, it was great seeing Emelia interact with all of her first cousins. And I mean it when I say "all," because we had Suz's kids with us for three days -- their Dad lives in Maine, and he was nice enough to let them stay with us. It also meant that Hunter, my brother's son, had peers with him (with whom he got along great), instead of being over five years older than the next cousin (his sister). Having to supervise four kids instead of one sometimes felt a bit overwhelming, but Suz's children are generally great, though they did get a little grumpy the last day with us.

Emelia with her parents and all her first cousins. I'm holding Luke, three months Emelia's junior, whom we got to meet for the first time on this trip.

Josh, Kim, Hunter, and Lauren, at Cape Elizabeth (Two Lights), a must visit if you're ever in the area.

Josh, Mom, Aaron, Shari, Dad, and Rebecca

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Choice

Say your flight out of Portland, Maine is already late, you've been at the airport for over three hours, and you've got a overtired 8.5 month old and an airport with almost no place to let her run around. The airline informs you that the delay was due to an engine problem, and because the problem can't be fully resolved, 55 people are going to have to be bumped. Before you say that you'd rather be bumped than fly on such a risky flight, you should know that the airline is fully booked for the next three days, so if you choose to be bumped, instead of waiting for another flight, you'll be in charge of getting yourself down to Boston (2.5 hours away) for a flight out of there, and be reimbursed for the bus fare.

Kathy was awfully nervous about getting on the plane, but I was relatively calm about the whole thing. The unpleasant alternative of extending the necessary travel with Emelia as miserable as she felt was part of it. The fact that the captain was willing to risk his life in flying was a consideration as well. But the deciding factor came from the lawyer in me -- any airline that knew it had a problem and nevertheless risked the lives of its passengers would be doubly damned in the resulting lawsuits. Under such circumstances, I felt sure that the airline would triple check everything before proceeding.

Only after we boarded and before we took off did we receive a complete explanation of the problem from the captain. From how it was described, the deicing mechanism on one of the engines couldn't be turned off, which in turn limits the amount of thrust available for taking off, which meant they needed to reduce the load. It sounded reasonable to me, and the flight was without incident (except for a bit of turbulence during our descent, during which Kathy was kind enough to only dig her fingers (and not her nails) into my leg).

I'll try to describe other aspects of the trip over the next few days.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wall of Voodoo

Do you have albums by artists that are considered one-hit wonders, and if you do, do they stay in your rotation for more than a couple of plays?

It's hard to believe "Mexican Radio" came out 25 years ago. For some reason, Wall of Voodoo only had that single hit -- once they were compartmentalized as a novelty group on the basis of that tune, I guess that was all she wrote. At some point a few years ago, I saw the CD it was on, Call of the West, in a used CD bin, and I've been listening to it every so often since. "Mexican Radio" is probably the poppiest of the tunes, but the rest of it is pretty catchy as well, with Stan Ridgway's distinctive vocals being supported by creative percussion and a Western synth sound. There's a fair amount of darkness in the lyrics and tone, something that's hardly noticeable in "Mexican Radio" when heard outside of the context of the album.

Regardless, you already know "Mexican Radio," so have a listen to a couple of other tracks off the album, "Factory" and the title track (I find it amazing that not only are they on youtube, but several others tracks are as well). They're not wholly true to the album versions -- in particular the percussion's a bit different -- but after all, that's the point of live performances. That, and to show off the early '80s threads.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Move, or, How Many Parentheticals Can I Stuff into a Single Post?

On Friday we head to Maine for the annual weekly family vacation with my family. We're heading up a day early and staying an extra couple of days, in case we need some down time that a week with my family may not provide (my brother's post from yesterday provides some indication on why we might need additional down time). As Kathy's been looking up possible things to do in the area for those extra days as well as the rest of the time we're in the general area, she's come to the conclusion that Portland's a pretty neat town. In fact, she's interested in moving there, and has already picked out the house she wants to move into (I said to her that I'd actually like to visit before making such a commitment).

We have a love/hate relationship with DC that probably is worth an entirely separate post if I could accurately put it into words. We like our house, and given inertia, it's easy to do nothing and stay here. But with the arrival of Emelia, time is no longer our ally. We're zoned for an awful school, which means that we can either try out a charter school (DC has a ton of them, and hopefully the next few years will provide some data on how good they actually are), spring for private school (o u c h !), hope that rezoning occurs (we're actually only a couple of blocks from a decent school -- it's just that we're zoned for the rotten one that's a tiny bit closer), take our chances and apply for an out-of-zone school (lottery process), keep our fingers crossed that the new school boss will do what none of her predecessors could (improve the public schools), consider homeschooling (don't laugh -- Kathy talks about it), or move. If we were to move, we could go a few blocks from here to get into a better school on Capitol Hill, move into one of the suburbs with a good school system, or leave the area altogether.

As for the latter option, moving somewhere else is something of a running joke with us that started several years before Emelia entered our lives. After the 2004 election we said we wanted to leave the country, and looked into the possibility of a number of places, particularly Canada. After our trip to Costa Rica the following year, we, along with Kathy's family (they went with us to Costa Rica), toyed with the idea of moving down there (given that the country abolished its army 50 years ago, what more could a Quaker family want)? From then on we've had talks with Kathy's family of creating a "family compound" somewhere, though these days it's usually somewhere in the U.S. Exactly where that compound would be has been the topic of many discussions. In February Kathy's folks took a two-week look around that extended from New York to North Carolina looking for rural land on which to move the family.

Even if there's no family compound, Kathy wants to live closer to her family. Of course, what will be closer to her family is something of an open question due to the variable that is Kathy's sister Suz. Suz has wanted to stay relatively North because her kids' Dad lives in Maine, but doesn't want to go too far North because she has Seasonal Affective Disorder. At the time we took a trip to New England in November 2005, that area was one of the ones in which Suz was interested (her boyfriend was attending school in that general area). But that boyfriend is now an ex, and Suz has recently found her soulmate who lives in northern New York (north of Syracuse, closer to Ottawa than anywhere anyone's ever heard of in New York) and doesn't want to move. So now she's focusing on that area (which is why Kathy sent around this property that we found last week), even though it's a couple of hours south of where the soulmate lives, eight hours from where Suz and the folks currently live, almost as far from her kids' Dad (google maps says the best route sends you through Montreal), and North of the farthest North she's ever lived. This isn't to say that Suz has made up her mind about moving out there (and these drawbacks are presumably why she's struggling with the decision).

Sometimes in considering possible move destinations, we decide that we don't want to be dependent on whether, when or where anyone else moves, and so we focus on places that interest us. Thus Portland, or Ithaca -- we do like the idea of being fairly close to some vestige of culture. Most of the time, however, our dreams take us into somewhere rural or small town, where housing is inexpensive, and we can toy with the idea of retiring out there (if we just put in a few more years, the stock market cooperates, we live much more frugally than we do now, and we win the lottery) rather than wrestle with what I as an administrative law attorney want to do when I grow up (or failing that, what I would do if I left the DC area). Then again, how good are the schools at any of these places?

Ah, decisions.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Uh oh

Guess who climbed up the stairs this evening? Not just one or two either, but all of them (with Kathy right behind her but never needing to catch or support her). Hint: it's the same individual who kept her parents up for most of last night from 2am onward. This kid is Trouble (with a capital T that rhymes with E), and we really should get some gates.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Two Weeks Ago

Emelia went swimming for the first time when we were in Minneapolis. On Saturday Kathy took her, and on Sunday I went in with her. As fearless in the water as she is outside it, while I had her on the steps she lunged into the water, fully submerging herself before I could get her. But when I grabbed her a second later, she was fine, not even the slightest bit of fear in her eyes or water in her mouth.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Library Blues

My mother is a librarian, and she imparted to me a lifelong love of reading. I go through phases when I'm not doing much reading,* but on average I read a couple of books a month. This morning Kathy, Emelia and I went to the local library branch so Kathy and I could check out some books for our upcoming trip to the beach. Upon our arrival we discovered that in the four months or so since we'd last been (it's embarrassing to admit that it's been so long, though we had visited the main library in the meantime), the library had undergone a renovation.

In the middle of the room were eight computer terminals, and on either side were new bookshelves. The bookshelves had glass sides with art and literary quotes on them, and looked beautiful. Unfortunately, one thing that they didn't have was two-thirds of the books that had been in the library before the renovation. There were fewer shelves, they weren't close to being filled, and now some of them had CDs and DVDs instead of books. I was dismayed to realize that my library had become one of those lovely painted eggshells that had been hollowed out.

I understand the desire to provide multiple services for the public, but I don't understand why doing that means that you have to reduce the number of books at all, much less so dramatically -- it seems that a library should, first and foremost, be a resource for books. Does it make sense to attempt to attract people who might not come at the expense of those of us who have been using it?

We ended up checking out three paperbacks. In the future, I fear we'll have to make more frequent visits downtown if we want to find stuff we want to read, and overall we'll check out fewer books. I had a conversation with someone else who was making her first post-renovation visit, and she was equally disappointed with what the library had become. Sadly, if enough of us feel that way, that means that fewer people will visit this library to check out books, thereby vindicating the library's decision and possibly leading to the removal of even more books and creating a nasty little feedback loop. Yuck.
* -- As used in this sentence, the term reading refers only to reading books. I am constantly reading news, sports, blogs, forums, etc. ad infinitum. Not to mention that my job requires a great deal of reading. I could no sooner go long periods without reading much of anything than stop breathing.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Onion

About the time I returned from paternity leave, The Onion started a DC edition, and it's definitely helped with the transition back to work. Since then, I've been looking forward to each Thursday morning, as that's when I can pick up the latest edition. Without fail, I always find something during those 12 minutes before I reach the office that gets me in the right frame of mind for the day, be it politics, news, sports, or pop culture.

Not only that, now The Onion offers video features as well (not available in the print edition). Here's one from this week that seems particularly relevant to my life.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Independence Day

At 10am we go to a parade -- a band, a Go Kart, balloons aplenty, a bulldozer, various cars decked out in flags, various marchers, a little kid dressed up as Spiderman and escorted by his (her?) Dad. Interesting to see a small slice of Americana right here in DC, on Capitol Hill no less. This parade has been taking place for many years, but it's the first time we check it out. I'm not sure we even knew it took place before this year -- something about having a child, I suppose.

At 1:30 we head out to McLean to attend a picnic put together by a college friend of Kathy's that we've hardly seen in the 10 months since he and his family moved into the area (they're foreign service, and head for Kyrgyzstan in a couple of months). We'd love to stay for a while, but we're out of there after 90 minutes, so much left to do.

At 4:30 we're back in DC, amazingly enough no traffic getting back into town. We do a quick clean-up, and Kathy starts the food prep for having a small gathering of our own.

At 9pm, after we've finished dinner, about 12 of us head to our roof, where we can see the fireworks on the Mall (due West), and in pretty much every other direction. We've got the tallest roof on our side of the street, and are afforded pretty good views -- a veritable 360 of explosions continues long after the "big event" had finished, and several sites were still lighting up the sky when we finally left the roof at 10:30.

All in all, an active but very enjoyable holiday. I hope everyone's 4th of July was equally satisfying.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day

If you know how I feel about Valentine's Day, you won't be surprised to hear that for me Father's Day, even my first one, is nothing special -- so far anyhow, the fact that I'm a father is special every day. But to any fathers out there for whom Father's Day is special, particularly my own Dad, I wish you a wonderful one.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Internet Deaths also come in Threes

The Internet has connected me to hundreds of people I'd never know otherwise. Sometimes I know these people almost like they're kin. Other times I read them from afar, reading their thoughts without reciprocating. Sometimes they're causal acquaintances, occasionally business associates, but regardless, a connection is established. And when that connection is cut, I still feel it.

About a week ago, I heard that one of the people with whom I play online boggle died of cancer. I'd met Mark about three years ago at a gathering in DC of some of the people on the site. He'd come up from Florida, and his sister had come down from New York City. He seemed a genuinely nice guy, somewhere in his mid-to-late 50s, but I didn't know him well. I'd just see him online regularly, and we'd play Boggle. Occasionally bits of news would come up in the chat that takes place while waiting for a game to start, but that was the extent of our communications.

Shortly after that, I learned that Steve Gilliard died after an extended illness. I'd stumbled across Steve's former site by accident, following a link, or perhaps by clicking on "Next Blog" at the top of the page. He was an unrepentant liberal whose tone was acerbic interlaced with humor, and his style was direct. I frequently read the stories that he either wrote or commented on. I didn't always agree with him, but his blog was always worth reading -- it needed to be, since that was how he made his living. The subject matter he wrote or posted about seemed limitless, and strayed from politics to include food, pop culture, sports, and all things New York. I posted a couple of comments, but I never corresponded with him. I didn't even know what he looked like until a picture of him went up on his site In Memoriam. Still, his posts gave us a glimpse into who he was, just as I hope mine do for me.

And on Wednesday I learned that someone that I'd worked with but never met had died the day before. Elizabeth worked for a government agency in Hawaii, and we needed to e-mail frequently concerning a protracted case I'm working on. She had been battling cancer for quite a while, and my co-worker and I learned of her illness only because of the resulting delays to our case. I don't know how old she was, but in my mind's eye I pictured her to be about 40. She was a scientist who'd just finished up returning to school to become a lawyer. She was quite helpful, and very willing to work with us in pursuit of a reasonable result.

None of these people were close to me, and I don't really expect to miss any of them. There are many other people I've met online who have become much closer acquaintances, and some of these have become genuine friends. Still, I feel sadness about the deaths of each of them, all of them too early in life. Maybe it's pathetic, a sign of how fortunate I've been, i.e., the relative good health of my real-life friends and family means I'm seeking out surrogate grief on behalf these people I hardly even knew. Personally, I think it's just a sign of how connected the world has become.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Letters for Scooter Libby

When Scooter Libby's sentence was handed down, the judge also made public the letters he had received in response to his invitation for people to comment on the sentencing. I’ve been skimming them, and have been struck by the consistency of what I’ve read. The letters were from (1) professional colleagues and associates; (2) personal friends and acquaintances; and (3) people with no direct ties to Libby.

As near as I can tell, everyone in category 1 & 2 has nothing but glowing things to tell of Libby, and asked the court for leniency. The people in these categories include several famous names (e.g., Kissinger, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Deborah Tannen (who’s his next door neighbor)), and the support also came from a number of people who stated that they disagreed with him politically. Even though I’m not sympathetic to Libby, I became impressed with Libby by what I learned in some of these letters -- the personal anecdotes describing both the numerous good things he had done and the caring he exhibited in all facets of his life suggest that Libby has been a wonderful person. "His actions were never about what he could get out of it personally. . . they were about how he could help others." Many of the letters expressed shock that he could have done what he was convicted of doing -- "I cannot state strongly enough that Scooter's conviction is completely inconsistent with his character. First, . . . Scooter is extremely honest. I never knew him to lie, exaggerate or bend the truth, NEVER."

On the other side of the ledger, everyone in category 3 (about 10% of the letters) asked the judge to sentence Libby to the maximum (or to deviate upward) based on the seriousness of the crime.

Libby argued that his sentence shouldn't have included jail time. I recognize the argument that even without jail time, Libby will suffer a great deal -- with this conviction, his legal career is at an end. Nevertheless, obstructing justice and perjury are serious crimes. Someone who obstructs justice prevents justice from being carried out, and protects people who should be prosecuted. If the penalty is a fine, then you create an incentive for those who have committed crimes to in essence buy their way out of having to face the consequences of their illegal activities. Without real consequences, there’s little reason to testify truthfully. The investigation here was into the outing of a covert CIA agent, and there's a significant possibility that in addition to the loss of the intelligence network she worked with, people who were part of that network may have been killed as a result. It's probable that we won't ever know the full effects of the outing. Nevertheless, despite the potentially serious consequences, Libby has shown no remorse for his obstruction into this investigation.

Ultimately, I agree with John E. Rogers, a former Assistant United States Attorney, who said in his letter --
I urge you to impose a sentence in this case appropriate to the crimes committed by this defendant, taking into consideration his betrayal of his high position and his country, his superior knowledge as a lawyer and a former partner in a major law firm as to exactly what he was doing, and his continuing unrepentant conduct. Whether he is kind to his dog, a good neighbor, or anything else is, of course, irrelevant to what he did and continues to do.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Cruising with Emelia

Just one month ago, I enjoyed seeing Emelia standing with support for the first time. In the brief time since, Emelia has become proficient at pulling herself up, and has started moving from support piece to support piece. In other words, she's cruising. Her mobility is a wonder to behold, and it triggers serious maternal (and a little paternal) concern that we need to babyproof our house. We've in many ways operated in a style of parenting that could be called, to borrow a phrase, "benign neglect." On this matter, such an approach probably isn't a good idea, even though I tease Kathy that not babyproofing is consistent with Darwinism.
Yesterday I sat feeding Emelia, who lay on the Boppy, which was on my lap. Emelia only took a little from the bottle, and decided she didn't want any more. I put the bottle down. She started to squirm in my lap, quickly shifting her weight to the edge of the Boppy, and looked down. I knew what was coming next, and let it happen, all the while continuing my conversation with Kathy, who was seated partway across the room. Kathy covered up her eyes in terror as Emelia went headfirst downward toward the floor. Of course she never got there, my grip firmly keeping her in place about a foot off the ground. I really didn't think anything of it -- I knew what E was doing, I knew what I'd need to do, and when it was time, I did it. I had no intention of tormenting Kathy, but of course that's what I ended up doing. Lesson learned.
In my last update of Emelia, I forgot to mention another VERY important milestone -- she's sleeping through the night. It started the first week with Avery (the nanny). In hindsight I think it may be because Avery feeds her more than we do (cue major tangent). From the beginning, all the milk we provided for Emelia when she's with Avery has been consumed, as is some supplemental formula, along with most of the solids. Emelia's beginning to get a bit of a belly with all the food she's been getting. Kathy asked what should have been obvious a while ago on Wednesday, i.e., is Emelia feeding herself (as she does at home, and as we asked Avery to do) or is Avery feeding her. The answer is the latter. Needless to say, Avery is much more efficient at getting food into Emelia than Emelia is, so that she's not just eating some more with Avery, but a lot more. Avery explained that it's difficult to let Emelia feed herself without a high chair.

I'm bothered by the feeding thing. While we prefer that Emelia feed herself, that isn't what bothers me. Rather, it's that we asked Avery to do something, and she didn't. The way I see it, she had two choices -- either do what we asked, or tell us that she had a problem with doing what we asked. We're perfectly willing to listen when there's a problem with carrying out a request, such as the absence of the high chair. If we know that the absence of a high chair is an issue, we can either provide one or endorse Avery's desire to feed Emelia. We don't have a long list of things we want Avery to do -- generally, we leave it up to her how best to take care of Emelia. But where we have expressed a preference, I think that we should be the ones who make the final decision, not Avery.