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.