Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday Morning Update

Yesterday morning I slept for a couple of hours, then was up for the remainder of the day. Over the course of the afternoon and evening, I spoke to a lot of people, reassuring them that I was doing ok. I also hung oustide with Tom and Anna. In truth, I felt ok. There were lots of aches and soreness, but thanks to the pain meds, no genuine pain. Over the course of the day, the left side of my face swelled up considerably, my left eye turned black (above broken bone #1), and the left side of my face turned red (location of broken bone #2). My jaws hurt a fair amount, and my bite didn't seem aligned (it still doesn't -- I'm hopeful that when the swelling subsides it'll be ok, but I don't know). It also hurt quite a bit to chew (even eating a Klondike Bar hurt), so I ate mostly liquids (Kathy made a several soups and bought a lot of yogurt). I gave some consideration about going into work today, but figured it'd probably be a bad idea.

This morning when I awoke I had no doubt about going into work. The pain medication had worn off during the night, and I was in a lot of pain. It usually takes me about 36-48 hours for an injury to reach its peak discomfort, and I seem to be moving along those lines. At the ER, I didn't get any ibuprofen until six hours after getting mugged, and while I was sore, it felt pretty tame to how I felt this morning. Fortunately, now that I've taken my pill and it's had a chance to take effect, I'm back to "moderate discomfort."

So today I'll take it easy for the most part, set up a couple of doctors' appointments, look into a new driver's license, etc. I'm somewhat restricted in what I can do in that I need my new bank card and credit card to arrive (somehow I remembered the phone number of my bank while I was waiting around in the ER, so I canceled them then).

I'm looking forward to 48 hours from now, when I should have already started feeling better.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Very Rough Night

I left the beer tasting around 12:30, having stopped drinking over 90 minutes earlier. I headed home, and had made it most of the 20-minute drive, when I got to a stop sign and saw two kids (late teens?) on bicycles pop out, one right in front of me. As for the other, I heard a bump toward the back of the car, and down he went. The guy in front tried to open my door to get me to come out for his friend, but I stopped him, then foolishly parked my car and got out to assess damage. The guy in front talked with me some and then the other one came over and accused me of hitting him. I said I didn't, and asked him how I could have done so with anything other than the front of the car. He asked if I was calling him a liar, and I said no, I was asking how it could be, that's all. Suddenly he punched me hard in the face, and I must have passed out briefly, because I don't remember them taking my wallet. A car pulled up and checked on me, and called 911. The cops showed up right away, several cars worth, and they pursued the bicyclists. They nabbed a couple of suspects, and I was able to identify one, but I wasn't as sure on the other, the one who actually decked me. Other than my wallet, nothing appeared missing.

An ambulance offered to take me to the hospital, and I took a little while to decide, before concluding that my jaw hurt too much to just go home. So after a three hour wait I finally got to see a doctor, and another couple of hours later they did a CAT Scan on me. They discovered two broken bones on my face, one on the side of the face and the other the lower part of the eye socket. Pain meds, antibiotics, opthamologist, oral surgeon, and not blowing my nose for six weeks await me. Again, all told it could have been worse (more damage to me, more stuff stolen), and I'm not nearly as depressed about it as perhaps I should be. Then again, I had several hours to get used to the whole thing -- when I told Kathy about it this morning, she was completely stressed, worried, freaked, and apologetic. It's not easy to feel helpless on behalf of someone you love. Right now she's at the pharmacist getting my meds, and once she gets back and I take some, I'm finally going to sleep. Sadly, no DC United game for me today.

Depending on how coherent this sounds when I wake up I may revise this, but I figured I'd get the news out for those who want to know.

Friday, June 27, 2008

From the League of You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Apologies for another political post so soon after the last one, but after that downer, I needed a laugh:

Just this week, a group of Republican senators re-introduced the Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution, which, as we know, would ban gay marriage.

And once again, the language is pretty straightforward:

Section 1. This article may be cited as the `Marriage Protection Amendment’.

Section 2. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.’.

This isn’t especially surprising. Republicans are looking at the political landscape, and they’re feeling awfully discouraged. The polls look bad, the base looks depressed, and fundraising looks iffy. Rallying the far-right troops with an anti-gay amendment to the Constitution — even though it has no chance at even getting so much as a hearing — might be helpful to the conservative movement.

But the funny part is looking over the list of the 10 original sponsors. Most of the names are predictable — Brownback and Inhofe, for example — but there are two others whose names stand out: Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Larry Craig (R-Idaho).

Yes, two of the principal sponsors of a constitutional amendment to “protect” marriage include one far-right Republican who hired prostitutes and another far-right Republican who was arrested for soliciting gay sex an airport men’s room.

As my friend Kyle put it, these two are “not exactly the poster boys of the family values crowd or particularly upstanding examples of the supposed sanctity of the ‘union of a man and a woman.”‘


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why, Obama? It Matters!

Upon returning home on Sunday, I discovered that not only had the wretched FISA bill passed the House, but that Obama has come out in support of it.* I came up with four possible reasons why Obama might have done this:
1. With the nomination secured, he figures that he has to "move to the center."
2. He felt the bill's passage is inevitable, and decided that it would look bad to support a loser.
3. His earlier rhetoric wasn't genuine, but merely a way to win support.
4. He expects to be president, so isn't concerned about abuse of executive power.

Needless to say, I find none of these reasons, alone or in combination, a sufficient basis for his change of heart. I'm not going to name all the things wrong with the bill (it goes far beyond the telecom immunity feature); rather, I encourage people to read Senator Feingold's summary analysis of the bill's shortcomings, as well as Glenn Greenwald's excellent series of posts on the subject. Suffice it to say that overnight my support of Obama went from solid to tepid, and that any earlier interest in contributing to his campaign has evaporated. I know that no politician is perfect, and also that Obama is not and never has been a progressive, no matter the efforts underway to label him as ultra liberal, so maybe I shouldn't be so disappointed. All the same, one of the principal reasons I favored Obama over Clinton was a belief that he "gets" the importance of civil liberties, to me one of the most important issues there is, and the protection of which should, and occasionally does, cross political lines. Now I find that he doesn't get it, and doesn't see that this is one of the principles and positions over which one should not cave.

Given that I live in DC, it's easy to vote my conscience in the general election, because no matter what I do, the Democrat will garner over 80% of the vote -- I need not fear that my vote will enable "the greater of two evils" to claim the White House. Given that I have that luxury, I need to re-examine whether I want to vote for him, because his position here suggests that he isn't the candidate I thought he was.

[Update]Unlike Obama, Senator Dodd "gets it."
* - I consider his statement that he will try to get telecom immunity taken from the bill to be worthless -- he has stated that he supports the bill (and presumably will vote for it), not that he won't support it unless telecom immunity is removed.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Weekend in Five

1. We went to Minnesota this past weekend to attend Kathy's 15th college reunion. Kathy went to Carleton, a small liberal arts college roughly 40 minutes from Minneapolis, which Kathy's Mom also attended. We had a great time -- I'd met a decent number of her classmates over the years, and enjoyed hanging out with both them and the ones I met this weekend. We got into Minneapolis in the late afternoon (note to self -- when flying with Emelia, it's worth booking the direct flight over the connecting one, even if it costs a little extra or we have to schlep to Dulles), which gave us enough time to check into the hotel we'd reserved right by the airport and grab a bite before it was time for Emelia to go to sleep. I have to say that most of the time, Hotwire is the best option for reserving hotels. We ended up in a lovely suite that included a better-than-average complementary breakfast for less than $60 including taxes.

2. After Emelia went to sleep Thursday evening, my friend Dan picked me up and we hit a couple of beer bars -- the selections were a bit disappointing, as not much new was available. During the evening, Dan apologized for forgetting a can of Surly Bitter Brewer that he'd intended to bring, and encouraged me to hit a beer store on my way out of town to grab some of my own (Surly is only a couple of years old, but arguably is the best brewery in town. It also provided a great private tour as part of last year's RateBeer Summer Gathering). I told him that we'd be heading out early in the morning, long before the beer stores would be open. I was, after all, in town to attend Kathy's reunion, and the fact that I was even able to get with Dan was a bit of a bonus. Apparently, having such a healthy attitude was something that the Beer Gods smiled upon, for that afternoon, when we were hanging out with Kathy's classmates and the alcohol began flowing, someone walked by with a mixed case of Surly products, including Bitter Brewer. I asked him what the deal was, and learned that one of Kathy's classmates is married to the founder of Surly, and that she was providing a few cases for the event. The fact that I since discovered that I had already rated it doesn't bother me in the least, as I enjoyed it there, along with the other three Surly beers that were in the cooler.

3. Out of a recognition of the noise that would be created by partying alumni, the rooms for the alums with children were on the top floor of the dorm we stayed in, the fourth floor. I know they meant well, but the fourth floor was a bit of a haul to bring all of Emelia's accouterments (including the portable crib), seeing as how there were no elevators. Plus it was a bit of a haul if you wanted to hang with folks while a child napped, but still wanted to check on her on occasion. And it was warm -- being part of a relatively junior class, we weren't in a dorm with A/C, and the sun beat down upon the very windowed rooms all day long (and heat rises). It cooled down at night, but it was tough for Emelia to fall asleep for her nap, and even harder to do so in the evening while the room at its peak temperature. Friday night, Emelia wouldn't go to sleep, and Kathy finally brought her downstairs around 9pm. After a little time in the relative cool, we went back upstairs to try to get her to sleep. Our efforts before 10pm came to naught, as it was then that the fireworks began, seemingly right next to the building. Emelia wasn't too scared (I calmed her down pretty easily when she started to stress), but she certainly wasn't going to sleep right then. Finally at around 10:30, only ~4 hours later than usual, Emelia fell asleep for the night (she usually goes to sleep just after 7:30, but Minneapolis is one hour behind DC).

4. On Saturday, one of the activities was a porch party at the house of a couple from her class that own a house just two of blocks from campus. They have kids, and there were plenty of toys to keep Emelia occupied. She was mostly exploring the toys by herself, and while many kept her interest during the time we were there, Emelia eventually settled on a few dolls with a stroller. As is her wont with dolls, she was transfixed, particularly with an anatomically correct boy doll. At one point I explained to her that these were dolls to play with while she was there and that she'd have leave them, but I didn't have much hope that she fully understood what I was saying. And indeed, when it was time to go, she let loose the loudest series of shrieks I'd ever heard pass her lips. Ah well, these things happen I suppose, but Kathy felt pretty embarrassed (I mostly tried to suppress my laughter).

Emelia was fully over it by the time we were about a block from dinner. From that distance we saw Shizuka and Kazumi -- Emelia shouted, "Kaz," and Kaz shouted, "Melia!" Well, Kaz did that at first, but pretty quickly she noticed that we were walking with Greg (classmate to Shizuka and Kathy), and she started shouting, "Greg!" After the mothers put their daughters down, what ensued was the classic movie scene parody, with the two of them running toward each other, followed by Kaz running right past Emelia to greet Greg.

5. Carleton doesn't just recycle, it composts. At meals, pretty much everything except the metallic butter wrappers went into the compost bin, including, when we ate outside, the "plastic" (corn or potato) utensils and cups. Kathy and I thought it was fantastic, and when I got back home, I discovered that Carleton has a host of significant green initiatives. I know colleges and universities are usually at the forefront of such efforts, but it makes us wonder how soon such efforts will become mainstream.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Things That Got Me Thinking in the Last 24 Hours

In other news, on Sunday I started with a stomach bug, and for the next 60 hours I hardly ate (I'm still eating much less than I was pre-bug, and am only just now starting to add dairy back to my diet (beer yet to be reintroduced)). On Monday evening the cold Kathy and Emelia were suffering started hitting me. Yesterday I felt miserable but went into work largely for an important meeting with an outside group (said meeting lasted all of 15 minutes and didn't cover anything new). As of today, Kathy and Emelia seem to be recovered, and while I'm feeling mostly better, I lost my voice this afternoon. We head to Minnesota tomorrow to attend Kathy's college reunion, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it'll be smooth sailing healthwise by then.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Trip Photos

Enough chit chat -- here are some photos of Emelia from our week at the beach.

Emelia and the Heron

Emelia with her cousins Lauren and Leynie

Emelia feeding her younger (by three months) cousin Luke

Emelia engaged in her favorite activity (playing with water)

The little nudist

Emelia swimming with Kathy and me

Sunday, June 15, 2008


For the week vacation in Hilton Head with the family, we were going to take a direct flight from National to Savannah, and drive the ~1 hour from there. Six weeks before our flight, US Airways notified us that they were stopping their morning direct flights, and so we decided it would be better to switch to a flight into Hilton Head -- if we needed to take a connection, why keep the drive as well?

The last couple of times we've flown, we've gotten Emelia her own seat, even though she's eligible to be a lap baby until she turns two. She doesn't sit still, and it's gotten too difficult to keep her on a lap the whole way. On the flight from Charlotte to Hilton Head, they weren't able to seat the three of us near each other (only 2 passengers per side anyhow), so Kathy and Emelia sat in the back row, with Emelia alternating between Kathy's lap and the seat. It was 95 degrees outside, the air conditioning in the plane hardly worked, and the plane wasn't a jet -- it was a prop plane, a Dash 8, something that only added to Kathy's queasiness.

On the way back, we also were on a Dash 8 into Charlotte, but at least it was a newer (and more comfortable) plane, the A/C worked, and we were able to sit across from each other. Also, no one was in the seat next to me, so we passed Emelia back and forth throughout the flight to keep her fairly content, though she was unable to settle down enough to sleep despite the flight being during her nap time. Our flight to DCA was in a small jet, again 2 passengers per side, and again the seat next to me was unoccupied. Emelia's fussiness increased as her exhaustion did, but did ok all things considered -- naturally, she only fell asleep while we were landing on the second flight, and woke up soon thereafter with all the motion that followed upon landing.

Unfortunately, our luggage didn't accompany us on our flight home, as none of our three bags were on the conveyor belt when we got to baggage claim. Rather than wait for the next flight, to see if the bags made it, we went home and waited. And waited. And waited. I called and was told our bags would make it to us between 8:30 and 11:30. We never received a phone call telling us that they wouldn't be delivered, and Kathy stayed up later than the supposed window waiting for the bags that never came. I called in the morning, and they stated that the bags would show up some time after eight. When they showed up, I looked for my toiletry case so I could take a shower. It wasn't in either of the bags (bag #3 was Emelia's car seat), and when I asked Kathy, she remembered that she had put it in the carry-on suitcase that we hadn't bothered to unpack yet. In other words, we unintentionally defied TSA regulations that prohibit carrying on containers larger than 3 ounces, carrying toiletries when they aren't in a one-quart clear plastic bag, and not separating them out for inspection when we went through security. And despite this, we got through security wholly unimpeded.

Given how much inconvenience these rules create (and it's only getting worse with airlines deciding to charge for even the first checked bag), I'd at least appreciate it if TSA enforces these supposedly necessary rules. The fact that they aren't, or are doing so haphazardly, pisses me off even more than the rules being there in the first place, seeing as how we're left with inconvenience without enhanced security.

Our next flights are coming up this weekend, for Kathy's college reunion out in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, these aren't direct flights either. As for Hilton Head, the folks decided they liked it so much that they booked a house down there for next year's family vacation as well. As of now, we plan on driving the 10 hours.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Thoughts on Watching a Sunrise at the Beach

Some moments are meant to be savored for themselves and not put on film, for the act of photographing hinders one's ability to experience, to "live," the moment. In other words, rather than fully engaging one's self in the moment, the photographer is diverting his or her attention to the act to capturing the moment. Given that the purpose of taking a photograph is to share a moment with others, including not just the subject of the photo, friends, family, and relative strangers, but also one's future self, there is something sadly ironic about the very act of sharing that moment preventing the photographer from ever actually living in that moment.

Today marks the end of a week at the beach with my parents, my siblings, and their families. I did not take a single picture of a sunrise during our stay.