Archive for the 'frivolous' Category

Max’s First Snow

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

There was a bulk delivery of snow last night, starting just before we slept.  It was what Seattle calls a blizzard, but what Eastern Washington refers to as a light dusting, and what Norway regards as springtime.  So we all awoke to a few inches of light, fluffy snow on the ground.  With global warming threatening to eliminate snow from our lives at any moment, we felt that it was imperative to expose Max to the stuff as the soonest opportunity.

I can’t say that Max seemed very impressed, or even interested.  We let him play with it, we pelted him a few times with well-packed snowballs, and ignoring the advice of my Boy Scout Handbook, we even let him eat some.  Behold, his abyssal interest level:

It didn’t seem to be a big hit.  In fact, he seems to express more interest in packaging materials.  Undaunted, we decided to go straight for the excitement:  Max’s first sledding experience, using a deep-dish pizza pan as his vehicle.  He traveled — in the company of his mom — about fifteen feet over four seconds, but alas, it didn’t seem to faze him.

So anyway.  With his apparent lack of interest in snow, maybe he won’t mind global warming after all.

Max in NYC

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

So the three of us went to NYC for the New York Marathon.  This was Max’s first time on a plane, and his first trip of any serious duration anywhere, by any means of conveyance.  He was a super-trooper.

He tolerated both flights with effectively zero difficulty, and made friends along the way.  In NYC itself, he didn’t even recognize the time difference (although we actively tried to keep him localized to Pacific Time, since our visit was so short), adjusted to the new surroundings like nothing had changed.  Again, he made friends every step of the way, sometimes from people who we would’ve preferred kept to themselves.

Max survived going to the top of the Rockefeller Center and back, several walks through Central Park, several taxi rides, several nighttime walks through Manhattan, a ride on a pedicab, and more questionably affectionate interactions from strangers than I can remember.  He even soldiered through the marathon itself as a chest-bound member of the support crew, going from waypoint to waypoint, and even enduring a diaper change in the 40-degree air on a public sidewalk.

We deem the trip a success.

The Kulture of Kute

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

So the other day we bought something called a “Snuzzler”. Never in my life would I have thought that I would have voluntarily spent money on something called a “Snuzzler”, but there it is.

The most annoying aspect (for me, at least) of having a kid is the requirement (and alas, it’s unavoidable) to plunge one’s self neck-deep into the World of Cute. So many things having to do with kids is “cute”. By this I mean “manufactured cute”, like Hello Kitty and Jar Jar Binks, where cute cycles around to tacky, and only when you contrive something as the epitome of tacky does it cycle back around to become cute again.

So what is a Snuzzler? It’s a form-fitting cushion that goes into a stroller (in our case, a jogging stroller), which helps keep the kid from flopping over uncomfortably to one side. The manufacturer could have called it “comfort-enhancing travel cushion”, but no, you can’t expect that from a company called “Kiddopotamus”.

Our car seat? The company could have called it “infant transportation unit Mk. III”, but no … they called it the “Snugride”. Need I go on?

For some actual news, Max reached 10 weeks old on Friday!

Max’s first movie

Monday, July 21st, 2008

So Max and I spent a quiet moment watching a movie tonight. In Amalia’s own words:

There are landmark moments in one’s life. A first kiss, a proposal, a positive pregnancy test. This is my first entry to Max’s blog because I had one of these moments tonight. One of Craig’s other promises/predictions came true. In walking downstairs to join my family and see if anybody was ready for bathtime, I learned that I get to write in Max’s baby book that his first movie really is “Phantasm II”. I found my son snugly wrapped in the arms of his father, sleeping soundly, while violent images floated by and dramatic music played. Max will not remember this. I laughed for 20 minutes and felt the need to document and share.


Thursday, June 12th, 2008

I’ll be mercifully brief on this: Max got circumcised today. He seems to be blissfully unaware
of any change, although some blood was involved.

There will be no photos with this post. You can thank me later.

As an amusing aside, while the three of us waited in the examination room, I discovered that one could use the phone as a terminal for the clinic-wide PA system.

This is a large Ob/Gyn practice, with eight-plus doctors, maybe two dozen offices, and multiple nursing stations. We were bored, and when I heard a doctor being paged, I became intrigued. Without being exactly sure how the PA system worked, I studied the phone for a few minutes and gave it a try: I picked up the receiver, held down the PAGE button, and said into the mouthpiece, as clinically as possible (quoting the movie “Repo Man”):

“Mr Lee … Mr Lee … Please return the scalpel.”

In our own examination room, we didn’t actually hear anything happen, and since the phone was making a weird beeping sound while I did it, we were led to believe it hadn’t worked. Imagine my surprise when, a few minutes later, the doctor returned to take Max away for the procedure and asked me, “Were you the one that said that thing about the scalpel?”

(My voice gave me away, as apparently very few men work in the practice, and the message rang through the entire office space, throughout all the examination rooms, and the nurses and medical technicians were on a “witch hunt” to determine who had said it. The doctor didn’t seem amused, although not annoyed either, just pragmatically satisfied that she had solved the mystery. That said, I’m happy to serve as a harbinger of random chaos, and for reasons I can’t explain, I think it’s even more amusing that I got busted.)

The stars are right!

Friday, June 6th, 2008

My colleague LaVon Cochran ran a star chart for Max, based on his birthday/time, and location. More details can be found on the “Star Chart” page, linked to on the right of the home page.

That said, I’m more of an astronomer than an astrologer. Even if far-flung celestial bodies could influence your personality and future events, I find it amusing that the work of astrologers is so seemingly arbitrary, especially in the light of the recent planetary reclassification by the International Astronomical Union. I.e., why are some planetary bodies “influential”, but not others? Are you saying that Pluto can influence Max’s personality, but not Ceres? What about Quaoar? Or Halley’s Comet, or the Oort Cloud, or the Vulcanoids? Or how about that super-massive black hole in the center of the Milky Way, around which all of us are orbiting whether we like it or not?

But anyway … as LaVon herself said, “No one ever believes in these things, but they are fun nonetheless.”

Oh no, Jupiter is in the second house!!

Data-mine this!

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

(The term “data mining” is overloaded these days. People commonly use the term “data mining” to refer to the act of using OLAP to interactively explore a data warehouse, and the term has become so popularized that it is even used synonymously with “data analysis”, regardless of the method or the context. In this post, when I use the term “data mining”, I am referring specifically to the application of machine learning and statistics to explore data sets in a discovery (not hypothesis-driven) fashion. Sometimes referred to as “knowledge discovery in data” (or KDD). Anyway, moving on …)

When data mining is taught, a certain pedagogical example is commonly used to illustrate how it can uncover unusual but useful trends. This example is:

Among items purchased at grocery stores, the item most-frequently associated with the purchase of diapers is beer.

(I.e., diapers and beer are commonly purchased together, like chips and salsa, or milk and cookies. A theory to explain this correlation is that new fathers, while running the paternal errand, are rewarding themselves since — as a new father — they can’t go out drinking with their friends as often.)

Many variations of the story behind this “beer/diapers correlation” exist. The most-common allegation seems to be that it was the result of a WalMart market-basket analysis. Some variants claim that these beer/diapers purchases were made mainly on Friday afternoons, by men between the ages of 25 and 35. Furthermore, some versions say that the store capitalized on this trend by putting a beer display next to the diapers, and thus sold more beer than ever.

Alas, many doubt this story’s veracity. (You can read more about the diapers/beer correlation and its likely origin here.) While this doesn’t stop it from being a good illustrative example, it does sadden my heart a little, knowing that such an interesting trend might not be true.

Anyway: I had an errand to run today: we ran out of cloth diapers, so I needed to go to the grocery store to pick up an emergency pack of disposable diapers, to keep us supplied until the resupply visit from the diaper service. There was nothing else on the shopping list except diapers … could it be more obvious what needed to be done?

Mine this!

I say, if this isn’t an actual trend, let’s make one! New fathers everywhere: unite! Become a statistic! Always purchase beer with diapers!

(Plus, do you really need an excuse? I don’t know about you, but I don’t need sophisticated data mining techniques to learn: good beer + new dad = happy.)