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Archive: June 2004

Air Baby

Earlier this morning, I obtained a Continental OnePass account for Carolyn.  She’s six months old, and she has a frequent flyer number.  Even if our schedules remain absolutely static from now until the end of 2004, Carolyn will have earned close to 10,000 miles toward Silver Elite membership before she reaches her first birthday.

I can’t decide if this frightens or amuses me.

Adoption Day

Yesterday afternoon, in a small court room on the twenty-second floor of the Franklin County Courthouse in downtown Columbus, Ohio, Kat and I legally finalized our adoption of Carolyn.  There were just two witnesses to this event: the legal representative for the adoption agency, and the magistrate who conducted the proceedings.  The entire proceeding was recorded using a PC to digitally capture the audio, which I thought was rather advanced for a government agency.

To get to the courthouse, we drove two and a half hours through bursts of rain and heavy interstate traffic.  The hearing took less than twenty minutes.  After taking some pictures with the magistrate, we drove back to Cleveland.  After an hour or so to rest, we celebrated this milestone yesterday evening at our favorite restaurant, Matsu, with a small gathering of friends.  For the first time in my life, I ordered a Big Boat o’ Sushi (I’ve always wanted to do that), and with the help of everyone at the table the decks were pretty well cleared.

Until now, I haven’t said anything here about Carolyn being adopted, although it might have been possible to infer it by reading very closely between the lines of some early posts.  To a large degree, this silence was dictated because the adoption wasn’t legally complete.  In a legal sense, we were just borrowing her from the adoption agency on a six-month trial basis.  During that time, we were regularly visited by a social worker who, I assume, was making sure that all was well, that she was thriving both physically and mentally, and that we hadn’t done anything that might be considered unsafe, such as setting up a crystal meth lab in the kitchen or acquiring a pet grizzly bear or something.

Where it truly matters, of course, things haven’t really changed.  Our love for Carolyn is as deep today as it was yesterday—maybe a little deeper, because as every day goes by it seems that we love her (and each other) a little bit more.  All that happened in Columbus yesterday was that the state officially and irretrievably recognized what was already true: Kat, Carolyn, and I are a family, with everything that implies.  We will share joys and sorrows, work together and play together, overcome obstacles and support each other.  We will love each other for the rest of our lives.

I’m not sure what I did to be granted such a wonderful daughter and wife, but whatever it was, it must have been really, really good.

Reagan’s Dead? Really?

Okay, Ronald Reagan died.  I got it the first six hundred times.  I grew up in the Eighties; I remember the Reagan years quite clearly.  He did a lot of good things, a lot of bad things, and a lot of ambiguous things while President, just like every other President I can remember, but frankly, at this point I think people are starting to go a little overboard.  As usual, Jon Stewart nailed it squarely (if I may paraphrase): “The ones I pity in all this are Ford and Carter. Because they’re watching this and thinking, ‘When I die, no way am I getting that.’  My advice to them: die while saving a baby.”

Still, I think the way the Liberal Media has totally ignored his death is just a travesty, don’t you?

Having a Garfield Day

Whether you love or hate it, “Garfield” is incredibly popular.  However you feel, though, you’re likely to really enjoy the Random Garfield Comic Strip Generator.  You can go surrealist, or try to get a coherent story out of the script—the latter actually tends to be a lot funnier.  I’ll point you to my favorite result so far, but by all means create your own (and let us know what they are in the comments).

Found via Ferrett, who got it from someone else, and so on.

Live From Iowa!

A brief sampling of vignettes from this week’s trip to Iowa City:

  • I got my picture taken with a bunch of people who’d driven from Wisconsin to be at the Web Camp.  As the picture was being taken, I felt like we were all bunched together to a degree that would have made a modest person blush.  The photo makes it look like the people on my side of the group were fearful of catching contagious diseases from each other.  Weird.
  • While walking around downtown Iowa City with some folks from the conference, we passed a Mexican restaurant called “Gringo’s”.  A block away, we passed an ice cream parlor called “Whitey’s”.

    Do I even have to tell you that I’m not making this up?

  • Tuesday night we had dinner at an Italian place, and when the hostess asked me if I’d like some freshly grated cheese on my entreé, I said I would.  “Just tell me when,” she said as she started.

    There was a short pause as she grated away.  “More?” she inquired.

    “You bet,” I replied.  “Did you ever see the TV commercial with the huge pile of—”

    “Oh, yes,” she said with authority, still grating.  “At my last job, that’s all anybody ever said to me.”

    “I think that’s enough,” I told her.  “And thanks for so thoroughly shooting down my lame, unoriginal attempt at a stupid joke.”

  • Iowa City, and for that matter the Cedar Rapids airport, are dotted with “Herkeys”, which are four-foot statues of the local sports mascot that have been ‘enhanced’ by various artists.  The statue outside the Museum of Natural History, for example, was covered in fur and titled “Bigfoot Herkey”, while the one in the airport sports a business suit, travel bag, and cell phone.  What I found interesting is that none of the Herkeys I saw had been structurally modified, either by addition or subtraction, but were simply decorated in some fashion.  I wonder if that was a participation constraint, or if perhaps the mascot is so revered that nobody even considered performing artistic surgery.

  • Just past the Museum of Natural History I glanced up at the roof of a building to see the American flag at half-mast.  I actually had to think about it for a second before I made the connection, but I thought I’d check.  “That’s to honor Reagan, I assume,” I said to Mark Hale, the conference organizer.  “How long are flags going to be lowered for him?”

    “I heard thirty days,” he said.  “Although I think ten of those might be in memory of the Democratic Party.”

Electron Opiate

Television possesses a scary, scary power.

All day today, Carolyn was in a cranky mood, no doubt because yesterday she got her six-month vaccination shots.  As the day wore on, she was less and less amenable to distraction.  We tried feeding her dinner, and that worked for a while, but then she started crying.  We switched to toys, and that was good for a few minutes before the sad face returned.  Kick-and-play seat, no good.  Jumping chair, nothing.  Walking around while bouncing her in my arms kept her to a minimal crank, but stopping for more than a minute caused the crank to escalate fairly rapidly.

So, at last, in desperation, I put her in front of the television and started a Baby Einstein video.  From the moment the TV turned on, she calmed down.  We ran through the DVD twice, and she didn’t so much as fuss.  Even the end credits kept her captivated.  She stayed calm after the television was turned off, nursed, and went quietly to sleep.

This may be in part because it’s roughly the sixth time she’s seen the television on in our house, so there was a certain novelty factor involved.  If anything, this little episode has reinforced and deepened my determination to keep our children’s television exposure to a very bare minimum as they grow up.

Edged Out Of Contention

Andrei fired off round two of “Gurus vs. Bloggers”, and good news!  I played on the guru team by proxy, and was defeated by Dave Shea‘s proxy, more or less as I’d hoped I’d have the chance to do after round one was played.  Andrei was nice enough to hem and haw about which one ought to win, but honestly, there wasn’t much contest.  The Zen Garden won two SXSW Web awards including Best In Show, after all, not to mention the awe and respect of Web design folks the world over.  css/edge, at best, earned awe and respect.  In any case, I am honored to have been so thoroughly owned by the man Andrei calls “one of [my] best students.”  Mr. Shea, I bow to you.

In his tongue-in-cheek commentary, Andrei said:

Maybe if Meyer had used orange for CSS Edge, because orange is after all the new black, I would be able to swing the vote the other way.

I don’t know—low-contrast orange doesn’t really seem much better than low-contrast blue, does it?

Floridian Fun

The previous week’s silence was caused by a trip to visit my father at his new digs in Florida.  His house is really nice, but the weather was not.  Every single day was really, really hot, and humid to boot.  As an official pasty white northern boy, I had a lot of trouble handling it.  Dad’s house is of course air conditioned, but that just made going outside all the worse.  I had to wait until late in the afternoon before I could even go out on his lanai (screened-in patio).

Said lanai was frequently visited by earwigs, Florida’s answer to the silverfish.  Have I mentioned how much I loathe both forms of insect?  I mean, I’m no fan of insects generally, but silverfish and those hairy-centipede-like things we get in Ohio are particularly horrifying.  Earwigs are not much better, in my book.  What’s worse, they had a tendency to get into the house.  I was in the middle of feeding Carolyn breakfast one morning and looked down to see a sizeable earwig on my leg, having just stepped from my sock to my bare flesh, waving its feelers about as if trying to decide where it should attack.  In what I feel was an impressive display of parental fortitude, I managed to refrain from screaming like a panicked little girl.  Instead, I knocked the bug off my leg and then stomped on it five or six times, just to make a point.  Carolyn was fascinated enough by the new game I appeared to be playing that she didn’t complain about the interruption to her breakfast.

Of course, since Dad lives about an hour from Disney World, we took Carolyn on her first trip.  We went to EPCOT.  Why there?  A few reasons:

  1. They were having their annual flower exposition, so the grounds were even more beautiful than usual.
  2. We figured the crowds would be a lot thinner there than at the Magic Kingdom, an assumption that seemed to be correct.
  3. Carolyn’s too young to really appreciate differences between the parks.  We decided to save trips to the Magic Kingdom until she’s old enough to appreciate it more fully.
  4. EPCOT is my favorite of the parks at Disney World, especially the international section.

Because we’ll be back to visit Dad with some regularity, we were able to take a more relaxed attitude toward our day at EPCOT.  We’ve done the endurance-test sprint from park to park, packing in as much as possible.  This was a leisurely stroll through the parts of the park that most interested us.  We didn’t get to everything.  That was okay.  Because, as I mentioned, it was really damned hot.  Despite consuming lots of water at meals and while walking around, I think I managed to dehydrate.  That was a problem in China too, and now that I think about it, the weather was very similar.  We pretty much all felt like Carolyn did in ths picture.

A photograph of six-month-old Carolyn clutching a water bottle to herself as if it were the most precious thing on Earth-- which, at that moment, it probably was.

We actually got her to drink from the bottle, too, and without choking.  All right, keep your smart comments to yourselves.

One of the most fascinating things about the entire day was watching Carolyn react to everything around her.  To her, everything is of equal interest, and the most routine things can be as entrancing as a once-in-a-lifetime event.  (Not that this is the only time she’ll ever go to Disney—not by a long shot.)  After lunch at the Japanese pavilion, Dad decided to take his granddaughter to see the taiko drummers performing outside.  He held her up to see them better, and she immediately locked her gaze onto a three-year-old girl sitting on the ground about ten feet away.  Carolyn studied this girl as if she held the secret to life itself.  A few minutes later, a small tree came in for the same treatment.

I’ve heard it said that through a baby’s eyes, you can see the world anew.  It sounds wonderful, deep, meaningful.  It sounds like a homily for the ages.  In practice, it’s simply that you get to watch someone with no preconceptions about the world react to everything around her, but that alone is exhilirating and amusing, mystifying and fascinating.  I could spend all day watching her watch the world.  When she’s trying to figure something out, the look of pure, unadulterated concentration is so intense it makes me want to laugh with joy.  I can’t explain why.  It just does.

Later on that same afternoon, Carolyn discovered that in addition to fine books, O’Reilly also produces a great chew toy—I mean hat.

A photograph of six-month-old Carolyn chewing on the rim of her father's "O'Reilly Author" baseball cap.

That was shortly before lapsing into a late-afternoon nap.  Kat and I took advantage of the nap to park her with Grandpa and wander through the Moroccan pavilion, which is one of my favorites.  The architecture, rambling byways, and artistry of the pavilion are all top-notch, as you would expect: the Moroccan king sent his personal artists to create the frescoes and other aspects of the pavilion when it was constructed.  The covered bazaar area at the heart of the pavilion is almost like a hidden treasure, cool and generally uncrowded.

After a fine dinner at Les Chefs de France, we headed out of the park.  I snapped a final picture of the Spaceship Earth globe just a few minutes before the evening’s show began.

A photograph of the Spaceship Earth globe, illuminated by purple and pink lights in the deep twilight of a Florida evening.

Carolyn slept practically the whole way back to Dad’s place.  She’d been an amazingly good girl the whole day, considering the heat and level of activity.  I can’t believe how lucky Kat and I are to have such a wonderful daughter.

June 2004
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