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iLike iLife 4

Long-time readers may recall my ranting about iLife 4 being a for-money upgrade, which in the end was as much about my lack of understanding as it was about Apple’s (perceived) silence on the subject.  As it turns out, I never got around to buying iLife 4, so I was happy to have it bundled with my new PowerBook.  That’s right, folks, I spent over $2,000 on a laptop, but I saved $49 in the process!  Ph34r my l33t sh0pp1ng sk1llz!

So I imported my entire iPhoto library into iPhoto 4, which only took about 45 minutes.  In the process, I discovered that I actually have 4,080 photos so far.  There was some weirdness, in that iPhoto 4 claimed to have discovered 234 “lost” images.  Under half were duplicates, and the rest were completely blank files with the same names as photos I already had.  So I threw them all away, and landed at 4,080 pictures.  Once I figured out the keyword interface, which is by no means intuitive (or even very usable), I set about adding metadata to some of my images.  The first order of business, of course, was to tag all pictures of Carolyn and organize them into a smart album.  Guess how many pictures I’ve take of her so far?  We’ll have the answer in a moment, but first, here’s a recent one of her sitting up on her own, which she started doing a couple of weeks ago. A picture of Carolyn sitting up and reaching upward, an enormous smile upon her face.

Everything I’ve heard about the improved speed in iPhoto 4 proves to be correct, and possibly understated.  This thing screams.  It still generates bloated directories, though, given the number of XML files and image copies it’s capable of producing.  This is largely so that it can support a “Revert to Original” feature, so any time you take out red-eye or lighten up an image, you end up with both the original and the modified image on your hard drive.  The same happens if you do no more than rotate an image.

That’s where iPhoto Diet comes in so very handy.  It’s a small application that can get rid of all unnecessary duplicates in your iPhoto library, and it can also delete the originals of all rotated images.  It can also wipe out all the originals, replacing them with the modified versions.  I ran it on my library before I migrated to the new machine and reclaimed over half a gig of drive space.  And that was only getting rid of unnecessary and rotated duplicates, not all originals.  I did a lot of red-eye reductions, and those are still around.  I also have yet to run the “strip thumbnails” option, which could easily reclaim a few dozen megabytes.

I haven’t really played with the rest of the iLife suite since I don’t have a video camera or a garage band.  I may eventually burn some images to a DVD for relatives to play on their TVs.  If I can figure out how to use Garage Band, I might try creating some background tracks for use in radio production work.  It’s nice to know the options are there.

And the answer to today’s trivia question is: as of this writing, the smart album titled “The Compleat Carolyn” contains 1,832 pictures.  At this rate, we’ll have about three thousand pictures of her by her first birthday.

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.

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.

Homecoming

After delivering the keynote and a technical breakout session at the 5th Annual Webmaster Forum (and I’ll be posting those files over at Complex Spiral‘s web site by week’s end), I realized that I had planned poorly.  When I arranged to drive to the UIUC campus for the conference, I did some research and discovered that it would be about a seven hour drive.  Because of that length, and not knowing exactly how the conference schedule would work out, I decided to get there Monday evening and leave Wednesday morning.  Now here it was, the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday, the conference was over, and I had nothing else planned.

So I checked out and started driving.  I left the UIUC campus right around 5:00pm Central Daylight Time.  As I departed, I knew that as I crossed back into the Eastern time zone, I would lose an hour, so I wouldn’t arrive home until 1:00am local time.  Most of the drive would be done in darkness, which I dislike, and I would have to fight road fatigue every mile.

It was worth it.

I passed through Indianapolis as the sun was setting, almost getting lost at the junctions of Interstates 74 and 465, mentally saying “hello!” to the gang at New Riders as I curved past the downtown and merged onto Interstate 70.  Three hours later, I edged around Columbus, matching speeds with an Animal Control Unit van on the theory that if he was doing 87 miles per hour on the outerbelt of a major city, it must be okay for me to do it, too.  Around 11:40pm, I refueled at the BP station just off the SR 97 exit (Lexington / Belleville), the exit closest to my home town.  As a high school student, I used to gas up at the same station on my way to and from work.  I sent another mental “hello!” to my sister, who still lives in the area, and my father, who the next day would be moving away from the area for the rest of his life.

As I got back onto Interstate 71, headed north, I cast my thoughts ahead to my arrival home, now only ninety minutes or so away.  I pictured dropping my things in the dining room, going up the stairs in the dark, and walking slowly and quietly into Carolyn’s room.  For a moment, I imagined looking over the edge of her crib just as she opened her eyes, gave me a big welcoming daddy smile, stretched, and then shut her eyes again to drift back into sleep.  I could see her face and her smile in my mind just as clearly as I could see the road in my headlights.

It was, after all, what had compelled me to get into my car, even knowing the length of the drive before me, late that afternoon.  It wasn’t that I was bored; I could have found any number of things to do in a college town.  I was in my car, passing within a few miles of my family without stopping, because I missed my wife and child more than I could stand.  I had chosen a lengthy, boring, late night drive over another night away from them.

It was worth it.

When I did finally arrive home, two minutes shy of 1:00am, everything went just as I had imagined it up until I snuck into Carolyn’s room.  She didn’t wake up, as I’d known she would not, even when I leaned into the crib to kiss her lightly on the forehead and whisper good night to her.  I knew that if I woke her she would smile at me, but that was never even an option.  So there was no welcoming smile, but that was all right.

For another minute or so, I just stood and watched our daughter sleep, listened to her breathe.  The pure innocence and beauty of a sleeping baby cannot be put into words, no matter how hard pop stars and rock stars and poets may try.  But I understand why they do.

It was worth it, I told her without words, looking down at her face, the same sleeping face I’d imagined in every detail.  It’s all worth it.

Little Bundles

Oh, sure, Kat and I have a baby and suddenly everybody wants to get in on the act.  I mean, honestly, how unoriginal can you get?

Okay, all kidding aside: our deepest and most joyful congratulations to the Zeldmans and their soon-to-be-larger family.  I can personally attest that, as many people told me, becoming parents is one of the hardest and most amazing things they will ever experience.

Carolyn happily jumps about in her 'bouncy seat', a chair suspended from a door frame and incorporating a spring so that she can bounce up and down even though she hasn't the coordination to stand yet.

Carolyn’s in the range of four and a half months old now, and appears to be developing very nicely.  She discovered her hands a couple of weeks back, and is now busily trying to sample the taste of every object she encounters.  She’s almost to the point of rolling over; she can get onto her side for a minute, and then she rolls back onto her back.  She’s also a stander: she’ll stand upright for ten or fifteen minutes, if someone’s willing to hold her steady for that long.  We put up the “bouncy seat” a couple of months early, and she absolutely loves it.  She doesn’t even sit upright yet.  The pediatrician was actually kind of impressed by the strength and head control she has at her age.

Of course, we know of a baby two weeks older than her who already has two teeth, and another that’s rolling over constantly and getting close to sitting up on his own.  So it’s not as though we have a super-baby (though she is, obviously, a super baby).  She’s just ahead of the curve in some respects, and no doubt behind in others, the same as every other baby.

All I know is, whenever she looks at me with her gray-blue eyes and she breaks into an enormous smile, I can’t help but think she’s the most perfect baby in the history of the universe… the same as any other parent.

Congratulations again to Jeff and Carrie!

Guru By Design?

You’ve probably already seen the Gurus vs. Bloggers matchup over at Design By Fire; I quite enjoyed it, and not just because it’s funny.  I found it to be gratifying because I took a close look at the designs, and I think there’s very little doubt about it.  meyerweb’s design just screams “guru,” don’t you think?  (David Robarts does.)  I’m kind of hoping that I get into a future round of the matchup, so I can by completely demolished by the likes of Dave Shea or Doug Bowman.

Of course, I can always counter with cute pictures of Carolyn. A closeup of Carolyn lying on the floor and look out of the corners of her eyes toward the camera, with her left hand near her chin and the index finger extended into the corner of her mouth. She’s suffering through another cold, but that doesn’t seem to prevent her from being just too adorable for words.  Now, I know it isn’t the right finger, but I still can’t help thinking, “One billion dollars!”

For some reason, Kat and I like the show $40 A Day, where host Rachael Ray visits a different city each week and goes through a full day without spending more than $40 on all her meals.  One of this past weekend’s episodes had her visiting Cleveland, calling it “one of the most underrated cities in America.”  Kat and I found it fascinating to watch, getting an outsider’s perspective on the city.  We don’t have the time or space for me to enumerate everything great about this city.  Nonetheless, it was still interesting to hear words of praise from a visitor, even one hosting a show that does what are basically puff pieces about the visited cities.

It didn’t hurt that two of the three restaurants she visited were the always-excellent Tommy’s (where the waiter shown on-camera is one of those guys who’s been there forever) and Trattoria Roman Gardens down in Little Italy, not to mention spent some time at the West Side Market.  I thought the show could have done with a few less “___ ROCKS!” jokes—okay, we get it, the only song the rest of the country associates with us is “Cleveland Rocks.”  Thank you.  It’s time to move on.

Of course, I suppose I might be tired of the whole “rocks” thing because it’s a lot like having people always tell you the sky is blue.  After a while, it gets to be a little bit wearying to keep being repetitively told something you already know.

Run Time Errors

It’s been quite a weekend, and the fun started on Friday.  That morning, we drove down to Mansfield to have lunch with my father, sister, and an aunt and uncle who were up from Cincinnati to visit.  The afternoon was spent with our tax guy, so Carolyn is now known as “Daddy’s Little Deduction.”  For dinner, exhausted by the travel and looking to celebrate both getting our taxes out of the way and the arrival of my author’s copies of Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide, Second Edition (which means y’all should be getting your copies any day now!), we decided to head over to Matsu and have some sushi. A picture of Carolyn sitting in Eric's laps and gripping a pair of chopsticks in her hand as she looks down at the open menu in front of her. Carolyn sat with each of us in turn, and I’m not sure but I think she was eyeing my escolar nigiri with some interest.  She had fun fiddling with chopsticks, anyway.

Saturday morning, we attended a memorial service for the father (and grandfather) of a family we’ve become close to over the last few years.  They helped us plant fifty daffodils in our front-yard flower beds last fall in honor of Mom—they’re sprouting, and I hope to get some pictures soon—and their pre-teen daughter has already been a babysitter for Carolyn.  Since we had a baby on our hands, we sat in the far back pew and listened to the music and testimonials.  The sanctuary of the Baptist church is beautiful, with sweeping stone arches and wonderful stained glass windows, just like you remember from medieval-romance movies.  It was hard to keep from reflecting on death, as opposed to life, especially since we’d never really known the deceased; he’d had Alzheimer’s ever since we met them.

When his teenaged grandson delivered a eulogy, I looked down at Carolyn and couldn’t help whispering an apology for the day that I leave her forever.  I hope that day doesn’t come for a long, long time, but it won’t be put off forever.  I hope that when that day does come, she’ll be able to smile through the tears, warmed by memories of love and laughter.

As I looked back up, I recalled the recent Papal statement that it’s immoral to let die a person who’s in a vegetative state.  We already know he opposes voluntary euthanasia, along with capital punishment and of course abortion.  Basically, the Pope opposes any premature exit of this life, no matter if it’s an imposed exit or not.  Which forces me to wonder: what does he know about death that the rest of us don’t?  And why is he working so hard to make sure that people avoid it for as long as possible, even when they’ve become mental vegetables?

That same evening, my college friends Bruce and Laura, visiting from out of town, dropped by to see Carolyn and introduce us to their son Dennis, who was born just three days before Carolyn.  They’re currently located in Boise, Idaho, which they find to be interesting despite the political climate.  They were telling us about the “clean movie” video stores that are fairly popular in their area.  These are places that take movies and edit out the “naughty bits” so you can watch a movie without having to see or hear anything that might offend you.  (Unless of course unauthorized alterations of an artistic work offend you, in which case you’re pretty much out of luck.)  We were wondering whether these places would carry The Passion of the Christ at all, and if so, how much of it would be left.  Bruce said he’d guarantee that they’d carry it intact.  While I was over at the Catholic World News site, I saw a banner ad for CleanFilms, and as it happens they list The Passion… as an upcoming movie.  I’m almost tempted to sign up for the free trial service just to get their copy of the movie and see how long it ends up being.

November 2014
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