May 01, 2003
Alexander at nine months

Alexander plays with blocksAlexander Benjamin turned nine months old recently. We took him to the doctor, who says he's still a healthy, healthy boy. There is *some* cause for concern, insofar as his weight has dropped relative to his height. He's gone from being a 90th percentile (or so) in height and weight compared with other kids his age to being 75th percentile in height and 55th in weight. I think this is because he tries to eat everything but food. Go figure.

Just a day or two ago, he became an expert at getting into everything that we'd rather he not. He's learned how to take my records off the shelf and out of their jackets and drool on them while we're not paying attention. He has figured out how to unspool a roll of toilet paper, how to flush a toilet (lots of fun! big noise!), how to unshelve books, how to press buttons on the CD carosel to make it spin around and around, and how to climb up the stairs. Oh, and another recent behavior change is that he no longer likes to lie still when we change his diapers. He gets quite upset about it, actually. He'd rather stand or crawl. Very frustrating for mom and dad.

We've been signing certain words to him for a couple months now, but he's not signing them back to us yet. He is, however, expanding his vocabulary of sounds. Taking a cue from his dad, he will now bounce his finger up and down between his lips and say, "Brbrbrbrbrbrbrbrb."

When we took him to the doctor, they ran through a series of routine questions:

"Is he pulling himself up to a standing position?"


"Does he work his way around the coffee table in a standing position?"


"Does he clap his hands or clap toys together?"


Is our child somehow defective? He hasn't clapped! "Well, no, Doctor, but he does splash in the pool with his hands, and none of the other kids at swimming class do that." (Okay, I'm kidding -- I didn't actually say that.)

Well, as it turns out, he started clapping just a couple of days ago. So I guess we can rest assured that, his bizarre eating habits aside, he's doing quite well. Yee-ha!

Posted by at 12:26 AM in the following Department(s): The Boys | Comments (0)
 May 07, 2003
Mattress Fund Makeshift Fix

The mock commercial that James Osborne and I put together for "The Mattress Fund" is now working for visitors using Windows as well as those using Mac. We have a makeshift fix for the problems we've been having with Windows Media, so there are separate links for the Windows version and the Mac version. It's a temporary fix, until we can get a more elegant solution.

Never doubt for a moment that comedy is hard work.

Please e-mail me or post a comment if you still can't view the movie. Thanks!

Posted by at 06:33 PM in the following Department(s): Humor | Comments (1)
 May 11, 2003
Mother's Day Sabbatical

For Mother's Day, 2003, I am putting away my computer and my cell phone. The only outgoing calls I intend to make are to wish my own mother and Paulette's mother a happy day. Other than that, I'm spending the day on my family.

I'd planned to post here about how Alexander called 911 the other day, but that will have to wait until sometime this coming week. Oh, and then there's this e-mail making the rounds that I want to respond to, about how life was so much better in the good old days. Of course, there's also continuing the discussion on "Free Speech for Whom?" I'll get to it all. Really!

But for now, I'm going to put away the toys and tools and spend a quality day with Alexander and Paulette. I hope that all of you reading this who either *are* or *have* a mother enjoy Mother's Day this year.

Posted by at 12:43 AM in the following Department(s): | Comments (0)
 May 22, 2003
Mr. Feinstein, RICHH, and Others

How does the saying go? "Always a pallbearer...."

Dead people are starting to catch up with me. They're taking more and more prominence in my life.

RICHH is dead. I was planning to tell you about him anyway, but now that Mr. Feinstein is dead, I have to tell you about RICHH. Can't put it off any longer.

Rich Halberstein was co-editor of the Cornell (TM) Lunatic humor magazine in 1987 when an accident forced him to take time off and thereby thrust the burden of keeping the magazine alive onto the shoulders of his co-editor -- who, in turn, ultimately handed the magazine over to a friend of mine and me. Rich was, by all accounts, a very funny man to be around and his humor in the magazine was simultaneously brilliant and tasteless. I mean, really tasteless. Like, "Missing Children Playing Cards -- Collect the Whole Set."

I found out about Rich dying a few months ago (about a year after his death, in fact). I did a little digging and discovered that he and I have been (sorry, had been) living in the same town for the past several years. A little more digging revealed that Rich was a bit of a legend on Usenet during the early years. (For those of you who don't know what Usenet is, think of it as the global bulletin board analog to the web or to e-mail. If that doesn't help, then just think of it as a geeky computer gnurd thing that involves lots and lots of people who aren't you.) There are *fan sites* dedicated to collecting his various posts. (Examples here and here.)

Typically, Rich would post under the user name RICHH, although he did occasionally use pseudonyms, as well. He posted treatises on philosophy and pop culture, he posted humor, he posted raunchy porn of a particularly literary bent. Much of what he wrote way back then reads kinda like a modern day blog. The guy was ahead of his time. And now he's dead.

Weird things have been happening lately. Like, soon after finding out RICHH was dead, I received a lifeline from past Lunatic editors who are trying to organize alumni who worked on the magazine. I mentioned RICHH being dead. They -- you know, they -- asked if I'd like to write a few words about him for an upcoming newsletter. The more I researched Rich's life in an effort to say something interesting about him, the more fascinating his life became to me.

At my suggestion, and I know this sounds tacky, we're going to put his obit under the "Where are they now" section, featuring (I hope) a photo of his tombstone. Since he was buried in Florida (nowhere near any of my friends or family in Florida, too) and not in Seattle, it'll be hard to get that photo. But the more I read of his writing, the more I think he would have wanted it this way.

The thing about RICHH is, he was a downright funny as well as tasteless guy who lived hard and died young. I feel like it's possible to be irreverent in my obituary for him in the Lunatic alumni newsletter without being disrespectful. But there's also an undercurrent in any irreverence I may choose to employ regarding his death. Any dime-store psychologist would recognize such humor as a defense mechanism.

Earlier today (Wednesday, not Thursday -- I'm writing this after midnight, but today is still Wednesday to me), I received the word that Paul S. Feinstein died a few months ago.

It's getting a bit late in the evening now for me to adequately eulogize this man. He was my honors English teacher for junior and senior years in high school. He was one of the best teachers I've ever had. He had a cool and reserved sense of humor, a firm sense of what was right and wrong, and he demanded that we do our best to live up to our potential. He died all too young.

I wish I could sum this all up with some profound observation about life and death. I don't have any. Rather, I tell you all this by way of simply saying that death is increasingly on my mind these days. Like most of you, I've lost close family members throughout the years. But the rate at which I'm losing peers is now accelerating noticeably. A few years ago, an old high school friend with whom I had lost touch passed away. He was the first of my peers to go (not including my cousin Mark). Rich and I never got to know each other, but his death is nonetheless relevant to me right now. But losing Mr. Feinstein is bringing it all home.

Once upon a time, my peers started getting married. Later, so did I. Then, they all seemed to be having kids. Later, so did I. Now, my peers are starting to die. And eventually...

That's a signpost up ahead. Welcome to Midlife Crisis, USA.

Posted by at 02:49 AM in the following Department(s): Essays | Comments (2)
 May 26, 2003
I Don't Live in a Box

My spam e-mail situation has gotten considerably worse this past few weeks. Where I used to be merely inundated, I am now completely flooded.

One of the more interesting things I've observed is that a great deal of this spam is being sent to old, old e-mail addresses of mine or is being sent with old, old information.

Many years ago, I reserved a couple of domains and put down as my mailing address a PO Box in Bedford, Massachusetts where I used to receive mail for, oh, about a year while I was constantly moving from place to place in Boston. Once I'd found a more permanent domicile, I switched the address to reflect my new living situation . . . and then I moved across the country and had to switch addresses again. Then again. And again. You get the idea.

So for some period of time under a year, the Internic (the "universal" registry for domain names at the time for .com addresses) had my mailing address as a PO Box in Bedford. I believe this was sometime around 1996, give or take a year.

The recent rage in e-mail spam has been alerts to REFINANCE NOW!!!! RATES ARE GOING BACK UP SOON!!! Yeah, yeah, like I'm going to refinance my mortgage with an e-mail spammer. Great idea.

But the funniest thing lately has been receiving a bunch of spam e-mail informing me that my residence "at PO Box XXX in Bedford, MA has been approved for 5% refinancing!"

It has? Woo-hoo! Show me the money, baby!

I wonder if I'd have to get the PO Box appraised before I could refi. Hmmm.

Posted by at 10:37 PM in the following Department(s): Tidbits | Comments (0)

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