August 03, 2005
Pop Culture Snapshot

I'm working insane hours... which is too bad, because I'm not getting enough done for my employer to be worth the effort. This happens to me every few months it seems... a few weeks of terrible productivity despite long hours, then I find traction... and work even more hours, but at least I'm productive.

But when I'm not working or whinging about work, I'm driving to work or I'm avoiding work. While driving or avoiding, I partake in pop culture:

  • What I'm listening to now: Green Day's album American Idiot is the most inspired album I've heard in years. It has lived in the CD player in my van non-stop for months, now.

  • What I'm reading now: I just finished book three (The Waste Lands) in Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series. Before I resume the series (I had refused to read any of the Dark Tower books until King had finished writing them), though, I'm now diving into Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. A very compelling read. J. K. Rowling just gets better and better as a writer, and the story is a grabber.

  • What I'm watching on TV: Ha! Faithful readers know that my wife and I told the cable company and the satellite companies to go and unbroadcastable themselves about five years ago. So our TV watching has depended upon DVDs, rentals, and anything we could pick up with rabbit ears.

    Happily, we recently moved from a valley to a ridge, so now instead of getting NBC and occasionally ABC, we can watch *all* of the broadcast networks. So, sometimes I get home by ten-thirty in the evening, which affords me the chance to watch the syndicated reruns of "That 70's Show" -- a program I never watched when it was on. Or popular. Or whatever. Is it still on? Is it still popular? Well, whatever. I like the show. Not because I'm nostalgic for the '70's (I'm not), but because the show is very cleverly written and the performances are enjoyable. A relaxed approach to comedy; nothing forced. Well, not much, anyway. So that's what I'm watching. Re-runs of "That 70's Show".

  • What I'm eating: jambalaya. Mmmmm.

  • What I'm wearing: Carhart t-shirt. Blue jeans. Hawaiian shirt. Natch.

  • What I'm drinking: Dr Pepper.

  • What I'm writing: a horror short story about a dead bird.

So, go pick up American Idiot and listen to it while reading your copy of the latest Harry Potter. Then watch some "That 70's Show" while eating jambalaya and drinking Dr Pepper, all decked out in your hawaiian shirt. But don't write a horror story about a dead bird because I'm going to finish mine and send it out before you do, and then you'll just look like a copy cat.

Posted by at 12:21 AM in the following Department(s): Books/Movies/Music | Comments (2)
 August 15, 2005
Word of the Day

I love this word:


This is a German compound word that means to correct a mistake with another mistake. (The transliteration is "bad bettering" or "bad improvement".) This came up recently on an e-mail list where everyone was correcting everyone else's spelling of a given word, and each got it wrong, in turn. Very funny.

Posted by at 05:06 PM in the following Department(s): Tidbits | Comments (0)
 August 19, 2005
Alex at Three Years

Alex loves his I Spy Books.July 20th marked Alex's third birthday, and we celebrated in much the same way as we did his previous two birthdays: a quiet outing with friends at a neighborhood park.

A dear friend who lives in Canada and who was among the first to meet Alex came down and presented him with a couple of "I Spy" books, which he absolutely loves. If you have any kids near the age of three, or are otherwise inclined to purchase a gift for a three-year-old-ish child, I heartily recommend I Spy. They are coffee table books with large photos of small items that make for wonderful pattern-recognition games. And anything that helps foster a love of books can't be bad.

In addition to inviting friends of ours and Alex that go back to early play groups and the like, we also invited neighborhood moms and dads and kids we have recently started to get to know. Most showed up, much to our delight, and there was plenty of cake and lemonade to go around. These are the kids Alex is likely to go to school with and grow up with for the foreseeable future, and I'm happy to report that they all seem like a great bunch, with parents who are like-minded with Paulette and me.

A couple of weeks after his birthday, Alexander went with Nolan for his three-year (and Nolan's four-month) checkup. The doctor reports that Alexander is no longer at the very lowest end for his age group of height and weight, which makes Mom and Dad breathe a big sigh of relief. He's still on the small and light side of normal, but the doctor is happy with his progress and is no longer worried for his health (as was the case, at one point a little while ago).

Alex poses with a airplane on display at the Boeing Museum of Flight.There are several photos I've taken that I've refrained from posting here because of how skin-and-bones Alex can sometimes appear. This is not for lack of us making food available to him. He's just not interested in food. Good news for him in the future, I'm sure (if my own weight issues are any indication), but at this young age it's important that his body have the raw materials needed to make growing bones and muscles and all that.

Alex continues to have a healthy interest in trains and planes. A month or so ago, we all drove down to a tree-harvesting museum which featured a train tour of a 1910's logging camp. Naturally, Alex loved the train ride while his parents enjoyed the historical tidbits.

Given the terribly long hours and hard (not to mention dangerous) conditions that loggers worked under at the beginning of the last century, it amazes me that they would opt for that kind of work at all. As mentally exhausting as I sometimes find my own job, I'm living and working in the lap of luxury compared to many. As a history major, I am often amazed at people who complain about how "everything is getting worse." Au contraire. Everything is getting better. We may not have attained utopia or paradise, but we're doing a farsight better than previous generations.

My parents visited us recently, as well, and we took Alex to the Boeing Museum of Flight. My father is a pilot, and so it was an opportunity for all of the three generations to enjoy displays that likewise spanned the generations. As with the logging museum, I'm sure we all took away different appreciations from the experience. Like my father, I hope one day to earn my pilot's license. It's nice that the three of us -- dad, me, and my oldest son -- can all share this appreciation for flight, even if we all do so at a different level. I look forward to taking Alex along on a flight with his grandpa piloting before too long.

Encouraged by Alex's continuing interest in planes, Paulette suggested that we attend the Arlington Air Show that was held here not too long ago. I was pleasantly surprised to notice during our day-long outing that Paulette was every bit as interested in the show and the exhibits as Alex or myself. I get the impression that she might be looking forward to the time when we can take trips as a family in something other than a commercial (read: inconvenient) flight. She has also become more aware of airplane-related news.

Learning to fly is still a little ways off in my future. I've got other bills to pay and other demands on my time to meet. But the circumstances of my life seem to support the notion that we are moving in that direction.

In addition to trains and planes, Alex continues to be excited by books (of which we have plenty, and are always getting more) and... dinosaurs. Is anybody out there aware of a dinosaur petting zoo where we might take Alex?

Alex at the Arlington Air Show.

Posted by at 06:56 PM in the following Department(s): The Boys | Comments (0)
 August 20, 2005
Nolan at Four Months

One big happy baby!Now, I don't mention it often on this site, but I was not an only child. The reason I am generally vague about siblingness is that there are members of my family who prefer not to have any information posted about them on the internet. This is completely reasonable in this crazy world, but I obviously have made different choices. In an effort to respect the wishes of said family members, however, while still discussing issues of import to myself, I tend to be vague about these family members and only mention what little might be necessary to make my point.

I had noted earlier on these pages that a client of mine was (is) a second child and lamented the lack of photos of her childhood. When I mentioned this to a sibling of mine (who, as you might surmise, is younger than me), I was greeted with similar concern. Second children, it would appear, may be made to feel as if they were not quite as big a deal in their parents' lives as their elder sibs.

[Let's leave for another day the discussion as to whether these feelings are justified because hey -- people feel the way they do regardless of any objective "truth."]

Nolan may not be quite as well documented yet as his brother was at this age, but he's doing quite well, nonetheless. He continues to enjoy a very pleasant disposition, which means that if his cries of discomfort are more rare, they are also responded to a bit more quickly than his brother's were at this age.

He still loves to smile at anyone who smiles at him, and his eyes remain the most fascinating shade of blue. True, Alexander's eyes were still blue at this age (they are currently fluctuating between a kind of grey-blue and a greeny-grey hue), but not like this. These are, as any silk-screen printer would recognize, an uncompromising "reflex blue". Nolan has a strong neck and holds his head up high. He remains proportionally large for his age -- something like 97th percentile for height and weight and 95th for head circumference.

As with anybody, these physical attributes are highly subject to rapid change (they certainly did change for Alex between four months and one year), but they remain the first things you notice when you meet him.

He's increasingly alert, and he loves to be around people. As I think I may have mentioned before, he also loves music. He kicks and gurgles and coos whenever something's playing. He has recently started to practice with his voice -- every once in a while, I catch him making different sounds in a very experimental fashion. "Ahhhhhhhhh. Ahhhhhhhhh? Ahhhhhhhh. Gheeeeeeeeeeeee. Ahhhhhhhhhh." If his talkative older brother ever lets him get a word in, edgewise, I think he'll be quite a talker, himself.

Today, Nolan spent much of the day trying to roll over from being on his back to being on his belly. He didn't succeed, but I think I learned a valuable lesson from his attempts: no matter what your goals in life, no matter how trivial they may seem, you may as well give up now because you are doomed to failure.

Posted by at 06:14 PM in the following Department(s): The Boys | Comments (0)
 August 21, 2005

One big happy familyPaulette and I had a little bit of trepidation at first over how Alexander might receive his baby brother. Nolan arrived a mere three weeks after we moved into the new house, and Alex had already had to adapt to quite a bit of upheaval.

Fortunately, Alex took to his brother much more easily than he took to the new house. He is very affectionate and gentle with Nolan. He loves to make sure Nolan has a toy to play with, and he often goes up to Nolan and announces "Smiles! Smiles!" Whenever Paulette and the kids leave and I kiss Alex goodbye, he insists that I make sure to kiss Nolan goodbye, too. That kind of thing.

Perhaps the transition has worked easily with Alex, in part, because we make sure to spend a little bit of quality time just with him. When we go for our evening walks each day, Nolan (and Paulette) may or may not join us, but Alex leads the delegation. The bed time ritual, with reading and tooth brushing and changing clothes and all that, is one-on-one time between Daddy and Alex. Paulette, likewise, has a number of activities that are very much Alex-focused.

Brothers!Nolan, to be sure, gets his own time with Mommy and Daddy. Nursing aside, Nolan gets Paulette's exclusive attention at bath time and in the early mornings and late evenings before Alex gets up and after Alex goes to bed. Nolan gets tummy time and air time and time to enjoy the mobile in his crib. He also ends up sleeping in our big bed most mornings after his 5am feeding. I don't get as much exclusive time with Nolan as I do with Alex -- very much to my chagrin -- but as my schedule gets a little more sane (which *is* happening), that, too, shall improve.

And as far as brotherhood goes, Nolan is absolutely fascinated by Alex. I'll often catch Nolan staring at me or at his mother intently, but even more frequently he'll focus all of his attention upon his older brother. When the television happens to be on for Alex (we're not really putting anything on for Nolan just now), Nolan studies Alex, not the TV.

I realize that what is happening now has no real bearing on how the future will play out. Paulette and I both grew up with siblings and our respective relationships with the sibs have varied wildly over time. Continue to vary. I'd like to think that we both currently enjoy good, healthy relationships with our sibs as adults, but there've certainly been some interesting rough patches along the way. I harbor no illusion that today's affection means that Alex will never have any issues with his younger brother, and visa versa. But we'll continue to encourage Alex's being a good big brother, and we'll continue to give both of them attention separately as well as together.

I'm fascinated to watch how all of these dynamics develop.

Posted by at 03:01 PM in the following Department(s): The Boys | Comments (2)

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