April 02, 2006
The Non-Cover Up

Following on the heels of my recent "Cover Up" game, allow me to suggest some more fun with pop songs.

What are your favorite songs that *sound like* the were remakes of other songs? One of the more famous examples of this phenomenon is George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord", which is not a cover of "He's So Fine" by the Chiffons, but it sounded close enough for the judges to award damages (or so I recall, erroneously or not).

As some of you know, I was so struck by Natalie Imbruglia's "Wishing I Was There" and its similarity to George Michael's "Freedom" that I took out my trusty old Apple PowerBook and sampled the two together into one coherent song. Ah, the good old days... when I had free time.

Some of my favorite covers-that-aren't include:

EMF's "Unbelievable" and the Spice Girl's "Wanna Be"
Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" and Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London"
Gwen Steffani's "Crash" and Salt N Pepa's "Push It"
From their latest album, Weezer's "Hold Me" and Tracy Bonham's "Sharks Don't Sleep"
Green Day, "Warning" and the Kink's "Picture Book"

What about you? What songs do you like that remind you of other songs (which, perhaps, you also like)?

Posted by at 01:08 AM in the following Department(s): Books/Movies/Music | Comments (3)
 April 12, 2006
Nolan at One Year

Portrait of Boy in Blue, March 2006.A few days ago, Nolan turned one year old.

Things have been rather hectic at Casa Rousselle lately. I had a major project due at work, and my resulting long hours at the office have created a time pinch at home. (Notice there've been no blog entries for a little while, as well.) At least one significant birthday at the end of March went completely unobserved, and Paulette had to work without any help from me to pull together a birthday celebration for Nolan this past Monday.

It's amazing how much more quickly time seems to be passing with Nolan than it did with Alexander. I'm sure that a big part of that is simply the issue of novelty: Alex was the first, so every new thing (and every new worry) was amplified by our inexperience. With Nolan, time is not slowing down for us to marvel at each new milestone.

This does not mean we are not marvelling. Quite the contrary. Nolan walks with more confidence each time I see him, his vocalization is increasingly distinct (I wonder what his first actual word will be!), and he becomes more beautiful every day.

Nolan waves at his birthday cake.His eyes remain a stunning blue, and his hair is slowly coming in fine and blond, just like dear old dad (and older brother). Funny thing about appearances: lately, whenever the four of us go somewhere together, the universal observation is that Alex mostly takes after his mom while Nolan looks more like his dad. I still think both kids take quite a bit of their appearance from both of us, but why quibble? They're both adorable.


Nolan's birthday started off with a trip to the doctor's office. It's important, I think, to start a kid's special day with Big Honking Shots in both legs that are painful, itchy, and full of disease.

After a day packed full of swimming and museums and some clandestine birthday prepping, Nolan was treated to seeing Dad come home sometime before bedtime. Dinner was followed by chocolate birthday cake -- Nolan's first exposure to chocolate... and I'm not so sure that he liked it -- and Alex helped him to blow out the candle.

Nolan plays.Alex also helped his little brother open the Big Present for the day: a huuuge bag of a couple hundred colorful plastic balls. We opened up the bag in Alex's room (where we had the kid's pop-up tent set up) and the rest of the evening was spent smacking around the buckets o' balls.

For me, it remains great fun to watch the kids figure things out. The joy of discovery is contagious. One of the most beautiful things about the kids at their current ages is that discovery is almost always play. I must have had at least as much fun watching the kids play with Nolan's big birthday present(s) as they did playing with them.

When Alexander was born, Paulette and I had the situation (what we saw as a problem) of being equally underemployed and the two of us were handling our freelance work from out of the home. This meant that we shared about as equally as any two parents can in the child-rearing duties. As I believe I've commented elsewhere on this blog, that is no longer the case, nor has it been for a couple of years. I am now over-employed, which has resulted in Paulette assuming the bulk of the responsibility for taking care of the kids.

This is proving to be problematic for both of us. Paulette needs more time to work for her graphic design clients, and the constant attention that the children require can sometimes wear her out. I, on the other hand, miss having more quality time with both of my sons, and I'm further bummed that I'm missing quite a bit of Nolan's infancy and now toddlerhood.

Striking a good work/life balance is difficult, and it seems to be quite the rallying cry in the high-tech sector these days. I'm still not sure how I'm going to resolve it for myself. Gotta pay the bills, true. But I need to be a parent to my children, as well, not to mention a husband to my wife.

Which brings us back to Nolan's birthday, the joy of discovery, and trying to figure things out. Before I can show Nolan how to juggle all those balls, I'm going to have to practice getting a little bit better at it myself, first.

Chocolate cake you say? Hmmm.

Posted by at 11:16 PM in the following Department(s): The Boys | Comments (1)
 April 25, 2006
Moral Obligation?

Some (alleged) chick has staked a claim at "myspace", this online community thing, and posted an unused e-mail address at one of my domain names which means whenever someone updates her (if she is, indeed, a she) "space" by posting comments or the like, I get the notifications.

I wanted to put a stop to this by following the link that myspace puts into the notification e-mails, but then I'd get asked for a password, which of course I don't have. Well. Since the e-mail is coming to me anyway, I simply clicked on "I forgot my password", and lo and behold, the password was e-mailed to me. I logged in and checked out this (alleged) chick's settings. I figured that if I could find an alternate e-mail address or something, I could just remove the address that is dropping mail into my e-mail box and set up everything to go to "her" other address.

Myspace has made the news a bit lately because it is a community that attracts teens, and there have been some infamous recent events where adult predators have been posing as teens on the online community to set up real-world meetings with actual teens. This kind of nastiness aside, there are other kinds of pretenders who create an alter ego on this or other on-line communities to pose as someone they are not, often to become a disruptive member of whatever groups they end up joining. It's all very strange and clearly involves people who have much more free time than I have, but it is also the reason I put my tongue-in-cheek when I allude to this chick as an (alleged) chick.

That all said, after poking around this account's settings, I've come to believe that the account really was set up by a high school-aged girl who lives in some other state in some town I've never heard of. The account settings that are not revealed in the public areas of myspace (but which I can see, because I have the password) lead me to believe that this girl typed in an e-mail address at one of my domains as a simple mistake (and no, I won't post the details that lead me to this conclusion), and there are other indications that this is not a hoax identity.

This leaves me with a quandary. I was unable to find any other e-mail settings (apparently, you can only set up one e-mail address for your myspace account), but I have the girl's name and hometown... and, of course, complete access to her myspace account until she changes her e-mail address setting. It's not enough for her to change her password -- every time she changes her password, I'll get the e-mail that confirms it.

So... do I have a moral obligation to notify her that she has given a complete stranger access to her myspace account? Does being a good citizen require me to try to track down a home phone number or contact her high school or e-mail one of her "friends" on her contact list in order to get word to her that she's made this error? (Words cannot convey how resistant I am to that idea.) Or, does being a good citizen require me to dead-letter an e-mail address on one of my domains, the electronic equivalent of turning a blind eye?

What do *you* think?

Posted by at 08:58 AM in the following Department(s): Tidbits | Comments (4)
 April 29, 2006
Big Brother is Watching

Portrait of Boy in Green, March 2006.I've mentioned in the past that Alexander likes to be a big brother to little Nolan. Being a big brother is bringing out in him a tendency we'd noticed earlier -- that of occasionally being a "minder." It's interesting to watch this play out.

When I say that he can sometimes be a "minder," what I mean is that he will sometimes insist that other kids (or sometimes even his parents) follow The Rules. Here's an example from a few days ago: Alex and another kid are fighting over a toy at the playground. The parent of the other child is nowhere to be found -- these kinds of disputes don't seem to happen as frequently when parents of both children are present and attentive -- so I step over and announce to both kids that the toy is going to have a time out since they are unable to work it out between them. (I do not generally concern myself with "who started it" or "who was there first" unless there's an obvious bully -- that's all part of the negotiation process that the kids should/will work out.) The two eventually cease their fighting and move on to play elsewhere, this time more cooperatively.

Then a third child arrives at the playground and proceeds to play with the toy that had previously been in dispute. "No!" says Alex. "That has a time out!" He doesn't physically interfere, but his own toy is forgotten while he keeps insisting that the newcomer leave the first toy alone.

(And no, Daddy doesn't let that continue.)

Alex is looking forward to blowing out the candle on Nolan's first birthday cake, April 2006.He is not generally bossy, but rather he *occasionally* finds it appropriate to reiterate The Rules. In play situations, I haven't seen many other kids his age do this (although there've been a few), and I'm sure that all kids probably do this from time to time, albeit situationally. But what I find particularly interesting is how this Minder behavior is more pronounced in Alex with regard to his little brother.

Around the house lately, if we tell Nolan to do (or not do) something -- be it to play more gently with Mommy's Waterford crystal or to stop banging on the walls with Daddy's good claw hammer -- Alex repeats the command almost instantly and at least twice as loud. If Alex spies Nolan doing something that he (Alex) knows neither of them should be doing (like, say, drinking the Clorox), he'll immediately jump up and shout, "No, Nolan!"

--this brings to mind the one drawback that we'd considered about giving Nolan his name. A friend had suggested that with such a name, she wouldn't be able to help but call him "No-No Nolan." Because coming up with the name had been such a difficult process, we decided that it would be easier to get a new friend.

But I digress.

In a pensive mood, March 2006.Regardless of whether this behavior of Alex's is typical for a big brother, I don't necessarily see anything bad about it. Granted, we do try to correct him -- as totalitarian dictators, we cannot have the proletariat believing that they are somehow part of the chain of command at Casa Rousselle, and Alex is too young to have read any Ayn Rand just yet, anyway. But it's interesting to see him experimenting with exerting authority within the confines of what he understands to be The Rules. Alexander may not always follow The Rules, but he's well aware of their existence.

And, insofar as Alex is in a "Why?" phase right now, it's also interesting to hear him volunteer explanations to his little brother. "No, Nolan! Don't pull on that! You could get hurt!"

As good exploitative parents, we have occasionally turned his Big Brotherness to our advantage. My apologies right now to non-parents who might be squeamish about such topics, but toilet training is an excellent example. During the toilet training process, closing the door is one of the activities of least concern. As Alexander is doing better with the other steps, however, we've been able to add this last step by invoking his role as a Minder:

"Hey, Alex, don't forget to close the door so that Nolan doesn't come in and play in the toilet water."


Getting him to close the door out of politeness is a hit or miss prospect. But as a Big Brother, he's happy to do it out of concern for Nolan.

My entry here has been focusing on Big Brother as a keeper of The Rules, but to be fair, I need to mention that Alexander is a good brother all around. They play well together, and Alex is often offering to "help" Nolan with new tasks, such as opening presents, blowing out birthday cake candles, etc.

...and if there are any parallels here between Big Brotherhood and the role of government, I'm sure they are just coincidental.

Alex gets to the top.

Posted by at 11:58 AM in the following Department(s): The Boys | Comments (0)

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