Wednesday, January 31, 2007

If I only had a brain . . .

If I wasn't so much like the Scarecrow, I wouldn't have commented on a months-old post over at the Hygiene Chronicles as if it were newly posted today. I also wouldn't wonder why someone found my blog by searching for "origami stapler," because I would remember that I had written about it in the past. I also would remember that I had written somewhere in this blog about lacking a video camera with which we could record every hour of 3B's life that the NSA wasn't already squirreling away in their archive under Cheyenne Mountain.

And if I remembered what I wrote, I wouldn't have been quite so surprised to receive one of these from The King late last week:
The package arrived without a gift card or even a note on the packing slip indicating who sent it to us, but Mama did some quick sleuthing work and discovered that The King and 'Cilla were behind this surprise gift. We called quickly to thank them, then set about trying to figure out this new fangled thingamabob, which conveniently connects directly to our iMac and works seamlessly with iMovie, allowing us to produce brilliant gratuitous cuteness at a whole new level.

Gone are the days of 12-second clips from our digital camera pasted together to look like a movie. Now we have hour-long tapes. And widescreen formatting. And a 30x zoom lens. And a jealous dog. And now we know what it's like to obsess over videotaping our baby. And now, so do you:

As for that story about the orchestra pit safety net and my theater nickname that The King referred to . . . maybe someday I'll tell you about those.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Keeping up with 3B's jonesing

Zygote Daddy and D.W.'s son, Chins, is not only growing at an amazing rate, but he's also trying to develop his mad baby skills sooner than the average bear as well.

Here in Casa Bradstein, although 3B isn't as big as Chins, we're familiar with the need to crawl. 3B was locomoting for a few weeks through a combination of an army-belly crawl, rolling, sitting up and toppling over in the desired direction, getting up on hands and knees and lunging, which was followed by getting up on hands and knees and scooting either hands or knees forward, then lunging.

Finally, last Wednesday (that's six months and three days, for those of you keeping score at home), 3B coordinated all the disparate parts of his body and started bona fide crawling, which means that our house now looks like we're expecting a flood, with everything moved two feet up off the floor. All that baby-proofing was a bit premature and yet not nearly enough because the first thing that 3B did was crawl over to various objects--Boppy, LeapFrog activity center, couch--and try to use them to lever himself into a standing position. That afternoon, he stood up in his crib for the first time.

Since then, all of his attempts to stand, which usually start off as some variation on Downward Facing Dog and end up as some variation of a faceplant, have led to much crying. This is likely because it's a bit startling and maybe somewhat painful, but also because 3B's long-awaited top teeth seem to be making the final push through to appear. Then again, we've thought that before. Regardless of the teeth, 3B is jonesing to walk.

We're not sure where he needs to go so badly that he needs to walk at six months, but I suppose that he'll show us the way there in a few days. Yeesh. It's nice to know that while he got his good looks and smarts from Mama--thank goodness--that I could pass on my dominant trait--impatience.

Then again, maybe it's not impatience. Maybe he's just trying to keep up with Chins.

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It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a . . . fruity dirigible!

How much do you think the Wired writers and editors enjoyed putting into print the words "fruity dirigible"?

I have to admit that stories like this make me miss Liberal Banana . . . but not for long, since she and BF will be coming over for dinner soon. That kinda' makes you wish you lived closer, don't it?

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Two things: An apology and a plea

Two things for the person who found my blog by searching on "origami stapler," for which my blog is somehow the top result (well, OK, it's the top result because I used the phrase in this post, when I was kvetching about something . . . again):

  1. Apologies for misleading you.
  2. Please let me know when you find one. (And where you found the paper staples that go with it.)

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Twist and Shout, Part II--I show you mine

Unlike Anthromama I didn't have a stoic Swedish dad, but I did have a devout Christian Scientist dad. In light of his faith, Mom always found Dad's behavior ironic, since he was always the first one of them to want to rush an injured child to the clinic. Mom, on the other hand, was more like Zygote Daddy, subscribing to the "wait 24 hours" treatment philosophy.

Hurt your leg, a la The King's nephew? Wait 24 hours to see if anything happens. This is about what Sister #2 did after her oldest child had his leg pinned by the neighbor's pig. Just like the King's nephew, my nephew's leg later turned out to be broken, but he was fine. So was the pig.

Get a soccer ball punted into your eyeball, as I did? Wait 24 hours to see if anything happens . . . or wait until Mom asked me, as I was lying on the couch, what happened. When I got to the part about not being able to open my eye for five minutes or so, she stopped cooking dinner and started asking some more questions that led to a trip to the clinic. Proving Steve's point about communication, it was good that she asked, and listened to my answers, because it turned out that I had three pinholes in my retina and was in danger of having my retina detach. Fortunately, nothing has ever come of that, but I still have to get it checked every year.

Fall out of a friend's tree and land with your head wedged between a concrete sculpture and a fence post and a gaping, bleeding wound on your chin? OK, for that one I went straight to the clinic. My friend and I had identical teddy bears, so one of my first questions from the back of the station wagon was, "Is this my Pooky?" Sister #2, riding up front with Mom said, "Yes." After a minute I supposedly asked again, "Is this my Pooky?" Sister #2 said, "Yes. Speed up, Mom." I supposedly asked that same question about 12 times in a 20 minute ride. I say "supposedly" because, due to my concussion, I still don't recall anything between climbing in my friend's tree and waking up later that night, lying on the couch as my family ate dinner. It wasn't until even later, as Sister #1 read me "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler," that I asked, "What's this?" as I brushed the Band-Aid covering the six stitches in my chin. So, similar to, but unlike L.A. Daddy, who didn't reveal the extent of his injuries to his daughter, my parents had to decide what to reveal to me about the severity of my accident and the extent of my injuries, since I didn't remember anything about it. As you know from reading this account, they told me everything.

It's likely this open communication throughout my upbringing that leads me to agree with all of you, including Samantha Jo, who said that open communication is the key to dealing with parents' and kids' injuries. I hope that communication will help me bridge the gap between Mom's "wait 24 hours" philosophy, which is engrained in me, and my first-time parent jitters, which will have me dialing 911 before 3B starts crying. Perhaps those aren't jitters, they're just Dad's parenting nature coming out in me now that I'm a dad too.

If so, that would be funny after all these years of my trying to understand Dad's faith and its effects on me--I did go to Christian Science Sunday School until I flunked out at age 13. Over the years, I've come to see how, although I didn't have his faith, I had interpreted and internalized Dad's beliefs about illness, injury, and health in a way that fit in rather neatly with Mom's philosophy. As a result, I ended up doing what appeared from the outside to be walking off or sucking up in response to most illnesses and injuries. This was not an attempt to show my machismo--after all, those who know me well would only laugh at such an effort--but to focus on the root cause, rather than the symptoms, to hopefully recover faster.

This brings me back to my final question: "What is the best way to inculcate healthy habits in my child?" Anthromama offered "Be healthy yourself." The King suggested breaking a leg, so that in recovery it would grow stronger and I could make millions as a kicker.

I think the King's way is easier . . . but more on that in an upcoming post.

For now, my back is feeling somewhat better--I can sometimes reach my feet now--and I thank you all for your thoughtful comments, which helped me sort out my thoughts on this, and for your kind words, which helped me feel better.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

A boy's gotta do...

Update: I forgot that Blogger won't accept photos that I include as attachments to email posts, so I came back and added the picture. Which I could post to Flickr by email. Not that I'm comparing the two and finding Blogger lacking. Nope. Not at all. If only Blogger had some programmers who could work on this problem, or the fact that their mobile interface sucks, now that they're owned by Google. If only Blogger had merged with a company that had gobs of hypersmart programmers to spare. How convenient that would be for Blogger bloggers. I'm just saying.

A boy's gotta do...

3B says, "Hey. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. I can't help it that you put a chair on that line."

Friday, January 26, 2007

Inspiration for all mountebanks from the edumacation president

Putting the "duh" back in "education"

The other night I was reading this great post on the Tao of FAU, which supports my long-held belief that senators shouldn't run for president, and in which FAU gives a shout out to Bill Richardson. I forwarded the link to our friend, who works for the Dems in NM, figuring he'd be interested.

He wrote back, "Hey man, shouldn't you be watching the State of the Union?"

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I meant to, but I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts.

But seriously, 3B's been going to bed at 6:30 or so, and sleeping until 7:00 in the morning, so I couldn't even use the excuse that I didn't want to expose him to TV or stupid people or is that redundant?

So I relented and turned the tube on, although I have to admit that I couldn't bring myself to watch closely. My head did snap up, however, when I saw Shrub giving the presidential shout out to the founder of Baby Einstein. Say what? He really believes that she's on a par with a soldier who took rounds in his chest to save his comrades? Or the recent subway hero, who left his children on the platform and leapt into the path of an oncoming train to save a stranger?

Someone who makes mediocre products that prey on the fears of parents and who sold out to Disney?

No offense to the many people who have bought us Baby Einstein products as gifts. They are solid, if ordinary, books, toys, CDs, and DVDs. As with other product lines, we like the products that 3B appears to like and ignore the ones that he ignores, which goes to show that BE products are not consistently brilliant. Nor do they make your child brilliant. In fact, according to this article, the BE site states that "Baby Einstein products are not designed to make babies smarter." Funny, you can't tell that from their marketing.

I could go on about this--remember, I'm still self-medicating--but fortunately for you, Timothy Noah, over at Slate, already wrote an article about this. Noah employed all kinds of tricky journalist techniques like punchy writing, research, and solid editing, so it's a far better read than what I would have produced using slacker blogger techniques like hackneyed cliches, specious rumors, and a half-assed spell check. You can tell his article is good because he uses words like "mountebank" properly (Google it yourself, you knob).

And, hey, don't forget to let me know your thoughts on the "walk it off" school of parenting.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Twist and Shout

Even in this age of recycling and environmental awareness, there are still plenty of things that we throw out: shrink wrap plastic, old underwear, my back. Actually, I probably didn't throw my back out, but I came close. It's as though I put it in the trash can (recycle bin for windoze users), and it's just waiting to see if it gets thrown out or miraculously restored.

It was yesterday morning, as I was about to walk out, I tossed something into the bathroom trash can, which required a slight bend and twist. What it didn't require was a popping sound and a wrenching pain from one side of my lower back, but that's what came with the bend and twist.

I tested my back quickly, you know, to see if I could still walk after I managed to straighten up without whimpering too loud. Hm. One foot seemed to go in front of another, albeit with the sensation of a red hot poker twisting through my kidney, but whatever--I could still walk. So I got on my bike and rode to work. I figured that the ride might loosen the muscles up a bit. They may not have loosened up on the ride, but they didn't clench up and cause my legs to stiffen up and shoot straight out from my hips as though rigor mortis had set in while I was in the midst of some yoga pose like Downward Facing Dog either, although it was touch-and-go climbing the hills.

The hot, hot, hot shower at work helped keep my back loose, although by the afternoon it was stiffening up again. Again, the ride home neither cured it nor caused yoga mortis, but I was an aching puppy yesterday night. So after implementing the first part of the testosterone cure for a debilitating injury--walk it off--I implemented the second part--self-medication with booze. After three glasses of wine, I wasn't feeling any more limber, but I wasn't hurting as much either. A few generic Tylenols before bed, and I slept like a dog--without the scratching around and whimpering while I dreamed. I hope.

This morning, and all day today, my back felt better, although there were still some things that I couldn't do, like reach my feet from any position. That made putting on and taking off socks pretty interesting, but I'm getting used to that, and discovering new uses for pieces of furniture that I had never imagined.

All of this trouble over a scrap of trash has gotten me thinking, particularly since I can't move well enough to actually do anything. My first thought is that we should probably start going back to yoga soon, although I might have to stand through the whole class, since I don't think I could get to the floor unless someone tripped me, in which case I would be trapped in the yoga studio like a capsized turtle until rescued by a masseuse. My second thought is a series of questions that I don't have the answers to, that I thought perhaps you, oh wise denizens of the innernets, could delurk and answer, or even just ruminate on:

  • By demonstrating a "walk it off" response to potentially serious injuries, do I put my son at risk?
  • How do parents determine what is a serious injury to their child, when there is no outward sign of injury?
  • What is the best way to inculcate healthy habits in my child?
I've got some thoughts and reflections from my own upbringing that I'll share, but I want to hear from y'all first. You know, I'll show you mine if you show me yours.

So, you regular commenters, lemme know, and you lurkers too.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Angst-ridden preganancy as sexy entertainment

This Sunday's NYTimes had this article on upcoming TV series about a couple expecting their first baby. The series is based on the book Notes From the Underbelly, which I've never read, but there's enough entertainment value in the article that I don't feel like I ever need to read the book or watch the show.

“It’s not just a random day in the life of a mom,” [Jennifer Westfeldt] said. “It’s: ‘Whoa! We’re pregnant, and I’m not ready for it.’ ” As Lauren, who counsels high school students on their college choices, says at one point, “We’re barely in our 30s and these days that’s like being in your 20s, which is actually an irresponsible age to have children.”
First, who is ready to have kids? Mom used to say that her kids were "willing until able," as in "willing to wash the dishes until able to wash the dishes." Having kids seems similar; we're all ready until pregnant, then we realize how hopelessly inept we are. What I particularly love about this quote is the logic, as it were, of the final sentence, in which her character says that anyone who's "barely in [their] 30's" and having kids is "irresponsible."

Say what? Since when is a 30-something having a baby irresponsible?

Then there's this, from the executive producer:
“The beauty of a pregnancy,” Ms. Traub said, “is there’s a built-in arc.”
Funny, there were many beautiful parts of our pregnancy--you know, once the beauty of the nausea was gone--but I never realized that the true beauty of it was that you could fit the story of the pregnancy neatly into a TV season.

A network vice president pointed out other benefits to having a baby:
“There’s something very sexy about having a baby right now,” Ms. Calfo said.
She's the network's VP of vapid comments and fashion accessories--"Ooh, where did you get that cute redheaded baby? I've just got to get one!" I'll have to ask Mama which parts of pregnancy she found most sexy, the nausea, the aching joints, or the swollen feet.
“Risa tapped into something that I think a lot of people of our generation feel but haven’t wanted to say,” Ms. Traub said. “No one really told us that it’s O.K. to complain a little and to be a little bit selfish.”
Really? No one told you that? You haven't heard of all the self-absorbed, bitchy blogs on the innernets? Where do you people live that you don't have to encounter reality?

Oh, right.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Gratuitous cuteness milestones

3B's first . . .
. . . snow.

3B's first snow

. . . time sitting up on his own . . .

3B starts off

. . . almost there . . .

3B almost there

. . . look, Ma!

3B sits up for the first time by himself

. . . playing with his friend (and Mama's first time babysitting two baby boys).

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Rubber Ducky, you're the one (who lost my testicle)

Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.

Henitsirk left a comment on a previous post of mine, in which I was just going for gratuitous cuteness:
**Unsolicited advice alert**

If you're concerned about reducing plastics for him (polystyrene, polypropylene, and polyvinyl chloride, oh my!) we had good success feeding our kids with little wooden spoons sold as spice or condiment spoons. They're still softer than metal and are non-toxic.
In fact, as we've investigated 3B's cryptorchidism, and possible causes for it, we're extremely concerned about plastics. For obvious reasons, we're focused on phthalates at Casa Bradstein. There are, of course, two or more sides to every story. In the case of phthlates, there are concerned consumers vs. the chemical capitalists of the American Chemistry Council. Although the title of the ACC makes it sound like the main concern of the corporations behind it is science, the trend of phthalate research by scientists appears to be coalescing around the conclusion that phthalates are more dangerous than the ACC is representing.

The government of the European Union certainly thinks phthalates are hazardous to children, having prohibited the use of phthalates in children's toys since 1999. The City of San Francisco was set to enact a similar ban until they were sued by the chemical capitalists, who likely have a larger legal budget than the City does. Given that a ban by the California Legislature--which would supersede the S.F. ban and redirect the suit at the State of California--is unlikely, it appears that the courts of California will be deciding the merits of the S.F. ban soon.

In addition to lawsuits and lobbying, the chemical capitalists of the ACC have taken their case to the public, through a website dedicated to making their case that phthalates are safe. I think that, rather than proving their case, the ACC site demonstrates that they believe they have something to be scared of. Of course, the chemical capitalists will claim that they're just scared of slumping sales caused by bad publicity, but I think that they're scared of change and hemmoraging money through lawsuits. The irony of their fear is that if they embraced change and created an innovative solution that made it possible to manufacture toys with the same functionality with none of the hazards, parents would pay though the nose for them, bringing them abundant profits.

This would be the same lesson that the auto industry learned after arguing for years that it was too expensive to put air bags in cars, only to tout air bags as safety benefit worth paying thousands more for after the goverment forced them to install them in cars. Because most CEOs are cut from the same cloth, I imagine that the chemical capitalists are betting, with shareholders' money, that their arguments about phthalates will succeed where car manufacturers' arguments against air bags failed--and corporate social responsibility be damned.

But the chemical capitalists' website is so transparently disingenuous, I can't imagine that anyone will consider it a legitimate information source. And that "blog" by "Marian"--Maid Marian? Madame Librarian? Who knows?--is as credible as McDonald's Abe Lincoln french fry blog. My guess is that the voice of the blog doesn't come from the mouth of Maid Marian, but rather comes from the mouth under the pornstache of chief chemical capitalist, Andrew Liveris.

My favorite part of their entire faux site is the first graphic in their Flash animation . . . Waitaminnit--Flash? Seriously? That turns me off to your snake oil even before it finishes loading . . . where were we? Oh yeah, the first graphic in their Flash animation, which sports a man beaming with a smile and the headline, "Performance. Convenience. Fun."

I guess that's catchier than "Cryptorchidism. Demasculinization. Tumors."

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Orchiopexy Update

3B's orchiopexy went well. The surgeon located 3B's second testicle "way up in his abdomen" and pulled it down and secured it in place. Although we were at the hospital for awhile, the surgery itself went smoothly and took less than an hour.

This was great news because, until the surgeon told us after surgery that he had found it, we had gotten no confirmation that 3B had a second testicle from any ultrasound or exam. As a result, we had prepared ourselves for what appeared to be a likely outcome--3B had just one testicle. The reason that nobody could find it was that it was hiding, as the surgeon said is common, fairly high in his abdomen. This news confirms the surgeon's good choice to not delay surgery any longer than necessary, since it likely wouldn't have descended on its own.

Since Mama and I were up at 3:30 this morning, and 3B was up at 5:30, we've all spent most of our time following the surgery napping and fussing--except Barky, who's just been napping. (Note: I wrote this yesterday, with good intentions of posting it then, but with all of our napping, I just got around to it. We seem to be back to a somewhat normal schedule today, however.) As the doctor predicted, 3B's a bit more fussy than usual, but probably no more so than when he was teething, and Tylenol is helping quite a bit with that, so he's been able to sleep--even rolling around in his crib and moving from back to side to front and back again.

3B was a trouper throughout, although he was inconsolable after surgery until Mama showed up to nurse him--they tried to offer 3B a bottle, as if he might actually take it . . . would you offer Aldo Sohm box wine? I think not. Before the surgery, once he was fully awake after being rousted so early, he loved playing with the toys in the waiting room and didn't even care that we changed him into a hospital gown. Just a word here about hospital gowns--even the infant ones leave the patient's ass hanging out. 3B had on a gown and matching pants over his diaper, and somehow the pants are designed to not only slide down but also pull his diaper down too, which meant that, despite our best efforts, he spent the morning sporting plumber's crack.

3B also wasn't nervous or emotional, as his parents were. During all of our pre-op meetings with the doctors and nurses, they explained that only one parent is allowed into the surgery suite to comfort a baby as he's going under because they "don't have enough staff to handle two people fainting." After that warning, Mama didn't think she could handle carrying 3B back there. So after I got into my bright yellow paper gown and hat, which led one nurse to call me "Big Bird," I carried him back, accompanied by the anesthesiologist and a few nurses.

On the surgery bed was a soft pad with warm air flowing through it and tiny perforations throughout it, which allowed the warm air to flow out over 3B as he lay on the pad. As I was laying him down, a nurse was already covering him with a warm blanket. Having shivered through a surgery myself, I was glad to see all of those accomodations for the little guy. As they had explained, 3B went under from breathing gas from a mask that they held firmly over his face. After he was out, and after I had left, they started an IV in his foot that provided drugs to keep him out for the rest of the surgery, reduce his secretions, and so on.

They had warned that, as an infant goes under, which can take up to two minutes, he will sometimes thrash his head back and forth and that his eyes will roll back in his head. This was the point at which Mama said she thought that it was best if I carried 3B into surgery. During this time, it helps calm the infant if a parent speaks or sings to him, and it helps the doctors and nurses if the parent holds his hands gently out of the way. And so, as I lay 3B down, I started singing to him my favorite lullaby. Although 3B didn't thrash his head or roll his eyes--he mostly lay still, looking up--it was hard at times to keep singing for the lump rising in my throat, but the singing kept me from crying as I just kept going, trying to be as gentle and soothing with my voice as possible. Not only didn't he fuss, but 3B didn't take two minutes to go under, since I only got halfway through the second verse before he was out, and a nurse escorted me out to the lobby to join Mama for the wait.

As it turned out, I was waiting for the bathroom when the surgeon came out and reported the good news to Mama, but he repeated all the news once I joined them, and we all shared a laugh or two of relief. After that, Mama and I felt as if a tremendous weight had been lifted from us, and in spite of our fatigue, we were giddy. As I said, we met an inconsolable and starving 3B in recovery, where Mama settled him down my filling up his empty belly. We then made our way home, where we've been mostly napping ever since.

Part of that continuing fatigue likely comes from the release of all of our pent up anxiety about the surgery, the anesthetics, the recovery, and the changes we would have to make if 3B had only one testicle. For now, however, the road ahead looks good. 3B's already standing (with support, as he was before) and sitting up on his own so, knock on wood, it looks like he'll have a normal recovery.

Epilogue: Sitting in the hospital, both strung out on adrenaline and anticipation and giddy from relief and fatigue, I couldn't help but think of the other hospital visits that I've had, mostly visiting family members, of which there have fortunately been few. Looking around, I couldn't help but think of the insightful, eloquent, and often painful writing about hospitals, doctors, and medicine by those who I've never met, but who have recently had the misfortune to require more hospital visits than such good, kind, wise people should ever have to contemplate. We're separated by miles, years, and experiences, but not a day goes by that I don't worry over them or check for word from them. And although our experiences are all unique, their words helped prepare me for and comfort me in advance of our day at the hospital. If you have a moment, I'm sure that a word or two of support, companionship, or encouragement, even just to let them know that you're listening, would be welcomed by Vampdaddy and Dutch and Wood over at Sweet Juniper.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, nor my sore ass . . .

As I mentioned previously, I've resumed riding my bike to work, after a pregnancy-induced hiatus. It's interesting to me how little about it changes after so long:

Man, my ass is sore!
There's a reason that desk chairs are wide and bike seats are so narrow. If desk chairs were any narrower, they would be impossible to balance on while we sleep at our desks. If bike seats were any wider there would be no way to pedal without more chafing of one's squishy bits. Whenever someone looks at my narrow bike seats--yes, I have two bikes, don't you?--and comments on how much they must hurt, and I always explain why they're much more comfortable than huge soft seats.

Their eyes glaze over when I describe how they're designed to fit my ischial tuberosities, not the flabby parts of my ass, which would get sore if they were required to do any actual work--hence their flabbiness.

I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that I'm not riding on the skinny seats because they increase the chafing and numbness of my squishy bits. That said, those ischial tuberosities are pretty sore until they get accustomed to bearing the weight of all my flab again after a 16-month hiatus. The soreness seems to have passed this week, but last week, every time I sat on the saddle, it was as if Barry Bonds had used my ischial tuberosities for batting practice the day before.

Wind sucks.
For a bike rider, the wind is a cruel master. He'll carry me for miles, then wheel on me and beat me about my head and shoulders with roundhouse blows that leave me reeling. There's a psychological element to riding into a wind that most nonriders don't know about--perhaps it's the indefatigable nature of wind, which, unlike a hill, has no summit, or perhaps it's the constant roaring reminder in my ears, which seems to slowly wear away my energy, like waves wear away at a cliff, until it collapses, or perhaps it's the inability to escape the wind when a road leads into it. Whatever the cause, the psychological fatigue is perhaps as great as the physical fatigue that wind causes.

In pelotons, riders can shelter each other from the wind, but only to a point. When the wind gets strong enough, even a peloton in a grand tour can shatter, particularly in crosswinds. When the wind comes from one side, riders form half-chevrons, or echelons, across the road, so each can ride in the shelter of the rider ahead. However, roads are only so wide, which means that there's only room for so many riders in each echelon, leaving several riders scrambling for that last spot, which is always down in the gutter on the leeward side of the road, leading to the phrase "in the gutter." Coincidentally, riding into a wind on my own for any length of time makes me feel like I've spent a day being dragged through the gutter. Perhaps this is because I don't have the luxury of riding in a peloton or an echelon on my bike commute.

So it is the wind--not the eyeball-freezing cold snap that we've had over the last two days--that had me in my granniest of granny gears coming up the final hill to work both days. And this is why, when you offer me a ride, I'm not looking outside to see if it's raining, snowing, sleeting, or if frogs are falling from the clouds--I'm checking the treetops, to see how strong the wind is.

No. I don't want a ride.
Right now the most common observation that precedes the offer of a ride is, "It's cold out there . . ." Before I get snarky about them, let me say that I'm honestly grateful for all the offers. However, bike commuting is, for me, based on more factors than the weather at any given moment. I ride because I'd rather be outside than in a car, I'd rather not create the pollution that driving creates, I'd rather not spend the money on gas, I'd rather get some exercise than continue my metamorphosis into Papa the Butt, I'd rather be down by the creek early in the morning than stuck behind some jackass who removed his muffler and disabled all of his emissions controls because chicks dig a guy who can't hear what they're saying and who smells like exhaust . . . and so on.

So, when you offer me a ride, you're actually offering me several things that I don't want. I don't want to miss the feeling of rain on my face, or the sting of the cold evening air as I slice down the hill away from the office, or the sound of the wind rattling the dead leaves down the street and clattering the winter skeletons of the trees overhead, or the tantalizing smell of bacon frying (I'm a vegetarian, not a dead man) in the morning, or the taste of a snowflake on my tongue . . . and so on.

And what I've found is that, particularly here, where summer heat makes being outside feel like being trapped inside a feverish dog's mouth, I'd rather ride in the cold. And yes, the rain. I take some comfort knowing that although I'm not the best rider in the rain, I'm not the only one who likes it.

It's all of this that led me to enjoy my ride home tonight, through the rain that was becoming snow, that snapped and crackled against my jacket and hissed over my helmet. That, and the mind-clearing effects that a bike ride has, as a result of having to focus on so many variables at once--balance, gears, traffic--and as a result of so many casual attempts on my life in such a short span of time. There's nothing like having a city bus ride my ass down a hill at 35 mph to really focus my thoughts, bringing me into the clarity of the Zen moment of now, wiping away all the petty squabbles, worries, and fears . . . hell, it clears out the big ones too.

And that too, is why I enjoy all my rides, but particularly tonight's ride, because tomorrow morning, my thoughts will be far from all of that, as we sit, waiting, trying to be still, trying to be quiet, trying to breathe evenly, trying not to worry, in the pediatric OR waiting room.

Thanks to all for your kind words of support; we'll be leaning hard on them tomorrow morning.

All for one, and one for all

I'm happy to report another healthy birth in the family. Well, not our direct family. Actually, there's no blood relation that I'm aware of. In fact, they're not even on the same continent as we are. Now that you ask, I'm not even sure if Great Britain is considered a part of the continent of Europe, or if it's just a bloody big island.

But I digress from the point, which is that Dad and Mum to Be have been joined by the former Baby to Be, heretofore known as beautiful Olivia. Head on over and enjoy all the cuteness and marvel at how Dad and Mum to Be somehow managed to keep track of how many days into their pregnancy they were right up until the end.

I've been reading their blog for some time now, since around day 100 or so, I reckon, and they are both wonderful, witty people, well worth continuing to drop in on now that there are three such people in their household.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Dogsledding is for chumps

Lazy Sunday (Dogsledding is for chumps)

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Dogsledding through the forest

One fine spring day when we were living in Colorado, we drove out for a peaceful XC ski up a forest road. When we got to the head of the road, as we were putting on our skis, we met a woman who was unloading her sled dogs for a late-season training run up the same road.
Mama had helped a friend in Maine with his teams of dogs and so we stopped to chat with the woman and pet the dogs, who were all talking up a storm, excited to go for a run. We ended up helping the woman harness them up. When they were all untangled and clipped in, she asked us if we would like to go for a ride because the dogs wouldn't get as much of a workout pulling an empty sled.
It only took a minute for us to drop our skis and poles back in our car, although we had no other suitable shoes, so we had to wear our XC ski boots for the trip. The trip was my first time in a sled, but there's not much to get used to except that sled dogs poop on the run, which, when you're in the sled, means that you pretty much have a ringside seat for all the action. Yeesh, that took some of the romance out of it, but honestly, they don't poop that much, so mostly we were mushing along across the snow, through the forest, bundled up together in a sled. It was romantic, fun, and exciting.

Then, since Mama and the musher, Debbie, had been chatting about how much experience Mama has with sled dogs, Debbie offered to let us drive the sled. I figured that she just meant Mama, since my experience was limited to that one ride, but no, they both set me to driving. Fortunately, for me, the dogs know what to do. Mostly, I just had to stand there in my XC ski boots. Remember how I said we were stuck wearing those? Right, well this was my first pair, that we'd gotten used, half-off somewhere in town to see if I would really like XC skiing before spending big bucks on good boots. That explains my hot yellow shoe in this shot, and yes, that's Mama in the sled.

After that initial ride, we would go out and help Debbie feed, water, and clean up after her dogs--I found out why they don't poop a lot on the runs. Because they do it all back in the yard, where it freezes to the ground, for us to chisel up. We would also break a trail for them to follow behind their yard, skiing a long loop along a pond. After Debbie would take one team out to follow our tracks for a few laps, she would let us drive another team around the pond, when the driving was a bit easier in the full sled track created by the first team.


I suppose that I could have put these photos and memories in the context in which they were uncovered during our never-ending quest to declutter our house. Today, that involved lugging several large Rubbermaid bins and various implements of baby delight that 3B has outgrown--have to save them for the next baby, you know--to our basement storage cage, and exhuming several boxes from there that had cryptic labels and digging through them to separate valuable remains of our past lives from worthless crap. But I figured that a story about dogsledding through the forest was more interesting--especially for those of us in the Northeast, who have our windows and doors open to better enjoy the 70 degree winter weather. What the--?

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Don't Phunk With My Peas

I had a long post about privacy in mind that would touch on the issues and dilemmas raised by several fine bloggers and organizations, but I don't have the time or energy to write anything more intelligible than they already have on the topic.

This is, in part, due to 3B sleeping so well last night--straight through the night, in fact, after a long day playing with his friend. This led to Mama and l staring at the ceiling in the dark from 4:30 until he awoke at 6:30, asking ourselves, "Why is he still asleep? Is he OK? Should we check on him?" Not that we couldn't see him clearly on the video monitor.

I think that we just felt lost without the worry that he would wake up and not get enough sleep. After all, what's a parent without worry?

So instead of what were sure to be profound thoughts on privacy, I give you this invasion of 3B's privacy. I had to post this somewhere other than YouTube, which assumes that everyone is smart enough to shoot video in landscape, not portrait. In defense of my denseness, I'm a worried, sleepless man.

I did try, however--I had someone rotate it for me--not that it made a difference when I did post it on YouTube:

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The nightly digression

Last night, thanks to some hard work by Mama, and our purchase of a new gizmo over the weekend, 3B slept in his own room for the first time. He did wake up three times, twice to nurse, and once just to say hello, but it was a wonderful night for all of us. When I went in this morning, he was laying on his back, playing with his blanket, smiling from ear to ear.

Mama's hard work was clearing 3B's room enough so that we could get into it past the changing table. Since he's been sleeping in his Pack N' Play next to our bed, 3B's room became the dumping ground for unused furniture, unfinished projects, and other homeless items in our house. In one day, Mama cleared everything out, stacking up a pile for Goodwill donations, rearranging furniture, and organizing 3B's closet to the point that we can now close the doors.

Speaking of closing closet doors, that brings me to tonight's digression: Our closets, save the one in 3B's room, have been without doors for at least eight months now. This is because we were going to get rid of the horrible, circa 1969, shuttered, steel bifold doors that rattled and squeaked like a rusty tinman falling down a flight of stairs and install sleek sliding doors. We got the first part done, but there are issues with installing sliding doors. Financial issues--like that it would cost many hundreds of dollars more per closet to install sliding doors rather than bifold doors.

The only problem with not putting in sliding doors? Since we took off the wheezing bifold doors, we've filled the closets with organizers that aren't compatible with bifold doors. If we go back to bifold doors--we'd put in simple wooden ones, not the tumbling tinman model--we would have to remove everything from our closets, including the organizers, install new organizers, then put all of our crap back in.

In the debate over which option sucks the least, one thing has become clear: we have too much crap in our closets. This is in part because when you don't have closet doors, the contents of your closets no longer have to fit inside your closets. So we've begun our spring cleaning early by starting to clear extraneous crap from our closets, to prevent us from having to install trash compactor doors on our closets.

Tonight was the night that I went through our box of old videotapes and tried to figure out which of them we needed to keep. Some were obvious, like the only videotape I know of that has my Dad on it. It's somewhat dry, since he's addressing a business meeting, but it's still comforting to me to watch it from time to time. I came across some tapes that have me in them that I might have tossed if I didn't think that someday 3B might want to look back on his old man for a few good laughs--hey, those clothes were cool in the 80s. And, tucked along the side of the box, I came across a tape that my uncle had recorded and distributed to all of us who hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with Mom in 1997.

After I was done sorting the rest of the tapes, I put the Grand Canyon tape in and fast-forwarded through to the bits with Mom--typically walking out of the frame as quickly as she could. It was nice to see and hear her again. She's so happy and vibrant. Watching everything that we did, and how many people were involved, I'm amazed again that this then-65-year-old woman made it all happen. And made it to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up to the top again. It kicked my ass, and I was 29 at the time, hiking daily in the Colorado mountains.

I still miss her, [OK, I just had to take a break and have a good, hard cry, but I'm back] and it was a great comfort to me to see her again, even for those fleeting moments. I'm so grateful to my uncle for capturing those times for us to have to see again now. The tape serves as a reminder to me to get a digital video camera to capture 3B as he grows up and to capture ourselves, so he can see us as we are now.

Although, if we can figure out how to hook up our newest gizmo to the computer, we may have a new source for footage of 3B. However, the scenes won't be that exciting however, since they would be coming from the new video monitor we got and hung above 3B's crib in his room. While I was the one arguing that we didn't need a video monitor as Mama rightly asserted her need for the more peaceful night's sleep that she felt the video monitor would allow her--which it has--I am the one who is now fully geeked out the potential video connection between the monitor and our computer.

So keep your eyes peeled for those six-hour videos on YouTube that look like they were shot at night through a black sock from 100 feet above a crib. Or maybe we'll make it a webcam, so rather than us having to monitor him, we can just wait for you to IM us when you see 3B fussing. Ain't technology great?

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The olives make it a healthy drink

One martini is all right. Two are too many, and three are not enough.
--James Thurber

I'm writing this after imbibing the second martini that I've ever mixed, and I'm blaming the gin for any errors or offense taken by you. So there--you've been warned.

It's a martini-worthy day here in Casa Bradstein, due to two health-related events:

I've got a bike/You can ride it if you like/It's got a basket/A bell that rings/And things to make it look good
I pulled out my own copy of the best hardtail MTB ever made* and rode it to work and home again, getting back in the habit, I hope, of bike commuting. Mama and I both commuted by bike until we got pregnant and there was the not-so-small issue of nausea, then a belly, then a big belly, and so on. When I do bike to work, I have more energy, feel better, and become almost tolerable at work, so let's hope that I keep it up. However, after over 16 months off the bike, riding just five miles today kicked my ass, hence the martini anesthetic--hey, there are two Cat. 3 climbs in my short commute.

Morning smiles/Like the face of a newborn child
Speaking of anesthetic, our second health-related event was our presurgery visit to the pediatric surgeon for 3B's upcoming surgery. On the 19th, thanks for asking. For an undescended testicle, thanks again for asking. I'm not sure why I'm so forthcoming about the details of this when I was so circumspect about the results of my debates over whether to circumcise him, but here we are. Perhaps in something that I write about this, you'll figure out the difference and let me know. This is how 3B was born, as are three to five percent of all men, and there's no way of knowing if he has an undescended testicle or is missing one until the surgery is complete. However, that hasn't kept people from confirming that he definitely does or doesn't have a second testicle. The ultrasound tech spent twenty minutes using the ultrasound to try to find the one that he clearly does have, the one that I could point out from twenty paces, then declared that since she couldn't find his other one, there was no chance that it existed. Um, yeah, could I get a second opinion? The only person I believe so far is the surgeon, who has told us that nobody will know until he looks inside 3B's abdomen, which is exactly what he's going to do on in 10 short days.

But that's not what makes me nervous, and I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's my inability to react until an event becomes tangible to me--it's not that I don't care; I simply can't miss you until you're gone. Or perhaps it's because I went through a similar procedure when I was 22 or so and had to have a right inguinal hernia repair. Whatever it is, the procedure doesn't make me nervous, the anesthetic does. What if 3B wakes up a dull, humorless, pale reflection of his former self? What if his cute little grin is lopsided? Or not nearly so broad as it is now? What if he loses his curiosity? Or his initiative? Or his propensity to cuddle? These are the thoughts that stop me in my tracks and make me want to walk out of my cube, drive home, and hold 3B for every minute until the surgery, so that I don't lose a minute of this beautiful, ephemeral life that we share right now.

If everything goes as the surgeon says it will, 3B will wake up as from a nap, see us, and be happy within minutes. He may have some irritation for a day, at most, but we won't notice a difference beyond 24 hours.

If everything goes as the surgeon says it will.

And if not . . . well, those are the demons that keep me from sleeping, that force me to re-read everything at work half a dozen times, that tighten my jaw and knot my belly and raise a lump in my throat. How dare anything get between me and my 3B, my love, my beautiful boy?

When I lived in a ranger station in the Colorado woods that I mountain-biked into and out of every day to get to work, I learned a lot about mountain biking and myself. I learned that the only way to get past fear was to go straight through it to get to the other side of it. In this case, the only way to find out how this will turn out is to wait and find out, and then we will be on the other side of the fear. That doesn't make the waiting any easier.

*This guy must have bought his bike right at P.A. Bikes right after I bought mine, because when I picked mine up there, it was one of the last half-dozen that they had, although I don't remember how many were Race Lites.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Things that make us go $#%&*@#!

I'm sure we all agree that we ought to love one another, and I know there are people in the world who do not love their fellow human beings, and I hate people like that.

So there are a few million things and people in this world that drive me crazy. To keep from having to write a list of hundreds of items at the end of this year, here's this week's list.

Snaps. The only thing wrong with the name of Kaz's blog is that it's missing a word. It should be I Hate $#%&*@#! Snaps. I'd like five minutes out back with the guy--and you know it was a guy--who thought that putting snaps on kids' clothes was a good idea. And I have something to say to the guy who puts buttons on kids' outfits: Here's your cigarette--up against the wall. Smoke fast.

Being blessed. I know that I live in Dixie, and I know that almost everyone in this country is more Christian than I am, and I know that they're all aching to tell me about it because I'm getting blessed for everything these days. Instead of saying "hello" or "goodbye," it's "have a blessed day." If I'm traveling somewhere, it's "have a blessed trip." How far does this extend--"change a blessed diaper"? Oh, it's been blessed all right, but that's not holy water.

It's not that I mind the content of the message, but I do mind the intent of the message--it's a way for those Christians who say this (because you know that it's not the Jews and Buddhists saying this) to get in a little message: I'm saved and you should be too.

Look, as a wise man said, if you want to send a message, use Western Union; if I want to be saved, I'll call 911. Furthermore, why not just say "good bye," which means God be with you? And so it was that, with all of my feelings of brotherhood, we pulled up behind a hulking red--of course--Dodge SUV, with a license plate that read "GOD B USAL."

Mama, ever the kind philosopher, suggested that it meant that we're all God, or that God is in all of us. I proffered my theory that it meant "God bless us all, you know, as in 'God bless us all, every one.'"

At which she started yelling at the back of the lumbering PCV (phallic compensation vehicle), "Who are you, Tiny $#%&*@#! Tim? Better get an extra long crutch so you can reach the gas pedal in that SUV, Tiny Tim."

Oh, I do love Mama so.

ADD-Inducing Car Seats, High Chairs, Blankets . . . Out of necessity, 3B went from this booster seat (thanks, Brother #2, it's served us all well) . . .
. . .to this high chair . . .
We needed something more stable, since 3B was lunging sideways in the booster, mostly to get his hands to Barky--who would lick them clean, causing 3B to chuckle. At 20 pounds or so, 3B was in danger of toppling over every time he did that, unless one of us was right there to stabilize the chair.

But I'm not convinced that we needed this ADD-inducing add on.
The stated purpose of this gizmo is to entertain our child while we're preparing his food--because apparently we're too stupid to prepare his food before we put him in his high chair. Let's assume that we're that stupid--does he really need all of this to entertain him for two minutes? He's seen this thing half a dozen times now and he's still so stunned by it that he's immobilized.

Let's think about the real purpose of this gizmo--we all know that Fisher Price, Graco, and the other kids' product manufacturers must have purchased large shares of Duracell, Energizer, and any other battery company they could get their hands on. They must have; why else would they have us inserting 23 D batteries into a toy rather than just dangling a cord from it, so we can plug it in? That means that part of the true purpose of this device was to trick Mama and Papa in to buying more batteries. Nothing doing. We have enough rechargeables to power Ed Begley Jr.'s house.

What most of you don't know is that those stock purchases by Fisher Price, Graco, and the rest were paid for by subsidies from the APA and Big Pharma, which are making a fortune off of the skyrocketing rates of ADD in American kids today. Look, if 3B develops ADD, I know that the Casino Royale that we bought him and my multiwindow web surfing are likely causes, but that doesn't mean that I won't still assign a percentage of the blame to someone else, like the manufacturers of this plastic rendition of a rainforest tree, complete with a ferris wheel at the top. I am an American, after all. It can't all be my fault; there's gotta be someone I can sue for it.

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There are two ways: the nice way, or my way

A long time ago, I worked in a place far, far way: Montana. While I was there, working at the front desk of a hotel, checking surly tourists in and out, I was also the company manager of a musical production in the renovated basement of the hotel. Although I'd been involved in theater since 7th grade, I had no idea what I was doing, and no idea how to get it done. Until these guys showed up, that is.

Mo Boys 2

Before I arrived, these guys had written letters from SEMO, where they were all in school, to the hotel saying that they were taking their summer jobs there with hopes of working on the theater production. But by the time I arrived, they weren't too enthusiastic about helping out.

That probably had to do with the days and nights they had spent cleaning the hotel for opening, including several days when the electricity was out and they had to pick lint out of the carpets by hand. Oh, and there was the flooding. Did I mention the flooding? And the total lack of alcohol?

Yeah, so they weren't exactly feeling the team spirit when I crashed into their room, clue-free and desperate for help. When I left their room, I figured that I'd need to find a crew by some other means. This left me feeling stranded, since I'd just found out that the producer, who had brought the production into the hotel, was departing in two weeks, leaving the production in my hands for the remaining three months of the run.

Mo Boys 3
Fortunately, later that night, all of them showed up and went straight to work. After about twenty minutes of bitching about how crappy the gear was that they had to work with. Actually, the bitching started pretty much when they hit the door and never really ended, but the would whisper it during the shows, so as not to bother the audience.

When the producer had to leave two days later due to an emergency back home, my real fear wasn't that he wouldn't ever come back, but it was that the Mo Boys--technically, they're not all from Missouri, but why let that get in the way of a good nickname?--might not stick out the summer. Lucky for me, they're all men of their word, and they stayed until the last possible day before they had to pack up and head back to SEMO.

Mo Boys 4
These are my pictures from that day, on which I apparently gave them all t-shirts from my short-lived 'zine, CHA! (don't ask, I won't tell). They're the only pictures I have of them from that summer--well, the only ones that I didn't burn, along with the negatives, later to scatter the ashes in a fast flowing river--and they don't really tell the story of the summer well, since, in these shots, they're all ecstatic to be leaving a place that they learned to love and hate with equal amounts of passion. They learned other things too, as you can tell from the claw on Ake-man's hand--don't trust your buddies when they say it's safe to jump down the laundry chute from the fifth floor.

Mo Boys 5
Oh wait, was that his injury from that fight that he barely escaped from in the Babb Bar? Or the bear attack that he thwarted with his infamous use of bear-fu? Memories lost on the tides of time . . . We did all eventually get to know each other better over the course of the summer.

We learned who could suck it up when he took a 110-volt jolt while hanging four stories above the lobby floor--the King, but just barely . . . I think Kemper had to loan him a hanky so he could wipe his eyes. We learned who panicked when the theater started to fill with smoke in the middle of a show--nobody, actually . . . we just opened a few doors and hoped the smoke would clear, the audience wouldn't asphyxiate, and that "Basement Inferno Kills Hundreds" wasn't going to be tomorrow's headline. We learned that the four of them could drink me under the pier on the lake in about five minutes--hey, let's be fair, I was adjusting to the altitude and they were playing as a team. And the Mo Boys learned that the theater I worked at in Palm Springs had replaced my heart with a tiny lump of coal, which explains the King's expression here.

Mo Boys 6
Perhaps my heartlessness was exacerbated by dealing with a hotel company run by a CEO who actually said to me, "I believe that duress makes people perform better. That's why I'm giving the theater no money. I expect that this will make you work smarter and build an excellent production." Or perhaps it was the hotel manager, fresh from some East European secret police force, pockets glowing with Polonium--"Makes great nightlights!" he insisted--who tried to force me to cast his favorite employees who couldn't sing in the most difficult vocal roles. Or perhaps it was having to wear faux lederhosen (fauxderhosen?) while working at the front desk on my nightly ration of four hours of sleep following the show and one too many beers with the Mo Boys.

Whatever it was, something caused my coal-lump heart to shrink another three sizes that summer. And so it was, at one post-show meeting, when I was explaining to the company members some task we had to perform for the hotel, and the company members were protesting, I heard myself saying to them: We have to do it, and there are two ways to do it--the nice way, or my way.

Yeah, I was a charmer to work for.

Fortunately, the Mo Boys were all-forgiving, to the point that the King and Kemper here came out to Palm Springs a few months later to work with me at the theater there.

Mo Boys 7
The rest, as they say, is history. Eventually, another of the Mo Boys came out, then they started bringing out all the good people from the SEMO theater program--which must have been excellent, judging from the guys we hired out of it, bu which I figured must have crashed to a halt as a result.

I eventually left the P.S. theater and drifted around, but they all took the opportunity and ran with it. The King is now a sound wizard for casinos in Vegas and in demand on the road on several tours. Kemper also worked hard for his dream and is now paid to blow shit up for a living--he works pyro, lighting up whole cities with fireworks, which is a responsibility that I could never handle, but he's just the guy for the job: smart, calm, serious, focused, and tough enough to tell cops to get the hell off his turf, lest their radios blow everyone sky high. And what happened to Ake-man? I heard a rumor that he was working Vegas too, but that turned out to be a lesser talent, who ripped off his act. He was last seen in L.A., taking any acting gig that calls for a guy with a lobster claw in place of his left hand . . . but seriously, he's out there, working the acting scene, and I'm sure that he's coming soon to a theater near you.

As you six regular readers know, the King still checks in to see if anything ever grew back in the place where my heart was and even drops off comments when his schedule allows--between peanut butter and 'nana sandwiches, after giving 'Cilla some lovin', or typing with one hand while he's reloading to shoot the hell outta that damn TV with the other hand--and I had promised to share these pictures with him a long, long time ago. I finally got around to it, and I figured, what better time to unveil them than on his birthday.

Happy Birthday, King.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

So, I'm all, "Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes," and she's like, "What. Ever."

This has been a pretty dismal virus season here in Casa Bradstein. We're batting .000--or 1.000, depending on how you look at it, I suppose--with all of us going down with a cold sometime in the last month. Fortunately, Mama and I tag-teamed it, so now that I'm on the mend and can perform feats like staying up past 7:00 p.m., she can crash out as soon as 3B goes down for the night.

All this snotting and snuffling has led to a marked decrease in hands-on time with the boy since we're too tired to pick him up and we don't want to do all our snorking and hacking right in his face. This has led to an increase in self-directed play time on his mat or in in his Casino Royale while we engage in self-directed veg-out time on the couch.

It's actually rather soothing to drift along the bottom of consciousness that borders the engulfing depths of exhausted-by-sickness slumber, sort of like a flounder flipping and sliding along the edge of the Marianas Trench (Google it yourself, you knob). In that blissed out state, it's possible to hear familiar sounds anew, like all of the 4,236 songs that Casino Royale is capable of reproducing in techno tones that make them all sound like high-tech doorbell rings.

But the Casino is also a modern toy--both aggressive and friendly in its efforts to ensure our five-month old baby a place at the top of his class at Stanford. The aggressive is obvious when a female cheerily hollers "Learning is fun!" The friendly comes when she's introducing 3B to the animal kingdom with phrases like, "The bee goes . . ." which is followed by a buzzing sound. Or, "The fish goes . . ." which is followed by a sound that sounds rather unfortunately like a toilet flushing three times. I suppose that is where many fish go . . . but waitaminnit . . . doesn't she mean to say that "The bee says bzzz"? Or that "The fish says flush, flush, flush (or whatever)"?

I know that in the vernacular many of us have replaced "says" with "goes," but must our pseudo-educational toys start our children off that way? And how far astray will they go?

"The bee is all, 'Bzz.'"

"The fish is like, 'Flush, flush, flush.'"

"The dog was totally, 'Bow wow.' What. Ever."
I know that complaining about this makes me a curmudgeonly dad, but dude, it's like so not cool if 3B starts out talking like that. My fail-safe plan, if that does come to pass, is to ship him off for intensive Zygote Daddy-MetroDad grammar camp.


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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Please, no open flame within 100 yards of 3B

Mrs. Leverlilly: But that's a priceless Steinway!
Inspector Clouseau: Not anymore!
Zygote Daddy wrote about a smell that they don't tell you about in childbirth class, and we just discovered another, although it shouldn't have been a surprise.

3B has always been able to rip off huge farts that sound like they split his diaper or came from an adult, and we've always been able to laugh over them because they were all sound and no fury.

Not anymore.

As we've started to feed 3B solid food (read: rice cereal gruel paste), there have been definite changes in his throughput, but nothing compared to what's happened now that we've moved on to green beans. I know, I know--beans. Why were we so surprised, right? I don't know why we didn't think that 3B would be as afflicted by beans as an adult, given his propensity for adult-size farts. We're not surprised after last night, but we continue to be amazed at his ability to curl our nose hairs at 20 paces with his gas.

The scary part, however, is that in his quest to jam every shiny thing within his vision into his mouth, he's become fascinated by our beer bottles. I'm glad he can't drink until he's 21, because I really don't want to be anywhere in the tri-state region downwind of 3B for his beer farts.

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