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Wednesday, March 30, 2005


A couple months ago I gave my opinion about the leadership of the Boy Scouts of America. I think I'll elaborate a bit. The people that run the Scouts are fucking insane. Leaving aside the Kiddy Porn Scout Leader, the whole homophobic God Is Neato vibe they put out is creepy. That being said, at the Cub Scout level it is still tons of fun for the boys involved. In the 1970s I was a Cub Scout, a Weblo, and for a while a Boy Scout. By the time I reached Boy Scout stage, I had figured out on my own that they were just a bit too militaristic. It probably didn't help that I was a Boy Scout while I lived in Taiwan (my dad was a surgeon in the Navy and was stationed in Taiwan for 2 years). The Troop leaders were officers and non-commisioned officers. There was a lot of standing at attention, inspection and other psuedo-military chickenshit. I had no desire to continue on with that kind of crap. But Cub Scouts was quite entertaining (Pinewood Derby, Soapbox Derby, Rocket Derby, having your own pocket knife, etc). I won't force my boys to be in Scouts one minute longer than they want to do it, but I will give them the opportunity to have fun with a group of their friends from school.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Rule #1 

After dropping off YW at daycare (no school this week, it's Spring Break; we're going to go visit the snow on Thursday) I turned the radio to NPR and heard a story about a lawsuit filed by a couple of brothers against the Catholic Diocese across the Bay in Oakland. They, it turns out, were molested by a certain priest who was shuttled from parish to parish when people would begin to get upset about their kids being abused. The last part I heard before I got out of the car was that the Church officials thought they shouldn't get any punitive damages because the Church had admitted they screwed up and now had written guidelines governing the interaction between clergy and children. I'm hoping Rule #1 of the guidelines is: Don't fuck them.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Bonus Monday Kid Blogging 

Here are YW and YA in the middle of the glorious celebration of the Rising From The Dead of My Imaginary Friend. Of course this must involve every pagan fertility symbol you can think of. Easter/Vernal Equinox/Passover/Fertility Rite quote of the day:

YW - Dad will help me button the top button on my shirt?
H - You know it is OK to leave the top button open if you want to.
YW - I know, but I like buttoning the top button because it makes me look cuter.
H - Well that is true.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Fortune Cookie 

I assume you've heard of the silly custom of adding "in bed!" or "between the sheets!" to end of the fortune from a fortune cookie (digression: the best fortune I've ever gotten said, "Very soon and in pleasant company." The best one I've ever seen said "You are doomed to be happy in marriage."). With that inspiration, I've finally figured out how to understand what the Bush administration says about the things they want to accomplish. You just add "for the rich!" onto the end of any policy proposal and it all makes perfect sense.

Friday Kid Blogging 

A week ago today, YW won 3rd Place at the Pack 9 Pinewood Derby with his car Red Shark. He was somewhat pleased. Today YA's preschool was closed for Good Friday and UCSC was closed for an Administrative Holiday, so we went to the San Francisco Zoo. YA is climbing on the Hippo sculpture that is located next to the actual Hippos.

Friday Random 10 

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Whole Night? They Do That? 

Since this is nominally a Daddy Blog, I thought I should discuss Hank-style parenting. When YW was teeny we lived in Minnesota in a 1-bedroom basement Granny Apartment in Saint Anthony Park. The layout of the apartment was such that his crib had to be in the bedroom with us. It actually worked pretty well. When he woke up and needed some boob time I didn't have to walk far in order to bring him to MLWN.

At his 6-month Well Baby Checkup the pediatrician asked if he was sleeping through the night. Our response was that he only woke up once or twice a night and it wasn't too bad. Her response was to tell us that he was taking advantage of us. In her words, "He's taking advantage of you. He is perfectly capable of sleeping through the night. When he wakes up in the middle of the night he gets lonely and cries so he can have some company. You will get him to sleep through the night." Given those marching orders we made our plans. We decided to wait until Friday night to implement the plan. That way we had two nights where we there would be no work the following day. On Friday night we put YW to bed and a little later we went to bed ourselves. A few hours later he woke up and commenced crying. Remember, we're all in the same room. MLWN and I stayed quiet in bed and let him cry. After about 20 minutes he started to calm down. The last 5 minutes of his 30 minutes of wakefulness were more plaintive squeaks than real wails. He went to sleep and slept until morning. The next night he woke up and cried for about 5 minutes. On Sunday he woke up did one of the plaintive peeps and went straight to sleep. After that he was trained, except for intermittent backsliding that occurred when he was sick.

YA, though, was a much different story. When he came on the scene we had moved to Pacifica and were living in our house. A bedroom for everyone! Woo! But, MLWN didn't like listening to him cry. So, even though we knew what had worked with YW, she'd make me go get him well past the 6-month mark. By the time we got him to sleep through the night he had been walking for a while. And here, internets, is the take-home message of this post: train your babies to sleep through the night before they can stand up. If you're lying on your back wailing at the top of your lungs and you lose focus you can drop off mid-howl. But if you're standing up hanging onto the rails of your crib while screaming, you have to admit defeat and lie down before you will stop crying. During the training process YA would howl for an incredibly long time, and man, he sounded angry. He's fine now, but if I had to do it all over again, I would have refused to get him when he was crying at 6 months

I can be snotty 

Long ago, early in my time living on the Tundra of Minnesota, I took some time out of my lab work to go interact with the Anti Animal Research people who were having their regular freakout near the U o' M medical school. The main focus of their indignation was a professor who studied the physiological effects of cocaine addiction. Her method involved the use of chimps. Now I personally find the idea of coked up chimp to be the near the top of the list of Things I Would Rather Avoid, but as our nearest animal relatives it can be argued that they are a good model system for study.

A couple of friends and I headed over to Northrup Mall to engage the protestors in conversation. The most cogent argument I got out of anyone was that the money being spent to support her research would be better spent on treatment for addicts. My response that perhaps spending some money finding out exactly what cocaine does to a body might be a good way to improve the treatment was met with scorn and derision. We moved on to discussing medical research in general. The premise here was that animal research had never found anything of use to people ever. I countered with the discovery of insulin (which first isolated by injecting fractionated pancreas extracts into diabetic dogs until they finally found the single-component extract that kept the dogs from croaking from diabetes). Again I was met with hand-waving negation. I moved the discussion onto how it seemed to me that my conversational partner seemed to be OK with benefitting from medical research that occurred before she was around, but now that she was around to point out its evils, it should all stop. On the contrary, she informed me that she didn't go to doctors and when she fell sick she used natural healing products. (Here's where I got snotty) "That's the best news I've had all day. The next time you get really sick you're going to die and then I won't have to listen to you whining about things you don't comprehend." I then laughed in her face and refused to talk to her.

It wasn't very nice, but sometimes I'm not a nice guy.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Friday Kid Blogging 

Here are the boys relaxing after a strenuous bout of leaping. And, for those of you examining the background, yes, they have too many toys.

Friday Random 10 

I don't even know where this meme started, but all the Cool Cats® are doing it, so here's the first 10 songs in my iTunes Party Shuffle:

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Bad Joke 

Background - During my college years I worked as a whitewater guide during the summers.

What's the difference between a Fairy Tale and Guide Story?
A Fairy Tale starts with "Once upon a time..." A Guide Story starts with "No shit; there I was, thought I was going to die..."

Sunday, March 13, 2005


For a while back there I did bench biology studying the genetics of flagellar assembly in the unicellular biflagellate algae, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Chlamy is a good model system for studying the eukaryotic flagellum because their flagella are essentially identical to mammalian cilia and flagella, and because they're really plants so nobody cares if you kill them as part of your study (digression, you should have seen the protests directed at the professor who studied the physiological effects of cocaine addiction in Chimpanzees. Talk about nasty). One of the other nice things about Chlamy is that they are usually haploid, but can go through a mating event exists briefly as a diploid before undergoing meiosis and yeilding 4 haploid progeny. This, for those still reading, allows for the awesome power of tetrad analysis. Which brings me to my point; in order for tetrad analysis to work you have to separate the 4 individual cells from a given meiosis so they don't get all mixed up together when they all start dividing mitotically. This is accomplished by peering through a disecting microscope at an agar plate and pushing cells around using a glass thread. Tedious is one of the first words that comes to mind. In the lab where I worked we had 4 scopes for tetrad pushing together in one room. While you do have to pay attention to what you're doing while pushing, you can easily carry on a conversation. One day I was chatting with another student about what kind of food she ate when she was a child. She, you see, was from Northern China. She told me that in her family they ate a lot of rice and vegetables. But that meat was a special occasion menu item, you had it on birthdays, etc. I compared that with the kind of Chinese food I ate during the two years I lived in Taiwan and the typical American diet I ate in the 1970s. She followed up with her own comparison of Northern Chinese cuisine with that of the rest of China and finished up with, "And we're not like the Cantonese, they'll eat anything."

F is for... 

YA is pretty fluent, but he still has trouble with some letters. Playing the alphabet game is pretty fun:
H - A is for?
YA - Apple!
H - B is for?
YA - Bowl!
H - C is for?
YA - Cat!
H - D is for?
YA - Dog!
H - E is for?
YA - Elephant!
H - F is for?
YA - Fffffffff-Shish!
H - <giggle />

Friday, March 11, 2005


Have you ever read the Gulag Archipelago? It's pretty interesting. Here's a quick summary: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was in the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War (aka World War II), towards the end of the war he wrote some letters to friends making comments about the organization of the USSR. For this he was arrested and sent to Siberia. It sucked.

The book is a bit more involved than that. One of the things he spends a while on is the conditions in the Tsar's political prisons and how the early revolutionaries were always complaining about how horrible the conditions were and by extension how evil the Tsar was. Then he compares that to the conditions in Stalin's political punishment system. Let's just say that Stalin does not come off well in the comparison.

While admitting that I'm not talking about working people to death in subzero weather, the way the Republicans act in Congress reminds me of that part of the book. When Democrats controlled Congress, Republicans were always going on about how terrible their evil evil rule making was. Now that Republicans control the agenda they have instituted rules far beyond what Democrats did on their worst day. Ah well, the USSR eventually collapsed. Republican overreach is bound to bite them in the ass eventually. I just hope it's before they draft YW and YA for duty in the Great Mesopotamian War.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Thanks Bill! 

First let me state that I am an enthusiastic Mac guy. I just got off the phone with my Father In Law. Over the years he has scoffed at my love for the Macintosh. But today I heard him admit that the idea of a Macintosh was not completely foreign to him. He has been using Windows 98 for years because it did everything he needs a computer to do (and he's not just an e-mailing, web surfing grandpa, he is a consulting geologist who writes his own software, does extensive Autocad-ing, etc). Lately he found some need to use Windows XP so he bought it and installed it. From XPs perspective, there were three physical drives in the machine: C containing Win98, D containing WinXP and E with (not backed up, oops) years and years of files from his business. He went online while running from XP (without SP2 installed (you've got to go online to get it after all)) and within minutes his machine was totally compromised and unusable. This made him cranky so he decided to uninstall XP. Well, there is no uninstall option on the installer so he booted into 98 and formatted the D drive. But, as far as he can tell, 98 couldn't figure out the XP format on the D drive so it ignored it and called the E drive D. So he wiped out all his single copy data going back 15 years. Man that had to hurt.

While talking to him on the phone I found something called Hard Drive Mechanic that is either the Bee's Knees or a total piece of crap depending on whose review you believe. Given my experience of the typical Windows User, I tend to find good reviews more credible than bad, since the good review writer has demonstrated sufficient brain power to get the software to run. Unfortunately for the FIL, his newly formatted drive contained the software he uses to go online. So I shelled out the bucks to download the recovery software and am going to snail-mail it to him tomorrow. Here's hoping the good review people are correct.

And I only threw in a few gratuitous Macs-are-cool comments while talking him down off the ledge.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Curse You, Ibuprofen 

YA is home sick from Preschool today. He has the dreaded Nonspecific Toddler Fever®. This means he can't go to school and that he is taking Ibuprofen every several hours. Ibuprofen, for you non-parents out there, is a concoction that completely masks all symptoms of fever while it is at sufficient concentration in the body. What this means is that he can be completely prostrated by fever, get his medicine and then be completely well-seeming for the next few hours. It makes the whole telecommuting thing somewhat difficult. Luckily he is a bit self-entertaining these days. Right now he's making patterns in red and black with the Connect Four game.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Where's My Clipboard? 

Remember the dark days of the 1990s? When Republicans spewed about the "Jack booted stormtroopers" who were going to break down your door and drag you away. When supposedly serious people would say things like, "I love my country but I fear my government." Do you? Where the hell are these people now? Their party is in power and our government locks citizens up indefinitely with no charges, we torture people, the people we don't have time to torture are outsourced to garden spots like Syria, we engage in pracitices which encourage the creation of new terrorists and increase the international trade in heroin, etc. Is it OK to act like a fascist shitbag as long the fascist shitbag is on your team?

It's the banality of evil that comes to mind. During WWII, the German beauracracy kept detailed records about the industrial process of killing Jews and other undesireables. In the Chronicle this morning I read this.

"We get assurances, we check on those assurances, and we double-check on these assurances to make sure that people are being handled properly in respect to human rights," the official said. The official said that compliance had been "very high" but added, "Nothing is 100 percent unless we're sitting there staring at them 24 hours a day."
So it's OK since we have checklist that's being followed. Records are being kept, so the fact that we ship people all over the world to have their fingernails torn out is simply not a problem. As my old college roommate Bad Todd used to say, "Fuckin' fuck."

Friday, March 04, 2005

Friday Kid Blogging 

YW has been getting more than his fair share of pictures lately, so here's one of YA on his own. This was taken at the San Francisco Zoo. Which zoo has curbs. That you can walk on! Woo! YA has been enjoying his time at Preschool. But when you ask him how his day was it sounds like he has a pretty rough time. Every day I ask him, "Did you have a good day?" He responds, "Yes, I fell down on the slide." Now he did fall down on the slide in January. But every day he tells me that he fell down on the slide. I'm not sure if he's reminding me that it did happen once or if he thinks he falls down every day. The other day when I picked him up we had the following conversation:

H - How was your day?
YA - I fell down on the slide.
H - Are you OK?
YA - Yes
H - Did you bump your nose today?
YA - Yes.
H - Did you run into the wall?
YA - Yes.
H - Did you get chased by a tiger?
YA (after a pause to consider) - No.
H - Well that's good news.


When we moved from Minnesota to Calfornia one of the things we needed to do was find a daycare for YW to attend. We eventually decided that the new daycare-in-a-church at the local Lutheran Church was the place to go. In the early days this daycare was a business run by the church to raise money for the church. As such the kids would be taught little songs and things to perform at the various High Holiday services. And the Pastor would, once a week, have a 'God is very very big and loves you very much' chat with the kids. I'm not even slightly religous now, but I was brought up Lutheran and those of you who listen to A Prairie Home Companion know that you can't get too out of hand with Lutheran teachings when talking to 2 year olds.

YW seemed not to be absorbing much of the God Talk until Christmas rolled around. Then he started saying, at least once a day, "I'm the Baby Jesus." We all found this most entertaining, but I figured he was just transmogrifying something he'd heard at daycare.

One Saturday after Christmas it was time for his nap. I told him so, picked him up and started carrying him to his room. He didn't want to have a nap and started yelling, "No! No! I don't want a nap! I'm the Baby Jesus!" He had been paying attention to the Pastor. Baby Jesus is powerful and doesn't have to take a nap if he doesn't want to take a nap. But it turns out either he's not the Baby Jesus or even Baby Jesus has to listen to his Dad.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Country Joe 

You remember that song don't you? "And it's one two three what are fight for? Don't ask me I don't give a damn." etc. So what are we we fighting for? With the American death toll topping 1500 I still can't figure it out. And I'm not talking about the question of why we invaded; I'm talking about right now. What is the goal? As far as I can tell there are a couple of wars going on right now. There's the insurgency where the locals shoot the Americans because they are an occupying army. Then there's the civil war in which the various local constituencies are fighting over who gets to be in charge when we leave. This latter war is relatively low intensity with mutual carbombing being the preferred method of engagement. But when we leave the gloves will come off and they'll really go at it until one side or the other gets the upper hand. As far as I can tell, this much more violent civil war is going to happen no matter when we leave. The Sunnis absolutely will not accept getting shat upon by the Shiites and the Shiites aren't about to let such a small minority set the agenda for them. So we stay there taking casualties while the locals do what they can to improve their own situations with respect to the coming hot civil war.

So, is there any way we can shoot our way to situation where the Sunnis and Shiites won't be killing each other at a rapid pace once we leave? If not, what are we fighting for? We can leave now and let the real civil war start or leave in 5 years and let the real civil war start. "And it's five six seven open up the pearly gates. There ain't no time to wonder why. Whoopee we're all going to die."

Who Knew? 

So here I am a Mac guy since System 4 days at least and I only find out that I was living in the same town as one of the main inventors of the Macintosh after he dies. Dang. Maybe I passed him at the grocery store and didn't know I was supposed to do a Wayne and Garth style "I'm not worthy. I'm not worthy."

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