Monday, April 28, 2008

Our Baby is the Best Baby

Sorry, everyone else and your baby. I've been considering this for a while, weighing the facts, tabulating the polls, consolidating results and aggregating the aggregates, and the conclusion is inescapable: Our Baby is the Best Baby.

The evidence-

1. I am certain he is in a High Percentile. Possibly even a Top High Percentile. Maybe even #1 Top High Percentile.
2. Look at the picture below, the one where I'm holding him and he's smiling and wearing the awesome pants. There is no argument against that picture.
3. He's a genius. Today he made a noise that sounded like "Gah!" This is undoubtedly an Advanced Noise.
4. Look at that picture again.

Told you.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More baby pix

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


There is a debate in this country about cosleeping - the practice of letting your child sleep in the bed with you. Basically, there are two camps. One group insists that it's more natural, it's commonplace in just about every other culture outside the West, it's better for babies (they grow up to be more secure toddlers), and parents who cosleep will get more - and better -sleep. The other group insists that cosleeping is dangerous, that it leads to dependence, it's worse for babies, and that parents who do not cosleep will get more - and better - sleep.
In my experience with this kid, I'm finding that both sides have valid points. When Bryce is in bed with us, he sleeps beautifully. He wakes up very infrequently, never cries, and goes back to sleep almost instantly once his needs are met. Meeting his need for feedings is also super easy: I roll over and there he is. No need to get out of bed at all - unless of course we're talkin' diaper change. But that's becoming less frequent as he gets older. On the other hand, when he's in his bassinet, I sleep beautifully... until he wakes me up crying and I have to get out of bed to feed him. It's also a lot more difficult to get him back to sleep.
Probably what's going to happen is a continuation of this cosleeping business until he's sleeping through the night - followed by a gradual transition into the crib.
If anyone has experience with this, I'd love to hear about it...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Stupidity is its Own Punishment

It is Also Hilarious

So, I've decided to garden. Pumpkins, corn, sunflowers, stuff that grows pretty easily out here and that we can eat. Unfortunately, the former owners of the house, in a bid to increase saleability, landscaped the yard in what I like to call Parking Lot Chic- bare gravel and straight lines, a war declared against growing things. In order to accomplish this, they had to put down a landscape cloth over the whole area. If you haven't encountered one of these, it's essentially a fibrous sheet that goes beneath your top layer of dirt in order to inhibit volunteer plant life, and if you want to grow anything yourself that requires more than a half inch of earth, you have to hack through it. Therein lies the slapstick.

To plant my pumpkins I'd marked out a 6x3 corner of the yard that abuts my concrete patio, and used my shovel to slice through some of the cloth. Then, thinking myself clever, I grabbed the section I had cut and proceeded to pull it out of the ground, tearing the remaining cloth as I went. So I pulled, ever closer to the patio and with a fair amount of straining.

The problem- About five feet behind me was my outdoor grill, and five feet behind that, a patch of mature cholla cactus, approximately six foot in height. Cue the calliope as I tear the last bit of cloth free and the sudden release in tension propels me backwards, first into the grill, preventing me from regaining balance, and then

This morning, after literally hours of pulling and two baths, I still have tiny little spines in my face, my back, my ass. I am also covered in lumpy little scabs on all extremities.

But the pumpkins are now planted.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


So, this site has been getting a bit of spam in the comments lately, which I've been diligently deleting. Because I know that there's a wide range of net savvy in the readers of this blog, and because the comments contain a link to what looks like a pretty insidious site, probably designed to plant spy/malware, I feel I should warn you not to go clicking on any links in comments that look like this:

Attention! See Please Here

With the "Here" being a hyperlink to a site filled with horrific pop-ups that claim your computer has a virus etc.

Like I said, I've been mostly catching them within a few minutes of their being posted, but a few may get through from time to time. In general, any website that claims your computer is vulnerable to viruses is bad news (and the more histrionic its claims, the worse its intentions are), and if a site attempts to install any software, refuse it and close your browser/reboot/whatever you need to do to leave the site without accepting the download.

Suddenly Winter

Bryce is gripey this morning, no idea why. The thing is, he sucks to soothe himself and sometimes I mistake that for hunger, so there's something of a vicious cycle at play when his stomach is bothering him. I finally wised up this morning after he puked on me for the second time and replaced the bottle with a pacifier. Seemed to do the trick and now he's almost, almost, almost asleep.

I had planned on taking him for a walk today as our big adventure, but for some reason it's winter out there. A high of 53? Seriously? It was 84 two days ago. I think this is one of the reasons spring has always bothered me, it's too chaotic, it pulls the rug out from under you.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Popeye the Destroyer

(Not much baby stuff in this one, folks. Just a long winded pop-culture rumination by a new father with a few spare moments...)

One thing about having a new baby is that you find yourself sitting in one place for long periods of time, whether nursing, burping or comforting/cuddling (ie: his every waking minute) with at most one hand free. One hand doesn't work so well for page turning, so reading is out, and internet browsing requires balancing the laptop in addition to the baby which is just a disaster waiting to happen, thus television, and especially DVDs, has assumed a resurgent importance in my life. So, for my upcoming birthday, I splurged a bit and picked up the Popeye the Sailor 1933-1938 DVD set, which is an absolutely wonderful compilation for any fan of classic animation, and especially for someone like me who's nursed a bizarre minor Popeye obsession ever since having images from the ill-received, yet wonderfully true to the Fleischer/Segar spirit, Robert Altman's Popeye burned into my subconscious as a small child.

Over the last few days I've watched them all, that's four discs and some 60 black-and-white Popeye shorts, in addition to two of the two-reel color featurettes and innumerable documentaries, and thus I've learned the truth--

Popeye is no hero. He is a barely contained force of destruction lacking moralickty and humanikity.

At least, this holds true for his earliest animated incarnations. If you get a chance, check out the first disc of the set, you'll be shocked at what you see. Take as emblamatic Popeye's introduction in the very first cartoon- the malformed gnome of a sailor is presented on a ship, presumably one on which he is employed in some capacity, grunting out his signature song ("just keep good behavior/that's your one life saver") and, apropos of NOTHING, striking out and destroying various parts of the ship, including both the anchor and one of the masts. Your hero, ladies and gentlemen, an uncontrollable rager lashing out and destroying whatever he feels like based only on his monsterous whims and with no regard to consequences. None of this is helped by Popeye's original voice, a guttural inhuman rasp by a guy who liked to be called "Red Pepper Sam".

Things aren't much better in the next cartoon either. "I Yam What I Yam" opens with Popeye and company on some sort of ocean voyage, Popeye standing proudly at the prow of his tiny row-boat, Olive Oyl slavishly manning the oars, presumably to stay on her rage-a-holic boyfriend's good side. Soon they've found land- Popeye clear cuts a goodly portion of forest and punches an Indian in the face- Why? Because the Indian had the audacity to say "Hello" to him. Naturally, we soon learn that the Indians are up to no good (they are, after all, Indians), and attempting to suppress Popeye's God-given right to steal their land. Things move along predictably until Popeye is essentially performing the duties of the Jackson administration. Similar story in "Blow Me Down", this time replacing Indians with Mexicans. Again, Popeye's rage is unprovoked: his first punch is thrown at a Mexican who dared to smile at him. Yep, a Mexican smiles at him, so Popeye breaks all his teeth. Hooray.

Perhaps the most chilling expression of this early Popeye's need to destroy is in "Sock-a-Bye Baby". No, despite the title, the cartoon isn't about Popeye beating up a baby for six minutes (though that wouldn't be too much of a surprise), but rather the length he's willing to go to make sure the baby (not, it should be noted, Swee' Pea, but some other baby, presumably one of Popeye's dozens of illegitimate offspring) gets some sleep. Maybe that in itself is a sign of Popeye's eventual softening, the fact that he's now using his considerable strength to protect another instead of just randomly lashing out, but try telling that to the literally hundreds who are murdered in this one. Three attacks stand out in particular: the first bystander to run afoul of Popeye's paternal rage is none other than Harpo Marx, who is apparently PLAYING HIS HARP TOO LOUDLY, so Popeye beats him to death (we know he's dead because he flies skyward with a halo); later, Popeye is afraid a nearby ocean liner's horn will wake the baby, so he swims out and pulls it down to the bottom of the sea- admittedly we don't see any bodies, so it's possible the crew and passengers escape, but the sheer callousness of the act shows us that their probable deaths are a sacrifice Popeye is willing to make; and finally, most disturbingly, Popeye finds the sounds of a construction crew working on a high-rise building to be too loud so naturally he tears it down WHILE THE CREW IS TRAPPED ON ITS UPPER STOREYS- no doubt about the aftermath this time, the viewer is treated to a scene of the building falling into a pile of rubble, the struggling limbs of the trapped workers flailing for a pain-wracked moment, and then still.

Eventually, of course, this early Popeye is tamed. Thanks to the love of his life, Bluto, Popeye's rage is mostly contained within the context of a relationship. Olive Oyl is a bit of a red herring, she mainly provides a means for Popeye and Bluto to establish dominance over each other, a role that she seems to understand quite well, judging by the endless jealousy scenarios she helps the boys play out.
However, that's an essay for another time, so for now let's all just be thankful that this triple co-dependency came along when it did and prevented Popeye from eventually smashing all things everywhere into smaller things and beating every last person in the world to death while on one of his cataclysmic spinach-benders.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bryce is five weeks old now, and he really seems to enjoy his toys. He sort of flings his arms in their direction and he coos and "talks" to them when he makes an impact. He's also begun to smile, especially first thing in the morning. Isn't he just too cute?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

More pictures of the kid

There are bound to be a lot of these during the next year or so...

Here's Bryce with his "Nani," Denise. Bryce with his "Mimi," Julie. Bryce in a car seat. Bryce lying on the couch looking cute in his New Here outfit - a gift from Ty's tutoring student.
My favorite is the last one. I took it this morning... Ty really did not want to get out of bed today, so I put the kid in there with him. They looked so cute I had to take a picture.

Sometimes You Dodge a Bullet

UNM's director of creative writing said she will resign because her colleague has not been punished for posing in sexually explicit photos with students.

Sharon Warner submitted a letter of resignation March 23 to University administrators. She will step down April 15.

Warner, director of the program for the past 10 years, said she is frustrated UNM's administration has yet to punish Lisa Chavez, who appeared in sexually explicit photos with three graduate students on a sadomasochism Web site...

Lucy DuPertuis, a graduate student of creative writing, said she is worried about the program's future.

"I, and most other MFA students, have turned down other offers and relocated at considerable expense to Albuquerque for this program," she said. "Internet blogs are already casting aspersions on our program because of this scandal. Will an MFA creative writing degree from UNM, which we had hoped would help us get jobs and help us achieve publication, in fact work against us?"

Suddenly, getting rejected from UNM's MFA program isn't looking like such a bad thing-

Friday, April 04, 2008

Not Normal is the New Normal

So, guess what? I've got baby-puke on me. This is now normal. I'm sitting here, listening carefully to the soft sounds emerging from the bassinet hoping that they stay sleepy and content long enough for me to wash the baby puke off. Maybe, just maybe, I'll have time to fix myself a bit of lunch, though this would be luxury at it's most hedonistic, best to push the thought from my mind. This is normal. Obviously, changing diapers, which I had never done before in my life, is normal as well. Normalcy is dead, long live normalcy.

I desperately want to write about something non-baby related right now. But there is nothing. Well, okay, a few things.

My new jobs-

Writing "abstracts" for They have an interesting business model, which means I don't know how it works at all, but they pay me.

Writing stories about animals for a Korean ESL publishing company- Don't even ask me how I managed to get involved in this one.

Tutoring an 8 year old with pretty serious concentration issues- This has been quite educational and surprisingly rewarding.

And, currently non-paying, interviewing the scions of Albuquerque families, meeting with retirees who've amassed postcard collections in the tens of thousands, talking to UNM professors about *just* how embarrassing Frank Hibben's fraud was, and why they've decided to devote million dollar research centers to a man whose primary contribution to anthropology was to muddy the waters with his own vanity.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Big News

So, this one kind of came out of left field for us, so please forgive the "late-breaking developments" nature of this post-

Here's the short version: We're moving to Romania.

Here's the long version: For the past 6 months or so, Courtney's been looking into various international opportunities for social workers. There are actually a surprising number, especially in ye olde Socialized Europe, but neither of us had the intention of following through with any applications or any such thing. More or less on a whim, and based on my ongoing fascination with a country where this sort of thing can happen, Court looked into the Romanian public sector and discovered that there's actually a thriving NGO community based in Bucharest, which is basically networked by a group called the StrawberryNet Foundation. The more she looked, the more interesting this particular group seemed, and lo and behold they posted a position for an English speaking networker with experience working with diverse communities. Courtney applied and late last week she had a conference call with two of the board members who were VERY excited about her qualifications and made us an offer we can't refuse. So, in late summer we'll be moving to Bucharest. I'll be pursuing my TOEFL certification so that I can teach English, and the good news is that nannies are very affordable there.

The part I am most excited about right off is that shortly after our arrival in Bucharest we'll be undergoing a crash course training/retreat in the Carpathian Mountains for a few weeks. Apparently it's quite the team building experience, we'll be staying in a cabin with no running water, we'll basically be relying on a nearby well, and a wood stove for heat. It's quite a beautiful area, near some of the old Transylvanian castles and with a thriving native wolf population (don't worry, they rarely attack people!) We're extremely excited to be heading off again, and think that this is a wonderful way for Bryce to spend his formative years, so wish us luck!

Sadly, this does mean that we'll be selling the dogs for medical experiments, but we've had a good few years with them, and frankly they've gotten obnoxious.

Which is, of course, an elaborate way of saying: Happy 1st of April!