March 29, 2005

The Greatest Word

DaddyTypes stole our baby! Or at least, that's what you might think, based on the post. :-) Or maybe Dorothy isn't the only baby who can say lots of "ba" words...

I mean heck, just looking around her toy area, we see block, box, book, bird, birdhouse, ball, et cetera.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:59 PM | Comments (2)

The Poop Faker

It's been a long time since we've posted about poop. One tidbit we'd forgotten to mention is Dorothy's ability to convince us (or anyone watching her) that she's just pooped in her diaper, when she hasn't. She might make very convincing appropriate sounds, and maybe stink. She might even still smell after we've moved her to a different room. But when we go to change her diaper, there's nothing there - it was all a fake!

Even after knowing how "good" she is at faking poop, she still sometimes tricks us into believing she's pooped, and checking her diaper.

Now, she has a mostly normal, healthy poop schedule, so it's not like she's having problems or anything. She just makes it seem like she's doing it more than she really is.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:09 PM | Comments (0)

Fight Club

I never saw the movie Fight Club, but after seeing one of the branches of this company, I of course thought:

The first rule of Tutoring Club is - you do not talk about Tutoring Club. The second rule of Tutoring Club is - you DO NOT talk about Tutoring Club.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2005

New word

Dorothy has a new word, which I assume she picked up at daycare. Several times tonight when she was trying to walk and fell on her bum, she said, "Uh-oh!" Just in case she wasn't cute enough already.

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 09:19 PM | Comments (0)

Bad Drivers

Boston is supposed to be the bad-driver capital of the US (except maybe for New York City, but no one drives there except the cabs). But today I saw what was probably the most egregious example of bad driving I have ever witnessed, much worse than anything I ever saw in Boston.

An SUV was in a parking lot on Bellevue Way, and wanted to get to the Arby's down the street. To do this legally, he would have had to turn left onto Bellevue Way, go 1/4 block, and turn left off Bellevue Way into the parking lot. But that would have required waiting for cross traffic. So instead, he just drove down the sidewalk. I was so stunned I failed to get his license plate number.

He didn't even go into the Arby's - he just cut through their lot onto another street.

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 09:17 PM | Comments (0)

More on Overprotection

I just read an interesting (if long) article titled "Safe Child Syndrome: Protecting kids to death." It's not anything terribly new, just a good take on the whole issue of Parents Who Hover and how they're messing up their kids.

At a cocktail party last summer, I mentioned to a group of grandmothers how lucky I am that my parents are nearby and quick to pitch in. One of the women, whose job includes daily responsibility for the welfare of hundreds of children, told me her own grown children usually turn down her offers to babysit.

"I know plenty of parents who see leaving the kids with Grandma as selfish," I told her. "They think it's important their kids spend as much time with them as possible."

That is so not me. Whenever Grandma or Grandpa want to watch Dorothy, I'm all for it! I love her dearly, but I need time for myself and my other activities; she is not the only thing in my universe. We appreciate any babysitting they do. I sometimes do feel guilty asking, but not for long. :-)

The article did get me thinking about the type of neighborhood to live in. It was encouraging back in Norwood that there were groups of kids playing in the street, hanging out on porches, etc. I don't see that around our house in Bellevue, but the neighborhood layout is different, so it might be harder to see. But I suspect it simply isn't there. And from the article, it sounds like that type of neighborhood and child culture is absent in many places, especially the higher you climb the socioeconomic ladder.

The tidbit that pissed me off was the story about a woman who let her five and seven year-old kids go across the street to an adjacent park to play, while she watched from her living room. The park director got upset, and eventually Child Protective Services got involved and opened a file on the family! And they won't close it for four years! Having the government decide when it is legal for your child to cross a street by themselves or to be without you at a park is sheer absurdity! Sure, you should be penalized if your child gets injured and you weren't watching, but it should be up to you to decide at what age they should be safe by themselves.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:53 PM | Comments (1)

Science & Evolution Quotes

I came across these two quotes the other day, and thought I would share them, given my recent posts (1, 2) about evolution.
Stephen Jay Gould:

In science, 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.' I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.

Ashley Montague:

Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 03:29 PM | Comments (1)

March 27, 2005

Easter eggs

Tom got some hinged plastic eggs at Fred Meyer this week, and we decided to try "hiding" some for Dorothy. Since she's not eating chocolate or much sugar yet, we put Cheerios and goldfish in them (probably her two favorite snacks). We distributed them mostly on and around her toys in the living room, plus a few in the dining room.

We weren't really sure whether she would figure it out, but we underestimated her. Once she woke up and came into the hallway, she immediately spotted that there was something new sitting on her hippo. She enjoyed grabbing and shaking the eggs, listening to them rattle. Eventually we showed her how to open one, and she discovered the Cheerios inside. After that, she opened every egg she found, or brought it to us if she couldn't get it opened, and devoured plenty of Cheerios and goldfish. She also had lots of fun opening and closing the eggs, and hiding the smaller ones inside the bigger ones.

We didn't do much else to celebrate Easter, but I think Dorothy thinks it's a pretty good holiday!

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)

Growing Up Overnight

Earlier this week, one of Dorothy's daycare teachers commented that she seemed to have grown up overnight. Within a very short time, she's suddenly started gobbling up solid food, standing up, walking a few steps, chattering for long periods of time, and putting herself to sleep at naptime. She's also sleeping through the night, and breaking four molars.

As mentioned previously, Dorothy's been walking for a week now. On Friday, she started standing up without using anything for support - she starts on hands and feet, sticks her behind waaay up in the air, then sort of bends at the knees as she leans back to bring her torso to vertical position. And then she can start walking from there. This morning, she stood up from sitting on her chair, took a couple steps, stopped, took a couple more steps and stopped again, then took a couple more steps before falling forward. She's never had that much control before; up until now she's just kept leaning further and further forward with each step until she falls on her tummy.

We can feel three large bumps on her gums where molars come in, plus a sharp corner of one molar that's already broken through. The pain seems to come and go, but certainly seems extremely annoying at night. For whatever reason, she's been fussing at bedtime to a great extent, and a dose of Tylenol seems to be the only thing that lets her sleep. Hopefully the remaining molars will come in (or slow down) soon, so that she can get more peace.

We're not sure if she's starting a growth spurt, or if the breaking through of her first molar has eased the sensitivity of her gums, or what, but she's suddenly decided that solid food is good stuff. As you may have seen in the photo gallery, chicken nuggets and grilled cheese sandwiches are very popular. She ate almost an entire grilled cheese sandwich for dinner one night this week! :-O It seems like such a leap in volume compared to her jars of strained meat and veggies. Other foods she's been eating, either at home and/or at daycare, include: fish sticks, hash browns, pizza crust + cheese, whole bananas, and macaroni and cheese. And at breakfast, she's been like a little dog begging table scraps - she bugs me for pieces of my bagel. It's getting to the point where I have to wolf down my breakfast if I want to be able to eat a majority of it.

Finally, in a development we've been longing for forever, Dorothy now sleeps through the night. She's usually asleep by 8pm, and hasn't woken us up before 6am in a week, at least. This weekend, she even let us sleep in till 7am! A luxury! She may be waking a bit at night, but she's not making much noise, and not for long. It truly feels wonderful, and we're grateful she's made it to this stage.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2005

Quote of the day

"Don't you swear at Easter eggs!" (Three guesses what we were doing tonight.)

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 10:45 PM | Comments (0)

Big Cats

Apparently we were mistaken about there not being cougars on Cougar Mountain any more. The people at the Cougar Mountain Zoo say that there are regular sightings in the area. And now a story in the local newspaper reports on the first cougar sighting of the year very close to where we live.

As Tom E. suggested, we'll be teaching Dorothy not to pet the big kitties. :-O More likely, she won't be allowed outside without supervision, even when she gets old enough to do so (in a few years?!?).

To put things perspective, there were only 12 sightings total last year in this area, and the story didn't mention anything about attacks. Of course, the 2nd link in a search on Google Images for "cougar" is a Washington state page titled "Living with Wildlife".

The Pacific Northwest lifestyle seems to be a bit different from that in Boston...

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:35 PM | Comments (2)

Stand, Crawl, Whatever

A new batch of photos is up. Dorothy stands, sits, crawls, etc. There's also some more photos of birds at the bird-feeder, and more.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:25 PM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2005


This is silly: the art of popstrology It's sort of like astrology, but uses the #1 rock hit on the day you were born. So, rather than asking "hey baby, what's your sign?" you can use an alternative bad pick-up line: "Hey baby, what's your birth song?"

For the record, here are ours:

Tom: "Maggie May" by Rod Stewart
Elizabeth: "Mrs. Robinson" by Simon & Garfunkel
Dorothy: "Yeah" by Usher featuring Lil' Jon and Ludacris

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:47 PM | Comments (2)

Piss Off

I think "Piss Off" would be a great name for either a detergent for children's clothes (something like Dreft), or for a pet urine cleanser (such as Nature's Miracle).

This thought occurred to me as I was changing my clothes this evening due to Dorothy's having taken a leak onto them. We think this is the first time she's gotten either of our clothes with pee or poop, but she managed to get both of us in one go. The last few nights, Dorothy's been peeing a bit right after we toss her in the bathtub. I don't know why she's doing it, as she hadn't done it before. But tonight, apparently she didn't wait until getting in the tub - instead she let loose while Elizabeth was holding her just in front of the tub.

I shouldn't complain, since we've gotten away clean until now, and Dorothy's been generally good about not making an un-diapered mess when she's not on the changing table. I'm just curious as to why she'd start now.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 07:49 PM | Comments (1)

Super Ninja

Years and years ago, I read some blurb (I don't know how accurate it is) that said something to the effect of "If humans kept growing at the rate they do when born, then by age 9 they would be as big as Earth [or some such startling size]." (This growth rate can be seen, for example, with Trixie.)

Similarly, children learn amazingly fast. I've read that neurons can have as many as 15,000 synapses (connection with other neurons, to my understanding). And up until age two, babies form 2 million synapses per second! They actually learn by pruning those neurons, like the way that neural nets 'learn' by changing the weights of connections.

Dorothy's walking ability has been getting noticeably better on an almost daily basis. That fact got me to thinking: If humans could keep learning and improving their skills through life as fast as they do during their childhood years, people could someday be like super-ninja movie superstars. You know, be able to walk a tightrope and fight off bad guys at the same time, then do a flying back flip; read and speak 10 different languages; do advanced code decryption; etc. Our brains probably aren't big enough to handle all of that, but who knows. At our rate of learning, and given the fact that the super-learning window closes by the end of puberty, it shouldn't be surprising that at most people can become a master at only one task. But what if your learning rate didn't slow down, and didn't end?...

Posted by Tom Nugent at 05:38 PM | Comments (0)

Demographic Shifts and You

Demographics. You can't beat it, and you've already joined it. Demographic changes are promising to bring major changes to practically every country in the world over the next 10, 25, 50+ years, and those changes don't all look good.

Yes, part of the change is brought about by an increased life expectancy around the world, due both to a decrease in infant mortality as well as a genuine extension of the average age of death (the life expectancy calculation includes death at all ages, so kids who die at 1 year old affect the average the same as people who live to 105 do). But part of the demographic change is brought about by a decrease in the birth rate.

Stanley Kurtz has written an excellent overview of the demographics issue during his review of four books on the topic. These books look at population decline, not growth, because the population growth rate has been falling, and is now expected to go below replacement level worldwide in less than a century. The last set of U.N. numbers I saw (admittedly a couple of years ago) project population to peak in the 8-10 billion range.

I think I'm going to have a lot to say over time about demographic changes and their implications for politics, global power balance, the economy & finance, culture, and more. But to start things off, here are a few quotes from the article:

Taken together, these four books suggest that we are moving toward a period of substantial social change whose tantalizing ideological implications run the gamut from heightened cultural radicalism to the emergence of a new, more conservative cultural era.
Not a single industrialized nation today has a fertility rate of 2.1, and most are well below replacement level.
Remarkably, the sharp rise in American fertility rates at the height of the baby boom - 3.8 children per woman - was substantially above Third World fertility rates today. From East Asia to the Middle East to Mexico, countries once fabled for their high fertility rates are now falling swiftly toward or below replacement levels.
On the contrary, America's massive unfunded entitlement programs have the potential to spark a serious social and economic crisis in the not too distant future. And the welfare state in the rest of the developed world is on even shakier economic ground.
By 2050, the combined cost of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the national debt will rise to 47 percent of gross domestic product - more than double the level of expected federal revenues at the time. Without reform, all federal spending would eventually go to seniors. Obviously, the system will correct before we reach that point. But how?
Even without a "meltdown," long-term prospects for the economy and the welfare state in rapidly aging societies seem uncertain at best.... Hard landing or not, and the political power of the elderly notwithstanding, there seems a very real chance that America's entitlement programs will someday be substantially scaled back. But what sort of struggle between the old and the young will emerge in the meantime, and how will a massive and relatively impoverished older generation cope with the change?
Then, when talking about a potential economic meltdown caused by the demographic changes, he says:
What might such a "meltdown" look like? Peterson, Kotlikoff, and Burns spin out essentially the same scenario. The danger is that investors might at some point decide that the United States will never rein in its deficit. Once investors see America's deficits as out of control, they will assume their dollar-based securities will be eroded by inflation, higher interest rates, and a serious decline in the stock market. Should a loss of confidence cause leading investors to pull their money out of U.S. securities, it could set off a run on the dollar. That would create the very inflation, interest rate increases, and market decline that investors feared in the first place. Such has already happened in Argentina, which Kotlikoff and Burns use as a paradigm in which loss of investor confidence brought down the economy in a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy. The danger is that the United States and the rest of the industrialized world may already have entered the sort of debt trap common among Third World nations. A rapidly aging Japan is even more vulnerable than America, say Kotlikoff and Burns. They add that, should investors looking at teetering modern welfare states and the long-term demographic crisis bring down any of the advanced economies, the contagion could spread to others.

Here's a brief summary of some of the issues we face:
  • Services for the elderly: The amount of money saved doesn't matter, there simply won't be enough people to do the work, so people will have to retire later (see below for a link with more details on this issue). One potential way around this issue is the development of smarter, smaller and more capable robots. In 20 or 50 years, it will probably be common for many people, especially the elderly, to have a robot "nurse" to help out around the house.

  • Taxes: We're already in deep, deep debt both on an individual as well as federal level. Federal promises for the future can not be met. Entitlements are going to grow, while the fraction of the population working will shrink, so taxes are going to have to go up, and that still won't help. Benefits will be cut at some point.

  • Immigration is one way for any individual nation to deal with part of the problem, but anti-immigration sentiment is on the rise in the US.

  • People are not replacing themselves. Why the disincentive to pro-create? Tax incentives and government programs don't seem to help encourage baby production in other countries, but making it financially easier to have kids can't hurt. It may soon be in senior citizens' best interests to contribute more of their time to child-rearing, so that people of child-bearing age will be willing to have kids. It sounds cold, but without children, there won't be anyone to take care of people as they age.

  • Probably more issues I'm forgetting for now.

John Mauldin has written a number of his investing newsletters focusing on demographic changes. Take a look at his November 15, 2002 letter where he argues that people will have to work longer (he predicts that Boomers will, on average, work until they're 72 or 73) - it's not a matter of how much money they've saved. There simply won't be enough people of the current working age to handle all the work that needs to be done (increasingly, that work will involve taking care of the elderly). He provides a great, simple model for understanding why this is.

So, what are your thoughts on retirement? Do you expect to work until you're 60? 70? How much are you counting on Social Security?

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:56 AM | Comments (4)

March 22, 2005

Walking tall

A major milestone this weekend - Dorothy took her first real steps on Sunday!

Dorothy has gotten very good at standing and walking with minimal help - she'll hold your hand, or even just rest her arm against something stable, and she can stand pretty much indefinitely (or until her excitement overwhelms her balance, anyway). But she's been very reluctant to let go of that stabilizing point. She has been standing occasionally without holding on (especially in the bathtub) for a few seconds at a time. Usually it happens when she sees two toys that she wants to pick up at once, and she forgets that she's not holding onto anything. Once she notices that she's standing without support, she sits down and/or grabs something.

We've been trying to encourage her to walk by having one of us help her stand, and then the other holds out his/her hands a couple of feet away and calls her. She's been taking a couple of lurching, falling steps to get to the other person, but nothing remotely stable, until this weekend (although she loves the game, even after giving herself a bloody nose playing it in the doctor's office a few weeks ago). Part of the problem is that she gets so excited that she leans way forward to try to get to the person calling her, and then she's too overbalanced to walk. But this weekend, I got her to stand up while leaning back against my body (not holding my hands), so she wouldn't dive forward as much, and she just toddled right over to Tom, three or four steps. She also will stand up from sitting in her chair and walk a few steps to either of us, and she's starting to be willing to let go of Tom's hands in order to walk to me (although it doesn't seem to work in the other direction if I start by holding her hands, instead of having her lean against me).

It's really fun for us, not least because she is so proud of herself. She giggles and preens and generally makes it clear that she thinks she is just hot stuff. (Of course, she also gets lots of praise from us for her new "trick"!) She also wants to try it over and over, although her balance isn't as good when she's laughing her head off.

We don't have any really good photos or video yet, because she really wants both of us to be playing in order to do it - so there's no one to run the camera. We tried to videotape it this evening, but didn't get really great footage. But I'm sure we'll have lots of opportunities for more.

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 09:43 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2005

A Great Toy Store

On Saturday, while driving around Issaquah, we saw a toy store and decided to check it out, since we're thinking of getting Dorothy a rocking horse. The store we went to was White Horse Toys, and it is such a cool store. From the front it looks small, but they've apparently expanded into two other businesses' buildings, making it somewhat large inside. It reminds me of the Construction Site in Waltham MA and the Learning Express store in Norwood MA. Like the Construction Site, White Horse Toys had a number of import toys, although not as many "build it" type toys. And like the Learning Express, they have Manhattan Baby and other toys that don't get wide representation in mega-stores.

There are a number of wooden toys, and old-style tin toys (we got Dorothy a 1950s-type tin top, which she likes even though she herself can't make it spin yet). There are games, figurines, weaving looms and knitting projects, rocking horses (we wound up not getting any, because Dorothy seems a bit too small for them right now), dolls, etc. etc. Quite a variety.

Grandparents, beware! If you go to this store, you'll be sorely tempted to spend too much money. I know we were tempted!

White Horse Toys are located at 317 NW Gilman Blvd in Issaquah, WA.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 03:23 PM | Comments (1)

Feeding Humor

Even though Dorothy has been pretty good about eating recently, today's Adam @ Home certainly reminds me of the not-too-distant past...

Posted by Tom Nugent at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2005

Dual Will Smith Movie Review

Two really short reviews. The one sentence summary: I recommend both movies.

Last weekend Elizabeth and I had our first date since arriving in Seattle (OK, Bellevue). We went to Thai Ginger, a very good Thai restaurant in Factoria, then went across the street to see the latest Will Smith movie, "Hitch." I have to say that it may be the best romantic comedy I've ever seen. Now, I'm not a HUGE romantic comedy fan, but I do like some. And "Hitch" is a good date movie and a great romantic comedy. The flow, the gags, the character development - everything worked well. Thumbs up.

This past weekend, we rented the slightly older Will Smith movie "I, Robot" (but only because they were out of "Ray" and we'd heard that "I, Robot" was a good movie, even though not being at all like the book). It was also an excellent movie. In fact, I think Asimov himself would have liked it, because even though it is drastically different from the book "I, Robot" the movie explores the issues of the Three Laws of Robotics. Thumbs up.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:46 PM | Comments (0)

Sleep and food update

As a first step towards weaning Dorothy, for the past couple of weeks, it's been Tom, rather than Elizabeth, that gets up with her at night. When Elizabeth gets up with her, nothing but nursing will do to go back to sleep. But when Tom gets up, rocking and singing for a few minutes is enough.

But it turns out that a beneficial side effect of this is that Dorothy has decided it's not really worth screaming for help if she wakes at night, since she's not going to get any milk anyway. So she's been sleeping through from 7:30 or 8 PM until 5 AM. She usually wakes and fusses for a while then, but goes back to sleep until 6 or 6:30. She nurses then, and then just has cow's milk until bedtime. We'll probably try to eliminate the morning nursing fairly soon, as well - the bedtime session will probably be the last to go.

In the daytime, she's settled into the daycare routine of one nap in the afternoon pretty well. At home, she sometimes takes one nap, and sometimes two, depending on when she got up and what the activities have been. She's generally getting around 2 hours (plus or minus an hour) of sleep during the day, though. It's nice to have her more predictable!

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 06:06 PM | Comments (0)

Throwing Up

I just put a brief movie of me throwing Dorothy up into the air in the movies directory (it's the file named She really enjoys it sometimes!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)

Fire Photos

19 more photos are now online, including Dorothy in a birthday dress, trying to reach the fire, and more!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 02:10 PM | Comments (0)

The Anti-Science Fundamentalists and IMAX

Huh. Barely have I made my first post about evolution when I have to do it again. Today, the New York Times has a story titled "A New Screen Test for Imax: It's the Bible vs. the Volcano." IMAX films that mention evolution, the Big Bang or "the geology of the earth" are being refused at some (not all, admittedly) IMAX theatres, mostly in the South (yeah, who knew geology could be so controversial?). Let's jump into some choice quotes:

"Volcanoes," released in 2003 and sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and Rutgers University, has been turned down at about a dozen science centers, mostly in the South, said Dr. Richard Lutz, the Rutgers oceanographer who was chief scientist for the film. He said theater officials rejected the film because of its brief references to evolution, in particular to the possibility that life on Earth originated at the undersea vents.
Oh no! They made a brief reference to evolution! Let's can entire movie! Or maybe they should go stick their heads deeper into the sand.
Carol Murray, director of marketing for the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, said the museum decided not to offer the movie after showing it to a sample audience, a practice often followed by managers of Imax theaters. Ms. Murray said 137 people participated in the survey, and while some thought it was well done, "some people said it was blasphemous."

In their written comments, she explained, they made statements like "I really hate it when the theory of evolution is presented as fact," or "I don't agree with their presentation of human existence."

To be fair, if your target market doesn't want to buy a product, it may not make sense to offer that product. But I wonder, have they done actual demographic studies to see what part of their community would actually reject seeing the movie altogether? Or do they take the strong opinions of a few people to decide on what's presented to the majority?

And to the person who hates it when the "theory" of evolution is presented as fact: Get over it! Evolution is about as close as a fact as it's possible to get in science. We also have a theory that virtual particles are constantly created and destroyed on a sub-atomic scale. These particles are not directly observable, but experiments confirm predictions from the theory (such as the pressure between two plates in a vacuum). There are still some questions (e.g., is it possible to extract energy from the sea of particles?), but that doesn't mean that virtual particles are not as close to fact as it's possible to get. Most importantly, there are no plausible counter-vailing theories. Wikipedia has a much more cogent and concise article on theory than what I just wrote. :-) In particular, read the section "Characteristics of a Theory."

One last quote:

"We have definitely a lot more creation public than evolution public," said Lisa Buzzelli, who directs the Charleston Imax Theater in South Carolina, a commercial theater next to the Charleston Aquarium. Her theater had not ruled out ever showing "Volcanoes," Ms. Buzzelli said, "but being in the Bible Belt, the movie does have a lot to do with evolution, and we weigh that carefully."

"More creation public than evolution public." I think that statement says it all. Religion seems to define most aspects of society in the Bible Belt. Non-Christians need not apply.

And if you only follow one link from this post, make it the Wikipedia article on theory one. It

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:06 AM | Comments (1)

March 16, 2005

Small Batch of Photos

New photos! There's a baby girl in the mirror, we go to IHOP, and more.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2005


Dorothy received a yellow Care Bears shirt with jeans for her birthday from Great-grandma Flo. There's something about this outfit that makes her look older - more like a little girl (at least) than a big baby.

She reminds me of Rizzo, from the movie "Grease," although I'm not sure why. (Here are a couple of photos of Rizzo: second from right, on the bed and far right.) With Dorothy, maybe it's the collar, or the pedal-pusher jeans, or what. The flare at the bottom of the shirt definitely contributes.

Commentary on the fact that it's Care Bears [shudder] will have to wait for some other time...

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:50 AM | Comments (1)


In the last week, Dorothy has developed the excessively cute habit of saying "hi" (but it's longer than a normal "hi", more like "haaiieee") to anything with a face. Raggedy Ann. The picture of the baby on her breakfast yogurt container. The pictures in her picture flip book (contains pictures of relatives). Her little MegaBlok Pooh-Bear and Eeyore. Et cetera.

Oddly, she says it less frequently to real, live people. Maybe we're just not as interesting...

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:12 AM | Comments (2)

March 14, 2005

The Battle Over Evolution

The whole "evolution is a theory, not a fact" debate pisses me off, because it is a prime example of willful ignorance. The issue comes up again in an article in today's Washington Post. And it turns out that one of the big proponents of the so-called Intelligent Design "theory" (it's a belief system, not a true disprovable scientific theory) is based here in Seattle. Oh, joy.

As far as I can tell, the only opponents to evolutionary theory are the religious nuts. There's no one who doesn't have a political/religious axe to grind who doubts evolution. And Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory, so casting it as an "alternative" to evolution is misleading at best.

People are free to believe whatever they want in the context of religion. But to force those beliefs into a science context (in this case, in public school science classes) is not only a breakdown of church/state separation, but a disservice to the future of this country.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:57 AM | Comments (1)

March 13, 2005

Resuming Normal Photos

After all the birthday and zoo pictures, we're back to a more regular batch of photos. Basketball, a ripped up porch, Grandma snuggles, and more!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:48 PM | Comments (0)

"Earning" Retirement Benefits

In a story on savings in the US in the New York Times (free registration required), there's a quote about the Social Security system:

More likely, the government would have to borrow trillions of dollars over the next several decades to pay full benefits to retirees who earned them under today's system.
Except that the statement is wrong on at least one thing - retirees did not "earn" many of the benefits they're receiving.

The federal government has steadily increased the scope of Social Security over the past few decades so that it not only would be almost unrecognizable to those who created it in the first place, but also to the point where benefits keep growing and growing. Social Security is, at heart, only little removed from a Ponzi scheme (it is, given demographic trends, a form of pyramid scheme). Disability benefits? Not there originally. Survivor benefits? Same thing. Medicare itself is an expansion of Social Security. The prescription drug program that came into effect a couple of years ago is yet another expansion of the costs of the Social Security/Medicare system. So current retirees have not earned everything they're going to be paid, and the same is true for soon-to-be-retirees (unless you think your Social Security/Medicare taxes have suddenly increased with the passage of the prescription drug benefit program?).

I'm working on a post about demographics and the future of retirement that will go into more depth on the economics of the retirement system. Hopefully it will be up this week.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 06:13 PM | Comments (2)

March 10, 2005

Cobalt is a Goof, Reason #44

Today, Cobalt was at the door that leads onto the deck. The door is mostly glass, with a wooden frame. Cobalt had his front paws on the glass, and was pushing up a few times and moving around, as if he were chasing a moth or something on the other side of the glass. He sat back on his haunches, and then WHAM! tried to jump through the glass up onto the table that was out on the deck. He shook his head, then walked away.

When birds hit glass, they come flying from far away, and presumably can't see that there's anything there. But Cobalt had just felt, with his own two paws, that there was glass there. I don't know what, if anything, he was thinking.

Oh, and another "earlier" reason why he's a goof that we just remembered: He doesn't eat food most cats love. Like human table-food scraps of chicken, ham, etc. Rhodium will eat them up if we give them some tiny scraps, but Cobalt will just sniff and then look up at us, wondering when we're going to give him something good.


Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:59 PM | Comments (0)

12-month Check-up

Dorothy had her 12-month check-up today. It seems, though, that Dorothy has a habit of sometimes getting sick just in time for a pre-scheduled doctor's visit. She was feeling warm this morning, and getting more listless as the day wore on. My mom and I measured Dorothy's temperature about an hour before her doctor's appointment. The result? 103.6 degrees. Crack open the egg and start poaching it!

It turns out that her ears both look bad. Maybe it's a continuation of her previous double ear infection, or maybe it's something new. It may or may not be related to the temperature. In any case, the doctor gave us an antibiotic prescription to help clear up the ears. But she's not going to daycare on Friday.

In more happy news, Dorothy is roughly 30 inches tall (~75th percentile), and 21lbs 13oz (somewhere between 50th and 75th percentile), all of which is pretty good. Her head circumference was roughly 18.5 inches (47cm I think), although it was hard to be exact with her squirming and fighting the measurement. Besides being sick, the doctor thought that Dorothy seemed to be doing well developmentally.

One benefit, from Dorothy's point of view, of her being sick is that she couldn't get her vaccinations today - they'll have to wait until she's not sick anymore!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:49 PM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2005

Dorothy's 1st Birthday

This past Sunday afternoon, it was one year since Dorothy entered the world and changed our lives more than we could have guessed. We celebrated her first year of life (and combined it with a bit of housewarming in our "new" house) on Sunday with family (both sets of Dorothy's grandparents had flown in) and friends.



As you can see above, we hung out on the deck for a while to enjoy the sun, even after finding out that parts of the deck were rotten (discovered by the holes we put in the decking), until it started getting cool out. Then we headed inside for cake and presents.

There are, of course, lots of pictures of the party, especially the cake-eating and present-opening. To be honest, it took a long time for Dorothy to get truly messy with the cake. At the beginning she wasn't sure what to make of this round thing in front of her, or all the people focusing on her. She enjoyed having some plasticware to play with, but it took Mommy putting a bit of frosting in Dorothy's mouth for her to really get interested in eating it. Once she realized it was good stuff, then she had more fun, and particularly enjoyed swatting a spoon (or two) onto the cake and then sucking on the frosting-encrusted spoon. At one point we took the spoons away, to encourage her to get her hands more directly involved. Dorothy really liked squishing frosting in her hand, and seeing it ooze out between her fingers.

Once she seemed to be done with eating, we tried to wash her in the laundry tub, but she screamed as soon as I set her in there. So we headed to the bathroom to put her into the bathtub. But her pant legs were covered in frosting, so I didn't want to undress her outside the tub. After a real quick bath, we re-dressed her and let her start attacking the presents. Her new friend Cassi had just turned 1 a few weeks earlier, and was happy to show Dorothy how this whole birthday party thing was supposed to work. :-)

The entire day was fun for everyone. Looking back on the previous year, though, is quite something. Elizabeth feels like it was just yesterday that she gave birth. While I do feel like time is flying, I also feel like the pre-Dorothy days occurred eons ago. It truly is a bit hard to remember the at-that-time-"normal" feeling of being free to do what we wanted, instead of having to always take Dorothy into consideration before doing anything. But she is just such a joy (on average) that I certainly don't regret the change at all. Dorothy is really starting to communicate and become mobile, and I look forward to the time when I can more easily talk with her and try understand her world.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:46 PM | Comments (0)

Another Reason to Like Mac OS X

My computer has been up and running for 42 days, 2 hours and 27 minutes as of 3:33pm PST today. I'm shutting it down now because I need to replace the battery in my UPS (it's over three years old).

To be honest, I normally reboot my machine once per month, just to clear up the RAM because I like things to be neat and clear. But I'm sure this thing would just keep running for months on end without problems. I love Mac OS X!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 03:34 PM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2005

War whoop

This is really an overdue post, since Dorothy mostly isn't indulging in the described behavior any more. But we didn't want to forget about it, either.

For most of the month of January (at least), Dorothy's method of communicating "no!" was what we called the war whoop. At least, I think that's what I used to call it growing up - where you sort of yodel a tone and flap your hand against your mouth to vary the pitch. She would do it with the back of her hand, and she could get some pretty good volume and variation in the pitch.

Currently, she says, "Nai nai nai nai" to mean no. Except when it's, "'no, I don't want to eat this" - she communicates that by dropping the food off the side of the high chair. We're working on it...

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)

Birthday Photos

Photos from Dorothy's first birthday are finally online. Enjoy!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:48 PM | Comments (0)

Zoo Photos

It's a bit delayed, but I just put online a batch of photos from before Dorothy's birthday, including a trip to a local zoo. (FYI, birthday photos and stories will be posted Real Soon Now.)

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

Alien Invasion Manual

My Little Golden Book About Zogg is hilarious. DaddyTypes describes it best:

Either a hi-larious parody or an ominous warning for our planet or an irreverent blasphemy, or all three
It's a pretty quick read, so go check it out.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

A Real Man

This story in the Washington Post (free registration required) talks about James Hall, an 18 year old Washington D.C. high school student and single father. Yes, unlike way too many so-called "men" who abandon their children, James took in a daughter he didn't know he had when her mother abandoned her. And even more impressive, he's stayed in school rather than quit to get a job. Seeking education, and taking responsibility for his child. The young man deserves a ton of respect for Doing The Right Thing.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:25 AM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2005

What Does a Body Good?

Apparently, milk is not the only way to grow strong bones, according to a story on CNN. Kids should also consume other calcium-rich foods (stock up on kale!), and get exercise (duh).

Posted by Tom Nugent at 02:46 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2005

The Depths of My Love

This morning, Dorothy and I went to a story time at the local library. We sung songs, listened to stories, and did dances. Using a red fish instead of any body parts, we did the Hokey Pokey. That's right - I love my daughter SO MUCH that I actually did the Hokey-freaking-Pokey (which was banned from Elizabeth's and my wedding) with/for her. How's THAT for love?!?

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:27 PM | Comments (1)

March 02, 2005

Once You're In the Vestibule, Don't Turn Right...

Elizabeth sent me an article about artificially inseminating elephants (I certainly don't go out searching for this kind of article myself). My favorite quote from the story?

Of much of the past two decades of failed attempts to inseminate elephants, Hawkes said: "My guess is they were usually just inseminating the bladder."


Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:08 AM | Comments (0)

Overprotective Parents

There's a bunch I want to say about this article from Psychology Today on parents who try to protect their children from any and all bumps or difficulties in their lives. I don't have time now, but go read the article. It provides great arguments for why you should let your kids figure things out for themselves and let them have unstructured play, rather than scheduling and guiding their entire lives for them.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:39 AM | Comments (1)

March 01, 2005

Children's Advertising, Part 1 of N

There's an article over at HalfChangedWorld about advertising aimed at children, and the behavior of her own four-year old son upon seeing products branded wiht a character her son had never seen before. It's scary. But it just highlights what Juliet Schor documented in her book Born To Buy, which I heartily recommend.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Just Like Japan

In today's New York Times: Speculators Seeing Gold in a Boom in the Prices for Homes. Two quotes from the article reminds me of the real estate market in Japan in the late 1980s:

Like the day traders of the 1990's dot-com boom, people are investing in a market that seems to just go up.
"It seems that real estate always goes up," in the long term, Ms. Finley said.

The Japanese (especially around Tokyo) also believed that real estate prices could only go one way - up. They were wrong. And when people in this country start believing the same thing, it makes me worried for the entire economy, because a severe downturn in the housing market could have widespread repercussions throughout all financial markets.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:36 AM | Comments (0)