May 31, 2005

Shocking Confession of a Reader

There are always phrases and ideas that our parents do that we promise we'll never do when we become parents, until one day we hear ourselves saying "and if the other kids jumped off a bridge, would you?"

There's another category of "things I never thought I'd say." Items in this category are those that are so outlandish that it would never have occurred to you to consider them, or that are normal (yet weird) parts of baby-raising that no one ever mentioned. You know, things like trying to keep the baby from grabbing her own poop as you're changing a diaper, introducing her to TV to help distract her, catching baby drool in your mouth, etc.

The one that has come totally out of left field, and which anyone who knows me would be shocked to hear? I want Dorothy to read less, or at least without so much of my involvement.

For the last few weeks, she's been obsessed with reading books. Correction: She doesn't read lots of books. She brings us lots of books for us to read to her. "Reading" often involves trying to speak a few of the words on any given page, as they go by at breakneck speed since she turns the pages faster than greased lightning.

We have at least 10 board books, probably more, plus a dozen Baby Einstein "normal" paper books. But after reading "Old Hat, New Hat" for the 5th time in a day, or the 50th time in a week, you start getting sick of it. What's worse is when she'll bring a book, sit in my lap as we read the book. Then she'll get up, get another, and repeat. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat a few more times.

I will admit that it is snuggly and heart-warming for her to cuddle up in my lap and want to read. But I'm getting so damn sick of these books. I keep looking for new books to buy, not because she needs them, but solely for my sanity! And I wish she would be patient enough for me to read normal books to her. But no - page turning is apparently the major activity involved in reading, and she wants the page-turning to happen frequently. So lots of words on a page aren't allowed. And she's generally not interested if I start reading to her while she's sitting somewhere other than my lap.

On a related note, Catawumpus was talking about home-schooling and it got me to thinking about Dorothy. I'm not planning on a hard-core "unschooling" plan (where you let the children direct everything about their education), but I have been worried a bit about trying to convince her to learn any given topic at a reasonable age (e.g., reading - some kids don't learn until 9 years old, if left to their own devices). Given her parents' inclinations and her habit, even at this young age, of reading books, I somehow think we won't have any problem in interesting Dorothy in learning to read at a reasonably young age.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 05:13 PM | Comments (1)

Age and Inventiveness

Ron sent me a link to a paper about increasing age of inventor at time of major inventions. The paper costs $5, but the abstract is online for free:

Great achievements in knowledge are produced by older innovators today than they were a century ago. Using data on Nobel Prize winners and great inventors, I find that the age at which noted innovations are produced has increased by approximately 6 years over the 20th Century. This trend is consistent with a shift in the life-cycle productivity of great minds. It is also consistent with an aging workforce. The paper employs a semi-parametric maximum likelihood model to (1) test between these competing explanations and (2) locate any specific shifts in life-cycle productivity. The productivity explanation receives considerable support. I find that innovators are much less productive at younger ages, beginning to produce major ideas 8 years later at the end of the 20th Century than they did at the beginning. Furthermore, the later start to the career is not compensated for by increasing productivity beyond early middle age. I show that these distinct shifts for knowledge-based careers are consistent with a knowledge-based theory, where the accumulation of knowledge across generations leads innovators to seek more education over time. More generally, the results show that individual innovators are productive over a narrowing span of their life cycle, a trend that reduces -- other things equal -- the aggregate output of innovators. This drop in productivity is particularly acute if innovators' raw ability is greatest when young.
I find it particularly interesting that they say the age range over which people are productive is narrowing, because it's taking longer to accumulate enough knowledge in order to make new contributions, but the amount of productivity later in life is not increasing at the same rate.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 01:18 PM | Comments (0)

More on Competition and Women

John Tierney has a follow up editorial to his previous article about women and competition. He clarifies that of course there are some women who are extremely competitive:

As Danica Patrick showed in the Indianapolis 500, some women can successfully compete with men at the highest level. But why aren't there more of them?

He presents the argument that part of the reason is the evolutionary drive for more reproductive rights, which is exemplified by what it takes to win at Scrabble tournaments:

For a quarter-century, women have outnumbered men at Scrabble clubs and tournaments in America, but a woman has won the national championship only once, and all the world champions have been men. Among the top-ranked 50 players, typically about 45 are men.

The top players, both male and female, point to a simple explanation for the disparity: more men are willing to do whatever it takes to reach the top. You need more than intelligence and a good vocabulary to become champion. You have to spend hours a day learning words like "khat," doing computerized drills and memorizing long lists of letter combinations, called alphagrams, that can form high-scoring seven-letter words.
But the evolutionary roots of [the drive] seem clear to anthropologists like Helen Fisher of Rutgers University.

"Evolution has selected for men with a taste for risking everything to get to the top of the hierarchy," she said, "because those males get more reproductive opportunities, not only among primates but also among human beings. Women don't get as big a reproductive payoff by reaching the top. They're just as competitive with themselves - they want to do a good job just as much as men do - but men want to be more competitive with others."

Tierney reiterates that our evolution-driven psychology may not always make sense in today's world:
Of course, just because men evolved with an impulse for competition doesn't mean that it still always makes sense, either for society or for the men themselves. Perhaps winning a Scrabble tournament with a $25,000 prize makes you a better marriage prospect. But I'm not sure how many women want to marry someone who spends his weekends memorizing alphagrams.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:55 AM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2005

Parenting Style = Religion or Politics

Since I'm just linking to others' posts this evening, rather than doing anything original ;-) I might as well pass along a post by start-up dad that Elizabeth pointed out, titled "Baby sleeping is like religion and politics." In other words, don't argue about it - you won't change people's minds. This quote is a good summary of the amusing post:

It's all so confusing, trying to pick what theory of parenting you are going to be a part of. So let me make it easy.

You've already made up your mind, stop fighting it.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:29 PM | Comments (0)

Aquarium Game

As you probably saw in the pictures, we went to the zoo yesterday. It was great fun, but the place was over-run by strollers and lots of kids. I don't mind too much, but I got to thinking what the Seattle Aquarium must be like (it's on the list of places to check out) after hearing Defective Yeti's take on his recent visit:

And here's a fun exercise: next time you go to the aquarium bring a flask of watermelon schnapps, and take a drink every time you hear a child shout "Nemo!" You'll be dead of alcohol poisoning before you reach the otters.

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

Fear the Milk

An editorial in the New York Times titled "Got Toxic Milk?" brings up the lovely (as in, "frightening") idea that terrorists could put botulism in the milk supply and have some of it likely get past the pasteurization process and wind up killing thousands of people, especially children.

Yet another thing to be paranoid about as a parent...

Posted by Tom Nugent at 12:46 PM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2005

Two for the Price of One

That's right, this week only, we offer you two photo albums for the price of one! How can we do it?!? Weeeeee're insaaaaane!!

There's the "regular" set of photos from the past week, and then there's a "special" collection of photos from today's visit to the zoo.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2005

War on the Decline?

John Tierney has an interesting editorial in the New York Times titled "Give Peace a Chance."

The new edition of "Peace and Conflict," a biennial global survey being published next week by the University of Maryland, shows that the number and intensity of wars and armed conflicts have fallen once again, continuing a steady 15-year decline that has halved the amount of organized violence around the world.

Who knows if the trend will continue (there are reasons to believe it may reverse sometime in the next 10-20 years), but if it does, that would speak volumes for how the growth of wealth, the spread of education and democracy can help reduce armed conflict between nations.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 01:22 PM | Comments (1)

RIP Dorothy Meamber

Dorothy Meamber, Elizabeth's grandmother and the last of Dorothy Maia Nugent's three great-grandmothers named Dorothy, passed away Friday May 27 at the age of 89. She had been in declining health for a while. Great-grandma Dorothy got to meet baby Dorothy a year ago.

I will post a link to any news article as soon as one appears.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2005

The labors of Sisyphus

We folded laundry with Dorothy this evening, and I'm afraid we got a preview of what many chores and activities will be like for the next few years.

Dorothy loves to "help" fold laundry. Of course, "helping" means that as you put each folded item on the pile, she picks it up, waves it around, and carries it across the room to drop in a corner. Sometimes she puts things back in the laundry basket so we can take them out and fold them again.

The process is longer and slower, but I have to admit that folding laundry is also more fun than it used to be.

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 08:06 PM | Comments (0)

Our Little Monkey

Dorothy has enjoyed climbing on stuff for weeks now (maybe longer). It has been cute when she tries to lift one leg to put a foot up on a ridiculously high barrier (e.g., the edge of the tub when she's taking a bath). Over the weekend, though, she started matching her abilities to her sights - higher.

Elizabeth and I were unpacking & cataloging more books (an on-going process). The books were all in book-size packing boxes, the ones that are 1.5 cubic feet. Dorothy, with some struggle, climbed up onto those boxes multiple times! We measured, and the height is roughly 13 inches, much higher than the ledges (6 to 8 inches) she's been climbing on so far. She'd pull herself up onto the box, then sit there happy as a clam.

Similarly, if the pillow was at the base of the chair and a half, she was able to climb up onto that chair. Now we're going to have to start worrying about her falling from greater and greater heights...

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:30 AM | Comments (1)

May 24, 2005

Play = Learn

Elizabeth recently read, and I'm just starting, the book "Einstein Never Used Flash Cards" (by K. Hirsh-Pasek and R.M. Golinkoff, with D. Eyer). The premise of the book is that children are being too rushed into academics (some kindergartens require reading skills before entry!), and this trend not only does not improve children's later academic achievement, but it is increasing anxiety and depression in children, and stealing away time to interact with parents.

I found the following quote reflects a good part of what I enjoy so much about Dorothy:

Thinking is so central to being human, and it is amazing to witness its evolution through the child's eyes, yet many parents are missing this unique opportunity because of the intense emphasis on achievement.
It's true. Just watching Dorothy learn, play, and figure out stuff is truly entrancing. Sometimes she gets a cute look of intense concentration (often with the tongue slightly sticking out from her lips) as she's working with some toys. And other times she gets so ecstatic from a new skill. It's hard to describe the process; I just know I love watching it.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 12:41 PM | Comments (2)

Women and Competition

Back in grad school, I had a brief debate (partly in the paper's opinion page, and partly in email) with an ultra-far-left radical female student about some serious political issues, most prominently women's issues (she, for example, believed that the Salem witch hunts were partly to blame for the lack of women in science today). I simply had to stop talking to her after she insulted Elizabeth's intelligence (the woman implied that my wife, one of the smartest women I know, must be dumb because she didn't agree with the wacko's views).

In any case, I am very interested to hear about the research mentioned in John Tierney's NYT editorial, "What Women Want." Some researchers studied competition in men and women, and found a difference in choices they made:

the gender gap wasn't due mainly to women's insecurities about their abilities. It was due to different appetites for competition.

Tierney then goes on to argue that the corporate ladder is set up as a winner-take-all competition and thus is the main reason there are fewer women than men at the top of large companies. He also says that such a system is, in today's world, harmful to the corporate bottom line.
"The companies run by women are much more likely to survive," he said. "The typical guy who starts a company is a competitive, charismatic leader - he's always the firm's top salesman - but if he leaves he takes his loyal followers with him and the company goes downhill. Women C.E.O.'s know how to hire good salespeople and create a healthy culture within the company. Plus they don't spend 20 percent of their time in strip clubs."

So perhaps the differences in the workplace aren't due so much (anymore) to discrimination as it is due to different lifestyle preferences:
For two decades, academics crusading for equality in the workplace have been puzzled by surveys showing that women are at least as satisfied with their jobs and their pay as men are. This is known as "the paradox of the contented female worker."

But maybe it's not such a paradox after all. Maybe women, like the ones who shunned the experimental tournament, know they could make more money in some jobs but also know they wouldn't enjoy competing for it as much as their male rivals. They realize, better than men, that in life there's a lot more at stake than money.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:18 AM | Comments (5)

May 23, 2005

More Systemic Faults in Housing Industry

Elizabeth sent me a story about appraisers being under pressure to inflate home prices. Anyone who's been involved in buying or selling a house in the last few years should not be surprised to hear this news. But the article does point out one of the systemic problems in the house financing industry which could contribute to a collapse: the secondary market for mortgages and how it's run. Banks make a loan, and then sell the mortgage in the secondary market, usually to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. The banks just want the mortgage to go through so they can collect their fee on the transaction and move on. This leads to the banks putting pressure on appraisers (in addition to the pressure they feel from real estate brokers) to have the house appraisal come in at the selling price.

But what happens when that pressure works, and actually causes appraised values to go too high? What happens when a pin pricks the bubble?

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:53 AM | Comments (1)

May 21, 2005

An uncanny resemblance

Dorothy has discovered that she can open the doors to the pantry and get out whatever is on the lower shelves, so we've been spending a lot of time putting the water bottles and chips and salsa back in the pantry when she's done.

Just now, she pulled out an Incredible Hulk Pez dispenser. She looked at it, looked at me, and announced "Daddy!"

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 11:04 AM | Comments (2)

May 20, 2005

Whither Sesame Street?

Elizabeth sent me this blog entry about Sesame Street, and Elmo in particular. It's interesting to read about the history of changes in Sesame Street, and the question of whether or not Children's Television Workshop has "sold out." Elmo certainly is a scary marketing powerhouse, and I can't see CTW as having nearly as good intentions with Elmo as they did, say, 30 years ago.

So far, the few times I've turned on the TV in the morning has been a mixed bag. Dorothy has been pretty fascinated by Elmo, but is willing to turn away and play with her toys a bit. But he does hold a very strong draw (heck, his fish is named Dorothy, so she gets to hear her name a lot). I'm cringing, anticipating what kind of battles and horrors I will face in the licensed character department (besides the general fact that it's almost freaking impossible to buy almost anything baby related without it having some licensed character on it).

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

Tings' Visit

Darryl and Cynthia visited us for a couple of days this week, and unsurprisingly, a few photos were taken. 42% of the ones online were taken by Cynthia. But she's a better photographer than I am, because her photos were only 37% of the raw photos (in other words, I take more photos with less success of "good" ones).

Posted by Tom Nugent at 03:33 PM | Comments (0)


Earlier this week, while reading the part of her peek-a-boo book that has a puppy dog hiding under the bed, Dorothy started saying "puppy." It comes out sounding more like "buppy" but it is very clear what she's saying. We think this is only the third two-syllable word she's said (besides "mommy" and "daddy," each of which may also be the same as "mama" and "daddoo").

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:13 AM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2005

The Better Playground

Elizabeth sent me this humorous blog entry about the Toddler Conspiracy. It ends:

Caregiver is deceiving you. There is another, better playground, a Naked Playground, with balloons and ice cream and cake. The soiled diaper will lead the way.

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

May 17, 2005

40 Year Mortgages

Apparently America hasn't learned anything from the experience of the Japanese. Fannie Mae is purchasing more 40-year mortgages, which have until now been extremely rare in the US. Before the real estate crash in Japan, people were mortgaging homes for ridiculously long periods of time, effectively making them multi-generation loans. How's that for an inheritance - getting the remainders of a mortgage?!? Longer term mortgages allow people to pay more for a house, which helps drive up prices. But eventually the system collapses, with people facing lifetime mortgage payments. There are many other factors, and we're not in an exact repeat of Japan. But the availability of 40 year mortgages is not a Good Thing.

Addendum: There's a good story on Real Estate Journal titled "Seven Harsh Truths About Real Estate." Keep them in mind when thinking about buying property.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)

Fossil Fallacy

In his March 2005 Scientific American article "The Fossil Fallacy," Michael Shermer makes yet another cogent argument about evolution, summarized by this quote from Herbent Spencer:

Those who cavalierly reject the Theory of Evolution, as not adequately supported by facts, seem quite to forget that their own theory is supported by no facts at all.

Shermer argues that there is no single fact that "proves" evolution. Instead it is the overwhelming amount of evidence from diverse fields which points inexorably to evolution.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 01:06 PM | Comments (1)

Rebel Without a Diaper

According to a recent study, there is apparently a high rate of expulsion from pre-school. Yep, I imagine those three-yeard olds are the worst when it comes to dealing crack cocaine.

(The article states that it's easier to expel kids from pre-kindergarten, because it is not a publicly-required grade.)

Posted by Tom Nugent at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2005

Misc Cellphone Photos

I downloaded a few photos taken with my cellphone recently, and found some gems from the last month or two. Here are two photos of Dorothy asleep.

I was at the mall with her, and eventually put her in the sling so she could get a nap:


She likes her Raggedy Anne doll, and we brought it with us in the car once:

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)

Going the Extra Mile

There were three notable Dorothy developments in the last 36 hours:

  1. Yesterday morning, while reading her peek-a-boo book, Dorohty started saying "puppy" (well, it's more like "buppy") when she saw the puppy under the bed (the bed in the book, that is. The cats have been traumatized enough this year).

  2. This evening after dinner, we took the garbage to the street and brought in the mail. Dorothy walked the entire distance from the street up the driveway, uphill, through the garage, and climbed the two stairs to the kitchen. As you can see from the aerial view of the property (the street is at the top), that's quite a distance - at least a couple hundred feet!

  3. Dorothy had her first semi-major head injury tonight. She was walking back and forth in our bathroom, and at one point tripped and bonked her forehead on the ledge around the bathtub. She screamed of course, and got a raised bump on her forehead. She calmed down eventually, but would start screaming again every time we tried putting a cold pack on it. By the time she went to bed, the bump was looking better.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:33 PM | Comments (1)

A Real Spring

The temperatures here in Bellevue lately have had highs in the mid to upper 60s, and lows in the 40s, which appears to be normal for this time of year. But it seemed odd to be so relatively "cool" in May. Then I realized that Boston never seemed to have a real spring lately. If you blinked, you'd miss it. The temperatures would jump from winter to summer with almost no in-between. Maybe that's not the average for Boston, but that's the way it was in recent years. So I'm finally enjoying a "real" spring for what seems like the first time in years.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

Little D

Brian Dunbar turned me on to the comic Little Dee. Recently, Dorothy has taken to what can best be described as squealing as she toddles after the cats (or just in general is having fun). I wasn't sure how to describe her sound, then realized it's a lot like Little Dee when she's having fun.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 07:00 AM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2005

Cheating or Being Smart?

This morning, Dorothy was putting her different shape blocks into their bucket. The blocks come in four cross-section shapes: circle, square, triangle, and star. Putting the circle through the round hole is easy. The others are more difficult because of their lower rotational symmetry (i.e., there are fewer angles it can be rotated to and still fit through the hole).

Dorothy has been putting the circular blocks through the round hole off and on for weeks now. More recently, she has occasionally been able to get a square or star shaped block through their holes, but she'll often give up. This morning, after getting frustrated at not being able to get one of the blocks through any of the holes, she took the lid off the bucket and put the block in directly. To an adult, this seems like cheating. But of course, in a different sense it is a very smart tactic - if you're trying to get the blocks in the bucket, and there's an obstacle you can't overcome, simply remove the obstacle.

Hopefully she learns a little more about self restraint before she starts seeing Daddy as an obstacle...

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

May 14, 2005

Pupi Pantz

Big thanks to Keith for his humorous comment on this photo. I've taken his text and turned it into an ad (click on the photo to see the full size version):


Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:42 PM | Comments (0)

Grandma Chris' May Visit

Grandma Chris visited this past week, and even though she may not be in the newest photos, she did take a few of them.

There is also, by request, a movie of Dorothy walking over in the movies directory.

UPDATE: The photo album link URL was changed, and changed here to reflect the new URL.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:21 PM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2005

Those Poor Kitties

The cats were nervous when we brought Dorothy home from the hospital after her birth. They were upset when she learned to crawl. Now that she's walking, they are in serious trouble.

This afternoon, Dorothy found one of the cats' play mice, and decided that they needed to play with it. So, after I called the cats in, she proceeded to hound them, holding the mouse out in front of herself as she chased the cats trying to stick the mouse in their faces. A couple of times, I got the mouse from Dorothy and tried tossing it in an enticing way to the cats, but they weren't very interested. Dorothy would grab it and chase them, getting so excited she'd squeal (screech?) as she toddled along. I feel sorry for the cats, but not sorry enough to stop the humorous behavior of that silly girl!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:36 PM | Comments (0)


Yesterday, Dorothy made a surprising development that would make her Uncle Keith (the skydiver) proud. While sitting on a section of the hide-a-bed couch where the cushion had been removed (i.e., it was a lower than normal place to sit), Dorothy grabbed a square couch pillow, maneuvered it so that it was in front of her chest, hung on and then leapt off the couch. She landed on her chest on the pillow, and was perfectly safe. She rolled off the pillow, stood up and toddled away as if it were no big deal.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:32 PM | Comments (1)

May 11, 2005


Tom mentioned that we haven't reviewed Dream Dinners yet, so I'll take the hint. I found a reference to it on A Little Pregnant, and later discovered that the company was founded right here in the Seattle area, so there are tons of branches around here.

It's held in a commercial kitchen, about ten minutes from our house. Basically, they put together the ingredients and do all the prep work (chopping, etc.) for entrees to serve 4-6 people. You assemble the dishes (making any adjustments or omissions to the ingredients that you want - for example, I can leave out the mushrooms since Tom is a fungophobe) and take them home to freeze. It took me just over an hour to make 6 entrees (total of about 30 servings) last month, and they all have been delicious. We just bought a new freezer so I can make a batch of 12 entrees this week and have room to freeze them.

Here's what I'll be making tomorrow night:

    Six tender chicken breasts encrusted with a crisp almond & crumb crust. Oven-bake at home to a golden brown and serve with our sweet & sour sauce.

    “A Dream Dinners Signature Dinner!” This hearty all-in-one meal is made with six tender chicken breasts on a bed of savory rice, black beans and corn. Finished with a mild Mexican salsa.

    This generous cut of beef sirloin can be grilled on the BBQ or oven-broiled. Caramelized red onions, a hint of rosemary and melted gorgonzola cheese make this a great dinner for entertaining guests!

    This 2-pound boneless pork roast is marinated in an Asian barbecue sauce and flavored with ginger, garlic and sweet hoisin sauce. Oven-roast at home and serve with steamed white rice that we provide.

    Southwest-style chili made with shredded pork, black beans, tomatoes & spices. Serve with large flour tortillas (provided) and cheddar cheese for an easy work-night dinner.

    Six salmon filets that can be grilled on the BBQ or oven-baked. Serve with our delicious lemon-garlic butter with dill and capers. Great for Mother’s Day dinner!

    This pan-style pizza is baked with a flaky biscuit crust and layered with white sauce, chicken, black olives, peppers, broccoli and cheese. A fun twist to the traditional “pie”

    As American as apple pie! Elbow macaroni in a smooth, creamy cheese sauce with an optional crumb topping. No twist on this tradition! Add diced ham if you choose.

    Aloha! This delicious turkey meatloaf with hints of garlic, soy and ginger bakes with a Hawaiian-style teriyaki glaze. A great alternative to beef!

    Six kid-friendly burgers that can be grilled on the BBQ or pan-seared. Serve with our “special burger sauce,” Swiss cheese, and Kaiser rolls (provided) for a fun picnic dinner.

    I will probably split most of these into two or three smaller containers so that we can cook them separately - we can eat these almost every night for a month or more! I love being able to have good food every night without having to spend much time cooking (instead of playing with Dorothy!) in the evenings. Plus it doesn't cost much more than it would to get all this stuff and cook it from scratch (maybe less) - and a lot less than the takeout we'd probably be eating if we didn't have it. I'm really glad to have found out about this place!

    Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 09:29 PM | Comments (1)
  • Human Progress

    First seen in a post by Brian Dunbar, I enjoyed this article titled "The Productive vs. The Unproductive." It ends with this line:

    The next time we hear a talker attacking a doer, we just might ask: What have you done to further human progress?

    Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

    United Defaults

    And so it begins: United is defaulting on its pension. Only the strongest optimists can believe that this action won't be followed by many other corporations (starting with other airlines) seeking bankruptcy to get out from under their crushing pension obligations. And once all those retirees get significantly reduced incomes and medical benefits, guess what the impact will be? Not pretty.

    Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:25 AM | Comments (1)

    May 10, 2005

    Drowning in Email

    I've sent 28 emails so far today, and it's only 2pm. :-O

    More later on what all I've been doing with LiftPort (which is the biggest hunk of out-going emails).

    Posted by Tom Nugent at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

    May 09, 2005

    20 Year Flashback

    They're coming out with a Dukes of Hazzard movie this summer. I'm not sure if this is sort of cool, or a sign of the apocalypse, or both.

    Posted by Tom Nugent at 04:56 PM | Comments (2)

    May 08, 2005

    Walking and Reading

    We almost went two weeks between batches of Dorothy photos, but "luckily" we (esp. Elizabeth) took a ton of them on Saturday, so there's a new batch up now.

    Posted by Tom Nugent at 12:35 PM | Comments (0)

    May 06, 2005

    Dorothy's Sleep CD

    Elizabeth had a CD of songs by Secret Garden that she listened to while pregnant with Dorothy. We used the same CD at bedtime when Dorothy was born. But the CD Elizabeth made had a couple of bad spots, so we recently made a new one, with some different material on it. Here's what Dorothy listens to as she goes to sleep nowadays.

    Song Performer Album
    Silly Lullaby Natasha Richardson Philadelphia Chickens
    Serenade to Spring Secret Garden Songs from A Secret Garden
    Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) Billy Joel Billy Joel: Greatest Hits, Vol. 3
    Trust In Me Walt Disney The Jungle Book
    Greenwaves Secret Garden Once In A Red Moon
    Stay Awake Julie Andrews Mary Poppins (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)
    Papillon Secret Garden Songs from A Secret Garden
    Nocturne Secret Garden Songs from A Secret Garden
    The Promise Secret Garden Once In A Red Moon
    Reflection Secret Garden White Stones
    Hymn To Hope Secret Garden White Stones
    Appassionata Secret Garden White Stones
    Pastorale Secret Garden Songs from A Secret Garden
    Home Secret Garden White Stones
    Duo Secret Garden Once In A Red Moon
    Awakening Secret Garden Once In A Red Moon
    Belonging Secret Garden Once In A Red Moon
    Posted by Tom Nugent at 04:37 PM | Comments (0)

    May 04, 2005

    For The Women, From (Some of) the Men

    Over at Defective Yeti, Matthew Baldwin sums up the problem many of us well-meaning guys have with serious displays of cleavage. His final suggestion to women?

    Rule of thumb: if you're in a profession where you routinely interact with married men toting one year-olds, we'll take your mammalian credentials as an article of faith -- no need to flash 'em.

    Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:28 PM | Comments (0)

    Talking at Dinner

    Elizabeth pointed me to a very interesting NYT article (for non-registered users?) that claims eating meals (dinner) together as a family helps with language development, and teens were less likely to get into trouble.

    Thanks to Dream Dinners (which I think we've neglected to review), we often don't have to spend time preparing dinners. Now we just need to engage in something other than baby talk. :-)

    Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)

    Reducing Episiotomies

    From today's daily email from the Wall Street Journal:

    "The evidence is clear: Routine use of episiotomy is not supported by research and should stop," said Katherine E. Hartmann, director of the Center for Women's Health Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who led a study that found the incisions many pregnant women receive to reduce the risk of tearing tissue during delivery actually increase the risk of tissue tears, leading to more pain, more stitches and a longer recovery after childbirth, the Washington Post reports.

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

    May 03, 2005

    Build a Rocket Bike

    This is the kind of thing I want to do with Dorothy once she's old enough!

    Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:59 PM | Comments (0)

    Easy, Secure Passwords is an extremely handy way to create different passwords for different websites while making it easy to "remember" - you choose a single master password, then use the form above (or the bookmarklet version you can store locally) to generate a secure password based on your master password and the site's domain. It therefore makes it easier to avoid using the same password for different websites. This page talks more about the password-generating page and its functionality.

    Two thumbs up!

    Posted by Tom Nugent at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)

    May 02, 2005

    Walking Update & More

    As mentioned before, Dorothy's been taking at least a few steps without any help (1, 2, 3). Over the last four or five days, though, she's really gotten more interested in the ability. It used to be that we mostly had to coax her to walk without support - she was much more interested in holding onto our fingers for support as she walked around. But now, she's not only walking 10 feet at a time without any support, but she's voluntarily letting go of fingers in order to walk on her own. Thus begins one of the developments that will help our aching backs to heal.

    Dorothy also really likes to climb. She'll try standing on her chair or on her rocking dog. She will climb onto small boxes, ledges, and she's tried getting onto furniture. Any day now she'll be hanging from the jungle gym, I just know it.

    One other thing she likes: swings.

    Posted by Tom Nugent at 05:53 PM | Comments (0)

    Belly-Baring Baby

    New photos. Enjoy.

    Posted by Tom Nugent at 01:01 PM | Comments (0)

    May 01, 2005

    The Greediest Generation

    Nicholas Kristof begins his editorial in today's New York Times thus:

    As a baby boomer myself, I can be blunt: We boomers won't be remembered as the "Greatest Generation." Rather, we'll be scorned as the "Greediest Generation."
    And he goes on from there.

    Here are a few quotes from his article:

    I fear that we'll be remembered mostly for grabbing resources for ourselves, in such a way that the big losers will be America's children.
    One measure of how children have tumbled as a priority in America is that in 1960 we ranked 12th in infant mortality among nations in the world, while now 40 nations have infant mortality rates better than ours or equal to it. We've also lost ground in child vaccinations: the United States now ranks 84th in the world for measles immunizations and 89th for polio.
    With boomers about to retire, I'm afraid that national priorities will be focused even more powerfully on the elderly rather than the young - because it's the elderly who wield political clout.
    We boomers are also preying on children in a more insidious way: We're running up their debts, both by creating new entitlement programs and by running budget deficits today. Laurence Kotlikoff, an economist and fiscal expert who with Scott Burns wrote the excellent and scary book "The Coming Generational Storm," calls this "fiscal child abuse."
    The solution is not to force the elderly to get by on cat food again. But we boomers need to resist the narcissistic impulse to ladle out more resources for ourselves. Our top domestic priorities should be to ensure that all children get health care and to get our fiscal house in order.

    To be fair, it isn't just the Boomer generation that has gotten us into the current situation. But they're the ones in power now, and it will primarily be up to them to decide if we continue on the current ruinous path or if we start trying to fix things up, especially the finances of this country. The debt burden that is being left to future generations is criminal.

    Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)


    I don't know if it would help or hinder a child's learning to ride a bike, but this tri/bi-cycle is cool, and interesting. I wonder when they'll go on sale...

    Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:39 PM | Comments (0)

    The D-Zone

    This afternoon we went out and spent lots of money (we got a freezer, a dehumidifer, another safety gate, and a couple of chairs for Dorothy). Afterwards, we went to Denny's for dinner. Their kids' menu is called the D-Zone, and we decided that the restaurant is definitely the Dorothy zone. Between having bites of our meals and her own, she got pretty much everything she likes to eat in one meal - bits of turkey & cheese sandwich, chicken nuggets, sliced cucumbers, vanilla milkshake, cheese sticks, scrambled eggs, pancakes, milk, sausage, bacon....

    It was a long day, though. She fell asleep on the way home, and was so tired that we were able to take her dress off without really waking her up. So she's asleep in her onesie and tights. This may be the first night that we've skipped the entire bedtime routine, not even putting her into pajamas.

    Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 09:21 PM | Comments (2)