June 30, 2005

Forgetting Childhood

DaddyTypes mentions an article that tries to (at least partially) answer the question: Why do we forget our childhood? The summary of the answer: Language is critical to forming memories, and so we don't remember anything from before we learned to communicate it.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:00 PM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2005

No More Casinos

The most comment word, by far, in the comment spam this blog receives, is "casino." It's usually somewhere in the URL. So, rather than dealing with adding each new URL as they come by, I've now made the word "casino" itself verboten in the comments. I don't think there's a need to use that word in the comments, but if a story warrants it and you find yourself restricted in posting a comment, just let me know and I'll deal with it. :-)

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


Dorothy's command of language has now advanced into the dangerous yet cute stage. She has learned "yes" and, more importantly, "no."

"Yes" needs to be seen to be appreciated. (We're working on getting some videotape.) Dorothy's eyes will get very large, and she'll nod her head up and down in a long arc very slowly, giving her a very serious look. She doesn't say the word "yes" much - this one is mostly just the motion.

"No," on the other hand, is very verbal. She can occasionally say the word "no" but more often it comes out as "Neu neu neu neu neu." Which is, of course, made even cuter by her head vigorously shaking back and forth.

If there is some food she's decided she doesn't want, yet we offer it to her in her face anyway, she'll give us a definite "neuneuneu." But when we ask her if she wants strawberries for dessert, she'll sometimes grin and giggle, and other times give the big, serious "yes."

She has liked giving us high-five ever since her grandma Caroline taught her months ago. Recently, though, sometimes when we ask her to give us a high-five, she'll say "neuneuneuneu" as she shakes her head and pushes our hand out of the way.

It's all cute and fun now, but I'm trying hard not to laugh too much in her presence, because I know it's going to quickly develop into a much stronger and more annoying skill.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 01:32 PM | Comments (1)

June 28, 2005

Another Take on Star Wars 3

Elizabeth forwarded me this mocking of Star Wars 3. One sample:

YODA: Okay, split the babies up we must.
OREGANO: 'Leia Oregano' sort of has a nice ring to it, don't you think? And shouldn't we change Luke's surname too?
OREGANO: But it's an elementary precaution! Surely any idiot would reali...
OBI-WAN: Did you ever *meet* Anakin?

OK, one more:
YODA: No. From the Dark Side, send me a postcard.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 05:08 PM | Comments (0)

Bad Ad Choice

There was a story in today's NYTimes about the death of the Wal-Mart heir John Walton in a plane crash. Unfortunately, the (presumably random) ad for the NYTimes Store that was in the story's sidebar was not in good taste:


Posted by Tom Nugent at 03:09 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2005

Gallery Upgrade

I've upgraded the photo gallery to v.1.5, and I chose a new theme. Let me know if you encounter any problems.

BTW, for those who care, the new version includes an RSS feed!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2005

Object Diffusion

When we first got the kittens, we occasionally noticed that objects would not be where we had left them. We'd find bottle caps across the room from where they started, and if we were so foolish as to leave a bit of meat on a plate, it might mysteriously vanish.

We got used to this occasional migration of objects. Once Dorothy started walking, larger and heavier things starting moving, but never all that far. I might get up in the morning to discover the bedroom floor covered in feminine hygiene products, but still, we could mostly count on things to stay pretty close to where we'd left them.

All that has changed now. A cardboard book box in the living room could turn up in our bathroom, at the other end of the house, at any moment. In the morning, my alarm clock is likely to end up in the bathtub, while Tom's wallet moves to the kitchen. If it's a movable object and we don't want to risk its being moved, it has to be placed at least three feet above the ground, in a place where it can't be climbed to. And the height threshold keeps growing. Pretty soon we're going to have to install shelving a foot below the ceiling in all the rooms of the house, if this keeps up.

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 08:42 PM | Comments (0)

Elizabeth's Bad Day

As I mentioned before, I've been extremely busy the past week and a half preparing LiftPort for a talk Friday with potential investors. Thursday, all of the activity culminated in a bad day for Elizabeth.

Thursday is my normal day for watching Dorothy. This past Thursday, I took her to the doctor in the morning because of her waking up early for the previous week and a half. That day, Elizabeth was kind enough to get up early (~5am) with Dorothy so that I could sleep in a bit, since I'd been up late the previous night working on our presentation. After the pediatrician, I took Dorothy to a friend's house (said friend having a daughter only one month older than Dorothy) so that Dorothy could stay there for the afternoon while I went back home to work with co-workers on our presentation. So at this point in the day, I already owe a big debt to our friend for being willing to babysit on one day's notice.

In the afternoon, work went very well. We got tons of work done for the presentation, and when I phoned in, it sounded like Dorothy was having fun. As evening drew near, I asked Elizabeth if she'd be willing to swing down to Renton on her way home to pick up Dorothy so that I could continue working. She agreed, and at this point in the day I've now added another big debt to pay off. I-405 is usually horribly backed up during rush hour, and I'd had lots of success taking back roads down to our friend's house, so I suggested that Elizabeth take the back roads. BIG MISTAKE.

The worst part of the drive was when it took her 47 minutes to go under two miles. The entire trip, one way, took her one and three-quarter hours. At this point in the day, I'm past "debt" and into "I hope she doesn't kill me." She eventually gets home with Dorothy, whom we immediately put through a fast bath and into bed. But it's still 9pm when Dorothy goes to sleep, a whole hour later than normal. Then we eat dinner, and in the middle of eating we realize that Elizabeth was scheduled to make $200 worth of food at Dream Dinners starting at 8pm. And yes, it's now 9:15pm. Luckily, when Elizabeth called she was told that she could come in the following evening to make the food instead. Phew.

So, in the same week that Elizabeth made such a wonderful Father's Day post about how great a guy I am (a post, BTW, which left me nearly in tears, thankful for such a wonderful wife), I effectively refute her assertions of my goodness by putting her through hell (but not on purpose!).

Elizabeth counters that I've made up a good fraction of my debt to her by taking care of her the following night, when she got sick (details are too gruesome to post). I would have taken care of her anyway, so I figure I still have a huge debt to repay. Does anyone have any good suggestions?

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:32 PM | Comments (1)

June 25, 2005

Thimerosol Controversy

For those who don't know, there's a large, on-going controversy as to whether or not thimerosol (a mercury-containing compound used as a preservative in vaccines) causes autism. Recently, both DadTalk (June 21) and DaddyTypes (June 25) posted about a story on Salon alleging a cover-up of evidence about a thimerosol/autism link.

Lots to read and think about. Luckily, thimerosol was taken out of all vaccinations except for flu vaccines a few years ago, so the question is mostly moot for newborns.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

Some Home Births Safer

If you're a low-risk mother, apparently birthing your child at home requires fewer interventions than in a hospital (presumably because the doctors aren't around to worry about their schedules and their malpractice insurance).

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

A problem with genetics

As I've previously mentioned, Tom and I are both night owls. Through some freak of genetics, however, we fear that we have created a morning person. An early morning person.

Dorothy has been an early riser since she started sleeping through the night, rarely sleeping past 6:00 AM. For the last couple of weeks, however, she's been waking up sometime between 4:00 and 5:00 every morning, and screaming until someone gets up with her.

Sometimes she settles down reasonably quickly when someone comes to get her, but frequently she's been inconsolable for quite a while, and touchy for even longer. A couple of times, she seemed almost not to recognize us, just arching her back and screaming.

Tom took her to the pediatrician on Thursday, and she does look like she has an ear infection, so she's on Amoxicillin again. That morning, she also gave some evidence that she'd been constipated (I'll spare you the details, but it involved four diaper changes in two hours.) Since then, she's been a bit better, sleeping until 5:30 for the last two nights. But she still wants to get up then and play.

She doesn't necessarily need a lot of attention during her early morning play, but it is not acceptable for the parent watching her to lie down on the couch. What she really likes is to sit on my lap while I sit on the floor, but I'm not allowed even to lean over and rest my head on the couch. If I do, she fusses and complains and grabs my hair to try to haul me upright. I'm not sure what the problem is with me being comfortable, but she lets it be known that I'm not to do it.

Someone please tell me that all toddlers are morning people, and that I'll be trying to haul her out of bed before noon in a few years, please!

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

More Than Their Sum

Elizabeth sent me this story from the Seattle PI. As Dorothy would say: "uh---oohh". :-O

UPDATE: No, this does NOT mean we're expecting our second. We're planning on having another child some day, and are interested in people's opinions on how difficult the 2nd one is.

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

Start of Summer

I've been overwhelmed this past week preparing for a presentation by LiftPort to potential investors, so blogs and photos were left by the wayside. To make it up, there's a two-week, 61-photo album now online!

The album includes deer, a hike through Cougar Mountain, rapt cats, Father's Day fun, a strawberry festival, and more. Enjoy!

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

June 20, 2005

Happy Fathers' Day

I was reading Cynical Mom's post for Fathers' Day, and it reminded me again of how much I appreciate everything that Tom does for me and for Dorothy.

The part of her entry that really got me thinking was this one:

Fifth, he usually takes Jared in the morning and lets me sleep in. Nearly every day of the week. On the weekends he'll take Jared down and make him waffles or pancakes and sometimes I even wake up to breakfast in bed for no special reason at all. On the weekdays I get that precious extra 30-45 minutes while he plays with Jared downstairs. To someone who is a parent and not a morning person (i.e. me), this is one of the greatest gifts you can receive. He is actually a morning person (I just don't get how someone grows up to become a morning person, when exactly do you stop sleeping in until 11AM? Outside of having kids and a job of course), but I still give him full credit for this one.

I'm not sure I would have thought it was possible before I met him, but Tom is even less of a morning person than I am. And he still gets up with Dorothy in the morning to let me sleep at least 90% of the time.

He not only does his own laundry, he does mine. He keeps the house pretty neat (well, neater than I would, anyway), manages our finances, takes care of Dorothy on Thursdays and whenever she's sick (including doing all the doctor visits), and washes all the dishes (my least-favorite chore), all while trying to help start a company - more than a full-time job all by itself.

I don't think he even realizes how much he does - I've heard him fretting about how it isn't enough, and he wishes he could do more for us. But I really can't imagine a better partner or a better father.

Happy Fathers' Day, sweetie. We love you.

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2005


Dorothy's latest "trick" is learning to give kisses. If she's in the mood and you ask for a kiss, she will put her lips on yours, and then pull away and announce "Mwah!" She also likes to kiss and hug her Raggedy Ann, and she was giving the cat in one of her books kisses tonight at bedtime.

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 09:53 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2005

Losing Our Backyard

When we decided to rent the house we're currently in, we were told that we might not be able to stay here for more than a year, because the owner is a property development company, and they might have wanted to tear the house down and build a bunch of houses on this property. There's good news and bad news. The good news is that they're not tearing down this house. The bad news (at least from our perspective) is that they're going to demolish the back yard, get rid of all the trees, and put in 21 new houses very close to us.

There is so much development going on around here, and so many of the houses are so close together, that we're not too surprised to see how dense the houses are going to be. But we are surprised that they're going to be tearing up our yard starting later this month. We'd been told that we had the entire yard as part of our lease, and in fact were responsible for maintaining it. Apparently there was some miscommunication between the rental management company and the property development company who own the house, because they'd been planning on taking down the back yard. We're negotiating with them on how to handle these changes. The problems include the fact that the clearing of land is going to come within 10-15 feet of the house on two sides, which will not only be noisy (is Dorothy going to be able to take a nap with chainsaws outside her room?), but also totally eliminates the privacy we have in the master bathroom (which currently has two tall, wide windows looking out onto the yard). We also need to be reimbursed for having had a landscaper come out and clean up the back yard which is now going to be razed.

If you remember, back in January we posted what the area looks like. In contrast, here's what the plans for development look like (roughly speaking):
Pretty much all of the trees in the back yard (such as those seen here and here and probably here) are going to be removed. The front yard is being left alone, thankfully.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:21 PM | Comments (1)

Do You Live in a Golden Jail?

Thanks to DadTalk for bringing to our attention the phrase "Golden Jail" which refers to the problem of people who own a home and have lots of equity, but they can't afford to move up to a bigger/nicer house. Maybe America won't quite follow the path of Japan. Rather than having real estate prices collapse, maybe we'll just ossify in place, being stuck in whatever house we currently own, with no one able to buy up and no one willing to sell for lower prices. Only time will tell.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:38 AM | Comments (1)

When to Buy a New Mac

It seems to be common wisdom (e.g., Daring FireBall) that Apple is going to take a sales hit in their machines as people wait to buy until the new Intel-powered machines come out. But such a conclusion is not obvious to me, especially over the next 3-6 months.
As John Gruber at Daring Fireball says:

in an ideal world, on the day Apple begins shipping Intel-based Macs, all Mac OS X software will have been updated to run natively on both architectures
And all that software would be updated for free. Fat chance.

So, if Intel-powered Macs (an entirely new architecture) are starting to come out a year from now (and they're only starting with the low-end Macs; higher end ones don't come out until 2007), and the current software base is not fully upgraded and/or costs money to upgrade, why would you wait to buy a new Mac? I would much rather have a PowerPC Mac bought sometime in the next 6 months to hold me over until the transition had been worked out. Do you want to be a guinea pig? Who knows what kinds of bugs and kinks will need to be worked out in the new architecture? And who wants to put up with some of their "older" software either not working, or working at a much slower speed (as will happen with Rosetta, which translates old PowerPC code to run on the Intel chips)? Furthermore, software makers can produce "universal binaries" that will run on both Intel and PowerPC chips, so at least one upgrade of any existing software should run on both chips, so you won't even have to be stuck with older software.

As the release of the first Intel-powered Macs approaches, sales of existing PowerPC machines probably will decline, but should it decline right now? I don't see why it really should.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2005

5 Degrees' Difference

It's impressive what a simple difference of 5 degrees latitude can do. Back in Boston, we were at roughly 42 degrees north, whereas here in Seattle we're at roughly 47 degrees north. I've been noticing that there's still light to be seen in the sky at 10pm! It's very faint, but definitely different from actual night. Of course, Boston was close to the eastern end of its timezone, and here we're close to the western end of our new timezone, which probably also plays a role. But I shudder to think what this means for daylight in late December...

Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2005

15-Month Check-up

Dorothy had her 15 month check-up today, and everything seems to be good. The doctor said she looks very healthy. She weighed in around 24lbs 8oz, and her height was measured at 34 3/4 inches, both of which are around 75th percentile or a bit higher (pretty much the percentile she's been tracking in forever). Head circumference was around 18 3/4 inches, which is in the 90-95th percentile. She's got a fat head just like her Daddy, and it explains why it's so hard to get clothes (which otherwise fit) over her head.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 01:39 PM | Comments (0)

Voucher-Supported Schools In Trouble?

A story on NPR this morning covered some voucher-supported schools in Milwaukee that have shut down. I'm not going to talk much about private versus public schools here. I just wanted to raise one simple point.

The article gives the impression that it's so horrible that some voucher-supported schools are failing! That must mean the voucher program is bad, right?

Not quite. Public schools are not allowed to fail. Perhaps a purely commercial market mechanism for determining which schools survive and which fail is not the best mechanism for schools, but it can easily be argued that it's better than the current mechanism (which is based primarily on city and state budgets and the total number of students available in a school system).

Posted by Tom Nugent at 01:02 PM | Comments (3)

June 12, 2005

Another Twofer

Two albums up in one day again!

First up is one I should have put online earlier - it's a set of photos taken by Caroline during their visit here.

Second is a bunch of photos taken around the house this week, including some of an airborne Dorothy.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:11 PM | Comments (0)

Pajama Style

Last night, as we were getting Dorothy ready for bed, Tom pulled her pajama pants way up, and then told her, "You look like an old man!"

I answered, "Yeah, Grandpa Bill used to wear fairy princess pajamas to bed every night."

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 09:11 AM | Comments (2)

June 11, 2005

Language at 15 Months

Dorothy seems to have begun an explosion of language development over the last few weeks, and we wanted to record her state of progress now, before we forget. She can communicate via sign language, as well as some spoken language (and sometimes both at the same time). And the amount of spoken words she can understand is sometimes staggering. Here's a list, probably incomplete, of what she knows now:


  • more (sometimes she means "want"), milk, food, water, all done

  • sleep, shoes

  • car, want, daddy, bird

  • cheese, banana, cookie

  • wheels? (we never showed her, but it was clear she was indicating wheels on a car when she did the sign)

  • Not sure if it's a sign, but she can flap her wings to indicate "chicken"


  • mommy, daddy, hi

  • uh-oh (recently transformed into "uh-oo")

  • baby

  • ball ("bah"), more ("moah" - just like in Boston!)

  • book ("buh-k")

  • cat (she pronounces it "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" and occasionally "kih-eee")

  • knee, bottle, bubble (these two are clear in context)

Said once or twice: water, pretty?, basketball ("baa-baa"), sock, nose, Raggy (for Raggedy Ann)

She can reliably nod her head "yes" and "no."

Some of the words she understands (there are a ton!):

  • body parts: ears, nose, mouth, toes, knee, foot, belly button, head?

  • food: "food," banana, strawberry, cookie, milk, dinner, lunch, breakfast, snack, sausage, water, yogurt, chicken, cheese

  • cat, bird, out/outside, ceiling, steps/stairs, chair, seat, book, climb, slide, lap, sit, stand, bath, sink (her toy bath sink), mirror, Raggedy Ann, kiss, hug, "I'm gonna get you!"

In general, she seems to understand the general meaning of many sentences we say to her, such as suggesting that she go get a book and bring it back to us. She also understands when we ask her to put something away (not that she always does it....). And she can understand and obey when we ask her to stand up or sit down when she's getting a bath.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:16 PM | Comments (5)

June 10, 2005

Your Dialect of English

Elizabeth pointed me to an interesting online quiz that helps you determine what dialect of American English you speak. My results were interesting:

Your Linguistic Profile:

70% General American English
15% Yankee
5% Dixie
5% Midwestern
5% Upper Midwestern
What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

I have no idea where the hell that 5% "Dixie" comes from. But it appears that my time in Boston had some effect on my language. :-)

Posted by Tom Nugent at 04:29 PM | Comments (4)

Recognizing Teachers

Thomas Friedman describes a great program for recognizing and rewarding teachers. But it's not a state or federal program - it's done at a small college as part of their commencement:

Every year, in addition to granting honorary degrees, Williams also honors four high school teachers. But not just any high school teachers. Williams asks the 500 or so members of its senior class to nominate the high school teachers who had a profound impact on their lives. Then each year a committee goes through the roughly 50 student nominations, does its own research with the high schools involved and chooses the four most inspiring teachers.

Each of the four teachers is given $2,000, plus a $1,000 donation to his or her high school. The winners and their families are then flown to Williams, located in the lush Berkshires, and honored as part of the graduation weekend.

It sounds like a great idea. I wonder if any other colleges do anything similar?

Posted by Tom Nugent at 02:54 PM | Comments (2)

June 09, 2005

Dancing with the Stars

Yes, it's true, I've been sucked in by a reality TV show. But it's ballroom dancing! I have to watch it for the good of the sport! Right?

The premise is that a bunch of C-list celebrities have been training for the last six weeks with professional ballroom dancers (including my former coach, Charlotte Jorgensen). Performances have ranged from appalling (Evander Holyfield) to exceptional (John O'Hurley, aka J. Peterman from Seinfeld).

It's particularly amusing to me to see what non-ballroom people are saying about the show. One of the "stars" is a soap opera actress, whose dancing was pretty bad (although not as bad as Evander's, at least this week - I missed the first episode). She has hundreds of loyal fans, though, who are sure that the judges are just jealous of her. Right.

Some great comments from various message boards and blogs:

  • Liking this show is as embarrassing as being caught by your mother lip-syncing ABBA songs (playing on a record player, thank you very much) into your hairbrush.

  • The funniest thing, production-wise, was a quick cut of the soap opera diva (who wore a very minimal costume to distract form her lack of dancing ability) pulling up her minimal skirt after a sound man had inserted the microphone box so she could talk post-dance to the AFHV guy. They must have stuck the box directly up her ass because there was no. place. to put it. AFHV guy quipped that sound men from 3 continents had volunteered to insert her sound box, LOL!

  • Oh dear. It wasn't really like a train wreck...more like two kids on tricycles crashing into each other.

  • Part of the fun, by the way, was that all the female stars had a complaint about why this would be hard for them. Rachel Hunter had food poisoning or something and was throwing up all day before. Kelly had eardrum issues, and Trista has herniated disks. Can I just tell the ladies something? EVANDER HAD HIS EAR BITTEN OFF and yet you don't hear him complaining. On the contrary, when they said "Is this harder than stepping into the ring?" he said, "Nope."

  • And what about Trista's partner's penis ponytail. WTF is that? He could put her eye out!

  • The Bachelor and The Bachelorette who later married her chosen suitor, the hapless Ryan Sutter, in a multimillion-dollar televised wedding, was the first contestant to be voted off the show last night, after a transcendently unsexy pas de deux with the suavely ponytailed Latin dance pro Louis van Amstel. (Think Nancy Reagan dancing with Fabio.)

  • Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, dance like a dromedary.

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 08:54 PM | Comments (4)

Fight Phishing Scams!

Everyone has probably received "phishing" scam emails, where an impostor sends an email appearing to be from a legitimate site (e.g., eBay, your bank, etc.) and asking you to enter your login & password info to fix a problem in their system. The scam is that they now have your info and can impersonate as you, steal your credit card, etc.

I was catching up on Robert Cringely's columns this evening, and saw his excellent suggestion of how to stop the phishers: rather than relegating their emails to your spam filter, reply to those emails with false info. It is easy and low-cost for the phishers to send out tons of email in exchange for a decent profit. Instead, it should become much more expensive and difficult for them:

If you get phishing e-mail, go the web sites and enter false data. Make up everything -- name, sign-on name, password, credit card numbers, everything. Instead of one million messages yielding 100 good replies, now the phisher will have one million messages yielding 100,000 replies of which 100 are good, but WHICH 100?

This technique kills phishing two ways. It certainly increases the phishing labor requirement by about 10,000X. But even more importantly, if banks and e-commerce sites limit the number of failed sign-on attempts from a single IP address to, say, 10 per day, theft as an outcome of phishing becomes close to impossible.

No bounties are required, no cops, no parallel webmail systems that force us to log-in to e-commerce sites when they tell us to. Phishing just becomes a very unprofitable business, which it should be.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:40 PM | Comments (0)

Apple/Intel to Take On Microsoft?

Robert Cringely writes very interesting articles about the computer industry. He often has exciting ideas, and he knows lots of people in the industry. But he often makes predictions that are a bit extreme. So, I don't know whether or not he's right this week, but his discussion of Apple's switch to using Intel chips makes for a good read.

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

June 08, 2005

The Battle Has Begun

This morning we experienced the beginning of what is likely to be an on-again, off-again battle for the next 18 years or so: the battle of wills.

I've had a cold for over a week and a half now, and the dry cough has been keeping me up at night. So I'm more cranky and short-tempered than normal. Dorothy's breakfast usually consists of baby oatmeal and yogurt. If I eat breakfast first, she'll get an "appetizer" of bites of my bagel. And maybe every other day or so, I'll give her a sausage, either as a supplement or a substitute.

This morning, she ate first, and I decided to give her some sausage, since she loves it so much and she didn't get much, if any, meat yesterday. I normally give her a few bites of the yogurt and the oatmeal, then give her a couple bites of sausage, then repeat. Today, I got one bit of yogurt into her before she started refusing any more spoonfuls. I eventually got another spoonful or two into her, then twice gave her a fork with a piece of sausage on it, both of which were quickly gobbled down. Then I brought the oatmeal back, and she eventually decided that using the fork to scoop up oatmeal was OK for a few bites. But when she was done with that, I insisted that she clean off the fork that still had oatmeal on it, and she refused. There wasn't much oatmeal on the fork, but I maintained my position that she needed to stick the fork in her mouth to "finish" what she'd picked up (even though half of it had dripped off in the course of her waving it about). At some point she'd wound up dipping the fork back into the oatmeal, and then during some struggle or other, a bunch of it got flung backwards over her shoulder, landing on the floor.

If you ask anyone in my family, they'll tell you that I'm obsessed with being clean (not necessarily neat, just clean). They exaggerate (I'm happy to get filthy hands when working with tools), but in certain situations I am very opinionated on things being clean. One of my "buttons" that Dorothy may (or may not - it could be circumstance) be learning to push is a lack of patience with food thrown around the dining room, especially on the carpet.

Needless to say, my lack of sleep, along with my attitude towards messy eating (at this point, there was food on the floor, the high chair, my fingers and her arms) and the lengthening "battle" over eating, all combined to push me over the top. I yelled when the food got thrown over her shoulder onto the floor, and went to clean it up. At that point, Elizabeth came out and took over, telling me to go elsewhere. She eventually got Dorothy to eat a bunch of yogurt and oatmeal, plus some sausage.

On the one hand, Elizabeth is probably right when she said that I'd been taking Dorothy's behavior personally, rather than as the normal development of a toddler seeking to test limits. On the other hand, I did not want her to learn that complaining and refusing food is a way to get only the good food. More generally, I don't want her to think she can get around the "rules" that Daddy makes if she just becomes difficult enough. Now that I'm thinking about it in terms of a toddler testing limits (I obviously wasn't in this kind of frame of mind this morning), I'll probably be able to handle these situations a little better in the future.

This entire episode is strongly reminiscent of a childhood experience I had with my own Dad. When I was roughly kindergarten age, we were out in Arizona on vacation, visiting some family. Oatmeal (which I hate to this day) was being served for breakfast, and I didn't want any. My Dad decided I was going to eat it, no matter what, and made me eat some. I did, then quickly threw up. Boy, was he mad. So today's episode with Dorothy must be some kind of karmic payback. And we can all see where I got my short temper from. :-)

Posted by Tom Nugent at 04:55 PM | Comments (3)

June 07, 2005

Off the Charts Real Estate Market

One of the financial newsletters I receive had some interesting numbers recently about the real estate market:

For hard evidence, Jim Grant reported some fascinating numbers in his latest issue of Grant's Interest Rate Observer. Jim says that from 1983 to 1998, housing sales stayed relatively constant, representing between 8% and 10% of GDP (the economy). Then things took off...

As of the latest numbers, home sales as a percent of the economy are at 17%. For the statisticians out there, that's 3.4 standard deviations from the mean. For the non-statisticians out there, speculation in home buying is literally off the charts.

I'm not sure I'd call myself a statistician, but I can at least understand how significant being more than 3 standard deviations off the mean is. It's not clear if the variation in home sales as a fraction of the total economy follows a normal distribution, but if it did, 3 standard deviations would include 99.7% of all events.

The author further writes:

Right now in the States, things look great... Amazingly, nobody can even remember the last time when residential real estate prices actually fell nationwide. But they still can fall...

For decades up to 1989, the Japanese felt the same way... real estate looked great, it had never declined. And then, it did for years... EVERY YEAR for the last 15 years, real estate prices in Japan have fallen.

We're not in quite the same situation as the Japanese were, but we're not that far off, either. Believing that prices can only go up is a sure way to get burned.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:51 PM | Comments (0)

Siracusa on the Apple/Intel Switch

John Siracusa has, as always, an interesting article about Apple's plans to switch over to using Intel chips.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)

Buy a Lemon

If life hands you lemons, then make lemonade. But what if you willfully allow yourself to be sold a lemon? That's what I'm wondering after reading the Seattle PI story about homebuyers waiving their right to an inspection in order to have their offer accepted. This is yet another sign of the desperation some people feel towards buying a house, and I don't see how buying in this manner can benefit anyone, except those who are very lucky.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2005

Update on the Milk Terrorists

CNN has an update on the story about terrorists attacking the nation's milk supply.

The federal government has asked the National Academy of Sciences not to publish a research paper that feds describe as a "road map for terrorists" on how to contaminate the nation's milk supply.
I"m wondering how detailed the paper actually is, compared to the editorial in the NYT that was published last week.

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

The End Is Near

Apparently the apocalypse is nigh: Apple is going to use Intel chips starting next year. I haven't read enough yet to figure out how this affects things like the 64-bit abilities of the OS, or whether this is a truly horrible idea given how poorly Intel has been doing in the chip design business lately (getting beat by AMD, from what I can tell). If I see any great reviews of the implications, I'll post them here.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 12:01 PM | Comments (1)

June 05, 2005

Nose to Nose

Go check out the latest set of photos and you'll understand the title of this entry.

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

Revenge of the Sith

Last night Elizabeth and I finally got a chance to go see Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith. I mostly agree with the reviews I've read: It's certainly the best of the latest three Star Wars movies, and even though you know how it's going to end, it is riveting to watch. Anakin's descent into the dark side of the force has some very slightly hard-to-believe moments, but overall it's well done. It's what you've come to expect in a Star Wars movie: the fight scenes are impressive, the outfits Amidala wears are ridiculous, you have to ignore some issues of character intelligence, the special effects are very believable, etc. Heck, I didn't even find the dialogue between Anakin and Padme as bad as others had said it was - their dialogue was certainly better than the last movie.

One thing to keep in mind: the movie is over two hours long, so if you have a sore throat and buy a big bottle of water to tide you over, don't drink any of it in the first half of the movie, or else you'll spend the last hour waiting for your bladder to explode (not that I have any personal knowledge of this problem...).

WARNING: There is a spoiler in the remaining section, so if you haven't seen the movie and don't want it spoiled, do NOT read on.

Here be spoilers!

After we got home, Elizabeth pointed out that what Obi-Wan should have said in Episode IV, to the young Luke Skywalker about his father, was something like: "Darth Vader killed your father. But I cut off his legs and set him on fire."

We were also discussing whether George Lucas had a childhood friend lose a hand or something - it's such a recurring theme. Let's review:

  • Episode V: Vader cuts of Luke's hand

  • Episode VI: Luke cuts off Vader's hand

  • Episode II: Dooku cuts off Anakin's hand

  • Episode III, the amputation episode: Anakin cuts off both of Dooku's hands (right before beheading him), Obi-Wan cuts off some of Grievous' 4 hands, Obi-Wan cuts off Anakin's legs and other hand.

I mean, what is it with hands being so easily cut off, compared to any other body part? Maybe Lucas saw someone lose a hand in an industrial accident as a child, and now he's just obsessed. We may never know.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:06 PM | Comments (6)

Dodged a Bullet!

Elizabeth's parents are in town this weekend for birthdays, and last night they watched Dorothy so that Elizabeth and I could go see a movie. We haven't had anyone else put Dorothy to bed since she was much much smaller, but we figured she'd cope. Apparently, though, she had ways of expressing her displeasure.

Dorothy only napped for an hour, less than normal, so she was tired as evening approached. Jon & Caroline gave Dorothy her evening bath shortly after we left, since D was acting groggy. Shortly after getting in, though, our little girl started shooting submarines like there was a war on (i.e., she passed a lot of gas). Then she stood up and pooped into the tub!

I've read so many stories about babies pooping in the bathtub, and since Dorothy had never done it, I was getting nervous about jinxing our good luck. I'm not sure if last night was just "the" night and Elizabeth and I dodged a bullet, or if our little girl was telling her grandparents that they weren't doing bath time properly. In any case, I'm glad we missed it! :-) Things got cleaned up, the tub re-filled, and D got to take more of a bath. Here's to hoping last night was the one and only time it happens.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 01:32 PM | Comments (1)

The Name "Dorothy"

Elizabeth, Dorothy and I went to the funeral for Elizabeth's grandma, Dorothy Meamber, this past Wednesday. We flew down to Medford, OR early Wednesday morning and then drove to Yreka, CA for the service.

A few days earlier, while planning the service, Elizabeth's aunt commented to her mom about Dorothy, their mom, that "one thing you can say about her, she was determined." Caroline burst out laughing, because Elizabeth and I have often said that the "D" in our Dorothy's name stands for determination. And my parents confirm that my grandma Dorothy Nugent was also a very determined lady. So it seems that baby Dorothy has inherited more than just a name. At the reception after the funeral, we all got to see this trait. Dorothy was having fun playing with her cousins (aged 5 and 9), and at one point found some stairs going up. She tried crawling up them, which was fine since we were watching. But when we tried to take her away from the stairs, she headed back towards them. When we took her to the opposite side of the room and tried distracting her with toys and her cousins, she still headed back towards those stairs. She wanted to go up them, and nothing was going to stop her!

During the church service, I was tasked with keeping baby Dorothy quiet, and she was a champ. I had to be a bit nimble, since she wanted to explore the pews to see the people and grab the pencils, but we managed to stay about as unobtrusive as a 15-month old baby can get. As mentioned above, she had lots of fun playing with her cousins at the reception afterwards.

Dorothy's sleep schedule got thrown off, because we woke her up early Wednesday to catch our flight out of Seattle, and she napped at various times when we were driving around. We stayed at a hotel back in Medford on Wednesday evening, and Dorothy didn't want to go to sleep, since she'd slept on the way to the hotel. She eventually did sleep, but then woke up three hours later. I'd had a cough that made sleeping difficult for a few days, so I got up and played with her for a couple of hours. Eventually we all fell asleep again, but only for an hour, since we had to get up at 4am to catch our 6am flight back to Seattle.

Oh, and to anyone who was in the security line at the Medford airport and were horrified at the couple who were feeding breakfast food from McDonalds to their baby: you try and find anything open at 5am!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

Obituary Link

Here is the link to the obituary for Grandma Dorothy Meamber.

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

June 02, 2005

Our Firm Name

You've seen various small companies named something like "Smith and Sons" or "Jones and Son" etc., right? Well, Dorothy and I have our own architectural firm. We collaborate on design and construction of structures using advanced polymer repeatable unit modules (i.e., MegaBloks). Sometimes my contributions are not optimal, and Dorothy will correct me on proper technique. Given that she's the more knowledgeable one, I think our firm should be called "Nugent and Daddy."

(OK, you can all stop gagging yourselves now - the saccharine sweetness is over.)

Posted by Tom Nugent at 05:34 PM | Comments (2)