August 18, 2005

Development of Playgrounds

Elizabeth sent me an interesting article from a June, 1996 edition if Illinois Issues about the changes in playgrounds ("BEYOND PLAYGROUNDS"). The subtitle just about says it all: "The best advice you can give a kid may be: Go play in the street."

Playgrounds used to be found in backyards or in parks and schools; today a mall. fast-food emporium, day care center, hospital or airport terminal would not dare open without its own tot lot. In spite of the competition from the private playground, usage of public playgrounds is going up too. Public playgrounds are still free to use, as in the '50s; unlike the '50s they are brighter, safer, more interesting, and (thanks mainly to federal regulations) easier for more kids to use, especially toddlers and those with disabilities.

Will these playgrounds be remembered more fondly by today's kids than those of my youth? If so, will it be because the new generation of play spaces better meets their needs? Or will it be because formal playgrounds are the only play spaces that today's kids have? Do even the best of today's playgrounds provide more than a pale imitation of the real world that was the venue for children's play for the thousands of years before humans invented monkey bars? Better as playgrounds have become, are they enough?

The author make some interesting points. For example, children try to push their limits, and to explore the boundaries of what's safe, often with unintended consequences:
To make playgrounds interesting, kids often will deliberately use them in contrived or extreme ways. Wheaton's rubberized playground is known among local daredevils as the "Power Rangers" playground because there they can do belly-flops on it they would never dare do on mulch or pea gravel because it would hurt. Thus the Catch-22: The safer you make a playground (past a certain point), the more likely it is that kids will get hurt on it.

Safe play apparatus does not necessarily mean boring apparatus. Experienced child care people know that older kids do not push themselves beyond what they feel they have the skill to do. Well-designed equipment abets this natural sensibleness; it does not take danger out of play, but makes the danger apprehensible, so a child can choose whether to proceed safely. "Kids play in abandoned buildings and don't get hurt," notes Kutska, in large part because abandoned buildings do not bear an adult imprimatur as "safe."

There are significant differences in playground design between the US and other countries (the "Guide" refers to the Illinois Department of Conservation's 1995 "A Guide to Playground Planning"):
According to the Guide, ponds, streams or drainage ditches "attract children and can be hazardous." Which, of course, is why they attract children. Trees? It's hard to imagine a piece of play equipment more perfectly designed to satisfy children of all ages and abilities than a good climbing tree. But the Guide warns that tree climbing "can become a problem if not controlled" and urges that low-hanging tree branches be removed.

The British and Scandanavians urge the planting of shrubs in "waste" areas near playgrounds because kids love to hide in them; in this country, shrubs are a no-no because branches might poke kids in the eyes or offer hiding places for the pederasts, child snatchers and drug pushers who are assumed to lurk everywhere. The Europeans helpfully note that prickly plants make useful screens because kids won't try to tear them up; the Guide warns that "hazardous" species such as hawthorne or thorny locust should not be located near playgrounds because they might tear up kids.

Modern playgrounds also do not offer enough variability to keep kids interested. As the author says in the beginning of his essay:
When my gang and I were growing up in Springfield in the 1950s, no public playground was closer than the schoolyard that stood six blocks and a busy street away. But we were hardly deprived, for what a playground existed within two blocks of my house! A propane tank, which we boys transformed variously into a submarine, a fighter aircraft or a bucking bull. A cinderblock back wall of a gas station, which made a perfect backstop for ball games. A culvert that drained a nearby cornfield and collected all manner of curious debris for convenient examination. Not one but two climbing trees, and assorted dirt piles from excavations for houses being built in the next block. A railroad track. And the smoothest, curviest sidewalks that our parents' FHA mortgages would pay for — a perfect Grand Prix circuit for 20-inch bikes.

When it comes to playgrounds, nothing beats the real world. The play equipment so expensively provided by the forward-thinking parents of the postwar years proved to be as big a waste of money as bomb shelters, and for the same reason — they were invented to serve a need that didn't exist.

And later on he goes into more detail on how a lack of ability to change anything in a playground can quickly lead to boredom:
If the safe playground is actually only dangerous in new ways, so the creative contemporary playground is a creative experience mainly for the adults who design them. The purpose of playgrounds, to quote the Guide, is to give kids a physical challenge and a chance to interact socially with other kids on the playground. But decades of child development research has concluded that there is a deeper significance to child's play. Play is an essential part of what a '70s expert called "life-research." Children learn about the world by playing with — not just in — it. Until they are dragooned into schools, play is the principal medium for learning by children. They learn by doing — moving, pretending, building, taking chances, hiding, throwing, playing in dirt and in water, balancing themselves. As playground architect M. Paul Friedberg put it in his influential 1970 book, Play and Interplay, the world is the child's laboratory, and he is its scientist.

The standard prebuilt play set is the outdoor equivalent of the classroom textbook — pretty to look at, comprehensive, authoritative in its expression of official doctrine regarding children's needs. The adult need to direct play, to teach, when what kids need is the freedom to learn, is so ingrained in the culture as to seem natural.

Being creative, for example, is not a matter of pretending but of doing. If the play environment is fixed, children can't manipulate the environment and adapt it to their needs. And while contemporary creative playgrounds are more complex than their predecessors, they remain just as fixed in form. Kids can use multipart apparatus in every way but the one that would really engage their need to experiment — taking it apart and putting it back together in new ways.

The problem is not that kids don't find conventional play equipment fun, at least at first. The problem is that fun is all they find in it. The Discovery Zone pioneered in the marketing of franchised "fun and fitness" in the form of indoor pay-for-playgrounds featuring slides and "ball bins" and trampolines. When it went public in mid-1993 the company was a hot Wall Street buy, but by February of 1996 the stock was selling for less than one-thirtieth its highest price. Analysts explained that kids failed to demand repeat visits because they got bored with what one analyst derisively called "hamster habitats."

Overall, the article is a good read, and something to consider for parents of youngsters. I want to think more about what types of play equipment to provide for Dorothy and any siblings she may one day acquire. A swingset is nice, but what about junk instead? Would a few old tires be more interesting, but just as safe?

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:49 AM | Comments (2)

August 04, 2005

Doing a Functional Workout

My friend & former office-mate Andrew G. sold me a couple of years ago on the idea of functional weight-lifting workouts. He recommended a simple set of five different weight lifts that all used free weights in order to use not only primary muscles, but stabilizing muscles as well.

We now have a set of weights in the basement along with a bench for working out. I recently added the Shovel Glove idea to my set of exercises. All it requires is a sledgehammer, and is definitely functional as well as demanding. The Shovel Glove site linked to a good article on ("The Functional Work Out") about functional workouts.

Now they just need to make a squirming 25 pound bag, and every parent would be set for their exercise routines.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)

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)

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)

April 06, 2005

RIP Barbara Freedman

I just found out that the mother of my good friend / last dance partner / one-time partner in vocal crime, Reena, died in a plane crash. Reena and her family have our most heartfelt condolences and sympathies.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 05:04 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2004


There are so many things I am thankful for this year. Top on the list, of course, is Dorothy Maia Nugent. Her successful birth, the joy she brings to so many of us, her continuing health and happiness; I'm thankful for it all.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:55 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2004

Not Quite 16 Tons

We've now had a few moving companies out to give us estimates on moving all our stuff out to Seattle. Most of the weight estimates have been very close - around 11,500 pounds or so, which they all round up to 12,000 pounds. Yes, that's right - we have 6 tons of "stuff." The scariest part is that, according to at least one estimate, one-quarter of that stuff (i.e., one and a half tons) is books (and paper). So we literally have a ton (and a half!) of books!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 04:12 PM | Comments (1)

November 21, 2004

Some Funny Quotes

Here are a couple of random quotes that I wanted to share. The first is from Brian Dunbar, who doesn't have a non-work blog of his own:

In an alternate universe there is one Road Runner cartoon, because at the end the Coyote brought him down with a revolver at 30 paces, and roasted his meat for a light midafternoon snack. It would be a less amusing universe, but perhaps one more just. That said, I’ll take this one.
Quote is by James Lileks.

The other one is from Seth Matheson's IM away message earlier today:

I can't watch TV for 4 minutes without thinking I have 5 serious diseases. Like "Do you ever wake up tired in the mornings?"
Oh my God I have this.. write this down... whatever it is I have this. Half the time you don't even know what the commercial is. There's people running through fields, or flying kites, or swimming in the ocean... Like that is the greatest disease EVER how do I get that! That disease comes with a hot chick and a puppy! .... I want that disease...

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

October 16, 2004

Going Home

(Note: I wrote blog entries earlier in the week, but didn't have a chance to post them until after we got home. I've back-dated the entries for when I wrote them, so make sure you read the last few entries to catch up.)

It's been quite a busy week out in Seattle. Elizabeth and Dorothy flew down Monday morning to Medford for the funeral of Dr. Don Meamber, Elizabeth's grandfather. Dorothy did wonderfully on all the flights, sleeping through much of them. I spent the day working at LiftPort headquarters in Bremerton (across the Puget Sound from Seattle). Dorothy and Elizabeth returned on Tuesday morning, and then we drove to Bremerton for a full day of work for me. On the way, we got to cross the Tacoma Narrows bridge. Above the sign for the bridge was a warning sign saying "High Winds." I imagine they do a lot more wind analysis on the bridges they build around there than your average bridge. :-)

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were full days at LiftPort for me. We had some MBA students from the University of Texas out to work on a school project by helping us with business plan analysis. Also on Tuesday, Newsweek sent a photographer out to take some photos of the LiftPort robotic lifter and the people. We may be in a Newsweek story next week! They didn't have time to take a photo of Dorothy in her LiftPort onesie looking up the ribbon at the robot, but that's OK, because I got a few. Unfortunately, Dorothy wanted to lean forward and grab the ribbon more than she wanted to simply sit and look up along its length. :-)

On Tuesday, I lost my voice to laryngitis. After working hard before leaving Boston, I came down with a cold the Friday before our flight out. It was mostly just post-nasal drip, but after talking for most of the day on Tuesday, my voice went out. So I've had to whisper for most of the trip out here, which is annoying to say the least. It is funny, though, when others unconsciously start whispering back to me. :-) When they do it on purpose, though, it's not funny.

Our friend Yuying from the MIT Ballroom Dance Team now lives in Seattle, and she and her husband Shawn graciously let us stay at their place. Thank you again! It was great catching up with Yuying, who I danced standard with for a little while back in 1997-98.

Overall, Seattle is an interesting place. The population is supposedly less than that of Boston, but it's got a lot more space. The weather was trying to give us a false impression of the area -- it was mostly sunny almost the entire week, and didn't really rain at all that I noticed.

The ferry system is nice. You can drive or walk onto the ferry in Seattle, and it'll get you to Bremerton in about an hour. Not terribly fast, but you can spend that hour up in a comfortable lounge reading, or sleeping, or whatever. Dorothy and I went without the car on Thursday, and got to have fun with some other babies taking the ferry at the same time.

Our flight home left before dawn on Saturday morning, and so far Dorothy has again been a champ. She slept through the entire ascent in our second leg. I think she will have taken 10 flights in her life by the end of the day today (separate legs of a day trip count as separate flights), when she's not even seven and a half months old yet. She's a regular jet-setter!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 02:27 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2004

Heading West

As I mentioned previously, Elizabeth, Dorothy and I are in Seattle this week. I'm out here to work at LiftPort headquarters (I need to talk more about LiftPort in this blog - look for an entry soon). Originally, Elizabeth's parents were going to be out here, and she'd be able to visit with them (at least in-between all their intense Dorothy time). The unfortunate death of Elizabeth's grandfather has caused a change in plans. She will be flying with Dorothy down to Medford, CA, in order to attend the funeral on Monday. Later in the week, we're hoping to get to see a bit of the sights of Seattle, a city I've never been to before.

Yesterday (Saturday), we flew out from Boston in the late afternoon. The amount of stuff we had to bring is ridiculous. I swear that our total amount of luggage more than doubles from what it would be without Dorothy along. Overall, Dorothy did amazingly well on both legs of the flight. She nursed on ascent from Boston, and didn't fuss much. She took a half hour nap during the flight, and nursed on the way down into Detroit.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:20 PM | Comments (1)

August 26, 2004


I'm giving a presentation on the space elevator next weekend at Noreascon. Today I was working on my presentation, reading through the Space Elevator book to firm up details. Since I didn't need my computer, I decided to head outside.

Bostonians are going to burn in hell or something to pay for the great weather we've had in August. Normally it's hot and humid here in August, but lately we've been getting down into the 40s at night, and daytime highs are not even breaking 80 half the time. I love it!

To read and take notes, I headed out to the (covered) porch for an hour or so, until the sun moved enough to be shining directly on me. Normally I'm stuck inside at the computer, so I really enjoyed being out in the clear air. Ahhhh.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 03:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2004

Tricks of the Trade

There's a great article just posted about tricks of the trade in various professions. It's amusing, and enlightening.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2004

Movie Snippets

Occasionally I will put up a movie snippet (generally taken with my photo camera, so they're not long at all) in our movies directory. But I may also delete them at any time, to save space.

There's currently two movies there: One is from a long time ago, when Cobalt played "tag" with Dorothy. The second (which I converted to MPEG-4 format to save space, so you'll probably need Quicktime 6) is from a few days ago, with Dorothy sitting up between my legs.


Posted by Tom Nugent at 05:37 PM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2004

Site Renamed

We finally got around to renaming the blog. We'd solicited names back at the beginning of July, then promptly forgot to actually change the name. But as you can see, we're now officially "Not In Kansas Anymore" (aka "NIKA").

The name has multiple references, including:

  • The change that parenthood has wrought on our lives
  • The Wizard of Oz connection with Dorothy's name
  • The "far-away places" part of space travel
OK, so maybe it's lame. But we like it.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

July 30, 2004

It's All Our Fault

Go read this headline from The Onion. It sounds like we're at least partly to blame for the incident. Sorry!


Posted by Tom Nugent at 02:49 PM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2004

DNC Traffic

My Mom came out this past week to help us out, after Elizabeth went into the hospital. This morning she's flying back to Chicago.

Yes, it might have sounded crazy to plan on going to Boston's Logan Airport on the first day of the Democratic National Convention. But I think people really did decide to either take vacations this week, or else went into work really early to be able to get home before the highway closes at 4pm. Traffic on Rt. 93 to and from Boston was extremely light this morning, from 8 to 9am, when I dropped Mom off at the airport. I zipped right up there, and right back. The only delay was brief, in the northbound direction, as the police pulled trucks over to the side of the road to search them.

All in all, a surprisingly easy trip! Now I just hope Mom's experience in the airport goes as well...

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

July 07, 2004

Help us Rename this blog!

It seems like most blogs out there (well, the ones we read, anyway) have titles that make them sound like magazines, or a column, or something ("Trixie Update," "Daddy Types," "Defective Yeti," etc.). Our "Nugent News" just seems too bland by comparison. So, I'd like your help in renaming the blog.

Submit suggestions for names in the comments section. Once a number of suggestions have come in, we'll try to pick our favorite.

Here's some random ideas we've had:

  • All the Goo You Can Handle!
  • Project Chaos
  • Not in Kansas Anymore
  • Crawling to the Stars
  • Oz Notes

Not all of these are obviously baby-related, because I do sometimes post non-baby items here (and may do more in the future).

So, what ideas do you have? Post them in the Comments section (see below)! And feel free to tell us which one(s) you like too.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:44 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 14, 2004

Missing Ray Charles

For those who haven't heard, Ray Charles passed away last Thursday, June 10th. He was a giant musical figure (read the CNN obit for some details of his life and accomplishments). There's not much I can add to what people have been saying about him. I'm just saddened that the world has lost such an amazing musical force.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:33 AM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2004

Time to lose weight

Ever since college, my weight has fluctuated between the very low-160s and the mid-180s (in pounds). Back, say, 6 months ago, I think I was around 170 or 174. Today, I went to the gym for the first time in over two months (although I think I have a great excuse as to why I didn't go to the gym for a while). My weight has been going up -- this evening, shortly after dinner, it was around 181 pounds. So I definitely need to start being slightly careful about what I eat, and more importantly, go back to the gym on a regular (and frequent!) basis. I'm posting this note in public to give everyone permission to ask how I'm doing at the gym. :-)

Posted by Tom Nugent at 07:31 PM | Comments (2)

February 28, 2004

The State of the Mess

Thank you, Mom and Dad. Even if you think our house looks like more of a mess than it did before you got here, it's actually doing much better.

Let me explain what I mean, for everyone else. The last two weeks have been extremely crazy and hectic. Ever since Elizabeth got sent to the hospital for pre-eclampsia, I'd been feeling overwhelmed. There were the trips to the hospital, then when Elizabeth got home, taking care of her. I had a new short-term job come in at my business. And there were the zillion things I'd wanted to get done around the house before the baby arrives, such as making room in the living room for Elizabeth's rocking chair (which she'll use for nursing), and making more storage space in the kitchen and bedroom.

My parents had driven their RV down to Florida to visit family and friends for a two-week vacation. Once Elizabeth went in the hospital, they asked if we wanted them to come up to Boston to help us out. We suggested they wait, since we didn't know what was going to happen. A couple of days after Elizabeth got out, I accepted their offer of help, because I was feeling too overwhelmed with stuff to do.

Mom and Dad could only stay from Tuesday night (when they arrived and parked the RV in our driveway) until Friday morning (because they had to return home to Illinois to go back to work at the end of their 'vacation'). But in the two full days here, they helped me to get a ton of work accomplished. I won't bore everyone with the details, but suffice it to say that things are more organized than they were before. Part of the re-organizing involved piling some dishes on the dining room table, and clothes on the bed. As they were leaving, my Mom noted that she thought I might feel things were messier than they had been before they arrived. I reassured her that, even thought things might look more messy, they were in fact more organized. Or at least, I was feeling much better about the state of the "mess" than I had been before.

It's amazing how much some simple cleaning and organizing can make a house feel so much better (at least to me). Now that we have more storage space for when the baby arrives, I feel better. And since so many of my "to do before the baby arrives" projects are now done, I feel like I can breathe again, and focus on taking care of Elizabeth, and maybe get back to accomplishing the items from those parts of my life that don't involve pregnancy and work that I've put on hold for the last couple of weeks. In summary: The State of the Mess is good. :-)

Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:55 PM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2004

Robot maids?

So when is the technology going to get to the point where robot maids are practical and common? I know they have the Roomba automatic vacuum cleaner available now, but I'm looking for something to do dishes, dust, make the bed, clean the litter box, maybe pick up groceries (since the online grocer doesn't seem to offer everything I want that's in the 'real' store), etc.

I wouldn't mind a live-in maid, but I know I can't afford one of them. :-P

And yes, I've seen some of the work by Marshall Brain about the future of robotics. So I know I'm going to be waiting a couple of decades. But a guy can hope...

Oh, and if you can't figure out why I'm posting about robot maids, just check out some recent posts (one and two).

Posted by Tom Nugent at 06:53 PM | Comments (4)

February 19, 2004

How to be notified of updates

OK, I just discovered that I can add email addresses to a "notify me" list so that you can get an email when a new update gets posted. Send me an email if you want to get these notices, and I'll add you to the list!

I wish people could add themselves to the list; if anyone knows how to set that up on MovableType, please let me know.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:25 PM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2004

Gay Marriage Brouhaha

The latest round in the gay marriage debate flurried about today (see the story and/or the story for details). It made me wonder: What's the big deal?

I simply do not understand the opposition some people have to gay marriage. The same people who oppose gay marriage often are in favor of civil unions, which mostly seems to be a semantic difference, for the most part. As far as I can tell, people oppose gay marriage for one of two reasons.

Reason one is based on religion (Judaic/Christian/Muslim, to my understanding; as far as I know, Buddhism and Hinduism don't have much to say about sexual orientation). Specifically, the Bible (or Koran or etc.) says that homosexuality is a sin; therefore, people believe that gay marriage is a sin and should not be allowed. But if you believe in any reasonable separation of church and state, then you can easily reject this argument. People's religious beliefs should not restrict other people's love lives.

Reason two is based in homophobia. If you hate gays (or even if you just have a really strong sub-conscious repulsion), then you don't want them marrying and "flaunting" their sexual orientation in public. Hatred, like religion, is not a firm basis for law, though, and therefore this basis for opposing gay marriage should be rejected.

Are there other reasons? None come to mind, but if you know of any, please pass the rationale along to me.

Just like heterosexuals, homosexuals are capable of long-lasting, loving, strong relationships. As well as short-lived, bitter divides. Heterosexuals certainly don't have a lock on firm, long-term marriages. Heck, given the high divorce rate in this country, why not allow gay marriages to help maybe bring the divorce rate down? And allowing gays to marry would make it much easier for them to adopt children. Think about it - there are lots of kids that are without parents, and could be raised by a loving gay couple to become much happier adults than would happen in an orphanage or series of foster homes.

Any way I consider it, I can't see any problem with allowing gay marriages. And so the apparent flurry of activity to try to pass a (state) constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages seems ridiculous and petty, to my mind.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 05:14 PM | Comments (9)

January 14, 2004

No longer daily

OK, I'm giving up on posting daily. It could be done, but the size and quality of postings was not great. The whole point of this blog is to get me to improve my writing, and throwing out small, stream-of-consciousness ramblings wasn't serving the purpose. So I'm going to write when I can put up something at least a bit useful or interesting.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)

January 03, 2004

Preparing for Baby, part 1 of many

What a day! As part of my in-laws' visit this week, today they helped us to re-arrange some of the furniture in our house in preparation for our baby. We decided to move our paperback book shelves into a coat closet, in order to free up space in the living room (and keep the books from prying little hands). We expected the bookshelves to fit in the closet a bit tightly, but without a problem.

There was a sea of books on our living room floor once the paperbacks were unloaded from the shelves. Jon (my father-in-law) and I worked on making supports for the bookshelves since we needed to lift them over some heating pipes in the closet. We got two out of three done today, and tested them out. It's really tight in that closet with those bookshelves in there!

The time went by quickly, but at the end of the day it certainly felt like a lot of effort was involved in something that sounds as simple as "moving the bookshelves." I'm wondering whether or not I'll have time to even breathe once the baby is actually here...

Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:58 PM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2004

New Year

D'oh. I missed another day. I blame it on my in-laws. :-) They flew into town late New Year's Eve, and yesterday we went out and registered at Babies R Us (a story in and of itself).

Regardless of my own lame excuses for not posting yesterday, this is a New Year. 2004. Seems like just yesterday we were getting over the Y2K scare. Where does the time go?

I had to pass along a funny quote from the Sluggy Freelance page today:

My 2004 Resolution is 1024x768!

It just made me giggle. If you haven't seen Sluggy Freelance, you should go read it - it's a hilarious online comic. Start from the beginning, because some of the funniest stuff happened early on, plus you'll be lost in the storyline if you start at this point.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 07:39 AM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2003

Yearly letters

Elizabeth and I have a tradition (if you can call something that we do maybe 75% of the time "tradition") of sending out yearly cards to friends and family. We don't call them Xmas cards because, well, they don't go out before Xmas. Oftentimes they don't go out before New Year's. I think one year they went out in June. We just call them our yearly letters.

I'm wondering how people feel about letters like these. Holiday letters seem to serve primarily as a means of maintaining a tie, however tenuous, with friends and family. If you have distant friends that you haven't seen in years, getting an annual "update" on their lives at least helps you to feel like they haven't completely faded into the backdrop of your own personal history. But on the other hand, does receiving a mostly-impersonal letter (in the sense that the letters are usually a copy of a general letter, with maybe a single personalized sentence added on) really enhance or even maintain the ties that much? Do they make the recipient feel like the sender cares about them?

I don't know the answers to these questions. I just know that, for whatever reason, it feels "right" to send out a letter to the extended set of friends and family once every year or so. And it's nice to receive the letters to. It's unfortunate, but there simply isn't enough time in the day to maintain strong ties with lots of these people, but I do want to maintain some link. The letters are at least one way to keep the link alive.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:26 PM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2003

Welcome to Prison America

I almost missed my posting for today, but here it is, just before midnight.

I was reading the Daily Reckoning newsletter by Bill Bonner from December 23rd, and became angered at the story halfway through the letter titled "Coffee, Tea, or Handcuffs?" In this story, a journalist for an Australian women's magazine who was coming to the USA (again, after multiple earlier visits) for some interviews was effectively branded as a criminal upon touchdown at LA International Airport. Click on the link for the full story, but suffice it to say that this poor woman was treated reprehensibly. Perhaps she should have been turned away for not having the proper visa, but the treament she received was ridiculous. Is it true that we're now living in Prison America?

Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:55 PM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2003

Xmas is over

What should I write about today? Hmm... I guess I can talk about Xmas.

Our Xmas holiday went pretty well. We had a couple of friends over on Xmas Eve for dinner and games, and it was lots of fun. Xmas day itself was great. We opened our gifts, and took a nap, and played lots of games (I gave Elizabeth 5 games from FunAgain Games). A very relaxing and enjoyable couple of days overall.

I received three very special gifts -- special because they came from my unborn baby. :-) I received a book of fairy tales, a book of nursery rhymes, and a CD of children's music. So now I'll be prepared to sing to her all those songs that I forgot from my childhood.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)

December 25, 2003

Merry Xmas!

Merry Xmas to all, and to all, a good morning. I write this brief missive on Xmas morning, before I've even opened my gifts. I'm blogging before gift-opening because I'm being such a great husband that I'm letting my (pregnant) wife sleep in a little longer. This is probably the second-to-last year where we're allowed to sleep in as long as we want on Xmas, before we have little rugrats who demand to be allowed to open their loot at 5am.

Doo do doo, hum de ho....La la lee da....

Hell, it's already been a half hour since I woke up - I can't wait anymore. Time to go jump up and down on the bed and scream "time to open the presents!!!!" ;-)

Posted by Tom Nugent at 07:43 AM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2003

Once a day

I've decided that I need to write something in this blog at least once each day. That's right - once every 24 hours, I better write something, or else...or else...I'll get really mad at myself. Do you hear that, self? I'll get mad at you!

Of course, self is asking if this little scribbling counts for today or not...

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

December 23, 2003

Look what I've done!

I've set up my very own blog - it's my precious. Yes, I just saw 2 of the LotR movies last weekend, so I've got Gollum on my brain. I don't normally talk that way.

I'm hoping to use this blog as a way to practice writing, since I don't do nearly enough.

Yay me!

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