Saturday, July 21, 2007

Beautiful Baby Fancy Time

We spent a lot of time at this table, as you can tell if you've seen the earlier posts about it, at the wedding of Diana and Scott. For those who haven't lived in Central Texas in the summer, it's hard to explain how odd it was to be outdoors in dress pants and a long-sleeved shirt at 6 p.m. on July 7 and not to have a drop of sweat on you. The clouds appeared not long after we did, a decent wind kicked up, and next thing you knew it was nice outside. Crazy.

Sabrina is learning fast these days. So many leaps and bounds they're all just part of one amazing explosion of the essence that is Sabrina. We still struggle to understand her little speeches but she's done us the grand favor of trying to learn our language, and she's getting better by the microsecond.

I'm not at all sure our language is better. I've always liked Neal Stephenson's idea that we're all born knowing a protolanguage, basically the human brain's programming language, and that it is perfectly tuned to human perception and therefore perfectly descriptive and inherently powerful.

Sabrina certainly seems like she means what she's saying when she gives these long, impassioned speeches in either whisper-speak or her other, more English-like language. I hope we're not missing out on the cure for cancer or something, just because we don't know her lingo.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Well that hardly seems fair.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Chicken/Egg Situation

Is this sort of thing funny despite being juvenile, or because of it? I guess that's not really chicken/egg, but I'm in a hurry.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Wedding Fun, pt. 2

Sweet Sabrina had a wonderful time at the wedding last night, it was just delightful for all concerned. I've been thinking about it today and it strikes me now (although it didn't then, really) how calm, pleasant and sweet it all was. I can't help wondering if the wedding being alcohol-free didn't have a lot to do with that.

We don't drink, and probably wouldn't have known about the lack of liquor if we hadn't been told the day before, but we do notice when other partygoers get out of hand, and we are rarely amused. We haven't been in situations where Sabrina is sharing a space with a bunch of drinkers much, but when we do, my world becomes an Asteroids screen with Sabrina in the middle, and all the people are 'Roids I may have to knock off course if they get too close. If only people stayed on the same course until you hit them.

So we got there and raced upstairs to show off Sabrina and talk to Diana about the ceremony and what would happen when. Sabrina and Deirdre left to play outside and Diana and I chose a version (we'd been working from three possibilities), got her friend Rebecca to agree to read First Corinthians, figured out when to light the candles in remembrance of departed relatives, and then I rewrote a fair bit to accommodate the new material and make the transitions smooth. When I walked down the stairs to find Mommy and Baby someone asked me if I had seen the latest forecast, and when I went outside the sky was black and it was sprinkling. Diana was a good half-hour from being ready if I was any judge of such things, and when her crew did the job in 15, much amazement was expressed. She looked lovely, as did my wife Deirdre. More later . . .

Those Crazy Monks

I absolutely love the Kircher Society blog, it's just fascinating on a daily basis. Today two monk posts caught my eye (or rather one caught my eye and had a link to the other, which is 10 months old). First, this one about self-mummifying monks looked interesting, and of course was:

For three years the priests would eat a special diet consisting only of nuts and seeds, while taking part in a regimen of rigorous physical activity that stripped them of their body fat. They then ate only bark and roots for another three years and began drinking a poisonous tea made from the sap of the Urushi tree, normally used to lacquer bowls. This caused vomiting and a rapid loss of bodily fluids, and most importantly, it killed off any maggots that might cause the body to decay after death. Finally, a self-mummifying monk would lock himself in a stone tomb barely larger than his body, where he would not move from the lotus position. His only connection to the outside world was an air tube and a bell. Each day he rang a bell to let those outside know that he was still alive. When the bell stopped ringing, the tube was removed and the tomb sealed.
Self-discipline is under-emphasized in the US, I think. I can't think of anyone in this country who would do that, not even my friend Mike S., who built a car in his garage in little more than a year. Speaking of self-discipline, I think these dudes have it even harder than the self-picklers:

For the first 300 days of the pilgrimage, the monk must run 40 km (24.9 mi) each day — essentially a marathon a day for almost an entire year. In the fourth and fifth year, he does 40 km each day for 200 straight days. In the sixth year of the pilgrimage, he increases the length of his runs to 60 km (37.3 mi) for 100 days. Finally, during the seventh year, he runs for another 100 consecutive days, this time covering 84 km (52.2 mi) at a time — twice the length of a marathon.

The monk runs in straw sandals (and for the first few years without socks), largely over unpaved mountain paths, through all seasons. And he must do it on a diet of vegetables, tofu, and miso soup. Around his waist, he wears a rope belt and a knife to remind him that should he fail to complete the seven-year pilgrimage, he is required to hang himself with the rope or disembowel himself with the knife.

Following the 700th day of running, the monk engages in a seven-day fast, known as the doiri, in which he must abstain from food, water, and sleep, while sitting upright and constantly reciting Buddhist chants. Two monks remain next to him to ensure he doesn’t doze off even once. The purpose of the doiri is to bring the monk face-to-face with death.
I think a few days of running 20+ miles in sockless straw sandals would bring me face-to-face with death, never mind the other stuff.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Funtime Wedding Festival

Sabrina took us to a wedding tonight! She got us all dolled up and made us drive all the way down to Buda, like 30 minutes practically by the time we turned off the highway. It was a really beautiful place called San Michele and our friends Diana S. and Scott L. had it all to themselves. I wondered what a no-alcohol wedding would be like in a town like this, if people would be sneaking off to the parking lot or walking around with obviously naughty beverages. I had a great time and didn't notice any bad behavior, so I'm going to go with the nice party theory. It's fun to believe everyone's happy when they're really on crack and want to want to kill each other!

In the car, Sabrina was at her best: Sweet, giggly, aggressively learning words for things and playing recognition games with Mommy ("Old MacDonald had a farm, EIEIO, and on his farm he had a . . . " "COW!!" "Yeah, a, another cow, is it?" "COW!!" "EIEIO! With a . . . " "MOOOOOOO!" "Here and a . . . " "MOOOOO!" "There, here a . . ." "MOOOOO!" "There a . . . " "MOOOO!" "Everywhere a . . . " "MOOOOOO!" "Yay Sabrina!"). Just adorable to an almost unbearable degree. It was a long drive, and Mapquest officially sucks for sending me at least five miles out of my way. But it was all worth it when we got there.

San Michele is pretty much an outdoor paradise for children. A large flowery maze, several ponds/pools/fountains/hot tubs to play in, throw things at, or just swim in whether or not Mommy and Daddy want you to, and fun plants, lizards and insects everywhere. There must have been 12 or more other small children, some of whom Sabrina gave hugs to for giving her flowers. Just good family fun all around, and on such a nice day too.

More to come later in the day . . .

Honky Please

So Al Gore "Slams Global Warming Doubters" at one of his expensive, wasteful and stupid Earth Day concerts. Before I read it, I will predict three things:

1. Al Gore will tell a series of easily checked lies about the environment and global warming that no one in the mainstream media will bother to check.
2. Al Gore will respond to not a single one of the many debunkings of his "Inconvenient Truth" propaganda bits
3. There will be almost no real information communicated.

OK, just read it. Why, for God's sake why, does it still surprise me when a headline and its story are in no way connected?

Friday, July 06, 2007


I guess the US news media have better things to do than report on this huge story from Iraq. I can't imagine what those things would be; but it is possible to view the US effort in Iraq in a positive light based on this story, so I guess we'll never see it on CNN.

As a former journalist myself, I tend to forget how little the average person perceives the hideous, destructive bias in the US and world press corps. It's the way it's always been for most of us, and even as a participant it didn't really smack me across the face for a while. It took years for it to register consciously that I was the only conservative I had ever met in journalism, and even then I didn't believe, couldn't believe, that other journalists would indulge their prejudices by expressing them in news stories.

I just figured you could get all the bias you wanted to put across into editorials. But in the end, it's more effective to allude to that bias in which stories you run and which you don't, and the tone therein. By never using the word "terrorist," one is making a distinct choice in how one's readers think about the people in your story. By not running a story about an al Qaeda massacre, one is making a distinct choice about how the situation in Iraq should be viewed by one's readers. And so on.

I've given up on the press and its sacred duty to keep partisan sentiments out of the game. I know I can't get a real picture of the world through the networks, CNN, MSNBC, newspapers and magazines. And as Google (among others) filters search results to deny access to "right-wing hate sites" (translation: the top 20 conservative blogs), it will get harder and harder to find dissenting information.

When a large percentage of the populace believes Bush was behind 9/11, journalism as an industry has failed miserably, and it won't improve unless we demand better.


I get a kick out of Ken Jennings' blog. Here is one of his best posts, although they're all pretty good. I'm also liking Geekologie, Jalopnik Gizmag (I mean check this madness out) and Gizmodo.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Moppets of the Maize

Sabrina's been eating corn on the cob lately, and it's a beautiful thing. You know it's fancy in this picture because the pinky's out. I love it when she gets food everywhere, it means she's having fun whether or not she's actually eating much of anything. She's kind of a grazer, so it varies.

As you can see she's not interested in high chairs any more. I think her preference would be all of us using children's furniture, but because that's apparently not going to happen, she wants to use the same chairs we use. Instead we've rigged the twin of the green chair with the wooden arms Sabrina stands on (in the picture of the post below this one) at the breakfast bar with pillows and a white tablecloth that snugs up fairly tightly against the table edge. She can kick the chair back enough to escape pretty easily, but hasn't done so in a dangerous way so far, and she's getting really good at hopping down from things. I know she won't get hurt much, and I absolutely don't want to deny her the lessons we all must learn because I can't stand to see my baby at risk, but man is it heartstopping to see her sit down on the edge of a four-poster bed and pitch herself into a slide off it, as she did tonight. I was in catching distance, and I'd like to think she wouldn't have taken the dive so aggressively (and it was Screaming Eagle Currahee madness, I tell you) if I hadn't been, but I caught her because I couldn't help myself, not because it was the right thing to do. I don't think it was the right thing to do. I think it would have been better not to, a valuable lesson, but I can't bring myself to betray her now that I've caught her every time. I won't. It wouldn't have hurt much, or for long, had I not caught her. Hell, she might have stuck it for all I know. She's got serious kung fu skills, that's for damn sure.

I am just in awe of this little girl. She surprises me so many times a day in so many different ways that it's like standing next to an exploding star, her consciousness expanding furiously in all directions. Sabrina is extraordinarily loving, and I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be on the receiving end of that love. We all went to San Antonio last weekend to stay a few days with my parents, who we don't see nearly as often as we should. Our little angel was feeding them blackberries and giving them little hugs and kisses, which I found almost overwhelmingly adorable. I still get misty just thinking about it. She had an absolute blast in my parents' pool, and we can't wait for the family reunion in mid-July. Sabrina is going to have the time of her life on the Guadalupe river, and I can't wait to be a part of it.

Baby Perch

This is where Sabrina perches while Mommy and (occasionally) Daddy make breakfast, lunch and dinner. Note the inch-wide armrest, and know the seat is seat high off the carpet. She took a backward tumble off this perch a week and a half ago, and both Mommy and Daddy were on the wrong side to help. I didn't see it, but whatever she did dropped her very gently on her stomach, which is where I found her. She cried for maybe a minute after, almost nothing. Nice landing, sweetheart.

I, on the other hand, should be beaten with a sjambok for picking her up like a complete moron, whether or not I thought she was OK (I went by the sound, and it sounded like an easy fall), I never should have picked her up like that. BAD DADDY! NO NO NO NO!!!!!