Thursday, January 29, 2009

Preparing for a baby.

This post deals with the mad shopping spree that comes before giving birth. There is a large amount of amenities to purchase for your human-to-be. Unfortunately, most of it is pure crap. It is absolutely useless. Stick with the basics. You don't need a special diaper garbage can, a changing table, a seat so your baby can sit up, bottle sanitizers, or any of that other crap. Don't get sucked into baby-gadget overload.

When I buy stuff for a baby shower I get things I know every parent will need; diapers, wipes, baby Tylenol, Orajel, cabinet locks, etc. Friends and family will inundate you with clothes (many of which will suck, like FSU pants), teddy bears, books and toys. You will have so much of this stuff it will eventually be more in the way than anything. You won't have a place to put it all. So don't request any of it. Just let it come and accept it with a smile. Take what you don't like and either donate it to a women's center, regift it to someone who may appreciate or need it, or sell it at a consignment shop.

I would strongly encourage you to tell everyone to not get you bottles or socks. These are two things you don't want to have different kinds of. For bottles I would suggest you get the kind that take the plastic insert, and get the same brand. This will save you a lot of time trying to find a bottle, lid, and nipple that match. Trust me, this is a real pain. Having all of your bottles, lids, and nipples matching will make your life a lot easier.

Matching baby socks is really difficult too. They are all teeny, and the differences between them can be really subtle. Having all the same kind of matching socks will also save you lots of time and frustration. If you want to splurge on getting your child cute things, get cute outfits, stick to plain and consistent socks.

Don't believe Gerber. Powdered milk is not a sufficient supplement for good old breast milk. I refer you to for an explanation why. I want to emphasize this line, "The AAP says babies should be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months." I would take issue with "For many women, the decision to breastfeed or formula feed is based on their comfort level, lifestyle, and specific medical considerations that they might have." The only reason to not breast feed is for a medical consideration. As a mother you have no right to deny your child the benefits of breast feeding. Doing so is selfish at best. This is not to say you should never give your child formula. Keep some on you just in case you have to feed your baby and breast milk is not available or impractical. I do believe you should be prepared to breast feed in public, like when dad is out for a longer period of time with the child than unrefrigerated milk will allow for. This is becoming more and more acceptable again. A good blanket makes this more comfortable. I think this is a matter of personal preference though.

Get yourself a good quality breast pump. Don't let price dictate which one you think is best. Ask your ob-gyn about the different models. You definitely want to go with an electric pump unless you have wrists of adamantium (which you don't btw.)

On that same note, get a food processor and be prepared to make your own baby food. If you don't think this is important, go buy a jar of baby food, like peas, and eat it. You will notice that it doesn't actually taste like peas, Then get the green beans or the carrots. Yep, they all taste the same, like water mixed with flour. You should be respectful enough to your child to feed them good foods. They are more likely to take to green vegetables and other good foods if they actually taste good. Don't worry about those fancy baby-food cook books. They are nonsense. Simply steam the vegetables, throw them in a blender and then put them in containers. We found it necessary to buy some Gerber food to keep in our diaper bag for those times we didn't expect to be out. We would use the empty containers to store our food. What I would do is keep them in the freezer and just have enough thawed at a time to last two days. Each day I would take out a days worth and that would make sure we had a good supply in the freezer and a good supply ready to go. Another trick is to put the food in ice-cube trays and they can more easily be thawed by sitting in a container that is sitting in hot water. Never microwave the food you make, it kills many of the nutrients. So my original point was that you should get a quality food processor. When you are making a lot of food at once a good food processor can make the difference between a pleasurable experience and frustration.

Start offloading responsibility. If you have a project you want to get done, do it quickly or just give up. If you have extra-curricular things going on, or stay late after work a lot, give up as much as you can. You need to spend that first year readjusting to all of your new responsibilities, especially your financial ones. Day care can run almost to a grand a month, and after you have left work and picked up the child from daycare, the rest of your day will be cooking, cleaning and caring for your child. The idea that you might consistently have some spare time is foolish.

Females, kick Dad in the nuts and tell him to be a man. Seriously, the vast majority of fathers act like they are retarded. Changing a diaper, taking the child to the doctor or a birthday party, or taking on other necessary responsibilities is not rocket science. You know how you try to show your wife how to set the alarm clock and instead of listening she gives you that blank stare like your speaking Klingon. Yeah, if you can't do basic tasks for your child then your just as retarded. Don't let your man do this. It sucks just as bad for you to do these things as it does for him, so tell him to grow a pair and stop his moaning. It's not going to get easier in the future. As time rolls on you both will tire of various tasks and will rely on each other to make sure everything gets done. You can't do it by yourself and there's no reason you should have to.

When you buy media, don't get the cheap crappy stuff. I'm talking about the $1 books at the dollar store, or the $5 movies at the grocery store check out. Get good videos. Think Dr. Seuss books. I think one should set a high standard for entertainment. Honestly, do you want your child watching the equivalent of Friends or Hanna Montana in fifteen to twenty years from now? The answer is no, if you weren't sure.

A well equipped diaper bag is a must. Be sure to not overdo it either. You don't want a bunch of useless stuff in your diaper bag that makes finding anything difficult. It's been a while, but I think this is what I kept in my diaper bag:

  • Formula

  • Bottles with measured water already in them. Separate bottled water is fine too.

  • Formula.

  • Lots of diapers and wipes.

  • Plastic bag for disposing of poop diapers.

  • Baby Tylenol and Orajel.

  • A complete change of clothes.

  • A blanket.

  • Finger food.

  • A bib.

  • Hand sanitizer.

I'm pretty sure that is close to complete. Some of these items can be added or removed as is appropriate for the age.

Self image

I think that the most important attribute you can instill in your child is a positive self-image, and a positive attitude towards others. Today children are bombarded with images about who they are suppose to be, and children are responding en masse, especially girls. Since I have girls, and girls are more likely to have self-esteem issues, I'm going to focus on them.
Let's look at a few facts:

  1. 53% of American girls are "unhappy with their bodies." This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen (Brumberg, 1997).

  2. Over 90% of patients with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa are women.

  3. A majority of girls (59 percent) report dissatisfaction with their body shape, and 66 percent express the desire to lose weight. The prevalence of overweight girls is 29 percent.

  4. At 5’9” tall and weighing 110 lbs, Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 and
    fit the weight criteria for anorexia. She likely would not menstruate.

  5. Three minutes spent looking at models in a fashion magazine causes 70% of women to feel depressed, guilty, and shameful.

Finally, let's look at a video that details the steps a model goes through to get her face on an advertisement. The real sad part about this video is that the model is actually quite attractive and represent a healthy image of a woman. What she is made up to be is no more real or realistic than the clone troopers in Star Wars (which where all CGI btw.)
Children come into this world knowing virtually nothing. They will believe anything you tell them. When we bombard our children with images of people that are so fake they can't even find real people that look like them, and have to be made up digitally, then our children will believe that image. When our further images show that only the best of the good looking are liked and valued, then we have created a real problem.

I'm not sure this is the best
way to fight anorexia.

The common fix for this problem is to throw money at helping our children reach these unattainable, and unhealthy images. There is a temptation to believe we must buy our children this and that so that they can fit into a mold that has been dictated by corporation with the purpose of maximizing profits, not maximizing mental health and self esteem.
I think the best solution is to subject your children to these images for the purpose of discussing reality versus pretend. SpongeBob isn't real, dragons aren't real, and the models in advertising aren't real. Also, let your child know that you are not going to spend fifty dollars on a named-brand shirt, when it is not affordable, and other perfectly "socially acceptable" shirts, and other clothes, are available at a perfectly reasonable price. There is a chance that this may bring your child social grief in school when they do not fit in with popular kids. But let's face it, do you really want your children hanging out with children at school who only allow people in their group based off of such superficial standards? I definitely do not. What will more than likely happen is your child will move on to real friends with real personalities and values.
I'm not exactly sure what the most effective way is to overcome this problem. You can only shield your child from so much, and if you shield to much that may be a problem within itself.
What I try to do is to instill a sense of self worth into my children. I am constantly reminding them that they are both beautiful and wonderful and that I love them very much. I offer them praise whenever the get something right, and support when they are having trouble with something, reassuring them that they can do it if they continue trying. I also let them know that when it comes to liking things, it is better to choose what you like, not what others think you should like.
It is my hope that when they become teenagers they will have the self confidence to be the person they are, and resist pressures to be something they would prefer not to be.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Being a parent and a friend

I have heard many parents says, "I am not my child's friend, and I am their parent." I take a different approach. First, I am my child's parents. Next, I am their friend.
Okay, so what do I mean by that. When I say I am first a parent, I mean that parenting is my priority. A good parent works hard to help raise a child in the manner they should go. A good parent provides the wisdom and guidance necessary to help a child grow into a healthy and happy adult. A good parent understands that there are times to be a hard ass and times to be soft and understanding.
A friend is someone who is always there for you. A friend can be trusted. We go to our friends to discuss personal matters, and help us work through our problems. When we have messed up and need someone to turn to, we call on our friends.
I have met parents that are proud to just be a parent to a child. They dress, house, and feed their children. They give them chores and make sure they do their homework. That's where the relationship ends. This is a mistake. Being a friend is part of being a parent, but it never trumps being a parent.
If your child is messing up, you don't just do what friends do and carry on. As a parent you take corrective action to help your child get back on the right path. If your child's teacher calls you in for a conference because your child has behavior problems in school, it is time to take on that parent roll and drop the friend part. On the same token, if your child is maybe having a hard time with relationships, you should be their friend to listen to them. It is a delicate balance that probably nobody gets exactly right.


The role that a TV should play in a child's life is one often talked about in parenting magazine's and things of the like. The following is my thoughts on the TV dilemma and how I deal with it.
When I became a parent I noticed things I had never noticed before while watching TV. All the "bad" things on TV become more apparent.
The worst thing on TV is not what is shown on the TV shows. Sure, there is some bad language, some bad language and content not suitable for your children, but the real problem is the commercials. The goal of a commercial is convince the viewer, which the commercial sees as being a potential consumer, that they should desire the product in question. To do this advertisements put in to play all sorts of clever tricks. Advertisers have spent millions in researching how to hood wink audiences into desiring products they don't need, and otherwise would not want. The constant bombardment of effective advertisement has driven our society into a culture of over-consumers.
One major technique employed by advertisers is to make the viewer feel insecure with a promise that their insecurity can be satisfied by purchasing their product. Unhealthy and unrealistic images bombard advertisements defining for us what it means to be a man or a woman, a boy or a girl. These standards are not based off of healthy ideals, but on what convinces people to spend more money on their products.
Advertisers are smart and they know that the sooner they get the children hooked on a constant state of consumption to squelch artificial insecurities that they are likely to have customers for life. Commercials aimed at children too young to even be in school exhibit girls in lots of flashy, low-cut outfits. The clothes are always top of the line and the girls are made to look perfect. The message to the children is, "This is how you are suppose to look, and we sell the things that allow you to look this way." Children are impressionable and have no way of knowing any different. Certainly what they are seeing on the TV is much more exciting and provocative than anything you, the parent, have to offer the child.
The solution is to simply turn off the TV. However this doesn't need to mean a life with no TV. My children watch TV all the time. They just don't ever watch commercials.
We do this by buying our children's favorite shows on DVD. This provides all sorts of advantage. First it is financially sound. A minimum cable package starts at around fifty dollars a month. That's about one full season of your favorite TV show per month. By purchasing DVDs as our pocket book allows we save money, and we can watch our favorite shows when we want, not when they happen to be on.
We also suggest DVDs of our children's favorite shows as gifts for holidays. This saves us money as well.
Most of the DVDs have been ripped on to their computer and the DVD has been tucked away so that they do not become scratched or lossed over time. On a limited basis they can bring up any of their DVDs on their PC by simply clicking through a few menus. So instead of watching whatever SpongeBob episode happens to be on, at whatever time Nickelodeon happens to decide to air it, we have four full seasons of SpongeBob available to us whenever is convenient for us.


I have been wanting to blog about my ideas about good parenting techniques, but have never gotten around to it. Now that both my brother and sister are going to have children (with separate partners mind you) I feel compelled to finally get around to it.
I have always been hesitant about giving out parenting advice. It seems that whenever someone is going to have their first child every parent feels compelled to tell them what they think about parenting. I figure that they will find out when the baby comes what a big change it is, and as that child grows they should be able to figure most of it out. Certainly what information I may offer now will not be remembered by the time it may actually be useful, assuming it actually is useful.
So the main purpose of this blog is to just flesh out for the record my thoughts and opinions on parenting, for whatever they are worth.
My first piece of advice to any prospective parent is to take a look at what their parents did. Think about the things that they did right and the things they did wrong. It is natural for a new parent to do exactly what their parents did, even if they don't realize they are doing it. It is important to only repeat the good things they did and learn from their mistakes.
Take this new roll of parenting more seriously than anything you have ever done before. As a parent you have the full ability to ruin your child's self image for the rest of their life, or to set them on track to live a happy and successful life. Children put a lot of emotional stake in who their parents are and what their parents think of them. Even as adults many people still put a lot of stake in their image of their parents.
As a parent remember to be interesting and fun. Don't be that parent that takes their child to work, comes home, makes dinner, cleans, watches TV and then goes to bed. I mean, many nights that will be necessary, but you should show to your child that you are an exciting person.
Go out and do things with your child. Go camping or fishing. Visit cool places like national parks or a local place of interest. If you ever learned to play an instrument get some sheet music for kids songs so that you can play them their favorite songs while everyone sings along. Whatever it is you do, make sure it is interesting. Children need to understand life can be fun, and the world we live in is awesome. There is a world out their beyond the social awkwardness that is grade school.
At the playground don't just let your kid loose. Get on your hands and knees and play with your children. Climb up the slide with them, go down the fire pole. Ran around and scream while you chase them. It is good exercise, it develops a strong bond with your child, and it reminds you that you are still young (assuming you aren't becoming a parent in your 40s.)
Being a parent is tough work filled with lots of stress. Take every opportunity to have fun while you can. It is a lot harder than it may sound, but it is also very rewarding.

One of those "I Run Linux" moments.

A friend came over for dinner last Sunday. She had some music on her iPod she wanted me to check out. There wasn't a good way to plug it into my stereo system, so I plugged it into my laptop which runs Kubuntu. I wasn't sure what to expect. I opened up Amarok (the media player in Kubuntu) and her iPod showed up as a connected device. I copied the artist in question to the playlist and began listening to the music. It was that easy.
On Windows I would have had to install iTunes. I've never used iTunes, but I believe there is some kind of protection so you cannot just copy your music around as you like. She was worried that her iPod was going to try to synch with my music collection.
So it was great that all I had to do was plug her iPod in and my desktop was configured by default to just handle everything with ease.
I frequently have a similar situation happen when trying to grab photos from someone's camera. They say, "Oh no, you need the driver disk." To which I reply, "Oh no, none of that is necessary." Then I plug in their camera and the pictures start copying over to my local pictures folder. It should be that easy on any operating system.

More Internet, same cost

While paying my phone bill last night, I checked the DSL availability in my area. It turns out that the latest pricing allows me to go from 3.0M to 5.0M for only 40¢ more. Woot!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It is viruses, not virii

According to Wikipedia, the plural of virus is viruses, not virii. This completely changes EVERYTHING.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rodrigo y Grabiela

Image from
Rodrigo y Gabriela - Live in Japan.
As soon as I get a little money I am going to order this album. I have all of their previous albums and they have frequented my rotation since purchase. To add another piece of their work to my collection is an honor.


I really love programming. My job as a programmer brings me a lot of satisfaction. Some days I will voluntarily skip my lunch and work through it because I am so enthusiastic about a problem I am talking that I cannot bring myself to part from it.
On days that I am making good progress I enjoy my job the most. Tackling a lot of problems gives me a really big energy boost that I carry with me. Being able to take things I don't know anything about and quickly whipping them into shape has been one of my specialties. Just two weeks ago I took an application that two others had been trying to port to our new system without success, and I knocked it out in four hours, even though I had no experience with the application or the technology it runs on.
So this week I am back on a project that I had started when I first got this job. This project is a complete rewrite of an application that runs on an IBM mainframe. It is a large task that will end up taking well over six months once it is completed. The problem is that right now I am stuck. I have tried understanding a current process so I can duplicate it in our new system. After a lot of work and research I still don't understand the process very well. It is complicated and in large doesn't make a lot of sense. I have been making such little progress for so long that it is affecting my ability to focus. I find distraction everywhere. I can look to anything to get my mind off of the impossible task.
For most of the week I have put a lot of priority on to smaller "back burner" projects that aren't suppose to get much attention right now. Today I have committed to getting myself back on track so I can tackle this final road block. Once this road block is done our IBM rewrite will almost be 100% complete and I can claim victory over this large project. But mustering myself up to tackle this final challenge may prove to be the real challenge. UGH!

Google getting crazy with their street view

My parents live out in the middle of absolutely nowhere on a river called the Sopchoppy River in the town of Sopchoppy. In the outskirts of this Sopchoppy town is a tiny road that they live down. I happened to notice that Google has taken their Stree View van and made a Street View of their road. I wonder if Google is seriously looking at having a street view of every street in the US. If they are doing this small country road out in the extremes of the boons, I can't imagine too many places they would consider to be too insignificant to cover.
Image from Google maps.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Yesterday I came down with a bad case of sick. I had sore muscles and a scratchy throat. My brain felt like it only half operating as well. It didn't really hit until I got home. I made it through helping Kim the best I could, cooking and doing dishes. As soon as the last girl went to bed I did too.

Then I woke up at two-thirty and couldn't get back to sleep until four. I felt a lot better this morning but was really crabby. When I sat down for work I felt terrible again.

Usually being sick doesn't affect my spirits, but I have really been on edge since last night. I have been doing what I can to avoid dealing with people and problems.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Science vs. the Devil

If the extropianists are right, then the devil is going to have a hard time making deals. Why settle for having to live of the flesh of mortals or going through other extreme measures in the pursuit of immortality if all you have to do is go visit your doctor?