Saturday, August 28, 2010

August Firsts

This month has had a lot of "firsts" for Smiley.  Most are not developmental milestones, but just the first time we let him do something.

(In July I twice wrote about his firsts.  He continues to improve with the laptop touchpad, and can now play AlphaBricks by himself.)

On Friday the 13th he first pushed and steered an adult-sized shopping cart.  It was the smaller size cart of the two that Market of Choice uses, but it was still funny to watch since he had to look through the cart to steer, which limited our use of the cart to carry groceries.

The next day he was allowed to use scissors for the first time, and then in the afternoon learned to use the "stepping stones" at Skinner Butte park.  He had first tried these in late July.  But on August 14th he learned how to do these by himself.  First he learned not to hold my hand, but still needed me to push the next step closer to him.  Then he was able to do it independently.

The next day he held our guinea pig, Boo, by himself while in the back yard.

The next weekend he ate his first hot dog on Sunday, in front of the Eugene Jerry's Hardware store.  I had to get him a hot dog with no bun, or he would have only wanted the bread.

Then the next day, the 23rd, we needed something to do in the late afternoon on a hot day to avoid a too-short nap (that would have left him barely rested and still cranky, but also staying up late).  So I took him to Prince Puckler's and he ate his first ice cream sundae.  I should have brought the Flip, since it was very funny watching him eat such a treat while nearly falling asleep.

Later that Monday he did some interesting blending of themes with his pretending.  Using his play kitchen food and a ziploc bag he packed Mommy an "airplane lunch".  I'm not sure where he got that concept, since we sometimes talk about airplane travelers using suitcases but not packed lunches.

The next day he helped me marinate zucchini before grilling them.  He liked using the paintbrush and olive oil.

Friday his interest in Goliath returned with a surge of wanting to "fight", so I introduced him to using pipes outside to sword fight.  He's much to little for the Four Rules, so the game at this point is only hitting my pipe with his.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Eugene Celebration Weekend

This weekend is Eugene Celebration.  Lots of fun things to listen to and do!  Free things for kids!

Don't Cross Beams!

Heh.  This month two different companies attempt to blur the distinction between phones and the internet in two very different ways.

Google releases and update that allows Gmail to make phone calls.

Dell releases the Streak, an Android device halfway between a tablet computer and a phone.

I expect that in the long run both approaches will work.  Two decades from now no one will carry a distinct cell phone, instead carrying something roughly Streak-sized that browses the web and uses that browser interface to do video chat, voice calls, and text messages.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New to Southeast Eugene

My brother-in-law is now a neighbor!  One reason I have not been blogging regularly is that I was helping family with house shopping and setting up.

He has moved in, but is not yet settled.

To help him find a job, I recommended visiting the LCC Workforce Development Center, part of the Lane Workforce Partnership.  He also knows about the Register-Guard, Craigslist, and Monster.

Of course I've invited him to the weekly swing dancing my wife and I enjoy.  That's not free, but we'd pay for him.

Eugene's Park and Recreation Services posts an online calendar and newsletter.  Many free movies and concerts!

Our neighborhood's game store has two free weekly drop-in game times.  Tuesday nights after about 6pm are when people show up to play board games.  Wednesday nights at 7pm sharp have a more structured event: a 4e D&D encounter.

Supreme Bean has free live music weekly, Fridays from 6pm to 7:30pm.  Hideaway Bakery sometimes has events.

What other free and fun things are there in our corner of town?  Please help me brainstorm what I have forgotten!

Both Short and Knobby

Smiley used a silly word juxtaposition three weeks ago, while playing with his toy front loader.  He was pretending to adjust the knobs on the wheels, but called them "ear plugs".  This confused me for a moment, then when I asked if he meant "lug nuts" he agreed.

He hears both occasionally, but obviously not often enough to make a firm impression.

I wonder how memory works, that short, knobby things on hubcaps become confused with short, knobby things that Daddy wears in his ears when using the leaf blower?

Downtown Library by Bus

Smiley has been increasingly fond of riding the bus.

It turns out there are several reasonably ways to get to combine a bus trip with our weekly Tuesday morning trip to the downtown library singing and story time.  This works well because the library is adjacent to the bus station.

We can depart from the Fox Hollow bus stop at 9:30 am, to take Route 28 to the 10:15 am story time.  Or we can depart from the Donald Street bus stop at 10:20 am, to take Route 24 to the 11:00 am story time.

Returning home is even more convenient.  Route 24 departs the downtown bus station twice each hour at -:00 and -:30 minutes.  Route 28 departs the downtown bus station twice each hour at -:20 and -:50 minutes.  Route 25 departs the downtown bus station hourly at -:10 minutes.  So we usually wait less than 10 minutes, and never more than 20 minutes.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Birthday Fudge

My family's fudge recipe comes from Rebecca Hald, one of my wife's best friends from her undergraduate years.

For some reason we have not made fudge in years.  I don't know why.  I've put the recipe on my website now, hoping to remedy that lack of frequency.

Earlier this week my wife asked me what kind of birthday cake I would want.  I said I wanted fudge instead.  No one at the birthday party complained.

More Videos and Photos

Today I woke up early, and spent a few hours before my wife or Smiley woke up using the computer.

I'm now all caught up with Smiley's videos, and almost caught up with photographs.

Several of these videos or photos have great stories, but I am going to wait to share them.  My wrists are telling me that they have been on the computer enough today.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Two More Recipes

I've added two more recipes during the past week: fruity Philadelphia style ice cream and gluten-free blueberry muffins.

Not New Not-Shoes

So, how are my MBT sandals working out since I got them in mid-June?

They continue to be comfortable and a benefit to posture.  Surprisingly, they also make good swing dancing footwear.

I had hoped that once they trained me to minimize heel strike this walking habit would transfer to when I wear other shoes.  This took two months, but has definitely happened. (From what I have read, the Skechers Shape-Ups and Reebok EasyTones are less effective at training people to walk with minimal heel strike.)

They are sometimes advertised as helping weight loss as well as posture, but I have not noticed any difference with how much exercise it is to walk while wearing them.  Standing is more fun because I can rock slightly.

I did find out that I could have saved quite a bit of money by shopping at FootwearEtc, where the MBTs cost only what the Shape-Ups and EasyTones normally cost.

Finally, being slightly taller has been interesting.  For example, as someone slightly below average male height, I had never realized that my bathroom counter was designed for someone an inch or two taller than me.

Enough Weight Lost

I have not blogged about my weight in over a year.  It's not very exciting.  But I was curious how my summertime exercise is helping.

I'm now down to what our scale measures as 145 pounds and 21% body fat.  So I've exceeded my goal, without realizing it.  I only weigh myself a couple times each month.

Most emotionally satisfying is that this scale also tells me what age man typically has measurements like mine.  For the first time, my scale thinks I resemble someone younger than 40.  Good enough for me.

I Had a New Duck

Time for the first of three health-related blog posts.

The most interesting recent health news was an attempt to help me get more sleep.  Lack of sound sleep is my biggest health problem, with far more impact on my daily life than my allergies.  I have two problems that contribute to not getting enough sleep.

First, falling asleep usually takes more than half an hour, and fairly often two or three times that long, because my brain does not turn off well.  I get stuck in a state where I am too tired to direct my thoughts but not tired enough to fall asleep.  I'm not worried or making to-do lists.  My brain just tries to tell me stupid, brief stories.  (Last night one was about the rotor problems with the world's most environmentally friendly transport helicopter.)

Second, I wake up easily.  This is good because my wife can sleep through all but the very loudest of Smiley's night noises.  But most nights I wake up two or more times only to use the restroom, which seems a needless interruption.

My doctor decided to try prescribing 10mg daily of imipramine.  This drug is seldom used any more, but it is usually safe (although it can have some scary side-effects).  It increases the duration of N2 and decreases the duration of REM sleep, which for some people helps with falling staying asleep.

I tried it for a week, with interesting results.  The first two nights it did completely solve my first problem: I would lie down to go to sleep and my brain would shut up.  That dramatic effect did not last, although it did continue to help me fall asleep faster.  However, it also caused me to wake up early and be unable to fall asleep again; this happened earlier and earlier as the week progressed.  It also did nothing to help me sleep through the night without interruption.  Finally, I got cranky and a bit depressed, either from repeatedly getting six or less hours of sleep, or as a medication side-effect, or both.

I stopped taking imipramine two nights ago, and the last two days have been great days sleep-wise.  I have been energetic, happy, and patient.  The residual constant headache left over from this year's month-long grass pollen season is finally gone.  The drug clearly was not a good match for me, but at least going off it seems to have been kind to my body chemistry.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Boy Scout Photos

This is fun!  One of my old scoutmasters, Michael Reed, has put online all his Boy Scout photographs for Troop 787.  Here are two of me.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


In early June I started using Google Analytics on my website and blog.

Naturally, the website's most visited page is my role-playing game.  I mention it in my blog and in early July publicized it in several other places online.  By now the artificial spike in people visiting my website because of those early July efforts has faded away and I can look at "normal" behavior.

Chris's list of free RPGs continues to generate more than half my visiting traffic.  During the past thirty days 31 visits to my website have lasted more than 10 minutes, and I've had 189 return visitors.  So about one person per day "discovers" my role-playing game (usually because of Chris) and likes it a fair amount.  That is fun to know.

Most surprisingly to me, only 21 out of 858 visits came from search engines.  I erroneously expected my list of gluten-free recipes would create more search engine results.  There are a sizable number of famous gluten-free bloggers; they must be totally eclipsing my recipes.

In contrast to my website, my blog had 810 visits, 225 from search engines and without a dominant searched phrase.  That does not surprise me, since I blog about such random thing.  There were 16 visits of 10 minutes or more, and 142 return visitors.  There were 72 visitors that returned 26 or more times: my "regular readers" that are not using feed readers.

Herculean Fonts

Because of this discussion thread, I've seen the Lovecraft Font Archive.  Yet, oddly, I don't feel any loss of SAN points.

Hark and Ahoy

I enjoy the comic xkcd.  Sometimes I think, "I could have written that."  But more often I realize I'm simply not as witty and funny as Randall Munroe.  The most recent case in point: Period Speech, which still makes me laugh each time I look at it.

Local U-Pick Directory

Our local newspaper's classified ads for merchandise: food are the best place to find current u-pick information.

But for a general overview, I did find an online directory.

Changing Demographics: Househusbands

At the allergy shot office last week I read an article with interesting statistics.  Do one-quarter of preschoolers really have the father as primary caregiver?  I see a lot more men with jogging strollers now than before the recession, but still not nearly one-quarter.

Instapundit recently mentioned other common but wrong stereotypes about men's work.

Combining Genres: Steampunk and Fairy Tale

I have been thinking about steampunk a bit lately, because of my RPG setting.

I specifically was wondering what else has been done with a setting that used both fairy tale and steampunk themes.  According to Google, not much.

The CG Society had a fun contest, with one entry I especially enjoyed.  Some people have had amazing costume parties.

A number of people have forced a steampunk theme onto established fairy tales.  I can't be the first person to be writing new stories that use both themes--but I can't easily find others who are doing so.

I appreciated a well-written article about why steampunk is a genre that is difficult to do well.  I hope my RPG setting that blends steampunk with fairy tale and wuxia themes avoids the problematic issues.

I found a nice desktop wallpaper, which I am using.  I stumbled upon some iPhone literature, which I can't use.

I also found an article with a video about a modern steam race car.

Amusingly Unpopular

Heh.  Facebook has a page for people interested in pencil-and-paper role-playing games.  Currently there only 14 people who are fans.  I am reminded of the famous nerd venn diagram, although I know that low number really only means that such gamers have many social networks besides Facebook.

Another Nice Economic Summary

In July I praised the overview of the U.S. economy neatly and readably provided in the FMIMX shareholder reports.

I finally got around to reading the June 30th report, and again recommend it.

A much more biased, but more amusing, read is here.

Another "summary" in name only is here, for people who want to read a lengthy paper.

Return to Freefall

A few years ago I read the comic Freefall.  Going through all the archives is a fun read.  But the story moves so slowly that I never enjoyed reading it as it was published.

Since it had been a while, and I was really worn out the past four days, I went back and restarted it.  One more episode, besides that French Ninja Restaurant episode, struck me as especially funny: starting here you can read a humorous explanation of why stereotypical men and women shop differently.

This single strip also seemed funny, after reading this earlier the same day.

Local Internet Speeds

I can't measure my internet speed.  Any big download shuts down after a second or two.  Usually I can open the download window and use pause and un-pause to finish.

This makes me wonder if there is a better provider than Comcast.  According to NetIndex for Eugene and Oregon there isn't.  Could the modem Comcast leases to my house be broken?

Guild Wars 2

Many years ago I played Guild Wars as my first MMORPG.  I enjoyed it a lot, mostly due to the friendly people in my now-vanished guild.  Well, I enjoyed it except for a repetitive part soon after you first enter a snowy region, and that jungle where too many spiders dropped out of trees.

I still admire ArenaNet for producing such a great entertainment deal.  Guild Wars has no monthly fee.  I got far more hours from purchasing that game than any other computer game since Magic Candle.  If I still had a computer that would run Guild Wars, I could still play it as much as I want.

Thanks to Shamus, I know that Guild Wars 2 is coming out soon and will again be different from other games.

There were five years between the release of Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2.  In four or five years Smiley will be ready for his first MMORPG.  I wonder if it will be Guild Wars 2?

(Since he cannot reliably move the mouse where he wants, he is not yet able to enjoy even Orisinal.)

Helping Dispell Prejudice

Lately one friend wrote about feelings of supremacy while another posted a Buzz link to a moving article about dispelling prejudice.

Cooking on the Deck

It's the hot part of summer time, so my wife and I are trying to do minimal baking and most of our cooking outside.

We did buy a hose that connects our grill's propane tank to our Coleman camping stove.  Now we can make pasta or curries outside without heating up the house, and without using up expensive camping-sized propane canisters.

We also ordered a griddle accessory for our Weber Q120 grill.  I'm looking forward next week to being able to make scones and cookies on the grill.

I debated trying to make cookies on the grill without the griddle, but decided to avoid experimentation.  Various websites offered a hodgepodge of advice (preheat to 325, use a silicon baking mat, halve the cooking time, try raising the cookie sheet on small bricks if the bottoms burn) that sounded more like kludges than a starting plan.