My Zunivers

31 December 2008

Kid Updates and Such

Having been sick for a week and only wanting to "nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh," The Kid has become a voracious eater once again. Yesterday she downed a good sized ham sandwich, some cheesecake, roast beef, rice, and six ounces of whole milk. Yes! Whole milk! The Sippy Cup Strike of Late 2008 was broken. Today I don't know what she ate with her mother, but at supper time at Panera Bread* she had a good section of my roast beef sandwich-- she liked the horseradish sauce!-- along with a couple potato chips, some multi-grain bread, and some lemon poppy seed and pineapple upside down cakes.

Overall I can tell that the child's Understanding vocabulary is growing by volumes. She can understand complete sentences, answer yes/no questions, perform simple tasks when asked, and that sort of thing. I'm a little cheesed that her Speaking vocabulary is right around non-existent. I have heard isolated repetitions most of the several dozen basic phonetic sounds that we use in English, including rather difficult things like dental frictives and plosive bilabials, so she is physically capable of speech.** But she still refuses. New words do come in, though. She has started being more clear about "Hi!" and "Byeeeee!" Her sound effect library is growing. It now includes "wooo-wooooooooo" for trains.

One of the kid's favorite Christmas gifts was her box of crayons. She now has something new to pack and unpack from a box, and a new dietary delight. Her least favorite gift was the coloring books. When I start coloring in her coloring book she takes away the crayon and shows me what it is really for. Silly chicken.

Tonight we got to go frolic in the frigid frost and see the end of year festivities downtown. We did not find the procession, alas. We did find many ice sculptures, including dozens of small ones anda few large ones that were carved on-site today. The large ones included a Nittany Lion, complete with a line to have pictures taken with the lion. There was a huge chair, some bears, a giant U S. Capitol, and many other delights. The baby was Cold after a while, and beign Hungry and Cold made her Unhappy. My officemate was with us and he took a few pictures. And we found reindeer. Yes! Real, live reindeer. They were pretty. We came home, so I will not be able to see the midnight fireworks. But it was a lot of fun.

Happy New Year, everyone! Make sure to take some time to ponder why an arbitrary day on the calendar draws so much pondering about things other than how it is merely a days on a calendar. That's the crazy thing, really. The new year means something because it does, not because it should. Let that be a lesson to anyone who thinks too hard.

[* Jesus can forgive sins, so eating a yuppie snakepit will cause no eternal harm. As with any sin, I am worried about the temporal consequences, like the nagging feeling in my conscience that I patronized one of Those Establishments.]

[** What the heck kind of father who isnt'a linguist or speech therapist notices those sorts of things? Or even knows what to call them? I suck.]

Where Has Nate Been?

I've been around.

Christmas was pretty much a bummer, because my wife got norovirus a few days before, and then the kid and I had it. Now my wife and I both have Colds. Personally, I think a dose of antibiotic is in order for me, but doctors are Scrooges about such things so I don't bother asking unless things get bad. So, yay! I got to spend my non-existent Christmas vacation not doing any of the work I needed to do because I was sick. My reward is that I get to have very little fun AND I get to have my boss annoyed with me for not getting things done. It's win-win for losing.

(This is related to why most Christmas Letters bother me. If you're going to write Sap about how good your life is, could you send it in, say, February when my life doesn't suck? Seriously. December has been a Bad Month for me for a few years running. And remember that this only applies to Sap, not to Good and Well Written Christmas Letters.)

Readers may have noticed that I don't post many links and rants on the theme anymore. I've been posting those on Facebook. If you're not on Facebook, you're not online.

State College has a bunch of strange New Year festivities, most of them today. Among other things there are bonfires, concerts, fireworks, dozens of ice sculptures, and-- I kid not-- a procession in which volunteers gather to carry drums and giant papier maché puppets around the streets for an hour.

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16 December 2008


Brian Jones has been re-posting some of his original blog's posts over at Megachurch Misfit. Go read. It's fun stuff.

I've been busy doing crap. I had this C++ program for data analysis and it was getting absolutely out of hand. That was bad, becuase the data files were also getting out of hand. I've mostly restructured it, making it all more intuitive. Actually I split the programs, and then wrote some extra routines to clean that data and things like that. (By cleaning the data, I mean get rid of this artifacts from another program. Some of the data points manage to be saved to a file twice. It is easy to tell a fake repeat from a real repeat, so I'm cutting the fake ones. But you don't want to be bored by details like that, so I'll stop.)

After a few hours at work this afternoon I also have some codes that do some nifty things to make graphs of cool stuff. So my research is going along okay. The only major problem? Some idiots hard working graduate students with larger queues have decided that they should clog up the cluster with crap squared. That means I can't make new data. I sort of need to be able to do that to get more results, which I need because I'm playing hide-and-seek with the simulations.

The Kid has been a frustrating little bugger lately. She is learning a lot every day, including things like learning names of objects when we aren't specifically teaching her. She thinks being disobedient is funny, so she must be related to me. She currently does not want to go to bed, or nap, or stay in bed, or sleep in any way. She has been eating, though. Oy! She eats! I can measure her food consumption in half cups sometimes. And she drinks the milk from the sippy cup too (we finally found one that works!). She's less than 10% my size and eats maybe 25% my calories every day? I guess that's the difference between building a body and... how do I say it... maintaining one.

We were away fro two weekends in a row, first to Maryland and then to my sister's place. It was nice to be back home this weekend. We spent a couple hours with some friends on Saturday, and that was nice. Discussing our Christmas party next Saturday, my wife mentioned making her mom's asparagus casserole. She and the other pregnant foodie were the only ones amused in a good way. I decided to speak for everyone by pointing out that there is a good reason not to like asparagus casserole-- it has asparagus, which smells like feet. For emphasis, I decided to be more specific and point out that it doesn't just smell like feet, it smells like feet taste. See, this is how I make friends with people. Being the clown in a room of extroverts is the only way to avoid being grumpy and scaring everyone off.

I found tonight that one of my friends from college knows one of my friends' friends who is also my friend on Facebook? It feels like I've been told why and have forgotten. I'll need to ponder that.

My cardiologist in Maryland has finally finished negotiations with my insurance company over my tests after last Christmas. Yay! More bills! At least I only need to pay 20%. And this year I promise everyone I won't go to the hospital for chest pains. I know now that it was probably air in my esophagus rubbing my vagus nerve. And I will never go shopping on Christmas Eve again unless life depends on it.

I went out on Friday night to take some pictures in the moonlight. It wasn't because of the slightly brighter and much a big deal made of it moon this weekend. I like night pictures so I decided to get some. I have a spot picked that I want to photograph carefully under moonlight. It's looked promising since my first walk back there in July. But I needed to wait for the trees to be bare. Then I needed a rather clear winter night with an almost full or full moon. Just past full would work in terms of light, too, but I would need to be there from about 3:00 to 5:00 in the days just after full moon. The pictures turned out like crap because some clouds rolled in when I got to my desired location. There aren't any shadows. I also pretty much need to use film because my camera just looks bad at night with large area of even color like snow. Learning how to use film at night is a great adventure that I have the patience but not the money to undertake. Among other things, each film has its own amount of color balance shifting during long exposures.

On my walk home the path was still lit well enough by the glow of the clouds that I did not need my flashlight. I was glad I had my flashlight, though. As I walked along the trail I heard faint "whooosh!--woooosh!" sound behind me. Before I could identify it a rather irate barn owl came gliding over my head and, with one or two more flaps, landed on a limb above the path a couple dozen yards in front of me. I continued walking, but as I got near the place where the owl had perched it began to posture itself like a hawk does when it's going to come at you for getting too close. I had to get home because it was already around 1:30AM, so I decided to use my flashlight (my 120 lumen bicycle headlight flashlight) as a stand-off weapon. Owls don't like bright beams of light at night because it makes their pupils contract so far that all they can see is the light spot. They prefer to fly away to where the light looks dimmer rather than not look in that direction. Shining the light on the owl made it immediately turn and fly further down the trail. I had to do this once or twice before it got the idea and flew off perpendicular to the trail. It was fun to see such a huge bird flying around, though. I had only seen one owl before this one.

So, I'm off. I'm going to go read and head to bed. Tomorrow I need to Make Graphs using data I have and the things I've made to make graphs, and then I need to finish polishing off one more C++ code and make some scripts to make some other graphs. Then I can go about saying enough is enough on waiting for my programs to run and start complaining to Them about it because They can fix it. And there is other stuff to do, all of it fun as long as I'm not getting harassed by Them.

Sometime I should have my sister write a guest post on our [nearly] mis-adventures driving back to her apartment in that freak snowstorm earlier this month. Fun times. I could have sworn my sister, driving behind me, was about this close [holds finger half inch apart] to turning her car sideways and closing down the darn road herself. Thankfully she didn't, because she knew that such things aren't safe or legal. But I suspect it crossed her mind more than once.

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06 December 2008

Same State, Different Valley

One of the greatest parts about Pennsylvania is that a huge chunk of the state, including the Appalachian Mountains and associated lowlands (meaning not out west), is basically ridge and valley province. (See here.) Some sections of the Great Valley are piedmont province for all practical purposes, but they are basically just in a darn big valley. In fact, the Great Valley isn't usually known by its name. Various parts are known by names, though, and those names come from the rivers that traverse the valley (like the Lehigh, Schuylkill, and Susquehanna rivers). For practical purposes, this means that when I'm in the parts of the commonwealth that I tend to care about I am usually in a valley.

Anyway, that's long way of saying that I've left Happy Valley and I'm spending the weekend in the Lehigh Valley. Lehigh University has Christmas Vespers at 4 and 8 on Sunday, and my sister is singing. Sadly, there basically isn't time to see most of you. Maybe I'll catch you next time.

[P.S. Riding my bicycle in the dead cold of winter is great fun. Any and all areas that can have mud have frozen dirt instead. And there is nobody out there. It's bliss.]

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