27 November 2008

Dancing Erde

Tom the Dancing Bug is hit and miss. This one is a superhit. The placement of the arrow from the consumer to the environment is a great riff.

26 November 2008

Uncommonly Well Behaved

I was stunned by Leia today.

She's had a stuffy or runny nose now for almost two weeks. We have this suction device called a rubber syringe. Its used to suck the snot out of tiny noses. Both Leia and Alisa hate it. They wiggle and cry and toss their heads about whenever we try to use it - until yesterday. Alisa still hates it; but, Leia seems to have learned that she actually feels better after its done.

Tonight I was going to drain her sinuses out again with the syringe. She was really stuffy and crying. When she saw the syringe coming she calmed down and stopped moving. Her eyes followed the syringe until it entered her nose, at which point she seemed to concentrate on the ceiling. I made quick work of suctioning out both nostrils. It was so quick and easy now that she doesn't fight it. Immediately after the ordeal she was happy and laughing.

25 November 2008

This Could Be Very Bad News

Ever since a few days after the girls were born they've been drinking Enfamil Lipil with Iron by Mead Johnson. Its the formula the hospital recommended. Apparently, who knows how long ago, the FDA found traces of melamine in this product. The FDA then goes on to say the levels are safe. If it was safe then why didn't the FDA bring it up? Why did the FOA have to be invoked by an AP reporter to get the information? And the numbers given in the article are kinda whacky.

Of course, there was no study to ever to show what a safe level of melamine in infant formula may be. So we don't really know whether the levels found are safe. They're clearly not as bad as China; but, still, not good news.

Updated: I have no clue whether or not the batches we used on the girls were actually contaminated. They show no symptoms. The contaminated samples showed values of <.15 ppm. WHO gives an approximate count of 3.3 ppm as a tipping point for when things would get bad for an infant. The algorithm to determine the value 3.3 ppm is rather dubious since its based on inference from studies on rats and mice.

Update II: OK. So its cyanuric acid instead of melamine. That's not perfect; but, better.

Silly Name Meme

I'm feeling sick today. Lack of sleep combined with ever-flowing goo from the girls' noses finally overcame my resistance. So today's a perfect day for a silly meme from Kona.

1. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names): Arthur Dorothy
2. NASCAR NAME: (first name of your mother’s dad, father’s dad): Jim Arthur
3. STAR WARS NAME: (the first 2 letters of your last name, first 4 letters of your first name): Wieric
4. DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal): Orange Mutt
5. SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you live): Michael Campbell
6. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd favorite color, favorite alcoholic drink, optionally add “THE” to the beginning): Yellow Whiskey
7. FLY NAME: (first 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name): Erde
8. GANGSTA NAME: (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite cookie): Vanilla Butter
9. ROCK STAR NAME: (current pet’s name, current street name): Void Sun(nyside)
10. PORN NAME: (1st pet, street you grew up on): Trixie Dover

Cutting off the last two syllables of the Rock Star Name makes it actually work, in a nihilistic sort of way. Nothing here as exciting as Samantha Dirt Road or Rajah Afterglow, though.

Now, back to bed.

21 November 2008

Be the Goat

No matter what you might think of Kos, sometimes there is a gem there.

h/t Bill in Portland Maine

19 November 2008


That most precious of commodities. What a fitting end and totally gorgeous happy place. Goodnight Opus.

18 November 2008

Both Sides are Not the Same

For example, the Rs would have never kept Lieberman in such a post. The Ds are such a big bunch of wusses. Who's up for re-election in 2010 and voted to keep Lieberman in the DHS chair? Their primary opponent gets $100.

17 November 2008

When a Bailout Might Make Sense

Krugmann pointed out today the reason why I am not so hung with an auto-industry bailout. As Josh Marshall says, we should try to get something for it; but, in principal I'm less concerned about a bailout that might, you know, actually help people directly. The finance industry bailout so far hasn't done anything to show me its worth. The auto-industry bailout may actually keep some working families in their homes with food on the table. That's a big difference.

Update: Oh, I forgot to mention. Fire the fools in charge at these companies.

Clever Idea

People, babies in particular, seem to like white noise to help them go to sleep. As a child I often slept in front of a fan with the explicit purpose of letting the sound lull me to sleep. On airplanes I sleep like the dead (lucky!)

Today, Hirono had a really clever idea. There is a guest bathroom downstairs right next to the family room. It has a really loud vent fan. We often turn the vent fan on when the girls are about to take a nap. It nicely drowns out the kitchen noises without disturbing the girls slumber. Well, tonight when Alisa wouldn't go to sleep Hirono held her in the guest bathroom itself while the vent fan was on. The loud white noise of the vent fan quickly put Alisa to sleep. Great idea! My wife is so clever.

15 November 2008

Obama Derangement Syndrome

Can we call this "Obama Derangement Syndrome"?

Bake-n-Bake: Pork Chops with Cognac Cream

Gotta love long weekends. I took Friday off and so was able to cook Friday and Saturday this week. Cooking around here is a long, drawn out affair even when its food that takes 10-15 minutes of preparation. Today I started getting the ingredients ready at about 2:30pm. We didn't eat until 9pm. The problem was, I had about 15 minutes total time between 2:30pm and 8:30pm to cook. The rest of the time was dealing with the twins, including feeding them mashed veggies. At 8:30pm they went down, so I dragged out the vaporizer and got cooking.

Tonight's dinner was pork chops with cognac gravy, mashed potatoes and sauteed silver chard. It was one of the first times I've been able to get back to my normal dinner style since the girls were born. Nice!

Sprinkle the pork chops with salt and marinate in cognac. Brandy is actually better; but, last night when I went to marinade I felt like cognac. Heat some butter and thinly sliced garlic in a pan under high heat. Once the butter starts bubbling nicely sear the pork chops in it. The garlic should get nice and toasty brown in the process. Turn down the heat and pour in a bit of the marinade. Cover and let simmer at low heat for 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pork chop.

Pork chops in their marinade the night before cooking them.

When the meat is cooked, set it aside in a warmer.

The cream and cognac with caramelized garlic is starting to boil. From this point on you should stir fairly constantly.

The sauce is thickened and now off the burner, still bubbling and giving off a great aroma.

Pour the rest of the marinade into the still hot pan and turn the heat up to very high. Pour in an equal amount of heavy cream and bring to a boil. Once the cream starts boiling you'll need to stir it pretty much constantly. You can walk away occasionally; but, for the most part you're stuck there stirring. You may need to turn the heat down so that the cream doesn't burn. Let the sauce reduce until it is a thick gravy. Pour over the meat and serve.

A rather plain presentation; but, I'm too tired to care.

You should have plenty of gravy for potatoes or pasta.

Updated: Incidentally, this was Bake-n-Bake episode #5 since starting this blog. I need to mark it so that I can remember to count in the future. Hopefully these things will come more frequently now that the girls are growing up a bit. --e

Mmmmm Veggies!

For the third day in a row now we've fed the girls vegetable soup. We cooked a broth of onions, carrots and cabbage. After separating it into solid and liquid with a strainer, we fed the girls the liquid broth in a bottle. They seemed to like the flavor and drank it down quickly. Then we took a mortar and pestle to the solid bits until it was pureed. Yesterday and today we tried the feed it to the girls.

Yesterday was a bit dodgy. They tried to eat but couldn't quite get the hang of swallowing. Tonight we switched to a better spoon and they dug into it with gusto. By half way through the meal Leia was eating like a pro and laughing heartily with every bite. She loves her veggies. Alisa still has a stuffy nose; so, although she ate all the mush she could eat it wasn't with as high of a spirit.

Leia Loving Her Veggies

14 November 2008


In today’s edition of Bake-n-Bake, we make scalloped potatoes. Its fall, such as it is in the Bay Area. What better way to bring in the new season than with potatoes, baked while baked. Put the girls down for a nap and start cooking.

Peel and thinly slice about 1.5-2 pounds of potatoes. You want them pretty thin. Think potato chips.
Nice and thin.

In a saucepan bring to low boil milk (1-1.5 cups), heavy cream (1/8 cup) and 3 cloves of pressed garlic (thin slices work fine, too.) Stir in a teaspoon or so of freshly ground pepper and salt to taste. Add a few pinches of ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg. Use about twice as much nutmeg as cinnamon. Boil gently for 5 minutes.

Carefully stir in the potatoes then transfer to a buttered casserole dish. Bake at 375F for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Eat it before the munchies go away.

Scalloped Potatoes

Updated: Edited because I forgot to write about the nutmeg and cinnamon. That's what you get for baking baked. --e

Covered in Snot and Vomit

I think every shirt I own now is stained.

Call It a Week

What a nasty one it was. Working on India time all week. Today was a presentation to the CEO and collected VPs across the company. 3 hours and they asked for a followup 3 hours in December.

Next week I'm working on China time all week. Then its back to Pacific time until Christmas. Starting 22 Dec I'll be on sabbatical until 07 Feb. Hoh, boy! That will be great.

12 November 2008

Dead Tired

Two more all nighters ahead. I'm running on about 2-3 hours a sleep per night for the last 3 nights. I'll hit Friday morning with about 12 hours of sleep and, if the stop watch's current reading is any sign, about 49 hours of work.

Friday is a day off, sorta. I'll have already put in more than the full week of work. More importantly, both Alisa and Leia are now sick. I'm staying home Friday so that Hirono can go to work. So while I won't be working Friday, I'll be taking care of two very demanding, sick infants.

Some Understanding for Wingers

I've got a bit of understanding for Wingers now. In particular, the variety that is so against abortion of any kind that they'll kill others to stop an abortion. The mere thought of harm coming to one of the twins causes absolute revulsion in me. Its so incredibly powerful that I can transfer that kind of revulsion to other people's infants.

10 November 2008

And the Fat Lady Sings

Word just in. The last of the geo builds for Creative Suite 4 is now successfully transferred to the replicators. Its done.

Another Tough Night Ahead

These next two week at work are going to be some of the most difficult in the coming two years. We're putting the project plan together for The Project From Hell and I'm living on Noida time.

In the midst of this work nightmare, Alisa has come down with a cold. She's got puffy red eyes, sneezes and sniffles. There is no fever, so it seems really mild; but, we have to keep an eye on her. I'm not sure she'll be able to go to daycare tomorrow.

Saturday night Alisa couldn't sleep because of her second tooth cutting out. Tonight, its the sniffles. I'm so tired I could just collapse into a heap of snoring slumber right here at my desk.

Taking It Up the Backside

More money for AIG. Didn't we already fixed them? Oh, yeah, that's right. They need to take more hunting trips and luxury spa vacations.

There is a bit of a tussle on this issue and it possibly being another boondoggle for AIG. I don't know enough to say for sure if they're blowing their dough again; but, on the surface it looks like it.

Bend over, tax payers. The insurance companies want to screw us all again.

Update: SusanG got it right.

Big Day

Today was a big day for the girls. They got to eat food for the very first time. Unfortunately, no pictures. It wasn't a very photogenic event.

Leia tried first. She took a couple of tiny spoons of whole grain, organic rice meal mixed with warm formula. She tasted it, smacked her lips a few times, and then showed no more interest. Nor did she eat again for another 3 hours, so she was probably just not very hungry.

Alisa, however, took to food like a fish takes to water. After a few spoons she was ready and eager to take more bites. She'd hold her mouth open and take the next spoon like a champ. The only problem is, she hasn't quite figured out that she needs to swallow in between bites. It slowly started to dawn on her that it might be a good idea to swallow that huge mouthful of rice gruel; so she eventually got a good bit of it in her tummy.

The other two news items of the day also relate to Alisa. She's getting in her second tooth and boy! is it a doozy. Lots of screaming and crying for this second tooth. Its much worse than the first.

Last news item is that Alisa took her first solo spin of a book today. She was more interested in eating the book than reading it. Unlike Leia, who had her first solo book adventure yesterday and was totally into it.

08 November 2008

Already Reliving the Past

When Leia was very young, up until about 10 weeks old, she would love to fall asleep in my hands as I sang to her. By falling asleep in my hands I mean that she would rest her bottom on my diaphragm with the small of her back in my left hand and her head resting in my right hand. I'd slowly dance to the beat and sing her all kinds of songs. Stevie Wonder was on of my favorites and usually succeeded in getting her to sleep.

Then at about two and half months she stopped liking it. She wanted to be put down in the crib instead. At first it was a relief. I could just put her down and rest or do some work. After a while I started to miss our dances. Those were special times. She was usually so very tense, with her fists balled up even when breast feeding. But when I held her in my hands and sang to her she would drift off to sleep. Her eyes would slowly close; except for a little half open slit with her left eye where she would keep an eye on me. Her arms would drop and her hands would open. Eventually even her half closed eye would close and I could finally put her down in the crib.

Today Hirono was exhausted from her first week back to work. So I've taken care of the girls alone since 7:30 this morning. Alisa is the troublesome one to get to sleep. I finally got her down for a nap when Leia woke up again. After about two hours of playing (totally fun; but, mind numbing) she started to get cranky again. An hour of feeding and settling down later, I placed her on my shoulder and put on "Songs in the Key of Life". I danced around a little with her, trying to sway her to sleep. She started to squirm and worked across my chest until she lay in that old position across my diaphragm. The small of her back again in my left hand, she settled her head in my right hand and let out a sigh.

I couldn't help but cry while she drifted off to sleep.

07 November 2008


I can't believe I made it through this week. What a nightmare!

Exactly 48 hours of work from Sunday. 3 hours over target. Not too bad; but, the entire team is forced to cut back to 45 or less and I must follow. And Obama is President-Elect - Hallelujah!

My job is stressful, to say the least. The work is now almost entirely Human Resource issues. What with the economy and all, this is not a good time to have a job focusing on HR issues.

I've developed enough of a management team to be able to almost completely step back from the technology. Mostly what I provide is oversight. They all have to teach me the architecture and prove that its right. After writing code for decades, I think I'm doing a fair job of keeping them honest.

The hardest part is when the managers cannot answer your questions the second time you ask. Its a clear sign of danger. That makes me want to step in and fix it. I need a good partner that keeps deliverable schedules in their head for the myriad products. (Thank you Toast, for showing me the proper grammar.) That used to be me a couple of years ago.

The second hardest part is keeping control of rogue hurricanes. There is a fellow on the team that is probably the smartest engineer I have ever met. He reports directly to the VP of engineering but he's on my team for the next two years. We don't always see eye to eye; but, there is no way I'm letting go of him now that he's on the team. Big changes underway.

It's Friday! I feel like posting. There's a glass of Two-Buck Check in my hand. I've emptied a bowl. The girls are asleep early tonight. Hallelujah!

06 November 2008

05 November 2008

What the Obama Win Means to Me

I have a number of reactions to the Obama electoral win. The obvious one about having higher hopes for a better future for my children is the biggest. But the most interesting is probably the chance to end policy driven by fear.

Toast wonders why we ever let fear drive us as a nation. More than anything else, W's presidency was about fear. Fear of confronting global warming. Fear of terrorists. Fear of brown people. Fear of liberals. Fear of gays. Fear of muslims. Fear of financial ruin in this recent bailout. Even the McCain campaign focused on fear of Obama in myriad ways. These last eight years have truly been ruled by and defined by fear.

Obama's message of hope is, to me, a message of courage. He has the courage to earnestly attempt the outrageous act of becoming POTUS. He has the courage to face death threats that I believe are all too real. He tells the nation "Yes We Can" confront the problems that face us and overcome them. The courage and inspiration to face our problems and try to grapple with them is the most important message I get from Obama. Its such a refreshing change from trying to get us to all cower in fear and hand authoritarian power over to a tyrannical administration.

May Obama live through his years as POTUS and be as effective as W was destructive.

03 November 2008

Ultimate Responsibility

I thought I had it bad, being ultimately responsible for the well being of two human beings. Sadly, Obama lost his grandmother today. He's walking into the POTUS position without any of his prior guardians. He's responsible for his family (with Michelle) and soon the entire free world, without support from those who have historically cared for him.

OK, maybe its a bit of a stretch to say he's responsible for the entire free world; but, he sure has a lot of responsibility to it.

02 November 2008

The Joys of Fatherhood

Both Alisa and Leia love to ride around on my shoulders. Its a lot of fun to walk through the house and watch them gaze in amazement at the view they have from way up high. Today the risks inherent in such activity became clear, though. While wandering through the kitchen with Alisa on my shoulders I heard the dread sound of a heave. Next thing you know spoiled milk vomit is running down my face, soaking into my shirt and splattered on the floor - just in time for me to put my foot down in it. Lovely.