28 April 2009

Ear Infection

Alisa has been home with a fever since last Thursday. Yesterday's trip to the doctor revealed that she has a mild ear infection. She's on an antibiotic regimen right now and is feeling better. She seems to like the antibiotics. They're probably sweet because they smell very much like bubblegum.

Leia, on the other hand, is げんき. In other words, she's healthy and unstoppable as she climbs up everywhere and runs around the room.

26 April 2009

Look Ma

Leia is now standing without holding on to anything.

Its been less than a week that she could pull herself up to standing unassisted. Now she'll climb up on something and chatter until she has our attention. Then she'll slowly, deliberately, one hand at a time, let go of whatever she's using to balance herself. After five to ten seconds she starts to topple over and so either falls or grabs on to something. For those few seconds she has the biggest, most proud smile of anyone on the face of this planet.

We haven't been able to take a snapshot of it yet. Still trying.

25 April 2009

Connect the Dots

What if there really is a request from the UN to hold those accountable for torture, highest to lowest, to an "independent criminal court and be held accountable". This is what the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has to say over at Glenn Greenwald's place. What would you do as POTUS?

Given Obama already stated that the low-level agents won't be prosecuted, what do you think Obama will do?

My own stance is probably pretty clear by now. President Reagan signed the UN Convention Against Torture back in 1984. So we have no choice as a nation then to send Bush on down the line to face a UN sanctioned, independent court. Plus, its the right thing to do even without the contractual obligation.

Luckily for Obama, it was Saint Reagan who signed it. He can claim that he had no authority to state that anyone would not be prosecuted. The way out is for Obama to convince the UN to let a US Federal Court do the prosecution and be as brutally just and transparent as possible. That would be what I expect from a constitutional law professor. Transparency and the Blessings of Saint Reagan are the only things that may save him if the UN really does push for it.

Then again, what power does the UN have?

24 April 2009

Best Krugman So Far

This is the best I've seen from Krugman: short, to the point, insightful tinged with visionary.

23 April 2009

Goodbye Safari

It took me forever; but, I finally ditched Safari. After having it crash about 20 times a day for the last two weeks I gave up on it. Firefox here we come.

22 April 2009

Howling for Blood

Words fail me. A reasonable reaction to torturing people in order to get a confession for something that is already known to be false (an Iraq/Al Qaida connection) to support a bogus invasion is just beyond my ability to articulate.

How can this be anything but a war crime? These 'gentlemen' need to be tried in a court of law.

It really should be the World Court instead of a US court that conducts the trial. The notion of US exceptionalism must be stopped now. Its the idea that the US is special and somehow exempt from standards upheld by many other countries that helps enable such despicable behavior. The USA has become another victim of hubris. Knock it down a peg or two.

On second thought, try these bastards in both a US federal court and the World Court. Double their sentence. Make sure the POTUS can't pardon their sorry asses.

21 April 2009

Scotch Blogging: The Glenrothes Single Speyside Malt 1985

Its been a while since I've done a scotch tasting. I'm not a big drinker so the last couple of bottles kept me supplied for over a month. Now that I've finished the last two bottles and spent a week or so without drinking any whiskey, its time to crack open another bottle and break out the glasses.

This time I'm trying a really old Speyside single malt: The Glenrothes 1985. Its age shows in bottle, with a rich caramel color in the simple, barely adorned bottle. An understated package with a superb liquor inside.

The aroma strikes me as nothing so much as brandy. The fruity, apricot smell pervades prior to tasting. After a few sips the oak scent becomes more clear. This scotch is extremely palatable. Its smooth on the tongue with only the wee-ist hint of bite at the back of the throat when swallowing. Its a good scotch for the beginner; but, don't be fooled by how easily it goes down. This baby has a depth of character that even the most jaded drinker can appreciate.

The flavor is rich and complex. The oak and apricot are strong from start to finish. Likewise there's a pointed spiciness that almost overpowers a subtle undercurrent of vanilla. The finish is long and appealing. An aftertaste of oak, apricot and spice leave me wanting another dram. There's no hint of peat in either the aroma or the taste, which is sorely lacking.

Overall this is a highly mature scotch. Its a great scotch for introducing the discriminating amateur as well as the experienced scotch drinker alike. The only flaw I can find in the entire delivery is the lack of any hint of peat. This is a Speyside and so peat is not required; but, I think a slight peatiness on par with the strength of the vanilla flavor would make this the perfect scotch. I'm giving this vintage 4.5 glasses. Its is the closest to a 5 rating that I can think of without actually giving the coveted five glasses.

Updated: After a second sampling, I have to admit that this is the best scotch I've ever had. I'd say the brandy flavor was really more of a sherry flavor, probably from the sherry casks used in storing. Its still not a perfect scotch, lacking the peatiness. So I'm not going to bump the rating to 5 glasses. But it is definitely the tastiest and best scotch I've ever had. Its even worth having a dram on a carb night in order to try it with a bread pudding or similar sweet, with which I think it would match wonderfully.

Update II: Third tasting, third different taste. The complexity and versatility of this scotch is impressive. On the third night having a dram the rich vanilla flavors are ascendant, with the sherry taking a back seat. Like a fine wine, The Glenrothes seems to change with the mood and accompaniment. If you see this scotch in your local store, buy it!


I've hesitated posting about first words for a few weeks now. Alisa has occasionally used a verbal expression purposefully; but, their usage was right on the edge of being actual words. Now I can say without doubt that Alisa is using words, or at least verbal approximations of words.

In order, her "words" are:

"Da" - Used when pulling out any one of a series of three Japanese children books. The main character is a bright red fellow named だるまさん ("Darumasan"). Although she says "Da" many other times, this one has a particular inflection that is not used elsewhere. She's been saying this for about three weeks now; but, since its really such a simple syllable that is also used so many other times, I've hesitated really calling it word usage.

"Te" - This is really 手, the Japanese word for 'hand'. Its used on a particular page in the Darumasan trilogy where the main character shows his hands. She's been saying this for about two weeks; but, only recently started repeating it when we show our own hands.

"Uh Oh" - This is the classic two-syllable response for when something goes wrong. She first started imitating us with this saying about two weeks ago; but, only in the last few days has she really taken to the expression. Whenever she drops something, most commonly from her diaper changing table or when she's being carried by arm, she exclaims "Uh oh!" Being her only English expression thus far, I find it particularly endearing.

Update: In case you're wondering about Leia, she's not yet started talking. She makes plenty of different noises and syllables; but, so far there's no detectable word usage per se. She is much further ahead in walking, though. It takes her no time to jump up (by holding on to my hand) and start cruising across the room. She's definitely more physical, though smaller, than Alisa.

18 April 2009

Baby No More

Alisa is growing up fast. They both are; but, Alisa has really changed over the last 72 hours.

All of a sudden she stopped drinking formula or mother's milk. She's just not interested in it anymore. She was always a little piggy with the formula; but, now she doesn't seem to like it at all. She'll still suckle the bottle when she goes to sleep; but, she won't drink any of it. All she'll eat now is solid food. Their days of being a baby are numbered.

At least we don't have to struggle to wean her.

Updated: So, Alisa is drinking formula again - just not from a bottle. Only sippy cups and normal cups now. No bottles.

16 April 2009

This is Disgusting

Much of the contents of the torture authorizations under Bush were made public today. This was a long time coming. Obama could have had many reasons to wait so long to release them; but, I do judge him less a leader because of the wait.

The contents are disgusting, no doubt about it. Even the little I read was gruesome. However, what I found telling was the rationale the head of the CIA gave for not wanting the details released:

Now, he argued, foreign partners will be less likely to cooperate with the CIA because the release shows they "can't keep anything secret."

Can't keep anything secret? Seriously? What kind of reason is that?

Individuals representing the US people broke US and international law. There is real evidence of conspiracy with the highest office in the land. The US has lost even further any claim to morality or human rights. And this guy is worried about other countries being unhappy because they think we can't keep a secret. Incredible.

Send the lot to the Hague for prosecution under the World Court.

Updated: It finally struck me why this comment from the CIA is so ridiculous. We broke the treaties we signed with our allies and the complaint from the CIA is that allies won't trust us because we can't keep a secret. What about our allies not trusting us because we cannot follow our own treaties?


Another full night of sleep last night!

Although we have this week off due to a corporate wide (almost) shutdown, I've been doing a lot of study on scaled agile methodology already employed by various companies in the software industry. Last night I finished the latest in a series of books and feel confident now to put forward a model for how the Chocolate Factory might proceed.

That work finished around 11:30pm. So I got to bed a little earlier than usual. For the second time in two weeks, Alisa slept through the night with no feedings. So I was able to sleep almost seven hours with only minor interruptions (30 second intervals of wakefulness when Alisa cried out from dropping her pacifier.) Sweet!

14 April 2009

Keep That Train Rollin'

It looks like New York is next on the list to legalize gay marriage. Let's hope this train picks up even more momentum.

Hat tip to Atrios.

13 April 2009

Fruitless Day

My wife and I both have this week off from work. Adobe is shutdown in the US and nobody is available at the office. So I decided to do the taxes today. They're due Wednesday - not much time to spare. Knowing this shut down was coming up I put off doing the taxes until this week.

Well, started to do taxes today and Turbo Tax barfs on me. It crashes my system twice. Finally got it working and started importing data. Lo and Behold! Turbo Tax claims I owe US$300,000 in taxes this year beyond what I've already paid throughout the year!!! Holy crap, I can't afford that kind of money. Its gotta be wrong.

A little sleuthing and it turns out my employer's W-2 form is off by a very large amount both on the amounts received and the amount of taxes already paid throughout the year. But; the offices are closed and I can't get hold of anybody to get the correct numbers. So now I can't file taxes until next week, have to guess at an amount now and will likely have late penalties.

Gar! What a wasted day off.

12 April 2009

So Domestic

Lazing on a Sunday afternoon.

This morning really has been the picture of domestic bliss. Both babies were happily playing with books on the family room floor. I'm drinking a cup of coffee and snacking on some cheese while watching over them from the couch. Rubber Soul is playing on the stereo. Peaceful. Quiet. Relaxing.

11 April 2009

Maybe not his best speech

but the content is really quite good. I enjoyed reading the text more than watching the speech.

Oh, and a really helpful milestone for Alisa yesterday. She learned how to blow her nose.

09 April 2009

Feeling a Bit Better

Last night was great! I cancelled all meetings and went to sleep as soon as Alisa was down. She woke up only once throughout the night (at least for anything more than 30 seconds) and so I slept a total of about 12 hours last night. Beautiful! I feel so much better.

Sleep was important last night because today was the kickoff meeting for The Chocolate Factory. We had senior folks from various parts of the business unit (engineering, program management, product management, marketing, experience design) gather today to form a tiger team around the project. It looks like it will become an SBO (Strategic Business Objective) for the next fiscal year. That translates to really strong executive backing and significant funding. We're off to a good start. We've agreed on long-term and mid-term goals as well as a basic structure to our approach. We've also identified some areas where we lack expertise and need to bring in 3 other people to the core tiger team (legal, customer care, and business operations.) Lastly, the timeline I was originally shooting for (3-5 years) is being brought in to less than 2 years. I wish my other projects were going so well...

On the home front, Alisa feels better, as evidenced by her sleeping so soundly last night. Leia is still having trouble breathing at night and so wakes up every hour or so, making life unbearable for Hirono. During the day they both are doing well. They try to walk on their own. Leia keeps challenging herself to balance and stand upright without support. They eat three solid meals a day and snacks in between, so they're slowly weaning off formula/mother's milk.

05 April 2009

Round 40

Here we go again. The cold was subsiding after a couple of days away from work. The girls were starting to get healthy again. Then yesterday both Leia and Alisa started to sneeze again. Today its me and Hirono. Another round of sickness.

04 April 2009

A Real Monster

Here's a real, live Dungeons and Dragons monster. I wonder what the saving throw is for its contact poison.

02 April 2009

10 Months

The girls turn 10 months old tomorrow. Friends and acquaintances with twins have all told me there's two years of being an zombie and then everything starts to get better again. We're not quite half-way through the zombie period. I don't know if I can make it. I'm falling apart. Two days missed in a row at work and still I can't shake this illness.

Update: Just relaxing but being somewhat active today really helped. I just walked away from work and did some house chores. Even had the time to play some music. The music is really good therapy for relaxing. Maybe because it was from The White Album. Plus, its fun and I learned a song to sing to the girls.

01 April 2009


Very sick and home from work. Getting sick is one thing; but, not being able to get any sleep has made this cold really bad. There is an offsite yesterday through tomorrow. These three days of meetings are very valuable; but, I have to miss today and tomorrow now. At least the girls seem to be over their colds now.