Sunday, January 06, 2013

Where babies shall not tread, man and cat must pass

Problem: My son can walk, after a fashion. In a horizontal plane. Stairs not so much. But he can crawl up them. I need to block the stairs without preventing my cats free passage back and forth.

Obvious solution: Baby gate. Check. All progress impeded, so some modification to prevent small bipeds but allow small quadrupeds access was needed. Also the ability to prop the thing open sans hands or obstructing object would also be helpful.

The solution, some cable ties, eye hooks, spring locking hooks, a dowel, and a little ingenuity. By using different lengths of dowel with eye hooks sunk in each end, one coupled to the spring lock hook, and I am able to prop the gate open in various ways.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Baby's Laws of Motion

First Law: Every baby continues in a state of rest...just kidding babies will move at all times, even when asleep. Said movement will be uncoordinated and dangerous to the surroundings.

Second Law: The acceleration of a baby and its limbs will be perpendicular to every person and object around. The force of the baby's crying will be disproportionately loud compared to its size.

Third Law: When two bodies interact and they are of opposite sex they will make babies despite knowledge of the above rules.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Lullabies of the Sleep Deprived Parent

Go to sleep my little boy
Remember that you are mama's joy
Go to sleep my little boy
Dreams are your favorite toy

Go to sleep my little lad
Remember that you make daddy glad
Go to sleep my little lad
Getting a few winks isn't so bad

Go to sleep my little man
Grandma is your biggest fan
Go to sleep little Jake
We will play again when you wake

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Eulogy for My Father

It is grim irony that what killed my father was the result of turbulence. Vortices of hypertensive blood created a weakening such that the cells lining the vessels could no longer withstand the fluctuating shear and stress. The combined betrayal of material failure and chaos literally tore a hole in his heart. In my clinical opinion, except for the time dependence, he had an optimal death, one that was nearly instantaneous and painless.

My father was always early. Why couldn’t he be late, just this once? A selfish delay of 20 or so years, so that I could finally trounce him in chess; so that I could see him explain the right hand rule to his grandchildren; so that I could finally co-author that seminal paper by Aref, Aref, Aref and Aref; and so that I could learn those lessons that make a man great.

The accomplished, brilliant scientist and educational administrator that was seen by so many, did not need accolades to be the tyrant who made me do my homework, the gentle giant who tickled my head, and the voice that read about Darwin to me as I fell asleep.

While students trembled before that frightening intellect as they sought direction into the research unknown, I asked him about trivial math problems at a whim. He drafted the definitive articles in his field but always had time to proofread my papers for school. While he directed the course of students, departments, and colleges, he also led our soccer team to second to last place. Dad was invited to give summer schools in fluid dynamics, but I requested on demand lectures about Poiseuille flow, particularly the night before my homework was due.

I won’t miss my father, because he really isn’t gone. I see his handsome nose and dashing crooked smile everyday in the mirror. My brother is an improved blond clone with a superior hairline. Dad’s voice, wherever he was, has always remained in my ear. His legacy lives on in all his children, both biological and intellectual. Thirty six years is far too short to love my dad, and so sudden a departure robs us all of a smiling and clever good-bye.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Marley and Me

I watched "Marley and Me" (Twentieth Century Fox) last night. The movie started out with John Grogan trying to find himself as a journalist and in doing so got an insanely disobedient labrador that he and his wife called Marley. My family has had numerous pets both dogs and cats, and the young Grogans let Marley run roughshod over them. Granted labradors are high energy pets but without someone to tell them what is and is not appropriate they will do whatever they damn please. After years of Marley's endearing antics the Grogan's start having children and this loyal blacksheep adopts the Grogan chidren as his own. The movie progresses to the emotionally wrenching twilight years of Marley's life. The lovable hellion begins to slow down, eventually having a foreshadowing bout of Gastric-Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) from which the plucky canine recovers after a touch and go night at the vet.
From here I started weeping as the ending scenes of Marley played out like the passing of the Doberman Pinscher I had from high school through graduate school. Agrippina ("Pina"), was a powerful canine in her elder years who after a run on a cold winter night had massive abdominal distention due to GDV. Dobermans are bred not to feel pain and she looked more confused than pained as the shock of ischemic bowel set in. My mother and I scooped her up and took the weakening dog to the veterinarian who had rushed in from her home. The doctor shook her head as she said that our only option was surgical correction, which as with Marley would have limited benefit and only prolong suffering due to her other chronic medical conditons. Pina was a fatigued ghost of herself and as the veterinarian administered the euthanasia she passed away quietly. Never had I experienced an emotion so purely as the grief I felt at that moment, the tears, sobs, and bellows poured out of me uncontrolled and it was minutes before I had any semblance of control. Later that morning I looked at pictures of my baby in her prime and I knew that although painful for me, this was the best way for Pina to go, chasing rabbits on a cold night. Watching the end of Marley should bring tears to everyone's eyes but the exact timing and helpless grief of Marley's family was a spot on recreation of my experiences on Pina's last night. I wept unabashedly as emotional memories I thought I had marshaled assailed me anew.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Salmon on Cedar

Despite appearances I'm a pretty good cook.

My girlfriend is a great cook.

However when we combine our powers we are well nigh unstoppable. This evening we prepared salmon with olive oil, red pepper, dill, and bay leaves grilled on cedar planks soaked in white wine and whiskey. We also had some jumbo scallops marinated in A-1 steak sauce. The side dishes were foil wrapped peppered corn as well as foil wrapped miniature red potatoes with onions and garlic. We served this with Barefoot Cellars Sauvignon Blanc. For dessert we had ice cream from Marble Slab Creamery.

Despite a small misestimation of the coal preparation and heating time followed by some first degree burns and smoke inhalation injuries after aforementioned coals had reached a suitable temperature, the meal was awesome. The subtle cedar smokiness greatly added to the salmon's flavor as it dissolved in our mouths. The grilled garlic potatoes were addictive and the corn a fresh savory adjunct to our evening's repast.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009