Month: September 2004 (Page 1 of 2)

You Say You Want A Leader

I just spent the last hour getting my ass kicked by some GRE math review. I understand the point of these sample sections is to beat you up a little so you’re ready for the real test, but when they actually do more to confuse you than help you relearn the concepts, I begin to wonder if I’ve spent my money wisely on materials.
In the time between when S. left for work and a sister-in-law showed up to give me a few hours to study, M. and I watched the last half hour of Purple Rain. If you haven’t noticed, the movie is on VH1 constantly these days, no doubt in an attempt to capitalize on the release of the 20th anniversary DVD and cheapos like me who don’t want to buy it. I don’t think M. is quite ready for some of the scenes, even in the edited version, but it’s never too early to introduce her to some of the seminal music of my life. She was notably impressed by the majesty of the title track. She played along with me as I made the hand signs during “I Would Die 4 U”. She really liked “Baby I’m a Star”, mostly because of the “Baby, baby, baby, baby” lines.
She did have some concerns about the acting and fashion, though. I explained to her everyone looked so strange because the movie was made two decades ago. I pointed out she’ll be a college junior (Or sophomore if she got my academic genes) in two decades. Also, the movie took place in Minnesota, not exactly a hotbed of couture. I think she understood. As for the lack of acting prowess, I proposed that some movies get their strength not from the performances of the actors, but from the mood, the feel, and especially in Purple Rain’s case, the power of the music. Sounds this good can make up for a multitude of sins. She argued, however, that a movie should be judged for the merits of all its elements, not just on the strength of one or two aspects. This is clearly a conversation she and I are going to continue for many years. As long as she gets the music, I’ll be happy.
And I bet a few of you thought this was going to be a political post after seeing the subject line, no?
I added a post last night that doesn’t appear to be available for viewing. I’ll check it out and hopefully get that added again this evening.

The Big Debate

I know you’re all dying to hear what I think about the debate that’s been dominating discussion in this great land of ours. I shall not disappoint you: I think it was scandalous how Major League Baseball has treated the city and fans of Montreal over the past ten years. Make no mistake, Montreal in all honesty does not deserve to have an MLB team. However, the governing body of the game has done little over the years to make it easier for a team to succeed in the game’s oddest market (Different economy, different culture, different language). Beginning with the 1994 strike that kept one of the most talented teams in recent memory from getting an opportunity to play in the post-season, nothing good has happened to the Montreal Expos. The owner that kept them afloat moved on when the game couldn’t solve its labor problems. A new owner quite literally ran the team into the ground only to be given a primo deal to buy the Florida Marlins (which he may soon move to New Jersey if he has his way). Meanwhile, the league has run the team for the last three years in the biggest conflict on interest in the history of professional sports. A franchise that had cranked out as much talent as anyone for ten years was suddenly left with only a few decent players and little chance of retaining them. All the while, they were held out like raw meat to cities hungry to snatch up a team of their own. Finally, Washington, DC gained the honor this week of giving baseball yet another chance.
Why does any of this matter? Didn’t I just say Montreal probably doesn’t deserve a team regardless of what MLB has done to them in recent years? It matters because the league basically killed a franchise and no one objected. They couldn’t get a big money owner in Montreal. However, someone in DC, Virginia, Portland, Las Vegas, or some other city would probably be willing to shell out the money for ownership all while getting tax dollars better spent on schools, road, or law enforcement from local governments for a fancy new stadium. What happens when there is no longer Wal-Mart money behind the Royals, the team continues to play poorly, and Kaufman Stadium only gets 12,000 fans a night? Who’s to say the league won’t step in, make things worse than they are, all the make sure Mark Cuban or some other billionaire buys the team and moves them to New Orleans? What if ownership in Oakland gets sick of playing at the Coliseum and the Giants’ claim on the San Jose market? Will MLB make sure the A’s franchise withers up and nearly dies so that the baseball hotbed of Charlotte gets a team? Cities need to lose their franchises fair and square, not with the assistance of the sport’s governing body.
It’s time for regime change. Bud Selig, probably the worst commissioner in the history of professional sports, needs to go.

 

Mr. Mom Night One

I can’t say it was the most successful night ever, and I can’t say it was a complete disaster either. After almost a week of sleeping 5-7 hours a night, M. reverted to her every three hour schedule for waking up. Still suffering from the shots she received on Monday, nothing could placate her during the afternoon and evening other than laying across my legs on her belly. Sometimes even a bottle at the regular feeding time couldn’t do the trick. Finally, after she had eaten, pooped, and thrown up between 5:00 and 6:00, I brought her downstairs, laid down on the couch, and put her on my chest. We both slept intermittently until S. got home a little after 8:00 and took her back to her room. I proceeded to sleep until 11:00.
The good news is she seems to be in a much better mood today, so perhaps the lingering effects of the shots have worn off and she’s back to normal. S. works again Thursday night, so we get another chance to prove we can survive without her quickly. Our first true baby-sitting experience is coming up on Saturday as well. S. works 24 hours and I’m heading to South Bend for the Notre Dame – Purdue game. She’s just going to the in-laws so a sister-in-law can watch her, but she’ll be away from us from about 7:00 AM until whenever we get back from the game that night. As I learned last year on my trip to South Bend, cell phones work only occasionally before a ND game because of all the traffic on the airwaves. Should be interesting!

Mr. Mom

S. just left for her first shift at work since July 23. Looks like I better have this parenting a newborn thing down for the next 20 hours. Check here for information on any disasters that occur.

She’s A Chunk

We just returned from M’s two month checkup. Before the nurse placed her on the scales, we guessed her weight would be in the 10 1/2 pound range. Homegirl weighed in at 12.2 lbs! We need to switch her to Diet Similac or get her walking sooner than planned!

MNF

It’s clear there’s one big bonus to being unemployed: If Monday Night Football is exciting, I’ll be able to stay up and watch the entire game. At least until the rest of the world changes time, that is. Tonight, though, I persevered and made it through the entire Dallas-Washington game. A pretty amazing ending, if only for the way it got the hopes of Redskins fans up only to be dashed when there were no more timeouts. One of the benefits of following America’s Team is crushing the spirit of Redskins fans, even when the Cowboys suck.
I was pretty fascinated by the work of the sideline cameramen. The Redskins cheerleaders are wearing utterly ridiculous outfits this year, and it became clear throughout the night that some kind of agreement had been made with the ABC crew. The MNF team always does a nice job of showcasing the “talents” of cheerleaders around the league each Monday evening. I think some cash exchanged hands this week, though. Extra long shots. Bordering on criminally long. Cheerleaders striking poses better suited for posters to adorn the walls of auto mechanics rather than network television. It reached the point where I half expect Jerry Falwell to launch a protest against ABC in time for next week’s game.
All of this is yet another reminder of the difficulty in being the father of a girl. Do I want some T&A with my football? Absolutely. What could be more American, save beach volleyball dancers? However, as I stared at the augmented cleavage of woman after woman, I couldn’t help but think she was someone’s daughter. And do I want anyone looking at my daughter that way? Probably not. Only if it becomes cool for the President of the United States to be a woman, a total hottie, and to deliver the State of the Union in a bikini. The moral of the story is that with fatherhood comes guilt. Overwhelming guilt as you attempt to partake in the simple pleasures in life. It’s quite maddening.
If you missed the game, here’s a link you might be interested in. (I found it totally randomly, of course.)

 

 

KC Summary

It was a truly outstanding week in Kansas City in almost every way. I had the chance to spend time with many of you, which was tremendous. I got to show off my daughter. I got to eat a huge amount of great food. The Chiefs had a total meltdown which was fun for me. And there was actually a week of hope for the KU football program before it all came crashing down in the second half Saturday. Some highlights worth noting:
My dining agenda included the following:
Lunch at Papa Keno’s in Lawrence followed by a $2.75 Oatmeal Stout at Free State.
Dinner at Rudy’s in Westport.
Lunch at Jack’s Stack.
Dinner at the B’s residence (If you get Stacey to cook for you, it ranks right up there with the finest of KC dining experiences).
Lunch at the Classic Cup.
Dining on Waldo Pizza at the N’s residence.
Lunch at Arthur Bryant’s.
Dinner at Jalapeno’s in Brookside followed by a Guinness at O’Dowd’s.
Lunch at Jim G’s in Raytown.
Rehearsal dinner consisting of some of Jack Stack’s finest offerings.
Lunch at Oklahoma Joe’s.
Completed by a fine reception dinner at the Muehlbach.
About the only thing I missed was a stop at Taco John’s so I could scarf down some Potato Oles. We also stopped in Columbia for lunch Sunday on the way home, however in the interest of eating as quickly as possible, we went to Wendy’s rather than one of that fair city’s finest eateries. Pretty solid work, in my opinion. I think it rivals my week in KC last October, although that week was so epic that I don’t believe it can ever be topped.
Kudos to the government of the state of Missouri. I-70 was actually in halfway decent shape for the much of the drive, a nice change from the traditional moonscape you have had to navigate in recent years.
M. did wonderfully in the car. On the way out, she slept almost the entire ride. She was a little more fussy on the way home, but still made the trip with only one stop on her behalf. She also did quite well when we drug her out and about. I’m sure she’ll make up for all of this once she turns two.
I was quite impressed with the radio offerings in Kansas City. Well, I was impressed with the music 96.5 was playing all week. I can’t say the rest of the FM dial was any different than it has been in the past 4-5 years. The Buzz was coming strong with some excellent tunes every chance I had to listen. They wasted no time in getting U2’s new single into high rotation, which was nice. Have you heard “Vertigo” yet? Good grief, U2 is bringing it strong this time around.
One big downer to the trip was all the shitty political ads that pollute the airwaves in KC. I think the argument can be made that the KC media market is one of the worst for ads in the country. You’ve got two states in the market, and one of those states is traditionally one of the most evenly split between the parties. I found the mute button on the remote rather quickly so I didn’t attempt to rupture my eardrums to avoid all that crap. It was fun to critique the ads of the former associate of mine who is running for Congress. I found some of her assertions curious, to say the least. Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about voting for or against her so I won’t get into it too much.
Lying on my office floor are two large boxes of old cassette tapes that were stored away in my step-dad’s basement. I am eager to work my way through them in the coming weeks and share with you what I purchased between 1986 and 1990.
I’ve probably got more I’ll think of later, but that should get you started.

 

 

Packing Sucks

In over two years of traveling for work, I drastically improved my packing skills. I used to be the guy who took three bags for a three day trip. By this time last year, I was almost always traveling with a backpack that could stow away underneath the seat in front of me and a small suitcase that could be put into the overhead storage compartments. I still generally took far too much stuff with me, but at least I wasn’t checking anything.
Trying to pack for a week-long trip that includes two weddings while remembering to bring everything we need for the baby is turning out to be a bit of a challenge. I have visions of us preparing to load up the car tomorrow morning, getting 2/3 of the items we’ve packed in, having no more room, and staring at the car with our hands on our hips wondering where we went so wrong. I’m sure we’ll figure something out. A few other thoughts put together while M. and I sat on the couch watching Barry Bonds go for home run #700 (Or rather while she took a three hour nap on my chest while I took cat naps in between Bonds ABs).
I LOVE the commercials for the ESPN movie Hu$tle about Pete Rose. Everyone looks like Pete always did, about seven years behind the fashion curve. Everyone looks just a little run down, like the actors in the second half of Boogie Nights, which seems perfect for what I imagine his life to be like. Casting and costuming aside, I still think it’s just another sign of how Disney has ruined ESPN by forcing more and more “entertainment” on us rather than focusing on being the best sports broadcaster in the world. We get overly hyped movies a couple times a year, senseless award shows, and far too many hours devoted to things like the X-Games, World’s Strongest Man, etc. rather than real sports. (I throw the X-Games in because it’s utterly ridiculous that ESPN includes highlights and results from the X-Games in Sportscenter and the crawl, yet ignore other extreme sports that ESPN doesn’t broadcast. If the Gravity Games, or whatever else there is out there are putting on almost exactly the same events and they don’t get coverage, that’s proof they are marketing opportunities and not real sports.) And I haven’t even gone on my traditional rant about Sportscenter sucking and the ubiquity of its “personalities”.
I’ve been seeing this commercial for Bank of America that talks about all their efforts to improve the technology on ATMs for several weeks. It always makes me think of the old SNL skit for the bank that provides change. When the BofA guy brags about carving six seconds out of a transaction, it makes me think of the line, “We’re not going to give you 20,000 nickels. Unless you want 20,000 nickels.” Of course, what the BofA guy doesn’t tell you is that by making ATMs do-it-alls, they can drastically cut back on the number of warm blooded individuals they hire, therefore cutting back on expenses. At the same time, they’ll increase user fees to cover the cost of all this R&D and implementation of the super advanced ATMs.
The third commercial that’s caught my attention is the one for the Freedom Tower coins. Have you seen this one? “Silver dollar coins” (that aren’t legal tender) that show the old New York skyline on one side, and the approximation of the NYC skyline after the Freedom Tower is built on the other. Alone, that’s ok. However, the big selling point is that each coin contains a tiny amount of silver that was actually recovered from Ground Zero! That’s right, you can own a piece of one of the world’s biggest mass graveyards! Why don’t they just throw in some dust, clothing scraps, and unidentified body parts also recovered from Ground Zero while they’re at it? I’m all for honoring those who lost their lives that day, but for people to make a buck off a rather ghoulish element of that day is reprehensible.
Via iTunes, I watched the video for Morrissey’s latest single “First of the Gang to Die” over the weekend. It’s not a bad song, although I liked the first single “Irish Blood, English Heart” much more. The video did make me laugh, though. It’s one of those performance videos that mix hundreds of shots taken at a recent Moz concert. I particularly enjoyed the crowd shots, in which it was nearly impossible to find a female face. I just found that interesting, that’s all.
One last note, a week ago Friday I was flipping around and found old Beavis and Butthead episodes on MTV2. Highly entertaining! I’ve become quite a fan of The Family Guy and occasionally watch South Park. It’s amazing how primitive B&B look in relation to those two animated shows. Also, later in the night, The Thanksgiving Orphans episode of Cheers was on TV Land. Always an exciting time in the B. household when I can catch that!
We’re off to KC in the morning. I should have Internet access through the week, so will be posting as time allows. I may have to bust out the phone blog number again, too. We’ll see some of you soon.

 

Dodging Stereotypes -or- How I Avoided Passing Out

One of the funniest things anyone said to me before I became a father came from the mother of one of S.’s best friends. In her unique way of offering to help us, she casually mentioned that she would be happy to come “sit in the waiting room with me” while S. was in the delivery room. What is this, 1950? We laughed a lot about that.
One of the areas of potential danger for a prospective father is the dreaded passing out in the delivery room. From speaking to other people who have been through the process, it seems to be a combination of all the stress inherent to childbirth, the conditions unique to each birth, and then a healthy amount of concern after seeing your heavily sedated wife go through the most difficult process we humans can go through short of dying. That sounds about right for where I found myself around 7:30 AM July 25.
I had been awake for about 24 hours at that point, which isn’t awful compared to what some go through. I was also quite hungry; I had been contemplating grabbing some breakfast around 6:30 when it seemed as though we had several more hours to wait. I slammed a beer right before we left for the hospital, ostensibly to calm my nerves, but I believe it had in fact compounded my feelings of hunger and weariness. Most of all, I was riding a huge wave of adrenaline which is always a recipe for disaster if you push it too long.
Jumping back a moment, as I said around 6:30 I was getting ready to head across the hall to grab some cereal. Although I knew I risked puking it all up if my eyes wandered too much during delivery, I felt I needed the energy boost since I had no idea how much longer we would be waiting. Several nurses came in to check on S., who had been dilated to 5 cm on the last check (Quick primer for the men out there who haven’t been through the process yet: 10 cm is the magic number. S. had been steadily if slowly progressing throughout the night.). Coincidentally, the OB came in for one last check before he went on his morning rounds. “Wow, you’re up to an easy 7 cm,” he said. The pace seemed to be picking up. He said he’d be back shortly, but it shouldn’t be much longer.
Roughly 15 minutes later I noticed a lot of activity among the nurses. The comforting sound of the Little Girlfriend’s heartbeat on the monitor was becoming irregular. One of the nurses said, “I can’t find a heartbeat.” Another nurse flew out of the room to find the OB before he left the building. Bear in mind, I digested none of this at the time. Things were just happening so fast that no one took the time to turn around and tell dad what was up. The OB runs back in, checks S., and informs the room that she’s up to 9 cm as the nurses rocked her body from side to side trying to find a good reading on the baby’s heart. Alarms go off. People go running out of the room. S. is wheeled away. The OB turns around and says several things to me, none of which I can remember, excepting his final comment, “Someone will be in to get you,”. I was just out of it enough to have no idea what had just happened. Was this good, bad, very bad, or totally normal?
I had several minutes alone to contemplate before a nurse came in and helped me struggle into a jumpsuit, booties, cap, and surgical mask. She escorted me into the operating room where the medical team was preparing to preform an emergency C-section to get this baby that didn’t seem to be enjoying the ride out of her mother’s abdomen. I was seated on a stool by S.’s head. My rule all along was No Cutting, No Catching. I’m a bit squeamish when it comes to innards and blood and whatnot, so I pledged to do everything I could do to help S. as long as it involved remaining above her shoulders. Things were moving so rapidly that the team failed to get the surgical screen up before the docs started cutting. It took an immense amount of willpower to stay locked in on S.’s eyes and block out all the sounds and medical jargon that was floating around. I later learned that there was never any real danger, but at the time, I had no clue that was the case. I didn’t know if the baby was crashing, if S. was crashing, or what. Being the ER fan, I had about 20 nightmare scenarios shoot through my head before I told myself to cut it out and concentrate on S.’s hand that I was holding. Maybe five minutes, maybe an hour later, I hear screaming and I see my daughter’s little grayish-blue face pop up out of her mom’s stomach. She was making the same face S. makes when she’s sad, which I thought was pretty funny. At this point, I began a 15 minute process of continuous crying while managing to go about everything else as though nothing was the matter.
M. was fully extracted and taken over to the nurses for the initial tests and vaccinations. I eventually made my way over and held onto her bright pink ankles while she screamed and screamed. Never has a totally inconsolable child ever sounded so wonderful as she did. After about ten minutes with her I really started to notice the heat of the warming lamps. I noticed how I was re-breathing the same air inside the mask over and over. I noticed that I was a little queasy. I thought it might be a good time to go check on my wife. I slowly made my way back to the stool and sat down by S.. She asked what M. was like, and I found it difficult to get words out. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
“I’m feeling a little lightheaded and queasy.”
She started waving at the nurses.
“What’s wrong, honey?”
“I’m fine,” she said as her stomach was stitched back together. “He’s feeling lightheaded and queasy, though.”
Three nurses picked my up by the arms and escorted me out of the room before I could protest. I kept thinking, “Don’t be the dad that passes out in the delivery room. Don’t be that guy!” As soon as they got me through the doors, they ripped off my mask, sat me in a chair, and slammed an ice cold towel on my neck. I weakly tried to explain myself as I wiped tears from my face, “I think I”m just really hungry. I get this way when my stomach is empty.” Almost before the words were out of my mouth I had a glass of orange juice and a package of crackers handed to me. This wasn’t so bad, after all! I quickly regained my bearings and was taken back to our room where S. and M. joined me a few moments later.
So it wasn’t really all that dramatic, although it certainly seemed that way at the time. When you spend almost eight hours watching a process unwind rather slowly and naturally, then suddenly see your wife go under the knife to get your baby out, I think you’re allowed to have a reaction. Later, I likened it to narrowly avoiding an accident. The adrenaline gets you through the moment, but later you get the shakes when you realize what happened. Once I saw my daughter was breathing and screaming like normal and my wife was in good shape as well, the shakes hit. Since any future kids we have will be born via C-section now, I just have to hope they’re scheduled and not stat so I can make sure I’ve got a full belly before they wheel us into the OR!

Growing Up

These kids, they grow up so fast! Why, it was just seven weeks ago I held a tiny little girl in my arms for the first time, wondering if she could make any sense of the sounds she heard or the occasional image she would let into her eyes. She remained largely silent, save for some crying around feeding time, choosing to spend 20 hours a day sleeping. She weighed less than a bag of groceries and it seemed as if I could curl her up in my arm and hide her entire body.
Today, she’s increased her weight by over 50%, stays awake almost all day, smiles and makes the first noises that will one day be laughs, and manages to show bits and pieces of her developing personality. Her cheeks, chin, arms, and legs are getting chubby, and she’s noticeably longer. Most fun is the little moments of interaction, when you know she sees you and is smiling or laughing because she knows that’s one of her parents looking back at her. One of M.’s favorite things is staring at the chandelier in the kitchen. We’ll put her in her bouncy seat, and she just stares at the lights. After a few minutes, she grins, giggles, and looks away. Basically she’s flirting with a Pottery Barn light fixture. Equal parts cute and disturbing.
It’s really quite humbling how quickly every aspect of this little person that now lives with us is developing. I can’t help but notice how much I’ve changed too. I never had that sensation of helplessness you hear from so many first parents. The first day we brought her home I didn’t wonder, “OK, now what do we do?” Of course, that’s only because I’m married to a pediatrician and I’m expecting that she can guide me through every baby-related life change that is in our future. However, when M. was crying at 3:00 AM her first night home, I do know that I wondered if I could really do this for the next X years, depending on how many kids we end up having. Seven weeks later, waking up every three hours is a breeze. (An additional benefit of being unemployed is not having to deal with people in the morning!) I was afraid to change a diaper six weeks ago. I’m not going to say I enjoy it now or anything ridiculous like that, but I can clean our daughter’s booty at record speed. When we first gave M. a bath, I forced S. to do it since between the screaming, the kicking, and the slippery baby, I was convinced I would do something awful. Today, I love giving M. a bath. She gets so happy when I drop her bottom into a tub full of warm water. Her eyes get big, she stares at me with a look of total wonderment, and when I wash her face, she now breaks into a huge grin.
It becomes cliché, but I must reiterate what an amazing feeling it is to be responsible for another life. I think M. is beginning to understand how amazing it is to have me as a father, too! Oh, speaking of growing up fast, she asked that I pass word along that she’s really looking forward to meeting all the people in Kansas City she’s heard about when we come to visit next week.
I do still owe you many, many stories from M.’s birth. I worked for about 10 days on my all-encompassing post covering what happened from the moment S.’s water broke until we came home the next Wednesday. I hit about 8,000 words and still hadn’t reached the point on Sunday when we formally named her and thought better of sharing it. So it becomes my goal to flesh out some of the more important and interesting anecdotes in the larger work and share those over the next few days before we depart for KC. I’ll do my best to keep them under 8,000 words.

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