Sunday, March 20, 2011

Early Days With Jamieson

I just found this in my rough drafts. It is two years old and I never posted it, I guess I thought it would be too tough for some people to read, and also that it would be too personal. This is LONG before we found a doctor that would help us solve Jamieson's food allergies. Reading it now, unedited, makes me sad at now helpless we were to help him and angry at the "experts" that kept telling us that nothing was wrong. We begged for help, and were made to feel like we were the ones that didn't understand. At the end, I make a mention of seeing a pediatric GI, I can still hear the snark in the voice of his first doctor "If you REALLY want, you could take him to the GI, but thats NOT going to help... He is just "highstrung"". Ironically that visit that with the GI (Dr. Annette Whitney who is great) is when everything began to turn around. We never went back to that first pediatrician.

Here is the post I composed when Jamie was just a tiny (well, never tiny) screaming bright red klaxon of distress and I was sick with worry for him, Katy and our family.

What do you do when the two people you love most in the world are in conflict? Not just a normal conflict mind you, but a soul draining contest of endurance versus need that shakes everyone involved to the core and could be described as the hardest challenge any of you has ever faced.

You put yourself between them and try you best to absorb as much of the discomfort as you can take.

I don't know for sure that Jamieson is more needy than other babies of his same age but it would not surprise me to find out that he is. Since he was born, he has on average wanted to be feed every 2 hours (often times less). For short periods of time this has stretched out to 3... but it quickly snaps back. Now consider that it takes about 30-45 minutes to feed him, that only leaves a very short window to sleep and rest between feedings.

Also he cries a LOT. It seems to me like he has problems getting rid of lower gas. He wakes from a dead sleep and will start to kick and flail if he has not passed gas within a few minutes he will become frustrated and begin to cry. These episodes can quickly escalate into massive shrieking freak-outs if he is not quickly comforted. He will still cry, kick and flail for long periods of time even if held and if you do manage to get him to sleep in your arms... you CAN'T put him down. The comfort is like a counter balance to the pain/discomfort in his gut. If you remove the soothing... the tower topples and he is back in crisis. If he starts to break wind... a lot of wind. Then he starts to relax and can sometimes be put down.

So combine those two things and you have a baby that requires a lot of attention.

I have been desperately trying to provide as much of that attention as I can I am a seasoned insomniac... Katy is not. She is learning the ropes of how to survive on so little sleep but it has been really tough for me to watch her get raked over the coals on this. She is a person that NEEDS her sleep.

So for weeks now I have done everything I could to keep him soothed and get her more sleep. Since I don't need much sleep I keep him downstairs with me in between feedings because it is seldom that he sleeps from one feeding to the next. Its MUCH more common that he needs to be held and comforted, often the entire time between feedings. If I am really good, I can keep him asleep for 2.5 hours in my arms... but this usually means that I can't move or do anything else because if I do he will wake up and instantly want to be comforted with food.

So, I am very caught in the middle. He wants and needs to eat and I know that if I take him up to her she will be loosing sleep that she needs! I try to keep him soothed because sometimes he just wants to "snack" for comfort or eat early because he woke up due to gas.

these have been my goals over the last few weeks

1. Make it possible for Katy to go to bed at an early hour. (front load sleep)

2. Keep Jamieson downstairs with me between the 2-3 feedings after katy has gone to bed so that she gets chunks of undisturbed (if not uninterrupted) sleep. This helps her be more alert during the 2-3 late night feedings that I am likely to be asleep during, and hopefully gives her the energy to deal with him when he won't sleep between those feedings. I know that we only got her less than a couple of hours of "up front" sleep last night and she told me she was up with him the entire time between the next two feedings... I have to try harder to keep us on track so that its easier to deal with when this happens.

3. Wake up and take him downstairs between the first couple of feedings as needed. This is great for her catching up on sleep as he seems a bit less "fussy" in the mornings and I can keep him soothed and encourage him to sleep longer, but its also the prime time that she wants to be pumping and since it the time he is lest likely to be cranky its also the best time of day to play with him and have him be a bit more interactive and less distracted by his own discomfort.

4. Change every diaper I can get my hands on. It's a little thing, but I enjoy it and it is one less demand that she has to feel he is putting on her. I am sure she wouldn't mind changing more... she lets me do it because I have made it "Daddy's Job".

5. Soothe him as much as he will let me. Now when I said before that he gets upset, I am not sure I communicated what really happens here... I have seen him will turn dark purple over 100% of his body, go stiff as a board from head to toe and cry so hard and intensely that he seems to forget to breathe. At first, this upset Katy a great deal, I also get very unnerved by it.

I know Jamieson is on the verge of making a breakthrough in his eating and sleep schedule and I just have to wait it out a bit longer... but it is getting to me, I hate that I can't seem to do more for him when he is really upset and I feel like I have to absorb as much of his cranky-ness as I can and try to lessen his impact on Katy when he is being really demanding, That may sound odd to some people reading this but maybe people with difficult babies may understand. She is giving so much of herself to him as it is, I feel I need to deflect the screaming/complaining if I can. when I can't, I feel like I have failed.

I have had to compose this post over several days because I never have a long enough stretch of time to finish a complete blog post without needing to pick him up. Actually he is in my arms now but he is quiet enough that I can type (slowly) with my free hand.

It is now months later (around may 2009)... from a note I started to write someone then decided to not explain...

I know we probably discussed that he has had a rough start, He just has never been comfortable Like something was hurting him badly. I know I may have seemed over protective at the CPR class, But he has me well trained to respond quickly to his signs of distress early and try to stack the deck on the side of his comfort and happiness otherwise he can quickly get upset to the point were people question weather something is dramatically wrong with him. The way he responds to his discomfort can be a bit shocking to people if they are used to babies acting like "normal" babies.

I am sure it would not have surprised you, but I think it would have disrupted your class if he had reached the peak of what he is capable of.

Now all that sounds pretty dramatic, but he is a great and amazing baby when he fells well! So I have every confidence that when he finally "outgrows" the colic completely. Or his little digestive tract gets working a bit better... he will be able to let more of that side of himself shine.

We have been frustrated by our pediatrician and how her answer to everything seems to be "he is growing and thriving, so he is therefore fine" Wow, I sure am glad MY doctor doesn't take that attitude with me. "Oh, Doc you gained 5 pounds so clearly nothing else is wrong with you!" We are just now coming to the conclusion that he is allergic to something that he has been eating and we have finaly made an appointment with a pediatric GI in hopes that they will be able to shed some light on his discomfort.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Man Movies? Fella Flicks? Sensitive Gentleman Cinema?...

The fact that there is not a popular nickname for the type of movie I am about to talk about should clue you in to how rare they are and why I feel they need more attention.

So for a while now, I have been keeping a short list in my head of films that I think communicate (in some small way) what its like to be a man in the modern world. These films deal with issues that men face. We live in an increasingly technological and feminized world, which strike me as good things in general... But very little art is created to give a voice to mens emotions about our changing role in this culture or the fact that in some ways we are being displaced altogether. We once where hunters, warriors, protectors, fathers, explorers, risk takers... and now we are often asked to tightly control all those instincts and yet it is those very things that still make us viable and desirable biologically. We are being pulled in two different directions. Now before I start losing people, keep in mind I am speaking about individuals. I won't argue that men have needed to share the power, but our culture doesn't seem to have collectively given a rats ass about how these sweeping changes have affected men emotionally. Of course, men are not supposed to HAVE feelings, and women may not notice because they are enjoying the improved status that has been so hard won over the last century. In many cases our culture is counter balancing too dramatically on the individual level and many poor schmucks (is that word an old slang for penis?) get bowled over by the changes, never really knowing what exactly is expected of them. It seems that the pitfalls of being a man (not a boy, by the way. Boy-hood is still highly praised and tolerated, which is part of the big joke) are more treacherous than ever. It would be nice if our entertainment didn't treat us all like uncaring, action addicted, warmongering, sex crazed, bumbling fools.

These films at least take a stab at it... they are so few and far between that it makes me sad. Hopefully there will be more as men and women wake up to the need to stare down the changing role of men.

Growing list, first draft: (Got suggestions?)
World According to Garp
Bottle Rocket
Punch Drunk Love
About Shmit
Lost In Translation
Falling Down
American Splendor

Notice something interesting about that list? They are all pretty small films. I would venture to say that most people have never heard of most of them.

Oh also, here is something fun to do... go into a book store and ask to see the "Men's Studies Section" if they have such a thing... laugh at how pitifully small it is in comparison to books for women or LGBT folk.

*June 2013 Update*
The Trip with Steve Coogan
Actually Mr. Coogan is making this a theme in his work I also just got done watching Saxondale and although the title character is difficult to "love" he is struggling with a lot of these same issues. getting older, losing respect, being seen as ineffectual and weak. it is a very melancholy comedy and I really liked it.

Also notable is the absurdist comedy series Snuff Box. With Matt Berry. You just get the feeling that Matt Berry's Hangman character can't seem to escape his own bad behavior and realizes that he can't be loved. He is sabotaging himself with everyone (even his dimwitted best friend) so he won't have to face how lonely he is.

Monday, March 14, 2011

And Thus The Identity Crackdown Begins...

FaceBook has launched a new service that ties commenting on other sites to your FaceBook account. So if a website turns it on, (and I think many will make it the default) most commenters will no longer be able to post with anything but their ACTUAL identity.

I have encouraged people to be themselves online for years. I knew that everyone running around pretending to be 20 different people and acting in a range of bad behavior from impolite to horrid, would not be tolerated for long. People were just loading up corporate cannons with reasons for a siege on anonymity. I also knew that when it DID start to change it would probably be at the hands of a big powerful entity. Back in the 90's I would have thought MS would be the one, then maybe Google... but of course the big winner of all our data now looks like it will be FaceBook, Google only WISHES you were building such a detailed profile into their database compared to what you shovel into FB each day.

I am of two minds, I look forward to a day when there is two thirds less crap polluting the web, but of course I don't want to tie all my opinions, thoughts, hopes and dreams back to a single (clearly untrustworthy) corporation. I just wish more people had decided to act civilized and not made such a service an easy sell.

The internet is the MOST public place you will ever make your voice heard. I believe that anything you post may someday be attached to your actual identity and viewed by anyone. I am a firm believer that de-anonymization tools will largely remove the illusion of anonymity in the near future. So its best to act the way you would in any very public place. Your home, work, or even a bar, all seem to be much more private places than any place you post online... but strangely, others seem to imagine the internet as the most private of places and assume everything they post under a pseudo identity would never be tracked back to them... even long before all the successful de-anonymization research, I just could not see that lasting.

In real life we feel pained and sometimes shamed for the stupid things we do and say, I causes us to examine ourselves and hopefully grow, mature, and respect others. Being held accountable for what you say is a fundamental part of being a person that exists in society. Bringing that accountability to the internet is long over due. We can't have a more meaningful dialog without looking each other in the eye.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How Do I Stop My Transformation?

Recently my 2 year old son has been taking a mouth full of whatever he is drinking and letting it run out of his mouth. This has been a HUGE problem and mess. So I decided to let him explore this and told him he could do it in the bathtub and his swimming pool when it was warmer. Wanting to keep my promise I took him to spit out water in the bath tub after lunch today… He was thrilled!

But then, like many of my plans to do something nice for him or to teach him something, it turned bad. He quickly went from being overjoyed to being outraged at me for not letting him turn on the faucet in the tub. He had a full-on melt down and there was little I could have done to prevent it (you have to know him). He wants to have things his way 100% of the time, He is stubborn, willful, strong as a baby OX, and he is not likely to give me a break or relax on ANY issue. It is very tiring to try so hard to please someone only to have them act like you are a monster.

Also this day, my wife had left a pie pad full of bird seed out on our deck table. He reached for it and I asked him to STOP! but he ignored me and poured it out onto our deck as I repeated the stop command 2-3 more times. I calmed myself and spent 30 minuets teaching him that the seed was for the birds and getting him to help me sweep up what we could so that the birds would have something to eat. He really seemed to "Get it" and seemed concerned for the birdies. I thought I had scored a big "daddy win".

Thirty minutes later he rushed over to the pie pan again and spilled it out before I could stop him then just acted like he could not hear me when I tried to talk to him about it and charged into the house with muddy boots making me leap up from my "gentle (down at his level) teaching guru position" and grab his arm like the "angry dad" I have never wanted to be.

Did I mention that he makes me tired and often frustrates my best efforts to be a "cool dad".

He also defeated the play yard keeping him out of my work area forcing me to consider moving my office behind closed (and locked) doors and making it so I can't work while I am with the rest of the family now. He had the run of the whole downstairs and I had just fenced off a small area… but thats not good enough, he has to have access to everything or he will hurt himself trying to get to it. This will also mean that I will have less time to work and will need to stay up later at night to keep my clients happy.

In addition to that, defeated a fence that I built to prevent him from crawling under our deck through a hole a tree and bush grow out of. He just kicked it apart ignoring me while I was asking him to stop. (it only took seconds) I now need a more sturdy solution, which is crazy because he will only be in danger of getting "stuck" under there for the next 6 months to a year. I think I may just toss some sand bags in the hole or something.

I think he is changing me. I am now a protector in a world that doesn't really respect protectors. A man forced to "set rules" for a lovable and irrepressible Dennis the menace. A squasher of freedom and joy. The "MAN", The foil of 75% of all sit-coms, a curmudgeon, an increasingly stoic pillar of authority, an out of touch fool to be gradually more and more despised over time... in a word, Father.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Crash Report

Adobe has detected that the application Photoshop has unexpectedly quit.

Problem description:

I deactivated a used font and switched to PS then slected the text to change the font to something else and PS crashed hard. I had been doing the same thing several times before but instinctivly changing the font first to a placeholder in PS before deactivating it, but I thought, "Thats silly its 2011 PS can handle such things in an elagant way by now"...

: )

But more importantly I have other problems with PS...
My first copy of PS came on floppy, I have owned PS for close to 2 decades and dutifully upgraded it over and over. As you look into this problem, Please also consider doing something about the fact that anyone with even a casual interest can acquire a cracked copy of PS, learn it, never purchase it, compete with a small business like mine by using it, and yet I see little benefit from my long time loyalty, sometimes paying three times the going rate of any functional PS replacement just to upgrade.

Speaking of those modestly priced PS replacements, most have come and gone over the years not because they were necessarily inferior (although admittedly not as feature rich) but they likely failed because adobe has such a lock on the category and sets the price purposely high completely aware that it will encourage piracy on the low end of users and thus making any such alternatives redundant to a "free" copy of PS acquired from an acquaintance or online. Adobe wins in the long run from lack of viable competition and selling expensive licenses to businesses that can easily afford them. Meanwhile, independent people like myself who want to own the tools they use find it increasing illogical to continue paying the somewhat outrageous upgrade fees and feel tempted to search for pro level alternatives.

When someone pays such a premium for a product (the most expensive piece of software many individuals will ever buy) it should come with an expectation of added value. In my oppinion you should have been tracking us long time users all along and finding ways to keep us happy, but something tells me you don't even know or care who we are. I certainly expect to have more value from my sizable expense over the years than the people that I believe you expect to steal (while inflating my price) the product. Largely my value using PS is the same as someone that never pays for it. None of which would be grating to me except for the fact that I strongly believe your company is aware of all this and that it is part of your business model.

I would guess that an honest internal breakdown of your customers would look something like this:
Corporate accounts: 90% of users purchase a license (actively enforced I would bet)

Medium sized: business 50%-60% of users purchase a license ( not worth enforcing, guilt driven I imagine)

Small business: maybe 25% of users purchase a license (a small percentage will pay even if the price is too high out of a sense of honestly. Being in this category makes me feel like you see us as "suckers")

Enthusiasts: 2% of users purchase a license (so many people "have" PS that it is dominant, and thats the way Adobe likes it. God forbid people refer to editing images as something other than "photoshoping".

Students: 30% of users purchase a license (hell even with healthy student discounts I doubt most non graphic design students purchase PS, but I bet a huge number of them have a copy).

So, every time Photoshop crashes and I lose even a few minutes of work these are the sort of things I think about. So thats the "bug" I would prefer your company address before anything else.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Proudly Owning Your Identity Seems To Be A Lost Concept

I recently read this article about unique internet ID's Americans.

I am not completely opposed to such a system but I wish wholeheartedly that the internet had evolved in such a way that made it feel less nessasary. For years I have argued that people needed to "be themselves" online and act the same way as you would in ANY public space. The alternative, I argued, would be that "the powers that be" (corporations and governments) would use the various forms of rampant bad behavior as an excuse to bring down the hammer on the open system we have enjoyed. The amusing thing is just how many people assume that because they use a "nick" (as we called them in the old days) that they would be forever separated from their actions online. I won't go into the detail, but I have always believed that data mining was too tempting to let much of ANY data that may be useful now or in the future vanish or ever really be erased. I assume that every digital bread crumb I have ever dropped is stored SOMEWHERE and that it is simply a matter of time before all that data is sold, traded, stolen, and eventually collected in one place to be de-anonymized with frighting accuracy.

Some reading on that...

microsoft de-anonymize

Fear the ubercookies!

Geo location data in uploaded pictures is FUN!...

The bottom line is...
I believe that for the vast majority of users, being anonymous online is an illusion. I am not saying that rare people might be able to cover their tracks, but I would bet that many people that THINK they are good at it, are actually not that great. My guess is that a good, modern private investigator could pinpoint most online posters with some ease.

What is surprising to me is how different my feelings on this seem to be in comparison to so many people.

Reading the comments attached to that article are mind blowing...
"I have a right to anonymity. It's the same as the right to privacy."
" There's no F__KING way in hell that he or anyone else in the government is taking away my RIGHT to anonymity"
"Anonymity is what drives the internet."
"Just cause it's not in the Constitution doesn't mean it's not a right."
"Quit living by a piece of paper and make your own rights based on being a living, thinking, feeling human being with good sense!"

Yeah those last two get me. People are making up their own "rights" and treating them as if they were law. Now I agree that basic rights may go beyond everything we have thought to right down... but no way does going by mrfluffypants69 on a forum count as a basic human right. That is just a strange idea. Yes I am aware of the political uses of being anonymous, but I don't think that people reporting human rights violations from some hellish dictatorship consider it a "RIGHT". I think they are just glad that their oppressive governments have not yet found a way to stop it. Did a guy in the 60's broadcasting on a ham radio about how terrible things were in Eastern Crapistan see it as a right? No, I think he was just glad that he didn't get caught.

At what point did people feel it was a right to be anonymous online? Clearly it's a culture and society based thing that has shifted dramatically over the last couple of decades. Not many older people expect to be able to say any crazy or hurtful thing you want in a public place and get away with it.

Say for example you threatened to kill someone in an ad you took out in the news paper, The police would likely be at your door asking you a few questions regardless if you posted your name or not. (The paper would never print it in the first place but lets say it slipped by...) Our culture would never get mad at the newspaper or the cops for maintaining the right to expose a person who did such a thing was. I don't even think anyone taking out such an ad would expect to remain anonymous, unless they were kinda dull witted.

Do you have the right to shout whatever you want in a crowded park? If you said loudly that you thought some under age person was sexually attractive, or that you planed to do harm a specific person, or even property, would you not expect to face some reprisal?

Here is an experiment. Go about your daily routine one saturday. Go to the store, take the kids to a park, go see a movie, shop around at the mall for a while, hit a few bars if thats your thing... but do it all wearing a mask and REFUSE to take it off claiming its your right to be anonymous. THAT should be fun. Personally I don't see much difference

So even though we have clearly defined rules of civilized behavior, people ignore those rules online and expect impunity as if it were a RIGHT! In fact many people clearly state that they feel being anonymous online IS, without question, a right as if it was granted by some recent legislation or covered under some existing privacy law. *blink* *Blink* Is it me, or would privacy laws (if they applied at all) only make sense if you didn't POST the information in the first place. In other words you were the one that said or did the crazy thing online. You MADE it public! Perhaps I am naive about the law (It would not surprise me) but this seems to be common sense.

So... As I see it, you are linked to what you say and do by thousands and thousands of years of tradition and developing laws. Pretending you can be a virtual version of yourself and do whatever you want is just fantasy. The only reason that people have gotten away with it up to this point is that it wasn't cost effective to control it. Now that computing power is cheap enough, peoples behavior is altered beyond any hope of putting the genie back in the bottle by decades of false belief that they were "magically invisible", and databases are full to a point of glut from people believing they are not exposing themselves, its time to start locking down the system and cashing in. People will think they are having freedoms removed... no sorry I really don't think anyone in a position of power ever intended to let you keep those privileges.