July 31, 2011

Bounce World

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July 29, 2011

Just Eat It

There are all manner of comedy routines dedicated to the nuances and nightmares of feeding an infant, so I'll try not to veer onto that well-trodden path.

Yes, all infants wake up and demand sustenance at odd hours of the night. Yes, they hork up vast quantities of en-milk-ified bile onto your shoulder, just to see if your parental instincts are stronger than the urge to drop them and frantically wipe at the shoulder slime like it could eat through your flesh like alien blood.

My wife and I went through all of this already with our first child, so the humor has been pretty much diluted by experience.

Our latest family addition, however, is a different story entirely. Born as a micro-preemie at 23 weeks, our daughter, Zoey, had to surpass hurdles in her first four earthly months that make my toughest life challenges seem like Charlie Brown trying to kick Lucy's football by comparison.

The thing is, Zoey never really picked up on the whole concept of feeding. For the longest time, she was fed through a tube run into her nose and into her stomach. As far as she was concerned, dinner consisted of taking a few nasal snootfuls of air. So, when it came time to actually exercise her sucking reflex, she regarded it more of a necessary inconvenience than a lifelong pleasure, which I suppose makes her a lock as a future runway model.

Which brings me to the crux of this post, which I write mostly so 30 years from now I can read it and say "oh yeah, that sure sucked."

For the last three months since bringing Zoey home from the hospital, we've been trying to figure out some sort of feeding routine, some sort of preference, some sort of ANYTHING that works, and my wife and I haven't come up with any convincing theories. My wife basically gave up on breastfeeding after about one week out of the hospital, because A) it wasn't working at home and B) it never really worked in the hospital, either.

For the first month or so plus after Zoey came home, we'd consider it a major accomplishment if she drank more than 30 mL, which is about an ounce; and then Zoey would go and spew it all out and we'd start all over again.

While the reflux has basically come to an end, for the most part, we've entered a another feeding phase which I've come to refer to as the "Bruce Lee Feeding Phase."

Most babies, at this stage, take to the breast or the bottle and contentedly suck until they're adequately sated. Zoey, on the other hand, considers feeding time to be a most excellent excuse to practice martial arts techniques. So far, I've broken it down into the following moves:

1.) -- The head dodge: After two or three bottle nipple sucks, Zoey starts moving her head from side to side, trying to get the nipple to pop out of her mouth. It's not that she's not hungry. Rather, it's that she's not comfortable with her position. That wouldn't be a problem, necessarily, but I can't simply wait until her head comes back to a rest, because it always comes back to rest at the same spot, which means when I re-introduce the nipple, we'll go through the same thing over and over.

So, I have to do this kind of video game thing where I must try to keep the nipple in her mouth as she moves her head all over the place, like a convoluted first person shooter where you try to keep the cross hairs on target while the rumble pack in the control pad fights you all the way. Like a bull-rider, I have to keep this up for about eight seconds or so until Zoey finds a position she likes, which is different every damned time. If I can outlast her, she's good for about 10 - 20 mL, which is actually worth it.

2.) The cross block: I honestly don't know if this is a reflex, or if she's just messing with me. Regardless, Zoey can be thankfully sucking down milk and, suddenly, she'll just do this thing with her arm where she performs a perfect karate block. It's like Mr. Miyagi commands "WAX ON!" out of the blue, and Zoey will smack the bottle out of her mouth. If anyone doubts the power of a martial arts block, I defy you to keep a bottle in my daughter's mouth when she executes a karate block. She's nine pounds. I'm 180 pounds. I can't do it.

3.) The lip purse: I know she's still hungry, but she'll close her lips as hard as she can, fighting the nipple. Originally, I took this to mean she was no longer hungry--even after as little as five mL--until I tried to put her down and she was crying within 10 seconds. While not necessarily a martial arts technique, this is the equivalent of the "Rope-a-Dope." Zoey will eat just enough, and not eat any more. . . and then she'll wait. She'll even close her eyes. . . but put her down and. . . Oh, CRAP! SHE WANTS ATTENTION AND MORE MILK!

So, I'll sit and rock her, and she'll smile at me, and I know she's just thinking "I'm smiling because you're doing my exact bidding and when I'm a teenager I'll regard you as the old dude who couldn't even feed me adequately when I was a baby. Loser."

All of this, I suppose, is great since mixed martial arts (MMA) is becoming all the craze, and Zoey is apparently pretty much a natural. Still, I hate to have to wait 18+ years.

Is there an infant MMA beauty/kick ass pageant of which I should be aware?

Posted by Ryan at 08:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 25, 2011

The Re-Learna-ning

I've basically spent the last decade writing and editing magazine articles of a fairly technical nature. In that time, I've developed a particular writing style that relies heavily on long, complex sentences, with em-dashes and semi-colons and some punctuation marks I think I may have invented entirely on my own--the paranthe-colon, apostro-period and the dash-postrophe.

I just tend to assume my readers are smart enough to follow and understand long and complex sentences. It's a failing of mine, I suppose, this unwarranted faith in the intellectual capacity of the word-absorbing public. Still, when my audience has long been comprised of technically proficient individuals who understand operating systems like AIX, Linux, UNIX, z/OS, and IBM i and who can make sense of green screen displays that look like something you'd find on the bridge of an alien space ship, it's understandable why I would infer they're capable of also reading. . . well. . . this sentence, for example.

Ah, but the world of the Web has meant a revolution in the way people absorb the written word, if the experts are to be believed, so now we have to believe online readers are undergoing a process of dumbening, as Lisa Simpson might say.

I don't like to believe the online world is populated by knuckle-dragging keyboard mashers, but then I read a YouTube comment thread or a comment thread tacked onto any article or op-ed that has anything remotely to do with politics, and I have to face the harsh possibility that the "experts" may just be on to something.

As empowering at the Internet has been, it's also enabled a digital buttload of intellectual laziness to creep in, to the point I now have clients asking me to write "punchy" sentences or--in the case of a previous writing gig--write to a fifth grade level.

It's not that I can't write to a level Forrest Gump can understand; most anyone from fifth grade and beyond can write to a fifth grade level. Rather, it's that I resent having to write to a fifth grade level. I earned a journalism degree based largely on my ability to string together sentences that pack a lot of information between the first capital letter and the eventual period, and I've spent many consecutive years doing the same at a professional level, so writing the equivalent of "HULK SMASH!" justifiably irritates me.

Also, I simply can't shake the idea that seasoned readers--those who appreciate and enjoy reading--feel somewhat insulted by "punchy" writing. I base this assumption entirely on my own experience reading Web content that seems as though it was written by Dennis the Menace. Sure, the sentences are short, punchy and easily absorbed, but they read as if the writer is patting me on the head in a condescending manner, the literary equivalent of having a waiter cut my steak up for me.

Still, freelance writing pays the bills, and if a client wants punchy, fifth-grade caliber writing, I suppose I really have no choice. I don't have to like it, however, and when possible I'll attempt to inject a sentence or two of rebellious length and complexity.

I realize rebelling against the evolving Web writing world is sort of like jousting at windmills, but it's just the principle of the thing.

You know?

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July 21, 2011

Not Quite Toonces the Driving Cat

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July 16, 2011

Okay, Rochester, Don't Screw This Up

First, two words: "DRUNKEN NOODLES."

Here in Rochester, Minn., I firmly believe the majority of residents have taste buds forged in the fires of Mt. Bland. If you like Perkins, Applebees, TGI Fridays, general fast food joints and the like, you'll largely be in dining heaven in Rochester.

Oh, there are some good eating outlets, such as "Victoria's" for Italian, "Hornitos" for Mexican, "Pho Tai" for Vietnamese, "Jenpachi" and "Osaka" for Japanese steakhouse cuisine and a few others, but generally this city is a culinary desert.

In particular, Rochester has been sorely limping along in the Thai food realm. For a time, there was "Phnom Penh" that had outstanding Thai and Cambodian food, and my wife and I wept bitterly when it had to close up shop because the steak and potatoes joint next to it sucked in all the patrons.

Today, however, there is a place called "Far East Fusion," a Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai restaurant attempting to carve out an existence in a location where several BBQ joints have tried and failed to do the same. My wife and I ate there today for the first time, and we nearly wept with joy.

The appetizer spring rolls dipped in peanut sauce. . . heavenly.

The pad Thai. . . a traditional Thai taste treat executed with applause.

The chicken curry. . . a subtle taste with just a hint of heat, but both were outclassed by. . .

The drunken noodles. . . OH MY GOD, the drunken motherfappin' noodles; they need their own American state to govern the sheer amount of taste-bending awesome.

We ordered two appetizers, three main dishes and soft drinks and the bill only came to $35, which is more than reasonable, considering all the leftovers we carted home.

Seriously, this place is excellent, and we only tried the Thai spectrum of the menu. Chinese and Vietnamese options still await our for-now sated taste buds. Hopefully, the less-than-fortunate locale will shake its demons as people learn of this Thai toe-hold. If not, Rochester will once again prove it's suffering a taste bud lobotomy.

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Daddy Dance

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July 11, 2011

Cat Doors Make Kids Angry. Who Knew?

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July 08, 2011

Al Queda Struggles Through Tough Economy, New Technology

Terrorist Operatives Lament Difficult Job Market Requiring Multiple Skills, Viral Videos

SOMEWHERE IN THE AFGHANISTAN MOUNTAINS -- Rhodes Media Services -- Al Queda--the terrorist organization that spawned spectacular attacks on the West, including 9/11, the U.S. embassy bombings and the attack on the USS Cole--is not immune to the effects of the economic doldrums that have plagued countries worldwide since 2008, it turns out.

According to sources embedded deep within the terrorist network, financial cutbacks have forced recruiters to require skill proficiencies that are so all-encompassing, even enthusiastic entry-level prospective suicide bombers are being turned away.

"I'd been dreaming of being a suicide bomber my entire life, ever since my father dressed me in a jacket equipped with road flares when I was four," said Achmed Jalal Muhammed Jafari Salal Falafel. "But I was surfing CareerBomber.com, and all the jobs required me to be proficient in Microsoft Word and Excel. I can't stand Excel. Just put me behind the wheel of a truck filled with fertilizer and gasoline and tell me to gun it, God willing. Don't ask me to fill out a spreadsheet too."

Technology, too, has largely left Al-Queda hopefuls befuddled. Whereas it was once possible to film a threatening terrorist diatribe on video cassette and send the tape via donkey rider to Al-Jazeera to be propagated worldwide and have it considered "sophisticated," now handheld Flip cameras and similar devices make it possible to film anything at all and post it to YouTube and other file-sharing services.

"Oh, don't even get me started on YouTube," said Ayman al-Zawahiri, now considered to be Al-Queda's figurehead leader following Osama bin Laden's death in May. "Do you have any idea how many 'Death to America' videos we've uploaded, only to have them completely ignored while some video of a guy falling off a cliff gets eight million views? A few months ago, I put together some seriously threatening stuff, yet Rebecca Black and her Allah-forsaken "Friday" video completely stole my thunder. Is it too much to ask for even a Tosh.0 shout out?"

"It's no longer enough to drape a white sheet and prop up a snub-nosed AK-47 on the wall behind the subject for threatening effect," adds out-of-work terrorist Ad-Mi Ral Akbar Eetz-Atrap. "Now this green screen stuff makes anything possible. We were once considered a 'sophisticated' propaganda network; now we can't compete with 'David After Dentist' parodies, for Allah's sake."

Posted by Ryan at 08:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 06, 2011


I used to think a Rubik's Cube was difficult, until I tried to carry a toddler who doesn't want to go to bed in his crib. He does this liquid body thing until he slips through my arms and then he laughs, running away, which would be insulting enough, but he can laugh with a pacifier in his mouth, which is multi-tasking even I can't pull off.

Posted by Ryan at 08:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 05, 2011

Thinking Back

You know, back in 2004, I was making about $40k a year, and I was approved for a home loan of $300k+.

Now, I'm not a huge math whiz, but even I knew at the time that was a ridiculous amount of money and that the monthly payments on such a loan would leave me with absolutely nothing left for anything else--food, utilities. . . NOTHING. So, I ended up taking a loan for about 1/3 of the approved figure.

And, I remember thinking back then that it would take a complete idiot to accept that kind of a loan. As it turned out, I guess there are a lot more complete idiots out in the world than I previously cared to admit was possible.

I mean, I don't doubt "predatory" lending probably took place but, honestly, if your prey is essentially jumping into your mouth, swimming down your esophagus, taking a bath in your digestive stomach juices and then happily cruising through your colon, with no required effort on your part. . . well. . . it's hard to see that as ENTIRELY predatory.

I'm not sure why this popped into my head, necessarily, beyond the fact I was just sitting here thinking how nice it would be if I didn't have a monthly mortgage to pay down.

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July 01, 2011

The kids

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Happy July 1st!

Or, as we call it here in Minnesota, "Government Shutdown Day!"

Okay, we don't actually call it that, but this year it applies, because the GOVERNMENT IS SHUT DOWN!

Which means absolutely nothing for the vast majority of people who are concentrating on their own little lives. Seriously, nobody really cares. All right, SOME people care--mostly people in newsrooms who type furiously about a shut down because nothing sounds quite as dire as the term "SHUT DOWN," so it makes for pseudo-compelling copy that fills the news hole and hopefully sells extra issues and garners page clicks. But, honestly, unless you had today slated on the calendar to get new license plates, a government shut down is about as troublesome as a cloudy day.

Now, if my body organs experience a shut down, that's a different story. But a government shut down? Stack me in the "meh" pile on that one.

It's amusing, in a "rake your eyeballs from your head with a cheese grater" sort of way to read the blatherating comment threads tacked on to the end of news articles about the shut down. Yeah, I know, I shouldn't read such nonsense, but I find it gives me strength to continue blogging when I read the mental goose poop of people who clearly want to be heard but lack the technical acumen to even figure out how Blogger works.

News article comment threads are an interesting social psychology study as a standalone topic in their own way, but when an article is about a government shut down--or politics in general, really--the truly obsessive nutballs come oozing out of the digital woodwork.

Seriously, the whole spectrum of online insanity emerges in such comment threads, which is why they're so interesting, in a "car wreck with multiple decapitations" sort of way. You get everything from the "Government is the problem" brevity crowd to the lecturing Poindexters who think they're a lot smarter than they are thanks to Google and Wikipedia (and, of course, whatever left or right political site(s) they have bookmarked for easy talking points).

It's all just so entirely tiresome. I'm not sure when online discourse morphed into the "Libbies" and "Cons" rhetoric, but I'm pretty certain it started in earnest around 2005 or thereabouts. Of course, nowadays you don't even have to start reading a comment; thanks to avatar pictures, you can see an image of a hammer and sickle superimposed over Obama's face, or Sarah Palin holding a bloodied Statue of Liberty in her lap like a hunting trophy, and you can pretty much ascertain what kind of thoughtful commentary that particular person feels compelled to disseminate into the digital ether. It all just seems like such an incredible waste of time--writes the guy who used to spar endlessly in his own blog comment threads.

But that was different! That was when comment threads were new and exciting. At least for me. At some point, scrolling through Fark threads and comment threads in general lost its luster. I guess, eventually, seeing the same arguments and points being made over and over and over and OVER again just didn't seem like it was worth my time.

This being the Internet, however, there are plenty of people just now, today, being introduced to the pointless and time-consuming world of online argumentation, in a sort of cycle of life for people without lives. I wouldn't be surprised to learn at some point that the real reason for the 9+ percent unemployment rate is due to people glued to their computer arguing about climate change instead of actually looking for a real job.

So, yeah, anyway. Minnesota is in the throes of a government shutdown, which means no camping for those folks who wanted to pitch a tent at a nearby state park for the long holiday weekend, which isn't something that really jerks tears from my eyes. I mean, gosh, "You can't go camping? How entirely horrible for you." I have an infant daughter who simply refuses to eat for reasons unknown, and our second vehicle went and completely died on me yesterday. So, you know, I basically could give less than two shits about the whole government shutdown thing.

Posted by Ryan at 01:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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