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Archive for September, 2010

You know how the weather’s been crazy here lately? Well, yesterday we had lightning-strike-double-rainbows. I kid you not. I looked up in the sky and saw a big ass lightning bolt hit between two rainbows. Here’s sort of what it looked like (minus the lightning):

Double Rainbow LA

Double Rainbow LA 2

So what’s going on out here? Global warming? Angry leprechauns? No doubt, this is God’s way of telling us he’s either really really happy or really really pissed about gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana.

We’ll know November 2nd.

(Obligatory link to Double Rainbow video.)

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Sorry this is late, but I didn’t sleep much last night.

It all started on Tuesday when my wife walked in the door and said this:

“Don’t worry. The baby’s still moving.”

For those of you who don’t spend your life refreshing Weather.com, it’s been hot in Los Angeles lately. Monday we hit 113 degrees — the highest temperature recorded since they started keeping tabs in 1877. Tuesday was a brisk 103.

That’s the kind of weather you want to stay out of, right? Well, for some reason, my wife decided to drive the Volvo to work. I haven’t pinned her down on why exactly she did this, but I suspect it’s because the Volvo now has a super cute baby seat and a super cute backseat mirror, and it’s super duper cute to glance over your shoulder and see where your real life baby is about to be. Normally, this sort of lure wouldn’t be a problem . . . except for the small fact that the Volvo is not technically allowed on California roadways and, oh, by the way, IT DOESN’T HAVE ANY AIR CONDITIONING.

So you can see why Tuesday’s drive home may not have been the most pleasant for her.

Unfortunately, after hearing my wife’s heart-stopping words, I retaliated by telling her about Sally Menke, the woman who edited all of Quentin Tarantino’s films, including Pulp Fiction, and Kill Bill, and Resevoir Dogs, who went hiking Monday in the Hollywood Hills, passed out from heat exhaustion, rolled down a ravine, and died. They found her body six hours later, her loyal dog still sitting by her side.

All last night, I kept feeling my wife twist and turn in bed. Enough that it was basically impossible to sleep.

Finally I said, “Sweetie, are you okay?”

After a moment I heard, “I keep thinking about that lady you told me about. I keep seeing a picture of her dog sitting there licking her face as she baked to death in the sun.”

And there in lies the trouble with retaliation. You make your point, but that blow you thought was glancing always seems to leave a mark.

“I’m sorry I told you that story,” I said. “But is the baby still moving?”

“Yeah,” my wife said, putting her hand on her belly.

“Then we’ll be all right.”

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If you’ve ever wondered how your baby sees the world, there’s an interesting article in Wired today about exactly that. Unlike adults who can direct their focus, babies focus on everything at once:

What is it like to look at the world like an infant? The question is particularly interesting because the ability to pay attention, focusing that spotlight on a thin slice of the stage, depends on the frontal cortex, that lobe of brain behind the forehead. Alas, the frontal cortex isn’t fully formed until late adolescence – ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny – which means that it’s just beginning to solidify in babies. The end result is that little kids struggle to focus.

This has led the UC-Berkeley developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik – I’m a huge fan of her latest book, The Philosophical Baby – to suggest that babies don’t have a spotlight of attention: They have a lantern. If attention is like a focused beam in adults, then it’s more like a glowing bulb in babies, casting a diffuse radiance across the world. This crucial difference in attention has been demonstrated indirectly in a variety of experiments. For instance, when preschoolers are shown a photograph of someone – let’s call her Jane— looking at a picture, and asked questions about what Jane is paying attention to, the weirdness of their attention becomes clear. Not surprisingly, the kids agree that Jane is thinking about the picture she’s staring at. But they also insist that she’s thinking about the picture frame, and the wall behind the picture, and the chair lurking in her peripheral vision. In other words, they believe that Jane is attending to whatever she can see.

Or consider this memory task designed by John Hagen, a developmental psychologist at the University of Michigan. A child is given a deck of cards and shown two cards at a time. The child is told to remember the card on the right and to ignore the card on the left. Not surprisingly, older children and adults are much better at remembering the cards they were told to focus on, since they’re able to direct their attention. However, young children are often better at remembering the cards on the left, which they were supposed to ignore. The lantern casts its light everywhere.

This sounds a little bit like how I watch TV. I keep trying to ignore that stupid “blast of hydration” Schick commercial, but every time I close my eyes it’s the only thing I see. Maybe my frontal cortex needs a tweak.

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This video should be used as a human litmus test. If it makes you tear up, you’re probably a human. If it doesn’t, then we will put you in a cage and poke you with sticks until we figure out what you are.

The happy little tyke is Jonathan. He’s an 8-month-old boy who was born deaf, but he’s just gotten a cochlear implant and is about to hear his first noise — the sound of his mother’s voice.

Incidentally, if you’re looking to add a good documentary to your Netflix queue, I highly recommend Josh Aronson’s SOUND AND FURY. It follows a deaf couple as they consider whether to get cochlear implants for their 7-year-old daughter (who is also deaf). Seems like an easy decision, right? Get the kid the implant? Only for many deaf parents it’s not that simple. If deafness is a disability, then, yes, it’s something to be cured. But if deafness is a cultural identity, as it is for the family in this documentary, then it’s something to preserve. Even cherish. More to the point, what will become of their daughter’s connection to the deaf community, and her connection to them, they worry, if she can suddenly hear and speak? Will they “lose” her to hearing world?

I’m not going to tell you what the parents decide. But I will say that I expect parenting to be just like this – i.e. a series of forced choices between equally heart-breaking options.

“Lose. Lose. Up to you.”

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I saw this taped to a street light near my apartment. It’s not the happiest way to start your weekend, but it’s a good reminder why our feline overlords should probably stay inside:

In the interest of full disclosure, I used to work for the Humane Society, so I’m probably a bit biased on the whole indoor/outdoor thing. But I understand the counter argument as well — that cats are wild animals and that their lives are much richer if you let them roam the neighborhood. That may even be true. But at some point you have to do the math. The average indoor cat lives to be about 13. The average outdoor cat, 3.

Faced with those options, which would you prefer?

Those two years of college that you spent chasing tail and drinking Goldschlager?

Or the rest of your life?

(Give me a minute, I’m thinking.)

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I’ve made them all thus far . . .

. . . the week 8 ultrasound, the week 12 check-up, the triple marker blood screen test, the serum integrated screening, the nuchal translucency test, the week 18 anatomical survey, the week 22 check-up, the week 26 gestational diabetes test, the 3D ultrasound, and the week 30 check-up.

But that glorious streak is about to end. Because this afternoon’s appointment includes something called a Group B Strep culture. Maybe you had a better immune system than I did, but I remember having strep throat about 8,000,000 times as a child. The worst part was always that super long “cotton swab on a stick” that the nurse stuck down your throat and jiggled around for a culture.

Only now I find out that Group B Strep is quite different from Group A. For starters, it causes things a lot worse than a sore throat in newborns (think: sepsis and meningitis). And, more importantly, it isn’t found in the throat. It’s found in the digestive tract and birth canals of pregnant women. So where are they gonna stick that super long cotton-swab on a stick? That’s right. My wife’s anus and vagina.

So I’m tapping out of this one.

I have a very special relationship with those parts of my wife’s body, and I’d rather maintain the illusion that I am the only adventurer to have wandered those magic forests.

Besides, we have weekly check-ups from this point forth.

I’ll make all those.

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30 days to go. Friends keep asking if I’m getting worried yet. And I keep responding, “No, because I have no idea what I’m in for.” Like I’m some poor sap in Hiroshima who’s just been told the bombers are coming.

“They’re about to drop an atomic bomb on the city, dude.”

“That’s great. An atomic what?”

Worried yet?

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