the machine

Tell someone you are going to have your first baby, and inevitably you'll hear, "get your sleep now" as they chuckle devilishly.

The exhortation often comes from those recently sleep deprived parents, wishing they still lived the days where they could carelessly sleep until the sun or alarm woke them up.

I'll confess, my reaction to the "get your sleep" now warnings is often taken with a grain of salt. I think - how bad could it be. I've gone without sleep before. I can do this.

Then the other night we were watching the Princess Bride on TV - and a particular scene rang with an impending sense of destiny. Here is the dialogue (more or less) between Westley and the Albino:

Westley: Where am I?
The Albino: [raspy voice] The Pit of Despair... don't even think about trying to escape. The chains are far too thick. Don't dream of being rescued, either; the only way in is secret. Only the Prince, the Count, and I know how to get in and out.
Westley: So I'm here till I die?
The Albino: Until they kill you, yeah.
Westley: Then why bother curing me?
The Albino: Well, the Prince and Count always insist on everyone being healthy before they're broken.
Westley: So it's to be torture?
The Albino: [nods enthusiastically]
Westley: I can cope with torture.
The Albino: [shakes head enthusiastically]
Westley: Don't believe me?
The Albino: You survived the Fire Swamp, so you must be very brave, but no one withstands The Machine.

Just like Westley was confident in his ability to withstand torture, so am I in my confidence to suffer through sleep deprivation. It's not that I've had ample experience with this - the closest I've been to sleep deprivation was completely voluntary, when Ashley and I were dating in Washington DC, hanging out until 2-3 am on a week night, waking up at six am to go to work - working a full day, and doing it all over again. Weekends weren't much better, but at least I was able to catch up with an epic 3-4 hour nap on Sunday.

Another thing in the works here is, I kind of want to prove people wrong and that I am strong where they are weak. Like, "yeah, no sleep, must be rough... if you are a weak-willed simpleton."

Just like Westley was brave and confident in the face of torture - so am I in the threat of losing sleep.

Confidence aside, we all know how the story ends. The machine breaks Westley. Stay tuned to see if our own little Prince Humperdink breaks us.


the happiest baby

Tonight Ashley and I watched a DVD titled, "The Happiest Baby on the Block."

While I've never been one for the whole "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality - I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested in making sure our little guy wasn't happy.

The DVD was very informative and it walked us through several steps toward soothing an unhappy baby. The method is promoted by a fellow UCLA man, Dr. Harvey Karp. His method has been deconstructed into the five S's. In my line of work, there are 5 E's - coincidence? - you decide.

The 5 S's:
Side Stomach position

Most of these seemed pretty easy to perform. I was most impressed with the side-stomach thing. I mean, of course the video is edited so it enhances the effect of his methodology, but wow - he just slipped those babies on their side and it was as if he had performed a vulcan nerve pinch, rendering them totally lifeless. Pretty cool. And I also liked how it resembled the football hold. As you can see below with my nephew Ivan - this is my favorite position because of its functionality and taxonomy.

I have to admit I was a little caught off guard by the intensity of his "shushing" method. I mean, he stuck his grizzly bearded face right up to these screaming babies ears and shushed the hell out of them. They stopped crying, but I wondered if it was because he had made them deaf. Dr. Karp says the louder the cry, the louder the shush. Kind of scary. I guess the shush simulates the white noise that babies hear while in the womb. Dr Karp says that the white noise that babies hear while in the womb is louder than a vacuum. Wild.

So, just to make sure I had the swaddling method down I practiced on little G's teddy bear. I think I'm set.

So do you think you have the happiest baby on the block? Would you settle for the happiest baby in your apartment complex? Or maybe just the happiest baby in the room? Any advice on soothing method techniques and recommendations? I think I'm interested in that old-timey remedy where they dipped pacifiers in some sort of tonic or elixir. Anyone know anything about that?


the final countdown

We're got one more month until our new boss comes to town.  We've tried to make all the necessary preparations.  Strollers, beds, paint, various home furnishings, toys, outfits... he has quite the welcoming party. 

Look at that belly - doesn't he look ready to blow that popsicle stand?

Any words of wisdom for the new boss, or his assistants?


what's your integrity worth

I hate surprise mail from insurance companies. Lets make that brutally clear. Anytime you get an unexpected letter from an insurance company, you can smell trouble a mile away. My feelings about insurance companies can best be summarized in a conversation on the Simpsons, between Maude Flanders and Marge Simpson - after the Flander's home burned down.

Marge - Oh I'm sure you guys will be fine - won't the insurance company pay for this?
Maude - We don't have home insurance, Ned considers it a form of gambling.

So you can imagine my dismay when I get a letter in the mail from Discover Property & Casualty Insurance Company, c/o Rust Consulting Inc.

I don't know who Discover Property & Casualty are, nor do I have any recollection of ever coming across them nor retaining them for a professional relationship. Quickly my mind races to see if I have run over any one on my bike, flipped someone off and I'm being sued for emotional damages... or somehow maligned the Los Angeles populace at large.

So you can imagine my surprise when I learn that the aforementioned security company was writing to inform me of a bookkeeping error that resulted in a windfall of substantial means. I guess two years ago I had a storage space for about a month and they over-charged me.

What was my reward? A check for $1.00

For some reason they felt that their integrity was worth $1.00. I have no doubt that this was little more than a PR stunt to avoid an audit. If any IRS people are reading this... RED ALERT - these guys are up to something!

A check for $1.00. Hardly this amount justifies the hassle. What a waste of everyone's time. Perhaps it's a cheapskate test, and they are going to monitor all the people that deposit the checks and submit their information to some sort of clearinghouse where the nation at large can laugh at us.

Yes, I'm going to deposit the check.

Maybe this is the first of President Obama's stimulus package!

Just a thought.


our embarassing tuesday night addiction

Someone please help us.  Ashley and I watch the worst shows on television on Tuesday nights and we can't help ourselves.

90210 is a horribly written show with even worse acting.  I can't stand the cast, and the only redemptive qualities is the cameo/smattering of throwback characters who occaisionally grace the show.  Uncle Jessie's girl... from Full House - Laurie Laughlin is pretty good I suppose.

And Jessica Walter - grandma from Arrested Development is basically playing a muted version of her old character as Lucille Bluth.  So it's funny, but not enough to carry the show, obviously.

To top off this crap-sundae, there is the most obvious product placement by Dr. Pepper going on, through out the entire show. It is so shameless... so embarrassing.

One final thing - you know you are too old for a show when the Jonas Brothers are being advertised as the big appeal in next week's episode.

Privileged is kind of awesome, but one thing is driving me crazy.  One of the main characters is going back to school to study "marine biology."  Freaking marine biology, it's like criminal justice.  If I had a nickel for how many girls told me in middle school that they were going to study "marine biology" - I'd be a millionaire.  Let's be clear about something, there is a huge difference between liking Sea World, swimming with Dolphins and a penchant for snorkeling, and Reproduction, recruitment and fragmentation in nine sympatric species of the coral genus Acropora.

I think what drives me crazy is that... the only way TV writers could make college sound appealing is to use the most cliche college major out there.  

But other than that - everything's great.

Just needed to get that off my chest.