Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Configuring Canon Pixma MP620

Oh, I was getting so frustrated that I couldn't use my new Canon Pixma MP620 printer with wireless on my Mac! I gave it a static IP address, and went through IP Printing. Crash! from CIJAutoSetupTool, and Console said 12/24/08 10:25:29 PM[202] ([0x0-0x1e01e][294]) Exited with exit code: 255 . Grr! I read this thread, and discovered the answer is to use

System Preferences>Print & Fax>+>More Printers>Canon IJ Network

So when I had IP selected, I was already on the wrong path, because I needed to select More Printers instead. D'oh!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Tricks

Cale's new tricks yesterday ... he's more specific and alert when his eyes are tracking someone walk across the room, he's more cuddly with his hugs, and he's even closer to crawling. He was on all fours, rocking back and forth, and singing the not-quite-crawling-not-quite-frustrated song of a baby about to learn to crawl. He was rock, rock, rocking with a rev, rev, revving, and I'm sure crawling is just around the corner!

Monday, December 22, 2008


I thought I was going to have to find a Leopard replacement to BitMemo since the usual Mac sites had a 404 URL for it, but I found the BitMemo homepage finally!

Not What I Expected To Hear

I work in the same building as most of the Networking group. While I was filling my tea mugs in the break room this morning, I certainly did not expect to hear a modem squeal. Since almost everyone is out today, I took a quick peek to see who would be using such old technology when the people to ask for a gigabit ethernet connection are just down the hall. As it turns out, I'm pretty sure the culprit isn't a person. I remembered that all of the offices have VoIP phones that don't support direct modem connections, but the fax machine has a converter. (The few analog lines are marked, and I was standing next to the closest one, so I know it wasn't being used.) The fax has a loud squeal, loud enough that I would hear it all the way in the break room. After my first fax, I learned that you feed your pages to the beast and run away, retreat from the loud noise until it's time to pick up the transmission report. So at first I thought the modem squeal was completely out of place, but now I'm pretty sure it was that bizarre beast, the facsimile machine.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Reflux and Sleep

At some level, I think we always knew this, but hadn't codified it. Last night at bedtime, Karston said, Tummy still hurting. I don't want to fall asleep. Just like that, he strung together his poor eating with his poor sleeping. I asked a few more questions, and Karston said he didn't want to fall asleep while his tummy was hurting because then he has bad dreams. I'm impressed that he figured out that connection on his own just a few weeks shy of 3.5 years old. This makes me more confident in what was previously just my intuition: fix his eating first, then see if we still need to fix his sleeping.

I just wish I knew where to start! At Cale's 9-month well-child-checkup yesterday, the pediatrician said we can try Zantac with Prevacid. She also gave us a prescription for Nexium to try next, to tide us over with ideas until Karston's specialist appointment on February 25th. Everything we've tried so far gets less and less effective over the course of one month, and it's very disheartening. He's still on Prevacid because it's holding ground to a little better than where he was before treatment; without it, he crashes to new lows.

Monday, December 15, 2008

DNS: dispatch shutting down due to TCP receive error

I finally got annoyed at the "dispatch 0xhexcode: shutting down due to TCP receive errors: connection reset" in the logs on one server, so I asked Google.

The best answer seems to be from SANS ISC, but even the simple "the other end shut down prematurely" is enough to point out it's probably not a problem and it's not on the server's end.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Diaper Count

Well, one of things I can do after a week-long trip with the kids is know how many diapers they go through (a closed system this week; usually they spend some time away from home not going to work with us). The answer is one toddler and one baby went through 52 diapers from Saturday mid-morning until now, the following Saturday evening. So about 7 diapers per day. And about half that for number of wipes. The boys are close enough in size that we just bought Huggies Supreme (they were on sale) size 5. Huggies Supreme seem to run a bit smaller than Pampers Cruisers, but they worked. They don't seem as flexible, and I'm glad to get back to good ol' Pampers. But then again, it's all-around nice to be home again!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Book Review: My Life as a Quant

Another book finished, and I liked My Life as a Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance by Emanuel Derman too! Derman's description of why he went into physics was dead-on! I felt much the same way when I went into physics, and I suffered the same disappointment about jobs when I left. I thought the book was lucid (quick reading), self-aware (I had similar feelings about physics, yet it was good prep for the future career change), and way more fun to read (for the human aspect) than you'd expect from any description of it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Book Review: Kitchen Confidential

After a long spell cuddling a baby while not reading books, I finally finished Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain! It's a quick read, despite how long it took me to finish it, and very fun if you enjoy the gonzo writing style. Since Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson is one of my very favorites, I enjoyed reading this book, as well as finishing a book, any book!

My favorite quote is

for the first time, I saw how three or four ingredients, as long as they are of the highest and freshest quality, can be combined in a straightforward way to make a truly excellent and occasionally wondrous product.

I'm sure he doesn't mean Alt-Martha but her less-than-five (ingredients) recipes sure are a great start for dorm-room cooking!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Book Done!

Hey, I finished a book! That's the good part (and what idle time in airports and airplanes can do)! I read Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, and overall was not impressed with the conceit of telling the story out of order on about three parallel timelines. It's fine for a "beach book," the unthinking entertainment you might read on the beach. Or on the way to the beach, in my case.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mom Lesson: Night Terrors

Karston had night terrors once (at least once: we think most of his night-time all-or-mostly-asleep screaming is because his tummy hurts), and it was a disconcerting experience. The rule of thumb is that if when the child wakes up, the parents are more upset, it's night terrors. If the child is still scared, it was a nightmare. However, I learned a valuable secret to avoiding night terrors from Daddy's cousin Kathy whose son has more frequent night terrors. The secret is an earlier bedtime! Sure enough, Karston's night terror was when we were at a family gathering and stayed up very late (midnight!) with everyone else.

Banana Muffins

I'm not sure it's worth mentioning my starting point (the Best Banana Bread Recipe at Recipezaar), but I made some tasty muffins this evening with peanut butter, bananas that needed to be baked soon, and chocolate chips.


2 bananas

mix in

1/3 cup honey

2 Tbs canola oil

1 tsp vanilla

blend in

1/3 cup peanut butter

preheat oven to 350°F

sift in

1 cup cake flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

fold in

1/4 cup chocolate chips

bake at 350°F 10-15 min until done

I made 24 mini muffins (10 minutes) and 4 regular muffins (15 minutes) with cups filled about 3/4 full. Neither the banana flavor nor the peanut butter flavor is very strong, but it's fairly tasty. I like the texture variety of the chocolate chips. The muffins rose nicely, are soft, and didn't need silicone muffin cups greased. Given that they didn't rise an exceptional amount, this recipe would probably adapt to the microwave pretty well (like this recipe, but for muffins maybe 4 minutes at half power and 2 to 2:30 at full power). Now here's hoping Karston will eat them!

UPDATE 04/05/2009: in my 1.5kW (1500 Watt!) microwave, the proper cooking time was 3 minutes at half-power, 1:30 at full power. Even then, the batch made in the dry silicone muffin pan had two get almost overdone, while the batch made in the damp (from cleaning it after the first batch) silicone muffin pan stayed out of the hard-as-a-rock zone. Mini chocolate chips are best for mini muffins. This recipe made 33 mini muffins, and it rose beautifully while "baking" in the microwave!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Prevacid and Skin Crawling

Karston has said two or three times in his month on Prevacid that bugs were crawling under his skin. At least one other person has felt this on Prevacid:

second time to try prevacid, acipex quit working, and again feel like my skin is crawling

A Good Night

Last night was a challenge to get Cale to bed, but I finally set him down in his crib at 9:20 PM. He woke up at 12:20 PM just before Karston started crying (for hours!) and nursed on one side before I encouraged him to roll over and fall asleep. Then, surprise!, he slept until 5:20 AM, nursed for 20 minutes, and rolled over to sleep again! I can deal with 5 hours of sleep at once!

So what went right?

Cale ate his usual baby food, although one was a mix (chicken, peas, corn, and rice) with his vitamin drops and a few crumbs from 2 chocolate drop cookies.

Yesterday I ate my usual cereal (Fiber One Honey Clusters with raisins, and Honey Bunches of Oats with almonds) with rice milk, tres enchiladas de pollo con salsa verde y frijoles y arroz, and a homemade pizza with turkey pepperoni, green pepper, mushroom, crushed tomatoes with roasted garlic, and vegan rella. However, I think it's usually food from the day before. That was cereal with rice milk, a sandwich wrap (and beano since I usually get gas from wraps for some reason) with potato chips, a cranberry-raisin muffin, 2 dinner rolls, and pork-pineapple stir-fry. Just in case it helps, the day before was cereal with rice milk, PT's hamburger with greasy fries and sweet tea, 3 gingerbread cookies, aqcorn squash, cranberry sauce, chicken, 2 rolls, mixed veggies (corn, green beans, and collard greens), and 1/2 chocolate-zucchini cupcake with some extra chocolate chips.

Must repeat this. Cale slept well despite a stuffy nose (and he might have a viral conjuctivitis) and no meds to clear his nose! Is it his vitamins? Me taking beano? We'll see.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mom Lesson: Ten Minutes

The 10-minute rule for falling asleep is very useful! When Karston was an infant, he followed the same pattern that Cale's on: eight to ten minutes after he first falls asleep in my arms, set him down in his crib. Any less, and he's not sound asleep, and he wakes up when I set him down. Any more, and he might also wake up. The "tilt sensor" is least sensitive 8-10 minutes after my children doze off.

Since Cale has a runny nose making him uncomfortable right now, I've had to adapt this rule to 10 minutes after that last large-scale restless motion, but 10 minutes is a real sweet spot for walking away from rocking a baby to sleep.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Managing the Difficult

A long time ago, when I started part-time work in computer support at our local Help Desk, I read the introductory training material. One point that stuck out for its perspicacity was how to handle difficult customers. The observation was that if the customer is going off on a voluble tirade, ask questions with very short yes/no answers to limit the flow of words. On the other hand, ask open-ended questions of reticent customers to draw them out into a conversation.

Last week I asked another manager how to manage a difficult employee, and I just realized that his answer fits the same model. The problem is (a serious lack of) time management, and the solution is to set requirements for progress with expectations for milestones. It's closer to micro-management than I like, but I know how to set self-management as an expectation now too.

Manage the difficult by presenting the opposite. I get it now.

Friday, November 7, 2008


As I turned into my neighborhood this evening, I saw a creature with an odd gait next to the road. At first it looked like that fuzzy gray cat from down the street, but cats have a much smoother gait. Yep, I saw a racoon tonight! I'm glad our garbage can lid has a latch, and our compost bin lid has locking tabs. They can make a mess!

Not That Kind of Cool

Yesterday I drove home behind a guy on a chopper motorcycle. He really didn't look as "cool" to me as I'm sure he intended. First of all, his hands were as high as the top of his head. How cool do you look with your arms up? Then he was wearing baggy jeans, and the wind was going up his jeans legs and making them billow. Yeah, we all think the marshmallow michelin man looks cool, right? So I laughed about that. I'm sure his legs were cool --or downright cold-- but he didn't appear cool to me.

I wasn't impressed with this guy's sense of safety either. He had one hand off of his handlebars for several minutes through a curvy section of road. Plus baggy jeans can get caught in a motorcycle's engine, so I just didn't see good sense. Oddly, though, he was driving well under the speed limit.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Not What I Expected To See

About 6 weeks ago, when I was coming in to work, I saw something brightly colored next to the parking lot. I rushed past it, but stared at the bright red plastic and shiny chrome as I went. In my defense, it isn't what I expect to see on my way to work, you know? It was a bong. It seemed incongruously out of place until I remembered there actually is a hookah shop a block away just down from the mediterranean deli. It's been losing pieces over the weeks, but I still laugh that I couldn't figure out what it was for so long. I walk past the hookah shop almost every time I walk anywhere during work.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Hungry Hungry

I think my theory, Cale's awake so much at night because he's so hungry, has been vindicated. A short article on baby signs of readiness for solid food said that one sign was frequent waking at night after having established good sleep habits. [Cale's signs of readiness were (1) making his hungry cry after a long round of nursing, (2) waking more often to nurse but still on a pretty good schedule, (3) watching our forks like a hawk, from plate to mouth, and (4) opening his mouth wide whenever he thought a spoon might be headed near him.] Even eating baby food just before bed, Cale's sleep schedule has been horrible for over a month. He used to sleep 4 to 5 hours, then about 3 hours. Now he's lucky to sleep 2 hours before the 1 hour duty cycle where he sleeps 45 to 60 minutes, and needs 30 to 60 minutes of attention (mostly nursing but sometimes cuddling) to fall asleep again.

Last night and the night before, he woke around 2 am and wouldn't go back to sleep for three hours until he had had all possible nursing and a jar of baby food. Without filling his tummy, he would cry the very second I set him in his crib. (Annoyingly, he will sleep while hungry if I'm holding him; so either way, I don't get to sleep.) Other than asleep while I was holding him, he was really loud in the middle of the night. And Daddy holding Cale was even louder!

So tonight if I can motivate myself to wake up and remember this, when Cale first cries for me, I'm going to feed him a jar of baby food, then nurse on both sides, then put him back in his crib. Maybe I can cut the 3 hours of screaming down to half the time with less complaining. I miss the good old days of nursing him back to sleep, where we would both get some sleep after he finished on one side.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

That Little Ol' Thing Called Sleep

When Cale wasn't quite 24 hours old, he slept 5 hours through the night (between speedy labor and decent sleep, I felt pretty good, considering -- and one of the night nurses who chatted with me in the hall was startled that I was a mom not a support person). During Cale's early months, he slept 4 or 5 hours most nights unless I had eaten one of his allergens (dairy slams his gut into overdrive; soy and eggs keep him, and therefore me, awake). Then came his interest in food. He would follow every little movement of my fork from plate to mouth. He wanted the fork. He wanted what was on the fork. He wanted to nurse all the time, non-stop if he could. So despite our concerns about his allergies, we started baby food. We knew it was time.

So I was merely flipping past the "Signs of Readiness" section in a baby feeding booklet when a passage caught my eye. Turns out, one of the signs of readiness for food is a dramatic change to more frequent night wakings! I'd hate to think how long I've been trapped in the land of poor sleep, but it's been at least a month. And no wonder his best sleep is usually the first round: he gets baby food, then he gets to nurse. Double food and a sacked-out baby. As the night goes on, his sleep cycles get shorter. But it jibes so well with his eating habits: Cale is hungry! He's not very interested in baby food, so he wakes up sooner ...

I need a plan to get Cale back on his original sleeping plan, but I feel more optimistic now. I thought maybe he had a fourth allergy (probably wheat, the tough one to eliminate), and I was going to have to work through an elimination diet (still possible, since it explains the poor sleep), but I think more food is a better fit (it explains why his poor sleep started when it did). So now to have ideas to keep Cale full longer ...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sleep and Food and Baby

I think Daddy hit on something yesterday when he said Cale eats every 2 hours. Cale does that at night too. Well, mostly. His longest sleep is the first round, and that's when we feed him baby food before I nurse him to sleep (two kinds of food, and sometimes he sleeps 4 hours). Then on the better nights, he cries about every 2 hours, and I can nurse him back to sleep in 30 minutes (so I can sleep almost 1:30 out of every 2 hours). On bad nights, it's an hour to get him asleep, and he sometimes wakes the second he touches his crib.

I'm going to ponder better ways to fill his tummy. Although he usually has gas (often enough silent, and I feel it when my hand is on his butt, makes me suspect that he might have gas when my hand isn't there) when he wakes up. Hmm. So I need to reduce his gas and increase how much is in his tummy, and then I can sleep again. Hmm. Hoping for ideas to jump into my sleep-deprived brain.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Well, that was gross. I wanted to have red beans and rice for dinner ... but sometimes dinner doesn't go as planned. The rice had live bugs in it (and some dead bugs too), a drawback to organic. Backup plan was steak on the grill, but the new propane tank (a swap refill) didn't work, so that plan was out the window too. Sheesh!

Steak and potatoes from the oven worked, though, and salad is always tasty!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Baby Bumpers

I just about jumped out of my skin at a noise in Cale's room, but he was fine. Then I heard it again! and noticed his arms had moved. (Yes, I tucked him in snugly, but he's strong and outgrowing that nonsense at the usual age.) Based on the sounds I heard, he hit the crib rails with his hand rather hard, so I'm surprised and relieved that he's still asleep. Now I understand crib bumpers!


Aha! I solved a problem I've been wrestling for a while, to merge XML files!

  1. Use cli, not this nifty GUI; follow the example on the source web page, but modified for the java from TestXSLT.
  2. And use CDATA so I don't have to urlencode carriage returns and possibly other nonsense (after noting that urlencoding helped the cli run through its paces).

Still not as user-friendly as what I envision, so I'm not going to be too specific yet ... but since I can pack several of my tricks for work into XML, if you can pick and choose what to merge together, then who needs me to do it for you?

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Bah! I thought Pagehammer sounded so promising with its feature configurable intervals, but I couldn't register. Well, I tried to register again when I ran across a second web page to monitor, and this time I got a useful error message! (Amazing what happens after you complain.) The password can only have letters and numbers, and I had selected a stronger password than that out of habit. An error I can fix, so I did. Well, the intervals are just twice daily, daily, twice weekly, and weekly. I really wanted to have the every-other-month check, and in my imagination, that's what configurable time intervals meant. Ah well. By that logic, FollowThatPage is almost as configurable with its hourly and daily checks.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Beach Trip

Family trip to the beach this weekend! My mother, my husband, and both of my sons piled in our station wagon and headed to the coast Thursday morning. I left work a little early on Friday and drove my mother's car down to join them, and then my mother drove her car home Saturday just in time for her to go to work this weekend.

Reflections on this trip ... I didn't leave as early on Friday as I should have, so I hit the interstate parking lot. There I saw one of the saddest secondary accidents (not the accident that caused traffic to slow down, but an accident because of that slowdown) I've ever seen: a 1940s vintage Rolls Royce rear-ended by a much newer vehicle. Since I know that braking distances have improved vastly (3x better just since 1970!), I know who was at fault, who was not paying enough attention in heavy traffic.

My mother noticed that Cale's two meltdowns were at the same time of day. She says Cale expects Mommy to pick him up at 5 PM, and he has a fit if I'm not there. The rest of the time, he was fine playing or cuddling or sleeping with anyone else, but he expects Mommy time at 5 PM. That's pretty perceptive! Other than the 5 to 5:30 window, yelling was probably Karston.

I could not believe how much Cale had changed in 36 hours away from me, and how much he learned over the weekend! He started sitting unsupported (the tripod position, but he didn't need his hands very often). In fact, he put his belly on the floor to reach a toy, and then he pushed himself back up to a sitting position! At one point, he was "swimming" (pre-crawling) to reach a toy, but since he's not crawling, he didn't get there. He could already pass a toy from one hand to the other, but he now rotates the toy for the best chewing angle. It's always about the chewing for him.

Cale had 4 poops on Saturday and 3 on Sunday, which is a sign that I've eaten food to which he is allergic (dairy, soy, and egg known so far). Time to read labels! When I arrived Friday evening, I had to make a quick allergy-safe meal, and since there's very little safe in the freezer section, I had to get creative. I boiled water, added a chicken breast, waited until it was almost done then added sliced squash and noodles. After draining all of that, I added a can of diced tomatoes with chipotle peppers for seasoning. Pretty tasty for something that quick straight from the store! (Finding rice milk at the coast took forever, though.) The basic items were safe, of course, and I read the ingredients on the noodles and the canned tomatoes to make sure those were Cale-safe as well.

We had to make sure we bought some shrimp with the still heads on because Karston is fascinated watching the process of popping heads off of shrimp. (When he goes fishing, he has to touch every fish before release. Not squeamish about that low-tide smell!)

Other than that, what you would expect for boat trips, shells, box turtle in the sand boat (a no-float turned into child's play), and outstanding views.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Lessons Learned about Pumping

What I learned this week at work is that how much water I drink during the day greatly affects how much milk I get from the breast pump. I did not expect a striking change, but now I've learned that lesson! Monday, I was "too busy" to refill my water cup, and didn't drink as much as usual; I pumped 2 to 3 ounces less than I expected. Tuesday I drank a normal amount, and pumped a normal amount. Thursday I decided to see if I could increase production by drinking as much water as I could remember to keep drinking, and I got 3 or 4 ounces more than I expected. I'd hazard a wild guess that every 12 to 16 ounces of water in excess of my usual water drinking yields another 1 ounce of breast milk.

Years ago, when I learned that drinking plenty of water reduced the number of afternoon headaches I got, I started drinking even more water. I don't know how this would work for mothers who are not heavy water drinkers, but I think drinking lots of water is a good habit for all working mothers!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Healthy Choice meals for lunch

Argh!!! I've been eating Healthy Choice meals for lunch lately, and I just discovered a problem. I was about to toss the box and decided to read the allergy information after the ingredients. I mean, I don't use milk when I make a copycat fiesta chicken, or veggies, or fruit crisp ... but right there, it said Soy, Wheat, Milk, Eggs. So I just ate three out of the four things Cale can't tolerate. (And that means I will pay the price in sleepless nights.) I think I'm still allowed to eat wheat, although I was wondering since Cale hasn't been sleeping well. Now that I read the label for fiesta chicken, I know the problem: I need to read labels more carefully. Just because I "know" how to make a meal doesn't mean the packaged form is similar. *sigh* So I can eat the Lemon Pepper Fish, and that's it.

Well, I like what I cook better anyway. This was just a time saver. Now I'll look for lunches I can freeze in advance, but that's not a problem.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monitoring Web Page Changes

One thing I need to do periodically at work is to monitor for web page changes. By periodically, I mean once or twice a year, just long enough for me to forget completely. For some reason, it seems wrong to depend on my work laptop to do this; I wanted a web service.

The one that should never have been on my list was PageHammer. The site takes forever to load, and it would never let me register. I liked the teaser feature of customizable intervals, but it's got to work ya know. Bah humbug.

I tried FollowThatPage; it works, but I wish I could change the interval. Weekly is often enough for many things I check online. I like the keyword matching (or excluding) feature so I can pinpoint the interesting changes. The batch upload and Firefox extension are useful bonus features. The Firefox extension swayed me, as it looks like the developers are active, and interested in ease of use.

The other promising one was ChangeDetect. This service also supports bulk import, also filters for regexp and negative regexp, and could even throttle back to monthly checks. However, I'm leery of services that have a paid tier when I have exactly one web page in this "must check once or twice a year" category. (It's not worth much money to me when I can put a reminder on my calendar for the low-tech route.)

I think would also work, but it doesn't lure me in promising some of the features that caught my eye from the other services.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

NAS and home server

We've been talking about re-purposing an old computer to be a home server, for easy sharing of cute kid photos, but we decided against it for two reasons. One, building your own server takes a serious amount of time that we would rather spend playing with those cute kids. And two, even putting a small price on our time for building a server and then adding in the energy costs for a year of running an old computer instead of a new NAS just doesn't add up.

(Our uses: cross-platform file sharing especially media like photos, and backup which is why RAID is so attractive.)

So I went through the NAS comparison charts and the reviews, and settled on Synology or Qnap. Daddy convinced me to look at RAID 5, so I went through it again. The bottom line for us, balancing features (how to get on the list), performance (how to make the short list), and price (tie-breaker), is the Synology CS-407 (not 407e) or the Qnap TS-509. Since I don't care between 4 and 5 drives, I figure I'll go for the cheaper 4-bay model. And newegg generally has the best price and certainly good support so that's easy too. Whew. Not cheap, but it's a well-researched decision now.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Protein and Sleep

Ring ring ring! We have a winner!

Now I understand why the doctor (didn't blow me off and) said soy protein sensitivity when I said I thought Cale slept better when I didn't eat soy: because even sleeping problems can be caused by protein sensitivity. Since I also think eggs are in this boat (probably egg white protein, thanks Daniel!) of causing baby sleep problems as well, that leaves me wondering just what protein is safe for me to eat, and soon safe for Cale to eat in baby food form.

One warning! When I was researching GERD, I learned that Similac Alimentum and Enfamil Nutraminagen are both milk-based. Both are broken down to be less likely to cause digestive upset for infants just sensitive to casein, but they are not strictly milk-free.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Book Review: Backpacking With Babies and Small Children

I read the book Backpacking with Babies and Small ChildrenBackpacking With Babies and Small Children recently. I can't say I learned anything that wasn't common sense, but this would be a gentle place to start if I wanted to hike with my kids and were worried about getting started. The same things that matter for adults also matter for children:

  • wear appropriate layers of comfortable clothing
  • be prepared for potty needs (and please don't leave dirty diapers out there!)
  • be prepared to eat and drink
  • have reasonable expectations for distance and time
  • be prepared to change your plans with the circumstances

In addition, you do need to think about entertaining children on the trail, and how to carry them (or otherwise take a break) when they say they're tired of walking (that could just mean boredom).

There's historical perspective on what you had to do before REI had several product lines for these needs that should appeal to DIY-ers.

This morning, I had a conversation with the manager in the office next to mine, and he said it is important to go outside with your children. His children have grown up before he blinked, and he realizes that he has raised two indoor children although that was never his intention and not his upbringing. I can see how I would fall into that trap myself (I just want to squeeze in a little more work, since we're swamped), so I thanked him for the reminder to work for a better Big Picture. No excuses! Get outside with the kids!

Mike Fabiaschi

I worked with Mike Fabiaschi, first at Aprisma and then again at Enterasys. Fun! After Aprisma, I said I would follow any company that he led. When I heard he was the new CEO for Enterasys (a vendor we already used), I literally ran down the hall to tell one of my co-workers that this was the best news he had heard in years even if he didn't know it yet. I was right, too.

This morning I heard that Mike passed away in his sleep. I will miss the heady thrill and hard work of working with Mike. But most of all, I will miss a dear friend. He was a great guy to know, and I'm honored to have had that opportunity but deeply saddened that it ended so soon. It's just so hard for me to get a handle on him not being there. Someone so active just disappeared, and it just doesn't feel right. At least it was peaceful, but I still need to figure out how to handle it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

This Cynical World

When you turn into our neighborhood, there's a huge gouge of a puddle where someone(s) can't stay on the road for the turn. We've never seen the bad driver(s), so the guesses are wild. I think it's the FedEx driver since he has such trouble with our easy driveway. (He delivered a package today. It's funny that such a big van has such a high-pitched horn; I thought it was one of Karston's toys at first!) Kurtis thinks it could be teenage driver(s), and that sounds reasonable too. However, the prevailing theory is that it's the school bus.

Here's the cynical view of the world. The school superintendant moved into our neighborhood this spring, and the school bus' hole got patched this summer. It may sound harsh, but I was rooting for someone (FedEx or teenager) to lose an axle and learn a lesson about staying on the road and in your lane. Well, what we learned is that it's not the schoolbus. The patch was gouged just a few hours after it was set, and the school buses weren't running during the summer break. In fact, the bad driver (or drivers) is now taking the turn in the neighborhood even wider, and gounging the grass to the outside of the patch.

But that's the way the world works: school super sees a purported school bus problem that could lead to an expensive bus axle repair, and the hole that's been here longer than our six years of seeing it gets fixed within months.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Key Battery

Last week, Daddy drove to a meeting on a carpool day. The parking permit was up when he left, but not when he got back. PANIC! Our joke was that parking is so bad around here, the worst thing a thief could do would be to leave your car in the lot after taking the most valuable item, the parking permit!

Today we switched off who was at work over lunch, and Daddy reminded me to move the parking permit from my car to his when I left. I slogged through the rain, got to his car, and then remembered that I don't have a key to it anymore. The key was at home waiting for us to repair it because it quit working.

In this case, if I had had the dead key anyway, I could have used the valet portion of the key to unlock it to hang up the permit. Oops. I decided that this was a gentle reminder to fix the key. Annoying but not urgent, so don't wait until it is urgent. I can take a hint from life.

Of course, other than replacing the battery (since I have the oldest key to that car), we didn't know where to start. Like how to access the battery. So I asked Google. And thankfully, the internet knows!

The answer is to remove the valet key, use it to depress the button just under the ledge of the valet key, and the battery portion slides out. I know that sounds vague, but that was enough for me once I had the key in my hands. But of course if that's not enough for you, there's even a YouTube video. Good old internet to the rescue!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Every time I have a weekend alone with Cale, I learn something about him. This (third) time is the least important discovery, but I learned that Cale is a very hungry, orally fixated child. He nursed as often as he could talk me into lifting my shirt. His grasp is much improved, so get this shirt out of my way is obvious. He ate baby food, and complained if the spoon wasn't back with more food soon enough for him. He eats more baby food for Daddy, though; he would taper off by staring at my chest. Cale was also interested in everything that I ate. We never saw this from Karston, but Jen says Tasha knows that Mom's food is better, so I think Cale's normal, and we're going to learn what normal child eating is like finally. When I reached for a tortilla chip, Cale reached for my chip. I gave him a really large chip to grab and suck until he broke it (nothing choking hazard sized for him!). When I drank water from a straw, Cale went to town sucking condensation off the bottom of my cup. More, more, more! I'm grateful he's eating baby food because I couldn't supply that much! Unlike Karston, Cale eats. Cale is hungry.

He also wanted to touch me at all times, so he kept my hours to sleep near me, and he rode in his Baby Bjorn or Gerry backpack almost constantly. I need a shower! Thank goodness Daddy's home.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Slow Pump

Tuesday afternoon, I pumped about 9 or 10 ounces of milk; expected for 3:30 in the afternoon. Tuesday night / Wednesday morning at 1:30 am, I only got about 4 ounces; about half what I expected. My breast pump, an Ameda Purely Yours 2005 now pumping for my second child, sounded like it was hesitating halfway through the suction portion of its cycle. It started off fine, then had a few hesitations, and by the end of the 10 minutes of pumping, it was hesitating all the time. (I only pump for 10 minutes now; it was the happy medium time for the first child, and I'm willing to go on experience this time around.)

I was sure it was broken and not sure what I was going to do. I can't last long (and go to work, and stay sane) without my breast pump! Just in case you're in this boat, don't stay up all night wondering what you should do, like I did. Use my backup plan instead. You go to the nearest hospital (I know my nearest hospital has excellent lactation services) and you rent a breast pump until you have a replacement!

So Wednesday morning when I got up, Daddy headed to baby food and I headed to breast pump. I wanted Mr. Fix-It to hear the pump's hesitation. Well, it didn't make the bad sound at all, so that idea fizzled. I even went to 12 minutes! However, I got less than 4 ounces, which was less than I expected again. So then I had the terrible mom-guilt of self-doubt: did my milk supply drop off already? Uh, dropping by half in less than 12 hours is highly unlikely!

I pumped again this afternoon, later than I should have, at 4. I got almost 12 ounces of milk, as expected, and I'm no longer in a panic about my breast pump or my milk supply. In fact, given that the wiring in our house is known bad in some places, I wonder if I just had it in a bad outlet Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

So I still love my Ameda Purely Yours. I bought that model, even though it was more expensive than similar recommended models, because my dear hubby (after he recovered from a split second recoil of "you want me to pick out what?!") selected it from a line-up of breast pumps in the breastfeeding class we took before Karston was born. He looked at them with his engineer eyes, and very quickly pointed to the Ameda. When I asked why, he said it had the least chance for contamination with the most power. Guess what? The Ameda was one of only two models there with FDA certification, and yes, the Ameda has more power and more suction variability control than the other model. As I said at the time, it's not cheap, but what's the point to marrying a mechanical engineer if I don't trust his opinion on mechanical equipment? He was right then, and he's still right.

I hope not to suffer another round of doubt about my breast pump, but at least I've got the backup plan if I do need to wait for a replacement.

Monday, September 8, 2008

On Duplicate Key Update

This morning I was trying to copy a permissions-customized mysql.users table from the production server to its backup and development servers. Of course in about 2 seconds, I get a message of "Duplicate entry whatever for key numever" because these servers are already pretty similar. So with a little Google, I found the INSERT ... ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE syntax that should help me with the mysqldump I want to restore. Hopefully I can get myself out of the woods.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Another Baby Lesson

Sometimes I have enough quiet around me that I can listen to what Cale's telling me. (No, my 5-month-old can't talk; it's figurative.) This evening solidified a guess I had in the wee hours this morning. Cale was sleeping remarkably well for his first months, but then he started waking up all night. Very tiring for me! Last night I noticed that he had baby farts almost as soon as I picked him most of the times he cried for me. (Before anyone suggests "cry it out," I'll bring up two issues. I want Karston to sleep, so loud crying in the adjacent room is bad, and when Cale is bawling at the top of his lungs with tears in his eyes and he's too young to put on a show, I need to comfort him. If he's just fussing about sleep, I let him fuss himself to sleep. This crying is different, louder, and needs love.) Usually when he wakes up, we settle down to nurse. Well, at 3AM when I was very sore, I discovered that he was perfectly happy to snuggle into my neck and fall right back to sleep. No nursing. In fact, he might've fallen asleep faster without that distraction.

Discovery #1: farts wake him up very unhappy. I need to discover what I should eliminate from my diet.

Discovery #2: he doesn't have to nurse all night. In fact, I don't want him to get accustomed to eating around the clock.

This evening, he was tucked in his crib at 9PM (late because I was baking), and he was crying at 10PM. We just cuddled. That gave me a chance to pump so I can actually go to work too! Useful discovery.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Researching GERD

I did some research on GERD to see what we can do to help Karston.

Gastroesophageal reflux in infants

  • 15 - 40% improve on a milk-free diet, have casein allergy
  • casein allergy tends to go away at 1 year of age
  • PPI generally more effective than H2 blocker

We saw delayed weight gain (is it "delayed" when he's 3 years old and still smaller than the 2-year-olds at his preschool?), projectile vomiting when he was an infant, and he was hungry all the time (day and night).

However, don't be too fast to medicate. Don't be too slow either, or you'll be in our boat with a small child used cuddles all night and food whenever he wants!

Gastroesophageal reflux disease in children and adolescents

  • raise head of bed
  • avoid chocolate, peppermint, and acidic juices like OJ
  • PPIs more effective

Karston often complains that his tummy hurts, he pounds his chest at odd times, and he really likes a firm adult hand on his tummy (think Napoleon's ulcer pose).

Poor weight gain in infants and children

  • eat often: 3 meals and 3 snacks, about every 2-3 hours

During catch-up growth, the amount of calories and protein that a child eats is more important than the variety of foods eaten. For example, if a child is willing to eat chicken nuggets and pizza, but refuses all vegetables, this is acceptable. At meal and snack time, solid foods should be offered before liquids. Fruit juice should be limited to four to eight ounces of 100 percent juice per day.

Monday, September 1, 2008

You Know You're Tired When ...

You know you're tired when you wake up wondering how long your baby has been crying. I'm a very light sleeper, and usually wake up to the least sound, so I was astounded when I woke up Thursday night wondering how long Cale had been crying. Friday night was Allergic Watch for Karston (I was sure he was OK, but not so sure that I wasn't worried).

Saturday night was almost as notable for the depths of sleep deprivation. I woke up at Cale's first cry, tossed the sheet off ... and had no idea who or where I was. More importantly, I had no idea where to go to rescue the crying baby until I remembered that Cale's room is just across the hall. I did at least know I was supposed to soothe the baby.

We don't know why Karston cried so loudly and so often last night, but Cale woke up for that and I had to keep nursing him back to sleep. Hopefully the kids will sleep better soon, before their parents collapse. We don't get naps on weekdays!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bad Cable

It's an obvious statement, but when you're troubleshooting, always verify that your cable is good.

I've been wondering why my Treo wouldn't sync recently. First it was a rare problem, and now it's rare when it does sync. I didn't associate this at first, but sometimes it hasn't charged when I plug it in (oddly enough, it does sync some of those times). However, this seems like the cable is going bad.

Whew! That's an easier problem to solve!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Kids and Basketball

Basketball applies to parenting! With one child and two parents, the adults can double-team the child, or at least eat and sleep in shifts. Speaking from experience, the transition to two children is a huge change! Now the adults have to switch to man-to-man defense instead. Eating and sleeping may suffer. I'm sure three children rocks the boat again, as you shift to a desperate, out-numbered (but you've still got the size advantage, at least for the early years) zone defense.

How To Compile

I'm sure everyone with Unix experience has their own cherished best practice to compile software from source. I'll try to tone down the soapbox.

What set me off was a TidBITS article on DNS (at work, we compiled that patch as soon as it came out). I was ready to yell at my computer screen! They got it right about the need to patch right away, but wrong on how to do it well.

The very basic process to compile from source is:



make install # as root

Well, I like to log the results of those three commands; if it fails to build, I've got something to study later without worrying about my scroll buffer. I also like the visual feedback of how the compile is going, so I also want to see the output as well as logging it to a file. The reason why make install is its own step is so that you can follow the principle of least privilege. My method does all of those things.

./configure | tee configure.out

make | tee make.out

sudo make install | tee make-install.out

Feel free to choose your own file names, or switch to root instead of using sudo (potentially more secure, but longer). However you do it, just keep in mind that logging and least privilege are Good Things.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Green Poop

Cale hasn't had a green poop since two days after I quit eating dairy. Interesting! That makes allergic colitis sound likely. I had to research green poop, of course. The green poop generally means that the intestines are emptying faster than usual yellow. That could be excessive drool from teething (we've seen that recently) or an intestinal virus (hope not!). Green frothy points to foremilk/hindmilk imbalance, for instance if the baby nurses too frequently. Cale would, given the chance! Green could mean too much iron, which wouldn't be hard with my diet.

Between the mucous and the return to yellow once I was dairy-free, I can agree with allergic colitis. I haven't decided if I'm brave enough to try the other test: does green come back with dairy? It would make the experiment much more valid, but at the expense of a very sad baby. That's a very high cost!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Aha: Devil's Food Cake

I remembered reading about baking powder and baking soda, and enjoying this tidbit:

Baking soda causes reddening of cocoa powder when baked, hence the name Devil's Food Cake.

Now we know how the cake got its name!

(I try to avoid baking powder, even Rumford, as it always tastes metallic to me when the baked good cools, and often before then as well. I'm not the only one, though. I'm going to see if Bakewell is sufficiently less metallic. Making my own baking powder helps.)

Baby Feeding Guide

Here we go, a baby feeding guide. Don't know why I couldn't find this this weekend when I looked, but here it is. We've already started with thicker rice cereal than that, and Cale likes it. He acts like he would happily take more breast milk if I could make more. He's right on target gaining weight (shucks, 80th percentile; I'd be worried if he weren't breastfed), but he's also the weight Karston was when he was 9 months old. Karston had other calorie sources then! Certainly Cale seems to appreciate more calories. He's fascinated when we eat, and he really goes after the spoon.

On the other hand, he has only pooped once since we started rice cereal this weekend, so maybe that's why you're supposed to mix it thinner than we've done so far. Let his digestive tract adjust?


So I've been having a conversation about ADD, and Amy showed me a quick adult ADD screening quiz. (What's funny here is that my web search turned up the longer quiz first, and I thought to myself, Gah, too long, where's the short quiz?)

I mean, there's childhood ADHD to explain why I couldn't even walk calmly as a kid (too boring) and took 2 hours to fall asleep that usually changes into adult ADD (I thought I was calmer because I'm exhausted with children). I'm not sure there's a difference between attention deficit and multi-tasking, except that the second is a real asset at work. I think I would write it off as modern life favors multi-tasking, except that I also have incredible focus at times. It's really productive. And honestly, skittering from one topic to the next, even at work, generally isn't all that productive. It's kinda fun to whack-a-mole on my email, but at the end of the day ... the more productive days are when I follow my checklist of what to do (or have focus). So while I haven't internalized it, it sure does make personality sense.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Falling Asleep

I was once told there were two types of insomnia, sleep acquisition (can't fall asleep) and sleep inhibition (can't stay asleep). Luckily I usually only have one kind, can't fall asleep. So I was asked how I fall asleep. I've listed before some of what works for me.

My friend Alison said she would take 0.5 mg of melatonin when she couldn't fall asleep, followed by a second dose 30 minutes later if she still weren't asleep, and that always worked for her. That never worked for me, so I gave her the rest of my bottle. Then I learned that melatonin is released when your eyelids don't have any light on them, so I tried the eye shield, and that has worked well for me. As it turns out, the proper dose is 0.3 mg of melatonin instead. Melatonin is also effective for insomnia in ADHD children!

White noise is my other major aid along with an eye shield. However, I've also considered listening to an audiobook or podcast as I fall asleep. (Interesting note about working memory and falling asleep, sounds like it would also be effective for me.)

Other tactics ... I try to switch off multi-tasking (thinking about everything) by concentrating on something, like the white noise, or my breathing if I have no congestion to distract me. If focus doesn't work then I think about thinking about nothing until my mind is clear.

I like to do static stretches before bed and when I can't sleep. It runs off some energy, and it aligns my body. Then I climb into bed, making sure that I'm super-comfy with no pain points, all symmetric joints aligned, and no twists.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Food Cravings

Over the years, I've learned a few things about my food cravings. If I want salty food, I usually need protein. If I eat refined sugar, I just want more sugar (but I can turn that off with fruit, sweet but not refined). If I want chocolate, I'm stressed (or in the presence of really good chocolate). I'm not sure I believe all of it (but hey, it's worth a try), but here's a chart of what to eat for each craving. Some of these are ironic ... if you crave soda then you need calcium, and that soda will likely impair your calcium absorption! Others make sense to me. For instance, craving chocolate is linked to B deficiency, probably the same B's that are mal-absorbed under stress, completing the explanation of my rare chocolate cravings. I prefer the (hint of) scientific explanation for cravings, but since it's a sales pitch, it stops short.

The other craving I get is when I'm late eating a meal, I often get The Hunger, where I want to eat for the rest of the day. It's hard to fight The Hunger, and I'm gassy then too. (Like now. I thought that was a false alarm that I was hungry for lunch at 11:30 AM, but the after-effects indicate otherwise.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Busy with DNS

So we all heard about the DNS flaw announced by DoxPara. Boy, was that a busy week for us! Turns out, the secure version of BIND has this little problem with CPU load, accompanied with complaints about file descriptors, above a certain number of DNS queries per second. Ouch.

The immediate key to get it under control was to add ulimit -n 4096 to named.conf so that BIND would use more of the available file descriptors. The fix with more breathing room was to install the next beta version of BIND that has better performance. We've been out of the woods since then, and we're no longer expecting another shoe to flatten us.

In fact, now we can relax while those who didn't patch have discovered that the flaw has been discovered before its scheduled public announcement ... yikes!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Playing Bridge and Cooking

I heard that Omar Sharif once said women weren't frivolous enough to study bridge enough to play world-class bridge. Sandra Landry, a world-class bridge player, thinks men and women play a different game of bridge too.

Landy suggests that the male game is tougher and more aggressive because of testosterone levels. Men, she says, concentrate better, while women are multitasking, unable to give maximum effort to bridge. ''Obviously,'' she says, ''women are more balanced and lead less obsessive lives. They play bridge to meet people and to enjoy a stimulating pastime away from home, children and career.''

For some reason, this also makes me think of cooking. I know a number of people who cook for their families. The men prepare these outstanding meals. Fancy. The women, myself included, aim for fast and healthy. Scoop a one-bowl meal out of the crockpot? Awriiight! It's a completely different class of cooking. And Sandra's right, I'm not thinking about just cooking, I'm also thinking about my boys, maybe even thinking about work or about catching up with friends ... Impressing anyone with a fancy dinner is not on my radar. And bridge? It's merely a game. We can skip the cards and just chat, too.

Friday, July 18, 2008


I thought I'd try something simple first for the rough skin on the back of my arms and the back of my legs. I know that soap in the US is very drying because Americans expect lots of suds when they lather, and the sudsing agents are drying. (If your skin feels tight after washing, it got too dry.) Sell more suds, then sell more moisturizers, I suppose. I use a very small amount of moisturizing soap in the shower, not enough for suds but enough to feel the soap slide. However, I use an anti-acne soap on my back because that was the only section of my skin that didn't improve when I switched to moisturizing soap many many years ago. For the past month, I've been very conscientious about not spreading excess anti-acne soap off my back. I've trained myself to spread soap thin, so I was putting that extra soap on the back of my arms. Guess what? My arms are so much smoother now! I can't remember when my upper arms have had such smooth skin. And what a simple fix ... I was ready to look at keratosis pilaris treatments, but this is effective and takes less time!

Just (use less) soap. So simple.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Food, Allergy or Intolerance

I was looking for the most common food intolerances since Cale seems not to like something I'm eating. (This morning after breakfast, he was screaming and arching his back while nursing. Classic signs of baby gas.) I found CBS News on Food Allergy versus Food Intolerance, and it had just what I wanted to know, with plenty of additional background information.

A food allergy occurs when your body's immune system mistakenly thinks that a harmless substance (meaning whatever food you happen to be eating) is harmful. In response, the body creates antibodies to that food. The next time you eat that food, the body releases massive amounts of chemicals and histamines to protect you. These chemicals trigger allergic reactions, typically in the respiratory system or gastrointestinal tract.

An intolerance is typically when your digestive system has trouble processing foods that you've ingested. Other parts of your body (such as the respiratory system) may not be affected.

Someone who is allergic to a substance, such as food, will typically react to it in a very short time, whereas someone with an intolerance can react hours later. This is an important thing to keep in mind, because symptoms of allergies and intolerances can be very similar. They include trouble breathing, hives, vomiting, diarrhea and cramping.

There is evidence to suggest that if a parent or a sibling has an allergy, you are more likely to have one. There is also evidence to suggest if that one of these close relatives has a condition such as asthma or eczema, you are more likely to have a food allergy.

Common Food Allergies:

* Dairy

* Eggs

* Wheat

* Soy

* Peanuts

* Tree Nuts

* Fish

These are the most common foods to cause allergic reactions. That said, people can be allergic to almost anything. There are certain allergies (such as milk) that often start and finish in childhood. The nut and fish allergies are more likely to extend into adulthood.

Common Food Intolerances:

* Dairy

* Wheat

* Peanuts

* Tree Nuts

Again, you can have an intolerance to almost any food (just like you could have an allergy to any food), but these are the most common.

Interestingly, eggs, soy, and fish are likely allergens, but are otherwise generally tolerated. Hmm.

Anyway, I can easily track dairy, wheat, peanuts, and tree nuts against how Cale reacts to a feeding. This morning, I had just had dairy and wheat (cereal). In the previous 24 hours, I also had tomatoes and peppers (in the nightshade Solanaceae family with potatoes) with garlic and onion (in the Allium family). We'll see how the food tracking goes!

Monday, July 7, 2008

My First Sewing Machine

I'm getting my first sewing machine ready for a new home (yay! I couldn't throw it out, but I rarely used it), and it makes me think of the checklist I used to select it in fall of 1991.

I wanted

  • straight stitch and
  • zig-zag stitches in at least 3mm and 5mm stitch widths,
  • variable stitch lengths,
  • reverse for easy bar tacking,
  • and hopefully a free arm for sewing in tight spaces.

What I sew determines what sewing machine features I use. I've made clothes, accessories (like purses), and some light household items (napkins and curtains). I've added applique accents. Sometimes I mend fabric things, but I usually mend by hand since it seems easier.

For my second and current sewing machine, the main feature I added to that list was a 1-step automatic buttonholer. I was, I confess, also swayed by all of the accessories and specialty stitches on my new one. However, those extras didn't add to the cost once "one-step buttonhole" made the necessary list. I noticed that I made shirts in one long weekend except for the buttonholes, and those took a couple of months to get around to finishing. Making buttonholes fun, instead of a chore, speeds up the whole project.

Between the first sewing machine and the second, I've also added a serger and an embroidery machine to my collection, so I didn't need or want a combination machine. I expect a combo machine to be jack of those trades, master of none.

Sewing machines can last a long time. When I say a working sewing machine is old, I usually mean that it needs to have its timing adjusted. However that service costs $50 or more, a good portion of the cost of a new not-too-specialized machine. Sewing machines have their timing slip most commonly when sewing heavy fabrics, like layers of denim. After the timing goes, a sewing machine doesn't stitch thin fabric as well as a new or recently tuned one. So my thought is, use an old machine for the heavy work, and new for light.

I don't like maintenance-free sewing machines (or anything else). They may go longer without service, but at a high cost. The maintenance-free failure mode is that it breaks, while the maintenance one just needs that tune-up. Hmm, several tune-ups (maybe many!) versus dead. Not a tough choice for me since I don't mind oiling and cleaning my sewing machine! Other than that, I like good workmanship (it just fits together well) and a good sound (easier to hear when you need maintenance).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How Much from a Bottle

I would have thought it would be easier to look up how much a bottle-fed baby needs to eat! What I found was a rule of thumb, baby's weight in pounds times 2.5 for number of ounces to drink, and this table, with average number of feedings and ounces per feeding.

age in months

total daily amount (oz)

number of daily feeds

amount of feeding (oz)













(Babies start solid food at 4 to 6 months, so they eat less liquid after 7 months.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Redirecting stderr

I have some scripts that echo warning messages that really should go to stderr instead of stdout. The basic form is

echo "error" >&2

but I've twice gotten frustrated when I've tried to get fancier than that (not with echo, but with other commands). The essential problem is that the redirecting to stderr needs to be the last redirection. So my quick example is

echo "error" > /dev/null >&2

where redirecting to /dev/null or a file must come before the stderr part.

Hope this saves some time!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Reason to Blog

I ran across this tweet (that stuck in my mind) in a post about the inherent lack of scalability in email: it's still primarily one-to-one communication, unless you copy everyone on the email, leading to email overload and no one reading email and back to the lack of knowledge problem that copying everyone on the email was supposed to have fixed.

I realized that's what blogging addresses. The information is out there, it can be threaded - searched - categorized - tagged, so it's find-able when you need to know about it. We use a Changes Blog at work, and it's already been more useful than I expected. I no longer ask "did anyone make a change when this process broke?" because I can look up the answer painlessly. It works.

Add in Dipity, and the possibilities expand. Hmm. I probably need to think about this.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Food Poisoning

Assuming "avoid it" didn't work for you, this is a good reference on when to go to the doctor and what to do if you get food poisoning. Wikipedia is another reasonable reference too. (Daddy still feels unwell from Tuesday's bout. I had to do some research.)

No Caffeine for Baby!

As if I needed more reasons not to drink caffeine, it has a half-life in full-term newborns of around 95 hours, infants 80 hours! (The range is 65 to 130 hours.) Yowzah! The peak transfer to breastmilk is 1 to 2 hours later. Half-life indicates a decay pattern that starts with a large initial peak, then tapers off slowly. The half-life is the time to purge half of that caffeine, but there's still a long tail on the curve: after two half-lives, 25% of the original caffeine still remains.

So this afternoon when it was so hot and I was walking back to my office past the old-fashioned convenience store, I got the caffeine-free Pepsi (less acid than Coke). I don't know why this baby is awake at 11 PM, but at least I know it's not because I should have skipped caffeine.

Sleep Deficiency and Women's Health

Here I was, thinking I was doing well to reduce my insomnia to half an hour (or less!), but this study says I should keep working on it.


they found that poor sleep is associated with greater psychological distress and higher levels of biomarkers associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. They also found that these associations are stronger in women than in men.

Since I do have some issues with blood sugar, the mention of diabetes caught my eye.

"Interestingly, it appears that it's not so much the overall poor sleep quality that was associated with greater risk, but rather the length of time it takes a person to fall asleep that takes the highest toll. Women who reported taking a half hour or more to fall asleep showed the worst risk profile.

OK, I'll stay in sleep school a while longer!

Fix Your Arthritis!

I developed osteoarthritis in my knees at 16 (as well as lower back pain), and I got serious about fixing it with physical therapy when I was 29. I'm happy to report that arthritis no longer bothers me! Usually I'm in no pain, and I know when my knees hurt a little, I just need to buy new sneakers. This might explain why I was so happy.

Arthritis pain really is different from other types of pain, according to a small study reported last year. That’s because the pain caused by arthritis is processed in the parts of the brain that also control emotions, including fear and distress.

So seriously try what your physical therapist says! Worked wonders for me!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Happy Monogram

Tonight I was able to start and finish an embroidered monogram in one pass! A first!

The major lessons I've learned are always use stabilizer (even on heavy material), and always check the thread, both upper and bobbin, for proper tension if the test piece doesn't pass.

As always, a dull needle, nicks on the throatplate or bobbin, or poor thread (old, or just not even) will also cause problems. But I'm starting to think I can handle this embroidery machine ... that I got three years ago at the very end of June. Ah well, at least I learned my way around it eventually!

Sunday, June 1, 2008


I like TiddlyWiki, and I like the d3 version for GTD, but it wasn't fitting how I wanted to organize tasks at work. The main problem, of course, is that my job doesn't fit GTD that well. Mainly that Done part. I always need to upgrade software to the latest version, and to fix something, and whatever: I have many eternal projects and loose tasks.

The real problem was that I was using Projects in d3 as Categories. So where do projects go? And so almost every action in some projects was floating, and that breaks down the utility of the powerful Next Action concept.

Well, it's just JavaScript and I ain't afraid of no new programming language. So I created Categories for myself, just above Projects, as well as a way to look up uncategorized projects. It's not difficult.

First I edited the GTDMenu tiddler, adding this line at the very top:

+++(gtdCategoriesSliderState)[Categories]< >===

That line is just like the following line for Projects, except with Categories.

Then I created a tiddler titled CategoryList tagged gtd with these lines:

*<<list tagged "category -someday" all>>

*+++(gtdUncategorizedSliderState)[Uncategorized Projects:] <<list tagged "project -Category1 -Category2 -Category3" all>>===

Fill in your actual categories instead of those CategoryN placeholders, and you're set. (Or, if you're better at JavaScript, list the tiddlers that are tagged project that aren't tagged with a tiddler tagged category.)

Now make yourself some category tiddlers! Remember to use the category tag to make them show up in the menu on the left.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Learn the Difference Between Lay and Lie

I thought this was a gentle exposition of the difference between "lay" and "lie". Basically,

The main difference between the two words is that lay is a transitive verb, while lie is an intransitive verb.


VerbInfinitivePast TensePast Participle

The summary is the best part, emphasizing the lesson.

So here's the drill:

You need to lie down today, yesterday you lay down, in the past you have lain down.

Today, you lay the book on the table. Yesterday, you laid the book on the table. In the past, you have laid the book on the table.

Update: Of course there's an XKCD for that: Fashion Police and Grammar Police. This comic describes my grandparents: one set sold clothing, the other set were sticklers for the proper use of the English language.

Time to Geek

I know this is geeky, but I like it. You can aggregate all of your blogs, twitter, flickr, Pandora, YouTube, or anything else with an RSS feed into a very attractive timeline at Dipity (it's even free!). This may sound sad that I needed a timeline tool to show me this (I was sleep-deprived at the time!), but having Dipity correlate my twitter posts with my blog posts made it obvious to me that the benefit of following my baby's routine was that he started sleeping all night!

If you'd rather have your timeline on your own computer, I also like the SIMILE Timeline a lot. Lifehacker has a Quick and Dirty Event-XML-O-Matic to power SIMILE Timeline, just to make it easy on you!

Geek toys to make timeline pictures ... and you know a picture is worth a thousand words!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sprains and Strains

I always forget which one is which between sprains and strains. A sprain is an injured ligament connecting bones while a strain is an injured tendon connecting muscles. I've successfully treated all of my sprains (such a distinctive pain! once you know it) with Advil and time, but there are herbal approaches too. My guess is that Daddy has (yet another) sprain right now, since it's the bony area of his right wrist and now his left ankle.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What Worked

I've been fighting with my embroidery machine (again) in my small scraps of what is laughably called free time. The two things that worked this time were to add stabilizer backing, and to reseat the bobbin.

I thought this heavier mid-weight woven fabric was heavy enough without stabilizer, but the difference in the test results indicate otherwise. So lesson one: use stabilizer. I get the feeling that this lesson is universal to machine embroidery. To make testing easier, I stitched the stabilizer to the fabric. If I were to do this not-for-testing, I think the stabilizer border stitching would be a perfect place to use one of the fancy stitches on my new sewing machine.

Once I added stabilizer, I still had undesirable results. The stabilizer side looked tidy now, but the so-called right side was all wrong. I only saw top thread on the back, while the front showed somewhat loose bobbin thread. That looked to me like there was zero bobbin tension. Pulling on the bobbin thread end felt like zero tension as well. So I switched out the bobbin and was very careful how I seated the new bobbin.

I was so happy to see it work well after those two changes, stabilizer and reseated bobbin, that I kept running more tests, just to watch it work, just to wash away some of the previous frustration of seeing it not work and not having time to diagnose and fix it then. Ahh ,,,

And just in time too. I wanted to embroider a present for a friend, and my mother requested her chop on the jacket that she sometimes leaves at work (and would like to see again thank you). So I'm ready to help out embroidering now.


Right after I turned 21, I discovered I had insomnia while snowed in playing Trivial Pursuits with friends before exams. The question for me was, How long does the average American take to fall asleep? The answer was multiple choice, all of the choices were under 20 minutes, and IIRC the correct answer was 7 minutes. My answer for me at that time was 2 hours, pretty consistently, for as long as I could recall. Years of grad school, especially later with the time demands of grad school and a full-time job, trimmed that down to 30 minutes. Nowadays, even that would be a long time to fall asleep for me. How did I do it?Like everyone, I started with the standard suggestions for insomnia, also called good sleep hygiene. For further research, Wikipedia is a good place to start.

What works for me from the standard suggestions are a sleep mask / eye shield to block light and white noise from a fan. If there's any ambient light, I can't sleep without covering my eyes. I first starting sleeping with a fan on when I was an undergrad living in a dorm that was noisy all night. I used the fan to block the distracting sounds. In addition to insomnia, I'm also a light sleeper. Not the best combination! Back then, if I woke up, even just to pee, I needed yet another 2 hours to fall asleep again. Now I'm conditioned: fan on means fall asleep, using the bathroom in the dark means fall asleep as soon as I'm back to my pillow. If I'm not falling asleep now, going to the bathroom in the dark can help. What a change from when that was a guarantee to wake me up!

In addition, I have some of my own tricks, most learned when I was pregnant the first time. First of all, I need enough pillows to be perfectly comfortable in a neutral position. I can't fall asleep on my back, and I sure was not going to pick up tummy sleeping while pregnant! I have bursitis in my right hip, so I sleep on my left side. [The thought of bursitis in my left hip terrifies me!] I have a contoured pillow supporting my head and neck so that my upper spine is straight. When I'm not pregnant and I have a figure, I have a pillow under my waist to keep my lower spine straight and aligned. I have another pillow between my knees to keep my legs parallel to prevent strain on my hips. I sometimes put a long body pillow between my knees to hug so that my left shoulder moves forward instead of getting compressed. The waist pillow is only the second-best tip in this pile of pillows; the best tip is the neutral position. Once I learned how to feel when my hips were aligned, with the right hip neither higher (closer to my head) nor farther forward than the left hip, most of my sleep issues vanished. I didn't think I was in (that much) pain, but a non-twisted well-aligned sleeping position has made an enormous difference.

Another gem that is nearly impossible to follow now that I have kids but has made a huge difference is to go to sleep the very first time I feel sleepy. The little voice that says I'm tired is very, very quiet in me. However, if I listen closely and go to bed then, I fall asleep quickly and sleep very well. If I ignore that voice, I get a strong second wind and have trouble falling asleep. If I'm watching TV, I tape it; the sports game or the show is more fun to watch when I'm well rested. If I'm working on a project, I'll be happier to pick it up in the morning when I feel happy about being well rested. Really, everything will still be there in the morning after a good night's sleep!

I do have to tell my brain to shut up most nights (unless I heeded that little voice about bedtime). I clear my mind and refuse to think; that helps. GTD helps in general, as does keeping a PDA next to the bed so I can write down whatever is on my mind and go back to the blank mind with a clear conscience, knowing that I will remember to pick up that thought when I check my PDA in the morning. I don't think I'm anxious, but I understand that not being able to fall asleep because the brain is too busy tends to a sign of anxiety. Since GTD helps, I can't really argue otherwise except to say I don't think I feel anxious.

I can't fall asleep if I have cold feet. Once I learned that tip from my mother, I was amazed how effective it was! The first time, I could actually feel myself falling asleep just as my head touched the pillow, while I could feel waves of warmth from my slippers. I have some trouble falling asleep if my feet are hot, but cold feet make it almost impossible to fall asleep. Either one of those can be an indication of needing more exercise, to get the blood flowing properly so those extremities are not too hot or too cold.

Contrary to the established suggestions, I find exercise right before bed does help; in fact, if I can't sleep, I get up to do my evening exercise routine. However, I'm not doing heart-pumping cardiovascular fitness, or even sweat-inducing strength training. All the way at the other end of the exercise spectrum, I'm doing static stretching for flexibility. It gets the blood moving freely, lungs open, head cleared, with body relaxed and aligned. I usually work from Brill's The Core Program, and add in some of my stand-by static stretches. That routine relaxes me so much that I'm ready to fall asleep; as a bonus, it makes it easier for me to find that neutrally-aligned position in my nest of pillows.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Include External Files

I use certain "boilerplate" text in all of my scripts for work. I use the same toolsets with the same setup in different combinations with different filtering, but getting started is always the same. So far, I've been happiest with Idea Knot, but I've always wanted to that flexibility in a format I could easily share with others.

So yesterday I started looking for a JavaScript, XML, or PHP way to display external files selectively. I did not find an easy PHP approach with Google. I found an XML merge that I thought would be easiest to configure although a little harder for others to use, but it didn't work for me. I probably didn't configure my input XML files properly, although they passed xmllint. I have ideas on what to tweak to get it to work, but I decided instead to maximize my time and move on to what would be easier for everyone (myself included!) to use: JavaScript. I found an excellent tutorial on including other files on a web page, with an example. There's another example that converts the other file before displaying it. Very cool! So I whipped up a quick variant using my files, and what do you know?: it worked! Since I have no experience with JavaScript, I'm allowed to be surprised that it was easy. I even understand what the code does! Very nice.

On the first pass, I found how to do this with JavaScript with all of the boilerplate contained in JavaScript variables, but that made the monolithic web page so very large. Also, I do update my boilerplate as I learn new tricks and add new toolsets, and updating a monolithic page is tedious to say the least. So that's when I started looking for a way move from inline variables to external files to store my code building blocks. I feel good about using good code that I understand, and storing my information in multiple external files that will be easy to maintain.

Building the code generation page and moving from Idea Know to external files will take me a while, but at least now I have all of the components needed. This will be a useful tool to share at work!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Nursing Tops

Since I'm back in the breastfeeding trenches again, it was time to switch the wardrobe back to compatible shirts. Although I tend to call this apparel a nursing top, the search-friendly phrase is breastfeeding top. This difference is particularly apparent from eBay searches. Either way, I need more.

For fit and not looking like a nursing top, I really like Nursing Mamas; all of their tops feature hidden zippers. If you prefer woven to knit, you'll want to start here. I like the fitted silhouette (although it's a bit large on me), that the zippers don't show, and that the quality of the garment construction and fabric is excellent. I paid for it, too.

So on the less-expensive side, there's the weekly special at Motherwear. These are mostly knit tops. The fit is also a bit large, but that ease might be needed for those openings.What I have from Motherwear seems like it would be easier if I were smaller-chested. The Motherwear camisole with princess seams that I thought I would like the best is difficult to use because I'm not small. My all-time favorite nursing top was a camisole with princess openings came from Motherhood, but they don't carry it anymore. The other entry in this category is Stylin' Mom.

For quality, there's also Expressiva. And that's how to leave the house dressed for breastfeeding.


I used Crisco as the classic example of hydrogenation and trans fats to a friend, and she was corrected when she passed that factoid on. What? So I had to look into it, and I don't even care about Crisco; I've never bought the solid stuff.

Crisco was the great-grandaddy of hydrogenation, so I wasn't making that up. [I especially like that picture of cis versus trans at Wikipedia. You can see that trans is electrically favorable, and straight like saturated fats.]

But I found an article that yeah, it's true (now) that Crisco has no trans fats. Or at least sort of true ... I checked at the grocery store, and Crisco is not reporting that last little 0.5 gram per serving of trans fat.

And don't forget that trans fats might not be as bad as advertised since the statistical analysis was poor according to JunkScience: the conclusions do not follow from the statistical analysis of the study, so it could be right or wrong.

My approach to dietary fat goes like this:

  • vegetable source, no problem (like olive oil or any EFA source)
  • animal source, try to limit (for less cholesterol and saturated fat)
  • try to reduce overall fat intake
  • trans fat: if it's tasty, I'm not afraid of it; like most fats, I try to reduce intake

But what a world, when Crisco is no longer hydrogenated with (many) trans fats ...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Diapers (this time)

Cale is advancing through diaper sizes more quickly than Karston did, that's for sure! Just this week I traded in a case of diapers for the next larger size because he's not using nearly as many of the smaller sizes as Karston did. Cale's gaining weight at a normal rate, but that's a slightly faster rate than Karston followed, plus Cale started out weighing more.

We started with Huggies size N because we like the umbilical cut-out, and used 80. That's when he kicked out his cord stump (and cried about it). Size N was just getting too small by then, both by fit and by the "up to 10 pounds" rating.

Next we went through 88 Pampers Swaddlers size 1 (8 to 14 pounds). Just as I remember, 12 pounds was a good time to go to the next size. We've had better luck on the low side of the weight ratings. As a side note, the Pampers size 1 seems a little larger than the Huggies size 1.

Cale's not even 13 pounds now, but we started a case of Pampers Swaddlers size 1-2 rated for up to 15 pounds. When we got to the bottom of that case, that size was getting too small for a comfortable fit. We used many more size 1-2 on Karston!

So now we're using a mini-case of 96 size 2 (12 to 18 pounds) diapers, and I expect we'll want the elbow room of moving on to Pampers Swaddlers size 2-3 by the time it's empty. They didn't make size 2-3 when Karston would have worn them, and I remember the jump from size 2 to size 3 was larger than I would have liked. So I wouldn't be surprised if we only buy size 2 once, like all of the preceding sizes except N. Remarkably enough, Karston was wearing size 3 not that long ago ...