Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Once Upon a Midnight Dreary . . .
After giving us two nights of sleep, Abbey is awake again. Not screaming, but I have taken her out of the bedroom just in case so that DOB can get his sleep. My theory is that it's just too hot. I have her in a very fuzzy sleeper because she has wet almost everything else, and I just discovered the A/C had been turned up to 78. So I have turned it back down and am waiting for coolness to ensue.

In other household news, the slow-moving drain situation has reached crisis proportions. I pulled a growing bean plant out of the bathroom sink plug yesterday. Nasty.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Doing Our Part
Someone has finally run the numbers on the impact abortion has on electoral politics . . . and the news is bad for liberals. Turns out that people who believe that abortions are good are more likely to have them. And that people who don't reproduce don't pass on their values. The end result is more power to conservatives.

Abortions are quantifiable; unquantifiable but equally significant for this purpose are the numbers of children never even conceived because of an anti-life philosophy. I bet the ideological skewing is similar. Liberals can babble on about "it takes a village" and "children are our future," but the reality is babies aren't made by villages and those who are never born have no future. Bearing and raising children is a task that inherently skews conservative. It is the ultimate form of conservation--passing on the human race.

It's good to know that life still is stronger than death. And that while I change diapers I'm also doing my own small part in saving the country. ;-)
Ode to Sleep
Yes, somehow, someway, Abbey made it through the night without a single scream. (This is not, of course, the same thing as sleeping through the night, except for Papa. But hey, he doesn't get to nap so it comes out OK.) We're not sure whether it was the change of sleeping location, change of feeding schedule, or simply the result of fervent prayer, but we happily accept it.

She has developed a new trick. She loads up a diaper, then waits for Mama to decide it is time for a change. Carefully she waits for the precise moment when the fresh, clean diaper has just been pinned in place, stares absent-mindedly off into space, as if contemplating the future of Social Security . . . then Whammo!

Then she waits until Mama has changed her again and just sat down and gotten comfortable, and she loads up a third.

Since I only have 12 newborn-sized diapers, I'm having to wash them once a day (and I'm wondering if we'll make it that far today). I'm grateful for two things: 1) I'm using cloth, otherwise I'd see dollar signs ringing before my eyes every time she does this 2) she's not a boy. If she were, I feel certain he would know not to wait until the diaper was on . . .

Monday, June 28, 2004

Important Diaper Developments
A diaper in Israel saves a baby's life by absorbing snake venom.

The critical question not addressed in the story is: disposable or cloth? My guess is cloth, since disposable diaper technology creates ever-trimmer packages, while the layers of cloth necessary for a one-year-old would fend off the fangs of any snake.

Also on the cloth diapering front, the internet is a wonderful thing. Where else are you going to get advice on how to wash your first load of dirty diapers at 3 a.m. when you suddenly realize you are running out? There's always Grandma, of course, but she needs her sleep.
Gray Hair Check
As if becoming a father wasn't enough of an aging event, DOB received a solicitation for membership from the AARP last week.

It would make sense that they had somehow confused him with his father, but he never issued a general forwarding order from his parents' address. So we can rule that out and just conclude he's turning into an old fogey.

Until he reminds me when my birthday is relative to his . . .

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Drumroll, Please
For all those who have been anxiously waiting, we now have pictures.

Many thanks to Aunt Bettie and Uncle Steve for coming by and taking them. Many kudos to Abbey for surviving a bath and a picture taking session with nary a whimper. She made up for it later.
More 2 a.m. Musings
Abbey (that's how it's spelled, yes we know that's the building) has a strange propensity for screaming from 2 to 4 in the morning. Now we know crying is common in babies, but the precise timing of this had us mystified. Especially since she is otherwise the most incredibly even-tempered baby in the world. (She took a *bath* yesterday without uttering a peep.) She ordinarily sleeps through vaccuuming and puts up with the gaseous troubles of infant life with scarcely a murmur. Yet somehow in the middle of the night the slightest discomfort becomes agony.

So last night we developed a new theory. The only significance we can find to the timing of her discomfort is that it coincides with her birth. She starts getting noisy about 1:30, when I started pushing, and quiets down shortly after 4, when she was born. Perhaps she is suffering from some sort of post-traumatic stress syndrome and having flashbacks.

Now that we have this theory we're not sure what to do with it, but perhaps it will at least serve to console us that we are not doing something horribly wrong.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Life With Baby

No, we still don't have any pictures. Any kind soul who wants to donate a digital camera to the cause will win the nation's gratitude . . . ;-) We can assure you she is extremely cute. Her head is not smooshed and her skin is not blotchy.

The weirdest thing about being a new parent is the strange obsession you develop with another person's bodily functions. ("Hooray, she's had her designated number of dirty diapers today!")

My mother's preferred lullaby was the words "Bye, oh baby" sung over and over to the tune of "Come, Thou Fount." Ronald used to object to these words as being lame. However, at two a.m., they provide a great relief to a mind unable to process any greater lyrical complexity. At two a.m. it is too difficult to remember what Papa's going to buy you if the looking glass gets broke.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

It's a Girl!

Abigail Judith
4:11 am Tuesday, June 22, 2004
7 pounds, 11 ounces
20 inches long.

We're all doing fine. Except tired. Really tired.

Monday, June 21, 2004

When I gave the baby permission to wait until Wednesday, I didn't mean he could start labor immediately and then wait until Wednesday to actually been born.

I've been having contractions since Friday night. During the night they'll rise almost to go-to-the-hospital levels (which since we're only five minutes from the hospital, is a pretty high level.) And then they'll back off again. But never quite go away.

This is getting very annoying. Also very sleep-depriving.

But one must cope somehow. I'm trying to reset my goals. There's a lady at church who was in labor for two weeks with her oldest. So my new goal is to beat Mary Kappas and labor for three weeks.

Friday, June 18, 2004

All right, I traded in a Looney Tunes crib set for some gorgeous sunflower fabric to make curtains and a crib skirt out of. The baby can wait to come . . . till Wednesday, say.
I dusted. I got the boxes out of the nursery. I organized the sewing.

If this baby doesn't come soon, I'm going to have to . . . gulp . . . sort paperwork.
Thumb Twiddling
All right, the nesting instinct has struck and cleaned and redecorated the house. (When DOB arrived home yesterday, he thought I had arranged a surprise party or something.) And still no baby. Now what am I supposed to do?

Dust . . . I haven't dusted yet . . .

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Protective Warnings
In other news on the adventures of teenagers, a radio announcement this morning started out with, "Police are warning citizens of the dangers of breaking into pools." The story continued with the tale of some teenagers who had broken into a public pool off-hours, one of whom had dived into the deep end and then, apparently, remembered that he could not swim.

I don't know how much danger there is in breaking into pools, but there is a whole lot of danger in being an idiot. When are they going to start issuing warnings on that?
Threats to Chickens
Some teenagers were convicted of animal cruelty for beheading chickens, out of curiosity over whether they really would run around 'like chickens with their heads cut off.'

Now, I'm all for punishing them for theft, and cleaning out coops is a good part of it--but reading a book on animal feelings? Does any chicken raiser out there really want to contend that chickens have feelings?

They should have been punished by being put on the butchering detail. And then frying the chickens up for dinner. That would have satisfied their curiosity in a hurry.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

< whine >This baby weighs a ton. I can't believe it's still a week and a half to my due date. Everything hurts.< /whine >

They've arrested someone in Cincinnati for plotting to blow up a mall in Columbus. Good but disturbing. I was relying on being in "flyover zone" as my primary terrorism defense.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

I put all the baby stuff away yesterday; today I must write thank you notes. (My wedding thank you note experience has been sufficient to convince me of the urgency of doing thank you notes immediately, before people move or forget who you are.)

I am also working on a letter to the editor in response to a Howard Dean column in our local paper, in which he complains that the richest, most advanced country in the world doesn't have the universal health care system that even poor countries have. Liberals apparently believe that wealth is distributed randomly over the world, like water, and that all we need is a more equitable irrigation system. Wealth is more like those endangered species they want to protect: it only flourishes under the right circumstances.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Ignorance is Sub-Blissful
Saturday night we watched the movie Miracle, about the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team. It was a great movie, and I thought as we watched it that my enjoyment of it was not significantly diminished by my total ignorance of hockey. Until we got to the critical game against the Soviets. I saw the tension building up as the US team valiantly overcame the Soviet's lead, but I saw on the scoreboard that there were only three periods and remained calm, figuring, "This is nothing--the really tense period is yet to come."

And then it was all over. And thus I discovered that hockey usually only has three periods, unless the game is tied at the end of the third.

That really is all you need to know about hockey to enjoy the movie. But it would have helped if I had known that much.
The Key Curse Strikes Again

Only this time it wasn't me who had the key problem. It was the ladies who were unlocking the church for the baby shower on Friday night. The pastor, who was out of town, had given them the key and a tutorial, but due to some key/lock conflict it apparently requires divine assistance to actually turn the lock. The ladies successfully unlocked the deadbolt, but couldn't get the key out--and since the same key was needed to unlock the doorknob, we were stuck. I remarked brightly that at least we weren't having a thunderstorm at the moment, but they told me to be quiet. I began to wonder if we would have a baby shower in the parking lot.

After some loud Baptist prayers, ten or fifteen minutes of fiddling, and the application of a pair of pliers, the key came out. Unfortunately it came out leaving the deadbolt locked. But they were wiser this time. First they unlocked the doorknob, then they unlocked the deadbolt, and they left the key in the deadbolt for anyone who wanted to attempt it while we went inside.

After that the shower proceeded uneventfully, but enjoyably. We got a lot of sleepers and blankets and bibs and similarly useful things. Our favorite is a Snoopy sleeper. The outfit going to the hospital is a striped gown with a coordinating blanket with little animals. (Like you really wanted to know all this.)

Meanwhile, DOB and his dad had been plotting for weeks to spend the evening working on assorted chores involving power tools and moving large items. They misled me by asserting that the boys would come up on Saturday to do these tasks, while Friday night DOB would go down there to watch a pirate movie with them. I was utterly confused when DOB's dad and brothers left the house abruptly just before I left with the female portion of the family for the shower, but was quite thrilled to arrive home and find everything done. Thanks to another brother going to pick up our car on Saturday, that left us with a very enjoyable Saturday to putter around and clean stuff up.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Just in case you wondered

I'm not in labor. I'm sitting around waiting for the nesting urge to strike and clean up the house for me.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Profit is Theft
Yesterday's WSJ had an article about grocery stores selling "fair trade" produce, like bananas and coffee beans, where a certain minimum price is guaranteed to the grower. It seems that the wholesale costs for these globally-minded products are generally only slightly above those of normal produce. Yet many grocery stores will mark them up significantly more than they would mark up the normal produce. (One example: bananas for four times the price of regular bananas, sixteen times the price of what the farmers receive.)

I suppose in the scale of evil, exploiting stupid rich Europeans and Americans is less evil than exploiting poor farmers in Costa Rica. But there's a delicious irony in thinking that these folks who think the trade system is inherently evil are unwittingly giving their money to blatant profiteers.

If these folks would think just a little harder they would realize free trade is fair trade--if no one is coerced into the transaction, it's fair. Yes, farming, like every other pursuit, has irreducible risks--sometimes crops are good and prices low; and other times prices are high and crops are bad. The best way for people to be insulated against these risks so that they don't starve in the off years is through rising affluence, which only comes about through freedom. A tight year from poor crop sales is a good sight better than starving from poor crops.
Strange Coincidences
DOB's calendar at work has been eliciting compliments and remarks. What a cool coincidence that it has a picture of Ronald Reagan featured this month!

Apparently people had yet to notice that it's a Reagan Ranch calendar that, surprisingly enough, features a picture of Reagan every month.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Timing is everything

Thanks to the efforts of siblings-in-law, our garbage disposal is now functioning, the freezer is orderly and full of food, the baby equipment is clean, and my bags are packed.

Now the baby can come.

Last night I insisted it could not, even when I had contractions for three hours.

Although it would be better to wait until after the baby shower on Friday . . .

Monday, June 07, 2004

I knew this would happen

Over the weekend we assembled the baby's bassinette (really the basket off a baby swing), which has previously held seven other Richmond babies. We have it in position beside where I sleep so I can practice not tripping over it at night.

I find myself looking over at it as I pass and wondering, "Hey! Where did I put the baby?" Then I remember that I have not actually given birth yet, and thus cannot possibly have misplaced the baby.

Oh! How could I forget to mention it? I got an article published this weekend. 'Tis an online publication, which is less thrilling than print, but it's still the very first time I've gotten something published entirely unaided by others. And it was fun.
I was searching the library catalog for a WWII movie about a British war effort to deceive the Nazis, called something along the lines of "The Man That Never Was."

The video was not there, but the list of possible equivalents included the following:

"Man, the measure of all things"
"Man, the hopeful primate: The conditions of human evolution."
"A man to call my own"
"A man to marry"

The first two make for an amusing refutement of secular humanism, but if I weren't already married I would find the last two disconcerting.
A Call for Male Leadership in the Church

Yesterday DOB and I were driving to church and found ourselves behind a woman in an SUV. She was driving too fast to pass. She was also applying eye makeup for several miles. This made us nervous and relieved when she finally pulled off at a gas station.

Perhaps we are extrapolating too much, but it seemed likely to us that she was driving to church--where else in the countryside merits eye makeup at 9:30 on a Sunday morning? (I suppose she could work at the gas station, but I find it hard to believe that such wages could support a brand new SUV.)

Now, if a man had only been taking her to church, the road would have been a safer place. She could have applied her eye makeup without endangering the rest of us. If men won't go to church for other reasons, we must appeal to them to go for road safety.

(What about the possibility that there was no man in her life? Ah, but if there were more good Christian guys out there, she wouldn't have that problem . . . )

Friday, June 04, 2004

Tort Reform
One subject Stossel touched on last night was the evils engendered by trial lawyers, a topic always near and dear to the hearts even of non-trial lawyers like us.

The problem is how to reform the problems with the tort system without making matters worse by further government tampering. Of course, the tort system uses the power of government to enforce its results, but it has a certain market element which ought to be maximized. If it were properly run, it would be a much better means of regulation of dangerous activity than alphabet soup agencies.

But few people besides trial lawyers would argue that it is properly run today. I won't bother to repeat the litany of complaints, but will plunge in to analyzing proposed fixes.

First, a framework. The goal of the tort system should be justice. In an ideal scenario, the injured party recovers from the guilty party a sum corresponding to the amount of his damage. The guilty party is punished in proportion to his culpability--but no more. The tort system should be set up to seek this result.

Unfortunately, it seems that the current tort system is set up to seek the result that the "injured" (or not) party recover as much as the "guilty" (or not) party can afford to pay.

Now to proposed fixes:

Loser Pays: If a person brings a lawsuit that fails, they must pay the costs of the party they sued. This has a lot going for it. Right now, the tort system works rather like a gambler being given someone else's credit card in a casino. They might not win, but they really haven't got much to lose. This distorts incentives for bringing a suit. A true free market in lawsuits would provide consequences for bad choices in lawsuits as well as rewards for good ones. "Loser pays" would do this.

Theoretically "loser pays" could dissuade some legitimate plaintiffs from bringing suits that they would have a hard time proving; but it would prevent the much more widespread evil of innocent defendants being compelled to pay up rather than face the costs of a hollow victory after a drawn-out lawsuit.

It's also the rule in every other country. And it seems analogous to the rule about false witnesses in the Bible: If you bear false witness against someone else, you suffer the punishment you would have brought upon them.

Capping Damages: If actual damages are proven, they should be paid, no matter how high they are. That is part of recompensing the innocent and punishing the guilty. Arbitrary caps on nebulous items like pain and suffering might be less problematic, since you cannot put a monetary value on those anyway.

But capping punitive damages is less important than seeing that they are used only in appropriate cases. Punitive damages are supposed to be used only when evil conduct is shown. They should never be used for mere negligence. Nor should they be used except for personal injuries; for economic injuries, compensation is enough.

Abolishing Joint and Several Liability: Joint and several liability means that if four people caused you damage, and you only sue one of them (who was at most 10% at fault), you can recover 100% of your damages from them. They then have the possibility of recovering the rest of those damages from the other culpable parties, but in reality probably won't because whatever considerations kept you from suing the others (they don't have any money or aren't easily subject to suit) will probably keep the defendant from recovering, too.

Here the two objectives of justice come into conflict. We can either ensure full compensation of the victim, or punish the guilty party only in proportion to his fault, but not both. In my opinion (I think DOB still differs with me on this) the latter goal is more important. Life sometimes prevents us from recovering all that justice might demand. But if we force a party to pay damages of which he is not guilty, we have used our legal system to perpetuate a second injustice. And remember that these "evil corporations" that are always being held liable because they have the money are employers and producers of goods--damage to them creates damage to countless others. If they deserve to be put out of business because of their malfeasance, fine. But businesses should not be punished merely because they have money and are easy to sue.

This all reminds me of the story of an American lawyer who was guest teaching a class in an Italian law school. At the end, a group of students approached him and one asked, "Is it true that in America if you fall down on the sidewalk you can sue and win a lot of money?" The American replied that it was. The students began talking excitedly in Italian. The American asked, "What--do you all want to go to America to be lawyers now?" "No," replied the spokesman, "We want to go to America and fall down on sidewalks!"
I Blocked John Stossel's Limo
Last night we drove up to Columbus to a very elegant event celebrating the Buckeye Institute's 10th anniversary. John Stossel spoke (not Jim Tressel, a football coach, which was what DOB thought I had said).

DOB gave me the task of picking where to sit, which is always a delicate task in a crowd. The temptation is to either find a place with someone you know and sit by them (in which case you never meet anybody new) or to pick a place at an empty table and see who comes (but if the room is already mostly full, chances are good you'll be stuck by yourselves). I picked a half-way full table as near the middle of the room as we could get without getting into the tables reserved for groups.

It turned out that the gentleman whom DOB sat next to was someone whom he had worked on an opposing campaign from nearly a decade ago. And who lives just a short distance from where he works now. Soon they were swapping political critiques and tales like old cronies.

Stossel's speech was good (thoughts thereby inspired in a later post), and dinner was good, but we did not win the giveaway of a chartered flight for eight to Atlantic City. Oh well.

DOB was trying walking with a cane for the first time since the latest injury. We were pleased with it overall--it looked more distinguished than crutches and nobody blamed me for beating up on him. However, it made walking slower and more painstaking than with crutches, and we accidentally parked on a relatively distant side of the hotel. Plus, the hotel driveway was paved in bricks, which looked elegant but were awkward to walk on.

So when we made it to the front door, I volunteered to get the car while he finished up a conversation. As I brought the car around, I realized that John Stossel and the Buckeye dignitaries were loading into a limo on the left side of the drive. I pulled up as far to the right as I could and got out so DOB could drive, leaving the car running and, in an instinctive effort to avoid locking the keys in the car, the driver's door open.

DOB was still talking and I watched and realized, too late, that the car door was blocking the middle space in the drive, which the limo would have to get through to get around another limo in front of it. One of the valets came along and held the door almost closed so that the limo could squeeze through.

John Stossel was whisked back to ABC to continue his noble work, and I did not lock the keys in a running car. All was well.
Return of the Disposal Monster
Longtime visitors to this blog may recall we had garbage disposal troubles at our old apartment. Therefore I approached the one at the house with great tentativeness, only throwing down small, easily digested items.

It handled these with grace and ease. Over time, I became more daring. Ultimately, overconfident. Yesterday I tried to have it consume several orange peels and two cauliflower cores simultaneously. It proved too much. Although it continues whirling around, spewing fine bits of food into the sink, the water will not go down.

Fortunately nothing has rotted yet, so the house just smells like I've been making several gallons of coleslaw. But the future does not look bright. DOB wants to remove the garbage disposal altogether so that the temptation is gone.

I want a compost pile. Curse these over-manicured neighborhoods.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Hand Signals

I had already waved farewell to DOB in the garage this morning and returned to the office to opened the drape, as is my custom. I noticed he was only as far as the driveway, waving and gesturing to me. It looked kind of like the odd gestures he makes at his brothers when they stand at the windows and watch him leave, so I made some back. Instead of driving off, he continued to gesture, more and more wildly.

Finally I realized there seemed to be some significance to the gestures. I ran out the front door. He rolled down the window.

"You look cute making those gestures," he said, "But I need my glasses."

That explained the ring-around-the-eyes gesture he had kept repeating.

At least this morning I remembered to remind him to comb his hair. It's hard to keep track of everything at this hour of the day.
The Time is . . . Near

According to the doctor, today I am officially at full term (37 weeks) and may proceed to have a baby any time I feel like it. And I *still* don't have things ready, although Kristen was here all day yesterday filling our freezer with baked goodies.

One of the pregnancy magazines in the doctor's offices had a feature on the dreams pregnant women have. Apparently at this stage women often dream of things like deep water that signify surrendering to labor.

I haven't had any dreams about deep water, but I did dream last night about having the baby. It all happened so fast that we were out in the parking lot, heading home, before we remembered to check the gender of the baby. (It was a girl.) There was also a great crowd of people when we went back into the hospital to check out properly, including most of my friends and relations. In the crush, my youngest brother bumped into me and refused to admit it. So I punched him and sent him sprawling.

I'm not sure what significance a dream like that has. Considering that my youngest brother is six feet tall and over 200 pounds, maybe it signifies aggrandized visions of my own strength to help me make it through labor. I'm not sure where this latent hostility is coming from, though.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Just in case you wanted to know

"Hola! Mi nombre se Inigo Montoya. Mataste a mi padre. Preparate a morir."

Annoyingly enough, the Spanish voiceover and the Spanish subtitles are slightly different. This is the voiceover version, which sounded cooler. Except for the greeting he gives at the beginning, which I don't know and can't find, so I had to stick with "Hola!"
Expecting June

DOB's eldest younger brother still goes to his family's former church in Cincinnati, while the rest of the family has joined us closer to home. Yesterday we were enjoying the family Memorial Day picnic when the following conversation occurred:

Brother: Folks at church are wondering when June will arrive.

DOB (puzzled): It's tomorrow.

Brother: Karen's due tomorrow?

DOB: No, tomorrow is the first of June. That's when June arrives, on the first.

Brother: I didn't ask when *June* arrives, I asked when *Junior* arrives.