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Zanthrin's Ramblins
Seriously, I'm live!  I swear!  I just ... haven't updated my LJ page in approximately 47 years.

Um, we had another baby.  And lots of stuff on the house.  Er, various things.

Okay, very good!  I'm set for another 47 years, unless I manage to actually do something else....
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Yes indeed, I use my LiveJournal often these days! :) Sraedi pointed out that my previous entry was from about a year ago, just after 2006's Otherworld weekend.

So, in case anyone was wondering:

* As always, Otherworld was a blast. I got to be good, I got to be evil, and a whole bunch in between. Plus, the food there seems to get better every year (although I suppose that's cancelled out by the ever-increasing number of bruises and blisters I pick up).

* Ben is three times as old as he was last year -- 18 months instead of 6. All our pictures are always up at http://picasaweb.google.com/tricket, and you can see one of our recent (pre-Otherworld) trips at http://picasaweb.google.com/tricket/September2007DisneylandTrip.

* Life continues at Castaway Entertainment -- we just released a small "advergame" for the Xbox 360, which should be showing up live within a few days. Not exactly the most amazing thing we've ever made, but it was fun to work on.

And now, we see -- will I actually update this dang thing again before another year goes by? :)
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Well, another year has come and gone, leaving the wonderful memories of the latest Otherworld event in its wake. I'll post some stories here later, but for those of you familiar with the event from earlier years (poke rennie, poke chad, etc.), I'd also point you toward a few other LJ pages, including:

Otherworld Adventure page: otherworld_adv
Chris Yona: jydog1
Jen Flynn: jenaflynn

... and probably more I haven't noticed yet :)

--Tom
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Yes, amazingly enough, it's another baby-related post. You'd think there's nothing else going on in my life (*cough*Otherworld*cough*), that every post has to be about Ben. Nevertheless...

I was thinking the other day how interesting it must be, going from zero knowledge about the universe to, well, a lot. I finally got the first six weeks or so of video transferred to DVD, and watching some of the early Ben footage showed me more clearly his "peering out at the world" view.

Hmm, not really explaining this well. It's just ... realizing that before you start opening your eyes the first times, you really have *no* knowledge of what's going on. Suddenly there are sights and sounds, and sensations as people pick you up and move you around. You don't know about gravity, or what's up with the "eating" business.

Somehow, out of all that chaos, you start to realize that these blobs above you are faces, and you get the concept that these *things* are somehow interacting with you. At just over four months, for example, Ben is really into the whole "smile back and laugh when someone else does." So you've come from literally nothing up to the point where you recognize another being and realize it's interacting with you.

Anyway, that didn't really come out clearly, but ... it just impressed me :)

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As Kim and I were watching a show last week, we realized we had come up with a new formula to predict our television viewing time.

Basically, ever since we got Tivo back in 2001, we've used it to significantly compress the time it takes to watch stuff. I'd say somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of the time it used to take. Watching a one-hour show, then, might actually take us 40 to 45 minutes, a pleasant savings of 15 minutes in which to eat tasty food or otherwise enjoy life.

Since the advent of Ben, however, we now have a multiplier working against us -- trying to watch a show while also managing a two-month-old incurs a 2x or 3x multiplier.

So now, using the Tivo/Ben formula, we have a range for one hour show. Best case:
(60 minutes) x (2 / 3) * (2) => 80 minutes ... about an extra 1/3 penalty

Worst case:
(60 minutes) x (3 / 4) * (3) => 135 minutes ... over doubling the time required.

Think I need to patent this formula before someone grabs it?
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Okay, no real reason for this post ... I just had to share this one, because it makes me smile every time I see it.

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New & Improved! Extra! 50% more than original formula!

Since I haven't updated this thing in a while, I thought I'd post a short item on our favorite puerco espin. Yes, Ben is now seven weeks old, and is now 50% more massive (and I mean that in a good way!) than when he was born. The little pork...er, guy, is up to 12 pounds 6 ounces, from a starting weight of 8 pounds even.

I was talking with my mom the other day, and mentioned that I'm no longer really afraid that he's so weak and tiny that he might run out of sustenence while sleeping, and be unable to wake himself up, and just perish from lack of sustenance overnight. In fact, I kind of suspect he might be able to go a week without a snack now, but you didn't hear that from me :)

Because the LJ image of the graph is probably tiny and cruddy ... those lines are weights (in ounces) of me (Tom), Kim, and Ben as babies. Ben started out about a half pound below me, but caught up within the first two weeks, and has been keeping solidly ahead ever since. At this rate, we have just a couple weeks left until we have to move up to the next size in diapers ... yikes!

Various photos up at http://ricket.com/gallery2/v/ben, with some recent updates. Per some requests, I've tried to add more photos of Ben with us and various relatives, rather than just a zillion photos of his cute little face :)

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So, as Kim has been pregnant these last zillion months, I got to thinking about babies and parents. I mean, babies are cute and all, but they're far from perfect. They're kind of squishy, and spit up a lot, and poop a lot, and, well, sometimes they're kinda funny looking! Silly eyes, and they don't really *do* much, and all that. Still, even for the oddest babies, their parents love them, and seem to believe they're the most beautiful thing ever. So that got me thinking about being objective versus subjective in evaluating Ben when he was finally going to arrive. After all, if he was goofy looking, or had a pointy head, or made weird sounds, would I be able to judge?

Luckily, it turns out that I've been spared having to worry about any of that. You see, Ben finally showed up at 10:29am on Thursday, April 06 (one day after Kim's birthday!). One look at him and I knew I wouldn't have to deal with the subjective/objective issues that some parents must face. You see, although I wasn't sure how he'd be, it turns out he's perfect -- of all the babies I've ever seen, he is by far the cutest, and most expressive. He has the most perfect dark blue / indigo eyes, and a sweet nose, and the softest, most beautiful hair. When I hold him, his eyes follow me as I talk softly to him, and when he sleeps, he often makes the most beautiful little sheep squeeky sounds.

So, Ben is almost three days old now, and Kim is getting some rest while he and I stay up and watch Discovery HD together. I'm thankful that I didn't have to put my theory to the test. It may be a loss to the scientific world, but I'm sure there will be many other non-perfect babies born, and surely someone can test on them. I'll stick with perfect Ben, and leave the studies to others.

Welcome home, Ben. We love you!
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Ragging the wallDuring the break between (well, okay, maybe 'including' and 'slightly extending beyond') Christmas and New Years, we figured it was time to start working on things for Small One's arrival. This meant converting the Sluggy shirt storage room into something more useful, and started with having my dad over to help take down the existing shelving and move it to the computer room. With Mike's help (we love having Mike around to help with the grunt work!), we got that done, creating the new super-Sluggy-office-storage of DOOM!

After that, Kim and I cleared out the rest of the boxes and junk from the storage room, and got set cleaning the walls, taping the borders, and all that fun stuff. A trip or two to Sherwin Williams, and we had our zero-VOC, very light blue paint ready to go up. Again playing on Mike's gullibility, we tricked him into coming over and helping me get all the walls painted, while Kim stayed in the background and, er, directed from time to time :)

Finally (and the point of this rambling post), Kim and I decided that Small One might enjoy a room that was a little more interesting than just light blue. We looked up various finishing techniques, and decided to go with "ragging," where you crumple up a paint-soaked rag to texture the wall. We initially tried a color that ended up being too light -- not enough contrast between it and the base wall color. After testing, we decided to go with a two-color rag, so that meant the base blue, then a slightly darker rag, and then a darker blue over that. The texture goes up just over four feet high, where (eventually) there will be an 8-inch wallpaper border between the textured and untextured area. So, it took a zillion hours, but I think it's come out pretty well so far! Now we just have to get the rest of the stuff in there....
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So, there's this nifty specialty food store in California called Trader Joe's. They have lots of tasty stuff, often more interesting than the local supermarket, but cheaper as well. They also tend to have various health foods, which I generally skip, being opposed to healthiness in general! ;-)

Anyway, I was in there the other day, and noticed they had a box of raisin bran, and we were out. I usually pick up Kellog's Raisin Bran for Kim as her preferred choice, but I figured I'd pick that up as a (gasp!) healthy alternative once in a while. It was called "FlaxBran."

Now, as it happens, it tasted ... roughly like a cross between wallboard and cardboard. I certainly won't be getting it again. But that's not what I found amusing. The ingredients list had everything "organic" of course -- organic this, organic that, etc. But a few items in, there was:

Organic Dehydrated Cane Juice

... notice anything? As far as Kim and I can figure out, that means ... of course ... sugar! But they wouldn't say that ... it's much healthier to have a sugar-free cereal, after all! But the fact that you can call sugar "dehydrated cane juice" and get away with it -- and probably fool lots of people! -- really made our day.

Even if we'll never eat it again.
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