Friday, August 31, 2007

Calvin and Hobbes

If you like Calvin and Hobbes, and I'm not real sure why you wouldn't, here they ALL are. In one place.

How cool is that?

Thursday, August 30, 2007


I'm not that big into music. Not like Rhona. Still, I like music. I like to listen to it, I like to watch it, and I like to sing. I sing badly, but that doesn't mean I don't do it. Anyway, the other day we were watching Shut up and Sing, the documentary on the Dixie Chicks. And their song, "Not ready to make nice" came on. And it gave me the chills.

Rhona had long talked about getting the chills from music, but it was a rarity for it to happen to me. But this song did. And it got me thinking. there's another song that I really like. It's a song by Green Day called "Holiday". Both have a killer lyric that says a lot about the times we currently live in.

In "Not Ready To Make Nice", the lyric is:
I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’
It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over

It's a powerful song, sang with real emotion. Here's the song:

In live versions of Holiday, Green Day introduce this song with the line, "This song is not anti-American, it's anti war". The lyric in this song comes near the end. The first time I heard it, I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
Sieg Heil to the president Gasman
Bombs away is your punishment
Pulverize the Eiffel towers
Who criticize your government

I'll admit it. Both songs give me the chills. And while we're at it, here's another two that you might have never heard. The first is a true protest song. Absolute. The sad part is that this is from 2004.

And finally. This song isn't a protest song. But Midnight Oil is one of my favorite bands. And this is one of my favorite songs. I was going to link to information about the band, but then I began reading stuff on Peter Garrett, the bands lead singer. About how he now is a member of parliament in Australia and he supports the US-Australian alliance, whatever that means. Here's the song anyway.

There you go. Music that moves me. What moves you?

Consoling Autumn

This morning, when I went into her room, she was laughing. Most mornings, she is. And I love that, I really do. Her laughter is incredible. Her smile infectious. But. I'll admit it. I love it when she needs me. I know that's selfish. But when she's sad, and she wants my shoulder, I love it. Rhona caught one of those moments for us. This is Autumn, in the tub, sad. Since she doesn't speak, we're not sure why she's sad, but you can see it in her eyes. Even sad, she's incredibly cute.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Just keeping you informed

President Bush is asking for another 50 billion for the war in Iraq. That means, this year, he will spend 200 billion on the war. For perspective, that's $670 in taxes, per person for the war. In her life so far, Autumn has contributed $1000 to this war.

Only, she still owes it. This isn't pro-or anti war. The fact that she has spent $1000 on the war doesn't have anything to do with the merits of the war.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A great eye

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: my wife has a great eye. She takes some good shots with the camera. Our weekly alternative magazine, Artvoice, often publishes her pictures. Ones taken with a point and click. Which is why we decided to invest in a good camera. Here then are some of the first shots. Now keep in mind, she's learning to use it. But even as she learns, there's no doubt about her eye.

Autumn being cute:

And finally, our other little girl.

A difference of a year

This was at just over 2 months.

This is what a difference a year makes. This is at one year and 2 months. Wow.

Friday, August 24, 2007

An accident in the tub

It was bound to happen.

Every night, before bed, we give Autumn a bath. The vast majority of the time, it's Rhona in the tub. Last night, the night in question, it was me.

Things were going well. It was early in the bath. We didn't even get to the Water Water Everywhere book. Autumn was standing in front of me, sort of side ways. I was just putting on some shampoo on her head when I noticed Autumn had a weird look on her face. Then I saw it.

Poo in the tub. A floater. With fear in my voice, I called Rhona. Who thought something bad had happened. But when she saw 'it', she burst out laughing.

So, here's the scene. I'm naked in the tub. I have Autumn in the air, keeping her out of the water, she has shampoo on her head. There are three floaters in the tub. They're little. But the simple fact is, they are pieces of poo, in the tub.

Rhona is laughing hysterically, while I'm asking her to grab the shower nozzle so we can rinse the shampoo off her hair. (We normally call shampoo 'poo', but in this instance, it didn't work). After getting the shampoo off Autumn, it was time to tackle the poo. I urged Rhona to use the tupperware to scoop out the poo. Autumn meanwhile is calm. Too calm.

Because as Rhona scoops out the poo, Autumn drops another one. Her biggest yet.

By now, holding her up out of the tub, and trying to avoid having the poo touch my body was becoming impossible. So I motioned to Rhona that I was about to pass her Autumn. This made things seem not as funny. She grabbed a towel and wrapped up a vitually empty Autumn, and took her to her room.

That left me and the poo in the tub. Buy now of course, the poo was beginning to break down. Meaning, there's no question that poo was getting on me. So after draining the tub, and scooping out as much poo as I could, I showered.

You would have as well.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The night sky

While camping in North Bay, I was loving looking at the sky. I saw what appeared to be slow moving stars, but what was one of the many thousands of satellites orbiting the earth. I was gonna post about it, but then I thought, who would care? And how can I show what I saw?

Around these parts, the night sky is polluted by light. It's the thing about living in a city. However, it makes getting out of the city that much more interesting. Used to be, the only chance you had at seeing the night sky was by getting out of the city.

Until now. Google Earth just added the night sky feature. It's too friggin cool to even put into words. So here's a picture. Up in North Bay, we saw this, and more.


I like his last thought. Stop being a consumer, be a citizen. Think about where you buy from.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Advertising works

So often, we advertisers are faced with the very real dilemma of wondering if our ads work. The reality is, it's in the question where we do the most wondering. What on earth do we mean by work?

If a really popular ad generates an increase in sales, then by gosh, the ad worked. However, if an ad tests well, but a small flaw in the product is discovered, one can argue that the faster people stop buying the product would also be an indication of the ads effectiveness. To wit, an ad promotes trial, a bad product ensures there's no retrial.

In direct marketing, that's junk mail to the common folk, the communication is judged on how many people call. Indeed, depending on price point and other factors, if 3 people out of a 1000 call, the communication can be judged to have worked. Generally though, direct marketers think of 3-5% response as 'working'.

Things get a little tougher when the objective of the ad isn't as clear. Lets say your objective is an introduction. The ad says: introducing a new flavor from Tropicana. The simple fact is, the ability of the ad to work is directly tied with the shelf space that the store gives the product. An ad can create desire, bu the product better be there when the shopper heads to the store.

I say all this because of an article I read whereby things like vegetables taste better when wrapped in McDonald's wrappers. McDonald's has such positive brand equity amongst kids that things that aren't McDonald's foods taste better when wrapped in their brand. Interesting.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Great Monty Phython sketch

You know, the talking heads on the cable shows could learn something from this.

camping in pictures

The car was densely packed with stuff. We had the dog, the baby, us, a tent, sleeping bags, and not nearly enough pairs of pants. Still, here it is in pictures.

At the Campsite.
Eating in the tent. Yes, in the tent.

We're not ready to go in the water.

Holy smokes, these are real ducks!

In Aunt Tracey's tent for a visit.

Hanging by the fire.

With mom.
Having some lunch.

With Aunt Christina.

This was the sunset.

This was almost home.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Camping, part 1

So, you have a 14 month-old. And you decide that you want to go camping. Here's the first important piece of advice: do not pick a city with the word North in it. A city with the word north is celebrating it's northness. It's celebrating the fact that it's up there. And thus, even in August, it can and will be cold.

We tent camped. The reason for the place was a memorial for brother-in-law's older brother Joe. Uncle John and aunt Tracey where there. Uncle Simon and aunt Christina where there. Nanny and Granddad weren't, which meant Granddad could watch Lucy.

Now that you know the players, here are some stats. The warmest it ever got was an estimated 70 in the sun. That meant a good 45-50 at night.

However, we survived. And in doing so managed a bunch of firsts for Autumn.

These days, Autumn is a roller when sleeping. At home, she likes to sleep, at some point in the night, on every square inch of the crib. That wasn't possible in her first sleep in a tent because we cocooned her in blankets and even one of my sweatshirts. So when she tried to roll over, she would wake up startled that she couldn't. Luckily she would fall back asleep.

Thanks to a nap that commenced at 5:00 and ended at 9:00PM, she was up for her very first fireworks show that happened on a star filled sky. Her eyes were wide as the sky literally exploded in front her. I can't tell if she loved it or not. She didn't hate it, since she continued to stare. I'll guess she loved it.

It's lunch on Monday and honestly my first chance to blog about the weekend. I'll have pictures later.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Camping preparation

This could be funny. We're heading up to the great white North, North Bay. Think about that: the name of the town has geography in it. It's a proud town that wants to show off where it is. Mostly, regions get that kind of treatment. States (when there are two) and continents.

Anyway, I digress. The point is, we're going camping. With Autumn.

A couple of days ago, we actually set up the tent, mostly to see if we could. Also to see how big it was in there. Upon setting up, we realized that sleeping in the tent with a sound asleep baby might pose some problems. Thus, I googled "baby camping", to see what the internet said about camping with a baby. The internet is basically mute. It says camping with a baby is fun. And fine. But offers no real head nodding insights into camping with said baby.

We're pretty confident about the daytime part. Autumn loves swimming and playing in the sand. Ergo, since camping is basically that interrupted by eating and drinking, we're pretty sure she'll be fine. It's the sleeping.

But, we have an idea. A plan. Rhona is crafting a barrier type thing to secure Autumn in the tent. Plan A call it. Plan B is using my brother's tent (his apparently has rooms) to place her pack and play in. Plan C is calling Johnny Mac, of North Bay, and begging for space. Plan D, "The Moe Z on Inn". I swear to you, said motel exists. I stayed in it back in my curling days. It's across the road from the Wagon Wheel Restaurant, site of a few late night dinners in various degrees of intoxication.

Point is, we'll vbe fine. We're gonna have some stories. And pictures. And fun.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Space and memory

My free e-mail box from Yahoo is a mess. The thing is, Yahoo mail offers unlimited space to store e-mails. Unlimited. I'm old enough to remember when space on a computer meant something. (Old fogie alert). I once filled a computer with stuff. I forget how big the drive was (maybe 500 mb), but I remember when it was full. I had to delete some games I no longer played in order to make room. Now, we take 500 mb of pictures of Autumn a month. Indeed, our home computer has 200 gb of space. That's 400 times bigger than the computer I once filled.

And, the newer version of the Mac we have comes with 500 gb of space. My point, Autumn will never know a time when she doesn't have space for digital memories. We already backed up 2006 photos on a DVD. And that's 2006 photos, movies, photo booth photos and some other bits and pieces. Incidentally, the DVD is 728 mg. 1.5 times bigger than the computer I once filled up. Chances are good, a thing the size of a DVD will one day store 200 gb of stuff and we'll think it once quaint that a computer only had that amount of space. Ah, the memories.

Now though, I should get back to my yahoo mail address. And delete some spam.

The peanut in the mirror

She's at the point where she understands more than we think. Ask her where Lucy is, and she'll walk over and give her a hug. Ask her to give you a hug, and there's a good chance a hug is on the way.

What does this mean? It means we're officially on notice. Things we do, or say, are now going to get programmed into her little brain. And replicated. I once remember seeing a bumper sticker that said: "Be the person your dog thinks you are." The person who wrote that most likely thought of be the person your one year old thinks you are. But was afraid. It feels like an enormous amount of pressure to be the person she thinks we are now.

But then, it's something we can't ignore. Now, don't get me wrong here. I don't plan to be neurotic about my behavior. That's not the goal here. But, by taking note of the fact that she's watching and mimicking us, makes us aware of the impact we're going to have on our lives. And that's a big enough deal to comment on.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I would Twitter this

New technologies. I know this is a little late to the party, but I read something interesting about Twitter, a new social network. Where I to sign up, I would use it to tell people what I am up to, when I'm up to it. Like for instance, I'm typing this in an internet cafe in Ellicottville, NY. Anyway, this is what I read:

From this blog:

The 35W bridge over the Mississippi collapsed today. I found out via Twitter. It happened at approximately 6:00 pm. There are cars in the river. There was a school bus full of kids on the bridge, but the bus didn't actually fall in the water. A whole section of bridge dropped straight down and is sitting just above the water. CNN's running photos that folks downtown have taken from their apartment.

There's been construction work going on on various parts of 35W near downtown for a long time, but I wasn't aware that they were actually working on this bridge.

Phone service is spotty.

That means, a social network designed for really selfish kinds of reasons, actually has a purpose. Interesting. Anyway, we're in Ellicottville because Rhona is running a race. She's actually in the race right now. It's only a 5K, so I don't have long before I need to get back to cheer her on. And if you're wondering, the peanut is being watched by nanny and granddad.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Brand loyalty

"Man endures thumb surgery to better enable iPhone use." link

Really, what else do you need to know? Apple has that kind of brand loyalty. I mean, we're loyal to Apple. We love our Mac. But I think I love my finger more. But I guess that's just me.

some thoughts

"Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature."
- Tom Robbins -
"Have no fear of perfection. You'll never reach it."
- Salvador Dali -

I sorta like the second one. Sometimes we want everything to go well in life. When really, when things go nutty, or even irresponsibly, they turn out even better. How many of your nest times have come from things that have gone wrong? Rhona and I consider our first date to be a serious of unfortunate events, starting with her car breaking down, and ending with us getting locked out of our house.

We strive for things to go well. Well, here's a toast to things going wrong. Sometimes horribly wrong, and having it all work out. Horribly well.

This post might seem deep. It isn't. While I have a lot on my mind right now (mostly a deadline for an ad I'm having a really hard time writing), it's more about believing, whole-heartedly, that things will work out. They often do. It's just a question of in what way.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Autumn, thanks for sleeping through the night last night. And for looking so cute.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I hate 2:00AM

I really do. I hate it. For what seems like the last month, Autumn has decided to wake up at 2:00Am. Last night, she woke up, on schedule. We both sat in bed, praying to our various gods that she would find her binky herself, and get back to sleep. On her own. And we really try to help. Her crib is a virtual goldmine for binkys.

Alas, she didn't. So I went in there (the time is now 2:30AM) and rubbed her back. That got her back to sleep. Back to bed, and bingo, bango, bongo, she's up again. At this point, we have to give her a bottle.

Now, two nights ago, we waited it out. And it worked. She went back to sleep. The thing is, waiting it out isn't as easy as it seems. First of all, she's crying her eyes out. Second of all, the crying makes her cough, and the cough sounds so pitiful that it's hard not to run in and make it stop. And third of all, it's not like we're sleeping while we wait it out. We're actually more tense. And both of us are tense. If we go to her and solve the problem (either give her the binky or a bottle) at least the other person gets peace. As we wait it out, we're both wide awake.

And then, when we give in, which we did last night, theres the inevitable doubt that we should have waited. Or we should have gone in earlier. So then you lay there, in bed, expecting her to cry again, wondering if you handled it right, watching the clock tick. 3:20AM, 3:30AM, 3:40AM.

Is there any wonder that we'll be in bed at 9:00PM tonight?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Sauna World Championship: Perspire, Persevere, Prevail

In a land not known for extremes, the Finns showed the world that they can take the heat by sweeping the awards at its annual sweat-a-thon, the World Sauna Championship.
Sauna World Championship: Perspire, Persevere, Prevail - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

The World Sauna Championships. On some level, you have to love this.

Blogged with Flock

A first

On Friday at lunch, Autumn and Rhona joined me downtown for a walk. It being silly hot out, we jumped on the free Buffalo train. As you can well imagine, Autumn loved it.

(I know, it's Monday, and we're behind.)

Friday, August 03, 2007

This post is for Lucy

Help us create an Off Leash Recreational Area (Dog Park) on Buffalo's Waterfront. We believe that dog parks:

• Improve the heath and good citizenship of canines through exercise & socialization
• Knit together an important community social fabric among dog owners
• Create venues to promote responsible dog ownership & education
• Promote ownership and pride in our public spaces
• Show case & deepen our commitment to Buffalo's greatest asset: Our Waterfront.

We envision and support a series of officially sanctioned Off Leash Areas across our region in both fenced and unfenced formats organized by citizen action groups in coordination with our local municipalities.

Our thanks to Brian Davis, Andy Sedita, Maria Whyte, and Sam Hoyt for their support of this one day trial of an OLA. The success of this trial is critical to making this a permanent addition to our city.

It is time that Buffalo join the 250 other communities around the country who have established Off Leash Areas for dogs. Contact us at BuffaloDogs@hotmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it to join the doggie revolution!

So there you go Lucy. You have an off-leash park.


A post that starts like this can't be good. At 3:00AM, Autumn woke up startled. Startled doesn't even come close to describing her discomfort. She was literally screaming. And inconsolable. We tried. We tried feeding her. We tried the binky. We tried singing. Rocking. Nothing. All we heard were screams like one doesn't want to hear from their child. Not because it's now 3:45 AM on a work day, but because she so obviously in discomfort. It's heart-breaking. At around this time, we settled on a little drop of Tylenol.

The Tylenol actually seemed to surprise her. Wide-eyed, she laid on our bed looking at the ceiling fan. I mentioned wide-eyed right? We knew this was a temporary respite. And indeed, she went back to screaming, but the screams were a little less. So Rhona (who led this episode from start to finish like the great mom she is), took her back to the crib.

When I left this morning, mom and daughter were still sleeping. Not sure what time she got up, but I can tell you one thing: I don't like the early morning scares. Here's a shot to get us all back into a good mood.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

In case you were wondering

Lucy and Autumn really do get a long. Lucy can, and does get crazy at times, but she's a great dog when Autumn is around. Lucy lets Autumn grab her ears, paws...basically any body part.

But these days. Lucy really is being great. Autumn has decided she really loves to try and take Lucy for a walk. And Lucy just puts up with it.

My girls

Rhona took this. And others like it. It's awesome. Rhona is a talented photographer. And her subject is awfully cute.

Pepsi admits it's bottling tap water

"The soft drink giant Pepsi has been forced to make an embarrassing admission: Its bestselling Aquafina bottled water is nothing more than tap water. Last week, Pepsi agreed to change the labels of Aquafina to indicate the water comes from a public water source. Pepsi agreed to change its label under pressure from the advocacy group Corporate Accountability International, which has been leading an increasingly successful campaign against bottled water."

I stopped drinking bottled water a while ago for these reasons:

1. The monetary cost. This article that I quote above, suggests that bottled water is 7,000 times more expensive than tap water. And, this points out, it's tap water they are selling. I didn't want to be a sucker.

2. The cost to the planet. All that plastic. Most of it non-recycled.

3. Regulations. Our Buffalo tap water is closely monitored by the authorities (PDF). bottled water isn't monitored by the FDA, a body that has zero authority. Although they have a handy article about it.

My advice. Bottled water is when you can't get to a tap. Tap water is when you can.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Bringing up baby in a quantum world

Just so you know, this is about to get really geeky.

We have a lot of choices bringing up Autumn. What food to give her? Do we let her cry it out? If she falls, do we run and pick her up? Is she warm enough? What time should she go to bed? Should we feed her blueberries? What kind of diaper? What about diaper rash? What should we read her? Should she even see a TV on?

As you can see, questions. And this, dear reader, is but the tip of the ice burg. So it goes without saying that one might ponder each question and wonder if one made the right call. What if the blueberries were the wrong choice? What if not letting her cry it out was wrong? What if anyone of the millions of decisions we have to make turns out wrong?

That's one way to ponder things. Another is that every decision is right. Because everytime we make a decision, we actually pick all of them.

I bet I just lost ya. Let me allow Hugh Everett (via wikipedia) to explain:
The many-worlds interpretation or MWI is an interpretation of quantum mechanics that claims to resolve all the "paradoxes" of quantum theory by allowing every possible outcome to every event to define or exist in its own "history" or "world", via the mechanism of quantum decoherence, instead of wavefunction collapse.
There, clearer now? In this theory, we pick every option. And there are multiple universes that every option is being addressed. It sort of eliminates our need to ponder free will. Because free will implies we have an option. But this theory implies that we take every option. So in essence, we don't need free will. It's kinda silly. But theoretically possible.

So, as we make all the decision for Autumn. We can sort of relax. Because somewhere, we make the right one every time. And that's kind of a nice feeling isn't it?

Oh, and I'm posting this on my laptop swinging in a chair on my porch. At least, in this universe .

Water, water everywhere

Each night, we give Autumn a bath. It's part of getting her ready for bed. It's a signal we send, to her, to get in the act of sleep. And it's working. for the last couple of weeks, we've stopped rocking her sleep. Now, after a bath, we place her softly in the crib, and exit stage left.

We get out of the room fast.

Anyway, in the bath, we read a bath book to her. She loves the book, and Rhona and I add our own flair to the experience. The book says this: "Water, water everywhere, water near and far. Let's use our hands and feet to count how many kinds there are."

It goes on from there. But the point is, here in the good old queen city, there is water, water everywhere. Buffalo sits on two great lakes. The great lakes are the largest source of fresh water in the world.

The Toronto Star noticed. And wrote this article. Here's the money quote under a picture of Buffalo:
Both Buffalo, above, and Cleveland have suffered population declines and stagnating local economies since the 1960s, a trend that drought in the American Southwest may help reverse.
Record heat in the southwest and record drought are causing record amounts of forest fire and a record demand for water. A demand that is currently being met, but can't be sustained. From the article:

At first glance, the crises of the rust belt and the Southwest would seem unrelated. They are, in fact, inexorably linked. Each has what the other does not. In Phoenix, tremendous affluence; in Cleveland, and in Detroit, Toledo, Youngstown, Buffalo, Rochester, Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie, abundant, near-endless water – in the Great Lakes alone, as much as 25 per cent of the world's supply.

Sticking a straw in the Great Lakes is not a solution to Phoenix's water problems," says Robert Shibley, director of the Urban Design Project at the State University of New York at Buffalo. "Maybe it's time to really think about what constitutes need and stop spending money to build carrying capacity in places that don't have it by nature, and start investing in places that do.

Yes. Buffalo has wind. Water. A four seasons. And in a world that is fast becoming about online networks, where you can do most jobs from anywhere, that list could just be in demand.