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Great Moments in Parenting: Part 38

Last night Veronika and I were at the table for a dinner of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (I am considerably less creative with meal preparations than Dinka). As is often the case these days, she was quite chatty and was producing some creative sound combinations that are seldom heard in any language. I kept asking her, "What?" Eventually she started trying to repeat after me, which she is also getting quite good at lately. After a few tries, she produced an emphatic "WHAAAAT?" evocative of Dave Chappelle's impersonation of Lil Jon. For a moment I sat in stunned silence, almost as if I realized how awesome that moment was about to become. I had no choice but to respond: "YEEEEEEAAAAH!" Veronika lost it, completely cracking up. This is how it went for the next five minutes:

Veronika: "WHAAAAT?"
Me: "YEEEEEEAAAAH!"
Veronika: (giggling)

Then we started improvising a bit, at her cue:

Veronika: "WHAAA-WHAAA-WHAAAAT?"
Me: "UHH-YEEEEEEAAAAH!"
Veronika: (more giggling)
Veronika: "WHAAA-WHAAA-WHAAA-WHAAAAT?"
Me: "OOOKAAAAAY!"
Veronika: (even more giggling)

This was the best part of my week thus far.

March 16, 2005 | Comments (1)

The Snow is Coming!

Before we moved out to Connecticut, I was a little worried about what winters would be like. From several states away, I had heard the New Yorkers bellowing about arctic temperatures and occasionally seen the city buried in snow on the news. Deep down, I secretly thought that there was no way that it could be worse than winters in Wisconsin, where I had spent most of my life, but I didn't dare say anything until I had experienced it for myself. I know this has been a warm winter and it's not yet over but I feel fairly confident in saying that southern New Englanders are wimps when it comes to dealing with winter conditions (notice that I said southern--I understand that winters in New Hampshire and Co. are for real). When the weatherman predicts snow, people chatter worriedly about it and prepare like a hurricane's on the way. We've only had a few real snows this year but anytime more than an inch falls, the whole town completely shuts down: schools close, restaurants are empty, no one goes to church, and the streets are as bare as Green Bay's during a Packer game. This is not a problem for me--I'm all for using every excuse to stay in and curl up next to the fire with a good book or movie--but let's not pretend that the weather really is so bad, at least not without our tongues firmly planted in cheek.

I don't have a problem with my fellow Connecticuters and New Yorkers until we are all forced to drive together in these winter conditions. The ability of a population in general to drive in snow, ice and everything in between is most likely a factor of how much they have to do it. In Wisconsin, this is a way of life for at least five months of the year; in the tri-state area, it happens less often than they'd like us to believe. Therefore, the people I encounter on a snowy commute home are less likely to be competent at handling the conditions, and therein lies the frustration. If, after only a couple of inches of snow, you find yourself driving a four-wheel drive SUV at 10 mph down an empty back road with your emergency flashers on, your knuckles white from gripping the steering wheel, you should probably just pull over, take a nap and wait for the snowplow to arrive. Either that or do like the rest of the area--check the forecast before doing anything and if there's even a remote chance of snow, board up the windows, stock up at the grocery store and prepare for a long winter's night.

March 12, 2005

Data Overload

I realized recently that I am constantly gathering data about the little events in my life: my running times, my basketball stats, my morning and evening commute times, an RSI log, etc. I have data in Excel spreadsheets and MySQL databases, on clipboard charts and post-its on desks and monitors. I am always monitoring levels and tracking variables in order to determine a vague trend or chart progress. The immediate reason for keeping each of these sets of data is obvious but I wonder what deeper reason compels me to track everything so methodically. Have I been conditioned by my pseudo-engineer's background in science and math or unknowingly influenced by growing up in this information age? And to what larger end am I doing all of this? Will there be a moment at the end of my life when I will hand over all of my data for some ultimate analysis? (The response to this analysis would inevitably be 42.) Aren't the unquantifiable parts of life the only things worth tracking anyway?

Well, instead of doing the reasonable thing and just giving up this nonsense altogether, I have decided to apply this neurotic impulse to another endeavor in order to restore a little balance. Enter the Moleskine notebook (Volant Pocket Plain, to be specific), which I first heard of when Bill announced that he was carrying one on a trip to Italy. I ordered my first set a couple of weeks ago and I've been carrying one around ever since, filling a page or two now and then. The plan here is to begin capturing ideas instead of numbers, feelings instead of data. It's working out great so far. It's interesting what you find when you take a minute or two to explore an idea or impression in writing instead of merely lingering on the thought and moving on. I just hope I can keep it up. I'm sure the supercomputer will have a lot harder time processing these notebooks than plain old numbers.

March 03, 2005