Copyright ©1997-2011 Glenn Fleishman except as noted otherwise. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact Glenn Fleishman at glenn at glennf.com. Photo © 2008 Laurence Chen; used with permission.
Turning technology from mumbo-jumbo into rich tasty gumbo
That’s the little pumpkin in his pumpkin outfit and pumpkin socks (not visible), and the big pumpkin in his roll-neck pumpkin sweater.
For those keeping tabs, here’s the latest email I’ve received (at my book price comparison site isbn.nu’s email box) from a scammer trying to rip off bookstores to get tomes shipped to Nigeria:
I am Mrs Sandra Everhart,a united states based business woman with clients all over the world.Please i will like to ask for your permission to go pick my orders from your store and after you give me the total quote i will do my payment.i will like to have the goods delivered to my client his store in Nigeria the payment will be by pasonal my credit card or certified cashier check any prefareble to you. I will be looking forward to read your quick response.ASAP.while wishing you a lovely day.
Beware, beware, beware. I hope that bookstores aren’t still getting taken in by this.
Yesterday, I wrote about why I am voting for John Kerry, and what I expect from a Kerry administration.
A lot of people can’t stand the man, and can’t vote for him. But they’re angry about being betrayed by Bush. I’ve had a lot of conversations with lifelong Republicans with whom I am now in large agreement about an array of social and domestic policies. Bush’s administration has pushed non-extremists closer together.
If you can’t bring yourself to vote for Kerry, just don’t vote for Bush. We may live in a system dominated by two parties, but you can still opt out. Write in John McCain, even, a man I respect greatly (except for his party support for Bush in this election cycle). Write in someone you believe should be president.
A John Kerry administration, just like the Clinton administration, will allow conservatives to participate in government and policy. The Bush administration allows only far-right extremists to participate in government and policy.
If I haven’t said it before, I’m voting for John Kerry. I voted for Al Gore in 2000, and was sorry he wasn’t allowed to serve. I was dubious about Bush, then cautiously optimistic, then horribly disappointed. I don’t believe Bush is an idiot. (I’m a Yale man myself.) I do believe that his agenda reflects the needs of a small percentage of people in this country, and that that group of people includes a very small number of the folks who will vote for Bush, convinced that he is doing good for them.
It’s likely that Bush has helped my pocketbook, so you can see that I’m voting my conscience. I don’t want more money from the government. I want more fairness. I want human rights upheld. I want to be able to travel the world with my head held high. I want no more lies. I want a president who doesn’t believe everything he says is divine wisdom. I want a president who isn’t apocalyptic—who plans for the future instead of The Rapture.
This isn’t about Iraq. It’s about equity. John Kerry will try, at least, to bring back a balance that reflects what people really want. This study shows that a good majority of people surveyed who plan to vote for Bush mistake his stated positions. For instance, “74% believe Bush favors including labor and environmental standards in agreements on trade.” If people voted by policy instead of politicians, Kerry would win in a landslide.
John Kerry may not be everything this country needs, but I trust that he will avoid giving money to people who don’t need it, strengthen workers’ rights for a livable wage and good working conditions, and improve health care for everyone.
In following his history and his campaign, he has so much more to offer us as a chance to move back into a middle ground in which we can all participate instead of polarized ends in which most of us are disenfranchised. It’s been said before, but when the ACLU and the NRA join hands, you know there are plenty of us being left out—not just liberals, leftists, radicals, and left-of-centerites, but most of the folks who aren’t super-rich, neoconservative, or fundamentalist Christian.
We live in a great and terrible nation. We need to de-escalate our international posture, resume engagement in the community of nations, and back off from discretionary wars.
I owe this post to seeing my good friend Jeff Carlson post his reasons.
We’ve just started a new way of putting Ben down for naps yesterday that has promise. (Again, sample size of one: your mileage may vary.)
A post-partum doula we have been working with told us that infants generally need to sleep every 90 to 120 minutes during the day for at least 30 minutes and even up to 2 to 3 hours at a stretch. Less time isn’t a nap; longer might mess up sleep.
We’ve been giving Ben crib naps (as opposed to “sleeping on us” naps, which don’t count for as much sleep!) for about three weeks with generally good success. Sometimes he fights us all day but still sleeps well at night.
Yesterday, I figured out a new approach that works for him and is much less time and effort for me, Lynn, and Ben. We use a BodyBall—a big inflated bouncey rubber ball about three feet in diameter—quite a lot. It’s used in birthing and in general exercise routines, but it’s particularly nice to comfort a baby, especially when the baby is in a Bjorn or a sling.
We’ll try to put Ben down when he’s sleepy or rocking him in a glider, and that sometimes works. (I’ve found a mild jiggle while rocking hard can do the trick when he’s particularly fussy, too: kind of a modified Karp jiggle).
But the latest innovation is that instead of bouncing him for a long time on the ball, you bounce very hard, supporting his neck, for just a couple of minutes. Just until he nods off, which comes fast no matter how alert is he. He just can’t stay awake. The neck support is critical: we don’t want his head to snap back or face to smash forward.
When he nods off and the eyes close and he can’t keep the head up, I quickly and seamlessly stand up off the ball, support his head and put him down in the crib and leave the room. It seems to take only one or two sessions of a couple of minutes of bouncing to get him to go to sleep.
This is a huge improvement on the back. Lynn and I both get back aches of varying kinds and difficulties, which we have been using Pilates to defeat. We both got off our Pilates schedules—me for the last three months; Lynn since late last year. We’re just getting back into regular sessions, which should help.
Ben is in the 90th percentile of weight for his age, so anything that reduces the amount of time we have to hold him in a position that puts strain on our backs, the better! And it’s good for him. If he doesn’t get riled up not going to sleep, then he sleeps better and is more refreshed.
We managed to get him to take four naps yesterday, and he was generally happy all day with a tiny bit of fuss here and there.
Another parent, Andrew I. Jones, who read my sleeping tips send in his own advice:
1) Wonderoos reusable one-size-fits-all diapers. In theory, they can last for the duration the baby is in diapers. I say “in theory” because I have a four-month-old.
2) Amby Baby Motion Bed. When we were shopping for a crib, I joked that we should just use a hammock for simplicity. Little did I expect my wife to find one. A key principle of the hammock is that when the baby wakes, it’s own movements will sway the bed and help her back to sleep. The hammock comes with a travel case, so when we travel she is sleeping in the same familiar surroundings.
3) Phil & Ted’s most excellent baby stroller. It has a jogging stroller design with a pivoting front wheel, light weight. There are only a few strollers with this design.
I’ve said many times that when I suppress people’s inappropriate or off-topic comments on my various lists, blogs, and forums that I’ve moderated that I’m not censoring. I’m not the government. Other forums abound for them to express their opinions, especially using their own resources. But Cathy Siepp says it succinctly and well:
Amazingly, people will complain bitterly that they’ve been “censored” after they’re banned, apparently forgetting that free expression on the Internet is always available to them via blogs of their own. They don’t have the same readership, of course, which is why they prefer to come here. But folks, this is my blog, not yours, and anyone who doesn’t understand that is forgetting that property rights are as fundamental to democracy as free speech.
Of course, I rarely link to Republicans, but I’m making an exception, even with the ads and links on her site.
Lynn and I are going to develop a top X list — 7, 8, 9 items? — of things that put Ben to sleep because we have drawn advice from several books, our pediatrician, a post-partum doula, television programs, and friends. The combination is a blockbuster, with Ben sleeping for the last seven nights through the entire night. He nurses typically once after 4 to 6 hours of solid sleep, and then again a couple of hours later, and then around 7 to 8 when he’s ready to wake up. This is great. We have a unique and lovely boy.
In no particular order—we’ll make it more formal later:
1. Swaddling. You’ve heard it, you know it, but you have to do it. We wound up buying the Miracle Blanket to help, but a tight swaddle in any receiving blankets that’s comfortable for Ben and keeps him from swinging his hands around, waking himself up, is key to good sleep. We’re somewhere between a few weeks and a few months to not swaddling him at all. We’ll transition out. We were told by another parent that if you wait too long, the kid can become dependent on the swaddle for sleeping.
2. White noise. We use a hairdryer sound and the sound of rain on continuous repeat while Ben is napping and at night. It’s a little crutch, but it means that he sleeps well and we sleep well. We’re not seeing any bad side effects, and we’ve gradually lowered the volume. We’ll probably phase this out around the same time as the swaddle—but slowly!
3. Co-sleeper. It’s a bed sidecar. It means we keep our bed as the adult bed—it’s too small to safely have him sleep in—and he’s nearby for nursing and other nighttime needs. He gets used to sleeping in his own space, but he’s not far off. Arm’s Reach seems to make the only co-sleeper. It’s remarkably complicated to assemble. We bought ours used via Craig’s List after being unable to find a local distributor. (The list of resellers is out of date: one local children’s store I called was peeved that they were still on the list as they’d been asking for two years to be removed.) Buying via Craig’s List meant the very nice couple that sold us the co-sleeper taught us to assemble and disassemble! A great help.
4. Positioner. We use a foam positioner that elevates Ben, who has some reflux and a weak esophageal seal, like all infants. This keeps him happier at night, spitting up less.
5. Small noises should be ignored at night. We were pretty ready to jump up and feed or comfort Ben when he made any sound at night. And that was fine in his early weeks when he wasn’t a good sleeper and his melatonin hadn’t kicked in to start helping him tell night from day. But more recently, we were still doing it. Our post-partum doula/sleep consultant said more or less, he’ll tell you when he needs something; his peeps and snorts can be safely ignored because he’ll rise out of heavy sleep into light and back into it many times a night. She was right. The minute we started waiting for real action—not minutes of screaming, but a real “wah wah”—we started getting real sleep. It’s tough. But it’s the way to go and doesn’t damage the kid. When you leap up every time he or she peeps, you’re disturbing his or her sleep, the sleep folks say.
6. Make nighttime feedings, changings, and comforting dark, quiet, and boring. We thought we needed to sing and dance at night to get him back to sleep. Nope. This was another big change around three weeks old, when the pediatrician gave us this advice. Instant improvement. If he needs to be rocked back to sleep at night, we do it rhythmically in a glider chair in the almost dark with a few nightlights. We don’t coo at him. During the day, we coo and sing and do all kinds of malarky to comfort him. But at night, no sirree.
7. Put on A&D ointment and don’t change unless you have to overnight. We typically do need to change Ben at some point during the night, but he often goes 6 to 8 hours after going down before he needs a change. The A&D prevents diaper rash. As he’s gotten older, his nighttime diapers have switched from a mix to almost entirely wet and not very. I’ve often changed him when he could have waited until real morning, and this would have let us all sleep a little better. (It’s a problem when you misgauge, though: you could have a real explosion, so we’re still erring on the side of at least once per night.)
There’s more, but I’m hardly an expert. My sample size is one. And what a glorious one that is. But we’re eager to share as we learn more about what makes him work. As we pass on tricks to friends who are a few weeks behind us with their younger beauties, we’re hearing back what seems to work and what doesn’t for their particular kids, too.
Later… We came up with a number 8:
8. Naps every 90 to 120 minutes during the day. The post-partum doula who has given us sleeping advice (for him and us) said that babies should generally take a nap from every 1 1/2 to 2 hours during the day. The nap can last from 30 minutes to 2 to 3 hours, but should be in a normal room: maybe a crib with all the general noise and light of the daytime. It should be a nap, not nighttime sleep. When she first told us this, we said, yeah, sure, right, he’ll go to sleep. Before this, he had almost always slept on one of us or a relative or friend, and at weird intervals. He had rarely slept on his back during the day. The day she visited, we put him down for a nap. Holy smokes, the kid can sleep during the day. This was another step in the turning point for sleep. We did this at about six weeks, which is the point at which a baby can start doing this, apparently. Almost every day, he has three to four naps of 30 minutes to 2 hours. He will sometimes fight the nap for 10 to 15 minutes with us rocking him, singing, bouncing on a ball, then pass out and do a good stretch. This kind of nap only counts if it’s deep sleep in a still state. He’s a funny kid, though: he will sometimes nap really weirdly and not with much interest and still have a great night’s sleep.
Donate to Spread Firefox to get your name in a New York Times Ad: I love this idea. Distributed fundraising for advertising to support a free piece of open-source software.
Firefox is one of the top browsers for Windows, and not at all a bad choice for Mac. I’d only put Opera above Firefox because Opera is practically an operating system, which is useful for some folks who want email, chat, news, and Web, plus other features, in one place.
But Opera is commercially developed with an advertising-supported version, while Firefox is open source. It’s just a browser. And a good ‘un.
So I gave my $30 to towards the cost of a New York Times advertisement recommending that people use the program—my son’s name will appear instead of mine so he can say he’s had his name in the NY Times like his dad—and I hope you will do the same. It’s a neat way to help others abandon Internet Explorer for a more productive piece of software that’s much less likely to allow interlopers into their computer.
I interviewed The New Yorker’s Cartoon Editor Bob Mankoff for three articles that I’ve written about cartoonists, two for the New York Times, and one for eCompany Now (a publication which acquired Business 2.0 magazine’s name).
Mankoff has come out with The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker, which is a project he started in 1997, and I wrote about the beginnings of which in 1998. He intended to digitize and categorize every cartoon ever published in the magazine. He’s not only done that, but the book includes CD-ROMs with every cartoon on them in viewable form. A pretty monumental achievement.
I saw the actual cartoon archives at The New Yorker’s interim offices (after their move from their original space, before the Conde Nast Building move): shelf after shelf of clippings. Now, just a few little discs at lower resolution, and some gigabytes at full size—a bagatelle, a hard drive or so.
The New York Times quietly turned off the fees for retrieving articles in the Technology section of its Web site, including Circuits. Good news for folks like me who like to research articles, and who have articles published in that area of interest.
For instance, you can now read my very first Circuits article from July 1998—and see a picture of me bald—without paying.
Related to this, many many libraries with good online sites offer their patrons access to article databases at no cost. I keep finding whenever I need to do research, that I should start at my library’s site, log in with my library card, and start looking at their databases.
You know your life has changed (and changed again) when you excited to be awake at 6 a.m.
Ben’s sleeping schedule has apparently started to take three steps forward and just one back. Over the last seven nights, he’s had five good ones and two bad ones. And the bad ones still had him sleeping a fair amount, just restless enough in the wee hours to keep us all from getting solid sleep.
The last two nights he’s slept 4 or 5 hours and then another 3 or so. I think I got about 7 1/2 hours sleep each of the last two nights. I can’t really sleep more than that these days—my body says, okay, you’re done. My back says, get out of bed, you’ve been in one position most of the night. My brain says, hey, a few hours of work before the family is up.
I listen to my body.
Now I know that there will days (weeks?) in which Ben backslides and we get crappy sleep again. But he’s over 8 weeks old now, and we’re edging towards that lovely transition that we have read so much about that, on average, by 12 weeks, most babies are sleeping in large chunks at night without need to nurse or get soothed back to sleep.
Huzzah. Just in time!
Frank Catalano has moved from the active pundit to not-a-pundit-any-more category. As opposed to myself, the unsolicited pundit.
It’s a terrible thing, as Frank has one of the best radio voices in the business! I’ll miss hearing him on the old vacuum tube.
Because I don’t have enough blogs already, I have just started one devoted to my obsession about information about books: that’s right, a book information information blog. I call it ISBlogN. It’s based on my experiences at Amazon.com, consulting for Powell’s Books and Half.com, and running isbn.nu for five years.
What happens when the Man of Steel dies? I ask that question this morning as I mourn Christopher Reeve’s passing. He was a unique man, able to take a situation that destroyed him physically and work his way back, challenging himself mentally, emotionally, and physically every minute of every day. I have more to say about him, but I posted it over on David Weinberger’s blog as a comment.
Lynn says that if everyone in the world wore striped socks, it would be a happier place. I agree.
In any case, this expression is increasingly common, which we appreciate.
Our not-so-tiny baby Ben, now nearly eight weeks old, has acid reflux, a very common baby problem. You can either let them suffer for a few weeks or months as their gastric seal gets stronger, or you can intervene with an acid reducer. We opted for the latter, as both his parents have used such items in the past.
Well, the oral formulation of Zantac is mighty unpleasant to an infant who likes the taste of Mylanta, even (also recommended by our pediatrician during the time the Zantac needed to take effect). Our ped’s office and nurses seemed helpless when we asked if there were a better formulation. They all said, yeah, babies hate it, whatcha going to do?
Lynn mentioned this problem in a new parents’ group meeting, and someone suggested a compounding pharmacy. On the wane, these pharmacies can mix their own drugs, and often sell herbal remedies that are safely produced as well as regular pharmaceuticals. We found the nicest people at Ballard Plaza Pharmacy. They were totally familiar with this problem. They suggested the “tutti frutti” flavoring.
When I arrived there, they not only had the goods for me, but spent a few minutes showing me their system for dispensing: a special graduated syringe, far superior to the one the pharmacy gave us with the normal oral Zantac formula; a special lid for the bottle into which the syringe fit snugly so you could turn the bottle over to withdraw the liquid; and a piece of tape with a line in it marked neatly at the prescribed level.
Ben loves his tutti frutti. No more fear of us twice a day. No more crying. And his tummy is obviously much better. This doesn’t reduce spit-up, but they don’t get the acid reflux along with it. He’s spitting up a lot less on average, but it doesn’t make him unhappy when he does, which is good. We can wash anything—but eliminating tummy tears is priceless.
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