Saturday, September 30, 2006

Interesting Facts

Still around... no sign of Vinny yet. I thought I'd take this time to tell you some interesting things I've learned this week.

  • Only 5% of babies are born on their due date.
  • Most first babies are born late. (Damn!)
  • Before a baby is born, its head drops into the mother's pelvis. This can occur anywhere between several weeks to just before the baby is born. As of my last doctor's appointment, he had not dropped yet.
  • If I push on my swollen ankle with my finger, it makes a depression that doesn't immediately go away -- kind of like those Swedish memory-foam mattresses they advertise on TV.
  • The super-duper computer doesn't like it if you try to open more than 128 files at once. Doing so causes your job to crash. In addition (something I figured out a few weeks ago), if your job requires more time than you requested, and the super-duper computer cuts it off, this results in a segfault and core dump. It took me a week to figure this out and after confirming with a colleague, this is indeed a "feature" of this machine (where "feature" really means "error"). They should really tell you these things so you don't spend a week trying to track them down.
  • Facts about North American telephone area codes:

    • Telephone area codes used to be of the following format: xyz, where x is between 2 and 9, y is either 0 or 1, and z is 1-9 if y is 0, or 2-9 otherwise. In the case of y = 0, the area code was supposed to cover an entire state, whereas if it was a 1, the area code was supposed to cover only a city or part of a state.
    • Area codes with the fewest clicks on a rotary phone were assigned to the biggest cities. Thus, Chicago was 312 (6 clicks -- just add up the digits), while Hawaii was given 808 (26 clicks -- the 0 is really ten clicks).
    • From 1962 to 1981, only two new area codes were added to the system.
    • The proliferation of fax machines and cell phones resulted in the need to abandon this system, which is why today a telephone area code is of the form xyz = [2-9][0-9][0-9]. There are some reserved exchanges that cannot be used for area codes, such as x11, and the numbers 8yy (y= [2-5]) are reserved for future toll-free expansion.
    • There are still some area codes left, but not as many as we would like. There are various plans for increasing the number of available telephone numbers, including adding an extra digit to distinguish between United States and Canadian area codes.
    • If you're a numbers junkie like me, and you want to read more about the telephone number system, I got all this information from Wikipedia's articles about the North American Numbering Plan.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I'm a Winner... and You Could Be Too!

Last week, when I was at the lab's International Festival, I entered a trivia contest at the British Isles booth, and I found out today that I won the grand prize! Apparently I had more correct ansers than anyone else, which I find quite surprising but I'm not going to complain. Anyhow, I won a fabulous paperweight from the Orkney Islands, made from a round stone with a sheet of metal hammered onto it and etched with a winged dragon. It is pretty cool looking.

It seems like I never win anything, so this was pretty exciting to me. In fact, I might go so far as to say that it made my day. Usually, contests are random and so the probability is just not on my side. Other contests are based on guessing, and I am usually no good at guessing. So it was a welcome surprise to win something based on my knowledge of famous British people.

In honor of this, I want to share the joy of winning. Alas, the only contest I can think of is a guessing game, so it will be dependent mostly on luck, I'm afraid!

Answer the following questions before 7:00 p.m. EDT Thursday, September 28, 2006.
1. When will Vinny be born? (Give both a date and a time.)
2. How much will he weigh?

You can answer in the comments, or send me an e-mail with your guess. I will determine the winner and award an exciting prize. Good luck!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Birthday Activities

Last Thursday, I took Jeff out to dinner for his birthday. We went to a steakhouse, and Jeff enjoyed his steak but I didn't think that my chicken was worth the price. Then we went on a huge shopping spree and bought each other's birthday gifts: the latest releases of the original Star Wars movies for him, and cookie sheets, a muffin tin, and a waffle iron for me. We also went and bought diapers for Vinny: this type of diapers called gDiapers, which combine all the benefits of both disposables (no extra laundry) and cloth (no extra garbage; the absorbent liners dissolve in your toilet and get flushed into the sewer system). They are considerably more expensive than cloth diapers, and pricier than disposables too, but we can afford it and it sounds like a good way to solve the diaper dilemma. I'll let you know how well they work.

On Friday night, Jeff made me a delicious spaghetti dinner. That is one of my favorite foods, especially Jeff's sauce. So I was pretty happy with that. Then on Saturday I made his favorite cake, although I had a bit of a mishap when I added the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and accidentally turned the mixer up to high speed. There was cake batter everywhere, even in the CD player that was (foolishly) sitting right next to the mixer. I cleaned it up as best I could but I may have ruined the CD player. I haven't turned it on again so I don't know. But the cake turned out to be really tasty, despite being slightly thinner.

On Monday, I got birthday phone calls from both my sisters and from Dad and Marvis. It was a real treat to talk to them. Unfortunately, I missed Laura's call but she left a nice birthday message.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Numbers for Today

Today is my birthday. I am 2N-1 years old today. I'll leave it to you to figure out which value of N. As a hint, I'll tell you that my dad is also 2N-1 years old, but NDad > Nme. Today is also my mother-in-law's birthday. She's turning the same age as my dad.

Yesterday was Jeff's birthday, and he turned 2N. NJeff == Nme.

Other interesting numbers: On Saturday night I measured my circumference and it was 50 inches. Today, I bought a dozen pastries and took them to work for people to eat in celebration of my birthday. It cost $26.01 (they were fancy pastries from Panera) and they ate only half of them. So I have $13.005 worth of pastries to eat. I think Jeff will be happy to help out with that.

Speaking of cost, the other day I bought something that cost $23.27, so I gave the cashier $24.02, with the idea that I would get back three quarters. But she must have mindlessly typed in the money I gave her and mistyped it as $24.01, because she gave me 74 cents. Now why in the world would I give her one penny just so she could give it back to me?!?!

Friday, September 15, 2006

One Year

One year ago today, I started my job.

It's been a year of many adjustments, some easier than others. For example, adjusting to an income that exceeded my expenditures was not particularly difficult. Adjusting to the loss of my karate class and all my friends, that was tough. I don't think I had any idea what my life would be like today when I started my job. It's certainly much different than I might have expected.

In this year, I have made new friends. I still miss my old friends in Illinois, but I like the people here too. I have adjusted to hills and curvy roads after seven years in the flatlands. (It didn't take that long.) It was much harder to get used to my job. I feel like I work much harder at this job than I worked as a graduate student. In graduate school, the deadlines were more nebulous than they are here. I feel like I get along well with my boss and my colleagues, and that makes me happy. It almost seems like we all get along too well, and that makes me a little bit suspicious sometimes. I guess that's just my inner paranoia speaking.

The biggest adjustment is yet to come. I know that having a child is going to make my life very different. I mean, when I was a graduate student maybe I didn't work so hard but it was the same type of work. But I've never been a parent or even babysat regularly. The closest I've ever come to that is teaching children's karate once a week. But I had to deal with those critters for only one hour at a time, whereas this will be a full time gig.

Now that I've passed my one-year anniversary, I am eligible for family medical leave. It was quite a relief to pass the one-year mark without having to worry about my job. So son, feel free to come out whenever you're ready!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Swell Week

Haha just a little pun there in the title of this post! I've been swelling a lot lately. I've taken to wearing shoes that enclose my feet so my feet don't swell so badly, but all that ends up doing is making me have really swollen ankles instead of really swollen feet. On Saturday I spent most of the day with my feet in water, and it felt pretty good, although it did little to take down the swelling.

I've been finishing up the sewing that Laura and I were doing for the nursery. This week I finished up the curtains and the crib dust ruffle. I complained to Marvis about being unable to iron for very long, because the standing was making my ankles swell. Well, suggested my brilliant bonus mom, why don't you lower the ironing board to sitting level? I don't know why I didn't think of that. Anyhow I did that and was able to do more sewing at a time.

Then, my sewing machine started squeaking really badly. It was so loud it was giving me a headache. So I bought some oil for it, and proceeded to oil everywhere, but it was still squeaking. Finally, Jeff helped me turn it upside down and oil underneath it, and fortunately, that's where the squeak was coming from, so after that I was able to sew without suffering.

As for work, I've been trying to finish up some important stuff so that I don't have to worry about getting it done before the baby is born. In particular, I've been trying to get this code running on our super-duper computer. So far, I don't yet have it running, and I'm not quite sure what's going on. But I am getting closer to figuring out the problem and assuming he doesn't come too early, I should have it done before I have to go.

Speaking of the baby, I guess most everybody knows, we've decided to name him Vincent David: Vincent because we like the name, and David after my beloved cousin who died a couple of years ago. We plan to call him by a diminuative of Vincent, but I have a question to pose to all my vast readership. How should we spell it: Vinnie or Vinny? There are potential advantages to both spellings, so I can't decide. Most people seem to be spelling it Vinnie, which is fine. But spelling it with a "y" means that it has one fewer letter, making it easier to type and possibly to write for those of us who are handwriting challenged. On the other hand, writing "ie" might be easier than writing "y." But I guess this is something that doesn't really matter that much anyhow.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Adventures in Travel

So we decided to get away this weekend for our last child-free getaway. Jeff decided that we should head south. We didn't actually end up getting very far, only to Chattanooga. But we had a good time because no matter where we go, being together is fun. Also, there are a lot of things to see and do in Chattanooga.

On Friday night, we got off the interstate at an exit that promised to have lots of hotels. It was a good thing it did, because we went to three hotels that didn't have any non-smoking rooms before we found a fourth hotel where we could stay. By that time it was very late and after I looked at some brochures about the area I went right to sleep.

We did not see the eponymous choo-choo. But there is a park where you can go and see it. Instead, we went to Rock City, a kitchy attraction made famous by barn advertisements throughout the nation. We never knew where it was until our neighbors told us it was there near Chattanooga (actually just a few miles south, in Georgia). It was an interesting place although a bit challenging to navigate. You walk along all these paths through rocks and gardens. I managed to squeeze through "Needle's Eye" and "Fat Man's Squeeze" although I'm glad we didn't take this trip a few weeks from now. I was pretty worn out by the time we got out.

Then, since we were so close and Jeff had never been, we drove into Alabama and had lunch there. In case you were curious, Chattanooga and Georgia are on the eastern time zone, and Alabama, about 20 miles west, is on the central time zone. After lunch in Alabama, we traveled back to Chattanooga and went to the Tennessee Aquarium, where we saw an IMAX movie before going into the two aquarium exhibits. Both exhibits begin at the top of the building and proceed downward. First we saw an exhibit about rivers, and it was really interesting. The other exhibit was about the oceans. By that time I was getting really tired. After we saw the aquariums we headed back to our hotel where we rested up before going out to dinner.

We left for home on Sunday, and we spent the rest of the day resting up. Then today we went shopping in preparation for packing our bag for the hospital. There were a lot of things we needed to get, including snacks, toiletries, a bathrobe, and nursing bras and nightgowns. Jeff had the patience of a saint while waiting for me to try everything on.

There are a lot more fun and interesting things to do in Chattanooga and I hope we'll get down there again someday. For example, there is the Chicamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway (which I want to ride next time), and a riverboat cruise. I never knew there was so much to do in Chattanooga.

Adventures with Imaging

On Thursday we got the first portraits of our son. Thanks to the wonders of 3-D ultrasound imaging, we now have pictures such as this one of our pride and joy:

It might be a little hard to see at first but it's a profile view. Jeff thinks his nose looks like mine, but it just looks like a typical baby nose to me. It looks like he may have inherited my lack of chin, but it's hard to tell because the umbilical cord is in the way.

We were also able to see some real-time images (which they refer to as 4-D, the fourth dimension being time) of him practicing up on breathing. You could see his chest moving in and out, even though he's just inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid. She confirmed that he is indeed a boy, no mistakes from last time. Also she checked out his size and estimated his weight at over six pounds. He seemed to be about two weeks ahead of the curve. Maybe that means he'll be born early.