January 01, 2005

Less spam in December

December email spam: 3170 (down from November), blog spam (that was caught): 2370 (less than half of November!). Weird.

Posted by Mike at 09:36 PM

January 05, 2005

Changing headlights on a Passat

The passenger side low-beam headlight on Meredith's 2002 Passat died recently, so I went out and bought a replacement bulb, popped the hood of her car, and, after staring dumbly at the inside for a minute, decided that there was almost no chance I could do this without the manual. Which we had lost.

Fortunately, I found a link to this 15-page PDF that someone created, complete with pictures, on how to do it: Replacing headlight bulbs for the VW Passat.

Posted by Mike at 11:48 AM | Comments (78)

Now I'm sick

Melissa, Meredith's sister, came out for several days to help us out with Nathan, and went home last night.

So, of course, I started to get sick yesterday afternoon. This would have been better timed several days ago, when Melissa was still here to help. Alas.

I hate sore throats more than almost anything.

Nathan's doing fine. He had a really bad rash (maybe just baby acne) on his face for a couple of days, but it started to clear up yesterday, and looks much better today. He is asleep on my chest as I write this, while Meredith, who did all of the night feedings last night, runs around the house doing chores.

Posted by Mike at 11:53 AM | Comments (1)

January 07, 2005

Have miscarriage in VA? Go directly to jail; do not pass go.

I found links on Chez Miscarriage and This Woman’s Work about a proposed bill in Virginia that would make it a misdemeanor to fail to report miscarriages to the police within 12 hours of the miscarriage.

Women would be required to report their age, education, marital status, and prenatal medical history.

It’s somewhat hard to imagine a more horrific invasion of privacy than this.

Good God.

Posted by Mike at 02:01 PM

January 08, 2005


On December 17, 2004, at 8:49 AM in Salt Lake City, Nathan Michael was born. He weighed 7 lb, 1 oz, and was 19 1/2 inches long.

Nathan is our adopted son through an open adoption. Meredith and I had been matched with the birth mother for a few months before Nathan’s birth, and got to be there in the room when he was born. We took him out of the hospital on December 19, and got to fly home to California from Utah with him on Christmas Eve.

From time to time, we’ll post updates and pictures of Nathan in here.

Posted by Mike at 10:35 PM

January 09, 2005

New Nathan blog

Update: we decided to just post Nathan updates here. No more separate blog.

Meredith and I started a new Nathan blog. We’ll post updates and pictures of Nathan there.

Back to our completely random schedule here…

Posted by Mike at 06:22 PM

Great moments in fatherhood

Nathan sleeping contentedly on my lap.

Me: “Look, our son is asleep.”

Nathan’s face scrunches up instantly, and starts to wail.

Meredith: “You did that before, too.”

a pause, while I consider this over the noise of Nathan’s crying.

Me: “Look, our son is wailing.”

Nathan’s face calms instantly, and he is silent once again.

Me: “I rule.”

Posted by Mike at 06:25 PM

Club feet

Nathan in casts
Nathan was born practically perfect in every way. Except that he has club foot. Or, rather, club feet. Both his feet are turned inward, as if his feet were clapping. It’s an affliction that affects about 1/1000 babies in the US, according to things we’ve read. It’s one of the most common birth defects.

On Friday, Nathan had his first appointment with the pediatric orthopedist at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital. The doctor said that it looked like his would be a pretty easy case to correct. He’s using the Ponseti treatment to correct the feet. Basically, Nathan will wear casts (groin to toe) on his feet for six weeks (changed every week since he’s growing so quickly), then braces on his feet 24 hours a day for three months, then braces only at night until he’s 3 or 4 years old.

To our surprise, Nathan was able to get his first casts put on in our first visit, so he came home on Friday with his legs all wrapped up. It doesn’t seem to hurt him, but he was very grumpy the first day, probably from frustration over not being able to curl his legs up or stretch them out at all. By yesterday, though, he was mostly back to his normal (very mellow) self.

Posted by Mike at 06:50 PM | Comments (72)

January 11, 2005

Fast learner

Today, while lying on a blanket on our floor, Nathan rolled from his tummy to his back. Three different times.

Fast learner.

I suspect that the casts actually help somewhat. It’s a little more weight for him to swing over, but since his knees are bent at a 90 degree angle in the casts, they certainly keep his legs rigid.

Posted by Mike at 08:00 PM | Comments (1)

More pictures

Nathan on bedMore pictures are up.

Posted by Mike at 11:58 PM

January 12, 2005

Stupid proposed report-your-miscarriage-or-go-to-jail law dies

In good news, the proposed legislation in Virginia that would have mandated that women report any miscarriages to the police within 12 hours has been withdrawn.

The author of the bill, Delegate Cosgrove, insists that he was the victim of ‘misinformation’ being spread on the web about his bill. It’s worth noting here that ‘misinformation’, in this context, means ‘reports on what the bill actually said, instead of what I, its author, chose to tell you it said.’


Posted by Mike at 05:31 PM

Mobiles are fun

in the mobile
Nathan really enjoys his mobile. It is the only thing we’ve found that makes him tolerate the crib. We can’t quite tell if he’s watching the mobile, but he definitely likes the music.

Also, as you can tell from the video, Jake is also fascinated by it.

Thanks Dave & Leigh & Tim & Selena!

Posted by Mike at 06:55 PM | Comments (1)

January 13, 2005

Nathan posts back to here

On second thought, we decided to keep the posts about Nathan in here instead of in a separate blog. Meredith promises to post in here from time to time as well.

Posted by Mike at 08:42 PM

Club feet update, week 2

We went back to the doctor yesterday to have Nathan’s casts changed. We could already tell a difference in the angle of his feet when they took his casts off. Unlike last time, Nathan didn’t hate the new casts, presumably having become used to them already.

We’ve also discovered, as one might expect, that one of the only things better as a conversation starter than a newborn is a newborn with both legs in casts. Meredith and I have been discussing possible answers to the inevitable (and completely understandable) “What happened?” question:

  • Skiing accident
  • Sledding accident (suggested by some of Meredith’s church kids as a more believable alternative to the above).
  • “We told him not to borrow money from the mob.”
  • “With God as my witness, I thought babies could fly.”
  • Gang fight with the other newborns on the block.
  • Surfing accident (in Half Moon Bay, of course).
  • “Hey, it turns out that babies don’t have wish bones.”

Next week is week of doctors.

  • Monday: Nathan sees his pediatrician for his second well baby appointment.
  • Wednesday: hearing in Nathan’s left ear gets re-tested. He failed the hearing test in his left ear at birth; the doctors in Salt Lake said that happens a lot because of fluid still being in the ears.
  • Thursday: casts changed again.
  • Friday: to the vet to get fixed. Pippin, that is. Our six-month-old kitten. Not Nathan.
Posted by Mike at 09:04 PM | Comments (3)

January 14, 2005

Just different enough to make your head hurt

Throughout my career, that have been certain video clips that were used for debugging and testing at work that I’ve seen several times. And by ‘several’, I mean in the thousands. From the video to Michael Penn’s “Seen the Doctor” back in the very early days of QuickTime, to the BMW Film clips that we used in demos for IPTV, there have been a number of them.

But for sheer number of viewings, none can top the music video to Sarah McLachlan’s “Building A Mystery”.  We used this for several different versions of QuickTime, testing lots of different things. Different codecs, streaming, you name it. For all I know, they may still use that video in QT testing. I’ve probably seen at least part of that video tens of thousands of time. When I hear it on the radio, I can see each frame of the video in my head. Complete with video artifacts from the Sorenson video codec.

So, when we were in Salt Lake City, and the radio station there started playing a live version of Building A Mystery … my head almost exploded. So close, and yet the timing was different enough that the automatic playback of the video in my head couldn’t work.

Very disconcerting.

Posted by Mike at 09:59 AM | Comments (1)

Is there a worse way to do layoffs?

Oracle is laying off 5000 jobs following their merger with PeopleSoft.

In what has to be one of the more appalling ways of handling layoffs I’ve ever heard of, Oracle intends to inform affected employees by mail, rather than telling them face to face. I guess this way Oracle managers can completely avoid having to think about the impact of the layoffs on people at all.


Posted by Mike at 05:12 PM

January 15, 2005

KOTOR II, babies, and bugs

Lately I’ve been playing a lot of the new Knights of the Old Republic II (KOTOR 2) game. It’s turn-based combat system is perfect for playing with a sleeping baby, since if the baby wails, you just set the controller down, instead of dying instantly in twitch games like Halo 2. (Russell says that Tad made essentially the same comment about playing EA’s “Battle For Middle-earth” game and holding a sleeping six-month-old.)

Anyway. I’ve been having lots of fun with it, as I did with the first KOTOR. I’ve been playing through as total dark side. I’m nearing the end, and my Force powers are now sufficient to wipe out a room full of soldiers in about two turns. Go Force Lightning.

Today, though, I ran into an incredibly annoying bug. There’s a part of the game where you go back to Dantooine into the ruins of the old Jedi academy. And everytime I walked in, it would start to show a cut-scene … then hang. Try again: hang. Hang, crash, freeze, whatever to call it – it sucked. (Not completely hung, though, since the music kept playing.) The only workaround I found was to change the party so that Kreia was in my party before walking in. With that, it worked fine. I couldn’t find anything on the web about anyone else running into this, so it’s probably just some bug that got triggered because of my state. But I was starting to worry that I wasn’t going to be able to get past that point in the game.

Back to slaying Sith Lords.

Posted by Mike at 06:01 PM

January 17, 2005

Latest pictures

More pictures (mostly of Nathan) up here.

Posted by Mike at 08:07 PM

One month

Nathan’s a month old today. He had his second well-baby check-up today, and was fine. Since the casts make weighing him somewhat challenging, we had him weighed last Wednesday at the orthopedist, when he weighed in at 9 lbs, 2 oz – a full two pounds more than his first doctor’s appointment 15 days prior. Today, with the casts, he weighed 9 lb 15 oz, but I suspect the casts are at least half a pound.

The doctor was amazed to hear that Nathan has already rolled, and promptly set him on his tummy on the examing table in hopes of seeing it for herself. While he came very close, he didn’t quite make it all the way over for her. We still think he’s very smart.

He got his second Hepatitis B vaccination today. Continuing to demonstrate that we have The Mellowest Baby Ever, he wailed for about 20–30 seconds, and then was completely fine.

Posted by Mike at 11:54 PM

January 18, 2005

Google blog and invalid Atom feed

After seeing Scoble’s post about an upcoming announcement from Google, I tried to add the Atom feed for Google’s blog to RSS Bandit.

But it reports that the feed is invalid. As does Feed Validator. Umm … OK.

Posted by Mike at 10:26 AM | Comments (1)

Please let Enterprise die

Slashdot is reporting:

"There seems to be no avoiding it this season: TrekToday is reporting that the Enterprise production crew has been told they will all be fired in March, after completing filming on another four episodes. If true, that leaves only very little time to participate in the Save Enterprise campaign.

Save Enterprise?

Of all the stupid ideas I’ve seen promoted on ./, this might be one of the worst. And that’s saying something. Please, please, let this horrible travesty of a Sci-Fi show die. Enterprise has got to be one of the worst Science Fiction TV shows I’ve seen. It’s an insult to the Star Trek franchise. How this show has lasted for this long when Firefly got canceled after one season is beyond me.

Posted by Mike at 03:32 PM

Torturing the baby

mellow Nathan
Nathan not being tortured

We have, as I am happy to tell people all the time, The Most Mellow Baby ever. I don't think I've ever seen a more mellow infant, and I've seen quite a few in my time. Almost nothing bothers him.

Except, of course, when he starts wailing For No Reason At All. Diaper changes, for example, almost never really bother him, except when they do. Or he’ll be sitting in a lap, sound asleep, and suddenly wake up and start crying. This seems to always happen when one spouse is out of the room, thus prompting many reminders called out between Meredith and me that torturing babies is NOT OK, and he would probably stop crying if we would just stop poking him with sharp sticks.

Torture with the comfy chair is fine, though. He likes that.

Posted by Mike at 08:44 PM

We told you he could roll

We managed to get some (crappy) video of Nathan rolling over tonight with our camera. Here’s the Windows Media clip of Nathan’s Roll.

And, to make meriko happy, I bought a QT Pro key so that I could post the QuickTime movie of Nathan’s Roll. (Happy? ;)

Meredith says that the adult sounds (i.e., the two of us) are the best part of the video.

Posted by Mike at 10:23 PM | Comments (1)

January 19, 2005

Nathan's hearing is fine

We just got back from the audiologist at Palo Alto Medical Foundation, who tested both of Nathan’s ears and found that they were both working just great. So his hearing is fine – the failed hearing screen at his birth was, as predicted, a false alarm. Yay

Posted by Mike at 01:10 PM | Comments (1)

Our son: doing his part to destroy the environment already

Nathan playing

For such a young boy, Nathan is already leaving his mark on the environment. I’m so proud of him. Let’s review:

  • Landfills. In researching the some-years-old debate on cloth vs. disposable diapers, pretty much everyone said that it comes down to a choice of which part of the environment you wish to destroy. With cloth diapers, you get to destroy the environment through the massive amounts of chemicals and bleach needed to clean the diapers; with disposable, you get to fill landfills. Given that it was basically a toss-up, we went with disposable. Two weeks after we got home, I had to call the city of Mountain View to ask for a bigger trash can to hold all the diapers: 64 gallons instead of 32 (we don’t really need 64, but there wasn’t anything in between). The woman who handled my request said, “You want an even bigger can than 32!?” Hey, at least I didn’t ask for the 96 gallon can. Sheez.
  • Use of natural resources. Specifically, natural gas. Years ago, we purchased an electronic thermostat that let us set four different times per day, with different settings on weekdays, Saturday, and Sunday, for the gas furnace that heats our house. With this, we let the front of the house pretty much freeze at night, turn down during the day when we were at work, and heat up for the mornings and evenings. Then, our first night home, Meredith got up for the 3 AM feeding with Nathan and discovered that being in a living room that was pretty much frozen, well, pretty much sucked. So, now the thermostat is set to keep the house warm during times when Nathan might be awake – i.e., 24/7.
  • Oh, and those chemicals again. Granted, his clothes don’t require the same level of toxic chemicals to clean that cloth diapers might, but we now seem to be running the washing machine all the time. Whether it’s his clothes, which get changed more often than Britney Spears changes costumes in a concert, or our clothes, which Nathan is happy to soak (through *ahem* various means), there’s always laundry to be done. And that’s not to mention the dishwasher, which now runs once or twice a day just to keep his bottles clean.

He is wonderful. I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

Posted by Mike at 10:43 PM | Comments (1)

Great article on programming and junior engineers

I read this a while back, but kept forgetting to post a link here.

There’s a great article called “Picture Hanging”, all about the challenges in giving tasks to junior engineers. An excerpt:

It's like you're asking them to hang a picture for you, but they've never done it before. You understand what you need done - the trick is getting them to do it. In fact, it's so obvious to you that there are constraints and expectations that you don't even think to explain. So you've got some junior guy working for you, and you say, "Go hang this picture over there. Let me know when you're done." It's obvious, right? How could he screw that up? Truth is, there are a whole lot of things he doesn't know that he'll need to learn before he can hang that picture. There are also a surprising number of things that you can overlook.

It’s a brilliant essay.

Posted by Mike at 10:50 PM

January 20, 2005

Club Feet update. week 3

I just got back from Nathan’s third visit to the orthopedist to look at his club feet. Meredith slept in to get some much-deserved sleep. While in the waiting room, I talked briefly with a mom who was there with her one-month-old son who had a club foot. She said they had had the same experience we’ve had of finding lots and lots of people who’ve either had a club foot, or had a sibling or spouse or someone that had. It’s really not that rare, it seems.

Nathan again expressed his violent opposition to the adjustment, and again calmed down completely about a minute after he was done. As I type this, he’s sound asleep on my chest – clearly the torture of the adjustment had no lasting effects.

The doctor said that Nathan’s doing fine, and that next week he wants to do the surgery to lengthen Nathan’s Achilles tendon. Or tendons, rather, since both feet have tightened tendons. One of the effects of club foot is that the Achilles tendon tends to be too short. You could see it pretty clearly today on Nathan’s feet – the adjustments have already really turned his feet around, but his heel is clearly much higher than it should be.

So, as the doctor explained to me, the procedure is that they put numbing cream on Nathan’s heels, and let that sit for 20 or 30 minute. Then they go in with a scalpel through a very small incision and snap the Achilles tendon. He assures me that it reconnects on its own, only longer. Babies are truly amazing – if someone cut my Achilles tendon, I bet it wouldn’t just grow back. He said that sometimes, babies are completely calm through it (must be amazing numbing cream), and sometimes they cry, but not usually more than they do during the normal adjustments. Then he puts a compression bandage on it for 10 minutes to stop the bleeding, then the casts go on as normal. The incision is so small that he won’t even need stitches to close it.

It all sounds very reasonable and minor and safe.

Or, looked at from another perspective: They’re going to cut my baby with a knife!

OK, I’m sure it will be fine. But it’s a little scary to think about. Poor little Nathan.

Posted by Mike at 11:19 AM | Comments (3)

January 21, 2005

Yay, crib

We finally got around to picking up the crib from Jim, my boss, so that Nathan can have a real crib instead of the crappy uncomfortable portable crib that he hates. We were happy to learn that he does, indeed, like it much better than the portable crib, although his tolerance for it is still limited to about ten minutes. This child really likes to be held. Nathan sleeps with us at night, but it’s nice to have some place to set up down for a few minutes during the day.

He was also clearly tracking the mobile as it swung around. Smart kid.

We went to the day care today to sign him up for that (i.e., fill out lots and lots of forms). It will be hard to let him go, even for just ten hours a week, but the woman doing it seems really good, so I think it will work out well. I was holding Nathan while we filled out the form, and had to pull out my cell phone to look up our doctor’s address and phone number, then managed to drop the phone onto his face. Smooth move on my part. At least it only fell about half an inch. Again, proving his status as Most Mellow Baby Ever, he cried for about fifteen seconds, then stopped. (And NO, it wasn’t because he wasn’t knocked out from the phone hitting him. Sheez.)

Posted by Mike at 08:50 PM | Comments (2)

Crib abattoir

When we were setting up the crib, Al helpfully looked up the consumer regulations on crib safety. The code, Title 16, C.F.R 1508, specifies dimensions, spacing, and other requirements. 1508.6 includes this paragraph:

(a) A crib shall be designed and constructed in a manner that eliminates from any hardware accessible to a child within the crib the possibility of the hardware's presenting a mechanical hazard through pinching, bruising, lacerating, crushing, breaking, amputating, or otherwise injuring portions of the human body when the crib is in normal use or when subjected to reasonably foreseeable damage or abuse.

Amputating? I can see it now…

“Good morning, gentlemen. Uh, this is a brand new crib, combining classical new-Georgian features with all the advantages of modern baby furniture. The baby is carried along here, towards the rotating knives…”

“Excuse me. Did you say knives?”

“Rotating knives, yes.”

“Are you, uh, proposing to slaughter our customer’s babies?”

“Does that not fit in with your plans?”

“Uh, no, it does not. We wanted a simple crib.”

OK, so ruling out amputation seems like a good plan.

Posted by Mike at 09:22 PM | Comments (3)

January 25, 2005

The problem with very small devices

We took lots of pictures this weekend at the baby shower the church threw for Nathan. And I’d even post them – if only we could find our damned camera. It is very small, which is very nice, except right now, when it is lost. We know it made it home, but haven’t seen it since Sunday night. The infuriating thing is that it’s probably within about ten feet of me as I type this.

Argh. Back to the search…

Posted by Mike at 09:02 PM | Comments (1)

January 27, 2005

Club Foot, Week 4: visit with a scalpel

Today was Nathan’s fourth visit to the pediatric orthopedist today, and, right on schedule, had his tenotomy to cut his achilles tendons. The doctor had told us that some babies hardly mind at all, some object as much as they do to the normal adjustment, and a few really objected.

Nathan was in the latter category.

If the numbing cream did anything for him at all, we couldn’t tell. Nathan didn’t like the cold numbing cream going on, didn’t like the cold iodine being applied, and completely lost it when the scalpel touched him. And again on the other foot. I have never seen him so mad or so scared.

It was a little scary for us to see him so upset. I mean, we knew he was fine, but it’s really sad to see your baby so upset and be completely unable to explain what’s going on.

He calmed down almost instantly afterwards, so I don’t think it was still hurting him. But ever since then, he keeps suddenly waking up and screams for a few seconds before he calms back down. He’s still pretty scared, we think.

We’re hoping that, like when he first had his casts put on, he’ll be all better by tomorrow.

Poor baby. :(

Posted by Mike at 04:11 PM | Comments (1)

January 30, 2005



Nathan got baptized at church this morning.

Many thanks to all those who came for it. It was really good to have so many people there.

I’ll post pictures later…

Posted by Mike at 03:05 PM | Comments (4)