Things I Learned in 2022

It should be pretty obvious to my 0.3 readers that I haven’t gotten around to my Year In Review for 2022, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t collect the data. For now, here is a survey question I asked myself each night.

“What Did You Learn Today?”

For the record, on 53 nights, my answer was “Nothing.”

I learned that Betty White has been on TV forever.

We learned that Theodore really loves snow.

We learned that Theodore is willing to brazenly cheat to win a game.

 I learned that I’m going to have a hard time getting my peeps promoted.

I learned that I’m suddenly managing a big, high-profile project. 

I learned how to do bladder ablation. 

I learned that democracy remains doomed.

I learned that Disneyland is stupidly expensive.

I learned that it’s hard to find a stroller for a kid this big and heavy.

I learned that we’re actually gonna get started on our renovations.

I learned that the stonks just keep going down.

I learned that the kitty did a really bad thing.

I learned that there is such a thing as too cold for pizza Fridays.  But we did it anyway.

I learned that I could do a thing that i had always been hesitant to do.

I learned that Tucker Carlson was horny for M&Ms.

We learned that our neighbors are leaving us.

We learned that Theodore maybe isn’t cooperating that well at nap time.

We learned that we’re gonna get some snow.

We learned that my waterproof socks really work well.

We learned that cold hands plus hanger can really mess up the little man.

I learned that even late on a Monday night with the world covered in snow, someone is gonna be there to take your parking spot.

We learned just how many pipes and wires are behind our walls.

I learned that my dumb project has a written scope, but people are still kinda just making it all up.

I learned even more that my dumb project has a written scope, but people are still kinda just making it all up.

I learned that ice and sleet are enough to cancel school. 

We learned that having a hangry 3-year-old on a plane is a bad idea. 

We learned that the fun flying rotor toy draws blood every time it hits you.  

We learned that Theodore can legit swim by himself when he just goes and does it. 

We learned *again* that hanger can prompt spectacular meltdowns. 

We learned that Theodore is intimidated by large groups of homeschooled Tolkien nerds. 

We learned that Theodore talks really loudly with headphones on. 

We learned that Theodore really would steal a cookie from a 2-year-old on her birthday. 

We learned that Theodore really missed his BFF. 

We learned that I’m the only one that wasn’t excited about the 90’s rap super bowl halftime.

We learned that when you eat peas you get sparkly eyes.

I learned that it was too cold for Theodore to walk across the bridge.

  I learned that the guard on my beard trimmer slips sometimes. 

I learned that New York traffic is also not what it once was. 

I learned that restaurants here are doing a pretty good job of checking vaccinations, actually. 

I learned that Theodore is perfectly capable of intentional disobedience and that it’s no coincidence when he does the opposite of what I ask.

I learned that Theodore needs to be fed really urgently if he’s half-assed a couple meals. 

We learned that the Charlestown ferry is really easy and great. 

We learned that Putin means to start a war. 

I learned that my friends in Minsk are scared and want to leave. 

I learned that even when we’re not talking about the cloud, we should be talking about the cloud.  

We learned that none of Theodore’s friends really think of anyone else as friends. 

We learned that when he really gets into something he’s watching, that Theodore really engages with it. 

We learned that we lost like $60000 in kinda imaginary but also kinda real money. 

We learned that we do not need to find a new place for our stuff just yet. 

I learned that my bonus should still happen.  We learned that maybe we shouldn’t count on a night away.  

We learned that hubris is real. 

We learned that maybe Theodore is serious about being aware of his badness at sleeping. 

We learned that Theodore’s teachers have no real plan for naptime. 

We learned that the roof and deck over our alcove is a disaster. 

We learned that the alcove roof is even older and crappier than we thought. 

We learned that yet another family is eyeing the suburbs. 

We learned that we couldn’t sleep at home tonight. 

We learned that <redacted> our upstairs neighbor is a big baby. 

We learned that the car is leaking coolant. 

We learned that the plaster was still wet. 

We learned that sometimes Theodore doesn’t eat that much. 

I learned that it is possible to be reduced to crawling if you get hit in the balls hard enough. 

I learned that our lease at work is up in a few years, ominously. 

I learned that we can’t just leave the pizza boxes at the playground. 

I learned that he just gets to play baseball for free. Someone is paying for it, just not us. 

We learned that you really do just run into people everywhere now. 

I learned that my friend didn’t saw his leg off.  

I learned that fancy private schools are fancy. 

I learned that we totally made the right decision on the living room. 

We learned that we got into the Quincy school!

We learned that the kitty missed us. 

I learned that the curse of the crayon flag is real. 

I learned that Theodore really can’t resist picking up the soccer ball. 

I learned that cruise ships are a thing again this year. 

I learned that Theodore probably is napping. 

I learned that the client’s gonna blow up a lot of work. 

I learned that the client’s gonna blow up a lot of work, but for some good reasons, and at least it’s not my fault. 

I learned that maybe Theodore can play with other friends.  

I learned that Theodore can play soccer without using his hands. 

I learned to always check traffic before taking the Leverett Connector. 

I learned that maybe i will never get promoted. 

We learned that <redacted> went and got the ‘rona.  We learned that <redacted> went and got the ‘rona. 

We learned that the antiviral works. 

We learned that Theodore can’t function on 8 hours’ sleep.  I learned that the car’s transmission broke. 

I learned where the car got towed. 

I learned that the car had little more than a dead battery despite claiming something about the transmission. 

I learned that the client wants everything on the same timeline anyway. 

I learned that the client wants everything on the same timeline anyway, but only if they get a receipt. 

We learned that our new sink is broken. 

We learned that the bed we had in mind is probably a bad idea. 

I learned that the robot is making tiny errors almost entirely at random. 

I learned that the robot has static cling. 

We learned that the ominous certified mail from the law firm was just for the weed store. 

We learned that the stalls at Gillette Stadium are… not that bad?

We learned that it’s probable that Theodore knows that I don’t stay on the floor with him the whole night. 

We learned that those monsters are going to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

I learned that my hair can be cut in around 10 minutes, even with chit-chat. 

I learned that yet another long-timer quit. 

I learned that Theodore can play well for two hours and do a lot of stuff at the playground. 

I learned that there can be howling wind for one block and not so much the next.  

I learned we have a gas leak. 

I learned that the movers took our photos. 

I learned that <redacted> teacher tested positive. 

We learned how to use Genie +, I think. 

We learned that Theodore’s butt is the most jet-lagged. 

We learned that just because he starts the day a mess doesn’t mean it has to end that way. 

We learned that maybe he can get so tired that he just pees his pants. 

We learned that <redacted> has COVID. 

We learned that Aquarium Theodore also applies in submarines. 

We learned that Theodore can get a good nights sleep and still be exhausted 

We learned that it’s still a good idea to have some cash on you.  Also learned what haupia and guri-guri are. 

We learned that Theodore really hates it if big kids call him a “baby”.

We learned that Ocean View maybe might have an asterisk. 

learned that Theodore can pee his bed twice in one night. 

I learned that Theodore can rally even if he just rests rather than napping. 

We learned that Theodore can be a big boy about things that disappoint all of us. 

We learned that Theodore can make friends after all. 

We learned that Disney can get $15 for a sheet of stickers. 

We learned that Theodore can actually be chill for a 5.5hr plane flight. 

I learned that there’s no lead safe from Omar Gonzalez

I learned that restocking the house after you intentionally use up all your groceries is a lot of work. 

I learned that everything actually went…fine while I was gone?

I learned that my snoring has been bad lately. 

I learned that Theodore can actually go seek out kids to play with. 

I learned that Theodore might be into extreme sports. 

I learned that Theodore can play independently with his friends for a long time… and then what do I do?

We learned that Theodore can still throw down in the middle of the night for no good reason. 

We learned that Theodore’s new school is really big!

I learned that if he takes a two hour nap, he’s up until 10. 

I learned that there are consequences to using the wrong seltzer cup. 

I learned that Theodore can make friends with new kids. 

I learned that daycare wants to send home full cups of paint. 

I learned that a raccoon is not a primate. 

I learned that just because you’re in charge doesn’t mean you’re in charge. 

I learned that maybe static attraction is an intractable problem. 

I learned that maybe we fixed the problem anyway. 

I learned that maybe I will never get a good nights sleep again. 

I learned that maybe my favorite color is red now?

I learned that maybe the board design is going to be late(r). 

I learned that <redacted> is having a bad time. 

I learned that it’s possible to barf from drinking too much pool water. 

I learned that I can still have good footwork sometimes. 

I learned that Theodore is definitely stoked to have a dollhouse.  And a pirate ship. 

I learned that everybody’s quotes are higher than expected. A lot higher. 

I learned that pizza-less Fridays at the playground are weird. 

We learned that it’s really easy to spend $200 at the grocery store. 

I learned that Theodore knows the lyrics to a Taylor Swift song. 

I learned that Theodore maybe doesn’t like cold water as much as he should. 

We learned that having a different babysitter was tough for Theodore, but not impossible. 

We learned that Theodore is still 99th percentile for everything. 

We learned that Theodore is really excited for his bunk bed. 

I learned that Theodore really really likes that one song by The Weeknd. 

I learned that maybe some of the people who work for me are maybe a little too optimistic. 

I learned that the electronics work after all.  Probably. 

I learned that my office’s internet is worse than mine.  

I learned that my grandfather is sick.  Perhaps in a final way. 

I learned that Theodore likes science.  In the museum sense. 

I learned that Market Basket is still cheap. 

I learned that one of Theodore’s old classmates is a bigger kid now, but still kinda the same. 

I learned that the cat is stinky. 

I learned that Theodore doesn’t like to sleep. 

I learned that replacing the battery on my speaker was stupidly easy. 

We learned that it is possible for it to be too hot to go to the playground. 

We learned that there is such a thing as a reusable water balloon. 

I learned that there are still people i’ve gone three years without seeing. 

I learned that Theodore can get really crazy if he catnaps at the wrong time.  I learned that Theodore does not like to sleep. 

I learned that the bunny park is also the needle park. 

I learned that there was a beer garden that i hadn’t known about yet. 

I learned that I’m still good at drinking. 

I learned that Theodore gets very emotional when told not to do things on the way out of Gillette Stadium. 

I learned that you can bike/T to Hormel Stadium. 

I learned that the cat peed on Theodore’s trains. 

I learned that I probably did push-ups and sit-ups with a present-day colleague, 25 years ago in NROTC. 

I learned that sea salt chocolate makes really salty brownies. 

I learned that keeping Theodore home when he’s not really sick is exhausting. 

I learned that Theodore liked the movie theater okay. 

I learned that well-rested Theodore is kinda unstoppable. 

I learned that we’re firing someone and i didn’t not contribute to it. 

I learned that it’s much nicer when it’s not 90° out.  I

learned how to drive the robot. 

I learned that yes, we were just missing the fasteners for the sink. 

We learned that Theodore may just pass out if he’s tired. 

We learned that Theodore can handle his scooter in a skate park.  

We learned that I get a trickle of money more to work with. 

We learned that Joshua can really hurt Theodore.  And also bite him. 

I learned that Theodore doesn’t like me. 

I learned that I should work on my reading comprehension. 

We learned that Theodore loves river tubing. 

I learned that showing up a poor sport is even better than winning. 

We learned that Theodore wanted a dress so he could twirl around.   

We learned that Theodore does not have stage fright. 

We learned that my siblings’ bullshit transcends. 

We learned what a second cousin actually means.  We learned what it’s like to sit next to a bunch of fascists. 

I learned that maybe sometimes it’s not gastritis, it’s just food poisoning?

I learned that the Revs are not going to make the playoffs. 

I learned that Theodore has a new gear for nonsense. 

We learned that a tired Theodore is a chaotic Theodore. 

We learned that tired Theodore can still really put on a show. 

We learned that Theodore really loves bowling and is bad at it. And arcade games too. 

We learned that there is no such thing as getting Bob out of the house on time. 

We learned that even 3 hours short on sleep, Theodore is still a good boy, even if occasionally prone to chaos. 

We learned that Theodore can scoot for nearly a mile if he feels like it. 

We learned that Theodore can is very sad if one of his friends betray him. 

We learned that the only two 4-year-olds at a party are gonna find each other. 

We learned that you can offset your wall plugs over tile. 

We learned that maybe you have to ask 3-4 kids to actually figure out how the day went.  

We learned that no one actually got the camera integrated. 

We learned that America’s Hometown has a rush hour. 

We learned how to buy pot. 

We learned that Tree House in Sandwich is possibly too good to be true. 

We learned what varices are. 

I learned that our sought-after data result was an excel table with six cells. 

I learned that one of our primary client contacts is… gone. 

We learned that sometimes when he’s barking orders at me he just forgets to be nice about it. 

We learned that he’s pretty much always going to choose the T. 

We learned that he’s having some trouble making it to the bathroom successfully at school. 

I learned that there’s a lot of work left to do to calibrate the dumb machines. 

I learned that we are good to keep doing work. 

I learned that Reader Rabbit still exists. 

I learned that my boss is quitting after 24 years!

We learned that Theodore is completely nutsy at a baseball game. 

I learned that you can run a long way on the other side of the drydock. 

We learned that an extra-large pizza has extra-large slices. 

We learned that Theodore is not that afraid of the big silly puppy. 

We learned that Theodore loves trains, rides, junk food, pumpkins.  

I learned that safes are heavy. 

I learned that I can still get fast at SolidWorks even if my computer can’t.  

We learned that I can still carry tired Theodore home from Ringgold. 

We learned that we still love random days out in the city. 

We learned that Theodore thinks trees are annoying. 

I learned that play dates are actually kinda great for parents. 

I learned that the dumb vendor discontinued a thing we were building around and now the new version is bigger. 

I learned that getting drunk with parent friends on a school night is great fun. 

I learned that Annette still can’t get drunk. 

I learned that Theodore can party for six hours straight.  

I learned that the little boy likes sleeping in his tent. 

I learned that green waffles are a good meal for Mama and Dada, too. 

I learned that I missed my coworkers being together. 

We learned that maybe Theodore is crushing on his classmate. 

We learned that Theodore can get overwhelmed by parties. 

Theodore asked me why i can’t be normal.  

We learned that Theodore can get candy madness. 

We learned that it’s hard to find a lost <redacted>. 

We learned that Theodore’s BFF has a dark side. 

We learned that if you’re worried about him being actually hurt, Theodore is not the most reliable witness when tired. 

We learned that the kitty is doing just fine and should maybe have some Prozac. 

We learned that it’s possible to really jam up a playground if you sit on the slide and refuse to move.  

I learned that Theodore really likes his classmate and gets sad when she goes and plays with someone else.  

We learned that Theodore will tell <redacted> about his day. 

I learned that apparently I’m not allowed to touch Theodore now. 

We learned that Theodore can casually read complex words. 

We learned that there’s nothing like a new toy to turn a fragile man having a tough day into a happy one, playing great, independently. 

We learned that Theodore is really angling to not sleep in his own bed. 

We learned that Theodore and his friends are completely different with each other than at home. 

We learned that Theodore still naps sometimes at school, and that the consequences remain the same. 

I learned that traffic escalates fast. 

We learned that bars are still really busy in a Saturday night. 

I learned that carelessly getting a hangover is a dumb idea.  I

learned that playing two men down doesn’t go well. 

We learned that our heat is broken. 

We learned that our heat isn’t broken, but that 2/3 of us have covid. 

We learned that it’s very easy to slide right back into 2020 habits. 

I learned that Theodore still fits in my bicycle seat.  

I learned that it’s really hard to get the cat to eat her prozac. 

I learned that I’m legit afraid of sticking my finger it the cat’s mouth. 

I learned that if I don’t pay attention while sharing my screen, they’ll see me reading soccer websites. 

I learned that you could crash out of the World Cup due to too many yellow cards. 

I learned that Theodore can wake up with just the most random ideas in his head. 

I learned that hippies actually shoved flowers into the barrel of my dad’s drill rifles. 

We learned what happened to my dad’s kayak. 

We learned that watching videos in the car can make Theodore carsick. 

I learned that Jingle Jangle is very filling. 

I learned that the wiring for the Christmas Green Train is complex. 

We learned that Theodore is really excited to see Santa. 

We learned that Theodore is really excited to see snow. 

We learned that maybe it’s just swollen tonsils that are making him sick. 

We learned why our software help can’t help us yet. 

We learned that sometimes Theodore is just lazy and wants a stroller ride. 

We learned that Messi is the GOAT. 

I learned that running after dinner is still and always a recipe for failure. 

We learned that maybe Theodore is a kind little boy to everyone. 

We learned that sometimes Theodore’s friends make him sad. 

We learned that maybe having a little more space makes things like decorating cookies easier. 

We learned that Theodore is tall enough that Shelby can’t lick him. 

We learned that Theodore is really excited for Christmas. 

We learned that maybe it’s better to drive to Maine when Theodore is asleep. 

We learned that Theodore is pretty great at Uno. 

We learned what a dice parade is. 

We learned that Theodore can hold it together pretty well after an 0430 start to his day. 

Xmas 2021 by the numbers

  • Number of new trains and cars: 44 in total (3 MBTA Commuter Rail, 6 Red Line, 5 Orange Line, 4 Green Line, 5 Acela, 3 Amtrak, 3 red subway cars, 4 mine cars, 2 freight cars, 1 electric smart train, 3 paint-your-own, 5 Thomas the Tank Engine)
  • Number of COVID tests: 10 amongst all three of of us. Or, if you prefer, around $115 worth.
  • Number of days without daycare: 16. And it was a good thing, since we got close-contact emails from school for 12/20 and 12/21, which would have meant we’d have again been relegated to parking lot rendezvous.
  • Relatives visited on both sides: 12
  • Miles driven: 789, probably 50 of which were in service of eliciting desperately needed naps from somebody.
  • Cookies: We didn’t count. Nor should i take all that much credit for them. But let’s say there were 150 of them.
  • Playgrounds: 7, one of which was a new discovery.
  • Nights where we got a good night’s sleep: 3, maybe? Dude was out of his rhythm for sure.
  • Big, significant presents he hasn’t even gotten around to opening yet and are going to be seriously welcome when we get quarantined next month: 4

Not as exhausting as last years, where we were stuck together for 31 days and had even fewer places to go, and barely any way to see anyone, and were well and truly tired of each other, but I’m still confident he’s going to be glad to see his friends soon. And by the end of the week he’ll be glad to spend the day with us again. And his endless supply of trains.

Definitive “Sesame Street” Power Rankings

99. Any recurring character in an animated segment

98. Baby Bear: That voice is just the worst thing. The worst thing.

97. Rudy: Seemingly the heir to Baby Bear’s annoying voice, Grover’s tendency to screw up, and Telly’s stubbornness all in one. Rudy is not endearing.

96. Rocky (Zoe’s pet rock): Rocky makes Zoe a terrible character whenever he’s around, which is a lot, actually.

95. Mr. Noodle and all other Noodles: There’s a Tiger King style documentary to be made about the world of Noodles and i can’t wait to see it.

94. Elmo taking on different forms in Elmo’s World: These can be downright terrifying and they sometimes make my son cry.

93: Elmo’s World Guests: Pretty much only have one of two old-time Noo Yawk accents.

88. Elmo’s Dad: It pains me to note that Elmo’s Dad is supposed to be an engineer. He’s also an obvious attempt to construct a boomer’s idea of a Cool Dad. He has a soul patch and plays a saxophone in a classic rock band. FFS.

87. The Crumb: Mid-20teens Sesame Street had a lot of expensively animated missteps. This is one of them.

86. Velvet: Elmo the Musical was never aimed at me. I do not condone musical theater. Velvet is annoying, even correcting for that admitted bias.

77. Prairie Dawn: Mostly down here for telling Abby she could only dress up as a princess, but honestly it’s the most she had to do for years.

76. Dorothy: You’re killing Elmo’s World, Dorothy. It grinds to a halt every time you’re on the screen.

75. Grouchetta

74. Giant Elephant Guy: Exceptionally annoying voice, made up for by being very obvioulsy a dude in a suit, which is a little funny.

73. Stinky the Plant

A bunch of others that don’t really register.

25. Bert: Poor Bert. He’s redeemed some by his pure love for pigeons.

24. Barkley

23. Herry Monster

22. Guy Smiley

21. Baby Natasha

20. Gonger: Cookie Monster and Gonger’s food truck is underappreciated. A little bit of talking about following directions, a little bit of how-it’s-made film, and occasionally they’re just kinda sneaky funny.

19. Julia

18. The yip yip aliens: They lose major points for their implication in this season’s dreadful Number of the Day song.

17. Ovejita:

16. Any and all penguins

15. Murray Monster: One of the few new characters that does a good job of doing old Sesame Street things, notably, muppets interacting with random people on the street and going and learning things about new places.

14. Snuffy

13. Any and all chickens: The chickens are never not funny.

12. Telly Monster: Telly can be annoying, but only because he tries so very hard.

11. Slimey

10. Elmo: You’ve gotta give him some credit for not making you absolutely want to murder him, considering his ubiquity. That being said, cocky “yeah baby” Elmo is the worst and belongs at the other end of this list.

9. Abby: Once they toned down the “magic things are magic!” introductory interactions with Abby, she became a lot more likable, despite her overuse. Animated Abbys do not count here, they mostly suck.

8. Rosita: Rosita seems fun in general and ideally she would be around more.

7. The Count: His love of counting is so pure.

6. Two-Headed Monster: They’re funny and i don’t have more of a justification than that.

5. Ernie: As a kid, I identified with Ernie. Ernie was fun. Bert was not. I’m sure it’s tough to be a Bert in this world, but it was never something i could wrap my brain around.

4. Big Bird: Big Bird is nice. He’s the embodiment of nice. If we could have Big Bird be our ambassador for our first contact with aliens, i think he, Mr. Rogers, and Tom Hanks would handle that job just fine.

3. Oscar: is my wife’s favorite. A true Gen X’er’s muppet.

2. Grover: Not Super Grover, importantly, and especially not “Super Grover 2.0”. Real Grover is cheerfully foolish and curious and sure of himself before he makes peace with his ignorance. Super Grover 2.0 is a boring buffoon.

1. Cookie Monster: Cookie Monster is the rampaging id we all want to be in our lives. Not me though, i’m like that all the time and people still like me.

A Review of Assorted Baby Products

  • Considering that my better half and i live in a tiny basement apartment in a city not known for large… anything, we were accustomed to living our lives with careful consideration of any objects brought into the house.  Readers who’ve known me a for a long time know that this is a substantial change from my impulse-buy bachelor days.  
  • Change, however, is a thing that’s said to happen when babies are involved, and suddenly we find ourselves host to all manner of new products, some we’ve sweated the purchase of, others we’ve clicked buy on and hoped for the best.  
  • Consider this an addendum to my corporate-friendly thoughts posted earlier.  Highlights and commentary on design choices follow*:
    • Ergobaby 360 Carrier: This replaced the other carrier below, and everything about its construction reflects well on its higher cost; the materials and features are excellent and well-considered.  That’s not, however, the same as saying i agree with their choices.  

      In particular, the lift-the-baby-then-secure-the-carrier method is uncomfortable at first, and maybe something that not everybody can even do.  Basically you lift the baby onto your chest, ideally leaning back a little while standing (it’s awkward while sitting), support them with one arm, don one strap, switch arms, do the other strap.  Then, let go of the baby (!) and reach to connect a buckle at your shoulder blades.  Now, the baby can’t go anywhere at that point—the straps can’t go back over your arms if they’re raised—but this is more of a high-wire act than i’d like, and beyond that simply lacks the convenience of front access.  It seems to me that it would be easy enough to design an accessible fastener that only releases when the weight of the payload is held by your hands.  

      Apart from that, for a $150 carrier, charging $20 extra for multiple locations of washable drool covers is a bit ridiculous.  Despite all that, it’s comfortable for both of us for long walks or subway rides or bouts of xmas shopping, and his legs are well-supported with a clever forward-swung sling portion of the carrier.  His considerable weight is distributed partially to the waist, which helps as well.
    • Infantino Carrier: We bought this almost on impulse at Target, because it was so inexpensive and it served us extremely well while he was little.  People with smaller babies probably would get longer use out of it.  Ultimately, worn front-facing, it provided inadequate support to his giant fat thighs as he reached the 15-20lb mark.  The four-buckles-for-him, two-for-me system was easy to put on, though, and we miss being able to be securely wearing the carrier before inserting the baby into a stable location.  The downside was (again as he got heavier), the weight was all on the shoulders, which required better posture than i have and meant it got uncomfortable after an hour.  
    • Munchkin Diaper Pail: This has a fun little gear mechanism that operates the sphinctering of the tubular diaper baggie. It sometimes skips due to too much torque on account of being too full, but in general, the sphincter twists shut very effectively, which means that our tiny bedroom with like, half a window, does not smell like diaper. It doesn’t consume consumables excessively, either.  Here is where i say ‘sphincter’ one more time for fun.  At work, i frequently describe mechanisms or concepts using this word, because it’s both funny and scatological and extremely descriptive.
    • Fisher-Price Jungle Gym: A hand-me-down, and a lifesaver of one.  We don’t have this version, and there are clearly a few out there, but there was a good two month period where he couldn’t help but burst out laughing every time those butterflies fluttered overhead. Moreover, it’s a solid framework upon which to hang whichever little toy he’s most into, as he’s progressed from staring at it to beating the crap out of it. It’s on its second use, and as he wrestles it and i trip over it, it is slowly losing some of its rigidity.
    • Thule Urban Glide 2.0 jogging stroller: This is our only stroller, which is a decision we are mostly good with, except when we find ourselves in a tiny store or café, or on an orange line car at too busy an hour (read: we really prefer to keep our stroller off the T).  Put another way, it’s deceptively huge.  It’s long, obviously, but the wheelbase sneaks up on you, and it’s the thing that snags, or runs over strangers’ toes.  Someday we’ll have a cheap smaller one for stuff like that.  

      Having said that, this thing is awesome.  It bounces cheerfully over the uneven brick and cobble sidewalks of the South End and up and over mismatched, nonexistent, or blocked curb cuts, without jostling the (probably sleeping) passenger, thanks to pretty nice, simple shock-absorbing and big, forgiving wheels.  It drives great while running, too, rolls extremely smoothly, but that’s not the same as it requiring no effort; up hills, and especially into Boston’s inescapable winter wind, it’s an additional burden.  Good.  

      The adapter for the (see next) car seat was simple and robust, and also led too short a life.  Now that he’s out of that, though, it’s a lot more fun for him, as he’s got more to see than just the sky (not that he doesn’t love the sky), although he’d probably still prefer it if the stroller had 10-15˚ more uprightness available.  The wind/rain cover is also excellent and means that we can go out on the coldest days with just the (amazing) LL Bean sleeping bag thing that my mom got him and don’t have to coax him into more garments.  

      The wheels come off easily to fit in our car, in addition to the nice folding mechanism (one quibble—the closure latch is just a cheap plastic hasp and tooth that is sometimes a wrestling match.  It seems to me a swinging, detented hook might be better on release.
    • Chicco KeyFit car seat: We got nearly five months out of it, and i’ll always remember it as the thing we brought him home from the hospital in.  He was straining against it almost from that day.   It was a matter of weeks before we were pulling out the inserts for newborns, he was confined and overheated through the hot, humid summer, and practically bursting out of it when we switched to the next car seat.  We used the snuggly winter cover thing exactly once.  It is, however, extremely robust and well-designed, and one of many things we feel extremely wasteful about for having used so little.  

      In general, infant car seats should be easier to carry one-handed (they probably are with lighter babies).  The handle needs to get closer to your body, and there needs to be a way to not be bouncing it off your knees as you walk down the block.  Perhaps i’d be willing to move the handle left or right and trade an addition of ballast for a more convenient center-of-mass.  In smaller cars like ours, some help in clicking the seat in, visual aids, detents/feel features would be nice.  It’s not hard, but sometimes, due to the long cramped reach with an extended heavy object, the insertion-and-click winds up being heavy and jarring for the dude.  
    • Graco 4-in-1 car-seat: He was content for 45 minutes in the old one, provided the car was moving steadily.  With this one, its maybe up to an hour. It’s definitely more comfortable for him to get in and out of, a lot less yelling.  This is a heavily, heavily upholstered thing that i haven’t spent enough time with yet to truly understand.  It is worth mentioning that it’s huge, and that it’s cost me a click of my seat in our Mini Countryman.  The buckles are a little chintzier than the Chicco one too, and get lost and twisted a bit more easily.
    • Qooc Food Processor: This is a relatively new addition, which is fun for me to play with, because someone clearly put some effort into the product design on it.  Especially noticeable is the big, blue, lightpiped, rubberized control knob.  It’s a good, simple UI feature, even if the ‘power’ glyph on the front is maybe not the right choice, given its function (left = steam on, right = blender momentary-on).  i’m more disappointed on their behalf that they almost got the light pipe right, but there’s some LED bleed out the side of the knob.  Bummer.

      The retention of the blade on the bottom of the pitcher is sufficient, but unconvincing—the nut holding it should have a light detent.  Other than that, they did a good job implementing proper food-processor-type safety interlocks with simple, inexpensive parts (i have some experience with this (whaat, it comes in purple now!)).  If it were me designing it, i might have put thru-hole drains in the bottom base under the pitcher for cleaning purposes, too. Chopped-up carrots, especially, are pernicious little bits of debris.  The material chosen for the included spatula discolored almost immediately against carrots.  This thing comes with a lot of parts, too.  It’d be nice to have some means of storing some of them.  Cribbing off our shop at work, i am organizing it (as well as our bottle+formula station) using cheap cafeteria trays.   
    • Baby Einstein Take-Along-Tunes music box: Our better fake child bought this for him based on her extensive babysitting experience, and she was not kidding.  This simple, cheap little thing has comparable effectiveness to a pacifier.  Push the button, music and lights, calm baby.  It’s hard to believe that seven classical-music tunes played with probably the firmware equivalent of .MOD files (look it up if you’re not enough of a nerd) work so well on little folk.  The scant downside is that it consumes AA batteries surprisingly quickly.

      If i were so bold as to redesign this perfect product, i suppose i might spread out the flashing lights so they’re more visible from more places. And maybe scallop the bottom so that it’s harder to inadvertently mute the speaker on carpets and blankets and things.
    • Car back seat mirrors. We’ve tried two, neither of which have done that great a job of hanging onto the Mini’s center headrest. Currently it’s this one, which is fine except the logo on it is deeply hideous. All of the strap arrangements on these are varying degrees of horrible, though. Feels like it could be done with more of a sleeve or sack sort of arrangement, or even bendable hooks.
    More likely to come later.
  • *These are Amazon affiliate links, for the lulz.  Doubt that works out for me.
  • The Tale of a Hobo and his Son

    A long time ago when my better half and i were first dating, i up and quit my job, because it didn’t satisfy me.  It paid well, but i was finding myself bored and frustrated.  Since i was planning on doing some traveling anyway, i just up and quit, and explained to her that i would just become a hobo.  The unemployment didn’t last very long, really, but the epithet stuck.

    Years later, i find myself away from my job again, embracing my former hobo ways and teaching them to my infant son with varying degrees of success.  Put another way, being on paternity leave is weird.  It’s weird to be sitting at home in the middle of a workday, knowing my desk, my job, and my colleagues are all chugging along, but feeling no pressure to deal with any of it.  Very happily, i don’t have to, and have instead this brief opportunity to just have this one thing to do, to take care of the little guy.

    So what do we do with our days?  They fill up, that’s for sure.

    • It seems likely that anyone who watched a video of me playing with the man would probably wind up questioning my sanity.  Actually i’m pretty sure that if i saw myself, i’d wonder just what the hell i was thinking.  It becomes quite literally anything-for-a-laugh.  During the morning, it doesn’t take much, and as the meter runs low toward the end of the day things become a bit more desperate.
    • roger_rabbit
    • Not that he’s remotely difficult, but i guess there’s a natural tendency towards being  eager to please your little guy, so i find myself jumping up and down, hiding, crawling, singing songs (both correctly and with made-up lyrics that go increasingly off the rails with every passing verse), making faces, making noises, wandering the house, staring at the sky, waggling toys, picking him up, moving him around…
    • Whatever works.
    • We spend a decent amount of time exploring the city, too.  Lately there’s been a pretty marked increase in the time it takes us to get us out of the house, what with our little man needing an increasing number of layers which he doesn’t want and tiny hats and gloves which he doesn’t want.  In general though we try to be prepared to bounce, to go out and bring the man to his mom for lunch, to go to the North End to get more coffee (because someone tried to murder our coffee maker and someone decided to try being nocturnal for a night), to go meet friends playing hooky, go protest the end of the republic, or systematically walk down streets we’ve never been on, or go hit up all those lunch spots that i never get to while working because i just don’t spare the time.  He’s got the time, i’ve got the time.  Until days like today, where the howling winter winds were not his favorite thing.  Maybe our exploring will just be the Copley mall from now on and he’ll grow up having expensive, horrible taste.
    • Napping.  My assignment for these weeks is to get the kid from being a lap sleeper to being actually put down for naps.  Reckon i probably get a C+ on this right now, in that i get him down, but he sleeps shittily.  So to make amends for this we are back on the lap later in the day where he sleeps soundly and adorably.  And i read Twitter or something.  But we’re working on it, grudgingly.  Even though he’s enormous, there are worse things than having a little dude snuggle on you.
    • The nice thing is, cleaning and other household mundanity passes for entertainment for him.  So long as i’m talking about what i’m doing, he is fascinated by it.  Especially if there are moving things, lights, noises, a change of setting.  He doesn’t know it’s work.  Also he’s great at home improvement:
    • Lifting.  Dude is 22 pounds at just over four months. You spend a lot of time picking him up, putting him down, holding him up to let him try standing (the sooner the better,  man, except don’t), lifting him up to play with you.  It’s a lot to ask of a busted shoulder.
    • Watching the cat has also become a thing in the last week or so, and the feeling is mutual.  Our selectively-aloof cat has become very invested in our little man’s well-being.  If he’s yelling, you can bet she’s either checking on him, visibly concerned, or coming to let me know i’m a lousy parent, often both.  She looks in on his bassinet, curls up on his toys (and i don’t think it’s just territoriality anymore), and gently sniffs him when he’s not flailing.  This, at long last, is a good kitty.
    • And then of course there is troubleshooting.  Does that grunting mean he’s pooping or has he learned to fake it (yes, he has) for some reason?  If we’re stuck on 93 for a further 15 minutes and he’s blowing up and i can’t get off, just what can be done (i don’t dare try plugging in the pacifier in motion, but playing with the car’s interior lights moves him away from redlining for a little bit)?  Is he cold in the carrier or just twitchy because he wants out (it’s always the latter)?  Is he bored with this toy (possibly) and is a change of setting needed (a reliable tactic)?

    But anyway have i learned anything?  Sure.

    Things he likes*:

    • Standing and walking directly on my chest
    • Watching raindrops in puddles
    • Drooling
    • Flirting with strangers
    • Fish-hooking his pacifier out of his mouth and cursing its sudden absence
    • Swiveling his head wildly while eating and wondering why the food is everywhere but his mouth, shouting something to the effect of it being everyone’s fault but his
    • The sky
    • Our (i have to share it now) stuffed talking Porg
    • Bricks and other sharply-defined patterns
    • Watching the kitty
    • The TV (so we rarely have it on just yet (except we both watch soccer on the weekend))
    • Watching videos of himself on the phone
    • His reflection
    • Most electronic music, Hall & Oates, Bowie, James Brown, They Might Be Giants, ‘Brass Bonanza‘ (you can add a lot of stupid lyrics to that tune), and the Trololo song.
    • Putting the incoming clean diaper on his face (okay, at first he didn’t like it but i wore him down)

    Things he dislikes*:

    • The wind
    • The sun
    • Sleeves
    • Pants
    • Republicans (i can’t prove that)
    • His car seat, which he is now bigger than
    *subject to change