Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bring on the Laurel Wreaths

Wow. If I could claim responsibility for getting Franklin to post regularly, the internet shall rejoice and shower me with honors and wealth beyond my wildest dreams!

The gauntlet has been thrown, huh? Well, then, I triple dog dare ya!

Friday, September 28, 2007


I love Fussy, and Fussy says do it! So I'm a gonna do it. Don'tcha wanna do it too? I'm a verbose guy, so I don't think I'll have too much trouble coming up with a post per day, every day, for a month. Saturdays and Sundays count, too. Of course, the month in question is November, so I will no longer be employed full-time, and we all know I post more when I'm, uh, working. Ahem.

So come, join. All the cool kids are doing it. Won't you be my friend? My profile's over here. I would've been I, Rodius, but it didn't like commas or spaces in the name. Join me, and together we shall rule the galaxy.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Looking from the Wrong Direction

I'll spare the details, because database talk, like the jargon of all sorts of other specialties and cults, is boring to the uninitiated. But I had my wee little mind boggled a bit today. A few days ago, I was switched from a Mac to a PC at work. I only realized today that I had lost the useful tool of Applescript when a particular function in one of my databases no longer worked. There was much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments as I lamented our short-sighted, conformist abandonment of the superior machine for the one that plays nicest with everybody else's. Now, I moaned, I'll have to spend hours trying to figure out how to get Windows to do what Mac did so easily. This would clearly cut into my blogging time. I was forlorn.

But after five minutes thought, and about half an hour of actual work, I got the database to accomplish the same thing, and the new solution works on both Mac and Windows. It's simple, it's elegant, it's cross-platform, and it takes advantage of a previously unnoticed side effect of an unrelated function. So, thirty-five minutes. It took me a day and a half to figure out the right syntax for the applescript I was previously using. Funny how I spent so much time staring at the problem from the direction from which I first approached it and never bothered to walk around the other side and see what it looked like from there until I was forced to by the cruel machinations of petty fate.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Things I Think About As I Float Away to My Happy Place While Thumper Expresses His Displeasure with the Level of Customer Service I Provide

I've been wanting to add a feed to this site for awhile, but I didn't know how, or invest much effort into learning. Turns out this Blogger thingy makes it pretty easy. I think it's somewhere way down there at the bottom now. I've also wanted to learn how to link so it opens in a new window, but was too lazy and/or busy to investigate. I think Dooce's error this morning pointed the way. Did it work? It did! Well, there's that done, then.

I've also been thinking I should get my own non-blogspot domain name someday. I bought a domain name for an audio transcription/database consulting website. I need to figure out the income tax and sales tax and insurance implications of that whole idea, too. But if I do get my own domain name, I should, you know, do some actual web design and make this look like my own website and not a template. More stuff I don't know how to do. I used to, in the early to mid '90's, keep up with all the new and improved techie computer webbie stuff. But good God, it all changes so fast, it's hardly worth the time investment. Almost as soon as you really get to know it, it's no longer true. Who has the time? These kids today and their technology!

Now this stuff is somewhere on my to-do list just below committing to a workout program, though I did buy a $50 used Eddie Bauer jogging stroller yesterday. God, I love Craigslist! I don't really understand it, though. How does it survive? How does it make money? Is it some kind soul's or souls' gift to humanity? I should read the Wikipedia entry.

Also somewhere on that to-do list is cutting out some turf and laying out bricks for pads for my rain barrels, which have been sitting in my garage for about five months now. Oh yeah, and putting up actual rain gutters, too. It's just like me to start with the end and never finish the start.

And I need to finish painting the deck Pops and I screened in, uh, eleven months ago. And clean up the garden. And wage war on the fire ants. I've been trying not to lay out poisons all over the place for barefoot children and pets to stumble across, but sprinkling Cream O' Wheat on their mounds just makes them move, so I've spent the summer chasing the little buggers around my yard with a box of breakfast food, and I'm starting to imagine neighbors snickering behind curtains.

And when am I going to have time to set up a dog blind on the roof of my shed from which I can stalk and murder the little bastard that keeps making a special trip to my back yard to do all his runniest poopin'? I sprinkled cayenne pepper all over his favorite spots, and that worked for a couple of weeks, but within 24 hours of my nephew coming over and mowing it all up, the little bastard was back. And it looked like he'd been holding it in all this time, just waiting for his moment. I have visions of slingshots and web cams, and spring-loaded traps of varying degrees of lethality. Bamboo lined pit traps. Noose traps. Cayenne pepper bombs. Why am I cleaning up dog crap? I don't own a dog!

Anyway, these are the things I think about.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Quit

I'm officially resigned now. The earth did not quake, the walls did not tumble. There was absolutely no brimstone involved at all. I'm kind of disappointed.

I will be working in the same building in a different capacity, though, strictly on a part-time intermittent basis. And the IT Manager said that he would call me back to consult, because he don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no databases. But otherwise, after 5:30 p.m. on October 12, 2007, I will finally be a stay-at-home dad, or as the Business Manager here describes it, a kept man.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Few Things

1. "Hey, look! A long blog entry! He must have gone back to work..."
Yes, I have. Today is my first day back after 8 weeks out on FMLA sick leave. I'll be giving three weeks notice today. After that, Mrs. Rodius will be going back to work full-time, and I can finally get a proper start on this whole Stay-At-Home Dad project. I'm a little nervous about resigning today; I'm afraid they'll accuse me of underhandedness in taking FMLA when I knew I was going to quit anyway. Is that underhanded? There's nothing I read in the policy that said I had to commit to any period of work after returning from leave. But still, it feels a little sneaky.

2. Thumper will be 8 weeks old tomorrow. He had his two-month appointment this morning, and boy was he surprised when we just stood there and let that lady stick him with needles. Twice. On each leg. He's growing well, and I'm beginning to think all of that colic and reflux and food allergy stuff was just a doctor giving a diagnosis to parents that expected one. I think it may all just be normal newborn digestive difficulties and first-time parents' jitters. We're getting more used to him and his patterns, but with me at work and Mrs. Rodius home alone with him for the next three weeks, we're going to start working harder at getting him into a bedtime pattern. I think Mrs. Rodius is nervous about how these three weeks are going to go.

3. I got to go to the Texas-Rice game with Big Brother on Saturday, and we spent most of the third quarter in the beer tent talking. I hadn't realized how much I needed to talk to someone until I was doing it. It was great to normalize this whole long, weird experience. I really need to interact more with people with kids. I guess when Thumper and I start going to playgrounds and... uh... wherever else it is that parents become acquainted with each other, it'll begin to happen anyway, but friends with kids would be a good thing. Except people with kids are too freakin' busy to socialize anyway. That's whatchacall one of themthere catch 22's.

4. I've been listening to Joseph Heller's Catch 22 as an audiobook whenever I've been in the car the past couple of weeks. There are a few glaring gaps in my literary canon (for instance, I've never read Wuthering Heights, either), and I thought Catch 22 would be a good one to check off the list. I think I would have loved that book when I was 17; it's so chock-full of clever turns of phrase and brilliant comic moments, the reader barely has time to fully digest one before he trips over another. But in my old age, I just find it kind of annoying. There's no story there, and no meaning that I can find. Maybe I need to read the Wikipedia entry. I'm glad to finally know what Catch 22 is, though (it's a rule for the pilots in the story that says if they're crazy, they can be excused from combat missions, but only if they ask. But asking is an act of self-preservation that proves they're not crazy, preventing them from being excused from combat missions. If they're crazy, they have to ask, but if they ask, they're not crazy.) As I listened to the book, I was reminded of Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club, in which the narrator tells Tyler Durden his concept of single-serving friendships with his fellow passengers on his many business flights. Tyler calls this clever then asks him how that's working out for him, being clever. It's sort of a deflating moment for the narrator. Cleverness without meaning isn't really that much of a virtue. So I think I might follow defective yeti's philosophy (at least I think it was his; maybe I'm misattributing it) on books: give it through the first 100 pages, and if it's not working for you, move on. Life's too short to be spent suffering through books that don't click with you.

5. The first person I saw today upon returning to work was the security guard at the back door who said, "Welcome back. You know what happened to you? You gained weight!" And then laughed loud and long as I walked away. It was kind of him to notice. I haven't worked out in, oh, I don't know. Three months, now? And I've been doing a lot of sitting in my recliner watching TV, with a baby eating, sleeping, crying, and vomiting on me. And I've been eating a lot, at all hours of the day and night. So, time to get back to work. I'm thinking I'm going to start over on the run-walk program, and follow the ChiRunning a little more closely. I was keeping the form, but I wasn't doing the warm-up loosening exercises. So hopefully I can work that in three times a week, and finally get to the yoga, too. I'm sure it would help my back problems. Maybe I can fit that in twice a week. I don't know. Maybe I'm setting my goals too high. Maybe I should just try to get in one week of walking three times, then see what I can do. Anybody got a jogging stroller they want to get rid of cheap?

6. "Good God, man, you've been out for 8 weeks. Don't you have some work to do besides writing an obnoxiously long blog entry about nothing?"
Eh, yes, I suppose. As I may have mentioned, I'm underutilized here. They've gotten along without me for 8 weeks, and I'm sure I was barely missed. I could work on a few things, I guess. Oh, yeah! My resignation letter. I better get crackin'...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Grand Unifying Theory

During the pregnancy, I had the epiphany that I should stop getting upset that it wasn't what I expected and just let it be what it was. I've been developing a sort of similar epiphany about Thumper's early infancy, too. Every time I start to think I get him, that I understand him and his behavior and have developed an accurate working definition of What He's Like, he goes and changes on me. Then I get frustrated because what I thought I knew is no longer true, if it ever was. So I've been trying to deal with him moment to moment as he is, instead of bumping up against the places where he's not currently behaving as he was yesterday when I developed a successful working theory about what he does, or what he likes, or dislikes. I've decided there is no Grand Unifying Theory of Thumper.

Similarly, I don't think there can be any Grand Unifying Generalized Infant Theory. But as I've taken Thumper into the office a few times to visit, or otherwise out into public, I've noticed something about the people with adult, or near-adult, children of their own: their need to demonstrate their retention of of their masterful infant care skills. With little more than a glance at the boy, they tell me what he likes and dislikes. They tell me what works and what doesn't. One of my several bosses today, at the first sign of post-feeding goo spewing from the boy's mouth, began to rummage without invitation through my diaper bag, extracting the spit rag and wiping his mouth. Thumper's mouth, that is, not his own. He recalled that babies this, and babies that, and they like this, and prefer so. His youngest child is in high school now, and his oldest is a junior in college. I got the same sense from one of Mrs. Rodius' bosses, and several other parents with kids leaving the nest, or coming close to it. And it occurred to me that it's important to them to demonstrate, to themselves, and to me, and to anyone else in the room, that they still remember what it was like, that they still retain those skills they learned through hard-won experience all those years ago, that there's a pride not only in learning how to do it well, but in showing that you've still got it, all these years later.

Or maybe, with the end of childhood, they're nostalgic for the beginning. Or maybe that's the same thing.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


I recently made the comment: "Since I've been off work, I haven't had time to keep up with my blogs."

For some reason, this caused Mrs. Rodius no end of mirth.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

OK, So It Turns Out

All that not wanting to sleep in his crib stuff? Uh, he's apparently having digestive problems, probably an allergy to something Mrs. Rodius is eating, possibly dairy, though she eats almost none of that as it is. So he's vomiting a lot this week, or as we say to cute it up for the adorable little babies: "spitting up." So it's probably a reflux problem that's making him fussy. And lying flat makes it worse. And when he's sleeping on us, he's on a slope. Which is how he's supposed to sleep to avoid the reflux. He's cried and refluxed his wee little voice into a heartbreaking little croak. And oh yeah, he may or may not have new jaundice issues, which may or may not be of a harmless "breastmilk jaundice" variety.

Let the parental guilt begin in earnest!

On the plus side, it's good to know there's causality here, and it's not just that he doesn't like us very much and wants to torture us as much as possible. So that's a good thing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Or Not

OK, so maybe I've got him to sleep in his crib a couple of times, and maybe a couple of times he's resisted with every fiber of his tiny, fisty being. Maybe it's not a battle. Maybe it's just an experience we're all going through, all learning from. See, that way it's almost like we're not losing...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Kicked the kid out into his own room today, so Mrs. Rodius could get some sleep without Grunty waking her up every minute and a half. Broke out the baby monitor from the closet, too. He got mad after about 5 minutes when he woke and realized he was not on one of his favorite mattresses (my chest or that of Mrs. Rodius), but I picked him up, walked him around on my shoulder until he fell asleep again, and put him back in bed. It's been about half an hour now. We will win. He will not. Though it might help if we got some light-blocking curtains.

Uh oh, I think he's figured out he's alone again. He hates that.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Socially Inept

Tracey's comment on the previous post made me realize I didn't really blog about meeting her and Rich at all. So:

I am a horribly shy person. I hate meeting new people. I even considered making some excuse not to go to the party yesterday, just to avoid that moment of "Hi, nice to meet you." I dreaded it, just as I've dreaded it with other people in other situations. I even avoid social situations with people I've known for years because of a terror of social awkwardness. I went through all kinds of horrible paroxysms about how fat I am, and how pompous, and how I couldn't possibly live up in real life to whatever expectations Tracey and Rich and whichever of their readers would be at that party may have cultivated about me. But in the end, I just told myself to shut up and go. And I did.

Bailey opened the door for us. He was very friendly, and later told me all about the different languages he speaks, and how he can count in Korean because of karate, and even demonstrated some sweet, sweet moves for me. Then one of the first adults I met was Lisa. She said, "I know who you are. You must be the man himself." And I nearly turned around and walked out. In person, I'm not the man. At all.

And the funny thing was, I totally would've recognized Rich, even out of context and in a crowd. He looked exactly as I expected from his pictures. But Tracey, not so much. I stood in front of her and thought, "Is that her? Maybe that's her. What if I call her Tracey and she's not?" There was another chick there who could've been Tracey, (I think it was her sister; I don't know. Mrs. Rodius met more people there. She told me on the drive home about Tracey and her sister, and how they alternate travelling monthly to each other's cities for visits, and how Mrs. Rodius would like to start doing that with her brother's family. I think I know who her sister was. Maybe. I don't know. I may have mentioned I'm socially inept. Where was I? Oh yeah.)

And then Tracey was socially gracious and introduced herself and knew who we were, and offered to hold Thumper, and pointed us in the direction of food and beverages, and introduced us to people, and acted like a completely non-awkward regular human being, and spent a generous amount of time with us, knowing we didn't know many people there. I was grateful, and all went well. Sorry if I was weird. If it wasn't for Mrs. Rodius, I'd live in a cave and never speak to anyone, except by blog or email.

So anyway, thanks for being a normal human being, and I hope we get to see you and your family again someday. And as Thumper grows up, I'll try to teach him not to shove his arm down women's shirts. At least not without an invitation.

Worlds Colliding

Yesterday I got to meet in the real world folks who only previously existed in electronic form: More Than a Minivan Mom and St. Richard, and also Lisa. It was great to meet you and your kids and see you in 3-D for a change. Thumper even got to second base with Tracey, twice. And she didn't seem to mind.

Though blogging has been a wholly different experience, meeting Tracey and Rich and Lisa brought to mind the first time we ever met in real life our internet friends. In the mid-90's, Mrs.Rodius discovered this thing called a "chat room." This was the days when people still talked about their baud rate, we regularly lost our dial-up connection, and the internet was new and shiny. I was working second shift, and I came home one night to her enthusiastic description of this place she had discovered called "The Tunnel of Love," where she was someone called Aerie. Soon I'd joined in, becoming Horatio. We quickly became part of the core regular users of the room who called themselves the Tunnel Rats.

A lot of people used the room to find cybersex partners. I dabbled in it here and there, but it quickly became boring and repetitive. For me, the appeal was the camaradarie of the group. I'd never really been part of the cool cliques when I was in school, and I revelled in it in the chat room. The most entertaining sport was brutally ridiculing newcomers. In a forum where a person was defined solely by the words they used, it was astounding how inarticulate many of the cybersex seekers were. They were downright pathetic much of the time, and engaging them in verbal sparring was endlessly giggle-producing.

Eventually the core group decided to meet in New York. We were mostly from across the United States, with a few from England and Australia. As we got to know each other better, it became clear that many of the regulars were middle-aged divorced people seeking and finding new loves online. There were many long-distance couples, like Sarah in Rhode Island and Stroke in Houston. We were by far the youngest of the group, and we were the only couple who actually lived not only in the same state, but in the same apartment.

So we went to New York for twenty-four hours, taking pictures of each other with the Statue of Liberty over our shoulders and spending a lot of time drinking and laughing in hotel rooms. Though we'd learned vital stats and ages of most of the attendees and seen pictures of some of them, it was a little surreal putting actual faces and voices to our text-based friends. We did keep up a more regular friendship with Sarah in Rhode Island for awhile (she talked us into getting tattoos in Newport, but after we'd both done ours, she chickened out), but I think the New York trip was the beginning of the end of the appeal of the chat room for me. It started seeming a little shabby, a little seedy, a little too like a soap opera, with the desperate people in their forties and fifties, with dual custody of teenage kids, getting together and breaking up, and falling madly, passionately, forever in love over and over again with people they'd never met. But I still recall fondly the feeling of being one of the cool kids picking on the losers.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

8 Things

Jennie wants to know 8 things about me.

1. I have a cowlick on each side of a widow's peak. Thumper's got at least one of my cowlicks. A friend of my mother's, when I was a mere babe, enjoyed licking her thumb and forefinger and giving me an Eddie Munster 'do. Pops believes this is why I still have a widow's peak to this day.

2. When I was a pre-teen lad in suburban north Dallas, my brother, several of our friends, and I spent many hours crawling through the sewers. We'd suck in our guts and slip into a storm drain in one part of town, wind through the tunnels, and come up miles away. We occasionally took skateboards with us, lying prone with the board on our chests and our legs lifted, zipping along. When I was 13, my brother and a friend of his crawled through a sewer with a candle and ignited a leak in a natural gas line, changing their lives forever and thus ending the practice of sewer crawling for all of us.

3. I lost my virginity to the future Mrs. Rodius at the age of twenty. When I was 18, the older brother of a friend was so aghast at my admission of virginity that he insisted on taking me to a prostitute. I managed to avoid him, and the trip to the prostitute, forever after, and I never again admitted my virginity to anyone but Mrs. Rodius. Oh, and you.

4. In my early teens, a small group of friends and I were flicking matches and stomping them out in the underbrush on the fringes of a golf course. Flick, stomp, turn around, flick, stomp. Apparently we hadn't quite stomped the last one out, and we turned around to a roaring fire. We ran. We ended up at the home of an unpopular kid whom we'd abandoned as a friend several years before. He was surprised to see us, but took us in to play video games. His mother, bringing us snacks, mentioned that we smelled like smoke. We laughed nervously and said the video game console must be overheating. We never found out how much damage we may have done to the golf course.

5. When I was twelve, I let my brother's girlfriend paint me up with full makeup. She had written his name in giant letters on the wall of her bedroom with colored yarn.

6. I have a giant lump on my left pinky toe that I believe is the result of an undiagnosed break many years ago. Or maybe it's a corn. What the hell is a corn, anyway?

7. I have twice punched holes in walls, the last one in ugly siding in the bedroom of a rented apartment ten years ago. I was lucky not to break any bones on either occasion and have since learned to control my anger better.

8. When I was sixteen, I took a driver's education class, including an eye test. The test administrator told me to look into a machine and read the third line. I looked into the machine and asked, "Are you sure it's on?" I was told to get glasses. When I picked up the glasses at the Lenscrafters at the mall and put them on, I said, "You mean this is how everybody sees?" I was one of the cool kids who sat at the back of the class, and I had always assumed that nobody past the first row could actually read the chalkboard.

And I'm sorry, Jennie, I just can't bring myself to pass the taggy thingy on. I guess I'm still one of those cool kids at the back of the class who refuses to participate in the group activities. That, and of course I don't know 8 people to tag.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Father of Invention

A friend sent me a link to this article in the New York Times about the increase in involved fathers leading to an increase in new inventions by those fathers. I told another friend about it, and his response was, "Makes sense. If you want to find the most efficient way to do something, give it to the laziest guy to do. And men are a lot lazier than women." True enough. I'm not sure, though, that it's more efficient to invent a nipple for water bottles than to just put the water in a baby bottle in the first place, but I get his point.

So I've been thinking about what inventions I might contribute. I've noticed that the snot sucking booger bulb is a highly ineffective piece of technology; why not something with a little stronger suction? A POWER snot sucker! Great idea! But somebody else already thought of it. I ordered one on eBay ($5 cheaper and free shipping!), so I'll let you know if it's my miracle product.

I've also thought of the toilet-mounted cloth diaper wringer. I wasn't able to find one of those, though, so I've asked Pops, Woodworker Extraordinaire, if he'll help me with that one. If necessary, maybe we can collaborate with Big Brother, World's Greatest Structural Engineer, on the design, though he's currently obsessing on the solution to a hexagonal Rubik's puzzle, so he may be unavailable indefinitely.

Not that we've actually begun using the cloth diapers, though. We should be starting this week. Our supplier had a little trouble with her supplier, so the order was slow in coming, but they're still a bit big for him anyway. We're about to run out of our stock of disposables, though, so we'll be starting on them soon. So I don't really know yet if a wringer will be necessary or helpful, but surely if we're hosing the things out in the toilet and storing them in a dry bucket until they go in the laundry, a wringer would be called for, right? But then I wouldn't expect "toilet-mounted diaper wringer" to be a fruitless Google search. Maybe Pops and I can make a fortune...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Bad Idea

With a screaming baby at quarter of five in the morning, I thought I'd give Mrs. Rodius some quiet in which to sleep and take Thumper for a walk. A smirking jogger commented, "I remember those walks" as he passed us. When Thumper fell asleep within a minute or two, I was congratulating myself on my excellent baby management skills. But at exactly the halfway point around the big three-mile loop around our neighborhood, when going back would have been exactly the same as going on, he woke up. And commenced with the screaming again. And suddenly I realized I was sweating profusely in the humidity, despite what I originally thought was a pleasantly cool temperature.

So I spent fifteen minutes pushing him briskly along in the stroller, sure he'd wear himself out and fall asleep again. I felt painfully self-conscious when another jogger passed us, this one a woman. She was probably wondering where that baby's mother was. Then I started to believe that a sheriff's deputy would pull up alongside me at any moment and arrest me for kidnapping a baby, or arrest me for having a half-naked screaming baby out at a ridiculous hour, with no diapers or bottles or other baby equipment. So I picked him up, carrying him in the crook of one arm and pushing the empty stroller with the other. He stopped crying instantly, and I carried him over a mile that way. We were both soaked through with sweat when we got home, but he was alert and perfectly happy. Next time I think I'll take him for a drive.
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