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Dirquar's 6-month birthday

My Thoughts: I never understood what motherhood would mean. I understand, that we've probably done the easiest bit... but then I suspect each age has its own dilemmas and problems. What has come as a wonderful surprise was just how rewarding life would be with the Dirqster. I always knew life would never be the same; that I would have to sacrifice things. What I did not understand was the full-timeness of it. I had always believed that SAHMs were considerably undervalued in our culture. And even if you leave your baby with someone for a couple of hours (and this is the longest stretch of holiday time you get in this job), your still constantly thinking about his development and well-being. There is no break from being a mother, but then there is no reward like it either.
I don't think you can understand that until you've had them. But if you don't have kids, that's ok - just help support those around you who do. I would support fundraising efforts of local schools, not having kids myself. But now I realise that children are our future. That's what life is all about. Profit is meaningless without a future.

Dirquar's thoughts:
m m bg vv 0 j9m nm mj, m n bbbv bb bb nbb h h s c zxx3 c f d
Trust me, I'm the most qualified to interpret this I think he has forgotten the womb. (I meant to keep reminding him of it, so when he could talk he could tell me about it, but there was enough other stuff going on, and this experiment would have taken more energy to complete than I had available.)
He likes his mum (and I like that). He likes his Papa (that's amazingly handy). He likes everyone in his family, especially his older cousins. He likes the people in the street and the supermarket. Oh, he likes EVERYBODY. (He has such a nice nature.)
And he LUUuuuuurves the baby in the mirror. Lucky thing too, because that baby is just about everywhere we go!

Dirquar's checklist: Dirquie rolls over. He can crawl, although not too far - and only recently he started going forwards! He holds things.
He smiles and laughs. Laughing is just the best! Things that make him laugh include tickles (from this little piggy goes to market (and the 'wee-wee-wee-wee' tickles go all over his little body, not just his barefeet) or round and round the garden or just plain tickles), people pulling funny faces (if he's in the mood) and various versions of peek-a-boo.
He is still primarily breastfed. Although he has munched on pumpkin, peas, carrot sticks, banana (he preferred it unmashed) and baby corn. He loves to drink water - especially from Mum's glass, but he will drink it from a bottle. Occasionally Mum plays bridge - and then he gets expressed milk from a bottle. He holds the bottle himself to feed/drink.
He likes to swim. Although he has a phobia of waves. I'm assuming that at a certain moment he will overcome that - after all time is on his side.
Dirquar has no teeth (I believe that comes from his Papa side - his paternal cousin had only 2 teeth at 12 months old). He weighs an estimated 7.5kg (16 and a half pounds), and is about 70cm (28") long.
Importantly, he says "Mumumumum". Unfortunately, his language skills seem to have stagnated - as this one word seems to solve pretty much all his problems. And if it doesn't - there is always the crying. Fortunately, this is not too common.
Dirquar usually wakes up for a feed once in the middle of the night. Occasionally, he wakes up for two feeds. And those blessed of evenings, when you go to sleep at night, and wake up for the first time after the sun has risen.

Happy Birthday, Dirquar!!


The Debutante says: Big hugs and kisses, for you all :-)
heppigirl says : (Dirquar) is the most gorgeous wee boy I've ever met *feels all gooey*. I'm glad he's sorted out the forwards thing ;)

Today, book reviews.


You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers

You know when you buy a book on Amazon.com, how they always suggest you buy something additional right before you press the "buy NOW" button? That's how I got this book. I don't even remember what the other book was. I bought it and read it over a year ago. But when I bought it with Amazon one click the little thing came up and said, "Readers who bought book 'X' also bought 'You Shall Know Our Velocity'. Buy 'X' and 'You Shall Know Our Velocity' and save!"

Who doesn't want to save? Saving is the core of the American economy. Saving is wise fiscal policy. I want to save! Yes, Amazon.com send me book 'X' and You Shall Know Our Velocity even though I've never heard of it and don't know what the fuck it is. Save I shall!

Am I the only creature on earth who has realized the purpose of life is consumerism?

When the box came with the Amazon trademark "swoosh" I opened it with excitement. There was book 'X' that I had been wanting to read, and in fact read and probably reported to you, fair reader, in one or another daylog. There went You Shall Know Our Velocity, the savings book, out in the trash with the swoosh box, the packing material, and fifteen fliers to accept an Amazon.com Visa card with a pre-approved $15,000 credit limit.

I had settled in to read book 'X' when the thought hit me: some vagrant could root through my recyclables, find the credit card fliers, and apply for numerous Visa cards in my name. I could not live with that thought in my head. These things come to me when I settle down to read. I've also thought things like, "I wonder if the metal filings in my engine oil are causing premature wear," and, "I sure hope I don't get salmonella from those raw quail eggs they put on the sushi I had for lunch." But those things were not immediately alterable.

The fliers had to be shredded, and it was in the going through the box to shred the fliers that I came upon You Shall Know Our Velocity, the savings book itself, all set to be recycled.

I put the book on the shelf in the living room, and left it for roughly 18 months. I ran across it while replacing a book I'd just finished, and figured, well, my new order from Amazon hasn't arrived yet, and as the savings have already been realized, it can't hurt to try to read "Y.S.K.O.V.", as Dave likes to call it.

Y.S.K.O.V. is a funny road trip story of the ilk of Hunter Thompson. Think: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas without the drugs and guns, and you have the book's pastiche. The substance. The style. The whatever.

If you ask me, Dave's is an H.S.T. rip-off at worst. At best, he's a fine young writer who will discover his own voice, and make certain it becomes something that doesn't sound like Curse of Lono.

Now, I'm not meaning to suggest pulling off an H.S.T. sound alike book is bad or anything. It's that the whole "two-paranoid-guys-in-a-car-on-a-wholly-ambiguous-yet-unalterable-quest" thing has been done. Lots of times. I'm sure Dave has read all the books.

Still, I was loving it till about 70% of the way through when the story takes an abrupt right-hand turn, and one of the road trippers jumps in, nearly non-sequitur, to let you know the whole book is the flawed memoir of the other road tripper. He attempts to explain the symbolism being used, what's true and what's hyperbole. Etc.

Of course, you have been warned of this ninety-degree turn in the story because the cover of the book says, "NEW UPDATED EDITION!" which is part of the story, as well.

Ok, so I'm not literary and a book of my life didn't nearly win a Pulitzer. But hey. Here's the story of a guy and his best friend, on the day after a mutual friend's funeral, deciding they have to roam the earth and give away $32,000 in cash to needy people.

The book was decent. I got irked by the midflow course correction but I think I laughed in all the right places. It's not going to win any prizes.

The thing that makes me happiest about reading this book is knowing I could have written it. Frankly, it's probably slightly less good than my best stuff. So it gives me hope.

When I finished You Shall Know Our Velocity I decided to read Egger's first book.



A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. Also known as A.H.W.O.S.G.

This is the book of Dave's life that almost won the Pulitzer. It even says on the cover, "Almost Won the Pulitzer!" which I think should be the title (A.W.T.P.).

No story of my life will win the Pulitzer. I simply have not suffered enough. Guys like Frank McCourt have suffered enough. Guys like Dave Eggers, have suffered enough. I have not experienced enough abuse or harrowing escapes for me to create a Pulitzer prize winning memoir.

My memoir would follow an outline that went something like:

  • I am born (trauma!)
  • I am forced to eat strained peas (parental malfeasence!)
  • I get swatted by my father for losing the pair of pliers he used to change the channels on the B&W T.V. (abuse!)
  • I go to school and my teacher is really mean(mental anguish!)
  • I crash my Honda CT-70 and break my wrist (more trauma!)
  • I ask Kathy Murphy to the Homecoming dance and she says, "Oh yeah. Sure. Like with you."(rejection!)
  • I have to get up at 3AM to work at the Chicago Tribune circulation office at the age of 13 (child labor!)
  • etc. (endless rejection!)

Dave Eggers lost both his parents to cancer during a five week period over the Christmas holidays. He had two brothers and a sister. Suddenly orphaned in their early 20's he and his older brother and sister had to figure out how to survive and raise their 7-year old brother. The way the arrangements work out, the oldest Eggers brother moves to L.A. to work in the entertainment industry. Dave's older sister goes to U.C. Berkeley to law school. And at the age of 23, Dave is left to figure out how to make a living and raise his little brother.

A.H.W.O.S.G. is hardly a Hunter S. Thompson rip-off. Here, we can see Eggers's originality. His stream of consciousness has been called "Joycian" by reviewers. People said he was, indeed, a genius.

I found this a captivating book by a young author. The reason, I presume, book editors love to publish stuff like this by young authors is because the rest of us take delight in stories of young people making all the common life mistakes everyone five years older knows how to avoid. As someone 15 years older than Dave, I read his book thinking: "Yah, and you expected THAT to work?"

No matter. There are parts of this journal that absolutely "soar" in terms of wit and intelligence. Lots of heart. Etc. etc. So forth.

Reviews I read suggested that the most heartwrenching scene in A.H.W.O.S.G.. is one in which Dave spreads his mother's ashes over Lake Michigan. Several suggested tears were in order.

I did not find that to be the case. However, I believe the entire book leads to a particular moment in Catholic Church, where Eggers stands to give his eulogy for his mom and turns to see a sparse audience. And that scene did indeed bring a little excess moisture to my eye sockets. But that's probably because I'm not 21 years old. Otherwise I might have thought the ash-flinging scene better.

Now Dave appears on T.V. His books are optioned for movies and he's been asked to direct. Because his parents left him financially stable, he donates all the money he makes on his writing to several charitable concerns involved with teaching young people to write well (or write at all). He founded McSweeney's literary magazine, which comes in web, magazine, and book form.

He's successful and after reading his books I think he deserves to be.

Go Dave, go.



Freddy and Fredericka by Mark Helprin

I turned the last page before bed last night. This morning I have decided this is the best novel I have ever read.

Those of you who have trusted my judgment on literature before have now slotted Mark Helprin's latest into the cubby bearing the peeling dymo label: "dreck". And I really don't care if you do. I can't remember when a book has given me this much enjoyment since his "Winter's Tale". I have read his others and until now "Winter's Tale" was his best. But "Freddy and Fredericka" is magnificent. I'm putting that in capitals so you quote me:

MAGNIFICENT

And I don't believe I've said that about any other novel in my life. On a scale of one to ten I give it a 9.7, deducting 0.3 for my perception that it's about 30 pages too long, though even that can be dismissed because they're beautiful pages. Never before have I considered calling in sick in order to stay home and finish a book.

Here is a political farce of the genre of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Here is a love story as tender as Camelot served up by a wandering troupe of middle-aged thespians from Siliphant, Nebraska. Surely the book has been optioned to movie makers by now. (One imagines the young John Cleese and Carol Cleveland in the roles of the Prince and Princess of Wales. It would have to be, had the novel come out 20 years ago. Now a days, who -- Hugh Grant and, I dunno...)

All of the characters in "Freddy and Fredericka" are entirely fictional/farcical, however enough similarities have been sketched in that every one can be identified as a person in the 20th/21st century limelight. Clearly, Freddy is Prince Charles and Fredericka is Princess Diana, but just as clearly they're not. These are the distilled essences of those living humans, packaged in literary flesh and taken to their illogical absurdity.

The premise is that Prince Freddy has proven to be politically troublesome. He's irratic and bumbling and he provides plenty of material for the press on a weekly basis. He launches into presumptious psychedelic speeches on camera. He trips into vats of tar. He wrestles vagrants for clothing. And yet for all his outward clumsiness he embodies a heart of pure gold which the world, so distracted by his constant flailing, never sees.

Likewise, Fredericka is his trophy wife. She's interested mainly in her wardrobe and maintaining a constant presense on the cover of "She" magazine. She gives dedication speeches at orphanages and hospitals. Her mental prowess is enigmatic. At the dedication of the new Samuel Pepys wing of the London Museum she proclaims in her speech,

"No one is more appreciative than am I of the efforts made by Sir Samuel Peppies, who sacrificed himself for his naitive Australia, for its women, for its men, and for the twin causes of Acute Reticular Self Esteem Syndrome -- ARSES -- education, Aboriginal art, and Gandhian self-violence and masturbation."

Several paragraphs prior, she had simply and correctly blurted the Cauchy Integral in an off-hand manner.

Given the possibility of the duo leveling the monarchy, the royal family, through a series of Arthurian sci-fi events causes the prince and princess, naked but for their hracneets -- tiny triangles of golden rabbit's fur worn to preserve modesty -- to be parachute-dropped from a Royal Air Force C-130 over Bayonne, New Jersey with the quest of reunifying the colonies with the mother country.

Yeah, as I wrote that I realized it sounds very strange. How can a book be any good that contains scenes of the Prince and Princess of Wales disguising themselves as Jamaicans and becoming art thieves? Driving at 160MPH on a stolen Harley the wrong way down the New Jersey Turnpike toward Philly. Hopping freight trains and serving tables in cheezy diners. Yes. This happens. And it is funny.

And it just never stops being funny. To me, anyway. Sure, there were longish, 50-page passages where Helprin dove back into the brilliant exposition that made me adore "Winter's Tale". And for all the slapstick and stupidity, he never deals his characters an unkind turn. Though, his satire is most biting when dealing with American politicians. He chooses the Republican presidential primary that brought Bob Dole (Dewey Knott) to challenge Bill Clinton (President Self) to bring contrast to the concept that the grail and the king are one.

Dewey Knott is trailing President Self in the polls by 40 points. In frustration, his handlers suggest he change his name to Alice, Betsy, or Frieda to gain the woman's vote. One enterprising young aide suggests he change his name to "George Washington".

Dewey: "You polled?"
Aide: " Yes, sir?"
"How much did it cost us?"
"A hundred and fifty thousand."
"It better be good."
"It is good. It's very good...when asked, 'For whom would you vote if your first consideration were integrity, trust, and honesty. . .the president or George Washington?' ninety-eight percent chose you."
"Chose me, or George Washington?"
"This is assuming you change your name to George Washington."
"Did you tell them I was going to do that?"
"Tell who?"
"The people you polled."
"No, we had to maintain absolute secrecy..."

And so on for 550 pages.

Helprin is perhaps a controversial figure in his politics. His missives appear regularly on the right-wing editoral pages of the Wall Street Journal even though he seems, in my opinion, to slather his contempt equally on the right and left. In general, he rails against politicans's self-interest and blatant exhibition of dearth of intelligence. And one can presume from "Freddy and Frederica" that the idea of a brilliantly-educated, physically fit monarch whose entire existence is truely dedicated to the service of country is a mightier and holier force than can be summoned by any American showman politician.

He stops just short of suggesting America could use a king to get out from under the likes of the Clintons and the Bushes, but the implication is there. If you could find the man or woman with a heart of gold who was ready to sacrifice himself for the idea that the land and the people are one -- the Gabriel would instantly descend from the heavens and bless the union between the people and their king.

This is a kind book. It is a sweet book.

For a couple days I read "Freddy and Fredericka" as slowly as I could. Laughing at the jokes ten pages at a time. Loving that by the last page I could cry for the idea that in some universe each of us is embued with the same heart, the same ability to know and deliver true love beneath the cacophony of civilization, and that given the right quest, every one of us has ability to use our strength and find the courage to become king.

The Sony Playstation - doesn't say which model - has won an award, according to the BBC:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4297160.stm

I was struck by this paragraph:
"Sony's first PlayStation console (PSOne) went on sale in Japan on 3 December 1994. Its early years were very much associated with the iconic Lara Croft adventures."

This is the way that the media writes The Official History. When researchers and academics and journalists, years from now, look back on the history of video games, they will not look into my mind, or into the minds of people who played videogames; they will instead look at news stories like this. They will be looking into the minds of the researchers, academics and journalists of today. In their eyes, the primary sources - you and me - we have such limited perspectives, and we are biased, and we could not see the big picture. Our memories need to be processed, put into context, changed.

This must be how history is made, the history of all things; the history of cinema, of war, of politics. The people make the history, and the writers and academics and artists feed on the people and the history - but only if it is likely to make money, or win influence and recognition - and the subsequent generations of historians feed on the writers and academics and artists. Building towers of ever-more removed interested parties scrabbling for money and recognition, twisting reality for their own ends.

The only solution is to eliminate the writers and academics and artists. They are the perverters of history. Better that our lives are forgotten than misremembered. I'd rather be obliterated than have people change me after death. I bet Jesus felt the same. Perhaps he thought that his dad would put things right, and ensure that Jesus' teachings were communicated directly and honestly, without spin, and that his dad would put things back on track. Obviously Jesus was wrong. If God will not act, what use is he?

Perhaps that is God's message, his only message. God will not act. We must act.

This morning we took Elizabeth to see the pediatric nephrologist at Children's Hospital. We met with the doctor, who seemed nice, and discussed Elizabeth's recent medical history.

After the exam, the doctor talked with us about what he thinks is going on. Elizabeth's urine labs had come back abnormal, not abnormal enough to rule out orthostatic proteinuria, but not normal enough to say that's what's going on. He started talking about how he wants her to submit two more first morning urine samples to see if her levels change at all. (Earlier while waiting for the doctor, we told Elizabeth that *everybody* loves her pee, its just THAT special that they can't get enough of it. She giggled.) He continued to talk about what we'll do if her levels are the same. He began talking about needle biopsy procedures and Elizabeth started to look down at her lap. The more he talked, the darker the look on her face became. When I asked Elizabeth if she was ok, she looked up, with tears running down her cheek. I told her to come sit on my lap, and she cried quietly while Chad and I listened to the doctor. The doctor gave me a look that said, I'm sorry; he must use that look a lot.

I hate this. I hate that she is scared. I hate that she needs to know how to do a clean catch urine sample. I hate that I feel so helpless and powerless. I hate that I can't fix this and make everything better. I need a magic band-aid dammit.

Chad and I both tried to explain things in the most non-scary, easily understandable way possible. She's still scared. I don't blame her. I'm scared too.

Before we left the hospital, we were sent down to get an ultrasound of her kidneys. They have TVs in the rooms so that the kids can watch videos during their procedures. She watched Shrek while they scanned her kidneys and bladder. Chad and I said many of the lines along with the movie, making Elizabeth laugh.

More waiting and worrying now. I know there's little I can do to change what her body is doing. But I worry, I'm a mother, its in my nature.

You'll probably disagree strongly with this but it's something I've been thinking about a lot...

Politics was really interesting today, we're learning about liberalism at the minute, classical liberalism and stuff. Got onto the topic of 'individuals should have freedom, until their freedom impinges upon the freedom of others' and we all got talking.

When is it right to censor someone? I believe in the freedom of speech, but when should we as a society draw the line and say hang on, that's going too far and needs to stop. I.e, should a religious fundamentalist be allowed to preach on the streets about their religion and 'incite' violence against people who are of a different/no religion. The conversation got onto a Catholic priest (don't know who) who had condoned bombing abortion clinics, which I said I understood.

Basically, I imagine the viewpoint of this guy is that people bombing abortion clinics are acting in defense of the unborn children that would be killed there. I realised this by applying the situation to something I'm more familiar with, i.e. animal rights activists using violence against vivisectors and animal testing laboratories.

Some would say its contradictory to use violence against doctors or vivisectors when you are ultimately trying to fight for more compassion, non violence and peace between species, and an end to murder. But the people (Criminals) who are using this violence see it as acting in defence of the defenceless. Imagine this analogy - if a man was poised to murder or harm a baby and you could stop that man by using violence, would society condemn or condone you for your actions? I think most of society (apart from strict pacifists) would condone your actions.

If you are against someone attacking a vivisector or bombing an abortion clinic the real reason is not the violence or the law breaking (it would still be breaking the law to attack the potential child murdered, regardless of his intent), it is the question of who you decide is worth defending and who isn't. Unless you believe violence is always wrong in every situation (in which case you'd be against vivisection, that is violent, and war that is defending your country) the only real issue is when it becomes right to step in, break the law to do something you believe in, and whom for.

The teacher asked me how far I'd be prepared to go for the sake of animal rights, would I ever resort to violence (against an animal abuser) to which I replied honestly, I don't know. I would see it as perfectly just to commit an illegal act against a person or property if that ultimately would result in less suffering for animals. But why should breaking the law be alright for me and not for others?

Everyone with a strong belief feels they are right. If I think it's ok to break the law, why shouldn't other people with strong passionate beliefs break the law too? My friend Tom's dad said that in a liberal democracy you have to stay within the law's boundaries to protest and try change things and he has a perfectly right point. I can't condemn Islamic terrorists for blowing themselves and us up because of their beliefs when I think it's fine for an animal rights activists to blow an animal abuser up.

There really is absolutely no answer to this, I guess you could say that everyone should stay within the law, but the way we abuse animals feels so disgusting and cruel to me that I don't imagine if I followed my heart I could ever condemn someone for taking the law into their own hands to try and halt animal abusers in their tracks. I can only really conclude with my thoughts - everyone with a passionate belief should fight for what they believe in. I may not agree with it, and may not like their tactics (which could harm others) but there's nothing else I can come up with. I can't blame someone for having such strong convictions they will fight to the death to uphold them or change things.

The world contains a lot of people, all with their own set of beliefs and values about what's right and wrong. I think the way of the world is that we all have to fight for what we believe in and hope that the morally 'right' situation comes out of it at the end. That doesn't sit well with a liberal democracy and sounds like a bit of a free for all, but I don't think a human is worth the cells they are made of if they don't stand up for their beliefs, whatever they are, and fight for what they think is right.

Last seen: 3.7 years ago.

That's what it said on my homenode until about 20 minutes ago. And after 3.7 years, I see not a lot has changed. Sure, some rules on E2 are different, some rules are probably gone, and new ones have taken their place. Same for the users. I see a lot of familiar nicknames, and of course a lot of unfamiliar ones. Still, there's some weird familiarity about this place.

Will it take another 3.7 years until my next visit? I don't know.

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