Thursday, June 30, 2011

required relationship reading

This extended look at the current state of monogamy in committed relationships has some very interesting talking points; I suspect the content would be especially valuable for folks raised in a conservative / religious household.

In my own experience I feel that my church failed me passively, in so many ways, in terms of preparation for healthy adult relationships, and actively in terms of a church-approved sexual relationship.

Further, I think you can read the article and replace "sex" with any number of other subjects and find it relevant...part of my core NTTATS philosophizing is concerned with the fundamental disconnect between two people's conceptualization of any idea, and the challenge to any long term relationship is finding a way to manage that disconnect.  Some people (on some issues) prefer to pretend that there is no disconnect; in other cases it seems that any relevant conversation requires a reiteration of the manifold ways the two parties disagree.

I'm a believer in committed, long term relationships (romantic, friendly, family, etc) and so I constantly strive to keep the NTTATS cynicism in check, and I find discussions like those in today's article provide a helpful framework for that anti-cynical work.

Charity is complicated

Dooce just returned from an awareness gathering and raising trip to Bangladesh and is blogging about her experience in installments...the most recent post is here, and speaks to some of the complications I personally see in "doing charity".

Heather is finely attuned to the realities of blogging on a popular site, and I think it's plain in the rather preemptively defensive tone of some of her comments, and this need to be defensive is one I find especially tragic and problematic.

Just by bringing the name "Bangladesh" and a general awareness that women in less developed areas struggle mightily with childbirth to a larger audience, Dooce has done a valuable thing.

I have no doubt that many will criticize her for being wealthy, healthy, and famous while other people are not, but I think she rightly notes that there is little she can actually do to help with the reality on the ground there.  I'm sure Heather will make personal financial sacrifices based on what she saw, but she could not "save" Bangladesh with the sum total of her financial net worth.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

back on my feet

The ~ 90+ degree weather took a day off yesterday, and it wasn't monsoon raining, so I went for a short run.

~ 1.5 miles in full on bare feet, and it felt pretty good.  I was running a loop around the 0.75 mile block closest to my house, and after two such loops I turned back into my drive...I think I might have kept on going if I had someone to chat with on the road - anyone out there interested?

Monday, June 27, 2011

covered so well

Month 6!

What can I say?  You've grown a bunch in the last 6 months, and your mom's requirement that I measure that growth in alcoholic beverage packaging units required that I find an appropriate unit...that big bottle of Red Stripe was about the same size as your head...Hurray!

But seriously, this has been a momentous month, and given the nature of things and calendars and our human interest in memorializing and recognizing arbitrary milestones, the half-year mark is a big deal!  It certainly feels like a big deal, and I think your mom would agree that the last 6 months have flown by, except for a few choice [screaming baby] moments that slowed down to a seemingly interminable experience.  But more good than bad, as they say, so...Hurray!*

This was definitely the month you took real notice of your hairy older brother (pictured above with the one toy in the house not covered in your baby slobber)...he's been pretty cool with the new puppy we brought into the house in December, but occasionally the melancholic realization your mom will never look at him the same flattens him out.  But when he's happy and playful you cannot get enough of watching him bound around the house.  I can't wait until you can crawl over and give him a hug.  He, on the other hand, would probably prefer that never happen (grumpy old troll!)

One of your many aunts got married in early June, and you rocked the wedding with a casual nonchalance (i.e. sleeping) that definitely made you the coolest person in the crowd.  By the way, you love the face-out position in the Baby Bjorn - whether we are at the mall, outside for a walk, or perusing the aisles at Costco, you are definitely a fan.  Except for the wedding snooze, you are generally wide eyed and curious when hanging in the Bjorn.

You paid a visit to your granddad's boat shop and we had the opportunity to record the visit with this shot of you in a bass boat...I don't want to prejudice your development, but let me whisper in your ear now: ski boats are cooler than bass boats.

You love books, which gives me such hope for the future.

You also like to imitate the Enlightened, sharing your wisdom with us who wander in the dark...this gives me reservations about the future.  I'm not sure there's room in this house for any more pedantry.

June also brought us our first real travel as a young family - we three flew to Chicago for a mix of business and pleasure; in the shot above you are rocking the hoodie look, with your mom doing Bjorn duty.  We saw the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Magnificent Mile, some old fave restaurants, and...

SWINGS!  With the loving encouragement of your new friend Harper Lou, you were brave enough to try out something brand went well!  Of course, your mom would not let go of your hands, but still!

You met some more little people friends that we left behind when we moved south to birth you in the warmer climates of you are saying " 'sup " to your new buddy McKee.  He's about six months ahead of you and is already walking and producing moments of terror that your mother and I have not fully prepared for in our home...this visit was inspiring and served as a fair warning of What Shall Come to Pass in the next 6 months.

What does this open bridge have to do with your month-iversary?  Well, I could make up some quasi-philosophical blather to fit the occasion, but the truth is that we got stuck on the north side of the river while the bridgemaster worked out some kinks in the system, and the waiting provided some awesome visuals.  Chicago is a stitched together with these bascule bad boys, and it was fun to be reminded of their importance.

This is what I have come to think of as the "crawling launch position" - in previous months tummy time was mostly about getting you to strengthen your neck and core muscles to get you to this point...what's not obvious in still photography is that you are generally kicking and pushing with your feet now when you are in the tummy time position, but you have yet to figure out that lifting your belly a bit while kicking and pushing could propel you across the floor and into the "Mommy and Daddy will really get no rest" danger zone.

But while you are not yet crawling, you did cross an important developmental milestone this month:

"I think he likes it!"

More swinging at a park much closer to home.

Trying to give Dad a hand with those confusing cell phone camera was blinking 12:00:00 and you were all "just let me see it for a minute"

The rare close encounter of my two favorite little buddies.

And a few days after the first cereal, we tried a little mushed up were not a fan.  You may have inherited my mother's aversion to foods which are green in color.

All in all it's been a great month, and a great cap on the first 6 of your young life.  It really is moving so fast, sometimes your mom and I just look at each other this complicated look that (for me, at least) tries to communicate this mash-up of feelings: anxiety that it's all going to change, excitement about all the cool things you are learning, gratitude that the nightmare parts of the early months are gone, fear of what nightmare parts the coming months are going to bring...

Life does not prepare a person to be a parent...being a parent to one probably doesn't prepare for the next...the reality of being a parent is that it's an ongoing experiment with daily failures (and unanticipated successes) that make Edison's light bulb seem simple, and you don't really know how it's going until you can look back on the earlier phases with a little objectivity...  With that in mind, I'm going to call the first 6 months of this particular experiment a fantastic success: we are all still here, we all still love each other, and I got more than 5 hours of sleep last night.

So the next big challenge is finding a bottle of booze large enough to form a reasonable comparison for your next weigh in!  I'm thinking magnum wine bottle?

*who knows what memory of contemporary marketing campaigns will remain when you are of age to read my formative years, Red Stripe ran a series of ads featuring happy-go-lucky Jamaicans holding bottles of the beer and saying "Hurray Beer!" or similar

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

heavenly minds?

So I was reading something unrelated about the Singularity this morning and that made me think of something else which then made me think of...heaven.

What I'm curious about today may be of no interest to most folks out there, as it may seem a bit abstruse (or conversely may seem ridiculously simplistic) there a massive, expansive change in our "consciousness" at  death, according to the religions that suggest the existence of a possible heavenly afterlife?

Where I stumble a little in my thought tumbler on this one is the perspective that a massive change in consciousness could effectively make you a different person (maybe "identity" or "personality" is a better word to capture the incorporeal persistent conceptualization of "you") - you see, because there must be a "you" remaining in some sense to enjoy heaven (or undergo punishment in hell), but if that after-life version of you is essentially a different person, does that not introduce a problematic disconnect?

I'm going to try an analogy, with full knowledge that analogies never work [NTTATS]: While it is common to hold campaigning politicians accountable for things they said, did, or promoted during their adult career years, I have never seen such a person excoriated for something they did when 5 years old...and I think the rationale driving that disconnect is that the "child" is essentially (in terms of consciousness) not the same person as the "adult".

OK, this may be a stub of a thought but I have to get to some other stuff this morning.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

curriculum vittles

I have heard that the blank page is one of the most stressful things to confront, but I would suggest that page holding a draft of one's resume can offer much more anxiety.

Is there anything more depressing than an honestly written resume?  Or is that just me?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

the manual process

How often do highly complicated systems rely on some level of manual processes?

Or how about this: how often do highly evolved models (used for valuation or forecasting or decision support) incorporate highly subjective data?

In my experience, both of the above happen far more often than one might assume.  I find this situation unsettles me.  Our society derives much comfort from "systems", and yet very often the efficacy of a given system is highly sensitive to, potentially, one person's subjective input and/or one person's manual manipulation of relevant data.

On a somewhat related topic, how often does "success" in business or life come from non-intentional actions?  Stories like the invention of Post-It Note glue being an accident that someone realized could be re-positioned as a new product in it's own right speak to this thought I'm having...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Are we being myopic?

I'm going to forward the premise that for all of human history until the last ~ 100 years, the presence of some visible body fat was a widely accepted indication of both health and wealth.  And now we elevate for acclaim body shapes that would have (historically) been signifiers of malnourishment.

Don't get me wrong - I understand that there are many robust studies linking high percentages of body fat to increased rates of heart disease and stroke - but there also seems to be ongoing controversy and debate as what the optimal diet is for folks (or even if there is one optimal diet for all folks).

The last three decades of "low fat" diets seems now to have only pushed people to eating other foods with high energy density, such as high sugar and high carbohydrate options.

I know that several of my regular readers will have immediate and strong reactions to this suggestion, but I keep returning to the idea of a diet based on a pre-industrialization supply of foods.  Let me explain:

My theory runs that there is an ideal mix of those three macro-nutrient categories (fats, proteins, and carbs) that in their most "naturally" occurring forms will gives us the best basis for a healthy diet.

Industrialization and science have allowed us efficiently to separate those macro-nutrients into "convenient" and concentrated forms mostly divorced from their original source.  Think of orange juice versus oranges: the amount of fruit sugars a person can consume in a single glass of OJ at breakfast may be equivalent to the juice content of 3 - 4 oranges; had that same person sat down to eat those oranges, the experience of peeling and eating, along with the consumption of the fibrous bits, would likely have limited the overall take of those fruit sugars (also, the fiber consumed would affect the processing of those sugars.)

The same effects appear on the fats side; butter and olive oil and frying oils separate naturally occurring fats from their context, allowing for incredible concentrations at the election of the food prep person.

Proteins seem a little more difficult to separate in this way unless you are willing to drink muscle builder shakes or eat "protein bars", but the idea holds in general that we have attempted to carve out the protein components to dial in to a much more targeted consumption.

It's at this point in the discussion that the "whole foods" folks chime in that their philosophy proceeds from these ideas, that consuming whole and / or minimally processed foods (mostly fruits and veggies) addresses the need for macro-nutrients in context.  And I agree.

But I also wonder sometimes about our modern ability to source any food we want in huge quantities and with relatively little effort.  I think about the current craze for fish proteins and fish oils, and I compare our access at the grocery store to some intense fish diet culture who historically devoted considerable energy resources to finding, catching, cleaning, and cooking those fish.  I think about the pile of avocados at my local grocery, definitely grown and harvested and transported from a great distance, and yet I can take in that concentrated load of healthy fat and fiber in 10 minutes and for an all-in investment of $2-$3.

I'm realizing now that this is going long and rambly...I'll cut it off with a final comment that I want to eat more foods with healthy chunks of naturally occurring fats, proteins, and carbs.

"No one wins but the thieves... why side with anything?"

Monday, June 13, 2011

economic tweaking

The US and world economies are incredibly complicated systems, possibly as complicated as any global "natural" systems like the weather.

With that in mind, how long do you have to let a change in policy play out to see if it is a "success" or "failure"?  This question is on my mind as the US campaign cycle is entering the "intense rhetoric" stage.

The primary economic legacy of the Bush administration, at least in terms of policy changes, is likely what are called the "Bush tax cuts".  That restructuring of the tax code turned 10 years old recently...taken in isolation, looking at the state of the economy then and now, would anyone consider the tax cuts a "success"?  (this is rhetorical, I guess...I'm sure that a large number of people who paid significantly less taxes over those 10 years would find that a success).

But there are other tweaks currently under evaluation that have had far less than 10 years to play out; namely, the Obama administration actions are being described as "failures" by several Republican and Independent candidates for the coming presidential elections.  What are the metrics we (the voting public) can use to know if something like a Federal stimulus or tax cut or trade agreement is working?  This part is not rhetorical - I sincerely want to know how we are supposed to conceptualize evolutions in a system as complicated as our economy.

What I have observed is that governments of any ideology tend to reach for the biggest tool in the box every time and adjustment is needed, at least when that adjustment is part of the national conversation.  Tax policy is extremely powerful and creates both immediate shifts in behavior and long term drifts in outcomes.  And massive nudges to monetary supply (throw stimulus or "tightening") is like the fat kid cannonball at the pool party - there are both predictable and highly unpredictable consequences that can really affect the crowd's enjoyment of said party.

If the philosopher poets were in charge, would there be a rule that said "any change in policy must come with a period of X years to study outcomes"?  Wouldn't the presence of such a rule create more robust debate prior to any meaningful changes?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

mobile browser versions of this blog

Blogger in their Googly goodness rolled out some automatic versioning options for this blog format, so if you view the DRW, Food, or Media pages on your phone in the future, it should be optimized for your screen.


momentous non-changes to the status quo

the last 7 days were truly momentous, with real big things in play that offered the potential to shake up the status quo over here...does it matter that nothing really changed?  Is the status quo truly the same if it there were truly viable possible changes that simply did not materialize?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mittwoch link sharing

This article from the Times talks about high fat / low carb + exercise diets.

And this video tweaks the "we are the world" model into something more enjoyable, albeit less celeberity-ridden: