Saturday, January 30, 2010


Katherine had prunes today - her first fruit - so you might think this is going to be a gross baby food story, but no. She loved the prunes far too much to squander their yumminess on mess-making.

This story is about buying flounder stuffed with crab meat from Trader Joe's. (A 6-ounce serving for $2.99. Such a deal, right?) I explained to Owen that "stuffed" meant that there was one food inside another. In this case, there was crab inside the flounder. First he wanted to see the crab. "Well, we can't see it now. We'll see it once we've cooked it and cut into the fish."

"Crab have claws?" "Yes, but they take off the claws before they stuff the crab in the fish."

"Mommy and baby crab inside." Umm...

"Daddy crab talking. Crab have mouths."

Thankfully, by this point we were ready to check out, which provided a helpful distraction. If he'd kept going, describing how much the crabs were looking forward to their family vacation to North Carolina*, I might have had to put it back.

* North Carolina is Owen's go-to spot these days. When a spaceship blasts off, it's almost always going to North Carolina. When Owen crawls underneath Katherine's crib or a blanket, he will declare himself to be in a cave in North Carolina.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Our newest foodie

Katherine has started the solid food. She was ready for the cereals and worked through rice, oatmeal and barley in fairly short order. Now starting veg, sweet potatoes have been a huge hit, and squash was pretty well received. The jury is still out on peas, but we've only had one try so far.

She gets pretty excited sometimes, leaning forward with her mouth open for each bite. As often as not, though, her excitement manifests as grabbing the part of the spoon loaded with food and then trying to shove the whole fist-ball of spoon and strained goodness into her mouth. Less effective.

Today's Owenisms

Carla folded a paper boat for Owen, which he pronounced "the most beautiful boat I've ever seen". He also described his spaceship (a partially unfolded paper airplane) as "the most beautiful spaceship I've ever seen".

Concerning the spaceship, he said, "Need engines to blast off." One at a time, he picked four engines off the floor and attached each to the spaceship: two at the bottom and two on the wings. (Spaceship engines are surprisingly small, fitting between the forefinger and thumb of a 2.5-year-old.) You could tell when each engine had been attached, because Owen said "tck". Then, "1, 2, 3, blastoff!" (He's doubtless rolling his eyes and sighing on the inside every time I mistakenly count backwards before a blastoff or shampoo rinsing.)

In the past week, Owen's taken to saying "actually" for emphasis. I'd wonder where he picked that up, except that I was mocked for it in college. So I guess I did it to him. Sorry, son.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


A letter to the editor of The Economist, January 7, 2010:

SIR – When I was a medical student one of the most popular lectures was given by an expatriate Haitian professor who explained the pharmacology that created real zombies (“Invasion of the living dead”, December 19th). Unrepentant troublemakers in small Haitian villages were sometimes dealt with by a shaman, who would prepare a powder from the skin of a blowfish mixed with ground glass. This was surreptitiously placed on the doorstep of the home of the victim, whose bare feet rubbed and absorbed the toxin.

The active ingredient of this poison was tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin which can paralyse and reduce breathing and heart rates to undetectable levels while preserving consciousness. The victim fell ill and “died”, to be buried in a wooden coffin. The night of the funeral, the shaman exhumed the “corpse” and took it away to his home. If the victim was fortunate (or maybe not) the toxin wore off, but the shaman then kept him stupefied with “zombie cucumber”, or jimson weed, which contains the hypnotic drug scopolamine. Zombies were used as slaves by the shamans, but occasionally escaped and returned to their villages. Imagine the power this gave to the elite: anyone who crossed their path could not merely be killed, but punished in the afterlife as well.

Dr Philip Early
Fresno, California

Thursday, January 14, 2010

8-year-old on TSA security list

The New York Times reports on Mikey Hicks, age 8, who has been on the TSA "selectee" list for additional security screening since age 2. (link here, don't know how long it will work; and hat tip to Kerry for the article)

I love the "mythbusting" on the TSA website:

Myth: The No-Fly list includes an 8-year-old boy.
Buster: No 8-year-old is on a T.S.A. watch list.

You know, mythbusting - getting through all the formalities and clutter to provide answers that real people can understand. But look at the bureaucratic, legalistic thinking behind the mythbust: "There are no 8-year-olds on the no-fly list. Oh, that other list... the selectee list... well, that's a totally different list, you see. Not really a watch list at all. Of course there are 8-year-olds on that list." (But not "as a rule". Thanks for the clarification, TSA spokesman James Fontenos.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Today's milestones

1. Owen sends his first email. Or so he thinks. For bedtime reading, he handed me a stack of Space Shuttle photos and announced, "Owen sending email."

2. Owen pulls Dad's leg. He was being uncooperative - I think with toothbrushing, or maybe putting on PJs - and then stopped, looked at me and with a perfectly impish grin said, "Teasing Daddy."