Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sarky Book Review

More a sort of book-mocking.

One of the many informational books I've been hoarding in case of pregnancy is Your Pregnancy Week by Week. The cool part of this book is that it has a sketch for each week to show how the baby is developing, and how big it is, and so forth. I do like it for that reason.

However, in overall tone it is extremely condescending, to which I'll return in a moment. It' s also a bit scary, as each week's chapter contains a list of every possible thing that could go wrong with your pregnancy. It's also a bit impractical in odd ways (do you really want to find out only near the end of the first trimester that electric blankets might mutate your baby [especially if used in the first trimester]?)

But back to that condescending thing. It's to the point where it's kind of funny. "Make sure you eat healthy foods!" "You might be able to get a 'picture' of your baby, called a sonogram..." "Wash your hands frequently throughout the day!" "Don't use recreational drugs!" Well, duh.

It treats mothers-to-be as though we are all careening stupidly on the knife edge of disaster but for this kindly intervention that is for your own good.

"You can't just eat anything you want." Puh-lease. You just try and stop me, Mr. Paper Doctor. I can and I shall eat anything I want--which is probably not that terrible to begin with, anyway. And I resent your patriarchal assumption that only you stand nobly between me and the monstrous results of my out-of-control wishes!

There's a particular phenomenon (that I have discussed in my Psych of Women classes) in which society tends to infantilize pregnant women, as though we aren't carrying infants, but becoming infants. (Despite the fact that pregnancy has been shown to actually increase IQ by a couple points. --Yes, ha ha, I'm still waiting.) This book definitely expresses that societal attitude.

However, the effect is not restricted to the mums-to-be. In the authors' view, dads are apparently not only equally as stupid as mums, but are uncaring clods as well. There are one or two little paragraph-length text boxes in each chapter ("Dad Tip!") since clearly men can't be expected to read an entire book (because you're illiterate, on top of all that?)

Dad tip: "Give your partner a lot of hugs." "Bring home flowers..." "Clean or vacuum the house without being asked." "...Change the litter box..." (This tip is in week 8, so the pregnant partner has already been handling dangerous cat feces for two months and it likely killed the baby, you illiterate uncaring clod.) "Remember to call her if you go out of town." "Pregnancy is a miracle despite headaches, morning sickness, and changing waistline." (Despite changing waistline?!)

We started making up our own helpful tips for Dad in the same vein: "Try not to make fun of your partner for being fat, as often as you usually do." "Wait until she's done throwing up in the morning to tell her to make your breakfast." "Don't get drunk at home so much--go out to the pub." "Try not to be a complete ass, at least not all the time."

Another humorous thing about the book is that each week it compares the baby's size to a food item: "Your baby is about the size of a pinto bean," "...a green olive," "...a peach," "...a lime." Which is a little disturbing. I'm not growing it to harvest and eat!

Of course we had to start making up our own comparisons. "Your baby is about the size of a 1-pound box of expensive chocolates with gold wrapping." "Your baby is about the size of a succulent filet mignon, served medium-rare with sauteed mushrooms and onions."

So all in all, an entertaining read, especially if one is a smartass.

Monday, February 27, 2006

I Got Yer Diaper Cakes Right Here, Ma

Now that I know where to start looking and making preparations, I've been looking up diaper services (to no avail so far, unfortunately). On one search I got this odd result (above--click pic for legible size):

At first I thought it was just one of those weird fake search results that tosses your search term in with random other words just to make you click on it. I mean, diaper cakes?! Yes, I'm pretty sure anyone can make diaper cakes, if you know what I mean.

But my curiosity led me to actually search for diaper cakes, and it turns out it's an actual item that is associated with baby showers: a "cake" made out of diapers and other baby accessories.

It can be taken to ridiculous extremes, as seen here.

Anyway, I just wish I could find us a nice diaper service...I only found two in Michigan overall, and the closest was in Kalamazoo. Which will be a couple hours away. (So no dice.)


I am very excited to report that I have been matched to my first-choice internship site, which is at Relatively Nearby Local University. This is great for any number of reasons.

Since we won't have to go out of state, it will be a lot easier to negotiate parenthood, training, and so forth. Also, I have lived in or near that town on and off for at least half of my adult life, so I'm familiar with the support systems and have good friends who live there. And that site has partner and dependent benefits, and pays a smidgen better than most sites.

Oh yeah--and they have a great multicultural program, which is my area of emphasis.

Furthermore, the campus is beautiful, old-buildinged and tree-riddled with a big river in the middle of it; chock-full of hungry squirrels and ducks. (They have two varieties of squirrel: gray and black--wait, now that I think of it, I've even seen some cagey little red squirrels there betimes.)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Bastion of Healthitude

I have been eating a lot of "bad" food (to give it a moral characterization) since I've been pregnant. This is mainly because I've been so sick that I was actually losing weight for a few weeks there and could only tolerate bland, processed, sticky, comfort foods.

Therefore I was really quite excited to see that Kraft had recently come out with a new, supposedly more nutritious version of Mac & Cheese (or Kraft Dinner, for those north of the border). Especially exciting was the part about its containing whole grain, since highly processed starches are among those few foods that I deem about as nutritious as whipped toilet paper.

Now don't get me wrong--I'm a junk food advocate, and believe that the demonization of individual food items contributes to America's bizarre come-here-go-away compulsion around eating. Therefore, it's important to focus more on increasing healthful components to one's diet than to focus on restriction and denial of those less-nutrient-rich components. (I did my Mistress's thesis on aspects of this, so for once believe me when I say I actually know what I'm talking about.)

Eww. Restriction and denial: bad!

So anyway, it's not that I'm against even empty calories, but I do try to emphasize foods with more nutrients than not. This normally does not include Mac & Cheese to any great extent. In fact what I have often done--you may laugh if you like--is to get a big box of whole wheat elbows and several boxes of Mac & Cheese, and just use the wheat elbows in place of the Kraft ones, which I would throw out except for the seasoning packet.

But since they've started making Mac & Cheese with ("with"?) whole grain, maybe I wouldn't have to do that at all. In viewing the ingredients panel, I noted that the whole grain was second in the list after wheat (read: white, since it's not preceded by whole) flour. In my jaded food-analyzing experience, this means that the second ingredient is there primarily as a token, though not always.

I finally found a site that describes the food as containing 8 grams of whole grain per serving ("a good source"!) Well, okay--except that the entire box of noodles contains 170 grams--three servings--meaning that a serving is approximately 57 grams of noodles.

Using my superior and highly advanced statistics training (also a calculator that can divide), I therefore conclude that the ratio of processed to whole-grain flour in this product is about 6:1. (Disappointed sigh.)

Nevertheless, I will likely continue to eat it for a little while, as I shall eat anything that strikes my fancy enough for me to overcome my general queasiness and put it into my mouth.

Less-nutritious food is far better than no food at all!

Fun With Genetics

For some reason I found myself looking up information on eye color genetics. (For some reason.) Given the Wikipedia definitions of various eye colors, I figure that my eyes are green with a hazel-y twist, while TheLimey's are very blue-green.

The cool thing is that there is (of course) an eye-color calculator, albeit greatly simplified from how eye color genes actually express themselves in real life.

According to my calculations (me = blue/blue+ green/green; him = blue/blue + green/blue), our kids are all destined to have green eyes only. But if I change my green gene to a green/blue, then a few blue-eyed kids are thrown in the mix.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Future of Robotics? and Other Pillow Talk

So TheLimey and I were discussing what kinds of systems are already functioning in our mini-offspring, and how tiny those little systems were. He seemed overcome with the realization that there were functioning mechanisms (i.e. heart, digestive tract, hearing, etc.) that could be that small, and suggested that this meant that eventually we (humans, that is) could create robots that small. (To play with!)

"But why couldn't we do that now?" I asked.

"Because you can't make functioning mechanisms that small," he replied.

"Well, yes, I can, as a matter of fact," I retorted. (I really wish I had thought to say "Au contraire, mon frere.")

We giggled at that for about two minutes, during which time I was subjected to the characterization of being a smartypants, though perhaps not in those exact words. (Personally, I like to think of myself as a skilled manufacturer of extremely small systems.)

Subsequently, I pointed out that there were already very tiny functioning biological mechanisms, such as those in insects and those micro-fish that were recently discovered. I suspect it's just that growing one of our own design (you know what I mean) makes it seem more real and salient.

So clearly, it isn't lack of biological examples that keeps us from mini-robots, but the state of our technology.

The Rationale

Oh yeah, that's why they do it this way. See, it does make sense.

If you look at this page, and scroll down to the section that is headed by "WHY IS APPIC DOING THINGS THIS WAY?" there's an explanation.

Basically, it's just to allow a buffer of time for those who didn't place to prepare themselves for the Clearinghouse process, without allowing internship sites to do illicit cherrypicking of unselected candidates beforehand.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Phone Tree Day--I Mean, Match Day

Yes, I got a placement.

7 of 10 of our applicants got placed, so our program is now officially up-and-coming in the world of Psych PhDs. I am really surprised at some of the non-placements, who I really thought would place above anyone else, especially me. So who knows what the heck these sites are looking for?!

Of course, I won't know until Monday what site I was matched with, which is maddening.

There is a perfectly logical explanation for why they do it this way, which makes sense every time I have read it, but then when I go away from it, I can't remember its logic at all.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Match Day

Tomorrow (Friday) morning I find out whether I got an internship placement. If I did, then I will find out which site it is on Monday. Everyone is waiting with teeth on edge, but I kind of don't want to know. I'm not ready to start preparing yet! Mentally or otherwise. There's too much going on already, especially in my abdomen.

I think many of my colleagues will be unable to sleep tonight. I, however, will probably have a hard time getting up to force myself to look. Part of the problem is that I want only my first choice, although we're supposed to be greatly relieved to get any placement at all.

Well, good luck, me.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Strange Glistening Love, or: the Satyr, the Jabberwocky, and the Easter Bunny

Today's poetry lib solution was brought to you by the letters ö, ß, and ä.

The original poem is the Louis Untermeyer English translation of this 1823 poem by Heinrich Heine, one of my childhood favorites. (This may say something about my character as a child.)

As Untermeyer translates it:

I cannot tell why this imagined
Despair has fallen on me;
The ghost of an ancient legend
That will not let me be:

The air is cool, and twilight
Flows down the quiet Rhine;
A mountain alone in the high light
Still holds the lingering shine.

The last peak rosily gleaming
Reveals enthroned in air,
A maiden, lost in dreaming,
Who combs her golden hair.

Combing her hair with a golden
Comb in her rocky bower,
She sings the tune of an olden
Song that has magical power.

The boatman has heard; it has bound him
In the throes of a strange, wild love;
Blind to the reefs that surround him,
He sees but the vision above.

And lo, hungry waters are springing—
The boat and the boatman are gone….
Then silence. And this with her singing, the Loreley has done.

Now for your exceptionally cooler versions. (Be sure to snap your fingers after reading each one, Daddy-O.)

--Tim’s solution: The Satyr

I cannot smile why this imagined
Tommy Gun has fallen on me;
The ghost of an ancient legend
That will not let me be:

The air is stuttery, and twilight
smashes down the quiet Rhine;
A display case alone in the slippery light
Still holds the convulsing shine.

The last hippo quickly swooning
Reveals enthroned in air,
A maiden, lost in mooning,
Who claps her golden hair.

Clapping her hair with a golden
shovel in her rocky phone booth,
She sings the tune of an olden
Song of a magical elephant tooth.

The boatman has heard; it has clamored him
In the throes of a strange, silent love;
Blind to the geese that surround him,
He sees but the telegraph above.

And lo, harsh waters are melting—
The binoculars and the boatman are gone….
Then silence. And this with her pelting,
The satyr has done.

--Liddy’s solution: The Jabberwocky (redux)

I cannot fry why this imagined
Fly has fallen on me;
The ghost of an ancient legend
That will not let me be:

The air is dry, and twilight
Grains down the quiet Rhine;
A brain alone in the main light
Still holds the prying shine.

The last drain smashingly tinkling
Reveals enthroned in air,
A maiden, lost in sprinkling,
Who chops her golden hair.

Chopping her hair with a golden
Pasta maker in her rocky spaceship,
She sings the tune of an olden
Song of my magical friend Chip.

The boatman has heard; it has flashed him
In the throes of a strange, trashy love;
Blind to the kiboshes that surround him,
He sees but the scrubby brush above.

And lo, grease-stain’d waters are flying—
The parrot and the boatman are gone….
Then silence. And this with her frying,
The Jabberwocky has done.

--Argotnaut’s Solution: The Easter Bunny

I cannot slump why this imagined
Half-eaten bean burrito has fallen on me;
The ghost of an ancient legend
That will not let me be:

The air is wistful, and twilight
pokes down the quiet Rhine;
A lozenge alone in the florid light
Still holds the pasting shine.

The last melon baller thoughtlessly eating
Reveals enthroned in air,
A maiden, lost in greeting,
Who hoiks her golden hair.

Hoiking her hair with a golden
crowbar in her rocky gravity ,
She sings the tune of an olden
Song of a magical cavity.

The boatman has heard; it has shushed him
In the throes of a strange, glistening love;
Blind to the mattresses that surround him,
He sees but the tractor beam above.

And lo, holistic waters are hating—
The light bulb and the boatman are gone….
Then silence. And this with her baiting, the Easter Bunny has done.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Because There Aren't Enough Libs in the World

Everyone has presented the important kinds of libs already, so I'm left with little choice:

Poetry Lib!

(Answers posted whenever the heck I get around to it.)

1. verb
2. noun
3. adjective
4. verb ending in -s
5. noun
6. adjective
7. verb ending in -ing
8. noun
9. adverb
10. two rhyming verbs ending in -ing
11. verb ending in -s
12. tool or implement
13. two rhyming nouns
14. verb ending in -ed
15. adjective
16. plural noun
17. noun
18. adjective
19. two rhyming verbs ending in -ing
20. noun
21. imaginary person or creature

Saturday, February 18, 2006


I used to assume that people who got pregnant and withdrew from society (to whatever extent) did it just because they suddenly had more pressing and important things to deal with. I didn't think it might be because they weren't feeling well.

Only three more weeks until the first trimester's over!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Just A Small Aside

So you would think that we would be on tenterhooks to find out what internship site I've been placed with, if any. ("With which I've been placed"?)

However, right in the midst of all that racing around Michigan and Ohio for weeks of out-of-town interviews, our priorities were shockingly invaded:

...this is also the real reason why I have not been blogging very much in the past few weeks. It gets pretty hard to think about other things when this happens. I've also been really sick, and sleeping more hours than waking a lot of days.

What little blogging energy I've had has been largely directed towards my semi-secret pregnancy blog, which may have a bit more biological details than the general public wants to know. (Or that I want them to know. No offense meant, general public!)

I now joke that my latest project is growing my own British citizen, as we've looked it up and the baby will have dual citizenship.

Given the vast amount of energy it's taken me just to grow the tiny 16mm nub that you see above, I'm guessing that when we finally learn how to get people to regenerate limbs, they will have to be placed in therapeutic coma while the growth occurs.

It was pretty cool to clearly see the heart beating. I estimate the due date at the Autumn Equinox: September 21. My ol' hippie father immediately wanted to know if we were naming it "Autumn Equinox". Then again, from what I hear, I narrowly avoided being named "Clover". (...Okay, to be honest, we did briefly consider "Autumn" for a girl.)

...So, yeah--on the 24th we find out if I got an internship placement. If I did, we find out which site on the 27th. Then we have to work out how internship and baby will work out together, as I am not a big proponent of "day care" (AKA "baby prison", according to the Simpsons) for infants.

If I was queen of the world, we would all (mothers and fathers) wear our babies to work until age 2, and no one would think anything of it! (Just like any other self-respecting primate. Or scorpion, come to think of it.)

Monday, February 13, 2006

Completely Random

Newsbits that have caught my eye recently of wildly disparate importance and focus:

1. Squirrel circus! Must have one.

2. 3-foot lily-scented worm found. What could be better...er, bait?

3. I remember the picture of this kid a year ago. Wow; in different ways horrible (what people can do), and amazing (what people can do).

4. Aww; an idealistic geek after my own heart. Makes me want to go watch Pirates of Silicon Valley again.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Musical....er, Fruit?

What happens when you take a bad health practice and combine it with the latest over-consumerized technology?

This "development" (heh) that I can't believe isn't a joke.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Press Thumbs!

I've now sent in my official, certified ranked list of sites (one day before the deadline, which is tomorrow at midnight). For a number of reasons there is one site that is way above the rest, so we are both really hoping I get that one. A lot of our circumstances have changed in important ways since--sheesh, just since November when I originally sent in the applications, for example TheLimey's job situation.

A friend of mine recently got a really cool job offer overseas. I want this person to take the offer not only because it's a cool job, but also so we can visit.

You know, I was just thinking that a big reason I got into this blogging thing (aside from my anti-luddite sister) was Shelleyness, a blog that doesn't exist any longer. I saw her funny entry about a guy wearing chaps (and little else) on another site, and followed her writing on and off after that for a while. Then just about two years ago she announced that she was pregnant, and disappeared completely from the blogosphere.

I still have so many questions! How did the baby turn out? Does it have her curse of itchy eczema? Does she return from California to Michigan for holidays to show it off? (The baby, not the eczema.) How are their animals, and how did they negotiate having pets and baby? Did their neighbors ever shape up? Is she gratified by the much-deserved divorce of Nick and Jessica?! Whaaaatt?


Oh my gosh, after some clicking and poking for a few minutes, I actually uncovered her (now their) newer site--with baby photos! What a cute little nub.

It was hard to find. I had to start at the "Nick and Jessica" archives (funny, honestly) and then actually notice the new web address hosting the archives, and follow from there.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Tired of listening to gossip; gossip and complaints...?

OK, probably not the underlying cause of my problem here, but I am indeed so tired. (I hope at least some one person out there gets that reference.)

I haven't been very posty lately because I've been so danged exhausted that I've been asleep 14 hours a day and awake 6 (the remainder were spent just dozing). I'm partly suspecting the old anemia here. I have a doctor appointment Friday, so I'll get to see if they're going to foist those nasty barf-inducing iron-pellets on me or what.

I'm sure that leaving town every week for the past three weeks for stressful internship interviews hasn't helped; I may be partly crashing from that, too. At any rate, I have to write two exams and two reviews for my classes today, so I have to be awake and working at least a few hours.