Drawing Blood and Playing at the Mall

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I went with Tara to the pediatrician on Friday for Ashby's appointment. Ashby is suffering from iron-deficit anemia, which means her low level of iron in her blood is causing her to have a low hemoglobin count. Tara and her mother also have low hemoglobin count, but this is caused by them both having Thalassemia Beta and has nothing to do with low iron. Ashby tested negative for Thalassemia when she was born. Ashby's low hemoglobin and iron is perplexing because we've been supplementing her diet with iron for a month now and we have seen no improvement. The doctor says iron-deficit anemia is not uncommon for babies, which is why they test at 9 months (Ashby is now 10 months, 2 weeks). Also, she said that she has seen cases where the children Maplewood (11) don't show an improvement in the first month. I can say based on research Tara has done we just discovered you shouldn't eat eggs or cheese within a 1-2 hours of consuming iron supplements because both can prevent your body from absorbing iron. Of course, this is what Ashby has for breakfast almost every day when we dose her with iron. We've been giving her juice cut with water for Vitamin C to assist her body in absorbing the iron too, but now we're going to straight juice, which I wanted to avoid. Giving babies juice seems…unnatural. Here is Ashby getting her blood drawn in sequential order, she's such a trooper!

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Tara took Ashby to Maplewood Mall's play area earlier this week along with the other participants of her ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education) classes. By the way, ECFE is awesome. I recommend it to any parent. This is Ashby's second class, it's called: "Movers." The classes consist mostly of singing songs and the adults have time to chat while the kids play. It's great for providing Ashby some additional socialization with other kids her age. Although, Ashby does have Alla, who I believe is also in ECFE classes, but is in an older age bracket.

I managed to make it to at least a few of Ashby's first ECFE's classes last Spring, but this current one I've only been able to attend once. Somehow I managed to attend the class in which all the mothers (I was the only dude) decided to discuss their birth experiences. Needless to say, I didn't have a Maplewood (12)whole lot to contribute to that conversation. My only contribution was sharing my perspective on Ashby looking like a piece of canned fruit when she popped out.

Anyhow, Ashby had such a great time at the play area earlier this week that Tara and I decided to take Ashby again today. Tara was stunned I was actually willing to go to a mall, but I wanted to see Ashby crawling through the tunnel Tara had told me about. It was a bit too crowded for our comfort, but Ashby had a great time. When we got home there was a deer in our backyard. We get lots of deer, turkey, pheasants, raptors, and other wildlife in our backyard because our property ends at Rice Creek Nature Preserve, which is a large wildlife corridor. Speaking of our house, now that it's almost certain Tara and I are moving to San Diego we're actively planning for the move. We need to sell a car because we won't need it. And we need to rent our house. I may as well take advantage of the little traffic I get here by posting ads here too (coming up).

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MindTouch's Youngest Employee
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Posting Comments

I was giving Tara a hard time because she has posted comments on JJ’s blog, but not mine. Also, I’ve noticed that none of my family have posted comments . So, Tara told me it’s just too much work to perform the requisite registration with the site. Damn, it’s her husband’s blog and that’s too much work!? Anyhow, I installed “Challenge” for her and turned off the requirement that users register before commenting. Now users just have to know how to perform basic arithmetic. Comment away you lazy !@%#%!&s!

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Bear Poop

Lead (Pb) is Good, Global Warming Doesn't Exist

Some snippets from a recent Wired article.

Two federal agencies are investigating whether the Bush administration tried to block government scientists from speaking freely about global warming and censor their research, a senator said Wednesday.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) said he was informed that the inspectors general for the Commerce Department and NASA had begun “coordinated, sweeping investigations of the Bush administration’s censorship and suppression” of federal research into global warming.

He said the investigations “will uncover internal documents and agency correspondence that may expose widespread misconduct.” He added, “Taxpayers do not fund scientific research so the Bush White House can alter it.”

In February, House Science Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) and other congressional leaders asked NASA to guarantee scientific openness. They complained that a public affairs officer changed or filtered information on global warming and the Big Bang.

The officer, George Deutsch, a political appointee, had resigned after being accused of trying to limit reporters’ access to James Hansen, a prominent NASA climate scientist, and insisting that a web designer insert the word “theory” with any mention of the Big Bang.

I’m confused as to why it has taken so long for someone to take action on this. I’ve been stunned that there hasn’t been outrage over this sooner. Forget global warning! Does anyone remember when Bush dissolved a CDC committee on the effects of lead on children after receiving the shocking conclusion that lead is bad for children. He then replaced the committee with lobbyists for Lead producing manufacturers!

The Iraqi Death Toll

My previous post on the Iraqi death toll was based on the US Government’s official estimates. I did mention the estimates of a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University in 2004 too though. To learn more about this study, listen to the interview with the study’s author at This American Life, it was broadcast 11/03/2006 (find it in the archives–their website totally sucks). A new study has the numbers at 6 times this study’s estimates. I’ve plucked the following quotes from a story run in The Guardian. Give the This American Life episode a listen too. It mentions the US Government’s estimate at bombs dropped to date (not sure what date) was somewhere around 55,000 in Iraq alone. That’s a lot of bombs.

The death toll in Iraq following the US-led invasion has topped 655,000 – one in 40 of the entire population – according to a major piece of research in one of the world’s leading medical journals.

The study, produced by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore and published online by the Lancet, claims the total number of deaths is more than 10 times greater than any previously compiled estimate.

Nearly a third of the deaths (31%) were ascribed to the coalition forces. Most of the deaths – 601,000 out of 655,000 – were due to violence and of those, 56% were caused by gunshot wounds. Air strikes, car bombs and other explosions accounted for a further 13-14%.

The authors say their discovery that the death rate in Iraq has more than doubled from 5.5 per 1,000 a year before the invasion to 13.3 per 1,000 a year since “constitutes a humanitarian emergency”.

“We continue to believe that an independent international body to monitor compliance with the Geneva conventions and other humanitarian standards in conflict is urgently needed. With reliable data, those voices that speak out for civilians trapped in conflict might be able to lessen the tragic human cost of future wars.”

Non-Newtonian Fluid

In case you are wondering, a Non-Newtonian fluid is one that can temporarily exhibit the behavior of a solid. This occurs when there is a rapid application of force on the fluid at which time it exhibits what is called “shear thickening,” which is to say it appears to be solid. The rapidity of the application of force is critical. If you slowly apply force it will behave as one would expect, which is to say: as a fluid. Here is a fun demonstration.

In short, you too can have fun with Non-Newtonian Fluids. Corn starch and water is all you need. Read more about this at Wikipedia.

Ashby Crawls on Water!!

Ok, so she hasn’t crawled on water (yet), but Ashby did start crawling last week. Right at 10 months. She has been mobile for at least two months now, but she would propel herself about by what I can only describe as log-rolling. She would roll from one end of the room to the next, which had to make her dizzy. She is so darn big I think it’s been difficult for her to master crawling. Now she is trying to master climbing up the stairs.

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Tommy and Brenda were down this weekend. Tara and I broke the news to them that we’re very likely moving to San Diego at the end of February. Needless to say that was rather emotional. It’s been wonderful living so close to them and Tara, Ashby and I will all miss them greatly. I know Tara takes great comfort in having her folks so close by. Moreover, Ashby loooooves Tbone and PorkChop. To be honest, they’re really our closest friends. We generally spend two weekends a month with them and I’m going to miss having them nearby. Also, I know Tara and Ashby are going to miss our wonderful neighbors J.J., Ron, and Alla. Tara and J.J. have grown close in the last few months (as have Ashby and Alla) and Tara doesn’t easily open herself to new friends. I’ll admit I have allowed myself to fantasize about Alla and Ashby growing up together and remaining close for many many years, even though I knew we almost certainly wouldn’t be around long enough for that. Alla is Ashby’s first friend though and they’re so sweet. End the long term I’m certain it’s for the best though.

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We went to Buca’s in Maple Grove. I’ve never been particularly fond of their food–it’s ok, but it’s a great place when you have young children. It’s loud and there’s lot to look at. While waiting for a table I took Ashby into the bar (non-smoking) and sat at the bar and had a drink while waiting for Tara and her folks to park the car. The place was totally packed and it was the only place I could sit down and keep Ashby somewhat sheltered from the throng. I got some disapproving looks, which I thought was odd. So, what’s the protocol now that most places disallow smoking? Who cares if I take my daughter into a non-smoking bar? Does she soak the sin of drinkers by way of osmosis? It’s not like I’m tying one on nor was I driving. She certainly enjoyed it.

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Ashby, as always when she is on the go, had a blast. I believe she’s been to Buca’s at least five times since being born. The chain started here in Minneapolis. As an uninteresting side note many many years ago I opened a 350+ seat restaurant that was a total Buca’s rip-off. It was called Bella Vita. I didn’t know it at the time being I had not been to a Buca’s (I think there was only a couple around back then). Anyhow, I guess that’s another reason I like it. I had opened Bella Vita just months after meeting Tara (over 10 years ago). I started out as Soux Chef and then about 6 months later took over as executive chef. The former chef was a complete moron. Then 6 months later Tara and I took off and backpacked Europe for several months having very quickly saved enough money. It was kind of a funny thing. I remember I had just been promoted to Executive Chef and was making really good money (for how young I was and where I lived). Tara and I were talking outside of Bella Vita, smoking of course. And somehow we got on this conversation about how we should go to Africa. So, we decided we would save for the next 5-6 months and split to Africa. After a little research we discovered Europe would be lots cheaper to fly to. At that time I made it a practice of working for no longer than a year before splitting into the woods or on a road trip for a prolonged period of time. I miss that. I can’t believe I’ve lived in MN for just over two years now and I only made it into the BWCA once and only did one white water canoe trip (which Tommy and Brenda still swear they’ll never canoe with us again since that trip–gooood times). Lame.

I can’t wait to take Ashby abroad. I’ll never forget that American fellow we met in Pompeii. He was there with his wife and ~5 year old son. I believe he was a gemologist, or diamond merchant, or something odd like that, but related to gems. I remember thinking how damn cool it was that he was able to just take off and travel Europe for several weeks with his wife and son. With two kids this would be really hard, I think. If not impossible. I think we’ll stick with one child.

Halloween in the Homeland

Halloween_2006 (7)I had a couple speaking engagements in San Jose at KMWorld last week that conflicted with Halloween; so, rather than missing Ashby’s first Halloween, Tara and Ashby headed out to San Jose with me. It was great to have them there. We spent the entire week at my sister’s house, Julie, in Atherton. It would be wonderful if Tara and I could live the rest of our lives without ever being separate for an entire day. Tara read somewhere this is how Paul and Linda McCartney lived. That would be fantastic. Anyhow, it was great for Ashby to see her cousins again: Skylar and Owen. We were out there in June for at least a few days; so, it wasn’t their first time together, but now that Ashby is older she was able to really engage them.

Ashby really digs traveling. She is so into it, it’s a riot. She just has the time of her life at the airport, on the plane, strolling about in public from place to place. I think she thinks she is the queen of the parade or something. She just loves it! This girl loves to be on the go. This was the third time Halloween_2006 (13) she has flown since being born. The first time we flew to North Carolina so I could speak at UNC, then, as I said, we were in California last June (Tom Tran’s wedding), and now this Halloween trip. She’ll likely fly again this year to San Diego. More on that later.

Tara and Ashby spent all day at Julie and Paul’s while I went into San Jose to work from the hotel was holed up at: Hotel Montgomery, a snazzy and affordable hotel just a couple blocks from the McEnery Convention Center where KMWorld was being held. For some bizarre reason my sister’s place doesn’t have WiFi with broadband. I have no idea what’s up with that considering Julie is a Publisher for a major technology media company. It’s always strange going back to the valley. It definitely feels like home. As soon as I step off the plane the smell hits me and I immediately know I’m back to the homeland. Maybe that’s my kind of pollution. I don’t know. There is something comforting about the urban sprawl, the rolling foothills, and good Asian food on every corner. I guess you can go home.

Tara and I got out for sushi twice the week we were there. Living in Minnesota we don’t get many chances to get decent food…I mean Asian food. In case you didn’t know: Swedes, Norwegians, and Irish don’t have the most diverse palletes. We went to Bonsai in Redwood City off El Camino on Monday while Julie and Paul monitored Ashby while she slept, which had totally shitty service and ‘ok’ food. Then later in the week we took Ashby to some sushi place in Palo Alto that, oddly enough, Tara had been to once previously a couple years ago with her mother. Odd coincidence. This place was pretty good. Ashby ate rice for the first time, she loved it, and, as usual, had a gay ol’ time with us. She really gets a thrill about being on the go.

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I spoke on Tuesday about wikis being the future of Knowledge Management and then on Wednesday I spoke about business/enterprise wikis and features and attributes to consider when selecting a wiki. I wrote briefly about this at my OpenGarden.org blog, which reminds me: I need to publish my PPTs up there. In general, I’m sorry to say, I think KMWorld is lame. Mainly because the Halloween_2006 (23)organizers were just so damn disorganized. Just to give you some idea: it took me 15-20 minutes, 5people and three trips to figure out that I needed another ribbon on my badge to get me into the exhibition hall. Also, they misplaced Joel Waterman (Program Director, Enterprise Search Solutions, IBM) and I in the ‘collaboration’ track and totally boffed the description for our presentation.

I was stunned to see TheBrain there. Apparently they’ve been at KMWorld every year since 2000. It’s weird because I remember this software application like 6 or 7 years ago. It’s a mind map based personal information manager. I remember when I first saw it I was so impressed by the interface. Strangely the interface hasn’t changed since I first saw it–six years ago. It looks old. It’s kind of like when you see furniture from the 1980’s…not pretty. Not exactly a classic. I look at some of these bubbly Web 2.0 interfaces and I just know it’s going to be the same thing a few years from now. We’re going to look back at them and wonder what the hell was everyone was smoking. Just because we can make everything clickable, draggable, with rounded edges and primary colors doesn’t me should. San Jose

Then there was Halloween. Wwwwweeeeeeee!! This was so much fun! I hauled ass back to Julie’s house after my presentation on Wednesday just in time to catch everyone geared up and ready to go trick-or-treating. Ashby was, as you can see, dressed as a Lady Bug from hell. Ok, so I said she was from hell for creep factor. It didn’t work well. I grabbed the only costume I had at my disposal in 5 minutes and we headed out. It was awesome! Ashby was totally into it. We went a couple miles away from Julie and Paul’s place and met up with a mob of children, and their parents, that Julie and Paul know. Tara and I made it out to about a dozen houses before heading home early to get Ashby to bed.

On Thursday, Paul and I went to a San Jose Sharks game. I had never been to a hockey game. It was a blast! Paul got us some killer seats: eighth row center. Other than Mark, the very big and clearly mentally impaired dude in the seat next to who kept crowding me and periodically dropping peanuts into my beer it was great. Hockey is loads of fun live. San_Jose_Sharks (32)Sharks lost 1-2 to the Rangers.

Friday, we convened the: "Phase 2 of Establish Global Dominance" meeting with several of the MindTouch core team. MUHAHAHAHA!!! The next 6 months are going to be very exciting.

Finally, on Saturday we had brunch in Las Altos (Las Altos Cafe–good) with Josh Branscomb. An old buddy of mine that I graduated from UNC with. We did our senior project together. He’s pretty cool, for a Republican. Josh actually helped forge MindTouch waaaaaay back when it was still just an idea, before there were even other Wiki companies out there. In fact, he really was a founder. Instead of continuing with MindTouch he decided to go to Stanford Law School to get his law-monkey certification. He’s doing great though. He spent last Summer in D.C. and he’ll be working with Wilson and Sonsini this summer. In case you didn’t know, this is probably the most well respected technology focused law firm in the country. They represent Google, Yahoo, and perhaps the most impressive client: MindTouch!

What would you buy with $2 Billion…a week?

Given the opportunity to spend $2 Billion a week, what would you spend it on? Personally, I would spend it on research and education. Imagine…an additional $2 Billion a week. Just think about what an incredible difference this would make to mankind. Well, our government has instead chosen to spend $2 Billion every week on waging war in Iraq (an average since beginning of war). What does this buy us? Well, this buys us 7,000 dead Iraqis a week (on average based on Lancet, a British Medical Journal ). This also buys us 164 American casualties a week with 22 Americans dead a week (on average–based on official numbers, estimated is higher). This also buys us new generations of terrorists, destabilization in the middle east, an emboldened Korea, Iran and Syria, a more competitive China, and global disdain for our country.

It’s important to point out this is $2,000,000,000 is money we do not have. We’re borrowing this money from, mostly, China. We’re funding the world’s next super-power on the backs of our sons and daughters. Remarkable.

American Military Casualties in Iraq
American Deaths  
Since war began (3/19/03):
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03) (the list)
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03):
Since Handover (6/29/04):
Since Election (1/31/05):
American Casualties  
Total (‘Officially’) Wounded:
Latest Fatality November 2nd, 2006

DekiWiki Germinate 1.0

To all my CS buddies out there who periodically read my personal blog I want to make sure you check out the following program I’m kicking off over at OpenGarden.org. See below:

MindTouch DekiWiki Germinate v.1.0

MindTouch wants you!

We want to enlist the help of the Gardeners (you) in steering the development of DekiWiki.

What's in it for you?

Aside from gratitude and a smug piece of mind knowing that you're making a great project even better, the Gardener (submitter) whose feature is selected will receive a Video iPod tm and as much fame as OpenGarden.org can provide.

We're excited about reviewing your ideas! This is a unique opportunity for you to impact a software application that is currently powering almost 40,000 sites (as of October 24, 2006).


For more information and to provide your submissions visit here.

Area 61 U.F.O. Convention

Area61-UFO.jpg Tara, Ashby, and I headed north to the in-laws early Saturday morning to spend some time with Tommy, my father-in-law, for his 62nd birthday.Area 61 As it turned out the weekend coincided with the third annual Area 61 UFO Convention. Two years ago Tara and I stumbled upon this conference. It's like entering an alternate dimension. The event is held at Lakeview Castle, which is a bar/restaurant on the North shore of Lake Superior. The place is too big for it’s location and it bears a strong resemblance to a run down quasi-castle. The first time we stumbled upon the Area 61 Convention we were diving into about a hundred and fifty hipsters, folks with antennae, wannabe Men In Black, and a modern dance troupe that danced a diddy while William S. Burroughs performed spoken voice over a techno beat. Mix in some lumberjacks and you've got a pretty good idea what this place and event is like. Pretty trippy.

After getting to the in-laws’ house on Saturday morning, Brenda (mother-in-law) informed us Area 61 was going on. Suddenly our celebration of Tommy’s birthday morphed into Tara and I getting some, much needed, time out alone. (Happy Birthday Tommy, thanks) We got to Lakeview a little after 9 PM. This being the event's third it had grown considerably. This was the first time I’ve ever known Lakeview to charge a cover. The Black Labels were playing and they are worth a lot more than the $5 cover; so, I didn't mind. A band named Crew Jones took stage a little after we got there. They had a good sound (reminiscent of Soul Coughing), but their sound setup was total crap. A monkey must have been working their sound board.

Tara and I chatted with the percussion/trombone player from The Black Labels at the bar for a bit while Crew Jones playes. He's a good guy. If you haven’t been to a Black LabelsArea 61 show you’re missing out. They’re the best band I’ve heard in MN that's from MN since the Surahoolies back in the mid-90s. I wonder: whatever happened to the Surahoolies? Anyway, The Black Labels are great They are dance hall, but regularly riff into surfer rock. Duluth has a peculiarly active music scene.

Anyway, Area 61 was definitely the highlight of the weekend. Otherwise my time has been devoted to preparing for KMWorld, where I’ll be speaking in just over a week and completing a proposal.