Kaija Update

It’s been a while, so I figured I’d give an update to what’s new with Kaija. What kind of parent would I be if I didn’t talk about my kid?At 12 1/2 months old, she now has 12 teeth. Her molars have started poking through, which of course meant a number of nights of restless sleeping and drooling non-stop during the day.A few weeks ago she started kissing us back. Sometimes she would just walk up to us while playing and kiss us. Occasionally when we would ask her for a kiss, she would give one (or more!) to us.She has started to learn a number of baby signs, though she probably has a slightly different meanings for them. She learned “more” quickly, though she uses it more like “I’m hungry” or “Feed me”, as she’ll do the sign without having had anything to eat yet. She also learned “hat”, though we think she might think it means “I’m sleepy” because it’s one of the signs we go through while flipping through the Word Signs book before going to sleep. Most recently, she’s learned “milk” for when she wants Jennifer to breast feed her. She will also wave when people are leaving and stretch her hands out with her palms up when she doesn’t know where something went.She still likes going for walks with us, though getting her dressed up for the cold can be frustrating. She doesn’t like to wear hats or mittens and will try to take them off while indoors. Once we get outside, though, she’s fairly good about leaving them on.Overall, I think she’s adjusting to Michigan life pretty well. She definitely likes all of the space in our new house to run around in. And she loves that her grandparents live so close now. She gets a big smile on her face and reaches out to be held when one of them walks in the door.

It All Makes Perfect Cents

Here are a few things I’ve found recently that have piqued my interest:Camels and Rubber Duckies – the strategy behind pricing and how it is used to maximize sales.The Persuaders – The mechanisms marketers and politicians use to persuade us to act (e.g. buy or vote, respectively) the way we do while making us feel like we’re in control of the action. This is part of a PBS series called Frontline. For someone who watches very little TV, it’s nice to have worthwhile programs like this available online.I think what makes them interesting to me is that they explain something that affects us all on a day to day basis but we rarely have the time or notion to step back and question any of it. That probably explains my current fascination with nutrition and the food & health industries.

Too Much of a Good Thing

This guy has written up a blog entry on being overwhelmed by the amount of digital media that is available and interesting to us these days versus consumable due to time constraints. This is definitely something that I’ve come up against myself. Rather than enjoying the music and photos, I feel like I have to keep consuming more and skimming through what’s in front of me or else I’ll get behind.I’ve got a hard drive full of music that I have never listened to. I’ve now set up a playlist on my iPod to pick 50 random songs that have a playcount of 0 in an attempt to hear at least most of them (of course, I need to make sure the unheard songs make it onto the iPod in the first place).I subscribe to the RSS feeds for a number of photoblogs. I originally thought it might be a good way to increase my understanding of what makes a good photograph and therefore make me a better photographer. But what usually ends up happening is I skim through the photographs in the feeds just to get through them all rather than stopping to analyze and appreciate them.I’m not sure what a good solution is yet. I still want to see and hear new stuff but it’s hard to cut back because I don’t want to miss out on anything.

Reduction in Spam

I’ve been using MT-Blacklist to reduce the amount of comment spam that gets posted to this blog and it has worked pretty well. However, there’s always a bit that gets through that I need to remove manually. I then cut and paste the URL’s that appear in the messages and put them in MT-Blacklist’s filter list and run the despammer.A few weeks ago I started getting spammed with messages that didn’t have any URL’s in them and contained jibberish. I’m not sure why someone would do such a thing, as usually comment spam is used in an attempt to increase rankings in search engines such as Google by driving up the number of web pages that link to the particular site. Without a URL to look for, MT-Blacklist was basically useless.So as I manually deleted each of these URL-less comments, I ended up closing the posts to new comments and marking them as unpingable for trackbacks. Currently there are about 230 posts in this blog. I have probably closed about 15-20% of them to new comments. Unfortunately there is no easy way to close all of the comments at once. There is another Movable Type plug-in that can do this, but based on its description on the Six Apart plug-in site, it will only work with installations that use a SQL backend (not the default SleepyCat db option which I’m using).Regardless, I haven’t received much spam since I closed that 15-20%. I don’t know if the spammers are slowing down, if they were only targetting posts with certain ID’s, or if the random smattering of closed posts were enough to deter the spammers from trying to find open comments. Whatever the reason, it’s a welcome change. The time it takes to despam the site is time taken away from spending time with my family.

Deer Prudence

This morning, as I was reluctantly coming to terms with the fact that I needed to wake up, Jennifer shouted over to me from the window by our master bathroom. “Brahm! There’s a deer in our back yard!” Now the previous owners of our house said they saw deer quite frequently, but I had yet to see any in the month or so since we moved in. Jennifer saw one a few weeks back in our back yard as she was driving into our driveway but it ran off as she approached our garage. This deer was scavenging in the ground cover that runs between our back yard and our neighbor’s back yard. It wasn’t there long before finding some shelter under a nearby pine tree. As it walked it had a slight limp, as if its left rear leg was sprained.Later today, as I was coming home from the office and driving into the driveway, I was startled to see another deer to the right of the driveway near the back of our property. It stood and turned its head momentarily, then turned back and fled to the back of the neighbor’s yard.So after not seeing any deer at all for a month, I saw two in one day. It’s nice to know that the suburban sprawl hasn’t totally displaced the wildlife in our area.

Photogenic Progeny

As a baby shower gift when Kaija was born, we received a one-year membership for the Picture People. This gave us a few free prints and sittings for the year, so we decided to get some professional photographs of Kaija taken at 4 month intervals. Her 4- and 8-month photos turned out pretty well, but we left California before she turned 1 year old. There are no Picture People studios in Michigan. :(Jennifer found a coupon for a $5 photo package at the Olan Mills studio at the nearby K-Mart, so she took Kaija in last week. When we went to pick up the photos today, we found out that one of Kaija’s photos had been choosen to be used for that store’s Kid of the Week photo sometime in the coming weeks. I’m not sure how many photos of kids they take per week, but I have to say that’s pretty darn cool!