Thursday, March 31, 2011

Happy Opening Day!

The world champion San Francisco Giants begin their season today.

Alice is looking good in this Giants onesie. And since it's a hand-me-down (many times over), she didn't have to pay the post-World Series markup.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

You Really SUCK

Kelly purchased this NoseFrida device to suck snot out of the children's noses.

The whole idea is disgusting as it is. Do they really need to put "SUCK" in all caps?

Monday, March 28, 2011

'Write the Wrap'

The Examiner is holding a contest to write the headline for opening day of the Giants' season on March 31. The winning entry will appear on the outer "wrap" of the newspaper, so they're calling it the "Write the Wrap" contest.

Now, I have some experience in concocting catchy slogans for sports teams. In late 1995, the San Jose Mercury News asked readers to come up with a name for the 49ers' defensive line.

I submitted "Fort Knocks," which combined a gold motif with general ass-kicking. It won the contest, beating out scads of other suggestions.


Sadly, the 49ers were eliminated by the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the NFL playoffs that year. So my name didn't achieve immortality.

When it came to the "Write the Wrap" contest, I wanted to think of something that would evoke the Giants' penchant for growing beards, along with the "torture" theme that was so popular last season. Bonus points if it could reference Brian Wilson and his habit of saying "fact" at the end of statements (or his mysterious leather-clad companion named "The Machine").

Well, I regret to say that none of my submissions were selected for the top 10 finalists.

Here are the ones they chose.

And here are my suggestions:

“Orange and BACK”
“Repeat? Fact”
“Mutton champs”

(Get it? Because they have beards and they're champs? Mutton champs? Oh, forget it.)

The headline had to be 15 characters or fewer, which prevented me from suggesting my favorite choice.

“Torture II: Electric Beardaloo”

BuboBlog NoPa correspondent John had any even better suggestion along those lines.

“Beardinator II: Rise of the Machine”

Alas, greatness often isn't recognized in one's own time.

Bill Cosby's Sweater Is Back, and Boy Is It Pissed

The Chronicle featured two retro fashionistas in its "The City Exposed" feature today.

I can't tell if this makes me feel young...or very, very old.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Not Asian, Just Offensive?

I've previously discussed the Ho King Grill on 7th Street in San Francisco, and whether it could be more creative about marketing itself.

Well, now there's a restaurant in Waco, Texas, called Fat Ho Burgers.

The owner doesn't appear to be Asian. She just thinks people might like to have their food prepared by overweight prostitutes.

Judging by the crowds in this video, that seems to be a winning formula.

Friday, March 25, 2011

State of the 'Ark'

The "P" has shorted out on this parking garage's sign in downtown Berkeley.

If it keeps raining like this, I'm going to start filling it with animals.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

San Francisco's Child Exodus

I was reading in the Examiner today about the continuing flight of families out of San Francisco. I feel guilty about contributing to this trend by taking two young'uns out of the city in recent months.

An empty San Francisco playground (photo credit: Permanently Scatterbrained)
For us, it came down to our housing situation. We probably would have put up with many hassles of raising kids in the city if we could have found a suitable place to live. (The supposed superiority of Berkeley schools helped cement the decision, but now that Berkeley High students seem to be discharging firearms with the frequency that Heidi Montag gets plastic surgery, who knows if we made the right choice.)

From the story:
The number of children — defined as people up to 17 years old — has dropped from 181,532 in 1960 to 107,524 today, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau figures. The 2000 census counted 112,802 youths.
The decrease is disappointing news for city officials, who have attempted to counter the family-flight trend by creating more affordable housing, improving schools and cutting costs, such as a college savings account for kindergarten enrollees.
One amusing tidbit: City officials had thought they were making progress because "a 2009 controller’s survey found families with children were no longer more likely to leave The City than other people, with the exception of families with children under the age of 6."

Um, that's a huge exception! If a family is going to move out of San Francisco, that's pretty much when they'll do it.

That's like saying, "We've made real progress getting people to stop drinking Four Loko and car surfing — with the exception of males age 17 to 24."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We Have a Bi-Rite Too, Check It

One of the sad parts of leaving San Francisco was losing easy access to so many gourmet-food options.

Berkeley has its share of fine food, though not so many in our neighborhood. We're sort of like the Gourmet Ghetto only without the "Gourmet" part.

But we do have a Bi-Rite liquor store!

Note: I don't think there's any affiliation with Bi-Rite Market and Creamery, the foodie paradise in the Mission.

But you never know.

Our Bi-Rite has a strong affinity for the Four Loko brand (didn't this get banned?).

Outside the store, even less legal substances are available for purchase. The corner of Sacramento and Dwight appears to be a real corner.

I guess what they're selling is organic.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Nobody Actually Says 'Aboot'

Looks like I may have slandered Canadians.

On Friday when I complained about "Caillou" and other Canadian kids' shows, I said they were rife with "aboots."

But as the Dialect Blog pointed out today, Canadians don't actually say this. Instead, they say "aboat."

From the post:
What’s the deal with aboot? Where does this mythological pronunciation come from?
One thing I’ve heard is that aboot is a pronunciation in a particular region of Canada: the Atlantic Provinces (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, etc). But I have never found a clip of anybody from that area who says aboot.
So this is probably one of those bits of dialect folklore that survives despite evidence to the contrary. It’s a bit like New Jersey’s reputation for being pronounced “New Joysey” even though virtually nobody in Jersey says it like that anymore (and even when they did, this pronunciation would have been confined to a small area near New York).
Now that I think about it, "aboat" is much closer to reality. I had a conversation with a Canadian on Friday, and he definitely wasn't saying "aboot."

So BuboBlog apologizes.

But you won't hear me say I'm "sore-y."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Decoding a Two-Year-Old: Part Four

It's been a while since I did this feature, and Elliot hasn't begun speaking much more intelligibly. So here we go again.




WHAT HE MEANT: "Orange juice"

3. WHAT IT SOUNDED LIKE: "Pepper no piping"

WHAT HE MEANT: "Swiper no swiping"

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Real Reason to Cut PBS Funding?

Help! I think PBS is giving my son a Canadian accent.

I've discovered that several of the most popular kids' shows on PBS (including "Caillou," "The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That" and "Super Why!") are imports from our neighbors to the north.

That means we have to endure a barrage of "sore-ys" (sorry) and "aboots" (about) — not to mention the relentless storylines featuring snow and ice. [See correction here. -ed.]

Guess what, you culturally insensitive louts: My son has never seen snow or ice, and has no idea what they are. We'd like to keep it that way.

"Caillou" is probably the most offensive. Not only for its Canadianness, but because of its terrible production values.

The animators don't even bother to fill in the edges of the frame! Either they're very lazy or this is a clue that the whole show is just a hazy flashback. I keep hoping a 40-year-old Caillou will wake up and find himself lying on an old mattress in a Jane and Finch* oxycontin den.

Also, what the hell is the dad supposed to be wearing?

I can almost handle the turtleneck and peekaboo cuffs, but I think you'd have to be a West African dictator to pull off those red shoes.

With all the power of Hollywood at our disposal, do Americans really have to put up with this?

This is truly a sore-y state of affairs.

*Note: Jane and Finch is supposedly a dangerous part of Toronto — despite sounding like a shop that sells decorative sconces and porcelain figurines.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

'A is for Alice'

Friends of ours gave Alice this customized hat: "A is for Alice."

It's cute, and instructional. (The hat also provides fodder for my languishing "Baby Fashion" series.)

Alice's brother has gotten good at identifying letters lately. When Elliot sees an A, he'll say, "A is for apple." He knows it stands for Alice too, but he can't pronounce her name. If you ask, "What else does it stand for?" he'll say, "A is for baby!"

That's just confusing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Second-Child Syndrome

Alice turns two months old today, and we couldn't be more thrilled with her.

So I feel a little guilty about her second-class treatment on this blog.

By the time Elliot was two months old, I'd written 77 blog entries about him.

Not counting this entry, Alice has 25.

God forbid we have a third child — they'll be lucky to get a couple tweets and a poorly cropped Flickr photo.

If it's any consolation, Alice, your low profile is only going to save you embarrassment later.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Learning to Say 'Water'

You may have seen this video from the TED conference that's circulating the Web.

If you click to the 4:25 mark, you hear a time-elapsed clip of a baby learning to say the word "water."

As you'll recall, I made my own video of Elliot's first words.

But I think if I had to make a presentation about Elliot learning to say a word *properly*, that audience would still be sitting there now.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dude, You're Doing It Wrong

The good news: Elliot has taken to his big-boy bed with very few complaints or late-night sorties.

That bad news: He doesn't really understand what the pillow is for. That forces him to sleep the wrong way across the bed.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Alice Has Zombie Arms

Alice likes to sleep with arms stretched out in front of her.

Is she dreaming about her insatiable hunger for brains?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Worst Goodie Bag Ever?

When we were leaving Children's Hospital, they offered us a bunch of free packets of Neosporin for Elliot's wound.

Unfortunately, they put them in this "biohazard" bag.

Thanks, Children's Hospital. Way to take a nice gesture and make it TERRIFYING.

Our Trip to the Children's Hospital

We had a scary incident the other night: Elliot tumbled off the couch and into the coffee table. The corner of the table cut into the side of his head, and he started to bleed.

The poor guy is always doing bodily harm to himself in one form or another, so I wasn't that concerned at first. But there was a lot of blood, and when Kelly called the doctor for advice, it was recommended that we take him in.

We went to Children's Hospital of Oakland, where a nurse and two doctors checked him out. They weren't overly concerned with his head wound, which didn't require stitches. But they asked about some of his other injuries. I looked over and realized that in addition to the latest problem, he had two large bruises on his forehead (from the aforementioned "ouch reports"), a bloodied eye from when he slid head first into gravel, and some random scratches. He looked like a performer from a toddler production of "Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark."

Then the doctors went away for a while...a VERY long while.

It seemed pretty obvious they were arranging to remove him from our custody.

I looked at Elliot. Well, buddy, we had a good run — two and a half wonderful years. I hope they're good to you. Do you think they'll let us keep Alice?

As it turns out, they were only gone that long because hospitals are slow and bureaucratic. Hooray.

They came back and gave Elliot a juice box (which didn't seem entirely appropriate considering it was almost 11 at night), then sent us home.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

A Murder Close to Home

I never considered our old neighborhood in SoMa to be especially dangerous, but crime was a factor when we decided to move away. It was the only place I'd ever lived where I heard gunfire at night, and quality-of-life crimes were rampant — graffiti, people peeing in doorways (or worse), sideshowssmashed windows, raves lasting until 10 a.m. There also was that time police shot a crazed driver. In short, it maybe wasn't an ideal place to raise two small children.

Our neighborhood in Berkeley, by comparison, feels like something out of Norman Rockwell: clean streets, friendly neighbors, kids running up and down the sidewalk shrieking with glee.

So it seems ironic that after just three months living here, our street had a homicide today — something that never happened in the old neighborhood.

(Photo courtesy of Berkeleyside)

When I walked home from BART tonight, I had to do a detour around a cordoned-off block to get home.

The Berkeleyside blog reports:
Police received a report of a loud noise and responded to find a “deceased male in the back yard of a home,” according to Lt. Andrew Greenwood of the Berkeley Police Department. The victim had been shot to death.
Police are not identifying the man at this time and there is no information about a possible suspect, said Lt. Greenwood.
According to one of the Berkeleyside commenters, the victim was a father of two. When you hear these things, you try to reassure yourself that it can't happen to you or your family. The majority of murders are committed by acquaintances, so I take solace in the fact that I don't know any murderers.

Still, it's hard to believe that such a crime occurred so close to where Elliot and his 3-year-old friend from up the street were playing this morning.

One (small) silver lining: It was only the first murder in Berkeley in 2011. That means we're on pace for about five this year, slightly fewer than the six in 2010. Coming from the city, it's quite something to be able to count a municipality's homicides on one hand.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Baby Stuffed in Overhead Compartment

This may be the biggest infant-in-peril story out of Australia since Azaria Chamberlain was eaten by dingoes in 1980: A flight attendant for an Australian airline shoved a baby in the overhead bin and closed it.

It seems the flight attendant was engaged in horseplay-gone-wrong (rather than trying to become a folk hero by silencing a screaming infant).

From the Mommy Files blog:
Seventh-month-old Riley Williamson wasn't fussing at all on a [Virgin Blue] flight from Fiji to Sydney. He was engaged in a playful game of peek-a-boo with his father when the attendant decided to join in, scooped up the baby, and put him in the overhead locker. At least that's the story Riley's mother, Natalie Williamson, gave Melbourne's Sunday Herald Sun.

Virgin Blue admits that an incident occurred. The airline fired the flight attendant and offered to reimburse Ms. Williamson for the full amount of two return flights.

But Ms. Williams says that she's too traumatized to fly again.

"My husband, Shayne, was standing one metre behind my son, Riley, when the air steward picked him up and placed him in the overhead compartment," Ms. Williamson told the Herald Sun.

"I stood up and there were people laughing and then I said, 'Get my son out of there now.' I was devastated. I was absolutely devastated. I was crying. My husband was in shock. For days on end I was crying."

My main thoughts are (a) that mom needs to chill (b) the flight attendant was taking peek-a-boo to a whole new level (c) this story would be a lot better if the flight attendant drank a beer and slid down an emergency chute afterwards.

Elliot loves beyond shut into confined spaces — whether it's a cabinet, his "home" or a fort made of cushions.

So if this had happened to him, it might have been the greatest moment of his life.

But who can find enough space for a baby in the overhead bins anymore? It must not have been a full flight.

Monday, March 07, 2011

You Made Your Bed, Now Lie in It

We celebrated a major milestone in our household today: Elliot switched from his crib to a big-boy bed.

He was very excited to help with the construction of the bed, which we got at Ikea. 

Never before has such exuberance for a job been combined with such a degree of ineptitude. It was like trying to build an SQL database with Jessica Simpson.

Finally, we got it put together. I'm hoping it's sturdy enough not to collapse like a soggy taco.

It did manage to support my weight.

The real test of the big-boy bed switch comes this evening. That's when Elliot suddenly finds there's nothing keeping him from terrorizing us in the middle of the night.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Seriously...Another Yaya?

I've discussed the plague of Yayas in our home — mostly as a cautionary tale for future parents.

To recap: As a safeguard, we bought several copies of Elliot's security blanket — known to him as his "Yaya"...with unintended consequences.

Now I find that he had an entirely different Yaya at daycare this whole time. Since he no longer goes to that daycare, it's currently residing at our home.

Unlike the others, it doesn't have a duck head. He refers to it as Misty Yaya (Misty was his old daycare provider), and it appears to have its own etiquette for when he wants it and doesn't want it.

Again, parents — I can't urge you enough: One security blanket per child.

Learn from our story.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Alice's All Smiles

Kelly captured some nice photos of Alice smiling today.

They say girls progress faster than boys, and that seems to be the case with our kids. Elliot didn't reach the smiling stage until he was closer to two months old (though he eventually made up for lost time).

Here's to a long life of one-upping boys, Alice.

How Daycare Is Like Renting a Car

At Elliot's new daycare center in Berkeley, we have to fill out a form every morning when we drop him off. Among other things, there's a space for "any new bumps or injuries." Apparently if your child is damaged, they want to be able to show that it didn't happen on their watch.

It's like when you rent a car and point out any existing dings or scrapes.

As we soon found out, when your child is hurt at daycare, they fill out an Accident "Ouch" Report. Elliot ran into a wall each of the first two days he was there, scraping his head both times.

Two days, two Ouch Reports. Not a good start.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

A Bittersweet Week for Elliot

Elliot is starting at a new daycare/preschool in Berkeley, which means he won't have to commute into San Francisco every day. (Until now, he's still been going to daycare in SoMa.)

But it also means he'll be separated from his best friend Sophia (known to him as "Haha"), along with her mom Misty.

(Photo credit: Papa Jeff)

He's spent most every weekday with Haha since he was a few months old (before he could even sit up), and in many ways they're as close as siblings.

The really heartbreaking part: He naturally assumed she would come with him to the new daycare. We had to tell him that she won't.

UPDATE: Another photo, taken by Misty on Elliot's last day with Sophia.

Drinking buddies