Monday, October 31, 2011

Behold the Webmaster

I came home from work to find that our Halloween display was MUCH IMPROVED. As is the case in general, good things only happen when I'm not involved. (Yes, I realize that the real spider didn't do this.)

The scariest part of the display was probably this discarded newspaper.

I hate that it forced me to confront the grim future of print journalism.

I'm Not Sure This Is Going to Cut It

As I discussed earlier, the pressure is on for us to decorate our house for Halloween. The previous residents made a big deal out of the holiday, and our neighbors are looking to us to continue the tradition.

Well, so far, it doesn't look promising.

On our front door is a pumpkin that Elliot painted at preschool. Hey, I don't want to belittle the kid's artistic abilities, but this is not going to frighten anyone.

We carved pumpkins, with varying degrees of success. This one was created under the direction of Margot, Elliot's cousin.

Elliot's pumpkin is below. Some kind of animal ate away its face last night, which definitely helped make it scarier. But maybe not the good kind of scary.

While I was sizing up our decorations, I noticed I gigantic spider. (I snapped this photo of him after shooing him onto a piece of paper.)

He's probably the most frightening thing we have going. I think I'm going to turn over the decorating tasks to him.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tintin Pumpkin

As Tintin fever heats up in anticipation of the new film, someone in Texas carved this delightful pumpkin (named as a top carving by the This Old House site).

Of course, it couldn't compete with this Steve Jobs pumpkin — way more timely.

'Puppies vs. Babies' Should Resonate in San Francisco

Back when we lived in SoMa, we would take Elliot to an indoor toddler play area called Recess. Directly across the street was a dog "free play" facility called Muttley Crew.

It was always my wish that the dog lovers and the kid lovers would come out to the street for some kind of Jets-vs.-Sharks dance-off ["kid lovers" is maybe not the best phrasing -ed.].

That never happened, but a new show on Animal Planet may be the next best thing: "Puppies vs. Babies."

Having no dog, I think I need to root for the humans.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

'Yo Ho'

I came across a restaurant called Yo Ho in Cary, N.C.

I feel like the local high school kids must have some fun with this one.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Vacation With Small Kids Is No Vacation at All

We spent the past week in North Carolina for my brother's wedding and had a great time. But the trip required us to fly cross-country with two small children (and enough luggage for a passage to India) — something I'm in no hurry to do again.

I think I reached the end of my rope while changing planes in Atlanta. There's nothing like trying to wash and dry a child's poopy underpants in the lavatory of the world's busiest airport  — all while said child wanders around a crowded bathroom with no pants on. An older man (his kids long since grown, I assume) looked over at me and said, "I don't miss that."

The scene was followed by Elliot dropping his suitcase down an escalator, hiding under the seats at the gate and chasing after one of those beeping electric carts.

For much of the time, we rolled Elliot around on his Trunki, which at least kept him moving. Still, he managed to nearly collide with dozens of fellow travelers. It didn't help that many stopped to compliment his matching tiger shoes and luggage.

Alice is always a pretty mellow baby, but she got sick during the trip, which made her more irritable than usual. At one point, Kelly was holding her up to give her a kiss when Alice managed to throw up in Kelly's mouth.

It's become a cliche to say, "I threw up in my mouth a little bit," so I suppose it's refreshing that she threw up in someone else's mouth. No one can say you aren't original, Alice.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Toddler Hugs Dad via Computer

This video is now making the rounds online, acting as a counterpoint to the clip of the baby thinking a magazine is an iPad. In this one, a 2-year-old listens to a prerecorded reading of a story by her dad, who is away on military duty. At the end, the little girl hugs the computer monitor.

Some people have decried the idea of a video standing in for a real person, but really, what's the alternative? In the old days, children of deployed soldiers only would have gotten a few moments on the phone. And anyone who's tried to have a phone conversation with a toddler knows it's not a very satisfying experience for either party.

I'd say this is better than nothing.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hurry, the Light Is Changing...Psych!

I've discussed countdown crosswalk signals before (specifically, the lack of them in New York and the absurdly long countdowns in D.C.).

San Francisco's model makes the most sense to me: The timer counts down until the "don't walk" signal appears. (Crazy, I know.) Well, here in Berkeley, they get a little more creative. Along Martin Luther King Way, the signals often count down, only to switch back to "walk." WTF?

Here's a video shot on Martin Luther King.

I guess the idea is to warn pedestrians that the light *could* be about to change. But if there's no cross traffic, it reverts to "walk."

Still, it's a bit disconcerting. And does it teach people to basically ignore them altogether?

Maybe some traffic engineers out there have thoughts on this.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Darth Elliot

Kids are turning to the Dark Side younger and younger these days.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Is H.O.T. the Worst Public-Safety Acronym Ever?

If you ride BART, you may have seen safety advisories urging you to report anything "H.O.T."

What does H.O.T. stand for? Hidden, Obviously suspicious and not Typical for the location.

Setting aside the fact that it's impossible to call the authorities and say, "Hello, I've just seen something H.O.T." without giggling, this is an absolutely terrible acronym and mnemonic device.

Let's say I spot something odd on BART and need to remember if I should report it. So I summon the H.O.T. system from the recesses of my mind.

Even if I remember what the letters stand for, it's not going to be much help:
—H is for Hidden. This one makes sense. A hidden package is something to report.
—O is for Obviously. Obviously what? If someone is obviously gay, should I report that?
—T is for Typical. This is the worst part of the whole thing, because you're actually looking for something NOT typical. (It's as if LOL stood for "Laughing (not) Out Loud.") So a person has to remember that the T stands for Typical, and then remember that they actually should be remembering the opposite of that.

There hasn't been this strained an acronym since "Come Pet the P.U.S.S.Y."

Monday, October 17, 2011

'The Adventures of Tintin': Unofficial Titles Sequence

A fan of Tintin has created an unofficial titles sequence for the upcoming "Adventures of Tintin" film, and it's pretty great.

The Adventures of Tintin from James Curran on Vimeo.

It references all 24 of the books, including the ones that nobody read ("Tintin in the Land of the Soviets"). It's very elegant in the way it quotes from Herge's work. There's even a spoiler — the clip reveals the thief from "The Castafiore Emerald."

By the way, it looks like the title of the film has changed since I last blogged about it. The name no longer has "The Secret of the Unicorn" in it. Maybe they figured it was too much clutter. (But it worked so well for "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole"!)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Alice Is Ready for Combat

Despite her early precociousness, Alice still isn't fully crawling yet. But she is now doing the same "combat crawl" that Elliot once favored.

She likes to do it while holding Elliot's toy knife, which makes it a bit more menacing.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Baby Doesn't Understand Why Magazine Isn't an iPad

You may have seen this video circulating the Web. A 1-year-old girl struggles to comprehend why photos in a magazine don't zoom when she makes the "swiping" motion with her fingers. (Question: If she's growing up in such a tech-savvy household, why can't her parents hold the camera at the correct angle?)

Alice is currently at the age when she desperately wants to crumple paper into her mouth. So it's safe to say she would prefer a real magazine to an iPad. But we'll see how long that lasts.

When Elliot was still in his paper-eating phase, I captured my own video.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Is This Some Kind of Threat?

This will be our first Halloween in Berkeley, and apparently there's pressure for us to deck out our home. Multiple neighbors have approached Kelly to say that Halloween was a pretty big deal for the old residents of our house, who were fond of elaborate decorations.

I think the neighbors sensed we weren't taking the responsibility seriously enough because I walked outside one morning to find this.

I'm not sure what to make of this, but it does seem like someone wants to send a message.

Is it the Halloween-decoration equivalent of the "Godfather" horse head?

Perhaps they've seen our parkway strip and know that we need a little prodding.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

What's Considered a 'Bad Word'?

Now that Elliot's 3, he's paying much closer attention to the words we use.

Fortunately, my wife and I aren't predisposed to course language (my worst is usually "mothergrabbin'"). When I get upset, it's like watching an edited-for-TV film on the FX channel.

But having a small child really puts a spotlight on the things we say. I never realized how often I utter "What the heck?" until Elliot started repeating the phrase. Kelly got annoyed with this, and now I'm banned from saying it.

Is it profane or vulgar? Maybe not, but I guess you don't want a 3-year-old peppering his language with "What the heck?"

Tonight Elliot had to leave dinner to use the bathroom. His underwear and pants were wet, so I took them off.

Elliot then tried to return to the dining table.

"Wait, you can't do that."


"You need to at least put on clean underwear."


"Because you don't want to get food in your junk."

I realized immediately I'd made a mistake.

"What's 'junk'?" Elliot said.

"Uh, your...area. Down there."

"'Junk,' that's funny, Daddy."

Ugh. That one has definitely been committed to his memory banks.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Girls vs. Boys: Who Will Make My Life More Miserable?

A recent post in the Mommy Files blog discusses how boys are basically a lost cause. You may try to raise them right, but they'll drop out of school, get fired from their jobs, have out-of-wedlock births and play video games all day.

I don't doubt that boys may be trouble later in life, but I currently am dealing with children at an earlier stage — and focused purely on their impact on me.

The fact is, when it comes to babies, boys can be less demanding.

Take the issue of diaper changing. 

Girls are much more likely to have diaper leaks. When they pee, it goes everywhere. Boys, on the other hand, are anatomically predisposed to point toward the diaper pad. That limits the amount of leakage. (Never let it be said that I don't tackle the important issues here at BuboBlog.)

Worse, girls seem to complain when they have even a small amount of pee in their diapers. As I've stated before, boys could have a rodent infestation in their diapers without noticing (in fairness, I'm dealing with a sample size of one, so I probably shouldn't generalize).

The main point is, if you do a half-assed job changing a girls' diaper, THEY CAN TELL. They notice. If this isn't some broader message about dealing with women, I don't know what is.

So when it comes to years 0-1, I have to give the advantage to the boys — in terms of easines.

Stay tuned as I address 2-17.

UPDATE: Kelly makes a good point about spraying the walls. And the fact that they have to sell this product indicates that baby boys aren't actually that easy.

I guess I have to call it a draw for the 0-1 age.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Look Like You're a Really Slow Reader

The New Yorker is selling cases for your iPad or Kindle that look like the cover of a magazine.

It's a fun idea, but are you really going to "look smart" if everyone on the bus thinks you've been reading the same New Yorker for months?

Monday, October 03, 2011

A City Sighs With Relief: the Park Will Open

BuboBlog doesn't normally like to throw around terms like "hugely influential" or "read by power brokers at the highest levels of government," but it's hard to argue with these results.

A few days after we asked why Sue Bierman Park had been closed for so many months (despite seemingly being ready for use), city leaders scrambled to schedule opening ceremonies for tomorrow. (Or maybe the event had been planned all along, whatevs.)

Opening the gates.

Here's the scoop from SF Curbed:
The fence comes down tomorrow along with the 5.3-acre swath of green's official opening at 11am, along with a "special announcement" about Ziptrek, the aerial cable ride across Justin Herman Plaza, flying over Vaillancourt Fountain and the bocce court.
Curbed also shows what the site of the park looked like before the Embarcadero Freeway was torn down.

Photo illustration by SF Curbed. Photo Credit: Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection, Indiana University Archives/Digital Library Program.

It's hard for me to wrap my head around what it must have been like back then  even though I lived in Santa Cruz at the time, and we would come up to visit the city. It's just so radically different now.

I walked by the park this morning and, while the fence was still up, one of the gates was open.

I wondered at the time if it was a trap to lure in "Wall Street" protesters (who have been gathering nearby). So I'm happy to hear the truth.

UPDATE: They've taken down all the fencing, so I was able to take a nighttime stroll through the new park just now.

It looks great. Thanks to everyone who worked on the project — worth the wait.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

I'm Not Sure It Works That Way


"Yes, Elliot."

"I'm going to have a big dream tonight."

"That's great."



"Can you sleep in my bed, so you can see my dream?"