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Zen and the Art of LiveJournal
Chinese Food Mind Games
lucasmembrane
A: It's still pretty soft.
L: Maybe that's all the harder it's supposed to get?
A: *snicker*

(The actual topic of conversation was the handmade soap Amber got at the farmer's market in Seattle. You're supposed to leave it out a while before using it so it hardens up and becomes more like a bar of soap and less like a piece of fudge.)
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lucasmembrane
The area at the front of our Albertsons has gone through a number of iterations since I moved here. First it was an Einsteins Bagels, which closed about six months later. Then it was a seasonal-item-and-weekly-sale nook for a long time. Now it has been replaced with "Roll Your Way," a Japanese fusion place selling sushi and frozen yogurt (!). It opened this weekend, so I decided to try it today.

I learned acouple of things. First, sushi wraps are good. Think hand roll, but with rice paper instead of nori. (I went planning to get a spicy tuna roll, but they won't have rolls till tomorrow.) the proprietor said he was totally a convert to wraps, and I can see how he would be. I don't know if they'll replace rolls for me, but they're good.

Second, and this is the really interesting one: due to a slight dipping sauce accident, I discovered that rice krispie treats with soy sauce and wasabi are fabulous. Whoda thunk?
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lucasmembrane
I just cracked my sternum. First ever broken bone, and it's my bloody sternum. Go figure.

I'd like to say I broke it doing something badass like fighting a clan of ninjas or bungee jumping from an airplane, but no. I tripped stepping over a baby gate and fell on a chair.

I could easily have twisted some, or grabbed the chair, and just been a little banged up. I'd have taken the chair down, or maybe sent it across the room, but I'd have been fine. Unfortunately, the chair was full of Kira at the time, so I just had to watch it coming toward me and take it full in the chest. I bent the fuck out of the top bar of the gate, and it looks like I did some serious structural damage to the chair, but my baby bear is fine :)

What a surreal day.
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lucasmembrane
We watch little enough tv that it is rare that I can point to an occasion in which an advertising campaign really worked on me. But oh man, this morning Kira and I went to McDonalds after we got bored of Zizzo's, and got the good ol' "we're only serving breakfast now" line. It immediately brought to mind the Jack in the Box commercial in which Jack is in the drive thru somewhere and tells the clerk his entire menu is available all day.

Conveniently enough, there was a Jack in the Box right across the street. Nom!
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lucasmembrane
Let's talk a minute about drugs. Specifically, drugs for children and for infants.

Kira is teething. She got two bottom teeth a few months ago, and it's been quiet for a while, but now she has four coming in on top, and she's having a very difficult time sleeping as a result. So, at the doctor's suggestion, we're loading her up on ibuprofen at bedtime, and acetaminophen when she wakes up a few hours later. This definitely helps, but there's one really annoying aspect of it: the bottles of infants' acetaminophen and ibuprofen are tiny.

So today, while at the grocery store looking for more medicine, I did a bit of research and a bit of math. First, it is totally fine to give the children's solution to an infant; you just have to make sure to get the dosage correct, because the infants' drops are more concentrated. And if you look at the cost of each, it is definitely worth doing so. All data are for Albertsons' generic version, and all were on sale by about the same proportion of the original cost.

Infants' Ibuprofen: $7.99 / (50 mg per 1.25 mL x 30 mL per bottle) = $6.66 per gram

Children's Ibuprofen: $4.99 / (100 mg per 5 mL x 120 mL per bottle) = $2.08 per gram

Infants' Acetaminophen: $6.99 / (80 mg per 0.8 mL x 15 mL per bottle) = $4.66 per gram

Children's Acetaminophen: $5.99 / (160 mg per 5 mL x 120 mL per bottle) = $1.56 per gram

Basically, her ibuprofen dosage has gone from 1.875 mL to 3.75 mL, but the bottle volume has quadrupled, so it'll last twice as long. Her acetaminophen dosage has gone from 1.2 mL to 3.75 mL, but the bottle volume has gone up 8-fold, so it'll last 2.5 times as long. And I paid less for both.

Rock, rock on.
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lucasmembrane
So I'm still waiting to hear back about job stuff, but we've already decided that whenever I get a job, even if it's here in SB, we're moving out of this friggin' apartment and into someplace less cheap and ant-infested.

It just occurred to me that another major benefit of moving will be having an apartment with decent climate control. Kira has had lots of trouble sleeping, even after the tubes, and after last night I think a lot of it has to do with temperature. I noticed a while back that she often seemed hot, and slept better when I left the door to her room open. But the kitties would totally try to jump in and sleep with her, so that's not really an option unless we're in there. So I finally took down the plastic sheeting I had put up over her drafty window and opened it, and she slept beautifully from 7pm to 4am, only waking up once to eat. But at 4 she was awake and fussing and wouldn't stay asleep, so after trying a bunch of other stuff I closed her window, wrapped her in a blanket, and laid her back down. Instant sleep, and not a peep since.

Mommy and daddy are kinda slow...
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lucasmembrane
K-bear is a champeen! She got her tubes in this morning, and she's doin fine.

Protip for anyone going into medicine: if something is normal or expected, tell the patient/parent immediately - you'll save everyone a lot of trouble. We knew going in that people can be sad or sick coming off of anesthesia, and figured it'd be the same for a baby, so we weren't too worried at first when we met her in the recovery room and she was crying inconsolably. Thing is, when she's upset she won't breastfeed. Party line among the breastfeeding fanatics (which seems to be pretty much everyone these days) is that breastfeeding is the ultimate soothing device (the implication being that not breastfeeding is tantamount to torture). In actual fact, it's as individual as everything else. When she was younger, Kira did find it soothing, but nowadays less so. Comfort comes from a binky; food comes from mommy.

So when she wouldn't eat after surgery, we weren't too concerned. Get her a bottle and a nap and she'll be fine. But the nurses kept insisting that we try to breastfeed, and implying that something must be wrong if she wouldn't eat, which after a while started working *us* up into a panic. It wasn't until after I got her to drink a little juice and take a nap that they said "yeah, we see that a lot - she was pretty easy compared to some babies."

Um. Thanks. Y'know, if you'd told us that half an hour ago, we'd all be a lot happier.

But anyway. She's happy, mom's napping, so it's all good.
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lucasmembrane
So Amber found an interesting chemist position with the Navy, and I went to apply for it. I gotta say, their security measures don't exactly fill me with confidence. Not only is their security certificate invalid, their password requirements are as follows:

"Your password must have 2 upper case letters, 2 lower case letters, 2 numbers, 2 special characters, and be a minimum of 9 characters and a maximum of 12 characters in length."

Um. I wonder if anyone realizes how small that password space is. They've gone and tacked on so many password strength requirements and specified such a narrow range for the length that the system is probably significantly less secure than our bank login, which just requires a capital letter and/or number.

Oh yeah, and because nobody in the world can remember a password that fulfills all those requirements, once you create an account they email it to you in cleartext.

Good job there, guys.

ETA: Actually, turns out they only email you the password hint, so that's something.
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lucasmembrane
10g of purified polymer, about half a week's worth of work, down the tubes. NextGen sent the batch back to me because there was an issue with an unknown trace impurity causing it to polymerize and degrade. We didn't know what the impurity was, but I know how to clean it up - I spent the day yesterday repurifying it, and ended the day with a nice fluffy white powder in a flask. I was running out of time, so rather than transferring it into a vial and putting it under vacuum, I just purged the flask with nitrogen and stuck a stopper in it so I could finish today.

Today, I have a flask of yellow gunk.

On the plus side, I now know what our trace impurity is. Or at least, if I don't know its exact chemical structure, I at least know what role it plays in the degradation of our material.

The stopper I put in the flask had previously been used for a solution of an acid chloride, which contained a significant quantity of dissolved HCl gas. The stopper was washed, but apparently had enough HCl adsorbed on the surface that when I put it into a nitrogen-purged flask, it generated some HCl in the gas phase over the sample (which I could smell when I opened the flask today). Our material (see this paper) is a both a bis-lactone and a Diels-Alder adduct. Polymerization usually occurs by equilibrium between the Diels-Alder and retro-Diels-Alder reactions, with the esters staying untouched. I had assumed that the impurity caused polymerization by somehow reducing the activation energy of the retro-Diels-Alder reaction, which would be bizarre, but it was the best I could come up with.

Not so - turns out it's much simpler than that. Trace acid catalyzes cleavage of the lactone at one of the ester groups, giving a free alcohol that can react with a second ester, and so on. Polymerization is happening at the ester groups, rather than at the Diels-Alder adduct. The polymer that is produced by this process is structurally identical, at least in principle, to the polymer we produce the usual way, except for the fact that whatever impurity catalyzes the initial ring-opening gets incorporated into the material, leading to absolute crap rather than a beautiful self-healing structural polymer.

Bloody hell.
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lucasmembrane
Kira rolled over yesterday! She did it once when Daddy wasn't looking, and once when Mommy wasn't in the room, and once more for both of us. Every time she had the most ridiculous grin on her face, like she'd just gotten off the most awesome amusement park ride ever.

Also, she had her 4-month check-up and immunizations on Tuesday. We've been joking for a while about her big head, but the doctor confirmed it: height and weight, 50th percentile; head circumference, 75th percentile. Baby bear has a huuuuuuuge melon!

Now she just needs to start talking so I can teach her to say "I have a huge melon!" And maybe "Mein kopf ist groß!"
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lucasmembrane
Natural Parenting

The rollover text cracked my shit up.
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lucasmembrane
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
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lucasmembrane
"It's like a post-apocalyptic landscape, where the survivors are fighting over the salvageable remnants of civilization."

-- Amber, on the current state of the UC system
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lucasmembrane
Our baby-bear is apparently going thru her first growth spurt, and has decided that daylight hours are for excessive sleeping, while the period from midnight to 10am is reserved for constant nursing. Well, nearly constant. There are a few 10-20 minute breaks in there. Unfortunately, this schedule doesn't jive with things like going to the doctor, getting and eating food for ourselves, and suchlike. So papa-bear got 3 hours of sleep last night, has not yet slept at all tonight, and has to get up in 2.5 hours to talk to a doctor about mama-bear's probably-a-kidney-stone abdominal pain.

Oh well. I have never really been able to nap - maybe now I'll finally learn how :)
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lucasmembrane
So after a bit of figuring (which took me much longer than it should have), I have determined that Kira's birthday will be on Friday the 13th three times at eleven-year intervals in a 28 year period. The first one will be next year, at age 1, then at 12, 23, 29, 40, 51, etc.

Her first birthday cake needs a black cat on it.

(Not a real black cat. As much as Keyser likes wrecking shit, I don't think he likes cake.)
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lucasmembrane
BackstoryCollapse )

So in the hospital, when they switched to the Dilaudid, they were giving Amber 2 pills every 4 hours. After discharge, the doctor gave us a prescription (one of the uber-fancy submission-in-triplicate prescription forms you need for DEA schedule II substances) for hydromorphone 4 mg, with the instructions to take 1-2 every 4 hours as needed. Amber took 2 as soon as I got them home, and then remarked "those seemed bigger than the ones in the hospital..." I told her that it was just the manufacturer; the pharmacy gave us a generic version, whereas at the hospital we were getting brand-name Dilaudid. I promised that I would call the hospital and verify that the dosage was the same (and then promptly forgot).

An hour or so later, she roused herself from a doze on the couch and started to ask me a question. I'm not sure what it was, and neither is she, because the phrases that came out bore only the vaguest semblance of coherence. She seemed to realize it partway through and restarted, but every time she tried to clarify or explain, she got more and more disjointed, until she trailed off after a few words that, as far as I could tell, had absolutely nothing to do with anything. After a couple of minutes of silence, she said (with obvious effort) "you should call the hospital."

A bit later, on the phone with the maternity ward, my conversation went something like this:

Me: "Can you tell me what Amber's dose of Dilaudid was? I just filled the prescription and I'm not sure that it's right."
Amber: "They're going to tell you what she prescribed, not what they were giving me."
Nurse 1: "It looks like she prescribed 4 mg, 1 to 2 every 4 hours."
Me: *headdesk*
Me: "Can you tell me what dosage she was given while *in* the hospital?"
Nurse 1: "Um. ... Let me transfer you."
(Nurse 2 gets on the line. I repeat the question.)
Nurse 2: "Nope, the dosage is exactly the same."
Me: "The total dose, or the indiv---"
Nurse 2: "It's the same dose, 4 mg."
Me: *sigh*
Me: "She got 2 pills. Was that 2 4-mg pills, or 2 2-mg pills?"
Nurse 2: *clearly thinks I'm a complete idiot*
Nurse 2: "The dosage was 4 mg. 2 2-mg pills - 4 mg total."
Me: "........ Ah. Well. That explains a lot."
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lucasmembrane
The kitties don't know what to make of this new creature we brought home. Axel's response is pretty straightforward and predictable; Keyser, on the other hand, seems to be weighing his options. I imagine a conversation between them would go something like this:

Keyser: The big monkeys brought something home.
Axel: Ooh, ooh, what is it?
Keyser: I don't know what it is. I can't tell if it's a wussy cat or a tiny monkey.
Axel: Maybe it needs a bath!
Keyser: Whatever it is, it's sitting on my monkey's lap. I'd better fuck it up.
Axel: I want to sit on it and bathe it!
Keyser: But if I fuck it up, my monkey might be mad. I'd better plan this carefully so you take the blame.
Axel: I'll love it forever and ever and ever!

Current Mood: amused amused

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lucasmembrane
http://picasaweb.google.com/lucasmembrane/KiraSBirth#
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lucasmembrane
Kira Eden Westcott-Baker was born by Cesarean at 14:57 on Thursday, August 13, weighing 3.79 kg (8 lb, 6 oz).

Pictures to come when I find the card reader.

:D :D :D
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lucasmembrane
So I haven't posted a pregnancy-related entry since 3/25. Mostly I haven't felt it necessary, since Amber writes a lot. Or maybe I are a lazy bum. But for the \epsilon of you who (a) care enough about what's going on to read this, and (b) don't read Amber's journal, here's the latest.

Details. Nothing too squicky, unless the word 'vaginal' or the concept of 'cervical dilation' bothers you, in which case, why are you still reading this?Collapse )
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