Hoo boy; the transition

Hoo boy; the transition from non-parent to parent is one of those things that everyone talks about in whispers. “What are the first weeks like?” “Ha ha ha, you’ll find out!” [dramatic pause] “…you’ll find out.

So, what’s it like? Not all that bad, yet, frankly. Lydia has been staying in the nursery, and the nurses have been changing her diaper, and we just show up to feed her every three hours. So for the past three days, it’s only been two hourlong midnight trips per night, and no diapers to change yet.

Yes, yes, I hear you saying it: “…you’ll find out.

She’s a wiggly little package, and it’s been a joy to hold her. I’ve gotten past the holding-the-baby-like-porcelain phase, but not to the harlem-globetrotter phase like the nurses have yet. Though there’s plenty of time to get there, I know! Bath class is at 11AM, then I’m going to run to the cleaners, go breast pump shopping, etc. Lydia has three phases of consciousness:


  • Out like a light.
  • Feeding
  • Out like a light.

Attention grandparents! Photos added!

Hoo boy; the transition

Okay, just so my child

Okay, just so my child will be Googled before she’s twelve hours old:

Lydia Baldwin Young
Born February 19th, 2004 2:52 AM
6 pounds, 3.6 ounces. 19.2 inches!

Lydia Baldwin Young

Lydia arrived five weeks early or two weeks early, depending on which figures you go by. She’s pink and healthy and basking under the warmer in the nursery: though technically a preemie, she’s been evaluated and put in the “regular, healthy ol’ baby” category. She was delivered last night by a C-section because Kate’s water broke and labor started while Lydia was in the breech position.

I’ve been kicked out of the maternity room because Kate has a roommate this morning, and visiting hours for dads don’t begin until 10AM. So I’m releasing my relief, excitement, and overjoyed-ness on this blog!

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!

Okay, just so my child

So, the whole astronomy

Click the image to see the bigger version

So, the whole astronomy thing made me realize that I should make a master time traveler’s timeline first, which made me realize: the world is only human-habitable for about 1 billion of its 11-billion year existence! Before about 500 million years ago, there’s nothing to eat. About 500 million years from now, the sun will be too hot for human life (not just because of the greenhouse effect, but because it’ll be expanding and burning hotter.)

The image above is a kind of wireframe I’m putting together. Click on it to see a bigger version. I’m sure that I’ve made some errors, but I hope a geologist will straighten me out.

So, the whole astronomy

Here’s what I’m working

The view from West Chester, Pennsylvania on March 30th, 1000 BCE.  On the day of the Vernal Equinox, the sun is in the constellation of Aries, not Pisces (like it is in the 21st century.)
Here’s what I’m working on right now for my book project, tentatively titled something like The Time Traveler’s Pocket Reference Guide. I’ve had some input from helpful astronomers at the US Naval Observatory [transcript of conversation so far], and I’m using the unbelievably kick-ass software Starry Night to simulate astronomical observations from ancient times.

Basically, the book is a pocket reference and survival guide for time travelers. One of the first problems confronting a traveler to the distant past is to find out when they are, starting with broad epochs. Hopefully, the traveler will be able to do this with only naked-eye observations, and reference to charts that can fit in a small book (that also will be crammed with blueprints for the internal combustion engine, maps of major trade routes, phrase books for important languages, and the hottest stocks to buy in 1900.) Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

HOW TO DETERMINE THE APPROXIMATE CENTURY FROM THE STARS:
(Still to come: how to determine a more precise year, if you find that you're within
the scope of recorded history.  This will likely come from Dr. Thomas Corbin's suggestion
to use a table of synodic periods for Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus.)
1. Determine whether you are on the northern or southern hemisphere by reference
to a simple constellation chart [star chart to be included].  Locate the
constellations that lie along the sun, moon, and planet's path across the
sky.  These constellations are the familiar Zodiac constellations, and are
useful for reference, especially if you can collaborate with a local astronomer.
2. Locate the four points of the compass by finding Polaris (northern hemisphere)
or by finding Sigma Octantis (southern hemisphere), then determining the
locations of east and west on the horizon.  You may wish to erect markers or
standing stones to help remember these locations, as many ancient peoples have done.
3. Each day, monitor sunrise to find the day at which the sun rises most exactly
to the east.  This is the vernal equinox, the day on which day and night are
exactly equal everywhere in the world.  There are two equinoxes
each year; the vernal equinox and the autumnal equinox.  Since the chart
below references only the vernal equinox, you'll need to determine
which equinox you're looking at.
* In the northern hemisphere, the sun will rise a small amount further to
the North each day as the vernal equinox passes, and each day will get slightly
longer and warmer.  The opposite is true of the autumnal equinox.
* In the southern hemisphere, the sun will rise a small amount further to to
the South each day as the vernal equinox passes, and each day will get slightly
shorter and cooler.  The opposite is true of the vernal equinox.
4. Note in what constellation the sun rises on the day of the vernal equinox, and
refer to the chart below to determine the your approximate
temporal location.
LOCATION OF SUN
AT VERNAL EQUINOX     	YEAR
Pisces		 2000 CE -     1 CE
Aries		    1 BCE -  2000 BCE
Taurus		 2000 BCE -  4000 BCE
Gemini		 4000 BCE -  6500 BCE
Cancer		 6500 BCE -  8000 BCE
Leo		 8000 BCE - 10500 BCE
Virgo		10500 BCE - 12500 BCE
Libra		12500 BCE - 15000 BCE
Scorpio		15000 BCE - 17000 BCE
Sagittarius	17000 BCE - 19500 BCE
Capricorn	19500 BCE - 21500 BCE
Aquarius	21500 BCE - 24000 BCE
This cycle repeats, so it's possible that if the sun rises in Aquarius, you're
either temporally located in 24,000 BCE or 48,000 BCE.  Add 26,000 years to each date
to determine other possibilities for your location.
Further back in time than 50,000 BCE, you may not be able to recognize
constellations.  If this is the case, you'll need to pay less attention to the
astronomical date and more attention to the geologic and evolutionary progression
of the Earth itself.
This method will not work if you are very close to either the North pole
or the South pole.  If this is the case, however, it's assumed that you'll have
other, more pressing issues to worry about than the exact year.  You may look for
Polaris to determine if you are in immediate danger of being hunted by a polar bear:
polar bears are only found in the southern hemisphere, in Antarctica.
Here’s what I’m working

Kate and I had newborn

Kate and I had newborn care class yesterday morning, and breastfeeding class in the afternoon, and the little baby is growing larger and larger and continuing to do fetal karate. I’ve been reading a chapter of Anne of Green Gables to Kate and the baby every night (and now, sometimes in the middle of the night when Kate can’t sleep.) We started with Penrod books, but they were full of shrieking boys, and since the family is now likely to be two-thirds female, I accepted the majority preference and we switched from Penrod’s mustachioed and ensanguinated “HARoLD RAMoREZ THE RoADAGENT” to Anne’s much more feminine dryad.

And, of course, we’ve been thinking a lot about parenthood:

The Lanyard
By Billy Collins

The other day as I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room
bouncing from typewriter to piano
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
I found myself in the "L" section of the dictionary

where my eyes fell upon the word, Lanyard.
No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one more suddenly into the past.
A past where I sat at a workbench
at a camp by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid thin plastic strips into a lanyard.
A gift for my mother.
I had never seen anyone use a lanyard.
Or wear one, if that�s what you did with them.
But that did not keep me from crossing strand over strand
again and again until I had made a boxy, red and white lanyard
for my mother.
She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,
set cold facecloths on my forehead
then led me out into the airy light
and taught me to walk and swim and I in turn presented her with
a lanyard.
"Here are thousands of meals" she said,
"and here is clothing and a good education."
"And here is your lanyard," I replied,
"which I made with a little help from a counselor."

"Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth and two clear eyes to read the world."
she whispered.
"And here," I said, "is the lanyard I made at camp."

"And here," I wish to say to her now,
"is a smaller gift. Not the archaic truth,
that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took the two-toned lanyard
from my hands,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless worthless thing I wove out of boredom
would be enough to make us even.”

Kate and I had newborn

Kate and I attended our

Kate and I attended our fourth (and last) childbirth class on Monday night. There were ten couples in all; somewhat older than I would have expected (late twenties and early thirties), and much more affluent than I would have guessed (Chester county is more of a Volkswagen area than a Mercedes area, but the cars in the birth class’ parking lot were definitely of the leather-seat variety.) No wonder every time Kate tries to buy something at Mimi Maternity or Babies R Us, the person behind the counter tries to shake her down for her valuable personal information.

Seriously, just as I have become a tinfoil-hat type at Radio Shack, so has Kate become at the maternity stores: paying in cash, refusing to divulge our zip code, wearing a bushy set of ginger whiskers while examining infant seats. I’m afraid that ChoicePoint or one of the other big data vendors has already spotted us, holding us in its baleful orange gaze like the Eye of Sauron, and that we’re doomed to receive a deluge of targeted promotional materials for the rest of our lives. Pottery Barn! Frontgate! Free trial subscription to Parenthood magazine! Resistance is futile!

In the birthing class, the nurse explained to us that the baby will be LoJacked within moments of birth (which doesn’t bother me too much), that the footprints will be taken within minutes (again, no problem), and that the baby will not be released from the hospital until we have applied for a Social Security Number. (!!!)

Sigh. Just as the baby already has worldly possessions (five or six stuffed animals, some onesies, some really great books), I wonder what the first marketing datum captured will be. Our use of a diaper service, triggering a trial subscription to Mother Jones magazine? An automated search on this blog:


“SELECT ssn FROM indexer.findAllBlogs() WHERE ‘baby’ NEAR ‘mercedes’ ADD TO Oracle.tables.rich_assholes”

Kate and I attended our