Monthly Archives: April 2008

Misty Loses at Vomit Roulette Once Again

This morning as I was showering I was thinking of this website and feeling the pressure of not having made a post in a couple of days. I wondered what to write about and decided to see where the day would take me.

Eli had a dental checkup this morning and all went well except the dentist insists that Eli now give up his pacifier. He started to whinge about it before we even got to the car. I struck a deal with him. If he could do without the binky and the bulk of the moaning about the binky for a whole week, then next Wednesday we’d go to the Pizza Rat, a.k.a. Chuck E. Cheese’s, for lunch. He agreed to it and was unusually silent during the ride towards home. I asked him a couple of times what he was thinking and he said he was thinking about going to Chuck’s.

About 3 blocks from home he started coughing. I asked if he was ok and I passed him a napkin just in time for him to throw up all over the napkin, himself, the car seat and the backseat.

I don’t know if you missed the post from this weekend but I’ve already had my quota of vomit for a while. Also, Stephen and I struck a deal back four years ago when I was pregnant that he would deal with the vomit and I would deal with the blood. Yeah, so far that deal has not worked out in any shape or form.

I’d just like to let the universe, and you guys, in on a little secret: I hate vomit. I hate to do it myself, I hate to smell other people’s and I most especially hate to clean it up. Even more so when it’s to clean it out of the car seat, the crack of the backseat, and the seatbelt.

I suppose I should be thankful that I’ve had to deal with more vomit than blood but is it too much to ask to not have to deal with either one?

I Survived ROFLCon

The conference was both stranger than I imagined and far more fun than I could have hoped for. Many of the guest who attended were like me: they did a random thing that became unexpectedly popular. And many of the attendees seemed to find it as fun as I did, and looked to be having a great time of it.

Overall: a completely surreal and fun weekend.

[tags]roflcon, it’s full of weird[/tags]

Selling Parents Fear

In March, Lenore Skenazy let her nine-year old son ride home from Bloomingdale’s on the New York subway — by himself. Then she made the mistake of writing about it in the NY Sun.

As you can imagine, a lot of parents thought she was nuts. Her son could have been abducted! It wasn’t safe!

Being a parent means having sudden, unexpected moments of panic when your child drops a heavy weight on his head or stuffs undoubtedly poisonous plant leaves in her mouth. Really, it’s a wonder we don’t lock ourselves and our kids inside and never venture out, except then radon would kill us.

There are, of course, a bunch of products that play on those fears. You want to baby-proof your home, and looking at everything you could buy you might think it’s possible, but you can’t, short of removing all plants, books, sharp corners, and electricity. You can make your home reasonably safe, but true baby-proofing short of putting your kid in a giant hamster ball is unachievable.

Even once you’ve given up on making your child perfectly safe, how do you decide what’s reasonable? For instance, what about SafetyTats, temporary tattoos with your cell phone on them? The company’s very tag line is, “just in case.” At first I didn’t see the need for them — Eli is quite capable of telling sales clerks that he’s lost. But what if we were in an amusement park, where Eli or Liza could get very, very lost and it could be hard to track us down? What if I had a non-verbal or autistic child?

Overall I decide what’s reasonable to worry about by how likely it is to happen. That’s one reason why I don’t even worry about anyone abducting Eli or Liza. In 2004, The Today Show claimed that 58,000 children go missing each year. According to US Census data, there were 72 million children under the age of 18 in 2000. That works out to an abduction rate of 80 per 100,000 children. However, the 58,000 number covers all “non-family abductions”. There’s more to it than meets the eye, as the STATS.org report explained.

But in such cases, as the media rarely notes, 90 percent of “abductees” return home within 24 hours. The vast majority are teenagers running away with friends or romantic partners and over 99 percent are returned alive and uninjured. (Although many teen girls are involved with sexual activity during the time when they are “missing,” the statistics do not distinguish between voluntary and coerced sex because if the girl is under-age and the male is not, she is not considered capable of consent. The majority of the “missing children” covered by this statistic (65%) are female and 59% are aged 15-17.)

This time [in 2006], Today was more conservative in its estimate, claiming that only 5,000 children go missing each year. While this is an improvement over 58,000, the implication is still that there are 5,000 stereotypical kidnappings, in which a stranger or acquaintance abducts a child to hold for ransom or abuse and kill him or her. According to the Justice Department, there are only about 115 such incidents each year.

115 a year works out to be less than 1/5 of a child per 100,000 kids. For comparison, in 2003 the leading cause of death for children was unintentional injury, at a rate of 1,000 or more per 100,000 children, spiking to 15,000 per 100,000 for kids over the age of 15. More than half of those unintentional injury deaths come from moving vehicle accidents. Even if you accept the inflated rate of 80 abductions per 100,000 children, that rate is still beaten out by homicide, suicide, heart disease, and even the flu.

If I’m going to live my life, I only have so much time to worry and plan for contingencies. Given that, I think I’ll make sure Eli and Liza’s car seats are buckled in correctly and that they get their flu shots.

Why Do People Miss Planes?

I used to stand in the ticket counter line and wonder why people weren’t showing up to get on their flight. What causes people to not go on their trips they’ve planned for months? A death in the family, surely. An emergency root canal, maybe. The nastiest stomach bug I’ve ever had, yes, yes, and yes.

Stephen and I were supposed to leave for Boston Thursday morning. I was up with Eli all night with the vomiting extravaganza. Thursday morning we made the call that since Eli had been so sick and Liza had never had anything like it before, I should stay home. All day Thursday I wondered if I made the right call. Eli seemed fine. Liza showed no symptoms.

Around 4 p.m. I started feeling sick to my stomach. For those who don’t know this already, pizza is a very, very bad idea when you are staring into the abyss of a known stomach virus.

Last night is a blur for me of fevered dreams, trips to the bathroom and trying to help Stephen’s parents with Liza. Liza’s version of the stomach bug is a random up and down fever and yesterday’s masterful total of seven poopy diapers. She had two big naps today, unheard of for her, and I just put her to bed. For the first time ever, Liza fell asleep while I was singing to her. Here’s to hoping we have a better night tonight than last night.

Meanwhile, I have gotten several phone calls from Stephen in Boston. He’s having a blast. My pass for the Con went to our friend Zarf so he too could bask the the ROFL glory. Stephen and a bunch of friends were headed to dinner when I talked to him earlier. He’s supposed to bring me some ROFL swag. (Hi Honey! Don’t forget my souvenir!)


Here’s Stephen on the LOLCat Panel from this afternoon. Thanks to varmazis for the photo. She also has some other good photos up from today’s panels.

So now I know what it takes to miss a trip. I would have rather gone to Boston, that’s for sure. But hey, at least I stayed home and actually got sick. If I’d stayed home and been fine, then I would have really been steamed.

ROFLCon Bingo

I’ve finished my panel, which was entirely too entertaining. With luck there will be an online version of it for everyone to see.

In the meantime, here is a bingo card for anyone who is actually at ROFLCon and wants a way to pass the time during panels.

A bingo card for ROFLCon panels

[tags]roflcon, panels are often annoying[/tags]

We’re Headed to ROFLCon

That’s right, there’s an entire convention about internet memes, and I’m going to be there this Friday on a lolcat panel talking about loltrek. An entire convention about Tron Guy and Leeroy Jenkins taking place at MIT, and I’m one of the invited guests!

You know, I used to do serious science and dream of giving an invited talk at a conference. This is just like that, only about pictures of cats with pasted-on captions written in Impact.

Sony Vegas Script to Change the Pixel Aspect Ratio of Images

I spent far too long getting this to work again because I forgot to transfer the script from one computer to another, and all of the web references to this technique are, shall we say, broken like a character on Battlestar Galactica. So for anyone else who might need this, I give you a Sony Vegas script to change the pixel aspect ratio of all images in your media pool, written in C#.


/**
 * This script sets the Pixel Aspect Ratio of all images to be 0.9091.
 *
 * Author: Stephen Granade      Date: 21 April 2008
 **/

using System.Text.RegularExpressions;
using Sony.Vegas;

public class EntryPoint {
  public void FromVegas(Vegas vegas) {
    foreach (Media media in vegas.Project.MediaPool) {
      Match m = Regex.Match(media.FilePath, "(jpe?g|png|gif)");
      if (m.Success) {
        VideoStream vs = media.GetVideoStreamByIndex(0);
        vs.PixelAspectRatio = 0.9091;
      }
    }
  }
}