Monthly Archives: October 2006

EMP Q and A

I’ve gotten some questions in emails and comments on other sites regarding my EMP discussion. The science is all well and good, but give some practical advice!

See, there’s your problem. You know what we call the practical side of physics? Engineering. And it’s those engineers that build weapons of mass destruction and my orbital death lasers and the like, not physicists. Anyway, I’ll see if I can give more practical answers, but don’t hold your breath.

Does it matter if an electrical appliance is plugged in or not?

Ooh, good question. If you’ve got something plugged in, it’ll likely get more EMP. Power lines can act like antennas and conduct the EMP right into your appliance.

What if the electrical appliance is running?

Mmm, I wouldn’t expect that to make much of a difference.

Hey, in Jericho that lady’s Rolex died from the EMP. Would that really happen?

Most cheaper watches are electronic, and keep time by measuring the piezoelectric oscillation frequency of a little chip of quartz. EMP is likely to zap those kinds of watches. But a Rolex? Those are normally mechanical rather than electronic. The EMP shouldn’t do anything to them.

Would my car still work?

Depends on how old it is. Your fancy-schmancy CPU-controlled electronic fuel injectors are likely to die, as are any other electronics in your car. Older cars are more likely to be okay, since their electrical systems are mostly just wires, like the starter.

Can you fix stuff that an EMP has damaged?

For the most part, no. Well, let me back-pedal some: you can’t fix the individual components, but you might be able to fix the whole device by swapping out undamaged parts. Semiconductors such as transistors and diodes fail by melting internally and causing a short, and there ain’t no fixing that. Capacitors will fail when the EMP-induced voltage is more than the capacitors’ dielectric breakdown threshold, and then they’re useless. If plain vanilla wires are damaged, it’ll be from them shorting through their insulation and into neighboring wires. That’ll mostly happen when the wires are coiled up, like in transformers. Replace the insulation (or, heck, the entire wire) and you should be okay.

Come on, can’t you just tell us what will survive and what will fry?

Not easily. It depends on too many variables. How strong was the bomb? How high was the detonation? Is the equipment inside a building that has a lot of metal in it, which will shield stuff that’s inside? Is the equipment near an unshielded power line?

I can tell you what’ll be zapped first. Semiconductors are the most susceptible, especially low-power transistors. Capacitors are next, then film resistors, then wire-wrapped resistors, then wire-coil devices like transformers and inductors and car starters. So anything computerized or that has a circuit board in it is most susceptible, but your old-fashioned toaster is probably okay.

But if the EMP is strong enough, everything’s going to go. Fuses will blow, circuit breakers will trip, wires will arc, and everyone is out of luck.

Caution: Student Driver

The following story contains references to vomit. In fact, the very first sentence of this blog post proper contains the word “vomit”. Read on at your own peril.

At the end of last week we were the House of Vomit. On Thursday Eli got some kind of stomach bug that involved him throwing up every thirty minutes or so. He threw up so much that we had to make a game of it. “Grab your bowl! Can you hit it? Can you keep it all in your bowl? Good job!” And then Misty would run off to have a sympathy vomit of her own.

A number of our friends have been kind enough to supply us with food in this, our time of trouble. Amy and Rick and Jessica and Remy and Hallie have given us dinner, since the smell of food being prepared brings on Misty’s hurling. There’s a narrow window of opportunity for her to eat before, like the Bay of Fundy’s tides, the flow of food will reverse.

Aren’t you glad I keep talking about vomit? Thrill with me, Internet, at our tales of gastrointestinal distress!

Thursday Amy came over with soup. Eli decided to charm her by putting his brain on speakerphone and connecting all of his thoughts together with the word “and”. “I have cars and there is a track in my room and you put them down and they go VROOM and they drive around and around and around and and and you wait and then the light is green and green means go.”

Amy, bemused, asked, “And what does red mean?”

“Red means STOP!”

“And what does yellow mean?”

Eli looked puzzled. “No, not yellow, orange. Orange means GO FASTER!” And he pumped his arms like he was running very fast.

A Physicist Grudgingly Admits That Jericho Got EMPs Right

Since I grumbled about how Jericho dealt with fallout and nuclear weapons, I should be happy that the CBS show mostly got electromagnetic pulses correct. Right? Right?

You must be new here. As long-time readers know, I’ll lecture at a drop of the hat. Jericho may have gotten EMPs right, but that’s not enough — you must know why their treatment of EMPs is right.

Yes, I used to get paid for teaching physics. Why do you ask?

Electromagnetic Radiation

To start with, let’s discuss electromagnetic waves, since they’re at the heart of how electromagnetic pulses work. Those of you who remember this stuff from high school or college physics classes may skip down to the next big heading.

Anything that has an electrical charge produces an electric field. Anything that is magnetic produces a magnetic field. Broadly speaking, electricity and magnetism are related. For example, electricity flowing through a wire causes a magnetic field, which is how electromagnets work.

You know how, if you take a rope, tie one end to something, and wiggle the other end up and down, you’ll make waves? You can make waves in the electric field and the magnetic field. The easiest way to do this is wiggle something charged up and down. If you take an electron, which is negatively charged, and move it up and down, up and down, it will make waves in both the electric and magnetic field, just like wiggling the end of the rope makes waves along the rope. In fact, you can just move the electron in a straight line and it will make waves in the electromagnetic field. Those waves are called electromagnetic waves or electromagnetic radiation.

Even if you don’t know it, you’re familiar with EM radiation. The light coming from your computer screen is a type of EM radiation. So are the microwaves that your microwave oven puts out. There’s a whole bunch of those waves. What kind of wave they are depends on how fast the wave is wiggling. If the wave is wiggling slowly, you get radio waves that you can listen to in your car. If you wiggle a little faster, you get microwaves to cook your food. Faster still and you’re into infrared that the Predators use, then visible light, then the ultraviolet light that gives you your tan, and on and on through x-rays and eventually to gamma rays. The faster the wave is wiggling, the more energy the wave has. We call this rate of wiggling the wave’s frequency, and we measure the frequency in Hertz. One hertz means one wiggle per second.

(Note that I’m talking about how fast the wave wiggles back and forth, not how fast the wave is moving. All EM waves move at the speed of light.)

Nuclear Weapons Make EM Radiation

When an atomic bomb goes off, you get EM radiation. The most dangerous are the gamma rays. That’s the radiation that will fry you dead.

The gamma rays also do something else: they knock electrons off of atoms in the air through a process known as Compton scattering. The gamma rays have enough energy that, if they smack an electron, they rip the electron out of the loving embrace of its atom’s nucleus. The end result is a bunch of electrons running free in about the same direction as the gamma rays were originally going. Since the electrons are moving, they make electromagnetic waves. But they don’t just move in a straight line: they spiral around some because they’re in the Earth’s magnetic field. They look kind of like those seeds that helicopter around as they fall. What you end up with is a big pulse of electromagnetic radiation that’s moving out spherically from the nuclear bomb, and that radiation has all kinds of different frequencies. It’s mostly radio waves, which is why the EMP doesn’t really do anything to people.

Why is this a problem, then? Because all of this EM radiation is carrying energy, and it whacks into electronics very very fast. The EM radiation causes voltage spikes that happen in a millionth of a second or faster. Those voltage spikes do very bad things to unshielded electronic components, like heat them up. Semiconductors are toast. Transistors and diodes melt across their junctions. Capacitors explode like popcorn. You can even fry resistors.

Location, Location, Location

So why didn’t this happen to Jericho when the first bomb went off? As in real estate, it’s all about location. If you’re near the ground — 200 meters up or lower — a lot of your gamma rays go into the ground. You get an intense EMP up to around 5 kilometers from the bomb’s location, and less EMP out to 10+ kilometers.

Go higher, up to around 40 km, and you get a different story. I mentioned that the EMP’s radiation travels out from the bomb in roughly a straight line, which is why you have to have direct line-of-sight to the bomb itself to suffer EMP effects. Up higher, you can see it from further away.

But if you really want a strong EMP, you need to get your bomb 40 km high or higher. That’s the high-altitude burst region. The atmosphere is thin, so gamma rays travel far before they start smacking electrons around. The gamma rays that are headed down produce the EMP starting at around 40 km high and continuing down to a height of 20 km. You can blanket a lot more of the ground with EMP if you’re that high, and the EM radiation is very strong.

If you were a mad scientist bent on screwing the US over, you’d need to go really really high. A big hydrogen bomb detonated about 400 km above Kansas would blanket the continental US with an EMP. Of course, the International Space Station orbits some 360 km up, so it’s not the kind of thing small terrorist cells are going to be able to do.

Electrical Shielding

At one point in the episode, Hawkins says that his laptop’s okay because it’s ruggedized. He probably meant that it is shielded, since ruggedization is what you do to mil spec equipment so that it doesn’t break when grunts drag it through mud and over rocks. Of course, Hawkins also said that the EMP would fry anything with a wire, which also isn’t true — your 1966 Ford Fairlane is probably going to be just fine, though you may have to replace some fuses.

Anyway, how do you shield electrical equipment? Mainly with Faraday cages. You make a mesh out of metal that is a good conductor, and the EM radiation is kept outside through the magic of physics. That’s probably how Hawkins’s computer is shielded, though it looked a little thin to be well-shielded.

Nowadays the government is more worried about people spying on their computers by monitoring the EM radiation that it gives off. You can eavesdrop on the radio waves that a computer gives off and reconstruct things like the data being displayed. If you shield a system from emitting such signals, a process known as TEMPEST shielding, you can shield it from EMP damage with a minimal amount of additional work.

Notes for the Picky

Some technical notes for the super-nitpickers. The type of EMP I’ve described above is called HEMP. There’s a secondary effect called magnetohydrodynamic EMP, or MHD-EMP. MHD-EMP occurs because the bomb’s plasma and scattered gamma radiation take the Earth’s magnetic field and gives it a shove, like shaking a taut sheet on a bed. The shove sets up EM waves over two time scales: around ten seconds long and around a thousand seconds long. You’ll sometimes hear that referred to as heave waves or the heave effect, because the Earth’s magnetic field is heaving like a drunken sailor in a storm.

Technical notes for super-super-nitpickers: HEMP isn’t just caused by Compton scattering. The photoelectric effect and pair production also contribute, but Compton scattering is far and away the major source of HEMP.

Heh, heh, I said “hemp”.

Book Review: Two Books about God

So even though I can’t stay awake for more than an hour while sitting, I have managed to read two books about God. One is Mudhouse Sabbath, by Lauren Winner, and the other is Searching for God Knows What, by Donald Miller. These are two of my three favorite religious writers writing right now (the third is Anne Lamott).

Mudhouse Sabbath
Lauren converted to Judaism, but was, in her words, “sneaking around to read the New Testament”, so she became a Christian. This book is 11 chapters on how, if we let it, Judaism can add some very fulfilling meaning to our faith practice. While I enjoy being a Baptist, I do sometimes long for the more ritualistic habits that we just don’t have. This book is a good look at what is different, what Judaism does right, and a bit of how we can add that back into our practice. Lauren is an enjoyable writer and I have also read her book Girl Meets God, in which she details her struggle to become Jewish and then her struggle deciding to become a Christian. I have a lot of admiration for her ability to articulate her choices on faith and I highly recommend both of her books.

Searching for God Knows What
Definitely the harder of the two reads. I actually got a bit bogged down in the middle and I took a break to read Mudhouse Sabbath. The fault, however, wasn’t with Don’s prose but with my inability to stay awake. Did I mention that my awake attention span is that of a gnat’s entire lifespan? (Ok, even shorter than that because they live up to four months.)

Don is particularly gifted in reminding me that our culture is wrong. Everything about the system is messed up and when we focus our attentions on that, we will be messed up too. His gift in this book specifically is that our religion is relational. It is not charts and graphs and systems, it is a personal relationship with God. And any effort to reduce that relationship to charts and graphs and systems takes away from our focus on the relationship. My favorite chapter is the one on morality, and it is a must read no matter what religion you subscribe to. But my favorite section of the whole book comes in the last two pages:

And I go back to Eden, in my mind, to imagine what it is going to be like for you and me in heaven. I suppose it will be a new and marvelous paradise, where love will exist in its purest form, where the beauty of diversity will be understood for the first time, where self-hatred will fade into an agreement with God about the splendor of His creation, where physical beauty will no longer be used as a commodity, where you and I will feel free in our sincere love for others, ourselves, and God. And I suppose it will be heaven that you and I actually understand each other, all the drama of the lifeboat a distant memory, all the arguments we had seeming so inconsequential, and the glory of God before us in all His majesty, shining like sunlight through our souls. This will be a good thing, my friend.

Friday Night Videos: Politics

The Pinker Tones: Karma Hunters (2006)

Get this out of your head. I dare you. Then remember: you gotta vote for the Instant Karma Party right now.

The Decemberists: Sixteen Military Wives (2005)

The genius of this video is recasting UN-style political wrangling as a battle among high school cliques. Watch how sanctions, weapons inspections, and more are translated into school events.

More of My Cross-Stitch Addiction

I’d love to say this was an update on my current project. Where I show you that I’ve gotten scads and scads accomplished on my dragon piece. But mostly I’ve not felt up to working on it much, maybe an hour a night, if I’m lucky and don’t fall asleep draped across my cross-stitch stand.

But mostly this is just to show off what I bought with my birthday money. Stephen’s mom knows me well, she handed me a check and said spend it on cross-stitch. Woot! So I did! And the two pieces on left came in just today.


Thanks MR & PR, I really enjoyed my shopping! And will probably enjoy working on the pieces, in 2012, when I get around to them.

Making Videos for Dragon*ConTV

For the past three years, I’ve been helping out with Dragon*ConTV. DCTV produces short videos riffing on SF and fantasy for the Dragon*Con SF/fantasy convention. Since Dragon*Con focuses on TV and film, the DCTV spots mostly spoof shows like Star Trek or movies like The Matrix rather than books. The DCTV videos play before panels and costume contests, and are shown while people are standing in line to register for the convention. They’re meant to amuse and entertain those who are geeky enough to go to a SF/fantasy convention.

Over three years of writing scripts, helping film and edit the videos, and “acting” in them, I’ve learned a lot about doing short comedy. Especially since watching Aaron Sorkin’s new show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which has involved a lot of very unfunny sketches, I’ve been wanting to write about what I and the other DCTV people have learned.

The DCTV videos include “bumpers,” short text segments used in between the videos. I’ll talk about them later, since they involve a different set of skills. I’ll also be discussing the videos in depth, spoiling their surprises. I’ll link to the videos as I go, so you can watch them before reading about them if you want.

Shorter is Better

It took us a while to learn this lesson. In 2004 we did a full thirty-minute newscast. WDCN Channel 16 Action News (parts one, two, and three) ran before the Masquerade costume contest. It was entirely too long and too boring. Sustaining a parody’s setting over thirty minutes is hard. Even sustaining it over two minutes is stretching things. We’ve all seen the SNL sketches that needed to be put out of their misery long before they concluded.

Dragon*Con exacerbates this tendency. The DCTV videos are shown before panels and costume contests. People are milling about and talking with their friends and in general not watching raptly. Videos that are under two minutes work best in this environment.

The short form works to our advantage: we can run through a lot of different jokes, formats, and styles. By mixing things up, we can keep people interested longer, and the bits that die are shuffled off stage before the smell of them decomposing fills the auditorium.

No, Really, Make It Much Shorter

Not only should the running time be as short as possible, the editing should be as tight as possible. Eliminate pauses and gaps, unless they’re part of the joke. This kind of humor works much better when it’s rapid-fire. Movies and television have been getting more and more tightly edited as time has gone on. Watch an older movie like A Man For All Seasons — or even Star Wars! — and notice how much more relaxed its pacing is.

Take Unpimp My Space Station, a spoof of the VW “unpimp my ride” commercials from earlier this year. The first edit Brian did was nearly a minute long. The final version takes thirty seconds. If you watch any of the original commercials on YouTube, you’ll see the same sort of quick editing. The minute-long video was flabby and unfunny; the trimmed version works much better.

A Funny Concept Isn’t Enough

We have a bad habit of coming up with a funny concept and then not adding in any jokes. One example of this is Blood Train. Amusing concept, but lacking in jokes beyond “Klingons dancing”. Audiences didn’t laugh much. For another example, this one entirely my fault, see The More You Know: Mutants.

Once we’ve got the concept, we have to add in jokes. If the concept is the joke, you can’t do what we did with Blood Train and give the title, then keep going. You have to delay the reveal for as long as possible. Red Shirt Diaries is the classic version of this. There are some funny bits in the setup, but showing the title as the last thing is the reveal that got all of the laughs and groans.

Don’t Write Past the Joke

End strongly. This is related to the last point since, if your concept is your joke, you don’t want to give it away early. Writing past the joke works if you’re writing a long piece. It doesn’t work here. In commercials, we often let taglines to do the heavy lifting. For Soylent Green Baby Food, the first joke is the name of the baby food itself, which shows up halfway through. The other big laugh occurs when the tagline appears: “Soylent Green is people…people who love your baby“. The same is true for Swears Unlimited. That video may not have gotten many laughs, but the tagline reliably made people chuckle.

Different Audiences Will Appreciate Different Things

In 2005 we had a video called AT-AT: Like Nothing Else. We made fun of Hummers and H2s by replacing them in the ad with an AT-AT.

It bombed. No one laughed.

Regardless, we showed it again this year. And that time it killed. People howled. And I have no idea why it worked this year and not last year.

This is why it’s good to have short videos. Don’t like the current one? A new one will be along in a minute. Many different fandoms go to Dragon*Con. This year Brian created individual DVDs with themed collections of videos for various track rooms — the rooms where specific fandoms meet. There was a DVD for the Star Trek crowd, another for the Firefly contingent, and so on. In the big crowd events, mixing up the videos means you won’t lose the entire crowd except for those into Pernese shoulder dragons.

It’s Okay To Be Unfunny

It’s easy to fall into a rut. Within certain narrow confines, the audience at Dragon*Con is easy to please, and happy to laugh at the same kinds of things from year to year. If we’re only concerned with making the audience laugh and nothing else, we run the risk of stagnating.

My favorite DCTV video of all time is Tey Liv, a commercial for sunglasses that references a bad SF movie from the late 1980s. It never got many laughs, but I don’t want us to stop doing the occasional obscure joke like this.

Don’t Depend Solely on Verbal Jokes

Brian Richardson and I do a lot of the writing for the DCTV videos. We’re both very verbal people, so we tend to lean heavily on spoken jokes. Swears Unlimited is the worst offender in that regard. The thing is, it can be hard to follow what’s being said in large ballrooms. More importantly, physical humor is funny, and if we were to ignore it, we’d limit the jokes we can do. Tribbles on a Ship is completely redeemed by the physical bit near the end, and that joke consistently got big laughs. Ditto Trading Species: the aliens don’t talk, so all of the funny comes from their physical antics.

Pacing is Hard

Getting the pacing in a video right can be tough. I’ve got a theatre background, so I think of pacing in terms of beats, but it’s akin to e.g. the structure/setup/punchline approach of stand-up comedy. What do you want to say, and how do you want to say it?

I’ve mentioned that DCTV videos are short and tightly-edited. That can make pacing difficult. A good (and short!) example of pacing is XTEL. It’s got two jokes in there, and they get in, deliver the funny, and get out.

For a more extended example, let’s break down Cthulhu’s Clues, my parody of Blue’s Clues. A quick overview of the sketch:

  • Title slide
  • Host looks for a clue
  • Host pulls out the handy-dandy Necronomicon
  • Host mentions the thinking pit
  • Host sings while Blue appears
  • Host runs around. Blue flies, then barks

Since this is a longer piece, I alternated between set-up and joke until the end. The title slide gets a laugh. Then the clue-searching sets up the world. You get to ease into the look and feel of a Blue’s Clues episode. It’s longer than the other bits to build anticipation. The Necronomicon is the first big laugh, and is short to emphasize the joke. The thinking pit sets up the next scene where Blue appears, which always got some laughs. The host running off-stage leaves Blue as the focus, preparing for Blue’s barking by herself, which is the other big laugh. Then it ends the one-two punch of the host running across the screen in a Komedy Kallback, and Blue exiting stage right with a cartoonish FWEEP! noise. It’s not perfect, and there are things I’d do differently if we were to film it again, but I’m still pleased with the pacing overall.

Boil Things Down to Their Essence

For the major jokes, we lean on the parts of a show that have become iconic. For more current shows and movies we have more leeway, but as a series or movie ages, only certain things lodge in fandom’s memory. For instance, if I’m riffing on the X-Files, I wouldn’t depend on the Lariat car rental company to produce big laughs. Instead I’d stick with things like the I WANT TO BELIEVE poster that are better remembered today. We’ve seen that with our Matrix spoof The Blue Pill. It got a lot of laughs when it premiered in 2004. In 2005 it got fewer laughs, and nearly flopped in 2006. The name alone is no longer enough to trigger people’s memory of The Matrix.

I thought hard about this for Cthulhu’s Clues. Iconic elements of Lovecraftian horror that people remember are the name Cthulhu, Cthulhu’s wings and tentacles, and the Necronomicon. For Blue’s Clues, there’s the look of the show, the handy-dandy notebook, and the clues themselves. All of the jokes that depend on Blue’s Clues or Cthulhu use those elements.

Throw In Extra Bits

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t throw in references for die-hard fans or the truly observant. In Cthulhu’s Clues, the fridge magnets are all “IA”, and the bottom picture on the refrigerator is of a shoggoth. The top picture, the one with the clue attached, is a crayon drawing of the Dragon*Con dragon, and the picture on the table in the next scene is a bunch of Stormtroopers. The Thinking Pit is a riff on the Thinking Chair Blue’s Clues. None of this got big laughs, but some people did notice the little details.

News Just Isn’t Funny

Even after the thirty-minute newscast in 2004, we tried news again in 2005 with DOX News. We wrote news crawls, came up with full-blown news items…and no one laughed. We’re clearly not The Onion or The Daily Show. The only thing that consistently got laughs was the Superhero steroid hearings, and that for its one specific Super Friends reference.

No Son of Mine’s Gonna Be No Wimp, No Sir

All parents think their children are the smartest, cutest, most clever kids that ever were and ever will be, and we are no exception. Eli is a paragon of toddlerhood. Of course, being a paragon is hard work, and on occasion Eli has to take a break from awesomeness.

Take last week, for instance. Eli climbed up on a short stool at Misty’s dad’s house, then proceeded to tip it over. The stool had four legs, with green iron leaves and vines curling among them. Eli cut one hand open on a leaf. The cut was right at the V between thumb and forefinger, and was wide but shallow. The bleeding stopped soon.

The whining went on for a bit, though. We slapped a band-aid on the wound. “Look, Eli! It’s Nemo! Nemo is helping you feel better!” Eli would stop crying for a minute or so. Then he would look at the band-aid on his left hand, a thoughtful look spreading across his face, and poke the band-aid hard with his right forefinger. “Owwwww!” he would cry, tears rolling down his face. “My hand hurts!”

Then the band-aid was bothering him. “Take it off,” he told us, still crying, pulling ineffectually at the band-aid. When we took it off he went back to poking a fingernail in the wound every few minutes, and oh! the wailing! The gnashing of teeth! Why wouldn’t the cruel world stop forcing him to jab his scratch with a dirty fingernail?

We went through several rounds of bandaging the wound and then removing the band-aid. At one point Eli was riding in the car, his thumb stuck straight up like he was trying to hitch-hike from his car seat. He would forget about the wound, stop crying, pick something up, and shriek like we had taken a blowtorch to Elmo.

It took two days before he stopped sniffling every time his wounded hand touched anything, including the air. He still pokes at the healed hand even now and frowns. “Ow, my hand hurts!” He has become the boy who cried Ow.

The Increasingly Long List of my Body Parts that Don’t Like to be Pregnant

When I was pregnant with Eli I developed carpal tunnel syndrome. Some 28% of women develop carpal tunnel during pregnancy but it usually goes away after birth. Not so for me. I was one of the lucky few that got to keep the carpal tunnel as a parting gift. Now, I can’t complain too much because I fall into the high risk categories for carpal tunnel syndrome and managed to avoid it for many, many years before I was pregnant. I work at the computer A LOT. And when I’m not working on the computer, I do lots of crafts where I use my hands repetitively. So, okay, I’ve learned to manage this by going to the chiropractor. After two years I have gone from having pain in the outside three fingers of both hands for about 65-75% of the time down to an extremely manageable amount of pain in my left hand only for about 5% of the time, and I can predict with certainty which activities will cause the pain and try to avoid them. (Mostly holding the phone to my ear for hours at a time. I guess all those marathon phone chats while I was a teen didn’t do me any favors.)

So, on to this pregnancy. I have often claimed that we mothers block out the unpleasant events of both pregnancy and labor simply because if we remembered with any clarity what it was like we would never be pregnant again. I honestly don’t remember feeling this constantly rotten the first time around but Stephen claims that I did and that indeed I don’t remember how bad it was. I had morning sickness with Eli but on looking back it seemed much more manageable to me. I would feel queasy first thing in the morning, drink my orange juice, throw up said juice, and then be ready to roll for the day.

This time around I have near-constant nausea. I need to eat immediately in the morning to keep from feeling queasy. I can’t drink any artificial sweetener–that makes me queasy. Drinking drinks that are too sweet makes me queasy. Water tastes nasty. Cooking and smelling my own food makes me queasy (how wrong is that!?!?!) to the point that I then can’t eat the cooked meal without throwing it up. These past three weeks my diet has consisted almost entirely of fast food. I know, I know, great nutrition, but I promise I’ll do better when I don’t yack at every mention of spicy food.

Last night my left eye started itching. I’ve very careful with that sort of thing because I have very sensitive, specially made, fitted-specifically-for-my-eyeballs contact lenses. I’ve learned the hard way to not rub my eye when they itch because that leads to a torn contact and six weeks of waiting for a new contact to be hand lathed by the optometric elves and much extra $$$ being spent. So I went to take them out immediately. When I saw my eye in the mirror I nearly had a cow. The white part of my eye was bloody. I was concerned but I know the eye heals quickly so I thought I’d go to bed and see what it looked like this morning.

This morning, it looked better. So I threw my contacts in and started getting ready for the day. Within half an hour my eye had regressed and my contact was itching again. So I called my optometrist and they squeezed me in first thing this morning. And you guessed it, I have pregnancy-related sub-white-part-of-the-eye-hematoma. It’s from throwing up and coughing and it’s fairly common for women with morning sickness to have either one or both of their eyes do this.

The upside: no permanent harm. The bloody eye will go away in about two to three weeks. I can put cold eye drops in my eye and put an ice pack on it a couple of times a day to reduce the swelling.

The downside: no contacts for a week. That in and of itself is nearly capital punishment to me.

Stay tuned for which body part goes next! It’ll probably be my mind, so comfort Stephen while you can.

I Don’t See That Here

Since I play and write interactive fiction, I’ve compared Eli’s grasp of English to IF parsers before. He’s progressed beyond the Scott Adams two-word parser, though now he is like a parser that pretends to know words it doesn’t.

ME: Do your eyes hurt?
ELI: No.
ME: Does your nose hurt?
ELI: No.
ME: Do your knees hurt?
ELI: No.
ME: Do your mitochondria hurt?
ELI: No.

He may have been correct, but he did have a fifty-fifty chance of guessing correctly.