Friday, March 17, 2017

a note to angry ethical vegans

lifted from a thread about who's worse, omnivores or people who've gone vegan and back again:
wow, guys. i'm ashamed on your behalf, you're so busy being elitists that you've forgotten that FOR THE ANIMALS' SAKES you need to treat your fellow humans with respect, and give them the benefit of the doubt if you want to have any chance of changing their minds.

instead of being so holier-than-thou, you should realize that you're privileged to know something they don't AND be able to follow through, and if you can be patient and civil you can teach those people.

just this morning i learned about yet another wannabe vegan who was so turned off by your myopic, ugly, narcissistic bullshit that she gave up before she even started. you're an embarrassment to the people who really do care and praying that you all wise up and become inspirational teachers instead.

the wrong stuff

the last couple of weeks have been full of ups and downs, and the ups have been great but the downs have been heavy. primarily, our family got hit with hand-foot-and-mouth disease - which is awful when it happens to a child who can't communicate. it took us over a day to realize what he was complaining about, and there were three days of him refusing to eat (thank all the gods he's breastfeeding). secondarily, while i'm finally done with the legacy stuff i've been working on it's taken all this time to do it and cost me many, many hours of bashing my head on the brick walls that are incorrect official documentation, unreasonable and arbitrary restrictions of a code framework and costly hacks by previous developers. oh, and my neck and back have been all over the place, possibly caused by a heavy, twisty little creature who now shouts at me whenever he wants anything or whenever i answer the phone.

monday 6th:

pedantically, thoroughly testing the legacy codebase to store it efficiently in git (i'd made mistakes the previous two attempts) and going to bed around 3am
mr smear sleeping soundly most of the night, then becoming agitated just after i finally passed out - as usual - and all of us exhausted again by morning

he-man wakeup
sea point in the mist
the strange, joyful experience of a couple of mr smear's classmates running up to hug me

the shock of meatonomics (episode 216): whoa. so much for vegans not supporting the meat and dairy industries.
more proof that few people operate under capitalist systems.

understanding the pain in my foot and figuring out how to stretch it

good news from the accountants followed by hard work getting all my introductory documentation together with pauses to pick up mr smear and struggle with a tantrum in between

joint nap time, a pleasant afternoon when my son wasn't being mischievous (there were a few moments), mom coming over to pick up a raffle sheet and chat, putting mr smear to bed on time (which means putting him in his crib and then reading in our bedroom until i'm more or less confident that he's asleep)

tuesday 7th:

getting a job done by 1am and going to bed "early", mr smear sleeping relatively well

mr smear's vigorous "no" meaning "in a minute"
running into our previous neighbours at school

a little work, then meeting with my mom and my nieces but not at the same time because they were spending half an hour just missing each other (by a few metres). picking up mr smear by myself - who needed a particularly difficult diaper change: the teacher's assistant didn't think i was qualified - then finishing my coffee and taking mr smear home to feed and nap

the dropped phone panic when my home button stopped working (but it resumed later), trying to work with a busy boy

a very naughty, busy boy pressing all my buttons (beginning with deliberately damaging a book), getting him ready for and into bed then meeting with my teammate who not only helped me a little with a problem i was mystified by but also boosted my confidence as he was just as mystified...

dinner, a bit of cristela alonzo's mediocre standup, then "me time" hunting down games to use my $10 credit on; it was a tough call, i could take deathtrack resurrection and the golden axe, or motorstorm apocalypse. in the end i opted for the latter and i'm not unhappy with my decision.

trolley shame: we'd gone shopping and i'd forgotten that i'd left the trolley outside our front door until i heard a security guard moving it in the middle of the night

wednesday 8th:

an early night (1 or 2am) after making big progress, a pretty good night aside from hurting my back by carrying mr smear awkwardly around 5am

big breakfast, not knowing what to do about the quiet tearful kid in the school entrance, good work while listening to danny gilboa (that man is a national treasure), early pickup for a no-show purim outfit seller, picking up my mom for a canal walk mission
mr smear eating more than my lunch and breastfeeding, the asshole using the parents toilets: advice and support from the guy waiting, i'm very glad i didn't say half the things that came to mind as the day wore on

another altercation on the way home (taxi driver), an afternoon of work and play, disappointingly expired scene points, starting fences, tired and working

thursday 9th:

going to bed after hitting a nonsensical brick wall, sleeping a few hours but not breathing properly so waking unrested

just passing time until the therapist arrived, a very interesting suggestion for both of us (filtering out negative stimuli), picking up mr smear and having him fall asleep on the way to the waterfront

a little quiet coffee time until he woke up, then an exhausting while trying to feed and amuse him before doing a quick grocery shopping and heading home; a visit to the costume shop, then the library (he's too young, but they would like to use him for promotion anyway), then a night filled with struggle after he ate a piece of onion skin which we would only later find out had nothing to do with the faces he was making (he was just getting sick)

friday 10th:

temporary tattoo fail
mr smear unhappy until we dropped him off at school
passing out on the couch with fantastic beasts and where to find them playing (meh. entertaining, but the writing was inconsistent), trying to work a little and getting caught up trying not to get caught out by what looked like a tax scam (but actually wasn't)
shopping in the middle of a friday stampede after picking up mr smear, getting home in time to pay the cleaning lady
a tough afternoon thinking that mr smear was fake-crying when he was really suffering
squeezing in a last minute doctor's appointment
an excellent dinner, thank all the gods mr smear could eat the cashew yoghurt!
deep exhaustion and trying to go to bed between mr smear's cries

saturday 11th:

nobody sleeping, aside from just enough time to have a short nightmare about mr smear missing a foot
whale rider: my second viewing, gd's first and we were both emotional
the drool bath
gd's tofu scrambled egg success, jim jeffries, a long afternoon until my mom arrived, a severe talk about my response levels and a little rest, just getting through the day trying to find ways to get mr smear to eat *something*
some work, enjoying crazy, stupid, love while mr smear got a proper block of sleep

sunday 12th:

mostly a restful night, but the wakings were tough and the later morning (approaching 7am) was particularly frustrating; mom arriving in the afternoon and giving us a break, a quick spar grocery run and gd making delicious vegan not-eggs again
mr smear going down for a nap just after my mom left, getting some work done while gd watched pacific rim (gods, i love that movie) and finally getting the functionality sorted out
mountain fire ash followed by helicopters overhead, an awkward stop while picking up bread because the homeless guy i think is autistic doesn't get the "i need to leave now" social cues (including the direct verbal ones)
good work and mr smear doing much better, although getting him into bed was unpleasant

an inexplicable unfriend notification which later turned out to be the social fixer plugin

motorstorm, baked beans, cider, bed

monday 13th:

a good night until 2.30am, a tough couple of hours before getting back to bed; mr smear waking up with a fever again, so no school and us exhausted. being rescued by the cleaning lady and grabbing a couple of hours of rest, waking up just after mr smear passed out and needing two cups of coffee to be able to work on some exciting ideas for a novel i've been outlining

a tough, long afternoon with a sick wife (we're learning about scintillating scotoma) and a busy boy, my mom arriving in the late afternoon so i could go to buy diapers and baby wipes (they only had diapers) and then needing a coffee just to be able to shower mr smear and prep him for bed

SxS's endorsement of my legacy modifications and setting me to repeating my efforts on some more of it before returning to the interesting project

an unpleasant waste of a few hours because the code is so inconsistent

tuesday 14th:

1.30am bedtime and sleeping relatively well

mr smear back at school, me being awkward dropping him off (beginning with greeting a friend from a distance only to identify them as a stranger as we got closer)

from feeling like teenagers to feeling really old, a day of hard work (with little to no payoff) and chasing mr smear and neck-to-hand back-to-knee nerve pain and a surprise play date (even more surprising when we arrived to find we'd mixed up two moms with the same name)

feeling sore and sick and going to bed early

wednesday 15th:

up at 3am for a couple of hours work and giving up on trying to convince vegan fluoride conspiracy theorists to look at scientific evidence

a little rain and sleeping beautifully, trying and failing to sleep in after mr smear decided that it was daytime. he ate a hearty breakfast, at least

trying to help out our teacher who'd been left alone, finding some hebrew books from the shaliach's wife, returning home and watching the end of the equalizer: denzel washington starring in a grownup remake of home alone

extreme frustration at work, picking up mr smear, shopping, the discovery store and suddenly realizing gd was late for her chiropractor appointment; knead lunch with an irritable mr smear (shouty), though he fell asleep at the grocery store and his nap lasted until just after we got home when i said the magic words: "i need to get some rest while he's down"

mom's visit, conversion conversation.

why is it so much more upsetting when he puts food in his hair just after i've washed it than if it was the next morning?

thought for the day:
a) is it okay to pee in the bath when you're a baby?
b) is it okay to pee in the bath when you're an adult?
c) is it okay to pee in the bath when you're an adult in the bath with your kid?

bigfoot files (surprisingly interesting) and work, finally getting one of the two pages done around midnight

thursday 16th:

working through until 2-ish, going to bed having finally sorted out the second page and with a minor one left to go

another tough waking: i'm not getting enough sleep, but i'm sleeping WELL and dreaming almost constantly

another danny gilboa appreciation morning, dropping off mr smear, getting through most of the last page, doing the health exam with gd (we had fun and we're both healthy - although i'm a little overweight and my good cholesterol is so low that i've been instructed to eat lots of oily, fatty foods)

picking up mr smear (gd having a proper coughing fit at the school), then heading home. working most of the afternoon, taking mr smear for a walk cut short by the wind, him passing out just before my mom arrived for a quick visit, dinner and the first episode of grimm, finishing the legacy work, then...

mr smear waking up into a coughing nightmare

friday 17th:

that lasted a couple of hours, then slept for about four. i got up to use the bathroom and on the way put a light blanket on him, which woke him up and led into four more hours of him coughing and crying unable to breastfeed and refusing water and to be held by anyone but me - which is flattering but hard - eventually falling asleep again only to wake up half an hour later.

i managed to get an hour or two of sleep - i think - and then held for a short while before he napped again for another short while and we decided that it was more likely allergic asthma again that actual illness

after 13+ hours of horror, and almost exactly two hours before his emergency doctor's appointment, his situation improved dramatically, at least for a little while...

Monday, March 06, 2017

from light to dark and back again

friday 24th:

fun work (and successful) while downloading something using teamviewer, which crashed just before i did and effectively wasted a night's worth of work that i should have been doing on the legacy shit. the temperature suddenly dipping at roughly the same time.

why would we want to get up at 7.30am?

breakfast deal breaking, not wanting to create a pathology by forcing mr smear to eat but trying to ensure that he eats enough :S
dropping him off efficiently, home to rest and work, picking him up, home, seeing cape town's worst in the insane traffic into town for gd's haircut and mr smear's twenty minute nap, waking up to join me in a very berry smoothie while i ate a surprisingly decent vegan meal from wellness warehouse

back to an afternoon of play and success with work
mr smear pushing over the mirror which fell flat onto its face, fortunately all unscathed, and spending a long moment being in the moment and grateful for my time with my son

he *gets* the word cat! in hebrew and english!

mom over for a really nice shabbat dinner, watching trevor noah and then ali wong - she's brilliant, but we forgot just how hardcore she is in crossing *all* the lines - really bad rls and a little treatment and rest

saturday 25th:

the first most-night's sleep in a while, waking up to a pleasant morning, meeting my sister, her twins and her sister-in-law at the farmer's market, mr smear playing with the woodchips, a couple of people showing interest in learning about food from me, good vegan food, drinks and dessert, mom joining us for a bit and mr smear passing out as we left and staying asleep even as i put him in the car

working the afternoon, struggling with a typo i'd entered the night before but ending the day very satisfied with my progress; thoroughly enjoying i don't feel at home in this world anymore, then turning in early

sunday 26th:

ted talks, then a beach mission to muizenberg! almost being killed by a maniac driver, tailing him to get his plates, losing him afterwards and then passing him after he'd smashed into someone else; the shock and adrenaline taking a long time to wear off and followed by an adrenaline dump of note
arriving on an unpleasantly windy beach, the vegan place looking nice but with no available seating out of the wind, driving back home so gd could make more végépaté
no rest, but too tired to head down to the police station; deliberating over whether to go to a different beach or just call it a day, eventually joining sailor and his dad at clifton 4th for a fun afternoon and a good view of the eclipse. losing mr smear's bucket, which was a pity

scheckter's raw was closed, so home for showers and bedtime and big meals and four brothers (fantastic)

monday 27th:

up early but more rested than usual, rick and morty and dodgy yoghurt, dropping off mr smear, enjoying some time to ourselves (in particular, proper nap time), the unfortunate incident of what appeared to be animal poop halfway through a loaf of sliced bread

picking up mr smear, driving dirty (i only realized he was sporting a full diaper when it was too late to do anything about it), the pretend nap fakeout and looooong playtime

mom taking over so gd and i could acupuncture, passing out on the table then restless and uncomfortable, wasting our time trying to file a police report, dinner frustrations (mr smear refusing gd's chilli again), and mr smear passing out before shower time

protoplasm visit with my brain mostly off and needing coffee just to say goodbye and gear up for work, then finally getting my dev environment sorted only to be pulled away by an inexplicably distressed mr smear who it took forty minutes to comfort

tuesday 28th:

bitcoin exploration before bed, definitely not enough sleep but resting a little on the couch (fending off a barrage of cars and tennis balls being thrown at my head) before successfully feeding mr smear maize meal (he's happy to be back with the usual brand) and the rest of his breakfast then quickly showering him and dropping him off at school

trying to rest but frustrated by the fact that people i respect for their intelligence refuse to even *look* at the facts about food and nutrition, getting up and trying to work but instead learning that my blood test results came back perfect and that futurelife is interested in investigating whatever's in our bread and that i'm late for filing taxes (those last two unrelated)

lunch with sandman's sister, mr smear's artichoke frenzy and pesto removal, his big, inexplicable sadness before we left
a stupidly hot afternoon
working at a staggeringly slow pace while fending off mr smear's attempts to destroy the fan
cloudfunding inspiration
playground slide scare - he climbed up to the top which was just out of our reach and we didn't know which direction he would go in
hot fusion, shopping
mr smear suffering hardcore asthma and throwing up just before bedtime
crashing for a couple of hours then waking up at a run to pick him up while he spiked a serious fever and hurled his lungs out

wednesday 1st:

a long and frustrating and worrying time getting his fever down and getting him back to sleep, not helped by additional unnecessary tension and the awful sensation of mr smear's frailty (he's usually remarkably solid), then working until 3.30am after finally taking the first steps to moving from tfs to github and making insanely slow progress with silverlight xaml

waking up around 8am to continued stress even though mr smear was clearly doing better, mom coming over to save the day and giving me a chance to rest and then go pick up mr smear's passport

the traumatic introduction to the nebulizer

integrating git, taking mr smear out for a walk: he'd been much better since the morning, but as we left his cough started up again which led us into another magical night of struggle and meds and trying to get some work done with my brain somewhere else

thursday 2nd:

another uncomfortable morning, not helped by brother-in-law stress and trying desperately to find french children's books

a visit to the doctor, an all clear for mr smear and a different approach to try for allergy management

mr smear falling asleep on the way home, a quick late breakfast and then a meeting with his teacher which had us all in hysterics: he protects the bigger kids in class, but he's also just as mischievous and (good-naturedly) defiant there as at home

the cleaning lady giving us a couple of hours to rest, mom getting stuck in traffic on the way to babysit and doing a baby handover in the parking lot

acupuncture: less pain when the needles went in, followed by a full-body discomfort that had me deep breathing and slo-mo shaking it off and using pain referral until the doctor arrived for gd and helped me into a sitting position

dinner tricks (gd mixing blended beans with pasta) and a worrying continuation of breastfeeding gagging; figuring out how to redeem my playstation code but not knowing what to do with the money

mr smear going to sleep without feeding, sending gd's brother an ultimatum for her childhood photos, finally getting the silverlight result i was looking for but inconsistently

friday 3rd:

midnight feed success and relief, finishing p.s. your not listening while building and being thoroughly stunned
mostly getting some much-needed rest

mr smear sleeping well but waking up with a difficult cough, taking him to school anyway and it improving dramatically on the way

finally, a breakthrough with the work, feeling really good about it, picking up a happy mr smear and then the single bottle of oat milk the dischem had moved branches for me (more would have been nice) while mr smear passed out on my shoulder, so exhausted that he slept through getting in the car, out the car and into bed
mike birbiglia's brilliant new special (thank god for jokes)

shopping and mom's visit and mr smear's bedtime and horace and pete and bbc's africa series

saturday 4th:

one year back in south africa!

a full night's sleep, africa again, amazing psybient followed by firefly once mr smear hit naptime
taking a walk on the promenade but turning around when mr smear began coughing again
gd cooking while i fed and showered mr smear
the shameful writing of transformers: age of extinction vs gd's great pasta dinner, plus the extremely sore arch of my right foot

sunday 5th:

another decent night, waking up to bee movie - weird, then cute, then pure awful but inspiring me to write because if this drivel earns fat salaries...

finally going out for groceries, mr smear's nap and mike birbiglia

a walk in the park with my mom after narrowly avoiding the worst of the kirstenbosch traffic and grabbing coffee at the gym
i missed it, but the idea of my wife feeding a fly to a venus flytrap on a toothpick is great

mr smear's dinner and bedtime prep, reading xamnesia while waiting for him to fall asleep and eating my dinner while watching rubbish; a little work, a little reading

Thursday, February 23, 2017

routinely surprising

i'm tired. my body hasn't sensed a routine in forever, my body's aching (including both wrists, suddenly), and i'm waiting for something at work so i figured i'd post this in the meanwhile. it's tough reconciling how i feel physically (like crap) with how grateful i am for the good things in my life. with all the trials our family is going through, some past, some present, some future, we're so blessed that when i stop to think about it it's kinda hard to wrap my mind around. one thing's become apparent, though, as we've been interacting so much more with other parents lately: we may flounder sometimes, and we may not be good with social conventions, but our awareness of our own shortcomings and our commitment to doing what's right for our boy - as opposed to what everyone else is doing - makes some of the "normal" things other parents are doing seem utterly ridiculous. and i'm not judging, there're a number of things we would've done just like them initially - but i am building confidence as we learn and grow.

the inspiration for this thought is the "super-moms club", a small group of moms in our class who've formed their little circle of trust and patronize the rest of us while taking care of business. that's fine, whatever makes you feel special. the really cool parents are the ones who don't need to prove it, and we have a few of those in our group too.

tuesday 21st:

troubleshooting with SxS, 3.45 bedtime and then almost no sleep as mr smear got busy and vocal early

a dream involving hyperviper and eminem (he and his buddy wanted to beat the crap out of me for some reason but we left on good terms), a game controlled by masturbation that involved wolves (werewolves?) eating their way out of a giant wolf's head while i tried to clean a diaper bin and ended up smearing shit all over it

pressing all my buttons, then on arrival demonstrating that he doesn't like last week's birthday boy

trying to nap but being inspired to work instead, picking up mr smear while gd cooked - he's making the girls cry by not kissing them - returning home and resting a little until it was time to take gd to see the chiropractor, returning home for another short while before going to acupuncture

torture, plain and simple. not the pain of the needles going in - although the one that made my back arch involuntarily did freak me out a little - but about ten minutes in one of my legs got restless and it was an enormous, unpleasant effort to stop myself from kicking and shaking it out over the course of the next fifty minutes. and then i moved my discomfort to a different level by mentioning vitamin d and getting a lecture on how little medical practitioners know... he's right, but i was talking about evidence-based medicine and i realized within seconds that i was talking to the wrong person. otherwise, brilliant man and definitely knows what he's doing

a tough evening, neighbours banging on our ceiling but at least being polite when we complained, going to bed early and unwittingly starting my bloodwork fasting on time

wednesday 22nd:

a couple of hours work in the middle of the night, forgetting about the fast but for once not being in the mood to snack, back to bed for a relatively peaceful night and actually struggling to wake mr smear in the morning; making a "deal" with him to eat the inferior maize meal using cashew yoghurt as a reward

dropping him off and getting my bloodwork done (completed within ten minutes of walking through the door), home to work but getting sucked into watching fit to fat and back instead - brilliant and insightful

picking up mr smear - insane heat! - and walking past the petting zoo (which i'm now uncomfortable about), mr smear and his nemesis hugging goodbye (phew!) and successfully entering nap time on arrival home

a positive lunch hour, a little work, mom coming over while i shuttled gd to acupuncture and mr smear being highly amusing (his thing with stamping his feet in water or licking a wet table is just weird)

really investing in the legacy work ("like playing table tennis with both arms tied behind my back")

thursday 23rd:

3.30am to bed, a couple of feeds until waking up, successfully repeating wednesday's "breakfast deal", dropping him off and coming home to ffix until the therapist arrived

a good session, then returning to pick up mr smear and the heat getting HEAVY. spar shopping and mr smear smashing expensive bottles at the checkout (but thankfully the manager shrugged it off), then home for nap-time. reading ps. your not listening while trying to nap - phenomenal read! - then an afternoon spent chasing mr smear until my mom came over for a bit, getting through the bedtime prep and eating a variety of leftovers for dinner while watching half of a horrific first episode of con men case files before starting jumper and then getting back to my desk. now... to work!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

some up, some down, some being blown around

monday 13th:

a full night's sleep! mr smear's nose cleared up! dropping him off at school and excitedly buying up loads of fruit and vegetables and coming home to clean the kitchen! and play ffix instead of nap when we realized we had less than half an hour to return to the school. back home for lunch and mr smear's nap and the cabin in the woods, then busy until it was time to take gd to the acupuncturist.
the company gardens' rapeman (young dude exclaiming how he's a sex bomb and then pointing at women and informing them that he would have sex with them), a big wind forcing us into the national library (nice, but with eerily empty shelves), then the wellness centre for a very berry smoothie that mr smear and i shared before picking up gd and coming home for bedtime prep

dinner: we all loved gd's homemade lentil burgers, mr smear saying "skeee" when he means squeeze

a little telly (the hurt business) and some sql scripting (haven't done that in a while), a surprise migraine but some great news to ease my discomfort - a raise! not nearly as much as i need, but considerably better than what i've been getting. hopefully the project i'm working on will help bring in a bigger one...

tuesday 14th:

hours fighting iis and restify (no PUTs allowed), crashing at 3am

pre-school shopping, rushing out to a cigarette-smoky corridor that fired up the morning in a very bad way
ffix while gd made her first vegan chilli (delicious! but hot enough to take the roof off your mouth)
picking up mr smear, him trying to run away while we searched for his shoes and i think he and the boy whose party he's going to might not be friends. i'm pleased that he's not scared of anyone, but we're a little concerned that he might be testing the other children physically. he's definitely getting more verbally communicative, though, so i think (and hope) that these things will be easier to manage soon

a little bit of a nap and then being woken by my boy climbing and falling on me and gd: a fun family moment, it's amazing how energetic little people can be!

gd knocking mr smear out with breastmilk, the two of us down until 5pm and me woken from a deep sleep and big dreams being ripped away and taking a while to readjust

too lazy to go out but the wind came up and a) became a good excuse and b) blew our front door open letting us know it had been unlocked for hours. when you live in a shopping centre, that's disquieting :/

showering and putting mr smear to bed - teaching him that pinching's not okay - and then vegging out to internets for a while before rejoining the battle of CORS

wednesday 15th:

finally getting it to work but not sure what precisely did the trick; taking the opportunity to clean up and optimize until 3am

mr smear up and down during the night, fitful sleep until 7am, getting through the morning and dropping him off and coming home to sleep; picking him up by myself still dazed and confused, him full of snot (apparently sinusitis started just after we dropped him off)

nap time refused, busy time instead; a canal walk mission that took longer than expected and cancelling gd's acupuncture appointment that we might still have made on time, waterfront shopping (mostly successful) and back in time to prep for mr smear's bedtime

mom joining us for gd's chilli and bringing news and books from our cousin, winding down with john oliver and the rest of the hurt business (great documentary), then struggling to get into work

thursday 16th:

a good sleep but a tough wakeup, another stressed morning turning tense, installing appcelerator and fighting with the playstation store while learning about body language

visa direct transferring within seconds... why did that stop working for a few months?!

picking up mr smear and learning about some of the other kids' security blankets and being grateful we don't have to deal with those kinds of dependencies

haircut stress and disaster and fixing, awkwardly wearing an lsd shirt to see a hippie doctor, rushing to get gd to her acupuncture appointment and arriving early in a high wind with him fast asleep so chilling at clarke's while waiting
i'm trying to understand something: parents concerned about the mercury content of vaccines (after thimerosol was removed in '99) but who consume seafood while pregnant or breastfeeding and feed it to their children.
mr smear waking up just before gd joined us for olives, then going home to an unpleasant and unsuccessful attempt to feed mr smear vegan meatloaf

and a horrible evening ensued for all

getting mr smear to bed easily enough

friday 17th:

working on a security system until 3.30am, mr smear up a few times during the night, coffee to get me through taking him to school, shopping and then playing ffix until the coffee wore off enough to nap; sleeping deeply enough that i'd need another to go pick him up again

a couple of hours of chasing mr smear while gd cooked, then heading out to his first class birthday party. mr smear passed out on the way there and woke up as we got back in the car after an awful twenty minutes hanging around in the hot sun with no adult refreshments and people who don't interest us in the slightest and who gd felt were rude to her

an uncomfortable ride home through rush hour traffic, realizing that i hadn't been feeling well for a couple of days at least, another couple of hours playing with mr smear before getting ready for shabbat dinner

a really nice dinner with my mom and sailor, mr smear throwing food that gd had spent hours preparing, uber to the super romance arcade indie game expo

not a lot on show and lots of indoor smoking, but a couple of great ideas on display and it was fun seeing that capetonian nightlife hasn't fundamentally changed

french stand-up (gad elmaleh, amusing) and ffix

saturday 18th:

a few zombie-state wakeups, an early morning, some of that 70's show and an argument over song lyrics getting serious

a more peaceful morning going forward, a lazy day inside aside from a brief excursion to the pharmacy, neo-nursery rhymes on the wall, a beautiful sunset walk with mr smear until the wind picked up dangerously; a couple of leash incidents including a grazed knee

stopping by my mom's for a short while then scrambling to get home unscathed by the intermittent blasts of wind

a bit of x-men apocalypse (bad mastering as usual) and an early night

sunday 19th:

a mostly decent night's sleep, joe rogan live and struggling with playstation redeem codes; fortunately i can get a refund on the south african card, but now i need to offload a US one and all because the playstation store uses ip location detection to determine whether i can put money into my own wallet (so i finally paid for what i wanted directly once i figured that out)

curtain shopping minus looking for curtains, chair shopping and picking up toys and kitchenware, driving out to pay the car rental with mr smear passing out on the way, returning home and doing absolutely nothing (aside from watching the rest of x-men apocalypse) because there was still a heavy wind and gd wasn't feeling good. mom joining us in the evening for a drink and everyone getting an early night.

monday 20th:

another decent night's sleep, mr smear not liking the new maize meal, dropping him off at school and come back home to work but watching videos on body language and terry pratchett instead. picking him up and heading straight for the gym, a pretty good workout and feeling the fact that it was our first time in weeks. mr smear passing out on the way home and sleeping straight through my mom taking over while i took gd to acupuncture, returned, picked her up and returned again. mr smear wired after drinking his wazoogles but blowing gd's mind by going to bed without a fuss, remembering my wired magazine subscription, nap, alarm, nap, alarm, nap alarm and then getting up to work feeling much better

tuesday 21st:

midnight horror - discovering that i missed an important email from the canadian revenue agency a month ago and now i owe them money. it's that time of the year again...

the wind still pumping and birds singing at 2.20am.

Monday, February 13, 2017

circles and squares

well, now that i'm posting this it looks like i've come full circle from three weeks ago...

wednesday 25th january:

getting mr smear to bed was fine, a longish meeting cut for dinner, getting back to work and mr smear beginning a long, tough mystery night.

thursday 26th:

starting the day on a sour note with a particularly runny-nosed mr smear, getting through the wait for the cleaning lady then climbing into bed for four glorious, drooling hours of rest

lunch, gd's exquisite végépaté ready around the same time mr smear woke from his nap, an afternoon of work and play, but mostly running after mr smear with tissues as his face leaked

mom bringing over almond milk and a serious conversation about business (interrupted by mr smear smacking me hard in the nuts with a wooden spoon), then taking gd to the wushu centre and mr smear to a disappointing vernissage and a more or less pleasant cider at clarke's; back home to find hot fusion closed, shave and shower and prepping a still snotty mr smear for bed, a big dinner and a couple of episodes of under the dome, considering going to bed but getting to work instead

friday 27th:

making an important discovery about edge.js and making good progress, mr smear still very snotty

at least an hour of getting him back to bed pre-dawn, then up at 8.30 to call him in sick again

little to no rest, then taking gd to the osteo and mr smear for a walk to wellness warehouse for coffee (and to be horrified by the book shelves filled with banting and raw vegan literature; hanging around the osteo's offices chasing mr smear up and down stairs

it's utterly demoralizing to invest half an hour in putting mr smear to sleep with no payoff except a pinched nerve; giving up, continuing to run after him for a while until eventually he passed out to trance...

mom coming over for dinner, getting a relatively early night

saturday 28th:

mr smear sleeping better but getting up early

bad writing upsets me, but never more than when it's out of laziness by writers who have clearly demonstrated how capable they are. we've been watching trollhunter *SPOILER ALERT* and it's been consistently amazing, right until the point where mom gets tangled up with angor rot. and magically becomes utterly and unbelievably stupid enough to mess everything up, because the writers - what? couldn't think of any other way? really?!

a beach day! icy water but generally a fun morning, from clifton to the market - i stuffed myself on vegan sushi / grilled mushrooms / chocolate cake and whatever spicy thing gd thought would be a good idea, leaving just in time to get her to her chinese medicine lecture and walking mr smear around town while we waited (including a quick plant mission)

mr smear got impatient at the end and i was so tired i became a fainting hazard, shopping on the way home in spite of that, zang caffeinated chocolate to boost me through showering and pre-bedtime, then gd and i both passing out as soon as he fell asleep

waking up around 11.30pm unable to breathe,

sunday 29th:

eating well and playing ffix until gd suggested that 3am was getting a bit late... lying down in bed unable to breathe again and with my whole body very uncomfortable

mr smear up early, then down again for a bit, a slow and restless wakeup
managing to get some good work done in spite of a busy boy
picking up my mom for a mission
decent lunch wrap at the waterfront
no coffee without dairy, settling for a bad americano
the terracotta army exhibit - pretty darned impressive
a short nap for mr smear
glorious sunset, failed photos
only forty five minutes of putting mr smear to bed...
cider and chai and ffix and passing out from sudden exhaustion

monday 30th:

a peaceful night but a struggle in the early morning, getting some work done while mr smear was at school before being forced to deal with my younger sister (fortunately my older sister was available to advise)

rushing into town to find the wellness warehouse out of seitan, mr smear's nappus interruptus; my turn drooling and snoring on the physio's table

mom rescuing our afternoon and giving us some time to work and cook, my mind blown by the elegance of the hierarchy id pattern

iboy is a great movie

my younger sister's disturbing "soul vomit" news failing to shock, that failure being in and of itself sad and disturbing, working until i almost passed out sitting at my desk

tuesday 31st:

waking up early again, both myself and mr smear very tired, a morning of preacher and sleep; extended by mr smear's post-school nap
gd's chiropractor visit, then a financial anxiety attack before going out to withdraw/deposit (both ATMs blocked by heavy users)
visiting my recruiter cousin for advice, picking up hot fusion on the way home and getting mr smear ready to put himself to bed

wednesday 1st:

the little sister news i posted about bothering me through the night, an uncomfortable talk with SxS which could have been worse, struggling with an entity framework code first issue after i thought i was done with that stuff and my frustration taking me beyond my 3am exhaustion point to 4am... with mr smear up at 4.45, of course...

gd's morning haircut on the wrong day (and they "fixed" it because they didn't know what day it was either), a power nap and a chat with SxS's father, picking up mr smear and going through to the department of home affairs which was full then to the wushu centre which didn't have the gear gd needed (but a chat she did need while mr smear made me chase after him for twenty minutes) then aborting a plant mission because we didn't have a breastfeeding blanket

mr smear falling asleep on the way home, so a little rest before going shopping (big shopping, mostly fine except for tv bar disguising their new dark (milk) chocolate as their old dark (non-dairy) chocolate - the first taste was already too rich to be right

arriving home in time for a nice visit from my toronto cousin's wife, prepping mr smear for bed and troubleshooting a work problem while simultaneously continuing to hack away at the entity framework code first issue that hadn't stopped driving me crazy - finally winning and more elegantly than the internets had led me to believe was possible

bill burr's new special walk your way out is brilliant

thursday 2nd:

actually a decent amount of sleep for once, a pleasant morning, sharing pregnancy / breastfeeding experiences with people who appreciate it, picking up mr smear and learning that he has two little girls after him, from the print shop straight to nap time
"We are delighted by viral videos of youth children refusing to eat meat and making compassionate connections to where the meat came from, yet most children aren’t even given the opportunity to think through the process to begin with. Raising a vegan child is said to be “forcing beliefs,” but what in the world is raising an omnivorous child if not that, with a heaping spoonful of violence at the very top?"
- this article right here
waking up mr smear to go to DoHA, where it became apparent that the greeter from the day before had left out an important point where the number of passport applications per day is limited...

playing and working and dancing, troubleshooting and playing, mom's interesting news, bedtime prep

parenting: i guess a child pooping in the shower is better than them pooping in the bath?

my neck trauma and feeling off, a long goodnight followed by possibly too many chana and rice wraps while watching that 70's show

friday 3rd:

waking up choking and throwing up, going back to bed after a while and then an hour or two unable to sleep; finally getting up and doing some unpleasant chores (financial) and eventually feeling better and heading for bed just as mr smear decided that he was done sleeping for the night (becoming a theme)

a dazed morning, a doctor's visit and forty minutes in a queue at the telkom store, the post office, the chiropractor cracking my wrist, simply asia lunch, utopia yoghurt pickup, then home finally to lie on the couch for an hour or two

gd's extreme neck pain, work investigation on a shady client and the return of SxS's brother's drama

a walk with mr smear to the playground, then back for candle lighting and a really nice shabbat dinner

[forgotten evening]

saturday 4th:

a good night but an early waking, cartoons and coffee, then going to the vegan market
a great turnout but disappointing stalls; we returned a ton of empty yoghurt bottles and had an amazing mint cheesecake slice, listened to fun music and took away some desserts that turned out to be awful sweets with beautiful presentation. TASTE your food, people, that'll teach us to buy without sampling (or trust when no samples are available)

traffic jam home, mr smear's short nap and then a busy afternoon playing with him before i took him to the park. mostly fun, very tiring

dinner / shower / bedtime for mr smear / changing privacy settings on facebook for my sister* / nursery rhyming until 2.30am

* twenty years of silence ended with manipulative, needy shit; my younger sister's communication went from disturbing through creepy and into psychotic in a matter a two or three messages and it took a week before i saw a single question asking how i am. no, thank you, goodbye.

sunday 5th:

mr smear's inexplicable distress for an hour or so (possibly just a heat rash from a winter blanket) followed by hectic dreams

failing to watch marc maron: more later, a busy morning / a rabbit hole of israeli music making me emotional, mom's visit and advice / support and finally blocking my sister

a quick aquarium tour and mr smear's fear of the fake waves and the jellyfish tunnel

half an hour looking for parking when the additional section had plenty of room and obvious not-parents were in the parental parking, lunch at wellness warehouse (trying to educate the staff on vitamin d, i think they just wanted to get rid of me), pharmacy and shopping and getting back home around 5pm worn out

a twenty minute nap, showering and dressing and rushing off to la perla for pleasant drinks; in the smokers' section, unfortunately, and we'd thought we were invited for dinner so that was awkward. and we found out later that my mom's cousin who invited us made that even more awkward and when saying goodbye gave me remarkably bad advice on raising children.

marc maron: more later was a hard sell to gd, but she gave him another chance and the two of us laughed hysterically or nodded along to most of it

gearing up for a work night and being thrown off

monday 6th:

an awful midnight feed turning into at least an hour when we didn't have it in us, peeling ourselves out of bed when mr smear woke up bright and early and chipper

dropping him off at school and getting caught up in a parking lot discussion about conversion and immigration

a big desperate nap, picking up mr smear at noon for the first time, his nap while we ate lunch watching santa clarita diet, mom picking up gd's ipad and leaving just before mr smear woke up coughing and asthma-vomiting

chiropractor visit (second wrist crack), lunch and grocery shopping, a couple of lost hours (seriously, not a clue what happened but i know it involved parenting), mr smear's bedtime and watching more santa clarita diet which is one of the goriest things we've ever seen

starting to work earlier than usual

tuesday 7th:

a big birthday and moonlight over the ocean, stopping work just after 2am

mr smear's big breakfast
napping / watching with gd
picking up mr smear waking up feeling a bit sick
a little rest while the cleaning lady helped and then while mr smear napped
trying to work and tend to mr smear simultaneously
chatting with horseman
mezepoli birthday dinner eating lots of good food and enjoying their mojitos, our first proper date since the last time we were there
a monster cockroach and my awful response
santa clarita diet and early to bed

wednesday 8th:

up at 6am, mr smear easier to manage when it's us waking HIM up
arriving at 7.45am, a long queue for the queue to get a slip for the cashier, a long queue for the cashier and a surprisingly interesting chat with a school friend's mother, a short queue to get a number, an insanely long wait in a crowded hall with a small child and a desperate need for coffee

four hours before finally getting to the photo station, then the system crashing and having to wait another short while for a different one, followed by ten minutes of service and then a much deserved lunch at truth while mr smear napped

home for a bit, making exciting progress with my project, then a message from DoHA informing us that we'd need to go back because they made a mistake...

honest chocolate and driving around in crazy traffic, the spar pharmacy and everyone having a good laugh at mr smear's swipe reflex

blocking the road waiting, gd's good news and then great news followed by more exciting work progress

thursday 9th:

crashing around midnight feeling awful, sleeping, waking up feeling much better; taking mr smear to school by myself, getting good work done, picking him up with gd and going straight through to the department of home affairs in spite of town being shut down for SONA

the shocking news of our friend's younger brother being killed in a motorcycle accident

good work
wazoogle nose is not funny, it took a while to clear the poor child's nose
walking with gd and mom and being mutually awkward with an old classmate
tough goodnight
santa clarita diet
early to bed for a pre-work nap

friday 10th:

and apparently i'm exhausted, so at least i got good day work done because i slept through the night (not counting mr smear waking a couple of times) and reluctantly got dragged out of bed around 6.30am

a little rest, a positive work morning, frustrating shopping after picking up mr smear, our cleaning lady staying on to let us cook and work, mr smear breakdancing

mr smear chaining different syllables, but fake crying a lot which we think he's picked up from the other kids

work, play and getting ready for dinner; a really nice evening with godmother's best friends, good food and mr smear being particularly entertaining but not sleeping until we left late

winding down with ffix

saturday 11th:

and then working a bit until 3am, at which point mr smear stopped sleeping well and eventually a short few hours turned into 7am; begrudgingly getting up for performance tears

a rough morning, but putting on food choices and it's AMAZING, so rock solid that gd made a decision

playtime and strategizing, mr smear going down for a nap and taking the opportunity to get some good work done

getting ready and picking up our speaker and watermelon from my mom, a quick baby city diaper run and then through to a playdate in plumstead feeling a distinct and intense cape town electricity in the air

a lovely afternoon with two cute kids moving from a sandbox to a little splashing pool, leaving late and coming home tired and picking up hot fusion and shower-and-bedtime and dinner and vegging out with a cider and an early night

sunday 12th:

a horrible night, mr smear apparently reacting to our friends' cat and barely any sleep for any of us; waking up to the last episode of trollhunter before finishing the food choices documentary - i'm really glad the director ran the segments in the precise order that he did

mr smear's 10am nap an absolute blessing, but too restless so i regenerated willpower with ffix: gleefully discovering amarant's chakra ability

still restless even after my mom came over to help out, a busy afternoon (mostly clearing mucus but including writing another couple of nursery rhymes) and taking mr smear out for a walk which he didn't seem to appreciate, gd's great lentil burgers and putting mr smear to bed and watching clips of the SONA violence and some more dazed and confused after gd went to bed

Thursday, February 02, 2017

breastfeeding's not for the faint of heart

a lot of this is info that you're SUPPOSED to get at the hospital or during prenatal classes, but the nurses we were exposed to were so busy being breastfeeding fascists and making mothers feel awful about not breastfeeding that they left out the bits that would have actually helped :(

1. stress is bad for breastfeeding. it's a lot worse to starve your child and not enjoy your child as much as possible than to not breastfeed - plenty of women don't connect with their babies immediately - and the guilt can be overpowering. prioritize happy and guilt-free mum and fed baby before anything else. this means preparing to supplement with bottle feeding, and remember that if you can't get it right, you're NOT a failure. breastfeeding is HARD.

2. all baby companies claim to produce teats just like mom's. the vast majority are straight-up lying, there's no regulation and if you choose wrong the bottle feeding will interfere with the breastfeeding (and force you to buy more products). we found playtex vent-air was okay, but we had a lot of trouble from other brands before we got there. medela is insultingly bad, they have a lot of great products (like their breast pumps) but their bottles almost undid us.

3. make sure the nurses check for a tongue tie. learning to latch is a tough process and it can be painful, but it's not supposed to be ceaseless agony. we'd never heard of tongue ties before we'd been struggling with screams and tears and bloody nipples for two whole weeks! it's a simple check, and the procedure to cut takes all of two minutes. and trust me, the procedure is a lot more painful for the parents than for the child, our son was more surprised than hurt and the immediate relief he experienced makes me a little emotional writing this.

4. nipple shields are the kind of thing that should be provided in the hospital, just in case. nipples need time to heal, so when they're damaged give them a break with a shield.

5. breast milk volume: the more you feed, the more you produce. there's a heavy psychological component to this as well. when you're struggling to produce, there are a few methods - pumping manually, fenugreek / blessed thistle, and a prescription hormonal supplement called domperidone - but few medical practitioners will tell you that there's a secret, magical tool that's mysteriously effective for a lot of women: guinness. a glass of guinness a day (from a can, glass allows light to weaken beer) can make an unbelievable difference. the reason you won't hear much about this is because you're not supposed to drink alcohol while breastfeeding, but our doctor admitted to us that it's perfectly safe if you don't drink much and you do it immediately after breastfeeding to give as much time for your system to clear before the next feed.

we tried various beers, including a non-alcoholic beer that one nurse swore by, but they did absolutely nothing. as of the end of last year, guinness is no longer using isinglass filters so it's vegan, too!

6. vitamin d: mother's milk is supposed to contain everything your child needs, so it's weird that women are instructed to put vitamin d drops on their nipples, right? dr greger ran a series of videos recently on that explains why, it turns out that none of us are getting nearly enough vitamin d and so there isn't enough to go into the milk supply. the solution is simple, though, and that's to take supplements. most people should be taking between 4000-8000 units per day, it's obviously advisable that breastfeeding or soon-to-be-breastfeeding mums go for the upper side of that range. more than 10000 units a day isn't safe, though, and we do consume vitamin d in food and a little in sunshine so 7000-8000 per day is a safe upper limit.

regarding supplements in general:
it's always important to take your b12, vitamin d, calcium and magnesium and folic acid. not all pregnancy multivitamins have what you need, you need to be super-skeptical about those.
there were studies done on the effects of omega 3 and mercury on developing brains, the results were kinda horrifying. even if you're vegan it's important to know about this, so please share it with non-vegans who are pregnant or planning...

consumed mercury (all fish have mercury nowadays, and in south africa the levels are particularly high due to mining runoff) stays in your system for months and infant brain size is significantly reduced and brain function is measurably reduced. supplementing with omega 3, on the other hand, increases brain size significantly. so if you want you kid to start off with as much advantage in life as possible, avoid seafood from as early as possible until you're done with breastfeeding and supplement your diet with algae and milled flax to keep your omega 3 levels high.


trigger warning: sleep training. if you've done this, it's not your fault, it's probably not the end of the world, and you might be able to undo at least some of the damage by learning about this... if you've done this or are doing this, nobody has the right to judge you. you do what you can with what you have, not everybody has the luxury of a good support system.

having said that...

there's a new field of genetics called epigenetics, and what we've learned is that while there are a lot of genes that are hereditary, there're also a lot of genes which are activated / deactivated by environmental factors. it's the reason vaccines work, by the way, when are bodies are hit with a virus we respond by recoding our genes to fight back.

the first one i learned about is the obesity gene: yes, there is such a thing, and it's activated or deactivated during THE FIRST FIVE DAYS AFTER CONCEPTION. if mommy doesn't have enough nutrition in her body, the pre-foetus registers that it'll be born into a world where nutrition is scarce and will store as much fat as possible to prevent starvation. if you're eating a well-planned plant-based diet it's unlikely that you'll activate it, but if you're a gluten-free or french-fry vegan you might want to investigate your choices if you're trying to conceive.

the second one i learned about is the confidence gene - also called the runt gene. because we're mammals, usually born in litters and competing to breastfeed, when we're too weak to make enough physical contact our bodies reconfigure to reduce our chances of continuing to breed. when a child doesn't get enough physical affection from its parents their body will actually recode to have less confidence.

there's a new trend called sleep training: this is an effective way for parents to get some rest and it's entirely understandable - the reason i know a lot about it is because i spent a lot of time investigating it; before our son was born i thought i was tough enough to handle the sleep deprivation everyone talks about, but really i had no idea :P

the problem with sleep training is that it's basically teaching the child to give up on being held when they need it the most. you can't spoil a small child with too much hugs and affection, when your child screams in the middle of the night, try to be there. it may seem counter-intuitive, but you'll actually make them a lot less needy in the long run.


most important note of all: don't stress. and don't stress about stressing if you can't help it, either. it's important to be responsible, sure, but it's just as important to maintain psychological health so don't worry too much about breaking rules even if you're the one who set them in the first place.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017


i'm supposed to write when i have something to write about, and right now i can't focus because i'm overwhelmed by a number of things... so here goes.

1. overshadowing everything, my younger sister who i haven't heard from in over twenty years and who i barely knew growing up has been reaching out to me. i'm trying to avoid being unkind without inviting her darkness into my life, but even keeping a polite distance has already been responded to with a degree of heaviness to which i didn't need to be exposed. my poor sister never had a chance in life, she was born to two abusive parents (whereas the rest of us only had to deal with one) and has been unhinged and unstable since childhood. that led her to a life on the streets, the kind of life really depressing and disturbing movies are made of. i don't want to be a shitty brother, but i don't want to be a good brother either. the cost is too high and i have a family to take care of; even the cost of this communication is proving too much for my heart to bear.

2. another month done, another month beginning, and this time looking at my budget it finally sank in that it's unrealistic to expect to stop generating massive debt at my current salary level. i'm been underpaid since we left montreal and i can no longer avoid looking at the cold facts presented by my spreadsheet. the anxiety is intense and i now need to seek a raise or find new employment. and i *like* my current job.

3. there are assholes on the internet. it's worse when they're friends of friends of yours - not as bad as when they're friends, obviously, but still. that's just the cherry on the sundae, it wouldn't even get a mention but it's just helped to paint the world a shitty colour today.

here's hoping the world's ready to let me go uphill for a bit.