The Bug What Got Me: Personal Epidemiology

Lasvegas-1Lynn thinks it's a pretty tricky assignment to figure out where and when I received the bug that laid me up from Wednesday night until today. I agree. But it's fun to speculate.

I was on the road starting a week ago Friday, flying out from Seattle to Las Vegas. Jeff Carlson, officemate and friend, and I visited the Consumer Electronics Show Saturday and Sunday, then flew to his mom's in Dixon, Calif., near Sacramento. (We were warned that the Las Vegas airport, a place where the smoking lounge has no ventilation and open doors to the rest of the terminal, would be impossible to get through Sunday afternoon with 140,000 CES attendees departing. It took us an hour to get from the CES show to our hotel and then to the airport, where there were tiny lines and no wait. We wound up working for a few hours using the unreliable, not particularly high-speed but conveniently free Wi-Fi connection.)

From Dixon, Jeff's mom Susan drove us to SF where I stayed until Wednesday afternoon, when I flew back to Seattle. The flu or cold started grabbing me on Tuesday night with a upper bronchial yuck, made me tired and slightly lightheaded during the day on Wednesday, and then threw the chills at me (my body trying to kill it off, I know) on Wed. night. I decided to avoid most cold drugs on Thursday to see if I could shake it faster by succumbing. Some success perhaps there.

83716593 C04E568D5C MNow I know that I shared pastries baked by Jeff and my friend Neil Robertson, who cooks at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The three of us certainly exchanged spit. Jeff was sleeping 4 to 5 hours a night on the trip, working on four presentations he was to give at Macworld. If I was sick then, surely he would have gotten it via saliva, right? Maybe not. He's still well.

Thus, I would wager that some hand I shook, despite frequent hand washing and use of waterless cleaner during the trip, must have been disease-laden. I didn't know anyone well at CES, so there was no hugging, cheek to cheek, or kissing. Since Susan and Jeff aren't sick, it seems unlikely I picked it up or spread it in Dixon. I unfortunately, kissed, hug, and shook hands with tons of people at Macworld. I'm hoping they are not in the grips of the grippe.

Since I arrived home on Wed., we've been observing strict sanity and cleaning behavior. So far, so good. No sick Ben or Lynn. I'm hoping I either wasn't contagious by the time I got home or our prophylactic attitude took care of it. If they're still well tomorrow, we should be out of the woods.

There were points on Thursday night when this felt like the worst sickness I had ever had. Fortunately, it passed.

Sneak Peak at Glenn's New Blog

I'm starting a new blog next month--yes, I know, another one--on digital AM and FM radio, known as HD Radio. I've written several articles since summer on the subject, including a one-page "what's new" in the Feb. 2006 cover date issue of Popular Mechanics and a review of a radio in The New York Times last Thursday.

The blog has zero design yet, and I'm trying to figure out the voice. These are essentially beta posts while I develop the site with a Web designing colleague.

I Thought They Were Exaggerating about Las Vegas

I'm in L.V. for the Consumer Electronics Show right now, and I have to say that on my first visit here, I'm amazed that what I had heard and seen before about the city seemed before I arrived here to be exaggerated. Now I understand that images I have seen on TV and in magazines, and stories I've read are substantially understated. What a place. And I'm just walking along the Strip, not exploring downtown or seedier places. Woof.

We are staying at Circus Circus in their satellite rooms where I am paying the most I ever have for the worst room. That is, the room is fine, but it's Motel 6 outside Goshen, Oregon, standards, Actually, a Goshen Motel 6 is probably cleaner and less worn.

They are building new stuff by the acre here--the entire city is covered in cranes--but there's so much money pouring in, there is little motivation to renovate. Worst case, they put in a new carpet. Best case, they tear down the rooms we're in and build better rooms.

Advice for New Parents

I was just emailing unsolicited baby advice to a colleague with a kid due in a few days and realized I could distill my advice in a very few number of steps now.

1. Sleep whenever you can in the first two months. Just give up the notion that you're going to get anything done. Pay bills, but don't try to be productive outside of work if you have to work during that period. I gave up way too much sleep thinking that it would be better to be awake while Ben slept. Big mistake.

2. Get a Miracle Blanket and swaddle the kid.

3. If the baby is "colicky," talk to your doctor about reflux. Ben has reflux and a very simple, safe prescription stopped his discomfort. I expect a good portion of colicky babies have acid reflux. It's very common but not always treated.

4. Create a CD of rain or buy one. Rain, hairdryer noise, etc., whatever you need that produces white noise that makes the baby sleep. We wound up cutting a few discs and settled on rain noise.

5. Dads: Change diapers. C'mon, it's not so bad. The first three or four were tricky in the hospital. I have now changed, like, a thousand. Get over yourselves. Your partner will love you even more.

6. Moms: Ask for breastfeeding help from trained lactation specialists. We and so many of our friends couldn't get a perfect latch for a while and couldn't get a breast pump to work ideally. We finally asked enough people, including lactation specialists, and got the right answers to make it all work.

7. Best single piece of advice from a post-partum doula (lots of other advice was good, too): after the initial weeks, the baby should take naps in his or her crib in their own bedroom if you plan to have them sleep at night in their own crib in their own bedroom.

8. Don't use swings to get the baby to sleep all the time. One set of friends wound up with a baby that wouldn't sleep without the motion, which was a rough transition for them, and somewhat unexpected.