Rex has hand-foot-mouth disease, which produces sores in the mouth and throat, and on the soles of the feet and palms, plus fever, and he's pretty miserable. But we got through what we think are the worst couple days, and he's sleeping well now.The boys' merger at night has gone beautifully, with two full weeks under our belt until last night, when Rex woke miserable at 8-something. Ben slept through it. Rex spent the night with us, and did sleep a 6-hour stretch (as did we). H-F-M passes in under 7 days, and based on the symptoms tomorrow might be day 4 or 5, even. Poor guy. Jello and pudding is in his future--tomorrow! I spent the evening with Rex while Lynn took Ben off for a haircut and dinner. Sort of like a mommy-date. You wind up in a close relationship with your kids (if you're lucky), so you do things that you normally do while dating: buy them dinner, hold them close, comfort them, laugh at stupid jokes together, go on long walks holding hands. I suppose that's part of the parental bond that kids who are raised in a loving way ultimately look for in their romantic partner: they take this agape and transmute it into eros. Rex and I had a fine time. He ate frozen blueberries, and was covered in purple by the end, but had a decent meal. He was only unhappy about 20 percent of the time, which was a big drop from the 50 percent he was experiencing earlier today. I put the family A/C unit, formerly mounted for the summer in the parental bedroom, into the kids' room. That's how much I love my children. We're slated to hit 90 by Sunday, and our house doesn't shed heat quickly at night. When we had our heating system replaced last year, we had a heat-pump coil installed alongside the gas furnace, as that lets us easily add a heat pump without having to have the furnace setup rebuilt. It's a tricky situation, as you can save money in the winter with a heat pump in a mild climate like ours, and that can offset A/C in the summer. With 90 to 100 degree days seeming more typical in Seattle, and with our interest not in keeping the house at 72, but really cooling off the house from 90 to 80 at night, it might not be a vast expense. I just have a hard time living in the Northwest and thinking about home A/C.
So...Lynn and I decided Rex was old enough to not freaking sleep in our room any more at night. Don't get us wrong: He needed to be nearer to us during his months of ear infections. But we'd hit a stride with him. He was getting himself well back to sleep on the rare occasions that he was waking up. Ear infections seem to be past with ear tubes and better weather. He's sleeping til about 6.15 am, which is late morning in babyworld.We'd tried to merge the boys in Ben's room (now redubbed Ben and Rex's room) several months ago. We had a couple decent nights and then two that just didn't work. We gave up until Rex was further along. We decided we had slept well enough that we could stand some midnight wakings, and we figured the boys might actually sooth each other. The whole thing has gone far, far better than we anticipated, partly due to both kids' love for each and sweet natures. The first night, we put Rex into his crib, where he often naps, and he was a little confused, but went to sleep right away. Half an hour later, we go in with Ben, and Rex wakes, disturbed and a little unhappy. I soothe him and put him back down, and Ben is in bed. But after a while, it's clear that Rex is too excited. Ben, on the other hand, has fallen deeply asleep. Lynn fetches Rex and he spends the night happily sleeping in our bedroom. Night 2 was just awesome. Rex goes down. Passes out. Ben comes in, Rex doesn't wake. Both kids sleep til 6 am. I get Rex up and Ben sleeps another hour. Night 3 was interesting. Rex never fell asleep when he was put down, and when Ben came in, he was pretty alert. The two guys talked pleasantly to each other for a while, and then Ben fell asleep even as Rex is hurling his new stuff animal (a border collie we named "Dubbly" after my brother-in-law's late, lamented Dolby) around the crib and saying, "Dog! Dog!" (Or rather, "Daw! Daw!") We have a friend over for dessert, and our attention is split between said friend, amused by all this, and the baby monitors where we're seeing action. Finally, our friend says, I think things are quiet. And they are! Rex and Ben managed to put themselves to sleep even with the excitement, and they slept til 6.15 this morning. When I heard them, Ben was singing (his normal way of waking up, how lovely), and Rex was just getting up. I shut the door to our bedroom, and got Rex up and suggested to Ben that he might go back asleep. Ben tried, but he was too excited that Rex is now sharing his room with him. Rex was, too. Knock wood and make the sign of the evil eye, but we have two pretty great kids. Who could have hoped that they'd get along at this age so well? They might be more contentious later, and that's normal, but this is pretty cool indeed. Lynn and I engaged in very adult activities in bed: talking and reading books.
My alma mater, Yale, tired of turning away qualified applicants, is boosting storage space, er, dormitories, um, residential colleges! They're building 2 more for a total of 14. Yale's colleges, each of which houses about 400 to 500 students, date back mostly to the 1930s, with the last two built in the 1960s. Old Campus houses about 80% of freshmen, in historic buildings, renovated every once in a while to put in central heating or insulation.The new colleges will be ready by 2013, and increase enrollment by about 15 percent (from roughly 5,200 today). The alumni interviewing committee just sent out a flyer that said only about 8 percent of applicants were accepted in this year's pool, down more than a percent from last year, partly because of the change in financial aid increasing applicants. The committee wanted to let us know as alumni interviewers that a lot of great kids we met simply wouldn't be getting in--only 1 in 11 would be admitted! I had the good and bad luck to be assigned to Ezra Stiles (think: Harry Potter's Sorting Hat without any of the subtlety as to why you were assigned into a particular college). Nothing per se wrong with the place, but we were ultima thule for the north end of campus, adjacent to Dixwell Avenue, and the projects, one of the most dangerous parts of New Haven, which was full of dangerous parts in those days (and reportedly enormously less so these days). The crack epidemic was rampant, and there were a lot, a lot, a lot of shootings. Because Yale operates partly egalitarian, partly legacy, if you had a relative who was in a given college, like Berkeley or Jonathan Edwards, you'd have preference for that college on admission. You could also relatively easily transfer colleges if there were housing space following freshman year. This meant that Ezra Stiles (named for enlightened former Yale head who practiced unity and peace) and Morse (named for famous Yalie and famous slaveholder Samuel F.B. Morse) were disproportionately full of first-generation Yalies. We were no ghetto of less-privileged folks (my family was probably technically poor when I applied to Yale), but it was a different mix. (One of my freshman year roommates--tiny private rooms in a suite of 6--was the son and great-nephew of Yalies.) Morse and Ezra Stiles were designed by Eero Saarinen, a fabulous forward-thinking architect who designed a lot of great-looking modern buildings that turned out to be totally unsuitable for their purposes. Don't blame him. He died during the colleges' construction, and plans went awry, according to histories I read. Heating was originally in pipes beneath the stone floors (designed to look like rough pathways even in rooms). That apparently failed within a couple of years. Baseboard heating was installed, which worked erratically, and sometimes made a lot of noise (in my sophomore year). The colleges need a massive renovation, which will happen. Yale has been renovated all the colleges over time, shuffling students for that year into a "swing" college, which apparently won't be used as one of the two new colleges. The "birds' eye" shot above from Microsoft's Live.com shows how attractively conceived the two colleges were, each in a half moon with a tower (for density) anchoring each side. THe colleges weren't connected except at the kitchen, which was underground! You could walk through between the two if desired, but folks rarely did. For some reason, I knew virtually no one in Morse College, even though at my 10th reunion I met a woman who has become one my dearest friends who was in Morse. In comparing notes, we wound up finding one person we both knew in common, even though we were both in the humanities. I'm hoping the new colleges aren't quite as cutting edge in terms of features, but rather focus on being both attractive and functional. My biggest disappointment as an undergraduate was the master and dean of my college. The master is in charge of student life; the dean, of academic life. The master, while not a bad fellow, was very out of tune with us (he made peculiar jokes about Asian students ancestors doing his laundry, but he didn't do so with any malice), and really bonded only well with the jocks. He was well known for not shutting down parties unless they got out of hand (cf., the Deca-dance). The dean was aloof, icy, and irritable, and had a few favorites, while the rest of us were so much dross. She got married while I was an undergrad, and essentially lived off campus, even though the dean and master's roles involve them living term-time in the college. I didn't mind her absence. When I hit academic problems in freshman year, she was entirely unsympathetic. Later, a miscommunication with the registrar's office via her secretary almost led to me not graduating. She grudgingly helped out. (The Registrar, who I met with, was infinitely more helpful.) I made a fair amount of my life within the college, and enjoyed my friends there. I always had someone to eat with, and there was only a slight amount of cliquishness. I made most of my life outside the college working in theater at times, and for the weekly newspaper all four years. It worked out just fine, lest I sound bitter.
Rex walks! Several steps at a time now. Pretty confident about it.Rex talks! Down, shoes, jay (as in blue jay), and a host of b words, sometimes indistinguishable: banana, book, ball, block, Ben, bottle, and so on. When Rex doesn't know what something's called, he points at it and says, "Bah!"
I wrote a short, but I think interesting article about IPv6, the next-generation Internet address scheme, and why it's both critical but not urgent to transition to it. We're watching a very slow-moving accident as a train approaches a bunch of cars parked on a road, and everyone is mosying slowly to their cars, jangling their keys, to drive them off the tracks. IPv6 replaces the current IPv4 addressing systems--numbers like 192.168.1.2--with a much larger set of possible numbers. 4 billion to the fourth power numbers, in fact. This isn't because we need untold sextillions of numbers. Rather, it's because it's easier to divvy the network up into large pieces when you start with large numbers. IPv6 is backwards compatible with IPv4. You can use old addresses inside the new system, and new addresses can be hidden inside the old system. Over the next few years, we'll increasingly see IPv6 be used in broadband networks because of the sheer scale of devices they need to address uniquely. I absolutely adore the illustration for the article--in the intro to the article, I describe IP addressing like plumbing.
Ben and I took a very brief trip to Port Townsend to visit the 'rents and my aunt and uncle on Thursday and Friday. This was kind of a dry run, since we have traveled about 5% as much as most of our friends with one or two kids. Ben has gone to Connecticut by plane three times (Lynn's parents), and I think to Eugene by car three times (my folks). Rex has never slept away from home, unbelievably. But we're planning a modest trip in the fall to Maine, and we're thinking about traveling a bit more this summer, so we're trying to figure out how it might work. It was ok. En route, we stopped at my friends Don and Lucy's home on Bainbridge Island. They have an acre, a barn, and other cool toys. Ben whiled away some of the visit harrowing. Ben was generally a great traveler and held up well, but he had real trouble getting to sleep in a strange room (not surprising), taking about an hour longer than usual to get to sleep. I told him if he had a bad dream, he could come out and find me, and he came out about 10 times over an hour. I finally went in with him and explained that he really needed to get to sleep so we could have a fun day the next day, asked him if he wanted me to lie on the bed with him to help him get to sleep. He said yes. So I lay down on the inflatable mattress with my back to his front, and I heard him to start to breathe heavy pretty quickly. Then I felt a kiss on the back of my head, and then two small arms wrap around my neck. Ben said, "I'm asleep now." I got up very quietly and left the room, and he slept all night. Well, until 4 am. He woke disoriented. I got him back to sleep, but it was a losing battle. He had a huge wet diaper, and then was just too excited. I couldn't get back to sleep during the moments he was back asleep, and he was really up from about 5.30 am on. He didn't poop out during the day, although he was occasionally challenging. We wound up during the two days only being out of my aunt and uncle's house briefly, which is how trips work, anyway. It takes forever to get anywhere and then you have to leave. My mom, dad, and I went to Fort Worden, where Lynn and I were married in 2002 (in a former dirigible hangar, thank you very much), and walked along the beach. We rode a ferry over and back. We were the very very last car at the last moment on the Bainbridge Island (Winslow) ferry on Thursday morning. Literally, they kind of looked at us as we drove along the boarding area, shrugged, and waved us along. We came to a stop, they put chocks under our tires, and kicked off the dock. This is the Walla Walla on the Kingston-Edmonds route below. I had to try the onboard Wi-Fi (it's free as part of my Boingo Wireless subscription), and it worked great. I was pretty tired with about 5 hours sleep, but Ben's 8 hours wasn't enough, either.