Monday, June 30, 2008


Twitter II

I'm really glad I signed up for Twitter; I use my blog as a journal of my days and haven't been too faithful writing lately. So being able to preserve at least a little of what I'm doing day-to-day is a great help. Hope to break out of this writing funk sooner than later.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Toddler theology

Silvi stumped me last night.

She was stomping on ants.

"Silvi, remember how we talked about how it's better for things to live than to kill them?"

"Uh huh." Stomp stomp.

"Come on, Sivli. Stop killing the ants."

"But you said dead things go to be with God. I want them to be with God."


"And you said God helps us. God can help these ants, right?"


She leans down and talks to a crushed ant. "Come on, little guy. It's OK. You can get better."

"Uh, Silvi, just stop stepping on ants, OK?"

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I added Twitter to my sidebar so you can follow my days in real time. Works like "Where's Waldo?" but more high-tech. I can update from my cell phone and let you know about the car accident I was in because I was texting an update to Twitter.

Summer of fairs

It's turning into the summer of art fairs and street festivals. Three weeks ago was the Grand Old Day in St. Paul, two weeks ago was the Excelsior Art on the Lake, last week we went to the Stone Arch Festival in the Minneapolis Riverfront District and this weekend (this afternoon, actually) we head to Hayward, Wisconsin for the Musky Fest.

We'll stay in a cabin on the lake with my parents, who are finishing up a two-week writing sabbatical. They're both trying to finish up books and are hoping two weeks in the boonies will do it. Personally, I need the sounds of clinking coffee cups to write, but that's just me. They talked about hearing bears scrounging around in the night (saw a few of them, big ones); don't know how much writing I would get done wondering if a bear was going to wander onto the porch, looking for an afternoon snack.

And the rest of the summer? A Twins baseball game on July 5th, my company's employee picnic the following weekend, the Uptown Art Fair in the beginning of August, then a week in Chicago and Detroit with family. A trip to Los Angeles in September and that about does it for the summer of 2008.

So, are you supposed to run or stay still if you meet a bear in the woods?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Horton hears

Daddy-daughter date. I took Silvi to see Horton Hears a Who last night and we actually made it through 90% of a movie before racing for the bathroom. I was enjoying the film, an unexpected pleasure, but couldn't talk Silvi into returning for the final 10-minutes. I had promised a visit to the playground afterwards, and, well, Horton can fend for himself when there's a new slide to conquer.

We sat in the same row with two guys who were in their late teens. I kept thinking that it was weird for a couple of older guys to choose this film until I realized that one of them had Down syndrome. I don't know if the other guy was his brother or a caregiver, but I couldn't help thinking about Silvi being in his place when Ian grows up.

To tell the truth, it angered me. I was angry that Silvi won't be able to share films with Ian that are more age appropriate. Won't be able to share in the subtleties and nuance of character development and the richness of intricate plots.

Horton heard a Who, Silvi had to poo and daddy sulked "Boo, hoo."

Monday, June 09, 2008

"Earlier is better"

I'd never heard of the company Sequenom before reading about it on Waldenhouse. They are developing genetic tests that will allow detection of Down syndrome without invasive amniocentesis testing. Their preliminary tests (using simple blood samples drawn from volunteers at various Planned Parenthood branches in the US and abroad) have yielded results that are 100% successful in detecting Trisomy 21. And their stock is "soaring."

I registered and listened to a conference they presented to potential investors last week in Vancouver. (You can find it here. It's nearly two hours long and academic, but very interesting.) The "Holy Grail," as one presenter called it, is finding a non-invasive procedure for detecting Down syndrome "in the first trimester."

Why is detection in the first trimester so important? I won't state the obvious. Another presenter said that "earlier screening and diagnosis is better for the family." He re-emphasized that he thinks these tests will soon be successful during the first trimester and stated that "earlier is better."

Genetic research is an extraordinary field, full of promise. But it is not value-neutral. "Earlier is better" is a value-laden statement. There's part of me that wants to applaud a non-invasive detection method that is as simple as drawing the mother's blood. But there's a bigger part of me that dreads what I know it will mean for the future.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Websites for toddlers

When Silvi was 18-months-old, she started mimicing what I did on the computer. It didn't take much coaching for her to learn to navigate to the sites I bookmarked for her on the tool bar. In addition to PBS Kids, my two favorite sites are Poisson Rouge and the BBC's CBeebies. Poisson Rouge is an excellent place for toddlers to learn to use the computer mouse. And children of all ages will love the CBeebies Charlie and Lola, especially the fun story I'm Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go To Bed.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The car

This past Sunday was our first "real" summer day. Eighty and sunny. We drove over to St. Paul for their annual Grand Old Days celebration, a block party with food vendors, live music, art and things for the kids to do, such as pony rides, inflatable slides and a petting zoo.

Going anywhere with Silvi has become a challenge lately. She behaves well once we arrive at our destination, but the whole "getting out the door, walking to the car, buckling up" is frequently a traumatic event for the whole family.

Getting dressed is a game of chase. And there is the choice of shorts or a "flip" dress. (A "flip" dress is a dress that "flips" out in a nice circle when Silvi twirls. The higher the dress "flips," the more likely she is to approve of it.) Then, of course, are the decisions whether to take her doll, backpack or both. Sandals or tennis shoes. Socks or no socks.

Ian is easy.

Once outside, it's a game of tag. Or looking at ants, smelling flowers or crawling into "daddy's side" of the car. Squirm, squiggle, scream. Squirm, squiggle, scream.

Once we finally pull out of the driveway, her favorite game is to ask "Why?" Over and over. I've started answering, "Chicken pot pie."

The event in St. Paul was too hot, the lines too long, the food too expensive, the crowds too thick. Silvi had a blast.

Until it was time to go back to the car.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Yesterday I spent the day in the cocoon of a video shoot. The outside world fades as all our attention is focused on getting the shots on the script before the talent has to leave. We had no crew to speak of, just my boss and me. Another training video.

Annie trained Silvi to use the toilet with M&M bribes. It worked stupendously. A few days ago while we were at the park, Silvi got a faraway look in her eyes, then sprinted toward the bathroom without taking a look back to see if I was following her, which I was.

Ian, it seems, will be crawling any day now. He is able to get up on all fours and rock his way backward. We are much more careful now about leaving him on our bed alone.

It seems we are all involved in some kind of learning - training - these days. I have been teaching myself 3D animation during down time at work with the hopes of using it in an upcoming project. It's comforting to be able to create a world that responds to all the instructions I give it. Control... the ultimate elixir.