Thursday, July 31, 2008

4 am Follies

Things seem to happen at 4 am around our house, much to my cara spoza's chagrin. For example, we've had two 4 am events within the last week.

So, as you may have gathered from previous entries, I tend to work a bit past closing time. Earlier this week, I wrapped up early (the epinonymous 4 am), headed upstairs from the office and attempted to snuggle, discreetly, into bed next to my cara spoza. That was the plan, but, as I was feeling my way in the darkness, I felt a warm tube resting on my pillow. Hot coffee? No, when I started to move said cylinder, I discovered it was attached to a little Iz.

Explanation, Isabel, being all of 4 and three quarters in years and all of three or so feet, always manages, like water to occupy the entire container (which in this case is a king size bed!). She'll scootch-scootch-scootch around until her feet are occupying a pillow on one side of the bed, with her extended arms occupying the pillow on the opposite side of the bed. How does she manage to do this? Well, I'll tell you.

See, I repositioned her (head on pillow, feet facing down to the, well, foot of the bed) and then assumed my position (the edge-edge) on my bed. As soon as I settled, Isabel started running in her dream, which transduced into using her toes to play my washboard ribcage. I scootched a little out of the way, and she scootched to fill the vacuum I left on the bed. Then, she started waving her arm about wildly as if she was clearing a path through a glen. The machete that was her arm repeated connected with a bridge ... too bad for me that bridge was of my nose ... right between my eyes.


I scootched over a little more, rolling off the side of the bed -- [Thud!] -- and she scootched to fill the void.

Well, I was consoled with her sleep-patter: "We're almost there!" she uttered earnestly. Yeah, I was "there" all right. But "there" didn't seem to be the sleep-zone.

Last night, it was little EM's turn. She came running in at 4 am, crying "Mama! It's Isabel"

cara spoza: Oh, sweety, [grogily] did you have a bad dream?
EM: ... [weeping]
cara spoza: It's okay, honey, you don't need to tell me about it; how about we pray a Hail Mary?
EM: ... [weeping]
cara spoza:
Hail, Mary, full of grace
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed are thou amongst women, and
blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now, and at the hour of our death.

During the prayer, Elena's weeping settled into heavy breathing. And who said there's no such thing as miracles? Miracle #1 in my book was that my cara spoza turned to Divine intervention first, whereas I would've probably exacerbated the situation by analyzing the dream to death. Well, EM needed a pillow at around 37oC, so she snuggled up to her mama.

Her mama, after copious physical contact, had had enough of that, desiring only sleep. So she grumbled, shoved (gently) EM over to her pashti, and slunk off to the twin bed too recently occupied by a 6-and-a-half year old. Huh? Where'd she go? I wondered, for after all there was no way I could return to sleeping if I was worrying about my cara spozzzzzzzzzzzz.

I spent the rest of the night being a pillow and making sure my little girl slept worry-free. A perfect rest for me.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Top-"10" Movie List

Oftentimes, I'm in a conversation where one of the parties, sometimes it's I, mentions a movie, whereupon I exclaim with delight, "That's one of my top-10 movies!" Well, over several (or one) conversation(s), having done that 17 times or so, the other party catches on and calls me: "Hey, so, what are your top-10 movies?" "Well..." is my equivocating response.

So, finally, I've published my top-10 movie list to drive off the mob. You'll note something odd about that list when you follow the link and look at it. Yes, I do know how to count to 10 ... it's just that I have trouble stopping once I get there, don't you know.

Of course, since I'm a programmer, instead of just listing the movies, I wrote a program to do that, and then I blogged about the experience to, ya know, make the world a better place.

What are your top 10 movies?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What is hard? What is Beautiful?

So, of course, I've been doing the masyu puzzles. I go straight to the hard problems, and in the second set I ran across the following puzzle #88 in book one. The perplexing issue for me was that after (nearly) completing the puzzle seven times, I still had not reached the solution! On the other hand, problems later in that book, marked with a much harder difficulty, easily submitted to my pen.

Try to solve it yourself ... isn't the solution clever?

Now, here's a puzzle marked as 'Expert' in the recently published Hidato book. I solve these puzzles in moments without difficulty, but computer programs have a much harder go of it, search algorithms need a look-ahead of at least 7 to tackle this puzzle. I wonder who would win a race in playing this game.

Zombie Plans

I suppose, with this post, I am determined to forsake any hope of maintaining my kid-friendly rating for this blog. Ah, well, the children must be warned before the great Zombie uprising.

Actually, this post isn't actually pure `pataphor. My God-brother, Mike, lent me a film entitled Zombie Anonymous. At the very same time, we had a going away party for a teacher of Paraalang Pinoy whose husband, besides singing a mean More than Words, with his wife aca-acamp-acom ... playin' da geetar, has a Zombie plan, including bicycles for rapid escape (off-road, because the highways are a sure to become a congested zombie-fest), plenty of water, and a bokken to buy some time ... he asked if I had one as well.
Me: No
He: Huh? Why not?
Me: Because I have 38 Zombie plans!
They are off to Japan ... look out for the siafu!

Let me pontificate here for a moment: it's called a Zombie plan because it's a plan to help you survive the zombie attack. So, following that reasoning, a zombie "plan" to infect yourself (believe it or not, I've heard more than a few variations of this one) to join or to rule from the horde is not a plan at all ... you may as well grab a picket sign stenciled with the solitary word: "Dinner" and paint a target on yourself.

The usual portrayals of zombies, fast or slow, are that of automatons. The movie Zombies Anonymous, however, poses that Zombies retain full memories and cognition of their former, and current, selves, without even the benefit of death as a transition. So the choices they make, the support groups they attend, the jobs they hold, the relations and religions they cling to, eventuate to a horrifying and nihilistic view ... of everything. In the other portrayals in the media, books and movies and the web, zombies are definitely 'It', never to be considered 'Thou'. This movie makes this very counter-assertion, the Zombies are no different than you, and one day, you'll wake up, dead, as one of them. 'It' is 'Thou'. With this assertion, the movie attempts a direct attack against the eternal 'I'.

*sigh* ... funny how in each generation there're the nihilists or existentialists or objectivists, and they all propose their version of "There is no God!" [Psalms 14:1] ... note the irony for that phrase is preceded with the Truth: "The fool says in his heart ..." and the following line is telling of these prophets: "Their deeds are corrupt and vile, not one of them does right."

I add my hearty assent with the following observation: none of these "realists" have had children. Sartre's "abandonment" (which I note with glee to his acolytes, and joy for him, that he abandoned this view of "abandonment" on his death bed when he returned into the communion, receiving absolution and last rites from a Catholic priest) and Rand's "producers and moochers/money or guns" perspectives of the world, albeit true up to a (very small) point when viewed through their very distorted lenses ("... but they sound so smart!") is the antithesis of hope. Why have children, when your very philosophy consigns them, at best, to despair?

So, they don't. So I wonder how, generation after generation, there seems to spring up from the slime, these "intelligentsia"? Do they spawn?

I also wonder how anyone with sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, parents, cousins, nieces and nephews, ascribe anything other than the proper fate to these black words (which, of course, is confutatis maledictus). As a Christian [Catholic, even] apologist, I'll happily enter into dialog with you, starting from First Principles, and I'll listen to you, for you are Thou, a child of God, deserving to be loved as God loves you ... that's where I'm coming from, the Fifth Way.

But, caveat philosopher, as pater familias, if you plan to impose your world view on my wife or children, a punch in the face is what I'll lead off with. Is that too violent for you? No, one need only look at the products of these world views (Hitler's Holocast, Stalin's decimation, the Khmer Rouge's killing fields, China's "reproductive policy", and in our own back yard, the robber-baron's "human resources") to know that there's a war on, and evil prevails when the good remain silent.

So there are my first four plans: Faith, Hope, Love, and a strong right arm. For the Zombies are real, and I won't let the walking dead, or, explicitly, those who have given up hope in this life (my prayer: "God, don't let me die until I'm dead!") obstruct or divert me or mine. Walking dead, you have been warned. For the rest of you undecideds, it's time to choose sides [Deut 30:19], and make your plans.

Good luck with it.

A prayer for the home

When we went to the folk-life festival in Washington D.C., the big surprise for us was the cultural representation of Bhutan (Tibetan, Mongol, Indian, andChinese cultural roots). We watched archery competitions (complete with cheerleaders), ate the (very) spicy food and chatted with government ministers.

The children became immersed with the crafts; EM so wished to observe the chanting and trumpeting, but it was not to be (the line wrapped around the tent almost to the NASA exhibit), so I told her the story of when she was all of six months old, and we went to the folk-life festival with a Tibetan contingent and how she screamed when the monks transitioned from chanting to blowing their not-so-sonorous (to Western ears, that is) horns. As a consolation, she was allowed to spread ink over plates to create this prayer. The grad student informed us, as we sipped our cool mango lassis (did I mention the food was very, very spicy?), that this was a prayer for the home.

Does anyone have a translation?

Dear Mama ...

... so, what did we do to deserve them?

"the ants are my friends"

Received this note from my cara spoza:

Have you ever been told that you have been incorrectly singing the lyrics to one of your favorite songs? If you're like us, it happens all the time! This phenomenon is called a mondegreen, and is among the new words being added to the 2008 update of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary, Eleventh Edition. The term means "a word or phrase that results from a mishearing of something said or sung." For example, many folks think Jimi Hendrix is singing "excuse me while I kiss this guy," instead of the actual lyric, "excuse me while I kiss the sky." We want to hear your favorite mondegreens—click here for details on how to send them in. Don't procrastinate; you only have three weeks until we choose our favorites.

Here are my favorites ... can you guess the sources?

  • [as sung by EM and Iz]Pie, pie, Miss American Pie; drove the levy to the chevy to pick up some pie. Dem good ole boys were eating ice cream and pie, singing ...

  • [as sung by Pavarotti to my Nana in California] ... elephant's ears!

  • Henroooo! Busted!

  • Chicks and ducks and geese better surrey, when I take you down in the scurry!

  • [as sung and hummed by Iz]God is bigger than the Woogie man!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Author, Author!

In the very nice movie (not one of my (many) top-10s, but still one of my favorites), eponymous of the play 'Ideal Husband', the director takes the liberty of introducing the author, Oscar Wilde, of course, of the work by using the conceit of staging his other more famous work, 'Importance of Being Earnest', as a play that the characters attend, enjoy, and cry out, 'Author! Author!'

'Ideal Husband' got along so well that the director, Oliver Parker, went on to direct 'Importance ...' (which does make my top-10-cut). But that fact is not for this story here, it's simply a nice postlude to my introduction.

Well, since I'm currently entrenched in a start-up, my cara spoza and I had a rare moment to lounge. Our lounging did not last long: in walked a blanket supported by our two actresses. In the first act, they put on a sock-stage-play starring Flopsie and Mopsie, with Elena calling out directions (as the sock director?). The second act was Isabel playing the kazoo (alright, now, really, who had the bright idea to create that, urhm, "musical?" instrument) as Elena sang along ... the selections include Gloria and Allelulia, as I recall (well, all we needed was a washboard and banjo to complete the ensemble), then there was solo dancing interspersed by more singing and, um, kazooing ('verb the noun', I always declaim).

'Author! Author!' shouted the admiring parents, but the sudden attention fleetingly turned the director's cheeks cherry red -- fleeting, because flee she did, diving under her covers to protect herself from all the sudden attention. Little Isabel accepted the showers of flowers and many trophies on her own and her absent sister's behalf.

Marissa's Bunny

My God-daughter, Marissa, has infantile spasms. Her papa, my God-brother, Mike, does a much better job explaining what that means than what I would have to say, and he's established a blog to get the word out. Read it, and enjoy the travels of Marissa's bunny (thankfully not named 'Pat').

She is such a trooper during her episodes. I think, in fact, Mike and I suffer moreso than she does when spasming. To a one-year-old's mind, these seizures don't have the weight of gross injustice that bears down on old people like the (God-)papas. One of the questions I need to deal with, being Christian (Catholic, even), and being a Catholic apologist, in myself and coming from others, is why would God visit this affliction upon her:

Oh, God, in your infinite wisdom, why did You do this?

Of course, put in those terms, the lamentation is tautological: God does have infinite wisdom and somewhere in that infinite wisdom is the reason.

To what (good) end? I don't know, and I don't have answers. Does it make our suffering any easier knowing that God has a plan and isn't doing all this for His own amusement? Of course, but that doesn't make life on earth a walk through Willy Wonka's park. Mary had her sorrows; Jesus cried. Both were Immaculately (hu)man, and Jesus also fully God. Both knew God has a perfect plan where this all works to the good, but that didn't "wipe away every tear." Not yet. Jesus' "burden is light", but it's still a cross we must bear.

So, pray for us, Marissa's parents, Mike and Malou, and for me and Aileen, Marissa's God-parents, that we bear this burden for her sake.