Thursday, December 29, 2005

Weekly features

OK, I've decided to start some weekly features, beginning next week. Hopefully I'll be able to stick to them!

Music Monday - Since my nick is MusicLover Marc, I really should have SOMETHING about music on the page. I don't know what exactly will go here -- probably just notes about my favorite CD of the moment, a favorite artist (past or present), or maybe a local band.

Thursday's Rant - I've got lots of good things to rant about... hopefully I won't have trouble coming up with one a week. I would put this on Wednesday but I don't want to compete with Wednesday Whining!

Friday Funnies - For now, this will be for humorous stories or jokes that I would tell if I were a stand-up comic (like my friend Basil White). If I run out of stories, I'll use this to share a funny website or a good joke I've gotten by email... although I'll probably blog about these as I find/read them.

I'm considering adding a Tech Tuesday column but to be honest, I don't get new tech gadgets that often and I don't really research them either. If I'm able to find enough cool stuff to make a weekly post, I'll consider it.

Hopefully this will keep people coming back each week, and give me an outlet to share my rants, my musical tastes, and my odd sense of humor!

A more thorough introduction

Now that I'm getting myself known out in the blogosphere (is that what it's called?), I thought it would be appropriate if I provided an introduction that goes a little (or a lot) beyond my profile. WARNING! This is gonna be LONG!

Before I talk about me, I want to talk briefly about anonymity on the web. I'm not completely certain if I need or want to stay anonymous when I blog. I'm not sure I see the point. The people who know me already know me, and the people who don't know me... well, what is a name and a picture really gonna do? But for many people, like Phantom Scribbler and Mystery Mommy (who got me into blogging), anonymity and code names are the only way to go.

So for now I've decided to stick to first names for myself and my wife, and my daughter will go by Little Miss or LM (which are also her initials). I'd *love* to post pictures of LM and show her off for everyone to see, but for now I think I'll refrain. If you know me, feel free to email me and I will send you all the pictures you could ever want!

So now, about me. I'm 33 years old and live in northern Virginia with my wife, our 11-month-old daughter, and our standard Poodle. A side note about poodles... if you think they're floofy, prissy dogs, you've never met our poodle -- or any non-show poodle for that matter. Our dog loves to play frisbee, chase tennis balls, play tug-o-war, and wrestle. She is also very affectionate and extremely tolerant of our daughter. (There, my manhood has been defended.)

Although my degree is in Integrative Arts (Music and Recording), I have been working as a web developer for the past 8 years. My current job is pretty boring and not exactly what I expected it to be, but it pays the bills. I would love to get back into the music business full-time some day, and I have continued to do occasional sound gigs at the local town plaza. I also got back into playing trumpet when I joined the Washington Redskins marching band three years ago. Yes, the Redskins have a marching band -- I believe they are one of only two teams that still have a band, the other being the Baltimore Ravens. The band is a volunteer organization, although we do get two tickets (and of course our own admission) for every game. We practice once a week from mid-April through the end of the season, with July off for family vacations. (If you live in the DC area and know anyone who would like to join the band, especially trumpets, please let me know!)

I picked the username MusicLoverMarc because of my love of music (duh!), but it looks like my blog probably end up being mostly about my daughter. I love to play and listen to music, but there just isn't much to blog about.

I love being a father and playing with my daughter. She is so funny, whether it's the way she sways to music, her fake sneezes, or how she plays peek-a-boo by hiding below the edge of the pack-n-play and then popping up with a HUGE smile. Oh, and her Eddie Murphy laugh that you can't hear without cracking up. Of course she can be cranky, and boy does she have a temper. I didn't think temper tantrums started until around 18 months, but she's been having them for months already. She'll squirm and then stiffen up straight as a board, which of course causes her to slam her head into the floor (or anything else that's behind her), which in turn leads to more tears. She hasn't quite learned yet that this is NOT a smart thing to do with you've just been seated on the floor, or really any time for that matter. But I digress.

So what else? I love cars, especially sports cars. As a kid, my favorites were always the Corvette and the Lamborghini Countach, and I've always loved other American sports cars too, like the Camaro, Firebird, Mustang, and Viper. I've owned some sporty cars over the years... my second car was an '84 Nissan 200 sx, my first fuel-injected, rear-wheel-drive car. It was also a five-speed. Unfortunately I only had it about 6 months before my younger brother totaled it. Since then I've owned a '91 Plymouth Laser (Mitsubishi Eclipse clone), a '95 Dodge Avenger, and a '99 Mercury Cougar. Then in 2002 we finally got a real sports car, a Ford Mustang convertible (although it's only a V6, due to the price and the insurance).

My love of sports cars (especially Corvettes) also led me to a web project that I started in 1999, It was meant to be a collection of photos and historical information on the Indy 500 pace cars. As the site got bigger and started to get attention from execs in certain places, I had to be more careful about where I obtained my photos (due to copyrights) and unfortunately work on the site slowed. Luckily I met a guy who works directly with the pace car program and he has been incredibly helpful with providing pictures of the cars since 2000.

OK, I think I've rambled on long enough, but here are some other random thoughts about me.

* My wife and I love to travel. We used to take a "big" trip every other year for our anniversary, now it's kind of whenever we feel like it. We've been to the Bahamas (honeymoon), Lake Tahoe (2nd anniversary), St. Maarten (4th), Jamaica (6th), Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon (for the heck of it), and San Diego (7th). We didn't take a big trip for our 8th anniversary because of the baby. Hopefully she won't put too much of a damper on our future travels. She has two sets of grandparents who adore her, so I'm sure they won't mind watching her for a week. I think our next trip will be a cruise, and we are hoping to go to Hawaii for our 10th anniversary.

* Like most guys, I am a gadget geek. The DVR (aka TiVo) and the GPS are two devices that once you have them, you'll wonder how you ever lived without them. I also love my HDTV.

* This year for Christmas I bought scuba diving certification classes for my wife and I. (This goes along with "love to travel" above.)

* I am a TV addict (hence the DVR). I'm very surprised Blogspot has favorite music and favorite movies in the profile section but not favorite TV shows. If they did, mine would be a mile long. I used to watch mostly sitcoms and reality shows, but now sci-fi dramas have taken the place of sitcoms. (Unfortunately the last brilliant comedy to be on the air, Committed, was killed by the producers deciding to show the episodes out of sequence.) My current favorites are... sci-fi/dramas: Lost, The 4400, and Battlestar Galactica; reality: American Idol, The Apprentice, Rock Star: INXS (will there be a second season?), and Survivor; other dramas: The West Wing, Commander in Chief, Desperate Housewives (is that a drama or a comedy?); sitcoms: My Name is Earl, Scrubs.

* I have ADD. You may have already come to this conclusion if you've read this far. :) ADD is not just some made-up condition, although I do believe that a lot of kids are probably misdiagnosed. For me, ADD has had a significant impact on my life. I was already in college before I was diagnosed. I was always an underachiever and had become satisfied with Bs and Cs. ADD has impacted my personal relationships and has directly led to losing several jobs, so it really irks me when I hear people say that ADD is just an excuse for laziness. It's much more than that, and for me it is impossible to completely overcome, even with medication. But the meds do help, and I have a wife who understands and tolerates me (or at least tries to). Now if I can just learn to "follow the rules" at work, I'll be set. (This is why so many people with ADD own their own businesses!)

* I am a non-practicing Jew, although my heritage and traditions are still very important to me. My wife is a non-practicing Catholic. When we got married, we determined that she questioned many of the Catholic beliefs, and my heritage was important to me, so it made sense that we would raise a Jewish family. How's that going so far? Well, maybe we'll start next year. :)

Pet peeves:
* Drivers who don't know how to drive and/or can't obey simple traffic laws. I was going to elaborate on this, but I've decided to save it for a separate entry.
* People who don't know how to use apostrophes properly. You do NOT use an apostrophe to make a word plural (i.e. "Kid's eat free" or "Closed on Sunday's")!
* To borrow a line from Committed, people who misuse the word "literally", such as "I literally died!" No you didn't! If you had, you wouldn't be standing here talking to me! I have also never seen a highway that was "literally a parking lot", except once during a blizzard on I-80 where people actually did turn off their cars and get out and walk around.

Well, I think that's enough for now! I guess the idea of a blog is for people to discover things about you as you go along, not dump it all on you at one time! Oh well... I know I'll have lots more to say in the days and months to come!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

What constitutes a "thoughtful" gift?

For as long as I can remember, my mom's side of the family has had a tradtion of sharing our Christmas wish lists when we all got together for Thanksgiving dinner. As our family has grown through marriage and children and spread out geographically, getting everyone together for Thanksgiving is not always possible. So a few years ago, as the rest of the family moved into the Internet age, my wife created an online family gift registry. Every family member has their own account where they can update their wish list year-round and see everybody else's.

Enter my mom's middle sister, Nancy. She has a habit of going "off-list" and buying some strange gifts over the years -- the balancing wine bottle holder, the clock in a piece of driftwood, etc. We always shrugged it off, chalking it up to her eccentricities or just last-minute shopping. But this year showed us that she simply doesn't like shopping from someone else's list.

It's not that this year's gifts were "bad". In fact my wife's and my gifts were right off our lists. But we all started to worry when she talked about how she *knew* my dad would love his gift and how she sent her husband out special to get it for him. Turns out that she bought him a Penn State 2006 Orange Bowl t-shirt. Now ordinarily that wouldn't be a bad gift for a Penn State fan... unless you know my dad. He doesn't really wear t-shirts (except on vacation), and he doesn't need any more Penn State t-shirts. And he's also said that would only want a t-shirt that pertains to a specific event if he was actually at that event.

So, what on the surface appeared to be a very thoughtful gift turned out to be something that will just be exchanged. Which brings me to my question: What constitutes a "thoughtful" gift?

Some people would say that purchasing something off someone's wish list (or, similarly, off a bridal registry or baby registry) is not "thoughtful" because it requires no thought or effort on the part of the purchaser. I disagree on two points.

First, although one definition of "thoughtful" is "characterized by careful thought", it can also mean "showing heed for the well-being or happiness of others". By selecting something off a wish list or gift registry, you are being thoughtful by heeding the receipient's wishes and buying a gift you are certain they will enjoy.

Second, just because you decide to buy something from a person's gift registry doesn't mean you can't put some thought into it. Just selecting which gift you want to purchase shows thought. For example, do you want to purchase something practical, or something that's more of a "fun" gift? If shopping from a baby registry, perhaps you pick something you know the couple will have to buy themselves if they don't get it as a gift. If shopping from a bridal registry, you might decide to buy that final set of china. In addition, I have always made a point of putting some generic items on my gift list (and on our baby registry as well) -- things like "tan dress socks with patterns" or "oxford shirts that go with khakis" allow the gift giver to select a gift that still requires putting their own thought into the item. My brother was even able to take an ordinary wish list item like "popcorn for hot air popper" and turn it into something original by shopping at Harry and David.

In my aunt's defense, my dad is notorious for having boring gift lists.... things like batteries, fish filters, or gift certificates for local theater companies. Hmm... actually, after looking at his list again, my dad really DOESN'T have any good gift items on his list! But even so, all it takes is a quick phone call to mom to ask if so-and-so would be a good gift for her husband... especially when shopping for someone as picky as my dad!

What do you think? Is using a gift registry (or buying gift certificates for that matter) unthoughtful and impersonal?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

My weird baby

OK, I thought I would follow along with Phantom Scribbler and MommyGoth with a few strange things about Little Miss. Bear in mind she's only 11 months, so there aren't that many that have developed yet.

1. LM has a box of plastic letters and numbers. She loves to put one in each hand and crawl around the kitchen floor. Clip clip clip clip.... It's like she's wearing snow shoes.

2. Assuming she's in a good mood, Little Miss will dance to any music -- cartoons, her musical toys, tv commercials, etc. Like MommyGoth's Miss K, she stands there rocking from side to side. She'll even chair dance. Surprisingly, she doesn't seem to do this in the car, but she will do it in her high chair. Makes feedings a challenge. :)

3. LM was born with more hair than I have currently. She had her first haircut around 8 months and needs another one already. And it's DARK hair, which makes her look so strange among all the blonde babies at daycare.

4. At 11 months, she still has NO TEETH. My mom says I was walking before I had any teeth. LM's ready to take her first steps any day now. Hopefully the chompers won't be far behind. Heck, she's been teething for 6 months already.

5. Fake sneezes. At first we thought she was just head-banging, until I heard the little squeak that accompanies each head jerk. It's even funnier when she has a real sneeze followed immediately by a fake one.

Speaking of sneezing, when she was just two or three months old, LM would sneeze every time you laid her down to change her. Now *that's* weird.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What do working parents do...

... when their kids are sick? Is there some "sick kids club" that I don't know about? Or do most parents have a daytime sitter on retainer, just in case their child gets ill?

I've been at my new job now for two months. I haven't worked a full 40 hours yet except for my very first week, between my daughter's illnesses, my own illness, and two federal holidays. It's frustrating, especially since I'm an hourly contractor which means no workee, no pay-ee. But even if I did have paid vacation and sick time, I'd STILL be in the negative, since I don't know many companies that give you 50 days of leave a year. Oh, and my wife has also stayed home with Little Miss a few times in the past two months. But even though she has paid leave, she's used all hers up already with her own illnesses this winter. Plus, she works farther away (so she can't run home when daycare calls) and she currently makes more than I do, so when someone needs to take leave without pay, it's me.

So after three days of being out of work with LM (Fri. and Tues. for me and Mon. for Jen), I made a decision -- LM had to go to daycare today. So I doped her up on baby Motrin and once her fever came down, shipped her off. Is that really so bad? I mean I really doubt she's still contagious after all this time. She hasn't had any symptoms (other than being generally clingy) since Sunday, her appetite is back, and her fever was just about gone last night. Hopefully all she needed was one more dose of Motrin to get her over the hump. If not, I'll be getting the call from day care in the next couple of hours.

** UPDATE **

Yep, almost exactly four hours after dropping her off at daycare, I got the call. In addition to the fever, they said she hadn't stopped crying since I dropped her off. I felt terrible!

I was able to get a doctor's appt for that night. They ruled out both strep throat and an ear infection (although I question the latter, since she seemed to be holding her right ear a lot) and eventually suspected a urinary tract infection. So how do you get a urine sample from an 11-month-old? Well the nurse-practitioner decided she didn't want to do the catheter unless absolutely necessary, so she tried the "taped on plastic baggie" method. (I'm sure there's a medical term for this?) But after 15 minutes, still no pee. So she sent us home and told us to come back the next day.

The next day (Thursday) we treked down to the doctor's other office (they couldn't squeeze us in at the office close to home). This time they used the catheter and said it certainly looked like a urinary tract infection but they would send it for a culture. In the mean time, LM got an antibiotic injection and a prescription for more, and was told to bring her back in again Friday if she still had a fever.

Friday she still had a fever and was still generally miserable, so I took her back in for another injection. However, I am happy to say that by Friday afternoon she was starting to show significant improvement. She was still very clingy for all of the Christmas weekend, but by Tuesday she was happy to go back to day care.

Now getting back to the original theme of this post (having to take time off work for sick kids), it really irks me that all this time she was forced to stay home because of a urinary tract infection, which is not contagious!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Rock on!!

OK, as you can tell from my blog name, I love music. And if you've looked at my profile, you'll see that I'm an American Idol addict. Well I just got some great news! It looks like I will be a blogger for Idol Go Home! Idol Go Home is a web-based game tied to American Idol where participants try to pick which contestant will get the boot each week. It's actually a follow-up website to Rock Star Go Home which did the same thing for the reality show Rock Star: INXS (which I was also a rabid fan of).

Anyway, I must say I am so excited for this gig! When the call went out for IGH bloggers, I knew I had to apply. I love watching these young singers, some of whom are immensely talented, and trying to figure out who has that spark, that "it factor", to go all the way. Plus, you have no idea how many times I've sat watching Idol and made a comment about a singer, only to hear my exact words echoed back seconds later by Randy or Simon! I really should be a judge on the show... but until I have my own recording studio and become a hugely successful producer, that won't happen, so for now I'll settle for being an IGH blogger.

I'll be sure to post a link to my Idol Go Home blog as soon as it's online!

Why are most drivers idiots?

12 Things Men Really Find Romantic

12 Things Men Really Find Romantic

I saw this on MSN this morning and just had to blog about it, because it's dead on. This has always been a sore spot between my wife and I. She doesn't understand why romance always means something physical (i.e. sex) for a guy. Even when she bought the book 101 Nights of Grrreat Romance she complained because most of the activities involved sex or something sensual. I guess what she doesn't understand is that for a guy (or at least for me), sex is just sex but sexy=romance.

Now I'm not saying I'm perfect in the romance department, but I think I do more than most married men -- whether it's leaving little love notes where she can find them, buying her a card when I'm at the grocery store, or just touching her face. Oh, and unlike most men, I buy her flowers more than once a year. :)

Quiz Me: Jamilyn's Quiz Central

Another one of my old friends from PSU. (I'll move this to my friends' links tomorrow.)

Quiz Me: Jamilyn's Quiz Central

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The black hole

Can I just vent for a second? (Oh yeah, that's what blogs are for, aren't they?) Little Miss lost my wireless mouse. We have looked EV-ER-Y-WHERE and can't find it anywhere. She's 10 months old! She isn't even walking yet! It couldn't have gone that far! What's with this power that children have to make things vanish without a trace?

I'm such a bad parent!

The Redskins marching band had a gig tonight at the Pagent of Peace on the White House ellipse. I invited Jennifer and 10-month-old Little Miss to come along. Unfortunately I didn't realize how bitter cold it was going to be. LM was bundled up pretty well, but I had a feeling they may not be able to stay for the whole performance. I could actually hear LM squealing with delight between songs, but about 20 minutes in I heard her start to cry. I hoped my wife would hurry her back to the car to warm up, but it was still a long walk back. When I got back to the car myself about 20 minutes later, LM was still screaming. Her hands and feet were ice cold, and for some reason Jennifer hadn't turned the car on -- I guess because she was in the back seat trying to comfort LM and warm her up. I felt terrible! If I had realized just how cold it was going to be, I would never have suggested they come along. And I should have made sure Jen understood that she should head back to the car if she felt it was too cold, even if LM wasn't distressing. Poor baby! (And poor mommy too!) I know how much my hands hurt as I warmed them up after playing for a half hour. I just hope no permanent damage was done.

On the bright side, I know LM enjoyed herself for the first part of the concert. She just loves music. She'll "dance" (rock back and forth) while standing at her LeapPad table or if there's music on TV. Last night we went to the Penn State/George Mason women's basketball game and every time the pep band played, LM would start stroller-dancing. Jen said she was dancing at tonight's concert too.

My Very First Blog

I'm not sure how a WebGeek like me managed to exist in cyberspace this long without a blog, but somehow I have. I guess I always thought "gee, I already have a personal homepage that I haven't updated in 7 years, why should I start something else I won't have time to update?" But I realized that a) everybody's doing it, and b) it's probably easier to blog than it is to update my own website.

And with that, let the festivities begin!