Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Do any geeks read my blog?

I have some geekly questions.

1. I just upgraded Firefox, and an error message popped up having to do with some Java incompatibility, and now my I have a line of incoherent crap at the top of my web pages. Here is a screen shot of Gmail. All of the pages have those ??????BBBBBB at the top.

2. I need more USB ports. Do new laptops come with more USB ports? Granted, I don't have to have all of these things attached at all times, but I like to have my mouse, my printer and my external hard drive connected, so when I have to hook up my iPod and my card reader, I run into trouble.

3. A few weeks ago I had to buy a new computer cord because my old one quit working. It cost 70 bucks. Now, I think the connection where it plugs into my laptop is shot, because if I get all wild and type too fast it jiggles lose and the battery goes dead within seconds, making my computer spontaneously hibernate. This is very annoying, but worse, I feel that it might be really bad for my hardware. Is it bad? Plus, my computer is really hot and sometimes I get electrical shocks when I touch it. Will I die?

4. Should I buy a Mac (sexy) or a Windows machine (cheaper, more {pirate} software available, used to this platform)?

5. How do I put a link in a comment on blogger?

Thanks, geeks. I know you'll come through.

Wisconsin in the Summer = Dumb

It's about 5,000 degrees outside, and my little AC unit just can't handle it. I am sticky and uncomfortable. I am dreaming of the dead of winter. Yes, the green trees are beautiful, but if I must suffer from the heat, I'd rather be someplace where beaches are involved.

This post is really in honor of the Domestic Nemesis, because I did something today that proves my eligibility to join her ranks. I was making a healthy meal for Isaac, his favorite, dal and rice. Now, in my defense, I have used a rice cooker for the past decade. I decided to leave it in the Wilderness because of the lack of cupboard space in my new digs, so now I must actually PAY ATTENTION when I cook rice. DN and Hob can attest to the fact that I am actually able to cook rice, because they ate some of it on Sunday. Today was a different story.

I put the pot on the stove with the rice and water, turned it on, and walked outside to call my sister. My cell phone reception is only really good outside, so I figured I'd go out, have a chat, and then come back in right away. It turned out to be a really good conversation and I got caught up. When I walked back into the apartment, I noticed a haze of smoke and knew that something was amiss.

It doesn't look too bad, does it? But wait. Here is what lurked beneath the scorched rice.

All I can say is, thank the goddess Lokhi (benefactress of housewives everywhere) that my mother in law wasn't here to see how I ruined the bhath. I would've surely been in the doghouse for days.

As it is, my punishment is bad enough. It's gonna take some serious elbow grease to get the charred remains of Isaac's dinner off that pot, not to mention my poor stove.

So here's to you, DomNem. I might need to borrow your "TURN OFF STOVE!!!" sticky note to put on my door for a few weeks.

Note: After burning the hell out of that rice, I put some tater tots in the oven for poor Isaac. Then I came in my room to blog about my escapade. Isaac's tater tots burned. And I officially rock.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sleep Disorders

To my beloved readers who don't have children, please read this post carefully before you decide to procreate. Think first about how much you love to sleep. Right now, even though you have to get up for things like work or school, you still have the freedom to push the snooze button a few times. You can also lay in bed leisurely reading a book before you drift off to sleep. Those of you with partners can participate in other nocturnal activities at your discretion. Think of that. And now read my story.

Isaac has been a problematic sleeper from day 1. I remember being in the hospital in the traumatic fog of post-delivery, and the nurse brought him in to me for his feeding. I remember thinking, my GOD, he needs to eat NOW? It was 2 a.m. It was a rude awakening, literally.

A week later, I remember regretting my decision to leave the hospital early, because if I had stayed, I would have had that nice nurse to bring Isaac at regular and reasonable intervals, rather than having to wake up to his squeals at what seemed like every 15 minutes.

For the first three months, I never got more than 1.5 hours of sleep at a time. This is the truth, and can be verified by my husband (who slept soundly while I fantasized about sticking a fork in his eye), my mother-in-law (who rescued my son when I fell asleep while holding him in the rocking chair and nearly dropped him), and my mother (who endured many pathetic phone conversations).

It turned out that Isaac was not one of those babies who sleeps through the night. He was still waking up at 4 a.m. when he was 1. He went from taking infant cat naps that lasted 2 hours at the most, to not sleeping all day and sleeping intermittently at night. This was horrible for me. Horrible. I love my son more than anything in the world, but he was a very difficult infant to take care of. I thank my lucky stars that he didn't have that horrible colic thing where babies shriek at the top of their lungs every night. Thank you God for sparing me that at least. But I remember having the thought that I might die from exhaustion, and instead of feeling sad about it, I felt really happy, because then I'd be able to close my eyes.

Now, fast forward 7 years to the present. Here are some points for you to know:

1. We are a co-sleeping family. You can comment all you like about it, because I've heard it all. Yes, Isaac will be getting his own bed in a few weeks, but since Masud doesn't live with us right now it's really not that big of a deal.

2. Isaac and I have a routine at night where we read together for at least 15 minutes. Usually when we're done reading, he lays quietly next to me while I read my own book. He falls asleep in about 20 minutes.

3. Things have gotten messed up since I've gone back to school. I need to be sitting at the computer or somewhere besides the bed to read my school books, because some of them are, well, less than exciting and I tend to fall asleep if I'm in bed.

4. We've discovered that Isaac can't go to sleep unless I'm there with him. And if I lay down with him, either I fall asleep or he can't fall asleep because he knows I'm going to get up again.

5. I'm at my most productive at night. I really need him to go to sleep so I can get stuff done!

6. I've tried rewards, threats, back rubs, reading extra books, putting on music, letting him watch a movie quietly, yelling, taking away tv privileges, warm milk, bribes, and even setting an alarm so I can just get up early instead of staying up late. Nothing is working.

7. The worst part of this is that Isaac inevitably stays up too late and then it is MURDER to get him up in the morning. Consider this - I am suicidal when I have to wake up anyway, but add to that hardship the fact that it takes a jackhammer to get him to wake up, and then he becomes the Antichrist. Seriously. This morning he was a ball of despair because he had been dreaming about an episode of Naruto, a cartoon that he can no longer watch because we don't have cable now that we've moved. He melted into a puddle of tears in the bathroom as he brushed his teeth. He couldn't put his socks on by himself because he was crying too hard. He didn't eat his toast. And all this time, I'm still not awake because I've not had my coffee (and I was up until 1 the night before working on my paper), and the clock is TICKING. I have to walk him up to his summer school and then bike to my office, and I have 15 minutes. He still doesn't have his socks on. Augh. AUGH!

8. I have to fix this before the fall semester begins. I have to fix it! Help me!

9. Parenting is so hard.

Friday, July 27, 2007

I got a bike!

But first...remember when Isaac asked me when time started? It turns out that time may not exist at all (via reddit.)

Yesterday I took the Domestic Nemesis to look at a bike that was listed on craigslist. I love craigslist. Anyway, I bought this humongous "city bike" for a hundred bucks, and this morning I rode it to school on the beautiful Lakeshore Trail. I shaved 10 minutes off the time it takes me to ride the bus the same distance, and got some dreaded exercise. It was really a nice ride though, and I'm looking forward to a long and fulfilling relationship with my bike. I need to name her. How about Delores?

In other news, how does one help their seven year old deal with mean kids on the playground? Yesterday some jerk kid shot a super soaker point blank into Isaac's face. A few hours later, another brat hit him in the leg with a metal pipe. There was a welt. I don't think I'm allowed to reprimand other people's kids, am I? Plus, I was told pretty long after the fact. Why don't people teach their kids how to be nice? Isaac would never do either of those things. The worst he's ever done is call somebody a poopy head. Advice?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I mentioned previously how Nari Jibon received a blogging grant from Global Voices Online. If you have a few moments, please listen to the podcast produced by David Sasaki, director of the Global Voices project. Mr. Sasaki has interviewed several prominent Bangladeshi bloggers (including one of my favorites, Rezwan). He offers a beautifully produced piece that will give you a great overview of the situation of women in Bangladesh, and how blogging could potentially become a means of social change. Please take a few moments to listen to the podcast. Nari Jibon is featured toward the end of the piece.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Small Miracles

I'll take 'em.

I have a really huge tangle of keys. I have office keys, car keys, apartment keys, mailbox keys, keys to friends' apartments, and a credit card holder thingy that has a keychain on it, and all of these things are hooked onto a lanyard so that I can carry it around my neck while toting my backpack, purse, and whatever else needs to be carried. And don't forget the Che Guevara keychain, and the "Countdown to Bush's Last Day" keychain that my bro and sis-in-law brought back from DC.

It's strategic. I don't want to lose my keys.

Unfortunately, I've been putting lots of stuff in the card holder thingy, including receipts that I need to submit at my office for reimbursement, various credit/library cards, IDs and most recently, cash.

I had $30 to make it until payday, which is 10 days away. It was a precious wad of $30. And I lost it. It fell out, probably because the card holder thingy is torn and stuffed to overflowing, and whenever I have to find a particular key from the haystack that is my keychain, I tend to wave it around erratically.

Apparently my wad fell out precisely as I was locking my apt. door, because when I came home a FULL 5 HOURS LATER, distraught over the loss of my cash, there it was, lying at the base of my door. Nobody took it. It was safe.

Small miracles, people.

I've switched to a different system of carrying cards...And my wad is now secured with a dorky money clip, sorted in descending order. No telling how long this will last, but hey, it's worth a shot.

Friday, July 20, 2007

"Public Safety for Sale" or "So the rich kids get found first."

Today I was grocery shopping with the Domestic Nemesis when we were stopped at the entrance to a store by a woman proclaiming to be "helping neighborhood kids". I stopped and asked her what her program was about, and she said that she had been contacted by the local sheriff's department to do a demonstration. She made sure to mention the recent disappearance/murder of a local student, as well as many other disturbing accounts from around the nation. She definitely had my attention when she talked about her product - a national ID card for kids which can be updated every six months. Basically, the kit contains a home DNA collection kit (in which to keep your kid's hair), a booklet, and a CD onto which I was to keep an updated file of all of Isaac's information. With the purchase of the kit, I was entitled to an ID card/medical release card that would be updated every six months until Isaac is 18.

Hmmm. Good idea, I thought. Then I asked how the information would help in the event that Isaac was kidnapped - she explained that all I would have to do is hand over the CD to the law enforcement office and they would have Isaac's name and picture up on an Amber Alert within 2 hours. (Otherwise it can take "up to 48 hours".)

All for only $80. But today it's on special for only $30.

When I told the Domestic Nemesis about it, she said, "So now the rich kids get found first, too?" Yowch. I was too caught up in her play on my mama-bear-protecting-my-cub instinct and didn't realize that I had been played. Capitalism 0. Domestic Nemesis 1.

Harry Potter

On this, the eve of the release of the final Harry Potter book, I felt nostalgic about the beginning of my love affair with J. K. Rowling. I remember resisting the popular surge surrounding Harry Potter until Isaac was born. I found myself three months postpartum with a healing abdominal incision living in my hometown. I had nothing to do but read, so I finally gave in. I think I read the next two books within a week and was converted. In July of 2000, the fourth book came out and I bought it immediately.

I've changed so much since I started reading the series - I now have lived overseas, kept that infant alive and he now is seven (!!), I've moved so many times (to Illinios, to Minnesota, to Bangladesh, back to the Wilderness and now to Madison), I got my masters and now am back in school again...it hasn't been long but so much has happened!

I am excited to read the seventh book, but a little sad because the series will be over. It's been fun anticipating the new releases and spending two days straight without sleep so I could read them through. I'll miss that. So thanks, J.K., you've been great. I can't wait to read your next series.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A few things.

1. I love having a garbage disposal in my sink and I'm not sure I'll ever be able to live without one.

2. Summer in Wisconsin in hot and muggy.

3. Rush hour sucks. I forgot that living in the city requires standing in line.

4. I miss my mom and dad (and my dogs).

5. But I LOVE my new apartment.

6. Should I get Netflix or Blockbuster Total Access?

7. Last week, Isaac asked me, "when did time begin?"

8. My new favorite author is Marjane Satrapi. Everyone should read Persepolis 1 and 2. Immediately.

9. I need ideas for what to do on Saturday night. Isaac is going to visit his grandparents, and I've got no plans.

10. I should work on my paper.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Move - Done.

I'm such a moving pro. We loaded up the truck on Saturday morning, and by Sunday night, I was all unpacked and things are in their place in my new apartment. (Big thanks to Domestic Nemesis and Hob Gadling for their help! That Domestic Nemesis is a regular workhorse and Hob helped my dad move a huge couch down a winding staircase. Where would we be without friends?)

I'm planning a big "Katie Moved To Madison" party, so if you're in the area, stop by on August 4th...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Introducing the Nari Jibon Blog!

Many of you know that I work with an organization in Bangladesh called Nari Jibon, where underprivileged women can go to receive training in computers, English, and other valuable work skills. I'm proud to announce that Nari Jibon has received a grant from the Global Voices Online Rising Voices initiative! (Scroll down to see Nari Jibon's grant award announcement.) As a blogger, I am excited to see how the students of Nari Jibon develop their blogging skills.

Please take a moment to visit their blog, called Bangladesh from Our View. If you are literate in Bangla, please visit their Bangla blog as well, called Amader Galpo (Our Stories) (coming soon). Feel free to interact with the bloggers, post comments and suggest ideas for new posts. With your help, and the support of this grant, our students will add their voices to the online world.

Hooray for technology!

Have you tried the Wii yet?

If not, you must do it immediately. Isaac got one from his uncle Mithu and it's the most fun creation ever. I'm addicted and might flunk out of PhD school. Especially recommended game: Raving Rabbits.

I'm gonna play again...

Monday, July 09, 2007

Tag line?

Now that I'm moving into the not-so-small town of Madison, I guess I need a new tag line for my blog. Suggestions?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Titles are back!

I hope you all enjoyed the pictures from my brother's wedding. If you missed them, make sure you scroll down and look. It was a GREAT wedding, really the best one I've ever attended. And I'm not just saying that cuz it was my brother's!!

Anyway, I have one week left of my summer class (which I still LOVE by the way), and then I'm moving. This week is a tad hellish for the following reasons:

1) Masud left for Ohio last night and it was heart-wrenching to listen to Isaac wailing and then crying himself to sleep. And to feel this gaping hole in my chest...

2) It's HOT. I'm dripping with sweat and I'm just sitting here. I might as well be in the Desh.

3) Moving sucks. My belongings are all over the place, packed into random boxes and stacked in my living room. I like a little chaos but not this much.

4) I'm still not done with my paper (which I put aside until my class is done) and it's really bugging me.

5) My computer cord exploded or something and so I'm without my beloved laptop until my cord comes in the mail sometime this week. Right now I'm at the Domestic Nemesis' house using her machine. (thanks Gi.)

6) I'm broke. Too many expenses and not enough paycheck. Sigh.

But I shall persevere through this trial! This time next week I'll be sittin' pretty in my new apartment. Those of you who might wonder - I'm keeping my same cell phone number for the time being, and if you want my mailing address to send me goodies, please email me. I think I might throw myself a housewarming party next month so if you're in the Madison area, stay tuned.

Friday, July 06, 2007

For some reason I can't get blogger to accept my post titles! But I finally have some wedding pics for you. There are none of me because I was oblivious and went to change before we lined up for a family shot. Yeah, I'm a ding dong.

Anyway, enjoy the beautiful pictures! I'll post more once we get our technological glitches figured out. My computer cord exploded or something and I'm using Masud's laptop until he leaves on Sunday. Hopefully my new cord will come in the mail by then!

Stay tuned for news and pics from Isaac and Masud's trip to San Diego.

The Metcalf Men.

Lisa walking with her mom and dad.

Lisa and Rob wrote their own vows. I took this picture somehow, but I had hot tears shooting out of my eyes and my glasses were foggy from tears.

Exchange of rings.

I don't think I've mentioned how ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS Lisa is. She was a radiant bride.

And my brother was lookin' good, too. It's that sexy Metcalf gene.

(A gratuitous kissing picture.)

Riley is ALMOST as awesome as my dogs. He really is a sweet dog, and he tried to participate in the wedding until he noticed something moving in the forest and went off (tie and all) to get it.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Geek Love

I'm in the middle of my super-tough theory class, and I've restrained myself from posting quotes from Tocqueville, Durkheim and Marx thus far, but I just couldn't resist posting this excerpt from the excellent novel "Geek Love" by Katherine Dunn. (I'm reading it in my "spare time" to give my brain a diversion from the great thinkers of modern sociology.)

In this section, Olympia is mourning the realization that her father is a fallible being.

It is, I suppose, the common grief of children at having to protect their parents from reality. It is bitter for the young to see what awful innocence adults grow into, that terrible vulnerability that must be sheltered from the rodent mire of childhood.
Can we blame the child for resenting the fantasy of largeness? Big, soft arms and deep voices in the dark saying, "Tell Papa, tell Mama, and we'll make it right." The child, screaming for refuge, senses how feeble a shelter the twig hut of grown-up awareness is. They claim strength, these parents, and complete sanctuary. The weeping earth itself knows how desperate is the child's need for exactly that sanctuary. How deep and sticky is the darkness of chidlhood, how rigid the blades of infant evil, which is unadulterated, unrestrained by the convenient cushions of age and its civilizing anesthesia.
(Page 105 of the hardcover edition.)

Yeah. You should read this book.