Thursday, August 30, 2007

Boring Chess Post

For the last few weeks I've been really into chess, ever since reading Stalin's Ghost, which features a chessmaster as a minor character.

(Lest I never get a chance to mention it, I've also recently read and enjoyed Lincoln Child's Deep Storm. I really like the name Lincoln, btw, for a boy)

Anyhow, I try to play a game or two a day online at Yahoo. On that site I boast a powerful 9-78 record with 13 abandoned games and a current losing streak of 11.

[I've also been blessed by finding a 10 games in 1 set at Goodwill for a mere $3, though I've only played a human (my Dad) face to face once with it.]

As you can imagine I suck at chess, although in fairness I'd only played a few dozen games in my life before this recent splurge. There just seems to be a mental gap between desire and execution and it is not condusive to victory.

Of those nine 'wins' on Yahoo, all but two were via TKO - the other guy quit for unknown reasons (certainly not because I was near victory). However, this week I notched my first two genuine wins EVER, sucessfully checkmating two oponents online.

Then, last night I had the most enjoyable match of my life. I didn't win - it came out a draw - but I was in control the whole time. I even drove the first player away from the table when the going got rough.

The second opponent took his place and I hounded him to no end, eliciting howls of protest and cries of "Why are you doing this??" on the message board. Basically, I kept him in check until the match was declared a draw.

Here's the complete blow by blow of the match. Experienced hands will no doubt point out a dozen moves where I could have sealed the deal, but OFW - I had a good time, and I'm proud.

I played black; the '+' denotes a move that placed the king in check.

1. e2-e4 e7-e5
2. d1-h5 g7-g6
3. h5xe5+ f8-e7
4. e5xh8 e8-f8
5. b2-b3 e7-f6
6. c1-a3+ d7-d6
7. h8xf6 d8xf6
8. b1-c3 c8-g4
9. c3-d5 f6-e5
10. a1-c1 e5xe4+
11. f1-e2 g4xe2
12. g1xe2 e4xg2
13. h1-f1 g2xh2
14. d5xc7 g8-e7
15. c7xa8 b8-a6
16. a3xd6 h2xd6
17. f1-h1 h7-h5
18. d2-d4 h5-h4
19. e2-c3 d6-b4
20. e1-d2 b4xd4+
21. d2-e1 d4-f4
22. c3-e2 f4-f5
23. c2-c4 h4-h3
24. e2-d4 f5-g4
25. c1-d1 g4-g2
26. e1-e2 g2-e4+
27. e2-d2 e4xd4+
28. d2-c2 d4xf2+
29. c2-c1 f2xa2
30. b3-b4 a2-a3+
31. c1-d2 a3xb4+
32. d2-d3 b4-b3+
33. d3-d4 g6-g5
34. d1-b1 b3-f3
35. h1-f1 f3-g2
36. f1-d1 g2-g4+
37. d4-d3 g4-f5+
38. d3-e2 f5-g4+
39. e2-e1 g4xc4
40. d1-c1 c4-f4
41. e1-e2 h3-h2
42. c1-h1 g5-g4
43. b1-f1 f4-g3
44. f1-f2 g3-e5+
45. e2-f1 g4-g3
46. f2-g2 e5-a1+
47. f1-e2 a1-a2+
48. e2-f3 a2-a3+
49. f3-g4 a3-a4+
50. g4xg3 a4-a3+
51. g3xh2 a3-d6+
52. h2-g1 d6-d1+
53. g1-h2 d1-d6+
54. h2-g1 d6-d1+
55. g1-h2 d1-d6+


One of the confusing aspects of having a site like this for years is that posts run together in my memory. Sure everything's documented, but whoopedeedo. After all, did I really post about how I couldn't tolerate another bad year from the Brewers after years of turmoil and a single glorious season of .500 ball? How can I tell, short of sorting through years of posts?

Why does it matter? Becasue the bleepin' Brewers are in the process of breaking my heart right now! 14 games above .500 and 7.5 games up in the standings, only to fall to 1 game under .500 and 2.5 games back in a little more than a month. They're in THIRD place for pete's sake, or at least were for a day. C'mon!

I know, I know - there's still time, and plenty of opportunity.

It isn't just about this year. After this taste of glory how can I ever have faith in future seasons? Do I have to be like my Dad and check my emotions by saying 'If they're still ahead halfway through September I'll be confident'?

Is that any way to enjoy the game?


Monday, August 20, 2007

Lauren - Day Two

All summer Lisa has babysit one of YaYa's classmates as a favor for the girl's mother. She's dropped off   right before her mom goes to work. All I had to do was wake up, unlock the door, and say hello by 6:45 a.m. 

I woke up at 7:15.

I ran downstairs dressed in bright florescent green shorts, an inside out and backwards shirt of Lisa's that I'd tossed on in my flight downstairs, with morning drool still drying in my beard.

What a sight.

They were waiting on the porch. Interesting thing. After knocking to no end they tried the backdoor, which I had stupidly left unlocked but chained. They poked their heads in the door and yelled my name. I didn't hear a word.

The only reason I'd woken up at all was to pee.

Anyway, within a few hours my mother-in-law came to collect all the girls for a trip to the zoo and Parker was farmed off on my Mom. After collecting a few items around the house at Lisa's request, I headed off to the hospital.

One of the first things I noticed was Lauren's name on the board. A nurse had written it, and it was the first time I'd seen it in script. I liked it a lot.

Suprisingly Lisa had been asking to go home since she woke up. The hospital staff was  fine with it provided we wait until Lauren was a full 24 hours old. I guess being forced to wake up and feed a sleeping baby every two hours, and being woken up every hour to have your blood pressure taken (despite having no history of high blood pressure, even while pregnant) was more trying than a household of kids.

So we hunkered down to wait out the 24 hours.

Honestly, it was a pretty boring day. Lauren slept through 90% of it, we had no visitors, and all we did was watch TV and read. The biggest thrill was when I dropped a $10 plate of cafeteria food and had a full out hissy in front of the nurse.

Eh, I shouldn't say that. Getting Lauren's hospital picture taken was pretty exciting too. I know some people balk at the overpriced pics but I've never considered NOT getting them. For the photo she wore the one and only outfit Lis had bought for her pre-birth (remember, we didn't know the gender in utero).

She looked beautiful.


About 5 or 6 the pediatrician finally arrived and cleared Lauren to go home, but warned us that she was slightly jaundiced and would need to be seen on Friday. We dressed her in the very same outfit her sisters had returned home in - YaYa and Lauren seemed to drown in it, whereas LuLu stretched it out - and got ready to roll.

With YaYa it took two luggage carts to move us to the recovery room; this time we barely filled one on the way out the door.

After a brief and pleasant drive we wound up at my Mom's to pick up Parker and introduce my Mom to Lauren.

Then we went and picked up our two oldest from my in-laws. It was the first time we filled the van as a family of six.

Within minutes we were home and notched another first; the first time we'd ever taken a new baby home to our very own home.

Funny thing about Lauren's homecoming: it didn't feel like we were introducing someone new. It felt like she belonged.

Because she does.

here's YaYa after removing Lauren's hospital bands

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Brief Non-Lauren Interlude

The Brewers SUCK, having dropped out of 1st following a miserable second half. Even with Chicago playing retched ball they still managed to surrender the division lead. Ugh.

Meanwhile the Yanks and Arod are surging in the AL East - congrats to Alex on his 500th Home Run! Sorry Parker and I couldn't be there to see it like we were the 400th.

Barry Bonds broke Aaron's record on the day of Lauren's birth, and if nothing else it means I don't have to watch/listen/read endless crap about the man each day.

I watched Tom Glavine notch his 300th win vs. the Cubs (and keep the Brew Crew in 1st a minute longer). Best wishes to him and congratulations.

* * * *

I just finished John Scalzi's (of AOL fame) The Last Colony. It's a very good book, very near to the excellence of Old Man's War and much better than the 2nd book of the series.

I also read Martin Cruz Smith's Stalin's Ghost, a very solid mystery set in Moscow.

There's a bunch of other books I gobbled up in the last few months, most of which escape my memory but which I'll update over the course of the day.

 7 - the Mickey Mantle Novel, was one of 'em, Heart Shaped Box, an excellent horror novel, was another. The girls were always asking me 'what did the ghost do now?' as I read the latter.

A viewing of the movie Zodiac (two DVD viewings actually) led me to read Zodiac and Zodiac Unmasked  by Robert Graysmith.  'Unmasked' is much more comprehensive and well written than his first book, and it was the book I was reading in the hospital while Lauren was born.

I read Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child, the newest John Sandford book (the title escapes me - it was a Prey novel), and . .

Well, like I said, I'll update later.


Email Congrats we Received

Here's hoping I spelled 'received' right - 'i before e expect after c' etc.

Anyhow, for posterity's sake I'd like to post some of the brief emails we received in response to a mass email notification of Lauren's birth.

From Lisa's stepsister:

Sorry, I’ve been working Lauren is beautiful! I can’t wait to see her. I hope all are well.



From Becky at work:

Congrats on the new addition.  Cute pics!  Enjoy the week off with the Fam.

From Lisa's friend Sioux in New Orleans:

Congrats to you all!
From . . .well, somebody on the list:
congrats again on your beautiful baby girl!  She is just precious!
From my cousin Becky:

Lisa you look really good in the pictures.   Good healthy baby.  Hope all is well, and we will see you soon.

From YaYa's K3 teacher:
Congrats! [YaYa]  looks so proud. I am glad everyone is doing well! Give [YaYa]  a hug from me. 
Take care 
From my distant cousin Mary and her husband:
Congratulations and best wishes!
From my Uncle and his family:
Congratulations!!!!   Thanks for sending us the pictures.  We'll stop by to see you soon.
Beautiful girl.  I couldn't believe her eyes were so wide open.
Love, Ken Carol and Mindi
From the webmaster at my business:
What a pink little beauty!  And what a lovely name!   Your going to outgrow that new house!

Give Lisa my best, and the kids as well.

In addition we were mailed traditional cards by my Godmother and a few other people . . darn gonnit, I can't recall. I'll have to check when I get home and update this post. Sorry to anyone I missed.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Story of Lauren's Birth

We got up at 5:30 in the morning to call the hospital, per the instructions we'd been given. Lisa's friend Chris and her kids had spent the night so she could babysit and we were set to go.

But the hospital was jam packed with mother's in labor, and they asked us to wait another hour. It was a miserable day - rain and gloom and muggy heat - and I was beginning to think the induction would be delayed  at least until Wednesday.
At least the delay gave us time to say goodbye to the kids. And what a jam-packed house it was!

We arrived at Columbia-St. Mary's (what a wonderful lakefront drive it is from our house, btw) at about 7:30.  We sat in registration for awhile [where we learned from a gossip rag that Amy Fischer and Joey Buttafuco are DATING again - dear Lord!] then headed up to Labor and Delivery on the 4th floor.
There we waited.
And waited.
And waited.
The nurses explained that they were busy with a full house of patients giving birth, which was fine . . .but I never thought I'd live to see the day when I'd be bitter at the sight of a pregnant woman, moaning in labor pains, skipping us in line and delaying us some more.
It's times like this that dorks like me, with our 'two books per person per packed bag' rule, come in handy.
Sometime around 10 I woke Lisa up from a nap in the waiting room and we were escorted to LDR5, where all the action was to take place.
A medical student asked some questions, a nurse took some vitals, and Lisa was examined.
At 10:10 she was 3cm dilated, 50% effaced with the baby at -1.
A potocin drip - what Lis calls the 'devils serum' - was started and the day officially began.

If you think Lisa's half-sarcastic 'thumbs up' is dorky, check out my 'picture smile'.

Not a whole lot happened in the next few hours. I left to go to the cafeteria for a bite to eat, and we sat and read. Somewhere in this time Lis asked me to call her Mom and ensure that she would be there for the delivery, and she arrived speedy quick.
That's pretty much the whole story prior to noon.
At 12:33 Dr. Helf arrived for an examination. She remained at 3cm and 50%, but Helf broke her bag of water and things began to speed up. The contractions, which had been rolling in at 2 to 3 minute intervals, were now stronger to boot.
Almost exactly at 1pm Lisa began getting an epideral. It did not go as smoothly as it had in the past, with Lis reduced to tears after the needle induced pain along the left side of her body, and the process dragged on for nearly half an hour. Afterwards her legs quickly went completely numb, though she continued to feel some pain, especially on the left side of her groin.
2pm found her still at 3 cm but 70% effaced. The next hour was spent watching Myth Busters and Dr. Phil.
Lisa was growing increasingly grouchy and annoyed with me and her Mom, and even through the epideral the escalating pain was apparent.
At 3:40, convinced something was wrong with the epideral, she paged the nurse.
Meanwhile, having remembered the abrupt conclusions to each of her labors [I nearly missed Parker's birth, having stepped outside for a cigarrette when all was well and returning to the birth itself] I started to think the baby was on the way.
The nurse, who had monitoring the scans from the desk, arrived with a full labor cart.
Lis was 9.5 cm dilated and 100% effaced. Time to get the party started.
15 minutes later the Dr. arrived and I helped her get Lisa in the stirrups, accidentally jamming the Dr.'s finger and getting a slap across the arm.
What is it with women hitting me?
After that it was just a matter of one set of pushes (three if I remember right). I saw the baby crown and started to look away, fearful of viewing any problem, but sucked it up and saw the face emerge, cord wrapped loosely around it's neck.
Then the baby was out and held up for Lisa to hold and I still couldn't see the gender with the cord in the way . . .
"It's a girl!" the Dr. announced, and any fear of Lisa's that I would be dissapointed went out the window.
"Hi Baby Lauren," I said, feeling like I'd known her all along.

The Doc interrupted my thoughts long enough for me to cut the cord, and then she was in Lisa's arms and everything was right in the world.

The white stuff - I forget its name - was new to me, but the Doc wrote that off as being the first of our kids to be delivered prior to the due date (actually, YaYa was too, but was jaundiced and I did not see her in those first moments after birth).
Here's my mother-in-law with Lauren.

I was rather freaked by how quiet she was, but everyone assured me she was fine and dandy. It was more than 10 minutes after the birth, once the video camera was off, that she unleashed her very first loud and sustained cry.
She was not weighed/measured for a very long time, but as noted came in at 7#,7 oz and 20 inches long (7 lbs, 6.98 oz actually, if memory serves)

Her eyes were open almost from the start and she seemed very alert.  She scored a 9 (out of a possible 10) on the APGAR score [the minus point was for the grayish tint to her hands and feet].
Ann, the nurse, did a great job of getting the footprints for our baby book.

Soon my mother in law left for a bit and most of the medical staff wandered off. We enjoyed a few blessed moments of alone time with our baby.

The blanket was made by my Mom, btw. My mother-in-law also knitted one, which was used later in the day.

We soon migrated up to the 5th (recovery) floor, where Lauren was bathed and given a security tag

True story: she despised the bath and stubbornly gripped the side of her plastic cradle. When flipped over to wash the other side, she gripped that side just as hard. The nurse was cracking up.

The room itself had a heck of a view overlooking the lake and water tower.

After dinner my mother in law and Lisa's step-dad came by to visit.

Then my Dad and sister Katie stopped by with my two nieces and all three of my kids.

My youngin's were decked out in shirts their Mom had made which read "I'm a big sister for the 3rd time", "I'm a big brother for the 1st time", and "I'm a big sister for the 2nd time".

UPDATE: I just learned Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron's record by hitting #756 today . . so Lauren's birthdate will resonate in history even before she's President!
Despite YaYa's earlier disapointment in our decision to have another baby and profound exaustion after a long day, she was  happy and eager to see the baby. Ditto (as expected) LuLu .  Parker was fond of the girl but of course only expressed it with a smile.

They helped Lis open some presents from my family

The night before, following a tradition Lisa established, I had gone out and purchased gifts to the siblings from the new arrival. Nothing fancy this time, just coloring books, including a King Kong one for Park, crayons, blank paper, Cinderella trading cards, Princess journals, and activity books to practice schoolwork.
Sure it sounds like a lot, but all told it came up to around 10 bucks and my Mom paid for more than half of it as a gift to me.

While they were upset they didn't get the cafeteria cookies they'd long been promised (it was closed) the kids went home shortly after 8, a mere hour past their bedtime. I followed suit 90 minutes later, leaving my beautiful wife and daughter sleeping in their room.
A very VERY good day! :)