Archive for May, 2014

This past mother’s day was my first on-call rotation at Google. I spent the day on my laptop fighting fires while Domingo watched Nicole. Not quite the relaxing day I had hoped for. The following weekend I was still on call, so we decided to do a “make-up” mothers day the weekend after, Memorial day weekend. I opted for a trip to the zoo, as it would be fun for Nicki and a chance for me to play with my camera.

The weather looked to be the nicest Sunday so we had a relaxing low key Saturday. I was newly into the second trimester, and while feeling overall better, was not sure how well I’d hold up. Turned out the day of rest leading up to our zoo trip was all I needed. I felt great, despite the weather turning out 10 degrees hotter than expected.

Munch!
Munch!
Whatcha Looking At?Whatcha Looking At?

Nicki, on the other hand, did not fair to well. She wasn’t acting like herself, preferring to stay in the stroller. We thought it was the heat, or possibly she was intimidated by all the large animals. When we had difficulties getting her to eat or drink we knew something was wrong. We cut our zoo trip short. A few hours later she had a full blown fever and rash.

Domingo and I took turns staying home with her this past week. The fever went away quickly, but the rash lingered until Friday so we couldn’t return to day care. We had figured she didn’t get much out of the zoo given how sick she was, but she would show us pictures of the giraffe in her books and say “‘raffe eat!” (The giraffes at the zoo was eating, the one in the picture book was not.) She suddenly seemed much more interested in the animals around her, even just the squirrels and birds which she’s seen countless times. The zoo clearly left a lasting impression, despite the fact that she wasn’t feeling well.

The weather promised to behave a little better this weekend, so we decided to give the zoo another go even when we had just been. This time Saturday looked to be the best day for our make-up, make-up mother’s day.

Nicki loved it. She would have spent the entire day at the giraffes if she could. We could only get her to leave with the promise of fries/lunch. We did manage a quick peek at the elephants, but then it was back to the giraffes. When she woke up after her nap after we returned home she immediately asked for the zoo.

Well, Hello!Well, Hello!

Alas this time Mommy didn’t fair so well. Even though we didn’t stay out much longer than our prior trip, I was tired, achy and could feel my head throbbing by the time we returned home. I took a nap while Nicki was napping and woke up with a full blown migraine.

Lesson learned: I need a day to recover from the work week before we do anything remotely taxing.

On a quasi related side note, that old adage about upgrading your lenses before upgrading your camera is also starting to really sink in. So far the only lenses I’ve bought have been primes. I’m still using my kit lens when I need the range. The lack of color depth and crispness when compared to the good lenses is starting to become extremely apparent to me. Alas, other than price I’m not sure how to tell “good glass” from bad. I loath the idea of buying expensive as a proxy for quality. It goes against every frugal bone in my body. Time to do more consumer research!

chocolate

These days I’m averaging about 3 migraines a week, but have the near constant pre-migraine headache that makes me fearful the next big one is always just around the corner. I do have prescription medication to treat migraines but I don’t like how strongly it affects me. While considered pregnancy safe, it’s also not 100% risk free to the baby. Thus I’m reluctant to take it on such a regular basis. So at my last OB appointment we discussed prevention. Her main suggestion was a magnesium supplement.

Since the appointment I’ve been reading about magnesium and migraines online, and the verdict (at least to this lay person) seems mixed. What doesn’t appear to be in question is that migraine suffers tend to have lower levels of magnesium. One study found magnesium supplements reduced the number of migraines patients above and beyond the placebo affect, another study showed no difference. Alas, I haven’t found the actual papers, but here’s a summary. I did find a pubmed article entailed “Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium” and another “Should magnesium be given to every migraineur? No.” Alas, I lack the background knowledge to properly interpret the findings.

The good news is magnesium oxide, the typical supplement form, is pregnancy safe, and a category B. In contrast my prescription is a category C.

Under the “it most likely can’t hurt” philosophy, Domingo and I picked up some supplements. I also started reading about foods with naturally occurring magnesium since getting vitamins from natural sources are almost always better than supplements. In that list? Dark chocolate. The darker the better. I can now say there is a medical reason why I should eat chocolate. We picked up some of that too.

I’m not sure whether magnesium will actually help in my case. Many of the foods high in magnesium (aside from chocolate) I actually do eat on a fairly regular basis, including avocado, banana, black beans and spinach.

Here’s hoping, if nothing else, the supplement (and the chocolates!) can serve as a good placebo for me.

May 21, 2014

Let there be Light!

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This week we took HUE out of the package and it’s every bit as addictive as I thought it would be.

I can not emphasize how happy I am to have the spectrum of white light available. I know most people who invest in HUE are going to want to create color, but having control over how warm/cool my “white” light is feels huge. I find I soft cream colors relaxing in the evening, and blue white energies me during the day.

I actually don’t think we’d explore the spectrum of light as much if not for Nicki. She is fascinated with Hue. I showed it to her yesterday before bed and it was the first thing she asked for in the morning, before breakfast. We’re taking it as an opportunity to learn colors (e.g. “What color is this?” “What color do you want next?”).

huemantel
Hue Lightstrip on our mantel giving a nice blue back lighting. Alas, I’m going to need to find a new spot for the light, it’s about 18 inches longer than our mantel.

Hue works by varying the amount of light output from Red, Green and Blue LEDS. That means virtually any bright color is at your finger tips, but there are some colors you cannot generate: primarily black – which is created from the absence of light. You can make very bright very vibrant colors but you also can’t make low saturation dark colors (crimson, navy, royal purple, etc).

huestrip
A close up the red, green and blue LEDs.

The lack of dark colors isn’t particularly limiting in my opinion, though I did see some reviews that complained about it. If, for example, I wanted to set the lights to Steelers colors for game day, I’d use a bright golden yellow as my primary color with red and blue accents. That is, if/when I have more than two light bulbs.

Another drawback I noticed is that if you create a very dim white light (at least with the strip) you get some slight color ghosting. That’s because the red, green and blue LEDs aren’t right on top of each other. When the light is dim, the individual color lights aren’t dispersing as far. That means on the side of the strip with the green LED you might see a faint amount of green light bordering the white light where the red and blue lights aren’t reaching.

My biggest complaint, however, is the app. It’s not ideally laid out, takes too long to load, and is a little on the slow side. When you want to turn the lights off, you need to open up the app again which feels like a surprisingly long time when compared to flipping a switch. One of the first things I do when I start playing with the SDK is to create a simple, light weight off button.

Lastly, there’s the hefty price tag that comes with HUE. Each light bulb can run $60 to $80! I do plan on getting more HUE lights, but probably not until we purchase our next home. I’m to afraid of leaving a HUE light in one of the fixtures here when we move out!

After another 3 weeks photography hiatus, I was finally feeling good enough to both go out this weekend, and take my camera. I was feeling frustrated with myself for slacking these past few months, both from a personal development standpoint (how do I expect to grow if I don’t practice?) and from a family obligations one (Great Grandma looks forward to weekly photos.)

After my last hiatus I was really disappointing with my photography when I did finally pick up the camera Easter weekend. I feel back into my old crutches, and kept setting my F-Stop way to large. We were at the park and I ended up setting my aperture to it’s largest setting thinking that meant I would get a shallow depth of field. It wasn’t until we were packing it up that I realized my mistake. I’ll blame my pregnancy brain on that one.

bunny
From Easter. It’s not a “good” photo technically speaking. The aperture is too wide, which is really noticeable by how blurry the arms are even in this thumbnail sized version. What makes this photo worth sharing is the adorable subject enjoying her first Chocolate bunny.

I was really pleased when this weekend not only did I get the F-Stop right (yay!) but I actually went off aperture priority mode into full auto and was happy with the results.

superswing
Love this pose! Super toddler is just missing her cape.

Now I’m feeling more confident and more eager to pick up my camera. Hopefully this will help get me out of my photography funk! Great Grandma will appreciate that.

When we moved, the easiest thing to pack up was the garage. That’s because we had spent the time to go through the garage, so everything was already in nice labeled boxes: Christmas ornaments, Halloween decorations, baking stuff, etc. The room that took the longest to pack? The office closet. I never did finish organizing it. Since we’re planning on moving again in the spring, I intend to make that move as easy as possible. That means, organizing, organizing, and more organizing!

Domingo did a fabulous job with the outside storage unit. I did an okay job with Nicki’s closet. It’s that office closet that still needs so much work! (That and the entrance way, and our master bedroom closet, and the TV/media area, and… well you get the idea.)

Today’s organizational goal: two brown bags full of a tangled mess of cables.

In that mess was apparently coax cables, some still in the box, a slew of unmarked non-generic non-labeled cables, an antenna extender even though we no longer own a radio, as well as a cell phone power cord for a phone circa 2008. At least I assume the phone power cord was from 2008, as it was a different brand then the cell phones we’ve had since then.

Since coax cables are pretty dated, they all went in the trash, as did the cell phone cord. I typed the serial numbers of the non-generic cables into google to see what came up. Most of the time I still couldn’t tell what they were for, but found stores happy to sell me a new one, so I assumed it wouldn’t be any great loss if they disappeared as well.

Also on the chopping block:
– 7 Ethernet cables (leaving 6 – 2 short, 3 medium, and 1 long)
– Way too many land line phone cables (we kept 1)
– 2 printer cables (we kept 2)

Even though the world is increasingly becoming wireless, and all three – Ethernet cables, land line cables, and printer cables – are not needed at present, I can envision wanting one in the future. When my computer was having troubles printing my thesis on the day of the defense I ended up hooking the computer directly to the printer. Some hotels don’t have wireless, so having a short Ethernet cable is nice. A long one is great if your house is big (or at least has a sub optimal layout, and the wireless router can’t reach everywhere.) As for the land line, well phone service comes free with our cable bundle so having the capability to hook up a phone is nice.

The numbers of cables we kept correspond to our experience with their failure rates. I had Domingo verify that the Ethernet cables we were keeping the fasted of our cable collection. If I had been really diligent, I would have tested them out to ensure they are still working. Oh well. It’ll be one of next year’s spring cleaning tasks.

Next the cables were individually tied (to make it easier to pull one out) and sorted into two tins: one for generic extension cords and one for specialized cables.

organized cables
Much better

In one of our pregnancy classes two years ago our teacher mentioned you can get a sense of baby’s personality based on how they are in the womb. This certainty held true for Nicki (aka Zippy.)

Zippy earned her nickname when she was always zipping around and moving during every ultrasound. From the moment she grew limbs they were in non stop motion. It only took an average 14 minutes, 21 seconds to do kick counts – And that was counting her kata karate moves as a single kick, because it was too hard to distinguish all the different movements! She even once kicked the sonogram wand off my tummy when the midwife was trying to listen to her heart beat.

Nicki’s personality as a newborn was very similar. She outgrew the swaddle in just days, preferring to have her arms and legs free. When she was mad, she’d fire those limbs in every direction. She is our July firecracker.

We had Ziggy’s NT scan on Thursday, and while it’s super early I’m already seeing the differences in personality.

helloziggy
Hello again Ziggy!

Ziggy was extremely content to remain tucked away for the majority of the examine. He/she would doing somersaults and flips, but few if any kicks. The legs remained cross for most of the exam. I was hoping for a chance to do a gender prediction, but Ziggy was too modest, keeping his/her legs crossed. Ziggy also kept his/her head tucked down, chin on his or her chest making the nuchal translucency measurement difficult to acquire.

I predict that Ziggy will be a cuddle bug, who loves the swaddle.

May 5, 2014

Plunging into Hue

This weekend was our open house. While prospective buyers were touring our house, wondering if it would be their next home, Domingo and I have been discussing our next home. His big non-negotiable is a big kitchen. My must have is good lightening. Our current apartment has no lightening in the washing machine/dryer nook. It sucks. And don’t get me started on the terrible orange light our Chandler gives off in the dining room. Yuck.

While discussing our dream home, Domingo and I started talking about home automation. I showed him Hue. Hue is “smart lightening” that allows you to change not only the color, but the brightness of each light from your phone or tablet. Soft blue hues that won’t reflect on the TV screen at night, colorless white light during photo time, warm yellows to wake up to in the morning – what’s not the love? You can set your lightening scheme to match your favorite sports team for the big game or to match your themed party. Check out their promo to see the use cases they came up with.

I figured Hue would be expensive, and something that would require an electrician. Well, I was half right. You need to buy a starter pack which costs $200 and has 2 to 3 light bulbs. Each additional light bulb runs about $60. To outfit your home could easily cost in the thousands, but the difficulty level is that of screwing in a light bulb – literally!

Hue also comes with an SDK. If you can think it, you can program it. I can’t see myself ever using Hue to let me know when my cookies or done, or that I should pack an umbrella, but I would love a motion sensored night light for the hallway. Clumsy me gave myself quite a bruise when I got up to check on Nicole in the middle of the night last week.

Domingo and I decided to take the plunge, and use our tax refund gift card money on the light strip starter packs. I plan to put one over our mantel. I figured if there’s any one spot I’d like a splash of color, that would be it.

I am ridiculously excited for Hue. I think I’m more eagerly awaiting it’s arrival than I did my last computer. Hopefully the price will come down before I get too addicted to customizable lightening.