Category Archives: The Engineer’s Baby

The Weekend without Mom


Mom went on holiday, leaving me with the baby. No, this wasn’t some trauma, she had an offer and I thought she should go. Four ladies in a van for 12 hours and a couple days in a hotel. She had a good time. I will do road trips, but not with a baby.

The baby and I took some time to play. I don’t mean to demean anyone, but I’m a master at “staging work.” As soon as the baby is asleep, I moved a door upstairs and assembled it, patched a couple of dry wall screw holes, and re-hung some curtains. So, when the baby was awake, I could devote my weekend to her.

Some folks figure that I should work on Engineering things, like blocks, Legos, and screwdrivers, when I have the helm but she’s 3. I think the core educational issues are reading, using the potty, drawing with chalk, and running around in circles. We hit those hard.

Being the dad of the Worlds Cutest Baby (C) is a big responsibility, but I’m a fighter.


The Engineer’s Baby – Bed time

We’ve been having way too much fun the last year. She’s learning to use the potty, eat with a fork, and sleep in her own bed. Shall I say she is exceptional in every way, well, of course.

Just as a side note, kids love a schedule. The wife is of a “It’s 8:31 and she needs to be in the B A T H now.” but it really isn’t about the time of day. The kids are usually flexible on an hour or so. But the pattern is the key. Get into her head for a minute and “See” how she perceives “Bed Time.” Is Bath a part of it? Or just something that happens sometimes.

The pre-sleep story/snuggle is bed time for this cutie. We’ve been skipping the snuggle down for a few days, trying to get her to go to sleep in her own bed – instead of propped up in a chair with daddy. (Usually watching some bad anime. She loves Fairy Tale.) Well, she was being a bit hard to corral, so I decided to read her a few poems from a Russian “Mother Goose” book. (It is translated, I can’t read Cyrillic) I grabbed her up and let her poke the pictures while I started reading. (It kept her from running away.)

The wifey poked me in the middle of the second poem. Baby Girl had dropped off without me noticing. She just missed the “cuddle down to sleep” part of bedtime so much, that adding it back knocked her out. This leads to a trick, if you know a pattern of behaviour, you can encourage certain behavior sets. Make sure they do what you want.

Hey, I’m an engineer. I’m not above manipulating people just to get my projects to work. But it follows easily enough for babies. They are infuriating when you think they’ll listen to reason, but when you appeal to a pattern that gets them what they want, they get a lot easier to deal with.

The Engineer’s Baby

Hey Daddy, can I borrow the credit card?

    Yeah, ok, so that happened. Maybe not this kid, but like I’ve said in the past, this ain’t my first rodeo. I’ve never made that good on the money front, sadly enough, engineers ain’t rich. Oh, the salary is pretty good, but the college was expensive and kids, well, they take up every bit of money you thought you had.

    I’ve mentioned before that you can’t really plan your expenses. You have to take a “games theory” approach to your life. The final goal is an income higher than your out-go. When you have a kid you can’t really know expenses far in advance. So, reduce everything else. Sure, a bigger house gives advantages in storage and comfort, but a smaller house gives your a few hundred dollars a month, you’ll need em. Same with the car, the vacations, the hobbies. Sooner or later you cut your life down to the bone…and then you have to evaluate based on credit. Because the expenses are frequently things which require you to use the credit card. Yeah, 5000 here and a couple hundred there, sooner or later it looks like you’ve spent a lot of money. 
     Now, having no idea when one of those multiple kilobuck problems are going to show up, you have to work your credit downward and evaluate annually on how you are progressing.  So, you probably have all that by yourself. If you didn’t well, you may or may not chose to believe me. In either case, what have I got to offer you?

Diapers: I evaluated several brands, oddly enough the “all natural” products actually performed better than most of the others. However, the cost basis (cost per diaper) was too high. Look, just because a diaper can hold twice as much as the competition, doesn’t mean you can leave them in place twice as long. You still have to change the wet ones. The store brands that I tried didn’t work. This involved leaks on the bed – major clean-up every morning.
What was our middle brand? Luvs, I think they managed the middle of the pack in price and quality. I have eliminated morning leaks at this time. (size 3 for my 1 year old.)

Baby Food: Try those Bunny Grahams – OMG I love those things. I give some of them to the kid. At 13 months, we are dropping out baby food. We make a big pot of oatmeal once a week and she gets daily re-heats of a cupfull. She’ll eat the veggies & chicken mom eats, but it has to be small cut. Chereeos are amazing.

The Bottle: Cheaper formula is usually fine, but get the kid off of it when they hit 1 year old. It is made of mostly sugar and while the baby needs the calories for the first few months, the toddler doesn’t.

Dr. Visits: Yeah, I wish I had a solution here. Insurance is expensive, hospital visits are very expensive. Turns out that it is cheaper to not have insurance 9 years out of 10. Its that 10th year that can ruin you. If you happen to be between insurances when you hit the hospital, work out a deal with the office to pre-pay. They’ll charge you about 1/5th what they charge the insurance agency. Like I said before, without insurance I was to be charged 6,000. With insurance, after they paid, I was charged 1,500. Doctor costs were a couple thousand on top of that, even after insurance.

Cameras: I know, $200 bucks you ain’t got. My first baby didn’t need it. Does this one? Well, a good monitor lets you sleep easier. You can look at the picture and see if she is getting up or not. Saves you the hike. With a good camera, you can hear her breathing, which is often the big worry…good reason or not. I recommend against the internet cameras – if you don’t know much about tech. They can be hacked. The cameras with dedicated monitor screens are pretty cool, give you very good pictures and can’t be remotely hacked. Get the cords away from the kids. Either pin the cords to the wall, or put the wall plugs 3′ up. The baby will reach through the crib bars to grab the cord and wrap it around her neck. Keep it out of the way and tight. (I keep the crib legs pushed up against the outlet.)

I’ll recommend that you get a big chair you can recline in, you’ll need something like that for putting the baby down and get plenty of excercise, you’ll need it. Yeah, spending money on kids is usually worth it. Makes the whole process more fun..however, you’ll never have enough money.

The Engineer’s Baby – Emotions

I’d like to talk about emotions today, because a lot of people don’t understand them. As a scientist and engineer (yes, both) I study everything. What the heck are these “emotions.” First off, let me tell you what they are not. There is no background environment for emotion. In other words, if the tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it… nobody cares either. If you feel happy, it isn’t because the background level of H+ is high, it is because your mind/body interaction decided on happy.

But not to focus on “simples.” If you feel that you should wear a nice outfit to work you have made a decision. It is actually an intellectual decision. You have weighed factors such as Dress Code, Peer Approval, Comfort, Desire to Display Status, and built a matrix. Then you weighted each of the factors – dress code is important, so x2, Peer approval is about the same as comfort, maybe status gets a X3 when you know you will see the boss… I don’t control your weighting factors, but maybe you don’t either. In the end, you build a matrix with these values, for each of your outfits on the bottom, and the ranking of each outfit depending on the weight factors across the top. Then you EMOTIONALLY adjust each of the weight factors. In the end, you chose an outfit. You FELT like wearing the suit on Tuesday. You FELT like wearing jeans on Friday.

Ok, so picking out clothing is actually a complicated intellectual endeavor, but so is everything. Emotions are how we determine our responses to complex inputs. Which is why Geeks exist. Why are geeks poor at social interaction when they have the same ability to use emotions as everyone else? Because most of us in the science fields have a “better” use for our emotions.

You have seen me make a number of predictions and discussions on the blog. I have spend my life applying the emotional matrix to scientific problems. Our minds walk down the mathematical paths, but figuring out which path to travel is a guess. Our history, thousands of hours of research, tens of thousands of hours of experience, and our specific knowledge from the problem at hand suggests multiple solutions. I am rarely given a problem with only one solution, often the problem has dozens, but I can usually FEEL which solution is going to give the better answer. I can feel when a project is doomed, because people are choosing low probability of success options. I can feel when a project is BS because the science/politics ratio crosses 1. It basically feels (to me) like a bad relationship. One side is doing all the romancing, the other side is reading porn on the internet.

Yes, any scientist could cure his lack of social skills with a bit of study, but frankly the insanity of the “normal” people make it hard. People make all sorts of decisions with … poor … understanding of the reasons they are making them. People are frequently irrational, showing out, uneducated, or simply unintelligent. Trusting people usually ends up biting you in the ass. It is easier to satisfy your emotional needs with an interesting scientific problem than to deal with people.

So, I’ve been married – twice – and still trying to make the second one work. The strains of kids in college, high school, and diapers doesn’t help. (Or the fact that I tend to marry crazy women, something I’ve had to come to grips with.) I’m still trying to raise my current baby right. How much should she depend on those weird “social” emotions, that women speak so highly of. (And then weirdly complain about, as if society was stuffing those emotions down their throats.) My older daughter appears to have escaped, I may ask her advice. Despite the fact that she is an artist, she appears to be sane. Maybe some level of geeky-ness helps.

In any case, here is a picture of my bundle of joy. She decided to get up at 3 am last night, she looks none the worse for wear. I think I do: wide staring eyes, exhausted. (oh, thats Pinky Bear, not me laying there dead on the floor, I guess I’m not that stylishly dressed.)


Zoo Pictures as Promised

Not sure how many pictures you will see without clicking the MORE link. This is my trip to the Memphis Zoo. Plus a lot of pictures of animals…my wife won’t let me take a picture of her.

I am rocking the camel rides.
 I make this look good.

Baby D was deeply unimpressed by the elephants. “from what Pooh said, I thought they’d be bigger.”
(note the “daddy-proof shirt” It has markings for Head goes here, arms go here, snap this closed. I really appreciate it.)

In the Chinese exhibit, I re-enact a scene from Fat Ninja.

Baby D raises her pinky finger when drinking from a bottle, she is so delicate.

The Engineer’s Baby – Career vs. Child

I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen three articles today about women “having it all” despite having a child. It seems like the conversation remains between a “Hard Feminist” position and a normal woman. I’d define the “hard Feminist” position as one that would require a woman to get her education and achieve a significant rank in her career before damaging her promotions with a baby. 

Billionaire Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has said that women”are not making it to the top of any profession anywhere in the world. The numbers tell the story . . . 190 heads of state — nine are women. Of all the people in parliaments in the world, 13 percent are women. In the corporate sector, women at the top . . . 15, 16 percent.”

A normal woman’s position is attempting to balance planning for a child and planning for a career – but still under the context that she really needs to succeed in that career. I understand that some women see themselves as having the most to prove and the most to do with childcare, but I suspect that these articles are somewhat clueless about men in the workforce. They have spent so much time staring at women, they haven’t looked at the man one desk over.

Men also have children. Sure, SOME men don’t care. Some men just want the house to be … an oasis from work. But frankly, these days guys like that don’t have to get married or have kids, they just hook up on the weekends and stay single. Women who want to be CEO’s of Facebook probably should stay single through college and focus on their careers till in their mid 30s.

Most guys I know have been married before they hit 30 and are busting ass at work and at home. Most men that I know devote a substantial amount of their time to their wife & kids. Usually, this meant a time in their careers when they “cut out at 5” (that means 4:30) to coach softball practice or something. Most of the guys out there are in the same boat – every hour at work is an hour they aren’t playing bouncy chair with their babies.

Most managers are older, older folk who’s kids are grown, their spouses have full time jobs or hobbies, and now they are focusing on their careers. Yeah, I remember a couple of managers at NASA that were pushing to get to GS 15 before they were 40, get the 6 figure income and the cool titles. One of those ran an extra-marital affair on his government credit card. The other … well … he stopped after a while. Maybe had a heart attack or some kind of life-change. He isn’t a division chief anymore. Should women feel bad that they aren’t throwing their lives away chasing money and titles? Seriously?

So, why am I chewing on this? I’ve put in my share of long weeks, you can’t hardly get a degree in Nuclear Engineering without some 80 hour weeks. Just remember, nothing is that important. No “captain of industry” is much remembered ten years after he retires. I took last week off and played a lot of “bouncy chair.” Definitely was worth it. Rich and famous? Well, I’m not on that track.

The Engineer’s Baby – Work

The holidays were awesome. I got to spend a lot of time with my baby, my wife, my other kids. The relatives visiting was good as well, though I must admit I prefer to have more quiet time over the holidays. I’ll have to get a picture of my dad in the Dwarf Beard helmet, that was funny.

Is it good to be back at work? Not even slightly. If I could cash in this job to play house husband all year, absolutely in a second. When I was 18 that would have killed me, I was sure I was destined to become an astronaut, nobel-prize winning physicist, martial arts champion, and I just wouldn’t have time to “play house” while my TV career was gearing up.

Turns out, there really isn’t a job like that. It isn’t that I can’t name an astronaut, its just that it is just a job, like any other. I found out that I just wanted to visit space, like I wanted to visit Alaska. It will have to remain on my bucket-list for a few more years, doesn’t look like there are a lot of opportunities right now, even for astronauts.

Nobel-prizes winning physicist… well… I’m pretty far from a research position. I love research, so I wouldn’t complain of getting into that race again, but it isn’t really anything more than working on a field all your life, which I’m already doing. I’ve nothing but respect for the Nobel prize winners, but I have come to feel that the 5 years I did spend in research were probably not the best spent of my life. I may not want to change that, but I’m glad I didn’t end up with a second 5 years doing more of those 24 hour working days.

I’ve done the martial arts champion route. I’ve competed in a lot of forms of combat and I’ve been a champion in rapier. Its been a few years, but I like teaching, it has been a good hobby. I’ll always recommend to anyone to go into martial arts, whatever form.

I guess it would still be fun to be on TV, but the gold has faded on those dreams. Being on TV makes you more famous, but it doesn’t “DO” anything. I’ve become a person who likes getting things done.

Raising a baby is doing stuff, pretty much all day long. Yes, it is a bit repetative, but it feels worthwhile. Feed the baby, play with the baby, let her play by herself for a while so that you can get the housework done. I suppose of all the jobs I could do, raising the baby is my favorite. Sure, I get to work in some interesting fields, but I’d give it up to spend more time at home. I guess I’ll start working on my next novel, maybe being an author will work out for me someday.


I saw this on Sluggy Freelance, this is how my wallet feels about now.

Christmas is the one time of the year that the other people in my family get as much money spent on them as the baby does. (Only because I keep a constant count.) The Baby gets all the money…most of the time.

So, January is soon, with Cons and SCA events gallore. I’m working on rewriting B3ERS – an Event Resolution System (ERS) for a Cinematic Campaign. Should be a lot of fun. Contact me if you want to playtest, it should work fine.

What is up otherwise? Not bloody much. Dyani is the most perfect baby girl in the world, I’m a proud daddy, and it takes all my time. I get in a couple swordfights a week to stay in practice. I hit the gym once a week, to work the upper body. I don’t get a lot of sleep. 

So, I hope everyone is having a merry Christmas. I know I’ll be doing well. Tired isn’t dead. No zombie apocalypse so I hope everyone’s Mayan party went off without a hitch. Next stop, Ragnarok.

The Engineer’s Baby – Travel

Travel without the kid is hard. I just got back from a week in California and I have to tell you, it was rough on both the parent going away and the parent staying home. There are good days and bad days trying to raise a baby by yourself, but the problem for the parent away from home is more than that. There is a feeling of helplessness when you call home, you can’t pick up your kid, you can’t comfort your wife, and you can’t give your teenager a well deserved whipping. It seems like it would be easier to just not pack the phone, to take a few days off from being a husband and a father. But I’ll tell you, round about 8 pm, the evening gets long. You watch some tv, play on the computer, hit the gym, get a beer. All right! You made it till 10 pm! Now you can lie down and get some sleep. I swear, you really miss doing some laundry to pass the time. You call home, because even helpless, you get to hear their voices. It is the only thing getting me through the day.

Traveling with the kid is a bit of an art form. We have had a couple long trips already. Monica took the baby to Ohio the first week of her life. There was a death in the family, I was in Alaska, it had to be done. But, even for short trips, there is a bit of an art to this. Learn to pack 1 bag. People (I blame women who like a purse with every different outfit especially) will have a different bag for every possible thing. Let me give you this bit of advice:

1) Pick a bag that can hold all your Requirements.

2) Use that bag till the handles fall off.
The first couple times you’ll screw up. Did you bring purified water for the formula? Did you bring burp cloths? Spare outfits? (Spare shirt/bra for mom?) After you know what you need, then you have to learn to to bring too much. Bags only get [ — THIS — ] big, once you start packing [ ——– THIS MUCH ———] You’re going to think you need a second bag, or a bag for special occasions, or … don’t. On the same page, when you are just going to Krogers, you think you only need [this] and maybe nothing. This is a lesson you don’t want to learn the hard way. Examples abound. Don’t be one of them.

3) Learn to field strip your bag. Formula, Water, Burp Cloths, Changing pad, diapers, wipes, baggies, spare outfit, spare t-shirt, teething ring, pacifier (with a child that likes them – spare pacifier), small blanket. Most everything else can wait till you get home. If you bought a bag big enough, maybe you add in the med kit, tweezers and nose gunk removal.

4) Spending the night somewhere? Don’t repack the bag. This is important. The kid gets a suitcase like everyone else, some stuff has to go in there that wouldn’t go in YOUR suitcase, but don’t try to re-do the diaper bag to make it work. As soon as you are at the hotel/house, start building your staging area baby cleaning and for re-loading the diaper bag. I won’t say that it ever gets routine for 1 baby, because the baby needs evolve constantly. But after 3 kids (my new co-worker has 5) you know what to pack.  

Update: Didn’t even get this loaded before a co-worker added his story. 6-month old, run to the store for (beer) icecream. Poopy diaper and screaming kid. Took off his shirt and put it down in the child seat, because he didn’t know how to clean the child seat, but surely knew how to get poop off his t-shirt. Had to drive with the windows down, baby screaming all the way home.