Kurt is learning the Banjo

KURT: YOU CAN DO THIS.

There are two instruments that more people need to learn how to play:

1) The Accordion
2) The Banjo

I’ve only known one accordionist, and outside of Dad D’s occasional twinging, I have never known a Banjoist. UNTIL NOW.

KURT: YOU CAN DO THIS.

Here’s the thing: Learning an instrument is depressing. I’ve been playing guitar for 16 years. I literally practice an hour a day. AND I AM NOT THAT GOOD.

Just when I start to think I’m decent I watch a YouTube video of a fourteen year old kid who has figured out how to simultaneously finger-tap Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring with his left hand and the Mario Theme with his right hand. YouTube is the anti-muse. It sucks the motivation from you. But you know what 14 year old kids can’t do? They can’t buy alcohol. So, Kurt? Go grab a cold one, struggle through Dueling banjos, and enjoy every minute of it.

Kurt

Good luck Kurt.

Luxurious Watches!

One of the executives at my company has a deep appreciation for fine watches. And just as a car aficionado loves flipping through auto-magazines crushing on the latest and greatest vehicles and technologies, so does my colleague enjoy flipping through watch publications to learn about the newest precision mechanisms.

Recently, perhaps in an effort to spread his passion or maybe to encourage me to purchase a well engineered time-piece of my own, he passed me the December edition of Watch Journal.

Watch Journal is hilariously refined. It’s as polished and clean as you’d expect it to be – even the advertisements are classy. I feel as though I should be wearing white gloves to turn its pages. And I must say, the Journal highlights some beautiful watches with fabulously complex mechanisms. There’s one, for example, that keeps track of the movement of the planets – IN REAL TIME. Watch with bated breath as Saturn takes TWENTY NINE YEARS to circle its way around the watch face. HA! Amazing.

So that’s how it happened that I was lounging in an arm-chair on a Sunday afternoon, casually perusing wrist adornments and saw a watch that was STUNNING: The Gruebel Forsey with a 24 second tourbillon. Its simple face, accented with a window to its mechanical workings, beautifully bridges the broad gap between classiness and geekery.

Pretty!

THIS IS A WATCH THAT I WOULD PROUDLY WEAR.

Let’s check the price!

WHAT?!?

300k USED?!?!? USED?!??!??! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

Avocado at 16 weeks? No. 11cm at 14 weeks.

There are a lot of weird things about having a pregnant wife. I’m sure anything I find weird pales in comparison to what Jen is experiencing, but there are two things that absolutely baffle me:

#1. The strange obsession with rating a fetus to the size of a food
A food? I acknowledge that food size is almost universally understood as a convenient unit of measure. But you know what’s also universally recognized and way more precise? The International System of Units. How big is a papaya? What a strangely uncommon fruit choice to use as a measurement comparison. And what about variations in vegetable size? A potato? Potatoes can vary in size considerably. NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT WE EAT FOOD. How big is your unborn child? Oh, about the same size as the apple that you’re chewing on right now. That weirds me out. I’d prefer centimeters and kilograms thankyouverymuch.

#2. 40 weeks isn’t 40 weeks. It’s 38. Stop lying to us OBGYNs across America.
This one bothers me more than it should. According to general practices the age of a fetus is calculated from the end of the menstrual period prior to conception. Typically, conception takes place two weeks into a cycle. That means that at the moment of conception, it (zygote, morula, baby, whatever you want to call it) is ~two weeks old. This is stupid. In a way, one could argue that if you’re a woman within the first two weeks of your cycle you are pregnant. Some websites actually describe the first two weeks as “Pregnant, but not.”

“But wait!” I thought, “Maybe this is just a better safe than sorry method to keep track until the OBGYN can more accurately gauge the age of fetus. It’s gotta be hard to determine exact conception dates, but humanity has developed amazing technologies that do a great job of determining size and progress of an unborn kid! That’s gotta be it. I’m sure it will be updated after the first ultrasound.”

nope.

The age in weeks is never corrected. This gross approximation is carried all the way to the delivery room.

Sigh.

To Splurge

At the grocery store this morning we decided to buy some macaroni and cheese – and we opted to splurge for the store brand over the orange ‘great value’ brand.

Is it strange that we splurge for the store brand?

Something new

Last night the waxing gibbous moon, close to full, eerily lit the street. Profiles of the trees were black silhouettes against the whitish fog. I had gone outside to grab something from my car and was shocked to stillness by the deep hooting calls of owls.

There were at least two. One was a lower hu-hu-hu-hu-hoo! hoo!, the other a higher pitched version with fewer hus. They were close, but I couldn’t tell where.

I ran inside and called for Jen. We grabbed the binoculars and returned to the garage. The owls were unperturbed by the commotion.

I started walking down the street towards the sound and a great winged profile took off from the woods. It flew down the street a few hundred yards and perched atop the post for a power line. It had two tall ears and an impressive form: a great horned owl. His mate was a few trees away.

They were lit by the moon only enough that I could make out their form and the triangle of whiteness under their necks. I mistakenly startled them again, but they conveniently flew back to the house, sitting in a dead tree across the street. They sat there for as long as we watched. Hooting every few moments to fill the quiet.

I love that at age 34 I’m able to witness something so new and unexpected from nature. And I’m confident that the only reason I haven’t noticed a night owl yet, is I never stopped to look. How many more exciting discoveries await!

Supernova to Blackhole

The combination of listening to CDs detailing the origin of the universe and having a child on the way has me thinking of space/social analogies. All through college and post-college it was all about social expansion. Even this website was a tool for social expansion. But marriage and a kid on the way seem to have the opposite effect: significant social contraction. I find it less critical to update my website, respond to emails, or return calls. My social priorities have coalesced.

What’s curious to me is that some social media (maybe just Facebook, actually) has bridged the event horizon of children. I’m genuinely intrigued if social media common to youth will follow them into middle age, or if they will be forever contained within an age demographic. While I have older colleagues who use Facebook, few use twitter, instagram, or snapchat. Is that a function of them being older? or is it a function of their social gravitational collapse into a singularity?

I’m also wondering what will happen to MikeDiDonato.com. My posting frequency has undeniably cratered after marriage, will it collapse further until it’s merely an archive of my young adulthood? Or perhaps it will flourish as an epic over-documentation of the development of our kids. Time will tell.

Our First Robot.

LUXURY ITEM ALERT! Jen and I just bought a Roomba! DAAAAANG! – (don’t worry, we used a coupon.)

Jen is a stickler for clean floors so we decided to get all crazy like and buy a robot to save some efforts. He docks under a hutch and comes out every other day to clean the place. The cleaning power is notable, but the random-sauce method that he navigates the rooms is bizarre.

We need a name for our robot.

We also need a name for our son who will be born in early May, but priority is on the robot.

Tis the season!

The holidays always bring out the cheapness in Dad D. My favorite story might be the Christmas where after opening all our gifts we kids were asked if we noticed a theme. I think it was Alicia who noticed that the barcodes had been cut off each boxed gift. Lo’ and behold my Dad had got all of the gifts free after coupons and rebates!! Merry Christmas!!!

This year I learned a new story.

My parents were recently married and were hunting down Christmas trees. Money was tight but they still wanted a Christmas tree for the family room. They went to a Christmas tree farm and found the scrawniest most affordable tree available. Dad D then went around and collected all the fallen branches off the snowy ground.

Upon getting home, Dad D drilled new holes into the trunk of the tree. He stuck the fallen branches into the holes. Voila! Lush Luxurious Christmas decorations! Brilliant!