Quite a weekend

May 25, 2009

We packed quite a bit into a three day weekend.

Saturday morning started with a couple of promised purchases for Danielle. A friend of ours won a Wii last week and since she already had one she gave it to us. Very nice. Of course it’s the kind of present that costs you money because my wife then wants the WiiFit and we need an extra controller and a Hannah Montana game, but still, a nice gift. So we had promised Danielle that we’d get the stuff Saturday morning.

We also promised that we’d get her a hula hoop (after you’ve promised Wii stuff, the $7 hula hoop seems like the deal of the century). At Danielle’s school, being an urban school, recess is on the roof. They have a nice playground there. And they put out a bunch of hula hoops. This is one of those remarkable things about having kids. The last time I saw Danielle try a hula hoop I think she was four and couldn’t do it. We saw her last week doing it at a friends house. She’s a total expert. She barely looks like she’s moving and she can keep it up for hours. So we promised to buy her one.

OK, a quick trip to Target in the morning (trip being a euphemism since it’s four blocks away). Done.

Next we were going to visit my wife’s sister. This is the traditional holiday get together. But our no car experiment continues. All week I had been trying to pin down my wife on whether we were going Saturday-Sunday or Sunday-Monday. She can’t make a decision.

One of the obvious problems with ZipCar is holiday weekends. The whole thing works on the premise that only a small percentage of people need a car at any given time. On Memorial Day weekend, everyone wants one. So planning ahead is crucial. We did not.

My wife just said, “we’ll take the train”. Now the train is actually pretty convenient to her sister’s. But when we go up there with two kids we tend to bring a lot of stuff. Scooters, stroller, toys, etc. So I was skeptical. But ZipCar was booked, so we had little choice.

We went with maximum minimalism. Change of clothes. Pampers. Three books, two DVDs, cards and snacks for the train, Victoria’s blanket and two stuffed animals that she sleeps with. It all fit in one small suitcase and a backpack.

Oh yeah, we took the hula hoop too.

I’ve never traveled with kids and so little stuff. It was awesome. And the train was great. The train ride from Grand Central to my wife’s sisters is about 10 minutes quicker than the drive. But you have to get to Grand Central and it’s about 15 minutes from the train station to their house. So overall about 30 minutes slower.

We took a taxi to Grand Central. It’s Memorial Day weekend so everyone has cleared out of the city. No traffic, we’re there in 10 minutes. So early, we get some snacks for the girls. And drinks for us. We show Danielle the “whispering gallery” in Grand Central which she, of course, thinks is the coolest thing ever.

Then we get on the train and head up. I’m sitting with Danielle and my wife is with Victoria. I play a few games of cards with Danielle and then she watches out the window for a while and then she says she’s tired and lays down with her head in my lap. Normally I’d be fighting traffic. Instead I’m relaxing on the train, drinking a beer, with my daughter napping on my lap. I’m starting to like the train.

Of course a visit to my wife’s sisters would not be complete without a soccer tournament. Matthew (15) was playing on Sunday at one of those soccer fields that can only happen out in the ‘burbs. Six huge gorgeous soccer fields, nice facilities, even a playground for the kids. Matt’s team won 1-0 and the girls had fun at the playground (the finals would be the next day after we left – in the championship game Matt took a cleat to the head. 34 stitches. But they won).

We took the train back Sunday around 5:00. Again, very pleasant. The ride goes right down the Hudson and is quite pretty.

Monday was Wii day. I set it up in the morning and played with Danielle. Thankfully she likes the sports games more than the Hannah Montana one.

But it was a gorgeous day, so we weren’t staying inside. I took the girls to our favorite park. The sprinkler were on and they ran wild. We had Italian ices and capped off the day with an early dinner at a Mexican place that we like and is kid friendly.

Then home for a bit more Wii.

Overall an excellent weekend.

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A bad start to a beautiful wedding

May 18, 2009

We went to a formal wedding on Saturday. I broke out my tuxedo and we planned for a nice fun day. It was in New Jersey so we needed a car. ZipCar has some nicer cars so we went with a BMW for the day.

It was going to be a long event with the full Catholic mass/wedding in the afternoon and the dreaded lull between the wedding and the reception. So a good friend of ours came over to stay with Danielle and Victoria.

I went to get the car. I unlock it with my ZipCard and hop in. Nice. But where’s the key? The way ZipCar works is that you can only open the car and start the car if it has been programmed to your ZipCard for that time. So you always leave the keys in the car.

The previous driver didn’t.

Ultimately, ZipCar is a very cool concept that totally fits with the Brooklyn lifestyle. But it is totally dependant on everyone following the rules. No keys, no functioning car.

Thankfully our friend drove over to our place to be with the girls so we just borrowed her car. Saved us some money, really, but I really wanted to drive the Beemer.

So we’re off to the wedding. A few minutes late but not bad. Until we hit Jersey. Someone decided that Saturday afternoon would be a good day to do major work on one of the bridges and close all but one lane. There was a five miles stretch that took us about an hour. We arrived as the bride was exiting the church. Nice.

The reception made up for all of it though. It was at a totally spectacular spot in New Jersey. Apparently the pool scene in Cocoon was filmed at this place among other things. No expense was spared. I don’t even want to think about what this event cost. Six figures easy. Everyone had a great time.

So a lousy start turned into an excellent night.

I did manage to get lost driving home though…


Tori’s first scooter

May 11, 2009

Victoria got a new scooter last weekend and it’s not a hand-me-down. The Mini-Kick scooters are simply the best for young kids.

She’s doing pretty well, but she hasn’t figured out steering yet…

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Anti-Vac, Blogs and Jenny McCarthy

May 8, 2009

I’m a science guy, so I like the science blogs. One of my favorites has been Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy. I’ve actually become a bit annoyed at his blog because he rants so much against the anti-vaccine crowd. I guess I feel that this crowd has so few facts on their side that you don’t need to give them that much attention.

But apparently I’m wrong. The anti-vaccine movement has a prominent spokesperson in Jenny McCarthy. She has a son with autism (perhaps cured?) and the anti-vaccine crowd blames autism on vaccines despite all evidence to the contrary. But she is, after all, living with Jim Carrey and he’s really, really funny. So she must know what she’s talking about.

Are we all idiots?

Jenny McCarthy is famous for (pardon my language) having nice tits. She posed for Playboy and did very well, getting named Playmate of the Year. She is clearly not stupid, and she turned that fame into an MTV career. She has performed in a fairly extensive list of really bad TV shows and movies.

So clearly she is an expert on medicine.

The science on vaccines causing autism has so completely been shot down it’s crazy. The anti-vac crowd initially blamed the mercury in vaccines (Thimerosal). But vaccines stopped using mercury in 2001 and the autism rate has continued to climb at the same pace. Denmark stopped using Thimerosal in 1992. Continued increase in autism. The original UK study on autism and vaccines has been rebuked by co-authors and it appears the data was fabricated (and the main author apparently in cahoots with lawyers looking to sue on behalf of parents of children with autism). 

Hmm.

Is anyone paying attention here?

This would normally just be a case of people listening to the latest fad with no real consequence other than keeping magazines like People around. Stupid but harmless.

But the truth is that people are taking this seriously and the level of non-vaccination is rising to dangerous levels. Children are actually dying of routine diseases due to lack of overall vaccinations.

And yet we get our science education primarily from hot chicks.

I’m all for hot chicks. But for entirely different reasons…