Sunday, October 21, 2007

Settling In(dia)

We've finally settled in rather nicely. India is treating us well, but that is to be expected as it treats everyone with power or money well at the expense of those who are devoid of such opportunities. We are staying in a house built in 1845 by missionaries - literally the first one built up on these mountains, it's rambling, large and very well equipped. It came with awesome furniture, washer, dryer, hot water heaters, oven, blender, toaster - everything down to a yogurt maker. We're spoiled! We've just installed a water purifier (very necessary) and have electricity, plumbing, and as is typical for life in India, two household employees! They help with cooking cleaning, gardening, and maintaining this house, and gardens, lawns and the dogs and cats that come with it. I've realized that it is not just a house but an institution all to itself. Pictures of the colonial beauty are here:

This is refreshing after a trying first few weeks getting officially registered with the police in Bangalore for my research. You think American bureaucracy is stressful? Try India. My god. There is good reason to believe that the corruption in India is virtually the worlds worst, behind only a few small African states. If you are interested at all in India, pick up "In Spite of the Gods: the strange rise of modern India" by Edward Luce. It's a terrific explanation of this civilization-cum-country. I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Anyway, after 3 grueling days we succeeded in becoming registered without paying a rupee of bribe - what a relief!

Finally, I'm getting down to business. Got a cell phone (useful things, never had one before, but wow, does it clear up the day!) and just yesterday we purchased a Mahindra jeep, so we're now mobile! Even more critical I've befriended a man who will make a marvelous research assistant. He grew up in a local village, and has an extensive knowledge of the area, people and ecology. He's honest (a key trait, especially when so many would-be-helpers are so eager to please that "yes" is the default answer, rather than the truth) and principled, and speaks solid English.

I'm eager and energized to begin my research on ethnic diversity and envi. mgmt. The topic is extremely germane to the Indian context. Next week I'll probably start visiting villages. Katie and I are already practicing and studying Tamil, and we may hire a tutor soon. Liam is still an absurdly cute 20lb little dude, and he's becoming more interactive all the time.

So, here we are, on the brink of it.

Tim, Katie, Liam

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Infinite Liams

Spokane, as a small city, goes out of it's way to host some amazing public events. There is Bloomsday (a huge road race) HoopFest (basketball on downtown streets), concerts in the park, symphonies on the green, the list goes on. It's quite amazing, really.

Recently there were two interesting conventions that Spokane held. The first was for Vespa owners, the slogan was "Vespas are the Harleys of the Scooter World." True enough. Quieter, too.  We're guessing not too many out-of-towner Vespa owners made it to this event, given their max speed.  

The second convention didn't make the paper like the Vespas, but was even more amazing. Katie and I were downtown taking care of some business when we saw what looked like a queue of unaccompanied babies lined up outside an office building. To our surprise every single one looked like Liam! We followed them inside, where they were having some sort of beaner convention.

The convention was in an odd room full of glass panels that separated the little buggers into miniature triangular transparent rooms. This didn't seem to stop them from discussing their business, though:

If only we could decipher their strange little language. But alas, no use.

After a while, they all removed their outer garments and the atmosphere became decidedly more relaxed.

During the shuffle, I put Liam down somewhere to take the pictures, and when I'd turned around he was lost in the crowd of infinite identical Liams. Exasperated, Katie just grabbed one, and we drove home. We'll never know if it was the right one, but chances are it must be one of the clones.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Liam gets his passport

So, babies are now required to have their own passports--gone are the days of hitching a ride on the mom's little blue book. The trick is that a passport requires a birth certificate, and for a while we thought a social security number, though that turned out not to be the case. As a result, we drove straight from the hospital after Liam's birth to the social security office. Bad choice.

Another trick was getting an appointment with a passport agency given this season's backlog, but in the end, Liam had a passport by his third week. One of the funniest moments of the whole process was taking his passport photo. When we got to the shop where they take the photos, Liam was uncharacteristically dead asleep. We blew on his face, shouted his name, and he remained unconscious. We went home and then ran back to the store when he woke up. The trick then was getting a shot of the kid without our hands showing and with his eyes open. These are some of the takes, and out takes:

Oh, those fluorescent photo lights are so perdy...

Check out my tongue, guys...

Wait, what are you doing?

I'm tired...


Take this!

The final photo that earned us the passport--Liam the Terrorist!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Lemur Beamer Inherits a Major Motor Corporation!

Out little boy is growing up fast! First diapers, then sucking on out fingers, then his own fingers, and now: he owns a major motor company. Bavarian Motor Works (owned by Daimler-Chrysler entirely sold out to our chubby little entrepreneurial boy. The first thing he did was go about remaking the logo. He says he has equally radical changes in store for the vehicles themselves:

Liam's been growing too. Here's the most recent chart. Names befitting of his level of Chunk: Fatsy, Chubster, Mr. Blubber, and The Piglet. Here's the Chart:

He's already reached 15 solid pounds, and we've just shed almost half of the clothes we own for him. He's 1 pound short of doubling his growth weight. The only silver lining to this unbelievable unending growth spurt is that, as you can see above, it's slowing. (Thank God!)

Liam's parent's growth spurts are done, however. Kaput. Here's what happened to us since January. Notice Katie's precipitious drop around June 11th.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Disaster in Martinez: Beaner Invasion!

Martinez, CA residents expelled from house due to terrible infestation of Beaner.

Recent local outbreaks of the Beanus Weevil (commonly known as "Beaner"), have been getting worse in these hot summer months, owing mostly to romantic months nearly 3/4 of a year ago. Infestations have been reported all over northern California, but most families are only afflicted with a single beaner or a pair of beaners.

One family, however, has recently been forced to vacate their home of three years due to a "Beaner invasion of ungodly proportions." The residents, Tim Waring and Katie Quirk, thirty-somethings in education and academia in the San Francisco Bay Area, were planning on a nice relaxed summer.

"We didn't have anything planned, really" Said Tim. "Just swimming in the local pool, re-skip-clining a protoflex argoblast, and reading the last Harry Potter! I'm really looking forward to the Harry Potter book, you know. I mean, is Harry a Horcrux? They say that this book is as good as Tolkien. Ha, well I-"

We had to cut Mr. Waring off. He'll have to find out for himself. Katie, said that the infestation started slowly, with a single Beaner. Then before they knew it, in the course of a handful of weeks they had multiplied beyond reason.

"They're everywhere. You won't believe it. Here, have you seen our house? If you see our house you can tell why we are moving out. They are EVERYWHERE!" Indeed a single photo from their tiny apartment belies the personal devastation that one beaner can dish out. We at the Martinez Red Alert News Squad pity these poor people, and wish them a speedy recovery.

[Click the photo to see full resolution]

[Click the photo to see full resolution]

Mr. Waring and Ms. Quirk have had to precipitously pack their things and leave the little apartment they called theirs for so long. "It's kinda sad, but we have no choice" Tim remarked. "Sad, yes, but we'll be taking one with us, as a souvenir. I don't think they are so bad, really. It's just when they take over, you know..." Mused Katie.

One thing is for sure. The lives of this couple will never be the same again.

-Waldo Crumpberry, Martinez Red Alert News Squad

Friday, June 29, 2007

Nephew Gorgeous and the Princesses

So the little lemur is growing merrily away, becoming longer (3&1/4inches longer already) and fatter daily. We don't entirely believe that he will become a person yet, or that he is actually related to us, but we are still cooing, and utterly in love. And, we keep coming up with new names to describe this little being. A brief recap:

Lemur Beamer
Creature (pronounced "Treature")
Mini Houdini (he's a very small escape artist when it comes to swaddles!)
Bean - a popular one.

and this one is a lovely one. Katie came up with it:


Adds an air of haute couture to his otherwise slothful state, I think. Speaking of sloth:

We also want to report on a new move that Liam has recently aquired. It's called "the Princess" and it involves gently caressing his face with his hands, or generally striking any other demur posture. He seems to have a daily regimen of at least 10 Princesses a day. He's really good at them, too:

The central valley of California can really heat up during the summer, and there are many ways to cool of. Liam has found one of the best.

When Katie was little, after baths she would be dressed in a towel and her parents would coo: "Oh, sister gorgeous!" Now Liam is the new gorgeous creature, and seeing that the son of a sister is a nephew...
"Oh, Nephew Gorgeous!"

(It's worth noting here that he's asleep in the tub. We told him this was dangerous, but he paid us no heed.)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Monker

"The Monker" is Liam's sitting-up burping position. Sometimes Liam doesn't mind doing his monkers. Other times, they induce a great fuss. One thing has become clear, however--Monkers never lie. If the Monker's mouth is open and he is rooting around on my hand, he's still hungry. If he's asleep with his fat cheeks hanging over my hand, he's no longer hungry, even if later fussing from a confused Liam might suggest otherwise.

The Replete Monker

The Hungry Monker

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Lemur

Before Liam was born and became "Liam," he had a few names in the womb. The dominant name was "The Baber." Properly preceded by the article, and ending in -er, "The Baber" was rare enough to distinguish our child from just any "Baby." Naturally, the existence of the first name, created opportunities for recombination, and so arose "The Bader," and "The Bager" both pronounced with a long "a" as in bagel.

When we got our ultrasound pictures at week 20 post conception, one frontal shot of the head took some sort of demonic form. A velociraptor perhaps. As a former, and not-quite-reformed velociraptor myself, I was a proud father to be. The other name for this same image, of course, was Darth Baber. You can plainly see the sinister visage below:
From Tea and Kate

Before we finally settled on Liam, the term "The Babento" came to the fore. With a Spanish feel "The Banento" added some zest to the otherwise too-English names.

Now that Liam's been born, however, things have taken a new turn. Here is our own little son, young Liam, fresh to world, and Katie and I are already coming up with names for him. One of these names I've taken the time to graphically represent, for mnemonic purposes. The derivation goes something like this.




Sounds like Lemur.

So, we call him Lemur.
Naturally, the long form is Lemur Beamer:

Beyond Lemur, however, are a host of other names, including the term applied to a child swaddled in a small blanket, "Babe-urrito." See below for a "Babe-urrito."

He is also known as "The Creature," and "Mr. Squiggles" upon occasion, and thanks to our friends Maggie and Abe who have a daughter about 2 months older than Liam, "Fuss McGuss," for his more petulant moods. Recently, a sitting pose that Katie uses to burp him has inspired thoughts of simian ancestry, and thus, the name "Monker."

The following is NOT a picture of a Monker:

The term Monker is applied only to a particular sittong-up burping posture, and can be asked of someone. For instance, "Liam will you give us a Monker?" It just so happens that Liam doesn't always like doing his Monkers.

If names are meant to help us grasp our wonder at the world, then we've only begun to tackle the wonder we feel when we gaze at our little bug. (We call him "Bug" a lot too.) Some things we can't even put into words. Like how we feel when we see this:

Liam Kiran Waring Arrives!!!

On Monday, June 11th, at 5:11am, a brand new baby boy began to cry in a Walnut Creek birthing room. Katie labored hard, and Tim supported her tirelessly, so when Liam came, we were overwhelmed with joy, relieved, and with each passing moment increasingly enthralled with this tiny being. Now we're dumbstruck with love. This is day 4.

And here is a whole album of photos from these first days:

More soon,

Tim, Katie and Liam

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Special Communiqué from the Baby!

Katie and I received a fax late Tuesday afternoon, apparently from the baby himself. He seems to have given us the go-ahead for our India plans, which is exciting. He also appears to be interested in a first birthday cake, which is a bit pushy, really.

Most strangely, however, he seems to have put a future photo of himself on the head of the baby in the image (see below). We can't quite determine his intent here, whether he was trying to scare us, or make some sort of joke.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Shocking News!

Early this morning reporters were called to the scene when a young couple in Martinez, California, discovered that a tumorous growth developing on the woman's stomach was actually moving.

The man, described as a mad scientist by some neighbors, had apparently been playing music to the tumor once a day in hopes of healing his wife and simultaneously proving that cacophonous sound impedes cellular division. Unfortunately, the music seemed only to encourage the growth of the tumor and the scientist husband had recently decided that he would cut his study short after today in the interest of saving his wife. Yet, as the song that he had been playing to the tumor wound to an end, the tumor started jumping and kicking. The disturbed couple called 911, the fire department, WalMart, and the CIA. Eventually the relevant authorities were informed, and the National Office for Novel Situations involving Extraterrestrials and New Sentient Evidence (N.O.N.S.E.N.S.E.) was called in.
Apparently this "tumor" might be more "alien" in nature than originally expected. Investigations are ongoing. One clue to the nature of the strange growth was revealed yesterday by the research team. The woman has a peculiar mark on her stomach, just above the belly button, which one researcher suggested resembled a temporary tattoo.

Scientists hope that this and other pieces of evidence will lead to a better understanding of this growth in the months to come. In the mean time, the young couple will continue with their lives. Neighbors suggested that the couple lead a fairly predictable lifestyle, spending significant time in the hills near their home.
Interestingly these hills are rather gorgeous. Although no other alien growths have been reported from the area, some wonder if such a prolonged exposure to the outdoors might be the cause of this awful condition. Still others speculate that the mad scientist himself is to blame. Perhaps the lump is a result of more complex, and dangerous experiments that he has undertaken on his own wife.

Only time will tell. See the following post on this website for some of the husband's latest graphs concerning the tumor's growth.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

More Growth

Let the numbers do the talking... The Babento has more than doubled in size since the end of March!

Meanwhile, Mom is plugging along, and Dad, well... You know Dad.

Don't let the regressions scare you. Just look at the lines.

Tune in again for the latest news on this strange couple!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Los Angeles

Southern California
On a wonderful middle-of-the-week venture, KT and I struck out for the Southern California Coast. Ventura, specifically, the home of (my cousin) Wally and (his wife) Heather Baker, and then Redondo Beach, where Katie's friend Julie (from Tanzania) lives with her husband (Jens) and new born baby (Katie). The visits to both friends were wonderful, but we were also fascinated by L.A.

We drove down I-5, the Magical Artery of Industrial Agriculture, where we saw irrigation canals the size of major rivers, feedlots where cows, packed in to dismal bare-ground pens stretch to the horizon, oil rigs amongst the grapes, and thankfully, a slew of windmills. Closer to Ventura we saw strawberry pickers, the same poor workers that people demonize as illegal immigrants. Katie though she recalled that her dad used to get paid by the flat when he picked strawberries in Walla Walla. These strawberry pickers probably do, too, because they were running.

We also saw a broccoli field that was abuzz with the activity of a full production chain. There were people picking the broccoli, and boxing it. Each box was then put in a crate, the crates were stacked into a 10 by 10 by 10 foot lot, then each lot was wrapped in plastic. Then each plastic-wrapped lot was then lifted by a heavy-duty tracked bulldozer forklift and carried to the waiting tractor trailers. The entire process, right before our eyes. It was something amazing to behold.

From Ventura, which has a year-round lovely climate of about 65, we drove south toward Redondo Beach. We passed "Malibu" and "Santa Monica," places whose names must be put in quotation marks due to their mythic nature. It turns out they aren't all that special, though. Malibu was kind of run down. Some neat houses, but a generally sloppy, poorly laid out town, with surfers. Santa Monica, from what I can tell, is just famous by chance.

LA is ugly. Small houses packed close together, concrete everywhere, but despite the hideous facade, we were still enthralled, if only for a while, by the diversity that it sports. We were boggled by the mix of wealth and poverty. Such a mix I had not encountered in the US before. A far cry from the highly segregated blocks of Philadelphia, for instance. The fact of this mix puzzled us for the rest of our trip, as we searched for explanations. Perhaps it is the proximity to Mexico, that habituates people to massive wealth differences, or perhaps it's because the landscape is so ugly to begin with. Scrawny hills are patchily covered by a few hardy shrubs. It's a harsh environment, naturally, and it shows. Maybe that's why rich people don't mind if their neighbors are disheveled, because the landscape always is. Or perhaps it's because there is no old architecture, and the distinction between old and new money has not solidified. We never really sorted it out, which is part of why another trip would be enlightening.

LA Trip--click for photos

Venice Beach
The first truly "LA" experience we had was in Venice Beach - a blossoming strip of exhibitionism. The turn out was impressive for a Wednesday morning in early April. We saw a man strutting proudly in a leopard print thong, a municipal body-building club, and ferraris and lamborghinis were relatively common. Neither the large sandy beaches, nor the ocean itself were the focus, but the sidewalk strip, where all the displays occur. Sometimes it's hard to tell if people are performing, or if they are just crazy, or on drugs. But those distinctions blend together so quickly that we realized it didn't matter. There were also lots of bong shops selling nothing but "vaporizers." I rather liked the bicycles we saw, especially the low-slung three wheeled sport bikes, and a crazy man with a huge parrot ("Turquoise Macaw"). My personal highlight of Venice beach was my experience in the public men's restroom. I went in looking for a toilet, and found a few in alcoves built intentionally with no doors. Scanning for one with a little cover I happened upon a pair of homeless guys who'd taken over a shower stall, and set up a comfortable, if messy, living room. They had a VCR and a TV and were watching a movie. I greeted them, and they me. Then I used a toilet without a door watching men go by in front of me. As it turns out, it was a perfect introduction to LA. Right outside of this bathroom I asked a young man if I could take a picture of his chest-wide tattoo that said, among other things "LA" in big bold letters. He agreed, as long as I didn't include his face. I obliged.

Next was Hollywood
Hollywood can be typified by the lunch that I ate on Hollywood Boulevard. It was a BLT, complete with a complementary side of macaroni salad and two hot peppers from a sushi joint that was playing Cher on a massive flat-screen TV. Hollywood was also less glamorous than we'd expected, despite the stars on the sidewalk. Lots of smoke and tatto shops, plenty of skank and surprisingly little gleam. Granted there was a movie theatre that appeared to be a highly accurate reconstruction of a medieval Mongolian fortress, and a couple of huge sphinx-like gates adorning another, but there was also lots of normal stuff. At one point Katie pointed up and said "is that the sun?" What a silly question I thought, and looked to where she was pointing. But then I saw it, a fuzzy, blurry, slightly brighter area of the sky, and wondered if indeed it was the sun. We scanned the sky for other such bright spots and determined that indeed it must be. That was a first. Then we saw a man drive by with a cat on this dashboard. "Okay," I thought "I get it. You can get away with all sorts of random shit here."

As we drove back north on I-5, trying to make sense of our last few days, we came to a bit of clarity. We knew we'd learned something. Even if we can't explain why, having been to LA, it is much easier to understand why Arnold Schwarzenegger is the Governor of California.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Fewer than 3 months to go!

The two of us outside of our front door. People who haven't seen our glorified studio ask if we've prepared the baby's room yet. People who have seen the apartment ask if we've cleared out a drawer for the baby to sleep in.

The baby and I have hit a growth spurt. Now people everywhere--the lady at the cross-country ski lodge, the man in the cheese shop, and students at the college where I teach--refer to me as the pregnant lady.

Unless I slouch, the baby can't quite reach my ribs, but he's getting close. At least once an hour, he wakes up to do some exercises. He now responds to Tim's voice and to our West African mbira instrument, which we play on my belly. Depending on the baby's orientation, Tim can hear both my heart beat and his through my stomach. We're enjoying this phase, though it's a little hard to imagine that the little bugger is still only about a third of his final weight. Can I really get that much bigger?

The Growth Continues!

So, while I was gone in India, Katie faithfully kept recording her weights. I started recording mine again, too. Now the trend in her weight and the lack of one in mine is apparent, with a few solid months of data.

I think that looking at our cumulative growths is maybe the most interesting. The baby's grown to two pounds now, and Katie's grown about 10 pounds just since january, while I keep waffling around 1 or 2 pounds heavier than I was in January.

Looking at our proportional weight change you can see that Katie's put on a full 7% of her January weight in the last two plus months.

Compare that, though with what the baber is doing. What a difference. In the first month he tripled his weight, only to go on to almost quadruple that tripled weight over the next six weeks.