April 12, 2011

March 31, 2011

  • It is getting harder not to kill my son

    A bit of a dangerous day... Charlie has learned how to climb chairs and open doors.

    Here he is yesterday, climbing up on a chair and "computing" (or what passes for it):

    Then today, he figured out how to open the door to his playroom... and when I left the apartment this morning to head out to work, he tried to open the door to my apartment building!

    After I walk out the doors in the morning, he climbs up onto the window sill to wave goodbye to his old man:

    Even with constant adult supervision, he is always climbing up on things and trying to escape from the little prisons we construct for him.  Honestly, it's a miracle he is still alive!

    Did you ever fall and hurt yourself as a kid?

March 28, 2011

  • My New York Moment

    I had a quintessential New York moment today.

    I was crossing the street on the way to work (on the crosswalk, for once!) when the walk light started blinking. At that same moment, a cabbie cut me off and stopped abruptly in the middle of the crosswalk. He was so close to me, he almost ran over my foot! (Which is still broken from when I fell down the stairs last month, hold the applause.)


    Continue reading

  • The Xanga Conspiracy

    One of the big surprises of working at Xanga has been the sheer number of conspiracy theories we hear on a pretty regular basis!

    Back when we hand-selected posts for Featured Weblogs, some Xangans were pretty quick to say that we were purposefully avoiding featuring their blog posts. Conspiracy!  That said, it's pretty difficult to come up with a truly fair way to spread around featured posts.  We did our best, but the weird thing was that we usually got the most complaints from people we featured the most. I never quite figured that one out, but figured that the only way to address that would be by removing the human element.

    Anyway so we eventually switched up the frontpage to use a more automated approach that we called Top Blogs. On a pretty regular basis though, people still write in and say that we are censoring them from appearing in Top Blogs... because we disagree with their conservative thoughts. Or their liberal anti-war position. Or whatever.  But believe it or not, we don't read every post and evaluate it for compliance with Xanga's official political line. That's because (drumroll please)... we don't really have an official political line and don't care what people's politics are!  The issue is almost always that the person in question has used future publishing to draft their posts. We draw Top Blogs from posts created in the past 24 hours, in order to prevent timestamping.

    In any case, this is just a small sampling of the conspiracy theories we hear on a pretty regular basis. After the first few years of battling these conspiracies, I kind of gave up and let people float their theories... it is always fun to read a good conspiracy theory.  But over time, I've come to realize that it's important to keep battling conspiracy theories. Otherwise people start to think they are true.

    At least Xanga wasn't born in Kenya... or was it???

March 18, 2011

  • Xanga Blogathon next week!

    Starting next week on Monday, March 21st, we're having a week-long blogathon on Xanga. If you want to participate, it's easy: just blog every day from Monday to Friday!

    Blogging is a habit... I was reminded of this recently by a story about Jerry Seinfeld:

    [Jerry] revealed a unique calendar system he uses ... Here's how it works.

    He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day.

    "After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain."

    "Don't break the chain," he said again for emphasis.

    I always feel better when I'm blogging regularly, but sometimes I fall out of the habit. So I thought it might be fun to kickstart things together!

    I'll be blogging Monday - Friday next week on my blog, at http://john.xanga.com. Come join me! So far, I've only bounced the full idea by my wife (justbee) and fellow XangaTeam member (marc) and they're both up for participating. I'll be posting a roundup of all the participants, and we'll do some neat things to drive traffic to participants.

    If you're up for it, please comment below!


September 3, 2010

  • Twinkle, twinkle, little star

    When my wife and I put our son down for a nap, we sing him "Twinkle, twinkle, little star" so that he has an extra sleep cue to help him get to sleep.

    At first I didn't know the words, but they are now etched into my brain:

    Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
    How I wonder what you are!
    Up above the world so high,
    Like a diamond in the sky!

    I have learned a lot about this simple song, and have been meaning to write it down.  So here goes:

    1) "Twinkle, twinkle, little star" is sung to the same tune as the Alphabet Song ("a, b, c, d, e, f, g...").  When I first realized this, it absolutely blew my mind.  Sing both songs out loud right now and see.  It's the same song!!!

    2) The same tune is used to sing the words of "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep"!!!!  Well there are some small differences, but it's the same song more or less.

    3) The name of the song is ""Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman."  It was a French nursery rhyme. Mozart wrote twelve variations on the song called, Twelve Variations on "Ah vous dirai-je, Maman".  Pretty creative title huh.  Anyway when I get bored singing the standard song, I use one of Mozart's variations.

    4) The words of the song are pretty ignorant.  "Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are?"  As Wikipedia will tell you, "a star is a massive, luminous ball of plasma held together by gravity."  "Like a diamond in the sky"?  A star is like a diamond?  This is your explanation for what a star is??  Come on...  it's almost as if this song is based on the scientific knowledge of the world back in 1806.  Oh right.

    Anyway the words of the song kinda bothered me for a while, because they felt somewhat ignorant to me and I like to pretend that I am a scientist.  But then I read the original lyrics to the song, "Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman."

    Ah! I shall tell you, mum,
    That which causes my torment.
    Papa wants me to reason
    Like an adult.
    I say that sweets
    Are better than reason.

    I read that and it was like Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star was talking to me across the centuries!  It was saying, "Don't worry about making sense of this song.  Don't reason like an adult.  It's just a nursery rhyme."

    Btw, this is the sort of dumb crap you think about when you become a parent.

April 28, 2010

  • I Dream of Charlie

    When my alarm went off this morning, I was in the middle of a dream about giving a bath to my four-month old son.

    All I remember is the last few seconds of the dream: I was looking around the tub and couldn't see Charlie anywhere.  So I put my hands underwater, and there he was hidden under the surface of the water?!?  When I pulled him up, he wasn't breathing and his eyes were black and blue.  I must've forgotten he was in the tub and he had drowned!!

    I woke up and was in a full panic!  So of course I had to go to the nursery and see him right away, just to make sure he was still alive.  There he was, playing happily as he smiled up at me...

    Thank goodness, Charlie!!  You gave me quite a scare...

    That's the first dream I can remember in six years or so... what a doozy.

April 5, 2010

  • Hoppy Easter from all of us at Xanga!

    I joked to my wife a few years ago about changing my last name to Xanga... she was supportive of the idea, which shows that she's the best Xangan ever!

    Anyway she and I and the whole Xanga team would like to wish you all a Hoppy Easter!  And to express the idea visually, my wonderful wife asked me to hold up our 16.5 week old son while she took pictures of him dresed as the Easter bunny:

    Most people would only buy one bunny costume, but she showed true dedication in getting a backup outfit:

    "Hop hop," says Charlie Xanga.

    Hope you had a great weekend!!

March 1, 2010

January 6, 2010