Saturday, November 14, 2009

Two hundred and ninety three

This was a conversation between Lena and me as we were snuggling tonight.

Lena: Daddy, what's 12 times 6?
Daddy: 72.
Lena: How many days are there in a year?
Daddy: 365.
Lena: What's 365 minus 72?
Daddy: 293.
Lena: Oh.
Daddy: Why?
Lena: That's how many days a year you're with us instead of in New York.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


This morning we were awoken at approximately 5:30 by a little one who decided that it was time to get up. Laura's the one that will do whatever is within her power to get her way, and this morning, as is typical, she was insistent that Becca get out of bed and go downstairs and make breakfast. At 5:30. She whined and wheedled, and it became apparent that she wasn't going to settle back in for even a short while. So, I finally got up and took her downstairs and made a fire in the fireplace. She still wasn't happy, but at least Becca got to rest for a little bit more. Laura was still crying and moping and insisting that Mommy needed to get up and make breakfast. After a long while, she settled down and played with Lena, and I got us all some juice, disappointed that sleep was not going to be in my near future. Woe is me.

Today I also learned that for the second time in less than a month, a co-worker's infant child didn't survive. When I read about tragedies like this that affect people I care about, it pains me deeply and gives me perspective. I can't imagine the sorrow these two families are enduring right now. I know that my family is blessed to be healthy, happy, fed, clothed, and sheltered, and that while I'm sure it is hard for them to imagine at the moment, they are blessed in so many ways as well. A loss of a little sleep seems more than a bit trivial.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Time for a New Adventure


On October 15th I will move on to my next career. It is time for me to say goodbye to Right Media and Yahoo!. The past 3.75 years have been an amazing experience, and without that experience there's no doubt that I would be ill prepared for my next job. GarageGames has hired me to be their Vice President of Technical Operations.The office is on 5th and Charnelton here in Eugene, so it's not only an exciting opportunity for me, but it means that my family doesn't need to relocate, either. Over the past two years we have come to love Eugene, and it didn't take that long. The prospect of leaving Eugene at this point is not interesting to us, so the timing and fit of the GarageGames job is perfect.

So, what does a VP of TechOps do, exactly? Well, it's my job to help the company figure out how to scale their systems. GarageGames has just announced, and I will play a key role in figuring out how to make sure the backend supports the demand of the number of users we hope we'll get. There's a lot of process and policy to put into place, and GarageGames is in a terrific spot for me in that I'll get to start in pretty much at the ground level and design that process and policy from the very beginning.

Friday, August 10, 2007

It's easy being green!

Our new Prius

Well, it is a bittersweet day in the Emerson family. My beloved '99 Honda Civic with lowered suspension and beautiful TSW wheels and 104,000 miles on it is gone. I never got the chance to add neon running lights underneath, or to add hydraulics or airbags to lift the car up while cruising the streets of Eugene.

On the other hand, last night Becca and I went to the Eugene Toyota dealer, traded in the Civic, and bought ourselves a brand new Toyota Prius. It's Silver Pine Mica (a really striking shade of green), and it's a package #6, which means it has leather, nagivation, bluetooth connection to cell phones, an upgraded stereo system with an AUX input for an iPod, and I'm sure it has a button to make waffles and hot cocoa somewhere on the dashboard. Becca did all of the negotiation and we got exactly the deal that we wanted, and our buying experience was smooth and painless. Huzzah!

Lena in our new Prius

Since we bought it late last night, Lena didn't see it until this morning. We went out and Lena had the key fob and went up to the door and held the handle, and the car unlocked for her. She then got in the driver's seat and turned on the auxillary power by pressing the Power button (the car won't actually start unless your foot is on the brake) so that she could roll down the window and have me take a picture. It's wonderful to have a car that gets such amazing gas mileage, and Becca really appreciates the fact that her spine doesn't get shaken when she goes over the bumps around our house.

I haven't driven our Prius yet, although we did take a different one out for a test drives some weeks ago, and really liked it. When you first start driving it, it runs completely off of the battery, which will take some getting used to.The view out the back window will take some getting used to as well, due to the horizontal window split in the rear, but the car does have a backup camera that activates when it is in reverse, so I'm not worried about backing over anything or anyone. The only problem with the car is that Eugene is filled with Priuses (Prii?), so we might need to put a Red Sox license plate holder on the car to make it stand out a little bit!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lena's new glasses

Lena’s glasses

Lena has new glasses! During a routine 5 year checkup, the doctor discovered that Lena's right eye is not seeing well. We then scheduled a meeting with an ophthalmologist, who determined that the communication between Lena's eye and her brain was not right. Apparently this is a reasonably common occurrence, and if caught before the age of 7 or so, can be reversed to at least some degree. He also gave her a prescription for glasses. So, Lena and Becca went eyeglass shopping, and this past Wednesday, the glasses arrived. I took Lena to the optician and watched her get fitted and adjusted. She looks beautiful, of course!

Lena’s glasses

She is very excited about the glasses, and is working out how to easily put them on (they wrap behind the ears, so they're a little more complex then normal glasses). She's wearing them all the time except when showering or sleeping or swimming.

Lena and Laura

Lena will wear the patch over her good eye for a number of weeks to help retrain her eye. Then she'll go back to the ophthalmologist for a re-evaluation, and we'll go from there. At first she was quite shy and didn't want anyone to see her eye patch, but the glasses have helped, because she really likes the way they look. Becca said that Lena tried many different shape glasses before choosing the ones she has, and in my opinion, she picked exactly the right pair.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Miniature Golf Memories

Thursday night was once again date night for Becca and me. We went to McMenamin's on 19th and Agate, and weren't terribly excited. We like the McMenamin's on the North Bank better. After dinner, though, we went on Franklin Street to Camp Putt Miniature Golf. They've got 36 holes of golf split into two courses. We did the "old" course (according to the 16 year old manning the desk). The course consists of tricky angles and "natural" obstacles such as boulders that you need to navigate around. On a number of holes, you have to hit the ball hard enough to jump the river, but if you go too hard, your ball will skip out of bounds.

Although this style of mini-golf is quite a bit different than what I remember playing with Papa and Mama (my mom's parents), I remarked to Becca as we were driving home (4 over par for me, and Becca's ... still learning!) that it brought back a flood of memories for me. I remember seeing Papa's scorecard on his dresser in the funeral home, so I must have been pretty young. I remember either the first or second hole had a yellow loop-de-loop that provided constant frustration. I remember Papa being really good. And I also remember the last hole, which had a sloped clown's face, and if you got the ball in the right place (the clown's nose, I think), you got a coupon for a free game.

Memories like these are what I want my children and grandchildren to have.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

A Waldorf Education

Lena and Laura in October

Our older daughter Lena turned 5 this past April, and that means Kindergarten. There are times when I look back on my post-college life and wonder how it has possibly gone so fast, and the realization that Lena is now going to school is certainly one of those times.

Becca and I have done a lot of looking at schools in Eugene. The public school system that we are in has a reputation of being quite good. But we investigated an alternative private school, and ultimately decided to apply and send Lena there for at least the first year, if not the K through 8 years. That school is the Eugene Waldorf School. The philosophy of the school is very different from the normal public school.
The Rosebud Preschool offers a warm and beautiful environment for 3 year-olds as they begin to explore the world beyond their home. Three mixed-age kindergartens give 4-6 year old children a loving family circle within which they are free to play and imitate in their natural way of learning.

As children begin Waldorf elementary school they are guided by a class teacher who begins with the first grade and carries the same group of children through the eighth grade. The goal of the grade school program is to support all students in developing their highest potential by encouraging the child's artistic, creative, and imaginative life and by providing a strong base in academic studies.

Subjects are taught in such a way that the whole child is involved in the learning process, from writing and illustrating their own lesson books beginning in Grade 1, to sowing, harvesting and baking wheat in Grade 3, and modeling a relief map of the western hemisphere in Grade 5. The Waldorf Curriculum provides an interdisciplinary approach to a wide range of academic subjects including mathematics, grammar, botany, zoology, chemistry, physics, physiology, history, geography, and foreign languages in blocks of 3-4 weeks per subject. Teachers strive to bring the subject alive, first within themselves, and then through their presentation awaken the enthusiasm and interest of the students.

(From the Eugene Waldorf Website)

Parents of students at the Waldorf school are strongly encouraged to not let their children watch television, movies, or use computers. I am excited about the prospect of Lena joining other kids who have not been exposed to a deluge of hour upon hour of television time. Wikipedia has a good overview of the Waldorf philosophy.

One concern for some prospective Waldorf parents is the Waldorf philosophy about reading; first graders in normal public school environments are essentially expected to be able to read. In the Waldorf schools, this is not the case. The Waldorf School of Cape Cod has a nice FAQ addressing this 'concern':
Children entering the first grade in most public schools are expected to be able to read. In a Waldorf school, children start to learn to read in the first grade and are allowed to develop this skill relatively slowly. Why is this?

There is evidence that normal, healthy children who learn to read relatively late are not disadvantaged by this, but rather are able quickly to catch up with, and may overtake, children who have learned to read early. Additionally, they are much less likely to develop the "tiredness toward reading" that many children taught to read at a very early age experience later on. Instead there is lively interest in reading and learning that continues unto adulthood. Some children will, out of themselves, want to learn to read at an early age. This interest can and should be met, as long as it comes from the child. Early imposed formal instruction in reading can be a handicap in later years, when enthusiasm toward reading and learning may begin to falter.

Lena is excited about going to school next year. We want her to be excited about school for a long time. The Waldorf school may be a wonderful path for her. We'll see!