Archive for January, 2006


Alec’s birth story

Kiara has written about Alec’s birth.


It’s a boy! Welcome, Alec.

Alec Friday, 11:37 p.m. Kiara shakes me awake. “I keep wanting to wake you up to remind me to relax through the contraction, so I think they’re getting stronger.

“Let’s go have a baby.”

We arrived at the hospital sometime after midnight, and three hours later we welcomed Alec Matthew Buchanan into the world. 8 pounds, 10 ounces, 20.5 inches.

I won’t say much about the labor and birth right now except that it was amazing. And now there’s a new sleeping baby in the house.

Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped, especially our moms.

But right now, it occurs to me that Owen is going to be waking up in six hours and I’d best get to sleep myself.


100 cups

Russell Beattie writes that Mike Rowehl is planning to drink 100 cups of coffee in 48 hours. People are concerned that this amount of caffeine will hurt him badly. I doubt it. 15 years and probably 40 pounds ago, I was regularly drinking 30-50 cups a day. I slept little, drank a lot. I do not say this to brag — a poorly planned camping trip led to a caffeine withdrawal that did hurt me badly; I saw the error of my ways and cut back. I’m just saying that Mr. Rowehl will most likely be fine.

And that the Death by Caffeine calculator is an odd thing to bring into the world.


Disappointed in Dunn Bros.

I was in downtown Saint Paul the morning of New Years Eve and stopped by the Dunn Bros. in the Lawson Building to pick up whole bean coffee. I won’t make that mistake again.

With the exception of the the few years when I worked as a roaster, I have bought most of my coffee at a Dunn Bros. I have done so at least since the early nineties when I lived in Uptown a couple blocks away from their Lake Street store. Half the reason I started working at the Roastery was because I got to work with Marge McCabe, who roasted for Dunns and whose work I much admired.

Because each store roasts its own coffee, they give a strong impression that they value freshness. For coffee, this is essential: you don’t have long after it’s roasted before its flavor diminishes dramatically, which is why I recommend buying only what you can drink in a week, from a local roaster if possible. (If this is not possible, roast your own!) One of the factors leading to Dunn Bros. success is their stressing the value of fresh coffee, and of devising a process for ensuring that the coffee they roasted was for sale only for a few days: after that, it’s brewed.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when the coffee that I bought on Dec. 31 at the downtown store had been roasted ten days earlier. Stale! Unacceptable. I should have refused it at that point, but it was New Years Eve and I didn’t think I’d find anything else open for long. And it didn’t matter much, since I just resolved not to buy any more whole bean there again.

This is not typical of other stores that I frequent, but I fear that franchising has reduced quality. I’ll stick to the stores I know have some real turnover on the beans. Their Grand and Snelling store is good for that, and it’s not far from home.


Head First HTML

A coworker picked up a copy of Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML. I’ve written before about how much I like the Head First series, and have raved to this coworker about all the Java books ever since I saw the first one. Solidly based in brain research and smart pedagogy, and just a damn fun good time, I can’t think of a better way to learn. He agreed but wasn’t interested in the Java. At last the HTML book was released, he bought it, and I stole a few minutes with it when he wasn’t looking.

I am impressed. First, it’s heavier than the others. Downright hefty. Why? Color. Full-color photos and illustrations, something that’s been missing from previous books in the series but that makes so much sense for a book whose aim is to grab your brain’s attention and make it think something like markup languages are important enough to remember.

It starts out with the basics, suitable for an absolute novice, As you might expect from the title, it does delve into XHTML & CSS, and in the way that a standards-oriented guy like me would hope for. I was very pleased to see that. Much as the depth of Head First Java might surprise you for an intro Java book, having you build threaded network applications before it’s through with you, Head First HTML is teaching CSS positioning by the end of the book. It really looks like if you want to know how to put together web pages, this is the book to start with. You’ll have to go elsewhere to learn much about JavaScript, Flash, etc.. This is a Good Thing: pleased as I am by what is covered, I’d hate to see the book try to do too much. Still, to use those well you need a solid foundation in (X)HTML and CSS; from what I’ve seen in a stolen two minutes, this book provides that.


Not What We Thought

The word of the day was going to be prodromal labor. But it turned out to most likely be Braxton Hicks.

Two full days of Braxton Hicks.


Web Developer Toolbar 1.0

Chris Pederick’s Web Developer Toolbar 1.0 has been released, with lots of new features and bugfixes. I find it so indispensible that I am floored when I see a web developer who doesn’t use it.