Friday, December 30, 2005

Sex and Presents (no, not what you think)

Is it a boy or girl?

Elaine doesn't want to know the sex of our baby until it's born, whereas I want to use all the fancy new gadgets we can and find out as soon as possible. It's kind of like opening Christmas presents, I always want to open a few presents early, but save the big presents for Christmas day. Elaine prefers to not open any presents early (although sometimes she indulges me). Finding out the sex of our baby is just like opening a little present early, and we still get the big present when the baby's born. (I guess it's a bit more like carefully peaking inside your big present early, trying not to tear any of the paper so your parents won't find out, but I did that too as a kid, so the analogy still works. I just hope it's not like opening presents this year, since we've waited untill five days after Christmas to open presents, which pleases my sister to no end, but drives me a little batty).

It used to be that expectant parents didn't have a choice, you simply had to wait 'till the baby was born to find out if it was boy or girl. Now with the advent of sonography, 3D ultrasound, and even 4D ultrasound, not only can you find out the sex of your baby early, you almost can't avoid it. Old sonograms required some skill to determine exactly what you were looking at, so it wasn't too difficult to ask the doctors and nurses to simply not tell you. But some new technology makes the sex of your baby blatantly obvious.

So what are we going to do? Well, we don't have to decide for a few more months, but the plan is that we'll ask the doctors and nurses to not tell us the sex of the baby when we have the sonogram, but if we figure it out ourselves, that's okay. We might even post the picture to the blog and let all of you way in on what sex you think the baby is, but that will have to wait for another post.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Solving the World's Energy Crisis

While the price of a barrel of oil is beginning to fall from the $70 peak in August, and in real terms it is still well short of the historical high, today's high energy prices combined with the threat of global climate change make research into alternative sources of energy ever more important. In the field of climate change it is widely regarded that there is no technology silver bullet that will stabilize greenhouse gas emissions, instead many different technologies must each contribute their own "wedge." This Christmas in Dallas, Elaine and I discovered what could be the latest "wedge" for dealing with the energy crisis and climate change: Olivia, Maura, and Sam Zimmerman!

Our nieces and nephew possess a boundless amount of energy that has already been proven capable of running me ragged and powering a light bulb (in the form of l.e.d.'s encased in their shoes). With a few R&D dollars, we can turn their sweet cries of "dance dance uncle Allen," and "another horsey ride uncle Allen," into light sweet crude. Now using children for energy often conjures up images of large scale hamster wheel generators, but with a little extra capital expenditure we can capture the energy of child friendly "free range" play by installing piezoelectric floors or some other such device.

All kidding aside, our last Christmas in Dallas before Mike and Ginny retire to Iowa was truly wonderful (and I have a feeling it was probably the Zimmerman clan's last 80 degree Christmas). The whole family was there, and we all had a great time playing with the kids and catching up with each other. We had some wonderful meals, ate too much delicious home-made candy, visited the Aquarium at the Texas State Fair, and had a very merry Christmas.

(click here to see all the pictures, or here for the slideshow)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Don't Ask Don't Tell

If you look at the calendar you'll probably notice that the current date and the date of this post don't quite match. That's because as I sit here writing this, we still aren't telling people yet. By the time you read this, hopefully (knock on wood) the first trimester will have passed safely and we'll be ready to share the big news with our family, friends, and the whole blogosphere.

The biggest problem for us in keeping everything secret is the timing. (Well the biggest problem might be that I'm horrible at keeping secrets, but I'm trying to channel my urge to tell everyone into writing these secret posts.) How do we keep this secret over the holidays? We're going to Dallas to spend Christmas with Elaine's family, and while they might not think twice about Elaine passing on the wine at dinners, they'll probably wonder about the conspicuous lack of diet coke consumption. Last weekend we went down to Charlottesville to visit Joe and Cate, a trip we planned before we knew that Elaine was pregnant. Originally we were planning to go on some winery tours, thankfully Joe and Cate didn't mention those plans, and we certainly didn't bring them up. However, over the course of several meals and many hands of bridge they certainly noticed Elaine wasn't drinking wine with the rest of us. Now Elaine is completely conviced that there on to us.

Anyways, Elaine comes from long line of mothers that believes it's bad luck to tell anyone about a pregnancy before the first trimester is over. During labor, her grandmother still thought it was too early to tell people, and many women from that generation wouldn't even tell their husbands until they were showing, so I guess I should be happy that at least I know. Since I'm not overly superstitious I'm not too worried if people suspect before we tell them, and I'm all for waiting to tell people if if makes Elaine feel more comfortable. So until we're ready to tell everyone, I'll keep writing these posts (which I have to admit are a pretty good substitute for telling everyone I see that I'm going to be a dad) and saving them as drafts until we're ready to go live. And if anyone asks Elaine if she's pregnant, she has the perfect comeback, "Why, do I look fat?"

Sunday, December 11, 2005

+ or -

" l "

It's not a "+" but it's certainly not a "-" so what exactly does it mean?

Let me back up just a little bit. Elaine is late, but is she really "late". Yes we are "trying" but we just started, and really it's more like we stopped trying to avoid it than any real active "trying" on our part. We don't really have any pattern set forth yet to compare against, so maybe without the precise timing provided by actively avoiding, she simply is less regular. We don't have the data, and certainly haven't developed any charts or spreadsheets yet to really know how late "late" really is.

Anyways, we were sort of expecting it to take a few months, and maybe sometime after the holidays we'd be pleasantly surprised. But now, much sooner than expected, late seems like it might be turning into "late", so it's time to break out the big guns and use the test.

It's supposed to be incredibly simple, just pee on a stick, wait a couple minutes and you should see a "+" for positive or a "-" for negative. Well, we followed the directions (technically Elaine followed the directions, I didn't pee on anything) and after a few minutes we held our collective breath, looked at the results, and reached completely opposite conclusions.

The test read " l ". What's that supposed to mean, "such that", "given", "bitwise or", "vertical concatenation"? Elaine thought the test was negative and I thought the test was positive (perhaps a little bit of our underling hopes and apprehensions peaking through there). I argued that the test certainly must contain two elements: the part that forms the "-" should turn dark when it reacts with substances in any urine, as long as you pee on it you should see the horizontal bar; and the part that forms the " l " should only react with something found in the urine of pregnant women, so the combination of the two reactions, the "-" and the " l " should form the "+" of a positive test. Elaine countered, "but it's not a plus!" As a tie-breaker we called the hot-line listed on the box, and sure enough, the vertical line portion of the pregnancy test looks for the presence of beta hCG or human chronic gonadotropin in the urine. As for the horizontal line, sometimes it can be incredibly faint, and sure enough if we squinted our eyes, we could just make out the hint of a horizontal line completing the "+".

So we're going to have a baby! What do we do now?!? That'll have to wait for another post.