Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Animal House

Owen recently decided that certain family members are actually animals. To whit:

  1. Owen is a BIG crocodile.
  2. Daddy is a hippopotamus.
  3. Mommy is a little bird.
  4. Mom Mom is a BIG bird.
  5. Grandpa Don is a deer... with a monkey on his head.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Living on Capitol Hill means that we were extra popular this past week. Elaine's cousin Molly, who as a 19 year old managed to be a delegate from Iowa at the Democratic convention, flew out to stay with us for the inauguration along with her friend Justin. Also, my old friend Billy was in town this month from Beijing and he stayed with us before the inauguration as well.

Originally, I was planning on staying home all weekend and avoiding the crowds, but with guests in town I started to waiver. The tipping point came when my cousin Adam came into town to help with the sound at some of the inaugural balls. Everyone wanted to go to the 'We Are One' concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday. Since Elaine was more than happy to stay home with Owen, my sense of adventure took over and we ventured out to vie with the masses for a piece of the experience.

Despite the bitter cold, the concert turned out to be tremendous fun. We managed to find a good spot right on the edge of the reflecting pool to watch the concert from. The coolest part (aside from hearing Bruce Springsteen, U2, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Pete Seeger and many more all play at one concert) was turning around and seeing hundreds of thousands of people all the way back to the Washington Monument. After the long walk home from the Lincoln Memorial (and some hot chocolate to warm back up) the whole adventure was too much fun not to try it again on Tuesday.

We decided the key to a good time on Tuesday was to manage our expectations and try to avoid standing out in the cold for too long. There would be plenty of people willing to stand out on the Mall starting at 4 am for a prime spot, and we clearly were not those people. After a nice leisurely morning, Billy, Molly, Justin and I left the house around 8:30 am to walk down to the Mall. We saw on television before we left that the Mall was already filling up all the way back to the Washington Monument with the crowds gathered around the jumbotrons. Our best bet was to head south of the Mall and see if a little local knowledge of my old neighborhood could help us find a way to the Mall. By the time we got down by the House office buildings it was clear we'd have to get creative to get pass the ticketed lines. The orange tickets jammed Washington Ave., and the purple tickets were in a line that went all the way through the 395 tunnel. We cut through some of the orange ticket crowds to get to the highway, then with the help of a salt truck climbed a wall to make it to the other side of the highway. (Molly just made it before the driver decided he didn't want people climbing on his truck.)

Once on the other side of 395, we just needed to make our way to Independence Ave. and walk down far enough so we could find a space on the Mall. The problem with this plan was that we needed to cross the mass of people with silver tickets waiting on 3rd st SE. We started our way across the line, but it quickly became apparent that we were stuck. Slowly but surely the mass of people started moving, guided by hundreds of police and national guardsman forming a human barrier at the edges of the crowd. When we finally made it free of the crowd we weren't on the other side of the line on Independence Ave., we were inside the Silver gate! After trying a few spots we ended up with an amazing view just behind the center of the Capitol reflecting pool, and we had hard time believing our luck.

As Barack Obama took the Oath of Office it was hard not to feel a sense of civic pride in watching this peaceful transition of power from one President to the next. Turning around we could see from our vantage point on Capitol Hill literally a million people crowding the length of the Mall and waving American flags, all here like us to witness this moment in history. There was a palpable sense of amazement that we were watching, "a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant" stand before us and take this most sacred oath. Listening to his inaugural address, a tingle went down my spine as I heard this great orator say,

With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

On our walk home, there was one more moment that perhaps the most poignant of all. Having skipped past the crowds waiting for the metro, we walked up First Street on the east side of the Capitol just in time to see Obama, Biden, and their wives standing on the steps as now former President Bush and his family took off in what was once Marine One to start their journey back to Texas and into private life. In the picture below, President Obama is waving goodbye to President Bush. It's not a moment of partisan gloating, it is a moment between two people who now share a bond from experiencing the ultimate burden of power and responsibility. Two people who have a most intimate experience of that peaceful transition of power enabled by the wisdom of our forefathers. Two people who have sworn to the best of their ability to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States.

Obama Waving Farewell to W.

(click here for pictures of the concert)
(click here for pictures of the inauguration)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

For Economists Eyes Only

Allen and I met in graduate school, and while his sequence focused on environmental and computational economics while mine was more centered on labor and marxist economics, our first year of instruction was almost identical. Both of us survived Stincombe's Problem Set #3, both of us suffered through Zhang's Prob Stats, and both of us took Freeman's Macro 1.

So imagine my horror when Allen introduced a time consistancy problem at dinner last night -- a scenario where the socially optimal plan is not incentive compatible in all periods -- by offering to let Owen eat a cookie, provided he had 2 additional bites of pasta after he finished said cookie.

Owen readily agreed to the proposal, and after some complaints that the initial cookie offered was broken, happily devoured a sugar cookie with sprinkles and chocolate chips courtesy of his friend and neighbor Gavin. Afterwards, Allen spent several minutes reminding Owen that he needed to live up to his end of the bargain until finally Owen grudgingly ate 1 and only 1 additional bite of pasta.

Which means: Allen doesn't remember anything about macroeconomics and Owen is a less rational but more obedient child than two economists might expect.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


We've been talking about moving Owen to a big boy bed for months now, particularly since Owen keeps referring to himself as a "big boy." (Owen also refers to his friend Leo as a "big boy" but insists that his friend Tadashi is a "little boy." We're not really sure what criteria he's using or how official it all is). However, the pain of finding a bed that would fit in the 39"x79"x33" space in Owen's room in order to avoid blocking the vent, window or closet coupled with our fear of what would transpire once Owen was allowed to rest without any sort of barriers, has induced us to keep putting it off.

But after the first of the year, we broke down and after some intensive searching, managed to find a bed on E-bay within our narrow specifications. It even has two underneath drawers on wheels which allows Owen additional storage as well as some alternative sleeping options if he wants some extra privacy.

We're not sure that will be necessary, however. Owen was so excited to see his big boy bed with his very own pillow and tractor/car/plane/bus sheets, that he spent most of the day playing on it, took a 2 1/2 hour nap and demanded to go to bed at 8:00 pm (he went to sleep closer to 10:00 pm). We'll see how long it all lasts.


This just in from Mom Mom, some old pictures of Allen's first big boy bed for the sake of comparison...

Allen's Big Boy Bed

Allen's Big Boy Bed

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2008 - The Year in Phrases

We were originally going to do, "The Year in Language," for our annual retrospective and list all the words that Owen now says. But that would require more typing that we're willing to do -- Owen's vocabulary was over 200 words before his birthday and has been increasing exponentially since -- and wouldn't make for the most fascinating of blog posts anyway. So instead, we've decided to share some of our favorite (and most used) phrases uttered in 2008:

  1. Don't touch my haircut.
  2. I too big for Daddy to carry.
  3. Mommy, go cook something.
  4. Thank you for cooking, Mommy.
  5. It's very delicious.
  6. It's fine.
  7. I'm putting stars on the window.
  8. Daddy doesn't go to church.
  9. I hurt my butt.
  10. Don't eat me.
  11. I'm conducting.
  12. That's forbidden, Mommy.
  13. It's party time!
  14. Move back.
  15. I need my privacy.
  16. I did a great job singing.
  17. I like to move it, move it.
  18. The camel waited for me.
  19. Watch out for doggy poop.
  20. Watch out for zebra poop.
  21. I'm doing stuff.
  22. I want to watch the muppet dvd.
  23. I'm a sleepy lion.
  24. I'm a waking up lion!
  25. I have lots of gas.
  26. Silly, Daddy.
  27. Don't be silly, Mommy, the Hinkel-Horn-Honker is for waking up.
  28. We're just hanging out here.
  29. better get a tissue.
  30. I don't want to be crying.
  31. Don't get the boogers out.
  32. I cough a lot, Mommy.
  33. I don't know.
  34. Don't do me now.
  35. I need to build a tall tall tower.
  36. I need to knock down a tall tall tower.
  37. It's dark in here everybody!
  38. We're inside the Capitol everybody!
  39. I better get my pasta out of my pocket.
  40. You did a great job everybody.
  41. I look pretty...I look beautiful.
  42. See you later alligator.
  43. After awhile crocodile.
  44. You better wait right there daddy.
  45. I'll be right back.
  46. I want my blue bee bee bee and my orange bee bee bee.
  47. Excuse me, you're on my parking lot.