Monday, July 29, 2013

The "Second" Shielding Effect

I've been experiencing a very different pattern with this pregnancy, which has been unexpected and relieving.

First, I get the typical questions - When are you due? Do you know if it's a boy or a girl? How are you feeling?

Then, it's always "Is this your first?"

Last time around, when I answered this question with "yes", I would get the motherly-looks and out came the barrage of advice and you-don't-know-what-you're-in-for looks/comments/stories.

This time, when I say "no, it's my second", that's generally where it stops! No advice, no horror stories, no your-life-is-going-to-change comments. People seem to get that a been-there-done-that mom isn't in need --- nor does she want --- unsolicited advice.

Yes, there have been people who've made comments about having two boys (you're going to be busy! Get ready for lots of fighting!), but it hasn't been nearly as intrusive as the first time around.

Friday, July 26, 2013


I just finished reading Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult, which was her first book. It starts with a blow out fight between husband and wife, and tells the story of the wife and daughter as they travel across country and arrive at their destination, and of the husband as he tries to find them. 

This was probably my least favorite book that I've read of hers. The story wasn't nearly as gripping as the others I've read, and the love stories woven within were not very believable.

But, there was one thing above all others that really bothered me: The complete misunderstanding of basic astronomy portrayed near the end of the book:
"Do you know what a star is? I asked you. It's an explosion that happened billions and billions of years ago."
"I pointed to the North Star, and said I wanted to name it after you. Jane, you said, too plain for such a bright one. I said you were wrong. It was the biggest explosion, obviously..."
Let's count how many things are wrong in these two very short interactions:

- Stars are NOT explosions - that's a supernova, and every star we see in the sky is not a supernova.

- Stars that we can see with our eyes are a few to ~15,000 light years away. Not even close to billions. We can see the Andromeda galaxy with our naked eye if it's really dark, and that's only ~2.5 million light years away. Billions and billions? No.

- The North Star (Polaris) is not a very bright star compared to others in the night sky. It's the brightest in Ursa Minor (or Little Dipper) constellation, but is the 46th brightest star in the sky. For the record, it's also only ~430 light years away. 

I realize this sounds picky, but really? This kind of stuff is really, really easy to look up. If you don't know what you're talking about, use something different for symbolism. It also makes me question all the other science incorporated throughout the novel (the husband is a marine biologist who studies humpback whale songs).

Does it bug you when books or movies get simple science (or other facts) wrong? I know sometimes it's just fun to ignore reality and just enjoy a story, but sometimes - especially when it's just thrown in there to make a character seem smart or something - it really annoys me.

Friday, July 19, 2013

I'm a Real Author!

And by "real", I mean paid!

My first ever paid article was published in the current edition of Canoeroots magazine. It's a short description of what can be seen in the night sky in the late summer/early fall, geared toward younger children. 

Fig. 1: The actual article in an actual magazine!

I'm very proud, and I hope this is the start of many similar projects!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Why the Blogosphere is Awesome

A couple weeks ago, I was lamenting about my lack of pregnancy wardrobe. That's when GMP, from Academic Jungle, came to the rescue and offered to send me some of her maternity clothes.

Not being one to turn down an amazing offer, I gladly accepted, and now have a much wider variety of clothing to choose from that can hopefully get me to the end of the pregnancy.

And this is one of the reasons why the blogging community is awesome! GMP and I can hardly say we "know" each other - I didn't even know her name - but she was willing to help me out anyway.

Thanks, GMP!!!

Friday, July 12, 2013

San Jose

I'll be heading to San Jose, California, for a conference in the near future. If you're in the area, let me know, and maybe we can do a meet-up! Any tips on what to see or do if I have some free time?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Car Seat Alarm

After reading about two cases in the last week (Ontario and Alberta) of young children dying because of being left in a car in high heat, my brain has been reeling. Though this doesn't happen often (on average 38 times per year in the USA, 4-6 times per year in Canada), it seems needless to me. There must be something that can be done to help this from happening (here's a heart-wrenching article about this topic).

We have alarms in our cars for all sorts of things - door being open, lights being left on after ignition is turned off, and, most related, seat belts not being done up.

I assume the technology for the the former consists of some sort of pressure sensor, and beeps if there is anything above a certain weight in the seat AND the seatbelt is not done up. The one in my car goes off sometimes if I have my work bag in the passenger seat, so clearly the sensor is fairly sensitive.

It makes sense to me that this technology can also be used in the case of a child being left in the car. When the ignition is turned off, an alarm can sound if the pressure on the seat (i.e. baby/child) isn't removed within a certain time limit (or something like this). This alarm would be heard both inside and outside the car, in case the parent/caregiver has moved away from the car quickly. 

I know there are some issues with this - many people sit in cars with the ignition off for many reasons - but there are solutions to that. The "car seat" alarm could be activitated for those who need it, or it could be turned on for only the seat in which the car seat is on. 

In this day and age where we can find any bathroom within a 20 km radius with our cell phones, this shouldn't be that hard. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Labour Plans: Older Child(ren)

We're starting to get a bit worried about our lack of plans for Evan for when I go into labour. We don't have family around that we can call any time, day or night. We also aren't comfortable with asking anyone to be on call 24/7 for several weeks (because who knows when Jelly Bean will decide to make his arrival? He could be six weeks early or two weeks late).

Worst case scenario is that DH takes care of Evan - but that means he most likely won't be with me during the birth.

If you have more than one child, what did you do with them when you went into labour (especially for those of you who are in the same boat as us and don't have family in town)?