Baby gear for the first-time parent: the definitive list for 2010

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4783 days ago

(Yes, I know, it’s 2011. Read on and the title will make sense.)

Before Benjamin was born, I did a lot of research into all the “stuff” we’d need for him. A lot. A LOT. (You’ll see… keep reading.) I read books, reviews, and websites. I made spreadsheets and budgets. I comparison-shopped.

And in the end, I think we actually did a really good job with the stuff we bought. Only rarely did we get something that we didn’t end up needing and/or loving, and usually those ‘mistakes’ were because we rushed into a purchase.

My family knew about all this research, so when Benjamin’s aunt was pregnant, she asked me to pass my information along. I did so, with some advice about things we’d learned in hindsight. And then a co-worker was having a baby and asked for the information. And just today, an extended family member heard about this info and asked for it, and another family member suggested I just publish it, so…

The information below is an amalgam of lists, emails, and spreadsheets that weren’t written with publication in mind, and that have only been somewhat cleaned up. And I gathered most of this information in 2009, in preparation for an early-2010 baby, so it’s rapidly becoming out of date. But I’m guessing that it will still be useful to some, so here it is:


Timely WSJ article on Atlas Shrugged

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5535 days ago

The article says it all, but to paraphrase: today’s political economic insanity was predicted (and warned against!) fifty years ago, in a great book.

(Thanks, Matt!)

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The Nerd Handbook

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5953 days ago

From The Nerd Handbook:

For any given piece of incoming information, your nerd is making a lightning fast assessment: relevant or not relevant? Relevance means that the incoming information fits into the system of things your nerd currently cares about. Expect active involvement from your nerd when you trip the relevance flag. If you trip the irrelevance flag, look for verbal punctuation announcing his judgment of irrelevance. It’s the word your nerd says when he’s not listening and it’s always the same. My word is “Cool”, and when you hear “Cool”, I’m not listening.

I received Managing Humans as a Christmas present, and it’s a fantastic book. It lead me to (back) to Rands in Repose which is now at the top of my list of great places to spend time on the internet. Enjoy :)

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Recent events

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6204 days ago

It’s been a while since I wrote and I have a small pile of small things that I wanted to write about, so I’m posting them all at once. In chronological order:

Cool blog / cool book

In my first case ever of one blog leading to another, Amitai’s blog led me to Bil Stachour’s blog, Journal Wunelle, on which I found this awesome post about evolutionary psychology and the book The Moral Animal. Bil writes intelligently, often, and interestingly, and his writeup of the book has led me to put it on my wishlist.

A combination street car and airplane

Check this out. Terrafugia has announced that they plan on creating the first commercially available flying car, called the Transition. I like living in this age :)

Buckeye Blast

On April 1st, I attended the Buckeye Blast, a fun-day shooting event put on by Buckeye Firearms Association, an orginzation heavily involved in passing the concealed carry laws in Ohio, and of which I am a member. The event is a fundraiser for the organization, and my wife bought my ticket as a birthday present.

The day was a blast! (ha ha) I learned more about real-life shooting in that day than I had in all my previous training and shooting, and greatly improved my shooting skills. I met a bunch of new people, and even got my picture taken. The event was held at the very impressive Tactical Defense Institute – I highly recommend them.

The Principles of Beautiful Web Design

One of my birthday presents was an awesome book called The Principles of Beautiful Web Design. For years the “designers” have been saying that the “coders” can’t learn what it takes to design great websites; this book tries to prove that wrong. You can judge for yourself when I update this site’s layout :) (someday soon…)

The shooting on my birthday

The Virginia Tech shooting happened on my birthday. It’s a very sad, tragic event, and I’m sorry that such things happen in this world. It was initially reminiscent of the Case Western shooting which was a little closer-to-home for me.

My mom asked me what I thought about the shooting, and my response sums up my whole belief about the issue: “if someone there had had a gun, they could have stopped the attacker.” It’s a shame that Virginia Tech (like Case Western) has a ban on all firearms on campus.

I know this is a big issue, but I don’t want to dwell on it. My middle sister (privately) wrote a great piece about her feelings and reflections after the event, and there’s a lot more like that on the web. I’ll leave it to others to hash out all the nuances, but I did want to get my broad-stroke opinion out in public.


There is other news, about life, work, and family, but most of it isn’t really good fodder for a public forum. Suffice it to say that all three have been interesting, hard, and good. This is a good time, for me.

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Soooooooo good!

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6423 days ago

Variable Star book cover

It’s a simple story, really: boy falls in love with an author and reads everything he ever wrote, author dies, boy grieves, boy grows up, new author writes a book based on the first author’s notes, grown-up boy reads it, it’s perfect, grown-up boy is ecstatically happy…

Variable Star, by Robert A. Heinlein, written by Spider Robinson. It’s a dream come true – I feel like I’ve won the lottery :)

Thank You, Spider Robinson. Thank You, everyone else involved in bringing that book to life. And of course, Thank You, Robert Heinlein.

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6649 days ago

Ishmael book cover

Serendipity, n.: the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for

Somtimes, things just come together. Recall, if you will, my recent perplexion, and the fact that I was seriously bothered by the way people “…can be [so] complacent about their own abuse.” Let me also now inform you that I am reading Ishmael (which itself was involved in another of my rants), a book that was recommended to me by Steve Sparks. (You’ll hear more about Steve, eventually.) Those two items have combined in a most unusual way; check out this excerpt from Ishmael and see if you can find any relationship to my perplexion:

…and she said, ‘Why is it that no one is excited? I hear people talking in the Laundromat about the end of the world, and they’re no more excited than if they were comparing detergents. People talk about the destruction of the ozone layer and the death of all life. They talk about the devestation of the rain forests, about deadly pollution that will be with us for thousands and millions of years, about the disappearance of dozens of species of life every day, about the end of speciation itself. And they seem perfectly calm.’

“I said to her, ‘Is this what you want to know then – why people aren’t excited about the destruction of the world?’ She thought about that for a while and said, ‘No, I know why they’re not excited. They’re not excited because they believe what they’ve been told.’”

I said, “Yes?”

“What have people been told that keeps them from becoming excited, that keeps them relatively calm when they view the catastropic damage they’re inflicting on this planet?”

“I don’t know.”

“They’ve been told an explaining story. They’ve been given an explanation of how things came to be this way, and this stills their alarm. This explanation covers everything, including the deterioration of the ozone layer, the pollution of the oceans, the destruction of the rain forests, and even human extinction – and it satisfies them. or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it pacifies them. They put their shoulders to the wheel during the day, stupefy themselves with drugs or television at night, and try not to think too searchingly about the world they’re leaving their children to cope with.”

I think this is going to be a good book.

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