Monthly Archive for January, 2005

The Hills Are Alive….

Eleni Theoni Politis
Name: Eleni Theoni Politis
Born: 31 January 2005 at 01:48
Weight: 7.5 pounds or 3.41 kg
Length: 20 inches

Place: Cambridge, UK
Addenbrooke’s (Rosie Maternity) Hospital
Nameday: May 21st

I am officially the happiest man in the world. Now I know why you hear this phrase from so many new fathers. Carolyn and I are very proud, new parents. Blessed with a healthy, baby girl. Eleni decided to arrive a little early yesterday as she wasn’t due until at least the 9th of February. Probably because it was getting a little tight in her mommy’s belly.

Speaking of mommy, she was a trooper. AussieGirl was in labor quite a long time – her water broke a whopping 50 hours before the actual birth. She had a total of four, yes four, epidural inserts. They were ineffectual each time for some unknown reason, so the anaesthetists kept trying to re-site it as the poor girl was in some extreme pain. It was such a helpless feeling for me because I could do nothing to help her. She was pleading for a Caesarean Section up to 12 hours before birth, but the doctors just would not do it unless all other options were exhausted. The only relief she had was when she was once given a spinal injection of a very strong anaesthetic and during the third and fourth epidurals, a stronger caine-derivative anaesthetic to augment the regular epidural drip. The relief only lasted a couple of hours for each, but at least it gave her a short break from the pain. At right around 48 hours, real labor started and the stronger epidural numbed just enough of the pain to allow her to attempt a natural birth.

Let me break here to describe the setting. Nothing like I expected from my expansive (TV) experience. It was very non-medical in that it was just Carolyn, me, and a Midwife in a darkened room. Just a monitor for the baby’s heartbeat and Carolyn’s contractions, a couple of tubes attached to Carolyn, and The Sound of Music Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (her favorite) playing on the CD player. No medical gowns, doctors, stirrups, elaborate medical tools or anything.

So, at around 23:45 on Sunday, Carolyn started pushing and everything looked pretty good. The Midwife said the baby was making progress. I even peeked in myself and saw the top of Eleni’s hairy head. At this stage, even Carolyn was pretty confident and comfortable, albeit a little winded from pushing. After about 45 minutes of this, she started getting a really unbearable lower back pain. They later reckoned that it was either because of an existing back injury or Eleni’s position as she was exiting or maybe a combination of the two. Eleni was facing sunny side up, so the back of her head was probably grinding against mom’s lower spine. If anyone was asleep on the ward, they weren’t any longer. She had been requesting a C-Section for a while, but now she was demanding one. To make a long story a little shorter, they finally agreed and Eleni was born about an hour and a half later. Not without a little difficulty though, as she had to essentially be pushed back in a bit before she could be lifted out.

Besides our healthy, beautiful Eleni, maybe some more good can come out of this experience (I’m speaking for myself here). I just know that I would’ve been driven mad with Julie Andrews tunes going through my head throughout Eleni’s childhood, even when they weren’t actually being played or sung. You know how that kind of music can get in your brain? Perhaps Carolyn’s association of that soundtrack with her ungodly pain that day will keep it off the CD player and iPod at home. At least a little bit.

A quick note on the name: Eleni is derived from the Greek word for light, torch, or sun. It also translates to Helen or Elaine in english. It honors at least three of our family: Carolyn’s mother – Helen Armstrong and my late grandmother – Eleni (Helen) Politi, who helped raise me and was a great influence on me. Also, one of my two wonderful sisters is named Elaine. The middle name, Theoni, is from the Greek meaning Godly and is in honor of my dear mother, who we hope will visit us soon.

Global Dimming

I just watched a truly frightening program on the telly. BBC Two’s Horizon series focused on the issue of Global Dimming, which I had never heard of. It’s the phenomenon where the amount of solar radiation or sunlight getting to the earth, through our atmosphere, has been decreasing steadily in the last several years. Decreasing quite dramatically actually. Global Dimming thus makes our planet cooler, which has been offsetting the disastrous effects of Global Warming. The reason for the dimming is air pollution, which fills the atmosphere with tiny particles that keep the sunlight out, actually reflecting the sunlight back into space.

It’s the ultimate catch-22 for the human race. As we diminish the amount of pollution in the air, we increase the rate of Global Warming. There were some disturbing studies on how bad Global Warming would be if there was no dimming. The one that really sticks out is the study over the three days directly following the 9/11 attacks. The study was taken because of the highly reduced amount of air traffic in those three days. Most air traffic had been grounded and thus the number of contrails left by airplanes was practically nil. Airplane contrails were another reason given for the Global Dimming. The results were astounding. Temperatures, measured as the difference between the low and the high on a particular day, rose markedly – by about 1 degree celsius. Scientists surmise that if Global Dimming stopped altogether, Global Warming would affect us almost immediately and not in a good way.

It was a great, eye-opening program that pointed out that something had to be done NOW about both pollution and the burning of fossil fuels (which release greenhouse gases) to alleviate both warming and dimming. Reducing pollution in western Europe has already given strength to Global Warming, evidenced by the higher temperatures in the last few years. The heat that killed hundreds in France last Summer may have been just one result, in addition to the famine and drought in Africa’s Pan Sahel region. We owe it to future generations to act now, and it may well be the very next generation that starts feeling the brunt of our mismanagement of the planet.

Over the Moon

Randy MossYou know, given the theme of this weblog, that I couldn’t possibly pass up the chance to post a picture of Randy Moss and his fabulous hair, and comment on what he did last week after he scored a big TD against Green Bay in the NFL Playoffs.

I’ve always been a proponent of the “hand-the-football-to-the-referee” school of touchdown celebrations….Raider style. Like greats Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, and Barry Sanders used to do. You know the concept – act like you’ve been there before and you’ll be back there again soon. I hate Terrell Owens antics for example, but I must say I have to agree with Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy on this one. Moss’ pretend moon was not all that outrageous. Certainly not as “disgusting!!” as Fox announcer Joe Buck made it out to be. I’m not the only one who thought Buck’s call was way out there. The guys on Sky TV commented upon the fact that the guy needs to chill out. It’s like Buck thought he actually dropped his drawers or something. I think he used that term, “disgusting”, at least three times, and in a most offended tone. Should a guy that works for Fox really be a proper judge of indecency? Fox isn’t exactly the classiest network. Just look at their programmimg history.

The fact that there’s a tradition where Packers fans moon the opposing team’s bus may even put Moss’ theatrics into context. And I bet those Green Bay guys didn’t do a pretend moon, either. Granted, Moss did it on a national stage, but c’mon….it was fake. And mooning is a harmless children’s prank. Let’s take that and compare it with Eric Barton’s elbow to the head of QB Drew Brees:

Pretend Moon = $10,000 fine
Vicious forearm to the head = $7,500 fine

Nice thing to have priorities, NFL dorks!

Sweeet!

We rented the little movie, Napoleon Dynamite, the other night. I’m seconding Liam’s opinion of the movie. It was hilarious. Even AussieGirl enjoyed it, although I question her sense of humor sometimes….I think it’s because she’s from Down Under or something.

The movie was all about a big, lovable geek in rural Idaho and his experiences in high school and with his strange family (usually his brother and smooth Uncle Rico). Most of the movie centers around Napoleon trying to help his best friend, Pedro, get elected student body president. Pedro ran on the simple platform: “Elect me and your wildest dreams will come true”.

The characters were highly original, if not a tiny bit creepy since it was a total geekfest after all. But what other movie has all these things: tetherball, kickball (watch the deleted scenes), tater tots, llamas, lygers (a mythical creature combining a lion with a tiger), moonboots, door-to-door sales, glamour shots, milk tasting, and even a time machine.

I don’t know what my favorite part was, but right up there was the transformation of his uber-nerd older brother, Kip, into a sort of white Nelly with the help of the babe from Detroit that he met in a chat room. Pedro’s protective cousins with the bad ride were cool too. But the best part had to be the school assembly where the presidential candidates spoke and were to perform a skit. I’ll just say this: dancing machine Michael Jackson has nothing on Napoleon.

There was some excellent music throughout: White Stripes, Jamiroquai, When in Rome, Alphaville, and even Cyndi Lauper and a novel use of the A-Team theme. Agreed, the Lauper tune isn’t a highlight, but it was used perfectly for the setting – the school dance. The flick has an superb, Flash-driven official web site as well.

Tip: Make sure to fast forward to after the credits, where you’ll see the dramatic conclusion of Kip and LaFonda’s “sweet hook-up”.

Overall rating: Friggin Awesome.

Once a Raider, Always a Raider

Barton ForearmOne and done.

That was the San Diego Chargers’ fate, but not before a former Raider, LB Eric Barton, tried his best to do something stupid and give them the game in the AFC Wildcard Playoffs. It would have been such poetic justice had that brainless roughing-the-passer penalty on fourth down lost the game for them. Barton, the guy who had helped cost the Raiders a couple of games for bonehead penalties, doing it now to snatch defeat from the clutches of certain victory for his adopted east coast team. I could see it now. SD Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer, the guy that always said the Raiders would find a way to lose in the end of their match ups when he was in Kansas City, might even have said Once a Raider, always a Raider at the post game press conference. Well, maybe he wouldn’t have actually said it, but I bet you he would’ve been thinking that.

However much I dislike Schottenheimer, I wouldn’t have minded if the Barton idiocy had won the game for his team. Players like Barton, DT Rodney Coleman, and to some extent WR Jerry Rice, disappoint me for their lack of team loyalty and selfishness. They all jumped ship on the Raiders when things went sour last year. The two young guys for big, free agency money, but they both could have opted to stay and help build the team. Rice was just a tantrum-throwing, cry baby about his lack of playing time, which was why I kind of enjoyed watching the Seahawks blow their game against the Rams. Rice actually started and was on the field through most of the game, but you wouldn’t have known it. Their QB never even threw a pass in his direction.

In the end at San Diego, Schottenheimer’s ingrained conservatism may have cost him that game in overtime. The sequence of plays before their OT missed field goal, where they ran it between tackles three times in a row, was classic Marty. He knew he had a rookie kicker who looked shakey on his previous kicks and yet not once did he let QB Brees at least look to his MVP TE Antonio Gates or do something at least partially creative. And remember that the field goal was no chip shot – 40 yards. Why he didn’t try more aggressively to get closer, only he knows. But a zebra doesn’t change its stripes is what I say.

Recall also that NY Jets kicker Doug Brien missed an easy 33 yarder early in the game, otherwise OT perhaps wouldn’t have been necessary. And I still think that replay overturn of the McCardell bobble/catch at the back of the end zone that gave San Diego a touchdown was highly dubious. I swear I saw a double-clutch from the wide angle shot, but there was no closer-in replay from the wide side of the field to show it properly.

Just Short of Nipple

I could be totally off base here, but I watched the Orange Bowl along with the halftime show and I thought the Ashlee Simpson booing wasn’t so much for her history of lip syncing on SNL, as is being reported, as much as it was for a crap and inappropriate song. She sang a tune called “La La”. The title appears to be her cute little nickname for doing the nasty, because that song was all about sex. The way she performed it, mainly with her hips, attested to that fact. Here’s a little sample:

You make me wanna la la
in the kitchen on the floor
I’ll be a french maid
When I meet you at the door
I’m like an alley cat
Drink the milk up, I want more

I wonder if “milk” is a euphemism for something?

Funny too, because her performance was right after country singer Trace Adkins performed a song called “Songs About Me”. No joke – his tune mentions “…good hearted women and family and God…”

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Jenna Jamison drama as much as the next guy, but in the right setting. On a national stage. At halftime of the biggest college football game of the season. Kids watching with their family. Her performance just rubbed me very wrong.

Maybe I’m totally wrong about the lyrics and my mind is in the gutter.

Maybe that Janet Jackson thing last year just opened the flood gates.

Maybe it was the bad vibes coming from the stands from the evil Simpson (no, not her sister Jessica) that made her do it – OJ was supposedly there.

Or maybe I’m just getting old.

Oh by the way, a Happy Twelfth Night to everyone.

Abercrombie & Bitch

Why do I shop there? Even with their in-your-face, pseudo pornographic, homoerotic advertising. Their blatantly you-must-be-beautiful-and-young-to-shop-here marketing. Their bitchy sales staff that are too cool to help you (that applies to the males as well). I should stop, but I really dig their sweats and wind pants, though they’re way overpriced. After my Christmas shopping experience and reading about their thong line for 7 to 14 year old girls, I may stop. And not the thongs you wear on your feet either.

Anyway, back to my experience. I always thought it was bad enough that they gave you your merchandise in a bag with a half-naked guy on it. (Does this bother anyone else? I’m not homophobic, but I don’t want to walk around a mall with a naked “male model” on my bag). I think they went a little too far with their pretty boy marketing this holiday season. I turn the corner to walk into their store in Tyson’s Corner mall, Virginia and I almost run into a lanky, half naked dude. The guy had his top off and appeared to be coated with body make-up. He was evidently one of the A&F “male models”. A female employee, dressed somewhat like a cheerleader, was asking the girls that walked in if they wanted an autograph from (or to talk to) the model. It just seemed so unnatural, especially in that setting and at that time of year. Frankly, it was a bit creepy.

In the end, I bought my sweats (shame on me) and my faith was partly restored when one young girl that walked in was offered an autograph and rolled her eyes while walking on.