This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.



December 2010

A Different Kind of Change

In the latest Curmudgeon’s Corner…

Sam talks about:

  • The Real Obama
  • More Wikileaks Reactions
  • Assange Rape Case
  • How Information Spreads
  • Bernie Sanders
  • Operation Payback

Just click to listen now:

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Recorded 14 Dec 2010″]


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Alex is 15 Months Old Now!

(Picture taken 2010 Dec 7 03:28 UTC)

As of the time this post goes live…  05:54 UTC on the 13th (9:54 PM on the 12th Pacific, 12:54 AM on the 13th Eastern) Alex will be exactly 15 months old.  I’ve fallen way way behind on posting pictures and video and such, just too many other things going on.  Maybe I’ll catch up eventually.  :-)  But of course time keeps on marching, and Alex keeps growing and learning new things every day.

Lets see, some things from the past few months.

  • Well, just in the last few weeks he finally really “gets” coloring and is grabbing his coloring book and special pens that will only color on THAT book and excitedly using them.
  • He is very good about following “Please take this to mommy” type instructions.  He understands, runs to do what was asked, and claps for himself when he does it successfully.
  • When he finds coins he runs to one of several coin jars we have in the house and puts them in.  (Also followed by a squeal and clapping.)
  • He knows how to turn on his iPod nano and change songs, and will happily find something he likes then dance to it, holding the iPod to his ear.
  • Almost anything thin and rectangular is a phone.  He’ll pick them up, hold them to his ear, and talk and talk and talk.  If it is a real phone with someone on the other end he gets even more exciting and he will pace around the room while talking to them.
  • He will run up to his sister’s door and knock until she comes out and plays with him.
  • When he is bored with what is on the TV or the music that is playing on our family room entertainment system he knows how to change what is on or turn it off.  Even if the rest of the family is watching.
  • He sneaks the dog food all the time.  Both he and the dog enjoy this quite a bit.
  • He will try to get the dog to chase him as well, running up to the dog, then running away squealing and laughing.  Sometimes Roscoe will follow.
  • His vocabulary continues to grow of course.  Most sounds still aren’t words, at least ones we can understand, but the percentage that are increases every day.
  • He is all about putting things away (sometimes the right place, sometimes not, but that doesn’t matter, does it?)
  • This also includes things like trying to plug headphones in.  Sometimes where they belong, sometimes not.
  • He will help put on or take off his shirts by putting his arms up appropriately.
  • He climbs everything, and (usually) can get down safely on his own.
  • He knows how to take apart his potty piece by piece, then touch the two contacts together to make it sing.  He’ll occasionally sit on it too, but of course would not even consider making it sing the way you are supposed to.
  • He has several more iPhone apps he likes, including one where he pushes piano keys and makes music.  He also now knows however how to push the button to get to the main menu when he is done.  He hasn’t quite gotten yet how to START his games though.
  • Although he has used utensils to eat for a long long time, he is now pretty darn good at using both forks and spoons.  (Knives, not so much.)
  • And lots of other stuff…

As I write this (a bit before it is scheduled to post) it is time for dinner now, so I need to stop.  But anyway, Alex is 15 months now.  A year and a quarter.  He is so big!  Oh, and quite a personality too.  :-)

Checking Out the Fountain

Kindle Ratio for 11 Dec 2010: 65%

So, the latest update.  The newest book of the last 20 I read was not available on Kindle, while the one that fell off had been, so the ratio falls from 70% to 65%, with 13 of the last 20 available on Kindle.  For reference:

1 – NO – 9 Ways to Bring Out the Best in You and Your Child
2 – YES – Shadow of the Hegemon
3 – NO – The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
4 – YES – Ender’s Shadow
5 – YES – The Elegant Universe
6 – YES – Children of the Mind
7 – NO – Introduction to Algorithms
8 – YES – Xenocide
9 – YES – The Geography of Bliss
10 – YES – Speaker for the Dead
11 – NO – First Break all the Rules
12 – YES – Ender’s Game
13 – YES – Until the Sea Shall Free Them
14 – YES – Foucault’s Pendulum
15 – YES – Java The Complete Reference
16 – NO – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
17 – YES – The Audacity of Hope
18 – NO – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
19 – NO – Data Mining
20 – YES – The Children of Hurin

And there we are for the moment.

9 Ways to Bring Out the Best in You and Your Child

Author: Maggie Reigh
Original Publication: 2004
Started: 2010 Nov 8
Finished : 2010 Nov 23
Format: Paperback
239 pages / 16 days
14.9 pages / day

This book was a gift.  The inscription on the inside of the cover says:

“With love to Sam – Hope something here is helpful :-) – Mother – 2007”

So this was from my mom, but at a time well before Alex, so we were talking at the time about parenting a 11 or 12 year old Amy , depending on if this was a Birthday gift or a Christmas gift.  But see, I do eventually get to reading books I am given as a gift…  even though it may take a few years.

I am generally very suspicious of these sorts of books that tell you how to be a better whatever, be it a better parent or a better manager, or just a better person.  It isn’t that they can’t hold nuggets of truth, but rather that many of these things either just come naturally or they don’t, and I am dubious of learning such things from instruction rather than from experience.  Having said that, there is always the bonus of actually learning from other people’s experience rather than repeating their mistakes, and I must admit I did end up noting a few things in here where I thought “Yeah, I could do better at that.”

Now, most of the advice, the “9 Ways” are things that might get a “Well duh” reaction from anyone who did not come from a background where the old fashioned disciplinarian “kids will speak when spoken to and do what they are told” sort of style was the norm.  At least in the circles I have traveled that sort of thing has been quite rate.  To some degree this book comes down to “don’t do that” and instead treat your kids with respect and as people.

To be specific, the 9 “Ways” are:

  1. The Way of Mutual Respect (Understanding and Respecting Boundaries)
  2. The Way of Vision (Have an idea of how you would like things to be and evaluate things on if they help get closer to that.)
  3. The Way of Mutual Empowerment (Turn judgement to curiosity, empower your child to decide things on their own as soon as they are ready and want to.)
  4. The Way of Emotional Grounding (Staying centered and enabling the draining of frustrations…  both yours and the child)
  5. The Way of Communications (Talk and communicate meaningfully.  Listen.)
  6. The Way of Encouragement (Encourage, be specific, look for the good in things rather than obsessing on flaws)
  7. The Way of Living Harmoniously with Others (Don’t resolve kid’s arguments, teach them how to resolve them)
  8. The Way of Loving Discipline (Not punishment, self-control.  Help find root causes of misbehavior to find solution.)
  9. The Way of Parenting with Spirit (Some sort of nonsense about inner lights)

Anyway, as you can see from those titles, there is a lot of fru-fru gobbledegook pop-psychology in here in terms of the terms used to describe various things.  And some of the anecdotes also seem like the idealized “yeah, no real person would react quite like that” sort of thing.  But they do serve to illustrate the basic principles though.  I’ve tried to distill the actual meaningful essence in my parenthetical comments.  And I do think once you boil out all the fluff here, the general principles are good ones.

As I mentioned earlier, there were definitely a variety of places where when reading I thought of various interactions I’ve had with Amy (not so much Alex yet) where I could have taken a better path if I’d followed some of the advice in here.  In most cases, actually obvious in retrospect, but where in the moment as things happen, perhaps thoughts aren’t as clear.  The value of a book like this, as I said, unless you are coming from a strict child-rearing starting place, which I am not, is not so much telling you anything you don’t already know…  you know this stuff instinctually…  rather it is that it makes you take the time to think about it a bit and raise it to something you are consciously aware of , and therefore perhaps you will be better able to step back and approach things in more healthy ways in situations where perhaps before you might just react and then think “oops, I could have handled that better” after the fact.

Or not.  Even when you know a better way, sometimes the moment wins.  But it is good to just explicitly think about some of this stuff sometimes.

Wow, oops.  I can’t believe I’ve been mostly positive about this book.  I *am* skeptical about this kind of book.  And a good portion of this book WAS fluff and such, and the last chapter really did start taking a sharp right turn into LaLa Land, but if you pick through all that stuff, the core bits are indeed valuable to spend some time thinking about.

I Want a Rat

In the latest Curmudgeon’s Corner…

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Ivan’s Condo Board
  • Christmas Shopping
  • Street View Payout
  • Wikileaks
  • DADT
  • McCain
  • Repub Strategy
  • Econ Update

Just click to listen now:

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Recorded 5 Dec 2010″]


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I am Normal

Seven Years

While we were all driving in the car a few days ago, Amy pointed out just how long we’d been together as a family.  Namely a pretty long time.  And more specifically, now that I checked it out, at the moment this post goes live, it will have been exactly seven years since I made a post publicly mentioning that Brandy and I were a couple.  Now, we’d been “dating” for probably at least a month before that, maybe more, and we’d known each other for well over a year at that point, and it was still a while little longer until Brandy and Amy actually moved in, but it seems like as good a starting marker as any.

So, seven years.  During that time we’ve lived together at five addresses in three states as I worked for three different companies in a variety of different roles.  We lost Brandy’s Dad.  We also lost a few good pets that we loved dearly.  We adopted Roscoe.  Amy has grown from elementary school to high school and from a bubbly little kid to a wonderful almost-adult.  Brandy has gone from being a Real Estate Agent to a Stay-at-Home-Mom to a College Student.  And of course Alex was born and has grown into a sparkly eyed toddler and is doing exciting new things every day.

We bonded into a family almost from the very start.  As with any family there have been ups and downs, but overall it has been a very good seven years.  Somehow, simultaneously, I can’t believe it has really been that long, and I can’t believe it was ever any other way.

Thank you Brandy and Amy and Alex for these seven years.

I love you all very much.

Doing the Crossword Puzzle

Mood Cycles

Another chart I thought was interesting.  This looks at a “mood index” that I enter once per day.  It is a purely subjective measure, where I just enter the first number that comes to mind, and try not to consciously think about it.  Basically, 100 would be ecstatically happy to the point of uncontrollable glee, zero would be depressed to the point of not being able to function or move under my own power.  As you can see, normally I’m in a pretty decent mood, in the 70 to 80 range on average with points outside that range a few times a month on either side.  So these are variations within a fairly constrained range to begin with.  But when you look at this chart on a six month range, where I then add a trend line smoothed over about an 18 day radius, suddenly you see what looks to be a clear monthly oscillation on top of the large scale mood trend.

It looks like, at least for the last six months, I have generally been happier and in a better mood in the first half of each month, and in a bit worse state of mind in the second half of the month.