Wednesday, September 01, 2004


I took double doses of Robitussin one two occassions yesterday and it didn't suppress the cough at all. Yet it does make me feel jumpy and poisoned. So I'm not taking that stuff anymore. I guess the scientific study was right.

Coughing kept me awake past 1 AM last night, and the baby woke at 6. I felt better when I woke up, but then I started coughing. I slept on the couch so as not to keep my sweet wife awake.

For a couple of weeks it was just a cough that I thought was receding. But it's more severe now. I am also getting a sniffly cold, one that had afflicted my wife. The coughing wears me down. It makes me hot. From the coughing I get a muscle cramp right between my abdomen and upper thigh, near the hip point, not the groin.

I hope the antibiotics can do something, but so far they have not. Second dose was this morning. Antibiotics not only kill bad bugs but good ones too. That's why, when I take 'em, I always take a dose of prune juice too. Because, as the Bible says, constipation is worse than diarrhea.

The scenario is that, for health reasons (his heart), Cheney will bow out and McCain will take his place. Keep your eyes peeled for that.

I bought this computerized chess board (a chess set with a chip inside it, and a keypad interface) for $10, used, at a local toy shop. I also bought some glass chess pieces to go with it, for $5. Such a deal! Anyway, the thing says it's for beginning to amateur players. Level one doesn't seem to work at all. Level 7 works but has a blind spot where you can mate it in four moves. Level 63 and 64 take a long time to process, but don't seem much better in quality. Basically you just have to keep the pressure on until late mid-game and then you'll see an opportunity to exploit.

This would be a great gift for my son in a year or two. How I think I will handle it is this: Show it to him now, let him watch me play it, and then some day soon, let him play a game against it, with this understanding that this is a special, non-precedent-setting event. With kids, it's important to set expectations and boundaries. If you don't have kids, you may not understand why.

A sweet story and yet a sad one: There is a little girl at my son's preschool who also knows how to play chess. She has the most cheerful face. We had a $3 plastic chess set that I bought at the supermarket, so we gave it to the preschool. My son played the little girl yesterday, on his first day back in school after a two-week break. I thought it was wonderful that he would have someone to play chess with. Guess what? My wife tells me that little girl is transferring to another school in two weeks! Sad. All that will be left are a bunch of kids younger than my son. Maybe I should give a short, very simple presentation on chess, just like I did on the Mars rovers. Because otherwise I doubt if any of these kids will have an interest.

Most of them are boys. Their culture is mostly based around Batman, Spiderman, and Superman. That's OK, and I fondly remember hiking a mile and a half downhill to the local store to buy a candy bar and a Marvel comic book (Daredevil, Spiderman, Fantastic Four ... leave that DC Comics crap like Superman and Batman on the shelf!). But I did that when I was 10. No one introduced me to superheros when I was four. And I don't think it's suitable.

But it dovetails nicely into the TV culture, the electronic babysitter. I hope I don't sound bitter. I'm not. It's just something I don't want for my kids.

Anyway, an iconic moment in these culture wars occurred at the birthday party we went to Sunday. My son and a couple of other boys werw looking at the various gift wrappings, and one kid (probably my son), said "That's Buzz Lightyear!" And then this other kid, in a tone of shocked righteousness, said "That's not Buzz Lightyear! That's Jimmy Neutron!" Imagine your tone of voice responding to someone complaining about how when President Carter was in office in 1999, he handled the Kosovo situation poorly. So the conversation among the kids moved on to when the cake would be served. But "That's not Buzz Lightyear! That's Jimmy Neutron!" repeated the boy in the know.

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