January 16th, 2007

Prenatal Pilates

Posted by natdavauer in Baby

19 Weeks
I’m happy to inform everyone that our baby is right on track with learning pilates and yoga. As you can see from the artist’s rendering, Baby Skittles is taking sitting Indian style to the next level. It’s so extreme the leg is labeled so you don’t get confused. No, that isn’t a giant brow with a foot on it… it’s a leg.

January 16th, 2007

Lessons From a Trimester

Posted by natdavauer in Baby

Well, the first trimester is over. It’s the most theoretical of trimesters.* If you don’t remind yourself your life has dramatically changed, you think things are exactly the same. People don’t let you forget for long though. A few questions start to sound familiar. Survey says!..

“When’s it due?”
“Are you going to find out if it’s a girl or boy?”
And “Have you picked out any names yet?”

Like I said, it’s all very theoretical at this point so, at first, you’re kinda like, “What? why are you asking me these questions?” And then, “Oh yeah, we’re pregnant. Um, mid-June, no and yes. Zaphod, boy or girl.”

Anyway, the fact that it’s so non-physical gives you a chance to really let it all sink in. It’s like getting accepted to a college or being hired for a job. You’re excited that at least one of your millions of applications were accepted at the local opening, but now that you’ve got the job, you’re getting a little nervous. Will the boss like you or will he/she not even talk to you for years?

Food PyramidOne thing I’ve gleaned so far is that baby clothes take on a power hereto unwitnessed. I think they are a cuteness surrogate for the baby until it arrives. I am a liberal guy and look forward to poopy diapers and all, but I don’t think I have the the gene sequence that reacts to the cuteness of baby clothes. I mean, they are cute, but mostly they’re just really, really small - which is the truly fascinating thing to me. Have you ever seen newborn baby socks? Like thumb warmers. We just received a giant freezer bag of baby socks from a friend, and you would think it is a duffel bag full of cash. Just raising it out of the box leaves the room in silent awe. If cuteness had a currency we could retire.

If tiny baby socks are cute, tiny baby toenails must be beyond cute. The size of all things baby however, are measured by some sort of fruit or vegetable. Zaphod has gone from a bean to a grapefruit in this first trimester. The next trimester will see his/her development through the many varieties of the melon family. Oh, I just thought of a name… Jolly Rancher or JR for short. No wait, Skittles… yeah, Baby Skittles.

*For me anyway. Rachel might not think the puke that accompanied this trimester was very theoretical.

January 3rd, 2007

Handlebar Moustache. n. def: A moustache with particularly lengthy, often graspable, extremities

Posted by natdavauer in Uncategorized

Thank God I’m already married because the only people who love a good moustache are much older ladies and men.

MustaccioA good moustache is like like walking around with a red satin cape. Most people don’t understand why you would do it, but at the same time they just can’t help but admire the quality of such a thing. It’s almost difficult to carry on a conversation. A few words into my answer to “What have you been up to?” I notice people have zoned out and are lost in the stash.

What started out as a vacation from the guy in the mirror became sort of an adventure. There are so many associations to be made with wearing a moustache, people just have to voice their opinion. You must look like someone. A cowboy, a villain hatching an evil plan or, my favorite, a guy riding a bicycle with one giant wheel and one tiny wheel.

As I said earlier it really appeals to a couple of specific groups though. I think girls under the age of 65 have no desire to have a closer look. Just the opposite I’m afraid. I have seen teams of teenage girls cross the hall and pass me in muffled whispers that I’m pretty sure have something to do with the handlebars. The more mature crowd however seem to love it. Maybe it’s associated with success in past. Some real catches of the olden days wore some serious handle bars, folks like Frederick William Vanderbilt, Kaiser Wilhelm II and King George V. I think when these ladies meet me, they can’t help but picture my manor with all its thick gilt frames stoic butlers. I’ll have to look into what it takes to attach “Kaiser” to my name. Maybe throw a “Von” in there for good measure.

Men seem to have an innate respect for a quality piece of facial topiary. Probably a left over king of the jungle type of thing. There are never laughs from men, just a subtle nod, squint of the eyes and look of animalistic trust. “Yeah, I’d run in your pack.” Those with the thin, patchy curse just look down, point at spots on their face and mumble something about how they could never grow anything but wish they could.

Dick DastardlyWhile it is fun to capitalize on the prehistoric power of the push broom it is not as easy as having a part in your hair. What used to be a fairly straight forward journey of food from plate to mouth is now a complex task wrought with fears and anxiety. “Did it get in the stash? Is it still there? How do I get it out?” Fears that betray my non-pack-leading status.

For now I will join the ranks of such as Friedrich Nietzsche, William Howard Taft, Rollie Fingers, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Salvador Dali and the Mario twins. If I can stick with it, I may even have to send in my application for The Handlebar Club. Distinguished company indeed.

November 15th, 2006

Happy Trails Pardner

Posted by natdavauer in Uncategorized

George Bush is following in my footsteps.

That’s on one hand sad to say but on the other hopeful that maybe he’ll be more like me some day. This week Dubbya is heading over to Vietnam and stopping in Moscow on the way. Although I’m sure he probably already Hotwired a pretty good deal on Air Force One he really should take the road more traveled (relative to local populations that is).

If George took the train from Moscow to Vietnam he may just learn enough to deserve an ounce of the political power he has.

I suggest that you, George, take the train home at least. Don’t be afraid of the people of the world being angry with you. They are of course, but when riding the pine next to them for days on end they probably won’t care too much as long as you accept their offers of homemade vodka etc.

Vote for GeorgeoGet out along the way. You might be surprised that people don’t take you so seriously in… well, pretty much everywhere else in world. Anywhere you aren’t a citizen or waging war anyway. You next to Hitler? Don’t be offended. It’s like a “Vote for Pedro” shirt over there. It’s funny! Although from personal experience, the Osama t-shirts actually out-sell you. Wherever you get off is the center of the world for who ever lives there regardless of if you’re there or not. Midland, Texas is a long way away and Washington D.C. isn’t that much closer.

I hope you learn something from your trip anyway. In my opinion every president should have to have taken a few trips like this before they’re even considered to be written in for leader of the free world. The catch is that the more trips like this you take, the less you would ever want to be president.

So here’s hoping you eat something you’ve never heard of, get pickpocketed and have a beer with someone you can’t understand. You are, after all, the president most people would want to share a beer with.

November 4th, 2006

On the Origin of Davauers by Means of Nat. Selection, or the Preservation of Flavoured Races in the Struggle for Life

Posted by natdavauer in Uncategorized

They say that when a leaf falls a flower petal grows… Or is it that when boat sinks an airplane takes off? Um, when winter comes heating prices go up?? I think what I’m trying to say is that sometimes one life is replaced by another.

Alas, Squeak’s legacy has passed into the history of the Davauer Scrolls. But hark!, it will be replaced by the coming of the less hairy (temporarily that is considering his/her gene pool) heir to the Davauer fortune or at least to the ownership of this domain.

The BeanIt has been forseen by the great pee-stick of 99.9% accuracy. Rachel and Nat have seen “The Mark” that predicts the chosen one will come. The line that is followed by the other line appeared in conjunction confirming the great prophecy will be fulfilled. A new Davauer is coming!

This will now give me something to blog about that isn’t completley made up even if it is less interesting. Does the internet need someone else blogging about their baby? Good question. One that can only be answered by user feedback. I expect everyone to comment on every post so I can quit my job and earn a living boring the whole of Cyberspace about how someone somewhere had a baby a la dooce.com.

I will however promise our baby will be the most interesting baby to read about on the internet. Think of it as a reality show the likes of which has never been seen. Two Thirty-somethings Have a Baby. Hmm.. or better yet “Project Baby: America’s Top Thirty-Somethings Survive Having a Baby That Might be a Big Brother Some Day.” Solid gold!

November 4th, 2006

RIP Squeak

Posted by natdavauer in Uncategorized

This is Squeak on her last morning.

SqueakThis is the look I received in answer the the one question I always thought she would tell me in the end: “How did you catch, kill and eat a bird leaving nothing but feathers for me in my apartment when all the windows were closed?”

Fade out.

October 3rd, 2006

Lemonade Stand: Innocent computer game or ruthless corporate training program?

Posted by natdavauer in Uncategorized

Have you ever played the computer game Lemonade Stand? To put that another way, did you own a computer in 1980? There were only so many games at the time and it wasn’t very hard to own all of them. This game had to rely on conceptual value as the “graphics” were not much to blog home about. The complete graphics capability of an entire computer at the time equaled what is now necessary to render just one earlobe of just one of the 64 characters on the screen at one time.

No, this game does not have a CGI endowed heroine that awful movies are based on. It would more appropriately reflect a profitable decade that capitalist greed mongering would be based upon.Who knows, it might have been the first project of the Regan administration to get kids out on the street and in business for themselves while mom and dad were still at work. “Say NO to drugs by saying YES to lemonade and high quarterly profit margins!”

My brother played Lemonade Stand back in his formative years and turned me on to an online version of the game that I could download and play within five minutes. A chance to revisit the 80’s without any help at all from VH1? Rad! I mean, five minutes is a pretty long time to wait for anything on the net these days n’ all but I suppose I can watch a couple of YouTubes while I wait.

The lame graphics popped up on the screen and immediately I remembered that I hated this game. When the game started you just got busy trying to get more money until it was time for Dukes of Hazard or something and you just shut the computer off. It was a little too close to reality at the time. Mom and Pop would basically “play Lemonade” all day without the graphic accompaniment or Dukes break time. Granted, all 80’s games revolved around getting more and more points and were basically a thinly veiled (or graphically forced) practice run for making money in the reality game to come. Lemonade actually had no other point than to make money.

Although it was the one game that I would rather practice piano than play, I thought I would give it a whirl now that I can appreciate how great it would be if my fake Lemonade Stand money could be web-transferred to my online savings account. For my following experience to make sense I’ll give a brief outline of the game. The game randomly predicts the weather for the day (displayed in awesome 8 bit splendor). You choose how many glasses of lemonade you want to prepare for the following day @ pre-determined cost/glass. You choose how many signs to make and you choose how much to sell each glass for. An Apple II+ powered calculation takes place and it tells you how much profit or loss you take home over your manufacturing/advertising costs. You then take what you’ve learned and play again and again, each play measured by one day, moving on to make a business that will hopefully be bought out by Wal-Mart instead of crushed by it.

I played the first four or five days changing the amounts and trying to base my production and advertising costs on something that reflected the weather. Three minutes into the game I had made a small profit of a few bucks. It was clear that this is how one should be playing the game. Master your product, learn your market, make informed decisions about trends (8 bit weather) and run your business honestly and you will make enough money to retire… I mean win.

You don’t see a lot of successful companies hiring little kids to sit on the street and make lemonade based on the weather forecast. You do, however, see a lot vending machines sitting there in one place selling cold drinks for the same price no matter what the weather. Inspired by the apparently successful approach of vending machines I thought I would try a different strategy: fill in the fields with some conservative numbers and then click “OK” as fast as you can. I hardly noticed because I was clicking so fast but I did take some hits when there were thunderstorms. In about 30 seconds I had made $100 in 140 days.

That wouldn’t pay the bills now-a-days but if I had any idea of how much that would have been when I first played this game I probably would have started a union. We were payed 25 cents to mow a lawn the size of Wrigley Field. It took all day!

I had become a lemonade CEO who only cared about the bottom line. As long as I saw the profit field increasing I had no regard for customer satisfaction or local impact of my lemonade stand. I would soon have enough profit to hire someone to click the OK button and I could take my private jet to the best disc golf courses in the world.

I have realized that adults probably shouldn’t play this game. Too much baggage. The lack of extreme graphics didn’t help either. I decided to throw in the Lemonade soaked towel before the shareholders realized the boat was sinking and I had laundered all the cash. Before I did though I thought I would go out with a bang a la Enron. I made a financial decision that I thought would wreck my business in two or three “days.” I made 500 glasses of lemonade where I was making 20 max. I made 50 signs where I was making two. I priced my lemonade at $.99 a glass - a 500% markup from my previous day’s price. I clicked the OK button with the sick pleasure of watching my lemonade stand crumble under its overhead.


This is the screen that was waiting for me the next day. It seems that the construction workers bought every glass of lemonade! I made $450 in one day on outrageously priced lemonade. I got really excited and then realized I was playing a very old computer game. What is this supposed to teach you though? Price gouging is the best way to make a profit?

All of a sudden the game started to seem even more real. Whole Foods just opened on the East Side and I’m thinking it’s CEO might have trained with this program. It got me thinking… The Marquette interchange project will be running for 5 or 6 more years. A lot of construction workers. Not a lot of access to refreshing lemony beverages up there on the gridiron. How hard could it be to make 500 glasses of lemonade every day?

It turns out you don’t even need an imagination to play lemonade anymore. The same is true of needing to imply larger economic trends to a pretty simple and straightforward game. You can play Lemonade Tycoon. Oh wait, that’s already outdated. You can play Lemonade Tycoon 2! You can now control recipe, location, hire staff, implement marketing strategies and even post your results on the lemonade stock exchange. And you better believe the graphics kick ass.

It’s probably true that I would make more money selling fake lemonade to nerds online than selling real lemonade to those grisly guys downtown working on the bane of my automotive existence. The real-world economies of virtual games are now surpassing small countries. People are spending more on virtual clothes for their virtual selves than they are spending on real clothes for their much less attractive and agile real selves. One gamer even purchased a virtual space station for $100,000 and plans to use it as a virtual nightclub in a “massive multiplayer online game.” Wikipedia will quickly bring you up to snuff if this last paragraph made no sense at all.

Well, I don’t really like to work a lot anyway whether it be in the real world for fake money or in the fake world for real money. Who wants to play a game about work and for that matter play a game about living when you’re not working. There should be a game about avoiding work. Dang it!

August 9th, 2006

Col. Squeak Ludlow: The Life and Times of a Feline Warrior-poet

Posted by natdavauer in Uncategorized

For all who know our cat Squeak they will be sad to hear that she had a stroke*. For all who don’t know her they should be sadder still for never having met her. Think of the kindest person you’ve ever met and then cover them with soft, cuddly fur and give them the ability to purr.

Squeak has been “mine” longer than almost anything else in my life save my Diamond Back dirt bike which is neither kind nor cuddly (although it was pretty rad in its time). She’s been with me for 11 years! Before that ad for a free cat in the newspaper united us, people were still happy with uncolored bubbles and commercial flights were still leaving Somalia. Yes, a long time ago for me but even longer for squeak. She has been shedding all over my life for 60 of her years. I could have become a doctor in 60 cat-years.

She was a test pilot for marrying Rachel. Long before I moved in with Rachel, Squeak did so first. I was in China for that year and figured it would be a good chance to send someone in to do recon. The mission proved successful until the very end of the year. While in transit to a new apartment the bottom fell out of her life. No really, the bottom literally fell out of the box she was in and she ran off as cats do when in such situations. One can only guess on the events of Squeak’s life over the following month (6 cat-months). If she was able to write an autobiography, this would be the chapter where she met strange animals and experimented with new lifestyles.

After the world had given up on her, she showed up - a few pounds lighter - on the front step of the new apartment a month after falling out of the box. How she ate with no front claws, no hunting experience, an irrational fear of chicken noises and the physique of a walrus we’ll never know, but she has since had a certain dignity that demands you never think of her as a lazy cat no matter how many hours she sleeps in a given day. If nothing else she proved that, having had the chance to escape and choosing to return, Rachel must be a decent roommate. We all three spent the next eight years in fur covered harmony.

Col. LudlowShe has recovered to some degree from the stroke. She can get around on her own albeit looking like it’s always on the way home after bar-time. The litter box sequence - enter with nothing, do business, leave with nothing - still proves to be a challenge. No matter what her current condition we all remember her on the porch in the summer of 1997; still afraid of chickens but courageous. A fourty-something cat who proved herself worthy of lifetime respect no matter how humiliating a trip to the litter box has become.

Have you ever seen Legends of the Fall? Man, Anthony Hopkins sure knows how to work a stroke. That hair, that coat! He almost looks like Squeak. I can see her as Col. William Ludlow… Hobbling from dish to box with her battle-scarred ear perked at half-deaf attention and muttering some incoherent nonsense about the raccoon she mastered with her bare paws one night in the wilderness behind Charter Street.

*The doctor said it might be brain cancer, but after our expert observation, we concurr that is was a stroke.

Squeak photo gallery

July 24th, 2006

Earning a Living or Living to Earn?

Posted by natdavauer in Around the World

As we stepped off the plane in New York City we walked straight into a wall. At least that’s what would have happened if the lady with the heavy accent hadn’t directed us to turn before hitting the wall. She had a look in her eyes that I recognized as one of a person who knows what needs to be done to accomplish their goals. Just days earlier as the cars passed me by in the direction of my ever-waving arm I’m sure the same look could be found in my eyes.

Next time you see someone working a job that you think anyone could do that just may be the point. Anyone at anytime could do that job. That person might be stoned and is only working for the cash to buy his next fix or that person may be traveling the world doing what needs to be done to fund his experience. I now prefer to think it’s the latter.

Scottish HighlandsScotland is a beautiful country with many gleat people. I have always dreamed of traveling the highlands and now I have. The same can’t be said of wanting to park cars, but now I have done that as well. The first however would not be possible without the second. I could stay home and do work that I’m not ashamed of, but then I couldn’t tell all the stories and see all the things I’m so proud of.

Those simple jobs… that simple work is earning a living at it’s most fundamental. I want to live and sometimes waving my arm in a painstakingly obvious direction is the best way to earn it. Next time you see someone working a job you wouldn’t be caught dead in, consider the fact that may just be the means to an adventure you could only dream of. New York City is a great place and I think that lady is going to have a great time spending her hard earned money to find that out.

July 12th, 2006

Get a Visa and Get a Real Job

Posted by natdavauer in Around the World

It’s not that Europe is any less fascinating than Asia… ok, it is sorta, but stay with me while I make my point. It’s not that I haven’t had any posts since Asia because Europe isn’t interesting, there are just different financial obligations for the long term traveler here.

Approximately 20 days can be spent traveling in Asia on a day’s wages from the U.S. (See cost of living), while here in Scotland, a days hard earned wages might, might get you some fish n’ chips and you’d still be left without enough shrapnel for a pint to accompany it. In other words if you aren’t working for a living here, you are basically camping and foraging, or to be less forgiving, sleeping on the street and begging (there are some people here who have gone this route by the way. Probably recent arrivals from Thailand). So what’s a jack of all trades to do? Draw up a CV and hit the cobbled streets of course.

First, let’s have a goal so we know what to shoot for. The minimum wage of 5.05 pounds per hour should be sufficient. This is almost ten dollars an hour after the exchange rate so things are looking up… oh yeah, the fish and chips thing. Damn. If only I could work here and eat in the U.S. Anyway, 40 pounds a day is more than enough to cover housing and food which come to about 15 pounds a day on the shoestring.

Next, let’s see if there are any restrictions on working here. Just one: it’s illegal. Hey, my kin came over to Wisconsin not too long ago and pulled the same stunt so I figure it’s pay back time… literary. All Commonwealth and EU nations can get a work visa but I can’t? Kiribatians can work here. I don’t even know where that is! I’m sure I can wash a dish as well as any of them though. Heck, I can even make a dish. So, let’s pass the Midwestern accent off as Canadian and try to fly under the radar.

If they have a sign in the window, apply for that job. That was my method of job searching. Here is a list of some of prestigious jobs I offered to render my services for:

Get a Job Dishwasher
Art supplies salesperson*
Travel writer
Sword salesperson**
Web designer
Online marketeer
Car parker***
General laborer
(I am happy to say that I did not apply for any jobs appearing on the same page as the words: Earn 500 pounds a week while working from home!)

The only jobs I actually landed, car parker and general laborer (dishwashing being scooped up by Rachel the very day she applied), are easily the lowest-skill jobs requiring little beyond non-comatose brain function and at least 3 moveable limbs.

Applying to be a manual laborer turns out to pretty simple. Get yourself a pair of steel-toe boots and a hard hat and make sure you’re in the line-up at seven a.m. This felt a little more like the ethnic trade-off with my ancestors than I anticipated. Standing in line blowing on my hands (June in Scotland is not summer) surrounded by hulking men in their steel-toes muttering to each other in Polish was less like an interview and more like a Steinbeck novel. Fluent English turned out to be a skill in high demand considering the company so after a full week of early morning line-ups, I was able to put bread on the table. “Honey, it’s a tough world out there, but we can make it. Jimmy will have a roof over his head if it’s the last thing I ever do.” (Jimmy is our laptop by the way.)

Turns out, speaking English wasn’t as straightforward a skill as say… chewing as I hoped. Have you ever heard the word polyurethane pronounced in a think Scottish accent? Well, I’m here to say even after having it repeated five times, it doesn’t get any clearer. The first job was to figure out exactly what words were being said by Davy the foreman who would have had a good chance at landing the part of Mel’s ginger bearded, rock throwing friend in Braveheart. “Ok I got it, I’m supposed to put the bin in the skip. What the hell is a skip?” Luckily, I was watching the World Cup at our hostel every night so was able to pass, although somewhat suspect, in general conversation. Once over the spoken language barrier, it was much easier to integrate into the universal construction worker language of exposed bellies, pack lunches and the occasional wedgie.

On a somewhat related note: when I was picked out of the line to help a rigging crew set up one of those big music festival tents, I came to realize that rigging crew are just narcissistic construction workers. These are the people who follow around bands like The Red Hot Chili Peppers and bolt together all those beams that they hang the lights on. They don’t set up The Chili Peppers’s gear, they don’t even set up the lights, they just build a temporary structure in which The Peppers will occupy for a brief moment in time. Your average construction worker on the other hand can’t realistically believe that The Chili’s will ever set foot in whatever it is they are building. Being able to associate yourself with a well known band’s literal stomping grounds is the difference between going to work with the same pair of “durable” clothes you wore five years ago and an unshaven face, and going to work with three different outfits, a hard hat that accommodates your dreads and an unshaven face but in that really cool way.

So I made my money. I paid my bills. I built something The Chili Pepper’s might stand in. I even learned a new language. But as my forefathers’ would be saying in the U.S. of today: “It’s all in a day’s illegal immigrant work.”

*Having a degree in art and not even getting a call back to sell pencils n’ stuff was a little humiliating.

**One requirement of this job was to wear a full Scottish kilt outfit. Um… yes!

***Don’t confuse this with being a valet. That would be a dream job. These are the guys that stand in one place with a day-glo orange vest on and wave their arms usually to point you in the direction you obviously would have gone anyway. Basically, a traffic cone that is rented for minimum wage.

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