31 days of fatherhood

One month on on the baby blog. Advance apologies to anyone in front of whom I unexpectedly fall asleep in July.
In related news, Charley has been a model dog with a baby in the house. He is patient, relaxed, curious, respectful, caring. One night last week, Nathan began crying in the bedroom while I was across the apartment, and Charley, noticing the situation, stood on the bed and barked at the bassinet until I investigated. What’s that, Lassie? Timmie’s in the well and he’s broken his leg? Good boy!

Recently elsewhere

In fairly short order I have become quite the distended blogger: from a near-complete publishing slate in this space, I now have six different locations online where my words and pictures appear.
Much as been said elsewhere about the potentially excess fragmentation of the online space, so I won’t go into that here. Rather than fight it, I’ve embraced multiple services for their individual advantages. As for blogging, well, I now have this blog and a work blog and a kid blog, so here we are.
My del.icio.us link exporter seems to have stopped working again, which provides me with an opportunity to do what others have done and cull the links, blog posts and errata from elsewhere into a single post. I’ll try and do this once a week if not more.

  • The consumer cost of the iPhone on AIAIO. Contrary to popular belief, I am not automatically following the Apple Pied Piper and buying a new phone next month.
  • UX in the world of food, also on AIAIO, from a few weeks ago.
  • Let’s see how this works: some choice tweets from recent days….
    • The pleasure of working from home is sorely mitigated by the looming specter of changing a poop diaper after completing a conference call (link)
    • new baby: permanent answer to the question “what should I do with my free time” (link)
    • How hot is it out? So hot my dog would rather hold it in than go for a walk (link)
  • From my del.icio.us feed: Obama clinches nomination; Clinton seeks VP spot—Let me take a moment away from paternity leave to celebrate America’s color-blind selection of a bright, progressive politician as one of our two main Presidential candidates
  • 2572430352_f13c17044c_t.jpgAnd then, of course, there’s Nate. I’ve got an early update on him on his own blog, and lots of photos on display, deliberately separated from this space for obvious reasons. There’s also a large mass of Nathan photos in my Flickr feed, which is newborn nirvana for folks who like that kind of thing. The kid’s fun: stop by.

Stubble

I’m not one for shaving. Never have been. In college I would go anywhere from four to six days between shaves, cleaning up only when my face teetered on the brink of “beard” instead of “scruff.”
Problem is, I have kind of a crappy beard. It’s thin across my cheeks and missing in some essential areas around the mouth. So when I entered the work force, I started shaving regularly, since what was “scruff” teetered on the brink of “grubby” in an office setting.
Along the way, I learned how to shave with a blade (Gillette, a Sensor at first) instead of an electric (Braun), complete with the night I spent 45 minutes nursing my first razor gash above my lip right before a date. Years later, my now wife would introduce me to the pleasures of premium shaving cream (Fresh, in a varietal long since discontinued, for which I still seek a suitable replacement).
The wife, though, kind of digs the stubble. And I now work at an office where not shaving is almost a requirement on non-client-facing days. So, miraculously, I’m shaving less again, although I’m in enough meetings that I wind up using the razor four days out of five.
Yet curiosity and hope still get to me. This past week, as I have sat mostly in my apartment and a hospital room with wife and child, I’ve let my face go, to see once more if I could actually grow a proper beard. The answer, from days three to six, from the missus was, “It looks hot.” Which, on day seven, teetered and fell into, “You’re shaving for the bris, aren’t you?” And indeed, I am: again, the growth is, well, pretty awful. Although I could probably grow a righteous antiestablishment moustache or an Ethan Hawke goatee, anything more typically handsome is just not in my follicles.
Thus for the second time in under a year—having also tried this stunt between jobs last fall—I have tried and failed at bearddom. Wednesday morning marks nine days of growth, a new record for me, and a sad return to the tub of Kiehl’s White Eagle in the bathroom cabinet. I’ll look sharp for our guests, but I won’t be completely happy about it.
Nathan, if it’s 2020 or so, and you’re reading this, I hope you don’t remember your bris, and I hope you never got your hopes up about your facial hair. You will be many things in your life, but fully bearded is probably not one of them.

Blogger/boy wonder

Nathan, as previously noted in this space, has his own website. Your host here and over there hopes to update it regularly, maximizing baby love for family and friends (see also) while minimizing “David has posted photos to the Gallery!” emails and a probable invasion of treacly babycentric posts in this space.
In my idealistic little bubble of reality (the same one that thinks if I ask often enough I’ll get Amy to play Mario Kart Wii with me one more time and maybe she’ll start to like it just a little bit) I’m imagining a bit of a collaborative baby blog. By “a bit of” I mean “more often than never, Nate’s mom will battle through her disinterest in blogging and website learning curves and post something to the site.” One can dare to dream, no?
My first bright idea was to make Nathan’s website a tumblelog for its multimedia support, and to try out a new-to-me blog platform that seemed easy to operate for Amy. My first not-so-bright idea was to try and redirect nathanwertheimer.com to the Tumblr page (an include command would have been so easy…). When the IP shift didn’t take properly, Nate’s site spent two-plus days offline. Oops. (Side note: as of Tuesday morning, there are still DNS propagation errors, so if you can’t see the site, wait a few hours and try again.)
So hardened, I went to Plan B. I’ve used Movable Type on this page for the past year-plus, and adding a blog to the existing install is cake. But MT 3.2, my previous version, is pretty geeky; no way Amy would touch it. So a favor and a few tinkers later, I have a shiny new MT 4.1 install powering both sites, with a user-friendly interface that even an infant could love.
Next step: content. We have hundreds of photos and numerous videos to get online. I’m debating the pros and cons of my Flickr feed vs. straight posting to the blog. Either way, Nathan will never say, “View my pictures. Enjoy!” in friend spam. At least not without prompting.

Names

Some readers of this space may have heard that my son was being called Fritz for awhile there, and may be surprised to see that he wound up with a name a lot more—well, actually, less intriguing, and may be wondering why.
First, some background. Fritz Louis Jacob Wertheimer was born in Munich in 1912. A German, he was given an appropriately German name. (Actual conversation earlier this week: Amy: “If your great-grandma knew the names Jacob and Louie, why did she go and name your grandfather Fritz?” Me: “Have you considered that in Munich in 1912 Fritz was the hot name of its day?”) So much so that the one baby name book I read, which gave paragraph-long perspectives on interesting names, said of the name Fritz, in full, “Still firmly in its lederhosen.”
But poking fun of the name shortchanges the man. Fritz emigrated to the United States in 1936 on the cusp of World War II. Details on how much he brought with him are vague—two trunks of clothes; $200; some such—but he made his way first to northeastern Massachusetts, where he lived outside Cape Ann for a time, and where, 70 years later, his sons and grandsons (and soon, his great-grandson) still spend a long weekend every summer.
Fritz ultimately moved to New Jersey, met my grandmother, founded a construction company that my uncle and cousin still run, raised two sons who produced four grandsons, lived through three or four heart attacks, and willed himself to be the picture of health at my bar mitzvah in 1986 before dying 10 months later.
So it’s not farfetched to say that Fritz deserved the honor of my son’s name in some fashion. And indeed, Nathan’s Hebrew name, which is on a religious level equally important, is Peretz, the same as Fritz’s. But one doesn’t use one’s Hebrew name much in 21st-century America, so American Jews typically carry initials forward; for example, my middle name (Ian) is after my other grandfather (Irving).
But—and let’s be honest here—it’s nigh impossible to find a name that is
Jewish (or secular) in origin;
starting with an F;
appropriately trendy;
and not horrendous when paired with “Wertheimer.”
This is a 30-year-old fact, as evidenced by my late grandmother, Frieda, whose honorarium by my parents is my brother’s name… of Jeffrey. No offense to those reading this who have F names, but pretend your last name is Wertheimer, you’re newly born in 2008, and your parents could have named you, what? Fred? Frank? Felix? Seriously: Felix Wertheimer?
So we decided to bump Fritz to the middle name, and honor Amy’s late grandmother Nellie, whom Amy adored, with the first name. That was pretty easy. Nathan is a fine name indeed, strong and moderately popular and with all the right connotations. (I like that David means “beloved,” but Nathan is “gift from God,” which is just hot.) Plus Nate is a great nickname.
So: Nathan F____ Wertheimer. But. That would make his initials NFW. To which this text-messaging father to be said, nfw.
Less than 48 hours before his birth, my parents unearthed a gem: Fritz had not one but two middle names. (This in comparison to my father and uncle, who have no middle name at all, apparently thanks to my grandmother Dorothy’s not wholly inaccurate opinion that Wertheimer was enough of a burden as a name and her boys shouldn’t have to deal with any extras.) Epiphanies abounded! Little Nate could share Fritz’s middle name. No burden of having the initials NFW or, for that matter, going through life as Fritz.
And here we are, with Nathan Jacob sleeping in the other room, with a name that carries on the memory of good souls on both sides of his family. We’ve told everyone that we welcome Fritz as a nickname, but so far, he doesn’t look much like a Fritz. (Maybe in 60 years or so.) He’s a really cute Nate, though.
Let’s fall in love, get married, have a baby… we’ll call him Nate… if it’s a boy
—Prince, “Sign O’ the Times”