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June 2006

Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

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Left FootThe Trouble with Socks: 06/30/06

This morning as I got dressed for work I realized that I couldn't get my sock on my left foot. The right foot was no problem: I just leaned over and put it on. The left foot though was out of reach. I thought briefly of getting Ian (and he did offer) to put on my sock and shoe for that foot but I'm stuborn. Thankfully I'm still flexible enough to reach my feet when they are stretched out in front of me. It seems odd that I can reach my feet when they are stretched out but can't when my knees are bent but most of pregnancy is just as surreal as the trouble I had with my socks this morning.

When I was pregnant with Sean I was able to put my socks and shoes on all the way to the end (with some grunting and groaning). I plan to do the same thing with Harriet but she does seem to be making it more difficult to me. On the other hand, I can breath better than I could with Sean. I wonder if she'll manage to keep out my lungs for the remaining nine weeks?

Boy and Girl Films?

Sean informed Ian on the way to school that there are girl films and boy films. From the sounds of things, this is an idea he's gotten from one of the girls at preschool. Ian replied that there doesn't have to be such a division: girls and boys can like the same sorts of films (and books, and whatever else). So now we'll have something new to work on with Sean.

Neither of us want him pigeonholing himself into boy things just because others tell him he has too. What comes next? Does he give up liking cooking? Does he stop watching Beauty and the Beast? Does he stop growing flowers? This whole thing is ridiculous. Fortunately we're his parents and will know him longer than he'll know the girl who has put these ideas in his head. I want him to know that I prefer books that are considered "boy books" (can anyone say Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt series?) and Ian reads far more romances than I do.

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Buildings in San CarlosHumidity: 06/29/06

Yesterday we had some rain but mostly we had cooler temperatures with high humidity. I'm actually finding the humidity easier to deal with than the drier and hotter heat from earlier in the month. I'm not getting dehydrated as fast as I had been although I'm still drinking enough water for two or maybe three people.

Things cooled down over night but I went to bed feeling hot because of Harriet. By morning, though, I had pulled up the covers and felt much better. Now at lunch time I can feel myself heating up again.

The big clouds from yesterday have today been replaced by a coastal fog that as of my commute in still stretched across the bay and into the Hayward hills. I think by now it is has probably boiled off or blown away. I hope it comes back tonight. It's so much nicer having it in the mid 70s in the living room than the high 80s or low 90s.

My Legs Don't Work:

The sciatica has gotten to the point that sometimes my legs (usually my left one) don't move. I will be trying to get into bed and I think about lifting my leg and it stays put, my foot still on the floor. I try again and sometimes it will work. Sometimes I have to lift my leg into bed. I remember watching my grandmother having to go through these manouvers when getting in and out of cars. Now with this pregnancy I'm going through the same thing. I don't remember if the sciatica made me this stiff when I was pregnant with Sean.

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Steps: 4500

Gentlemen &  PlayersGentlemen & Players: 06/28/06

Last night I finished reading Joanne Harris's newest novel Gentlemen & Players. I have to admit that I almost gave up on the book as the first 50 pages confused and to some degree bored me. Usually I would have given up but there was something lingering in the book that made me try one more chapter. I'm glad I did; by page 64 the book picks up and a book I was avoiding reading, I was now making time to read!

Here is my BookCrossing review:

If I had track the moves in the book like a chess game, I would have guessed the murderer's identity. In all honesty, I'm glad I didn't because I enjoyed the final confrontation all the more. The book like many chess games starts out ponderous. The pieces are set up and the characters introduced. Pay attention to Staitley's description of his colleagues. It is the only time they will all be presented at once. From there the play flips between the black and white pieces, black represented by Staitley and the white by the murderer.

To confuse things further, there is a replay of a previous game, a series of events over the course of an academic year where the murderer falls in love with the school. It is the love of the school that motivates the murderer to plot and scheme. At first these flash backs seem confusing but they do help to develop the murderer as a character and begin to play out almost as a juvenile Mr. Ripley plot.

Up until the ending of the book, I was thinking of writing my review strictly in terms of the Mr. Ripley books by Patricia Highsmith in that they both deal young characters who resort to crime (and murder) to protect their newly created identities newly found acceptance among the upper class. Harris's protagonist murderer, though, seems to have more motivation than just protection of a new lifestyle but I dare not write more as I'll probably spoil the ending. Go read the book and enjoy it!

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Five Children and ItFive Children and It: 06/28/06

Last night I also finished an Edith Nesbit novel, Five Children and It. While Sean is getting dressed in his jammies after his bath, I like to have a book to read. It has to be a book I can put down at a moment's notice and pick up again without any rereading. Nesbit's book fit this criteria and had lovely illustrations as well. I especially loved the drawings of the grown up Lamb (even if I didn't especially enjoy the chapter).

Here is my BookCrossing review:

Five Children and It was E. Nesbit's is the first of a trilogy, the other two in the series being The Phoenix and the Carpet and The Story of the Amulet. In it she takes an otherwise dull summer of living with the servants and turns it into a a series of adventures and lessons stemming from eleven wishes gone awry. Fortunately each wish only lasts until sunset and the servants can't see the effects of the wishes, allowing the household to continue on as normally as possible. Unfortunately eleven wishes is really more plot than this little book can handle. The last two or three chapters drag towards the conclusion of the story.

My next book for reading while Sean is getting dressed is The Plot Against America. I know that sounds a bit heavy for a book to read only a page or two at a time but so far I am clicking with Roth's style of writing and it is working well.

Other reviews and posts

Rain, Sort of:

On my way into work it sprinkled a little. At noon we had a brief thunder shower. In between it's been cloudy, windy and muggy. It would be nice if it would rain more to cut the heat and humidity.

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Steps: 5500

SignatureSome Musings on Sean: 06/27/06

As promised I have posted a picture of Sean's first successful signature. The S and the N are a little wobbly but it is still a huge accomplishment. The letter he was having the most trouble with was the A. He used to make the letter A more like an @ sign until Ian suggested that he should make the legs of the A "like a rainbow." That description really clicked with him and he hasn't had any trouble since.

Another thing Sean is learning is his colors. He knows that red, blue and yellow mixed together make brown; blue and yellow make green; yellow and red make orange. He sometimes forgets that red and blue make purple but he'll figure that out soon. It doesn't take him long to learn new things.

He has always been interested in music and musical instruments although recently he has had a renewed passion for them. Mostly he's interested in how different instruments sound and what they are called. Last night before bed, Ian pulled out his guitar and Sean was very eager to try his hand a playing it (and tuning it). As a trade for the guitar (which is almost as big as he is), Sean kept offering Ian his spoons. "You can play the spoons and I'll play the guitar." If the two decide to jam again I'll try to get a picture of them.

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Steps: 3500

Flighto Outer Space: 06/26/06

The last couple of nights I've had some very realistic but out-of-this-world dreams. Last night's found me in an airport hotel with friends who were also co-workers (but not my real co-workers). Ian was also there but I don't know where Sean was and I don't recall if I were pregnant or not. I know Sean existed because I had his garage toy with me and needed Ian to take care of it once I had to leave on my trip.

We were all at the airport to meet one last time as a group before getting our next assignments. Our assignments came as a first class plane (which could also include rocket ship) ticket, some spending money before our direct deposits began in the new location and a dossier about our trip and the location selected. I was given a first class ticket to a planet with especially harsh winters. I would be flying via United Airlines (guess they also ran space flights ala PanAm in 2001) and would be landing in an area going through the harsh winter. It would be my first off world trip and while I was a little excited, I was also disappointed. I wanted to stay closer to home and presumably to Ian and Sean.

Beyond the spending money I was given, I had $5 of my own and decided to spend it on something fun. I thought about getting a paperback book but I wasn't sure I could afford one and the sales taxes. Instead I opted for a grande brownie flavored Frappacchino and drank it while chatting with my coworkers about their assignments.

Afterwards, I returned to my hotel room to meet Ian. I asked him to take care of Sean's garage. Sean was not at the airport for whatever reason. Then I settled into packing for the trip.

Saturn Number Five:

Recently Sean found a bunch of my old slides taken on various trips (to Mexico, Australia and Florida, and at home in South Pasadena). His favorite of the lot is now the box containing the slides of my tour of the Kennedy Space Center. There are a number of slides of a Saturn V rocket ("Saturn Number Five" as Sean calls it), the hangar where the shuttle is kept before launch (aka "the shuttle house" per Sean), and a photograph of me at age 13 sitting at the airport holding a baby Mickey Mouse I had purchased at Walt Disney World. The Mickey Mouse is now part of Sean's collection of animals (most of my old ones are) and he is just fascinated at seeing me nearly 20 years younger. In that picture I am closer to him in age than I am to myself.

When I took those slides I was taking them for my own entertainment and memories. I had no idea that any of them would become part of a nightly post-bath ritual with my son. At age 13, I don't think I had even imagined myself with children. Yet to Sean, it seems completely logical that I of course took them for him since he couldn't have been there.

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Steps: 5500

HarrietDon't Kick Me There!: 06/25/06

From 11 PM until 5 AM this morning, Harriet had fun punching me in the ovaries. Babies are the only people who can wind a grown woman by a kick or a punch to the ovaries. I would take a breath and she'd punch me. Then I'd be winded and gasping for breath. Just as I was recovering, she'd do it again to me! Now I'm a stiff, sore zombie woman. Oh the joys of motherhood!

Raindrops are not falling on my head!

After a poor night's sleep for Ian and me, we opted for a very late breakfast at Baker's Square. By the time we got there it was rightfully lunch time but we all wanted pancakes. Fortunately breakfast is always available. Sean's old enough now that he can order for himself, something that always seems to amaze and amuse the person taking the order. Everything was cooked to perfection. They make wonderul country potatoes, something I much prefer over hash browns (which are never brown enough for me).

The restaurant is in a shoping center that sports a clock tower. The clock plays songs on the hour (a hit is Sean). Today as we were heading back to our car the clock was playing "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head." It could only be wishful thinking as it is about 85 degrees outside and completely cloudless. We won't be getting rain for another three or four months at the earliest. The most we can hope for in the interum is some mist from the fog.

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Steps: 5500

CribThe Crib: 06/24/06

As it is a much cooler day, Ian and I took the time to get the crib pieces from under the house. Before we could get under the house we had to clean out the stuff that had accumulated on the trap door. Once that was done, my job was to hold open the trap door and haul things out of it while Ian was under the house lifting pieces up to me. The only piece that we will have to replace is the matress. It looks like mice got to it. Fortunately the mattresses are easy to get and affordable. I'll pick up a new on my way home from work. Now all we have to do is put the thing together.

Tortilla Maker:

I had a few errors of memory in my description of the tortilla maker in yesterday's post. While at Chevy's Sean and I took a lot of time watching the thing and I took note of the brand and maker. It's a Beta 900 by EB&SCO, Inc. They are located in Texas.

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Steps: 3500

Sean and OwlWho is in My Bed?: 06/23/06

This morning before the alarm went off I thought I felt the cat coming into bed to sleep on my feet. I thought we had the door closed but Ian had come to bed late so maybe he had left the bedroom door open. I certainly hadn't heard the usual squawk of the door sliding against the jam but the dry air lately has made is a little less warped.

When I opened my eyes I didn't see the cat: I saw Sean. He was up a good fifteen or twenty minutes early for a week day. Normally he gets up after I do and then takes my spot next to Ian (especially now that I have a huge pile of very comfortable pillows to lounge on).

Since I was still in bed, Sean took the spot between Ian and me and borrowed a corner of each of our pillows. He used tucked himself under Ian's blankets (separate blankets are a key to a happy marriage!) and waited for me to get up in another ten minutes or so.

Once I was up, Sean settled in on my side but first had to tell us that today is Friday and that we have big plans for tonight. Tomorrow he knows is Saturday when we "stay home and make pancakes or waffles." I don't know which one he and Ian will decide to make tomorrow.

After I was dressed, Sean saw me to the front door where we did our usual morning good-bye hug. He then stood in the doorway behind the screen door to make sure I got to my car safely.

Welcome Subscribers!

In the last couple of days of syndication our subscriber numbers have gone from two, to five, and now we're at eleven. Welcome to everyone reading this feed! I started this feed on the request of one person and am thrilled to see so many others already reading it on a regular basis.

<1--Taos-->Father's Day Friday:

I know; Father's Day was last Sunday but Sundays are busy for us and we didn't have the time or energy to do anything special. Since the Mother's Day Friday dinner worked so well, we've decided to repeat the event tonight for a belated Father's Day.

We will be going to Chevy's in Pleasanton. We like the food and the atmosphere. It's very family-friendly and loud children are not a problem (not that Sean is very loud in restaurants). Also, they have more space around the tables which makes holding Sean's hand as we walk to our seat easier.

Sean is thrilled to go for two reasons: their quesadillas and their tortilla maker. He's been talking about seeing the tortilla maker again all week. It's one of those automated ones where the dough balls are fed in at the top of the machine. They go down a conveyor belt to a spot where they are rolled flat and then deposited at the bottom of a spiraling pie plate thing that slowly cooks them over different tiers of fire. At the top they are flipped over and sent down another spiraling pie plate contration where the otherside cooks. When the tortilla reaches the bottom of the second spiral it is popped out onto another conveyor belt which leads to a basket where they are dumped until a person comes along and puts them into the baggies that are taken to the tables.

Now I'm sure many of you have seen these makers before and are wondering why I've spent so much time describing one. Well, I've done it for Sean. He'd complain that I wasn't telling the story right if I didn't include a full description. Anyway, I'm thinking of ordering fajitas tonight just to force them to bring some fresh tortillas to our table. Yummy!

Stealing my pillowsSean the Pillow Stealer:

As time permits I've been adding in Sean's baby pictures to his photo gallery. These are photographs I hadn't had the time or energy to add while I was working at Oracle and then thought I had lost when the Cube crapped out. I'm currently working my way through February 2003 and while I was creating the page for when he was a few days shy of six months, I realized that he has been stealing my pillows and my spot in bed most mornings since he was an infant.

In the picture he has taken the same pose that I saw him take this morning (except now he's much taller and older). At a few months shy of his fourth birthday he still comes to our bed (though now under his own power) with his toys most mornings. He still prefers my side of the bed and each night when I go to bed I have to be sure to check the bed and floor for toys he might have left there for me. I'm often having to ferry a favorite toy back to his bed after he's gone to bed. It's usually someone like Owl or Pikachu, or it will be a favorite book like Peekaboo Bunny.

Ian and I have been joking about needing a bigger bed once Harriet is born because we're not sure where she and Sean will fit if they both want into our bed at the same time in the morning. Our double bed is crowded already!

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Ceiling Fan by Sean SammisNothing But Hot Air: 06/22/06

Ian and I didn't get to bed until 1:15 AM this morning because it took that long for the house to cool down. There was absolutely no air flow in the Bay Area yesterday which drove up temperatures everywhere. It was in the high nineties inside our house. Usually it doesn't get that hot until mid August.

We had every window open that we could safely open and had the ceiling fan on all night. Even the downstairs bedrooms were as hot as the upstairs. There was no escaping the heat.

All of yesterday at work and at home I was drinking water. I also made sure Sean and Ian drank lots of water. Yet, all of us were thirsty and irritable. There just wasn't any way to keep up with the heat.

Today is also supposed to be the hottest day we've had so far this year. While the coastal areas are expecting the low to mid seventies, inland areas are expecting to rise over the century mark. Our home can fall under either weather report depending on how well the air flows over the bay and up our hill. I'm hoping it will tend towards the temperatures on the peninsula and not towards the inland cities.

Here it is only 9:30 in the morning and I've already gone through 40 oz. of water and I have a heat related headache. Normally if I drank this much water this early, I'd have run to the bathroom at least once if not twice (especially while pregnant) but instead, I'm feeling parched.

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Solstice: 06/21/06

Today is the solstice, summer up here in the northern hemisphere and winter for folks in the southern hemisphere. It heralds the official start of summer in the states and for me, the slow but steady march to end of the year. Today we will be having the most day light hours that we will all year and then things will steadily unwind with the days starting later and the sun setting earlier. I love watching the retreat of the sun as fall and winter approaches.

When the next equinox comes (the halfway point between the solstices), Harriet will be about two weeks old. This morning I realized just how soon her birth is as my belly has really popped now. As I stared at myself in the mirror this morning I couldn't believe how much more pregnant I looked today as I did when I went to bed. She had done a bunch of squirming when I had gone to bed and I guess she must have been repositioning herself.

Today is also supposed to be the hottest day we've had so far this year. While the coastal areas are expecting the low to mid seventies, inland areas are expecting to rise over the century mark. Our home can fall under either weather report depending on how well the air flows over the bay and up our hill. I'm hoping it will tend towards the temperatures on the peninsula and not towards the inland cities.

<"062106b">Bird Song:

Male house sparrow on T1 lineEvery morning when I get to work I am greeted by the bird song of a flock of house sparrows. They fly around our roof, land on our phone and T1 lines while constantly singing.

Yesterday I had my camera with me and it for once wasn't filled with Sean photographs. I was able to snap a couple pictures of them. With the high number of pixels the camera is capable of, I was further able to divide the two pictures into about ten to really high light the different birds.

The house sparrow reminds me of my grandmother. She built a bird feeder out of hurricane fencing and wood to give the smaller birds a safe place to eat away from the reach of the larger birds of prey. There was a gate to get inside the aviary where she would put seed in hanging baskets and some of the floor and fresh water in a standing bird bath. Every evening around dusk huge flocks of birds (mostly house sparrows and morning doves) would arrive and sit on her roof and her back fence waiting for her to put the food and water into the aviary. Once she was done and back into her house (usually the kitchen for prime viewing) the hundreds of birds would stream through the diamond shaped holes and begin to eat and sing for the next hour.

Now that my brother lives at grandmother's house, I don't know if he's kept the aviary or not. He's done many well needed improvements inside the house and to the front yard but I can't remember if the bird feeder was on the list. It's his house now and he can (and should) do with it as he pleases. Regardless of what he does, I will always have the fond memories whenever I see house sparrows.

<"062106c">Flat Tire: Argh!

Ian was already running late because he and his advisor needed to work on some code. Then just as he was about to pull into our complex, his car got a flat tire. So now he has filled it up as best he could and is limping his car down to a service station. At this time at night I think he's going to find them all closed. I don't know when he'll be home for dinner.

On top of that it is ninety-one degrees inside the house. I think it is hotter outside. We don't have AC (couldn't afford it if we did), so we have all the windows open hoping that the cross breeze will eventually cool things down. So far it doesn't seem to be working.

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Steps: 3500

Sean and the iBookSyndication: 06/20/06

Last night I finished setting up a preliminary RSS 2.0 feed for Puss Reboots. I am still in the process of refining and testing the feed but early subscribers are welcome.

The initital set up took some doing as any new project does but after defining the channel and creating the first item, the rest falls into place. I'm currently not using a RSS creation tool; rather, I am doing the coding myself. Whenever I learn a new technology, I like to get under the hood first. I may later as needs change move to using a prepackaged service or application. For the moment I'm doing it all in house.

I'm still not allowing direct commenting but if you see something wonderful or something screwy, feel free to drop me a note. Emails that read like comments, might even be posted. If you don't want an email posted as a comment, please let me know.

Writing Names:

Sean brought home a paper from school where he had written his name! The S was a little angular but the other three letters were perfect. It is so exciting to see him writing. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next. He's so creative, that it wouldn't surprise me to see him writing stories soon.

If I can find the paper he brought home (I have no idea where he has stashed it), I will scan it and post it on the website. I'm in full on proud mommy mode and can't wait to share his "John Hancock" with the rest of the world.

Post Office:

Yesterday I went to the post office to mail some BookCrossing books that I had promised to other members. I arrived at 4:30 and that's usually a dead time before the 4:45 rush as the local shipping companies (like Mailboxes Etc) close and bring in the mail they've collected over the course of the day. Yesterday though, there was a line out the door into the hallway when I arrived. It wasn't the usual lot: these were regular folks who all needed to mail packages. It was an odd time of the year to see so many people mailing boxes. A trip that should have taken ten minutes ended up taking half an hour.

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Steps: 4000

School ProjectIdle Threats: 06/19/06

Sean in his enthusiasm for preschool has been calling his old day care a bad school or a school for bad kids. Sean's teacher has decided to use this to her advantage. Now when he misbehaves she threatens to send him back to his old school to be with the other bad kids.

On Friday Sean came home dead serious that he was going to be sent back to "Maria and Joe's" this week because he had been bad at preschool. Ian and I scratched our heads for a while until Sean's story started making more sense. We got the gist that his teacher was probably just using a humorous idle threat to get Sean back on task (something we often do ourselves).

This morning Ian asked Sean's teacher about the threat to be sent back to the old school. She confirmed what we suspected. It's nice to have a teacher who has an approach to dealing with kids so much like our own!


Caligula nappingI only coughed six times last night. For the rest of the night, I actually slept! There were a few minutes right after we had gone to bed that Ian had started his "instasnore" and the snoring while not loud through the ear plugs, was loud to Harriet and she started kicking me angrily. I had to wake up Ian and get him to settle down in a non-snore position (fortunately he still has some!) so that Harriet would settle down and let me sleep.

I managed all this sleep without taking any Robitussin (or Wal-tussin, the Walgreen's version). I only had to get up once for a bathroom break. I didn't spend hours pacing the halls trying to blow my nose and stop coughing. Instead I got really, uninterupted sleep with dreams.

It was the first time this month that I've woken up with the alarm and not wished I could crawl under a rock for another few hours of sleep. I slept so soundly that my hips were sore from not chaning positions much at night. I had to hobble around to get things back into order but it was worth it.

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Steps: 4000

Sunday NewspaperLazy Day: 06/18/06

It was much cooler today in the house and we just didn't feel like doing much of anything. Ian is still fighting off this cold, I was suffering from morning sickness and Sean was content to play with his toys. So we took it easy.

Ian even took longer than usual to leave for Berkekely, opting to take a quick nap between breakfast and lunch. While Sean played, I finished reading Girl, Interupted.

Third Trimester:

It's hard to believe that I'm now in my third trimester with Harriet. Over all it's been a very easy pregnancy. Nonetheless my morning sickness seems to be back. Sunday is usually my day to cook breakfast with Sean but the thought of cooking just made me want to vomit. I haven't felt this was in three months at least. The iffy stomach was quite an unpleasant surprise this morning!

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Steps: 10000

Old Bath ToysNew Bath Toys: 06/17/06

Today it was more than eighty degrees inside and probably about eighty percent humidity. In other words, we had to get out and seek a cooler environment. We opted for the mall in Pleasanton.

Unfortunately the Lego store closed last month but there is still a toy store. We popped into the toy store and after looking around at nearly everything (getting good ideas for presents for Sean and Harriet), we came home with three wind up bath toys for five dollars. Sean chose a yellow turtle, a blue crab, and a green alligator.

Tonight after dinner Sean couldn't wait to take his bath. He wanted to play with his new wind up toys. The turtle swims the best and the alligator the worst. I will get some photographs of them soon.

Spaceman Sean:

Sean and the other kids had a wonderful time at Chabot yesterday. They watched a planetarium show and did some projects in the lab (classroom). Sean proudly announced that he ate his entire lunch.

Today after his bath Sean found another box of slides I had taken on a trip. These slides are from a trip I took with my mother to Florida. It has some fantastic photographs of the space shuttle hanger and of a Saturn V rocket.

While we were looking at the slides I found my old painting of a flock of macaws flying through space. Sean was so enamored with it that we decided to hang it in his room. I will take a photograph of it too.

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Steps: 10000

The telescopePlanet Gazing: 06/16/06

Today is Sean's school trip to Chabot Science Center. Last night in preparation he helped me pack his lunch: a peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwich cut into four squares, a box of apple juice, a banana and three short bread cookies. We then wrote his name on the paper bag in big red letters.

With the upcoming trip, the planets in our solar system have been the main topic of conversation. I've come to realization that Sean now knows more about them than I do! He thinks is very funny that he knows more. He has learned many of the names of the other moons and things like how many moons Jupiter has (16 aparently). My only contribution so far to Sean's base of knowledge are the two robots on Mars and the Shumaker-Levy comet that hit Jupiter some years ago.

Our planet gazing and discussions at home have earned praise for Sean and us from his teacher. Sean is really soaking in all the information of this month's topic at preschool.

Last night before we went to bed, Ian popped outside to look at Saturn, Jupiter and Mars. I had already gotten into my jammies so I stayed inside. I think he had the easiest time with the rings of Saturn and some of the moons of Jupiter. He should have been able to see four but he only saw two jovian moons.

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Steps: 5000

Pregnancy Mask: 06/15/06

While brushing my teeth this morning I realized that my cheeks have gotten darker. I look like I've been slapped on both cheeks except that the color isn't red, it's more tan. It's classic pregnancy mask, something I didn't get when I was pregnant with Sean.

Three doses of Robitussin over the course of the day got my coughing under control enough to get some good sleep but it has also raised my blood pressure from the 120/60 range to the 140/70 range. My cut off for the PIH monitoring is 150/90 so the Kaiser nurse gave me a strong talking to last night. She also said that if the Robitussin doesn't work and I'm still coughing and having trouble sleeping, I should make an urgent appointment to get prescribed something stronger but still approved for use during pregnancy.

The good news is I did manage to sleep pretty solidly last night although I did have one coughing fit around two in the morning because I had somehow inhaled some of my pillow. Other than that, I slept better than I have in days. So far today I haven't taken any cold medication and I won't until after I get my blood pressure taken this evening.

Baking Cupcakes:

Earlier this week one of the girls at preschool had a birthday party and cupcakes were served in place of cake. The cupcakes reminded Sean that it has been nearly a year since we baked any ourselves at home. Since then he's been pestering me to see when we could bake some cupcakes with chocolate chips and colored frosting.

I promised Sean that we would do the baking on Wednesday and yesterday at work I popped by the grocery store to get the few ingredients we needed. Sean was thrilled to bake them again. We didn't use the peanut butter frosting as I just didn't feel like making something quite so heavy. For the frosting color he had planned on doing green all week long but last night red looked better to him. So we have red (more fuschia than red) colored cupcakes in the fridge.

We did make them lower sugar than the recipe calls for so they taste a little different but they are still good. I didn't get pictures of us baking because if I had pulled out the camera Sean would have wanted to do all the picture taking.

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Steps: 5000

Sleep like CaligulaSleep (Like a Cat): 06/14/06

While I did still have two coughing bouts last night, I did actually get close to a full night's sleep. I found that I could either position myself to avoid most of the coughing or I could position myself to make my hips comfortable. In the interest of actually sleeping, I opted for the sore hips because I'm better at sleeping through pain than I am sleeping through coughing.

The position to avoid coughing without putting Harriet's weight on my vena cava is to keep my hips pointing to one side and my torso pointing as close to straight up as possible so that the back of my head is on my pillow. It's basically the classic deep nap cat position where the front and back legs are pointing in opposite directions.

Unfortunately I'm not a cat so around three in the morning I woke up with the unpleasant sensation of my pelvis having fallen asleep along with my right leg. So I hobbled out of bed for a bathroom break and another dose of Robitussin and nose blow before stumbling back to bed. I chose the same position but facing the other direction. This morning when the alarm went off I was stiff but at least my pelvis wasn't tingling again.

The good news is that I did actually sleep. I got maybe five hours of sleep (up from the two or three I have been getting). I know I dreamt but I don't remember about what. I still have a little more cough but I think one more good night's sleep with take care of the remaining dregs of this cold.

Everything But Mars:

Before Sean took his bath last night, he and Ian went out front to look for planets in our new telescope. They managed to see the moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, and Mercury before the clouds rolled back in from across the bay. They had hoped to see Mars but just couldn't manage it with the cloud cover. Sean was thrilled to see what he had seen but was disappointed at missing the "red planet."

The night before I had a quick look at Jupiter but I was mostly just waiting outside for Ian to find it and get used to using the telescope. As we have such a short tripod and there was nothing to hold onto, I really couldn't squat in a stable enough fashion to keep my eye close enough or steady enough to the eye piece to see more than a wiggling big dot and a very fuzzy and wiggling little dot, thus comprising Jupiter and Europa. Ian apparently saw a second of the many moons of Juipter. Oh well. For the moment I will let the boys enjoy their star gazing by themselves.

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Blood Pressure CuffAll Baby: 06/13/06

I heard the best words I've ever heard at one of these prenatal appointments: "That's not belly fat any more; that's all baby!" I was pretty sure that my big belly now was all Harriet as it is shaped like the classic pregnant belly but given that my pre-pregnancy clothes still fit and I'm six months pregnant, it's hard to judge what is me and what is Harriet.

I was also given the paperwork for pre-registration to fill out and return by the next appointment. That appointment will be on July 12. I am currently seeing a different OB-GYN because the one I was assigned is on her honeymoon. While both ladies are nice, I click better with the stand-in and I think I'll make her my primary OB-GYN after Harriet is born.

The other good news is that I am really almost over my cold and I can take up to four doses of Robitussin every day until it's over if I want. Personally I can't take that much even when I'm not pregnant, but I will opt for two doses at night (once after work and once before bed). She also listened to my lungs and they are clear. I don't have pneumonia nor do I have bronchitis: that's a relief!

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ApocalipstickApocalipstick: 06/13/06

After a bunch of serious reading, I'm giving my poor brain a break and reading something completely stupid: Apocalipstick. The characters remind me of some of the folks from the series Ab-Fab. The protagonist isn't a stand-in for either Edina or Patsy but the people she works for do remind me of a hybrid of Edina and Patsy.

Apocalipstick isn't a book I would have picked by myself to read but it was recommended to me by a man who goes to the BookCrossing meetings on a regular basis. Ian has also read the book although it wasn't goofy enough for his tastes: he prefers the parody books like the Georgia Nicholson series by Louise Rennison. So far though, I'm enjoying Apocalipstick for its disfunctional characters and artificially high stress work environment. It's rather funny to have a woman who thinks most beauty aids are crap working for a beauty magazine.

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The Baby CatcherThe Baby Catcher: 06/12/06

Near the middle of The Baby Catcher, Peggy Vincent describes two births that ended in C-section; one where the mother waited too long and one where the mother didn't. For the one that ended poorly (in extreme brain damage including blindess and deafness), the mother ignored all the advice she had been given even though she had a history of fetal distress deliveries resulting in C-section.

One detail that stood out for me in both births was the activity of the baby prior to birth. The children had the tendency to flip around or move their heads up from the head down position. Vincent says that late positional activity like that dramatically increases the changes of cord wrap or prolapsed cord. Sean went into fetal distress with an erratic heart beat shortly after getting to the hospital and after only a couple hours of labor I was raced off for a C-section. He had all the signs of things going horribly wrong: the heart beat problem and the meconium. I've wondered if Sean's distress was a fluke or something that had been on-going. Now it seems that it was an on going problem. I'm glad I was such a worry wart and didn't labor for long at home.

Instead of either having a still birth or a brain damaged baby, I have a healthy son who is at the head of his preschool class. The only trade off was a bit of adominal surgery which I will gladly repeat for Harriet. Speaking of baby number two, she so far is not following in her brother's foot steps. While she does respond to the world around her, she does it now mostly with her feet and sometimes her hands. She seems to have figured out that she should be head down and should stay head down. I could probably VBAC with her but given other issues like being over weight and being monitored for PIH (although my blood pressure is lower with her than it was with Sean), I am opting for a C-section. At least this time I will be awake for the experience and will be able to hear her first cry.

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Nose to NoseClassic Sean: 06/12/06

As I'm in the process of retooling my website, I thought it was a good time to finally start adding in those baby photographs of Sean from 2003 and early 2004. So far I have added two pages, one from his first New Year's Eve and one where he is crusing around his crib at the tender age of five months! I had forgotten how young he was when he expressed an interest in walking. He started practicing at five months and started solo walking at ten months. By his first birthday he was running.

On the New Year's page, there are also two more photographs of Sean doing tummy time. There is also one of my favorite photographs, where Sean and Caligula meet nose to nose during tummy time. As I get the photographs posted, I will update the photography gallery index and the link list at the bottom of the home page.

Back at Camp?

I'm listening to KCEA via the internet and all of a sudden I feel like I'm back at summer camp and I'm singing a song about a Hawaiian chant. So I look online and sure enough, I'm not losing my mind. It really is Hawaiian War Chant as played by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Why do all these years later I still remember the lyrics? Why do I have the feeling I'm going to have this song stuck in my head for the rest of the day?

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84 Charing Cross Road84 Charing Cross Road: 06/11/06

I'm still coughing, though I seem to be in the last stage of the cold. I'm coughing up all the drek that has accumulated in the last week or so. Ian meanwhile seems like he's on the verge of coming down with the cold. Poor Sean who is perfectly healthy is stuck with us at home. He's been nice about it but he'd rather go out and do something.

Ian did offer to take Sean to the park to play ball or frisbee but Sean so far is out cold. He can be a very heavy sleeper. Although he has given up on napping at school he still gets a good four hour nap in on Saturday and Sundays.

While we've been home, I've been reading. I finished the second of the Mr. Ripley books: Ripley Under Ground, 84 Charing Cross Road, Weight and The Baby Catcher. Most of these books are short and easy reads which is why I've been able to finish so many.

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Garden: 06/10/06

The plums are ripe again and this morning I caught a squirrel in the process of having a nice breakfast in the smaller of the two trees.

Sean helped me water the garden. His pumpkins are thriving. The berry vines are producing small berries but we're not expecting a proper crop until next year.

My rose bush has attracted a small army of affids. I will probably have to do something about the infestation. At the moment the rose bush seems happy.

Taking it Easy:

I finally managed to get a full night's sleep. I am still coughing due to congesting at the back of my throat and my nose is still stuffy but I can at least breath and I'm not coughing as frequently. Ian and Sean let me sleep in until almost eleven. I can't recall the last time I slept that late. Later in the day they both went down stairs for a nap while I stayed upstairs to read.

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<"rss">RSS and AtomRSS and Atom: 06/09/06

Ian kindly went to Borders yesterday and got me a copy of Developing Feeds with RSS and Atom by Ben Hammersley. As with the other O'Reilly Media published books that I keep on hand for reference, it is a well written book. It introduces the technologies by discussing the history and methods in creating the various standards. Then it shows numerous ways on how to use feeds both as a syndicator and as a subscriber.

As I was telling Ian last night, I don't think I would have ended up doing web production if we hadn't met. I think I would have been put off by the computers. Programming was something my brother did as a kid, not me. Sixteen years ago I couldn't have imagined relaxing after dinner to read a technical book! But he has always been very encouraging and never doubted me when I said I could something.

While I'm reading the book, I am also retooling what's currently under the hood here at Puss Reboots. I've cleaned up a bunch of old latent code and I will be doing some minor but important changes to how I handle my blogs (specifically my archives). Current blog archives will not be affected by these changes and frankly other than the final switching on of the feed, regular visitors should see no changes to the site.

My Nose:

I'm nearly over the coughing but my nose is now completely congested. I woke up a number of times last night feeling as if I were under water. Hopefully this bit of the cold will pass soon: I've had this darn thing for a week now.

Book Diary Anniversary:

I just realized that my book diary anniversary is up today. This concludes my 19th year of tracking everything I've read. In the past year I've read 300 books. Many of these books are one's I've read to Sean but a good 200 of them are longer books. Today begins my 20th year of tracking my books. In January I had to start a new diary volume as I'd run out of pages in my old Holly Hobbie diary. My new diary is a slick red faux leather mini diary. It's gorgeous!

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Steps: 6000

MoonThe Family of the Sun: 06/08/06

Sean has always been a very musically inclined person and right now his preschool is using songs to teach the planets of our solar system. Sean taught me some of the words (enough for me to Google the rest) of his favorite, "The Family of the Sun." I've pasted the lyrics below and they are sung to the "Farmer in the Dell" according to the website but the tune Sean has been taught is something different.

The Family of the Sun

REFRAIN : The family of the Sun,
The family of the Sun,
Here are nine planets in
the family of the Sun.

Mercury is hot,
And Mercury is small.
Mercury has no atmosphere;
It's just a rocky ball.


Venus has thick clouds
That hide what is below.
The air is foul; the ground is hot.
It rotates very slow.


We love the Earth our home,
Its oceans and its trees.
We eat its food; we breathe its air,
So no pollution, please.


Mars is very red.
It's also dry and cold.
Some day you might visit Mars
If you are really bold.


Great Jupiter is big.
We've studied it a lot.
We found that it has lots of moons,
And a big, red spot.


Saturn has great rings.
We wondered what they were.
Now we know they're icy rocks
Which we saw as a blur.


Uranus is far.
It's cold and greenish-blue.
We found it rotates sideways,
And it has a lot of moons.


Neptune has a spot;
A stormy patch of blue.
The planet has a lot of clouds
And rings around it, too.


Pluto's last in line
It's farthest from the Sun.
It's small and cold and icy, too;
To land there won't be fun.


For more wonderful examples, please see the space page on

Sudoku Nightmares:

Ian and Sean worked on another Sudoku puzzle last night and I think it stuck with Ian. This morning he woke up complaining of a Sudoku nightmare where he couldn't get the right numbers in the right boxes. Perhaps it's time for an intervention?

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Steps: 3500

On the Way HomeOn the Way Home: 06/07/06

Last night I took a break from the heavier reading (Mr. Ripley) to read something short: On the Way Home by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane. The heart of the book is a short diary of the Wilder family's migration from De Smet to the Ozarks during a crop failure in 1894. Laura's contribution is a diary of brief entries for each day, mostly noting where they had traveled, what they ate and how hot it was. Rose's introduction, conclusion and periodic annotations flush this diary out to explain the hardships the family faced at that time.

The most poignant bit of the 115 page book is the disappearance of their nest egg, a single one hundred dollar bill hidden away inside a lap desk that Almanzo had built for Laura. Having traveled for six weeks and hundreds of miles on the hope of buying a new homestead in the Ozarks their dreams are nearly dashed when the arrive. The money isn't in the desk. Did their traveling companions take it? Did Rose play with it and lose it? Did it fall out? Read the book to find out what happened.

I can relate to this story of the secret bill. I'm currently carrying a secret bill of the same amount with me. It was a gift last Christmas and with our tight budget I don't want to spend it on the wrong thing. I'm still trying to decide what to spend it on. In the meantime I keep it close just in case I need it.


Ian has recently become addicted to sudoku: I went through a similar phase last year around this time. He likes to do the puzzles on line and sometimes Sean likes to help. I don't have any photographs of them working on it together but it is really cute to watch. They stare at the screen and when they figure out a number for a box, Sean carefully types it in.

Cough Cough Barf:

I'm at the congested coughing, can't breathe through my nose part of the cold. Last night I'm not sure if I slept. I know I coughed. I coughed sometimes until I vomited. It's now day time and I'm at work and I still can't breath through my nose. When I was pregnant with Sean I didn't catch a single cold. Why do I have to catch two with Harriet?

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Steps: 3500

PenelopiadThe Penelopiad: 06/06/06

The Penelopiad suffers from the problem as Cat's Eye. Atwood seems to believe that "strong" female protagonists prove their strength by bitching about how hard their lives have been. Unfortunately this approach takes an interesting and tragic character and turns her into the one dimensional shadow that the Greeks belived people became in the afterlife! Atwood may have written many well received books but she should stick to her strengths, namely distopic near future science fiction. When it comes to epics, she is no Homer. For a much better modern interpretation of Penelope, watch the Coen Brother's film O Brother Where Art Thou.

Other posts and reviews:

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Low Iron and Itching: 06/06/06

I've just heard on Radio4 that low iron stores can cause itching. I have been itching here and there. Abnormal liver fuction can also cause itching but my liver has been tested twice this pregnancy and it's working normally. That leaves only the anemia. I'm now taking pills to get my iron up so we'll see if the itching goes away. At least today I'm not itching yet.

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Sean makes the same face I did after taking my glucose tolerance test.Test Results: 06/05/06

I've gotten all my test results back from the Saturday trip to the lab. I don't have gestational diabetes and my liver is functioning normally. I am howerver, slightly anemic. My doctor has called in a prescription for me at the Hayward pharmacy so I'll be leaving work a half hour early to pick it up.

In the meantime, I managed to catch Sean's cold over the weekend. I started feeling ill with it on Saturday. Yesterday I was pretty much useless after having spent the entire night coughing. I also spent much of last night coughing but did manage to get more sleep than I did the night before. The combination of having a cold and being pregnant has made me very thirsty. I have always been an eager water drinker but now I seem to have a glass of water with me where ever I am.

Lunch with Ian; School for Sean:

Ian will be joining me again for lunch today. He has some errands to run so he's heading over for an early lunch. We will be eating at Carl's again. Then he has to return a library book or two.

Sean is fortunately well enough for school. He was very chipper this morning but was hard to drag away from his vacuum cleaner box-fort. I think I'll help him decorate it to make it more fort-like. We'll probably move it down to his room for longterm playing.

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Sean makes the same face I did after taking my glucose tolerance test.Vacuum: 06/04/06

On Friday a box big enough for Sean to hide in arrived at my office. Actually it arrived downstairs and as it was so big, I was asked to come down and get it, rather than it being delivered upstairs like smaller packages are. Anyway, inside it were two new vacuums from Ian's parents. Fortunately both of them together weigh about half of what Sean does so getting the box to my car was awkward but not impossible.

Today Ian put the two vacuums together. They actually came mostly assembled so it was mostly a matter of snapping together a few pieces and tightening a couple screws. Sean and Caligula watched while I gave pointers.

Sean has now claimed the big box as his personal fort. He likes to go into the empty box with a flash light and close the doors. I will get pictures soon.

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Steps: 3500

Sean makes the same face I did after taking my glucose tolerance test.Wiggy: 06/03/06

This morning I had to get up with Sean and Ian and dash over to Kaiser's lab for the one hour glucose tolerance test. As fasting is required and pregnant women don't like to fast, nine out of ten people there were pregnant women getting their tests. Some of them were there for the three hour version as they had failed the one hour test. I passed the test with Sean and think I will do the same with Harriet.

The test consists of rapidly drinking eight ounces of a very sweet, ice cold, and mostly flat soda beverage. The drink comes in three flavors: lime (which I had with Sean), orange (which I had today) and grape (which would make me puke as I hate grape flavor). One has to drink this horrible thing in under five minutes. Then one has to wait for an hour getting wiggier and wiggier as the sugar rush hits and the horrible after taste lingers. Then after one hour, blood is drawn and sent to the lab and one can finally break-fast.

So after the lab work was done (and I had read 100 or so pages of Cyclops by Clive Cussler), I met Ian and Sean for breakfast at Carrow's by the airport.

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Sean coming down with a cold?Another Fever: 06/02/06

Sean went to bed coughing and woke up coughing. When I gave him his daily goodbye hug I could feel that he had a fever on top of his cough. Since Ian is staying home already, he is keeping Sean home with him.

As of 9:30 this morning Sean had decided that it was nap time after breakfast. Sleep will be good for him. It's always the same with a new school. The first couple of months are filled with colds and fevers and then he gets used to the new bugs and stops getting sick unless a new epidemic hits the school and all the kids get sick at once.

Sean the Gardener:

Last night Sean helped me water the garden. I filled up his fish watering can thinking he'd just water his fairy garden and then wait for me to fill up the two other watering jugs. Instead, he also watered his pumpkins. I had expected half of them to die off but now all six of them seem to be thriving. Sean has a green thumb!

Ongoing Sore Right Hip and Leg:

Harriet is still head down and lopsided. The bulk of her weight is against the right side of my pelvis. My right leg is still switching between numb and sore.

Pushing the Car Seat Back:

This morning I realized I could no longer comfortably drive my car with the seat as close as I like it. So I've had to put it back two notches to make room for Harriet. With Sean I didn't have to do this until I was about eight months pregnant but he didn't roll into the fetal position until cramped space forced him to. With the seat farther back, I feel like I'm driving a car with bucket seats. Don't worry, I can still easily reach the pedals and wheel and I can still easily see out over the hood and through the mirrors.

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Steps: 4000

Back to WorkMy Phone, Ian's Car: 06/01/06

My new phone should now be using my old phone number. I will know for sure later when Ian gives me a call. He's getting Ferdinand (our 1995 Civic) tuned today. We think the car needs front breaks. When he gets his PhD next year and he gets his first job (or post doc) we will start saving up for the down payment on a new car for him. We'll either get another small car or a hybrid if we can find one that is comfortable for both of us to drive.

Ferdinand has been a reliable car but he is eleven years old now and we've driven him to death. Like my dodgy old phone, he's not as reliable as he once was. He's also starting to fall apart here and there. So far the decay is all cosmetic but I don't think he has much more than a couple years left before he will have to be replaced or rebuilt. Looking at him now I'm amazed that we made the move up her from South Pasadena in him. We made about a dozen trips up and down the state in him when we were moving.

A Lovely Evening:

Last night there was a cool breeze on our front stairs and Sean wanted to play on the hill. I grabbed my camera and joined him outside. When he tired of playing in the dirt and I'd taken enough photographs, we decided to wait for Ian on the stairs.

Sean sat on my lap and we talked about a number of things. He's learning about the planets in school this month (and will have a field trip to Chabot in two weeks) and started off the conversation with, "Do we live on Earth?" Then he wanted to know how he could see that we live on Earth. I pointed to the ground and said that was the Earth. Then I pointed to the sky and said that was the outer edge of the Earth and told him that the planet is a big ball of dirt and water with a skin of air. It's a simplistic explanation but he seemed satisfied with it.

We also talked about the trees. I showed him the difference between pine trees and oak trees. I pointed out the star jasmin that grows along the other side of our stairs. We talked about flooding and why trees and plants are good for holding down the soil. I think we both enjoyed the time on the porch waiting for Ian.

Still Sore Right Hip and Leg:

Harriet hasn't moved from her cubby hole in my pelvis. She likes to lean against the right side of it. I'm going on my third day of a sore pelvis and resulting sciatica. Only ninety-six days to go until she's born.

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Steps: 4000

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