Max’s 2 Months Check Up

Mario and I took Max to his 2 months check up last week on June 20th. Sorry for writing and posting this so late.

We began the day on the wrong foot. Our appointment was 8:50AM, pretty much the first appointment of the day. We loaded up Max into the car a little later than we wanted to and headed toward the hospital. About two minutes after we started driving, Max began to cry uncontrollably. Things got worst when we got onto the freeway and realized that traffic was going much slower than we have anticipated. Max kept crying. His little eyes continuously getting redder, his tiny voice raspier, and his whole face seemed to be distorted by some pain. We tried to comfort him all the ways we could but nothing stopped him from crying. In the end, we could only quietly listen in agony and wish this ride would end very soon. After about 40 minutes of driving, we finally arrived to the hospital and took Max out of his car seat, thus ended his cry.

During the pediatrician visit, Max measured to be 22.6 inches, about 36 percentile among his peers; he weighted 10 lbs and 14 oz, about 28 percentile. We were worried about his weight dropping since he has been sick and didn’t eat much for about a week. But his pediatrician assured us that both weight and height looked good. In a sense, it also showed that my breastfeeding was successful, even though some days I doubted if I had enough milk.

The two months check up also came with 4 vaccinations. The nurse was very quick at giving him the shots. Though Max still cried, it wasn’t anything like what we heard earlier in the car. I decided to feed Max before we headed out. With a full stomach, he didn’t cry on the way home.

The trip took us two and a half hours, but it felt like an eternity. I was so thankful that it was over and glad that Max had another successful check up.

-Flo.

Max, You Are 10 Weeks Old Today!

Dear Max,

You have reached 10 weeks old today.  In the last couple of weeks, both you and I have battled breastfeeding and sleepless nights everyday.  You struggled with too much milk, in which case you choke and cry uncontrollably; you also struggled with too little milk, in which case you cry due to hunger.  It breaks my heart to watch you cry so much and unable to provide for you.  However, I would keep the hope that things are getting easier the older you become.

You are able to grab onto things.  Like this video shows.  I am so proud of you.


 
As each day passes, you are becoming more adorable and you make all mommy’s struggles worth it!

Max at 10 weeks old

Love,

-Mommy

 

 

College Signals and Networks

I recently wrote an article that talked about the difference between skills and talents. Skills represent learned mastery and functional ability within a specific discipline. Driving would be a skill, as would cooking or algebra. Talents on the other hand are basic inherent or developed aptitudes for specific disciplines. You could have a natural sport talent or math talent that allowed you to have a basic understanding and ability within that discipline. Skills typically don’t have such crossover.

I then talked about which is more useful. Tactically, skills are more useful. You have to have a specific skill to perform a job function. Being good and savvy at computers won’t get you a job that requires proficiency with Microsoft Word (i.e. skill with Microsoft Word). Talents are more useful strategically. They won’t ever qualify you for a job, but given a little time and ability they allow you to quickly pick up the skill needed to do something. More importantly, they grant you flexibility and the ability to grow into higher or different positions and roles. Said succinctly, being good at math isn’t going to get you an engineering job. Having an engineering degree will. That brings us to the point of this article, which is accreditation.

How do we know if someone is good at something and/or has talent and ability? Without personally observing the person and comprehensively measuring them , we can’t. This means that people (and companies) have an issue when thinking of hiring a new person. They can’t actually measure their skills and talents until they get them into the job, but they have to have some idea of what they can or can’t do. There are some tools available to help mitigate this issue such as resumes (which list skills) and references (to help validate and verify claims)  when it comes to skills, but neither are really helpful at assessing talent and long term potential. The resume is perfect for a tactical placement, but not very valuable for a strategic acquisition. In enters college degrees and their accreditation. Colleges’ primary responsibility is to impart an education sufficient in breadth and depth to make the student capable at performing in their chosen industry at an entry-level competency.

But college degrees also imply and grant another more important benefit. Due to the competitiveness and status of a college, they also grant some incite into a person’s talents. If you attend a premier engineering school (such as MIT or CalTech), people will know that you are a cut above the average engineering bachelor. These schools help impart some idea about a person’s talent. They grant the attendee the ability to signal to a prospective employer; “hey, look at me. I’m not just average at engineering, I’m really really good at it!” In certain disciplines, such as business and law, the professional degree also helps create networking opportunities with alumni who might be able and willing to help a junior graduate get their first opportunity. Both assets are strategically invaluable. It is also why students are willing to pay an ever increasing amount for schools with very good reputations.

The ability to signal talent and create networking opportunities doesn’t come cheap. Colleges charge a hefty tuition fee for this service. Yet lately, there are rumblings within the business world that the price being charged is over inflated. Peter Thiel, an entrepreneur and hedge fund manager, recently started a venture, the Thiel Fellowship, to help out young entrepreneurs. One of the first entrepreneurial ideas being suggested is an alternative to college for signaling talent. While the idea is in it’s infancy, it’s concept definitely has merit.

 

 

Mario.

Max, You Are 2 Month Old Today!

Max,

You are two months old today! Mommy is so thankful that you and I got through another month of sleepless nights and breastfeeding. It is hard to get through each and everyday, but you are worth every second of it.  You’ve grown to be so capable of so many things during the last month.

Your eyes are are able to track objects. The first day after your one month birthday, you daddy played with you by shaking a rattle above you in circular motion. On this day, we noticed that you were able to consistently track the rattle. From that day on, this became one of your favorite games. We now have five different rattles, each makes a different sound, that we use to amuse you.

You are so curious about the world. When you are finally tired of laying around and tracking the rattles, your other favorite thing to do is being carried around while watch everything around you. You eyes constantly moving around and scanning, you love quietly observing everything.

You’ve grown so much longer.  You no longer fit into your 0-3 months outfits once you reached seven and a half weeks of age. So out comes the next size up, 3-6 months outfits! Your new clothes are still a little big on you but I am sure you will fill them up in no time.

You are beginning to talk. You make lots of sounds, like “uh”, “ooh”, “ahh”, “ee-u”, and “ah-goo”. When we find you in your talkative mood, your daddy and I would sit down and chat with you, repeat everything you say and add our own sounds for you to learn.

You can turn to your side.

You stopped crying like crazy before bedtime.  We are all very happy about this because no one in this household can bear to hear you cry like that.  I hope this is another sign of you getting older and stronger.

You are able to stay awake much longer now. Between naps, you can stay awake for three hours or more.  When you are awake, you are also able to sit in the swing or the jungle gym for more than fifteen minutes at a time, and you are able to lay on your back to play all your favorite games for more than half an hour!

You’ve gone through your first illness.  Your brother Ravi came home with a fever three days ago.  Even though I had hoped that you would be immune to it, it did effect you in some ways.  You sneezed and coughed, and you had stuffy nose and sore throat.  I know you were very uncomfortable because you refused to eat, cried constantly, and had a hard time falling asleep unless you were so very tired.  Mommy is so thankful that you are feeling much better this afternoon.

Max, mommy loves you so much.  At the darkest hours of the day when mommy carries you back and forth across the room for what it feels like eternity, mommy often doubt that you will ever sleep at night and looses faith.  When finally, the first rays of the sun chase away the darkness and light up your face, mommy can’t help but be amazed at how beautiful and precious you are. Your tiny frame is so fragile, softly flutters in my tired arms. As I silently watch you breath, I forget the heaviness of my legs and I find strength again to go through yet another day with you.  Max, you give me strength.  For that, I thank you.

Love,

Mommy.

Ravi Goes Potty

One thing that intrigued us about Ravi’s daycare was its potty area in the 2 year old classroom. In the back of the room, there are about six potties lined outside of the two children’s bathrooms. At the time, we saw about two or three kids sitting on them, chatting and playing at the same time. We thought, how wonderful! Even though we didn’t expect Ravi to be fully diaper trained till 3.5 years old, it is so nice to see how this class treats going to potty like something fun and social to do.

Fast forward to last Friday when I dropped off Ravi to his class. His teacher Lupe happened to walk in at the same time. She asked me if we had a potty at home for Ravi, I answered yes. She said, when Ravi ask to go to potty, put him on and see what happens. I thought, oh sure, we will get him started now if he is interested in using potty at school. So yesterday, we finally brought out his new red potty and show it to Ravi. He was so excited to see it and carried it around for a while. After dinner, he was back to playing with the potty again. This time, I asked him: “Ravi, do you want to go potty?” Ravi smiled back. So Mario and I took off his pants and diaper and put him on. In less than a minute, he started to shift around the seat to peek inside. So we peeked also. Lo and behold, he has pee’ed in it! Needless to say Mario and I were both surprised and ecstatic. I couldn’t hold back my excitement, so I immediately ran downstairs and shared the good news with my parents, who were equally thrilled.

Wow! What another giant step forward for Ravi. I still don’t expect to get him fully diaper trained till he’s much older, but in the meantime, it is nice to have him go to the potty when I am with him at home.

Ravi, you keep amaze me. What a wonderful little boy you are.

-Mommy.

Cousins Are Coming to Visit!

Last time Ravi played with his cousins, Do and Jo, was when we visited my sister and her family in Albany, NY, back last September.  Ravi was only 18 months old then.  Even though his cousins are much older than him, they had a great time playing together.  Since we came back, we have missed them terribly and often talked about seeing them again.  At last!  They are coming to visit this summer!  In fact, they will be here in 11 days!  We can hardly wait.

Just to show everyone how much fun they had together, here’s a cute little video of them sharing candies.

 

 

Ah… Such wonderful cousins Do and Jo are!

 

-Flo.

 

Ricardo and Comparative Advantage part 2

In an earlier post, I mentioned my need and fascination with financial blogs. I read them avidly and regularly to help understand the economic issues that are currently occurring. As a recent father and an employee during the Housing bubble and the current Great Recession, it seems that there is always an economic events in the news that impact me and my small universe. Understanding how that event will effect me is paramount to helping position myself and my family to weather the oncoming storm.

In trying to understand how the world works, I’ve found that some common economic principles helps one to understand the situation. One of my longstanding principles that I always seem to come back to is Ricardo and his concept of Comparative Advantage. Comparative advantage simply states that given more than one choice on how to produce a good the producer will choose the option that will cost him the least. If option A takes $5 to produce a good and option B takes $7, it makes prudent financial sense that the producer will take option A and save himself the $2 difference. This concept, while simple, has profound implications in the world and our increasingly globalized economy.

Once again I was reading Charles Hugh Smith, a blogger I thoroughly enjoy over at Of Two Minds, and found myself questioning one of his conclusions. His entire post can be found here:
http://www.oftwominds.com/blogjune11/manufacturing-finance6-11.html

In his post he states:


There is so much ideological, quasi-religious fanaticism around “free trade” (there is no such thing as “free trade,” there are only various permutations of managed trade) and “industrial policy” (every nation has one, explicit or implicit) that it is difficult to make any sense of the many intertwined issues.

Ideological purity is not a substitute for knowledge, any more than a superficial admiration of machines equals actually knowing how to assemble, maintain and repair them.

As a background context, we might start by noting that Marx outlined how finance capital comes to dominate industrial capital, as industry comes to depend on the credit extended by the banks/finance capital.

The key takeaway: if you don’t control the banks, then they will end up dominating industrial capital. In the U.S., we have the worst of both worlds: a dominant financial Elite and various cartels (military-industrial, sickcare, agribusiness, etc.) that have captured what little of the Central State that isn’t already beholden to financial capital.

Moving production around the world to exploit cheap labor–also knowns as “wage arbitrage”– is not free trade: it is merely the consequence of free capital flows, and an extension of capital’s dominance of labor. If capital can reap higher returns by flowing elsewhere and abandoning domestic labor, then it will do so, and “lowering the cost to consumers” is the marketing propaganda issued to placate the captive home markets.

Consumers, after all, are not free to travel the globe seeking “higher returns,” i.e. lower prices–that privilege is reserved for capital.

The last sentence, and Charles’ assertion, got me thinking. Is this really true? Are consumers restricted from traveling the globe and seeking ‘higher returns,’ i.e. lower prices? While Ricardo’s comparative advantage only talks about producers, we have to remember the context of his life. In his life the world was shifting from farms to manufacturing and production and the Industrial Revolution was in full swing. The great forward thinkers were Industrialists and they thought in terms of factories, goods, and producing things. The principle has been most commonly meant to refer to capital accumulation, but there isn’t any reason that it can’t be applied to consumption. If you think of consumption (i.e. the purchasing of a good to meet an individual need) as an equal and opposite transaction to capital allocation, you come to realize that Ricardo’s theory of Comparative Advantage applies to consumption as well.

Consider a simple rewording of the earlier definition. Comparative advantage simply states that given more than one choice on how to purchase a good the purchaser will choose the option that will cost him the least. If option A takes $5 to purchase a good and option B takes $7, it makes prudent financial sense that the purchaser will take option A and save himself the $2 difference. And herein lies the value of global free trade common American households; the ability to purchase the cheapest option is slowly becoming available. We’ve all seen it in the last decade. Companies that used to be the sole provider of a good could impose a tariff on that transaction that the American households had no choice but to pay slowly, but assuredly, being eclipsed by companies that provide the good and service at a lower cost.

Take a long look at the record music business. CD sales have been falling every year for the last decade. Does this mean that people are consuming less music, or there are less people? No! It means that the record label monopoly that forced me to buy a CD for $16.99 for two or three good songs and a dozen crappy ones isn’t working anymore. People are free to find and consume music in different mediums for prices that are way cheaper. If you like a single song on an album, buy just that song for $1.29 on iTunes and save yourself the remaining $15.70 for other songs you’ll like. Do you wonder if you’ll like the song your about to buy? Preview the song before purchasing.

This trend in consumer purchasing power isn’t only applicable to CD music sales. We can see the same thing in movie purchases and rentals (Blockbuster vs. Netflix), books (Barnes and Noble vs. Amazon), medical supplies (Canada online drug stores vs. American pharmacies), Home Electronics (Best Buy vs. Newegg.com), and countless more. This is all thanks to the Internet. It has become the American consumer’s greatest friend in global markets. Apple wants to produce their phones in China and save on the cost of American labor costs. Fine! Go to Chinese websites and purchase the phone directly from there! I even have friends that went to India for hair transplant surgeries and surrogate pregnancies!

The options to buy goods from the cheapest global provider are multiplying every year. I recently bought a management textbook for class over the internet. The ‘American’ version of the text book was $180.00. My wife went online and within 15 minutes found and ‘International’ version of the text book for $52.00 ($58.00 with shipping)! What’s the difference between the ‘Amerian’ version and the ‘International’ version? The Indian website states that the material is exactly the same, but that the publisher might print the material in black and white instead of color and softcover instead of hardcover. Seriously! $120.00 for color and a firm outer binding? I know when I’m being ripped off and, trust me, I’m buying that ‘International’ version and applying Ricardo’s principle of Comparative Advantage to my benefit.

And so should you.

Mario.

Max Is 7 Weeks Old Today!

Another week came and gone, Max is 7 weeks old today!

The first thing he did this morning was to turn his whole body to the side!  Totally unexpected.  I put him on a blanket on seat of the sofa while I sit by and watch my parents get Ravi ready for school.  About 30 seconds after my eyes left him and looked back again, he’s on his side!  Did I mention he’s only 7 weeks old today?

 

Max turned to his side for the first time

 

I totally thought this only happens much later.  However, according to “What to Expect, The First Year,” infant in the second month “may even be able to roll over (one way).”  Go figure!

Max’s infant acne has started to fade.  His face is cleared of all the bumps and read spots, but his skin is still rough and had not returned to its original softness.  Progress will take time and that’s one thing I have plenty of these days.  Just look at him, he’s turning out to be such a handsome boy.

 

Max, 7 weeks old

 

Max’s large beautiful eyes are so soulful and lively that my parents have nicknamed him “big eye boy.”  Jury is still out as to if he got them from mommy or daddy.

-Flo.

Ravi, You Are 27 Month Old Today!

My Dear Ravi,

You are 27 months old today!  You have grown into such a capable and intelligent boy, mommy is so proud of you.

You no longer cry when we drop you off to daycare.  You have been going to the new daycare since mid March, and for the first two and a half month, you cry every morning when we drop you off.  Mommy used to be so worried about you.  Thinking that you didn’t get enough attention there, or didn’t have any friends, or someone bullied you.  But over time, mommy realized that none of that is true.  Your teachers love you.  Every morning when you walk in, your teacher Lupe would hold you so you wouldn’t cry when we leave.  She even takes you on special trips to the office to pick up supplies, which is only reserved for very special kids!  You have lots of friends at school.  When you first come into the play yard each morning, half dozen kids come to you and ask you to play.  Your friend Robbie even brings toys to you every morning.  I am so thankful that you have good friends.  So far there’s no one that I can see that bullied you.  Even if someone attempted to do so, I am sure your teacher Linda who has the sharpest eyes around, would be there to rescue you in a second.  I am so glad we found such a wonderful place that you enjoy to learn and play.

You are learning at an incredible speed in the past month.  I was surprise to hear you sing “Ring Around the Rosy” when I am sure either your dad nor I have ever sang it to you.  You must have picked it up from playing at school.  You also know some words or tunes from the TV shows you’ve been watching at home.  And whenever we tell you a new phrase, I am surprised that you can repeat it back to me.  You use phrases like “I missed you” and “see you soon,” and can somewhat sing songs like “Bah Bah Black sheep.”

You love going out to the local park. We started to take you to the neighborhood park more frequently recently, which is only about 6 blocks away from our home. We couldn’t take you as often before because you would demand that we carry you home afterwards, which is hard to do considering that you are not feather weight anymore at your age. In the last week or so, we worked out a process with you so that you would allow us to push you to the park in the stroller and back. This way, it is much more doable taking you to the park. You enjoy playing at the park, and your daddy and I enjoy catching up with each other pushing you there. We are definitely going to make trips to the park a weekly activity.

You have finally adjusted to our new environment.  We only moved in to our new home in mid March and you have been attending a new daycare immediately after we moved.  So mommy was worried that you had a hard time adjusting to all the new changes.  Indeed, for the weeks afterwards you have been more needy and wanted mommy to hold you all the time.  When Max was born in mid April, you were even more scared because mommy was gone (in the hospital) for four days and you didn’t understand why.  So mommy has been trying to build up your confidence since I came home.  I knew you were scared because you used to wake up middle of the night crying all the time and the only way to stop you from crying was to hold you close.  I am so glad that all the crying have finally stopped and you no longer needed someone to carry you all the time.  You are now behaving like a normal two year old, confident and happy.

You are eating much better this month. Thanks to your grandpa (A-Pa) and grandma’s (Mom) daily effort in getting you to eat at every meal, you finally gained some fat on your cheeks. You no longer look frail and are becoming adventurous in trying new foods. Now when you skip a meal, I am not concerned as much since I know you got some meat on you to last you a while.

You have found a new favorite TV show. It is called the “Super Why” on PBS.  This show focuses on gaining wisdom based on reading.  It has lots of alphabets and stories. Even though you don’t understand everything they say on the show, you enjoy going through the alphabets which you do know, and the simple stories which are beginning to understand.

You have shown interest in playing with your younger brother, Max.  During last weekend when Max was awake, you came to play with him.  You touched him gently, you bring him toys, you move his rattle around for his eyes to follow.  Your daddy and I were so happy watching you two together.  Even though Max can’t play with you yet, we hope that someday you two will become very good friends.

Ravi, every morning when you wake up and mommy dresses you for school, I cannot help but exclaim how handsome you are; every afternoon when I see you come back from school, I am over filled with joy.  I am so proud of you and the young boy that you are becoming.  You are truly the light of my life, and no matter what happens, mommy would always love you.

Love,

Mommy.

 

 

Time

Dear Ravi,

Lately your father has been very very busy with school, work, and your baby brother Max that we haven’t spent as much time as I would like. My personal lack of time has made me realize that the most important gift I can give to you (and your baby brother) is my time. These days I hate and dread assignments from school that are time hogs. You’ll come to know the ones I’m talking about, where effort and quantity are the direct measures of your grade and not the quality or ability you bring. The reason I hate them so much is because they take time away from you. Even still, I have noticed how you’ve grown and developed in the last couple of months and I thought I’d put my thoughts to paper to help capture your childhood.

Ravi, you’ve learned how to lie. You don’t do the full blown lie yet, because you can’t actually construct sentences, but the limitations of language hasn’t stopped the fun. You are now capable of taking toys and either hiding them behind you, under the pillow, or in a pocket and then asking “where is it?” You wait to get a response from you Dad or Mom and then feign ignorance about where it is only to bring it out later and show yes Mom, yes Dad I did have it and knew where it was all the time. You’ve also got a new game with your Dad and colors. We have a book that talks about four colors in it (red, blue, green, and yellow). There are individual pages with the four colors and then a four color butterfly at the end repeating all of the colors. You dutifully go through the four colors repeating and accurately stating them each in turn until you come to the butterfly. Then every color becomes pink and when I say the right color you just say pink louder. Only until I acknowledge the color as pink do you smile happily. You’ve been able to change (or lie) about the color and made me agree with your lie. Sometimes when I start by saying pink you also say no and state the correct color. You’re getting to be tricky!!!

We also have some very cool visualization and imagination games these days. We have a small book based on a ice cream truck (it consists about 7 pictures) that you’ve been absolutely fascinated with. Not because of the content, but because the last page depicts seven kids eating different colored ice cream. You make me read that book just for the last page (which we can spend minutes on). What we now do is imagine taking the kids ice cream, munching on it, saying yummm, and then rubbing our tummy. We’ll do this multiple times imagining eating ice cream and mimicking the motions. This has been a lot of fun, but next time can daddy have the blue ice cream and you have the yellow? I haven’t tasted the blue one in ages. =)

Ravi,

I know I spend too much time in school (and honestly if I had a bad GPA like I did in undergrad it would be so much easier to stop caring), but it will be over soon and then we’ll be able to spend a lot more time together. I can’t wait to see what your imagination comes up with next (or how you’re going to lie to me next).

Love,

Dad.