Fifteen Months

November 7th, 2014

Lev is now 15 months old! There are not many specific updates or milestones to note for the past month. In general, he has been consistently eating large quantities of food and improving his mobility. He hasn't been weighed or measured lately, but he has likely grown significantly in the last few weeks.

October 13 : Lev began walking casually; he no longer needed to put significant amount of effort into walking. Walking became his preferred method of transportation. He was able to walk backwards and sideways in addition to walking forward.

October  15: Lev ran for the first time in the hallway. He stopped himself without losing his balance.

He also became much better at climbing during the past month.

October 28th: Lev brushed his teeth for the first time with his own toothbrush.We didn't teach him or even encourage him to do this; he just likes to imitate what his parents do. (Note: he has 8 teeth)

His vocabulary continues to grow. He understands more words and he has pronounced a few more words clearly, but he seems to prefer non-verbal communication. Even though he can pronounce words properly, he usually shortens things. For example, he can say "peanut butter" clearly, but he usually says "the butta" and instead of saying "bath tub," he says "batub."







Fourteen Months

October 7th, 2014

Lev is now 14 months old. I have been very busy with work and being a father and husband, so I haven't had much time to keep notes. Additionally, I have jury duty at 8:00 AM tomorrow, so I don't have much time to write an update.

On September 15th, Lev finally took a few steps without holding onto anything. He has been gradually walking farther. Yesterday, he walked about 15 feet without holding onto anything.

His vocabulary is expanding pretty rapidly now, partially because he asks what everything is. He can ask "what is this?," but he usually just points and says "this?!" He asks "this?!" hundreds of times per day.

His first statement of fact occurred on September 30th: "This is the bed." (it sounded more like "this is the beda.")

For over a month, when he wants a particular food item, he has been saying "ma-num-a-num" and pointing, but he recently started saying "mine!"

He understands many more words than he actually says. He probably understands more than 200 words at the moment. We verify words that he understands by asking him to point to the object or do the activity. For instance I asked him "Lev, can you dance?" and he danced. Here are a few words that he knows, in addition to "mine":

bath tub
bye bye
(drinking) glass
(eye) glasses
paper towel
toilet paper

Thirteen Months

September 7th, 2014

Lev is already 13 months old! During the past month, he...

  • has become more confident with balancing on his feet, but he has not taken more than one step without support.
  • began using the clothes basket and his new playpen as push toys. He walks around the apartment pushing the basket and walks around the dining / kitchen area with the playpen.
  • began dancing....frequently. The first time it happened, he was "moved" by Weird Al Yankovic's song "Like a Surgeon," but now he dances to many songs. He even does a little dance for the "Old MacDonald" song that one of his toys plays. His dance is different than any other baby / toddler dance that I've ever seen.
  • began putting items into containers, rather than just taking items out. He typically alternates between filling and emptying a container now.
  • stacked three items for the first time.
  • began scribbling on paper and walls with crayons.
  • asked a question that I could understand. He said "what is?" while pointing to the moon.
  • began to answer some simple questions. On August 12th, Lev told Melissa to "go away" when she was telling him to not pull on the blinds. When she asked him if he told her to go away, he replied, "yes."  He has subsequently answered a few other questions with "yes" or "no." A few days later, I asked him where his crayons were (because I didn't know) and he pointed to them. They were on the kitchen counter, where he could not see them, but he knew where they were because he watched Melissa get them.
  • learned to insert plugs into electrical outlets. We have the standard plastic child-safe fillers / covers for the electrical outlets, but Lev tried to plug the vacuum cleaner into the plastic cover one day, so I took the cover off and he was able to plug it in eventually (closely supervised, obviously).
  • tried to fix something that broke. He dropped (or threw) his sippy cup onto the floor, causing part of the plastic on top of the cup to pop out of place. Later, he tried to put the piece of plastic back in place. It was an impressive effort; I had some difficulty figuring it out the first time that I fixed it. He had the right idea. Of course, he was watching me when I fixed it and he has probably also watched Melissa fix it, but it's impressive, nonetheless.
  • grew tall enough to reach the bathroom, bedroom, and closet door handles and turn them enough to unlatch the door. He hasn't actually opened a door, though, because he has to stand on his toes to reach the handle; he would fall if he pushed or pulled on the door to open it. He also loves to close doors.
  • began biting biting us. He mostly bites feet, ankles, and legs. He chases after us sometimes, trying to get bite our toes.
  • began tickling us, but he usually does it too violently and ends up hurting us with this fingernails.

One Year Old!

August 7th, 2014

August 7th: Lev is now one year old! I have been very busy during the past month, due to my new job and the moving process, so I haven't kept detailed notes. Here are the major points:

Lev now has 5 teeth. Tooth #23 erupted soon after he turned 11 months old and it seems that #9 will erupt in a few days. Numbers 26, 7, 29, and 20 are causing swelling and whitening of the gums.

He cruises very often and stands by himself, but he still does not feel confident enough to take a step without holding on to something. His maximum crawling speed is amazingly fast---nearly 6 ft/s.

He raids the refrigerator. When the door is opened, he rushes over and tries (often successfully) to prevent his parents from closing the door. He then starts rearranging bottles of condiments and he tries to steal grapes from the bag on bottom shelf. He also likes opening doors and drawers, so we have put child safety locks on the most dangerous items.

He is a voracious eater. In addition to breast milk, he has been eating mostly blueberries, grapes, blackberries, plums, pluots, peaches, cherries, cantaloupe, gelatin (made from Knox gelatin and grape-apple juice) and apple sauce, as well as bits of things that his parents happen to be eating (the first things that come to mind are guacamole, rice, fish, chicken, beans, pizza, and ice cream, but he's had other things during the past month).

Lev loves to crawl into the bathrooms and attack the toilet paper rolls. Melissa often removes the toilet paper rolls in order to prevent him from making a mess. He also thinks it's fun to flush toilets.

He is still obsessed with taking things out of boxes and scattering the contents on the floor.

When we say "yay," Lev claps. He also claps when we tell him to clap. He waves at people he meets when we are in public---even though we never really emphasized this.

As some point in early July, he began to understand the concept of pointing to objects. He has pointed his fingers for a long time, but now he understands the meaning. In late July, I said "Lev, point to the fan!" while he was in the kitchen; he then crawled to the living room and pointed to the ceiling fan!


Eleven months

July 7th, 2014

Lev is now 11 months old! He crawls almost exclusively on his hands and knees at this point. His maximum speed is about 4 ft/s (even faster on rare occasions). He cruises pretty frequently when he's on the floor and it appears that his first unassisted steps will happen soon. He would have probably been walking already if he had more opportunities to practice. He is already climbing things quite well. For example, he can climb from the floor of the car onto the back seat and then get into his car seat.

Lev began solving fairly non-trivial multi-step problems this month. The most notable problem was the retrieval of my keyboard. The computer keyboard is on a sliding shelf / drawer built into my desk. Lev likes to play with the keyboard, but I try to keep it out of his reach by sliding the keyboard to the back of the drawer. Lev's solution to the problem is to rapidly pull and push the drawer until the keyboard moves within his reach. Then he grabs keyboard and begins pressing keys. He does this several times each day.

He had trouble with constipation this month and he also developed a heat rash and what seemed to be night terrors. He's also teething, so most of June was pretty miserable for him. We have been able to remedy everything except for the teething discomfort, so he's much more comfortable now.

The biggest milestone this month involved Lev's use of language. He began using the word "no" appropriately, but not frequently. He also identifies babies by saying "baby." He has clearly understood the meaning of certain words, like "dada," "mama," and "milk" for a while, but "no" seems like a pretty significant leap forward; it's more abstract, since it's not a noun. Melissa thinks that he might be able to say more words than he has allowed us to hear. He may be like his mother, in the sense that he does not want to say words until he is sure he can say them perfectly. He often whispers to himself, so it's possible that he's practicing quietly. I was able to construct complete sentences at his age and Melissa was apparently able to say "E.T. phone home" by the time she was a year old. I'm very curious and excited to hear what Lev has to say.

June 7th: Lev's third tooth erupted. It was his upper-right central incisor (#9). About a week later, the upper-left central incisor (#8) began erupting, but at a slower rate. The teeth appear to be spaced significantly, so he may have a gap like I did before I had braces.

June 8th: Lev decided that crawling on his hands and knees was better than his old technique.

June 24th: Lev hummed the first part of the theme song from "Gremlins!" I've been humming it to him since he was one day old. He did the first 12 notes with appropriate timing and pitch and then stopped

June 25th: I began showing Lev how to clap, since I had never seen him do it.

June 26th: Lev began clapping. He doesn't seem to think it's particularly fun, like some babies do. He seems to just do it to amuse his parents.

June 29th: When looking at a photo of a father and baby on Facebook, Lev said "baby." He also said "baby" approximately a week earlier when he saw an old photo of himself on Melissa's phone.

New Apartment!

July 6th, 2014

We are scheduled to begin moving into our new apartment on July 10th! The apartment is on the second floor; the first floor consists of garages and storage space. So, when I drive into the garage and step out of the car, I will go directly upstairs to the apartment. This is handy when bringing home groceries, etc. Here's the floor plan. Notice how many windows this place has:

And here's an aereal photo of the place from Bing maps. There's a small playground in the lower-right corner of the image. Note that the deck has southern and western exposure, so the plants should do well there (this was actually the primary reason for choosing this specific unit).

Eastvale seems to be consistently 3-4 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than downtown Riverside during this time of year. Each time we have visited, the temperature has been lower there. Today, downtown Riverside was at 102°F while the temperature at the apartment complex in Eastvale was only 98°F. That might not seem like a big deal, but later in the summer, every degree counts.

Also, relative to our current apartment:

  • This apartment is much larger, so Lev has more room to play.
  • The crime situation is much more favorable (this place is safer, in general).
  • Washer and dryer are included.
  • There's a dishwasher.
  • There's a garbage disposal.
  • There are two bathrooms.
  • The second bedroom can be used as an office.
  • My car won't get filthy by just being parked.
  • My car won't bake in the sun when I'm home.
  • We no longer have to keep some of our items in a separate storage facility.
  • There's central heating and air conditioning.
  • We will share no walls with our neighbors, so it's almost like having a house. When people drive in below us, we might hear them, though.


July 5th, 2014

I finally created a Reddit account a few weeks ago. I've known about Reddit for years, but I never bothered creating an account. The first link that I shared was my Approximation in Physics page, which recieved about 800 views and nearly 100% of the votes in the /r/physics subreddit were positive. This was encouraging, so a few days later I shared my blog entry about my experience with Ubuntu in the /r/ubuntu and /r/linux4noobs. The response was surprising: I had 3800 page views in the next few days, many comments, and over 90% upvotes. I found out about some new software from the commenters and the post apparently helped a few people. The post was the top link in the r/ubuntu subreddit during the week that I submitted it.

Here's a summary of the traffic. The first bump on the left shows when I posted a link on Facebook. The second bump is from the Approximation in Physics share on Reddit, and the large spike is the Ubuntu link.
and here are two snapshots of the traffic in real time (from Google Analytics):

Once the Ubuntu link became somewhat popular on Reddit, the link was apparently added to a website / app called Prismatic ( and I started getting referrals from that site as well. So, it began spreading. It's not too bad for a post about an operating system.

Interesting observation: Roughly 10% of people who view a link vote it up or down.

Postdoctoral Scholar

July 4th, 2014

After three months of unemployment, I began working as a postdoctoral scholar at UC Riverside on July 1st. The position pays more than twice as much as the positions that I held while I was a student. It even pays a bit more than my salary as a high school teacher in Fairfax County, VA. On the other hand, it pays less than the analytics and software engineering positions that I had been pursuing.

The path to this position has been frustrating. In October, I was nearly hired as a software engineer at a company in Irvine. The week after my interview, I was asked to fill out the application and a background check form. My references were contacted and they were given the impression that I would be hired. My recruiter told me that an official offer would be ready on Friday, October 11th, but when that day arrived, he was notified that the company chose to hire someone who was a friend of one of my interviewers. The person who was hired was an employee of the federal government who had apparently become frustrated about the government shutdown. The government had shut down on October 1st and all non-essential employees were temporarily out of work during this period.

I had a few software engineering and analytics interviews earlier this year. Two of them seemed promising, but I was not selected for those positions. Then, in June, I was verbally offered a software engineering position with a startup company in Carlsbad. I attended a few training sessions and I was even given a company e-mail address. The founder of the company repeatedly told me that I would receive an offer letter “this evening,” “tomorrow,” or “next Wednesday.” This went on for nearly two weeks. It quickly became clear that the founder was not very trustworthy or reliable. When Melissa found out that unpaid training is illegal in California, I effectively turned down the offer (well, technically there never was an official offer; I decided to stop wasting my time.) While I was beginning my “training,” I turned down two interview requests, which is somewhat frustrating.

In mid June, I met with Miguel Aragon-Calvo to discuss a postdoctoral position at UCR. Miguel is a cosmologist who does research in interactive 3D data visualization---primarily applied to the “cosmic web,” but some of his work is applicable to other fields. He is starting a multidisciplinary visualization lab under a pilot grant from the University. He attended my dissertation defense in December and showed interest in my GSnap code. In late June, Miguel and his collaborators selected me me to fill the postdoctoral research position.

At first, I will be building a small computing cluster (technically, a mini data center), but my primary job is to develop 'Big Data' analysis software for analyzing ensembles of data in real time. The specific dataset that Miguel has in mind is from his MIP simulation (essentially a “multiverse” simulation), but the software is intended to be general so that it can be applied to other problems (other types of data). The software will build upon existing technologies like Apache Hadoop or Apache Spark.

Melissa and I are going to try to sign a lease on a new apartment/townhome in Eastvale tomorrow! It will be nice to finally have enough space for Lev. Eastvale is also slightly cooler than Riverside and the crime rate isn't as high. These are just a few of the MANY ways that this will be beneficial.