5/25/2006

The Cheeseburger Code


Baby 2.1

Baby Yam is undergoing a metabolic upgrade, promising various bug fixes including an awareness of hands and a re-write of the digestive system. He is, in short, getting over his colic and proceeding right into teething.

In comparison to colic the minor system hiccoughs caused by teething are a very light burden. Rather than needing to be strapped to someone tasked with doing interminable laps around the house while he screams as if tortured, when his teeth are bothering him he just wants something to chew on -- a finger, a blanket, a toy. It's bliss. Bliss, I tell you.

The colic hasn't evaporated altogether, of course, but it is in retreat. Life feels like the first sunny day after a long time suffering under thick cloud and damp shadow. In my mind there are rainbows everywhere.

I am especially grateful for the timing of the retreat as my darling wife is going away for the weekend, and I'll be solo-parenting both offspring until Sunday night. She deserves a break. I'm just glad I won't have to live through Hell to give it to her.


I Am a Time-Lord

I feel obliged to give a few lines over to the latest version of Adobe's After Effects compositing software because one of the new features makes me positively giddy: TimeWarp. If you are an After Effects based compositor and you haven't upgraded to version 7, it's worth doing just for TimeWarp.

Previous versions of After Effects offered a suite of decent temporal tools such as Time Remapping and Time Stretch. The problem with these tools was that the user enjoyed the greatest freedom when positively accelerating footage but very little flexibility when it came to negative acceleration. In other words, running footage faster worked like a charm but running footage slower turned it into a staccato mess of semi-freezes and interlace-marred lurches.

TimeWarp's ability to intelligently interpolate imbetween frames to fill in the gaps means that footage can now be slowed down without an immediate and obvious loss of motion quality, essentially doubling the user's palette of options for screwing around with time while preserving an acceptable level of slickness.

Naturally, I enjoy mis-using tools for fun and profit so the first thing I did was ask TimeWarp to negatively accelerate footage in which no two frames bore any relationship to one another. The result is awesome: the TimeWarp engine works hard to find a relationship -- any relationship -- between frames and, when it can find none, produces some bizarre and sometimes beautiful results.

For instance, a stock clip of film scratches was effortlessly transformed by TimeWarp into an erratic, bouncy journey through a tangled spider-web. By intercutting two different sequences of cars driving by and feeding it to TimeWarp I got a psychedelic tango of vehicles in which disparate wheels morph and separate liquidly, windshields draw together and melt, and duotoned fenders twist. When I input a flurry of shots of crowds I get back a dizzying meld of faces and arms, sloshing around the frame like people soup.

How cool is that? (Answer: fairly!)


We Are Not Amused

Speaking of Time-Lords, I have to admit that I'm a little lukewarm on the new star of the BBC's reincarnation of Doctor Who. It took me a few episodes to get used to the New Wave cut of his suit, and a few more episodes to accept that Tennant lacks Eccleston's uncanny ability to turn half-baked dialogue on its ear with sharp delivery, but I just can't seem to find a way to like this new giddy overload of irreverence. I like my Time-Lords troubled, I guess.

On the other hand, the girl who plays Madame de Pompadour is pretty hot.


To Be Perfectly Clear

My wife is hotter than Madame de Pompadour. Let there be no misunderstanding. Hooo nelly!


An Invasive Biological Force

I have a colleague who is having his first experiences with being a parent. He is somewhat discomfited, and I think it is because having your brain re-wired while you're still in it can be unnerving. I remember it.

When human beings reproduce a neurological transformation takes place in order to equip them for parenthood. It is an old programme, refined by generations of ape death, a package of anxiety routines and gushes of mammal love on par with the changes that take place in our brains when we hit puberty. The difference is that puberty represents a phase transition from a state of lesser awareness to one of greater awareness -- it feels like waking up. Remember how struck you could be by the beauty and the tragedy of the world when you were twelve?

Unlike puberty, however, being reprogrammed for parenting does not bring with it a new level of consciousness. Instead you simply find yourself driven by new desires and bamboozled by new instincts. After a couple of decades of relative mental stability this change can be surprising, like an alien force working within to a design all its own.

It can feel like having God's finger up your ass.

Obsessed with nurture as our culture is, we usually ascribe these changes to environmental factors -- you know you're a parent, so your priorities change. This is poppycock. If this were the case we would see a dizzying array of responses to parenthood as varied as our personalities and lifestyles. Instead, most of us come around to a common mode of new thinking and a few of us, driven mad by the conflicting feelings welling up, flee.

It is an uncomfortable reminder of our legacy as gene propagation machines, a limpening of our certainty that our mind steers our destiny alone. We are animals, and our meat is hellbent on a mission. The state of our minds is a secondary consideration to that mission, and feeling the process happen can cause our illusion of clarity to pale.

I imagine it is not unlike menopause, except with a directed purpose. During menopause many women find themselves deluged with irrational feelings and bizarre drives, their minds no longer servant to their notion of reality. The mind thinks what it thinks without reference to life. It goes a bit haywire. You are a tenant inside yourself with controls that work erratically if at all.

You didn't think in a more sophisticated way after puberty because of how smart you are, and you don't start to feel like a parent because you're responsible. Both things happen because your brain chemistry has business to attend to, and you're just along for the ride.

Whee!


9 comments:

Jeff said...

Good luck with the solo weekend, Mr. Cheesburger.

Teddy said...

how does the body know to change the brain? in a mother i can imagine, but in a father? It would have to be that conscious knowledge induces a physical change, almost a psychosomatic thing then.

TRH

Simon said...

Having that Deific Digit up one's arse can happen a second time too. Here I had gotten all used to having a toddler tromping around the house and then when sprog #2 pops out, it's just a pink ball of squalling, eating, pooping, puking flesh all over again and I'm left reminiscing about the relative joys of solid poop and minor temper tantrums.

My prostate couldn't handle that a third time, so I got a vasectomy.

Enjoy your weekend!

mandrill said...

Glad to hear that Yam is getting over their cholic.
I was just saying to a mate of mine the other day that its like someone flicked a switch in my brain. I find myself being tidier, more organised and inclined to melt at the slightest hint of a grin. Little Bear has reached the stage of being fully interactive. I've been having long conversations with him about Moocows and current affairs while he grins and coos appreciatively. Parenthood is a baffling and wonderful experience, I'm glad I signed up :)
Madame pompadour was indeed hot.

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Teddy,

I cut and paste myself from HuSi, because I'm late for work:

I've heard that babies tend to resemble the male parent right at birth (exaggeratedly so) in order to "hook" Papa into identifying with it.

I might also imagine that the sound of crying babies has something to do with it.

If another trigger were needed perhaps sleeplessness would do it.

Love,
CheeseburgerBrown

Moksha Gren said...

I read recently that males who take an active role in parenting their infant observe a marked drop in testosterone. And the more time they spend with said infant, the lower the level goes. So there are clearly some very real physical effects. But that shouldn't be surprising, we've already discussed here the fact that breasts express milk when mom thinks about baby. So while all these effects may be "psychosomatic things", they are still very real.
My wife and I were discussing this testosterone drop last night, and all we could figure was that it is similar to the way breast feeding serves as a mild form of birth control. Mother Nature doesn't want parents who are activily caring for an infant to have another kid too quick. So, mom's less likely to get pregnant and dad's less likely to want to get mom (or anyone eles) pregnant.
Ok, this wasn't exactly what you were talking about...but it's at least related.

Teddy said...

just to be clear on the word (and I may be using it wrong), To my understanding the word psychosomatic means physical symptoms induced by a mental state. Patients of psychosomatic disorders feel physical symptoms caused my states of mind and beliefs that they ought to be feeling said symptoms. As such, that's the way I use the word here, so as such any symptom caused by a change in brain chemistry or severe changes in state-of-mind cause a physical reaction like lower testosterone level or other changes in brain chemistry.

TRH

Reetay Arvaysay said...

Glad to hear of the wee-est one's recent morph. Series of changes: how lucky we are to live through them with awareness. Beautifully expressed thoughts, delightful subject.

Sith Snoopy said...

Glad the colic is gone. Whew!

Good luck with enjoying the continuing ride! :)