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The Talking Carl Crisis

If you’re an iPhone user and the parent of a toddler, chances are very good that you know who Talking Carl is. On the simplest level Talking Carl is an iPhone application that repeats what you say to it. That’s a pretty sterile description though and fails to really capture the essence of Talking Carl.

Designed by Yann Le Coroller, Talking Carl is crimson cube of gelatin who screams, giggles, and mimics your every word. Kids love him. Adults love him. Talking Carl has consistently been one of top rated free iPhone apps and among the highest ranked.

Until very recently.

Talking Carl was distributed by a company called Awyse. Late last year they started making changes to the Talking Carl application, allowing you to download other characters, most of whom were frankly subpar. Where Carl was cute, endearing and lovable, the new characters were… terrible. At best they were viciously unimpressive. At worst they were ugly and offensive. It was not a good move.

I’m not privy to what happened, Awyse isn’t saying. Coroller’s website displayed the following message.

We are deeply sorry but we are not responsible for Awyse outrageous behavior regarding Talking Carl.

They were court-ordered to stop selling the application but instead they choose to gives you this trash bag.

Unimpressive

Unimpressive

Instead of choosing to simply stop distributing Talking Carl, Awyse issued an update to the application that replaced the lovable and cherished Carl with a poorly rendered cardboard box with a crayon sketched mouth. The app’s name was changed to Talking C. and the ruse of a contest to design the next character was introduced.

Here’s the kicker though. The update featured only the following information.

****new character and world challenge****

*!DO NOT UPDATE IF YOU WANT TO KEEP CARL!*

If you, like nearly everyone else who owns an iPhone, simply chose to Update All, you never even saw that notice. Now Carl was gone, there was no way to get him back, and your toddler was hurling your phone into the toilet. This may have happened to you and you weren’t even aware of it. I only noticed because I occasionally browse through the many app updates my phone issues to me.

The fallout was swift.

An app that had previously been at the top of the ratings and download list, fell in stature precipitously. The backlash against Awyse was tremendous. Nearly all of their app business appears to be talking characters, and it remains to be seen if this is a faux pas they can recover from.

If you’ve been a victim of this spectacle, and your toddler hasn’t destroyed your phone yet, the good news is that there’s a resolution. In the last week, Coroller has swiftly released the original Talking Carl app and it’s been approved by the iTunes App Store.

You can all breath a sigh of relief now.

The knelling of the garbage disposal

Logan was having his afternoon snack while I was cleaning up the kitchen in the background. I turned on the garbage disposal to flush some waste down the drain, and this was very concerning to Logan. You can see the emotions overpower his features. At first he’s concerned about a scary noise, the source of which is a mystery. Then, within seconds he resolves that the scary noise is not impacting his food source, and quietly goes back to his snack. Hopefully, he will demonstrate the same resolve on the off chance a tiger escapes from the zoo and pounces through our back door.

All cooped up

Cameron and I both took two weeks off to stay home during the Christmas break. For nearly a week it rained or drizzled more or less constantly. While we left the house almost daily to perform what seemed like an endless series of errands and appointments, the weather was such that Logan didn’t really get much of a chance to play outside. Playing outside is something that Logan seems to love more than anything else. He can spend an hour or more just wobbling around rearranging leaves and rocks, making small piles and redistributing them.

Naturally, as soon as the weather cleared he had to go out and move some leaves around. Listen to how excited he is.

Logan vs. Penguin

One of the gifts that Logan has recently received is this inflatable penguin. It’s weighted on the bottom giving it the stability of a Weeble Wobble, and has some balls that roll around inside behind a clear window. The part that really interests Logan, and terrifies Puddles, is the motion sensor. Every time the penguin is moved or pushed, it laughs manically and makes some music. Naturally Logan feels compelled to drag it around the house.

Naturally, Puddles runs in terror and hides when all of this is going down.

So that’s why they called it a mess hall?

Solid food has been something of an adventure. More times than not, as much seems to get on Logan, his immediate surroundings, and us, as gets in his belly. At our most recent pediatrician visit, he weighed in at 14lbs 2oz. This is still very small, and puts him in the lower range of normal, but the doctor says that despite his stature, he’s still healthy. Regardless, of this fact, Cameron is concerned about a variety of potential reasons for his low weight, and among those is that he simply isn’t getting enough nutrition from breast milk.

Pleased with success
I don’t that that’s the case, but this is about the time when it makes the most sense to start weaning him onto real people food. Starting in July Cameron will be going back to work for some amount of time, and the logistics of maintaining a breast milk only diet will become too complicated and stressful to manage.

Who loves pureed squash?
So we’ve upped the puree food dosage to two pucks at a sitting instead of one. This is about 4 teaspoons, give or take. Even doubling up on the dosage, we still have several weeks of food left from our original batches, so we’re still eating avocado, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes. I’m still startled at how easy it was to do, how cheap it was, and how much it yielded. I’m not sure why anyone buys babyhood.

Suboptimal feeding position

We had been eating sitting in the Bumpo chair but that caused some complications. The soft Bumpo allowed Logan to pivot around an awful lot and he’s easily distracted. He’d lean off to the side and try to pluck at the floor. Or, since his feeder had to sit on the floor with him, with legs splayed out on either side for maximum comfort, he’d pluck at our legs. This would leave small undocumented smears of pureed food in unusual and hard to find places about the legs and ankles. Fortunately, we’ve since procured a high chair and the ease and comfort of this task has improved dramatically, although it has not alleviated substantially the novelty of discovering dried squash in unusual locations.

How not to babysit for me.

As a new parent, I have found that I am flush with new perspectives and emotional responses. I find that I am far more likely to be infatuated with miniature clothing prominently featuring cartoon animals. I am more tolerant of being liberally coated in drool. I engage in singing more often, which is to say “at all,” to a visibly pleased audience of one.

It’s not all so positive though. I’ve also noticed some increased tendencies to be overly and aggressively protective, a response I probably don’t need much encouragement with. When the pediatrician’s office notified me that Logan’s insurance was being denied prior to his frenectomy, I did act very gentlemanly. Fortunately, I was able to channel my displeasure at the insurance company, an industry that I believe deserves all the abuse it gets.

Today I saw this video. I’ll warn you, that links to a surveillance video of a baby sitter abusing an 11 month old child in ways that are potentially fatal. A year ago I would have watched this video and had a negative response along the lines of “That’s terrible. This person should face a stiff penalty.”

I watch it now and I’m filled with a murderous rage. If that were my child in the video, I would have to be restrained. Just sitting here typing this, and remembering it, makes me angry. I think of my son being treated like that and I feel compelled to violence.

Here is a picture of a puppy to help you get over the angry thoughts.

The unbearable spring of January

In most parts of the country, this time of year is typically marked by long periods of overcast darkness and freezing precipitation. We are not used to this in Las Vegas. A few cloudy days perhaps, maybe some brief rain in the morning a few times a month.

Loving the Bumpo

When we caught a western storm system this last week, it stuck around and rained more or less constantly for six days. I’ve been living in Las Vegas for 16 years. This was unprecedented precipitation. We got half a year’s worth of rain in less than a week.

The jaunt of his hat reminds me of a sailor for some reason.

So when it let up and the sun came out, we bundled Logan up and went out for a walk around the neighborhood. For the most part he seemed to enjoy himself, but didn’t appear to care much for the bright sunlight. Having spent most of this short life in the Morlock friendly interior of our home, this was little surprise.

Out for a walk
Logan has started to take note of his surroundings and is making an increased effort to interact with what’s around him. On a few occasions, he has grabbed ahold of a rattle or a toy. Frequently he will grab at his binky, and he’s taken to gripping at mine or Cameron’s shirt while he sleeps in the wrap.

A steady hand
The real interaction, however, is with the little keyboard. This is an old Casio battery powered keyboard that Cameron received as a child. Something that she used to learn to play the piano. She pulled it out to see if Logan would respond to the interactive noise and blinking lights.

Casio creates memories

We weren’t surprised that it caught his interest, but were a little surprised at just how much he seems to enjoy it. He’s given it a pretty significant beating over the last few days. I expect his first album will be out next year.

Logan working on his Dennis DeYoung skills

The Holidays

For people who claim to prefer spending their time at home, we seem to end up spending a lot of time at holiday parties. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, in my opinion. Holiday parties are a great place to get some free snacks.

Carving the Christmas roast

It’s also good for free babysitting. Show up, pass your baby off to someone else and enjoy the party. In my experience, your friends will gleefully spend as much time as is available cooing and making faces at the baby, freeing you up for more adult activities, such as eating free food and ducking your parental responsibilities.

Cat and Logan

We’re lucky to have so many good friends.

Mocking a baby is a lot more fun than you'd think

Logan will be three months old on Saturday. In some ways, it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, while in others, it feels like he’s taking his own sweet time growing up. I’m split between wanting to enjoy these brief moments of relative calm prior to a mobilized infant, and a strong desire for him to finish growing up so he can do all my household chores.

Smiling can be hard work
As Logan becomes more aware of his surroundings he moves through a number of cognitive actions and practices. As an anthropologist, I’m fascinated by his cognitive development. Learning to grab the loose material on his shirt, seems like something of a victory to him, even if all he can seem to do with the discovery is jam the material in his mouth. Nearly every day he discovers his own feet, and seems genuinely surprised each time.

Amelly reaches out to Logan
The last few days I’ve been attempting to teach him to get his thumb in his mouth, so he can self satisfy his oral comfort and relieve his mother and I of doing so. This has turned out to be a significant challenge of dexterity for everyone. He’s more than capable of sticking his thumb out from his hand. Once it’s placed in his mouth, however, it causes such a paroxysm of spastic joy, that he clenches his fist in glee, and forcefully ejects the thumb.

Grandpa Ron babysits

I’m sure that with repeated practice, we’ll all get the hang of it.

Sleeps like his mother

Here are some Holiday pictures of babies that are not mine, but are still cute.

Luke never misses a chance to ham it up for the camera

JT at play

Michelle and the other Logan

Waiting for the sun.

Being a parent is, I suspect, the sort of experience that continually provides lessons and perspectives on how your life works. I’ve been a father for just shy of a week, and already I’m noticing some things. I’ve yet to have a world shattering paradigm shift yet, something I was promised with varying shades of doom. Most evident so far, and surprisingly startling, is the time dilation.

Before Logan arrived, my normal schedule had me up by 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning. I would spend an hour and a half or so at the gym, before arriving at the office at 7:00. I would spend 8 to 10 hours at the office, taking my lunch at my desk most days. After all that, I would still have a few hours in the evening of leisure time before getting a full nights sleep.

Since Logan was born, I’ve not been going to the office, or to the gym. I seem to be sleeping only 4 to 6 hours a night, with a nap in the afternoon maybe. I should have nearly 14 hours a day of extra time, and yet, I don’t seem to be able to sit down for much more than an hour or so, maybe two.

Where the hell has all that time gone? Do babies generate a gravitational field so intense that reality warps around them?

Babies are like puppies, sorta

Neither one like flash photos and tend to move around too much in low light to get good focus. They’re also cute, and they poop a lot. Fortunately, babies, unlike puppies, wear diapers, and eventually grow out of irresponsible pooping. Puppies, on the other hand, never wreck your car, steal knives from the post exchange or break overhead lamp fixtures with a yo yo.

kissy face

Not a sleeper hold

Babies are like puppies and move too much to get in focus sometimes

Post burp relief