Tuesday, November 29, 2005


I had a meeting at work today, the second-to-last before I become a stay-at-home dad.

We have a report that is 99% finished, but there is still the small matter of marketing it. In the context of publishing a government report -- which was not produced in a market, and will be available at no charge -- "marketing" means the decision about who will receive a copy.

I was actually impressed by the communications division of our agency. When someone requests information about a specific topic from our website, we attempt to collect their name and address. As we "market" our report, we decide which website topics the report fits into, plug that into a database, and out print labels with those names and addresses. Plug in the relevant Congressional committees, and out come the names of the staffers. We have the addresses of all the major economics departments in case we need those. It was all pretty automated, and went pretty quickly.

But it was a meeting, and therefore frustrating. The system is very linear, and didn't include a ton of researchers and policy wonks that might find the report interesting. But oops! we don't have their addresses. So they don't get included. End of meeting.

Normally, this is something I would follow up, maybe by calling a meeting of my own. But since I am stopping work Friday, I had to resist the temptation to take it and run. It was strangely difficult.

Tomorrow's meeting will be even stranger. It's the start of a new initiative that I should be working on. I am interested in the topic, I have the skills to carry it off, it would add something to my career. And I'm not going to be involved.

I don't know if these things are popping up especially quickly these days, or if my awareness of them is heightened in my last week. But I am becoming aware of the professional sacrifices that this 6-month stint at home entails.

Oh well. There's another meeting on Thursday: a send-off Happy Hour. That I can relate to.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


I've been reading blogs for a "long time." Of course, the medium has only existed for a short while, unless you reckon it in "internet time." Since I have usually read blogs from work, where there is a policy against posting to message boards, I have only rarely posted to a blog comments section. So I'm like a long-time listener to a radio program who has only now decided to call in.

Speaking of work, I'm taking 6 months off to stay home with my son. But more on that below.

One of the first blogs I remember reading is Josh Marshall's excellent Talking Points Memo, which he started during the 2000 Florida election recount. (His site has since mutated into tpmcafe.com, a sui generis site of reporting, journalism, and user commentary.) In the meantime, I've definitely spent hours and hours reading blogs, marvelling at how the medium has grown and changed. It's a far cry from the BBSes ("bulletin board systems") that I used to call with my 1200 baud modem in the 1980s.

Today, my blog reading is mostly political in nature, but it's doubtful I'll blog much about politics here: that is well-covered territory. I don't do any reporting or have any inside connections with a politcal organization, so I've got nothing to add about politics except what you could find elsewhere.

Instead, I will blog about my time Bringing Up Monkey. The Monkey in question is my son. He is the cutest little monkey you have ever laid eyes on. And next week begins a 6 month period in which my wife will return to work, I will stay at home, and I will cope the best I can. December 5th is the handover date. The Boy will be a week shy of 6 months.

A trip to the National Zoo? I'll blog about it.

The Boy learns to crawl? I'll blog about that, too.

Introducing solid foods, eliminating same? Steady as she goes.

The Boy discovers a lapse in childproofing? I might not mention that.

I'm sure I'll figure out what this space is for as I go. Between childproofing forays, that is.