Afternoon Inquisition

AI: A year of changes

You may have noticed this passed weekend that my daughter, Spencer, turned 1 year old. It was really exciting, and we had a pretty great party at our place in celebration. Today we went to the pediatrician for her 1-year wellness visit, and it got me thinking about how much has changed since last January when she was born.

The amount of growth, physical and otherwise, babies go through in the first year is astounding. While it doesn’t sound crazy for someone to have gained 16 pounds in that length of time, consider that that almost quadrupled her weight. She has also added 10 inches to her height, grown a considerable amount of hair and sprouted 8 teeth.

In a year’s time, she’s gone from a blob who could barely see a foot in front of her face to a tiny person who can point out details when prompted to, and who quizzically asks (in her baby language) what things are. She couldn’t control her own body back then, now she walks and runs everywhere, grabs tiny objects, feeds herself and pets the cat without hitting her.

Developmentally, the change from infant to toddler is nothing short of incredible. So many things are taken for granted because they are just part of everyone’s life. What kind of “normal” things amaze you?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.


Chelsea is the proud mama of an amazing toddler-aged girl. She works in the retail industry while vehemently disliking mankind and, every once in a while, her bottled-up emotions explode into WordPress as a lengthy, ranty, almost violent blog. These will be your favorite Chelsea moments. Follow Chelsea on Twitter: chelseaepp.

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  1. In the right mood, everything. How my fingers don’t pass through the keyboard despite both being mostly empty space*, how I, unlike so many others in the world today and absolutely everybody 150 years ago can drive around in my own personal vehicle with an internal combustion engine, my fingers working without there being muscles in them, the insanity of the protein production going on in my body at the moment where tRNA carrying amino acids basically bump into ribosomes until one fits, urination, kids who’ve figured out where the jigsawpuzzle pieces go, but not that you need to rotate them just a little bit further to get them to fit, the internet, batteries, the scale of industry required for me to have a refrigerator with fresh milk in it all the time…

    I’ll stop now.

    *given one definiton of “empty space”

  2. I still have a clear and distinct memory of when my son first grasped around my neck and squeezed me when I held him. I don’t recall at what month that was but it’s an amazing memory with a huge emotional component that has it etched in the gray matter. Hugging a 17 and 20 year old isn’t quite the same and the cat while available is a poor substitute for those on the shoulder snuggle hugs.

    @Bjornar: @impaktdevices: And all that wonderful stuff!

  3. I am constantly and easily amazed and amused by life.
    I love how 30 people waiting at a crosswalk can pass between each other from opposite sides with barely a whisper of space between them and not collide (becoming a bit rarer with cellphone walkers).
    I am constantly amazed by the variation of color and form when I look up at the sky, often stopping in my tracks to gaze for a minute.
    I am bemused that me, my wife, Chelsea and others decided to find and inhabit a Cookie Universe within the Multiverse last night over Twitter and that there were more funny replies waiting for me when I woke up this morning.
    I cannot fathom how my cat can bend like that.
    Living IN THE FUTURE boggles my mind. The fact that we are all conversing here, right now, and on Twitter, etc.; the fact that I’ve actually met some of you loonies in real life, all because we’ve sat here moving electrons, text and blobs of color around on this website, is astounding.
    I should stop here, otherwise I will go on and on and on…

  4. I once had to go home from work because thinking about the scale of the universe gave me a headache. I’ll also second the living the future bit, especially as I do my library job; I use Google and other web resources as much as I use the books on our shelves.

  5. I’m amazed by traffic patterns. It amazes me that everyone is following some rules and crashes are ridiculously rare because everyone follows an algorithm but there’s hardly any interaction between the people. The flow of traffic is so simple, with only about a dozen signs and rules that follow the majority of the time (with a few dozen more rules for special cases). Yet it results in everyone starting and ending in different places and doing it safely.

  6. @Skept-artist:

    I just got a smart phone and a Nook and I am constantly elated that I am living in the future. I can’t wait to see what else the future will bring me!

  7. @BeardofPants: It never ceases to amaze me that when you look at a distant star, you’re looking in to the past. Proxima Centauri could blow up tomorrow and we wouldn’t see it happen for four years. That blows my mind.

    @catgirl: If we’re living in the future, where’s my god damn jetpack?

  8. Drag and drop. I’m amazed at how I can physically move files from one place to another. How does it effin’ work?

    The internet. So much information, everything we’ve ever known, is at my fingertips, sometimes, quite literally.

    Particle physics. How can we tell what’s going on inside a subatomic particle? Did we get a really powerful microscope? I’m not too impressed with the wave/particle duality of light. I just chalk it up to probably, a photon isn’t a single point, but two points in orbit around one another.

    The blood system. How do we get food and oxygen to every part of our body? Obviously, we don’t have one blood cell per body cell, so how does the blood cell know how much to deliver, and to where?

  9. What kind of “normal” things amaze me?

    Basically everything. I can see something amazing in everything around me.

    I’m fiddling with a paper-clip right now. Not too long ago it was just a bunch of rocks, heck knows where. Then someone dug them up. Someone else smelted the ore down to get metal. Another person formed the metal into a thin wire and then bent it into the shape of a paper-clip. Finally it got packaged and transported to my desk.

  10. The list is endless!

    Watching my 8 and 13yo daughters grow and their brains form is easily the most interesting thing I have ever observed in my life. It boggles my mind to think about the foaming mass of neural pathways that is constantly re-forming in their heads. Their brilliance so often outstrips mine, and yet they still manage to walk straight into walls on a regular basis. And each time is a total surprise!

    And to me, it is pure magic how the lights in the frozen food cases of my local Target come on just when I walk by. How do the frozen peas know I am there?

  11. @catgirl: Traffic is mine, also. That so many vehicles traveling at speeds of 60-70 MPH can constantly pass within 2 feet of each other, yet somehow the nation’s highways are not crowded with piles of burning, twisted metal is proof of the existence of FSM. Especially since, as a professional driver, I’m witness to a HUGE number of mind-numbingly stupid maneuvers, committed by, I suspect, mind-numbingly stupid people. Least favorite is the ones who tailgate me so closely that I can no longer even see them in my mirrors, yet they’re not dead.

  12. The fact that my daughters don’t even understand how incredible their lives are, that I had to go to a theater to watch Disney movies, that we didn’t have a MacDonalds in my town until I was 16 and hamburgers were a dime, seatbelts – who wore seatbelts? no remote controls, rotary dial phones. My daughter just said, “I’ve only seen those in vintage stores” HA

  13. @Chelsea: Obviously, we are twins separated at birth.

    My wife laughed at me the last time we were in Target at the frozen food section, because I kept gasping in delight each time the light would come on in the next case along the row. Despite my PhD in Physics, I still maintain that the only explanation for this must involve either unicorns or faeries. Science is at a loss when dealing with wonders like this. Magic is the only plausible answer!

  14. I am always amazed when I see someone (usually me) impatiently waiting for the microwave to reheat their lunch. 40 years ago this would have been near-instant magic, today it’s too slow. Go figure.

  15. My cell phone. I can use it to track a run around the neighborhood… and it tracks it with an error of maybe a couple of feet. Because it’s sending a signal from my pocket to OUTER SPACE… and the thing in outerspace can tell if I’m standing on the north or south end of my garage.

    It knows exactly where I am. It knows exactly how fast I’m moving. And it can update me immediately if I tap the screen with my finger.

    Oh… and I remember being 5 and wondering what else was left to be invented. We had cable TVs and microwaves and cars and space shuttles. What else could we possibly make?

    Then a few years later, I remember hearing about the possibility of a touch screen computer. It sounded crazy. I couldn’t wrap my mind around how such a thing would work.

    Now I carry one in my pocket and use it approximately every 10 minutes. And it can track my runs FROM OUTER FUCKING SPACE.

    And speaking of outer space, when Pamela Gay mentioned to me that if you look north, you won’t see any planets, it suddenly scared the hell out of me. If you look north, into the sky at night, you will not see anything nearby. Nothing. The closest shit you’ll see is beyond the abyss. You’re looking up into an eternity of nothingness. At least when you look east or west, you can see a neighbor or two. Now, when I look up and north at night, I get that vertigo and nausea feeling that comes when I’m even thinking about looking over a steep drop.

    What else blows my mind? EVERYTHING. I think about all the steps that go into making everything we have. And the steps that went into developing each step and part and piece along the way. A car isn’t just a car… someone, different someones, came up with each thing under the hood… then another someone came up with each idea inside the interior… And people make the fabric on the seats and the mats… and someone realized that we could transmit radio waves and communicate… and someone else figured out how to solder pieces of metal to pieces of plastic to make it so we could get those waves digitally… and program them into our radios…. while we’re driving.

    And developing photgraphs. What a crazy process! How did that process get put together? How do you realize each step of that?

    And baking.

    This is why I stopped smoking pot. My mind is blown too easily without it.

  16. @Elyse: Uh, actually, it’s receiving signals from outer space, it isn’t actually sending signals to outer space. Still wicked cool, though.

    The looking north thing, maybe it’s time for someone with artistic talent (Amy?) to update the famous poster of the New Yorker’s view of geography, where there’s a small empty space between East Orange and San Francisco, except this time, there’s a big empty space between Canada and the Andromeda Galaxy.

    And baking… When I was a little kid, I wondered about that. I can see people trying to eat grain and quickly discovering it was much easier if you crushed the seeds between some flat rocks first. Add some water to make paste, which is perfectly edible, cook it because everything tastes better fried, and you’ve got tortillas or pitas or whatever. A little naturally occurring yeast and you’ve got bread. And every culture discovers deep-frying the dough. Okay, fine so far.

    But Cake? What’s that all about? FREAKING CAKE! No way anyone ever discovered that! It is clear evidence of the supernatural!

    (I didn’t know about beer when I was little, but that’s just leaving your bread out in the rain…)

  17. @Chelsea: & @SteveT: I still feel that way about automatic sliding doors. But not automatic swinging doors, they’re trying too hard IMO.

    I’m a scout leader (not BSA, everyone is welcome in my troop) and the kids amaze me every time we head out for a camping trip.

    Also when I’m lying on the ground at night looking up at the stars and thinking about how fast I’m actually going I’m amazed I haven’t been flung off into space.

  18. I agree with Chelsea that watching my 2 girls change from little blobs where milk went in one end and a horrible mess out the other change into bright, quasi-adults in only 16 years is nothing short of astounding. I grew up in a house full of boys (except Mom, she was the token female) to a dad with 2 daughters and no sons. Baby girls were an alien species then, and now teenage girls are an alien species.

    The other thing that boogles my mind is the fact that my students all have graphing calculators and I can estimate the answer faster than some of them can calculate the wrong one. One day a student asked to borrow my calculator so I gave him my high school slide rule. He couldn’t believe that I passed high school math and physics with such a device.

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