Blog-o! Notes from

Thu, 24 Nov 2005
She's Fine

We went to the cardiologist for Cordelia's follow-up visit, and as suspected she's fine. The doctor couldn't find any abnormality in the EKG or the ultrasound. Like Dave said, it was just a startup problem -- "Device driver not initialized" or some such.

We do have to hold off on stimulant decongestants for the next six months or so, though, just in case. Obligingly enough, Cordelia came down with a cold last night. Fortunately we can still give her nasal decongestant spray, bar none my favourite cold remedy, so we did that and soon enough she was sleeping soundly.

[Posted at 15:08 by Amy Brown] link

We're reading Franklin Rides a Bike. It's all about how practicing at stuff makes you better (a lesson, incidentally, that I didn't learn until I got to university, and then it was only when I noticed how much better my typing was after spending so much time on But I digress.) Franklin Rides A Bike says "Fox tried and tried [to hit a baseball], and one day, he hit a home run!"

Delphine: And who else hit a home run?
Me: I don't know, who else? Delphine?
Delphine: Yeah. And Mummy! And Cordelia!
Me: Did Zaida hit a home run?
Delphine, in the tone of one speaking to the village idiot: No! Zaida's a boy!

Huh. I wish I could get into her head and figure out what she thinks a home run is.

Delphine can't pronounce "l"s. It's not a big deal -- you're not supposed to be able to pronounce everything until you're five. But it gives her a unique accent, and I am always interested to see what she substitutes for L. Franklin is "Frankwin". "Mary had a little lamb" is "Mary had a yittle yamb". And Cordelia is just "Cordeeya", with a long Italian-style double-e.

I think she also uses "f" instead of "th", but I am so used to her accent that I don't really notice. (This happens to me a lot -- I will get so used to mentally translating accents that I forget people have them. I'm especially good at Chinese accents, but it kind of blew my mind when I talked to a Chinese guy in England, at my last job. Instead of having a Canadian Chinese accent he had an English Chinese accent. It took me a few seconds to recalibrate my accent filter and figure out what he was saying.)

[Posted at 15:04 by Amy Brown] link
Fri, 18 Nov 2005
Three More Books

Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery

I wanted to know what happened next, so I read this book despite having heard, on numerous occasions, that the other Anne books aren't as good as Anne of Green Gables. Well, they were right. This is almost comical in it's not-as-goodness. Lousy characterization, telling-not-showing, awkward dialogue. I don't know what came over LMM, but it wasn't good. I wonder if her other stuff is good, or if Anne of Green Gables was a freak occurrence.

Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering by Robert L. Glass

Why am I reading about Software Engineering? Because I have decided when I grow up I would like to be a software manager. Not a librarian or a teacher or an opera singer or a photographer, or any of the other interesting things which have come to mind in the last, oh, ten years. No sir, I am plunging headlong back into software, with ambition, this time. Ambition to become... middle management.

How do I know it will work out for me? Because I am reading books like this. For fun! And it was fun, and interesting and edifying (since it is pretty much the first book I have read on the topic.) Fortunately Glass is not skimpy with his references, so I have a whole list of other books to look up*. Some of which I remember from the shelves of the Computer Science Club. Oh, how far I have come to be back where I started.

* Most of which the Toronto Public Library doesn't own! Argh! Do they care nothing for software engineering? I will have to see how well their "buy this book for me" system works. Also, if anyone has any recommendations on the topic, I would be glad to hear them.

Trickle Treat by Laurie Boucke

This is a book about how to potty train your baby from infancy. The theory is sound and the author gives a pretty good description of how to implement it. However, as with so many other parenting books, it is bogged down the author's sense of superiority and her disdain for those who parent any other way than hers. She even goes so far as to imply (based on a single anecdote from a friend) that diapering your child and subsequently potty training in toddlerhood will emotionally damage your child for life. I am surprised the attachment parenting folks haven't gotten ahold of this method, it's right up their alley.

Also the name makes me gag.

[Posted at 13:09 by Amy Brown] link

From conversations with various people, I know that there are a lot more of you out there reading this weblog than have commented, and it's a little strange having this one-sided conversation. Or, rather, it's strange when I see you in person, and you already know everything that's happened to me, so I'm left with little to talk about other than the weather. So the third Friday of every month, I'm going to call one of you silent lurkers out, and ask you to post a reply to this message letting me know how you're doing, and what's happening.

So today's victim is Jay Deen. Jay! I know you're out there! Introduce yourself, and tell me what's going on in your life.

[Posted at 10:38 by Amy Brown] link
Wed, 16 Nov 2005

So my role at the company is changing slightly. Due to a manpower shortage, I'll be back doing some server development. Fortunately, I sort of know my way around the modules this time, and so I don't expect many surprises to crop up. So, to make my life both simpler and more difficult at the same time, I've decided to try out a new IDE. That's right, instead of using IDEA, I'll be giving Eclipse a trial run. It hasn't been too bad so far, but I'm still kind of getting it set up to do the things I need it to.

My three main motivations for using Eclipse on this project are:

  1. I need to look at C++ code at the same time as Java code, since that's the only documentation we have for this project.
  2. The savings of an IDEA license are not inconsiderable.
  3. The co-worker who is working on it with me prefers Eclipse
Are they great reasons to switch? Maybe, maybe not, but they're good enough reasons to give it a try for a while. It helps that I have been using an older version of Eclipse for my Python development, so I'm a little familiar with it.

[Posted at 15:37 by Blake Winton] link
Tue, 15 Nov 2005
Not again...

Yup, it's raining, and I'm commuting. And so what happens? I bail. This time I was changing lanes on Queen Street from the center lane, across the streetcar tracks, into the outside lane in preparation for turning right. Now, on a dry day I can take those streetcar tracks at about a 10° angle, but with the metal and pavement being all wet, I guess I needed to be crossing it a little more sharply. Anyways, down I went. I have a couple of slight abrasions on my elbow and knee, but neither of them hurt as much as wiping it down with the first-aid pad. And it's another lesson learned, making two.

  1. Don't use your front brake in the rain.
  2. Don't cross streetcar tracks sideways, especially in the rain.
At this rate, I'll have enough lessons to write a book by the time I'm 80.

[Posted at 12:27 by Blake Winton] link
Sat, 12 Nov 2005
Oh no you di'n't!

According to the Baby Name Wizard Blog, Buffy is actually a nickname for Elizabeth.

That's right. We managed to name our girls Buffy and Cordelia. I think we should get some kind of prize.

[Posted at 12:19 by Amy Brown] link
Fri, 11 Nov 2005
Conversations with Delphine

Delphine and I were drawing, and I had drawn her a spider. She told me to give him a crayon, so I drew a purple crayon. Then she asked me to draw him a hand (to hold the crayon with), which I did. Then I said "Should I give him a hat?"

She said, "No, he is not going outside."

Okay, then.

We went to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair last weekend, and we brought back a block of fudge. The next day I gave a little piece to Delphine. She asked "Is it from the fair?" I said yes.

"Thank you fair!"

I was folding laundry and every so often I would ask Delphine what something was. (Life is one big pop quiz when you're a toddler.) I held up a pair of Blake's underwear and said "What's this?"

"Daddy's big-girl pants."

We were reading nursery rhymes, and I started reading one out. Delphine said "No, no, Mummy, that's my!" ("My" is "mine".) And then she read it out. After she was done I turned the page and said "Do you want to do this one too?"

"No, you can do it. It's not hard."


She's such a little person. She is taking really well to the baby; she comforts her ("It's okay, baby, you don't have to cry.") and tucks blankets around her and stuffs the soother in her mouth (whether she wants it or not) and wants me to help her when she cries.

Today Blake took the day off (because he is a good husband. Delphine was only in daycare one day this week, and Blake has only been back at work for a couple of weeks so he knew that I was kind of overwhelmed by the idea of four days this week with both girls, so he took the day off today. He doesn't bring me flowers or take me out to fancy dinners, but stuff like that is so much better.) and we played. Delphine and I made pancakes (she is a top-notch stirrer) for breakfast, and then we went down to the playground at the school. Blake and Delphine ran around and climbed stuff while I watched and held Cordelia. Then we came home for hot chocolate and Jamaican patties, then a nap.

After naptime we played with Cordelia (Delphine blanketed and de-blanketed her about twenty times) and went out for coffee, and ate the rest of Delphine's Hallowe'en candy (she did not share). She played some games with her new flower toys, who are called Baba and Zeyda, and looked out the window. ("The clouds are pink, and white. There is water in the sky. Daddy! There is water in the sky.")

Then there was more patty, and Baba and Zeyda (the real ones) came over to pick Delphine up for her sleepover, which might just be a regular Friday thing. It was such a nice, easy, sweet day. The kind of day you imagine when you picture yourself with kids.

We are poking gingerly at the idea of potty training. Delphine is so conflicted between being a big girl with big girl pants, and being a little baby in diapers like Cordelia. It's painful to watch. We put her in pull-ups today but the experiment failed dismally; it's obvious she's not really ready. Fortunately they don't seem to mind changing diapers at daycare, even though she has moved to the preschool room.

I have a three-pronged plan of attack to get her out of diapers: First, I am going to help her practice getting to the potty (I think "run to the potty!" sounds like a fun game) and taking off her pants. Second, I'm going to try getting her to sit on the potty several times a day. Finally, I think I will also switch her back to cloth diapers. I'm getting sick of paying for disposable, and I think they will help her (and me) figure out when she has peed. Hopefully between that and the fact that all the kids in the preschool room are potty trained, she will soon be using the potty for herself, but if not I will launch a more intensive campaign in January, after the new baby/Christmas upheaval is over. Because what the hell else is there to do in January?

[Posted at 19:52 by Amy Brown] link
Early November Reading

The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of the Oil Age, Climate Change , and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century by James Howard Kunstler

I've read Stephen King, I've read Dean Koontz, I've read Clive Barker, Lovecraft, Poe. I have read some scary shit, but this is the scariest book I have ever read. It's about all the bad stuff which is coming down the pipe: the inevitable flu pandemic, climate change, and the end of the fossil fuelled economy. Basically he says, if we get through all this without blowing ourselves up or dying of thirst, we will be back in a pre-industrial-type society (he doesn't think much of the alternative fuel options), along with a vastly curtailed population. He thinks cities are doomed, he hates suburbs with a vigor unrivalled since my office mate Rajko, and he thinks towns and small cities are where it's at. He also thinks you should work on a post-industrial trade. He plans to publish a newsletter.

The guy is deadly serious. I have to find out if he's a kook or not. The book has no bibliography or index, which is certainly a bad sign. On the other hand it's clear to me that our society relies on fossil fuels to an alarming and unneccessary extent. Do we really need mangoes in February? Holidays in Hawai'i? Hot showers every day? Well, maybe that last one.

The fact that the oil reserves and other fossil fuels are running out sheds an interesting light on the issue of global warming. We're going to use all the available fossil fuels sooner or later. Does it make any difference if we use them up in fifty years or two hundred? The process of climate change is so slow and gradual and complex that I don't think it would make a difference, although as always I could be wrong.

Bottom line, this was a thought-provoking and easy (and scary) read. Kunstler is a cranky old man -- he hates the suburbs and he has some rude things to say about Southerners -- and it's always fun to hang out with the cranky, for a little while at least.

Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time by David Prerau

My problem with daylight saving time has always been that I don't understand why people don't just get up early, if they're so keen to have more sunshine. It drives me nuts when they say "you get more daylight". No you don't! There is the same amount of light, idiot! And, despite the fact that people stare at me uncomprehendingly when I say that now, apparently that was one of the main objections to DST when it was first proposed. Apparently the deal is that, sure the individual could just wake up early, but it's really hard to get businesses to open earlier and close earlier, so just fake 'em out by changing the clock. Having read the book I am now a proponent of DST, or double-DST, or whatever it takes to fit clock-time to sun-time.

It was a pretty good read, although I got a little tired of daylight saving time by the end of it. There is only so much you can say about people arguing over the clock, I guess.

The Everything Potty Training Book by Linda Sonna

Everything it certainly is. This book covers plenty of different methods, including a hard-core one-weekend method which requires you to be a drill sergeant, and a potty-train-your-infant method which sounds intriguing.

Every other book mocks the grandmotherly claim that babies were trained before a year of age in the days of yore, but apparently it was done. Which, having read the Long Emergency book, makes sense. No-one is going to put up with handwashing shitty diapers every day for three years if there is any possible alternative. It seems the baby-training method is more like training a puppy, whereas the toddler training methods require more conscious effort on the part of the child. She recommends a couple of books on the infant training method, so I will read further.

The problem with this book is that it covers many different methods and they get all muddled in your head. With some methods, you get the kid to help clean up their accidents, with some you don't. With some methods you reward success on the potty, with some you don't. It's hard to keep track of which is which, let alone which one you are using.

Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy by Candace Havens

As you may guess from the title, this is pretty much a 162-page fellation of Joss Whedon. It's kind of cheap and tacky too, with a large font, lots of pull quotes and pictures, and some fairly bad writing. I think people would take Whedon more seriously if stuff about him and his work wasn't so Tiger Beat-ish.

[Posted at 14:30 by Amy Brown] link
Fri, 04 Nov 2005
She's so advanced.

This one is precocious, I can tell already. How can I tell? I was nursing her this afternoon, and she bit me. She bit me! She is only five weeks old! She doesn't even have any teeth! Delphine didn't bite me until she was at least five months old.

[Posted at 13:28 by Amy Brown] link
Thu, 03 Nov 2005
An Eye

This is cute. Really cute. I'll have to play it for Delphine when I get home.

[Posted at 15:59 by Blake Winton] link