Blog-o! Notes from

Wed, 27 Sep 2006
Oh yeah, and...

Today was Cordelia's birthday. She's one! She walks! She's funny and awesome and tomorrow we are taking her to the doctor so I will tell you if she's abnormally tall or whatever.

We had a nice day; Blake took the day off, we went out for pastries this morning, baked a cake, went to the library, went for pastries (again), went to look at a house, came home, iced the cake, had a little tea party with Ursa and her posse and Baba and Zaida, and bought the house. Because isn't that what every little girl wants on her birthday? A new house?

[Posted at 23:32 by Amy Brown] link

So. We bought a house. Yeah.

It's little. It's dark. It's a semi-detached and it is about four feet away from the other neighbour, the one who isn't attached. It hasn't been renovated for twenty years; it is very much like a time capsule.

On the other hand, it has been impeccably maintained; the paint is perfect, the woodwork is flawless, and it's spotless. It wasn't terribly much money (for the area) so we will have a little extra to do urgent fix-ups (hello, dishwasher?) It is on an amazing street in a perfect neighbourhood in exactly the location I wanted. It has a 180-foot-deep lot so we have miles of backyard, which means we can add additions and decks and patios on the back and still have room for a garden and playhouse for the girls. And a circus tent. And a helicopter pad. It has three big bedrooms and a big kitchen.

Go look, pictures are here.

[Posted at 23:28 by Amy Brown] link
Tue, 26 Sep 2006
Talk About Your Holy Wars

In the toddler room at Delphine's daycare there is a Gabriel, a Michael, a Heaven... and a Darwin. There must be some almighty fights in there.

[Posted at 12:17 by Amy Brown] link

Yesterday I was talking to Auntie Morgan on the telephone. Delphine wanted to talk to her so I put her on. They talked for a while and then Delphine told Morgan about her new balloon.

"It's over there," she pointed. "I will show it to you."

Then she spent some time trying to figure out how to get the phone out of the kitchen (where it is attached to the wall) into the living room where her balloon was. Finally I asked her if she would like me to hold the phone for her while she went to get her balloon.

"Yeah, you hold it. Don't talk though! Don't talk! Just hold it!"

So Morgan and I had a secret whispered conversation while Delphine went to retrieve her balloon. Then after she had "shown" the balloon to Morgan she started playing with it and got distracted from her telephone conversation. After I said "Don't forget to talk to Auntie Morgan!" a couple of times, Morgan said "Should we say 'good-bye' now?" and Delphine said "Bye." and handed the phone back to me. She's a charmer, that one.

She just came running out of the bedroom, said "You're not my friend, Cordelia," and ran back in.

[Posted at 12:15 by Amy Brown] link
Sun, 24 Sep 2006
What's Next?

I feel strangely deflated now that my first run is behind me, although I have another month to go in my running clinic to give me something to work on. (We are doing eight and ones next weekend; how I am going to go from five and twos to eight and ones I do not know).

I think I will sign up for a 5K sometime this winter or early spring to keep me honest over the winter and give me something to aim for: I would like to improve my time by running for a larger proportion of the time. I will need some kind of external incentive because I can really see myself forgetting about running altogether in the chilly winter evenings. Although I bet Michelle wouldn't let me.

In the summer of '07 I will do two or three 5Ks, then maybe another over the winter (if I feel like I need it to keep my momentum up). Then in '08 I'd like to do the Sporting Life 10K (because it's mainly downhill!) and the 10K in the zoo (because the zoo is cool). Maybe by '09 I'll be ready for a half-marathon, or maybe I will do a couple more 10Ks, and do a half-marathon in '10... we'll see.

Of course this could be derailed by unforseen circumstances, but so could any plan; no reason not to make it!

[Posted at 21:11 by Amy Brown] link

I did it, I finished my first run! I did the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 5K in 42 minutes, doing intervals of two minutes of walking and five minutes of running. It was a good pace, fairly challenging but not so hard that I felt like I wasn't going to make it.

It was cool to run in a real race, although there was a marked difference between the 5K and the "real" races; we had little kids, people with special needs, people who clearly intended to amble the route (not that there's anything wrong with a nice amble, but I'm not sure I'd choose Lakeshore for it). There was even a woman enjoying a nice, bracing cigarette before the race began! But hey, it was a good start and I'm really glad I did it.

[Posted at 21:03 by Amy Brown] link
Thu, 21 Sep 2006
More Five and One

Five and ones have been kicking my ass lately and I don't know why; the first couple of times were fine but ever since then I have had that cruddy bronchitis feeling in my chest every time I run.

For some reason I have been a complete slacker this week. I ran on Sunday, and I was going to run on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Then I didn't run on Tuesday because I was deathly tired and felt kind of sick; so I planned to run on Wednesday and Friday, and skip Saturday to rest up for my 5K on Sunday. But on Wednesday we went to see a house in the evening; the house was crap so I was grumpy and just felt like sitting on the couch eating, so that's what I did.

So now it's Thursday and I just got back from a rather half-hearted 2.2K run, complete with that bronchitis feeling, but hey, at least I ran. I will run 2K on Saturday and go to bed early so I am nice and fresh for the 5K on Sunday.

I have to say, if this were a 5K run instead of a 5K run/walk I would totally not be ready. I have never run 5K; I have never even run 4K -- we supposedly did a 4K run in the clinic last week, but really everyone stopped running after 3.5K and walked the rest of the way. Fortunately it is a run/walk, so I will do five and twos and do my damnedest to keep up that pace for the full 5K. And next time I do a 5K I will do it at ten and ones, so there.

[Posted at 21:29 by Amy Brown] link
Sat, 16 Sep 2006
Some VSS to Subversion notes.

From various places around the net. (Hint: Google "vss to subversion".)

  • Lock-modify-unlock for Svn. Not that that's what I think we should bd doing, but if I've got to sell it, and that's a sticking point, at least I have an answer now.
  • Subversion is said to be much faster. "Our CC.NET build went from 3 minutes to 35 seconds for whole tree!!!!" I haven't looked up how much of our nightly build time is spent getting files from VSS, but I seem to remember it's not inconsiderable, and that step has been failing more often recently, so if we can make it both faster and more reliable, that'll be a good selling point.
  • Ankhsvn (Wow, what a horrible front page! If I were Greg Wilson, and grading them on it, they'ld get a 51%. I mean, it's there, so I'm not going to fail you, but for the love of Pete, hire a graphic designer, or look at the other two links in this entry, or something. Please.) or PushOK or VisualSVN for Visual Studio integration, but everyone seems to use TortoiseSvn. I wonder if there's something similar for OSX? Fortunately, Eclipse integration is good enough that I don't really mind falling back to the command line client when I have to, but still.
  • A presentation on "Replacing SourceSafe with SubVersion".
  • A Perl script (shudder) to migrate your VSS repository to svn.

And there you go. Management has been feeling the pain recently, and the Server Team Lead seems onboard with the idea, so we might actually make the change. Exciting times.

[Posted at 20:00 by Blake Winton] link
Wed, 13 Sep 2006
Increasing Intervals

This post started as a response to Jillian's comment in my last post; my response started getting really long so I figured I would post it instead.

Here's what Jill said:

Fives and ones. I am in awe. I'm still doing twos and ones. Although perhaps that's because I live in the boonies and drive everywhere.

Someday I'll get an interval timer so I don't have to look at my watch every three steps. That might speed me up a little.

Hey, two and ones are better than, say, the none and nones I was doing before this! I have been increasing my running time every week or so fairly religiously. I talked with Blake about it and he agreed that there's no point in waiting until one time becomes "easy" before moving up. I mean, I guess it gets easier but never what I would call easy. But then somehow the next step up isn't all that much harder, and lo and behold here I am at five and ones without ever feeling that I have over-exerted myself. It's kind of weird, really.

Having a good timer must help a lot. I am going to buy myself one of those cute little pink and purple Timex running watches as a reward for completing the 5K, I think (with my Running Room clinic coupon). Right now I am using a hundred-year-old watch borrowed from Blake which only does one interval per set, so if I want to do five and ones I set it for six minutes, watch it obsessively for the first minute while I walk, and then run until it beeps. It does the trick for now, but it is neither pink and purple nor cute.

Some opportunistic bacteria have taken advantage of my allergically stuffed-up sinuses and set up residence there so now I have added sore teeth and joint pain and general all-over misery to my existing repertoire of sneezing and stuffiness, ironically just in time for the ragweed pollen count to go down. What this has to do with running is that I skipped my run last night, which wouldn't be so bad except I skipped my run on Sunday too, due to being lazy and full after a big family dinner. So now I have skipped two runs in a row and I am beginning to get annoyed with myself. I should really have gone out on Sunday; perhaps even eaten less so I wouldn't have been so lethargic! Now there's an idea.

I was having a look at the map for the marathon I am not running on the 24th. Notice how the 5K isn't even shown on the map? That's because the resolution of the map isn't high enough to show the itty-bitty 5K route. Damn, marathons are long! I know, news at eleven, but look at that thing! These people are running all the way out to the Beaches, oh, but that's not far enough so on the way, let's run all the way down Leslie Spit and back, and oh hey, that's still not far enough, we have to double back all the way through downtown, past Roncesvalles, past High Park, to.. I don't even know where that is! Etobicoke? Someplace I never go! AND THEN BACK DOWNTOWN!

Marathons are long, dude.

[Posted at 09:28 by Amy Brown] link
Mon, 11 Sep 2006
And what else?

I have allergies, killer ragweed allergies. I never used to be allergic to anything until a couple of years ago. I think I will blame the children. I can blame Cordelia, this year, for preventing me from taking anything; we are still nursing and there isn't much you're allowed to take. So I walk around with a head full of cement all day and use a nasal decongestant spray at night so I can sleep. This sucks. Apparently ragweed season goes until November. That sucks too.

In other news, we are poking at the idea of moving. More than poking, actually; we are submitting our mortgage application today to find out how much house we can afford. I hope we will have a new place by Christmas, although we're not on any sort of a deadline so we can take as much time as we need to find a good house.

So I'm packing up and getting rid of things and making lists and all those sorts of things that people do, and that's mostly why I am not posting here very much; if I have time to blog then I have time to pack a box or two, so I do that instead. Which I should go do now...

[Posted at 10:55 by Amy Brown] link
She Walks

Cordelia's walking. Just a few steps at a time, and she would rather crawl if she's in a hurry, but she's definitely walking, in her eleventh month.

Otherwise not much is going on (surely that's enough?). She is cute and funny and if you make kissy noises while you are holding her she will dive bomb your face with mouth wide open for a big sloppy kiss. She still has two naps a day, although they are getting shorter and more fitful and I expect she will move to one nap fairly soon. She sleeps from six fifteen or so in the evening until six in the morning. Except for the other day; the other day she slept until seven and I literally went into her room to make sure she wasn't dead. (She wasn't.)

And in a couple of weeks we will be having a birthday celebration! Mostly I am really excited because it means we can give her egg; her not eating egg makes it seem like every interesting food in the world has egg in it. Pancakes! Muffins! Scrambled... well... egg!

She has an uncanny ability to find any unguarded toilet and play with it. I am almost tempted to thoroughly clean one of the toilets and just assign it to her. And she just spread the contents of one box of toys over three rooms-worth of floor. And I wonder why I have a bad back. She's trouble, this one. But cute.

[Posted at 10:42 by Amy Brown] link

I feel like I haven't updated for ages, but it has only been a couple of weeks. But what did I read? I was working on A Son of the Circus by John Irving for a while, but I got stuck on it. I think I am trying too hard to look for symbolism and subtext and stuff and not just blasting through the story like I usually do. Or else it's just not very interesting, I am not sure which. I'll get back to it sometime.

After I gave up on that I read Bloodletting And Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam, a collection of connected stories about a group of medical students in Toronto. I quite enjoyed these stories; Lam is an effective writer with a nice turn of phrase, and I enjoyed getting a glimpse into the lives of medical students and doctors. (Lam is a Toronto doctor as well as a writer.)

And I feel like I must have read some more but I guess blocking on the Irving book just felt like reading a lot.

I am trying to work on keeping notes when I read but mostly I forget to do it. I am not sure how to take notes when I read fiction; what should I write down? I think I will try noting when I think something is an image or a metaphor, and then go back and try and figure out what it means later. With non-fiction I really need to make a note at the end of each chapter on what the chapter was about. I recently recommended a book to a friend; she ended up hating it but it has been so long since I read it that I can barely remember what I liked about it. So I just had to nod; "yeah, book sucks. Right."

Must... get... smarter...

[Posted at 10:21 by Amy Brown] link

Still running... I am up to five minutes of running and one minute of walking, and it's easier than I thought it would be. My friend Michelle said that, physically, it never got harder for her than one and ones, which is heartening. And I have to say I agree, so far. Running five minutes isn't particularly harder than running four minutes, which wasn't much worse than running three minutes... In fact, I rather enjoy five and ones because five minutes is long enough to really get into the running part. With shorter intervals I found I spent a lot of time wondering if it was almost time to stop running yet, but you can't really do that for five minutes, so instead you think about other things, houses and school and work and life, and then when the beeper beeps telling you to walk it comes as a pleasant surprise rather than something you have been obsessing about for the last minute and a half.

The 5K run (I hate to call it a "race" since I am not running for speed, just completion) that I signed up for is on the 24th. So far the farthest I have run is 3.75 K, but I am not too worried about going 5K. I will try and run it (with walking breaks) and if I can't manage it I will walk it in. No harm done.

The Learn To Run clinic I am taking is getting a little lamer; there was one really cool girl who dropped out two weeks ago, and now the only people I want to talk to are really fast, so I am stuck at the back running with boring, annoying people who act like they are doing me a favour running slow with me. I think it's actually harder to run with someone boring than to just go by myself. To add insult to injury, the instructor seems to think that I need lots of encouragement and chivvying along; "How are you doing? Are you okay? You can walk if it's too hard." Just because I am fat doesn't mean I am out of shape, lady, I walk more in a day than most of you do in a week; I think everyone in the clinic drives there except me. Ah well, I didn't get into this to make friends.

[Posted at 09:50 by Amy Brown] link
Fri, 08 Sep 2006

Okay, y'all know by now that we've got a new Mac. And in the grand tradition of new computers, I'm trying to burn up all the hard drive space with fun or useful utilities. Since this is pretty much my first exposure to OSX, anything goes, since I probably haven't heard of it.

Having said that, here's what I have found:

  • QuickSilver
  • I installed Growl, but I don't think anything is using it, other than Transmission.
  • TextWrangler (Freeware, from the people who make BBEdit) is surprisingly my editor of choice. (Well, except for this post.) I was sure I'ld stick with vim, being old-skool like that, but I find I want to save my Terminal window for running things, and edit my source in an editor.

Oh, and the two neat new tricks I've learned so far are:

  • Command-Shift-4, then the spacebar to take a screenshot of just one window, and
  • sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/ LoginwindowText -string "My Funny Message!!!"
    to print a message on the login window.

[Posted at 20:39 by Blake Winton] link
Wed, 06 Sep 2006
Response to Tim Bray.

In a recent weblog entry, Tim Bray wrote about some things he thought Ruby lacked. Since he doesn't have comments enabled, I thought I would share my opinions here, as a series of disjointed thoughts.

He said "Ruby needs an IDE. All programming languages need IDEs." Well, I completely agree with that, and for my serious Python programming (as opposed to noodling around in Python), I tend to use Eclipse, because it's there. Perhaps Ruby could take the same approach...

Of course, he also said a couple of things where I think he's a little off the mark. For instance "I should never have to scroll much; IDEs go to a lot of trouble to make it trivial to jump from wherever to the source for the method being called, or its docs, or the next compile error or breakpoint, or variable declaration, or whatever. Scrolling back and forth in a source-code file is just stupid." This I see more as a problem with his choice of editor, or perhaps his knowledge of its features. I'm fairly sure both emacs and vi allow you to jump to the things he's asking for...

"certain aspects of Unicode are, on the surface at least, objectively racist; for example, why does UTF-8 encoding of characters become progressively less efficient as you move from the languages of the Western hemisphere to those of the East?" Hmm... I don't know... My first guess would be because Western languages have approximately a 10,000th the number of characters as Eastern languages. My second guess would have something to do with Huffman coding and the prevalence of Western Language (mainly English) documents on the net, but I do recognize that this could be due to my only being able to read English.

As for Integration, isn't that what Parrot, .NET, and the JVM are supposed to provide us? If I'm wrong, and the language level is the appropriate level to solve this problem, then I sincerely hope that it's the Ruby and Python communities who get together to do something.

And finally, he missed what I consider to be the most important part of an IDE. (No, not Source Control Integration!) An integrated debugger. I had to go back to print statements to figure out what was happening in Demokritos recently, and it just sucked. So I added in some pdb support, and while it was easy to add the breakpoints, using it also sucked. Can we please show me the list of variables in a box at the top of my screen, and more than zero lines of context around the currently executing line? Please? It was so bad that I'm actually going to install Eclipse on my Mac Mini, just to avoid it in the future.

[Posted at 13:51 by Blake Winton] link