Blog-o! Notes from latte.ca

Thu, 28 Feb 2008
Too Different!

When I went to pick Delphine up from school this afternoon, she burst into tears as soon as she saw me. One of the other moms pointed her out to me; "Isn't that yours crying up there?" The teacher, a substitute, said "She just started crying, I don't know what happened!"

I asked Delphine, "Did something happen?" She shook her head. "Did someone do something?" No. "Did you lose something?" No. "Did you hurt yourself?" No. "Are you going to tell me why you're crying?" No. So I didn't press the issue, and we started walking home. After we had said goodbye to Delphine's friend and walked a few more steps, Delphine said "There was a different teacher, and Mrs Hollister said it was going to be Mrs Green or Mrs Turk and it wasn't any of them! And we had music in the gym, not in music! Everything was too different!" And she sobbed. She went on to detail further how things were different (she had lunch at a friend's house instead of home, and the gym was all set up for a concert, not like normal). She was really upset! I remember hating things to be different when I was a kid, so my heart went out to her. Once we got home we read a book and cuddled on the couch, and she seems to feel better now.

I hope things aren't so different tomorrow!

[Posted at 16:37 by Amy Brown] link
Wed, 27 Feb 2008

Hopefully this all just works. Include A&B, and 4 < 5.

Headers

Smaller headers

Blockquotes.

  • Lists
  • of
  • things

    Blocks of python code could be here.


etc, etc.

Okay, so now that I’ve determined that it works, here’s how I did it: I added a new entry parser, called pymarkdown.py, to my plugins directory. The content of the code looks like this:

FILE_EXT = 'md'

__version__ = 'pymarkdown 0.1'
__author__ = 'Blake Winton <bwinton+python@latte.ca>'

import markdown

try:
    from Pyblosxom import tools
except ImportError:
    pass

def cb_entryparser(entryparsingdict):
       """
       Register self as markdown file handler
       """
       entryparsingdict[FILE_EXT] = parse
       return entryparsingdict

def parse(filename, request):
    """
    We just read everything off the file here, using the filename as
    title
    """
    entrydata = {}

    f = open(filename, "r")
    lines = f.readlines()
    f.close()

    # strip off the first line and use that as the title.
    title = lines.pop(0).strip()
    entrydata['title'] = title

    # absorb meta data lines which begin with a # and consist
    # of a name and a value
    while lines and lines[0].startswith("#"):
        meta = lines.pop(0)
        meta = meta[1:].strip()     # remove the hash
        meta = meta.split(" ", 1)
        entrydata[meta[0].strip()] = meta[1].strip()

    # join the rest of the lines as the story
    story = ''.join(lines)
    story = markdown.markdown( story )
    entrydata['body'] = story

    return entrydata

And you’re done.

I guess you might be wondering why I would bother doing that, since both Amy and I are obviously comfortable writing straight HTML. Well, DrProject is switching from a custom-built Wiki-ish-syntax parser to a third-party Markdown parser, and I figured this would give me a bit of a headstart on getting used to the new syntax, and also give me a bit of a playground for testing out new features that I might want to add.

[Posted at 12:16 by Blake Winton] link
Thu, 21 Feb 2008
So Much Snow

This Tuesday we were treated to a most peculiar sight; our street, which usually has between six and ten cars parked on it, was empty of cars but full of two Bobcats and a huge yellow snow eating/spitting machine, and a steady succession of dump trucks being filled with snow. We have had so much snow this winter (a storm every three days in February alone) that the city has given up trying to shovel it around and is trucking it away to who knows where? And in order to get the job done they have resorted to the extreme measure of towing people's cars around the corner, moving the snow, then towing the cars back (I think, or maybe they just leave the cars where they dropped them!). It's costing millions and it's a little crazy, but I'm glad they did it because it was getting almost impossible to get over the huge snowbanks at every intersection, even with the awesome stroller.

As far as I am concerned, spring cannot come too soon this year. Although I suspect we're in for a spell more winter yet.

[Posted at 14:43 by Amy Brown] link
Two Nice Days

Today has been nice, so far. I managed to jettison my children — Cordelia to nursery school and Delphine to a friend's house — and then I went to Doug Miller Books and talked with Doug Miller himself about the sad state of kids' books, then up to Bean Sprout and chatted for a bit with the girl there about our sad little house and our big reno and our big debt. Then I emerged into the sunshine and realized, not for the first time, that the thing which makes this stay-at-home mom thing so hard for me is how lonely it is. I am not one of those solitary people, one of those people who needs time alone to recharge; I need people. I would be happy if I had friends at my house all the time.

If you ask my friend Jeff from work he will tell you I spent half my time at the office hanging out with him talking about movies and TV shows and life. What he doesn't know is that I spent the other half online chatting with my brother and on my favourite message board. (Yeah, I didn't get much work done, although no-one seemed to mind.) One of my favourite times of my life was when I was in university, when there was always someone around to hang out with no matter what time of day, even if it was only some creepy Unix guy with a dirty beard.

But here I am, here I have been for almost five years, with very little company. Sometimes a friend comes over, and that's great, but mostly it's just me and the little ones, and they keep me busy and they're fun to be around (except when they're not) but they're no substitute for grown-up company. And I realized today I think that's one of the reasons I'm such a sucker for these ensemble dramas, like Firefly and Torchwood; because I miss that cameraderie and rapport and just plain companionship.

So today was good, pathetically enough, because the sun was shining in that way that makes you think maybe, one day, spring will come, and because I had a little time to myself, unhurried, to get some jobs done, and because I got to hang out with Doug Miller and the Bean Sprout girl whose name I don't even know and have some company and talk about things I care about with people who know how I feel. And I feel a little bit nourished, a little bit more filled up, a little bit less lonely.


Lest you think I'm one of those horrible mothers who is only happy when she gets away from her children, let me tell you about Family Day. Family Day is the contrived excuse for a February long weekend that the Ontario government has decreed. I am all for a long weekend in winter — I have been saying we need one for years — but I think if you are the kind of person who spends long weekends with your family you will anyway, and if you aren't nothing Dalton McGuinty says is going to make you want to.

But we like to spend our free time together, so this first Family Day, after the girls and I had breakfast we gathered all the saved-up paper towel rolls and cereal boxes and popsicle sticks and packing tape together and built a crazy castle with turrets and towers all akimbo, and then Delphine and Cordelia strapped on their smocks and I got out the poster paint and they decorated the thing, which is now on display on our desk in the living room. I figure we can keep decorating it for years, probably.

That was all done and cleaned-up-after by ten thirty, so I kicked the family into action to help me vacuum (they pick up all the toys and small furniture off the floor and I vacuum). Delphine went off to a friend's house for lunch, and while Cordelia was napping I read pages and pages of my book — chapters and chapters! — while Blake did I don't know what. Something on the computer, I think.

After Delphine came home and Cordelia woke up we all made calzone together, then the girls went to bed and Blake and I watched TV (guess what we watched?) and it was pretty much my perfect day. Playing and reading and cooking and a freshly vacuumed house? Heaven.

[Posted at 14:36 by Amy Brown] link
Wed, 20 Feb 2008
Whingeing

Pronounced "windjing", it means "complaining persistently and in a peevish or irritating way". Since so much of my blogging (and indeed most people's) is devoted to general or specific pissing and moaning, I thought I'd better give it its own category. Not so much to elevate the whiny posts, but to segregate them from the rest of the weblog, the parts which might give you the impression that I'm a normal well-adjusted person and not a neurotic whining freak.

I had a teeny tiny breakdown this morning. It started yesterday; I was reading a book and one of the characters was talking about lying awake all night with insomnia. Luckily I have never had trouble sleeping, because the very thought of trying to deal with the children and get through a day without any sleep (or even without the seven hours which I absolutely need) got me into a bit of a panic. Then I got to thinking about how one person raising a family, alone for most of the day, is completely abnormal from a biological point of view. Humans are pack animals, we are supposed to live in extended family groups. I should have grannies and aunties and big sisters and cousins around to help me with my kids while I help with theirs. I shouldn't have to pull Cordelia out of her nap every single day to pick Delphine up from school, or drag Delphine away from her activities so we can get Cordelia from her school.

So there was all that, and on top of it the children are fighting like ferrets in a sack all the time, or at least it seems like it, and furthermore Delphine has started to explore the exciting world of misbehaviour and deception — and I'm feeling singularly unqualified to deal with that — and I have a cough and a sinus infection and it's bloody cold outside — I am so sick of winter — and I'm tired and all I want to do is sit on the couch eating brownies and watching Jack Harkness kiss people, which isn't going to happen until I have dragged my carcass through another sorry day of this madness. The nice thing about working in an office is that you can phone it in for a day, or a week, or even a month or two and no-one seems to notice, but as a Mom you have to step up and cook and clean and pick up and drop off every single bloody blessed day with no reprieve. Well, except after bedtime. Thank god for bedtime. And thank god my kids are as good as they are, because as Blake's mother says, "You think this is bad, you should see regular children!"

And that has been the whinge for today. Thank you very much.

[Posted at 14:43 by Amy Brown] link
Tue, 19 Feb 2008
Three Shows

Three TV shows worth watching: Chuck, which looks like absolute cheesy crap but it has great characters, and it's funny, and hey, it has Jayne! Battlestar Galactica, which pretty much everyone knows about now. Fantastic characters (that's mainly what I look for in a TV show) and thought-provoking plot lines. And last but not least, my current favourite, Torchwood, the show that makes me wish Leontine still worked for the BBC so she could design a cool box for the DVD and then send it to me. With the DVDs in it. Russell T. Davies is a brilliant writer who has created an ensemble of witty, subtle and interesting (oh, and gorgeous) characters and put them in a universe which keeps throwing horrible things at them. If you miss Buffy, this is the show for you.

Edited to add: (I mentioned this to Blake yesterday and he said I should post it. I guess any vestigial signs of intelligence should be encouraged.) Torchwood is the show Angel would have been if it had been better written and David Boreanaz was a better actor: it's dark, sexy, adult, scary, with lots of great one-liners and sex. Plenty of sex.

Jeez. Apparently I am not the first person to make that connection; Russell T. Davies was. Well, he did borrow Spike, didn't he.

[Posted at 15:10 by Amy Brown] link
Sat, 16 Feb 2008
Miss Independent

Delphine is a few months shy of turning five, and she has become a tremendously capable and independent little thing, to the point that I am having trouble figuring out where to set limits.

I recently read a wonderful book called Breaking the Good Mom Myth by Alyson Schafer. Schafer is an Adlerian psychotherapist, and the Adlerian philosphy basically says, among other things, that you should throw as much responsibility on your child as they can handle. This is something Blake and I have been doing all along, but the book features an inspiring list of things that kids should be able to do at each age. By the time she's eight she'll be running the whole household!

Delphine's been dressing herself since she was two, and she can easily handle the putting on of winter gear that some kids older than her are still getting helped with. (I was going to say they couldn't manage it, but I am sure they could if their parents would just leave them to it.) But lately the independence has been getting out of hand. The other morning I came downstairs to see that Delphine had used a steak knife to slice a chunk, for breakfast, off an old moldy loaf I had forgotten about. Yesterday she used my facecloths to clean up after her friend peed on the bedroom floor. It's like there's no challenge she can't face alone!

Which is great, but we are going to have to draw some lines and make some rules. The first rule has to be about knives, specifically don't touch them. The second has to be something about cleaning up messes, I think. Cleaning up messes is just very complicated, what with the different products and tools, not to mention the biohazard factor. A grown-up has to be involved. I am sure we will figure out the limits we need to set, but in the meantime it's pretty exciting to see her growing up.

[Posted at 13:27 by Amy Brown] link

Due to various factors, it has come to pass that Cordelia has been the subject of a parent-teacher interview several months before her older sister will be. I was supposed to meet with Cordelia's nursery school teachers back in December, but I barely had time to breathe let alone sit around talking about my kids (usually my favourite pastime). So I finally managed to meet with Lakeisha and Simone a couple of weeks ago.

My original thought was, this is going to be kind of pointless; Cordelia's two, she plays in water and makes pictures and builds towers out of blocks. How much is there going to be to say? But as it turns out I am really glad I went because hearing about how she behaves in school has given me a whole perspective on Cordelia.

Apparently Cordelia is very focussed in class; she will work on something for ten or fifteen minutes. If you know anything about two-year-olds you know how weird that is; usually they do stuff for a couple of minutes then move on to the next thing. The "Your X-Year-Old" series of books has a little overhead diagram of a room with various activities set up, and then a map of a typical kid's path through that room, and the map for the two-year-old is like a bowl of spaghetti. Not Cordelia. I saw an example of that focus in action the other day at supper as she painstakingly shelled three snow pea pods. (Ever since we gave them edamame my kids have had trouble knowing what peas need to be shelled.) She apparently also comes back to things; the teachers know to leave her pictures or whatever out because she'll come back later to work on them.

She has only been talking at school since after Christmas; she's been talking for us for ages, but she held back at school and now they're astounded at her voice. Well, mostly the other children. "She talks!" But what Lakeisha and Simone actually said — and if you know Cordelia in person you should make sure you're sitting down right now — is, "They're surprised when she talks because she's usually so quiet." Quiet! Apparently the Cordelia at school is the quiet, studious Cordelia.

She's also observant; she was the first and only kid to notice a new science table the day I went to visit, and she examined everything on it with her (apparently) usual thoroughness.

I am really pleased I went to the meeting and was able to hear about this other side of Cordelia. I think the problem with having exactly two kids is that you end up forcing them into false dichotomies: Delphine is the quiet one, therefore Cordelia must be the loud one; Delphine is the studious one, therefore Cordelia must be the flippertigibbet. This was an excellent reminder that it is profoundly important to step back and see my children for who they really are, not just who they aren't because that's who their sister is. Otherwise I risk missing the most wonderful and interesting parts of them.

This has also made me really glad that I put Cordelia in nursery school, despite the gruelling mess it makes of my day twice a week. (I'm the mother, what the hell else am I doing anyway?) It's such a great opportunity for her to blossom outside of the home and away from her sister and me.

And finally, I am very excited about Delphine's parent-teacher interview. What surprises has my oldest been hiding? What will I learn about her? I can't wait.

[Posted at 12:14 by Amy Brown] link
Fri, 15 Feb 2008

I was reading a presentation about how to write better software for non-developers, and it said:

I would refuse to work on any sort of collaborative software development project that doesn’t use version control.

I totally agree. Heck, I even use version control for my personal one-off projects. But it got me wondering what people use at their jobs, so I asked my friends who were on instant messenger, as a straw poll. The results were shockingly unanimous. Subversion. 8 for 8. I regret to say that I’m not using Subversion at my job, but that may change someday. In the meantime, leave a comment, and tell me what you’re using at work or at home, either to make me feel better, or to rub my nose in it.

Update: One person uses Clear Case. I’ve heard good things about Clear Case.

[Posted at 15:03 by Blake Winton] link
Thu, 14 Feb 2008

For some reason I am feeling a bit melancholy this afternoon, so I thought I would buck up and listen to some music and do some housework.

First my iPod gave me "Why Worry" by Dire Straits, which is kind of a bummer song anyway, and which reminds me of my brother Dave (see above) who I miss these days. Then came on "Song for a Winter's Night" by Sarah McLachlan, which for some reason always makes me really lonely for my mother, and I thought what the hell, no-one's around, why not shed a few tears. Then that song ended and I thought good, that's enough gloom! What's next?

"Close Your Eyes", the Buffy and Angel theme from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Kill me now. With a big sword. Even though you really love me. It's for the good of the world.

[Posted at 14:03 by Amy Brown] link
Sun, 10 Feb 2008
Almost current.

There was a new version of Sketches in my update queue the last time I checked. The main feature of this one is the ability to draw shapes, like arrows, ovals, and rectangles, as shown below.


[Posted at 21:12 by Blake Winton] link