Blog-o! Notes from

Wed, 27 Oct 2010
Cordelia is Five

Actually Cordelia turned five exactly a month ago, but I haven't had time to blog about it until now. (I want to blog about that, too. Who knows if I will find the time…)

We had a little birthday party for her – her first real party with friends. She invited Ursa and Otis, Scarlett, Anna, and Zoey. And Amelia kind of crashed – Delphine invited her. The kids decorated loot bags, played freeze dance and What Time Is It Mr. Wolf?, and some other games. (Big thanks to Tanya for playing games with everyone. I hate games.) We ordered pizza, which is so lame but I didn't feel like prepping a bunch of stuff, and then we had cake. Cordelia requested a rainbow cake with plain icing (I upsold her to chocolate icing) and Smarties, and that's what she got. Pictures to come.

Cordelia loves home. She would love to be home all the time, or failing that, wherever I am. She has announced her intention to marry Otis, live in my house and have babies, which I will take care of for her.

I don't know how much Cordelia loves school. I think she's pretty happy, but it's not her element the way it is Delphine's. I'm not sure what she's good at – she doesn't talk much about lessons or class activities – and I don't know what she enjoys. I'm looking forward to our first parent-teacher interview to find out how she's getting along.

Cordelia's still our baby. She doesn't like to do things for herself – she asks us to spread her butter, zip her jacket, carry her backpack... I try to get her to do things, but I think I'm doing more for her than I did for Delphine at five, simply because this time I don't have a three-year-old to look after. Also Delphine's always been very independent, and Cordelia's... not. But she'll grow up when she gets around to it. We can wait.

[Posted at 20:52 by Amy Brown] link
Sun, 24 Oct 2010
My First Entry

My name is Delphine. There’s another Delphine in the school I go to. I go to a K-6 school in Toronto. My friend at my school’s name is Darina. She really likes bugs. She’s going to dress up as a moth for Halloween. I’m dressing up as an elf.

Yesterday, me and my dad cooked dinner. We had sandwiches, soup, and mini pizzas. It was fun to make dinner with Dad. I liked making the sandwiches. I made five sandwiches. They were tomato, mayonnaise and cheese sandwiches. Dad made the soup, and it was very good. The mini pizzas were kind of hard to make, because they took a long time.

My friend Ursa has gone to Winnipeg. We feed her cats. Her cats’ names are Hebi-Chan and Columbus. Here’s a joke: What do you call a locomotive with a cold? An achoo-choo train! One more: Where would you weigh a whale? At the whale-weigh station!

Tomorrow is Monday. I’m going to go to school. I like art. I do not like math. The end.

[Posted at 10:43 by Delphine Winton] link
Mon, 18 Oct 2010

Just because I can (i.e., am technically competent to) do something doesn't mean I can (i.e., have time to) do it.

Just because something should be done doesn't mean it should be me who does it.

Just because something would be fun doesn't mean I have time for it.

[Posted at 13:29 by Amy Brown] link
Sun, 17 Oct 2010
Some thoughts on Messaging.

This morning a friend mine tweeted that even with a bunch of high-quality newspapers around him, he was ignoring them in favour of reading twitter.

Earlier this month, I was reading Clay Shirky’s “Cognitive Surplus”. One his assertions is that it was largely a historical accident that people used to passively consume media, and now that people can produce things just as easily, we’re going to see an explosion of “participatory culture”, as they use those products to socialize with each other.

For some reason, this morning those two ideas really came together in my mind, and it hit me that messaging on the internet is going to be huge. Like, really, really huge. Even bigger than you think. And I believe that it will end up going one of two ways.1

One of the two futures I can imagine is full of places like Facebook, where you can only communicate with people who are on the same service as you, and every service is trying to own your online identity. I’ve lived in that environment with instant messaging clients, and I’m not a huge fan. Having to check five or ten different websites is almost as much of a pain as having to run five or ten different instant messenger programs. (Or having the one multi-protocol client frequently lose service on one or more of the networks when the provider decides to cut them off.)

The other is one where all the services can interoperate, and you can communicate with all your friends, relatives, and co-workers from a single program which will go out and get the messgages, sort them, collate them, maybe even rank them in terms of importance, or do a million other things that I can’t even think of. A world where if one messaging service provider decides to cancel your account for some reason, you’re not cut off from the people you knew there, and you still have all the images you uploaded, and messages you posted, and can send them all to a new provider, without losing anything.

That second world is the one I want to help make happen, and I’m very fortunate that people are paying me to do just that. I’ll stop talking now, but only after saying that you can help, too.

  1. Well, to be honest I think it’s far more likely to be some combination of those two futures, and perhaps some other things that I can’t predict. Stuff rarely ends up as just one thing or another.  

[Posted at 12:09 by Blake Winton] link
Sun, 10 Oct 2010
8:25 a.m.

After my last post, I headed upstairs and curled up in bed with a booklight and Holes by Louis Sachar. I think I read until about 2:30 am, then slept until 5:30 when I woke up with a stomach-ache. Whether from the junk I ate yesterday or the coffee or just lack of sleep, I don't know, but since I was up anyway I read some more. I finished the book at around 7:30. So altogether I think I read for nineteen or twenty hours out of twenty-four, which is frankly more than I expected to.

So I read:

  • the end of Moses in Egypt by Lynne Reid Banks
  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Raincloud by Richard S. Todd
  • Holes by Louis Sachar

I raised $210 for Books For Africa. (I really recommend FirstGiving – the page was super-easy to set up and they have been really helpful and supportive, even posting about my fundraising on Twitter.

And now I am all distracted because there are girlies climbing on me demanding a hot breakfast. I will come back to bed after breakfast.

[Posted at 08:40 by Amy Brown] link
1:21 a.m.

It's late. Not quite late enough to be early, but later than I usually stay up when there isn't karaoke involved.

I finished Raincloud by Richard S. Todd (and a pot of coffee) and the book was good (the coffee was good too). There were a few things I would have changed – characters knowing stuff they shouldn't have known, weird word choices, and so on, but generally it was good. The problems would have been caught by a good editor, and after some investigation I see why they weren't: I took a closer look at the "publisher" after I finished the book and it's iUniverse, which is a self-publisher. For a self-published book this is actually really good, and I'm not sure why the author didn't shop it around to a proper publisher.

Now I'm in that half-tired twilight you get when you're up late under the influence of coffee. I'm going to head to bed with another book and my itty bitty book light, and read until I fall asleep. The alarm goes off at 7, so I'll try and wake up then and read a little bit more before it all ends at 8 am.

[Posted at 01:29 by Amy Brown] link
Sat, 09 Oct 2010
Mid-Event Survey

Hey, check it out, I'm being a team player and doing one of the activities on the Read-a-thon website. (Mostly I'm having too much fun reading to want to do anything else!)

It's a survey:

1. What are you reading right now? I'm in the middle of Raincloud by Richard S. Todd.

2. How many books have you read so far? One whole book, and two half-books. Well, two whole books if you count Oh, The Places You'll Go which I read out loud to my five-year-old.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I'm looking forward to Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan, mainly because it's a YA so I hope it will go down nice and smooth. I hope it's not too harrowing. I was going to read Heat by George Monbiot but I fear I have squandered my most wide-awake hours on easier books. I don't think I have the brain power to get through it.

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? All I had to do was plan ahead for lunch (which we usually improvise on Saturdays) and get my husband to order in dinner. He's been great at keeping everything running smoothly in my (functional) absence.

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Not particularly, apart from that I live with a seven-year-old and a five-year-old. Seven was away at a friend's most of the day, and Five has been very agreeable. I did take a break this afternoon to set up a science-y activity for her to do, but then she was quietly engaged for about an hour.

I did have short conversations with a couple of people this morning.

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? How not at all tired I am of reading. I'm tired, but not of reading, just of, you know, being awake.

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? For me, or in general? For me, I might put together a pile of less-challenging or more exciting books. I didn't plan ahead enough to collect a set of books I was really excited to read. As it is I'm cleaning up a few books from my TBR pile which have been hanging around for a while, so that's valuable, but it would be easier (especially tonight as I get tireder) to have books I was really thrilled about reading.

In general, I'm pretty happy with how it's being run. It's a nice low-key event.

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? Oh hey, I already answered that because I didn't look at all the questions on the test before starting. :)

9. Are you getting tired yet? A little bit. I'm actually less tired than I usually am at this time of day, probably because I usually do more strenuous things than sit around reading all day. I expect I will run into trouble in an hour or so. I might even have coffee. (I never have coffee!)

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? Nope, unless having an awesome supportive family counts as a tip!

Actually I've really liked the fact that I'm raising money for charity at the same time (here's my page – it was very easy to set up). I love reading but I would feel so guilty slacking off on all my usual responsibilities if I hadn't found a way to help benefit others with the read-a-thon.

[Posted at 21:04 by Amy Brown] link
8:18 p.m.

I just finished reading the girls their bedtime books: Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr Suess for Cordelia and almost a chapter (the one where he gets the Bootle-Bumtrinket) of My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell to Delphine.

Pen drawing of me reading

Tanya brought her kids over to play with my kids, and while she was here she documented the read-a-thon in pen and ink. Blake is in the background cuddled up under a blanket because we were sitting in the backyard and the sun was going down.

I'm almost halfway through Raincloud by Richard S. Todd, which is better than I expected it to be. It's a mystery set in a small town near a First Nations reserve: a series of Native people have been found beaten and left for dead. It shouldn't be too hard to finish.

But we're approaching the challenging part of the read-a-thon for me: staying awake. I love sleep. Specifically I love eight hours of sleep, and I haven't pulled an all-nighter since university. I don't expect to pull an all-nighter tonight, but I'm worried that if I time it wrong I will go to sleep and not wake up until after 8 tomorrow, thus missing the end of the 'thon. My plan is to stay up late – maybe midnight or one (shut up, that is so late) and then sleep on the couch for a couple of hours. Then I'll grab a coffee or a Coke and read until 8 am, then try (probably in vain) to sleep for a little while before resuming my regularly scheduled Sunday.

We'll see how it turns out.

[Posted at 20:41 by Amy Brown] link
3:41 p.m.

(Don't forget to support the read-a-thon by donating to Books for Africa!)

I just finished On Writing by Stephen King. I read part of it on my friend Tanya's couch (oh, Esther), and a lot of it sitting on the back deck in the company of three blue jays, two black-capped chickadees, one chipmunk and a whole host of sparrows and squirrels.

I took a few breaks: to chat with a friend and with Delphine's piano teacher, to talk to Tanya (I was using her couch, after all), to make myself a sandwich, and to set up a science experiment for Cordelia.

I haven't been drinking water (although that's a good idea) but I'm going to make another cup of tea. Tea is like water, except tasty.

Delphine has been playing at her best friend's house for most of the day. Cordelia started the day watching TV, then did some science on the back deck, but is now growing restless because Blake is cleaning the kitchen and won't read to her. Blake's being a real trooper about being a book widower for a day.

[Posted at 15:57 by Amy Brown] link
10:42 a.m.

I've been reading for two hours and forty-two minutes. I finished Moses in Egypt by Lynne Reid Banks, and am on page 68 of Stephen King's On Writing – he's just started working on Carrie.

So far I've read at the breakfast table, in the living room, in the bathroom while Cordelia was taking a bath, while walking Delphine to piano lessons and back, and on the piano teacher's porch.

Don't forget you can sponsor my readathon by donating to Books for Africa on my fund-raising page.

[Posted at 10:46 by Amy Brown] link
Tue, 05 Oct 2010
Read-A-Thon Reading List

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I signed up for Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-Thon. I signed up, and then promptly forgot about it until earlier this week when I kinda vaguely thought, "Hey, isn't that soon?"

It's this weekend. Fortunately there's not much preparation required. I set up a fundraising page on the amazing FirstGiving site to raise money for Books for Africa. (I already raised $145!)

And I picked a stack of books to read:


I'm sure I won't get through all those, but I wanted to give myself some variety so I can switch it up. (Blake suggested I just pick one Neal Stephenson epic for the whole 'thon. No.)

So Stephen King's On Writing because the last time I read it I came away feeling like I could be a writer, in some crazy dreamland when I can do wacky things like work with words and not hate my job – now that I'm living in that world I want to revisit Mr King's writing on writing.

Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan is a YA novel I bought with a gift card I got from Delphine's teacher last year for being class mom. It's about a girl in post-Taliban Afghanistan (does that even exist yet?) – that's all I know but (like most novel readers, I suppose) I love to learn about other lives and times and places through books.

Moses in Egypt by Lynne Reid Banks is based on the movie Prince of Egypt, one of my favourite animated movies, and the Book of Exodus. I've already started it and am enjoying it so far, although the prose doesn't have the fluid luminosity of the movie.

Heat by George Monbiot is a fairly old climate change book, but I feel I should read it to have a more complete understanding of the issue.

Raincloud by Richard S. Todd is a wildcard – it's by a work associate of my father-in-law. It's a mystery set in Ontario. Maybe it's awesome? I will report back.

I have a few other books on my TBR shelf if I get through/sick of all those. I'll be blogging or Facebooking or otherwise updating my status online as I go.

[Posted at 21:50 by Amy Brown] link