A Tale Of Woe

A few weeks ago, I was reading a pdf file on my Palm TX, when all of a sudden, it reset itself. Now, if that was the end of this story, then it would have been slightly annoying, but nothing to post about. However, that’s nowhere near the end. After resetting itself, it came back to the initial orange Palm logo, as seen on the left, then it switched to the grey PalmPowered logo, as seen on the right. And there it sat. And sat. And sat… The only thing I could consistently do is reset it, and every time I did, it ended up on the grey screen, sitting there. Soft resets, debug resets, hard resets, zero-out resets… Nothing could get it to move past the grey screen. On the off chance it was just taking a long time to do its thing, I left it sitting overnight. In the morning, I opened it up expectantly finding… the grey screen again. I read on the internet that it might fix this problem if I left it sitting without any power for a week, so I did, and the next time I plugged it it? Yeah, grey screen. My heart was broken. What could I do?

I could call Palm’s tech support, and get a replacement! It’ld only be $35 to get them to ship one. But when I called I found that I was way out of warranty. Like, a year out of warranty. So I decided not to go that route, since it would be $150 to get it fixed, (or $185 to get the advance exchange,) and I just don’t have that kind of money kicking around. Then I remembered that I had bought an extended warranty from the store, good for a year after Palm’s warranty had run out, until Boxing Day of this year. Excellent, now I can just trade it in for a new one at the store. But, I couldn’t find the receipt from two years ago, nor could I find the credit card bill. So I’ld have to figure out a way of getting them to honour the warranty without knowing the warranty number. That was going to be hard, but in theory they had my information in their big database, so it should be possible. On the Monday morning, I was checking through our filing cabinet one last time before heading off to the store, and in the midst of a bunch of other receipts, (Why are we keeping receipts for two year old meat purchases, anyway? I’m pretty sure that at this point, even if the meat was bad, we couldn’t return it.) I found it! So now, with all my ducks in a row, I left for the store, Compusmart at Yonge and King.

Arriving at the store, I was slightly surprised to find the doors locked, and a notice up from the landlord, saying that this location was closed. Apparently, some time in the past two years, Compusmart had decided to close all of its Ontario locations. Well, great. What the heck do I do now? Getting to the office, I hit the internet, found a phone number, got redirected to a different phone number, and then spoke with someone who checked my warranty number (convieniently printed on my two-year-old receipt), and said that they’ld send me some email which I should sign and fax back. Since there were no more Compusmart stores left in Ontario, they couldn’t exchange the merchandise, and so they were going to buy it back from me for the purchase price of $400! I was elated, until I realized that, because I had already done an early exchange on this unit with Palm to fix an unrelated problem, the serial number on the back of the TX was different than the one they had on file. And I bet that’s the sort of thing you would check if you were going to send out a $400 cheque. I called them back, and asked what I should do. They replied that I would need to get some sort of proof from Palm that I had traded in the one unit for the other. After another set of phone calls and emails, I eventually got a PDF from Palm, listing the date, and the early advance exchange, and the two serial numbers, which I proceeded to forward off to the warranty company. And now I’m waiting for them to update my policy and send me their buyout agreement so that I can fax it back to them, send them my Palm TX, and get my $400.

In the meantime, I’ve got one of those problems people don’t mind having. I’m trying to figure out what to spend the money on. Should I get another Palm TX, with infrared keyboard, for $300? Basically replace my current setup, and pocket the extra $100? Or should I get something a little newer? That back there is supposed to be a link to the iPod Touch. Specifically, the 16 Gig version. (It’s really not, but let’s pretend it was.) It’s going for $449, which is a fair bit more than I’m getting a cheque for, but… If I go to the American Apple Store, I see that the price for the 16 Gig version there is only $399 USD, or around $373 Canadian. (Remind me, again, why I’m paying $70 ($80 USD!) more for stuff just because I live in Canada? Honestly, people, fix your freaking prices already!) And I know people in the States who would be more than happy to ship it to me. Heck, some of them might even be coming up here for Christmas, and could just pack it in their luggage. Uh, where was I? Oh, yeah, do I stick with the devil I know, or do I go for the devil I don’t know? I was leaning towards the Palm TX recently, because there’s no text editor/note taker for the iPod Touch, and you can’t create appointments in the Calendar app, two things I kind of do a lot of. But today I read about a text editor, and a way to enable the missing add-appointments feature. Then I was worried that the best way to view a PDF would be to convert it to text, but maybe not.

I think the thing that finally convinced me was this picture. Yeah, I’m a huge geek. What can I do? (This picture didn’t hurt either.)

First Hallowe'en in the New House!

Our neighbourhood loves Hallowe'en. At least half of the houses, it seems, are decorated, and the sidewalks were so thick with trick or treaters last night that most people weren't even bothering to close their doors between visitors. On our block most of our neighbours were sitting on the front porch steps chatting; some with wine, some without.

We decorated our house with three pumpkins (remember when one jack o' lantern was enough?) and three bats made from our leftover NDP campaign sign, painstakingly cut out and coloured with black magic marker. We also used the uprights upon which said sign was mounted to string a spiderweb to which I glued a spider, also made from the sign. (I decided I wasn't going to buy anything last month so we had to make our own decorations from whatever we had at hand. Thank goodness there had been an election!) It all looked pretty awesome, and all the more satisfying since we didn't just buy it at the dollar store. I guess today I should take it all down.

Last night Cordelia was dressed as a bumblebee, with yellow and black tights and a pair of sparkly wings. (The headband with antennae came off pretty early and Morgan and I ended up wearing it.) She loved trick or treating, and she wouldn't let anyone else hold her bag of candy even when it was almost too heavy for her to carry. She learned to say "t'ick a t'eat!" and "t'anks!" right away. Well, with prompting.

Delphine was a bunny, with fluffy ears, a beige hoodie (bunnyhug!) and a cottontail sewed to her white skirt. She was into trick or treating until she hit the Brick Wall of Sleepiness at around 7:15 and refused to get off the kiddy board until we got home. Cordelia trick or treated at a couple of different houses after that and when Delphine was asked if she wanted some candy she said "No thanks." When that kid is tired, she is tired.

After we got home and sorted through Delphine's candy, and ate some, we put the girls to bed (an hour late!) Then Blake and I picked through their respective booty and set aside the thirty most succulent (and safe, and appropriate) pieces (one for each day in November) for each girl, and kept the rest for ourselves! Well, Blake will take them to work and fatten up his colleagues. Then we sat and watched Band Candy and ate chocolate until we were done eating chocolate. Which, for reference, means we ate a lot of chocolate. Mmmm...

Conversations with Kindergarteners

The other day I went with Delphine's class on a field trip to the Toronto Botanical Gardens. I was put in charge of Delphine; Annie, with long blonde hair in a messy ponytail and huge blue Cindy Loo Who eyes; and Alyssa, tiny and cheerful and not particularly inclined to stay with the group.

After all the festivities of looking at leaves and planting garlic cloves and holding compost worms, we all stopped for a snack. The children got granola bars, but I had packed myself an apple because I knew I would be hungry too. (I eat like a little kid, lots of snacks.) Alyssa asked what kind of apple it was.

"It’s a Honeycrisp. I haven't tried them before but I really like it; it's crispy and juicy and sweet. We usually get Royal Gala."

"We get Honeycrisp," said Alyssa. "I like them."

"We get Golden Russet," said Annie. I asked if she liked them and she said she did. "They're brown and the skin is kind of rough."

I said I would try them next time I bought apples, but they didn't have any at the grocery store yesterday.

Isn't that a weird conversation to have with four and five year-olds? I guess that's when you get when you live in a neighbourhood of foodies.

P-t-e-r-a-n-o-d-o-n spells Pteranodon!

The other day Delphine peered intently at the world map we got for my birthday for a while, and then announced "I read San! S-a-n is San!" That's the first word she has read apart from her name and a few words that she'd memorized like "o-f-f off" and "n-o no". And it's in Spanish! She's bilingual!

Then later she read the first syllable of "Doritos", which is now that I think about it, faux-Spanish. I'm going to assume that's a coincience until I get more data. Anyway the point is she's almost reading! Hooray!

Delphine Goes to Kindergarten

Delphine is four years and five months old, and she just started Junior Kindergarten. She's in a mixed JK/SK class and she loves it. When people ask if she likes Kindergarten she says "Fun!" That seems to take them by surprise.

On the first day of Kindergarten Delphine didn't cry or cling, she marched right in there with, literally, not a backward glance. (I actually had to call her back for a kiss.) I guess all that daycare paid off.

When I went to pick her up she said "I have a new best friend!" When I asked her name, Delphine didn't know. Ah well. It's now a few weeks later and she knows the names of everyone in her class. In fact, the other day we were at the grocery store when some little boy in a grocery cart said "Hi Delphine!" It's really weird when your kid all of a sudden knows people you have barely heard of, let alone met.

It's taking a while for us to get into the new routine after a long summer of sloth. Summer was lovely; we spent our time in the garden, going to the library, going to music class, watching the deck being built, sitting on the deck, generally just kicking around. Delphine had so little to do that she spent her time growing: altogether she has grown four and a half centimeters since her birthday. I was measuring her every two weeks!

Delphine wants to be a paleontologist. She is all about dinosaurs lately; one of the main activities on Thanksgiving was making a cardboard model of a stegosaurus with Auntie J'Anne. She knows, well, plenty of the most popular dinosaurs (your Tyrannosaurus, your Stegosaurus, your Apatosaurus, your Ankylosaurus, and so on) and the December 15th re-opening of the dinosaur gallery at the ROM is a red-letter day in our calendar. This seems to have ameliorated the princess thing somewhat, thank heaven. Now she waffles between being a fairy princess or being a parasaurolophus for Hallowe'en.

Delphine's getting really good at riding her bike. Not really riding, of course, she still has training wheels, but she can keep up a pretty good clip and she doesn't tend to fall over at every curb. I don't let her get much practice because I am a mean and lazy mum and I don't want to bother with carrying a helmet and locking up the bike and hanging on to her crossing streets while pushing Cordelia, and stuff. But somehow she has still managed to improve, and I harbour hope that she will magically learn to ride safely without any practice at all. Or maybe I will get Blake to take her out.

Delphine still loves to be read to. We just bought a whole pile of Robert Munsch books which are a hit, plus a few Sam and Stella books (by Marie Louise Gay) which both Delphine and Cordelia love. (I love Scholastic. They do sell some crap, but their good deals are great.) We also plough through some incredibly advanced dinosaur books; I don't know how much is sinking in, but she sits and listens for ages. Incidentally, I just got a picture book about the latest dinosaur science; sort of an "everything you thought you knew about dinosaurs is wrong!" kind of thing. I am a little conflicted about reading it to her; on the one hand I know I love to have the latest information about things. On the other hand I know it takes the wind out of my sails to know that all those pictures of Apatosaurs with their heads up in the air are wrong. It's kind of depressing, like what else in this book is wrong? But then that's science; if we wanted certainty we would read her Bible stories.

On that note I am going to go sit on the couch and eat sweet potato pie. I love pie. (But not as much as Delphine! We were having pie the other day and she said she loves it more than cake. The Cake or Pie war continues. Don't worry, cake, I will never put you second to pie.)

Midnight Cravings?

A couple of months ago Blake and I were just settling into bed at around 11:00. Just as we were dropping off to sleep we heard the familiar Thud. Creak. Thud thud thud thud thud of Delphine getting out of bed and coming down the hall to our room. She came in and stood silently on Blake's side of the bed. Finally he asked, "What do you need, Delphine?"

"Choux pastry!"

Silence, then, "Would you like me to tuck you back into bed?"


Cordelia Is Two!

Cordelia turned two on Thursday, which was kind of sucky for her because it was her fourth day of nursery school and so she's still suffering from lots of separation anxiety. I felt like a monster leaving her crying and miserable in the arms of Lakeisha the teacher on her birthday, but when I waved at her through the window on the way out she was already smiling a little bit. They made up for it by giving her cake because it just happened to be the day for their September birthday celebration.

Altogether, counting the nursery school party, Cordelia had four birthday parties; one last weekend at Baba and Zaida's with a chocolate cake and presents, one on Thursday night at home with a plain cake with pink icing and more presents — we got her one of those rugs with roads and railways and stuff printed on it (Delphine's idea), and Hop on Pop — and yet another this weekend when we made a dinosaur-shaped cake just for the fun of it. We like cake, what can I say?

Nursery school is going well. I signed her up not to give myself a break — I think it's actually created more work for me — but because I thought it was time she started to have a life of her own, to gain some independence away from me, and to be exposed to all the rich and interesting things they offer at nursery school. It seems to be a really good facility; they always have lots of interesting activities set up when we get there in the morning, the teachers are lovely, they have a real music teacher with a guitar in every other week, and every week they take a picture of your child and save it in a portfolio that you get to keep at the end of the year.

The only catch is that the school is about one and a half kilometers from home, around a fifteen minute walk. I originally thought it was going to be a longer walk than that, before I actually tried it, so I was quite pleased. On Thursday I strapped on my running shoes and put the girls in the expensive but very cool jogging stroller / bike trailer and ran up there, which of course also took about fifteen minutes because I am that slow and also running with a stroller sucks. But it's better than running at 7:30 at night when all I want to do is collapse on the couch.

Cordelia can count to twenty, which is kind of odd for a two-year-old. She loves to count, but she's not really counting per se. I think she knows about counting in some sense; she knows you do it when you have a lot of something, and that you count for a while and then stop and the number you stop at means something, but she really doesn't map the actual number of things to the words she's saying. She loves to over-count and usually ends up with "seven" of whatever it is. Also when people ask her how old she is she says "three!" She just likes numbers.

Incidentally, Delphine's friend Ursa also loved counting and numbers, to the extent that she still calls both letters and numbers "numbers". This is interesting because Delphine used to call numbers "letters". Shall we typecast them as the Wordy One and the Mathy One already?

Cordelia talks in full sentences, and she has reached that age when she comes out with syntactically perfect sentences which leave me speechless. "Help me put my sweater on!" I hear it and it's a perfect sentence, and then I realize it came from my tiny baby! She doesn't do full sentences all the time, though. Mostly she's still trying to cobble together communication with the few words and bits of grammar she knows, backed up with pointing and when all else fails, shouting really loud.

Communicating is complicated by the fact that she doesn't know her colours yet; when Delphine was this age at least we could figure out what she wanted by saying, "What colour is it?" Cordelia, for whatever reason, can't get her colours straight. For a couple of weeks everything was blue ("bah-loo!") and now things seem to be mostly red. If you drill her you can get her to get a colour right for a few minutes but then if you go back to it later, she goes back to guessing. I find this rather perplexing; she doesn't seem to have trouble learning the words for anything else. Either she can't map the colours to the names, or she can't distinguish the colours for some reason. Anyway, you aren't really expected to know your colours until you're three or even four, so maybe there is some mental or visual development yet to come which will resolve this. In the meantime all the grandparents have made it their mission to help her learn colours.

Cordelia sleeps from about six thirty until six thirty or seven in the morning. Well, I put her to bed at six thirty; usually she stays awake talking and singing to herself until seven. She also naps from one until two or two thirty. (I got all my sleep advice from Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, so if you want a narcoleptic child and a rich adult-only evening life you should read it too.) She scared me on Friday by not napping at all; I wondered if she had decided that since now she's two she doesn't need a nap. But then she napped yesterday and today, so I think I still have a napper. It's nice because she naps while Delphine is in kindergarten, so I get some time to get stuff done in the afternoons. If I am not too tired to think; afternoon is not my brightest time.

Cordelia has peed in the potty exactly twice, both times under the tutelage of Baba. I suppose she is more or less ready to be properly potty-trained, which is exciting in the sense of no more diapers, but I am not looking forward to the process, the constant trips to the potty and interrogation regarding her need for the same. "Do you have to go pee? Do you have to poo? Do you want to sit on the potty?" However, it has to happen sometime! The nursery school teachers say they are happy to help, so maybe I will rope them in and see if we can get it over with. That would be awesome.

Tomorrow is Monday, and October, and I have a million things to do so I had best get to bed so I am not tired and grumpy all day.

Running Out Of Space…

If anyone out there has been trying to email Amy or I, we haven’t gotten it. While I was home alone with Delphine, I subscribed to a few podcasts in iTunes, so that we would have a ton of new music to listen to, but when I went back to work, I forgot to unsubscribe, and as a result filled up my entire hard drive with music and videos. This caused a bunch of things to fail for various reasons, the most notable of which being that no-one has recieved any email for the past few days. I can only hope that the various mail servers around the world will continue trying to send the messages, but if there’s something urgent that you really wanted a response to, you might consider re-sending it.

We're Back!

Cordelia and I are back from Saskatchewan so Blake's adventure in single parenthood is over. He was obligingly overwhelmed by it — “I hardly had any time to read at all!”, and that's with only one kid, and the easy one at that. Yeah, keeping house and raising babies is, in fact, a lot of work. Who knew? I am only kind of being sarcastic here; I used to think I would feel guilty about staying home until I realized how much damn work it is.

But anyway, Saskatchewan. We went to visit my parents, and the timing was good because my dad just went into a nursing home so my mom needed help with getting him settled in and getting the house sorted out so she can manage on her own. We cleaned and sorted and went out for lunch and shopped (as much as you can shop in Big River); it was a regular ladies' week. Cordelia was a huge hit with my mum; they read the Sears catalog and watched TV and looked at all the stuff my mum has.

Cordelia and I visited my dad at the home every day, and Cordelia was a huge hit with the grannies and grandpas, with her big grin and very loud observations. “Dinosaur there!” “See fishies!” She also pulled out all the grandbaby stops on the last day and gave my dad lots of nice hugs and kisses.

So there is a huge blog entry just waiting to be written, about this summer and how Delphine and Cordelia are doing, about my thirty-second birthday; all that narcissistic blather you have come to expect from this blog. Whether I will ever get around to writing that entry is yet to be seen, but I have high hopes for this next month, what with school and all.

Blake and Delphine’s Excellent Week Together – Part 6… Uh, 7?

I have no idea what happened to last night’s update. Well, that’s not entirely true. I was at a FogBugz demo given by Joel Spolsky, and Delphine had a sleep-over at her Baba and Zaida’s, so I took the time to write a spec, and that led me to whip out a bunch of code. The spec is written in something called reStructuredText (uh, that’s the link to the spec, which probably isn’t the best way to learn about it, but is the document I’ve been using the most), but my favourite Mac text editor (TextWrangler) doesn’t support it in any way, shape, or form. So I started writing a plugin that would teach TextWrangler what the heck reStructuredText was. (You can apparently get a tarball of the project from this link, if you’re so inclined, or if you’re not, you could just try the compiled plugin itself. Just double-click the .dmg file, then double-click the .bblm file inside of it, and it’ll tell you what to do. Or mail me, and I will.)

So yeah, a busy, busy night, but I got to sleep in until 7:00, which was really nice. Today was more of the same, except it was really hot out when Delphine got out of kindergarten, so instead of playing in the school playground, Delphine and I decided to go to Hollywood Gelato, the local ice cream store. Tasty. Tomorrow Amy gets home, so it’s looking like it’ll be a pretty busy day as well.