More iPhone games…

Okay, one game in particular this time. One of my favourites from back in my Palm days.

Bike Or Die 2.
I can totally land this!

It’s awesome. It’s harder than I remember the Palm version being, but that's probably as much because I'm out of practice as anything else. After a couple of weeks of playing the beta version, I’m now at the point where I rarely hit the wrong button, even though they're on-screen instead of being hard buttons.

Not only is it a great game for what it is, but it’s got a ton of user-created levels, and an online high score board (which I’m nowhere near the top of). The re-playability of this game is stunning.

If you're still undecided, you can read the thread about it on TouchArcade. (Yeah, I’ve been answering a bunch of questions over there.) There’s also a video showing gameplay from the beta.

Finally, it only costs $2.99, but I hear it’s going up to $7 after the introductory period is over. (I suggested he sell it for $7.99-$9.99, but he’s apparently a nicer person than I am.)

(No, he’s not paying me for this. Heck, I didn’t even get an iTunes gift certificate for all my hard work finding bugs. I just really like the game.)

Why Obama?

Last night a friend asked me why I was excited that Barack Obama won the American election. Why, as a Canadian, do I care? I couldn't really begin to explain in a Twitter post, and I was tired, but I thought about it as I went to sleep and here is what I have come up with.

I like Americans. I know lots of them and I like most of the Americans I know, and for a long time I have been perplexed by the apparent gulf between "America" and the American people I know. Last night's victory closed that gulf; it seems America the country is a lot more closely aligned to the beliefs and hopes of the America I know than to the vocal minority of fundamentalist and fear-mongers we have heard from of late. And thank goodness for that. So I am very happy for my American friends, that finally their government reflects them.

I like what this victory says about America. I have a friend who was predicting a McCain win: "The young people won't wait in line to vote", he said. "The early results with show a strong lead for Obama and everyone else won't bother to vote", he said. There was an argument put forth that Americans say to pollsters that they would vote for an African-American, but then in the privacy of the polling booth their secret inner racist comes out. I am glad those arguments were wrong. I am glad America got excited about its future and came out to vote in droves, many for the first time, many waiting in line (or on line) for hours.

Why am I glad? Because Americans are people, and people are the same everywhere, and if Americans can get excited about democracy and step up and do the right thing, it makes me feel better about people everywhere.

I'm glad Barack Obama won because he ran an honourable and decent campaign. Everyone pisses and moans about negative campaigning, mud-slinging and pettiness, but it seemed, until now, inevitable, like the weather. Obama has proved it's possible to win an election with a positive, optimistic campaign. (Okay, maybe rather vague, but vague in a positive way.) While McCain and Palin were screechin' and spittin', fear-mongerin' and fist-shakin', Obama maintained his composure without condescending. This is a great lesson for American politicians and a great lesson for politicians everywhere in the world. The bar has been raised.

Obama is smart. Really smart, and America is crying out for a smart person in the White House. Why does this matter to me as a Canadian? Because I am excited to have someone in office who has a hope of understanding and acting on climate change, a global issue if ever there was one. Where America leads, the world follows and we desperately need someone to lead us in the right direction on this matter. (Apparently Canada isn't going to do it.)

It's not just climate change. The world faces numerous potential global threats: a flu pandemic, a disaster in our fragile food distribution system, terrorism, peak oil. Not to mention whatever the hell is going on with the economy. It's fine, I guess, to have a numbskull in office when there's not much to do, but when anything could happen I am much happier knowing that there is someone in the most powerful position in the world who has a hope of really understanding the situation, consulting with the right people and making an informed decision without resorting to dogma and superstition.

And I'll admit it: I got caught up in the excitement of the moment. (I still am; I am dying to sit down and watch the Stewart/Colbert special from last night!) Obama is the "other" to so many Americans: he is black to white Americans, he is educated to uneducated Americans, he is foreign-raised to Americans who have never left the country, he is the son of an African to slave-descended Americans (although I never heard anyone talk about that), he is the son of an atheist and a lapsed Muslim to Christian Americans, he is erudite and witty and Northern and liberal(ish); he is so many things that we have heard that Americans aren't (Real Americans, that is) and yet America voted for him. That so many people were able to see past the things they don't share with Barack Obama and see in him the best of their common humanity stirs in me great pride and hope for what has been and could again be a great nation.

Here are some more links:

I don't know if Barack Obama is going to be as shiny as his most enthusiastic supporters make him out to be. I don't know if any mortal could be. But I am excited about what this election says about America and I am optimistic about the future. Why not be?

Things They Say

Yesterday Blake taught Delphine about contrails. This morning we were out walking and she looked up into the clear blue Hallowe'en sky and saw a plane. "It has a cotton-trail!"

We were talking about everyone's costumes. "Mrs Thompson was a lady who works in a church. The ladies who wear necklaces with a criss-cross thing on." I love that my kid doesn't even know what a cross is. (Mrs Thompson was a nun.)

Cordelia and I were reading Dr Suess's ABC: "Big A, little a, what begins with A?"


"Aunt Annie's alligator, A..a..A. Big B, little B, what begins with B?"


"Barber, baby, bubbles, and a bumblebee." And so on with Cordelia chiming in whenever she knew someone with that letter. After C ("CORDELIA!"), D ("DELPHINE!") and E ("ERIK!") she said "Almost everyone we know has a letter in this book!"

Yeah, almost!

Delphine and I were talking about meat today, because we were walking over to a friend's house to pick up a quarter cow. She asked if someone killed the cow, and I said that they did.

"That's sad. We should be nice to animals."

"That's true. But then we couldn't eat meat."

"Meat is tasty."

"Some people don't like to kill animals, so they don't eat meat. They're called vegetarians."

"But meat is so tasty!"

"I know! It's a hard decision to make."

So we talked about how Daddy and I decided to keep eating meat but to try and make sure that the cows and chickens and other animals we eat are happy when they're alive, hence the trek to pick up cow.

Not my kid but my friend's kid (and my kid's friend) Ursa. Yesterday they were eating a Chinese beef dish and Ursa said "I like this dark brown chicken!" (Good thing, because they got a quarter cow too.) What's the deal with kids thinking everything is chicken? The other day Cordelia called tilapia chicken. The kids at daycare used to call tofu chicken. No wonder everything tastes like chicken, it's because chicken tastes like everything!

Spooky Hallowe'en

Our school website contains a list of handy Hallowe'en safety tips, among them the old chestnut about inspecting kids' candy before they eat it. I suppose that wouldn't hurt, but it might be interesting to know that there has never been a case of random poisoned Hallowe'en candy. There have been a few reports of candy with pins, and apples with razors, but the vast majority of those were hoaxes or pranks.

Here are a couple of links from the valuable Snopes website:

Perhaps it seems harmless to continue repeating these needless warnings, but I think it breeds cynicism and fear, which we have far too much of. (Don't even get me started on "Stranger Danger".)

(I'm going to have to think further about the appropriateness of cynicism and/or fear with respect to Chinese candy.)

Hallowe'en and Other Things

We're in the midst of the fall festive season, and as anyone who is less than four feet tall knows, that means it's Hallowe'en. Both Delphine and Cordelia are very excited, and it's clear that Cordelia remembers a thing or two about last year.

Delphine is planning to be a penguin this year. We haven't bought a penguin costume; rather we are hoping to kludge something together with a white shirt and a black hoodie and orange construction paper beak and feet. I hope it works because we haven't had a chance to try it out and we're running out of pre-Hallowe'en weekend. Delphine has a pretty convincing penguin waddle which would sell the lamest costume, though.

Cordelia has independently decided to be a black cat. For a while there she was going with ghost and I thought we would have to find and then butcher a white sheet — you always see that white-sheet-with-holes ghost costume in cartoons and stuff but I've never seen it in real life. I thought it would be cool to try it out. But about a week ago she switched to black cat, so I dropped a whopping $19 on ears and a tail, which together with black clothes and some eyeliner whiskers will make a convincing and adorable cat.

The great thing about Hallowe'en is that it gives you lots of chances to talk about such topics of childhood interest as death and scary things. Last year we spent a lot of time talking about being dead and what death is (and who Death is — a house around the corner has an inflatable Grim Reaper). This year we are leaning more towards Hallowe'en imagery and what is scary. Delphine wanted to know why someone had fake gravestones on their lawn. "Gravestones aren't scary", she said. I said they mark where dead people are buried, but she was unmoved by that because to her mind dead people aren't scary. And of course by extension, skeletons aren't scary either. What is scary? Witches, spiders and ghosts are apparently scary. I don't think bats are and rats definitely aren't, although we did decorate with black rubber rats.

Delphine likes Monopoly. I know, weird. I wouldn't have occurred to me to put her in front of a game of Monopoly, but my friend Tanya, who is nothing if not ambitious with what she exposes her kid to, brought it over and Delphine loves it. She loves the money: she likes to sort it out, stack it up, pay for things and get money from other people. She likes choosing which piece she will be, and she loves to move around the board. She got tired of it, though, after maybe forty minutes, and started acting up. "I'm so bored of giving people money!" Yeah, tell me about it. So for Christmas I got her Monopoly Junior. I'm normally not in favour of kiddified versions of things, but this looks like it retains the main elements of the adult version (including the lovely money) but goes faster. Plus the setting is a carnival, not some boring old city. Delphine loves carnivals and fairs and things.

Cordelia went for her birthday sleepover at Auntie Morgan's house this weekend. Unfortunately I have no idea what they did because Cordelia said she had fun but she didn't want to talk about it. I know what Delphine did, though, because she stayed home for what we have termed a "sleepunder", which is what you get when you're the sister who stays home and has Mum and Dad to herself. Mostly we played Monopoly. Delphine chose KD for supper, and we read lots of chapters at bedtime because we didn't have to put Cordelia to bed. In the morning Delphine decreed that Blake should get up early (that is, when Delphine and I got up) and join us for a breakfast of French toast and pancakes. Then more Monopoly, and then we went out to get Cordelia back.

(Incidentally, the thing with Blake getting up with us turned out abysmally. Usually he stays in bed for an hour or more on weekend mornings while I get up with the kids and make breakfast and read the paper. Having missed that extra sleep, however, he was logy and grumpy all day. He napped twice but it didn't help. God knows what he's like during the week, but from now on I will gladly let him get his morning beauty sleep.)

The sleepunder was lovely. Unfortunately at the moment the girls are much more pleasant to be around one at a time than together. Delphine alone is insightful and contemplative and interesting, Cordelia alone is funny and clever and demonstrative. Together they are whiny and scrappy and tiresome. Not all the time, but often enough that it wears me out. Hopefully between them they will eventually grow out of it and figure out how to enjoy each other's company more.


Cordelia is three! She has been three for almost two weeks now! We didn't have a big party or anything, because she doesn't really have any friends yet, and also I couldn't be bothered. I asked her what kind of cake she wanted and she said "a tomato cake!" Apparently there is such a thing, but I didn't feel up to that kind of experimental weirdness, so I asked her (on a different occasion) whether she would like a chocolate cake or a white one. (This is how you get little kids to do what you want, you trick them and then you paint them into a corner.) She said she wanted a white cake with chocolate icing (this is how they get what they want). And since she had been talking about having a tomato birthday for months, I drew three juicy tomatoes on top of the cake in red icing. That seemed to satisfy her.

We didn't have a party, as I mentioned, but a few people did end up coming over for cake: Baba and Zaida were there, and Tanya and Douglas and Ursa and Otis came too.

Cordelia's choice for her special birthday dinner was sushi, so Zaida kindly brought over a platter of sushi from our favourite place. Extra kindly, because his car wouldn't start! He walked it halfway over to our place and Blake met him and brought it the rest of the way. What these men wouldn't do for their little girls.

Cordelia really seems to have bought into this three thing. Her new favourite word is "why", in that reflexive way little kids ask when they're trying to get as much information into their little brains as possible. She has stopped fighting so much with Delphine, and is generally more easy-going lately. We don't lock horns so much over silly things like which way her toast is sliced.

Her latest favourite book is a counting book called "Ten Black Dots" by Donald Crews. We've read it at every nap and bedtime for the last week. She likes to point at the dots and count them, which she now does perfectly, even down to pointing to each dot exactly once. She can also do rudimentary math in her head, adding or subtracting one or two. I said rudimentary! Generally she seems more numerically-oriented than Delphine was at her age.

She's also really big! Actually she's right on the 50th percentile, but dammit, she seems big to me. I'm still coming to terms with the fact that my baby days are behind me. I know that means that also behind me are spit-up and leaky boobs and diapers and baby gates and food allergy scares and chokable object embargoes, and ahead of me are piano lessons and baking together and interesting conversations and going for walks and joking and reading and doing crossword puzzles. But I've been a baby-mummy for five years; it was such a huge part of my life — it was my whole life! — for such a long time and yet it's already over. How can that be?

iTouch coolness…

What more could I say?


Yeah, it’s my Windows box, displaying my iTouch’s screen, over VNC.

Pure coolness.

(Oh, and the song it’s playing is Fancy Footwork by Chromeo.)