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Saturday, November 18, 2017 1 comment

Meet our Newest Inmates

Daughter Dearest’s cat Sprite shuffled off this mortal coil, went to meet his Maker, brought down the curtain and joined the choir eternal… Well, he was 16, so he’d been part of DD’s life for over half of it.

Of course, there was someone at church who had rescued a few kittens from a runaway mom who were almost weaned. We’ve been there before—somewhere, I have a pic of a 15 year old DD bottle-feeding three hungry kittens by… oh look, I found it:

From 2004. I remember those boys were HUNGRY and didn't want to wait in line.

Anyway, she got the two surviving ones (another got underfoot… of a cow) and brought them home. They only needed about a week of bottle-feeding, fortunately. So here they are…

Here I am—pet me!
Oscar (I joke that he has that name because of #OscarsSoWhite) is the affectionate purrbucket of the two. He’s also the explorer, often shooting out the door into the kitchen when someone opens it. He will climb right up your pants leg if you don’t pick him up. Daughter Dearest says: “He climbs my leg if I’m wearing jeans, he climbs my leg if I’m wearing slacks, and it’s very painful if I’m wearing shorts.”

Sprite was mostly white when he was a kitten as well, but then developed Siamese markings (but definitely not the Siamese 'tude). I kind of wonder if DD is hoping for the same thing to happen here.


I'm fine down here. Really.
KT, which DD informs me is short for KAT, is the more retiring of the two. She doesn’t run away, but she doesn’t run to you like her brother does, either.

Her markings are very similar to those of my first (adult life) cat, Megabyte. If she’s anything like he was, she’ll pick her person, latch on, and not be all that present for anyone else.

Charlie is thrilled to have little furballs around. But we have to keep constant vigil that he doesn’t grab a leg or torso too hard. Prying that grip loose can be a battle these days.

Oddly enough, Rosie the Boston Terrible likes them, and not for a snack. DD brought Oscar into the living room one night, and Rosie licked him constantly. She’s often over at the doors going to the porch, watching them through the window and moaning.

They share the porch with Pop, the big orange cat. He seems to tolerate them OK, but does like to be outside this time of year. Who knows what he might catch under those piles of leaves?

Friday, November 03, 2017 No comments

Chairman of the Whiteboard

Already doing math
Ever since they painted some of the walls at work with it, I’ve wanted to get some of that dry-erase paint and cover a couple of Mason’s walls with it. The problem is, his walls (and most of the walls in FAR Manor, for that matter) are paneling… aka Norwegian Wood.

My second thought was “hey, I think we have a piece of sheetrock in the garage. I could mount that and paint it.” As it turned out, I didn’t have any sheetrock in the garage… but there was this piece of shower stall board, about 4' x 4'. I scribbled a corner with a dry-erase marker, left it overnight, and found it erased just fine the next day. I wanted to find some framing boards, with a notch cut into one side, but had no luck. I ended up buying four 6' pieces of 1x4, figuring I could rabbit out a notch with the table saw.

This was back in the spring. Then I had knee surgery, and was pretty much sidelined for the summer. But old surgical wounds heal, given time, and the whiteboard-to-be was taking up space in the garage. As were the boards.

With a little time, I got on it last weekend. First step was to notch the boards. The table saw did the job, once the fence was in the right place. I cut the groove into each board, then flipped them sideways and cut off the strip of wood. A nearby chisel got drafted to finish out the notches.

Next up, the whiteboard had to be trimmed. I had planned for 48" square exactly, but somehow ended up with 48"x47¾". No problem, I hadn't trimmed the boards yet. I use the miter saw to cut 45° angles.

With all the parts ready, I grabbed the drill battery out of the charger and got to work. It went fairly quickly; I put up the bottom board, using a level to get it straight. Then I slid the whiteboard into the notch, added the side and top framing (bonking things straight with the hammer), and screwed it all up down. The final touch was a piece of angle-aluminum, once used as a hanger for 1/2" videotape cases (old pro stuff), now a place for his markers.

Mason was pleased, but… “What can I use it for?”

“Anything,” I replied. “Draw pictures, write down stuff you want to get done, do math problems—”

“Yeah!” he exclaimed, and proceeded to cover it with multiplication tables.

I still need to get him a set of colored markers and an eraser. He’s making do with the one marker we have an a paper towel for now.

Friday, October 20, 2017 1 comment

Four O'clock Charlie

Image source: openclipart.org
Of course, I’m riffing on the classic M*A*S*H episode Five O'Clock Charlie here, but it’s not terribly humorous at the moment.

After last week’s “July in October,” this week has been more seasonable. It was cold enough, yesterday morning, that I had to start the furnace. But it seems like, with fall actually feeling like fall, Charlie decided to level up in Sleep Fight Club. He has developed quite a few techniques for keeping himself awake lately, including slapping himself over the head and the classic refusing to sit still.

Then, when we finally get him to sleep, he wakes himself up around 4 a.m. and howls until someone comes and gets him. Wife has been bringing him into the bedroom and letting him lay with us… which might have been a mistake, because now he expects to sleep with us.

Needless to say, neither the wife nor I have slept well this week. Charlie likes to flip and flop, and we’re constantly worried he’s going to roll off the edge. One of us bails for the living room, not that it’s much more comfortable on the couch or a lounger.

Worst case, I’m traveling on business Monday through Wednesday, so I’ll have a couple nights in a quiet (I hope) hotel room. Maybe he’ll settle down and go back to sleeping all night. Maybe pigs will fly out my, um, jet exhaust.

Monday, October 16, 2017 No comments

Tines 1.11.1

… is out. This is a quick bug-fix release, the PageUp and PageDown keys should now work properly (on Macs, use Fn-up-arrow and Fn-down-arrow). I’ve also merged the dev branch into the master branch on GitHub.

To make things more convenient, I registered tines-outliner.org and set it up as a shortcut to the repository.

If you aren’t familiar with Tines, it’s a console-mode outliner. It runs in MacOS X, Linux, and the Microsoft thing (using Cygwin). It’s unique in that it supports a “text” tag for entries, and so can differentiate between headings and body text. It can export to Markdown, HTML, *roff, and plain text formats. You can export your outline to Markdown and pull it into Scrivener. See Getting Your Outline into Scrivener (pt 2) for details.

Tines, and a few other outliners, has support for to-do lists (basically a collection of entries with checkboxes). That means you can use it to keep outlines, goals, snippets of scenes, and notes about your stories in a single place.

Compile?

Yes, the word “compile” is composed of the Latin com (together) and the English pile (a random heap, or hemorrhoid). So, yes,  compile means either to throw things together, or a multifaceted pain in the @$$. Still, if you need an outliner, it’s available!

I want to get back to working on an install package, at least for MacOS X. I’ll probably have to leave packages for the other operating systems to their own experts (not that I’m anything like an expert in MacOS X packaging, mind you).

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 3 comments

Happy #1, Zoey!

I haven’t blogged much about Grandkid #2, mainly because I haven’t seen much of her, mainly because The Boy lives about 120 miles from FAR Manor. (Smart move, that.) But she had her first birthday party over the weekend, with a “Wild One” theme. Zoey isn’t terribly wild—she’s not quite walking yet—but her parents…

Anyway, I expected Charlie to get a good nap on the 2-hour drive down… nope! He was fascinated with the 18-wheelers and transfer trucks on the freeway. When we got all the way past one truck, he would crane his neck to look out the windshield for the next one. We got to the pavilion, and he was ready to party!

A good time was had by all. Especially the birthday girl. There was cake. With icing, of course:

Now why did someone give me this spoon? Who needs a spoon?

Charlie thought the party was fun, too. He even tried to steal the show by turning loose and trying to walk away once—for the second time that weekend. As with the first time, he got two steps, keeled over, and I caught him. He wasn’t too sure about me holding Zoey; but while the wife had him, I carried her over to say hi to Charlie. He grinned at her, she stuck her tongue out, and Charlie cut loose with the Joyous Ear-Splitting Screech™. Zoey suddenly decided she’d had enough, and started wailing for someone she knew to come get meeeeee!.

One of the cool things they did was to put out a stationary pad for everyone to write Zoey a letter. She’s supposed to get them all and read through them when she’s 18. That involves a lot of confidence that someone will be able to hold on to that correspondence for 17 years, but it’s still a cool idea.

After the party, we hit Golden Corral and hung out for a while before heading back. Once again, Charlie kept a lookout for trucks… at least until it got dark. But he refused to give in until we got about 10 miles from home. Then, he crashed. It didn’t take much longer for me to do the same.

Friday, September 22, 2017 4 comments

Boys, Books, Birthdays, and B…

Get the shot, Granddad, I’m about to pull it off!
Somewhere along the line, I’ve become Charlie’s favorite. It might be because, most days, I’m the first person he sees in the morning and the last at night. I also spend a fair amount of time with him through the evenings, usually either reading to him or helping him walk through the house. He likes to go from one end of the house (door to the garage off the kitchen) to the other (shower door in the master bath), then back. Several times. It’s beneficial in several ways: he enjoys it, it helps to wear him out and get him ready for bed, and his (supported) walking has improved greatly over the last couple of weeks. No more drunken stagger, although he does do the pigeon-toe thing.

Most mornings when I drive to the office, I drop him off at daycare. He likes riding in the Miata because there’s always someone next to him. He also likes for me to lay my right hand over on his car seat, so he can touch it. I also keep a little toy car for him to play with. When the sun shines in on his side, he starts squinting, so I grab my hat (much like the one in the pic) and put it on him. He gives me a big grin and pulls it off… I guess he’d rather squint than have something on his head. But that’s what gave me the idea for the picture, and the knowledge I’d have to be quick on the shutter.

Charlie’s favorite book
Oh, and Charlie has re-discovered his joyous ear-splitting screech. He doesn’t reserve it for Mason, either. If he’s enjoying whatever he’s doing or seeing—the dogs tug-of-warring over a chew toy, walking around, Mason doing something silly—he cuts loose. (I’ve often joked about looking forward to going deaf as I get older, even if I wear ear plugs when I mow the lawn, but I’ll likely get a chance.)

I’m sure the hat is a coincidence, but this is his favorite book. When I’m reading this one to him, he doesn’t try to flip to the end to read the blurb or whatever. Personally, I think it’s because he loves the water so much, he’s always ready for a story about a little boy getting to play in/near the water. It’s a blast to watch him in his float, screeching with joy and splashing water everywhere. I want to get him and Mason up to the resort to play in the pool before it gets too cold.

Speaking of Mason, I kind of get the impression he’s been feeling left out lately. I’m constantly taking care of Charlie most evenings and weekends, and the wife is constantly taking care of her dad, so where does that leave him? I take him to soccer practice twice a week, wife takes him to school and occasionally has a dinner date with him. But of late, he’s been hostile, demanding, and often doesn’t want much to do with Charlie. It didn’t help that I couldn’t get out much from May into the first part of August (the resort trip in July taxed my knee and relaxed most everything else). Now that I can do most of what I could do before the knee started acting up, I’m working on changing that. That’s one reason I want to get them both up to the resort.

It will also help (and cause trouble) once Charlie starts walking on his own. The physical therapist that will soon start working with him thinks once he’s fitted with leg braces, he’ll be walking in less than two weeks. On the other hand, the daycare people told me he took one step today, then got really wobbly and sat down. I figure once Charlie starts walking, he’ll be beelining for Mason’s room (his personal concept of Heaven)… the only thing that will slow him down is deciding whether to get into Mason’s Legos, cars, plastic army men, or the rest of it. Angsty teenagers got nothin’ on Mason when someone starts messing with his stuff. Mason turned 8 earlier this month—I told him now he could learn how to change Charlie’s diapers, because I was 8 when I learned how. I think only the father-in-law could have given a better “deer in the headlights” look when I said that.

Will he have the patience?
We got Mason his own book from the book fair. It’s a pretty good how-to on creating stop-motion animations (making a movie one frame at a time), and Legos are a great way to get started with that. Mason, however, is definitely a child of the wife’s side of the family—no patience, and will argue with a fencepost. First, he expected me to read the entire book to him, when he’s quite capable of reading it himself. (THIRTY-EIGHT PAGES? *rage quits*)

Once he settled down, he went through the book, and learned how to storyboard a movie. He sketched out an idea for a simple “cops and robbers” story, and did a pretty good job of it. But (lack of patience again), he tore one of the backdrops included in the book… the one he wanted to use, of course. I taped it up and it works okay. We’re experimenting with a hybrid of stop-action and motion video, and hope to make some good progress over the weekend. Maybe I’ll have a new Weekend Cinema post for y’all soon.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017 1 comment

RIP, Big V

It happened on eclipse day, but it took me a while to process. Then I keep putting off the post. Still in denial, I guess.

Big V in better times
Up until evening, Eclipse Day was one of the best days I’d had, recently. It had been a pretty good day, by all accounts, for Big V and her family as well—no quarrels, lots of smiles, all was going pretty good for a change. The only problem: she had recently had gone back to home dialysis, after not being able to do it for a while, and the drain cycle wasn’t working well.

So her hubs got out of the shower, and heard her call him. By the time he got to her, she was already on the floor and not breathing. He called 911, started CPR, and kept it up for a heroic 15 minutes until the ambulance got there. They kept working on her until they got her to the hospital… to no avail.

One of the doctors said, “in her condition, 98% of the time, it’s a heart attack.” So we all went with that. Between the diabetes (not controlled well), leukemia, and kidney failure, this was going to happen sooner or later. I expected much later, after a prolonged decline, but maybe it was better for her to go out on a good note.

Since her widower works nights (truck driver), Skylar spends most school nights here and spends afternoons and weekends with his “papa.” Mason’s glad to have him around, even if they argue a lot. Charlie’s always up for another older kid who will play with him.

But I’ll hand it to Big V. She gave it all she could to stay with Skylar. In the end… maybe it was enough.

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