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Sunday, February 25, 2018 2 comments

Spring Fever Walks In

Sunny days, everything’s A-OK.
In the last couple of days, Charlie has all but given up crawling. The utility of being able to move around while holding something (especially something you treasure, but aren’t supposed to have) is not lost on him. This is exciting, because he’s progressing, but now we have to uplift anything he wants to grab… which is pretty much everything. Mason and Sizzle’s kids have a bad habit of stashing stuff on a bookshelf full of videos in the living room, and Charlie has demonstrated the ability to reach objects on the second shelf from the top. Put it up top, guys, unless you don’t care if Charlie gets it.

I’ve lost track, but I think we’re in Spring #3 right now. It has been longest and warmest of any of the mini-springs we’ve seen here at FAR Manor. I think I caught Spring Fever on Friday; I was in the best mood I can remember in a loooong time. Making big progress on a major work thing (we’re in the middle of a conversion to DITA, for you #techcomm folks, and I’m one of two people hacking on the PDF plugin) certainly didn’t dampen my spirits. Nor did driving home with the top down.

Saturday was freakish-great; I’ve often said Planet Georgia’s winters get warm when the sun goes away and vice versa, but it was sunny and warm. It reminded me of that amazing November day when Mason had a soccer game. Speaking of which, his team has started practicing for the spring league. Their first two practices got rained out this week, so the coach found us a field for a “pickup practice” on Saturday afternoon.

Maybe this is another kind of Spring Fever thing, but Mason and a girl in his class are playing girlfriend/boyfriend. Not sure what the deal is with oversight on her parents’ side, but she has her own AppleID. Mason uses mine… which means I get to see all the texts they send each other, and get notified every time she tries to FaceTime him (usually 2-3 times per day). They tend to be rather nonsensical online, and a little needy. I’ve since found that teens are often the same, so either Mason and his friend have the emotional maturity of teens twice their age, or teens have the emotional maturity of 8 year olds. Either way, it’s as hilarious as it is annoying. The teens in Blink are a lot more reserved, even the immature but brilliant Sarika (Blink’s on-again off-again love interest). Still, I don’t think I’ll adjust their texting habits… fiction has to make sense, after all.

Charlie’s enthusiasm for life in general goes up a few notches when he’s in the water. So I’ll leave you with a brief tub video, just because I can. Spring Fever is not required when Charlie’s in a tub or pool.

Until next time!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 No comments

Horsing Around

BIG doggie!
Charlie continues to get therapy for his developmental issues. Besides the occupational therapist who makes house calls on Thursdays, he goes to a clinic for speech and physical therapy.

Part of the latter involves horses—they say it helps with his balance. The clinic has a large indoor area where they can control the situation as well as the climate.

Charlie’s first encounter with a horse went rather well, I’d say. At least he didn’t freak out. i could imagine some kids being intimidated by a critter that size.

So he was comfortable getting face to face with a horse; how about getting on and taking a ride? That went pretty well, too. He sat up straight and enjoyed it:

Check out that big grin as he goes by the wife. He’s loving every minute of it.

Of course, with so much excitement, he didn’t get a nap today. I finally finished a work project that has been dragging on FOREVER, and we celebrated with a night out. Charlie was enamored of the service dog at the table next door, and managed to eat fairly well. But he refused to go down for the night until he had his bottle. Priorities! But he did go down early…

Thursday, January 11, 2018 2 comments

Brace Yourself

With Charlie’s second birthday, he’s finally starting to take those all-important solo first steps. To give him a little more practice, I’ve been walking with him some, trying to get him to hold only one hand and walk beside me. (Besides, I’m less likely to step on his feet that way.)

A while back, one of the therapists said he would need braces to get his feet aligned properly. I immediately conjured a mental image of the hardware Forrest Gump wore in the early part of the movie. But when he came home with them, I had a surprise:

Ankle brace, really
Just a foam-lined plastic cup that goes around his ankle, and a Velcro™ strap to hold it on. To be honest, I'm not sure how they work. They’re called Supra-Malleolar Orthoses (or SMOs), and are designed to be worn with shoes.

Now shoes were an interesting issue. Charlie’s feet are still pretty thick, although not as blobby as they used to be, and he’s supposed to wear shoes over the braces. The orthopedist suggested a wide shoe, a little oversize with laces, and we figured he would need an 8W. Surprise! Most shoe stores didn’t have anything suitable. After a few attempts, I gave up and went to the nearby Target. We soon found out why the orthopedist recommended laces—between the brace and Charlie’s thick foot, the Velcro straps barely reached across at best.

Amazingly enough, I found a pair of shoes that fit the bill:

High-tops, no less!
High-tops? Well, they fit. The zipper on the side turned out to be the key there—unzipping it gave enough room to slide the braced foot in without having to unlace the entire shoe.

Unfortunately, the shoes aren’t very well-balanced… something one might expect from a big-box shoe. They’re too heavy in the toe, so Charlie was dragging his toes when we walked with him. The orthopedist gave us a set of shoes that are made to work with the SMOs—at least the Velcro strap goes all the way across. They’re kind of clompy-looking, but they do seem to work. We’ll keep the high-tops for when he’s older and no longer needs the braces.

Let the Games Begin

Now this is the world according to Charlie:

Paper is treasure.
Bread is dessert.
Anything on his feet is an abomination.

Keeping socks on his feet has always been a chore. Any time he gets a moment to think, off they come. One morning, I was taking him to daycare in the Miata (he likes riding in the little car, because I’m always within reach). He made his “heyyy” noise, and I glanced over. He had one foot in the air, and his hand on the end of his sock.

“Don’t do it,” I told him. He grinned and yanked it off. Little rat.

Now, to get his socks off, he has a couple other things to remove first. Developmental issues my rear; he may still be non-verbal, but he figured out how to pull those Velcro straps quick enough. Ah, and the satisfying ripping noise they make! Rip, and the shoe can come off. Rip, and there goes the SMO. The sock doesn’t make any noise, but bare feet in the breeze makes up for that. Usually, he works one foot at a time. Given a trip of any significant distance, and he’s either asleep or barefoot (or both) at the end of the journey. With the cold (by Planet Georgia standards) weather we got with Winter #2, it was often a mad scramble to get his footgear back on before getting him out. Sometimes, like at the grocery store, we just left the gear in the car and took him inside barefoot. Cold doesn’t bother him.

He still prefers to crawl—but as his balance continues to improve, he often free-stands and will walk short distances (four or five steps). His biggest problem is he’s trying to lean forward and run before he can walk. It won’t be long before we’re shoring up all the old baby-proofing and hearing Mason rage-scream about Charlie messing up his stuff.

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.


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).


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