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Filed in:Alexandra

Oop-Speak

March 14th, 2005  · stk

Alex is nearly a year and a half old. It's difficult to believe that this much time has passed since we left with her from the hospital. How tiny she looked in that infant car seat. How frightened we were of her! And my, how she has changed our lives.

Every day is exciting for her. She wakes with a huge smile on her face and is often amazed at the world. "Wow," is a word that she uses often, when faced with something new, something that amazes her. She has a whole bevy of words now, which she loves to repeat for an admiring Dad, any time he asks. I took advantange of her good nature and sat her down for a recording session. I wanted to document WHICH words she learned first (Maa-maa and kitty-blat). Which words have become very well enunciated (thank you), which sound identical (cheese = shoes and ack (duck sound) = sock) and which are of her own creation (banana = mah-'mah).

She continues to add new ones. Between the time of the first recording and today, when I finally spliced together the final version, she's learned two new words - "poo-poo" and "baby". I managed to get the former included in a recording, but "baby" is just a bit too new.

Every once in a while, she'll repeat something that we say, so clearly, that it makes us turn our heads in disbelief (generally, never to be repeated again). She's even LOST words. "Kitty-blat" was one of her first (developed from her strong interest in a rather uninterested cat). Now, if you ask her to say "kitty-cat", her response is consistently "meow"!

Not knowing words doesn't stop our little girl from reading books or talking to strangers. She'll open a book and just babble away, pretending to be "reading." Our neighbors have gotten an earful of Alex-opinions, listening to her babble at a rather high volume, as she pointed at this and that, explaining (in no uncertain terms) her views! And her loquaciousness is lubricated by conversation, whether it's Rachel and I, talking to each other, others or on the telephone. (Especially on the telephone!) I have to continually walk around the house, trying to stay 2 steps ahead of her, so I can hear the person on the other end of the line, otherwise I get high-volume Alex-babble in my ear, drowning out whoever I'm trying to listen to, on the other end.

And the funny part? Put a phone to her mouth and ask her to say something. SILENCE. As if!

We should enjoy this short moment, as I'm sure they'll come a time when we think that the phone is permanently glued to the side of her head!

So sit back, listen to Alex rattle off the words she knows, at age 1.5. Enjoy.

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Updated: 13-Feb-2011
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Filed in:Our Life
Scott

Taxes - Yuck!

March 13th, 2005  · stk

Here's me, finally getting around to paying my taxes. I get my hands on a free copy of TurboTax Deluxe, so I start. One of the places where I report income is from mutual funds. OKAY, they have a way of automatically doing this. I pick my fund - American Century. Then I see:

Enter SSN: [ ], Enter PIN:[ ]

OKAY ... I'm not certain if the SSN needs to have dashes or not, but I figure, what the heck ... I try without dashes. "Not Valid". (Not valid because the SSN is supposed to have dashes? -OR- Not valid because the PIN is wrong? It would be nice to know.) I try dashes. "For your protection, account access has been disabled. For more information, contact us at our web site"

What the ...? OKAY ... I'm game. I go to the web site and log into my accounts, only to discover that the PIN I need is different than the password I use to log in. Boy does THAT make sense? I check to see what I need to do to unlock my account. "Contact Us" They have a 'Chat with Us' means of contacting them, but it' only open M-F and a few hours on Saturday. It's Sunday. Wonderful. Finally get around to paying taxes and BOOM, dead in the water 5-minutes in.

I know this falls into the category of "little things that upset us" and really, I should let it go. But, sometimes, it's the little things that really get under our skin. So, I decide to 'let fly' and get this one off my chest (knowing that I'm gonna have to manually input the information for American Century to move forward today, anyway). But aren't computers supposed to make our lives EASIER?

I contacted them ... and vented (read - carefully crafted and wordsmithed suggestion). [paraphrased & shortened]: "I'm all for security and protection, but it's only protection during office hours. Any other time, it's a combination of protection and 'customer inconvenience'. You should have a mechanism in place to reactivate accounts after-hours. (Couldn't I do it myself, after logging into my accounts, thus "proving" my identity?)."

Sometimes it feels good to get stuff off your chest. Even the little things.

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Updated: 1-Dec-2007
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Filed in:Scott

A Paying Gig

March 13th, 2005  · stk

You can't beat the regularity of a paycheck from a 40+hour work week. Of the very few things I miss about working, the paycheck, sits, lonely, at the top of the list. (If I could only figure out a way to get a paycheck, without working, then I'd be crowing all day!)

Money can come from odd sources when you're not working. Perhaps it's because you're home to answer the door when opportunity knocks. Mind you, such sources are not nearly as steady as they are diverse, but it makes for nice 'mad money'.

Recently, Mr. Opportunity has knocked twice, or as it is in these cases - Ms. Opportunity.

The first came about via the Internet and the open-source software that we use to write our journal - b2evolution. I often participate in the online forum dedicated to this software. It was a place to get answers when I was new to the software and now that I'm not new, I return the favor, answering questions and helping out the new folks (newbies, or noobs, in computer lingo).

I guess people consider me an expert of sorts and someone sought out my help, then offered to pay me to help them redesign their journaling website. I agreed to do it and was flattered that someone thought me proficient in CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), which is the 'new way' of formatting web page code. (The truth is, I only started learning CSS at the beginning of the new year, so I've only been at it a couple of months. But with a career in UNIX computing behind me, this stuff does come rather quickly.)

It was a positive experience. It was a real boost to my ego and fattened my wallet by $250(US). I got to know a really neat woman living in Minnisota and advanced my CSS learning (some of which I will share in more technical entries). I also got to be creative. Here's a static picture of the site design. It challenged me, because it's not a style I would have done for myself, preferring lighter colors and less bold graphics. I got to play with a couple of CSS tricks that I've been dying to try and both worked out very well. (One is the "page-turned tab" effect, on the upper right of each brown journal entry. The other is the pink 'double quote background image' in the quoted text.)

I put in way more than a $250-worth of time into the project, so from a pure business sense, it wasn't very efficient. But I don't mind, because I learned some things along the way and can't help wonder, "if I was MORE proficient at CSS, wouldn't I have been ABLE to bang it out sooner?"

The technical aspects of computing has been a real draw for me since Rachel started her second term. I think it was bugging me that she was off LEARNING, while I was at home with Alex, catering to the puerile needs of our daughter. Don't' get me wrong. I love Alex to death and I'm very thankful that I'm bonding with her in a way that most Dad's don't, because they don't have the time to be at home. However, or should I say, even still ... the most intellectual conversation I have with Alex all day runs along the lines of, "Can you say 'ba - ba - ba - ba'?" There's a tendency for the mind to mush-out after facing this, day-in and day-out. I can see why house-moms turn to day-time television (soap operas excluded ... I'm thinking more day-time 'talk' shows or 'morning' shows here). Soaps aren't much better than 'ba - ba - ba', in my opinion.

I've spent the money already. I figured it's mad money and by gosh, I'm going to use it as such (very un-Scott like). I've been eyeing a CSS book lately, by Eric Mayer (sort of the guru of CSS). What better way to spend my CSS money? And ... I'll use the remainder to purchase that Riva Producer program, so that we can continue to share snippets of video with our web-readers (also an appropriate use of web-design money, I'd say!).

So thanks, Whoo, for the vote of confidence and I'm glad you're psyched about your new web design! When you get it up and live, I'll change the static image to a link ...

Oh yeah ... I mentioned two sources of income. The second is more in the 'planning stages', but I got a telephone call yesterday from some company that sets up focus groups for companies. They put me on their list of folks to be considered when a company is seeking opinions and consumer feedback on their products of services. Generally, they pay between $50-$100 CAD and it takes an evening of my time, from 7-9pm. They serve refreshments and generally give a pitch, or have group members try a product and then provide opinions about the marketing or an opinion about the product. Why not? Might as well get PAID for offering opinions, right?

So, you see ... the money is just ROLLING in! ;)

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Updated: 1-Jun-2005
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Filed in:Our Life

Spring?

March 7th, 2005  · stk

I was going to write about how the snow has been melting and how wonderfully warm it's been this past week. Daytime temps have been hovering in the 50°F range, during the day, under generally sunny skies. The cat has even volunteered to go outside during the day, letting his black fur absorb the warming sun. He sits on the front porch, one eye on the lookout for unleashed dogs, the other for unsuspecting cats he may wish to chase away (the brute that he is). :roll:

Besides the rapidly melting snow, there are other sure signs that warmer days are coming. First, it's now still light out when we get around to eating dinner at 6PM. (It's great not having to shut the drapes at 4:30 in the afternoon). Rachel actually hung a couple loads of laundry out on the clothesline and they dried, instead of turning into frozen objects that are hell to fold and can be used as a deadly weapon in the hands of an experienced laundry person. Scott cleaned the upstairs windows and screens (and because there are two sets of sliding windows in each window frame, that's 8 window panes to clean, per window!). Wow. Made a difference to look out through sparkling clean glass!

Of course, melting snow means a flood of water down the street. Slippery and icy sidewalks in the evening and early morning. (Rachel fell again today on her way home from the bus - OUCH.) There's so much water that we feel like were back in Vancouver, not so much because of the AMOUNT of water, but because if you walk to the back gate to put out the trash, the standing water in the alleyway gives off an aroma much like the smell of low tide. :|

We're seeing GRASS for the first time in several months. Rachel made the comment, "Alex has probably forgotten all about grass." Which, sadly, is probably true. If so, she's been learning all about it again. That and how easy it is to get mud on one's shoes, or how cold snow is in un gloved hands, or just how WET little girls can get when they fall while walking over slippery, half-frozen puddles. She's been venturing outside much more during the past week and we're already talking about actually being able to go out for a picnic!

All those dreams were put on hold today, as temperatures plummeted and it snowed. Great big flakes of wet, sloppy snow. It must've snowed for 3 hours and buried everything, including our dreams of warmth, under about 3 inches. The good news, if any can be found, is that it was just slightly above freezing and it began to rain late in the day. It made a real mess of the roads, but turned a great portion of the earlier snowfall to mush.

Locals are saying that it's been a very mild winter! Rachel and I look at each other, having just experienced the worst winter of our entire lives. It may not yet be spring, but we're already dreading whatever the Old Man might have in store for us next year. Bring on the sun!

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Updated: 15-May-2005
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Filed in:b2evo

Random Picture

March 6th, 2005  · stk

Random Sidebar Image linked to Blog Entry

Concept

We wanted to add a random picture to our sidebar, but we took it a step further because we like to add 'depth'. A static picture is lifeless, so we linked the picture to the journal entry where the photo could be found.

As far as changes to b2evolution go, it turned out to be a fairly easy. There are, no doubt, other ways of accomplishing the same task, but we chose the method outlined below. The nice part about this modification is that it only affects one file in your custom skins folder (_main.php), which means that there's no fear of overwriting the modification next time you upgrade the software.

This modification was implemented and is currently (Feb05) used on this site, with version 0.9.0.11. (The "At Random" section of the sidebar, on the right.)

Read full story...

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Updated: 21-Jun-2005
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