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Thoughts On My Kids

Two kids now, and both doing things that I find interesting and worth writing about.

Oliver At Three-And-A-Half

A New Room

He gets out of bed tonight and walks over to the top of the stairs. “Dah-ee!” (He generally skips the second d in daddy, which I’m fond of.) Although I’m not thrilled he’s out of bed, he’s been good lately, and the fact he calls for me by name is great, because what he used to do drove us nuts.

What he used to do was arrive at the top of the stairs and make a sort of grunting noise similar to the noise that jerks make when they are mocking the mentally disabled. He would start quietly and then escalate if we ignored it.

“Uhhh. Uhhhhhhhh. UhhhhHHHHHHH. UhhhhhHHHHHH. UHHHHHHNNNNNNHHHHHH!”

“YES, Oliver?”

“I have to go pee.”

He’s past this phase, which helps with parental response time. I ask him what the issue is, and as usual, it’s urination. But in the bathroom, I notice that he’s damp all over. His hair is plastered to his head. His face is flushed. I ask him why he’s all wet.

“Because my room is jiggling [his window rattles when the wind blows hard]. It was bothering me. So I got all of the way underneath my blankets. But my room was still jiggling. My room is too old. I need a new room.”

Very Upset

I’ve been off work due to the Christmas holidays for over a week. Oliver and I were hanging out after I was off for a few days, and he said, out of the blue: “I’m very upset with you, daddy, because you go to work every day to make lots of bacon and you are there for a very long time.”

Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes

You’ll really only understand this anecdote if you’ve read the Robert Munsch story Angela’s Airplane, about a child who absconds with an airplane because she cannot resist pressing buttons.

Oliver’s favourite stuffed animal is this truly massive (it’s bigger than him) blue teddy bear that my buddy Wayne bought for him when he was first born. Oliver got me out of bed one night to examine an urgent issue with the bear, namely that he had extracted a large amount of stuffing from the bear by pulling it out of a hole in that had formed in its arm.

“Oliver, why are you picking out the stuffing?” I asked.

“Well,” he replied, “I was laying in bed and I asked myself, should I pick the stuffing out of the bear? Is that a good idea? And I said, ‘yes, yes, yes, yes, yes’. So I picked it.”

Sloane At Ten Months

She’s recently learned how to “crawl”, except that she can only go backwards, by pushing the floor in front of her with her hands. Because of this she often seems confused about where she ends up, since she can’t see where she is going.

She never fails to return a smile, and when she does, it’s amazing.

I feel guilty that this portion of my post is so much shorter than the portion devoted to Oliver, but she’s still a baby, doing baby things, and I don’t want to bore you. Besides, a picture is worth a thousand words:

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10

Throttle: A Bookmarklet That Removes Turbo From RTH

Raise the Hammer has long been a favourite place of mine for both reading and writing. Unfortunately, in the last few weeks, a determined and apparently unemployed troll named Turbo has been attempting to ruin the discussion there (unemployed or underemployed: the sheer volume of comments leaves no other conclusion).

As a result I’ve had no choice but to write a bookmarklet that automatically hides all of his comments when you click it.

To use it in Firefox or Chrome (probably Safari as well), just drag and drop the URL below (the one that says Throttle) to your bookmark’s toolbar. In Internet Explorer, right click on the link and choose “Add to favourites” (not sure how you get it into your browser toolbar from there, but if you know, go ahead and add a comment below.

Throttle

Once you’ve done that, all you have to do to use it is click it while reading any RTH article or post. All of Turbo’s comments will instantly disappear and you can go on reading without with his absurd trolling.

P.S. This also just happens to automatically downvote his comments too…

UPDATE: Here’s a version that takes care of Hammy:

Whammy

11
12
09

Hpricot – [BUG] Bus Error – Solution / Workaround

Problem:

You’re using Hpricot to parse web content, but it’s throwing an error like this that completely kills the process (probably crashing your app, or your background task, as the case may be):

/usr/local/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/hpricot-0.8.2/lib/hpricot/parse.rb:33: [BUG] Bus Error
ruby 1.8.7 (2009-04-08 patchlevel 160) [i686-darwin8.11.1]
Abort trap

This resource suggests that the problem is that the content retrieved is precisely 16384 bytes long, however, that was not the problem in my case.

My problem is replicated in this gist. Examination of the URL it was trying to retrieve using curl with -i indicated that this was returning a 302 redirect:

HTTP/1.1 302 Found
Date: Thu, 12 Nov 2009 14:50:53 GMT
Server: Microsoft-IIS/6.0
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
X-AspNet-Version: 2.0.50727
X-UA-Compatible: IE=EmulateIE7
Location: /
Set-Cookie: ASP.NET_SessionId=p2s0dljru11tiwer3e01jfq2; path=/; HttpOnly
Set-Cookie: Forum2backURL=/tm.aspx?m=1859288#1859354; path=/
Set-Cookie: Forum2preURL=; path=/
Cache-Control: private
Expires: Wed, 11 Nov 2009 13:50:53 GMT
Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8
Content-Length: 120

I am not sure why Ruby’s OpenURI open method was not capable of parsing / following this redirect. However, I determined that the file returned by open() had a size of zero bytes, and this was causing Hpricot to blow up.

My workaround is just to check the size of the file returned by open() and only try to parse it if it is greater than 0:

f = open(file_or_uri)
if f.size > 0
doc = Hpricot(f)
else
raise "Could not retrieve content due to zero-sized file, possibly due to site redirect."
end

11
09
09

Thoughts on O, 2

Oliver is two years and three months old. He’s an amazing little man. He seems to get cuter every day, an impossible feat. He trucks around with determination, his little legs whipping along, always moving from one thing to the next.

He’s curious. When he hears something, he asks, “What was that? What was that noise?” He loves to pick things up from the ground – sticks, rocks, whatever. To his mother’s horror, the other day he scavenged a french fry from the floor of the mall and happily ate it. In other words, he is resourceful.

He is observant. He can spot a sliver of the moon in broad daylight, when it scarcely looks different than a scrap of cloud. He learns quickly and is unafraid of embarrassing himself. I’m in a constant pattern of language instruction with him, introducing new words and asking him to repeat them. He does very well at it. I like to throw some curveballs in there too. “That’s called ‘manipulation’, Oliver. Can you say ‘manipulation’?” “Manish-ship-ship-shun.” “Can you say controversial?” “Con-oh-SERial!”

Although his vocabulary may not have caught up to mine yet, he has already superseded my musical ability. His rendition of Gincle Gincle Little Star is far sweeter to the ear than my best attempts. He is also adept at filling in the parts of songs he doesn’t know with semi-melodic mumbling, which will put him in good stead when he needs to sing the national anthem later on in life.

He loves to be tickled. When he’s had enough, he lets me know: “Daddy, dop!” In general he is not afraid to let me know when I’m being a pain in the ass. “No, Daddy. Go way, Daddy!”

On the other hand, he doesn’t like it when I leave. We have interesting conversations in the front hallway on weekday mornings when he tries to prevent me from going to work.

“No Daddy go!”

“Daddy has to go to work.”

“Why Daddy work?”

“Daddy has to work so that he can make money.”

“Why money?”

“Because we need money so that we can buy food.”

“Why?”

“Because we need to eat.”

“Why?”

Why indeed? I used to believe that when I had a child, I would always try to explain things to that child and never resort to the pat answers I’d hear from other parents (“just because”). My child is only two and he is already defeating this goal. Why DO we need to eat?

You can answer that question, sure, but ask enough “whys”, and you’ll find yourself trying to explain the nature and reasons for existence of the universe – to a two-year-old.

Then again, he’s probably got as good a chance of understanding it as most. In fact, I think he’s taught me far more about the ultimate nature of life and existence than I could ever teach him.

07
20
09

Rare Satisfaction

You’re driving, going at a decent clip. Some jerk is tailgating you anyway. He’s so close you can see his face in your rear view mirror. He looks like a douchebag.

He keeps drifting to the left to see if he can pass. He can’t, which makes him frustrated. He probably has a crap job and a worse family, which are stressing him out. Or whoever he’s talking to on his cellphone isn’t telling him what he wants to hear.

He finally gets a chance to pass. Steps on it to make a point and roars past. “Man,” you think, “I really, really hope that jerkoff gets pulled over a few blocks ahead. I’ll smirk as I drive past. Maybe give him a friendly wave. That prick.”

That never, ever happens. But the other night, I got a tiny glimpse of what it would feel like.

I’m coasting in to an intersection. It’s a four-way stop. Some dude is rolling in to the intersection at the same time, opposite to me but turning left (down the street on my right). That means only one of us can go. We’re going to have to stop together, and then one of us is going to have to yield to the other. Either he’ll make his left turn, or I’ll head straight through.

I don’t mind yielding – I’m not in any rush. But he doesn’t give me the chance. He decides to preempt our little negotiation by not stopping at all. He just keeps going, makes his turn, and heads down the street on my right.

Unfortunately for him, we weren’t the only people waiting at the intersection. A third vehicle had arrived at the same time on the same street this guy just headed down. This vehicle, it just so happens, is a police vehicle, driven by a rather large police officer. At the moment I see him his hand is raised, palm upward, in a gesture that clearly communicates exactly the same thing I’m thinking: WTF?

I pause. The cop doesn’t. He u-turns and heads after the dude.

The moment is over, but the feeling remains: a rare, sweet satisfaction.



Life, politics, code and current events from a Canadian perspective.

Adrian Duyzer
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