Category Archives: Cyberspace & Technology

Mischief Managed

This past spring, when the new Pokemon game was announced for release this coming October and we learned that it was going to be made exclusively for the 3DS, I made a deal with Sparky. If, I said, he could save up half of the cost of the unit, we would pay the other half.

He has put every penny of his allowance into his piggy bank, put gift money in there, did extra chores around the house for money above and beyond his allowance for the usual chores he does, returned bottles and cans for the deposit money, and as of yesterday he had saved up just shy of his goal. As there was a good sale on this week, I said he’d just about done it, and so we made a date to pick it up this weekend. He would take any colour, he said, any at all; although purple was his first choice and black his second, he’d even take pink, he said earnestly. We assumed those were the only colours on sale, as they were the only three pictured in the ad.

The first store we went to was sold out and told us rather shortly that they had a limited quantity and if they were gone, they were gone. (Not only did this tick us off, because the ad had said nothing about limited quanities, it sent Sparky into a panic, despite having been told about rainchecks before we’d left.) The second store we went to had none left on the shelves, but when we asked, the clerk said she had one unit left behind the counter. It was red.

We are very, very proud of him. This was his first big test of will, saving up for something specific rather than just saving up money in general and then wandering through a store to see what he could buy with that amount. It wasn’t easy; there were several times that he pleaded to buy something, and I explained over and over that if he used some of the money in his bank he’d have to wait even longer for the 3DS. But he did it, and now he can start saving up for something else.

It’s charging up right now in its neat little cradle (oh, the agony of waiting another couple of hours!). He very proudly handed my DS back to me as we unpacked his new one. I think I’ll have find a secondhand Pokemon game so we can trade things back and forth and have battles. He’d love that.

I wish the photo of him beaming so hard that his teeth are bared and his eyes are squinched shut hadn’t turned out too blurry to use. You’ll just have to imagine the unbridled joy on his face instead.

Happy Owlyblogaversary

Art by Paul DowlingYesterday marked eleven years of owlyblogging.

I’ve been having trouble wrapping my mind around units of time recently. Ninety percent of my CD collection dates from college and university, for example (and not because I embraced the digital form of albums, but rather because the money had somewhere else to go, I wasn’t in record shops as often, or I just wasn’t as excited by new releases as I used to be). Most of my bookcases date from the same era, the contents of said bookcases covering twenty-five years of purchases (again, book buying has taken a severe hit recently, in the last five to seven years). The majority of furniture in any given room is either secondhand (donated or, more rarely, purchased), and the few pieces that were purchased new were done so over seven to ten years ago.

And then I realised that Sparky has only another four years in elementary school (mind = blown), and my concept of time took another sucker punch. I’m sure yours just has, too. You’re welcome.

I have met some wonderful, wonderful people through blogging, people whom I consider good friends even though we have not met in real life. I have even been fortunate enough to meet a handful face to face and tell them what they mean to me. I am thankful for this mode of journaling, and for this method of communication, even though I do it primarily for myself. Thank you, dear readers, for journeying along with me, some of you for the entire eleven years, some of you only for a few days, weeks, or months so far. It is lovely to have you here.

Tea?

Post Alert

Owlet’s thirteen-month post is up and backdated to 4 September 2012, so you’ll need to scroll down. Or just click this handy link instead.

If you read via RSS, you already know this, so hurrah, thank you for playing, and disregard this note. Go have an awesome day! Actually, everyone should have awesome day, whether they read my posts via RSS or otherwise. Also cake. Go have cake.

Playing Catch-Up, Part Two: The General Me Update

Since I failed at going back to keep monthly track of my reading in this journal, I will mention here that I lately reread Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey before reading the sequel Glamour in Glass, which was excellent, and then I read Ally Carter’s fun YA book I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You. I am working my way through Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn as well, and for some reason I put Amanda Downum’s Kingdoms of Dust down a month ago and didn’t pick it up again till today.

After all the drama with having to cancel my trip and the conference and then finding out that I couldn’t buy my iPad two weeks ago… not one but two iPads were offered to me within a space of seven days, both won as prizes by people who won’t/don’t use them. The first was exactly the iPad I was going to buy, given to me at Owlet’s first birthday party with basically an admonition to not refuse it, to think of it as a permanent loan or to pay whatever I thought was fair for it whenever I could. The second was offered via a friend of HRH’s from college who didn’t even know I was looking for one, with the same permanent loan/eventual payment whenever rule. HRH will likely end up with that one, which is great because he’s been exploring trials of drawing and art apps on this one, and is really excited about the possibility of working on the backgrounds for the Sunset Val web comic digitally. I was so blown away. It feels like the universe was apologizing for all the crap that’s been flying around lately. Here, have this new toy, which you can also work on, and also not so coincidentally a reminder that friends absolutely rock.

Sparky and I had optometrist appointments this past week (there, we have now covered his delinquent dentist and eye doctor visits). His eyes are great, as we expected, though there’s a slight imbalance the doctor wants to check up on again in a year. For my eyes, the doctor was a little surprised to discover that there had been almost no change at all in the past ten years. It’s so minute that there’s no reason to get new glasses, which is somewhat disappointing since I’ve had one pair for nine years and the other for four and I was allowing myself to think about new frames, but also a relief because really, where would the money come from? He told me to come back in two years, which is when he wants to see Owlet, too. While I have the glasses for general wear, when I told him that they actually made my eyes a bit worse when I tried to read highway signs he confirmed that they were mostly for reading and up-close daily use. So I took them off to drive home, and it was a relief to do it and know that I wasn’t being irresponsible somehow.

I think I’m growing my hair again. I realized the other day that if I hadn’t been hacking an inch to two inches off every two months for the past year and a half whenever it got to the awkward length, it would be officially long again already, around the bottom of my shoulder blades. We’ll see what happens, and see how long I can stick to “no, I’m growing my hair again, really” this time. I really like how I look in pictures of it at chin length, but I feel I can do more with it long. (Who am I kidding? What do I do with it other than twist it up and clip it?)

I got cheque for the first copy edit I did post-baby! It all has to go places, so I shouldn’t have walked into Reitmans after depositing it at the bank, because I found two tops I loved and couldn’t justify buying them, even though there was a “buy one get 50% off the second” sale. I’m just starting to wear non-nursing clothes, and the last time I wore my regular wardrobe was two summers ago. None of it thrills me, and it fits oddly — too loose, too short, neither of which is really due to body changes but rather to a shift in how I want to look or feel. I should have at least tried the tops on to discover that they looked awful on me so I could get over it, but I had both kids with me and that wasn’t going to fly. I might set myself a budget and take an hour to go through the local thrift store selection of tops to add something new to my basic jeans-and-t-shirts selection.

In Which She Accepts Fate

I have a bunch of stuff to post, so I’m going to get the post covering the unpleasant stuff out of the way first.

I’ve had a really, really awful month, and a couple of things happened Saturday morning that brought it all to a head. I have been literally sick with worry and fear about finances and how we were going to handle this important conference I was registered for next weekend. I’ve been struggling to handle everything that’s been thrown in my way over the past four weeks. Every time something new happens I’ve asked myself if it’s the universe telling me to prove myself one more time and conquer the obstacle so I can go, or if I’m being told to understand that I’m not meant to go and to cancel, and every time I’ve worked it out and somehow arranged it so I can go. Yesterday I finally broke down under a one-two punch life dealt me, and I admitted defeat. I have to cancel, and it breaks my heart. I was really, really looking forward to it, despite all the panic about how I was going to manage it and how much easier it would have been all along to just say I couldn’t go. And it was going to be a long weekend away from my family, as much as I love them, with people I enjoy.

All along I’ve been worried that to give in and admit defeat would be taking the easy way out but good grief, how much more bending can I do? How much more grief and anxiety do I have to handle before I say that it was a good fight, but I’ve lost it honourably?

So I made the decision and cried about it a lot, and my family was wonderfully supportive and loving. I made the call cancelling my attendance last night, and it felt awful to do it, but the organizer fully supported my decision and my situation and helped me feel better about it.

The one good thing about it (apart from not going into total financial ruin) is that I will be home for Owlet’s first birthday after all. That means a lot to me. I can invite a couple of people over and bake piles and piles of cupcakes, and I can dress her up and we will have balloons, and then we get to do it again for her family-centred birthday celebration the following weekend.

And for the first time in about a month, I woke up this morning without immediately plunging into an anxiety attack. That tells me it was the correct decision. I’ve also been able to eat today without getting ill in some way, which is another welcome change from the way I’ve been living. Things still suck, but they suck a bit less, and I can deal with the amount of suckage that’s on my plate much better, now.

As if that wasn’t enough, Saturday morning I finally went out to buy my iPad and was stonewalled there, too. According to the salesman, Apple very quietly discontinued the iPad 2 16 GB model last month, and it has stopped shipping to non-Apple stores. (I can’t find Apple-sourced proof of this online, just mentions here and there of various shops in both the US and Canada marking it as discontinued and no longer available.) And of course, the iPad 2–16 GB, WiFi only — was the one I was going to buy, because it was the least expensive of them all, and all I needed. So there were only two left in all the Best Buy stores in the province, and they couldn’t be transferred to my shop in time before I left. (This was still before I cancelled my trip entirely.) I couldn’t upgrade my purchase because I didn’t have the money; I couldn’t buy it elsewhere or online because I had cash and shop-specific gift cards. The salesman was fantastic; he came up with half a dozen solutions, most of which we tried to make work, and each one of them fell through. Eventually I admitted defeat. With the rumours of the iPad 4 being announced this fall, I might as well wait till then and get the iPad 3 when the price lowers.

It felt like being kicked while I was down. And although I tried not to think about it, I wondered if I’d run right out after my birthday and purchased it if there would still have been one or two left in stock. But it was a huge purchase, and I traditionally hover and bite my nails about large purchases before I feel okay doing it. I don’t know whether that worked against me this time or not. Cancelling the trip also reduced my immediate need for the iPad, which was going to be my main note-taking and entertainment unit as well as my Skype link back home so I could read to the kids and talk to them every night.

I’m trying to look at it as having something to look forward to for a while longer.

Random Updates From Daily Life

(This was written, then I forgot to hit publish. Your RSS feeds aren’t confused; I backdated it to when it should have appeared.)

Owlet is walking, albeit stealthily. This morning I watched from the kitchen as she stood up in the middle of the living room, bounced in place for a bit, looked over at her toys by the wall, and walked over to them before plopping herself down. Ha ha; we see you, baby. It’s not a secret.

Sparky starts camp on Monday. His info packet arrived a few days ago, and his personal schedule came by e-mail. Guess who needs his own set of drumsticks? (We have one. It’s just amusing.) He’s doing science, karate, choir, drums, and art/cartooning. We also got the info packet for the International School, so we have supply lists and fee deadlines and so forth. He’s going to start halfway through the last week of August, and the first two days are mornings only, with the Friday being the first whole day, followed by the three-day Labour Day weekend. The ped days at this school are scattered through the weeks instead of being clumped into a long weekend, which is nice in a way.

HRH has painted the front awning! (Or whatever the thing over the front door is called. We call it the awning, even though it’s solid.) It was a horrible faded purple, once brown, we suspect. I chose a lovely dark green, and it looks wonderful. He’s going to continue the green up around the trim that’s the same faded purple-brown later this year when it isn’t so stupidly humid and hot. Next year we’ll tackle scraping and repainting the white ironwork and it will be the finishing touches on the front exterior.

(That’s actually not a very good colour match for the real thing. It looks more blue than dark green here. But anyway.)

I’m participating in the Tour de Fleece for the first time this year. (I’ve also signed up for the Ravelymics Ravellennic Games for the first time. Hanging out with my online July 2011 babies group of knitting mamas is doing weird things to me.) My personal goals were to spin for about fifteen minutes a day, to sample the Teeswater I got in a swap last year, to sample the Cormo/silk that Bonnie blended, and to attempt a new technique like corespinning. So far I am good on the first two, so now I get to choose one of the last two and give it a go. I’ve got one week left.

I received another freelance project, this one editing a YA science-fiction/paranormal title. My publisher recently launched a couple of fiction imprints, one for YA, and so this is my first pro fiction copyedit. It’s very exciting. I’m ahead of schedule because it’s good and an easy read. This is a nice switch from trudging through the fiction manuscripts from the self-publisher I used to work for, where I had to read them in order to evaluate them. I was instructed to edit this with a very light hand, which also helps. It’s also a nice switch from the last book I edited, a non-fiction book on manicure art, where I handed it back more red than black after rearranging and rephrasing and clarifying steps. Step-by-step instruction is hard to write for most authors, pro or not, so a lot gets reworked in the editing stage to clarify what the reader doesn’t know simply because they’re not the author.

The Birthday Post

I am now in that limbo between forty and the answer to everything.

It was a quiet birthday. We’re all rubbing against one another uncomfortably here at home; no one is used to having all four family members home all the time for more than three days in a row, and we don’t know what to do with ourselves. The day started off very nicely, and then we kind of got irritated with one another, but it ended nicely again. We had sushi as a birthday treat, and Owlet devoured a kappa maki and Sparky decided that he liked sake sashimi (which he has liked on again and off again since he was three… mostly off again). Now I am excited, because this means we can go out for sushi together and everyone can eat something.

The birthday may have been quiet in person, but online there was a riot of birthday wishes and greetings in forums and through Twitter and Facebook and via e-mail. It took me ages to read through them all, in several sittings. Thank you again, everyone!

My birthday is also my parents’ wedding anniversary. My rudimentary math skills tell me that as I was born on their fourth wedding anniversary, they have now been married for forty-five years.

I had an early birthday dinner with my in-laws before they left for a month on holiday in Cape Breton, which was lovely. They gave me a teacup and saucer that had been owned by HRH’s maternal grandmother, and I had my tea in it the very next morning. I love gifts like that, that come with meaning and history. They also donated to my Saving Up for an iPad 2 fund. My parents sent me money for the same fund (and blew me away with their generosity!), and HRH and the kids also gave me a gift certificate toward it. I am over halfway there already. I want to get it before I leave for my conference on the first weekend of August, because then I will be able to Skype with the kids each night. The Windows laptop that could handle Skypeing is now dead, the old iBook that is a glorified typewriter can’t run the program or load the web-based interface, and my iPhone doesn’t have a front camera.

The iPad is the result of a long research- gathering and decision-making process. It was evident that I needed an alternate work computer. I use my iPhone all the time via wi-fi through the day, and I also wanted a larger e-reader where I wouldn’t be turning a page every five seconds. I liked and coveted the iPad, which answered most of my needs, but I couldn’t justify it since I couldn’t use it for editing, which is the majority of my work. Track Changes is my main tool, and iPad apps didn’t handle it. If I needed a backup unit to work with while travelling or if my desktop went down again (please no, not any time soon, or ever again, really), then investing in a computer-like thing that couldn’t be used for work was pointless. So I kept looking at small laptops half-heartedly, which would let me work but not provide an easy e-reading experience or the casual online messing about and communicating I enjoy doing. It was starting to look like I’d have to buy two separate units, and if I was being responsible (and that was essential, because money has been really, really bad) it would have to be the laptop first. And frankly, that made me cranky, because I wanted the fun thing first, after a couple of years of making do in pretty much every area of life.

At least… the iPad apps couldn’t handle Track Changes editing until a couple of months ago, when app developers began to provide the Track Changes function in response to the demands of users. And when I discovered that, my dilemma was solved, and the iPad was a go! I decided that I’d ask for money and gift certificates for my birthday, and when my paycheque from my first freelance job after a year off came in, I’d make up whatever was left and buy one. I’ve got the Bluetooth mini Apple keyboard that came with my first Mac mini to pair with it, so I’m not limited by the touch keyboard if I do work on it. Now my last decision is whether to go for the black one, to minimize the grunge-collection, or go with the white, which will blend in with the documents and books I’ll be reading and working with. And what kind of case I’ll get for it, of course.

We enjoyed a lovely dinner with Eric yesterday at his new house. All aspects of the visit were lovely, and future visits will be even lovelier when Soo and Ro move up to join him next week. The evening ended with cheesecake, of which I am not a fan, but this one changed my mind. Not only that, he sent me home with the remaining 3/4 of the cake. I don’t know if this is a universal un-disliking of the cheesecake genre, or just of this one particular kind from this specific bakery, but I’ll take it! I have disliked cheesecake mostly for its (a) leaden texture and (b) the heavy taste of cream cheese, a food I don’t like. This one was feathery light, tasted of butter and cream, and was more like a mousse with only the faintest nuance of cheese. A fabulous thick graham crust, a light cheese layer that had the texture of a heavenly vanilla sponge cake, and heavy whipped cream on top of the cheese layer with a pile of seasonal fruit and sliced almonds along the sides… really, it was divine. And the sausages he grilled for supper (particularly the broccoli-cheese ones) along with the watermelon-feta salad… I think I ate from the moment we got there till the moment we left, either grazing while we prepped food or formally partaking of supper. And that includes eating the tiny apples off the trees in his backyard, with fruit so sweet and somehow fizzy that they tasted like apple candy.

And finally… seven years ago yesterday, Sparky came home from the hospital to properly start life with us as a family. The middle of July is full of celebration in my family, and I am thankful for all of it.